Friday, October 14, 2005
Rainy Night in Brooklyn
It feels like it's never going to stop.
It's been raining all week here and now on Friday night, it's raining even more.
I got soaked coming home from work and I feel lousy, like I've got some cold or virus or voodoo curse and I'd like to hop on the next plane to Bermuda and never come back.
Not that I'm bitter, of course.
I'm just feeling kind of low and torrential downpours do little to cheer me up. I've been fighting this cold all week, and I'm even angrier because I was feeling pretty lousy just two weeks ago.
I've had problems with my health for years now, ever since I came down with mono back in...Jesus...what year was it? '84? '85? Oh, hell, no, don't tell me that.
Well, whenever the hell it was, it was a real turning point in my life. Prior to that I'd get sick like anyone else, get better, and that would be the end of it.
But then one day I woke up and felt like I had been run over by a freight train. At that time I was working at this godawful job--one in a sad, pathetic series of godawful jobs--at ADT, the alarm company. Christ on a cracker, what a mistake that was.
I was working on the 92nd floor of the World Trade Center, yes, that World Trade Center, and I hated every minute of it.
Now that I was sick I had to drag myself to work on the subway, ride up the express elevator, which was like being shot out of cannon, work with people I couldn't stand doing a job I positively loathed.
But I had an awesome view of New Jersey.
Things went from bad to worse. The doctor I was going to at the time was somehow unable to diagnose mononucleosis, which I figure is pretty much a given if you want to get out a medical school.
He was a fat slob, this doctor, with green paint stains on his jacket. I used to wonder if he was painting his deck in between appointments, but I thought it would be rude to ask. Now I wish he had made painting a full-time gig.
So I got worse. I remember sitting at the dinner table one night and someone asked me something and I didn't get what they were saying at all. It was like I had left the world for a few seconds and then I remember my mother saying "My God" is disbelief at my mental state.
I was angry all the time and I recall the morning I was walking to the train station one morning and thinking all of a sudden, Jesus, what if I have something really serious--even fatal?
I finally went to a different doctor and this guy diagnosed me the second I took off my shirt. My glands were so swollen it left little doubt and when he did a quick blood test, that sealed it. I was a mono, not a stereo.
I went on disability and stayed in my bedroom for most of the time. At Christmas time, I was watching "It's A Wonderful Life" and even though I'd seen it a dozen times before, I cried my eyes out.
(The scene with Mr. Gower always breaks my heart. When the old pharmacist realizes what a terrible mistake he's made and hugs the little kid, I go through a whole box of tissues.)
I didn't do any shopping that year and I didn't go anywhere, of course. I eventually went back to that job, but I got fired and I'm glad because I hated it so damn much.
And while my health did come back, it left me open to just about every kind of illness on the planet.
I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
I get these spells that are similar to mono: weakness, congestion, stomach cramps. It's not enough to take me out of commission, but just enough to make me want to hide under the bed until spring.
I've had people say, "gee, you get sick a lot," like this was some kind of news flash to me. I've been forced to cancel appointments, skip parties and give my apologies because I was too goddamn sick to leave my house.
I had one ex-girlfriend suggest I was some kind of AIDS carrier, and this was from a woman who would sleep with anyone who paid her bar tab. Can you say "transference"?
The irony here, of course, is that I'm such a gym rat that every time I have to skip a workout I go into withdrawals. I feel fat and out of shape, though out of shape for what I can't quite say. It's not like I'm training for the Olympics here.
I've tried vitamins, visualization, prayer, tai chi breathing techniques, and nothing seems to work.
I wonder if this obsession will health and sickness is somehow contributing to my problem. I worry so much about my immune system that I could be taxing that system and leaving myself open to illness.
I get so negative at these times, more so than usual. I have stupid, ugly thoughts, I acutally wish I were dead, like some teen-ager with a broken heart. It's a kind of temporary insanity on a permanent basis.
The World Trade Center is gone now, destroyed on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I was working across the street from that place at the time, and I used to think about that ADT job, way up in the sky and think, thank God I'm rid of those bastards.
But on that morning, I thanked God I wasn't working in the trade center anymore because if I had been on the 92nd Floor, I won't be sitting here complaining about the weather.
I feel so small when I look back at all those times I wished I were dead and all the pain I caused my family, particularly my mother, for talking that way. On 9/11 I was surrounded by death and I didn't like it one bit.
I'm still working on Wall Street, just a few blocks from the hole in the ground where the trade center used to be. I try not to think about how terrorists still have designs on New York and the financial district in particular.
And I really don't belong there. I don't like financial writing, I just got into it by a fluke and the only good thing about the business beat is that it got me out of chasing fire engines.
I'm going to a new doctor on Monday. My sister recommended him and he seems to think he can do something for me. I hope I'll be feeling better by then. I hope it'll stop raining.
And I hope this man can help me get rid of this temporary insanity of mine...permanently.