The Healing Power of Beer, or How I Survived the Holiday Plague

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I’d like to be able to say that I’ve been taking a bit of a holiday break from blogging, but the unfortunate truth is that I’ve just been struck down mightily by the worst holiday sickness ever. I would give you an intimate accounting of this illness, but quite frankly it’s all pretty much a blur. I remember the grading that happened during finals week. And then the vague sense that the break hadn’t even really started yet because I seemed to be so busy lunching with people. And then…nothing. Sickness. Fever. A prodigious amount of mucus.

Liz LemonA trip to the doctor, several days spent watching 30 Rock marathons, a course of antibiotics and at least one Dickens novel later, here I am on the other side (knock on wood) of this disease. I know that I am finally better because there was beer today. Or perhaps the causal arrow goes in the other direction. Perhaps I am better today because I drank some beer. Had I only known two weeks ago, I would’ve fortified myself much earlier and skipped straight to today.

I am not a person who is particularly good at being sick. Maybe no one is really good at being sick, but I devolve into bitterness and recrimination faster than many people. You know wise people will tell you that you when you are sick, you should aspire to be the person you want to be all the time. You should aspire to be your very best self, because if you can’t be happy when you’re sick, you probably can’t be happy at all. I would like to bury those wise people in the mountain’s worth of snotty tissues I’ve produced in the last couple of weeks and see how they feel then.

I’m not the kind of person who believes there’s some higher power up there making me sick for some particular reason which will be magically revealed through prayer or meditation. But I can manage just enough enlightenment to consider whether there is anything particularly useful to be learned from this badly timed contest with disease. Besides the potential healing power of beer, perhaps there’s a lesson about the hubris of making plans. There were many things I was going to get done in these four weeks of freedom. There were cookies to be made and presents to be bought. Friends to entertain, textbooks to revise, and writing, writing, writing to be done. But instead, I had feverish dreams about Liz Lemon and Pip.

On the very first day of my illness, I happily planted myself on the couch. I could certainly handle one day of resting. Maybe even two. It seemed almost pleasant to contemplate. By about Day Six, I felt like the character in a horror movie who is possessed by Satanic forces, and I think my husband would concur that this was about what it felt like to be living with me. I just wanted to be better, because time was wasting. Time was trickling through my hands like something lost.

Which is exactly what happens to time, especially it seems, at the end of the year. Days are swallowed whole, and when you’re sick, there’s not much to show for them. I’d like to tell you that there’s a very important life lesson to be learned here. Something about the illusion of control or the impermanence of all things, including your health. But I don’t feel any wiser or any more enthusiastic about facing another two weeks of disgusting plague. I’m just glad to be better. And back to beer.

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