With Everyone Else Sick, I Get To Be The Hero


It’s been a heck of a week.

Day One: Everyone in the house is sick except me. I want to pride myself on my fabulous program of diet and exercise for giving me this reprieve — but I know, realistically, that’s not it. Still, I am happy to comfort the ill, in between doing all the stuff I want to do.

Day Two: The ill need me more than ever. Blankets need to be washed, tissues need to be disposed of, chicken soup needs to be made. I am mother to all and feel good about this. As they cough, sneeze and whimper, I sit by their bedsides reading them stories from a) Mother Goose or b) the newspaper, their choice. I tell them to hang in there; they’ll feel better again soon.

Day Three: OK, this situation is getting kind of old now but, as the only functioning family member, I really am the only one who can clean up the bathrooms, wipe down the doorknobs with alcohol, run to the store for cough syrup and keep everyone’s spirits up. “At least you weren’t sick at Christmastime,” I explained. “And you’ll be fine again by the end of next week!”

Day Four: This cold is a mean one. It’s really dragging on. Either that, or everyone is handing it back and forth. I’ve washed all the bedclothes every day, used up every pot in the house making soup, and collected enough used tissues to build a toxic wall. When are these people going to get better?

Day Five: Trapped. I’m trapped in a house full of disease with no escape. I look out the window at the neighbors — riding bikes, going for walks, tossing a Frisbee around. But my family just lays there… pale, wan, without energy. I start propping them up in their beds, one by one. “There! Doesn’t that feel better? Don’t you want to get up and move around a little bit?” Nothing but moans in reply.

Day Six: My throat feels a little scratchy. Thank goodness my healthy lifestyle, nutritious diet and rigorous exercise have paid off — just one little symptom. I start telling my family members what they need to do to follow in my footsteps. A little advice never hurt anyone. It falls on deaf ears — well, plugged-up ears. Some of them roll over with their backs to me.

Day Seven: Oh, man, am I sick. I feel awful. Ears ringing, eyes watering, stomach churning, fever, all kinds of horrible. My husband vacates the bed when I crawl in. “You’re not sick, are you?” he asks, moving as far away from me as possible. “Not with your healthy lifestyle and all!” Put a sock in it. Put two socks in it and then hand them over. My feet are freezing. My head is burning. I can’t swallow because my throat is so dry. As I drift into a miserable sleep, annoying family members come in trying to read me newspapers, foisting soup upon me. “You’ll be fine again by the end of the week!” one chirps. What kind of snide remark is that? Another tries to prop me up while telling me I need to cut out the soda. I had to swing a lamp at them to get them to leave. Get lost! Can’t these people see I’m in pain here? Oh, I’m so, so sick.

And nobody seems to care.