Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

January 9, 2014

Slices of Life: Sick days (and nights)

By Jill Pertler
The Journal Express

---- — I was sick last week. It felt like a long and miserable 12 days – and that was just Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I’m not good at being sick. Thankfully, I don’t get much practice. I’m one of those robust and healthy types. I like to joke that I’m too crabby to get sick; germs know it’s best to steer clear of me. So, when illness pounces, it catches me off guard.

My biggest problem (aside from the obvious one of being sick) is I have no patience for being a patient. I lie on the couch and convince myself I’m feeling better – besides the laundry isn’t going to fold itself – so I get up and throw in a quick load or run for groceries or mop the kitchen floor and before you can say, “Chicken soup,” the body aches return and I realize I’ve pushed it too far and gone and made myself sick again. It’s a lose-lose situation. Sick, really.

No one likes being under the weather. You’re stuck in bed or on the couch – watching movies or taking a nap – which in any other situation might be enjoyable if you weren’t sneezing, coughing, aching and in general being plagued by the kind of hacking that has nothing to do with computers.

Your head pounds and you alternate between the chills and sweats, depending on where your fever is at any given moment. Your eyes and throat burn. You are painfully aware of each of your sinus cavities. You’re thirsty, but can’t gather the energy to reach out from under the quilt and pick up the can of 7-Up sitting two feet in front of you. Your arms weigh 200 pounds apiece.

The worst comes in the middle of the night when you are supposed to be sleeping, but you can’t because your nose is clogged, which makes breathing an Olympic feat. My latest illness left me a drippy, runny, sniffly, snuffly, congested mess. Why is it one nostril is always more plugged than the other? I’ll wake at 2 a.m. with one side of my nose 100 percent inoperable, while the other is clear. I concentrate on breathing through the good nostril and drift off, but wake up 10 minutes later, jaw wide open, lips and tongue dried like leather from breathing through my mouth. Being sick is undeniably unattractive, and I haven’t even mentioned the snoring (which I do not do, by the way).

My sons and husband paid little heed to my infectious situation. I coughed. I groaned. I shivered. I cowered under a blanket on the couch. No one said a word or offered to get me soda crackers or a hot cup of tea. Poor me.

Maybe they were afraid of my germs and wanted to avoid becoming sick themselves. I think it’s more likely they were either oblivious to my situation or simply ignoring it, like you ignore a problem you hope will fade away. Not that they wanted me to fade away – just the germs. I hope.

On day four (or was it five?) I considered wearing pajamas until noon – to see if that would get their attention, but I figured they were so intent on ignoring me, they probably wouldn’t even notice. I had a coughing fit in the family room and thought this large and loud display might make them aware of my plight. They got up and went to watch TV in the kitchen.

For his credit, my husband did heat up a couple frozen pizzas one night and on day six he asked how I was feeling, so there may be some Florence Nightingale in him after all. I’m just glad I’m better – and that none of them caught it. Then the tables would have been turned and I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m not much of a Florence Nightingale myself.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” You can read more and follow her column on the Slices of Life page on Facebook.