It’s really cold today — 18 degrees, I think, and the wind is howling. On the day the Mercury retrograde hits, it takes me back to the time ten or so years ago when I had pneumonia.

It didn’t seem quite fair at the time (after all, I never smoked and wasn’t high risk) but it was just one of those things: a case of flu that went to my lungs. Problem was, I didn’t have insurance and had yet another job where, if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid.

Pneumonia is a funny thing; quite literally, it knocks the breath out of you. And you hear the classic cellophane-like crackles as you struggle to breathe in and out. It scared the shit out of me. So I hauled my ass to the doctor’s and bullied him into giving me a magical Z-pack. “I can’t really diagnose you without an x-ray,” he told me. “Oh, for Christ’s sake,” I said impatiently. “Do they not teach you people clinical skills anymore? What else would make my lungs sound like this?”

So he agreed, and started to write out a scrip. “If I’m too poor to get an x-ray, what makes you think I can afford $125 for a prescription?” I said. “Don’t you have any samples?” (I am a force of nature when I need to be.)

So I went home. I was living in a tiny little efficiency (a historic former brothel, I kid you not) in the Hellmouth, where I moved one step ahead of being kicked out of my other apartment. There were only two windows: a narrow one high above the kitchen sink, and another next to my bed, in a door-less room so small, the double bed took up most of the space.

I stayed in bed for the next two weeks, waking when the sweats would hit, teeth chattering with fever, sleeping when I could. (It took another month before I could go back to work; I was exhausted.)

But here’s the thing: You guys (maybe not all of the same people, but some) paid my bills and bought me food while I got well. It astounded me. I couldn’t have done it without your help.

This is yet another reason why I think so kindly of my readers. After all, you saved my life.

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