Wow. I think this weekend was the closest I've ever come to kicking it.
Not that it's a high bar. I've never been seriously injured or had any major disease, and I've never had a bullet whiz by my head. At 47, though, my luck may be starting to turn.
I'm pretty sure that I was suffering (and still coming out of) a bad case of bronchitis. This is a web-based diagnosis, because I felt too sick to see a doctor. Kind of like having a house too dirty for a maid to see. At one point, I considered going to the emergency room, but I decided that lying on my couch was a better course of treatment than taking the subway to a building full of even sicker people. You're welcome, overburdened American health care system.
The worst moment was before dawn on Saturday morning, a couple of hours after I took some Nyquil Substitute in an attempt to stifle my constant cough and get some sleep. I suddenly woke up as if I were drowning.
My respiratory system had never executed a coup d'etat like that. My brain had no control over my breathing, or anything else. For what seemed like a couple of minutes, I sat on the edge of the bed while coughing and gulping for air. I wanted to know what time it was, but I couldn't turn my head an inch to the left to see the clock; the Respiratory Army wasn't allowing any unnecessary movements. I wondered how many times I could keep performing these superhuman inhalations before collapsing into exhaustion. I thought of an out-of-control washing machine, bouncing and skittering over a basement floor, and shuddered at the solution of pulling the plug.
My wheezing grew so loud, I thought that I must be waking up dozens of people in my apartment building and expected to hear angry and/or concerned knocking at the door. (To get an idea of what it sounded like to me, here's Derek Jacobi performing Shakespeare on Frasier. Go to the 1:55 mark.) But no one came. Either I wasn't as loud as I thought or my neighbors thought I was getting what I deserved for complaining about their loud partying.
Eventually, I regained control of my breathing and moved to the couch for some TV and my idle thoughts. (It wasn't the first appearance of "If I died, how long would it take for someone to find me?", but the question wasn't as fun as it used to be.) In fact, I slept on the couch for the next few nights because my bed was too scary. I abandoned the strategy of knocking myself out with alcohol-laced medicine and switched to short naps with frequent drinks of water and green tea (both hot and iced). The coughing fits continued but got less frequent, and there were no more drowning simulations.
So the crisis seems to be over. Any chance that I can wait another 47 years for the next one?