On Monday I came down with this bug. It came with fever, chills, aches and pains and a nice dry cough. Not only was it a dry cough, but a incessant, persistent cough. That was the worst part. Tylenol took care of the rest, but nothing took care of the cough. By Friday I was fed up and knew this wasn’t going to get any better so, after a week of laying in bed, I went to the doctor. He tells me it’s a bacterial infection and gives me a super antibiotic, three pills in three days, I should feel better. Now I want to kick myself for not going sooner. If it had been anyone else in my family who was this sick I would have dragged them to the doctor on Tuesday, but because it was just me, I waited. Big mistake.
As I laid in bed all week I had time to think and feel sorry for myself. My mother would have hovered over me, gotten me my pills, made me something to eat, took my temperature…what did I get all week…“Do you need anything?” from all three of my former patients. Granted they all have jobs and school to go to, so they weren’t home all day, but even when they were home they weren’t very helpful. First of all, I was coughing a lot so that every time I tried to say a sentence it was totally exhausting, as it would active the cough. My husband is an angel and would do anything I ask, problem is, I wasn’t able to much asking. I dragged myself around all day, after the Tylenol kicked in, made myself a piece of toast for breakfast with some coffee so I wouldn’t get a caffeine headache. I haven’t had much to eat all week to be honest. And I wondered, where have these three “patients” of mine been for the last 27 years that they have not learned one thing about how to take care of a sick family member?
I am my mother’s daughter. At the first sign of illness I am on Medic Alert! Start the medicines, get some rest, monitor temperature. I set up a “hospital” bed on the couch. Pillows, blankets, remote control, tissues, trash bag, bottled water all readily available. The thermometer is handy and not used sparingly. If there is a fever I make an appointment for the doctor the next day. Fever almost always requires antibiotics and I like to nip things in the bud. Meanwhile, while I keep track of the pills and bring the Tylenol on schedule, no one has to move an inch unless they have to go to the bathroom. When the fever comes down I am thinking of things they can eat and preparing them something to eat. Straighten out their pillows and blankets while they are up so they will be comfortable when they lie down again. But, what about me?
As I sit here coughing, my body in pain from strained muscles and trying not to crack a rib because I learned I have osteoporosis not long ago, I know how I want to answer that question: Do you need anything? Yes, I do need something. I need a mother. A mother never asks if you need anything, she just knows what you need, even when you don’t. A mother who doesn’t care if you don’t like tea, she will make you drink it. A mother who can’t wait for the Tylenol to work and puts cold compresses on your fevered forehead. A mother whose lips to the forehead can instantaneously pick up on a fever, faster than any thermometer. A mother whose ears can hear the subtle change in your voice 24 hours before you show any cold symptoms. A mother who knows how to intuitively take care of her family, but not herself. That’s what I need.
Thinking back, my mother never got sick much. That’s a good thing too. I don’t remember being much help to her when she was sick. But somehow she taught me all the right things to do to take care of my family and get them back to health as soon as possible. She just didn’t teach me how to take care of myself.