Pay close attention to the wording of today’s blog post title, “I look like I have the measles”.
Now, pay close attention to what I am about to write. I look like I have the measles. Notice, I didn’t write that I actually have the measles. I wrote that I look like I have them.
Yesterday morning, right after I woke up, I experienced a pretty violent fit of coughing. This happens sometimes early in the morning, just when I’m getting out of bed. I have cough variant asthma, allergies, and experience occasional gastric reflux. All of these conditions can bring on fits of coughing which sometimes get bad enough that I vomit. When I vomit, often early in the morning, it’s usually before I’ve had anything to eat. Consequently, I sometimes wind up dry heaving, which makes the episodes more violent than they might otherwise be. The fragile capillaries in my face break, and I look flushed and spotty, as if I had the measles. This condition lasts until the bleeding is reabsorbed and the tiny bruises heal.
That is what happened to me yesterday. I was sitting at the table drinking some water when I started coughing. I don’t know if the coughing was caused by asthma, allergies, or acid reflux. It doesn’t actually matter. What matters is what happened after the coughing subsided. Suddenly, I felt that dreaded sick feeling of nausea. I knew I was about to lose the little bit of water I had been drinking as I was waiting for my coffee and had my sudden coughing fit.
Sure enough, I hurled, then retched violently a few times with a completely empty stomach. Next thing I knew, my face was all red, my eyes were bloodshot, and the puking episode was over. I ate breakfast and went on with my day, only with red spots all over my face and neck.
I know better than to look at myself in the mirror after one of these spells. I did catch my reflection yesterday afternoon and saw my face with its tiny red polka dots. It reminded me of the way the kids on The Brady Bunch looked during the measles episode. If you watch the episode, you see the children look flushed, with little red spots. I have never actually seen anyone with the measles. Most everyone in my age group was immunized, so I don’t remember any of my friends ever having that particular typical childhood malady.
Having just looked up images of measles versus images of petechiae (which is what I have), I did kind of look like I had the measles yesterday. Or, at least, like I had a whole lot of red freckles. Today, my spots have faded a bit, and I’m feeling okay. But I still look a little spotty. All I can do is wait for the tiny bruises to go away. I’ll be fine in a day or two, until the next time I have to throw up, which could be anytime.
Why am I writing about this today? Well, there are a couple of reasons. One– I am really tired of reading and writing about COVID-19. I’m so tired of it that I find writing about the measles sort of refreshing. Two– I am tired of writing about politics, even though there’s plenty to write about. For instance, I could go off about how Trump buddy Michael Flynn, who was just pardoned for his fuckery, is now calling for Trump to impose martial law and have another election. Seriously? Fuck that guy! The election is over, and TRUMP LOST. Yes, I could rant about that, but I don’t want to today. And three– I want to make a point about people who don’t read carefully. If I was still an English teacher in Armenia, this topic could have made a very interesting lesson for my students. I’ll share it with you readers, instead.
Several people who saw my Facebook post left me comments indicating that they think I have the measles. I never wrote that I have the measles. I wrote that I LOOK LIKE I have the measles. There is a difference. The first person who commented is a nurse. She wisely left me a question mark, which gave me the opportunity to explain what happened. Then she responded appropriately that only time heals bruises caused by vomiting.
However, even after I clarified in the comments what the problem really is, other people still responded as if I had written that I actually have the measles when I only wrote that I “look like” I have them. One person asked me if I had been vaccinated. I responded in the affirmative. At first, I was confused as to why she’d ask me about whether or not I’d had a MMR. Then I realized that she was under the impression that I have the measles, when I had clearly commented that I did not.
This particular issue is not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Some people misunderstood me. But what I’m trying to point out is that people often hastily respond to things without reading carefully. I can certainly understand why that is. People don’t feel like they have the time or inclination to wade through hundreds or thousands of responses, yet they still want to chime in.
However, if the people who commented on this thread had taken another second or two, they would have had a better idea of what was going on. Maybe they wouldn’t have felt it necessary to comment, or they would have responded differently. In this case, it wasn’t important. In other cases, it just might be.
I find the subject of communication very interesting, although I’ll admit that engaging in it can be frustrating. Social media has made it much easier to be a poor communicator. First off, you have the devices themselves. Computers, phones, iPads, and the like are distracting, and many people are constantly skimming, playing games, and reading in a half-assed manner. So even if you’re speaking to someone offline, chances are they are distracted by their phone and will miss about half of what you’re saying to them.
Then there’s the phenomenon of people simply reading headlines or statuses and not reading anything else. This happens all the time on news sites. I’ll stop on a story by The New York Times or the Washington Post, for instance, and the comments sections will be chock full of crap. From spammers to people who reacted to headlines rather than reading, there’s a lot of shit to wade through. And so many people will be taken in by “click bait” and leave an uninformed response. Then, when someone calls them out for not reading what they’re commenting on, they complain about not wanting to pay for a subscription. To that sentiment, I ask, “Do you work for free?”
And then there’s the fact that people are often forming responses in their heads even as someone is speaking or writing. Do you ever notice this when you’re talking to someone in real life? You’ll be having a discussion with them and they’ll interrupt you, which is a sure sign that they weren’t listening to what you were saying in the first place. This happens when I’m talking to Bill. He’s used to being in a fast paced environment with Type A people, many of whom are men. He’s learned that if he wants to get a word in edgewise, he has to be willing to interrupt. I sometimes get exasperated and say, “Will you PLEASE let me finish? When you jump in like that, you’re proving that you’re not even listening and we’re both wasting our breath and valuable time.” To his credit, the last time this happened, I pointed it out, and Bill apologized and realized I was right. It’s a bad habit, but I can understand where it comes from, especially in our hyperactive culture where we’re constantly being bombarded with information.
Or someone you’re communicating with misconstrues your meaning or intent, because they weren’t actively listening to what you were saying. This also happens in written communication. People are eager to wade through quickly, so they miss important nuances– like, for instance, I wrote that I LOOK LIKE I have the measles, but don’t actually have it. So there’s no need to send get well wishes, although maybe I might want to do something about my asthma, allergies, and acid reflux issues so I might stop occasionally vomiting in the morning.
On the other hand, I suppose I could have thought preemptively, and made it clear that I don’t actually have the measles in the original post. Or I could have simply kept this episode entirely to myself, which would probably be the smarter thing to do, anyway. I guess I was just making conversation, which seems to be a lost art in this era of social distancing and online communications. But at least this incident gave me something besides politics and plagues to write about today.