I’m sick. So is, or has been, the rest of the town. It is a beautiful sunny day, and I sit here on the couch with my thermometer, the 3rd hankie of the day, nasal spray, and liquids. I have a cough. It is productive. That is good. I rallied enough to do horse chores this morning, and it sent me right back to the couch with the fever climbing again. I have beautiful views out my windows, but I’d rather be out there in it. Or have gotten up to run to the setting moon this morning. I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling sick and tired.
When I was a kid, my parents never made a big deal of being sick. If you were sick enough to stay home from school, you were sick enough to stay in bed. No special toys, no special privileges, no bringing the TV into the bedroom. And if your cousins came to visit, and you had the mumps, you did not even get to come out and say hi. If you were sick, then rest and recover. Don’t get me wrong, they took care of us. Fed us soda crackers and 7-up only to clean up the puke 15 minutes later. Rubbed Vics on our chests and covered it with hankies. Checked our temps and smelled our throats, and took us into the doc if it was strep. But being sick was not very appealing. We got better fast, went back to school. By the time I got to high school, I never got sick. Had perfect attendance until my senior year. Then I threw a mystery fever. My mom, who was the only parent home at that time, would not let me go to school. She let me bring the TV into my room. She went and bought my favorite food. I asked her for a fresh pineapple (an unusual treat), and lost all the skin on the roof of my mouth. She told me that perhaps the mystery fever was the only way the universe could get me to slow down for a few days. I lost my perfect attendance. I rested, and recovered.
When our kids were little, I adopted what I liked about my parent’s approach. No special toys, no special privileges. Basic food and care. Doctors appointments for ear infections, strep, and dislocated fingers. No afternoon activities if you were sick from school, and fever had to be gone for 24 hours before you could go back. Rest and recover. They did not get TV in their bedrooms, but I did rent movies for them, and sometimes got sucked into them myself. By the time my kids were in high school, they were rarely sick. I called them in dead for the first 3 periods if they were up all night working on a project, but they were rarely sick. Jim and I did not have much time for illness. He learned pretty quickly that it was far more work to prepare for a sub than it was to just take cold remedies and and go in and teach. He had various aches and pains, and would end up on antibiotics every couple of years for something, but he did not even have a regular doc. I had no time for being sick. I remember one Thanksgiving having the stomach flu. Sick the day before, rallied to cook for the day, and then sick the day after. We rarely took time off from exercise, with the justification that “I don’t stop brushing my teeth when I am sick, why would I stop running?”
The first symptom of Jim’s glioblastoma was sickness. He puked in a school assembly. He’d been feeling a little crummy the Labor Day weekend before, did not go boating as planned, and did not even want to join Jasper and I on a mountain bike ride. But, because it was so much work to prepare for a sub, he went to school that Tuesday, puked, and came home mid day. By Wednesday, when he showed no interest in going to school or prepping for the sub, I asked him to go to quick care to rule out swine flu which was going around at that time. When I got home from work and he hadn’t, I dropped him off there, went home to make dinner for Jasper, and went back and picked him up. The quick care doc gave him pain and anti nausea meds and ordered an MRI for the next day. Jim went to bed. Rest and recover. Thursday morning MRI, Jim’s last conscious effort was to try to call the sub to let her know he would not be in that day. Less than 30 minutes later he was in an ambulance. Friday he lost a chunk of his frontal lobe, and life changed forever as we know it.
So. I am sick. Being sick is not very appealing. If I miss work, it doesn’t go away, I just have to reschedule it. I have a big TV in my living room, but watching stupid TV series or sappy movies is really only fun if I can snuggle a kid while I do so. I’m not exercising, missed swimming and a run, and even decided to keep my germs out of the yoga studio. At the first sign of a bronchial cough, my wife tells me I should head into the doc. I think I still have a little bit of PTSD about going to the doc unless it is a routine wellness visit. I rallied enough energy to make Thai chicken soup. It is my favorite food. And, if this fever persists for another day, perhaps I’ll head into the doc. He’ll just say it’s viral, and I’ll feel so lucky. Rest and recover.