It's taking so long to get better, I thought. Staring at the bottle of 14 antibiotic pills. Why do I have to wait twelve hours to take another one?
I have an ear infection and bronchitis. Is it a double ear infection if its both ears? Did she say it was a double ear infection or does double somehow mean something else, like middle and outer ear? I probably have a paper that says somewhere, but I can’t get out of bed.
My kids have been out of school for a week due to sickness, and they have to go back tomorrow, but I’m so sick, I can’t take them.
My sinuses hurt with every single breath, they feel so dry. I need to drink more water, but I’d rather suffer with each breath than try to muster the strength to get up.
These ear drops are not analges-ing as much as I want them to. Two hours is close enough to “every three or four hours” right. I don’t care. The pain…. The pain…
When I go into the kitchen and toast bread so that I can take my antibiotic “with a meal if possible.” I have to sit down while the bread is toasting because I’m too tired too stand.
In my dreams, the woman from old pain reliever commercials haunts me. She says, “I’m a busy mom; I don’t have time for pain.” And she flips her pony tail and pops something extra strength. I shudder from the fever as I hunt for my husband’s travel bag which I know contains acetamenephin, which I vaguely remember the doctor asking me if I had at home while she was in the middle of writing prescriptions for me. She never came back to giving me instructions for it, but I’m going to assume, “Those ear drops aren’t doing enough for the pain” is as good of a time as any to turn Tylenol.
I’m a busy mom, too, I mumble. Through the wads of Kleenex I use attempting to stop a nose bleed as I lean over the sink. I don’t have time for pain either, I think, but instead I yell for my husband to come help me because I’m starting to get a little freaked out. I say, “yell,” but I wasn’t able to speak loudly enough to get his attention. I had to turn to banging on the wall. And then, after all of that I only succeeded in telling him the way he was helping me was wrong. At least I had broken up the after dinner giggle-inducing story they were telling. “I’m a busy mom,” this woman confidently smiles in my self-induced daymares.
I want to punch her in the nose. How would she handle a nosebleed?
My eight year old daughter had helped me by prepping cold paper towels for me, so sweetly and calmly. I had come to the end of my usefulness as a mother.
One thing you can be assured to find out, once you tell people you’re sick, is exactly what you should have done differently.
Oh, you need wellness powder.
Lemon and raw honey.
Crisp micro greens with the dew of Tuesday mornings.
I’ve done it myself to my own husband, my own sweet husband who is the kind of wonderful man who makes my kids giggle and doesn’t get mad at me when I yell about how he’s helping me wrong while I’m panicking in deep sick pain. He was sick for much longer than I was and after awhile I sighed deeply and gave him a long list of reasons he was sick.
And then, as if on cue, the virus came for me.
And no amount of organic fresh squeezed lime juice with raw local honey and grated ginger would send it away. No bone broth. No probiotics. No magic vitamin pill. No amount of sleep. It came for me, and after we had fought our battle, its one-eyed, ugly big brother showed up: bacterial infection.
Sickness in commercials is so fast. 15 seconds: sick, then pill, then, ahhh. But, on the third day of my antibiotics I was still too sick to join my family for In and Out burger. I was too sick to eat it, too sick to get dressed, and too sick to look at strangers.
Instead, I lay down for a nap and woke groggily to my husband recounting this lovely story about someone he knew from his acting days to my delighted children, “She was so sick, she laid down on the cement floor backstage in between her lines, and we thought we’d have to cancel the whole show, but right before her line she’d pop up and be as crazy and spastic as ever, and then she’d go back stage again and lay down on the cement floor. She played my wife in the show and she was so funny. She did an amazing job, but-- every job has its good and bad parts.”
“That’s a terrible story.” I croaked from the bed. This time I had enough energy to be heard.
“That’s a terrible story to tell to your children while their mother is laid out in bed.”
“Do you even know the point of that story?”
“Yes, every job has difficult things. I heard that. It's still a terrible story. That’s exactly what we should not be idealizing in this country. That’s a great way to end up really sick.” I was already prescribing probable causes for this woman's sickness, the antibiotics must be kicking in.
He kindly agreed with the reasonable points I was making without backing down. He explained she had just that very night come down with something…
“It's still a terrible story to tell about your pretend wife while your real wife is too sick to get out bed.”
I was not really upset at him or at this actress from the distant past. I just didn’t want anymore women floating around in the pinterest of my imagination, handling sickness with strength and dignity.