I have a hard time recognizing when I'm ill. Two weeks ago my first clue was that I couldn’t get dressed without sweating and couldn’t stay out of the bathroom long enough to find car keys.
Next day I try again; same scenario. Do I accept whatever leech is in my system and stay down ‘till it leaves? No. Of course not. My mother ruined me forever from considering an afternoon nap. Resting of any kind during the day would surely bring forth ancestors from graves to scold and beat the “laziness” out of us. My mother always worked hard, and so did we.
But Tuesday, I feel better— well enough to make it to seminar, yet I go home early—mostly because annoying Kaitlin comes around 10:00 and gets pushy. Next day, am I better? No. In fact, now I have a huge knot in my throat where I used to swallow food. It’s like a different part of my body malfunctions each day, along with a constant blinding headache. And I go downhill from there. But . . . this is a virus that’ll run its course (I can hear a doctor say this exact sentence after he/she has shot me full of needles). Thursday and Friday, I’m really down. I try to drink more water, aware of dehydration. But, around 5:00 on Friday I finally realize, I’m in trouble. Brilliant, huh? I mean it’s been over two weeks; I should be better, but instead I’m daydreaming of Jami singing at MY funeral. Why can't I see what’s wrong with this picture? My head feels like thick mud; my muscles throb clear through to my bones, and I finally realize I need to go to the emergency room. (I’m often amazed at my own luminous intellect.) But I’m not able to climb the stairs to get clothes. I consider driving in my nightgown and red Chinese robe, but fall back into a semi-sleep before I can act (thank heavens). I vaguely try to remember if Chan has a phone # or where I put my assistant’s list, but fall again back to sleep. In a dream, I see Megan and Beau (my children in SLC). They’re very happy, and they’re talking to nurses, helping me change into a backless gown, wiping away blood from an IV, —the blood is very red—and they deal with the doctor. It’s a wonderful heavenly dream.
Then someone walks through the backdoor who looks like Beau. He says, “Hi Mom, we came to help you.” I’m sure I hear a voice, but it’s dark. I watch as this dream figure unlocks the front door, and Meg & Ben spill through it, carrying groceries, overnight bags, etc. This is one intense dream. But then Meg is shoving Chicken soup in front of me, bugging me about going to a doctor, and I want the dream to dissolve like the Wicked Witch of the North ( or is it South?). Meg sits on the couch arm and plays with my hair. “Mother,” she purrs. “I’ll comb your hair and get you the new Jesse James video if you go to the emergency room with me” (what a manipulator). They help me upstairs. I don’t understand why my legs and hands are crimped into tight knots. Meg has to put on my shoes for me.
I’m too sick to care and turn everything over to her—this little daughter whom I have driven to the hospital a hundred times. But now everything’s reversed. Something wrong with this reversal. I suddenly see our future. I see growing older and understand this reversal of roles will happen—no way out of it—but I’m uncomfortable. This is too soon.
On the drive to the hospital, I try to show her my new “Once” CD, but have to drop my head against the door. Megan does not stop at stop signs. She rolls through them, and I make a mental note to warn her about these bored Idaho police. She drops me off in front of the emergency doors and says to wait, but I turn and push the door open. After all, geez, I am the mother here and can do whatever I darn well please. But the desk looks at least two miles away. Finally the intake person is in front of me, wearing a bright red blouse that hurts my eyes because it’s too red against all this white and Lysol chrome. I don’t remember what she says, but I hear my own voice like I’m talking through thick marshmallows: “I don’t know what’s wrong. Just flu. . . . But never mind; I just want to go home.” I fall in to a chair and hold my head up with my hands before it falls and rolls across the floor to hit the shoes of the boy who won’t stop staring. I stare back and mentally telegraph: “What is your problem, you little Twerp.” (I'm very classy and empathetic when I'm ill.)
Logically, I know the gurney is hard, but it feels like sinking in to the softest feather bed. I just want to sleep. Megan is talking to the nurses; she helps me into a puke-green backless gown, then she wipes away blood from an IV they stick in my hand. The blood is so bright: it’s almost orange. After x-rays, and two+ liters of phentamine and electrolytes, I’m moving beyond a serious dehydration, while she talks to a doctor, gets prescriptions, and handles the paperwork. Finally, after two or three hours, I look around and realize my daughter has driven from Salt Lake. I have proof. She’s right here beside me. I listen to the click click sound of some monitor and watch her face lost in a half- sleep. She’s curled up in a hard chair, not twisted and cramped, but gracefully, like a ballet dancer. This is not a dream. And Megan glows—like a guardian angel. And I realize the Lord is close and aware and sends angels when we can’t help ourselves. He sends family—those who love us. He sends old friends like Kam and Haylie. “No, you cannot bring me dinner tonight. Stay away. I’m recovering, but still ill. Some other time. Thanks, but DO NOT COME NEAR THIS FLU.”
“OK,” Kam texts. “Expect us around 7:00. We’ll leave it on the step and ring the doorbell.” I text back: “Kam, you’re so stubborn.”
But I don’t have any extra energy to fight all these angels.