Valley Fever is a health phenomenon unique to Bakersfield, CA and the surrounding Kern County area. It looks like Sash and I got it this time around.
We started getting the usual symptoms of a cold after the first couple days of arriving here. We thought that we picked up a flu bug after taking our grandson to the indoor playground, because after all, places like indoor playgrounds are fraught with germs.
But a little more than a week later, Sash decided she needed a visit to an urgent care clinic, and so yesterday we went. The doctor there listened to her lungs, and concluded bronchitis. But then again, bronchitis is simply an inflammation of the lungs, which could result from just about anything, even cancer. But, because our sickness seemed focused on the lungs, including a lot of coughing, and because our grandson and his parents didn’t seem too much sick themselves, which indicates they’re already accustomed to it, it sounded like classic “Valley Fever”.
Valley Fever is brought on by a specific mold spore found in the soil throughout Kern County. When the winds pick up, people breathe in the spores, and get the dreaded illness.
But, Valley Fever is not that bad. You get over it in a week or so, though people have, in fact, died from it. But usually, death comes about from excessive phlegm in the lungs which remains in place and becomes infected, and thereby turns into pneumonia.
So as I write this today, I feel a lot better. Still with sinus congestion, I’m getting my creativity back. Sash is still recovering, but seems to have regained her interest in crafting and seeing her grandson.
Bakersfield has never been a town that I wanted to visit. As big of a city it is, it still seems like small town, mostly because it doesn’t offer much for a guy who grew up in San Diego. But since the birth of our grandson (well technically Sash’s grandson, I simply married into all this), we visit here about 2 or 3 times per year. In a way, it’s like our second home. I’m actually starting to know my way around town.
If I had my druthers, I wouldn’t come back. There are times when I prefer to remain with the trailer, camped some 100 or 200 miles away, and let Sash take the pickup truck to visit Bako.
And I’m not really a grandfather-like guy. I’m not even a dad-like guy. I’m a loner, a thinker, a craft beer drinker. I like to ponder life’s mysteries, think about strange stuff, and dive deep into a new website build. But when I do see little Jackson call out, “Ojiisan” (Japanese for grandfather), it’s hard to not like the guy.
I guess I don’t have to be the funny, laughable grandpa like on the Waltons or the Munsters. I can be the more quiet, standoffish grandpa, maybe like Mr. Miyagi on Karate Kid, or even Uncle Charley on My Three Sons. Parenthood of any kind, even the grandparent sort, has always spooked me because of my awkward experiences with my own grandmothers and grandfather, and because I’ve always been a solitary person.
Still, I can’t help but feel empathy for a kid like Jackson growing up without a grandfather. The boy doesn’t know either of his real grandfathers, both of whom are long gone. I’m the only grandfather he knows. I’m trying to imagine the man he sees when he thinks of his Ojiisan. Am I prepared to be that man?
In the time we’ve been in Bakersfield these near two weeks I’ve haven’t seen a whole lot of him because of coming down with Valley Fever. We do, however, plan to spend Christmas morning with him and his parents.
You know, when I was a kid, I never got to open presents with my grandma and grandpa watching. But, I guess I can always be the grandpa giving that memory to a little boy.