August 20th, 2008

The Medium of Thought Affects the Thinking

I spent several hours last night and the better part of today in and around the spa at the JCC. The doctor -- a good one, apparently -- told me that my best chance of avoiding further complications with my leg, aside from taking my antibiotics like clockwork, was to keep it moist and hot. Maybe that was my mistake with the injury in May. No one told me that it's counter-productive to use ice after the first few days. Cold keeps the effects of the injury localized. With an infection like this, however, the goal is not to let the bacteria establish a critical mass, meaning that spreading them around, which heat accomplishes, is the desired outcome. At least, that's what the doctor said.

From what I can tell, she was right. The redness is shrinking. And that terrible sense of deep unease that started to befall me on Monday's drive up to Phoenix has given way to frustration. For one thing, all the time I have spent simmering myself has convinced me that hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas may be relaxing, but they are not conducive to the sort of thinking I want and need to be doing. Perhaps it's the heat. All I could do was focus on the moment, registering the effect when I would shift position and pondering how long I could stay in before passing out.

By contrast, when I jog, bicycle or spend time in a regular pool, I get some of my best thinking done. I guess my spa experience approximates the way I feel when I'm body surfing in the ocean, as I was over the weekend. But the ocean is so much more stimulating that the absence of a sense of time is not a problem. I could spend hours in the ocean, empty of thought, without regretting a second. Today, though, I would get annoyed, upon leaving the spa to cool down, as I periodically needed to do, that I couldn't sustain the productive train of thought that I'd been following this morning after dropping Skylar at school and having a good cup of coffee.

Then again, it might just be the antibiotics. Another reason why I'm convinced that I'm getting better, however slowly, is that my body is starting to punish me for taking them. When I'm really at risk, the pills don't register anywhere other than their intended target. Once they've started to do their job, though, I am troubled by an upset stomach, anxiety and a feeling that my brain keeps slipping gears. I'm not complaining. Clearly, I needed the medicine. It's better to face those side effects than be admitted to the hospital, where MRSA and other maladies lurk. That said, I still wish I could get back in this morning's flow. It was the first sustained one I've had in some time, aside from airplane travel.