As some of you may have already heard, I (and now, K) have been sick.

Around 4AM Sunday, I essentially acted out the bottom two panels of the preceding comic out of the blue, I just mentioned off-hand that my chest felt sort of tight and K acted out the finest double-take a human has ever mustered. She started to furiously Google my symptoms and asking questions,

“How do you feel?”

“I dunno, sort of like I’m trying to explode from the chest up.”

“How’s your throat?”

“A little strangly?”

Allergies were ruled out since I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything recently or generally been doing anything (see: 4AM), which left “heart problems,” “lupus,” and “fuck if I know, death?” according to the internet’s finest medical sites. Since I have a mild “never fatal unless it’s spontaneously fatal” heart condition, K immediately assumed the worst and started crying while insisting we go to the ER.  I waved her off and insisted that I should just try some antihistamines to see if it’d pass. We had a bit of a discussion as to whether I was actually dying or not —

— which resolved in taking a cocktail of OTC drugs and stubbornly insisting I wasn’t paying a hospital $5000+ to tell me to do the same (see: U.S.). Eventually, I started looking far less like an extra in a viral outbreak horror movie and more like (a very tranquilized version of) myself. K helped me to bed to sleep off the strange afflictions of the morning and shut the bedroom door.

I should digress at this point to mention that I like DIY home projects and solving puzzles. About a year ago, we decided the standard brass doorknob of our bedroom door wasn’t very appealing, so we bought antique crystal knobs and plates to replace it. Since this was a cylinder doorknob being replaced with antique hardware, you essentially need to buy a converter set to fill the giant hole through your door and operate the latch properly — we searched high and low across town, found none, and rather than buy anything online, I simply said, “I’ll figure it out!” Twenty minutes later, we had a beautiful doorknob that was operated by a creative assembly of twine and matchsticks.

It worked perfectly for an entire year.

Then the twine broke.

Just after K shut the door.

Seconds after stepping away, K realized she had forgotten something in the bedroom and turned to open the door, only to find that the doorknob spun uselessly in her hand. I should also add here that we keep our toolbox in the bedroom because it’s the handiest mid-point in our apartment to keep such a useful item. This meant K was left scrabbling on the other side of a now-permanently shut door with nothing to disassemble the gerry-rigged doorknob, only the hope that credit cards could pop open doors as smoothly as the movies made it seem.

I came to at the sounds of scraping and sniffing — in my drugged and delirious state, I was annoyed to imagine that K thought it was a good time to cutely pretend to be a cat — shuffled over to the door, and grabbed the knob to throw it open in righteous indignity. Spin, spin. Lightbulb moment.

“‘S’okay, I got it,” I mumbled and dragged the toolbox over to the door. It took me five tries to pick the right screwdriver for the screws in question (for those counting, there are only two options for your typical household needs), and started working the doorknob apart. It was jammed (see: antique), so I had to roll the screwdriver under the door to K and we slowly tag-teamed the thing apart. At least, that was the idea. I briefly passed out after she passed me the proverbial torch for the crucial final step, my last thought being, “fuck it, I’ll just live in here.” Fortunately, I came to moments before my wife decided to simply break the door down, and I pulled the latch free. Blessed with hard-earned freedom, I dragged myself back to bed and fell asleep for the rest of the day.

Since then, I have rewarded K’s devoted care and affections by infecting her with what turned out to be the flu. The entirety of Monday is a strange fever dream (I think we watched “At World’s End,” but I can’t be sure), and today has been the first time since late Saturday that I feel somewhat aware of the world. We’ve been getting better in leaps and bounds, and my first act as a human being was to replace the old bedroom doorknob. I might not like brass, but I suppose some aesthetic choices are not worth potentially dying for.