Last week my husband Seth approached me and said the words no wife ever wants to hear. I knew in my heart what was coming — I could tell by the look on his face, and I reached out and supported myself on a kitchen cabinet.
His eyes were half closed, and his voice was weak. “Oh Theresa, I think I am getting sick....”
There are a few phrases that have been uttered throughout history that carry the same weight as a husband announcing he is sick.
“Was that an iceberg or what?”
“That cloud looks just like a mushroom.”
“Ah, Mount Vesuvius is always spewing a little.”
The tranquility of my home was about to be disrupted by the presence of life altering entity — a man with a cold. But I resisted the urge to make a call to hospice. “What doesn’t feel good?” I asked.
He coughed then, to demonstrate the critical condition of his lungs. It was more of a forced throat clearing. “It’s in my chest BAD,” he said, purposely lowering his voice an octave so I could appreciate the congestion.
He kicked off his boots and staggered to his recliner. “Feel my head. Do I feel warm to you?”
Women are equipped with heat sensors in their lips that are activated during childbirth. Mine have always been accurate to within .2 of a degree. I felt his forehead and got the reading in one second.
“Ninety nine point five.”
He looked at me with fear in his eyes. “I am usually subnormal. Oh no. I probably have pneumonia!”
“Probably. Maybe you should go to the doctor in the morning?” I suggested. I often quickly pawn him off on the doctor. The doctor gives him antibiotics, which give him diarrhea, which amuses me.
After his doctor’s appointment the next day he called me on the phone at my work.
“Well, what did she say?” I asked.
“She gave me antibiotics.”
“Great!” I said. “Now you will get a lot better.”
“But she seemed way more upset about the 18 pounds I gained since I was there in September. Something about watching the Glycemic Index of what I eat.” He coughed then, to remind me of his condition.
“Well we will find out what that number is on your Klondike Bars,” I offered cheerfully.
Seth molded in his recliner for the next few days. He became surrounded by empty ginger ale cans, glasses of water, and pillows. Two baskets of unfolded clean laundry remain untouched near his chair.
“Oh my head hurts. I feel awful. I have diarrhea. Can you go get me some cough drops?” he said on a Tuesday.
So I went to CVS and purchased cough drops with a good GI number.
“I need some Mucinex too,” he said when I got home. He was watching the Syfy Channel. I went to Kmart and purchased some of the famous phlegm fixer.
“Oh ... wow, am I ever sick! I am dropping weight like crazy,” he said when I delivered his Mucinex. He flopped his head to one side and gave me a slack-jawed stare. “Do I have a fever?”
“One hundred point eight,” I said after a quick lip press. “Are you hungry?”
“No, everything just goes right through me.”
“Boy that’s a shame. Dumb antibiotics.” I almost felt a pang of guilt, but it passed. After all, I throw in laundry when I have the flu. And load the dishwasher.
After a week, Seth’s temperature returned to subnormal. His cough diminished to one faint hack a day. He dragged his emaciated body, 1.7 pounds lighter - a body ravaged by the common cold - to the front door, ready to go back to work.
I stood by his recliner, a woman surrounded by the debris created by a man who barely moved for a week. I had work to do.
“See ya later,” I said. “And don’t forget.... a little Imodium might be a good thing.”
Theresa Timmons’ column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at email@example.com.