Joe was sick last week. It started innocently, waking up with a sore throat in Ohio, but was surely made worse by the germ spilling stink bomb that sat next to him on the plane ride home (don’t get the wrong idea, we weren’t sitting together). His severe congestion and pounding headache didn’t divert him from his daily routine—every morning he ate the same breakfast, did the dishes, then sat down at his desk to work, while I frowned nearby. He patiently refused my many nutritious offerings, and skillfully ignored every suggestion I sent his way, which were plentiful.
Joe, you should rest.
Joe, why don’t you lay down?
Joe, perhaps a nap would be nice.
Sensing my tips for survival weren’t getting through I quickly turned to frantic commands
Joseph! Do not get out of that bed!
I’ll give you something to be sick about.
And finally resignation
Did no one ever teach you how to be sick?
Then, last Friday, as Joe was chasing away the remains of his illness, I came down with a nasty fever. I didn’t linger on my severe discomfort, nor did I speak frequently and wistfully about death (Joe’s method), rather, I took it as a teaching moment. When Joe asked me what I wanted, I guiltlessly sent him to the store—1 item at a time. If he told me he would make his own milkshake, even though I was already making one for myself, I didn’t argue. Instead, I blissfully slurped mine down while he tentatively contemplated the immersion blender. And when he told me to stay in bed, I offered no protest but relished in the countless hours of TV and movies I would get to watch. And every time I did what he told me to do (which was every time he told me to do something) I followed my “okay Joe” with “look at how good of sick person I am, you should follow my example.” Generally, Joe would thank me for being such a good example, but I can hardly take that as a sign that he learned anything.
This give and take lasted until Sunday night, when Joe announced that I had to take drugs or neither one of us would be able to sleep. My one-man boycott against the pharmaceutical industry had so far made it easy not to take anything, but when Joe used his stern voice I knew there was no hope of that boycott continuing. He went back to the store and came home with a bag full of almost every sleep-inducing product Walgreens has for sale. Interestingly, after swallowing the two huge green NyQuil pills, we both experienced a good night’s sleep, and I woke up the next day feeling much better. Now, the only lingering symptom is a lack of steady voice, but I don’t mind not being able to talk; Joe seems to like it too.
|Joe won't wear a scarf, so I made us gypsy|
What I learned from all this is that being sick means to me that I get to brush off everything that I should do, and spend my days of sedation working on things that I like to do. Which means reading, crocheting, and watching movies. Joe, on the other hand, likes working so much that if given a choice he would rather study maps and coordinate waypoints than crochet a scarf. Confusing, but at least now I know not to bring him yarn when he gets sick.