This mucal soup in my head, which was originally caused by allergies to the new building my department moved into, has created a nasty sinus infection. I let this infection go for much too long, but no longer than five months, because I was raised by parents who didn't believe in being sick.

I never really understood why it should matter to me whether they believed in being sick or not, because sometimes sick is sick no matter what your belief system. I knew that even at the tender age of seven, when my mother and I had the following conversation:

Me: I'm feeling sick.
Mother: Can you hear what I'm saying?
Me: Yeah.
Mother: How many fingers am I holding up? (She holds her hand out, fingers splayed).
Me: Five.
Mother: Good. Can you walk in a straight line?
Me: Uh huh.
Mother: Good, then. Go to school.

We had this conversation many times, and it was always the same three questions. Without any major blood loss to prove the seriousness of my condition, I was sent out of the house, so it seemed to the outside world that I was rarely, if ever, sick. I would like to set the record straight: I was sick as often as any other kid in my neighbourhood. I just had parents that thought I should spend my time being propped up in a desk dribbling snot rather than being propped up in front of "Mr. Rogers" hopped up on cold medicine.

My parents could take this three-question rule pretty far, too. I think the farthest they ever took it was when my little brother, Fidridge broke his arm. He was somewhere between four and six years old. I used to climb trees to get away from him, but he figured out that he could get into one of the trees if he pushed an overturned garbage can under it. This pissed me off to no end, because it meant that the only place I had to be alone, the stand of poplars in our back yard, was being invaded. One day, I came up with what seemed to be the perfect plan, and I stress seemed. I waited for him to crawl up into the tree, and then I took the trash can away and walked into the house, abandoning him in the back yard to deal with this new problem on his own. I knew that he couldn't get down out of the tree without it and was pleased to have some time to myself. (I have never claimed that I was a shining role model as an older sister).

I promptly forgot about Fidridge, and it wasn't until quite a while later that any of us thought of him. His loud bellowing in the yard got our attention. He had jumped out of the tree unaided after being stuck in it for well over an hour. My mother ran out and brought him into the house. He kept repeating that he had broken his arm, but he was told to stop complaining so much all the time and spent the next couple of hours lying on the couch downstairs emitting occasional whimpers and protests. Poor kid. He had passed the three-question test. If our parents had only expanded the test to include a fourth question regarding fine motor skills, he would not have been left lying on the couch for two hours with a broken arm being told he was a baby.

This whole story illustrating my childhood cruelty and my parents' denial of any handicapping imperfection in their two non-handicapped children is all backstory for the real issue at hand. I have adopted my parents' take on illness to a certain extent in my independent adult life. This sinus infection, the effect of which is being compounded by an inordinantly yucky cold, is my fault.

I have been suffering from allergies since my department moved into this new building in October. I have never suffered too terribly from allergies, and my family has always poo-pooed taking them seriously. (Did I just type "poo-pooed"? Ick. Terribly sorry. I blame the church ladies of my youth). Allergies schmallergies, my father would say. So, when the allergies to this new building started getting to me with the stuffy nose, red eyes, and headaches, I pretended I had the minor irritance of a passing cold and ate ibuprofen. On Thursday, I finally acknowledged that I had not been able to hear at all clearly since October, and I went to the mediclinic to find out what was up. The doctor who looked at me obviously thought I was an idiot for having left things go so long and told me that I had given myself a sinus infection by letting the mucus buildup in my head sit and fester for so long. He's probably right. I don't really have a guage for what requires medical intervention short of protruding bone or excessive blood loss.

Now I find myself doped up on all kinds of medication for infection, allergies, and pain with very little in the way of the senses of smell, taste or depth of perception. Proof that I am not all I can be today: I mistook an actual three-dimensional box for a picture of a box tacked to a bulletin board, I realized that I had consumed more than one piece of my plastic fork with lunch when the bit I spit out did not complete the fork I had left, and I ate an egg that I couldn't pinpoint the exact smell of and am now truly regretting my smell-disabled choice.

Despite my upbringing, I think that I have come to terms with the fact that I am actually sick and infected and prone to bad relations with reality at this point. I am going to finish the last bit of this leg of my volunteer work tonight, and at 7:30 I am going to lounge around in a steamy bath with Sewer, Gas, and Electric by Matt Ruff, eat many milligrams of vitamin C / antibiotics / nasal spray / ibuprofen, and freaking get better already. I've been doing the sick thing solid since Thursday, and NOW IS THE TIME TO STOP. I can only accept this lesser state of physical health for so long before the messages from my childhood reassert their psychotic little heads.

I just got the best spam today. I have been invited to chat online with Hot Julie. She's a bisexual virgo who loves to show off her hot body in front of her webcam. She is 5-foot-10 and has D-sized breasts but only weighs 124 pounds. Everything aside from her breasts must be sheer bone and sinew. Hott. I'm off to get oiled up.

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"Fergus Falling" by Galway Kinnell