Appalachia Appalachian Medicine

Being Sick Can Make You See Things


I’ve probably written about sickness and accidents this week because the flu and other maladies are still making their way around Cherokee County and I’m still washing my hands every time I turn around and taking elderberry like it’s candy in the hopes that I don’t get any of it.

My older brother Steve and his sweet wife Kim both missed several days of work last week from sickness. Granny said Steve was terrible sick and she was worried about him. I spent the week hoping they both got better…and that their germs stayed in their part of the holler.

Sometimes being really sick can make you see things. The hallucinations are usually brought on by the high fever often associated with  flu and other illnesses.

The year the girls were born Pap and The Deer Hunter both had the flu. They worked together during those days and I guess one of them picked up the germ and passed it to the other. They both took sick in November and the girls had just been born in September so I was still trying to figure out how to take care of two little humans.

Miss Cindy was coming out for a visit and I was trying to take care of The Deer Hunter, two new-borns and clean up the house. Something upset Chitter to the point that I couldn’t get her to quit crying. Looking back, I’d say she was probably picking up on all my anxiety. I did every thing I knew to do and she still wailed. The Deer Hunter was totally delirious. He kept trying to tell me he’d take her to the basement and push her around in a stroller and that would quiet her. Sounds plausible right? Well not really considering he couldn’t even stand up and we didn’t own a stroller.

It was a really bad case of the flu, while The Deer Hunter was trying to push Chitter in a stroller we didn’t have, Pap was trying to fight off a wolf.

One night Pap starting hollering and yelling. Once he got fully awake he was hollering at a wolf. Pap said he thought he was up on the mountain under a creek bank trying to get warm and a wolf was trying to get his cozy spot and he wasn’t about to give up the warmth for no wolf.

Amazingly and thankfully none of the rest of us got that terrible flu from The Deer Hunter or Pap.

My own fever induced hallucination came many years later with my own bout of the flu. It was so real that I wrote a poem about it and shared it here on the Blind Pig back in 2009.

From my sick bed I hear feet running
down the hall, out the door.
From my sick bed I hear talking heads
stocks plummet, leaders fail.
From my sick bed I hear cooking
pots rattle, spoons chink.

In my sick bed
bones ache, chest suffocates.
In my sick bed I see two girls run in, run out,
yet a third girl remains.
In my sick bed I try to call out
“Wait you’ve left one behind.”
From my sick bed my voice falters
the girl is gone or was she ever really there?

During my terrible sickness the girls were running around the house playing. Once when they ran past by bed I really thought they had a friend with them and that they left her behind. She was a little girl, younger than Chitter and Chatter. She had bangs and long straight hair. She sat at the bottom of my bed just long enough for me to try to call out to the girls to come back for her and simultaneously realize she wasn’t really there.


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  • Reply
    Papaw Ammons
    April 23, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Yes, being sick can make you see things but also seeing things can make you sick. That’s why I don’t watch TV.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 8:16 pm

    Nice poem, Tipper! Flu has been sweeping New Mexico, but I haven’t heard of it prompting any poetry!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    About 9 years ago, I took the Flu shot and was real sick for about 3 weeks. I ain’t had one since and I ain’t got the Flu either. This year, at my yearly check-up, my family Doctor asked me if I wanted the shot and I told him “no”. They ain’t much protection anyway.

    I may have had the Flu already in me when I took the shot, but from now on I’ll take my chances.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    She is your Guardian Angel…

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    I purchased my own bottle of Elderberry from IHerb after reading one of your posts. I had posted on Eldertonic which has no Elderberry in it that I am aware of. we are trying to keep the crud at bay. There is pro and con for flu shot, and my bouts of flu seemed to have lessened since I started getting the shot.

    Many years ago I apparently had a high fever, as I remember seeing a man with very twisted face. Oddly enough, I also had a strong feeling of my body feeling much like a sponge. The only other time I had that sensation was back in the day when they gave ether for anesthesia. As a young child I had a tonsillectomy.

    Thank goodness, medicine has come a long way. I always felt I was semi- conscious while under the ether anesthesia. There was an overpowering feeling that a latticework of bones was holding me down as I fought to come out from under the old anesthesia. I guess I was feeling something that was not there. The strong smell of ether and the spongy feeling remained long after they awakened me. I never discussed it then, as children usually just jump up and go on to the next life adventure.

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    That ole Flu sure can be a nasty thing. I don’t believe in the flu shot, so I been stayin’ in, except going to the grocery store So far, I ain’t got nothing.

    I laughed at your and Pap’s hallucinations. I recon the high fever causes that, but I’m glad everyone recovered OK. I suck on those Peppermint Pillars and eat Garlic Chips, I like Candy anyway. …Ken

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    When I was 4 or 5 years old I had the measles and was in bed for a few days. I don’t remember much but two things are vivid in my mind. The first is of the window being open and hearing the other kids playing outside. The other is when I turned toward the wall I could see needles slowly going up and down. These needles were like a sewing machine has but as they went up and down, they would change colors and sizes. By sizes I mean from the size of a regular sewing needle to something like the size of a 4 inch pipe. I thought sewing machine needles because the eyes were in the pointy end. Not like hand sewing needles where the eye is at the opposite end.
    Wild ain’t it?

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 10:35 am

    Hang in there with the Elderberry, and if your Brother and Sister-in-law are willing to take it, may take a few days but I believe it will cause the symptoms to be better, my wife could tell you the chemical make up but that gets to deep for me, the synthetic make up in Tamiflu neutralizes the virus and so does elderberry it’s my understanding they learned it from studying the elderberry and made a synthetic so they could charge you a whapping more amount.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    February 24, 2018 at 10:18 am

    It is said that over half of those suffering from Parkinson’s have hallucinations. I am looking forward to it!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2018 at 9:12 am

    During my recent bout with the flu, I had hallucinations too. When my daughter called to check on me, I told her I was seeing things that weren’t really there. She said, “I’m coming to take you to the hospital right now!” I refused to go, but she seems to question my sanity ever since. As Mom would have said, “the fever must have been high enough to bake my brain.”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    February 24, 2018 at 9:01 am

    Never had hallucinations. Unless, scary thought, I did but didn’t know it. But then I guess I’ve never had a fever that high.

    Hopefully the day you mention was the only one ever just like that. Something about a crying child that just winds most of us up. I remember a couple of those. But with twins and the Deer Hunter sick to, jimminey !

    Hope you all are seeing some signs of spring. I know March will probably come in like a lion but spring has sprung here no matter what happens.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 24, 2018 at 8:50 am

    Tip, I don’t recall ever being delirious from sickness/fever but I remember that time that the Deer Hunter was. It’s a scary thing. There certainly is a lot of the crud going around here now and I’ve managed to get a little sore throat but it’s not a big deal like a lot of folks are getting and these record warm days in February sure are confusing my body and my brain!

  • Reply
    aw griff
    February 24, 2018 at 7:49 am

    Enjoyed your poem. Anita

  • Reply
    Marshall Reagan
    February 24, 2018 at 6:32 am

    I have been drinking ginger tea & eating garlic to battle the germs , both of which are supposed to be good for that & so far{ knock on wood} I have not had anything this winter so far.

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