Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fever Dreams

And that's where the hornet stung me
And I had a feverish dream
With revenge and doubt
Tonight we smoke them out

~The Tragically Hip (Ahead By A Century)

Because of my medicine and certain allergies, I don’t ever get a flu shot, so that leaves me pretty open.  For the last couple of years I have played the odds and won.  Last week I lost the gamble.  I came down with one of the worst of the worst cases of influenza. 

It started when I drove my son to work.  My joints and back ached something terrible. By afternoon and evening I had a fever and couldn’t keep anything down, even water. When I got out of bed I was so dizzy that I cleared everything off my desk falling down.  I had to crawl to get to the bathroom. Feverish chills have to be one of the great oxymorons of our time, along with Jumbo Shrimp, Hot Water Heater and Civil War. All I know is that I had them. One minute I was freezing and the next I was sweating like I ran a mile. The flu is not fun.

I had trouble sleeping and what made it worse was the music; the constant music. 

I kept yelling for people to turn down their stereo or radio until I realized I was home alone.  There must have been a cross signal because even if I turned things off I could hear music, Jethro Tull, coming through the speakers on our equipment.  When I was in my bed I heard rock and roll playing.  When In went down to the living room couch I heard classical music.  It was music I remembered and sounded like it was coming up through the air vents. I thought at first it was in my head, but when I covered my ears it went away, so I assumed it must be in the house.

One night during my flu I became very paranoid.  I started searching my room to see how someone had planted something to try to drive me insane.  I thought I was being gas lighted.  My son, Mathew came into my room, listened and politely said he heard wisps of it too.  Later on my wife, Karen, came and sat with me on the floor of my room as I struggled to figure out where the music was coming from.  I could hear it faintly, a song from the musical “Wicked” playing over and over again.  She said, “Thomas, I’m sorry but there is no music. I can’t hear anything.”  I insisted there was and sat there for a long time hoping it would get louder, so everyone would know I wasn’t crazy.

Karen suggested that I might be very dehydrated and feverish. She said if the music bothered me that maybe I needed to sleep on the couch in the family room.  I did and while I was there the music came spilling from the living room, down the hall, like a wild ghost, and found me.  It was at first strings, then a men’s choir doing a jubilant round, and then a symphony. After the concert was done, I went to sleep.
The next morning, Karen asked me how I felt.  I said, “I’m not great yet, but now that I know the music is not real and will go away when I get better, I’m shaping up.”  I drank water all that day.  At one point I lied on the living room couch with my dog, Lexi, who is so protective and put her paws around my shoulders.   I said “What do you think, Lex?  Will we hear some music today?”  Just s I said it, the strings came up and we napped to a brilliant chamber quartet.   

Some of the music I heard when I was sick were songs that I love. They were songs by Steve Goodman, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones.  Some of the classical stuff I have no recollection of ever hearing but I must imagine that I did at some point in my life or why else would they be in my brain?

When I did get better the music went away.  Each time I lied down to rest, I expected it but it was gone. I missed it. I like music a lot and once I embraced that it was there, I wanted it there always. The brain apparently doesn’t work that way.  Fever dreams are different from other dreams. 

Now I just have to satisfy myself playing my Ipod and letting Matt play old vinyl of Aaron Copeland on the turntable we have.  That’s OK.  At least this way I don’t throw up every fifteen minutes and I can stand up without worrying about falling down.  

Despite the lack of music in my mind, it is better this way.