When we’re sick, we all go through some sort of ritual, usually one ingrained in us by our parents and how they treated us in illness. Husband will pronounce he has "the cold” then pop Paracetamal like it’s water, look up deadly disease he might have, decide he’s dying from one of them but refuse to ever go to the doctor. My mother will pretend she isn’t sick and proceed about her day like she isn’t dying of cancer, or whatever she's not told me she has.
I fall somewhere between the two. Having a mother that was as pragmatic as Mom was, as Mom is, it’s impossible to not to be a bit like her. I’ll tell folks I’m fine. I’ll work if I can, slipping my coughs down a sleeve and sneaking away to wipe my nose in the bathroom. But, I have my dramatic side and so I’m sure I’ve got a hidden disease, one of those unknown ones that only one in a billion have that will kill me. I don’t medicate myself in case it will mask the symptoms. And I treat myself the way Mom trained me, when the time comes to admit I really am sick, I put myself to bed with socks on my feet and a good trashy book. The only thing Husband has to do, and I mean the world ends if he doesn’t, is feel my head. It’s the one thing that makes me feel like I’m being taken care of, both emotionally and physically. If he has felt my head, I am loved and I can follow through with healing. Or at least, lying in bed or in front of the TV filling myself with trashy happy endings in predictable movies and books, which I consider the best medicine of all.
When I started to get sick last week, I was reading Gone Girl, a book with a decidedly unhappy ending. I’m pretty sure it is what pushed this from a bad day and into a full-blown cold because, the night I finished the book was a restless, sleepless one. One I spent lying awake trying to work out a new ending for the book, for Nick Dunn, one with sunsets and roses in the end. No dice. I just ended up with cold feet and a sore throat that is now the plague.
Now that I’m officially sick, I have spent the weekend self-medicating the right way, with sappy movies filled with happy sappy endings. Yesterday was a Lifetime Christmas Movie Extravaganza. That's not what it's really called, just what I call it in my head. The LCME is loads of totally sappy movies filled with missed connections and angels bringing unhappy single parents together. Each moment underscored with beautiful sweeping orchestrations, in dramatic moments, music and tears. And there are beautifully lit Christmas lights in the background at the climax of each movie, perfectly framing the first kiss or kiss or forgiveness or kiss of acceptance or kiss of forever love. And not one kiss so hot they forget that their parents or children or grandma angel person are looking on. These movies are so perfectly awesome; Husband will leave the room and leave me to watch them on my own. I can sniff and sob and snark to my hearts content at the perfect shiny couples and their perfect shiny lives.
I find my self-medication is much better than popping pills or going to the doctor. I don’t need to look up what I might have on WebMD, and compare my symptoms to various diseases I might have like Husband does. I just sniff and cough and suffer through my own personal Lifetime movie, only the overdramatic music is in my head and Husband is unaware he’s co-staring with me and just doesn’t follow the plot of the movie I’ve written. He ends up, often totally bewildered by the deep sighs and tearful looks I shoot him as I look at him as if it’s the last time I might see him. Because it just might be. Sniff. Sniff. Deep sigh. But then, just like in the movies, when all hope is lost, Husband will lean over and feel my head and all will be right with my world.
I'm not at a 100% yet. I might need another day in bed. Grab the tissue box and cue the music, I am not well.