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Sick Ward

My husband, Dave, came home from work tonight and announced that he was getting sick. This sent shock waves through me as I envisioned the misery of the next few days. Like soldiers on the front lines, the illness will strike us down one by one, unsatisfied until it has vanquished all of us.

After a sleepless night of lying awake as my husband tosses and turns miserably, I’ll get out of bed to discover that my son, David, has snot pouring out his nose, a warm forehead and a very cranky disposition. My husband will have to go to work and cope alone, but perhaps he is the more fortunate one. I will endure a day with a sick toddler. I will try to force medicine down my son’s throat. Already in a bad mood, this will make him all the more insolent. The snot will drip and run, but he will not let me to wipe it off. It will form a crust, and I will have to scrub the snot off as he screams like I’m pulling out his toenails. The staying power of kid mucus is quite remarkable. I have considered contacting NASA and telling them they should test its uses as a space-age adhesive.

David will not eat when he is sick, which is a problem when the medicine says, “eat before taking.” Do these people have any experience with sick children? I will let him eat cookies, the one thing he always feels well enough to munch, just so I can dose him with Children’s Tylenol. Then the sugar high and subsequent crash will only add to his bad disposition.

David will not sleep when he is sick either. Why is there not Children’s Tylenol PM? When he’s sick he wants only to be held and watch “Choo-Choo Train”, what he calls The Polar Express, a movie that was forever ruined for me after viewing it for the 657th time on a hazy 98 degree day in July when the Christmas spirit was nowhere to be found.

My husband will come home from work sicker than the day before, and in no condition to help me. The dishes and laundry will begin to pile up, and we will eat whatever dinner I can manage to rustle up holding a 36 pound toddler on my hip. David’s bedtime will come and he will cry and not lay in his bed. I’ll end up holding him on the couch late into the night as the Sprout Network airs an all-night Bob-the-Builder marathon. Before my son was born I always wondered why they had children’s programming on at 2 a.m. when they should all be asleep. Now I know.  He will finally fall into an exhausted and restless sleep.

Just as I does off David will be up at first light when my husband rises for work. Refreshed after a long NyQuil induced slumber Dave will tell me he feels much better. My son however will take longer to recover from the illness, and I will face another day of the sick toddler blues. As my husband leaves for work I will notice the beginnings of a headache and a scratchy throat. As the morning progresses I will feel worse until I know that I will soon be taken down by this illness too. 

In a last ditch effort I will call the doctor who will tell me there is no reason to bring him in because it’s just a cold and there is nothing she can do. “But he isn’t sleeping,” I will plead, meaning really that I am not sleeping and I am desperate for a nap. The doctor will say that its normal, but bring him if I must. I will drag the two of us to the doctor’s office, both looking like we are about to breathe our last, and the doctor will repeat that she can not do anything for David. In my head I’m pleading with her, “What about me? What can you do for the sick and exhausted mother? Isn’t there anything?”

My son and I will go home, worn out from our fruitless outing, and camp out in the living-room sneezing and sniffling, sharing our suffering. The only thing that will get me through the afternoon is the thought the my husband, who is feeling better, will soon be home to take over.

My hopes will quickly fade when Dave walks in the door looking much worse than when he left. Apparently once the affects of the NyQuil wore off, the happy feelings went with it. We will spend a few more miserable days and nights as sick, sicker and sickest. My husband and I will argue several times over this. Who is the sickest and what is worse, staying home sick and caring for a sick toddler or going to work sick? This will never be resolved.

Some days from now the fog will begin to lift. First, Dave will feel better and he will finally be able to help care for David and I. Then my strength will return, and dishes and laundry will finally get washed. Lastly, David will comeback to his normal self, terrorizing our dogs and flattening my furniture.

We will enjoy our state of healthy bliss until a few weeks from now when I notice one afternoon that the snot has again begun to flow from David’s nose…

(For those who may be confused my husband and son are both named David. We differentiate between them by calling my husband Dave and my son David. That way they know which one of them I am yelling at this time.)

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