The holidays are for giving and receiving and in my house this year, we all gave a gift that keeps on giving … an airborne virus. Since two days after Thanksgiving, I’ve heard nothing in the middle of the night except “HACK, HACK, COUGH, COUGH, SNEEZE, SNEEZE!”
During a visit to the pediatrician’s office, the doctor said to me, “If you’re not sick right now, you’re in the minority.”
I laughed. “So far so good!” I told her. “Why two nights ago, my son sneezed all over my toothbrush and I feel great! Last night, I opened my mouth to take a bite of dinner and my daughter coughed all over my fork and I think I could run five miles right now!”
The doctor smiled as she pulled her gas mask back over her face. “Good luck!” she said as she poured liquid sanitizer over her arms and hands and slowly backed out of the room, pushing the prescription across the floor to us with one toe.
I went home that morning and said to my husband, “For the first time in my life, I’m a minority.”
Three minutes later, I felt feverish. Two hours later, my chest hurt. One day later, my nose was so plugged I seriously considered using the toilet plunger to unclog it. Plain and simple, I was sicker than a dog. I’ve never seen a sick dog, but I hear it’s pretty bad and I was much worse than that.
“I’m the last soldier to fall,” I whispered to my husband during a particularly delirious moment. He saluted me as he quickly left the bedroom and said, “Call 9-1-1 if it gets really bad. I’m staying clear of you!”
For the next week, I hacked more than a four-pack-a-day smoker. I told my kids, “If you see my lung lying on the kitchen floor, please pick it up, put it in a cooler with ice, and transport it immediately to the nearest hospital with me in tow.” I used more tissue than a mother at her daughter’s wedding. I sniffed so much mentholatum that I hallucinated I was Liza Minnelli and started singing New York, New York.
After five days of misery, I called my doctor and made an appointment. After I arrived, a nurse summoned me to the back and immediately instructed me to get on the scale. As I stepped on, I asked her, “Are you subtracting for the huge wad of tissue I have in my pocket, my winter coat, and the cough medicine I’ve been drinking incessantly since last week? And why, I ask you, why do you weigh me when I am sick? Are you trying to make me more ill?”
“What’s the weight you have the DMV put on your driver’s license?” she inquired.
I told her and she wrote it on my chart. She stood there and waited. I slipped her a twenty and said, “Just like always, right?”
She nodded. “Our little secret,” she answered as she had me sit in a room. “Just a side note, you might want to think about reducing the number of cookies you eat next Christmas,” she said as she shut the door.
I sat there. And I sat there some more. I paced. I sat on the table. I sat on the chair. I stared at myself in the mirror. I read all the brochures and pamphlets. I built a house with the tongue depressors.
One hour later, the haggard doctor entered the room. “I like your tongue depressor house,” he commented as he opened my file. “Cough?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“You got it.”
“General overall exhaustion?”
“More than usual.”
He looked in my ears, nose, throat and then carefully listened to my chest. He put the stethoscope on my stomach. “I hear growling,” he said.
“I was chewing on a tongue depressor,” I confessed. “I may have accidentally swallowed some of it. I was hungry after I read the brochure on The Food Pyramid.”
He wrote out a prescription and passed it to me on the floor with his toe. “Take this and you’ll be better in 48 hours.” He opened the door to leave, paused for a moment, and then turned back around. “I know how much you weigh,” he said, “and it’s not what’s on your chart. I have a wife you know.”
I hung my head. “IF YOU TELL PEOPLE YOUR GOALS, THEN YOU WILL ACHIEVE THEM!” I yelled after him as he went into the next room.
I am feeling much better now. I think my prescription was a little strong though. I’ve grown chest hair and an extra arm in the last seven days. Thirty pounds apparently makes a big difference at the pharmacy.