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Florence Nightingale I Am Not

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Florence Nightingale I Am Not

I was sick a lot as a kid. I was allergic to everything and if I was around something I was allergic to, it would end up in a really bad asthma attack. My mom was the best when I was sick. She would set me up on the couch so I could watch television or if I was really bad, she'd wheel the little television into my room. She'd make me toast or stay up late with me making me tea. This nursing someone back to health gene obviously skipped a generation. I am more of the frame of mind, "If we ignore it, it will go away and if it can't be ignored, then let's go to the doctor, get medicine and deal with it with the least amount of attention or drama to it." All of the kids have had surgery for something or another. The boys have had polyps removed from their sinuses and Isabella has had her urinary tract fixed so that she doesn't have reflux anymore. In those cases, I put aside my own issues with illness and think I was pretty good at nursing them back to health. I can be very sympathetic to children that don't feel well when they don't fight me on taking their medicine, don't fight me on doing treatments and don't fight me on taking it easy and going to sleep early to get their rest. When they fight me, all sympathy flies out the window. One conversation that particularly wears on my nerves is this one:

Child: Do I have to go to school tomorrow?
Me: If you have no fever and you get a good night's sleep, you should probably go to school tomorrow.
Child in a very whiny voice: I don't waaannna go to schoooool tomorrooooow. What if I don't feeeeeel gooooood? I can't even taaaaalk. How am I supposed to learn?
Me: Why don't you try and go and if you feel bad, you can call me and I'll come get you.
Child: Oh my God, Mom! If I call you, you'll kill me!
Me: Yes, because I killed my last child that called me from school.
Child: You know what I mean. You'll get mad if you have to wake Gia up to come get me (I wouldn't like it but obviously I would do it.)
Me: I won't get mad. If you feel that bad, stay home.
Child:I can't stay home! I have ______ tomorrow and I can't miss it (you can fill in the blank with a test, a project, a group thing...with anything really).
Me: So you are going to try and go to school tomorrow if you don't have a fever?
Child who now starts to cry: I caaaaan't.

I calmly walk away because this conversation happens every time one of them is not feeling well and I have hit empty on the patience meter.

I especially have no patience for Leo when he is sick. I have never met a man that is more of a baby when he gets sick. I know all men are babies (Sorry, men that are reading this. I am sure you are the exception) but he really does take the cake. He is sick right now and I'll give you just a little sample of what he is like:

Leo leaving for work yesterday: I’m not well. I don’t think I am going to make it.

I admit I ignored him. I didn’t talk to him all day. Isabella came home from school looking and feeling like she was sick. I texted him that he had to take her to Urgent Care because our doctor was gone for the day. He texted me back that he was not doing well. I told him that it was a good thing he was going to the doctor. When Leo walked in the house, he had a frown on his face like he was in pain.

Leo: Feel my head. I think I have a fever.
Me feeling his head: You are cool. You don’t have a fever.
Leo: It’s like 99 and you know adults have no tolerance for any kind of fever (he says this EVERY time he doesn’t feel good. When the kids have a fever of 102, he’ll say, “If that was us, we’d be dead. We’d never be able to stand it”).
Me: I know. You’ve told me that 100 times.
Leo: My knees are buckling with this fever. I don't think I am going to make it tomorrow.
Me: What is tomorrow?
Leo: Work.
Oh, Geez. C’mon he wasn’t even warm. They went to the doctor and without testing either of them, they decided to treat Leo for strep throat because the kids had it ten days ago and they’ve extended Belle’s antibiotics but apparently there was no mention of her cough. She came home crying because she has to take the medicine for ten more days and then instead of taking the medicine, cried that she didn't feel good. Leo asked me to carry him up the stairs since he was so weak with his 99.6 fever. He went upstairs while I cleaned up the kitchen. I went upstairs to find him in the bed wearing every piece of Rams sportswear and wrapped in the comforter.

Leo: I'm finally warm. Three Advil and nothing. I am not doing well.
Me: Sorry to hear that. Maybe you should go to sleep and you'll feel better in the morning.
Leo:I can't sleep with this fever. Maybe you can go get me some orange juice.
Me: We don't have orange juice.
Leo making some sound that sounds like a cross between a goose and a cat with a hair ball: Belle said we did.
Me hating that sound: We have Sunny Delight.
Leo: Well, that won't work.
Me: You know what might? Sleep.

After that there were a couple more hairballs and a few moans when he shifted positions. Then there were a few mumbles of "I am not doing well" and a promise of "wait until this fever breaks and I start to sweat" and I can't forget the enormous sighs telling me he wasn't happy that I was still watching television at 10:00pm.

I know as a mom I should be better at this stuff and I am big enough to admit that I am not and I know it stems from fear. I don't like when my kids are sick so I want them to get over whatever ails them as soon as possible so things return back to normal. I think before CF came into our lives, I was better but now, knowing something more serious or worse than strep or the flu lurks and I just want to keep it all away. There is a fear when the boys get sick that I won't know how to help them or that it will lead into somethng worse so any sign of illness has me in "let's take care of it and move on" mode.

Not that the hairballs in the throat or the constant coughing that he has done since we were juniors in college isn't attractive, but with Leo, it is unsettling to see him weak. I know that isn't fair and he is human but he is so strong and the rock of this family so when I see him crumble faster than a cookie, it again puts me into the mode of "don't complain, take the medicine they gave you, suck it up and move on." Maybe there is a little resentment because I can never not feel good. Even if I don't, and I tell Leo, he immediately does the goose/hairball thing and says, "I know. I am not feeling well either." If he is sick enough to miss work, he'll stay in bed all day sleeping it off. In the last 13 years, I think I have done that once. When the mom is sick, it just does not matter. She is still expected to do everything she always does. The only difference or at least with me, is that she feels like crap doing it, so she is crabby and miserable. I usually load up on Advil or some other over the counter medicine (because who has time to go to the doctor)and go about the million things I have to do that day because no one is taking care of Mom when she is sick so if she doesn't do it, it won't get done.

P.S. In case you were wondering, Belle is staying home today because I told her she needs to learn how to cough without throwing up and she is now sitting on the stairs crying that she can't go by Gia and that she doesn't know what to eat because she doesn't know what sick people eat. Leo is still sleeping. Ugghhh...going to be a long day.


At March 9, 2011 at 6:53 PM , Blogger Cindy said...

After a post like that, you need a big hug!

At March 9, 2011 at 7:12 PM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I will take that hug (on March 22nd). :)

At March 11, 2011 at 8:15 AM , Blogger Maria said...

Oh, this is all so true. When Jerry was on chemo and radiation and taking painkillers, which made his usually pleasant personality much worse, we had a huge fight and for the first time in our married life he slept on the couch. Boy, did I feel guilty. Or when Samantha was in the hospital after breaking her leg and crying in pain I had to yell at her so she would comply and do things the doctors and the nurses tell her to do. Sometimes I don't know the right way to handle things and I try to forgive myself.

At March 11, 2011 at 11:08 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

I'm so glad that nightmare with Jerry is behind you guys. I guess we can both forgive ourselves knowing we are not alone!

At March 11, 2011 at 1:27 PM , Blogger Jerry said...

HEY! whats with that crack about my usually pleasant personality? I'm Mr. Sunshine here!

At March 12, 2011 at 8:03 AM , Blogger AnnMarie said...

Aw...Jerry! Are you reading, too?


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