In high school, I had an allergic reaction to Sulfa. I was literally bed-ridden for two weeks, and my mom and I began to joke that I’d “lost my health.” I was so grateful when I regained my health, that I promised to never again take it for granted.
In my first year teaching, I was sick every other day. I blamed the kids. I decided they were germ-ridden, and that their papers were out to get me. Because of that conspiracy, I became a huge fan of Germ-X. I also became a pro at working when I felt less than wonderful. For me, getting a sub was a pain, and the planning involved for just a one day absence almost wasn’t worth it. It was always easier just to fight through the day. Plus, in the back of my mind, I knew I still had my “health.” I was never “that sick.”
Pregnancy was a different kind of sick. With my daughter, I had “all-day sickness,” and would literally choose foods based on their acidic properties-I promise it makes a difference in the end. Plus, that sickness-the growing a person inside of you sickness-wasn’t going away in 24 hours. I had to learn to deal with feeling like crap everyday. I think it was then I began to develop this martyr syndrome around sickness in general. In fact, when I was pregnant with my third child, I was on the phone with my doctor and mentioned that I hadn’t been able to keep anything-including water-down for the past few days. She instructed me to immediately go to the hospital for IV fluids, and I said I would be there when I could-but that I was on my way to Museum School, and had a few other errands to run first. In a very nice way, she redirected my plans to not include Museum School that day, and to include a hospital stay instead. I think I heard her roll her eyes at me when I said I wasn’t “that sick.”
And, let’s be honest, as a Mom, when do you get the luxury to be sick? No matter how wretched you feel, when the baby cries, you answer. You learn to live sleep-deprived, and to cope with sickness. I’ll admit I’ve spent my fair share of afternoons on the couch watching Dora over and over as I’ve tried to recover from something trying to take my health. You do what you have to do, but you can’t stop, right?
Wrong. This week, I was forced to stop. In fact, so was my husband. He’d been fighting some annoying bug for a few days, but was hit hard Wednesday. He even took an actual sick day from work-something he’s done maybe twice since I’ve known him. Tuesday I started feeling less-than-wonderful, and actually went to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t Flu. With all the craziness this year, I thought it better safe than sorry. With a clear negative test, I trudged onward. Wednesday was bad, but still not that bad. But Thursday, even my students were telling me to call a sub. I buckled, and fell into the sickness. In my house, there were sounds of my own children around me, but by some twist of fate, they were not sick. My daughter took the reins, and entertained the boys after school. My husband coordinated homework folders, dinners, and practices-all the time preaching Germ-X and hand washing. In an attempt to keep the kids healthy, we let them buy their lunch everyday at school (so we wouldn’t be handling their food), and every night, dinner was out of a can or from a local restaurant. They thought it was awesome. If we get through the next week still healthy, I’ll agree. For now, I’m glad to have my own health, again reminded of how quickly it can be taken for granted, even though I really wasn’t “that sick.”