Monday, March 12, 2018

How is getting sick like cheesecake?

Getting sick is like cheesecake.

The first time I had cheesecake, it was a skinny little sliver of a piece in a restaurant. The texture just slid over my tongue, the taste sent fireworks to the back of my mouth, and the pleasure escaped in one big hum of satisfaction. It was gone in five bites.

Every other time I ordered cheesecake, it came in that same measly, pathetic, little sliver size. Then, one day, I discovered a cheesecake recipe. I even went out and bought a spring-form pan, and I made my own cheesecake cake. No slivers there!

I had all the cheesecake I could ever want.

And I haven’t eaten cheesecake since.

There are a lot of things like cheesecake: the too-much-of-a-good-thing story, the all-things-in-moderation story. And for the last week, it’s been the getting-sick story.

I am blessed with a strong constitution and good health. For most of my life, I simply didn’t understand people who missed things because they “had a cold.” Well, blow your nose, I thought; put on a sweatshirt. Then I had a 2-year-old who clung to me with her germ-spewing, hot little body, sneezing and coughing into my face. One red-letter week, that reduced us both to stagnant blobs on the couch. I had never felt so listless, so apathetic, so wrecked. Thank heavens it was just that once.

Sunday was a sunny, glorious day for a ski. Over hill, over dale, up and down, feeling great. Until Monday.

Monday didn’t feel so good. Every time I coughed, things would rattle around in my head till my brain hurt. I took to the couch.

The couch and I have a complex relationship. It is my homey spot, my comfortable spot for reading, for watching Netflix, for just hanging out. But it’s also a lazy spot, an avoidance spot, an I-just-don’t-feel-like-doing-it spot. So sometimes, guilt intrudes on couch good times.

But not if you’re sick! If you’re sick, you get to retreat to the couch to feel better. It’s advisable to lie on the couch so whatever you have doesn’t turn into the crud everyone else has. So first I went to the library to stock up on mysteries (all the brain could bear, sorry Alexander Hamilton). Then I settled in. Take-out for dinner (on the couch); heating pad (on the couch); sweatpants, baggy shirt, and no bra (on the couch).

Welcome to heaven.

Except for the cheesecake analogy. A week and four mysteries later, unlimited couch in actuality is not so much fun as unlimited couch as an idea. I missed two outings with friends, one performance, one party, and a movie. The only times I’d spent this much time on the couch, I was depressed. Was this illness or depression? Was I avoiding something, hiding on the couch rather than tackling it? Was coughing just an excuse to put my head in the sand?

Those questions were too much work for someone who could only manage lying on a couch. The effort seemed monumental. Any effort seemed monumental.

And the only reason you’re reading this is because it finally ended (but may I hold onto the empathy it taught me for other people who might succumb to germs and bacteria and viruses). Except that right now, I just feel relief. And better.


  1. The rest sharpened your writing. Good stuff. And yeah, lay off the cheesecake (in excess, of course) and welcome back to health!

  2. Welcome back to the land of the living. Enjoy NY!


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