Tuesday, March 15, 2005

These Boots are Made for Walking

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 accessories”.

I am woman, hear me wheeze.


Blogger Unknown said...

I thank you for your kindness.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Nelle said...

Recently stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying it thoroughly. Although this particular post is ancient, I must comment with my own ancient story. When my now-grown children were busy, chatty, and indefatigable toddlers, I fell ill with bronchitis. It was accompanied by ripper throat, lung-searing cough, and vertigo headache. As he left the house with his lunch box full of the lunch I had packed and his thermos full of coffee I had made, my husband caressed my fevered brow and sweetly crooned, "Try to get some rest today". Never again have I quite so fervently wished to murder him as I did at that moment. You are a better woman than I for you merely wheeze; I whine.

Glad to know you survived - and flourished. Looking forward to more of your entertaining posts.

10:58 PM  

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