I had walking pneumonia at 14, yet I managed to go on

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When I was a freshman in high school, I got this lingering cough that was particularly bad at night. I felt a little low-energy, a little slow mentally, but still managed to get to school every day because A) I was one of those weirdos who loved school and B) there were lots of cute boys at school, and I had a crush on; like, 10 of them.


I may have felt crappy, but I still managed to apply my sky blue Yardley eye shadow and pink frost lipstick at perfect just sub-kabuki level, get my Farrah Fawcett wings sprayed into place, and totter off to class.

But I kept getting worse. Weaker and weaker, until one morning, my civics teacher became concerned and sent me to the office to call my parents. I wasn’t coughing uncontrollably, just here and there, but I was visibly wilting. My mom picked me up, took me home, listened to my chest with a stethoscope, and took me for a chest X-ray. She was a doctor, you see. So was my father.

Go figure. I had walking pneumonia. The X-ray of my left lung looked like spiders had spun webs through it. The treatment was simple — antibiotics and a few days rest, and within a couple days, I was back at school, full-tilt flirting with all those cute boys. And, that was that. No one fretted over how pneumonia would permanently impede me physically and intellectually, or theorized about what I would and wouldn’t be able to do from then on, or declared my entire professional future over at 14. Nope. Rest, meds, and back to school, missy. No big whoop.

Besides the fact that permanent, devastating handicap never even came into the conversation about my pneumonia, the larger point of this little story is that I was walking around under the noses of two seasoned physicians for weeks, and neither of them suspected anything other than a bad cough that required no more serious intervention than over-the-counter Robitussin.

In other words — walking pneumonia is neither exotic nor crippling, is relatively simple to recover from, and may not be obvious even to physicians without an X-ray. Unless you’re running for President — and then walking pneumonia is “a health crisis.” So help me God, just last night, I heard the evening news anchor tease the broadcast with “Hillary Clinton’s health crisis.”

I nearly choked on the absurdity.

There’s a certain segment of the population, both on and off TV, that is so chronically prejudiced and poisoned against Hillary that any little thing, no matter how mundane or preposterous, is pounded into a into a knife to stick into her side. However, the Great Hillary Health Crisis (GHHC) is just sheer lunacy.

I’m at the saturation point with the Right-Wing fueled idiocy. To save my own sanity, I may turn off the TV until Nov. 8, when I’ll watch the election returns in fear and loathing through one squinted eye, because the threat of a Donald Trump presidency still looms large — in part because A) Hillary sucks at trumpeting her own accomplishments and successes (we girls learn early on that it’s not nice to brag) and B) the televised media is hyper-focused on providing Trump with unlimited free airtime by foaming at the mouth over every inane, insulting, dim-witted word that falls from his ridiculous overly-round mouth. .. but secretly rejoicing at the ratings (read: money) that “All Trump All the Time” coverage provides.

Fox “News” had a feeding frenzy with the GHHC, and I’m sorry (not sorry), but if you rely on that snake pit of fear, lies, misinformation and outright bold and proud sheer stupidity for all your information, you and I have nothing left to talk about. I won’t even bother. I’ll just nod and say, “Uh huh,” and excuse myself to do something less painful, like shove a knitting needle through my skull.

Being a glutton for punishment, however, allow me to deconstruct the GHHC for those of you who are certain that Hillary is hiding some horrid disease that prevents her from serving as president.

So she had walking pneumonia. So she didn’t take out billboards announcing that, because she thought she could power through it. She couldn’t. Layer on top of that exhausting illness the suffocating humid heat of summer in New York, trapped underneath one of those godawful polyester pantsuits that don’t breathe, add the crush and pressure of a 9/11 memorial, jam-packed with crowds, and all that after more than a year of nonstop campaigning, public speaking, travel, shaking hands with hundreds of germy people every day, and spending whatever energy you have left in a möbius strip verbal battle about an email issue already stamped “Case Closed” by the FBI.

The rigors of campaigning alone would have caused most of us to collapse within the first month. But not Hillary. She’s a workhorse. She keeps her head down and plows onward. This strategy worked for her, both as secretary of state and as a presidential candidate — until the day that it didn’t. She wobbled, was eased into a car, and spent some time recuperating at her daughter’s home.

“But why did she go to Chelsea’s apartment! If she was so sick, why wasn’t she in the hospital! Scandal, scandal, scandal, and also, Benghazi!” scream Enquiring minds everywhere.

Simple: because walking pneumonia doesn’t require hospitalization. And, Hillary’s in a no-win situation. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll be labeled weak and unhealthy, and unfit to serve. If she stays with her daughter, she’s accused of covering up “what’s really going on” and sneaky and deceitful, and unfit to serve.

“What’s really going on” is that legions of Radical Right types, in the media and out, dedicate themselves to twisting anything and everything about Hillary into an attack. If she says likes kittens, they’ll start declaring that Hillary hates dogs, and also the troops.


Now, where did I leave that knitting needle.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

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