The Sickness of Being Sick

By: Matthew Karre Mar 6

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I’m sick for cycling right now. In fact, nearly all prepositional phrases containing ‘sick’ and ‘cycling’ apply to me. I am sick for cycling because I am recovering from sickness; sick with cycling because it was cycling that lead us to San Diego’s sunshine and sea last week, unfortunately culminating in too many hours in the sickness inducing airport/airplane (and by sick I mean I have a bitch of a cold—not life-changing sick, for that would deserve a much better commendation than this.) I’m sick with cycling because I am ill and cycling has some potentially terminal ailments that need serious tending. I am sick in cycling for reasons numerous, most prominently that everything in my life is cycling centric (except the few minutes that are devoted to Ghostbusters, of course); sick in the informal, slang definition akin to one being ‘lousy with’ something. I’m sick around cycling simply as a point of juxtaposition. I’m definitely sick between cycling. I probably wouldn’t say I’m sick at cycling because that would imply either grandeur or distinct lack of ability, and I will admit to neither. I am sick for cycling because I haven’t been able to really ride for days (four) and this addiction is much stronger than I am. Because I am sick. And that makes me sick.

In general I deny being susceptible to sickness. Even, perhaps especially, when it is more than apparent to everyone else that I have some influenza-type malady and they ask, ‘are you sick?’ I always respond between nasal drips and hacking cough: ‘I don’t get sick.” Illness is a mental battle as much as it is physiological and environmental. I believe that once one admits to himself that he will get sick, he will get sick, and the duration of sickness will be longer than if he had maintained his strength of character and mentally ignored the evidence. The internal monologue can overpower virus and bacteria as long as the silent orator has a capable speech writer. One can admit that he is sick following denying that he is getting sick, but only after the sickness is nearly defeated and he can pontificate to all within audience that he was only sick for a day or two. – Deny during the early and hard stages of the sickness. – Admit to sickness when it is mild and nearly gone.
This will improve mental fortitude for the next round of sickness denial in two or three years (because annual sickness is out of the question, to say nothing of semi-annual sickness. A folly, that!)

But then the best part will happen. This part is so incredible it is perhaps better than life before being sick. I’m talking about the clear and palpable improvement in body, mind, and outlook as sickness is defeated, as affliction is assuaged, and relative normalcy returns; that is one of the finer moments in life. The first ride following the days of purposeful, controlled not-riding is filled with useful reminders and appraisals. The most difficult reminder has to be that other things can happen during a day off from work besides a several-hour ride; I don’t know what they are yet, but I’m reminded that they exist. In fact a simple 1.5 hour ride is possible on a such a day. On said ride, one can remember how to sit in the whole time; to have a total elevation gain of under 400 feet; to never eclipse 17mph. Then finally, the transitional ride that explodes with excitement and new found eagerness to re-ride a well worn route, to up the pace purely to sear the lungs and expel the remnants of the long-forgot-about sickness. The best part about being sick is the divinely satisfying progress of getting better.



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