At the end of every year, my husband gets sick. Usually, it’s a cold. Sometimes it’s a stomach virus. But no matter what it is, he is convinced he is dying.
I’m not sure why he acts this way. I mean, no one likes getting sick. And yes, I get stressed worrying how I am going to continue meeting the needs of my family while operating on only one cylinder, but previous experience tells me my ailment will most likely be temporary and I can rest knowing that I’ll be serving drinks and cleaning urine from the toilet seat again in no time.
My husband, however, develops amnesia with each cold or virus he gets and forgets that they usually aren’t fatal. A nervous person by nature, my husband hits such high levels of anxiety when he is sick you would think he and he alone is responsible for the earth’s rotation.
This is what happens, in chronological order, when my husband’s throat gets a little scratchy:
1. “I feel something…”
This is the beginning stage of his illness and usually comes after one of our kids has been sick. It is a warning that soon he will fall like a moose that’s been shot from behind. Also, take a look at the calender. If it’s anywhere between January and November, his sickness probably won’t progress beyond this stage and as his wife, you can relax. If it’s December and you need him to help you get the house ready for Christmas, you better get ready because he’s going down.
2. “I can’t afford to get sick…”
My husband works from home and conducts most of his business over email. But a cold will cause his voice to sound slightly different, so clearly, this will cause him to lose thousands of dollars in deals.
3. “I’m burning up…”
He will claim to have a fever, and when I look at him, he might in fact look a little pale. After giving him a thermometer and confirming a body temperature of 97.4, however, I realize his pallor is being caused by panic and fear not by sickness.
4. “You think I’m faking don’t you?”
He gets angry at the thermometer, and demands that I stop laughing. He is not faking, he really does feel sick, and he can’t understand how it happened. He really, truly, does not know how a germ can invade his body, since he is not human but a Martian cyborg.
5. Elephants and fire ants
He will go to bed at sunset, roll over twice, and wake up 14 hours later complaining about how poorly he slept. He will turn to two analogies I have heard over and over again since we were married 13 years ago: “I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest, and there are fire ants in my throat.” I cannot roll my eyes hard enough when he hits this phase, and suddenly the baseboards are screaming at me to clean them.
6. “Here is where I keep all the important documents.”
This is when I feel a little bad for laughing, because he will finally register a fever of 100.3 and officially be a sick person. He stops in his tracks, falls like the moose I described above, and prepares for death by sleeping all day for four days–on the couch, in the middle of everything. There could be an earthquake, a hurricane, and a newborn infant in the living room all at the same time but he won’t budge. As you might guess, this phase is my least favorite.
7. “What’s a doctor going to do?”
More elephants are sitting on his chest, the fire ants have built a full-fledged colony, and he is looking beyond me to the light glowing in the distance, so now I know I have to call the doctor. Except he argues with me because what he has is probably so rare and so serious there is no doctor in our area equipped to deal with it, so there is no point in going. Better to just die in peace at home on the couch, moaning.
8. “The doctor said I have a virus and need to take an antibiotic.”
Honey, that doesn’t make any sense. An antibiotic only kills bacteria.
9. More sleep
After he gets his antibiotics, I insist he relocate to our bedroom, where he will sleep so hard for so long it’s like he’s not even home. This is when I love his sickness. I will play annoying Top 40 music, order shoes from Zappos, and party like it’s 1999 and he won’t have any idea. A day or two later, he will finally emerge from our bedroom, kind of like a butterfly but much bigger and with a lot more body hair, and vow to embrace life to the fullest, because you never know when it will be over for good.