Since I was a kid, my strategy for dealing with sickness was to pretend I was okay--usually I failed, but that's how I'd do it. With a 104 fever I'd insist I was fine, just let me go to school. The way you could tell I was really sick, and really the way you still can, is when I let it actually interfere. My father got scarlet fever when he was a kid, so he always worried about a sore throat, worried it might be strep, worried it might be bad like his was bad, so of course I always made extra certain to pretend everything was okay with sore throats.

I had a particularly nasty one once, but it had been slow to onset. I hadn't tried talking for a while, since it hurt and anyway I was reading. He came into the TV room and asked if I was okay. I opened my mouth to say "Yeah, I'm fine," but nothing came out except for a faint exhalation, something not even worthy of the title 'whisper.' I cleared my throat and tried again. "I'm fine," I said, weakly in more ways than one.

But that's how it went. Pretending I was fine even in the face of everything, spending a week with a broken arm, my hand stuffed in my pocket in a makeshift sling--"It's getting better, I'm sure of it."

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