Notes from a Hyperbolic Deathbed

Deathbed Notebook (pictured with Deathbed, and Deathbed Soup)

Deathbed (pictured with Deathbed Notebook and Deathbed Soup)

It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon. Blue. Cool. Freedom is in the air; someone has just snipped the chains connecting 200,000 Praguers to their desks.

My weekend is filled with plans. Like most cat-owning, sweatervest-wearing dudes who own three sets of binoculars and two hip flasks, I’m in demand.

And yet, something’s off. While others leap, prance, sing, and clip pirouettes along the sidewalks, I am achy, coughing, and slouching under the weight of a 200 lb. bag of rice. I am sick.

I knew it, too. I’ve felt off and sluggish all week. I offer an age-old directive of self-coitus to the deity that kept me just healthy enough to work all week before hitting me with sickness on Friday afternoon.

It’s a universal dick move.

Now I have to do what single people who live alone do when they feel the Big Ill coming on: I go shopping and I make a B-line for home. It’s a race against time; also I need toilet paper.

My state consistently disintegrates. At first it was a sniffle. Then there was a scratchy throat. Then a headache and muscle aches joined the game, then clogged ears, a rash on my back and leg, senses of displacement, nausea, and confusion. Textbook flu.

By the time I get home, I diagnose myself with a case of the about-to-be-deads. I put away my groceries in a fog, slip on pajamas, medicate myself into a form of amoebic life, and climb onto the couch.

Death awaits.

By evening I am a mess. My condition goes from bad to worse to Dennis Hopper. Everything hurts, sweats, itches or all of the above. I moan. I am incoherent even to myself. And yet, my cat gives zero fucks about this. She sits on my chest and walks across my forehead. There is no reason my illness should get in the way of her eating or playing schedule. When she attacked my unblanketed toe I stare at her until I can focus.

“If I could see straight, I would kill you.”

She responds by moseying to her litter box, stepping inside, and dropping several shits on the floor outside of the box. Each one reverberates in my head as they hit the floor. I cry before dozing into a medication-induced coma.

I dream a memory. My mother had the flu and my sister and I harangued her for chicken nuggets by jumping on the bed and shouting relentlessly. We were very young; we had no idea. In hoarse desperation, my mother begged my father to help. Only after she explained to him that she couldn’t make dinner because she was about to die did he take us from the room in genuine wonderment and order pizza.

When I awake, it’s morning. The cat is roosted next to me on the couch, gazing ahead. She’s guarding me, or so I choose to believe. I forgive her. And then, remembering my dream, I thank the deities of durable latex and good luck. I also write a note to call my mother and ask for a blanket forgiveness.

I scrawl this in a notebook I have declared my “deathbed notebook.”

I groan. I have to do lots of things now. I have to pee, take medicine, apply medicine, change out of my soaked clothes, and make tea. Doing anything when you’re sick takes time, this is going to be unendurable.

After I am emptied, creamed, cleaned, and newly medicated, I look through my window onto my beautiful Prague and I realize with a sigh that I have to leave my house. I am out of medicine. How did I not get some yesterday?

My journey is hard going. I walk at least five miles a day and work out six times a week and yet just getting down my stairs makes me want to cry. It takes me three times longer to get to the store. I speak to the woman in horrible Czech, she shows mercy and understanding. I think she asks me if I want a coroner, but I can’t be sure.

On my journey home, Collin calls to ask how I am doing. I talk slowly, nothing else is possible. I may have called him, I honestly don’t remember. I have to cut the call short in order to focus all of my attention on not soiling myself in public. I have forgotten toilet paper.

If there’s something being sick tells us, it’s how much we take the little things for granted. I promise not to do that if I survive this weekend.

I write that down in my deathbed notebook.

I medicate. I sweat. I sleep.

It’s Saturday night now, the city is lit up. People are out and about, having fun, conversations, arguments. They’re drinking, they’re going to the bathroom with ease, applying no creams. They are not grimy nor are they offending cats with their stench.

The injustice of it all shouts in each muscle ache, each rashy section of my back, each thump in my head. I am more than jealous, I am angry. And the only way to quell my anger is to watch British people murder each other. I begin a marathon of Sherlock, Morse, Lewis, and Endeavour.

I slip into a coma watching RP-English speakers kill other RP-English speakers. It’s its own meditation and my mind wanders to a question it often does when confronted with adverse conditions:

How did people deal with this before?

Similar queries have included how did people live before hot showers, cured meats, and Jimi Hendrix.

On my hyperbolic deathbed, I wonder how people could have dealt with a bad flu before modern medicine or the capability to retreat to a warm, safe place with modern conveniences. I suppose that sometimes they didn’t deal with it; sometimes the flu meant the end. But I just can’t imagine suffering like this in a hovel or a cave or a hut and awaiting someone else to bring me roots and bugs in an earthen bowl.

I suppose my hyperbolic deathbed could be a hyperbolic deathrock or a hyperbolic deathcave. Moreover, there are plenty of people today whose deathbeds are not hyperbolic.

I am lucky.

It’s hard to feel appreciation when you’re sick, so I make one final note in my deathbed notebook:

Feel appreciation on Monday.

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