Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Battling Through the Pain

Jim Harrison not long before the final poem.
Last night I woke up in a pool of my own sweat. My head was pounding...No, that's not right...My skull felt like someone had split it in two with a fireman's axe while I slept. My joints ached so bad I was convinced I had developed arthritis in each and every one of them. My body was on fire, and my stomach was churning and twisting and bloated like the Alien was growing inside it and was about hatch, exploding skin, muscle tissue and blood all over the bedroom.

I got out of bed, and felt so dizzy, I had to grab the wall. Making my way into the bathroom, I did what I had to do there, and afterwards dared not look at my face in the mirror for fear of what I might see. A pale, sad, pathetic example of a man who was slowly dying.

Getting back into bed, I shivered and trembled. The fever was that bad. Sure, I'd been fighting a cold as of late, but this was insane. This was far more than a cold. It was more than the flu. It was more than the pneumonia that knocked Hillary on her pantsuited behind this past 9/11. I recalled my having hiked down in the Catskills a few days before. Maybe I'd been bitten by a deer tick. Maybe I had contracted Lymes Disease. Or maybe something worse. Maybe I'd developed a cancer. Pancreatic cancer.
A Healthy Robert B. Parker
By time the morning arrived, my temperature was holding steady at 102 F. I would have to head to the emergency room if it got any worse. But then, what about work? What about the novel I'm trying to finish and get into my editor by Friday, as promised? I couldn't let something like a little stomach bug get in the way of a writing day. I had to tough it out and try my best to make it to my writing desk.

I recalled the old days, when I had a real job. If I got sick, which was rare, I'd gladly call in and go back to bed. I hated my job, so a day off sick was better than a day on healthy. But now that I work for myself, things are different. Writing is all about momentum, consistency, and habit. I work everyday, even when I'm traveling. And I travel quite a bit. What if I were a pro football player and the team was depending upon me? Would I go back to bed? What if I were a soldier fighting on the front lines? I couldn't just explain to my comrades that I wasn't feeling up to the fight today so good luck with the battle. Instead, I'd have to battle my way through it all.

So even though my entire body was in pain, and even if there was multi-colored goop exuding from every single opening and orifice, I made a cup of coffee, swallowed a handful of Advil and sat my ass down on my writing chair. I might not have accomplished what I would have, had I been healthy, but at least I showed up, no matter what.

Jim Harrison had a heart attack at his writing desk, keeled over, and died. Mystery writer, Robert B. Parker did a face plant on his typewriter and never woke up. My father died putting his work boots on. Now that's heroism.   


1 comment:

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