I came down with a fever yesterday afternoon. I felt it suddenly, at the check-out counter in the grocery store. The clerk asked me, “How are you today?” and it was as if her question made me realize I wasn’t feeling so great.
“Tired,” I said.
The walk home seemed to take forever, as if the distance was expanding faster than I could make up the difference. My wife was frantically busy with other matters, so I struggled to get the kids fed and the kitchen cleaned up, all the while feeling the walls closing in.
I kicked the kids off the computer and sent them to early baths. I lay down and took my temperature.
I use an electronic ear-drum thermometer to take the temperature of members of my family, but I can’t get the angle right to use it on myself. I can’t find the sweet spot. The resulting reading suggests not that I have a fever, but rather that I should be basking beneath a heat lamp.
For myself I use a digital sub-lingual thermometer, Fahrenheit. Through a squinting right eye I watch the numbers count upward. Finally: beep beep beep, 102.1. Good radio station, bad temperature. I take some ibuprofen, and go to bed at about 9PM. Daughter is banished to “the big bedroom,” where she can sleep with Mom--which she actually would prefer every night if allowed--because I suspect I’m contagious. This means I’m sleeping in “the pink room,” with the Disney Princesses poster beside me and a minefield of Polly Pocket accessories on the floor.
I can’t sleep. I find that when I have a fever, my brain starts building chicken coops. My thoughts become multifarious and manic and overlapping, as if they are providing a narration of what they are thinking about, and at the same time a critique of the narration. One earworm runs into the next, and worries about things that on a daylight scale don’t matter--garden weeds, the algae on the eves troughs, the fate of the DVDs I lent to someone four months ago, and so on—run through my head in a loop, a mobius strip must-do list. I toss and turn, too hot and at the same time too cold.
I turn on a fan for its white noise. I almost drift off, but not quite. I decide to take my temperature again. This time, I find myself rooting for the increasing numbers. C’mon 100, you can do it...99.2, 99.4, 99.8...I try to predict where it will end. C’mon lucky 101.6!
101.5! Oh, so close.
Now what? Still no convincing signs of sleepiness. I decide to make use of the hullabaloo in my head. I will think of a new interpreter story. (The series--if I can call it that-- has been on hiatus--if I can call it that-- since the conclusion of the lightning storyline.) Within an hour I have something, for the first time without making notes. I fear I will forget it, the details, if I ever fall asleep, so I tell myself the story 4 or 5 times.
Eventually I fall asleep and sleep past 8AM. Fortunately, because it’s the weekend, Mom is home to make breakfast.
I got up, fever-free, and spent an hour typing out the story, a decent first draft. I hope to have it out this week, depending on how things go with other commitments.
Perhaps low-grade fevers have a creative upside; this remains to be seen. In any case, I hope to Hell I can sleep tonight.