It is a beautiful morning and the sun glows like burnished gold in the autumn sky, bursting through the haze of an early morning dew. I have awakened from a 24 hour slumber after being slammed by the first bug of a changing season. Right on the heels of a zealous flare, I woke with that distinct scratch in the back of my throat, falling into the septic pool of an early autumn virus under the palette of a dazzling sapphire sky. It slammed into me, unremorsefully teaming up with my lingering flare. It was the first time my symptoms of RA were temporarily lost in the lacquered coating of a common virus.
Consumed in the daily battle of fighting RA, I had forgotten about my vulnerability to other viruses. The enemy I know is an easier foe to fight than the ones I don’t. Last year, I managed to stay one step ahead of the seasonal flu – even when it crept out of the closet and stuck its claws into my better half, I was still victorious enough to escape its talons. It was a victory I revelled in and carried with me into the warmth of summer, and then it was forgotten.
I was caught off guard from this sudden onset and humbly reminded that I am entering a season in which these viruses are coming into their spring. They are blooming in the crowds of public transit, burgeoning on the unwiped tables in coffee shops, breeding in the wings of theatres; they are the invisible tiny microbes that pack a wallop once they are unleashed in our body, and they are looking for the homes of those bodies already compromised with chronic illness. It’s time to be extra vigilant against the onslaught of those mighty germs with the little, but formidable, details that can assist in warding off an unwanted illness – frequent hand washing, tissues, sanitizing wipes, disinfectants, vitamin C, face masks if necessary, even the occasional sleepless night on the couch to protect partners from infection in close quarters.
A day after my ailing slumber, I sit beneath the rays of a sultry fall day, hypnotized by the wine-tinted leaves scattered throughout the yellow and green backdrop of the trees. The sky glows warmly and I sit with my hands wrapped around my coffee mug, feeling the return of the familiar burn of the enemy I know. All I can do is be as prepared as I can be – in the end it will run its course – the cough will fade, the fever will fizzle out, it will be forgotten as a temporary setback and I will continue on with life. I have been initiated into the arrival of a change of season, a change in the game of wellness – but I’m ready to face that challenge – I’ve always been good at games 😉
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.