This week has not been fun. I tried to think of a witty, clichéd and colorful way of stating that, but alas my brain is just not up to the challenge. Pardon any further demonstrations of brain farts and inadequacies in my vocabulary.
Monday I woke up with a mild fever, a sore throat, nausea, extreme body aches, and headache that could conceivably take down a horse, and just a general sense “I am not healthy.” The previous week ended with me coming home on the Blue Line and feeling a certain out-of-body dissociative free-floating, mind numbing …and for lack of a better word… blah sensation. The next morning I woke up with the lymph node on the left side of my neck swollen to the size of a golf ball. It hurt to turn my head. Other than that, and a distinct airy feeling, I felt relatively okay. But as the weekend progressed, I could feel fatigue set in, body aches and chills follow. By Monday morning I felt a sense of vertigo when I woke up, half stumbling down the stairs, shouting for my mom and asking where the thermometer was. I registered a low-grade fever and sat in the family room feeling shocked at how strange and sick I felt. “You should call the doctor Stephanie.” And so I did.
After asking countless questions, feeling my lymph nodes, checking my lungs, taking my temperature, my doctor decided to give me a strep test, a mono spot, draw blood for “other purposes,” and test me for tonsillitis. In the mean time he gave me antibiotics and told me to stay off my feet and rest. I received the test results back on Wednesday and my doctor told me I had evidence of Epstein Bar in my system (the mono virus) but it appeared at levels that indicate me having had mono in the “distant past,” which meant “not the current issue.” I was also told that my white blood cell count was high which indicates some type of infection or outside force acting on my immune system, so I should continue to rest, push fluids and finish out the antibiotics. If by today I still felt sick, I needed to call and schedule a second appointment to go from there.
I still have a fever. My throat still hurts. My body aches. My fatigue registers at a 9.9 on a scale of 10. My lymph nodes are still golf ball-esque. I get to call and schedule another appointment and discuss the fact that even though my tests show that I had mono long ago, in a land faraway, that three years ago when a doctor thought I had it, there was no indication of ever having it. So some time in the last three years I had mono and did not know it or I have it now and my body is producing an army of white blood cells to combat against the bitch and it’s causing the symptoms I have now. Either way, something is happening in my body and I am well aware of it. The dizzy, dissociative feeling has not left me. It’s like my mind still wants to work at normal speed but my body is lethargic and unable to compute.
In addition to my sickness woes came devastating news on Monday. Something I have been hesitant to share, as it is a deeply personal and depressing thing. Dave, Jonathan’s father, passed away on Monday after battling cancer for over a year. He had a prognosis of July, and he made it into the first fledgling weeks of August. When I received the news I went into shock, unable to cry. I walked downstairs and told my mom with a straight, tearless face that Dave had passed away. What came next was such venom and anger that I think the word venom does not even come close to describing the heart of my reaction. He died before his time. He has a three-year old granddaughter and a one year old grandson. He was young and in his prime and disease weakened his immune system to pudding so that when he got a slight infection, he became septic and died in the most painful way imaginable. I received an e-mail from Jonathan on Monday night that described watching his father die. It stoked the angry fires. It made me want to scream out, pound my fists, and curse whatever benevolent force allowed for this man to suffer in such a painful and horrific way. But I hold on to the thought that at least family surrounded him. They held his hand, told him they loved him, and coached him through his final moments (“It’s okay Dad, you can let go.” “You should rest now, you’ve fought so hard.” “Sleep Dave, sleep.”) I just don’t understand why this type of cosmic folly happens. Why the good ones suffer. Why anyone should suffer. Especially people and families like the Roses. (Grandpa Rose is still fighting his battle, as is Uncle Mark.)
I am currently in Iowa for the wake and funeral. This weekend will be difficult. Not only am I saying goodbye to a man I admired, loved, and cherished, but I will be seeing Jonathan for the first time since our break-up. The emotions are literally humming through me. I can feel them under my skin, brushing against the nerves, making me tense and anxious. I have communicated with Jonathan, being an ear for him, a way to pour out his emotions during this difficult time, but there is something different between calling and texting and e-mailing and seeing someone face-to-face. There is so much emotion still left there, and when I say that I mean both of us still carry a lot of anger towards one another for how our end came about. But this is not the time, nor the place, for that to manifest itself. I commented earlier this week that I needed strength, I could not let myself break yet, I had to carry this shield around with me to make sure that I was the concrete Jonathan could lay his grief upon. I still need to be that.