I had to have some dental work done last week. It was the first time I had been to the dentist in a lot of years. It got me thinking about my general health and how I’ve been pretty lucky in that area. I’ve had no major health crises or broken bones across my adulthood. I don’t have allergies, catch many colds, or many flu-like whatevers. There was one strange sickness years ago that stands above the rest though for it’s sheer weirdness. At least to me.

It was the morning and I was heading in to work. I was riding in the car with my friend Bill on my way to the Tarrytown train station. It was a day like any other except I was feeling a little run down as if I was getting a cold. You know that feeling. You’re just trucking along and hoping it won’t get any worse and you can make it through the day and then get some rest.

As we reached the parking lot I was a little worn out and wistful not wanting to go into Manhattan to start my work day. I stepped out of the car and, oh boy, the world wouldn’t stop moving. I’ve been dizzy before but it usually consisted of being unable to focus as the world moved around a bit. This was a whole different ball game. It was like if you move your head an inch and instead it moves a foot all on its own. And then moves back and forth with no end in sight. I’d look one place and my eyes would be in another. I had to take a knee.

Of course my buddy Bill was concerned as I was kneeling with my eyes closed. Having my eyes closed made it all better. I wasn’t going to make Bill turn around and drive me home so I knew I had to make it to the train platform. There was a covered staircase that went over the tracks and to the platform. I slowly made my way up and across and took a knee again as I waited for the train. I wasn’t feeling any worse than I did in the car but the crazy way the world was spinning was intense.

I was glad to get on the train and grab a seat. That is when the second scary symptom happened. As I was sitting there began a burning sensation in my chest. I can only describe it as a little ball of heat that started growing. It grew in intensity until it seemed to burst and then the heat expanded all through my body until it hit my skin. As the heat hit my skin I broke into a complete cold sweat that was a relief. This whole incident probably lasted thirty seconds. It was not fun.

As we pulled into Grand Central Station I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work that day but I figured it was just as easy to stop by and let them know I was heading home as not. I was still crazy dizzy but discovered if I focused on something way ahead of me then the dizziness was alleviated and I could walk fairly well. It was the same technique as looking at one of those “Magic Eye” photos that you can only see when you don’t focus on it.

I took the 6 train down to Park Avenue South and told my boss that I was heading home. I then took the N train up to the Port Authority bus station and got on a bus home. They are locals at that time of day so it took nearly two hours to get to my stop and then I had a twenty minute walk to reach home. Still it was a relief to get on the bus and know I was on my way home.

That’s it. Nothing else weird about that illness. I was in bed for a while. I probably missed the rest of the week at work but it was a standard fever, stuffed head, runny nose, flu-like symptoms good time. Thankfully it was not a dread disease and didn’t have any lasting effect. Except for the fact that sometimes when I’m under stress my body will replicate symptoms of that illness. Nothing special about that it’s just the same thing that happens to everybody else. You’re under stress so you get a headache, stomachache, or whatever. It’s just that for a few years instead of felling bad in the pit of my stomach or some such I would start to feel a burning in my chest. I’d have to calm down and tell myself I wasn’t really getting sick like that again. Weird.

It’s not much of a health crisis story, and once again I’m glad for that, but that is what I was thinking about this week as my imagination was running wild with worry for my teeth. There is no telling what is going to run through my head. And as a post script to that story I once had someone tell me that what I experienced were symptoms of the London Flu. I have no idea if that is true or not but it’s the only explanation I’ve ever heard.