What do you do when you’re sick? Take to your bed and yell for “Mommy,” or ignore it and go about your business? Well when you’re married to an Emergency Physician, and you’ve given birth to another, your response to an illness pretty much doesn’t matter. After all, you are NOT dying, so it’s not a true emergency – like say, anaphylaxsis, septecemia, or a gun shot wound to the belly.
It’s only a virus. Antibiotics won’t help. In fact, my doctors rant about how other doctors overprescribe antibiotics, which is why we are in a drug-resistant pickle. You’ll be better in a few days. So you’d best go about your business; take Tylenol every four hours, force fluids and try to rest. Because as Daniel Tiger says, “Rest is Best.”
When I was young and caught a cold, Nell would rub my chest with Vick’s. Then she’d wrap some sort of gauze around me and tuck me into bed. In hindsight, she grew up when a small splinter could turn into an infection and kill you. Penicillin wasn’t invented until just before I was born. Growing up in the first half of the twentieth century meant you were isolated when you were sick, people took a cold seriously. As Adelaide would say in her Lament, a person can develop a cold, or La Grippe, La post-nasal drip…with the wheezes, and the sneezes, and the sinuses really a pip!
In other words,
Just from worrying whether the wedding is on or off,
A person can develop a cough.
You can feed her all day with the Vitamin A and the Bromo fizz,
But the medicine never get’s anywhere near where the trouble is.
If she’s getting a kind of a name for herself, and the name ain’t his,
A person can develop a cough.
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/actors-broadway/guys-and-dolls
But I digress. Back to the 50s, once an illness had passed, Nell would make me an eggnog. I know, sounds disgusting, but it was so good. Guess she didn’t know about salmonella in raw eggs? Oh and to keep me healthy, she would shove a teaspoon of cod liver oil into my mouth every morning, followed by a chaser of orange juice. It took me many years to like the taste of orange juice.
Still, this spring cold is a bad one, it starts off deceptively simple enough – a headache followed by a runny nose. You are lulled into thinking you’ll be fine by the third day. Then your larynx closes up and you can barely croak, a fever sets in and after awhile your eyes get all gucky. If you have children in preschool, or you have a spouse that is routinely seeing infectious disease every day they go to work, then it’s likely you’ll catch it. In other words, “You can spray her wherever you figure the streptococci lurk,
You can give her a shot for whatever she’s got, but it just won’t work.” The cough will linger, you’ll want your Mommy, and someone to bring you chicken soup.
On my way home I listened to the TED Radio Hour “Believers and Doubters.” http://www.npr.org/2013/11/18/245949211/believers-and-doubters
And I thought about the time I nearly died from septicemia after a miscarriage. Lying in a hospital bed in the Berkshires, I prayed the rosary with my Polish room mate because she asked me if I would in broken English. I found her beads in her bag, and the words came back, they flowed through me like a salve. It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket and tucked into bed.