Sick and Tired: I’m One; you’re the other, by Cindy McDermott

SICK AND TIRED: I’M ONE; YOU’RE THE OTHER, SALT MAGAZINE (SPRING 2008) BY CINDY MCDERMOTT

 Our family is now recovering from what Jim calls the worst round of sicknesses we’ve ever had in our household. Personally, I think this present sickness rivals the great stomach virus outbreak of Christmas a few years past. While it’s true that this round (double-round, actually) of colds and flus has been unrelenting and unending, the stomach-thing was, shall I say, a lot more disgusting. Regardless, I’m glad we are now emerging from the McDermott epidemic of 2008. And, of course, just about anything that happens in this family runs the risk of becoming the subject of an article in SALT!

 It all started pretty insidious with mild colds that ran their course and ended. But little did we know that it was actually just the beginning. People started falling prey again to colds, coughs, headaches, stomach aches, ear aches, sore throats, fevers, and the like. And it just kept getting worse. I got to the point of dishing out so much Thera-flu, Tylenol, and Ibuprofen that I had to literally write down the times when I did so no one would get the next dose too early. People’s temperatures were jumping around, so I started writing those down, too. (I knew that if we ended up at the doctor’s office, he’d ask me something like, ‘How high did so-and-so’s temperature go?’ Since I already look stupid when he asks me what grade they’re in (we don’t keep track in our homeschooling) I thought I should get this one right. I figured if I looked at my cheat sheet before going to the office, I might come across as fairly intelligent.) Half of this information is written on my calendar in teeny-tiny letters and numbers, should you like to take a gander sometime. After awhile I realized where this was all headed (nowhere soon) and broke out a pad of paper, with computer files to back me up.

 Jim went to the doctor first, on the weekend out of necessity, because that’s a part of Murphy’s law (or should be). We moved pretty fast through Urgent Care that Saturday morning, but at that cost you would hope so. The next three appointments – two different doctors, two different sides of town – came to be on Monday. Maybe to enhance the picture I should tell you that we had freezing rain, wind, and sleet that day. I took two children to the pediatrician. His office is on the same campus as the hospital, where the pharmacy also is. So when the doctor wrote out the prescriptions, I was in a quandary. I needed to get from his office to the pharmacy. There was no use getting in the car because there was no place closer to move the car to, and I didn’t want to make the children walk outside in the nasty weather. As the crow flies the distance isn’t that bad, but only a crow can go as the crow flies, and I’m not sure how well he’d do in the sleet anyway. So Josiah, Heather and I ventured to the tunnels that run beneath and between the buildings on the campus. We didn’t move too fast (sick people never do, understandably) but we got there. It felt like we walked three miles to the pharmacy and another two to get back. Why do return trips always seem faster?

 The next day, Tuesday, we had a break from the doctor’s office, for which I am grateful, since the sleet had turned to snow by then and there was seven inches of it on the ground. I did have to venture out for cough medicine, but at least that was only a few blocks from home.

 Within a week’s time, ten of us went to the doctor. While I like our pediatrician, seeing him so often got old. I decided that I’d much rather see him at Wal-mart than in his office! But I guess the trips weren’t unfounded. Eight of us ended up on antibiotics for one thing or another. Some antibiotics were pills and some were liquid. Some lasted for ten days while others lasted only for five. Some had to be taken four times a day while others only once or twice. John’s were the most colorful. Heather’s the prettiest shade. Josiah’s smelled the best. And Meghan. I guess she really impressed the doctor because she got the award for the biggest horse pill.

 Then poor Heather developed a reaction to hers. Her face looked like she had a bad sunburn and she broke into a red rash all over. She looked miserable. But she didn’t seem to mind when her dad told her that she looked like a female version of Bob the Tomato! Add Benadryl to the dosing list, and things gradually got better!

 Just as our antibiotics came in all forms, colors, and sizes, so did our Tylenol. We had extra strength Tylenol, regular strength, junior Tylenol melt aways, and Tylenol elixir. I’m still hoping for the need to go out and get Tylenol infant drops (if you understand my meaning).

 Between handing out doses of Tylenol, I made a discovery. I noticed that all the members of this household could be divided into two categories: those who are sick, and those who are tired. You can identify who’s who by their relative positions. Those who are standing upright are the ones who are tired. They are tired because they have taken over the brunt of the work of the house. After all, doing just the most basic work in a household of 13 members requires some effort. The tired are relegated to do all the work by default, because the sick are in an unmoving horizontal position and just can’t muster the energy to sit up, much less do their chores. I’ve also noticed that over time our family members have moved back and forth between these two categories.

 But all in all, I do realize that what we’ve endured in the past month isn’t much in the scheme of things. People are facing greater challenges than our little sicknesses. So I can sit here and thank God for Tylenol and other such medicines that lessen the hurts. I thank Him that I could be home the worst of those days and concentrate only on the children. I thank God for the safety of us at home and the safety of the three traveling – Jim traveling with two of our daughters to fulfill our speaking engagements while I stayed home nursing the sick children. (Oh, did I fail to mention that little detail?) I thank God for doctors and medicines and the healing that really only comes from God. I thank God for the return to normalcy as we know it. And I thank Him that in the end we lost a month of fun and productivity, but not any of our lives, like Jim’s relatives experienced in the flu epidemic of 1918.

 So I attempt to keep things in their proper perspective. But the question still beckons: are you sick or are you tired? If you’ve lived in our house the last month, chances are you’ve had your turn at both.