Saturday, October 25, 2014

Under the Weather

It's a curious thing, this place where we get our commonly used phrases and think nothing of their origins. This last week, though, left me with a lot of time to think, especially on the particular phrase used in the title of this post: under the weather. 

A quick bit of research showed that it originally began as a nautical term used to describe one who is seasick from a water voyage and is sent below deck to alleviate the symptoms. Being below deck, and thereby under the weather creating the rough seas, one could more easily recuperate. Over the last ten days or so, though, I was under the weather of my sinuses which began their voyage with simple seasonal allergies and navigated quickly into a sinus infection that left my head swimming in nothing nearly as pleasant as ocean waters. It was not pretty.

After nearly three days on the couch, hoping that it was just the common cold from which I suffered and nothing more, I finally dragged myself to the doctor's office, a place I visit only in the most dire conditions. An hour in the waiting room was soon met with a friendly nurse who truly loved her job and made all my doctor's-office-fears subside quickly. A quick visit with a new doctor was met with "Oh, my God!" as she looked in my ears with that ear probe thingy. It's not a phrase you hope to hear from your doctor since you assume they have seen everything and are rarely moved to vocal exclamations as such. Apparently, my head was on the verge of explosion from all the infectious goodies it held. Two big shots in my tushy, a prescription for three-days of antibiotics, and I was out the door in just under 90 minutes. Within three hours, I already felt a positive difference. 

The time I spent away from my normal routine did allow more than ample time to reflect on some interesting, and yet also some unusual, points. My first realization was that the USA Network has enough Law and Order reruns to last from now until infinity, not that there's anything wrong with that. That was quickly seconded by the note that TBS Network has a similar number of episodes of The Big Bang Theory, which, again, I would not label as a negative. When sleep did finally visit itself upon me, only when reaching the most restful point of the REM cycle did violent coughing episodes arrive and remove any hope of a continuous night of rest. 

I must say that I did give thanks several times for having a job that allowed me to take time away without worrying about my paycheck. I realize my good fortunate in that benefit and know that not all people have the same peace of mind. It is something I do not take for granted. Quickly on its heels is the fact that the health insurance I enjoy is another good fortune that I do not take for granted. For many years in my past, I had no health insurance and know all too well the fear facing every day, hoping nothing happened to cause me to need medical care. It is a fear that far too many people face every day, and I believe that affordable health care should be available to every person, every where, regardless of employment, social, or financial status. Unfortunately, it is an argument that is still ongoing in my country, and one I do not see being resolved soon. How one of the most powerful countries in the world can fall short of finding resolution to a basic human need is one that befuddles me daily.

Beyond these realizations from my week on the mend, I saw so many other simple reminders of the good in life. There is nothing like hacking up a lung and praying for a speedy death to relieve you of your couch-bound misery to bring to light the blessings that befall me every day. 
  • I have access to a magical medical injection that sent armies of liquid warriors through my veins to attack the infectious invaders of my sinuses. These little warriors rock!
  • A smile from the nurse who patted my arm assuredly and said simply, "Now, let's get you fixed."  
  • A new doctor who brushed off the formality when I called her by her title, saying, "Just call me Robin."
  • A job that allows me days off to get well and an employer who knows I'll stay up with my work.
  • Sweet text messages from friends, asking how I am feeling.
  • Two incredible furry children who never left my side and kept their requests for attention to a minimum while I recuperated, resolving to accept a pat on the head as full payment for their help.
  • Beautiful autumn weather that gave me a few minutes of pleasantry when I was periodically able to emerge from my cocoon.
  • Electronic connections to the outside world that not only allowed me to keep up with my work, but also not feel so isolated.
  • The mailman, who brings mail from all over the world, to my door, six days a week. Have you ever thought how amazing that really is?
Each of these day-to-day occurrences could easily, and often are, taken for granted, but shouldn't we take a little extra time to recognize how amazing these things are? The creature comforts on which we rely each day are expected, but take away one -- or two, or three -- of them, and their absence becomes quite noticeable. Then imagine people in other parts of the world -- or even just down the street -- who may not have the same things. Talk about perspective. 

It reminds me of a story my dad used to tell me of his time growing up on the south side of Chicago. He often saw one of his neighbors following the train tracks and picking up lumps of coal that had fallen from the train. He often helped the neighbor gather the coal in her bucket. He saw it as some sort of game and began to try to find more coal each time he played this game with her. He did not realize until years later that it wasn't a game. The young girl gathered the cast off coal from the trains for her family to burn for heat in their home. It was during the Great Depression, and though my father's family was able to purchase fuel to heat their home, the little girl's family was not as fortunate. The coal they gathered was the difference between survival and freezing. 

So many of the little things we experience in our lives can be overlooked due to their size, but on the whole, they add up to more than we could ever imagine.

Notice those small positives in your life. Realize they are special and that not everyone gets them. Be thankful for them as they come and never take them for granted. Then, when you realize how much those little nuggets of coal warm your life, start giving them away, and give some warmth to someone else's world.


  1. Reeetah! Your dad touches lives through your words. His legacy lives on...and makes me once again wish that I could have met him. Thank you so much for sharing your gift of storytelling and also for all the nuggets that you've given me over the years. You have no idea how much your friendship means to me. I love ya, my sister! (Hope you feel better soon!)

    1. Sheerah, my sista! Feeling so much better now but still don't have all my hearing back. I'm going to use it to my advantage :-) especially when asked next week to help do some task I dislike. And, yes, you would have liked my Dad -- such an easy going guy. He would have liked you, too, because of your sharp wit. I can hear him laughing along with some of your observations.

  2. Oh golly, Rita, what a nasty infection! I am SO glad you are on the mend. How wonderful to remember all those things we have to be grateful for. Your dad really does sound like such a remarkable human being - keep writing that book, I want to read it! I really, really do. So often after I have been unwell, I am reminded of how grateful I am to have my good health. As you say, it's all those day-to-day things that are so easy for us to take for granted. Thank you for the reminder :-)


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