“Down goes Frasier.”
This is a favorite line of my brother in law who admittedly suffers from OCMAD (Obsessive-Compulsive-Muhammad-Ali-Disorder). It is also unfortunately, the one thing I am thinking as I grab at the stall door pulling myself up from the cold tile floor of the boy’s bathroom.
It is Monday the 8th of January, new semester, first day back, lots of new kids, new classes, a day when I’m normally on fire inspiring and joking and connecting. Today there is none of that. Its just survival.
Last Friday I was hit with a little sore throat, runny nose and a cough. No biggie, a little Zicam and Emergen-C and I’m fine. We were having a dinner party Saturday at the house, sit down for 20 to celebrate a high school friend’s move to Australia and there was much to be done. No time for sickness, story of my life, and also the reason I have 231 hours of sick leave banked from the last 18 years of teaching.
Saturday I discovered a bottle of Wal-Flu under my sink, it checked off all the needed medical boxes (Acetaminophen, Diphenhydramine HCI, Antihistamine Phenylephrine HCL). Cherry Flavored with 10% alcohol (not really sure if that’s a good thing), it provided the perfect addition to Saturday’s dinner.
And the party was awesome! A reunion of our high school punk band, the Vandals, reunited after a 30-year absence playing one night only in our 15×20 foot studio. Furniture was broken, penises were drawn on walls, great until Sunday morning when you realize furniture was broken and penises were drawn on your walls. My wife is a saint.
I tried to rally Sunday morning but my Friday symptoms now included body aches and a fever. Bed, tea, bed, Tylenol, bed, tea, bath, bed, that’s how the day went. I diagnosed myself with the cold as opposed to the flu (a cold is a milder respiratory illness) also no fever over 101 and no vomiting or diarrhea (Sorry TMI). But the real reason is that I wanted to go to work on Monday. And according to WEB MD a cold lasts about half the time of the flu.
So, Monday morning I made it through first period Art class (Ted talk about “Embracing Your Shake”) then midway through an Algebra diagnostic evaluation I get that not-too-familiar-but-I-know-what-this-means sweating all over. Body, face, mouth, something is terribly wrong in the vessels balance. My desk is next to the door and I bolt out to the boy’s bathroom, saying nothing. The cool rainy air is good but as I push on the bathroom door, I fall, landing on my back. Down goes Frasier.
I’ve logged a lot of hours in this bathroom, the bad old hung-over days of staring at my fiery red bloodshot face (Think Steve Bannon with a goatee), including that final Saturday when I was coordinating the CHSPE exam and I finally looked at myself and said: done. The quick-change days when I would put on a tie after teaching morning classes to go to my administrative job at the Arts and Ethics Academy in Santa Rosa. The golf and tennis coaching changes. The bathroom is a little like Superman’s phone booth but in all these years, I’ve never spent any time laid out on the tile floor.
The sweating subsided after a couple of minutes and I was feeling OK. I returned to class where one of my students who sits next to my desk (where I rarely sit) asked if I was doing all right. “Yeah fine.” I lied. Move along people, nothing to see here…
Because that’s what you do right? In the helping people business, you don’t ask for help, you are the rock that others rely on for help.
My office manager and I often joke about the man flu. I am totally guilty of being a whiney mcwhinerson when ill and she always puts me in my place telling me to suck it up and get back to work. Because of this, I keep my Down Goes Frasier story to myself. I prepare sub notes for Tuesday and make it through Biology class and home to bed with no further incidents.
But I take my denial a step further. Omitting the incident to my wife because I don’t want her to worry. Dumb? Probably but she has more than enough to worry about in her life (see above penis and broken furniture story). Also I had a little episode a while back where I passed out at home and spent 8 hours in the Sonoma ER diagnosed with possible vasovagal syncope (fainting-but they can charge more by using a bigger, confusing name). I did a full battery of stress tests with no glaring problems. Same old story, I’m getting older, need more exercise, less sugar, lose 20 pounds, reduce stress, that kind of thing.
I spend a magnificent Tuesday laying low. I often joke that my dog Sam has life figured out and I was able to spend the day leading a dog’s life. Brilliant but a little scary that this is my idea of ultimate living. I found a new Esquire in the mailbox and read it cover to cover. I found my son’s retainer in the outside garbage even though my wife suggested I shouldn’t look for it. I returned the tables, chairs, plates and swag to Bright rentals. I even doubled back to their office to say how incredible their will-call worker is. Complementing strangers, must be on the mend.
But Wednesday morning was no bueno. I was so fatigued after completing my morning wakeup routine (get out of bed, make coffee, read NY Times online, check emails) that I decided to register at 6am for another sick day. I texted my principal who immediately supported and encouraged me to take as much time as I needed. I spend another Sam day; nowhere near as much fun as the first, and experience what I suspect is boredom for the first time in a long time. Since my neuropathways are covered in crud they are firing at about half normal capacity. I don’t really want to write or read or watch, just stare out the window whinely waiting for my wife to bring me warm beverages and sympathy (man flu).
Thursday is better but the crud is still there. My voice is at least two octaves lower and one of my colleagues won’t come within 20 feet of me. Students are happy to see me but more like puppies waiting to be fed, “C’mon, bring some of that entertaining stuff, tell another story, make us laugh…” Again, it’s hard to be the rock when you feel like crap.
So I take Friday because, why not? Monday is a holiday and by Tuesday I should be firing on most cylinders. Plus I can fully plan my new PE curriculum (yoga, creating a Frisbee golf course, curling).
My office manager has now also fallen victim to the crud which makes me think of what an irresponsible ass I sometimes am. Not that it’s my fault but did I really learn from the Down Goes Frasier experience? Maybe a little bit.