On Wednesday morning last week, I started to feel unwell. Slightly feverish. Terrible body aches, especially along my spine and in my hips. Tickle in the throat.
Oh well, I thought, I guess I’m getting a cold. Dammit. I’m overdue for one, I guess.
By Wednesday evening I was feeling distinctly rotten. Stuffy nose. The throat tickle had graduated to a scratch. Michael took the older boys to swimming lessons and I struggled through the bath / bed routine with George. By the time they got home, I was bundled up on the couch in flannel pajamas, two pairs of socks, wooly slippers, my fuzzy bathrobe, two blankets, and a cup of tea… and I was still cold.
Around 10PM the body aches got really severe, and migrated to my chest. The pain was so bad I was in tears. I gulped down two extra-strength ibuprofen and hoped like hell I wouldn’t need to drive myself to the ER.
I drifted off into a fitful sleep for an hour or so, and when I woke up, I was drenched in sweat but the pain was completely gone. Huh, I thought, that was weird. Oh well! At least the fever broke! I should get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a busy day!
Thursday I did my usual frantic routine; preschool drop-off, followed by taking Daisy & George to the craft store, because Valentine’s Day was also a PD day at the boys’ school so I was staring down the barrel of seven kids for ten hours and needed supplies. A old friend from out of town was coming for dinner and an evening visit. Shit needed to get done, is what I’m saying.
At naptime I cleaned the bathroom. I noticed I had to keep sitting down to rest. I had no appetite. And I was coughing a lot. But denial is not just a river in Egypt, folks. I refused to give up. All of my clients had taken sick time of their own in the past couple of weeks, and I was very hesitant to make them take more.
I started humming the chorus Les Miserables’ One Day More on a continuous loop. I COULD DO THIS.
We had a pleasant visit on Thursday evening, although I did spend most of it under blankets with a box of tissues at hand.
Woke up Friday morning to a rain-soaked hellscape.
It being February of the coldest, stormiest winter in a decade, I hadn’t bargained on rain. Rain turned all the lovely snow to ice, slush, and mud. My fenced backyard was a morass of half-melted dog turds, mud puddles, and toys forgotten in the fall. I couldn’t put the kids outdoors to play.
I had developed a raging case of laryngitis overnight. I could barely speak above a whisper, never mind loud enough to be heard over the cacophony of seven children inexplicably excited over Valentine’s Day. To add insult to injury, I was sleep-deprived, as George had been up yelling for me several times in the night, scared of shadows and big bad wolves.
I am not a good caregiver when I’m tired and sick. It ends up looking kind of like this:
Only I ain’t picking anyone up because my arms are too weak and I’m afraid I’ll drop them.
By mid-afternoon I’d started running to the bathroom every few minutes in a mad panic, scattering children like bowling pins. I have never been so glad to see naptime. The big boys, however, had other ideas. I COULD NOT GET THEM TO BE QUIET. Nothing worked. Nothing. Cooped up indoors all day long, they were well-nigh insane with pent-up energy, and my whispered pleas, requests, and threats rolled off them without even slowing down.
All four littles were up again by 2:30 – a full hour earlier than they should have been, thanks to the continuous noise from the bigs. In a rage I didn’t have the voice to express, I made Harry – the worst culprit and also the Mayhem-Instigator – call Michael at work to get a lecture.
I didn’t eat dinner.
By 2AM I was huddled in the bathroom with a blanket. There were simply too many steps from my bedroom to the toilet. I just… stayed awake. I was afraid to go to sleep.
And that’s how it was. Every time I tried to ingest anything – clear liquids! flat ginger ale! chicken broth! PLAIN WATER FOR THE LOVE OF HEAVEN!! – I ended up in the bathroom twenty minutes later, wondering if it was actually possible that I’d contracted dysentery somehow.
Michael did his best, caring for the boys while I tried my best to take care of myself. I am not a good patient, ever; I always push myself too hard to try and get back on my feet, but this… I couldn’t shout it down, will it away, or force myself to get better faster. I just had to wait until it ran its course.
Sunday morning I woke up feeling kind of OK. I was getting pretty dehydrated, though. My lips were cracked and sore. I decided to try a popsicle, reasoning that it would take enough time to eat that maybe it wouldn’t cause my system to rebel. I didn’t feel well after I ate it, but it stuck around for a while, so I thought I’d try a glass of water.
That’s when I said “EFF THIS NOISE!” and emailed all my clients to tell them I’d be closed on Monday.
I’m feeling 100% better today, but I can honestly say I’ve never been that sick in my life. I spent Monday sitting cuddled on the couch with George, watching cartoons and reading. I got a solid seven hours sleep last night and woke today refreshed.