It’s hard to imagine that there existed a time when I could saunter into a public space with sniffles and a nasty cough and not worry about fatally infecting folks around me. It is equally painful to think of the times when falling sick did not bring on a bout of health (read: Covid) anxiety.
I arrived in Auckland a month before the virus gained momentum. I remember feeling sick the night our flight landed. My throat felt terribly sore and I could sense an impending fever. I distinctly remember feeling grateful for to my parents for being around at the time because the idea of being alone and ill terrified me.
Fast forward to two months, I suffered from a sudden bout of stomach flu. One night I came down with low-grade fever and body-ache and my stomach felt like lead. In a state of panic, I googled my symptoms to check whether they matched with those associated with Covid. Despite not finding anything online that confirmed my fears, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I was an outlier with rare symptoms that advanced gradually. A part of me was convinced that I would be a super-spreader causing a catastrophic outbreak in Auckland.
My health anxiety was assuaged when the university health service staff confirmed that I wouldn’t require a test since I hadn’t traveled overseas over a month. I was prescribed paracetamol. My friends cooked for me. H checked on me from time to time. Despite their kindness, I felt terribly homesick. I had to fix my own cold compress. I had to massage my temples. Sickness didn’t make dirty dishes disappear magically. Being sick as an adult meant your day would progress the way it usually did and it was up to you to handle yourself.
Fortunately, I recovered in two days.
I am prone to getting frequent migraines. In particular, I remember one evening when I came down with the mother of all migraines. It blinded me and made me empty my guts out. I called up my mother and wept. It was the first time I had felt that debilitated in the confines of my room. My mother comforted me and gave me tips to treat my headache.
Whilst I learnt to cope with falling sick to a certain degree, I hadn’t accounted for injuries. Last October, I injured my right wrist in a bout of overconfidence while bouldering. Though the pain radiated through my arm it didn’t feel like a broken wristbone. I shrugged it off as a sprain and borrowed my friend’s wrist brace. However, when the pain didn’t resolve in two weeks I dragged myself to a physiotherapist, once again on my friend’s recommendation. I was diagnosed with a ligament tear that would take over two months to resolve. I had to imprison my right arm in a firmer wrist brace and not exert my wrist in its absence.
I did not realize the extend to which my injury would impede my daily functioning. Not only could I not carry heavy items but also I had to lay off most forms of physical activity besides walking/jogging. My wrist proved to be a big hindrance during our move to the new house. H never complained but I felt guilty watching her carry our boxes. There were days when I fervently wished to go back in time and reverse the mishap. During this entire period, I had biweekly check-ups with the physio to track my recovery combined with light exercises. It was only by the end of January that I was given the go-ahead to resume normalcy. Thankfully, the Kiwi government insures all residents against accidents. I didn’t shell out a penny for my sessions with the physio! Despite this, I realize that I can’t afford to be careless and injure myself again.
All in all, adulthood isn’t always dandy…it’s about being accountable for yourself, both in sickness and in health.