Sick Day

I’ve come to the conclusion at the ripe old age of 44 that being sick can cause you to have irrational thoughts. The term “head cold” takes on new meaning when you realize that it’s not just a runny nose, sore throat, and popping ears…it’s a whole new adventure through the Land of Questionable Decisions.

It starts first thing in the morning, when your alarm clock goes off and, through the fog of semi-consciousness you first realize that you’ve been mouth breathing all night long, the Sahara Desert has annexed your tongue, and you wonder if it’s possible to snake a hose from the bathroom sink to your bed with a slow drip because that seems like less effort than getting up and going into the bathroom for a drink.

Then you remember that the alarm is set for a reason: it’s time to be a parent. At this point, you thank the lord almighty that your kid is 12 and self-sufficient in the morning, once you get her out of bed. This is difficult given that the last thing you feel like doing is getting out of bed yourself, but you realize that, unlike her, you can return to the nest and hit snooze for another 15 minutes because your illness means there’s simply no way you are going to be a functioning human being this morning ergo low expectations ergo you can take her to school in your pajamas.

Oh, that’s right. You’re expected to operate heavy machinery, in morning rush-hour traffic, and through the drop-off line. You wonder, “Is 12 too young for Uber?” The thought of having to describe how to navigate the drop-off line to an Uber driver is too exhausting so you get up and pull on what could loosely be described as acceptable garments for public viewing. You tell yourself that if any of the other parents in the drop-off line squint hard enough to see inside your car and can make out the ratty cuffs of your favorite college sweatshirt purchased decades ago, when you were actually in college, they’ll just smile and nod in appreciation because everyone has at least one of those sweatshirts and you’ll be evoking feelings of warm nostalgia rather than judgmental pity.

Of course the car is nearly out of gas and you’ll have to stop to fuel up because there’s no way you’re making it back to the nest with what’s left in the tank. Good thing you changed out of the nighty. You coast into the station on fumes, pat your hair into some semblance of a human shape, and climb out of the car. As the gas is pumping, you realize that, for the first time since yesterday, you can actually smell something, and you consider that the strong smell of gas is an excellent decongestant. You consider taking a huge whiff before you realize that even when you’re sick, the smell of gas isn’t good and you’ll probably kill more brain cells than Wednesday After Hours in college.

Back home, where your laptop and your couch are calling you in equal measure. You split the difference and take the laptop to the couch and sniffle your way through a few emails before giving up and passing out with drool running down your chin because the gas station decongestant has worn off, you’re forced into mouth breathing again, and you never did hook up the hose to the sink.

Lunch time comes around, and you decide to have chicken noodle soup because that’s what good for a cold, until you realize that the only chicken noodle soup you have is in a small box and might as well be called “lightly-flavored chickenish broth with some weensy noodles, MSG, and no nutritional value whatsoever.” You decide you’re okay with that and slurp some down before passing out on the couch again, snuggling with your laptop because that counts as work, right? If you can hear all the beeps of the incoming emails you’re not responding to in your semi-conscious state, you’re staying on top of things.

Then you text your husband and say, “Great news! Even with a head full of snot I have figured out dinner. You are stopping at the little Italian joint in the old photomat and picking up carry out on your way home from retrieving the child from piano lessons.” He says “Okay” and you pass out again, secure in the knowledge that your husband is a smart man who loves you and will get you ravioli even while making you stay 10 feet away because he “has to get on a flight tomorrow and doesn’t need your germs.” Which only proves that he is, indeed, incredibly smart because no one wants to feel like this.

Here’s hoping tomorrow comes with a clearer head, both in terms of snot and decisions. At least I won’t have to hit the gas station.

#blog#daily life#personal essay#writing


  1. Katherine - October 11, 2017 @ 9:46 pm


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