I never understood that phrase when I was younger. I think a lot of it was down to the fact that being sick meant you could stay off from school, and I hated school. Anything that got me out of that meat grinder for a day was okay in my book. I could've been hunched over, bleeding out of every orifice like I'd just tangled with the Blue Sun Corporation or something and I'd still be saying; "Could be worse, could be in school!" Right up until the point when I vomited up my pancreas.
I used to hear that phrase a lot when I complained about stuff that'd happen at school. "Well, at least you've got your health!" usually from well meaning adults. I'd always take issue with it.
"I know I have my health! That's the problem. If I didn't then I wouldn't have to go to school, would I?" Is what I would say if I wasn't a meek, shy, socially awkward fat kid who just wanted to eject from the conversation so I could go read and play video games on my own.
Plus I never really got sick much as a kid. I rarely got a chance to sample the sweet delights of a sick day because I was always far too damn healhy. Whenever there was a bug going around every single kid would seem to catch it except for me and all the kids who used to pick on me. It was bullshit.
Although there was a few weeks where I had to stay home because I'd torn the ligaments in my ankle. That wasn't a fun injury by any standards, my right foot still aches like a sore tooth when it gets cold.
But it did get me out of school for a few weeks. And because of it I got to spend most of my breaks and lunch hours in the library instead of socialising with all those other little fuckers. Those two awesome reasons outweighed the pain and discomfort.
I don't want to be the guy who advises kids to get themselves thrown down a flight of steps when they're twelve. That's not good advice. But winter is kind of a shitty season and you're far better off putting your feet up and drinking cocoa with a good book. And who cares if you're in your thirties and you still get nervous going up and down stairs? Most places have elevators. You'll be fine.
Once, every other Hunter's Moon, if the prophecy had been fulfilled, I would get properly sick. But even then, my damned antibodies were so efficient they would kick the everloving shit out of whatever disease that dared to take up residence in my body. It was like the damned Home Alone house in there. Nothing could get in. And if it did, it'd be kicked back out again with a few comical injuries for its trouble.
Do you know how old I was when I had my first cold? Twenty-six!*
I think that was the tipping point for me. It was like all my Christmas letters had been delivered at once, but they'd arrived two decades too late. So every disease I wished I'd had as a kid started to hit me when I was an adult. Adults generally need to get shit done, they can't stay at home anymore. I had to go to work regardless of how shitty I felt because no work meant no money and no money meant no place to live.
I've had a load of illnesses since then and I have to say; being sick fucking sucks! It's awful. I hate it. If you could just stop and rest it wouldn't be so bad, but as an adult there's always something that you need to do. If you stop and rest too long, you lose your job, your house goes to shit, your kids run out into the streets stabbing people, your dog begins to browse craigslist for other options, no bills get paid, and you wind up on the same streets your kids are on just waiting for them to stab you. All this because you couldn't stop vomitting for five seconds. You selfish prick. How very dare you.
Last year was an absolute nightmare for illnesses for me. I've had every cold and flu that's been going around, sometimes twice in the same month. I have one right now in fact!** I've had days of such tremendous exhaustion that I'd come home from work, immediately go to bed, then wake up in time for work the next day without any time passing in between. I've had headaches that have made it almost impossible to open my eyes. Two seperate cases of food poisoning (although one of these was probably caused by Donald Trump) And most recently I pulled a muscle in my back, for no reason that I can even think of.
But all of this stuff has been minor. I get sick, I feel like shit for a few days, I get better. I still have all my limbs, all my organs are in the right place, all my senses work okay, and my extraneous second penis can still shoot heat rays at those who defy me.
I now have a renewed appreciation for all those people whose health suddenly fails them. Accidents that cripple you out of nowhere; degenetrive illnesses that sneak up when you don't expect them; chronic pain and fatigue diseases that make every day a constant struggle; cancer; heart disease; diabetes; HIV; being born without arms or legs; being born blind or deaf. And that's just the serious diseases I can name off the top of my head, and it only covers diseases that you can see. There's a whole host of mental illnesses that people end up battling all of their lives.
I've been lucky enough to have avoided most of these so far, and I hope to do so in the future.
I guess health is one of those invisible privileges that I've taken for granted all these years and I've only really started to notice how fortunate I've been when I've had it temporarily suspended. I've experienced what it's like to be sick. I don't like it at all. I want to not be sick, if that's at all possible.
But that's the scary thing. Your health can be taken from you at any time without any warning.
That's why the next time someone says "At least you have your health!" I'll realise how fortunate I am to have it. Things can always get worse.
I mean, I'll probably still roast them alive with my laser penis. Because that's a bullshit attempt to cheer someone up. Someone feels bad and you tell them how other people have it worse? Fuck off. There's always someone worse off than you. Being reminded of that doesn't make your pain any less real, it just makes you feel guilty for having any pain at all.
But, after I've cleaned up their still smoking carcass, I'll appreciate the sentiment. Having your health is a great thing and I'm not going to take it for granted any more.
* I probably had other colds before this. But they were either so insignificant that I can barely remember them, or they lasted about five minutes before my mighty immune system kicked it out. The cold I had when I was twenty six was the first one I remember ever really impeding me in any way.
** But I don't have a cold while I've been editing this at all. Suck it, past me!