A stickler while being sick
November 3, 2006
Although nothing has ever been officially diagnosed, it is a fact that the colds I catch are always much worse than those which afflict the average person.I’m currently a few nose blows away from being back to good health, but the past eight days haven’t been especially pretty. I’d felt a cold coming on for weeks and did everything I could – unsuccessfully – to avoid it.When I’m healthy, I have a mature outlook on being sick. I give solid medical advice to other people on how they can speed up their recoveries. After all, it would be a shame to let all those years of “ER”-watching (the George Clooney era, of course) go to waste. I always promise myself I won’t be melodramatic if I fall ill, that I’ll take it like a man and keep functioning like a normal human being, but all bets are off at the first signs of a scratchy throat.The first thing I do when I get sick is head straight to a pharmacy and walk up and down the aisles studying the cold remedies. I scrutinize the healing powers of each to calculate how many of my own symptoms I can match.However, few packaged therapies exist that can truly heal me when I ail. My mom’s chicken soup is my No. 1 panacea. I keep a stash of it in the freezer at all times, but at present, the stock is running dangerously low. And unfortunately, new FAA guidelines are such that I’ve been unable to transport any soup back with me the last few times I’ve visited my family. You know, because apparently, I could blow up a plane with a matzoh ball. So, that means that the only instance in which the remaining soup may be consumed is if my death is imminent. My cold this week was bad, but even I’ll admit it wasn’t that bad.Still, I appreciate a good showing of sympathy when I’m sick, so I try to apply the golden rule whenever possible. My husband was sick a few days before me, and in an expression of true love, I told him if he thought it would really, really, really, really make him feel better, he could eat one of my (there is no “our” when it comes to mom’s soup) two remaining quarts of chicken soup. In a sign of how much he loves me, he politely declined. And in yet another display of affection, when I started sneezing, he offered to fetch a helicopter to take me to the hospital a half a mile from our house. It was a good move on his part, but he needs to learn just a bit more about the kind of sympathy I require when I’m sick.My dad could give him a few pointers. He’s got it down. He’s not a doctor, he’s never played one on TV, and between an Advil and an anvil, he probably couldn’t determine which would cause a headache and which would cure one. But he’s the best sympathy-giver I know. It warms my heart every time I call him coughing and sniffling – he immediately tells me I sound awful, and suggests I make a doctor’s appointment immediately, get started on a round of strong anti-biotics and stay home in bed and do nothing but sleep, read and watch movies. I mean, he gets that for all he knows, I could have contracted some rare and incurable strain of the common cold that will scar me with a red, runny nose and clogged ears for years to come.My mom, on the other hand, tells me exactly what I never want to hear when I’m sick: “You’re young, you’ll heal,” or “It’s probably a little 24-hour bug,” or “Oh, is that all you have?” or “It’s just a cold.” As legend has it, I was once sick in the fourth grade and the substitute school nurse determined I should go home instead of infecting other kids. I had the nurse call my dad to come pick me up. He was at his office in the city, 40 miles away, and kindly asked the nurse if she would please notify his wife, who was a teacher in the very same school and was likely just down the hall. As soon as I heard my mom was to be alerted, I sighed heavily, shrugged off my jacket and slunk back to class.Still, my mom comes through when it really matters. One time in college I had bronchial pneumonia and was stuck suffering in the infirmary for over a week. My parents drove 180 miles to drop off some homemade soup and a teddy bear and then turned around after visiting for a few hours to drive another 180 miles back home. That’s a damn good display of sympathy.The most important thing though, really, is that I’m well-equipped for an illness.I will only blow my nose with Kleenex Ultra Soft tissues (uncolored and unscented). I prefer Tropicana Grovestand orange juice. Almond Sunset and Lemon Zinger herbal teas (with honey from one of the little plastic bears) are the sole hot beverages I can tolerate. I will not gargle with salt water, but I will accept a heating pad for body aches and romantic comedy DVDs for temporary vicarious heartaches. I need Dayquil in the morning and Nyquil (LiquiCaps only, please) in the early evening. Blessing me after I’ve sneezed more than twice in a row will only irritate me. I don’t like to be told I’m looking or sounding better when I still feel cruddy. I do need to be told that despite the gravity of my illness, I’m very brave and always still very, very beautiful. Asking me if I need or want something that would be impossible or inconvenient to acquire scores major points – miracles performed or attempted in my honor when I’m under the weather are always appreciated.After all, since my sore throats are so much more sore than anyone else’s, I figure I deserve it.E-mail questions or comments to email@example.com.