I spent the last few days being sick.
Being sick in the winter is one thing. You are supposed to be cuddling under down comforters in January. Walking around in three layers of clothing with a bright red nose does not look especially unusualâ€” you might even be considered festive.
But walking around in June with wool socks under my sandals, trailing a box of lotion impregnated tissues, is just not a good look.
Being sick, I learned early in life, was no fun. I come from a family where there was no pay-off for being sick.
â€œIf you’re well enough to eat, you’re well enough to eat at the table,â€ was my mother’s philosophy, which usually came right after, â€œIf you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to watch TV.â€
I had not been sick for a long time so last week, when the first symptoms hit, I began the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) by immediately going into denial. It was just a sore throat; I would feel better tomorrow. Denial was followed by anger; it was JUNE for pity’s sake! I had a garden to weed and now THIS?!
Since Daniel had just spent ten days sick with the same crud, I started bargaining. I was sick, but I was only going to be sick for a day or twoâ€” this was not the full-blown crud that Daniel had suffered, this was crud-lite.
By the third day I was just depressed: sick, exhausted and depressed. And, finally, I accepted that I was ill. I moped around in creative combinations of baggy old clothes that could be layered up or stripped down depending where my fever had landed for the moment, ate aspirin every four hours and went through boxes of lotion-soaked tissues.
When I accepted that I was sick and just let myself be sick, I found it wasn’t so bad after all. No, I could not breathe and I got tired of always having to blow my nose, but drifting in and out of peculiar feverish dreams was not entirely unpleasant. On day three, when I finally got stir crazy and walked around the block, I was overwhelmed by how much energy I take for granted every other day of my life. When I got a little appetite back, I really enjoyed my food. Then I lost my voice. Oh well.
I still don’t have much of a voice. Luckily, I can type and so today that is what I am doing. I’m typing and thinking about how being sick slows everything down and how that is not such a bad thing. Being sick is a lot like emotional pain, it focuses the mind on the here and now: a good blanket, a cup of tea, a quiet conversation. I feel a lot less sure of myself when I am sick. I crave reassurance and comfort.
Being sick makes me more aware of the small details in my life that are messy or beautiful. It makes me conscious of the big things in life that are uncertain and necessary. It makes me want more stability and more tranquility in my relationships, in my household, in my world. This perspective of feeling less than myself has made me strangely more.
I am no longer bargaining; I do think I’ll feel better tomorrow. But I am going to take the time to learn what being sick has to teach me. Then maybe I can go a good long while before I need a refresher course.
Till next time,