Grandma Bonnie Peters, my partner in Webstuff, has pneumonia. Like most healthy seniors she’s had the most difficulty realizing that she’s ill–alternately exaggerating symptoms when she admits she’s having them, and ignoring risks until the symptoms do get scary. For a singer who’s been invited to lead a section in another church’s choir because she does such an inspiring job in her own, “no singing and no church” has been a blow. GBP likes Seventh-Day Adventists, likes Presbyterians, and really misses church.
Then there’s not being able to walk a mile or two a day with her best same-age buddy, whose memory is generally pretty good, but who did forget, on Monday, why GBP had asked her not to come over to check on GBP and invite her out for a walk. I looked up from the computer, saw (with my astigmatism) a stooped little person with white hair in the door, thought “When did GBP get up?”, and then focussed clearly enough to notice…short white hair? GBP’s hair is still long enough to pin up…Of course, this friend has keys to this house and GBP has keys to hers. Go away, please, don’t let us breathe on you, I thought. The friend had come to report that yet another healthy senior neighbor had been hospitalized with MRSA. Apparently that news had shaken the idea that she should avoid GBP and me out of her mind, but at least she had remembered not to walk to the hospital and visit him.
From time to time I have to remind myself and others that I’m not twenty-five any more…actually, the feeling of energy being drained, by the virus and by concern about GBP, is similar to the way I normally felt when I was twenty-five and was draining my own energy by eating wheat products. Plus, at twenty-five, I planned on being too anemic to do physical work or be around sick people for approximately forty days out of the year, as so many young women do. So I felt this bad most of the time, and often felt worse, when I was twenty-five.
For active, healthy women, midlife is very liberating. Within limits. I see GBP and her friend positively seething with frustration that they, or anyone they know who’s not an invalid, need to think seriously about a mere staph infection.
Last week I never came down with any obvious symptoms, but a summary of what people are saying about baby strollers took as much time and effort as I’d planned to spend recopying and polishing fifty pieces of Bad Poetry, or might have spent, some other week, cranking out six similar product reviews, plus book reviews, an editorial rant, a phenology post, and Link Logs. Everything felt like “Eight Mile Road.” This is the way I usually experience life when virus infections are going around.
Can anything be learned from this wail? Yes, of course. I’m not always a fast worker–in fact, when I have to think about a task, I’m slow–but I am an energetic, focussed, borderline workaholic, and here I am, looking exactly like a lazy person. The difference is not always easy to see. Even when it’s possible to see a consistent difference, over time, between lazy and industrious people, laziness may originate in some kind of minor illness or disability. Even if the person has learned lazy habits or failed to develop efficient ones, or even lost the ability to do a job, those things are likely to be complications from a physical illness or disability. So we should be charitable about people we perceive as lazy, if not necessarily tolerant of lazy habits on a job.
Image released into the public domain by WackoJacko at Wikipedia: