How I was Sick in Ontario

by Jim on 23 September 2009

I had a very unusual experience in Ontario this summer.  At least, unusual for me.  Let me tell you, I have much more empathy for people who deal with this all the time.

It started when I got some kind of a bug at the end of July (Hannah and Nathanael got something around the same time).  It knocked me out pretty good for a couple of days, but came at a pretty good time.  We were house sitting, on our own, and were pretty much able to continue on with ministry as usual.

After a week, by the Sunday morning when I came to speak in Sudbury, I had turned a corner and was getting my energy back.  But strangely enough I got congested.

Now, that wasn’t even too bad.  I could still breath through my nose.  I’ve been worse.  But after a few days I completely lost my sense of taste and smell.

That’s right, completely.  I’ve mostly lost my sense of taste and smell before, but never 100%.  For almost exactly 2 weeks I had NO sense of taste or smell.

For a while I kept eating things I "liked" – but then realized, what’s the point?  When a dill pickle and a chocolate cream pie taste exactly the same, why eat the pie?

I stopped eating desserts (they were only the disappointment).  It was a real shame, because on our holidays we ate in the Fair Havens dining hall.  Twice a day we had a fabulous selection of desserts… desserts that tasted to me like nothing.

It’s really amazing how much we rely on smell and taste.  To me, the whole world seemed two-dimensional.  The grass, trees… everything seemed not quite real.

And did you ever think about personal hygiene?  How do you know if you have bad breath?  Or bad … something else?  And … is that t-shirt clean, or did I just forget to put it in the laundry?

We went to people’s houses, and they wanted to know how the food was … well, it looks great!

I thought a lot about how pleasure fits in our lives.  I don’t think it’s easily separated from the rest of life, as some stoics may believe (sorry, Spock).  For one thing, we often can tell from taste what fruits are the healthiest.  (Can you imagine not being able to tell if your food was bad?  Could be dangerous!)

Pleasure is not an add-on that God gave us that now only causes problems.  It’s an important part of our lives – but that’s a whole other post.

Anyway, that being said, I did eat a lot less sugar and fat for a couple of weeks.  It was interesting choosing food entirely based on what I thought would be healthy.  I even ate some foods that normally I hate – just for fun.  😉

It was a week after this started I was diagnosed with sinusitis (I actually briefly got a sinus headache, which is fairly rare), got some treatment, and a week later I got my sense of taste and smell back.

But throughout this time, I felt fine – just a little congested (and missing two of my senses).

But after another week or so, it became clear I wasn’t improving any more.  And … I was getting sicker.  By the time we were travelling to Mexico, I had yet another bug, and it was clear that the sinusitis had not cleared up (but I could still taste and smell!).

So a kind doctor friend of ours helped with getting me the treatment I needed in the USA, and now – well, I’m just about better!

So actually, thankfully, most of the summer I was not feeling too bad (I was feeling pretty good, actually) (except for those two bugs a month and a half apart, which didn’t last long (don’t worry, it wasn’t H1N1)).  And thankfully, we only sang once during the summer, and it was probably the only Sunday my lungs were up to it!  But altogether I guess I was sick for over a month and a half, with sinusitis and two viruses.

But losing two senses (admittedly, nothing like losing hearing and sight or something!) was quite an experience.  I’ve never had sinus problems, or lost taste and smell – those of you who deal with that regularly or all that time – my hat’s off to you!

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