With every breath that came to me in that bed, there was a grip of pain around my lungs. It was almost as if someone were both sitting on my chest and squeezing my lungs mercilessly at the same time. It should have been no surprise to me working where I worked, working with whom I worked with, that I'd finally found my way up to the creme de la creme of upper respiratory diseases, but I had. I had pnemonia. Those little bastards had finally given me pnemonia. Fuck you hand sanitizer.
My body had become so weak and seemingly brittle in those weeks that the infection had ravaged me. It felt like it was hyper concentrated on destroying me one bit at a time. My head hurt. My shoulders ached. My chest had turned shades of red. My back hurt. That was what made it impossible to get comfortable. Pain radiated down my flank and into my spine and stiffened me. I would toss and turn left and right trying to find any modicum of comfort, but none came. At one point, I found myself on the floor on my knees in excrutiating pain trying to drop tears from my eyes, but even that effort proved to be too much. Massaging the area aggrivated it, up or down in the bed, more or less pillows, it didn't matter; it all seemed to make everything about those days horrible. When my doctors intervened, the smug satisfaction I'd felt at refusing the various prescribed drugs for every cough and sniffle I'd had in previous months, the wanting to fight it on my own, all but disappeared as I quite literally found myself begging for something to make the pain go away. My wish was granted post haste. I swallowed down giant white pills that knocked me out so far into oblivion it took 8 hours for me to come back from just the first one.
Four years prior to these days I had found my way to a park bench on what could be described as one of the most beautiful days on earth. The weather, typically too hot, too muggy, and unbearable had made way for three months of Spring where things like breezes actually exsited. I wish I could have been more aware of it then, but I wasn't. I was bogged down in the mire of my thoughts. I was about a year into a devastating depression stemming from the loss of a friend I'd known nearly 10 years. Not having her in my life anymore as my best friend had clouded over everything in my life. I was in bed mostly, sleeping endlessly and trying to forget. It didn't work. I didn't work. I couldn't anymore. I'd had therapy thrust on me, but it just seemed to make everything that much more real and painful. I'd woken up that morning, wrote my last letter, cleaned up my room, thrown away my secrets, and prepared not to come back, but at the last minute possible, I'd driven into that park to sit down on my last day. I picked up my cell phone, tears welling in my eyes, and I randomly dialed someone on my contact list and holding back a quivering voice, asked them to meet me at the park. I'd made an unfortunate bargain that if they came, I wouldn't do it, and if they didn't, that was going to be proof.
And there I now was in bed, wrapped in several layers of pain, mercifully drugged and in and out of sleep and thinking of that day and how bad I wanted to just pack up and leave this world and now here I was in bed in actual physical pain struggling to just catch a single easy breath, and to just live. Here I didn't quite have a choice what was happening to me and how my body was reacting, but back then I did have a choice, and how different it all felt now, having to fight to live. I'd been sick a lot this particular year, having gone through rounds of strep throat, bronchitus, and laryngitis. I was exposed to over a thousand people, many of them children all coughing, snotting, and sneezing, on a daily basis, five days a week, and I could only hand wash and hand sanitize so many times before something got me. Here I now was with what I didn't think could be any worse that strep which I remembered had left me with the highest fever I'd ever had in my life and the body aches, and the never ending scraping feeling at the back of my throat. I was floating now. That's what it felt like on those heavily prescribed drugs. My thoughts circled around that day in the park and how I was so ready to leave and hadn't thought about anything else but. Now, I wanted to live. I wanted to get better. I wanted to get back to my routine and go home.
There are people everywhere fighting off not only much bigger demons but difficult illnessness and disease and pain, but they're fighting because life is worth it. I had to ask myself, what was the point? I could just slip off into the darkness and be gone, but something in both cases, pulled me back to the surface and told me to keep going as Chruchill once said about marching through hell. It's okay to be weak and to not know what you're doing, or what's going to happen tomorrow, or how you're going to manage to solve your problems. It's okay to realize that you may be broken, but you can't stay there. We aren't unique in our struggles. We think we are, but we really aren't. Reaching out to even one person, can make all the difference and can help you to see that you may not know in that moment what your purpose is, or why you bother with the here and now, but you'll never know if you just let go. I think of everything that's happened since those days. I mean just something little like, getting to celebrate a birthday, or hug my mom, or listen to a new song on the radio. Those are big deals.
It took almost a month and a half to make a full recovery from my bout with bacterial pnemonia. I had a lot of time to think about my life and what all had transpired. The biggest thing that came out of fighting death with all that I could muster, was an appreciation for this struggle we call life. Life isn't just the college graduations, first jobs, first kisses, and births, its a sum of all the little moments as well that help us be the people we are and live the life we're leading. I know two things in life and if you're "in it" right now, and you're struggling, and you don't know what to do, just do two things: just keep breathing and just keep fighting. It's one second, one minute, one hour until the next day, but its worth it to know that what you're doing now, how you're fighting to survive can have real meaning and can impact others in the positive including yourself, but the only way to find out, is to do it.