In Sickness

sick coupleThere’s nothing quite so lovely or nearly as romantic as being sick with the one you love. Ahh yes, gazing softly and tenderly across the kleenex-and-blister-pack-strewn room… peering pathetically into one another’s deeply-sunken, dead-grey eyes and affectionately eeking out the phrase: “My dear, will you please pass the Mucinex?”

If you haven’t experienced this blissful coupled journey already, I can promise that someday you will. And on that day you will come to realize that indeed, the honeymoon is over. When you’re too tired to take a shower or work a comb through your hair and you’re incapable of remembering exactly which day last week the sweatshirt and pair of pajama pants you’re currently wearing emerged from the third dresser drawer — it isn’t a pretty sight.

Nor is it for the faint of heart. No Ma’am. You’ve gotta be 100% committed to this $#!*. Because instead of discussing where to meet up with your friends for drinks on Friday night, what new restaurant you might check out on Saturday or a possible weekend road trip… you’re reading aloud to one another absolutely riveting passages from the dosing instructions and possible side-effects portions of various OTC and prescription drug leaflets and packages.

Yes, “The Crud” has hit our home and hit it hard. And based upon my constant perusal of various social media outlets — it has been descending upon many other households as well. Fortunately (for me I suppose) I have not fallen as ill as Lee. Unfortunately (for him) he has really gotten slammed. And I do hope that he will be on the mend soon.

Quite miraculously it has worked out that (over the course of seven days — give or take) when one of us has been really down, the other has seemed a bit stronger. Initially, out of sympathy, this spurs a kind of trading of roles from patient to caregiver. However, this turn of events can oftentimes trigger a wonderfully entertaining and hearty bout of the game of One-Up-Manship that I like to call: “Who’s Sicker?” a.k.a. “Who Should Be The One To Go Out and Retrieve More Medicince and Comfort Food?”

Slinging phrases such as “My head is really pounding” or “My throat is really sore, I sure could use a slushie from Sonic” or “I’m so weak I need to lie down for awhile” or “I’m pretty sure I’m going to hack up a lung if not a kidney here pretty soon” usually helps in determining the game’s winner. Thus far, I have only emerged the victor on one occasion.

Hopefully, our walk through the wilderness of disease and pestilence will come to an end — soon. Until then I guess we’re stuck with each other — in all of our sniffly, stuffy, coughy, achy, short-fused, wild-haired, week-old-pajama glory. Neither one of us has run screaming toward the hills just yet. So the way I see it, that’s either a sign of true love… or we’re just too worn out to make the trip.

Apparently… It’s All Relative

“Shhh! Your dad is upstairs sleeping. He has one of his really bad headaches again.” My mom would inform my sister and me in an attempt to keep us from disturbing our poor father while he tried to recover from the excruciating pain that occasionally plagued him.

All I knew about his headaches were that they were referred to as “cluster headaches” and they made the whole side of his head and face hurt. He couldn’t even brush his hair without extreme pain.

“You girls leave your mother alone. She came home with another migraine today.” My dad would warn us while my mother rested, writhed in pain or ran to bathroom to throw up again. And we would eat takeout for dinner if she hadn’t already suffered through cooking our meal BEFORE addressing her own needs and collapsing on the bed.

What I knew about her headaches were that they were called “migraines” and they typically made her lose her vision along with whatever she ate that day. Oh yeah… and I decided that between her and my father… adulthood pretty much sucked.

Fast forward to my junior year in high school. I vividly remember sitting in art class and reading a text book. I’m not sure why I wasn’t painting or drawing at the time but that is irrelevent here. As I looked at the grey lines of copy on the page I noticed that entire sections of the page began to disappear into what can only be described as bright, white blind spots. I felt funny and asked to be excused.

Sitting in the office while the secretary called my dad to come and get me — a terrible pain I had never felt before began gripping my forehead like a vise. On the ride home with him, the nausea came. He had to pull over just four houses down from ours as my lunch began to resurface. It was then that I remembered the horrible migraine headaches that my mother and grandmother (as I would later learn) got with some regularity. And it was then that I learned how privileged I too was to be a member of that genetic club. Thank you, mom and grandma… I love you too.

I have since learned to manage the migraines that fortunately only come around two to four times a year. I have a prescription, know some of the “triggers” and warning signs and have thus learned how to keep from losing my lunch or an entire day. I count myself lucky that I am not one of those chronic sufferers who get several in one week.

Fast forward AGAIN to four days ago. While managing an estate sale at Lee’s childhood home I began to feel a burning ache in my inner ear and several “ice pick” stabs to the back of my neck and head. I took my migraine medicine figuring it couldn’t hurt and waited for it to work. And I waited. And I waited some more. Nothing. The untouchable discomfort soon spread to the entire right side of my head and face and by dinner time I had trouble chewing because my jaw and teeth ached as well. And I couldn’t brush my hair without wincing. Thank you, dad.

Four days later of ice packs, towels wrapped tightly around my skull and “chill pills” to help me sleep… the headache (though vastly better) is still with me. Apparently, unlike it’s lesser-of-a-pain-in-the-ass cousin, the migraine… these “clusters” can last for several days. Severe episodes are often treated with visits to the ER and injections of steroids, strong pain killers and other drugs to help the sufferer through. OTC pain medications do NOT work and you wanna know the best part — they don’t KNOW what causes them other than GENETICS! Ha!

So, as much as I love and adore my amazing parents for ALL that they have done and continue to do for me and for EACH of the selfless sacrifices they have made in the name of love… I would also like to say a hearty thank you for the great genes too! I know you had nothing to do with it, really. But if I’d had the choice… I would have much rather inherited my mom’s knack for baking chocolately goodness from scratch… and my dad’s green thumb.