• author
    • Debra DeAngelo

    • September 16, 2016 in Columnists

    I had walking pneumonia at 14, and yet… I prevailed

    When I was a freshman in high school, I got this lingering cough that was particularly bad at night. I felt a little low-energy, a little slow mentally, but still managed to get to school every day because A) I was one of those weirdos who loved school and B) there were lots of cute boys at school, and I had a crush on, like, 10 of them. I may have felt crappy, but I still managed to apply my sky blue Yardley eye shadow and pink frost lipstick at perfect just sub-kabuki level, get my Farrah Fawcett wings sprayed into place, and totter off to class.

    But I kept getting worse. Weaker and weaker, until one morning, my civics teacher became concerned and sent me to the office to call my parents. I wasn’t coughing uncontrollably, just here and there, but I was visibly wilting. My mom picked me up, took me home, listened to my chest with a stethoscope, and took me for a chest X-ray. She was a doctor, you see. So was my father.

    Go figure. I had walking pneumonia. The X-ray of my left lung looked like spiders had spun webs through it. The treatment was simple — antibiotics and a few days rest, and within a couple days, I was back at school, full-tilt flirting with all those cute boys. And, that was that. No one fretted over how pneumonia would permanently impede me physically and intellectually, or theorized about what I would and wouldn’t be able to do from then on, or declared my entire professional future over at 14. Nope. Rest, meds, and back to school, missy. No big whoop.

    Besides the fact that permanent, devastating handicap never even came into the conversation about my pneumonia, the larger point of this little story is that I was walking around under the noses of two seasoned physicians for weeks, and neither of them suspected anything other than a bad cough that required no more serious intervention than over-the-counter Robitussin.

    In other words — walking pneumonia is neither exotic nor crippling, is relatively simple to recover from, and may not be obvious even to physicians without an X-ray. Unless you’re running for President — and then walking pneumonia is “a health crisis.” So help me God, just last night, I heard the evening news anchor tease the broadcast with “Hillary Clinton’s health crisis.”

    I nearly gagged on the absurdity.

    There’s a certain segment of the population, both on and off TV, that is so chronically prejudiced and poisoned against Hillary that any little thing, no matter how mundane or preposterous, is pounded into a knife to stick into her side. However, the Great Hillary Health Crisis (GHHC) is just sheer lunacy.

    I’m at the saturation point with the Right-Wing fueled idiocy. To save my own sanity, I may turn off the TV until Nov. 8, when I’ll watch the election returns in fear and loathing through one squinted eye, because the threat of a Donald Trump presidency still looms large — in part because A) Hillary sucks at trumpeting her own accomplishments and successes (we girls learn early on that it’s not nice to brag) and B) the televised media is hyper-focused on providing Trump with unlimited free airtime by foaming at the mouth over every inane, insulting, dim-witted word that falls from his ridiculous overly-round mouth… but secretly rejoicing at the ratings (read: money) that “All Trump All the Time” coverage provides.

    Fox “News” had a feeding frenzy with the GHHC, and I’m sorry (not sorry), but if you rely on that snake pit of fear, lies, misinformation and outright bold and proud sheer stupidity for all your information, you and I have nothing left to talk about. I won’t even bother. I’ll just nod and say, “Uh huh,” and excuse myself to do something less painful, like shove a knitting needle through my skull.

    Being a glutton for punishment, however, allow me to deconstruct the GHHC for those of you who are certain that Hillary is hiding some horrid disease that prevents her from serving as President.

    So she had walking pneumonia. So she didn’t take out billboards announcing that, because she thought she could power through it. She couldn’t. Layer on top of that exhausting illness the suffocating humid heat of summer in New York City, trapped underneath one of those God-awful polyester pantsuits that don’t breathe, add the crush and pressure of a 9/11 memorial, jam-packed with crowds, and all that after more than a year of non-stop campaigning, public speaking, travel, shaking hands with hundreds of germy people every day, and spending whatever energy you have left in a möbius strip verbal battle about an email issue already stamped “Case Closed” by the FBI.

    The rigors of campaigning alone would have caused most of us to collapse within the first month. But not Hillary. She’s a workhorse. She keeps her head down and plows onward. This strategy worked for her, both as Secretary of State and as a Presidential candidate — until the day that it didn’t. She wobbled, was eased into a car, and spent some time recuperating at her daughter’s home.

    “But why did she go to Chelsea’s apartment! If she was so sick, why wasn’t she in the hospital! Scandal, scandal, scandal, and also, Benghazi!” scream Enquiring minds everywhere.

    Simple: because walking pneumonia doesn’t require hospitalization. And, Hillary’s in a no-win situation. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll be labeled weak and unhealthy, and unfit to serve. If she stays with her daughter, she’s accused of covering up “what’s really going on” and sneaky and deceitful, and unfit to serve. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” should be the title for the Hillary Clinton story.

    “What’s really going on” is that legions of Radical Right types, in the media and out, dedicate themselves to twisting anything and everything about Hillary into an attack. If she says she likes kittens, they’ll declare that Hillary hates dogs, and also, the troops.


    Now, where did I leave that knitting needle.



      • Maya Spier Stiles North

      • September 16, 2016 at 8:43 pm
      • Reply

      The Great Evil Pumpkin and his slavering minions — not just the deplorables but the decorticate press…there are so many words contained in just that it almost feels like I don’t need to go on — but I will. When I lost my job back in 1992 and then finally started over (clerical to computer programmer to clerical) that year, I was just coming down with one of the worst cases of GOD knows what I ever remember and I have been SICK. It felt like pneumonia and bronchitis and of course it triggered the mild asthma that lurks in my body, only waiting for the right illness to invite it out to play. I remember leaning on the wall of the bathroom stall at my new job, thinking that I was not sure I would even live, but knowing that if I took even an afternoon’s sick time, I would lose that job. So I did. Not. Miss. A. Single. Day. Not even a moment. I didn’t go to a doctor — I couldn’t do that on work hours. Not yet. No leave. No hope of help. I dragged myself up two flights of stairs and collapsed sobbing. We’d run out of water, so the fever sweat poured off me and I couldn’t even shower. I couldn’t sleep because I was damn near coughing my lungs out through my mouth. But you know what? I made it through. I got better. I never missed a day, I kept that job and it ultimately led to the computer programming job I have had for nearly 19 years. So yeah, Hillary powered through and she will be just fine. Why? Because it’s what women do.

      • EXACTLY. Women, particularly those who’ve raised children, don’t have the luxury of slowing down or resting just because we’re sick – even with pneumonia.

          • Maya Spier Stiles North

          • September 17, 2016 at 9:50 pm

          Kids do not stop needing care just because we’re sick…

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