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Fever and Chills

February 21, 2010

The sheet twists around me, co-mingling with my thrashing legs until I finally, fully wake with near desperate need to use the bathroom. Fever clings so tightly to my aching skin that removing the wrought sheet from my legs sends fire and ice up my back and out my finger tips. I crawl to the end of my bed with only a split-second thought tossed to the bottle of tylenol sitting on my dresser. I don’t have the energy to stop and stand/ untwist the top and tip the bottle over/ shake gently until one pill and then another falls out/ take a sip of warm, stale water and swallow. With a passing glance at the bottle, I stand. Up. On. My. Own. Feet.

The blood rushes from my head down to my feet. Painfully determined, I open the door to my room feel the wave of cold air wash over my fire and ice body. In an instant I am scared I am going to pass out, and I am certain that I am going to throw up. Panic mixes with my bladder’s desperation and I drop to my hands and knees on the living room carpet. This is the point where the healthy version of myself would dissolve into high-pitched squeaky laughter at the visual of myself on my hands and knees hovering above the wine-colored dining room carpet. But the three-day-high-fever-no-end-in-sight version of myself feels weak, and scared, and betrayed.

The bathroom door is shut. I shut my eyes and home that it’s N in there. I’ll scare the boys if they find me this way. N will come out, scoop up my frail body and help me to the bathroom without needing explanation or smile or front of an independence I no longer remember how to feel.

My stomach barrel rolls. I can’t wait. I crawl into the kitchen over the cold tiles certain that the handful of crackers I ate last night will make a re-appearance. The tupperware bowls are in the bottom cabinet. I’m certain I am exaggerating, but I know what the thermometer reads when the tylenol wears off, and I’m scared. And so cold. Shaking uncontrollably on the kitchen floor.

The bathroom door opens and I call out N’s name without the energy to hope that it is her. It is. I don’t worry about scaring her, even if I am. My panic subsides, but the shaking does not. She helps me to the bathroom and waits outside the door. The nausea is gone, but the shaking remains. She walks me back to my room; my arms draped around her shoulders. We pass by the thermostat. 57 degrees. Our heat broke in the night, again. I’m almost relieved. A high fever and an arctic apartment – no wonder I’m shaking. N puts me to bed, opens the tylenol bottle with ease, and produces two for me to swallow. I can feel the heat emerge as I open my mouth and I want to wonder why I am so cold when my body temperature is so high.

N pulls the covers back up around my shoulders. I want to say “thank you” and “I love you” and “you’re my person” – that line from Grey’s that I don’t really understand because I haven’t seen enough episodes – and “you’re my Carrie” when she comes to help a flu laden Samantha, and “I hoped it was you in the bathroom“… but I’m shaking, worried that I’ll never stop, she’s gone, and I’m falling back to sleep.

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