• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Here's Johnny - Walking pneumonia (but no boogie-woogie flu)

Seems like everybody's sick these days, including me. I dunno whether it's a 70-degrees-one-day-and-15-the-next-day thing brought to us by the combined efforts of Old Man Winter and his concubine, Mother Nature, but I'm against it. As this is written, I'm in what I hope is the final stage of a fine case of walking pneumonia. Walking pneumonia, by the way, is a misnomer, because when you have walking pneumonia, walking more than a few steps is a very hard thing to do, and walking up a staircase is nearly impossible. A few days after Christmas, I awoke in the wee small hours and couldn't return to the Land of Nod, mostly because I couldn't breathe. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I could breathe, but only in half-measures, and only if I remained upright. It's hard to sleep if you're upright, particularly if you're a side-sleeper, and when you can't take a deep breath, you can't sleep regardless of how you're laying down or reclining. Later that morning, upstairs in the proofing room, the Silver Fox told me I looked terrible. "Thank you. I feel terrible," I responded. There were two sets of dark luggage under my eyes and the walk upstairs to the proofing room had left me doubled over, hands on knees, like a basketball player in the late stages of a hard game. That night was the same, except, perhaps, worse. I nearly drove myself to Bluegrass Community Hospital at 5 a.m. to beg for mercy, an oxygen tank, or both. Only the thought of an expensive ER bill - okay, "expensive" and "ER" are redundant - kept me away. By 7:57 a.m., I was outside the CVS, praying for them to open before my lungs closed. At 8:01 a.m., I gasped out my problem to the pharmacist. At least, I think he was a pharmacist. By then, I didn't care if he was the janitor, as long as he had something to help me breathe again. He brought out a box of Primatene, a bronchodilator and expectorant kept behind the counter because methamphetamine enthusiasts can use it to make their stimulant of choice. I had to show my driver's license to get it, and thought it's a picture taken when I was 25 pounds heavier, I happily did so, and ate the first dose before I left the store. Within a half-hour, I felt nearly human again. A week later, when I ran out of Primatene, I staggered back into CVS and asked the pharmacist/janitor for more Primatene. He checked and said they were out. I said a bad word. The bad word was not directed at him, or at the young lady behind the counter who likely heard it, but at The Fates and whoever was in charge of inventory. While the bad word was still echoing, the pharmacist/janitor said he did have a box of BRONKAID - pretty much the same thing as Primatene - and I gasped out a thank you, paid for it and left. I've had the as-yet-not-medically diagnosed illness for nearly two weeks and think I'm finally getting better, but I'm not overly confident. But . Plenty of other folks have been far sicker. P.C.S. spent 16 days in the hospital and N.J.H., a woman even younger than your youthful scribe, had what doctors think was a minor (if there is such a thing) migraine-induced stroke. Both will be fine, thank God. When we feel rotten, it's easy to forget that other people are suffering, too. Back in college, someone resembling myself came up with a couple of phrases intended to reassure, amuse or antagonize friends and loved ones having a tough time. "Well, you've gotta love it," could be seen as a bit of wisdom designed to remind the sufferer that we must always look on the bright side of life. It was issued to someone who'd just failed a final exam or lost a grandparent, and usually met with a rueful grin. "It'll grow back," was meant to be taken in the same fashion. In each case, before delivering the lines, it was really important to know your audience. If the recipient didn't have a good sense of humor, the phrases were best left undelivered, or uttered shortly before ducking. My point is . I hope you and your loved ones are well, or well on your way to being so. If I've been crankier than usual, please forgive me. In the meantime, well . you've gotta love it. I know I did.

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