Sunflower Mandala

Vacation Fever

If you feel the burn, it could be catching

I heard the coyotes our first night in Montauk. It was more of a thin, reedy whine than a full-on howl, but I have no idea what a coyote call sounds like, so it seemed a good guess. I thought the sound was coming from the trees behind the yard of our rented house in Hither Hills. I shifted position: perhaps my ear, which was hurting, was causing the sound? Nope, I heard the cry again, except perhaps from a different direction. Was there more than one critter calling? 

Mike was softly sleep-breathing beside me. I was tempted to poke him awake so he could hear the coyotes too. Assuming there really was a sound at all: Albus and Selene, deadweight donuts against my feet, were deep asleep, not an ear was twitching. I’d had fever a few days before we left home: was I now delirious?

The coyotes only existed in my middle-of-the-night imagination, Mike gently insisted come morning. Reluctantly, I figured it probably was fever-induced. I’d brought a painful, slightly swollen neck with me to Montauk (diagnosed as thyroiditis, via ultrasound, the day before we left home), and felt depleted. Favorite vacation pastimes–long walks around the quiet neighborhood, practicing yoga at Yoga Lila studio, and cruising the town’s shops–eluded me. I slept late, tired after minimal activity, and took hours-long naps. 

Four nights after our arrival, my fever spiked, bringing chills, severe throat pain, and more coyotes. The next morning we headed to an exciting vacation hot spot, a new one for us: East Hampton Urgent Care. I was given a powerful steroid shot, a prescription for broad-spectrum antibiotics, and advised to buy a big hat to protect my skin from antibiotic-induced sun sensitivity. 

Later that morning, at White’s in Montauk (one of my favorite places to shop for on-sale summer clothes), the friendly pharmacist provided a vivid rundown as he processed my script: “Don’t drink milk or have any milk product two hours before and two hours after taking this medicine. That includes ice cream, the milk in your coffee. Take the medicine with food. Not milk food; food food.”

Glancing at my pale arms, he continued: “Stay out of the sun. Cover yourself–get a shawl–or you will burn. Not a regular sunburn. You’ll feel yourself burning, and you will get blisters.” 

Selene enjoys kitty chair yoga

Clearly, I was turning into a vampire. (Which explained the neck pain and the nighttime howling.) The beach was out, at least during daylight. Sunset beach picnics were fine, though (Mike and Harrison wore garlic around their necks, just in case), as were short late-day walks in the shade (with pals Lestat, Vlad, and the sparkly guy from Twilight). Resting indoors with the comforting sound of the nearby ocean (the ultimate Savasana soundtrack), I enjoyed piecing together the 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle I’d brought with me (a favorite evening vacation pastime that, this time, occupied daytime hours as well).

Sickness can lead to frustration and self-pity, but can also help us remain present in the moment, savoring everyday joys: the chirps of birds and crickets, a breath of fresh air, the velvet-soft paws of a loving cat.

The meds did their job: the fever was banished, and I regained strength. I wasn’t ready for the high-energy class I usually enjoy at Yoga Lila, and so practiced on my own. Below is an outline of my got-no-pep practice, which you might find helpful when you feel depleted but crave some gentle healing movement.

Now at the end of our vacation, I’m done with the antibiotics. I’ve put aside my big hat and am eating cheese with reckless abandon. I kind of miss the mysterious midnight howling, but I spied a deer walking toward me on an evening neighborhood stroll yesterday, and she’s probably pleased that the coyotes have left town.

Got-No-Pep Yoga Practice 

This following routine runs about 30 minutes. Customize to suit your needs, skipping the doggie poses, for example, if you are super pooped, or adding in Plank if you’re up to it. (I added a lot of neck stretches to help soothe aching muscles.) Remember to pause, breathe, and remain present as you shift orientations.

  • Lay on the mat, focus on breath, relax areas of pain/tension (allow 5 min)
  • Apanasana; leg & ankle stretches; full body stretches
  • Pelvic tilts
  • Simple bent-knee twist

Rest on your side, then:

  • Come to all-fours for Table; Cat/Cow
  • Downward Facing Dog; rest in Child’s pose
  • Downward Facing Dog; step to Uttanasana; rise to Tadasana (pause) 
  • Fold to Uttanasana; slide up to flat back (repeat 1-2x)
  • Flow: Downward Facing Dog; Warrior 2 both sides; Downward Facing Dog; Uttanasana; lower to Table and to your belly
  • Cobra (1-3x)
  • Child’s pose with wide knees
  • Seated Twist 
  • Savasana (5 to 10 min)

One Response to “Vacation Fever”

  1. Lynn says:

    The thing about not feeling well — at least for me — is I give myself permission to do what I feel like doing. Not what I SHOULD be doing. Not that I wish for you to feel poorly, Louise!

    I have heard coyotes howl deep in thing night and it is an unearthly sound. But I was snuggled in bed at the time and felt an extra sense of security as a result.

    I love the image of deadweight doughnuts. 🙂 I know the feeling well!

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