Parents don’t get sick, kids do. I don’t remember my mum and dad staying in bed when we were kids. They had to make breakfast, lunch and dinner and the snacks in between for the five of us. They had to help with homework and do all those things parents do: make our beds, wash and iron the clothes, pick up after us and scrub behind our ears and clip our fingernails. We’d get sick with every kind of flu, and we’d get sick with even more kinds of stomach bugs, especially those that kept you home on exam day. I got those all the time.
My kids get sick, sometimes all three at once. We take care of them. We drive them to the doctor’s office or the hospital. We buy them medicine and let them chill out in front of the TV, plying them with hot soup, water and timely dosages of medicine. I know the ins and outs of the hospital we frequent the most. You just have to give the receptionist our kids’ dates of birth and the computer system pulls up all their data. I buy them a chocolate as a treat or a juice and it’s off home to recover.
Then the unexpected happened. I got sick.
I wrote it off at first as the combo of too much work, stress and late nights along with paint fumes. We’re painting our house and breathing it all day (I work from home) makes me queasy in the stomach and achy in the head. Poor lighting in my temporary office in a dark corner of the garage adds to the trouble by turning my eyes red sore. Then I woke up with a rash all over my body. The other symptoms worsened. I couldn’t kick it in bed. There were things to do, kids to look after. Parents don’t get sick. But then when I was out standing in a long line to get cash out of the ATM I started feeling on the verge of zombie-hood. I contemplated curling up in a corner and moaning. What would happen? What would the people in line do?
- They’d help me.
- They’d let me get my money out first.
- They’d ignore me thinking I was mad.
- They’d think it was a scam to rob them and call the cops.
- They’d wait until I fell asleep and take my wallet.
None of the above happened, so I drove to the hospital, the very hospital I’ve been for countless visits with the kids. I had to register myself for the first time because my information wasn’t in their database. The doctor’s report? Scarlet fever. Yes, scarlet fever. I thought it had been eradicated years ago. “We don’t get many adults with scarlet fever,” the doctor said. She told me to take penicillin and get some rest. I will. And I will slow down and work less. I like taking the kids to the hospital, not me. They get orange-flavored medicine and days off. I get boring penicillin and the work piles up.