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Lifestyles

March 10, 2012

As Time Goes By: The bug confused me, got me and refused to let me go

I got sick.

I wish I could have said "I caught a cold," and be like everyone else who lives normal lives, but as usual, I went two or three leaps beyond "a cold," well past "I caught the bug," and went directly to "I think I'm going to die." (Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

I went past GO, did not get paid $200, and knew this was not going to be an easy battle.

I will digress for a moment to break the word "contagion" down to its root parts.

First there is the word "con," which we all know means to confuse or fool. Contagion starts out with all the symptoms of a "summer cold," _ you know a few sniffles a listless day and a good night's sleep and you are cured. This is very similar to "the stomach bug," which strikes epic proportions the day before a math test in high school.

(Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

Then there is the word "tag," which simply means YOU'RE IT!" A tag cannot be removed easily _ contagion has the grip of "ion," which is almost indestructible. The only thing lacking is a source _ a "Typhoid Mary" type who will kiss and run.

For us, it all started with Diane. She was substitute teaching and got a class with 30 kids who were just at the peak of ripeness to spread a cold.

She came home and announced "I've got a scratchy throat." With those words the family moved to isolated corners of the condo, almost like Moses parting the Red Sea. "This is your side, Diane, and this will be our side. We want isolation as best we can."

(Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

Benji, our 10-pound terror attack dog, hid under the bed.

With Diane sick, one might think that her household chores would be diminished and that each of us would shoulder part of her load but this is not the case. Diane is the only one who knows where everything is. It's all her fault that we never learned how to cope without her.

(Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

Case in point, I spent two hours looking for my reading glasses and finally yelled out, "Dee have you seen my reading glasses?" Her reply of, "They are in the middle of your forehead" gave me a moment of angst, which I conveniently forgot.

(Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

After a two-day respite I awoke to a "scratchy throat" and announced, "I'm getting sick."

If my life were a movie there would be a choir of angels singing OOOOHHHHH in descending volume and tone.

My nose started to run like Niagara Falls. My plumbing started to build pressure, which was released like "Old Faithful" about two feet short of the "porcelain goddess." Not only do I look bad, I feel bad and smell bad. I've hit "life's tri-fecta!" Tag, I'm it!

(Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

After a household powwow, it is decided that I should be isolated to minimize the spread of contagion. I am assigned my reclining chair, my painting supplies and the southside of the king-sized bed.

To prevent the spread of germs via a food tray, food is prepared to save handling.

For example, my two poached eggs in the morning are substituted by two firm fried eggs that are thrown like a Frisbee to me. Oatmeal is a mess.

(Cough, cough, hack, and blow nose twice and moan softly.)

Then there are your "friends," who come to see you and perk up your spirits. They tell you that "you look great, just great; you can't keep a good man down."

In an aside to my wife, Diane, they say in a voice that could be heard 10 miles away, "He looks like he's going to die, can I put in dibs for his golf clubs?" They say this as they stand on the hose coming from my oxygen concentrator.

(Cough, cough, hack blow nose twice and moan softly.)

Part of my problem was that I had started to exhibit signs for congestive heart failure. I get an I.V. injection of liquid Lasix. The doctor smiles and says, "I wouldn't go far from the bathroom area _ this stuff will dry you out." He wasn't kidding, in three days I looked like a raisin.

I have survived the contagion. Food no longer tastes like cardboard. I still have a deep cough that sounds like it emanates from my big toe. When people hear it they instinctively move away from me. The porcelain goddess in the bath room is no longer my best friend.

So, enjoy, until next time.

(Cough, cough, hack, blow nose twice and moan softly.)

Henry Geerken is a three-time NYSUT award-winner writing humorous articles addressing retiree and senior citizen concerns. Geerken also writes for Sail-World, World Cruising Newsletter, regarding his many humorous sailing episodes through the years. He can be reached by email at hgeerken@stny.rr.com. 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/seniorscene.

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