Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted to my blog in ages. It’s not because I didn’t want to, believe me! I’ve been sick for a whole week. For me, that is way too long to be sick. I’ve been very fortunate not to get sick very often in my life. But this time, it was a doozie. Since I haven’t spent much time being sick in my life, I don’t really handle it well. When things get ugly, and hang on, I start to freak out a bit. I waffle between thinking Oh, it will be gone in a day, I’ll be fine, and I’m sure I’m dying of unimaginable complications…if only she had gone to a doctor. Meanwhile, I can’t make a sound decision on what over the counter meds or holistic remedies to try. Mucus-induced OCD. And I become a bit irritated at how hard it is to be sick as an adult, as opposed to being sick as a kid.
When I was a kid, my mom had a rule about being sick. If you were sick enough to stay home from school, you’d better have a fever, and you probably ended up going to the doctor, who nine times out of ten gave you a big fat shot of penicillin in your butt, no questions asked. I hated shots. Still do. REALLY hated them. Screaming bloody murder hated them. So, I would avoid going to the doctor at all costs. But I also have good memories of being sick, with mom taking care of me. She would set me up on the sofa, with my blankie, where I could nap or watch tv. She would make me weak tea with lots of sugar, and cut up orange wedges for me. Back then, the main home medication was aspirin. I remember when I switched from children’s aspirin, which tasted great, to adult aspirin. Mom would dissolve an aspirin in some water in a teaspoon, and let me swallow it down that way. I actually didn’t mind the taste of adult aspirin, and quickly learned to swallow them whole as I got older. I also remember Vicks Vapo Rub, Sucrets and nose drops. The nose drops came from the doctor, with a glass dropper. Worked like a charm, but burned the back of your throat when they went down. The Sucrets tasted like crap, but seemed so special because they came in that cool tin. And if you got the take-home liquid penicillin, it was usually cherry or orange flavored, and had a weird after taste. Probably full of dyes and such, too, and not really so good for you. Being sick back then meant being taken care of, comfort, and even a little privilege.
Being sick as an adult sucks. Especially if you live alone. My friends have been great about rallying round when I’m down and out, and offering food, grocery trips, pet help, etc., which is really great. But when you’re truly sick and miserable, you can’t even make it to the door to accept this help, and sometimes you just don’t want to see anyone. When you’re your own caregiver, you quickly realize that if you want to eat, you’d better get up and cook something. You still have responsibilities…work (calling in sick, or going in if you must), garbage pick-up day, feeding the pets, and the litter box cleaning must go on! No one is going to dissolve your aspirin in a teaspoon or tuck you in on the sofa with your blankie. If there’s any pampering to be done, it will be self-administered, which just isn’t the same.
And then there’s the medication scene. Have you been in the health care aisle at the store recently? We’ve come a long way from aspirin, Vicks, and Sucrets. Now, you have your pain relief meds, cough suppressants, expectorants, antihistamines, decongestants, fever reducers, and endless combinations of remedies. Then you have various brands of each, as well as the “store brand”, which is usually the same stuff, for a lot less change. Then you have to consider if you have high blood pressure, or are taking certain meds that might not play nicely with these remedies. Or if you have stomach issues, heart problems, poor circulation, diabetes, or allergies. Here you are, sick as a dog, dressed in whatever you could strap on in your fever-weakened condition, not wanting to be there long enough to run into anyone you know, and you have to make this decision. Your head is already foggy with fever and lack of sleep.
So, you either buy way too many things, or not enough things. You get home, and discover that you have purchased two medications that cancel each other out, or can’t be taken together. If you’re like me, you arm yourself with everything, and go nuts choosing which to take, and when it’s time to switch to another tactic. Then you have the chemical vs. natural debate in your head. Am I killing myself with these drugs? Isn’t there a natural way to feel better? Maybe I should stop ALL meds, and see what happens. Then you get on the internet (NO!) and start self-diagnosing, and discovering all of the horrible things that could happen to you should your common cold go unchecked, or you take the wrong medication. And throughout all of this, there’s that nagging whine in your head…I don’t WANT to be sick! I want mom to take care of me!