The luxury of being sick
I am sick as a dog. I was expecting one of my first posts to be positive, full of cheerful optimism about being (almost) 40. And here I am instead, in bed, going through one pack of tissues after another and feeling sorry for myself. I cannot for my life transfer any glimpse of positivity onto my keyboard.
I don’t even know what I have. Is it a cold? Is it the flu? All I know is that I feel dreadful, that it is vicious. My throat feels as if I had swallowed a Kiwi (whole and with skin). My teeth hurt when I clench my jaws and I can hear the pounding of my own heartbeat in my head.
I am heavily medicated, that is “self-medicated”, of course. My request for drugs would only have prompted a disapproving look from my doctor and the advice to go back to bed and “drink a lot”. Yes sure… I don’t think one needs a medicine degree in the 21st century to provide that kind of recommendation.
So I have not bothered to pay him a visit and taken matters into my own hands. Rather than wasting my time at the practice and risking exposure to even more bugs, I decided to make an in depth incursion into the OTC aisle at the supermarket and buy whatever they had on their shelves that even vaguely promised to either get rid of the symptoms or the whole thing altogether. At home, armed with capsules, effervescent tablets, syrups and orange flavoured lozenges I decided to take one dose of each… and then another one, just to reinforce the first. Maybe I even took a third, I can’t really remember. The entire endeavour is a bit blurred in my head.
That was 4 hours ago and there is still no sign of improvement, only a very strange rumble in my stomach.
I called in sick at work, spent a good 30 minutes trying to rearrange my agenda with my PA but gave up pretty quickly: cancel all meetings. No, DONT rearrange. If they still need to see me when I am back, we will try to schedule at the earliest convenience.
“But the first free slot in your calendar is in 3 weeks…” she whined. “What do I tell them?” My stomach makes another deep gurgling sound.
“I don’t know, Linda, why don’t you try to figure it out yourself” I texted and made a mental note to:
1. write a blog about the pointless constant office meetings and
2. possibly start recruiting for another PA.
My phone rings and my mum is on video:
“Hi hon… ugh you look horrible! What is wrong with you?”
“Hi bum”, I say through my nose “I dob’t no. I dink I’ve got de flu.”
“That’s because you’re always running around in the rain getting wet. I told you, you would get a chest infection if you kept doing that.”
“Bum, I live in Egladt. If I had to stay hobe ebery dime it rains, I bould neber eber set a foot out de door – pffffffft” (cleaning nose).
“Well you stay in bed and drink some hot tea with rum.” (My mum thinks tea with rum is the solution to all problems; sickness, depression, international conflict and world poverty).
I glance at my work phone. The email icon shows 54 new emails and it’s not even noon, yet. I cringe and my stomach gurgles again long and loud. I make a quick mental calculation on how long it would take me to clear the backlog at work if I’d stay out for 1 or 2 or even 3 days. It is exponential, so I soon decide that 2 days is the maximum I can “afford” to be sick. Everything else would take me over a week to sort out afterwards. Actually, better if it was only 1 day and I worked from home tomorrow taking care of at least emails. Yes, that would contain damage substantially.
My stomach makes another summersault. As I stand up and stumble to the loo I think: Does being (almost) 40 mean that I cannot be sick in peace? That I have to compromise between getting well at my own pace and everybody else’s needs? It is not only work you know; the kids will be back from school in about 4 hours and demand attention and homework supervision and chauffeur services to after school activities. And the dog has not been walked since yesterday evening. And then there is this mythical creature called husband who appears from time to time at home expecting to find a happy, healthy family unit. And dinner. Which reminds me that we are running low on food, and that I should have stocked up on something nutritious rather than just drugs.
So as I sit on the “throne”, feeling the deposed queen and watching myself disintegrate, I come to the conclusion that at (almost) 40 I just don’t get the luxury of being sick anymore. Dealing with the aftermath would be too tedious. Better just to suck it up and get on with life… and maybe get myself some hot tea with rum to help.