IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH

I recently had what can only be described as a terrifying near-death experience.

Thankfully, as I write this, I am in the final stages of a recovery that is so miraculous I’m shocked it’s not being covered by the local news.

Over the last seven days, I have waged a heroic struggle with a host of dangerous symptoms that were beyond intolerable. Apparently, my immune system was compromised by some type of superbug that proved to be stubbornly resistant to my nonstop whining and complaining.

Allow me to give you the grisly breakdown of how this near-tragedy unfolded.

DAY ONE:  I was gripped with delirium as fever raced through my ravaged body, and the thermometer readings spiked at almost ninety-nine degrees. (At one point, I think I had a conversation with Jimi Hendrix.)

DAY TWO: I was laid low by a deep powerful hacking cough that my wife couldn’t help but notice. (“Please stop clearing your throat. It’s annoying.”)

DAY THREE: I developed a scratchy throat that required me to consume pint after pint of Fudgy Pistachio Crunch ice cream in a desperate attempt to soothe the rawness. (It was worth the ten pounds I gained.)

DAY FOUR: I began to suffer from horrendous sneezing attacks. (At least three sneezes a day, but with the size of my nose that’s three too many.)

DAY FIVE: I was plagued with sinus drainage that resembled an open fire hydrant. (Colorful descriptions are the lifeblood of creative writing.)

DAY SIX: Both of my ears became hopelessly stopped up. (On the plus side, I couldn’t hear my wife’s usual pronouncement that all I was really suffering from was hypochondria.)

DAY SEVEN: Tired of seeing a grown man with ice cream dripping from his beard, the love of my life finally put her foot down, and I suddenly made an amazing recovery which will, no doubt, be studied in medical literature for decades to come.

But before I was able to return to the land of the living, all of these brutal afflictions combined to make me absolutely miserable. I was left feeling weak and despondent. It was evident to anyone who cared that I was knocking on death’s door.

However, my wife arrived at a slightly different diagnosis. She chose to describe my horrific symptoms as a case of the sniffles.

Obviously, she was not able to appreciate the true depth of my suffering.

Oh, sure, I’ve had other close calls with my health, including a nasty toenail fungus that got me banned from the community pool, but this time was different. This time my suffering was palpable.

For days, I lingered between this world and the next, and it remained a coin toss whether or not I would recover without debilitating long-term effects.

Thank goodness I had the internal fortitude to continue my struggle against overwhelming odds, but it was exhausting. I was left with just enough strength to use the TV remote so I could at least occupy my fevered mind as the battle raged within my delicate frame.

Day after day, I stared into the face of the grim reaper without flinching. Yes, I admit there was some occasional whimpering, but, in my opinion, I was a brave little soldier. However, my bride did not agree with that characterization, and I must say that her bedside manner left a lot to be desired.

Although she is a patient woman, for some unexplainable reason, (I don’t think I will ever know why) my wife eventually grew weary of me laying on the couch stuffing myself with my favorite frozen treat.

On the seventh day of my medical crisis, she strolled into the living room and, in a tone of voice that was completely devoid of sympathy, had the nerve to ask, “Well, cowboy – when are you going to be able to saddle up and start helping me around the house?”

I could not believe she would dare to ask such an insensitive question. I wanted to protest, but I couldn’t because I had a large mouthful of Fudgy Crunch.

My wife’s insensitivity continued. “Let me ask you a question, Michael……Can you remember a single instance during our forty-six-year marriage where I laid on the couch and ate ice cream for days just because I had a cold?”

Obviously, this was a trick question! She was cleverly trying to take advantage of my confused mental state which was exacerbated by the bone-shaking chills I was experiencing at that particular moment. (I had accidentally dropped a spoonful of Fudgy Crunch down my pajamas.)

But I really didn’t need to respond because we both already knew the answer to her question.

Strangely enough, whenever my wife got a cold, her routine didn’t change at all. She would still go to work, and then she would come home and perform countless chores around the house while still managing to be a wonderful wife and mother. There was no discernible drop-off in her energy level. Therefore, I always found her behavior completely bewildering.

In stark contrast, each time I get sick, I am certain that I’m about to be cut down in the prime of life. (Well, I admit I’m no longer in the prime of life. At my age, it’s more like the twilight of life. But I still want to stay on the right of the grass for as long as possible.)

However, my thoughts of doom and gloom are out of my control. I am, unfortunately, the prisoner of an overactive imagination. When you combine that with the fact that I’m also a hardcore pessimist, it makes it easy to get caught up in troubling scenarios.

Because of the brutal severity of this particular illness, I became convinced that my life hung in the balance. As I laid lifelessly on the couch, I could not help but contemplate my mortality which eventually led me to consider the fascinating concept of eternity.

In between spoonfuls of ice cream, it suddenly occurred to me that if eternity has no end – that means it never began. (Think about it.)

Then, after a couple of more bites, I actually had an epiphany. We are always exactly in the middle of eternity. (Profound, right?)

Stunned by the depth of these revelations, I felt compelled to share them with my spouse. I wanted to let my lovely bride know that I was putting all of my “downtime” on the couch to good use. So, the next time my she came in the room, I tried to enlighten her with my newly acquired cosmic wisdom, but, apparently, my cogent thoughts on the elusive meaning of “forever” were too deep for her to consider at that particular moment. Oh, well. That was her loss.

Instead of engaging in a thoughtful conversation about our place in the universe, she chose instead to directly address the subject of my delicate health in her usual no-nonsense manner. “All right, the ice cream party is over. It’s time to get off the couch and give the dog a bath.”

This time I did protest. “Hey! In sickness and health, remember? This is what you signed up for.”

My wife stared at me for a moment, and then in a voice filled with frustration, she said, “Men are such babies!”

No argument here.

Although I rarely agree with my wife on anything, in this case, she hit the nail on the head. I guess that explains why she and I handle the common cold in slightly different ways. My bride basically ignores her discomfort. She just pushes through it. She toughs it out, and she doesn’t let it hold her back.

While I, on the other hand, prefer to make out a will. 

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