21 March 2015

Reflections From the Sick Bed - I Remember Mama...

This has been a lousy week. Dr. Dewey Bridger warned me that I was cooking a batch of bronchitis but I was so sure I knew better and disregarded his good advice and, while I did get his prescriptions filled, I brought them home and left them unopened for four days. I was sure it was just a rising pollen count and seasonal allergies and I'd just save that antibiotic and super cough syrup for a future date when I was REALLY sick. I saw Dr. B on Thursday, 12 March. By Monday night 16 March, I discovered I was REALLY sick. I can just imagine him shaking his head and rolling his eyes - he's taken care of me for fifteen years and I'm sure he'd not find this surprising at all. I really wish I'd listened to him and these past four days, I've paid for it. Lesson learned? Probably not. 

I've spent most of this week pushing fluids, heating up canned soup and engaging in saline nasal rinses, gargles and lots of Vicks Vaporub - it's been a carnival ride. I didn't have time to come down with this mess because my daughter, son in law and twin granddaughters were scheduled to visit this week and I had carpets to steam, dust to chase, linens to wash and order to restore in high anticipation. When my fever set in Monday Night, I collapsed in bed, but it was a really clean bed and the upstairs of my home has never looked more put together. I decided to spend Tuesday resting since most of the work was taken care of and I was sure I'd be fit as a fiddle by their anticipated arrival on Friday. 

I woke up Wednesday and felt like I'd been knocked down by a wrecking ball (sans Miley Cyrus) but I had a hair appointment and sick or not, I had to have my mop modified so I would at least be able to see - my bangs had grown halfway down my face. I looked more like an Old English Sheepdog. 

On the way to the salon my daughter called to say their flight had been canceled and that she would text me when she knew more about the change in their schedule. Chilling, coughing and shivering through my haircut, I received a text that requested I call her after I was finished; plans had been changed - they could get a flight the next day but it would be routed through Boston, rather than the direct flight they had booked. A connecting flight through a city expecting yet another snowstorm with five month old twins. Ummmmmm, not an inviting prospect. My daughter and her husband decided to put the trip off until Easter week and while I was deeply disappointed at having to wait a few more days to see them, my body begged and pleaded with me to FINALLY get in bed. I finally gave in. My biggest fear was that I would convey my illness to the kids and due to some debris on a runway at JFK airport, I was given a reprieve to recover and I was so grateful because I want to be well and on top of my game when the kids arrive. 

Armed with a 750 ml water bottle, a huge glass of iced tea, a steaming mug of lemon/ginger tea, my cache of antibiotics and bottle of cough syrup, I wearily trudged up the stairs and took to my bed. Except for running downstairs to refill my liquids, make coffee for my parents and see that their meals were prepped (and a quick trip to Smithfields and CVS), I haven't really left my room. For me, that's pretty much unheard of because I can't stand being still but this bronchitis has (literally) sucked the air right out of me. 

I haven't been completely alone, thanks to the faithful loving companionship and concern of Sailor and Cleo. They haven't left my side or my bed. I'm grateful to both of them - once again my "rescue dogs" are rescuing me. 

I've managed to take care of the essentials in terms of taking care of my parents - they haven't missed any doses of meds, pots of coffee or meals, even though they've been eating takeout this past week - it's the best I could do. The funny thing is that each time my Mom has seen me, she says the same thing, "Are you catching a cold? You don't look well.". And for the 78th time I've reported that yes, I went to the doctor last week and I have bronchitis. She remembers this for maybe two minutes. Thursday Night I was summoned downstairs three different times because my Mom had told my Dad she hadn't seen me all day. She had seen me as I delivered meals, meds and checked on her when I'd run downstairs to replenish my fluids or heat up a can of soup, and when I'd walk into her room I'd remind her and then she'd laugh and say, "Oh yes, you, yes, I've seen you...", leaving me to wonder who in the heck she expected to see.

I Remember Mama. Really, I do. I mean, I know she's still here with me physically, but so much of her is already gone. 

I must confess, it's not fun being sick alone. My mother ruined me a long time ago. When I was growing up my mother turned illness into an occasion of care and nurturing and attention that made room service at the Ritz look lackluster and shabby. She'd prepare trays filled with homemade soup or her famous chicken and dumplings and she was always bringing in pots of hot tea. Mom would plump pillows, arrange blankets and run warm baths and to be honest, it was a lot of fun to be sick around Maxine Sturgill Cook. She was so amazing, creative and tireless. In fact, she was so good at it that in elementary school I would often fake illness and request an audience with the nurse so that my Mom would be summoned to come pick me up and lavish me with all of her great attention and treats. She eventually caught onto my scam, but I freely admit that I was never too sad to catch a cold or sore throat. Even if it meant a visit to the doctor, it was worth a little poking and prodding it if it meant I'd get my Mom's five star treatment. 

All of those memories flooded back to me this week and oh my goodness how they made me smile and brought no small measure of tears to my eyes. My Mom was great at a lot of things, but she excelled at spoiling both my Dad and me. 

"Are you catching a cold?" my Mom asked me so many times this week. Yeah Mom, I feel like crap. I need some of your hot soup, your perfect cups of tea, your hot oatmeal, your fried chicken, your mashed potatoes and hot rolls and could you arrange my bed like you used to and fluff the pillows as only you know how and if it's not too much trouble, could I have some ice cream and don't you think you should set up the vaporizer? God, I miss you Mom. I miss you so much it hurts but thank you for all those years you took such great care of me. While age has taken away your ability to do all those things you used to manage with such warmth and love, it can't tarnish my memories and how lucky am I to have those?

What I wouldn't do for another plate of your chicken and dumplings.

I love you, Mom.