Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cold (But It's Not Cold Here)

I have a bad cold.

And I'm not getting a lot of sympathy around here in spite of it.

One time a couple years ago I was complaining about a cold that I had to a taxi driver friend of mine, and he said, (in Portuguese,) "Eh, that's a rich man's disease."

Perhaps it is. People working minimum wage jobs, or taxi drivers who have to drive every day just to pay the rent on their taxis, don't get a lot of sick days here in Brazil. But whether it's a rich man's disease or not doesn't make it any more pleasant to deal with.

The thing is, when I lived in New England, I hardly ever got colds- I hardly ever got sick. Since I moved here, I get at least three colds a year. It used to be worse, when it seemed like a new cold would ride in on the tails of the last one. Now I only get a few colds a year and they don't linger for a month like the old ones did.

Tourists get blamed for a lot of colds that come around. Every year after Carnaval, the cold that makes the rounds gets named after the big musical hit of that year- the "Bororó" and the "Toda Boa" were a couple recent ones. Could be that the cold I have is a Carnaval precursor, brought down from the frozen north by the starry eyed gringos that seem to keep showing up despite the economic crisis?

I had been suffering from a nasty cough for most of a week, which was mostly just an annoyance except when I was trying to read books to Lucas, when it became truly unpleasant as my voice gradually dried to a croak. Toward the end of the week it became much more annoying because whenever I coughed I would get a sharp stab of pain in my head. The thing took a drastic turn for the worse yesterday when I woke up and couldn't exactly get out of bed. I was weak and my head was killing me and my body was aching and I just wanted to... stay in bed all day. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Have you also suffered from the Rich Man's Disease?

I have a feeling I know what caused the drastic turn for the worse- it was my carpentry project. Not actually the project itself, but the time constraints placed on me to complete the sawing phase and the meteorological conditions I was subjected to as a result.

Let me explain. Restrictions have been placed on my indulgence of certain pastimes here at the house. These include: 1. using spray paint, and 2. creating sawdust. This is presumably because the kids have allergies and Evani worries that they will suffer undue consequences from my polluting the air that they breathe. Reasonable, at least as far as the spray paint goes. The problem is that our house has no yard, no truly open-air space; even though the back 10 yards are open to the air, it's really only open to the sky. There are walls on all sides so dust and fumes don't have anywhere to go except up, and truth is it doesn't all want to go up. So I'm not allowed to paint or pull out the circular saw unless the kids aren't here. Evani went out to Paripe this week to spend the night and get her hair in order. She took the kids with her. I was instructed to complete my sawing before they returned.

Which I did.

Only thing was, in order to complete it, I had to spend about two hours under the blazing midday tropical sun.

Which was cool, I handled it pretty well at the time, hacking my terrible hack and coughing my terrible cough, drinking glass after glass of water to compensate for the river of sweat that was pouring off me, a perfect glue for the shower of sawdust that poured from the blade of my magnificent saw.

I finished the project, and my wife fixed her hair, and the kid's lungs were spared, and I thought everything was okay- until I woke up yesterday morning.

BTW as I was writing this I started to get some attention from my wife, so I guess I can stop feeling sorry for myself.

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