As I write this column on a Sunday, it has been
raining for nearly four days straight. Not so
remarkable an event, nor a calamitous one, if
one lives in Borneo or Seattle - depending if
your preference is for jungle rain or concrete
and asphalt rain - but quite an unusual event
in otherwise sunny California.
I'm used to spending my weekends outside. Albeit,
I might be outside pulling weeds, but it's still
outside. Being stuck inside gives me cabin fever.
Cabin fever is not a disease like scarlet fever
or typhoid fever. But, in a way, it resembles
a disease. Despite a thermostat controlled temperature
in your home, on these gray and wet days, you
may still feel an uncomfortable chill. Occasionally
a tremor may erupt in your hands. You may go to
the bathroom a lot. You'll find the refrigerator
door in frequent motion. You're thirsty a lot.
No, cabin fever is not a disease, but it can make
you feel as melancholy as if you had one.
Unless one is used to the confinement of rainy
days, "cabin fever" can be stressful.
It is not simply animal instinct, but moreso animal
madness, that causes tigers and polar bears penned
in at the zoo to pace back and forth with monotonous
regularity, much as human inmates do in asylums.
So what's the cure for the depression and gloom
of cabin fever? Does it require a hands-on experience,
a la the mind meld of my favorite Vulcan doctor,
Spock? Maybe we all need a guru to help channel
our inner thoughts and powers? Or a dose of powdered
roots? Maybe the answer is a simple mantra? No,
I must not urge you to rely upon New Age clairvoyants,
spiritualists, homeopathic remedies, or psychobabble.
The cure for cabin fever is simple. GET OUT!
But getting out on a rainy day doesn't mean
cruising the local roads to peruse beautiful scenery.
You can't see much through wiper blades and wet
roads can be even more hazardous to your health.
Getting out on a rainy day in Southern California
means going to the mall or to a movie. It means
spending money. Cabin fever as a disease can have
an expensive cure.
My wife, Margaret, says it's time to stop typing
already. She says she's got it too - cabin fever.
And she needs the cure badly.
Next week when I write my column, I hope it'll
be sunny, and I'll have more important things
to say. But for now this physician needs to heal
himself, and his wife. We're going to use the
"cure of shopping" today, with a big
dose of Nordstrom and Macys.