Saturday, February 12, 2011

Plastic Bubbles

I was sick this week. So was one of my daughters. No one likes being sick, at least not as an adult. I have vague memories of enjoying it as a kid, probably because missing a day of school felt like a treat, not a burden. As a kid, I could curl up in bed, sip soup, watch reruns of Hawaii Five-0 (the one with Jack Lord) and doze off while recovering from whatever ailed me. I didn’t have to worry about all the work and email catch up I’d have to do, all the appointments I’d miss or how I’d pick up my kids from school if I was laid out.

I’d been fighting this thing for a week, thought I was better and then relapsed. It came on suddenly, first the feeling of exhaustion, then the sore throat, and stuffiness, then the constant feeling of being chilled to the bone. No matter how high I turned up the heat in my office I couldn’t warm up. I think at one point I had the thermostat on 80, causing anyone who came to my office to stand at the door and comment on the sauna-like quality of the room rather than enter.

My daughter’s teacher was sick and the classroom aide said half the class was out. Another parent emailed to tell me her doctor had warned a nasty virus was going around. As careful as I am about germs (okay, mildly neurotic is really a better way to describe it), I was surprised I picked something up. I hate to admit it, but I’m the type who wipes down phones and light switches, stopped using bed spreads in hotels after seeing a 60 Minutes report, and hand sanitize with religious fever after a trip to the ATM because of an article which said the buttons were dirtier than public restroom toilet seats! But despite all my efforts to stay germ free and healthy, a bug found its way into our house.

I don’t get sick often and my kids are pretty good when it comes to dodging colds and the flu as well. But here we are, buried under the covers, shivering, coughing, sore throats, feeling generally miserable and wondering if we’ll feel better before going through another box of Kleenex. My oldest kid, the only one in the house who is healthy, suggested we wrap ourselves in plastic like John Travolta in that movie, the Boy in the Plastic Bubble. But then my younger kid reminded her that he died at the end of the movie. Honestly, it was so long ago that I don’t how the movie ended – I just have memories of him spending his life in a bubble to ward off germs which would mean nothing to the rest of us but which would be deadly to him. There is so much concern, so many reports and studies about how many ways we can come in contact with nasty germs and get sick – that I am starting to feel like John in the bubble. But sometimes, despite how careful you are with the 409 and the hand sanitizer, there is a germ with your name on it. So I’ll sit back in bed, sip soup, doze off and see if there are episodes of the new Hawaii Five-0 on t.v.

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