Kids pass on colds and The Flu like miniature valets of disease, so it didn’t surprise me when my own little biohazard recently jumped into bed with us, aflame with plague. After a fitful night, my son felt better and I was exhausted. I was also infected. I could feel the storm of illness brewing inside me, but I pressed on. We all know it’s illegal for moms to be sick.
I knew it was coming, so I made the official announcement to my disbelieving husband. “I’m getting the flu,” I asserted. “Really?” he replied, as if I had just told him I landed a job as a cocktail waitress on a pirate ship. Then silence. If I could of read his mind (which I could, and DID), I’d swear he was thinking, “No way. She’s not really sick. She’ll be fine.” I left him to ponder the gathering storm, and he started searching for the can
of Lysol. I was pretty sure he was going to bathe in it. What is it with
men and germs?
Hours later, I put the boys to bed. My raw throat and headache hailed the onslaught of doom. Oh, yeah. I was a day away from embracing a carton of Puffs Plus and sipping Nyquiltinis. My hair was soon to be in a scrunchy, PJs and slippers would be my uniform and I would be ugly ill. I tried to stay positive in a tsunami of denial and false hope, but I knew if I DID get the flu, the entire infrastructure of my family’s life would implode in a groaning WHOMP! And so it did. My soiree with the swine flu went like this:
DAY ONE: My brain is the size of a bacon bit and I retreat to the sofa. Like an unemployment line of hungry, helpless, wee people, my kids wait for me to stir or cough before approaching my face. One by one, the imperative requests pile up: “May I have a piece of gum? May I have a cookie? Do you mind if I get out the glue? May I cut the dog’s hair?” I grant every request with a weak wave of my hand. They have me at their mercy. I am helpless, and they know it. The inmates have taken over. Attica!
DAY TWO: My home is a Wild West town of outlaws, complete with dust-bunny tumbleweeds. I finally lift my head up long enough to witness the wreckage. I will myself vertical and shuffle through the kitchen. An open peanut butter jar, banana peels and cracker crumbs litter the island. I whimper and look away; maybe it will disappear. Because I am my own nurse, I nuke some hot tea with honey and retreat back to the couch. But there is no rest for the weary. I realize, as I lie here expiring, the maid doesn’t get a day off.
DAY THREE: The haze is lifting and I decide I cannot be sick any longer. Another day of this and our house will be condemned by the Health Department. I grab my garbage bag of tissues and clear a path to the dining room. I stumble around in a medicated stupor, feeling as pathetic as my dog looks (yeah, they cut his hair). I rally the troops and start barking orders. “Yay, Mom is feeling better!” exclaims my son. Indeed, I am, now that the post-apocalyptic clean up has commenced. The sheriff is back in the saddle, though a little wobbly.
At sunset my husband calls, again, to see if I’m feeling better. I swear he thinks he can stalk the illness out of me. He offers to bring home take-out and tells me he will do the laundry when he gets home. It is here where I allow my evil counterpart to take over. I cough and blow my nose, letting out a frail “Thank you.” Can you blame me? After all, who can resist free laundry service? Of course, tomorrow I will resume my life as a domestic enforcer. But tonight I will wallow in the cool mud of my sty; surrounded by my little Petri dishes of disease and loving every molecule of them. Who knew the Swine Flu would land me in hog heaven?
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