Monday, January 09, 2006

These Boots are Made for Walking

Thanks to ill family members, we're in re-runs today. If you have already seen this one, sorry. If you've already seen this one and you didn't think it was funny the first time around, terribly sorry.

My life, two years ago:

I ran a fever for a week [I have a cold].

I had a cough which could make a consumptive back away from me [I have a bad cold].

I started coughing up blood [Maybe this isn’t a cold].

I dribbled into the Doctor’s office, who listened to my lungs, flinching only slightly when I breathed, x-rayed me, and declared it “walking pneumonia”. He gave me a prescription for antibiotics and told me to go to bed. I called everyone on the way home.“I have walking pneumonia!” I informed my mother happily, “I have to go to bed!”“Yep, walking pneumonia” I left on the answering machine of a friend “I simply cannot do anything but rest!”“I don’t want to go to bed and rest,” I told the 411 operator “but what else can I do? The Doctor insisted”

I drove, coughed and day-dreamed. I dreamed of magazines. Of crossword puzzles. Of books that didn’t involve cats who were princesses who also solved crimes. I dreamed of napping.

I was about to call Consort, willing to field a few “I told you to go in last week” type phrases in exchange for enforced bed rest, when, in my mind, I started to automatically run over our schedule for the upcoming week. Consort, who was then in school, had a huge project due; I had taken to calling him the Holy Ghost, because you just had to have faith he was there, without really having any evidence. He would step up to the parental plate in a heartbeat (or a racking cough) but he really needed to stay focused on school. Daughter would miss dance and gymnastics classes that she loved, which would lead to her having disturbing amounts of energy and wanting to stay up to watch and discuss “The Daily Show”.

Against my will, I started to think things like “I don’t actually feel that bad” and “As long as I take the antibiotics and keep a tissue near my mouth, I should be fine”. My bed rest skittered away from me like a shy wild animal.

I came home and looked at our calendar. The following day, I had to go get my x-rays from one doctor and transport them to another. Why, I don’t know. Maybe shouting at other drivers strengthens the lungs before bed rest. Unless I could think of a balanced meal based upon capers and fruit popsicles with freezer burn I also needed to stop at the grocery store. And then Daughter had gymnastics, so tomorrow was shot. But the day after that, I could have walking pneumonia for five hours. Consort would take her to school, and I would have bed rest.

That day dawned, and I finally got to have walking pneumonia. The dog tap-danced around for her breakfast, Daughter shuffled here and there, Consort made himself coffee without actually opening his eyes, and I lay in bed. I wouldn’t say I rested, though. The sounds and words I was getting from the rest of the house were like a mildly stressful radio show.

Breakfast was being made, but the wrong sounds were coming from the kitchen—what could he possibly be feeding her that required a can opener? I got up on one elbow, and then lay down again. I have walking pneumonia, I reminded myself, and I have five hours bed rest coming to me.

The dog yapped once at the back door, in a “You can either let me out, or what I will do will diminish both of us” sort of way, and I didn’t hear the door open immediately. Again, I rose. Again, I lay down. A minute or so later, the back door opened. Consort and daughter finished consuming Dinty Moore’s Breakfast in a Can and went to her bedroom, where more worrisome phrases issued.

Things like “I don’t know if your dress-up bracelet goes with your dress”. No bracelet goes with any dress she is wearing to school unless she is Joan Collins. I heard “Mommy said I could wear my party shoes to school”. I rose, I lay down. But I did croak out “I never said that”. I think it came out more like “Aghnev (cough, spit)”, but Daughter was cajoled into her school shoes.

They came in to say goodbye to me, and it was a scene from a Victorian novel:“Hello, my angel. Give Mummy a kiss right on the hand not holding the bloody handkerchief, before she has to go to the sanatorium in the Alps. And if Mummy doesn’t come back, and Daddy marries the governess, please remember that I loved you. And don’t let the governess have Mummy’s jewelry”.

I was so happy to be finally reveling in bed rest I didn’t even ask what Consort packed her for lunch. It might have been a prune Danish and a thermos full of espresso, but it didn’t matter. They were gone, and I was resting.

The rest lasted twenty minutes.

Then I went and got the newspaper, because reading in bed was restful, as long as I stayed away from any section that upset me. Seven minutes later, having finished the comics, I recalled seeing dishes in the sink. One simply cannot rest in a house with the vertical Epic of Encrusted Cheese sitting waiting to be washed. I took a few minutes to do that, and went back to bed.

Of course, I did take some bills with me, because lying in bed and paying bills is resting, if not pleasant.

I then noticed that one of them needed to be mailed that day.

The trip to the Post Office took just a few minutes; it was the dry-cleaners and the library which really ate up the time.

I went back to bed just long enough to decide the sheets weren’t clean, and how restful are grubby sheets?

Once I got the bed remade and a load of laundry started, I had a glorious fifteen minutes in bed before I had to get Daughter from school. The extra time definitely put a spring in my step. The bright eyes and pink cheeks, however, were due to the 102 degree fever.

Some might read this and see a pathetic creature, unable to take time for herself, even when her health is stake.

I see a woman of rare strength who can overcome a formerly fatal disease with only a half hour of extra rest and a really potent little antibiotic.

I see a mother who didn’t let fever-fueled hallucinations keep her from freeway driving.

I see a woman who, although winded by walking across the bathroom, could still find the lung capacity for a lecture entitled “The cat doesn’t want to wear clip-on earrings”.

I am woman, hear me wheeze.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that your family is ill. Hopefully this will cheer you up. I chose the perfect sized container for my leftovers tonight and thought about you.


8:19 PM  
Anonymous janiezip said...

You are such a writer.. when will I get to see a book from you? Or is there one already I need to find? Your blog is just hilarious. The "right size container" really hit home, of your recent posts. You may not take this as a compliment, but it is intended as one.. You are an "Erma Bombeck" for the 21st century. (Although I can't think when you'd have the time for a book, between the consort and daughter, etc.) PS...hope the family is all better soon.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous janiezip said...

ok...ok... I'll tell the truth. I only look at your blog like every 2 or 3 months. And at that time I catch up on the last, well, 2 or 3 months. But I still think it's always hilarious, and still want to see a book. Ok, I feel better now.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Janiezip, we welcome everyone, including the drop-bys. And your honesty will be rewarded with a brand-new blog some point soon.

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

You are sooooooo a MOM! If my husband sneezed twice in one day, it would drive him to bed for at least 3 days. Why do we Mom's think the world will stop if we rest--Oh, Yeah--because it would!

4:21 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

Hi Quinn,

Actually, your reruns are like a re-heated dish - the flavor gets better.

12:36 AM  
Anonymous janiezip said...

Now you know I've really become hooked... I've checked back in before my 2 month timetable. Looking forward to that brand new blog entry.. whenever you and family are up to it is fine. Don't rush on my account..LOL. Hope you all are feeling better soon. And if it's any consolation, I've got what's going around now.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Janie and anyone else reading this-
My family is fine, now Blogger is sick. For some reason, I cannot put up my newest blog entry. Until I wrestle this problem to the ground (Because Blogger shouldn't return my emails or anything), please accept my apologies.
I'm on my way.

9:09 PM  
Anonymous janiezip said...

NOW you've done it. Hooked me into checking every DAY!!. Was this a plot?
PS. Glad to hear you've all recovered.

9:36 PM  

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