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Been knocked out by illness? You're not alone

Ya know the expression, "When it rains, it pours?" Well, in my life, it's been a deluge lately. No, not merely a deluge, a veritable tsunami of tsuris--that's troubles, for those unfamiliar with Yiddish.

Even before getting back from two hell weeks on the East Coast handling my mom's medical emergency, I get a call from my husband telling me his back has gone out, and he has a case of the sniffles to boot. Sheesh, you would think he'd keep a stiff upper lip and not say a word, at least until I got back. But no, if I couldn't be here to comfort him, I could at least offer long-distance sympathy. A trip to the doctor and some heavy-duty muscle relaxants brought him some relief, but it wasn't until I returned and was able to place my magical healing hands on his body that he got back to something resembling normal.

When I arrived in Tucson on a late Tuesday night, I was prepared to dive right in and get everything in order.

Besides the dirty laundry I'd schlepped from the East, other laundry was piling up, as was a mountain of bills and assorted mail. Wednesday saw me in whirling-dervish mode, going from one task to another with lightning speed.

As I go through the mail, my husband informs me that he somehow managed to pay two credit-card bills after the due date. I immediately get on the phone and plead my case to my creditor, who tells me not to worry; there would be no late fee and no increase in my rate. Good credit-card company.

Meanwhile, my husband calls his creditor and learns there is nothing to be done; a late fee would be charged and his rate increased. Bad credit-card company. But not to worry; the company is more than happy to enroll him in his choice of great programs promising cash rewards for every dollar he spends. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Forget it, says my husband. Not only would he no longer use this card, but he intended to pay the balance off in its entirety and keep the account open since it would cost the company money to keep it active. Not much in the way of payback, but at least it's something.

Just when I start thinking things may be coming together, Thursday finds me flat on my back, as weak as a puppy and totally out of it. Well, OK, I figure, the stress finally caught up with me. Just a day or two in bed, with some herbal tea, and I'll be good as new.

Seems the universe had other plans.

By the fourth day of virtually nonstop sleep, next to no food and intermittent chills, my husband threatens to tie me to the top of the car and haul me to the doctor if I don't go willingly. By now, death seems a welcome release, so off to the doctor I go, where I learn I've got a temperature of more than 103 degrees--and by the way, it's pneumonia, making it impossible for me to take a deep breath.

But not just any pneumonia, rather something called pneumonia with febrile packets. I picture a bunch of germs with backpacks.

A shot in the butt, a $98 prescription for clarithromycin--an antibiotic one never wants to take if it can be avoided--and I was good to go until my follow-up visit a week later. The insidious thing about clarithromycin is how bad it tastes when you least expect it. Somewhere between rusty nails and sludge from the Roger Road Treatment Plant as a base note, the antibiotic's unique flavor comes through just after drinking water. So the choice is between dehydration and having my mouth taste like a sewer. I can't tell you how many nights I went to bed sucking on hard candy and risking a mouthful of cavities.

After two weeks of absolute certainty that the universe's idea of a joke was to make me feel as though I'd just spent 14 days in a meat grinder, I finally started to make a feeble comeback. The simplest tasks became occasions for celebration. I was overjoyed the first time I had the strength to cook myself breakfast. I was thrilled at being able to stay awake long enough to read more than one page in a book.

I'm pretty much OK now. I can take a deep breath without hurting, and I can get through the day without having to sleep after two hours of activity. But I'm making sure I've got a lifetime supply of surgical masks on hand, just in case.

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