Buddha Flu

Got so excited this past rain that I convinced some friends to go mud-wompin’.
“C’mon. When was the last time you played?”
We womped and yelled and drank acid rain till someone joked that we might catch pneumonia. Between you and me, I already had the flu. Happens every time I fly in a tube of recirculating germs. Is it just me, or is everyone in this country sick?
“Now boarding passengers with weepy eyes, runny nose, and whooping cough.”
When I board, I don’t even need a ticket; I just look for the palest person and go, “That must be me. No, I’ll be in your lap. Yeah, just run your hands across my face; let’s get this over with.”
But today, playing with friends, who cared? The creek overflowed, and we were wearing our last-resort shoes...
I write you now with pneumonia.
It’s my first time, so I’m kind of excited. I avoided pneumonia my whole life but finally grew dumb enough to catch it (it was only a matter of time).
The infection moved in like a fussy houseguest with no intention to leave. Mostly, it’s just a goose cough and this stuffed-up head like you’ve been crying for three years. It’s starting to grow on me.
We spend so much time fighting colds. If we’re not trying to get on our feet, then we’re bouncing back or trying to feel ourselves again. I was raised not to feel myself, but the point is that if we surrender, the cold can be a form of enlightenment.
Maybe it’s different for sane people, but my everyday state is a lot of work. I lose whole afternoons worrying that my eyes are different sizes. Illness, for me, is like jumping on Springsteen’s bike and riding out of this valley to where the fields are green.
I’ve been staggering around in a happy haze, hearing only what I need to hear. A guy cut me off on the freeway ... whatevs. Am I 10 minutes late? You’ll have to file a complaint. Form 4512-T.
I wish cold pills actually gave you a cold so that when it’s time to call tech support or do taxes ... take two and call me in the morning. The sky is always falling.
Today at Kaiser, the nurse asked if I had been taking my prescription. I said off and on.
She said from her cross, "Well, that's like not taking it at all."
It was like a face wash in hockey -- as in, take my blood pressure again because it just changed -- but today I watched it all from the bottom of a pond.
“Yes," I said. "It is like that. Wish I hadn’t bought the pills in the first place."
She tilted her head. "No. You shouldn't have." Long stare. No change in vitals.
The doctor walked in and excused Nurse Ratched. He listened to my lungs and asked, as a joke, if I had been out in the rain. I said yes. The doctor laughed because he drives a BMW. That also changes your worldview. Makes you whistle.
“Brace yourself,” he said, “but it’s not a good idea to play in the rain when you have a bug.”

The doctor explained walking pneumonia, which is better, I guess, than lying-down pneumonia. He scribbled a note for antibiotics and agreed with my take on the Buddha flu. But he also looked me in the eye as he handed the prescription: Don’t be an idiot.

I can’t remember what I just wrote. If it bombed ... whatevs. I’m just swimming in this sweet syrup of indifference, man, down to the river.
The doctor said that my pneumonia will get worse if I don't take his drugs; and while I may listen, I must admit that I'm tempted to check out pleurisy.