Monday, October 22, 2012

Love Means Never Having to Say "I'm Sorry For Puking on Your Shoes"

The influx of viruses flooding my fair citycoupled with my short people's return to the veritable petri dish of contagion otherwise known as the public school system means only one thing: unavoidable illness.  Sure enough, within the first two weeks of school both of the shorties came home with a cough that would make a Welsh coal miner cringe, and my coworkers began dropping faster than Facebook stock. But I figured, hey!  I of all people should be well-prepared to avoid the impending plague.  After all, I'd seen "28 Weeks Later", and God knows I've logged the man hours online playing Pandemic 2 .  Unfortunately, as I had neither Jeremy Renner with a high-powered assault rifle nor the ability to shut down the ports of Madagascar with a single keystroke, I was, in a word: screwed.

To be fair, there really is very little one can do to avoid getting sick.  Sure, you can wash your hands like Howard Hughes during a SARS outbreak or start popping echinacea like they're fucking Skittles but the bottom line is that your body is just a giant douchebag and in its ham-handed attempt to keep you healthy it is going to screw you over.  Every.   Damned.   Time.  Allow me to elaborate.  At the risk of sounding like a science geek. . .*

*Which I am. . .so shut up.

. . .at any given point in time, the human body is home to over 300 different viruses.  The majority of these viruses are pretty innocuous; content to just be chillin' in your bloodstream with their homies, but then your immune system has to get all Mark Fuhrman up in their grill and start stirring shit up.  Basically, your immunities are a lousy judge of character and all of the cold and flu symptoms you experience: coughing, sneezing, nausea, fever, is just your body's reaction to your immune system wailing on some pansy-ass virus like a narc in the prison yard.  Dick move, immune system.  Dick move, indeed.

Still, I figured I'd taken all of the necessary precautions short of rocking the Michael Jackson surgical mask.  I washed my hands like Howie Mandel at a Hands Across America convention, doused my desk with enough Lysol to anesthetize a small village, and was first in line at the Student Health Center for my flu shot.  One would think I was impervious. . .yeah, one would be sadly mistaken, as last Thursday night I woke up in a cold sweat and spent the subsequent 24 hour yelling the names of the states into the porcelain phone.

What I soon discovered. . .*

*Thanks to the tutelage of my primary care physician, Dr. WebMD

. . . is that when it comes to stomach ailments, the flu shot is about as useful as a one-fingered gynecologist .  Because while we may call it "stomach flu", in reality, there is no such thing.  What you're experiencing while doubled-over, power-luging everything you've eaten since the Reagan Administration is actually gastroenteritis brought upon by, yeah, you guessed it. . .our immune system's overreaction to a virus.  And while I took some comfort in the fact that it would pass in 24-48 hours, I was also humbled by the knowledge that while I could hardly get from the couch to the toilet without crapping my pants, Michael Jordan scored 39 points in the 1997 NBA Finals while struck with the same malady.  In short, I'm  a pussy.  I am also a lousy patient.

I wasn't always that way.  When I was a child some of my fondest memories were of sick days at home with Mom.  She would let me sleep in my parents' bed and bring me dishes of orange sherbet and flat 7-Up while laying a cool hand on my feverish head.  Flash forward to ten years of being married to someone who practically red-phoned the CDC when I got sick and made me sleep in the guest room so he wouldn't "catch my bullshit" and eventually I became like one of those cats that just crawls under the porch to die.  I quickly learned that when ill it is best to just take a lesson from the Red October: shut down your baffles and make like a hole in the water.  So this Thursday when I started puking like a Lohan at an after-party, I buried myself under a blanket, unplugged my phone and politely told my family and friends to fuck off.  Oddly enough, Dylan would have none of that.

Friday was Dylan's day off and he showed up at my doorstep minutes after I'd returned home from making a run to the Kwik-E-Mart for Gatorade.*

*FYI, if driving while  intoxicated is a felony, I can only imagine the legality of driving with a fever of 102' and urping into a Starbucks travel mug.  Please, do not try this at home.

Despite the fact that I looked like Ozzy Osbourne circa-1998 and smelled like a Port-a-John at Lollapalooza, Dylan insisted upon bringing me water, holding my hair back on my numerous trips to Chateau d' Toilette, and ignoring my numerous pleas that he kindly go pound sand and leave me alone to die in a pool of my own filth.  The man was as unstoppable as freaking Robocop.  But eventually he wore me down and I allowed him to take care of me, although I kept a wary eye out for any outward signs of resentment and/or disgust.  Oddly enough, I found none.

While I spent the bulk of the day about as coherent as Courtney Love at the VMA's,  Dylan did the laundry, changed my sheets, cleaned the bathroom, and even helped me take a bath without any pretense of sexual overtures.*

*Which is wise, as when I am sick I am about as stabby as a Manson youth at a Polanski filmfest.  Any unwanted appendages poked my way when I feel like shit are apt to get cut like last night's meatloaf.

For the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn't have to "suck it up and walk it off"; I was able to just sleep, rehydrate, and concentrate on getting well.  And the most amazing part of it was that when I eventually recovered, Dylan did not appear to be physically repulsed by my presence.  Trust me, the day you throw up on someone's shirt when you're neither completely 'toe up from the flo' up' on Jager shots nor a toddler with reflux is the day you realize that if that person agrees to be in the same room with you ever again you are one lucky bitch.

Fortunately this was one of those 24 hourish things so I rallied well enough to go slog through the mud and the horseshit (literally) at the pumpkin patch with the shorties the following morning.*

*aka. my own personal concentric circle of Hell.

But while I physically feel back to normal, my Grinchy little heart grew a few sizes during my sick day and to be honest. . .it kind of pissed me off.  Yes, I appreciated having Dylan there, but my inner bitch kept screaming "Don't get used to it! He's leaving in a week and the next time some typhus-ridden crotch-dropping sneezes in your face or you get a hold of some discount sushi it'll just be your ass on that couch, Missy!"  It was almost like he'd torn down the last emotional defense I had left and now I know I'm going to have to go all Ty Pennington and 'Extreme Makeover' that shit when he's gone.

Being vulnerable is terrifying as in the past it has been manipulated and used to demean or abuse me.  I let myself become emotionally vulnerable to Dylan and now he's seen me physically vulnerable as well.  As it's taken me almost 42 years to find someone who won't rip out my heart like a modern-day Prometheus when they see me defenseless, I'm under no false illusions that lightning will strike twice in my lifetime and that scares the hell out of me.  So, from now on, it's back to the old sick day routine: crawl on the couch, bolt the doors, and let my immune system go all Career Tribute on my District 12 pansy-ass.  

May the odds be ever in my favor.


Leauxra said...


This is both awesome and is chok-full-of-suck at the same time.

Erica Burns said...

I dread the day I get so sick I can't move off the couch. I drive my kids to school, so if I don't move- they don't go to school, which means any chance of resting won't happen. My husband who is a teacher leaves at 6:30 to go to work so when the oldest wakes up and says, "mom, I think I have strep" guess who stays home. Me. I don't mind really- well it depends on the day, but because he's already off at work when we all get up, I don't get the choice.

My boss recently came down with the flu this past week. I don't normally get the flu shot, but I'm considering it, as one of my co-workers is out sick today. One left for China and the other is here with me hoping we don't catch the plague...

I'm glad to hear you are feeling somewhat better!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are feeling better and that Dylan was there to help. A man that holds your hair is a keeper! Just wish you could keep him. :(

At least you got someone to take care of you. Even if it is only once. My hubs stays as far away from me as possible when I'm sick. No hair holding, soup making or liquid providing. So you got lucky for this once at least. Cherish that.

Valerie said...

I am glad to hear that you are feeling better. And for some reason unbeknown to me, I have a good feeling that your story will have a happy ending... And not in a Korean Massuse Shop kind of way. Keep your chin up, girl!

Massive hugs!


Jen said...

Thanks guys! Yeah, I feel a hundred percent today so guess how I'm celebrating! Yup, you guessed sitting on the couch with my puking and feverish son. ((le sigh))

Jennifer Clark said...

You have *got* to be fucking kidding! You lined up some major alone time with Dylan McRenner and then caught a norovirus?!? Christ on a cracker, woman, did you run over a leprechaun or something?! Offend a bruja, perhaps? Shit, I hope your luck takes an upswing soon, dearie....

That said, I spit coffee on my key board and giggled like a stoner at "I woke up in a cold sweat and spent the subsequent 24 hour yelling the names of the states into the porcelain phone." Tho, it's probably laugh or cry for you at this point, huh?

Our family used to get a norovirus every summer. The first time was in Portland. I was dog-sick in bed at my brother-in-law's house. For 3 days. I did lose 7 pounds; so, you know, silver lining.

That Dylan character is just twisting the knife, ain't he? Being all wonderful and shit. (shakes head) All joking aside, I'm glad he was there for you and I'm glad he's the kind of man he is.

warm fuzzies, m'dear-

Jen said...

JENNIFER C - yeah, we can't seem to catch a stinking break, can we? Now my little guy M is home sick with it do J can't be far behind.

Anonymous said...

So much win in this post (or lose for anyone who doesn't see the humor in the icky bits of puking and shitting one's self) but my favorite has to the description of the immune system acting as Mark Fuhrman; entertaining AND informative.
Don't let yourself not enjoy the goodness of your man: It's better to have had someone to hold your hair while you puke, then to have never them at all.

Leslie said...

My husband, who is normally extremely sweet, compassionate and caring, shuts down when I get sick. (and I never get sick!) I laid on the bathroom floor for hours one night, curled around the bottom of the bowl and praying for death or morning, whichever came first. He came stumbling in the bathroom when the alarm went off and asked, "What's for breakfast?" Like my laying there comatose wrapped around the toilet was a normal occurrence. I didn't answer. He returned about 30 minutes later and nudged my toe. "Are you going to make lunch bags for the kids or should I?" Really?????
Glad Dylan was there for you. Still hating life over him having to move. :o(

Laura said...

Oh My Hell. Jen you seriously cannot catch a break. I am so sorry. Still he is a keeper, HO-LY shit he cleaned the bathroom. Are you certain Oregon is your home? Perhaps your home should be wherever this wonderful man is. ;~)

Jen said...

I called my ex at work one day when I came to after passing out in the kitchen from dehydration and a fever of 104. He said "Why are you calling me? I'm at work. Call 911 and let them deal with it, that's why we pay taxes." A PRINCE, that man!

QOE said...

This made me all verklempt again over the thought of him leaving. Before you say "Why thank you strange lady who is way too emotionally invested in my life", it's Fleet Week for my hormones so not much is needed to get the water works flowing.
Also, somebody needs to needlepoint this statement: "It's better to have had someone to hold your hair while you puke, then to have never them at all." I'd buy the shit outta that.

Jen said...

I may need to add that little aphorism to the Zazzle store I've been planning.

Andrea said...

Eeek! If he catches it, can you just shout words of encouragement thru his bathroom window?

Laura said...

Eeek... if he catches it he will be either 1) on a plane or 2) in North Carolina. Insert sadly shaking my head here..I too would buy the needlepoint "It's better to have had someone to hold your hair while you puke, then to have never them at all."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Again Jen are you sure Oregon is all it's cracked up to be...

chemgirljaime S said...

he's a good man.

I've gotten sick once already this season... I doubled up on echinacea, vitamin C, lotion-filled kleenex, Tylenol Cold and Sinus, and Halls... all was well in the world within a few days.

Von said...

My men were the kind who couldn't take being around someone sick, so, meh, I just got used to taking care of myself.

The choice of drugs in my childhood was ginger ale, saltines and chicken soup. And I still miss my mommy when I'm sick.

Jen said...

ANDREA - I'd totally hold his hair back...if it was long...but it's not, so I'm good. :)


JAIME - I rarely get sick which may explain why I'm such a bite-in-the-ass when I do.

VON - You never get over wanting your mommy, do you? One of my little guys is sick today and for a kid who doesn't usually like being touched, he is a stage-5 clinger!

Monika said...

Just wait until you try the long-distance thing for a while. North Carolina will be lookin' REAL good. I'm gonna be down in Portland in about a month - I'll wave to the air to say hello.

Along with a couple of other people, I would totally buy that needlepoint as well. Dylan's a good man.

Glad you're feeling better - sorry the littles have it now! :(

Laura said...

Jen... you know that karma thing where you're never supposed to say NEVER. (and not just cuz Justin Bieber says so - thank Christ)

Jen said...

MONIKA - Give me a holla when you get to town! Love to meet you for coffee or something. :)

LAURA - It's not "never"; there's just no way I would uproot my entire life and my children's lives RIGHT NOW to move 2765 miles away from my home, support system, family, and career for someone I've known 3 months.

PS: Damn you for mentioning Bieber and getting that freaking "As Long As You Love Me" song stuck in my head!!! ;)

Laura said...

Uh. As Long as You Love me is NOT
Never Say Never... and while we're at it...
it's like baby baby baby oh...
like baby baby baby no....
and not to put too fine a spin on it...
If I was your boyfriend, I’d never let you go > I can take you places you ain't never been before
Baby, take a chance or you’ll never ever know

and after a few more months... I bet North Carolina is looking better all the time. Pink could be your signature color. LOL