I often hear people say that men act like babies when they are sick. That is not the case in our house. Matt could be violently ill, he will try to push through and then he wants to be left alone to feel miserable in private. I will push through too, but when I cave to the illness I want to be rubbed, and have homemade soup at exactly the right temperature fed to me, and a bell I can ring when I want to be told that it is unlikely I’ll die from whatever currently ails me.
My poor mother. I used to ask her that too when I was sick. “Do you think I’m going to die?” She never did. Matt never does. Right after New Year’s Day I didn’t feel well. It hit suddenly. At four o’clock I said to Matt, “I think I literally just got sick. I wasn’t sick a minute ago and now I’m sick.” My nose was runny, my head was stuffed, my throat was sore, I was exhausted, and had chills. I thought I’d shake it off by morning. When I hadn’t I went to the doctor, and, after coughing all over her as she tried to stick a Q-tip down my throat, I learned I had strep throat. It’s likely she does now too. I came home, crawled back into bed and after sleeping about five more hours, I turned on my phone and began searching all the ways I could die from strep throat.
Within hours I’d diagnosed myself with scarlet fever (which I actually still think I had) and rheumatic fever. Part of my rationale for the rheumatic fever was that my grandfather had it. So even though it was highly unlike that I would get rheumatic fever living in the U.S. today, it could somehow run in my family. Plus, the always accurate internet said when it does occur in the U.S., it’s normally kids in poorer communities in the northeast during winter and spring when it’s damp and rainy. I met the latter half of those requirements. It was raining outside. Matt suggested I put the phone down, wait twenty-four hours for the antibiotics to work, and if I still thought I was dying tomorrow then I could do more research. Then he made me chicken soup and watered down some cranberry juice just the way I like it (3 parts water, 1 part cranberry) and I fell back to sleep. He’s a keeper.
The next day I called my mom to inform her I was sick. I normally let her know. Once as an adult, I even asked her to take the day off and come nurse me back to health. She did. She’s a keeper too. So I called her to let her know I had strep. Her first words were, “You have to be careful. You know strep can go straight to your heart.” Actually, I did know. I’d spent hours worrying about that very thing the day before. It was her dad that had rheumatic fever. Maybe there was some paranoia passed down genetically.
When I was a kid and living at home, whenever I took a bath, my mom would call to me every ten minutes to make sure I was still alive. When I moved it with Matt, the first time I took a bath, he didn’t check on me at regular intervals. I asked him why not. He asked, “Why would I? What do you think is going to happen in the tub?”
“I could fall asleep and drown.” I informed him. At least that had always been my mom’s concern.
He laughed. “I think you’d wake up. I think you have to be pretty heavily medicated not to wake up if you fall asleep in the tub. Plus you’d have to manage to fit your body, which is longer than the tub down far enough to inhale water.”
I like to believe that my mom gave me a healthy sense of fear, but sometimes, it is possible that I worry too much. As it turns out I didn’t have rheumatic fever, and I also haven’t drowned in the bathtub…yet.
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