Sunday, January 8, 2012

Backstory: "The Siege of the Peter Marak" (Part 1)

Like "The Alabama Hammer," this is a story that has become one of my pesonal favorites.  Like "Darkest Before Dawn," this is also a story that will need more than one blog entry to thoroughly unpack.  So, without further ado, let's delve into "The Siege of Peter Marak."

I've always been the kind of person who says, "If I'm well enough to drive myself to the doctor, I'm not sick enough to need a doctor."  Whereas I don't have a problem with my wife or kids going if they're sick, I usually will try to treat myself with over-the-counter medicine or even home remedies when I come down with something.  Most of the time, that strategy works out well enough and saves money on co-pays.  However, in late February/early March 2011, I got something that I couldn't shake.  What I thought was just a routine cold steadily got worse and worse, until finally Cindy insisted that I burn a sick day and go to the doctor.

 The diagnosis was a bolt from the blue: Pneumonia.  So instead of toughing it out, I wound up on four days' of bed rest (fortunately this was on a Friday, so I only had to use one additional sick day) with about $130 worth of prescription medicine--$130 worth after my health insurance had paid their part, mind you.  It was the sickest I've ever been, and the most galling part of all was knowing that it wouldn't have gotten that bad (or cost so much money in prescriptions!) if I'd gone to the doctor a week earlier like Cindy tried to get me to do.  Life lesson: listen to your spouse.

Perhaps the worst thing about it was that, for two or three weeks afterward, I found myself scared of getting sick again.  The worry passed of course, but for a little while there I could relate to mysophobes, people who are deathly afraid of germs and contamination.  It was from this experience that "The Siege of Peter Marak" was born.

The interesting thing is that our modern society is potentially an ideal one for mysophobes.  Thanks to such modern innovations as the internet, telecommuting, direct deposit, online bill pay, etc., it is theoretically possible to earn a living and keep up with all of their financial obligations without ever leaving home or being around other people.  One can simply hole themselves up at home, like an army under siege, and as long as the technology holds up, they can get by.

From there, the decision to have Peter as a man whose wife had died from pneumonia was an easy one.  His late wife Holly had my stubbornness about sick days and the doctor, but her situation didn't end as happily as mine.  In response to her death, Peter decided to use the miracles of modern technology to withdraw as much as possible from the world and the germs they carry.

Now you have the beginnings of the backstory, how this idea came to me in the first place.  Part 2 will pick up with the story itself and how it developed.  Until then, Philippians 4:13.--SMS

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