Gaining some perspective from being briefly sick

Note: This column appears in the 3/25 issue of The Glendale Star and the 3/26 issue of the Peoria Times

Like many people I often wonder: If I ever struck it rich through either the lottery –- which I do not play –- or through fantasy sports –- where our annual payout for any league is around $200 –- would I continue to work?

I always liked to believe that I would continue to work regardless of whether I needed to or not, although that mindset is often second-guessed on those mornings when I’d just rather go back to sleep, which is, actually, every morning. But last week something happened that helped reconfirm my original position.

Last Monday morning my wife woke up feeling very ill. Stomach flu. Luckily for us, I have off from work on Mondays anyway, so although it was no fun to see her in so much pain, at least I was around to take care of things.

I was Mr. Mom for the day. I cooked, straightened up, made phone calls, and most importantly took care of our little one. Admittedly it’s much easier to play mom when real mom is actually present, and is able to coach me from the sidelines. But the most telling sign of her sickness was her indifference to the mismatching and ill-fitting clothes I was dressing our hopefully-soon-to-be-daughter in. Or maybe that’s why she was throwing-up so much.

Anyway, I was feeling pretty good about a productive day. By the time evening rolled around, my wife was showing signs of improvement and I was thinking about what I needed to get done at work the next day. And then it hit me.

Stomach flu, 2.0. I immediately realized that whatever sympathy I had felt for my wife did not come close to matching what she was actually experiencing, as I spent the entire night hugging the toilet and groaning incoherently. (By the way, in a healthy state I tend to think I have a high tolerance for pain. But the second any kind of actual pain hits, I crumble to the ground and ask God why He has forsaken me.)

As anyone who has experienced it is well aware, the stomach flu is a hurricane that comes through and strips your body of its insides, and then leaves you on the side of the road for dead. That is actually the medical definition of “stomach flu.” As a result, I was laid up the following day and could not go to work.

I was a complete waste of space, sprawled out on the couch all day watching spring training baseball games on TV, still groaning. All I could think about was how I wished I were at work.

Weird? Maybe. But like playing Mr. Mom on an off-day, work gives me that feeling of accomplishment that I so need psychologically and even physically. The worst part, for me, about being sick was not so much the physical sensation of sickness, but the utter dread I felt at wasting a day doing nothing.

Being sick often exposes things we take for granted, most obviously our health. But it also left me thankful to have a job to go to everyday –- even on those days when I don’t want to go to it –- so that I can be a contributing member of society and feel good about myself. Another thing that makes me feel good about myself is having my intestines back. I thought I had lost them.


Anonymous said…
i know exactly how you felt. Just this morning at about 1 it hit me also. Out of no were it hits. Being dead at that time would not be bad, i am thinking to myself. Nothing you can do, but just wait it out. Can't wait to feel better again.