I have pneumonia.
I know this not because I’ve been to a doctor — that’s scheduled for 10:45 this morning, an appointment set frantically on my smart phone in the wee, dark hours of the morning — but because I have a crackling sound in my breath when I exhale. It’s an evil sound, the aural version of those scary long spidery movie-alien fingers. The crackling creeps out of my throat, echoing in the vast cavern of my mouth, echoing so loud I can’t believe my husband didn’t wake up.
He’s sick now too. He’s the smartest man I know, and yet he refuses to acknowledge his own ability to get sick. He believes pure willpower will prevent him from coming down with any illness that I have. When I’m sick, he persists in drinking from my water bottle — I’ve encouraged him to get his own over the years, but he says he doesn’t need one. You’re right, Tim, you don’t need a water bottle; you have mine! — or finishing my leftover chicken and rice, or kissing me despite my protestations. I have no control over this man. He wears the pants and the boots and the hat and the whole outfit in this family.
So the two of us are headed to a doctor later today. Thanks to ZoomCare, a local innovation I hope spreads across the country, I was able to schedule appointments before the medical office opened, and, if my daughter comes down with this, we may be able to have a video consult instead of taking her out into the scary, virus-infected world. I’m counting the minutes till the appointment, trying not to spray particulate all over everything. In my mother-brain, I am certain I’ve already infected her too, though she shows no signs of it. She does spend most of her time in her room, when she’s not watching hockey with us, so I hope she’s managed to avoid it. But there’s still a niggling doubt, and I avidly watch for signs of infection.
And let’s be fair; Tim and I can handle pneumonia. He’s had it before, and I’m confident in my ability to fight off pretty much anything. But Sophia’s at risk because of her particular physiological makeup; lung infections can be deadly. So I do exactly what I shouldn’t do when it comes to proximity to a person with a compromised immune system; I hover. Instead of keeping my distance, locking myself in my room, I check on her frequently, albeit from more than arm’s length, to make sure she’s not getting the aches/chills/fever/cough I’ve brought into the house.
I did opt out of our planned pillow-fort construction yesterday, to her disappointment. This isn’t a regular event, just something she suggested to help me through my illness. But the thought of being in an even smaller enclosed space with her, breathing the same air and touching the same surfaces makes me want to don a hazmat suit. I can’t stand the idea of her getting sick.
This week we’re expecting temps to rise above 80, possibly even near 90 on Wednesday and Thursday. By then, I’ll be on antibiotics and whatever else the doctor gives us to kill this thing. When the sun comes out, I’ll wrap up in a blanket and sit on the deck in the sunshine and bake it out of me, as my mother had me do when I was so frequently sick as a child. I look forward to having the energy to walk from the bedroom to the living room without needing to rest, to being able to sleep more than two hours at a stretch. To not sounding like a sea lion whenever I cough. To not being a danger to the people I love.
I don’t get sick often, but when I do, I do one helluva job.
Get well, Meg. BTW, you’re a great mom. Also BTW, you’re a great writer. Keep it up! (Both things.)
Thank you, Richard. You’re a good friend.
Ugh – here’s to a quick & full recovery over at your house . . . I’m very much like a combination of you & your husband . . . there is a part of me that refuses to stop, to even think that I might, possibly get sick. But, when I do get sick? It’s always, always a doozy.