It’s been three weeks since I first got sick and ended up in the hospital on Malta and two weeks since I started diligently taking medication, forcibly relaxing, hydrating like it’s my job, and eating soup, soup, soup, and more soup.
In that time, I’ve grown tired of soup and even more tired of Powerade. There were days that I couldn’t get the taste of blue flavor (whatever that is) out of my mouth, no matter how I tried. And there were even more days when I found myself daydreaming wildly about Indian food and pizza, things my body couldn’t yet handle.
The third week most of my symptoms were gone, though my stomach still churned a bit every couple days and I sometimes still felt dizzy or winded or slow to understand things.
I guess that’s part of the recovery process, but it was difficult both because it’s just hard to feel like your body and mind have taken a sudden dive and also because it changes the way you interact with people.
Like in the grocery store when an impatient customer bumped into me and around me as I tried to bag my groceries, slower than usual, not quite balanced. The Swiss are like this a bit…you’re not supposed to get in anyone’s way, to be a bother. It’s usually a nice thing about living here; people don’t throw loud parties at night or stand in the doorway of the train. But what happens when you literally can’t move quickly enough to get out of the way?
At least in this case, the answer is passive aggressiveness. The answer is that the impatient shopper just shoved into me and around me, making me feel even clumsier and worse and unsteady on my feet, making me feel frustrated at myself and at the lack of compassion we human beings can be all too capable of.
It’s too common that we assume the person isn’t getting out of the way because they’re inconsiderate when, perhaps, we should assume that they can’t. Or at least keep our annoyance to ourselves, instead of bumping into them on the way to our own groceries.
So it’s been frustrating and hard. And I feel stupid half the time, too. Like my mind is slower and I’m not making sense, not connecting my train of thought back to the conversation at hand. I have been reading my magazine article drafts over and over and over, afraid that my recovering brain will miss a big mistake.
Still, recovery isn’t all bad, of course. Because recovery means things are going in the right direction. It means I can slowly, tentatively start eating more normally. It means I’ve been making myself tea with milk, which I love and missed. It means I actually can write and work—things that felt impossible in the height of my illness.
And not everyone is bumping into me impatiently, of course. Did I tell you that my lovely new roommate made me soup? Right after my last post, while I was still under doctor’s orders not to eat dairy or fruit or vegetables, but to stick to my seemingly-infinite diet of crackers and soup and plain bread. Right then my kind roommate made me a giant pot of broth—fresh with chicken and vegetable flavors. It was 10 times better than the store-bought stuff I’d been sipping. It was the loveliest of kindnesses.
And so this recovery is a mixed bag, as so much of life is. My main symptoms are better, though I am still not completely myself. I’m in the way for some, but worth making soup for for others. I still haven’t fully processed things emotionally. Instead, I’ve been operating with a certain numbness, focused relentlessly on feeling better, pushing the emotional trauma of it aside to be dealt with later. But slowly and surely at least the physical part is headed in the right direction.