How to be Sick

Be the type of person who never gets sick. Laugh at the prospect of getting a flu shot (ha! ha! ha!), don’t wash your hands after you pee, touch every surface in the subway; it won’t matter because you never get ill. Scoff at your friends who are germaphobes and use Purell constantly. “Get a grip, you freak!”

Go to bed one night feeling happy and healthy. Think about all the things you have to do the next day and say to yourself, “Thank God I’m so healthy and can do everything I need to do. Tomorrow will be great!” Let your head hit your pillow and prepare for a beautiful slumber.

While asleep, experience something you’ve only read about in books, The Fever Dream, in which you undergo nine hours of severe hallucinations. Have your fever dream be about becoming Jerry Seinfeld’s writing partner in the Valley. Have it be so realistic that when you wake up intermittently, you still feel an urge to book a flight to L.A. to meet Jerry. “Can’t let him down…must meet him for lunch to discuss future story lines,” you’ll say in short blasts before you fall back asleep again.

Wake up feeling like you’ve just spent the night being mindfucked without a condom. Feel the unfamiliar feeling of nausea, headache, cough and fatigue converge to form influenza—a fast and furious nightmare that swoops in and terrorizes your life, only to leave you for dead.

Spend the next 24 hours barely conscious. Text your friends, “Bring me Advil, please!” and have them respond with, “What? I didn’t get that. Bad text reception. Bye!” Wish you had a significant other so someone would have to take care of you. It would be, like, their job because they love you and you give them orgasms. Wonder if you’ll be alone in your 60s. Become depressed.

Watch the day go by from your bed. See it go from light to bright light to dim light to darkness. Become very depressed.

Wake up the next day feeling a tiny bit better. Your body will feel weak and heavy and you’ll realize you haven’t eaten in a day, which may make you shamefully happy. Feel your sore ribs and swear that they jut out more. Order a smoothie. Take a few non-committal sips and put it down. Lie in bed and wish for your mommy. If only she were here to massage your scalp and coddle you. There’s something about being sick that makes everyone revert back to being a two-year-old brat, and it’s always your mother who you want. I guess you figure if a person can carry you in their womb for nine months without killing you, they must be the best at taking care of you.

Become dedicated to letting your body heal. Spend the next four days drinking lots of water, taking Vitamin C and weird vitamins you bought at a health food store that smell like shit, spending two hours a day lying in the bathtub, letting the water from the shower head wash over you, and getting 12 hours of sleep a night. Feel like a real adult for repairing your body. Young people only seem to know how to destroy their body, but you’re learning how to fix it, and it makes you feel good about yourself. You take pleasure in watching your body slowly bounce back after being reduced to pudding.

Leave your apartment after three days of seclusion to have lunch with a friend. Feel like everyone and everything is moving at a different frequency than you, and be slightly disengaged. Go home after the meal and take a long nap.

Wonder why no one talks about the emotional ramifications from being sick, how a few days inside your apartment with nothing but time on your hands can lead to some dark thinking. Feel surprised by the immense sadness you felt while sipping your smoothie and watching Judge Judy alone in your bed, and be unable to recall the last time you ever felt that lonely and scared. Maybe it was the fever bleeding into your brain, but maybe not. Leave this experience having a greater understanding of why people get married and have kids. They want to make sure that they’ll always have people who will bring them Advil, take them to doctor’s appointments, wipe their ass and have a vested interest in their physical and emotional well-being.

Recover completely and forget most of the lessons you learned while being sick. Continue to test the health gods by shunning Purrell, touching every surface of the subway and not washing your hands after you pee. Still take your Vitamin C though. Emegern-C tastes pretty good. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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