No, not that one. The other one. The one that had me praying for death just as a new year was dawning.
Common wisdom holds that any man stricken with such a disease will immediately revert to a state that’s somewhere between infant and corpse. That’s certainly what I WANTED to do. There was just one small problem:
I wasn’t the only victim.
It started Sunday morning with a scratchy throat. I wasn’t ready to panic just yet. Kentucky weather is like a rollercoaster with multiple 90 degree drops and rises. Could just have been drainage from allergies. Could have just needed some Flonase. I was cautiously optimistic until about noon, when all hope that I ever experienced in my life quickly evaporated. That’s when the aching started.
Not just any aching, but an onslaught of suffering and pain that felt like someone was sandpapering every bone in my body just before taking a whack at them with a Louisville Slugger. Then came the sweats. I don’t know what word accurately describes both freezing and burning to death at the same time, but that’s what was happening. Death was nigh, and all I wanted to do was lie down and make peace with my chosen deity before surrendering to the Reaper’s cold embrace.
Too bad it was just then that someone asked me to make him a PB&J.
Too bad that shortly after eating said PB&J this same miscreant started complaining that HIS throat hurt.
Too bad that my wife made the trifecta by coming home from work, declaring HER throat felt terrible, and promptly marching up the stairs to bed.
Know what sucks worse than being stricken with a disease that essentially turns you into a quivering mass of sweaty, chilling goo? Having to get your gooey ass up and take care of two people who couldn’t possibly be as sick as you because there’s no way on Earth that anyone else could ever be suffering as much as you are. All the while insuring that your non-verbal, autistic six year old doesn’t come down with the same plague as there is no hell quite like the hell of having to nurse a very sick boy who has NO clue why his body has suddenly decided to turn on him.
Yet there I was. Happy New Year.
What followed was a week of constant hand sanitizing, surgical mask wearing, wheezing and suffering unlike any the world has ever known. Job can suck it. He didn’t know my pain. Yet I trudged on. For family. For honor. For love. For the right to throw it back in everyone’s face for at least the next 6 to 12 months. Ignoring my own crushing pain and weariness, I valiantly nursed my wife and child, coaxing them back from the very edge of oblivion. Songs should be sung. One might go like this:
And though he stood at death’s lonely door!
He picked himself up off the floor!
Nyquil and juice his family needed!
He walked through the fire as they pleaded!
HE IS DAD!
He would not be defeated!
HE IS DAD!
Death’s cold embrace was cheated!
HE IS DAD!
I’m thinking Metallica would give it the epic quality it deserves.
Keep in mind that all this time, I had been the good boy. I went to work. I went to the doctor. The doctor told me I should have come in sooner, but I hadn’t because I knew if I had she would have told me not to go to work. That wasn’t an option as the beginning of the year is traditionally one of my busiest times. (Before you grab your pitchforks, yes, I had been fever free for at least 24 hours before going in so as to insure I did not spread the contagion). She then promptly ordered me to go home, take the next day and a half off work (joke’s on her – I got my $h!t done in record time) and “actively rest”.
She told me to rest.
Suffice to say, THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN.
Laundry needed doing. Dishes needed washing. The not-sick child needed to get on the bus. Medicine needed purchasing and dispensing. PB&J sandwiches needed making. Oh, and let’s not forget that the sick child needed ALL 100 GIGANTIC TOY PLAYSETS HIS GRANDPARENTS BOUGHT HIM FOR CHRISTMAS un-boxed for those brief periods when he decided that he could endure the sickness long enough to play with the endless number of damn Paw Patrols and PJ Masks!!
But I digress.
I bring all this up not to paint myself as a hero. History will judge me. No, I bring it up to make a very important point that I want to get across to all those who scoff and mock we men who have been scorched by the fires of influenza:
We’re not sissies!