April 14, 2007 – New Orleans
We’ve got the vapors. Yes. Literally.
Fainting spells in bars where your friends work can be embarrassing. However, it’s always good when a couple just-off-duty nurses happen to be drinking at the establishment, so they can pick you up off the floor, carry you to the couch, and proceed to give you a frighteningly wide and specific range of potential diagnoses.
Abject mortification can at least be tempered by the three or four good people who hover around like ladies-in-waiting for a Southern belle whose whalebone corset stays got cinched too tight.
Thankfully, the bar had a couch. When The Vapors started to come on, in a limp effort to avoid looking like the drunk girl passed out on the sofa when customers walked in, we’d staggered from the table to the bathroom — but as the nurses hustled us to a horizontal position, meters away from the bar’s windows to the street in the French Quarter, the joint’s affable bartender explained it to me thusly:
“Girl, please. This is New Orleans.” (Shrug.)
After the visit to the doctor’s, hypoglycemia and diabetes were ruled out. Humidity and sea-level living don’t bother us at all. Nothing to do with self-induced toxicity, either, since these days we ingest only hippie food and kombucha while the old familiar boozy devil on our left shoulder recoils in silent horror.
And it’s probably not a tumor, or anemia, or internal bleeding, although apparently aspirin — specifically, BC powder and Goody powder — contain insanely high doses of blood-thinning agents that can really fuzzle you up.
A virus, they said. What kind of virus? The New Orleans virus, the doctor said. Well, what are the symptoms? It’s different for everybody. Some get flu-ey, some congested, some exhausted, some nauseous and pukey, some display symptoms of the common cold.
Ever since we got to Louisiana, our body’s engine has acted like it’s running low on oil — but we thought it was because of stress and whatnot. Now we find out several of the punks in the million-houseguest house where we’re staying have experienced or are experiencing a similar cruddy feeling too. Here we are in one of the most unique and soulful and breathtaking cities on the planet, but it’s hard to want to do anything but lay around and watch movies and be lightheaded.
We’re kind of suspicious it’s something in the tap water. Whether it’s muck left over from the storm and seeping in through broken water pipes, or something more governmental and sinister, nobody knows. Airaq told us that after Katrina, when the municipal services got turned back on, every time he took a bath his eyes burned from all the chlorine they had to put in the water supply to make it potable.
The “virus” could be something in the air, too. No clue, the doctor said. Comforting, right?
Well, fuck it. Whatever it’s called and whatever causes it, we see this “virus” as a rite of passage. A vaccination to make us resistant to further poisonings on our next visits to this jolie-laide city. Now we’re ready to come back, and we haven’t even left yet.
We don’t want to leave.
We feel boring.
Big giant important P.S.:
Here’s another f’d up thing we learned at the doctor’s. Pay close attention, especially if you enjoy the company of dirtbags, or go on tour a lot, or thrive in communal pile-of-puppies-type situations like we do.
Meningitis is coming back.
Yes, MENINGITIS. It strikes first where poor people live on top of each other. In the past few years they’ve started vaccinating college students who live in dorms. After the nice doctor figured out a little bit about our lifestyle, he became quite insistent that not only should we find a way to get the shot, we should also tell all our dirtbag friends.
You can die from this. Very quickly — as in a few hours after you begin to display the mundane symptoms (headache, chills, etc).
So if you can’t spring for a vaccination — we hear they’re expensive — find the public health clinic in your area who might give it out for free. Do it now. Ain’t no fun havin’ meningitis.
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