Friday, December 11, 2009

Sick Days (January 2009)

I'm coming down with it, I just know it. Shit.

Everett's been sick all week. She's been walking around the apartment with the red nose and the rheumy eyes. The mouth hanging open so she looks like her IQ's dropped about 90 points. You know Everett's sick when she looks that awful and doesn't care. She ignores my medication combination dictates, instead calling Josh, who checks with his parents, who are in the medical profession, and follows the advice he calls back with. "Yes, I can take the NyQuil even though it's been only three hours since I took the Advil...Josh says it's ok and YES he checked with his parents!" And here I thought they had broken up. I guess she's still keeping him on staff for medical emergencies.

Everett's teachers have come in and out of my office all week. One even called me from her classroom last Friday. "Is Everett ok? How is she feeling? What are her symptoms, exactly? Oh, the poor thing!" People should give that much of a shit when I'm out sick.

Yes, back to me. I'm not feeling well, and that means for the duration, it's all about me.
I am the worst sick person in my family. Usually that designation is conferrred upon the grown men in the house, but actually Peter is pretty good. He lies around and naps, quietly reads on the corner of the couch, makes himself soup. He's so self-sufficient and calm about it that I often forget that he's sick at all and forget to be a little nicer to him than I usually am. "Why can't you go out and pick Zack up from his rehearsal for a change?? Oh. Oh. That's right, you're sick, I forgot, I'm sorry. So how are you feeling, anyway?"

I lie in bed, heave heavy sighs, and moan quietly. "Ohmigod, would you knock it off, you're ridiculous!" whoever is passing by will often shout out. "Could I have some more water pleeeease?" I cry weakly. "Are you eating out there? What are you having? Could I have a little of that, pleeeease? I can't find my asprin!"

Zack had Chicken Pox when he was in the first grade, and he was disgusting. I wrapped him up in an over-sized sweatshirt with the hood pulled tight around his head with the string. We ran the three blocks to the pediatrician, after office hours as instructed, as if I were harboring Typhoid Mary. The doctor visibly cringed as she let us in the door. She determined that he didn't have pox down his esophagus, or up or down or in anywhere else it is exceptionally dangerous to have them. Just all over every last square inch of his body. Nothing to do but oatmeal baths, Benadryl, and wait it out.

I told poor miserable little Zack that if he didn't scratch, he wouldn't get any scars. I am still amazed when I think back to how he was able to follow my one simple instruction. What willpower he demonstrated, just sitting on his little hands, watching tv, and determinedly not scratching. In one of life's more unfair turns, after he recovered, he was left sporting more than a couple of scars. After all that hard work not scratching. "It's not fair, Mom!" he said with tears welling up. I didn't scratch at all, and I still have promised me I wouldn't!" I felt terrible.

I had Chicken Pox when I was about eight or so. It was a pretty nasty case. I remember my mother calling everyone we knew to let them know, even the dentist. How embarassing. After two weeks of suffering, my little sister Kris came down with it. She had THREE, count 'em, THREE pox. No fever. No suffering. But she got to stay home and enjoy life until those three pox took their blessed time and dried up completely. "Now J," Mom said "Aren't you happy for your sister, that she was lucky enough not to get as sick as you were?" Uh, yeah, right....whatever.

Everett is a world-class sleeper when she's well, and when she's sick, she has been known to sleep twelve hours at a clip. Her personality takes an occasional cranky dip, "You're going to the supermarket? Could you please get some good stuff for a change? And could you please remember the Blistex this time? You always remember what Zack asks for. You never forget what he wants. Why do you always have to...." SLAM -- I'm out the door, sorry -- can't hear you. She's growing up to be as charming a sickie as I am.

The question, if indeed I am coming down with "it," will be whether to stay home in my misery in an empty apartment with no one to yell at, or go to work and spread the joy and the germs around.

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