Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thirteen Illnesses or Injuries I've Had, and Why I Remember Them

Thirteen Things about mom huebert

I've been thinking a lot about being sick, since pretty much all I've done for three days is cough, and try to get just the absolute minimum done around here-- like feed the starving wolves my family-- and I got to reminiscing about other times in my life when I've been sick.

1. Chicken Pox. I was in kindergarten. I remember seeing a lot of red bumps on my tummy when I dressed myself for school, but didn't think much of it. That night as my mom was helping me get ready for bed, she said, "What's this?" I told her that had been there a while already. She sort of freaked out....

2. Mumps. I was in second grade. I remember having a very sore throat. I stayed in bed for days, playing a block game. (The commercials for it had a guy saying "Soma Do, Soma Don't") I got pretty good at it. My dad brought me a plastic flower arrangement which I treasured for years, since it was so unlike him to be thoughtful like that. My teacher brought me a book-- Magic Elizabeth, which remains one of my favorites from childhood.

3. A Bad Cold. I was in junior high. Somebody should have sent me home. In class after class I blew my nose constantly, ending each period with a desk piled high with snotty kleenexes. I shudder now, wondering how many people I infected!

4. A Case of Flu. I was in junior high again. I remember feeling tired and nauseous, and putting my head down on the desk in Spanish class. The teacher asked me if I were sick, or just tired. In a misguided attempt to be brave, or something, I told her I was just tired. She said nothing more, but I don't know why I didn't tell her the truth so she could have helped me.

5. Another Case of Flu. I was in high school. It was Friday, and the day of my big Chemistry test. I felt bad all day. I didn't stay home because I thought I'd feel better once I was up and about, and also, I knew I had a test to take. By the time Chemistry class rolled around-- I think it was my second-to-last of the day-- I was miserable. I could hardly hold my head up, fighting fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and nausea. However, I somehow felt is was my sacred duty to nobly carry on. I remember riding the bus home, and having to sit in the back, which was extremely jouncy, and fighting the urge to vomit the entire journey. When I finally reached home I walked in the door and burst into tears. Unexpectedly, my parents immediately began scolding and yelling: "What's wrong with you? Why do you act that way? If you feel that bad why don't you just go to bed?" Gee, thanks. Later, when they figured out I was sick, they were nice to me, even making a special trip to the store to buy me 7-Up. I spent the next twenty-four hours in bed, doing what you do when you have the flu, and was fine by the time school started again on Monday. When my test came back, I had flunked. I talked to the teacher and told him how sick I had been the day of the test, and asked if I could re-take it, but he showed no mercy. He said I should have told him how sick I was BEFORE I took the test. I'm sure he thought I was just making excuses. Oh well. But I learned that, contrary to what I must have always thought, nobody was paying me to be a martyr.

6. Yet Another Case of Flu. I was in high school, a year after the last bout. I felt so-so in the morning, and as the day went on I felt worse and worse. I remembered what I'd learned the year before and called my mom at home, telling her I needed to go home. It sent her into a tailspin, as I knew it would, but I kept insisting, and finally she arranged to go shopping with a friend (my mom didn't, and still doesn't, know how to drive) and pick me up on the way. I laid in the back seat of the car during their excursion. This is memorable, because it's the first time I decided for myself that I was sick, and took steps to help myself.

7. An Injury. I was in high school. One day walking home from the school bus stop, I saw a group of boys playing. When they saw me they started yelling at me and throwing things at me. One of the things they threw was a glass bottle that smashed on the sidewalk just behind me. A piece of glass flew up and cut my right ankle and nipped the tendon. I limped, crying, to the neighbor's house, who was a nurse and she helped me to the emergency room. I ended up on crutches for several weeks. On the positive side, I got to ride the school elevator instead of taking the stairs, which was sort of nice in our three-story building. It was about five years before that ankle stopped twinging.

8. A Minor Injury. One year in my teens I was helping at a camp. The first evening there I stepped up on the edge of a bottom bunk to help a girl with something on the top bunk. When I stepped back down, I came down with all my weight on someone's suitcase latch and ripped my foot open. I think I only remember this because of the special treatment I got. For the rest of the week I had to go to the dining hall after lights out and soak my foot in epsom salts, and while I sat there, one of the camp directors sat with me chatting companionably and offering mild comments of wisdom. At that insecure time of my life, I really appreciated the care and attention.

9. Laryngitis. This was ongoing. That is, I seemed to lose my voice every winter for a while. I remember my choir director at church being very frustrated with me, when I had to bow out of a solo part in a special program for the second or third year in a row because of it. Believe me, I was frustrated too! Especially when everyone began to accuse me of having a psychosomatic illness; you know, making it up, or getting sick out of nervousness, or just trying to get attention. (In later years, I decided that I had been over-working my voice at rehearsals, and when I came down with the inevitable winter virus, it attacked my weakest point-- my voice.)

10. Ear Infection. I was in high school. I don't know how long my ears had been hurting, but I remember coming home from school one day and fainting on the porch. And then sitting, hurting, unable to stop the tears running down my face. The doctor put me on Tylenol with codeine. That's when I discovered I don't do well on narcotics. I didn't sleep well, and had delusions most of the night about things like dying before morning, that my mom was really an alien in disguise; you know, fun stuff like that. (P.S. I've never taken codeine since. Would you?)

11. Bad Cough. Once, when our kids were young (I think we had only two then), I came down with whatever cold/respiratory thing was going around, and it turned into a constant hacking cough. I would have what I've heard termed "paroxysms" of coughing for minutes on end, with little break between, till I was afraid I'd pass out from lack of oxygen. This went on for several days. I couldn't do anything, literally, except cough. Miserable. I remember Hubby doing his best to cover for me. The kids tell me they had pancakes for three days straight! They still remember!

12. Bad Flu. Later on, I came down with some sort of influenza that made me so weak that not only was I unable to get out of bed, I couldn't lift a spoon to feed myself. In fact, I was too weak to chew. I still remember Hubby trying hard to feed me. He was sweet. I think that illness did something to my heart, because since then if I get sick with any kind of flu my heart pounds strangely and goes off beat.

13. Family Flu. This happened when our children were very young. We had three then, meaning DrummerDude would have been just a toddler. The entire family came down with that season's flu fad. All five of us camped out on the living room floor for the duration. Hubby and I took turns crawling around with-- for lack of a better term-- a puke bowl, for whoever needed it; that is, when we didn't need it ourselves. I remember thinking about one of the "Little House" books, where the whole Ingalls family comes down with something (was it malaria?), along with the whole settlement. I wondered what would happen to us if Hubby or I became even more incapacitated than we already were. Who would take care of the one-year-old, the five-year-old, and the seven-year-old? Who would take care of US? Fortunately, as you see, we all survived.

There are my most memorable memories of being sick.

(If my mother were here, most likely she would say, "Don't you remember such-and-such a time, when you were sick with such-and-such?!" Well, no, I guess I don't. That would be one of HER most memorable memories of when I was sick. )

Looking it all over I come to this conclusion: Only thirteen memorable sicknesses over a lifetime of forty-some years is not bad. There were many more illnesses that were not memorable, and that's a blessing too. They are hardly even a blip in my history. If you're going to be sick, that's the way, huh?

I also noticed that my worst most memorable sicknesses are in the fairly distant past. For example, the most recent one, number 12, happened about fourteen years ago. There were other times, like when I lost my voice for a week, and the kids learned to respond to a whisper the same as to a stern voice. (Too bad that didn't continue after I got well!) But I don't really remember the illness itself. So I can be thankful I haven't been sick very badly, or very often, and not recently.

All that to say, in reference to how I feel today: "This too shall pass"; and I probably won't even remember it later!

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Damozel said...

Ugh, you reminded me of some very uncomfortable days out of my life. I guess it's good because it reminds me of just how important health is and how hard life is for people who are ill all the time.

I always seemed to have childhood illnesses such as mumps when my family was headed off for vacation.

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carrie said...

Oh dear!!! I remember a couple times being THAT sick in school too!!!

I did Thursday Thirteen as well...if you'd like to check out my blog!!!

Lulu said...

Cough, cough! I think I'm feeling sick...

That's an interesting list you got there. I'm in awe that you can remember all of those times. I seem to wipe those types of things from my memory...

mom huebert said...

Lulu-- Well, I guess I only remembered those particular times I was sick because of something memorable attached to them, like flunking my chemistry test. I don't think I'm especially fond of remembering being sick!