Rituals of Being Sick

flu symptomsDay 9.

I’ve had the flu for as many days. It started out with a huge, freaking headache. The kind that totally wraps your head in a “pain wrap” and squeezes it so hard you could pop it like a zit.

Then the fever hit. 101. 101.5. 102. 103. 103.6.

Thankfully there was no vomiting involved or else I would not be writing this blog. I hate the word “chunks.” I also hate the word, “juicy,” but I digress.

So, when one is sick, we cope with it in different ways. Trying to make oneself comfortable in a most uncomfortable situation is quite an effort – especially when you have no energy to put forth the effort into making yourself comfortable. Therefore, you find very resourceful ways to reduce several situations:

1. The repeating, unrelenting, throat drying, making your throat feel like raw meat, so thatcough your partner wants to punch you in the face…with a chair, cough. You know it. You’ve been there and don’t deny it. You lay down in exhaustion, and the dripping from your sinuses causes your coughing tantrums to start. It’s 11 p.m. and you want some sleep. So does your partner. My solution?

  • Sit up. Sit straight up like a rigid board. Suck it up, buttercup, and take some meds to suppress that cough. Still coughing? LEAVE THE ROOM. Let your partner have some rest and you deal with your coughing tantrums on your own. You’ll pass out eventually…..at least for a few hours.

2. Methods of Sleeping. Now this can be a very complicated topic. If you have the cold or flu, you’re obviously dealing with a stuffed head and/or chest. The head can be the worst because it not only gives you a nice “ready to explode” sinus headache, it surprises you with which nostril will leak first: Nostril #1, or Nostril #2. My solution?

  • Stick a wad of Kleenex in that leaky nostril and forget about it. What’s that you say? You can’t breathe????

SHOCKER. This brings up problem number 3:

3. Problems with breathing. This is the worst conundrum possible. When I sleep, I’m a nostril breather, not a mouth breather. So, sleeping thru my mouth when my nostrils are clogged shut with mucus is not a natural situation for me. It feels odd. It feels like my jaws have to work overtime to keep my mouth open when it otherwise would be relaxed and not having to think about working overtime. What are the perils? Dry lips.  How many times can you drink water while trying to get a good night’s sleep? And, just when you’re ready to nod off, you have to go to the bathroom. I SWEAR, if I had any adult “Pull Ups” in the house, I could just pee right there and I wouldn’t care, since I’m that exhausted from just trying to fall asleep with my 103.6 fever, stuffed up nose and breathing thru my mouth which needs chap stick in the WORST way.

4. Along with trying to sleep, you build up mucus. So, that means you need you blow your nose. So, you sit up (as if you’re not sitting up already), and blow into your wadded up Kleenex that you’ve had tucked away into your long sleeve sweater for the past three hours (which you’ve been wearing by the way because you’re trying to break that 103.6 fever)….


Hmmmm…. Odd. Perhaps I should try shutting down one nostril and blowing into the Kleenex with the other. EUREKA! GREEN SHIT! YAY, FOR ME! And, of course after that there comes a hearty cough or two ……or five.

I keep remembering when my son was a baby and they had those little “sucky” thingy’s that you would use to get the mucus out of their tiny noses? I wish I had one of those right now…….

kleenex5. Lastly, let’s not forget hygiene. I can toss all the wadded up, sticky Kleenex wherever the hell I want, but I have a problem with that:

  • I have three dogs that like paper products
  • I have a husband who would feel compelled to pick up after my sorry mess, and I don’t want him exposed to my “petri dish” germs unless he has a radon suit on and is wearing goggles and geared with large tongs to pick up my contaminated Kleenex and throw it into an incinerator.
  • I’m a neat freak.

However, with regard to the last bullet point, you really don’t care how neat things are when you’re sick. I’ve been sick before – shit – I’m almost 49. However, this is the sickest I’ve been and the longest I’ve been sick for as long as I can remember. When I started blowing my nose raw, I aimed for my dresser to toss my wadded up contaminated, god-forsaken Kleenex and no one else would dare touch. Sometimes I made it. Sometimes I didn’t.

My husband was there to pick up my mess and take care of me. He didn’t care. Why? Because he loves me. You want unconditional love? For better or worse? In sickness and in health? There you have it.

So, here I am on day nine. One antibiotic, three different cough suppressants, and six other cocktail ingredients for my drop attacks. Would you consider me a happy person?

Well, right now – yes.  However, I’ll be happier when I don’t have to sleep upright and my husband can have a good night’s sleep!


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