“Do you want some?” I asked as I passed the chocolate ice cream to my best friend’s brother. He nodded and took a bite. I dug the spoon back in the carton and swallowed a chunk for myself when he slowly looked up at me.
“Oh, and by the way, I have mono”.
There are three definitions of mono:
I’m cursed with a sub-par immune system, so I get sick as often as a “Friends” marathon runs on ABC Family.
So, sitting on the waxy paper in the doctors office didn’t phase me. What would it be this time? Bronchitis? Strep? Maybe just something viral.
But when a nurse jammed her elongated Q-tip down my throat to test for strep and the results came out negative, having mono became a more realistic fate. That’s when I started to worry.
Could I really have mono? I don’t even know how I would’ve gotten — oh my god. The ice cream.
How could I have known he was sick? It was only until after I swallowed the frozen chocolate that he informed me of his contagion, and that’s when my paranoia kicked in. I convinced myself that running my tongue under a tap-waterfall would erase any bad bacteria from my system.
I was wrong.
Sure enough, a blood test confirmed that mono would have my immune system on a tight leash for the next 2-4 weeks.
I knew it would suck, but I wasn’t prepared for my skin to freeze over in a perpetual state of goosebumps. I wasn’t prepared for glands I didn’t know existed to swell. And I especially wasn’t prepared to feel light-headed after a lap around the classroom.
Nor did I know I could hibernate. Seriously — I have never slept so much in my life. But even still, the three flights of stairs at school are my personal Mt. Everest. The only thing that sets them apart is that I don’t feel accomplished at the peak, I just want a chair and an inhaler.
Falling off the academic grid for two weeks hasn’t helped my grades much, either. My Skyward account’s missing assignments are racking up, and going to school just feels like I’m wandering through a maze. I don’t know what lessons I’ve missed, what quizzes I have tomorrow or how I should magically learn all the Algebra 2 I’ve been gone for.
So, instead of learning quadratics and reading Shakespeare, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the obscurities of the Scifi channel and rekindling my love for Agent Reid from Criminal Minds. I’ve made one too many Snapchat videos of myself trying to recreate the KitKat commercials and discovered what my cat really does all day–sleep.
And so do I. Averaging 13 hours a day now, my sleep count is at an all time high.
But, on the days that my throat doesn’t feel like a freshly-used punching bag, I emerge from my basement, splash my dry skin with water and make it to school. My day goes something like this:
“Oh hey where’ve you been — wait, do you have Ebola?!”
“Don’t breathe on me or touch my food.”
“You need to be at least five feet away from me at all times.”
Even my teachers cower in my presence. A friendly “Hey Mrs. ____!” follows with a sidestep to the left and a look so harsh you would think I ate God’s children.
But the worst is my own old man. Only the other night, I woke up from my nap to watch a recording of “The Voice” with my family. My dad held a fresh-popped bowl of Orville Redenbacher’s and I, naturally, swooped in and grabbed a handful. Right as my fingers hit the butter-caked kernels, he cringed and hugged the bowl like a preschooler attached to his prized teddy-bear and shrank back to his bedroom to eat them in peace.
So, dear friends, family and administrators: unless you shove your tongue down my throat, are somehow at the other end of my spit-drop game or we exchange straws at lunch, I can’t get you sick.
Shocking, huh? A hug, handshake, heck, eye-contact is permissible, so don’t mistake me for the grim reaper.
And as if I didn’t already know how lifeless I look, I still get friendly reminders.
“Wow. Are you sick or something?”
“Aw Ellie, is everything okay?”
“You just look a little tired.”
Yes, I am sick “or something”. And if you disregard my inability to swallow anything, then yeah, I’m okay, thanks for asking. And yes, I am very, very tired.
For the time being, I can only wait for the day my tonsils shed their white patches and shrink back down to their normal state. It’s only a matter of time before I can climb a flight of stairs without my spleen exploding.
And if you can’t find me in a week from now, hold the Amber Alert — I’ve probably molded into one of my basement’s futons getting way too into “Wheel of Fortune”.