My eyeballs feel like they’ve been boiled and hurled back into my head. With a slingshot. And someone apparently took a ball-peen hammer and went to town on my eye sockets while I slept.
If this is spring, you can keep it.
I’ve seen 51 springs, and this is the first time my body has decided it doesn’t like it. In years past, I noticed our annual coating of pollen the same way you notice the gauntlet of orange-and-white barrels on Dorchester Road—yep, there it is. Again. Big whoop.
Only this spring (which seems like summer already, with muggy nights and daily showers), my body didn’t say, “Big whoop.” It distinctly said—and I hope I’m translating correctly—“Aaaarrrgh! You’re fixing to die.”
It’s not like my nose is running and my eyes are itching. I’m just exhausted and everything above my teeth feels like it’s going to explode. When I give Widdle the snarky side-eye, which is several times a day, you can almost hear my eyeballs click back into place.
Widdle was eating a sloppy tomato sammich last night as I sat clutching my throbbing brow. “I swear my eyes are going to pop out on stalks,” I muttered. “Can eyeballs actually burst?”
Widdle coughed and put down his food. “Tomatoes aren’t that good this year,” he said. Then, sympathetically: “Why don’t you take two ibuprofen?”
That’s just it, you see: I hate to take medicine. Hate it. I worry about what it may do to my liver, not to mention most meds make me sick. After I had sinus surgery in 2010, the doctor gave me pills to take for nausea. I threw them up. I swallow a sleeping pill every night and that’s quite enough to choke down, thank you very much.
I do not do sickness well, and the fact that I’m a lifelong hypochondriac doesn’t help. Here’s the thing: I follow a healthful diet, run 30 miles a week, avoid caffeine and go to bed every night by 11 p.m. I do all these things so I won’t get sick. Which means that when I do get sick, it scares me to death.
My reasoning goes something like this… “Despite my best efforts, my body has betrayed me. Thus I am doomed to die a slow, hideous death.”
To put it another way: If I sneeze twice, I make a new will.
Widdle, of course, is the exact opposite. The man is John Wayne tough. A few months ago he announced, “I don’t feel well.” Turns out his not feeling well includes vomiting, fever and a blinding headache.
He shrugged off my hysterical flutterings and pleas to go to the doctor. “I just need to rest,” he said, and crawled into bed. He stayed there exactly 24 hours. (I was beside myself, imagining an empty life as the Widow Widdle.) Then he got up, ate breakfast, whistled a tune in the shower and went to work. I’d have been writing down the name of my favorite florist and hymns for my homegoing service.
My current condition can best be described in the words of the ER doctor who treated me for norovirus a few years back: “The good news is, you’re not going to die. The bad news is, you’re not going to die.”
As Widdle helpfully pointed out, no one has ever died from a little pollen.
‘Scuse me while I click my eyeballs back in place.
Julie R. Smith, whose tombstone will say, “I told you so,” can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.