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Tips For Adulthood: FiveThings I Learned From Being Sick

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. For the last four days, I’ve been down for the count.  A horrible stomach virus swept through our...

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

For the last four days, I’ve been down for the count.  A horrible stomach virus swept through our household, claiming first my daughter, then my husband and myself (simultaneously) and then, finally, pulling my son down with us.

Unlike my daughter and my husband, who suffered a shorter, more violent episode of said bug – (and yes, I’ll spare you the gory details) – mine was of a more protracted nature. No vomiting. No extended stays in the bathroom. Instead, intense stomach cramps, chills and a low-grade fever. And an overwhelming sense of fatigue every time I stood up or tried to do anything other than drink Seven Up.

It doesn’t help that I saw Contagion last weekend – which is enough to make you think that every time you cough, you’re about to turn blue and start frothing at the mouth. (Other than that, I’d love to look like Gwyneth Paltrow, thank you very much.)

But I’m slowly emerging from the death throes of this thing. And as I do so, I realize that I learned a few things from this most recent brush with mortality:

1. Your kids are more independent than you realize. I wrote a post not long ago in which I vowed that in this new school year, I would do less for my kids. That resolution was partly driven by my own desire to be less of a control freak (hey, good luck with that!) and partly by the feeling that as they rounded the corner to eight and eleven respectively, my children ought to be taking more responsibility for themselves. And boy, lemme tell ya, there’ s nothing like having not one, but two (!) parents incapacitated to demonstrate what your kids are truly capable of. One day, my daughter (8) made lunch for my son (soon-to-be 11) and volunteered – without being asked – to sew a badge onto his football jersey. Meanwhile, my son, who’s favorite catch-phrase of the moment is “CBB” (which stands for “Can’t be bothered“) was suddenly jumping up to toast his own bread, take his own asthma medicine, get himself to football practice and back and – miraculously! – put himself to bed without listening to the iPod or reading a book. (I really *must* do this more often…)

2. Old movies really do rock. I wrote a post around this time last year when I was similarly afflicted by some hideous bug entitled Five Comfort Activities When You’re Sick. Right up there on that list was watching old movies. And you know what? It’s still there. This year, we cracked open some Sherlock Holmes. As we’d already made our way through all of the early versions of the series starring Basil Rathbone, we began to plumb the depths of the 1980s series starring Jeremy Brett and David Burke. Bliss!

3. Cars seem less of a luxury when you’re ill. Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while will know that I am fairly fervently anti-car, for health, environmental and aesthetic reasons. Nonetheless, I would by lying if I didn’t tell you that I miss driving when I’m ill. Because when you’re sick, there’s something really nice about being able to jump in the car in your PJ’s and zip down to the local corner store to pick up some Saltines (or rich tea biscuits, depending on the continent) and be back at your perch on the couch in five minutes flat. Because, seriously. Having to walk to the corner store when you’re under the weather? CBB, man. CBB.

4.  The homeless are deserving of our sympathies. There was a point, early on in this illness, when I was required to spend about six hours outside when I really wasn’t up to it. My daughter had a dress rehearsal for a play, followed immediately by a dance recital, and there was simply no way that I couldn’t accompany her. So during the two-hour rehearsal, I took myself down into the basement of a local theatre, lay down on a sofa in my gigantic ski parka, clutched my smart phone to my chest, and took a two-hour nap. Throughout the ensuing two hours, workers would periodically shuffle through the room and ask me to switch sofas or gently prod me in one direction or the other so that they could clean up or rearrange chairs. And I realized – in my half-awake, feverish state – that this is what it feels like to be homeless. And I felt – quite sincerely – a newfound sympathy for their plight.

5. I do too much. Period. Remember last week’s Yuletide post about my not-so-relaxed-downhill-slalom-course-into-the-holidays? Nothing like a stomach virus to force you to drop everything and sleep. Overnight, I began missing deadlines, canceling meetings, and turning off the answering machine to avoid the sound of the telephone. And you know what? It felt great. There’s a lesson in here, folks. For me, definitely. And for some of you as well, I suspect.

Happy Holidays. Be Happy. Be Healthy. Be Relaxed.


Sick as a Dog…by Chewy Hooey via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.




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  1. Shelley December 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    Sorry to hear you’ve been ill. Saltine crackers? In Britain? They don’t exist up here in the NE. Probably just as well. I could live on the things. Hope you are better soon!

  2. delialloyd December 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    @shelley. Thanks. No-that was why I ref’d the rich tea biscuits. I’ve been living on them for the past four days. A poor substitute for saltines but needs must, as we say over here…

  3. BigLittleWolf December 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    As always, you make me think. Your point about how fortunate we are to have a home, especially when we’re not feeling well, is well taken.

    Some “something” visited for about a week around here. Fortunately, there was a fridge full of homemade soup to warm up. That and tea – eventually – work wonders.

    (Hope you’re feeling better!)

  4. Naomi J. Williams December 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Seems like the same hideous bug is making the global rounds. Glad you & yours are on the mend, Delia. Wonderful post, as always.

  5. Ali December 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    Great post, Delia. Glad you’re on the mend!

  6. delialloyd December 15, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks everybody! It doesn’t want to seem to completely leave my body (Lord knows why – at this point, there’s very little left of my body) but my GP told me that they had to close the local hospital as it is at full capacity due to this bug, so I guess I should feel lucky. Thanks for all the good wishes and may you all be bug-free in the coming weeks!

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