Much though I love to travel, I still leave home reluctantly. Something about leaving familiar landmarks behind me heightens a sense of being lost asea in a world far too wide and vast to comprehend. So sitting in Europe wondering whether I've contracted H1N1 scares me.
We are in Edinburgh now, having arrived here by way of a week's stay in Florence and a brief stop in Rome. We are attending the wedding of a good friend's daughter in a castle not far from the seat of the Scottish Enlightenment. My wife and I walk each day for hours, recently through Tuscan hills or busy Roman thoroughfares, and now through rolling East Lothian pastures. I love to walk and talk with m wife; these are some of the best times we spend together.
Four or five days ago, I developed a slight sore throat. This was followed by sneezing, a runny nose and a general sense of malaise. The other night, I had night sweats. My throat bothers me still.
The symptoms are really more nuisance than anything else, but the press has been filled with accounts of a flu pandemic. Why, the world is to be swept and thousands, perhaps millions, will die, right? So I am suddenly homesick and wishing I could give our family doctor a call, although I know what he will say: Rest, drink plenty of fluids, take some cough medicine and perhaps some aspirin.
Easy enough things to do while on vacation.
But I am almost never ill. I have booked off sick perhaps once in the past 20 years when work beckons. I suppose I've become complacent about good health. I should know better.
My wife has battled bad luck in terms of health for a decade: she's twice pushed through cancer, endured a freak eye injury, been hobbled by diabetes, and, when all this and various medications she took to cope with one insult after another overwhelmed her, she nearly died: I once rushed her to an emergency room three times in a ten-day period. I know the ties that bind body and soul to the known world are slender, and it takes but little to snap them.
So I suppose that is what scares me about the possibility of fighting through my own trifling case of H1N1, if that is, in fact, what I am doing. Otherwise healthy folk push through an exposure with a week's discomfort, I have read. But those not otherwise healthy, these folks can be felled by a bout of this new flu.
I am far from home tonight and cherishing the sound of my wife's deep breaths as she sleeps. So far, she's fine. I hope she remains so.