Roll Tide/War Eagle

3 of my 4 nephews. From left to right: Ike, Eli (who scored 4 touchdowns the Saturday before Thanksgiving - 4!!), and Abe. Seth, the youngest, is not pictured here. Don't know who the photo-bombing kid in the background is.

Wednesday morning, Thanksgiving Eve, I awoke with the all-too-familiar tickle in the throat and the accompanying, dreaded cough.  Man, what happened to my immune system which by now has become virtually non-existent?   I had not joined my friend Ed the day before as he received his free flu shot at work.  Had I, I would have most likely joined the many conspiracy theory believers who claim the flu shot actually makes you ill.  Regardless, I had a long day ahead of me with 6 or 7 hours of work to do, followed by a 6+ hour drive to my sister’s family’s home in Alabama.  I broke up my usual morning routine by downing a couple of ibuprofen with my coffee.

At work, far from being the touchy-feely type, my boss’ boss attempted to avoid being labelled Ebenezer by calling me and telling me to leave work early.  “Thanks for the call, but I’m way ahead of you”, I thought to myself.  I rushed through the tasks I needed to accomplish, making them my primary action items, coughing and hacking all the way.  With each tick of the clock, I felt a little worse and my temperature edged upward.  By 1:00, I had completed all the tasks I had set out to do so, with a forehead hot enough to fry eggs on, and with a $9 pecan pie in hand, I jumped in my car, hit I-85, and headed south.

The next 6.5 hour trip was more fever-dream than drive.  I neared Atlanta at rush hour on the busiest travel day of the year, but fortunately the I-285 expressway around the city was running relatively smoothly.  NPR kept me company.  With about an hour left to drive before I reached my destination, as I scanned through radio stations, I stumbled upon an episode of This American Life about the Penn State scandal.  Within 5 minutes, of course, the story turned to static, just as I was becoming deeply engrossed.  Desperate to hear the entire story, I frantically tried to download the This American Life app to my phone, with no success.  For future reference, don’t try to download phone apps when you have a fever and you’re driving 80 miles an hour down a busy interstate – not a particularly good idea.  I think I’d have been better off doing tequila shots – maybe they would have killed this bug that my immune system was doing such a poor job of battling.

I didn’t hear much of the Penn State story, but I somehow managed to survive long enough to arrive at my sister Sherry’s house in Ashland, Alabama.  I survived yet another potentially fatal event when the family dog, Socks, a huge boxer with zero body fat, initially mistook me for an intruder, ferociously barked and growled , and then menacingly sprinted towards me.  But when he noticed that no one else seemed the least bit concerned about my entrance, he paused for a moment, looking back at his family as if  to say, “Oh, my bad.  Is this guy cool?”  Then, joyfully wagging his tail, he nearly fractured my ribs when he pounced on me, his mortal-enemy-instantly-turned-new-best-friend.

For the next few hours, I fought an overwhelming urge to sleep and instead stayed up, watching basketball with my brother-in-law and dad.  Eventually I lost the battle with fatigue and politely excused myself, retiring for the evening to one of my four nephews’ bedrooms, now converted to a guest room for me.  I passed out hard for about an hour before waking up in a pool of perspiration.  I spent the next 6 or 7 hours alternating between chills and sweaty bouts with overheating.

Thursday, Thanksgiving, or as it’s better known in Alabama, “2 days before the Iron Bowl”, I transferred from the bed to the couch and basically reclined there all day.  I had registered for a little Turkey Trot 10K in nearby Anniston, but I knew some 14-16 hours earlier that I wasn’t going to be there.  Just like Savannah, while I thought it would be the Achilles that derailed me, it was instead some insidious little virus.  Another race not meant to be.  So my $13 entry fee became a $13 donation to the Anniston Runners Club.  I’m going to email the race director later and see if thirteen bucks buy me an honorary membership.

But luckily, throughout the ordeal, I never lost my appetite, and that, of course, is the one thing that you really don’t want to lose on Thanksgiving.  I was able to acquire a Z-pac and only a few hours after taking the first dose, I started feeling better.  I, along with everybody else (after 4-year-old Seth’s “God is good.  God is, um, AMEN!” blessing), chowed down on typical Thanksgiving fare – turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, etc.  I had a couple of pieces of pie afterward, and I spent the rest of the day in post-feast, semi-comatose, slightly-feverish, football-watching bliss.

Friday, I woke up and, while not quite 100 per cent, I felt so much better than I had the last couple of days.  The family decided to head out to a nearby metropolis (Lineville?  Anniston?) to do some Black Friday shopping.  I wanted no part of that.  Instead, I lounged around, dividing my day between watching a  I Shouldn’t Be Alive marathon (where I spent a lot of time yelling “How could you be so stupid?!” at the various survivors who invariably put themselves in life-threatening situations by making some spectacularly bone-headed decisions) and reading my latest book club assignment, Cutting For Stone.  When the gang got back, there was more lounging and sports-watching.

Saturday, I thought about hanging around long enough to watch the Iron Bowl, the grand battle between the state’s 2 football powerhouses, Alabama and Auburn.  But I was also anxious to be on the road while the rest of the world wasn’t, so I decided to head back early.  That morning, I was able to successfully install the This American Life app on my phone.  I shared my thanks and good-byes with the family, and I loaded up and headed towards home.

During the ride back, I listened to the This American Life Penn State story, and several others for that matter.  That app is the greatest thing ever for making a long drive go by quickly.  The drive home was a flash compared to the ride down.

Back home, I get to reflect upon the things that I am thankful for, and there are many.  This week’s big winners are family, football, food,  antibiotics, and This American Life.  As soon as I get healthy, I’ll once again be thankful for good health and the ability to run – I hope I can be thankful for these 2 things very soon!


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