Medical Seclusion

There was a truly desperate sparrow outside my apartment building this morning. 35 degrees Fareinheit and raining and that little bird was taking a most enthusiastic bath in a puddle. He must have been very dirty!

TMI alert!

I have more or less been on lockdown for the past few days. As new and bizarre symptoms made themselves known on Friday while I was at the office, I went to the clinic and was told that, yes, I have a cold. However, it’s apparently a particular known virus that causes laryngitis, coughing up of accumulated mucus but no removal of pathogens, and viral conjunctivitis. I am “extremely contagious” for 3-5 days (1-3 more days, now) and can expect a painful throat and persistent cough for 2-4 weeks.

The doctor told me, “avoid speaking, drink lots of warm liquids, avoid leaving the house, and make yourself as comfortable as possible,” the final phrase of which is distressingly fatalistic and makes me feel like I should be making Final Arrangements. I was desperately hoping that this would be bacterial so that she could prescribe some kind of medication, particularly for the conjunctivitis, but instead I was told to keep doing everything I have been doing, keep my mouth shut, and stay under virtual house arrest.

Because I wasn’t quite over the line into abject misery yesterday, I developed a migraine. Also, it’s that time of the month. And there is a mouse who possibly spent the night under my couch and may well still be there.

I have had quite an adventure with mice in this building since September. There were no signs of mice at all for the first year I lived here but they decided to colonize with a vengeance. Unfortunately, reporting the problem to the management company resulted in someone coming into my apartment unannounced and laying down kill traps loaded with some kind of chemical, using my kitchen shears to cut up steel wool, and pulling apart the bits of steel wool in the middle of my dining room. Of course, I didn’t know what steps they had taken until I almost put my hand in a mousetrap while cleaning the tub, washed inexplicable metallic dust off of the shears I didn’t remember leaving out on the counter, and spent a full week pulling painful metal splinters out of my feet. I left a couple of frustrated messages but, of course, no one bothered to call me back. The maintenance man did, at point, bring glue traps to my door but I will absolutely not have those things in my home – they are inhumane and I have watched a mouse stuck in one die a terrifying, horrible death.

My solution to this is to bait anew the live traps I bought but which will probably not work and leave them around while I’m here. I’ll bait the snap traps before I leave for work and deactivate them when I get back home. The thought of a SNAP waking me up, of lying in bed realizing there is a tiny dead or injured creature needing to be dealt with in the middle of the night, is sufficiently alarming to keep me from doing anything more effective.

I’m delighted to be able to say that my apartment is in a much better condition to discourage mice now than it was back in September. In September, I’d had overtime and travel at work and I hadn’t had a chance to clean anything for a couple of weeks. The apartment was frankly squalid with unwashed dishes, dirty laundry, and all manner of work and crafting detritus. Seeing a mouse helping himself to the bird seed queued up an intense panic and a top-to-bottom house scrubbing that I sobbed throughout.

Last night, by contrast, I was alerted to something odd when the tin foil I’d left on the counter while eating my dinner rattled. I threw it out and neatened up my kitchen, then sprawled on the living room floor with my computer. I hadn’t been there five minutes when a mouse came around the corner from the kitchen and scurried in. My friend Jenn consoled me over Twitter and has encouraged me to think of the mouse as “Irwin” or “Irving” to make him seem less startling and intrusive.

Thank goodness for Jenn. ❤ I have now decided to call him Irwin and, if I manage to catch him, I will be keeping him as a pet. The management company has strict rules about pets (as in: NOT ALLOWED) but if he’s already a tenant, frankly, they can take their complaints and bite. They should have hired exterminators like I and the other residents asked them to. At the very least, they should have told me to expect the maintenance guy to put down kill traps and steel wool. I’d already DONE the steel wool and would have loved the opportunity to keep him from seeding my carpet with metal shavings that took two months of repetitive vacuuming to mostly clear up.

My throat complains loudly and at length if I eat anything that is not extremely soft or straight up liquid so of course I baked bread this morning. I half-justified it as an effort to draw the mouse back out and toward my traps. Oddly enough, though, this happened:


On top of Mount Gluten, all covered in flour…

I would make a pithy comment about crafting little tiny mouse skis but I tore off that bulge and ate it as soon as the loaf had cooled enough from the oven. It doesn’t feel like my throat is ever going to forgive me but I regret nothing. It just means I’m adding even more honey to my teas.

Speaking of which, my tea problem? Less a problem and more a surprisingly beneficial addiction, this past week. I find myself incredibly thankful that I have so many different flavors and caffeine levels to quaff while I sulk my way through this illness. Green teas, black teas, red teas, floral teas, herbal teas, teas with fruit and spices and coffee beans and chocolate and pumpkin. Not to mention, half of my collection is back at the office for me to mainline while I sulk at my computer tomorrow.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me, family and friends, that I’ll catch this mouse, recover my voice, not infect any of my neighbors with the creeping crud, and manage to get all of my laundry put away before I fall asleep tonight. On rolls the day!


One thought on “Medical Seclusion

  1. I love that your sense of humor remains even through sickness! You rock and I hope that your day at work isn’t too much – what a way to start the year! Yikes!

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