I’ve been home all week sick with a nasty virus that feels like the flu but isn’t. It’s been a rough couple of days, but hopefully I turned a corner today. I finally took a shower this afternoon. Progress.
What sucks the most about this unfortunate turn of events is that my husband and I had to cancel our vacation Monday night when he came home from work to find me shivering under the covers with a 100F degree fever, and we realized there was no way I could get on a plane the next morning or even a few days from now. I was heartbroken and cried — did I mention I get weepy when I’m sick?
Our original plan was to fly to Arizona for a few days where I was going to attend a conference for work while Andrew caught up with an old friend from college. Then, we were going to drive to California to visit my parents for the remainder of our trip and celebrate my birthday a few days early. My mom was heartbroken too when I told her there’s been a change of plans. She too cried. It runs in the family.
I know we can’t always prevent ourselves from getting sick — things happen, right? But I can’t help from blaming myself this time. The week leading up to our trip, I worked. Too much. I had a long list of items to check off my list so that I could leave for two weeks with peace of mind. It was a very stressful week and I worked all day Saturday and Sunday to meet my self-inflicted deadlines. But it came with a cost. My health.
By Monday morning, I had completed all of my tasks and felt like a rockstar for finishing everything. Then the aches, chills and fever came on out of nowhere. Stress does bad things to my body. I know this. And it’s not lost on me that I happened to get sick after poorly coping with a stressful week and putting in too many hours. And for what? I earned myself a week in bed. Brava!
If you want to be forced to relax and de-stress getting sick is one method — though I would much prefer a vacation out West. No one likes being sick, especially me, but there is something nice about waking up every morning this week with only one pressing question in my head: what movies am I going to watch today? Yesterday I wasted a huge chunk of the day watching a marathon of “Teen Mom” and MTV’s “Catfish,” and I loved every second of it. I read a beautiful short story by Lee Zacharias and I actually read full articles – no skimming – on “How To Overcome Workplace Paralysis” and another piece about a bad ass mathematician. I took two-hour naps, and stayed up past my 10 o’clock bedtime. Every night I’ve averaged 10-12 hours of sleep. It kind of feels like being on vacation except I feel like shit and I’m still in Greensboro.
There are two kinds of sick people: those who want to be left alone like a wounded animal, and those who want to be taken care of. I fall into the latter. I want someone to make me tea, whip up homemade chicken soup and pile extra blankets on me. That’s what my mom and grandma did whenever I was sick. And they were really good at it.
My grandma was the best at tucking me in, pulling the covers up to my chin and packing me in like a sardine. She also made the best chicken soup with noodles that looked like birds’ nests before they hit the pot of boiling water. My mom, on the other hand, made the best cinnamon and sugar toast that was always the perfect ratio of cinnamon to sugar and just the right amount of butter. She’d bring me home a treat from the grocery store, usually a six-pack of vanilla cupcakes with brightly-colored icing swirled on top. Those always cheered me up — that and a new coloring book and a fresh box of crayons.
My grandma is no longer alive, and my mom is thousands of miles away, and I’m not a kid anymore, but I guess whenever I get sick I still get nostalgic for that time and long for that comfort. But now my husband is the one making my cinnamon toast (he does a pretty good job, though he will claim that he doesn’t know what he’s doing), and a dear friend delivered to my door homemade chicken and vegetable soup (it was amazing!), samples of her favorite tea, a pack of saltines, and orange and lemon peel that she milled herself and recommended adding to my tea. These are simple, little things that warm this sick girl’s heart.
So yeah, I’m not hiking in Arizona right now, but my mind is clear and my body is calm, and in a few minutes, my husband will walk through the door, feel my forehead with the back of his hand and ask, “How are you feeling?” And I’ll say, “Better.”