Get Down with the Sickness

You turn off the music at the bottom of the page, if you feel the need.

On Sunday night, I settled myself in on the living room couch that had been hastily converted into a sickbed for the evening. I nursed the sliver that remained from the Sucrets I had been sucking on for half an hour and I labored with every swallow of its cherry-numbing goodness. The joints in my knees ached as I brought them in closer to my torso, trying to preserve the warmth that I knew would seem lost if my 103 degree fever were to return in the middle of the night. I flipped on the television and squinted my eyes as its ever-glowing aura lit the room. I was too tired and probably too drugged-up to watch anything that required more brain activity than keeping my eyelids a third of the way open.

I turned through the stations until I unwittingly fell upon one of Spike TV's testosterone fueled and male-enhancement sponsored programs. This one was called "1000 Ways To Die". It essentially re-enacted real-life events that ended up in the most bizarre and horrific real-death events. I watched with bemused fascination as the cavalcade of atrocities unfolded before my eyes and the show proved to me that death was lurking around every simple daily routine. A woman removing her heels while walking down the sidewalk happened to step into a puddle which happened to also be host to a downed power line. A lizard and insect lover is bitten by his pet Black Widow and manages to free his lovelies just before he passes out and eventually dies. "When the paramedics arrived weeks later, they found his final act of love was offering his own flesh to be devoured by the pets he cared for. His body was nearly completely devoured." Putting the oxymoron aside, I found myself wondering what kind of segment they would do on me when I finally died of the wretched disease I was battling. The question was no longer when the illness would pass, it was what the paramedics would say in the re-enactment.

It all began on Thursday. The day was off to its normal start. I took my haphazardly sleeping infant downstairs at 3:30 in the morning and watched some television as I held him in my arms. At about 5:45, I heard my wife rustling out of bed. I was faced with a number of extremely important deadlines at work, and we had talked about how the earlier that I could leave for work, the better. I figured she was generously going to relieve me of my baby-holding duties so I could be off to work. I heard her scamper down the stairs and then heard the moans coming from her darkened silhouette.

"Honey, I don't feel good."

"Well, go up and lay down then Miranda."

"No, I feel sick"

"Then go and lay down in bed." (I labored at keeping my voice somewhat whispered as my son was still, gratefully, sleeping.)

"I think I am going to throw-up"

Now, I could write an entire article alone about how I have had to deal with Miranda's vomiting in the past. Suffice it to say that I wanted to keep our carpet for at least another few months.

"Then GO to the BATHroom, MirANda!"

"Um, I think I am going to pass out."

At this, I rushed over to her at the stairs and tried with my free arm to support her and give her more encouragement to return to her bed. With one single groan, I felt the weight of her body collapse into my arm (yes, arm) as I stood four stairs below her and with a still sleeping child. I yelled to try to wake her, but only succeeded in waking the baby. With the surge of adrenaline that firefighters and heroin addicts know, I managed to pick up my wife's limp body and haul it over to the couch. I placed her there tentatively so that I could put the baby down on the loveseat. Little Isaac promptly awoke and stared over at the scene as if to say, “What the eff is going on here.” Meanwhile, Miranda managed to slouch off the couch and bang her forehead against the armrest. I hoisted her back up and slapped her cheek, somewhat gently, until she woke up and uttered the line I hear like a Gregorian chant every time she has fallen ill during our life together. “I don’t feeeeeel good.”

Miranda rested and I spent the day trying to care for our two children and Miranda in her sickened stupor, which equates to a total of about five children. As I ran up and down the stairs to attend to any and all needs, I eventually began to feel the light-headed uneasiness that accompanies a forthcoming illness in myself. By that evening, I was hauling the car seat with a sleeping child upstairs, trying to convince Zachary that sleeping is a necessary human function he should try out sometime, and alternating between placing the strata of 14 blankets on top of my feverish wife and removing them. I went to bed that night next to the radiated heat coming from Miranda and felt my body slowly fall into the oncoming sickness and my mind spinning about how I was going to recover so I could make those deadlines at work.

Friday came and the sickness continued. I took my wife to the doctor where they shoved a stick down her throat and determined it was, in fact, the dreaded Strep. We returned home and suffered through the day. I managed to leave my kids with family and come to work so I could frantically perform eight hours of crucial editing work in about 45 feverish minutes. That night, our home was something out of a movie about Russian gulags or an after-school anti-drug special. With both my wife and I contracting fevers of 103 degrees, we took turns getting out of bed to comfort a crying baby, all while haplessly careening into the walls and sometimes collapsing to the floor with moans of agony and pleas to whatever deities would listen to us to just take the pain away.

The next day, I summoned the strength to take my children to the doctor. We had been worried about them since they had a cough and congestion respectively. Though their symptoms were fairly minor, living in the veritable leaper colony that our home was swiftly becoming increased our concern in their behalf. The doctor told us that Zachary had nothing more than a mild cold and a penchant for eating wooden tongue-depressors (as he slobberingly attempted doing just that). Isaac, on the other hand, was diagnosed with RSV, a disease that I had equated with instant baby petrifaction. The doctor informed me that it was actually a mild case and that a humidifier and some Pedyalite should clear things up.
I took the children home while alternating the car’s air-conditioning between frigid and scorching.

On Sunday, after waking up with the feeling that a small gerbil was unsuccessfully trying to dislodge itself from my larynx, I decided to go to the doctor myself. I waited in the lobby with the refuse of the ill and ill-tempered of society for about 45 minutes. The nurse took me in and, with her cheery, chubby smile, attempted to scrape the flesh from the interior of my throat to check for Strep. I don’t know if it was the gerbil feeling that his territory was being threatened, but the nurse nearly had my gag-reflex vomit all over her scrubs as opposed to the suspiciously out-of-season pattern of pumpkins and fall leaves.

I left the InstaCare, curiously pondering the merits of either part of the institution’s name, with a prescription for antibiotics. As the day progressed. my wife began rising, like Lazarus, from her bed still covered in various scraps and dressings. My children laughed and cried as they were regularly wont to do. I even started to feel slightly better, though I was still uncomfortably weak. My work did not get done, but the weight of the burden of writing stories to hock nutritional supplements seemed lighter than that of caring for myself and my ailing kin. That night, I lay down on the couch in order for my infected sinuses to drain properly and turned on the television to whatever I could find. “1000 Ways to Die”. I couldn’t help but wonder, as I watched the animated representation of how snake venom can cause instant paralysis in the human body, if there were any more impressive ways to die than with a sinus infection. There were definitely plenty, and many were even more desirable, but for that moment, I was content to wait for my recovery under a heap of blankets, listening to the din of my infected child crying and my bemoaning wife attending to him in the night.

After all, the next program on Spike TV was “MANswers”, which would finally answer the age-old question of how many farts it would take to fill up a zeppelin. This was something me and Mr. Squiggles, my newfound pet gerbil, had to stick around and see.


Marsha said...

What was with that song? Oh my. OK, Cameron. Your editorial comments and style are amazing BUT, in the future, PLEASE refrain from having my sweet, pure, innocent grandson say, "eff". I mean it. This talk must end! Other than that, totally entertaining, in a sick perverted way, I suppose.