I missed the first week of law school due to pneumonia. It was actually a relapse, because I didn’t take care of myself the way one should when one gets pneumonia. This causes me to say to Hillary Clinton: don’t try to power through pneumonia. It’s a bad, bad idea.
Several days before I was supposed to move in to my apartment in Austin and start law school, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. My friends from high school and I had planned to tube down the Brazos river just before school started, but it wasn’t clear whether I’d be able to make the trip, due to the pneumonia. When the time came, I really wanted to go, and I felt mostly better. So I went.
If you have never tubed down the Brazos, the idea is: you sit in a tube for several hours and you drink beer. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s not the best regimen for recovering from a serious illness like pneumonia.
My parents came down to see me off, and not long after they left, I felt awful. I made my way to the doctor, who told me that I’d had a relapse. I needed to get antibiotics and rest. As I rode the bus back to the stop near my apartment, I felt worse and worse. When I picked up the prescription at a drug store near my apartment, I was barely able to stand up. I had about a four-block walk to the apartment. I made it about half a block in the August heat, and ducked into a convenience store attached to a gas station. I walked to the back near the freezer and sat on the floor. Every so often I would open up the freezer and put my head partially inside.
I finally gathered the strength to walk the half block back to the drug store. I walked up to the prescription counter and told the very nice girl who had filled my prescription that I could barely stand up. Could she call me a cab? Instead she was nice enough to take a break and just drive me to my apartment herself. She could see how bad I was feeling — and it was Texas in 1990. People were friendly and caring.
I should note that, at the time, I was a very healthy young man. I was nearly 5’11” weighing a wiry 145 pounds, and jogged regularly.
My parents ended up returning to pick me up and take me back to Fort Worth to recuperate.
I had to get my homework from someone. The head of the TQ (a small section of students to which I had been assigned) found a young woman in the TQ, who was driving to Fort Worth that weekend to visit relatives, to call me with the assignments. When the phone rang, my sister Holly answered the phone, and — intrigued to hear a girl’s voice asking for her brother — nosily asked: may I tell him who is calling?
Her name was Christi. She is now Mrs. P.
Christi had worked up a whole scenario in her head about why I was in Fort Worth. The nosy woman who had answered the phone (my sister Holly), Christi decided, was really my wife. I wasn’t really that sick, she thought; I had just gotten homesick and missed my wife, who for reasons unknown was still living in Fort Worth.
It would make a great story to say that this episode of pneumonia is what brought Mrs. P. and me together, but I don’t think it was. A mutual love of ping pong and the same music probably had more to do with it. Among other things.
Anyway. My point is: pneumonia is to be taken seriously. You don’t just power through it. You don’t engage in photo ops with young girls and pretend like you’re fine until someone shoots a video showing you’re not.
And when someone asks what’s wrong, you tell them the truth.
Hillary still has a lot to learn. Frankly, at age 69, I don’t think she’ll ever learn what she needs to.