Tuesday, May 31, 2005

My Sanitarium Fantasy 

I had a violent coughing fit while I was working at the information desk and had to excuse myself to get some water. The public drinking fountain was much closer than the staff room’s, so I made my way over there. When I arrived at the fountain a large and shaggy homeless man was hovering over it. I know he could feel my presence and my desperate needed to use it but, like some belligerent musk ox at the watering hole, he dallied and bogarted it spitefully. After a minute or so I finally gave up and went to the staff room.

Not to be a hypochondriac alarmist, but I hope my coughing spell was not one of the initial symptoms of TB. If it is, I thought it over and have decided that being laid up with tuberculosis in a sanitarium for a couple of months might not be so unpleasant after all. I would spend my days taking sun and fresh air in a chaise lounge as nurses in crisply starched uniforms waited upon me, attending to my every need. My wan pallor would contrast beautifully with my flushed red cheeks, that tell-tale symptom of the consumptive. I would cough delicately into a lace handkerchief that would stain with blossoms of crimson, and my hollow eyed beauty would be irresistible, like that of one of those doomed 19th century courtesans. No demands could be made upon me in my delicate condition, and I would be free and unmolested to read books and lie around in dreamy contemplation and uninterrupted languor. There would also be lots of vicodin for the chest pains. Lots and lots of vicodin. Like many of my patrons, I would also collect full disability.

I did some research and tragically, quarantine and tuberculosis sanitariums no longer exist and the afflicted are now free to roam the streets doing their part to infect new people and contribute to the development of virulent, drug resistant strains because they cannot be bothered to complete their course of antibiotics. If I came down with TB I would probably just be put on 7 month course of antibiotics, a time period during which I inconveniently couldn’t drink, not quite the romantic fantasy I had in mind. I also rode my bike to work for the first time in over a year and it was so exhilarating that I hope that I remain fit and in sound health.

be well, foxy
Weren't tb patients occasionally put in iron lungs?
I believe you're thinking of polio victims. I remember those pitiful and heartbreaking pictures in old Life magazine of rows and rows of children imprisoned in them. What terrible times.
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