Sick in America

I wake up suddenly.  My chest- so heavy.  Like a stone is on it.  What’s happening?  Is there a gas leak?!  Is it the water- I should have drank the filtered stuff… I can’t breathe.  Should I wake up Derrick?  Derrick is breathing, I can see him moving.  My throat feels like a drank shards of glass.  Likely not a gas leak. Relax.  I can’t.  Go back to sleep.  I can’t. 

It was Tuesday at 3:42am.   My brain started running like a drippy nose- what if, what if, oh no, I don’t know anything, I can’t do this.  The panic in the middle of the night made my bad cold symptoms seem terrible, and the worry that I didn’t have the comfort of Canada (or my mom).  I don’t have a doctor, or a dentist, or a chiropractor, or a vet, or a gym, or a hair stylist, or a horror movie watcher buddy… and where on earth do I start?

I was feeling something rotten.  What I always assumed was a basic service like a doctor was something that I no longer had.  That I didn’t really realize until now that I had lost.  How do I find one here in Philadelphia?  Do I have to pay?   What do I do with my OHIP card?   I was back on the couch, Idol episodes my only friend, without a voice, and without a clue on how to recover.

It was Derrick, or my mom, or Ryan Seacrest,  who said the classic “maybe it’s because you’re slowing down that your immunity system is taking a breather, and in turn your body is catching up”.  What was different about this time though, was that my body wasn’t gearing up to get up again. I was missing the “I need to get better to go back to work, to visit this friend, to do something important” push.  Day after day, the cold stayed the same.  It got me wondering if to get better, I needed something to speed me up.  Or maybe this was my body saying I need to REALLY slow down first.

Beside the TV, I had been keeping a jar of Mike Memories that the students in Residence at the University of Toronto Scarborough had given me as a parting gift.  I was keeping it for a day when I needed a boost from home.   I sat on the couch and opened one note.  Okay, I’ll open 5 notes today.  It was like I’d found a tube of cookie dough, and I couldn’t stop.  I ended up opening one note after another until I’d hit the bottom.  Unfortunately, these notes had zero impact on my physical health.  Fortunately, they did on my mental health (equally as important!), and reminded me of who I  am- a coach, a motivator, a friend, and a faster runner than some (sorry Fej, maybe a rematch someday!).   It was this emotional hunger that kept me reading note after note.  The magic of Residence Life: the different a few words can make, and the reminder that small things matter.  I was surrounded by a positive energy that I had been missing.  It dawned on me that not only was I sick, but I was letting myself feel sorry for myself- new city, no community, no job, no work visa- which isn’t who I am.   My mental health is low and not well.  I need to find a way to get better.

When I had finished reading the notes, I sat back and decided to work on not feeling bad for me.  What a valuable piece to find on the couch today.

3 days post-note reading, Derrick and I went to see the Broadway show Something Rotten.  It was a Christmas gift, and I wasn’t going to miss it. Thankfully the adrenaline kicked in for exactly 2 hours and 35 minutes- I loved it!  The musical features a fantastic cast, catchy tunes, and asks the question “what if Shakespeare wasn’t all he was cracked up to be?”  So funny.  So good.  Go see it.  I crashed on the way home.   Although this outing didn’t do any good for my physical health, it did brighten up my mental health, and was worth it.

Any Philly services (we’re going big picture here- doctors to yoga to vet) that you’d recommend?  What has cheered you up when you’ve been feeling down?   What helps you have healthy mental health?   Please share your favourites (and your nightmares) below!  

Song of the Day: Jenn’s Idol Audition: Radioactive  (Radioactive= how I felt this week) 


Bonus Song of the Day: One of my favourites from Something Rotten- God I Hate Shakespeare 

6 comments on “Sick in America

  1. Hi Mike! Hope you’ve settled down now (and feeling better) :). I would recommend going to the Eastern State Penitentiary if you haven’t already. Really cool place!


  2. That Ryan Seacrest often has good medical advice. Return to his good word often! I had a cold for a few weeks too. It was going around. Don’t look into it too much. People get sick for whatever reason and music, soup, and sleep cures all. Send nothing but good vibes your way!


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