It’s Saturday. It’s my one day off of the week. And it is beautiful outside.
And I’m stuck on the couch, slurping tea, nursing a killer sore throat and a stuffed nose.
I wear being sick a lot worse than I used to. When I was kid, I could down battery acid and feel no pain. Now, if one thing is off, that’s it. I’m on the couch with soup and movies for the rest of the day.
It doesn’t exactly help that when I was a child, I tried to get out of going to school by pulling the ‘I don’t feel well’ card. I probably did this once or twice a week until Mom got sick of it. When I actually did get sick once with a horrible case of strep throat, Mom took no prisoners and sent me to school anyway, telling me I’d feel better once I got busy. Well, after about an hour, I ran to the nurse, who immediately said she was calling my father to pick me up. I spent the rest of the school day on a cot in the nurse’s office, sweating and in pain, until my father (who received the call in the middle of a lecture he was giving at a Hartford business meeting) could come pick me up. He escorted me out during the middle of the lunch hour, in a smart black business suit, dragging his sick daughter behind him while trying to avoid all of the seventh graders screeching “OMG It’s Geno!…Oh, hey Alysa. Are you okay?”
When I got home, my mom took one look at my face and sent me to bed, apologizing profusely.
Mom’s basic cure for everything is “Go pop a vitamin C. Maybe go for a run on the treadmill, that always helps me feel better.” It’s become a family joke. When I called my parents today to tell them of my little sickness, Dad yelled into the speakerphone “Go for a run! Take some vitamins!” Which, sadly, I had already done today.
The sickest I have ever been was in August 2007. I had been sick earlier in the month with a stomach bug that caused me to pass out in my kitchen and smack my chin against our countertop (I still have a scar). After feeling better for a week, it was back. I felt faint, and sweaty. My throat was slowly being ripped apart every time I swallowed. And when I greeted my mother, the sound that came out of my mouth was something out of The Exorcist. I assumed Mom wouldn’t be fazed, so I was shocked when she stared at me and ordered me to go to the doctor immediately.
I was inclined to disagree, but then I tried to stand up. I promptly swooned. My sister had to dress me. We made our way to the walk-in clinic and were told by the doctor that I probably had mono, but they wanted to test my blood for strep anyway. I fell asleep on the examining table. My throat hurt so bad I couldn’t even lift my body up to get the blood test done. When it was all said and done, the doctor diagnosed me with mono and informed me I could not participate in any physical activity for two months.
Where was my mom in all of this ruckus? Driving down to our beach house to prep it for our arrival in three days. I was due to go on our annual family vacation. There was no way I could be this sick. Oh, but I was. I spent my vacation on the couch, eating Go-Gurts.
Eventually my throat swelled so much it produced an abscess, causing my jaw to completely lock up. We drove to the emergency room and due to a false positive on the urine sample, I had to undergo both a strep test and a pregnancy exam. I thought my mother was going to pass out. From laughter.
Oh, my family found this whole ordeal hysterical. My sister insisted on coming with us to the hospital, and ten minutes in she asked Mom “Will we get out in time to go to Coldstone? I really want ice cream.” When she wasn’t craving ice cream, she was complaining about the shoddy pedicure she had received earlier in the day. Meanwhile, I’m hooked up to an IV.
I hope it doesn’t come across like Mom is an unfeeling Neanderthal. When we are genuinely ill, she will do whatever it takes to help us feel better. But when we’re just suffering from a bit of the sniffles, there is no mercy.
Everyone likes different things when they’re ill. My requirements for a sick day are the same across the board, no matter what’s going on with my body:
Criminal Minds or Friends DVDs.
Lots of hot tea, preferably chamomile with honey and lemon.
At least one serving of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Or soup and crackers.
Two big, squishy blankets to wrap myself in on my Dad’s big Captain chair. When I’m sick, he lets me sit in it. Any other time? Fuhgeddaboudit.
A nap or six.
Did I mention OPRAH?
I have the tomato soup on my list for today, and Oprah is on, and my tea is ready. Here’s hoping I can sink into my first planned nap…