Being sick is boring. I used to joke that Lyme had transformed me into a swooning Victorian lady until shit got real. Then it wasn’t funny anymore. Seriously, think what it must have been like to be sick before, say, 1910. There would have been days, weeks, hell, months of confinement with little to do but lie there. Of course, if you were rich, there was a staff of servants to tend to your every comfort, but aside from talking to other people or watching the world outside your window or reading, there was nothing to do. Some people might argue this was the perfect time to contemplate one’s navel. I would argue they have never been really, really sick for a long time, so fuck them and their lofty goals.
This is where modern comforts become indispensable. It’s as though all of our advancements have been designed if not solely for long term illnesses, most certainly for our convenience. Hot, instant showers, check. Microwaves for easy cooking, check. Cell phones so you can stay connected, check. Television to pass the time, check, check, check.
TV is complicated. It can be used to enrich, enlighten, and entertain. That’s the good side. TV can also pacify, stratify (take a look at the differences in TV habits of America http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/26/upshot/duck-dynasty-vs-modern-family-television-maps.html if you don’t believe me), and nullify. That’s the bad side. I liked the bad side while I was sick. When I say bad, I mean mindless. I watched, in no particular order, Law and Order: SVU, Snapped, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper (okay, this one is not that bad), Chopped, House Hunters, Hoarders, Intervention, Toddlers and Tiaras, and Project Runway. Oh, and the Hallmark Channel (at some point I will dedicate a whole blog to Hallmark). What is it about these shows that tickled my brain when it was inflamed? I’ve thought about it a lot and I think these shows have some similarities that I needed. For one, each of these shows followed a strict pattern. They all had distinct noises/theme music that signaled each segment of the show. None of them require any thought (except maybe Law and Order), and all can be watched with half of your attention, which is good because while I was sick I had the attention span of a Retriever puppy. All these things combined made them perfect for entertainment while sick.
I’ve never been one of those people who had “my shows”. My nanny used to talk about her shows as if they were close friends with rigid schedules. Saturday night? Lawrence Welk. Sunday night, Ed Sullivan. She had her soaps. She LOVED Carol Burnett and Red Skelton. At the time, I thought these were signs of a deeply impoverished life. Now that I’ve spent over a year living a deeply impoverished life, I don’t judge. TV fills the void. You’re too sick to socialize, or do anything useful, but not sick enough to stay in bed all the time. TV brings life into your own life, people talking and doing things. For many shut-ins, TV becomes a lifeline to the outside world.
I did watch other things. I tried watching the news until the election coverage became so shrill and disturbing I had to turn to something else less contentious, like “Bad Girls Club” (If you haven’t seen it, you should, if only to see how low TV can go). I tried watching movies. The only ones I could follow were either children’s movies (“Up”, “Toy Story”, “The Incredibles”) or stoner movies.
With my brain returning, my TV time has sharply decreased. What I do watch is more cerebral and less filler. I’ve returned to Netflix to see shows like “Stranger Things”, or “Frankie and Grace”. I still can’t watch long convoluted dramas like “House of Cards” or “Game of Thrones”. To be fair, I don’t like shows like that much anyway. What I’ve learned during this whole ordeal is sometimes TV, especially bad TV, has a place. I’m not recommending a steady diet (GIGA is real), but when getting through the day is your only goal, TV can be a lifesaver.