Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Legionnaire's Disease - An Insider's Report"

General symptoms:

Sweating.  Exhaustion.  Clusters of coughing.  Solar-plexical burping.

And then it got personal.

I am lying in bed…

Wait!  First, the overview.

Imagine watching one of those trippy hallucinogenic movies from the 1960’s – the sounds, the colors, flashes of nudity, images of Death flying in and out of focus.

I did not experience any of that.

Then why did you bring it…”

I brought it up because what I am about to describe is a paralleling psychedelic experience.  Except that rather than having watched it, I actually went through it.  Making this report either searingly accurate – having directly experienced it – or blurrily inaccurate – being out of my mind while it was happening.

Anyway, here it is. 

If I was ever uncertain that the brain is heavily compartmentalized, my hesitations were erased, having personally experienced the following:

I am lying in bed, still breathing, but as helpless as a beached sea creature.  And that – trust me, or a sea creature in a similar predicament – is disturbingly helpless. 

How disturbingly helpless? 

A clarifying example that happened to me.

I am extremely thirsty.  The solution is within reach.  On the table beside my hospital bed sits a pitcher of water and a paper cup.  All I have to do is to sit up in bed, pick up the pitcher, fill the paper cup with water, and drink it. 

That’s all I have to do.  And I won’t be thirsty anymore.  The procedure is well within my abilities.  I have poured myself water numerous times in the past.  And have always succeeded in the endeavor.       

This time, however, although the procedural steps are crystal clear in my mind, I am physically unable to execute them.   Not even the first one.  Sitting up in my bed.


I just lie there. 

Thinking about pouring myself a glass of water…   

Without moving a muscle in that direction. 

It’s an unusual experience.  I see the pitcher and the cup.  I know exactly what to do.

But we are in parallel universes.

My intention in one universe…

The execution of that intention in another.

So there’s that.

Meanwhile, in another part of town – or, in this case, in a separate compartment in my brain…

Running through my consciousness, alternating with my perplexing immobility relating to my “cup of water” aspirations, is a song I never sing which I barely know the lyrics to.  The incongruous song in question (capably rendered, as both my brain and my mouth share an appealing singing voice) is this one:

“Delta Dawn
What’s that red dress you’ve got on?
Could it be a blah blah blah
From days gone by?
And did I hear you say
He was a-meetin’ you here today
To take you to his mansion
In the sky-hi?”

(NOTE: I looked it up.  The first part isn’t even close.  But those were the words that kept reverberating through my brain.)

I do not know why my brain chose this song at this particular juncture.  I only know that as soon as it ended, it went back to the beginning and repeated itself, every repetition going progressively faster than the previous one:

“Delta-Dawn-what’sthat reddress-you’ve-got-on?
Totakeyou tohis-mansion-in-the-skyhi?”

Finally, the song streaked through my brain with rollercoastering velocity:


And, try as I did,

I could not

Stop it!

So there you have it. 

Musical “Fever Brain.”  And a brain disconnected from subsequent action…

Operating in my cranium at the very same time.

That is what Legionnaire’s Disease felt like to me.

Tomorrow:  The official description. 


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Wit is back. You really must be feeling better.


Frank said...

Hearing Delta Dawn over and over must sound like being in Hell and Ready. Welcome back Earl!