Thursday, July 12, 2012


As I sat last week in Paddington Station writing my last blogpost about the energised landscape of commuters on that Friday morning, I had no idea that an attacker was lying in wait for me.

The attack came a few hours later, after I got to Oxford: I realised my chest was congested, my joints aching, and a fever starting to overheat me.  It turned out to be a brutal case of bronchitis. And it grew from strength to strength over the next couple of days, dulling my brain, clogging my bronchea, and giving coughing bouts and roller-coaster nights of fever and more fever.

I was in Oxford to attend the Oxford Food Symposium, an annual two day meeting of people interested in various aspects of food and food history. I’d never been to the Symposium before, so this was a big treat, a chance to meet people I’ve long heard about, and to reconnect with others whom I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Suddenly, though, rather than having the good energy of good health, I was limping around barely able to focus. And once supper was over each night, rather than heading to an evening of long conversations with interesting people, I took myself off to my room for a night of fevered dreams and sweaty sheets.

This all sounds like a whine, and my apologies if it does. I just want to set the scene for my thoughts about it all.

Being brought low so suddenly and unexpectedly has brought me up short, made me think. It’s been humbling, for sure. I take my good health and physical energy for granted, most days. I rely on them. To no longer be able to is a shock.

What would have happened had I come down with this in a more difficult place? Well, I would have limped through it, I assume.  I am grateful to have had friends around in Oxford to sympathise with me, and then after the conference my friend Annie in Devizes to feed me and fret over my hacking three-packs-a-day cough.

All of that made me realise that being acknowledged is so important, especially when we’re feeling down or weakened. Which means in turn that it’s up to us to take care of each other, be attentive to our weaknesses, and try to give support where we can.

The fickle virus, or hand of fate, or other intervenor, can haul us off the easy path we think we’re on and into the dark tangled underbrush of uncertainty or weakness, or anxiety.  What to do when that happens?

And I guess I’m finally coming to the point of this post. It seems to me that there’s no point moaning or complaining when things “go wrong”. Where we can act is when things are going “right”. In those times it’s worth sparing a moment to appreciate just how good we feel, or how happy, and to feel grateful in a whole-hearted way.  When times get tough, then, it’s important to remember that tough times are part of a larger whole. We’re not in charge of outcomes, but we sure can be in charge of our reactions to events.

My attacker seems to be on the wane. I’ve had a hefty traditional Chinese medicine treatment (yesterday) from the great Xiaolan that left purple weals on my back from the cupping, and now has me feeling like I have new life and energy. Tomorrow I take the more “traditional” approach and go to see my doctor. I’ll have one of those new residents I wrote about twelve days ago, checking me out. I must remember to enjoy the process of watching him or her learn and fumble!  

PS Speaking of entertainment, here's a link to a very entertaining short clip; it's on topic, for the woman says "I got bronchitis!" Laugh out loud funny, I thought, with thanks to Tashi

1 comment:

gluttonforlife said...

Can't believe you even dragged yourself from bed! That was a heroic effort. It's always frightening to feel so vulnerable. I like your perspective on it.