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©February 2008

Carol Jane Remsburg



Sick for Dummies



A few years ago I wrote about a five-day episode about a husband and wife being sick at the same time.  Amazingly, we were younger and healthier back then, and while it had been a trial that will live in our memories, we now have one to supersede even that. 


Four years ago, hubby hadn't yet been diagnosed with RA (rheumatoid arthritis), nor had his severely crushed disks in his back finally come to the screaming fore yet.  This was a man, slight of build, wiry, but hard-wired to work, and he always did.  For the first few years we were married, if I had a sniffle, I was at the doc's office for a plethora of pills to make me better.  Being the original "bronchitis kid" I knew how it worked, infection deep in the chest and a cough that won't quit—phlegm, just fountains of it. 


Last year he suffered tests, then major surgery, and is still in a long recovery situation, not that he'll ever be able to work any type of real job again, he's done, bless him.  And with RA, he's on "immune suppressant" drugs which make him susceptible to nearly any illness that comes down the pike.  Therefore, both teen and I are extremely careful about carrying any bugs/germs home, with antibiotic hand wipes, Germ-X and all that.


It's been nearly a year and the teen brought home a cold.  She was over it in three days.  I didn't get it from her, nor did hubby.  However, at work there was a horrible bug going around.  I went through all my "wipes" and used my sleeve to open doors and such, but it didn't work.


On 2/7, knowing I was fighting it, I succumbed.  It was the classic, fever, chills, aches, and suddenly severely clogged head which tends to block all oxygen intake, leaving you much the landed fish out of water.


Into work I went on Friday, hoping that others might realize just how ill I was and find another task for me aside from speaking with customers, as that was a trial for them the hear me and for me to hear them and to assist them with a boggled mind as the fever took hold with deep hooks.  There was no relief that Friday, just an exit after it was over.  I escaped and came home, sank into the fabled old recliner, covered up and allowed my misery to swallow me whole.


I thought I'd found a NEW-FANGLED medicine that would help my clogged head, Afrin® nasal spray.  Oh, it worked, it cleared my head, left me dizzy and the "cold" or whatever the infection was went promptly south.  It allowed me to breathe, even though the phlegm faucets had been turned onto high, disgustingly gagging me.  Then the fever receded, that's a good thing, right?  And the coughing began, deep and resonating. 


I did everything I could to stay away from both teen and hubby for the next week, washing my hands nearly raw to keep from sharing any of the sickness, but he got it and bad.  I ended up taking vacation days from Monday to Wednesday the following week, we were all good until Saturday, the 16th, when late in the afternoon, I heard him cough.  He had it, and bad.  This type of cold isn't something you can allow to run amok, not for him.


Monday brought "President's Day Holiday" and I was off, and I hoped his doc's office wasn't.  Luckily for us, they weren't closed.  Finally got a Z-Pak for him that evening, but it was nearly too late.  He'd shut down as he often does, we've been dealing with this for nearly every month, his shifts and swings into illness.  No food, and forcing liquids.  I was only getting Gatorade and meds into him, but no food, and he has to have nourishment.


There were another three days of 'vacation' so early in the year on my part.  I was still down to sleeping in the recliner as I couldn't lay down, coughing and expectorating like mad, but hubby was SO sick. 


Finally came the day it came to pushing Ensure.  Liquid food, as he was on the brink of another hospital visit.  I was still so sick, but slowly recovering but he wasn't.  The hours crawled by, no relief in site.


But the meds, and the Gatorade, and finally, the Ensure turned the trick and he was on the way to recovery.  For hubby, it was six days in purgatory.  He's finally better, eating, and recovering.


For me, it's been 14 days in hell, and last night, very carefully to lay still, I actually was able to spend an entire night in my own bed and not most of the night in the recliner, and one, maybe two hours in bed before violent coughing fits drove me out of the bed and become vertical at 2, 3, 4 AM. 


For those who become ill and whine and moan and take to their beds with rich enjoyment, I'd stone you.  If I could curl up beneath my covers and sleep, I'd revel in it.  I'm still not sure I'll be able to again tonight, but finding my bed a comfort will be so welcome.


Be well, stay well, and take joy in a good night's slumber, it's a gift you'll never truly appreciate until you can.


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