Notes from Windward: #70
Sick at Windward
Illness is a misfortune that I have been fortunate enough to avoid on most occasions, but every now and then I am reminded that I am not completely immune.
Coming into an intentional community, such as Windward, I immediately began to realize the benefits of communal living.The chores are split up among the interns, apprentices and stewards as to make living more manageable and to not overwhelm any one person with endless duties.
Individual projects can also become a group work party where multiple people can lend a hand on a project that would otherwise have been a solo endeavor.
Also, if one member is away, or has fallen ill, there is a group of individuals around who can not only take on that member's duties, but also comfort and care for that member.
The headache started late Friday night and I had asked around for some Advil. Andrew looked over to me and remarked, "I've got some Willow bark that you can put into tea, and it is basically the same thing as Tylenol." I put some water on the stove to boil as Andrew broke up some Willow bark for me. Once I had some of the tea I noticed, to my relief, my headache began to dissipate. Since the night was approaching ten o'clock, I decided to call it a night. I went into my trailer and fell fast asleep.
I awoke a couple hours later with a pounding headache and drenched in sweat from a fever. I gathered up all the strength I had to get out of bed and head to the kitchen to get some water. I quickly drank a couple of glasses and then darted back into my trailer to be in the warmth of my bed. I proceeded to toss and turn all night long. I began to realize that I wasn't going to get much sleep that night. I also began to realize that I was coming down with a sickness that I had not felt in some time.
The next morning, I walked into the kitchen around 8:30 and checked the chore board to see what my duties for the day were going to be. I was in luck. It was Saturday and I had no chores on the board. I made myself some tea and went back to bed. My head felt as though it was in between a vice that was slowly closing in on it. No amount of tea in the world was going to curb the agonizing pain. I needed strong medicine.
I stayed in bed most of the day, laying on my side seemed to be the only way to make my current situation the least bit tolerable. I emerged twice from bed. Once, to tell Reuben of my condition and the next time was to make some vegetable broth. As I was making the broth, Sarah had just returned from selling kettle corn at the Market. I asked her if she had any Advil and she promptly retrieved me some ibuprofen. "My savior!" I thought.
I slept just as poorly Saturday night as I had Friday. The only difference being that I had begun to experience some horrible digestive pain. On top of the fever and the headaches, I was now having terrible diarrhea. The likelihood of ever getting sleep seemed very improbable. I was in such a bad state that I couldn't even keep my head up long enough to read more than a paragraph. I was bedridden with absolutely nothing to do.
dressed for the
I was greeted the next morning by MaryLou who came to check on me and make sure I was still alive. She asked me some questions about where I was hurting and if I would like a pro-biotic and some ginger-ale for my stomach. I was more than happy to accept and within ten minutes she was back with some pills, a few packets of Emergen-C and a can of a ginger drink. For the entire day, I was unable to retain any solid foods and had to resort to just drinking fluids.
That night, I was in and out of the bathroom. Every couple of hours I would have to rush back into the kitchen to use the lavatory.
The next morning, I was again visited by MaryLou who was had some more ginger ale for me and asked if I thought I could possibly eat anything solid. I told her that I was having enough trouble retaining any sort of fluid, so solid food was out of the question.
About an hour later, I was visited by Walt who so generously lent me his iPod. Since I couldn't leave my bed for anything more than to use the restroom, Walt figured I should at least listen to some good music. The iPod also gave me the chance to get to know Walt on a level that can't really be seen unless one is exposed to his musical tastes. I not only felt cared for, but I was also feeling loved.
When I took my next trip to the bathroom, I took a glance at the chore board and saw it was my turn to do the dishes. I was worried because I couldn't stand for more than ten minutes at a time. I had some time until dishes had to get washed so I went back to my trailer to see if maybe a little more rest would help.
When I returned to the kitchen, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Reuben and Sarah had taken over the dish duties for the day. I thanked them and promptly went back to bed. The entire day I was in and out of the restroom. I had two reassuring thoughts that day. The first was that I had this amazing group of people to not only help me get through my sickness, but also take over my responsibilities until I was well. The second thought was that my body is seriously flushing out whatever was causing my illness.
The next day I was beginning to regain my strength and I was going to the restroom with same frequency as I had days prior. It seemed as though the worst was over and now it was just time to get some nutrients and finally eat some solid food.
Everyone asked me how I was feeling and if there was anything they could do to help. I was so grateful to be in a community during such a harsh time and in some strange way got to see a benefit of communal living that most people do not realize. If I had been anywhere else, my work would have piled up, no one would have come by to drop off nourishing drinks and medicine, or an iPod for entertainment. I was blessed to have gotten so sick because it showed me the strength of community.
MaryLou and Steven
Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70