February 1, 2019, by Jem

The Mind of a Sickly Student

Last week, I took sick. Sudden, frightful, intense… the disease had ambitions to vanquish my innards and there were moments within those delirious 24 hours where I was convinced it would succeed. We’ve my masterful immune system to thank for the brevity of the illness, although its battle with the miniature intruders was invisible to me, rendering it impossible to detail the acts of bravery and heroism that served to secure a home victory.

What I am wise of is the behaviour of my mind during this frenzied sickness and I wish to uncover, in laying down its curious conduct here, whether the mind, too, grew sick in those hours of microscopic devilry.

I do not know what comes over me when ill, but I begin to consider whether my loyalties lie with my fellow students, or the germs within. Disturbing questions echo through the chamber of my skull much like a snake’s hiss in a cavern: Why should I alone suffer this illness? Why should I shield my neighbours from a sneeze? Or cup a hand to my coughing mouth?

I confess that these serpentine echoes have corrupted me on more than one occasion. Past allies have included the common cold, an infernal tum bug, and my uncupped coughs were a major contributor to the rapid spread of swine flu.

Fortunately, I was at home bedbound during my recent illness and so the potential to spread the contagion and kickstart a plague was limited. Having said this, – and I’m sure the mind is playing tricks here – I fancied I heard my dog utter strange murmurings…

At the peak of my sickness-induced delirium, I could have sworn the creature whinnied a little ditty that went: “Something ain’t right, my tummy don’t feel right”. Over and over I heard him sing this refrain, and woefully too, with offensive breath he failed to do this prize ditty justice. Performed by a baritone, the powerful musical phrase may have moved me so deeply as to lift me from my illness altogether.

Though, strangely, so rapid a recovery I would have resented for if there is any joy to be found in illness then it is in the incremental return of your former strength where you will find it. To feel the vile intensity of sickness, to have its potent grip choke away your memories of how it feels to have health, and to then slowly pry free of its clutches is infinitely rewarding. When each day you rise feeling a little better than the last, you possess a licence to bandy about impressive phrases typically reserved for the use of villains, such as “Each day, my power grows”.

When we consider this rewarding sensation of recovery, am I truly mad for booking, over the course of the next two years, fifty weeks in flu camps, allowing doctors to investigate the effect of all manner of sweet illnesses upon my bod?

Am I insane? Or is it the doctors who are ill-minded for accepting he who does not cup his coughs into their little camps?

It seems to me that there is a plague coming. The snake’s hiss prophesises so. Each day that plague shall grow and, once its tendrils have lengthened throughout the lands, the world will sing that sickly song: “Something ain’t right, my tummy don’t feel right.”

Posted in Jem