By Ernie McCray
On the Sunday before the election I felt so good, sitting on a rock at Mt. Palomar in the sun. The day before I had gone on an invigorating hike as woodpeckers stored acorns and wasps and gnats and flies flitted about with critters unseen on the run.
I was on the top of the world, my usual self, full of humor, and get up and go.
Election night came along and after the results were in I had evolved into somebody I didn’t recognize. It seemed as though I had been shot with a taser gun that had been designed to take down a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
It was like a shock to my immune system. Later in the night, early Thursday morning, my stomach awakened me with a jerk that had me running to the bathroom like it was an Olympic event. I barely made it to the finish line.
Later that Thursday I hung out with my grandson, walking with him to Toddler’s Park as he rode his trike. I noticed, however, that I was a little weak in the knees but I mostly ignored it because we were having a good time as we always do.
A fter my time with that beautiful little boy I drove to San Diego State to speak to my son Carlos’s class of social workers in Hepner Hall. Barely made it to the restroom, though, after walking, on the bridge from the parking lot over College Avenue, to the campus.
I was still basically okay, it seemed, although l was still somewhat shaky. I had a wonderful time addressing the class, highlighting how we who serve the public, like teachers and social workers, have to always do so in a spirit of love – especially during these uncertain times.
The class was very receptive and made me feel aglow and proud of my son who obviously had bonded nicely with them.
He walked me to where I was parked so we could talk and catch up on a few things but with each step I took I felt as though I was sloshing through quicksand in boots filled with cement. I had never, in my life, experienced such a sudden depletion of energy.
When I got myself seated in my car I felt like I had run back to back ultra-marathons in an armored suit. Pepto Bismol had always worked for me immediately in the past but it definitely was not doing the trick. A pharmacist recommended Imodium and my stomach just growled and practically laughed at the very notion. Anybody else, I assume, would have called their doctor by this time but I had never in my life been sick over a couple of days and just figured that whatever the problem was it would just go away – and also never in my life had I been 78 years old.
I know now that my days of willing a cold or the flu away with mind over matter are now forever gone.
I finally got around to seeing a doctor on Wednesday, the week after the election. Blood tests found nothing out of the ordinary. Stool specimens neither, but those took three or four days to carry out. Meanwhile I had taken nothing to combat whatever was wrong with me.
I finally got a prescription that I was to take for ten days, beginning Tuesday, the 22nd of November. The thinking was that, based on no other findings, I was reacting to an antibiotic I had taken a while back for oral surgery. I think they were right but the medicine made a zombie out of me. I’ve never been one to doze off while watching TV or in the middle of a conversation. When I went to bed at night I felt like I was sinking into the mattress rather than laying on it.
I was just dead inside. No appetite. No sex drive. No muscle tone. Practically skin and bones. I felt like I lived on Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” with no electricity.
I eventually tried to slowly revive my social life. I read a poem at a celebration of life for a departed friend. The walk to the podium was like a hike up Pikes Peak.
Later that afternoon I went to a gathering of friends who contribute to the San Diego Free Press as I do. It felt so good to be around so many like-minded folks and writers, people like me who were grieving. But the passion we generated discussing the election and our world-at-large, left me both energized and breathless after a while. And I had to leave early.
The next day I went to celebrate a friend of mine’s miraculous recovery from months of teetering between life and death. My ordeal would be like sniffles compared to what he went through. He and his wife are, with the help of a top literary agent, writing a book which will be turned into a movie. It’s that great a story, whereas mine is just crappy.
Turns out my situation was life threatening, too, which comes as no surprise to me because there were several moments when I questioned out loud to myself: “Could this be it?”
I certainly didn’t want the answer to be in the affirmative but there were also moments when I thought “Man it would be great to just die and then come back to life after this misery is over.”
Anyway, I feel better than I did yesterday and I’m trying to stare down the zombie in me and slowly make my way back to rebuilding muscles that feel like Play-Doh and becoming fit again where I can walk with pace and with the kind of confidence I’ve enjoyed literally all my life up until a month ago.
It’s going to take me a while but I plan to make my way back to the mountaintop among woodpeckers storing acorns and wasps and gnats and flies flitting about with critters unseen on the run.
This beautiful earth calls out to me to make it less emotionally disturbed and I don’t want to let it down. Besides turning a world around is fun.