Posted: April 4, 2007 in Health, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness

Getting sick is never pleasant. Being homeless and getting sick is the pits.

For one thing, you can’t "call in sick." For another finding a place where you can recuperate is next to impossible. Even something as simple as a common cold is enough to throw you for a loop.

Over the last two or three weeks, a number of good things have been happening for me and I’ve been hard pressed just to keep up the hectic pace.  

When you’re homeless, your first priority is survival and, subsequently, it’s easy to get out of practice at doing things that most of the main stream community does. And, that’s pretty much what has happened with me – I’m just out of practice at doing "normal" things.

Being homeless, your immune system is weaker than is normal. That comes from lack of proper rest and nourishment. Then pushing myself harder to keep up with everything that has been going on in my life – well, it was just a bit too much. So, it’s no surprise that it’s all caught up with me.

Late last week, I started developing the symptoms: scratchy throat, watery eyes, runny nose, aches and pains. I knew what was coming. And, I dreaded it.

For most folks, the inconvenience of getting sick is somewhat balanced by the benefits of being able to rest and recuperate in the comfort of their home. A homeless person doesn’t have that option.

The night shelter doesn’t allow you to sleep in. And, the day center doesn’t have a place to lie down – unless you want to take a blanket or two and sleep outside in their "yard" area. When the weather is cold, you end up trying to get some rest sitting in a chair indoors or, you ride around on the buses sleeping.

If you’re lucky and the weather is nice, you lay out at a public park and try getting some rest, but you have to be careful not to be spotted by the police or you’re apt to get run off or get a ticket for loitering or sleeping in public.

I’m luckier than most. I have a tent set up where I can go and get some rest. But the need to go out and hustle to come up with a few bucks is just as important as getting the rest my body needs. It’s either that or go without something to eat. I’ve had to try and balance both.

Between taking the dollar store version of Sudafed during the day, and the 99-Cent store version of NyQuil at night, I’ve been able to stumble through the past few days. It’s not the best solution, but it’s the only one available to me right now.

Today I’m feeling a wee bit better. My voice is a bit raspy from all of the coughing and I’m still sniffling some. But, I’m still alive and kicking.

And, if things go well, perhaps I’ll be kicking a little bit harder tomorrow.

I sure hope so.


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