[Is it getting better or do you feel the same?]
I've had bronchitis for two and half weeks. Of course in traditional Alicia style I thought I had a cold for the first week and a half and that "I can kick it myself." After three days of no alcohol (gouge out my eyes), as much water as humanly possible and extra vitamin C and ecchinacia it became clear that I could not, in fact, "kick it." I went to a doctor who told me that I have bronchitis with bronchospasm - meaning asthmatic-like response. Meaning if this ever happens to me again the assholes are gonna tell me I'm an asmatic. At which point I'll flee to Mexico, where I will hide from the diagnosis for the rest of my days.
The doctor (a lady doctor) put me on a machine that I am almost certain got me high. Then she took chest x-rays in which my breasts looked exquisite. Oh yes, and she pointed out that any patches of white I could see were infection, and unfortunately infection was everywhere. Then she sent me on my way with prescriptions for antibiotics (three big pink pills), anti-inflammatory steroids (about which I foolishly asked whether they would cause me to grow hair, at which point she reminded me that anabolic steroids are illegal and cannot be bought over the counter at Walgreens) and a stupid inhaler. Stupid is not the brand, it is my pet adjective for it.
So I'm done with the antibiotics, though I cannot drink for another 5 days because they will be in my system still. I think (hope upon shred of hope) that I am getting better. Today I hacked up quite a bit of obnoxious phlegm, which seems to be much clearer than it has been of late. I feel clearer now, too. Bronchitis is stupid and I hate it with every fiber of my being. Everyone I talk to tells tales of Great Aunt Bea who had bronchitis until she died, or their sickly friend Ralph whose cough remained for 6 months! These types of situations are unacceptable. I am going to be back on track in exactly 5 days. If my body disagrees, it will have to take me to court.
There is a larger issue than bronchitis for me, though. It's something strange, and new and a bit frightening. It's the reality of becoming an adult. I am 20 years old, and when I get sick there is no one to make me chicken noodle soup. There is no one to tell me how to take care of myself, or whether its okay to go out and cure my stircraziness. I waited for a week and half before I realized that I can not, in fact, tough it out. This throws everything out of whack for me, and I have no one around to instruct me on how to put things back on line.
It's weird not to be told what to do. I'm simply left with echoes of my mother and father telling me what's right, like, "Big girl at night, big girl in the morning" or "Drink lots of fluids." I'm left with all sorts of questions, like will I get better? How will I know? There's no definitive time anymore. It's not like - well, you're better when you feel well enough to go back to school. It's this void without distraction from the pain. And I wish more than anything I could call someone and ask, do you think I should call off from work? Is it worth it? I don't know, Mom, I need help. But she wouldn't have the right answer, even if I did call because she is too far removed from the every day, real-time parts of the sickness. It's like a best friend who you don't know what to say to after 6 months because they don't know about all the details of daily life that have come and gone, and generalizing is pointless and so the silence lingers.
Whenever I bake cookies with my mom I have to hand over the bowl of stirred batter to her so she could get out all of the lumps. Even when I was in high school and lifting weights every day, I still couldn't make the batter smooth like my mom could. When I would express my exasperation over this strange phenomenon my mom would always reply, "This is 30 years experience of making cookies. You'll get better."
It takes a specific experience or an outside party to recognize change. I didn't know I was really stepping into adulthood until I fell ill - it's a marker, a tangible experience to show the change. I can only imagine I'll get better at taking care of things in my life. There will be so many mistakes, I know, times when I should have done this or that, when I could have prevented this or helped do that. It will be years and years before my life is smooth, after ironing out so much through trial and error.
And it's okay that I'm still a little scared.