Deserters from the Army of the Upright: On Being Ill
January 11, 2013
“Directly the bed is called for, or sunk deep among pillows in one chair, we raise our feet even an inch above the ground on another, we cease to be soldiers in the army of the upright; we become deserters. They march to battle. We float with the sticks on the stream; helter-skelter with the dead leaves on the lawn, irresponsible and disinterested . . .”
– Virginia Woolf, On Being Ill
With winter come sniffles, congestion, coughs, and colds. I was laid low by such a cold last week. Recumbent, deserter from the armies of the upright working world. Hibernating. Sleep really is healing. Better now.
Virginia Woolf’s mother, Julia Stephen, also wrote about illness in Notes from Sick Rooms. She was known for her tender skills in the sickroom, nursing mostly relatives. I had to chuckle at this passage: “Among the number of small evils which haunt illness, the greatest misery which it can cause, though the smallest in size, is crumbs . . . a problem which has tormented many a weary sufferer.”
A word to the wise — don’t eat in bed if you can help it!