Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adding Insult to Injury



It's bad enough to be growing older at what seems an accelerated rate but it's awful to be ill at the same time. I'm not talking about terminal illness or progressive illness. I'm about to whine about the ordinary, common cold.

It started with a sneeze, which I attributed to the appearance of the sun, which hasn't shown up here for day after cold, gray day. I usually sneeze in the sunlight so I didn't give it a thought until I felt that suspect little tingling that means, "This is not a sunlight sneeze. This is your nose on a COLD. And it's going to be a doozy."

Sure enough, not an hour later, I felt the familiar ache and malaise that accompanies congestion. My eyes began to water. I sneezed at increasingly frequent intervals and went through half a box of tissue in twenty minutes. I sucked down a glass of Emergen-C, popped a couple of aspirin, and lay down on the sofa, thinking a short nap might make matters better. I sat up almost immediately, unable to breathe in a prone position. I gathered pillows, a quilt, the cat (as a foot warmer) and propped myself up on the sofa. An ungodly rattling noise woke me and spooked the cat. It was just me, snoring. I had toppled over and was constricting my own airway.

Soup was what I needed but making soup requires energy. I had none. Tea, that's what I'd have. I sat while the kettle came to a boil, disproving that old adage about the pot never boiling, etc. Measuring the leaves, pouring the water, ladling in the honey took every ounce of oomph I had left. I was almost too tired to sip.

Bed was the place to be. I hauled the pillows and the quilt back to the bedroom, arranged everything just so and climbed in. My back ached so I climbed back out and hunted up the heating pad. In bed once more, I realized I'd left my tea on the kitchen table. Out I climbed and back in, shivering now. Two pillows didn't seem enough. There were two more stored in the trunk at the foot of the bed but the thought of that hundred mile journey was enough to make me settle back, grumbling, against the two I had. I sipped my cooling tea, took note of every ache and sniffle, and let tears of self pity and moroseness ooze down my cheeks. I wanted my mother, and my tissue box was still on the sofa.

Feverish dreams pursued me in the dark of night. When I'm sick I dream of numbers that repeat themselves over and over. I dreamed of tally sticks that wouldn't tally and numbers that floated in soup like alphabet letters, never adding up to the correct amount. I woke exhausted.

I remember having head colds as a child. I remember the sore red nose, the scratchy raw throat, the head and body aches, but I also remember functioning despite all that. A mere cold never sent me to bed. Now the very thought of heaving this sad sack of skin and bones out of bed and into the work day was too much to bear. I reached for the phone and called in sick. We're only allowed three sick days in a row before a doctor's note is required. On Wednesday, I'm calling in dead.

8 comments:

Molly said...

Oh, pauvre Pauline! Isn't that what your mother would have said?!There's nothing quite like a nasty cold to make us realize how little we appreciate good health! Sending you a hug and a whole pot of good Irish tea!

Pauline said...

Thanks, Molly! She would have said just that and she would have brought me a cold cloth for my aching forehead and some hot chicken soup. It's settling in my chest - let the coughing begin. Your virtual tea has made me feel less sorry for myself ;)

JeannetteLS said...

When I was married, my best friend (who has had about nine operations herself) and my husband had a ritual with regard to headcolds. When one or the other had one, the phone call would be made. "Mark, I have a COLD."

"Oh, no. Not that.You poor thing. Do you have soup?"

They would do this wonderful ritual back and forth. It doesn't matter what else is wrong or isn't. There is something that is just simply the PITS about a cold. Period. We don't get the sympathy we deserve, it's messy, it makes us grumpy, and... SICK. Just Really SICK.

When I read the "Wednesday I'm calling in dead" I spit out my coffee because I started laughing. THANKS. This should be published everywhere, and posted on bulletin boards. It's Friday. Are you all better now I hope?

Pauline said...

It's Saturday as I'm reading your comment and yes, I'm better, thanks. It was an awful week, though. My mother was so good to us when we were sick. My father, on the other hand, simply got angry and then went out and bought us things - his way of dealing with his feelings of helplessness. Now I have to fetch my own cold cloth and aspirin and soup. I need to get a "cold buddy!"

Ruth D~ said...

A sick day... awful and yet, there is a vague pleasure to being home with tea and a book, no?

Feel better soon.

Pauline said...

Ruth D - the cold has passed and it is the weather that has me trapped indoors. Great sheets of sleety snow are being pushed past my window by a cold wind. School has been delayed. This too, shall be past momentarily and the sun will come out by late afternoon :)

Tabor said...

Ugh. Nothing worse than a spring cold. Drink lots and lots of fluids and try to sleep. Wish I could bring you some homemade chicken soup...I actually have some in the fridge!

June said...

I have it now.
At 2pm yesterday I began to sneeze and blow. By 4pm when I left work, my boss was delighted to see the back of me.
This morning I gave a good half hour's thought to whether or not to call in sick. I lay my head on the back of the couch and it felt so good that my decision was made.
I'm not sure if I'm glad that it's Friday and I'll have the weekend to restore myself to health or if I wish it were Monday and I could be sick for half the workweek...