It’s been a long, slow slog into spring, but I’ve barely been troubled by the cool, rainy weather. I’ve been stuck indoors anyway, with a nagging cough that turned out to be pertussis, aka whooping cough.
Whooping cough seems like an illness from the history books—something children contracted in bygone times. But in fact, pertussis is still around. I know two people who had it in the winter of 2015 and another who, like me, is just getting over a bout this spring.
I was never terribly sick with it—no fever or body aches, not even a head cold. Just an eyeball-popping cough that wouldn’t quit for weeks and weeks. At times I coughed so hard I couldn’t breathe and feared I would pass out. It’s not unheard of for sufferers to crack a rib from coughing.
Other than that, my main complaint was exhaustion. Whooping cough makes you want to lie around like the consumptive heroine of a 19th-century opera, if it weren’t for the fact that lying prone can trigger a coughing attack.
So, what is there to do if you’re spending a lot of time in bed or on the couch, propped up by pillows? After reading a 587-page novel (“Americanah,” by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) along with Patti Smith’s memoir “M Train,” I turned to TV, in the form of Amazon Prime.
I knew about Prime from the prompts I got at Amazon.com every time I ordered something. The program offers fast, free delivery and access to proprietary video, music and books. I took the bait and signed up for the free 30-day trial.
We’re a Netflix household, but I knew that Amazon too had its own homegrown TV content, as well as some HBO series that we don’t get with basic cable.
The first series I binge-watched was “Transparent,” a comedy about a dysfunctional family whose patriarch is a transgender woman. The actor who plays Maura (born Mort), Jeffrey Tambor, is far from Caitlyn Jenner cute. This is a quirky and interesting show, though I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to see Season 2.
Then I moved on to “The Newsroom,” starring Jeff Daniels, since I love anything involving the news business. Next came “Girls,” Lena Dunham’s series about an aspiring writer and her hipster friends; “Bosch,” a police procedural set in L.A.; and “Catastrophe,” a hilarious sitcom about an American man and Irish woman living in London. I dabbled with other titles too, but didn’t like them enough to watch more than a snippet.
I don’t think I’ll buy a Prime membership once my free trial is over. How much entertainment do I really need? But I enjoyed it while I had it.
Now that I’m feeling better and life is circling back to normal, I’ve returned to Netflix, and “Midsomer Murders.” This English detective show is recommended by none other than Patti Smith, who confesses to a taste for murder mysteries in “M Train.” That’s reason enough to watch.