When I was sick and lay a-bed, I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay, To keep me happy all the day.
I posted this photo on Instagram the other day. It was captioned, “Cozy bed on the couch, day three." The hashtag -#sickgirl-further defined my condition.
Today could be called cozy bed on the couch, day five. This most persistent of maladies has kept me literally on the couch since Saturday. More disturbing is that this current episode is the third bout of this mess I’ve endured since mid December. The symptoms are old news - cough, body aches, sore throat, headache, congestion, earache, upset stomach. Apparently I’m not the only one whose been going through this revolving door of malaise. According to an informal poll among my Facebook friends, this is rampant.
I realized today how complacent about my good health I’ve become. I was a sickly kid, always on the verge of coming down with something or other, even if that something was mostly in my mother’s overactive and fearful imagination. At the slightest sniffle, she had the thermometer in my mouth and was on the phone to the doctor, scheduling an appointment. (To be fair, I was asthmatic, and had made enough middle of the night trips to the ER for breathing treatments to make any mother wary. And mine was especially so.) Then she’d make me a “cozy bed on the couch,” with my two pillows at my head, my favorite blanket, and a pile of books to keep me company. Just like the child in Stevenson’s famous poem, The Land of Counterpane.
I outgrew the asthma, but most of my adult life I’ve been prone to sinus infections and even a normal head cold invariably ends up as bronchitis or sometimes pneumonia. When I was actively working in schools and exposed to so many different germs, I was sick quite often during the winter. I became pretty adept at powering through it. I recall once accompanying 15 students at a State vocal competition, then playing the second night of a three night run of 42nd Street all while running a temperature of 102 degrees.
The show must go on, and all that.
But I’ve since learned the hard way that rest is a key component in treatment and recovery. So every time I got sick this past month, I have been diligent about stopping in my tracks, staying inside, drinking a lot of fluids - all the things my mother taught me to do when I was firmly entrenched in those long ago bed on the couch days.
Nevertheless, I keep getting sick, and this past week was a doozy. I can’t recall when I’ve felt so completely wiped out. I dragged myself downstairs in the morning only long enough to get some toast and hot water - another mark of the seriousness of this episode? Neither coffee nor wine had any appeal whatsoever - and then I’d be back to my bed on the couch.
As with every gray cloud there are silver linings. Enforced stillness is sometimes good for creatives. In between my fever dreams I’ve actually had some good ideas for things to write about. I’ve read a lot, putting me closer to my goal of reading 100 books this year. My mom has gone full throttle into Mother mode, making dinners, dog sitting, offering mom-like advice in several phone calls during the day. She loves to be needed (and what mother doesn’t?) My dogs have enjoyed spending these sunny winter days romping around in her backyard instead of cooped up in the condo with me.
My poor husband though- not only has he been forced to listen to my coughing, snuffling, moaning and whining, he’s had to look at me in my saggy flannel pajamas, trailing my blanket around like Linus.
And now is not the time to remind me that my word for 2015 was VIBRANT.
Normally I might think that these recurring episodes of sickness are about my body trying to tell me something. But I’ve been taking pretty good care of my body for some time. I eat well, I exercise moderately every day. I don’t overdo my activities anymore, and the things I choose to spend time on are just that - things I’ve chosen which makes a world of difference in how you perceive time spent doing them. My life is pretty stress free these days, which is saying a lot for a woman my age.
So I’m left pondering what the message is here - because I always believe there’s something to learn from every experience, that every small thread of the universe connects us to a larger story within our own lives or in the world around us.
I guess I’ll crawl under that blanket on my cozy bed on the couch and see if something comes to mind.
If you have any ideas, let me know. Just don’t get too close - I might still be contagious.