It started on Friday or Saturday with a slight tickle in my throat and a runny nose – a simple cold. It was a beautiful day. The kids played outside and I decluttered and swept my front porch, and cut the grass. Despite tickle in my throat, I generally felt like this:
On Sunday we decided to stay home from church. Ruthie was still coughing and Thomas now had a runny nose. They frown on these things in the children’s church area. I was feeling a little worse, and Bryan now had a throat tickle.
Still thinking I had a simple cold, I armed myself with a pitch fork and hoe, and went outside to turn over a new garden plot I created last fall along the south side of the house. Layers of top soil, newspaper, mulch, compost, and over-crop turned under – one back-breaking lurch at a time.
I came inside where Bryan asked me what I’d been doing. I tell him. He smirks sheepishly and says, “I forgot. I was supposed to tell you Don has a rototiller you can borrow.”
Sunday night explodes into a full-blown cold, and I’m now regretting that I labored in the garden because I am sore all over. I can’t get warm, so I take a hot shower. I still can’t get warm, so I snuggle up with wool socks, a sweatshirt, and a heating pad. I’m slowly killing every tree in the forest with my running nose:
Monday I wake up, feeling a little worse. Contemplate going to the gym as scheduled. Should I push through cold to work out? Will exercise invigorate me and drive this cold from my body? I decide to stay home and rest. The week is wide open, I can easily make up the workout on Tuesday.
By late morning on Monday I’m beginning to realize I do not, in fact, have a simple cold. My skin hurts. My hair hurts. It hurts to move. It hurts to lay still.
After a brief visit to wikipedia for confirmation, I realize I have the flu.
In humans, common symptoms of the disease are the chills, then fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.
Monday afternoon my girlfriend calls. We were supposed to hang out that evening, but I am now too sick. She says she was sick like that a month ago, and spent all week in bed. All week? In bed? I feel panicked. Her kids are school age. Mine are… jumping age. They are jumping on me while I lay helplessly on the bed. We have exhausted every PBS program and movie in the house.
I attempt a walk to the cupcake shop to run down their energy. I imagine the kids doing a lot of this:
While I do a lot of this:
But it is bitter cold, and I am exhausted. I make it 1 1/2 blocks before we turn around and end up at the coffee/wine bar instead. The one with bottles of wine lining all the walls. We are there ten minutes when I realize this was a very bad idea. We go home and resume jumping on the comatose mom.
Tuesday morning. Repeat all of the above except the attempt at leaving the house. Kids actually tire of watching tv and ask if they can play outside. It’s not even nice out. It’s cold. And wet. That’s how stir crazy they are. Also? When left to their own devices, they act a little like this:
While they are outside it occurs to me Advil might take away the sensation of getting hit by a truck. I take two, and within half an hour I feel like a normal human being again. I walk upright. I open my eyes. I actually put a load of clothes into the washing machine. I actually heat up leftover chili and make dinner. It’s a miracle! Advil is a miraculous drug! I am able to function.
After dinner Advil wears off. I cannot move. My hair hurts. My skin hurts. I swallow Tylenol PM and go to bed at 8:30 with the kids.
On Wednesday I wake up early, still feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. I am pissed. It is no longer a novelty to lay around all day, sleeping while the kids set things on fire. I actually have work I need to be doing, like the laundry:
I give The Flu the finger and start my day with two Advil and a cup of coffee, laying helplessly on the couch as I wait for Advil to kick in. I’m staying ahead of the pain.
When it does kick in, I clean the bathroom. I spray the entire thing down with Lysol, including all the door knobs and cabinet handles. I spray all the door knobs in the hallway. I spray the front and back door. I spray the couch. I spray my chair. I spray the phone. I shut down my laptop and give it a good rub down. I scour the kitchen with Lysol All-Purpose cleaner with bleach. My nostrils are now burning, and my children are growing extra toes, but my house sparkles like this:
I open all the windows to let out the toxic smell and the flu funk. I dare anyone to even TRY getting sick in my house.
A friend arrives with her children. She brings lunch. She leaves to run errands. I insist. I’m fine, I say. Let’s stick to the co-op plan, I say. How hard can it be? I say. Three out of five children take naps. The other two happily create fairies on disneyfairies.com:
The sun comes out. All children wake up and go out to play. My Advil is wearing off. Friend arrives in the nick of time and says, “I’ll take your kids home, feed them spaghetti, and bring them back at 7:30.”
I would have jumped up to kiss her if I could. Instead I wave my approval at her weakly, and pass out on the couch. I rest for an hour. When I get up I actually feel half way decent. Advil has warn off, but I am not feeling pain. I pay bills. I think about doing laundry, but remember the two flights of stairs involved. I decide to rest some more.
Children arrive home on schedule at 7:30. They are fed, bathed, and tired. I am actually happy to see them. We snuggle. They go to bed. I watch American Idol and am confused about why dreadlocks guy is still on the show.
Today is Thursday. I’m still sick with the flu, coughing up a lung and relying on Advil to function. I look just thrilled about it, don’t I?
Ruthie has preschool today so I must leave the house. I make a list of errands to run because dammit if I’m going to let this thing kill me. Miraculously, the kids are dressed and fed. I recycle dirty underwear and put on clothes from a pile on the floor. I manage to get out the door looking halfway decent, if not a little like a bitter, God fearing, gun owner:
A friend calls my cell phone and says she’s going to my friendly neighborhood Target, would I like to join her? I remind her that I’m on my deathbed without the benefit of actually dying. But the lure of seeing anything but my own walls overcomes me, and I agree.
Foolishly walking past the handicap scooters in the entryway, Thomas and I discover Friend in the clearance section. We are clearance junkies and search the racks for $3.48 clothing items. I forget I have a child, who apparently forgets he has a mother, and we are now looking for lost boy in the Misses section. Sadly, I made myself look decent enough that judgmental mothers cannot see that the sickness has caused this lapse in proper mothering, that I am obviously not in my right mind for shopping at Target on such a day.
We find lost boy who is then strapped into shopping cart as punishment. Stubborn boy spends next twenty minutes trying to escape shopping cart prison. We decide to reward this behavior by ending our shopping trip and buying him a scone at the in-store Starbucks. Friend and I have a conversation the length of time it takes for a three year old to eat a scone.
I start to feel Advil wearing off. It is time to pick up Ruthie.
I call another friend on my way up the hill and tell her I’ll be by to drop something off. I drive up hill and pick up Ruthie from preschool. Advil has completely worn off. My elbows hurt. My fingers hurt. My knees hurt. My fat hurts. I drive home in pain, completely forgetting to stop at friend’s house.
As of this writing, the latest dose of Advil is not working. All pain, all the time. Obviously, this does not stop me from writing a snarky blog post, or lamenting to all my Twitterers about my suffering. A girl has priorities.
But I have hope. I believe in the will of God. For any God who places me in just the right place at just the right time – against all logical and rational odds – to purchase these lovelies at Target for $3.48 a piece:
Is a God who, I believe, can heal me of the flu.