Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leaving My Sickbed

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For the past nine days I've been in bed with a viral flu. Nine days. In Mommy Standard Time that is like nine years. Whenever I started to feel even a little bit better I would rush to assure Jeremy and inquiring friends that I was probably on the mend. This is it, I'm finally turning the corner I said about six times to various people. And then within an hour or two I would begin to unravel and crawl back under my covers, exhausted and miserable.

It's a weird sensation to see your family moving around you, laundry and dishes piling up, homework that needs finished, bellies that need fed, and all the while I'm just lying their feeling passively removed. As if the problems unfolding have nothing to do with me and I'm a mere observer or passenger, rather than the co-captain of this ship. You know you're sick when you just don't have the energy to care, regardless of who is hungry or who can't find a pair of clean underwear. Yesterday Madeleine called up the stairs to me, I'm making myself a hot fudge sundae for my afternoon snack because I'm pretty sure you're not going to get out of bed to stop me.  She was right.

As Jeremy will attest, I am infamous for inventing drama inside my head when I'm sick. Problems with friends and family members that were non-existant the day before are suddenly nettling me the moment I'm sick in bed, and I dread this weird tendency in myself. When I was hospitalized during my pregnancy with Katherine I spent the entire hospital stay fretting that one of my sisters-in-law was upset with me. The dominant memory that I took away from that hospital stay wasn't my concern for my unborn child, but rather the internal soap opera I voluntarily endured. Note: After being released from the hospital I spoke to my sister-in-law on the phone and was instantly assured that of course she wasn't upset with me. Where did I get such a silly idea?

Nine days is a long time to allow one's paranoid imagination to run laps, and so this time I felt determined to get a handle on it. Nothing is wrong, you're just sick, I told myself. You're focusing on imaginary concerns instead of dealing with the real issue of being in bed while your family is trying to get along without you, which is frankly out of your control. I determinedly commanded all of my paranoid frettings to remain outside the door so that I could be sick in peace. And to pass the time I watched about twenty-three movies, with the strict rule that they had to be happy and make me feel better. Nothing thought-provoking or upsetting. No guns, divorce, or atomic bombs.

Each night I asked my girls to come sit on my bed so that I could read a short book to them, and they could tell me all about their day. Katherine played the role of "nurse" with panache, frequently bringing me offerings of toast or juice (with a straw). Last night when Jeremy got home from work the girls decided it was game time, and from my room I could hear their happy hide n' seek screams and laughter echoing through the house.

My symptoms are gradually fading and my fieldtrips away from my pillow are increasing each day. But I have to admit that whatever strength I feel has come from the enormous amount of support I've received from dear friends, neighbors, my sister-in-law Lorie, and one stalwart, devoted husband. Hot dinners, groceries and movies have been delivered to my front door. My kids have been ferried to and from school for over a week, and each day I've received well-wishing phone calls asking, What can I do? Even when there is nothing that needs done, those words have healing powers. When you're in bed all day long even small gestures feel significant, a brightspot amid all the dullness.

I'm excited to feel like me again and I hope that comes quickly. But at least these nine days have taught me that it's possible to feel good- even when you don't feel good.


  1. I hope you feel better, Lauren. Now that I have a niece in Denver I try to make it out at least twice a year ... Would love to see this summer!

  2. i'm so glad you are starting to feel better. we have been missing you!

  3. Looking forward to seeing everybody!

  4. Sorry you've been so sick. I'm glad you're starting to get better. Keep feeling better, but take it slow--over-doing it just puts you two steps back.

  5. Wish I were there to help. :( I'm here for you, but unfortunately, my "here" is not very near.


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