August 23, 1998
The Gods Must Be Sneezing


I knew I was in trouble when I woke up this morning ... and couldn't open my eyes. Literally. They were glued shut with that ultra-attractive film of gunk that signals the onset of my annual end-of-summer cold. 

Shit.

Truth is, I was hoping to escape it this year. I have zero sick time left at work, and there's no way I can afford to miss even a microsecond away from my job at The Knife Factory.  The gods have apparently decided that I've had quite enough fun and frolic this past week ("Look! Terri is almost-not-completely-obsessed-with-worry about stuff this morning! Let's sneeze on her, just for fun!"), and here I am  ...  shrouded in two blankets and the Mickey Mouse sweats (and shivering anyway ), desperately downing otc's, praying for my head to remain attached to my neck.

This sucks on many, many levels. Besides the fact that I feel like shit ... besides the fact that I'm gonna have to go to work tomorrow, regardless of whether or not I'm actually breathing in the morning ...

... regardless of the fact that I'm a GREAT BIG BABY when I'm sick ...

... there is also the fact that this is the first time that I've gotten sick since I moved into the apartment by myself. So I have nobody to coddle me. Nobody to nuke me some chicken soup. Nobody to yell at me if I run around the apartment without socks on my feet. Nobody to drive to 7-11 and buy me a People Magazine and a popsicle.

All Together Now: "Poooooooor Little YOU!"

I don't care. Sneer if you must. Accuse me of employing The Wahhh Factor again. I'm sick. I'm cranky. I'm alone. (Except of course for my bazillions of readers ....)

You must understand that I was raised in a household where illness   --  any illness, perceived or genuine  --  was treated with tender loving hysteria. Before my brother and I were sent (in the very early 60's, when we were just out of toddlerhood) to live with our grandparents, my grandmother had been a registered nurse. A framed portrait of her hung in the living room, taken when she graduated from nursing school in British Columbia; she looked very young and beautiful in her starched white cap and jacket, holding a bouquet of roses. When Richard and I came to live with her, she immediately quit her job in the doctor’s office so she could take care of us. This by no means put an end to her nursing career: my brother and I became her fulltime, live-in patients. We accommodated her by getting sick a lot while we were growing up, me somewhat more than my hardier little brother. I came down with measles, mumps, chicken pox, Asian flu, ringworm, ear infections and whooping cough, as well as garden variety colds and flus.

Grandma’s course of treatment for all illness was basically the same: flat on my back in her big bed downstairs, covered with heavy blankets to sweat out the fever ... no books, no TV, no visitors ... just the radio to keep me company. (I heard "I Am The Walrus" for the first time during one of these torture sessions.) Mustard poultices on my chest, enemas, Vicks VapoRub, huge horrible doses of camphor oil, and the worst torture of all (because it always took place in the middle of the night) -- painting my throat with iodine.

Grandma hovered over me tirelessly, night and day, until the fever broke. Then and only then was I allowed to sit up in bed and read. She brought me books from the library, about Ancient Egypt   --  my childhood passion  --  and made me runny Jell-O and milk toast. A day or two later I would be transferred to the living room couch, where I was allowed to watch TV ... game shows, re-runs of “The Fugitive” and “Perry Mason,” J.P. Patches, old black and white movies.

I always emerged from these prolonged illnesses feeling weak and winded, as though I'd just endured ten days in the valley of the shadow ... but it also left me with a lifelong taste for *hovering* and *coddling* when I'm ill.

It also made me feel very, very loved. Nothing much wrong with that, I suppose.

Oh well. Think I'll go sit in another bathtub full of hot water for awhile.

Anyone got any iodine?



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