I’m Sick…and Sickening


By Vicki Brown

When my husband is sick, I jump into action. I know exactly what to do.

On the counter, I line up his antibiotics , mucus relief pills, Tylenol, sinus saline spray, hot tea with honey and lemon, Vicks Vapor rub, a box of tissues, and anything else I can think of. He likes me close by while he lays on the couch in misery. I try to fix him nutritious foods and take care of his every need.

When I am sick, do I get the same treatment in return? I don’t think so.

Bless his heart, he really tries. He asks if I need anything, reminds me to take my meds, and takes his job as hunter/gatherer of the family very seriously by going to fast food restaurants to get me meals. But to stay and sit with me?

Doesn’t happen.

I wasn’t sure why until this week.

I have been sick with probably the worst case of bronchitis of my life. The upper respiratory infection has kicked my behind, and I have felt awful. I went to the doctor, got meds, came home, got in bed, and stayed there.

That afternoon, my husband came in the bedroom where I was laying like a giant slug and asked if I needed anything. “Yes,” I said. “I want a chili dog and lemon slushy.” That was the only thing I could taste.

He sweetly brought me my meal and meds, then disappeared.

Later that night, I felt that maybe a hot shower would help my chest congestion, so I went to the bathroom and had the shock of my life. I shouldn’t have done it, but I couldn’t help it. I looked in the mirror.

I originally had started off the day in my purple nightshirt that has an applique of an adorable black and white spotted cow on the front with a little lavender bow around its neck. Unfortunately, I discovered that my chili dog had dripped orange chili and grease down on the cow picture which gave it the appearance of having just been slaughtered.

I had eaten Cheetos earlier that day and somehow, orange fingerprints had ended up on my nightshirt and forehead.

My hair was greasy and standing up on my head, and I found spots of chili grease still on my chin.

My lemon slushy had also made an appearance on my shirt, because when I went to pick it up, my thumb had accidentally gone through the lower part of the cup, squirting out a mass of gelatinous slush across the nightstand, onto my cow, on my neck and in my hair, and then slowly dripping down the side of the bed onto the floor. The nightstand was littered with old cups, so I quickly crammed that leaking cup into another cup after I made the mistake of trying to drink it as fast as it leaked and ended up with brain-freeze. Not thinking rationally, I grabbed my aching head with my greasy, sticky fingers which probably had something to do with the condition of my hair.

Scrambling off the bed, I shoved the old tissues, cups and Cheetos bag out of the way to clean up the disaster.

Luckily, I found a towel under all of that stuff, so I did my best to sop up the mess until I was just too exhausted and dropped everything on the floor.

Now, staring at myself, my hair which had been stiffened and dried from the sugary drink, was sticking straight out like an extra set of ears. I had a tissue stuffed up each nostril, my eyes were bloodshot and red, as was my nose, my lips were chapped from sleeping with my mouth open, and I sounded like a walrus when I coughed.

In the bedroom, the nightstand looked like a landfill, and frankly, because the doctor’s prescribed steroids made me sweat like I had just gone nine rounds with Mike Tyson, I smelled like one.

My little dog, Freddy, stayed close by me on the bed all day, but every so often he would come out from under his blanket, look at me, then dive back underneath the cover. He couldn’t bear to look at me either.

So after 45 years of marriage, it has finally become glaringly apparent to me why my husband only makes a brief appearance every so often when I am sick.

Bless his heart.


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