So it appears that I will live after all. I am not permanently sick, nor will I be coughing forever. In fact, it looks very much like I will be healthy for Christmas … or healthy-ish. My voice is still raspy, I’m coughing only in the mornings and in the evenings now, and I’m blowing my nose rather infrequently, so I would say that I was most certainly on the mend. I may, of course, be stuck in this state for weeks (and I do know that has happened to some people who have been hit by this “thing” – which, I’m quite sure, is its scientific name). But I’m hoping for the best.
The last time I was sick at Christmastime, I think I was nineteen years old. I was madly in love with my first serious boyfriend, and although he did not have heaps of money (as it later turned out, he spent a great deal of the money he did have on dope – but that’s another story), he had purchased tickets to a Vancouver Canucks hockey game for me for my birthday. They were going to be playing the Montréal Canadiens that night, which had been my favourite NHL team prior to the existence of my hometown Canucks. I was so excited! Hockey tickets were not cheap nor easy to get, even back in the late seventies when the Canucks were an abyssmally poor team, and this was, I thought, obviously a measure of his love for me that he’d somehow gotten these tickets.
He and his roommate had also promised to take me out to a pub for the very first (legal!) time, as it was my nineteenth birthday and so I would be of legal drinking age. They were older, and therefore much more experienced in such things as drinking establishments, so again, I was very much looking forward to this. I still looked like I was about fifteen years old, so I was anticipating flashing my newly-legal ID with great glee.
And then I got sick, a couple of weeks before Christmas. I was right in the middle of exams at university and I remember that I was too ill to even study. I managed to read a bit, but I mostly curled up in my bed, dying, I was sure. My throat was soooooo sore, my entire body ached, and I didn’t think anyone could even produce that much snot in their entire lifetimes. My boyfriend actually had to drive me to the university to write an exam or two, as I was too sick to drive safely. But I wrote every exam, and passed them all – except, ironically, my French exam. (And just to set the record straight, I pretty much aced the final French exam in April that term, and so my average mark in that class ended up being fairly decent.)
I started to feel better after exams were done, but my throat sure didn’t. It got worse and worse, to the point where I couldn’t even swallow my own saliva. It felt like a million tiny knives stabbing my esophagus whenever I tried. I will never forget that feeling – it was terrible! Still, I had a few more days before the hockey game, my birthday (which was going to be the pub night), and then Christmas. I was optimistic that the worst was over, and that I’d be good to go when the time came.
Alas, as it turned out, strep throat is not to be messed with. I missed the hockey game, the pub night, much of my birthday, and much of Christmas that year. I could barely swallow a bite of birthday cake, nor could I enjoy much of Christmas dinner. Drinking, of course, was out of the question, what with the medication and all.
By January, I felt fine again and my life continued on its merry way. It took me a very long time to get over not having been able to go to that Vancouver-Montréal hockey game, though. In fact, it may have taken thirty years, until 2008, when I was in Montréal, and I finally got to see the Canadiens play in the Bell Centre. Their opponents that night were the Philadelphia Flyers, and with Carey Price (a BC kid) in net, the Canadiens won the game.
(But of course, I really rather would have seen them beat the Canucks thirty years earlier!)