Queering Illness: A Guide to Being Radically Sick

by: Mar Curran

Reader, I have impeccable health. I am sick about two times a year, and it’s usually nothing a burrito and some naps can’t fix. This year, however, I have had two big illnesses. Nothing serious, luckily! In early fall I had a sinus infection and this past week I had some sort of cold that gave me a lovely fever, painful sinus cavities, and searing lower back pain (the last I’m not positive is connected but it popped up at the same time so I’m going to pin this one on my immune system too). Though unusual for me, these have provided me with learning opportunities. Getting sick is something that happens to many people each year, and is a stupid part of growing up. Since I am a helpful homo, here is what I learned while sick. Let my tips be your guide to queering your illness.

1. Quit it all.

Just to make sure your body is getting all its toxins out at once, quit everything you were doing at once. Want to give up dairy? The sniffles are sign this is the time. Still smoking? Why not shock your body more and just drop that? Trying to kick a nasty habit involving lint and mayonnaise? (Hey, no judgements, buddy.) There’s no time like the time you’re spending laying around in bed! This is partially sarcastic, because you will be grumpy and fuss, possibly even growl at times -not in the sexy way. It’s also partially true, though, because those habits probably aren’t helping you get better. I have never found evidence that smoking will help you get over the flu. It might be a good idea to improve your long-term health, too.

2. Pick a soundtrack.

This may just be my own ill mind, but when I’m in the worst part of my sickness I like to play one song on a loop while I barely sleep. Maybe I am trying to torture the illness out of me, Americuh style. Who knows. When I had a sinus infection, I played Alexander’s Truth and when I had a pesky cold that laid me up for a few days I was serenaded by VanFantom’s Doves. These songs helped me tap into the emotions of the illness. Or maybe this is just what I told myself when playing the same song for 10 hours at a time. Fun fact, you might start having nightmares about hippies trying to kidnap you into their Partridge-style band. This may help you get better. I cannot disprove it.

3. Do the stop’n’go.

I have a horrible habit involving taking it “easier” for one day by going home right after class/work, drinking a lot of tea, and then going to bed early, and then once I feel the slightest bit of improvement going back to my regular break-neck speed in life. This, as you may imagine, does not help my body really heal. It does, however, get me through midterms so the weekend afterword can be used to actually recuperate. I’m not saying it’s the smartest plan, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

4. Take a self-care day.

The above necessitates, though, that if you are still sick you need to take a “you” day. This may mean letting your best friend make you breakfast and watch New Girl with you, which we can all assume is his favorite thing to do as you are involved, right? It may mean staying in your bed for two whole days, rising only to feed yourself and perform natural bodily functions, while watching what Netflix calls “dark dramas,” whatever that means. You just need to make sure to get a lot of fluids, rest up, and give your body what it needs to get up and running.

5. Sweat it out.

I hate sweating in my sleep. Hate hate hate. But when I was so weak I could barely walk for two days my best friend made me sweat out my illness in one hard, long night. Did I dream of ruby red slippers and beehive hairdos? Yes. Did I loathe every second of forcing the toxins to secrete out of my pores? You bet. But did it help immensely? Yes. Just keep some electrolytes nearby, preferably furnished by your roommate’s girlfriend like mine were.

6. Soup is good! But not too good.

People always say to eat a lot of soup when you’re sick. First of all, is it really eating or is it drinking? I think it probably depends on what’s in the soup. Second of all, soup can hurt you. Think I’m just paranoid, like that time I told you monkeys are killing machines? Not true. Monkeys attack people all the time, sometimes eating their faces, and soup can either burn your mouth or give you indigestion. It may be best to limit your contact with both during your healing process.

7. When in doubt, get help.

You may think, “Oh, yeah, just a few more weeks of bed rest and vomiting and I’ll be better! This rash will disappear and I will be able to breathe again in no time!” At some point, though, you have to admit you might need to have someone with years of medical practice and a degree under their belt take a look at your body parts. Last fall when after about five days of resting had only cured my fever but made my throat feel worse I had to admit defeat. I called my mom. She took me down to my parents’ house, took me to a doctor. Get queer! Forget oppressive notions of what it means to be an adult or a man! I needed my mommy. Plus, my parents’ house has cable, which means unlimited access to Teen Mom and Hoarders.

8. Keep resting!

Even after you feel all better and have finished your medication be sure to listen to your body and make sure you don’t push too hard. Like my mom told me, use your money to buy orange juice instead of “celebrating.” I assume she thinks my idea of celebrating is playing the ponies. Which it is. Wait a few days until you’re sure everything is fine before hitting the betting table. Your bookie will thank you.

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2 responses to “Queering Illness: A Guide to Being Radically Sick

  1. As a person who was radically sick today, I appreciate that the editors have posted this to make me feel like you are all stalking me all the more.

    I did a soundtrack of Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms,” interspersed with murder ballads. Last night I watched two movies on Netflix: one about a Turkish girl who got raped and then her cousin was supposed to kill her but instead they both ran away to live on a boat with a nice old man, and one about a guy whose son came out and then there were lots of Manly Feelings and also Inner City Pressure. What I am trying to say is “you are totally right, Mar, feelings and illness go together really nicely.”

  2. You know, when you hover over your name in the “Authors” list, it says “hot pants.” I figure you know this, but just in case you don’t, I felt like this joy and knowledge was essential to your well-being.

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