on being ill

virginia woolf once lamented that too little had been written about pain and illness though it is such an integral part of the human experience. and so she sat out to write a book on it. which became: ‘on being ill’, where woolf claims that pain and illness enhances our perceptions and reduces self-consciousness. all i can say is: how perceptively and beautifully observed.
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i became violently ill upon return home from my latest excursion up north. it may have something to do with the sudden changes in temperature, with the unwashed apricots i ate on the way, or that one fly that flew into my throat when i put my head out of the car. ok, i made that part up.
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i was saying i fell violently ill when i returned home. i ran a very high fever -the kind where if i put my palm on my own forehead, even though it was my own hand, i could feel the temperature. and all that fun stuff attendant with high temperature that makes you hallucinate and see strange large un-geometric, other-dimensional shapes in unworldly colors.
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at the same time, i also got a stomach virus, and a strange gnawing pain appeared in my chest, thankfully perhaps not on the left side. i went to see several doctors, whose main preoccupation here seems to be the sales of the medications they receive commissions on. so i insisted on being driven from doctor to doctor all over the town until i found one that did not require 1. sudden and large-scale intake of outdated and dubious chemicals of assorted flavors, colors, shapes and packaging and variously made and manufactured in pakistan and china and 2. needles. i abhor needles. the last time i fell ill was in indonesia where a blood test was required, and i nearly lost consciousness at the sight of the needle entering my veins to draw out my blood.
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which proved considerable work. i kept leaving a doctor’s office with the prescriptions as soon as i would find out from the pharmacist that it contained needles. finally i found a doctor who was about to leave his office and perhaps did not have the time to scribble too many medicines and probably forgot about the syringes too. i was overjoyed. took the medicine for the heck of it -or the placebo. came home and threw myself on the bed in joyless abandon. my stomach recovered, the fever dissipated, and the pain in my chest grew weaker, although it still occasionally reminds me of its existence.
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but while i was still ill and feverish and hallucinating and bed-bound, i have to confess to a heightened state of concentration. i was in delirium, but a verse from hafez kept getting into and out of my head and before soon i noticed that i could hold on to it like a plank in a vast moving sea and trying to see where it leads me. lo and behold, as i lay there shivering with a blanket around me in may, i reconstructed from a deconstructed and disjointed memory bits and pieces of the ghazal until it became apparent to me for the upteenth time what joy there lay in classic farsi poetry.
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besides this, i felt that in the deepest throes of the illness, rather than being disjointed from reality and this place, i felt a bit too connected to a channel or stream of sorts, to what coelho has named the soul of the world in his alchemist. or to something like that. whatever. when you are in pain, hearing the news that thousands of people in china are stuck for days under piles of debri hits you differently. all stories of pain and suffering seems a bit more poignant, a bit more human, than if you have your coffee in your left hand and your newspaper in the right and all you can think of is the day’s agenda, and that’s where the headline in block letters right in front of your eyes becomes another statistic.
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no, i do not wish to fall ill. it is not fun. it is not fun. it is painful and makes you feel helpless and nauseous and sometimes you worry if you will die and how will the people talk about you after your death (again having to do with a rediculously alert state of consciousness.)

but oh does it make you feel.

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~ by safrang on May 20, 2008.

2 Responses to “on being ill”

  1. […] the other day when i was writing on being ill -here- and trying to describe all the strange shapes my high fever was conjuring up… […]

  2. […] on being ill […]

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