Women have something in them that fools them into thinking they are Super Woman. Well, for me it’s Wonder Woman (I even had the Underoos to prove it. And the aluminum foil bracelets. And the crown). So, when I get sick, I live in total denial for several days.
“I’m fine,” I croak, crankily.
I gargle garlic juice and take hot showers. I drink huge amounts of tea and put my hair up so it doesn’t stick to the back of my clammy neck. I google my symptoms and realize I’m dying of a flesh eating disease. Eventually, the sore throat begins to get worse. Where a scratchiness was a moment ago, a full on forest fire the likes of which California has never seen, is breaking out now. My voice begins to go, which small totally children take advantage of.
“What’d you say, Mommy?” I hear as they run off to wreak havoc and take over the free world, “We didn’t hear you! Did you say DO put the baby on a leash and DO dress up the neighbor’s cat? OKAY!”
My insides turn to sandbags. Is it my kidneys and liver and spleen shutting down, or am I just exhausted? Do I even need my spleen? What’s with the sudden bouts of narcolepsy?
Then the coughing begins, and I sound like a bull frog with a smoking problem. I hack up my spleen and learn having it on the inside of me was optional after all. Like my tonsils, wisdom teeth, and appendix. Which all seem to be dripping out my nasal cavity.
Still, I do not admit to being sick! By golly, I may be a little under the weather. But I can beat this. For crying out loud, I fly an invisible plane and karate chop Nazis for a living, I think I can beat a wee little head cold and still teach phonics! Pshaw!
Speaking of air planes and Nazis, I start to see strange things. Am I hallucinating due to a fever, or are there really purple life size Gummy bears in my office? Do I embrace them or eat them? Why is it so hot in here?
Still, I do not admit to any illness. On the sly, I may be sipping Nyquil like it’s a juice box, but that’s a total coincidence.
As if to punish me for ignoring them, the Porcelain Throne Gods demand a sacrifice and a thorough worshipping at their alter. Knees knocking together, I answer their call. They are angry with me and I have to prove my loyalty to them by sticking around for oh, about three days.
I haven’t combed my hair or put on make-up in a week. I keep my bangs slicked back with homemade, organic hair gel (boogers and spit). My nose looks like I was stung by a mass of killer hornets with pink Kool-Aid in their stingers. I’ve gone through so many rolls of toilet paper for blowing my sore snozz that I’ve had to ration the remainder in the kid’s bathroom: three squares for #1, five for #2. We can’t have company over because they might have to use the bathroom. Also, since I have The Plague (or is it The Black Lung?) they wouldn’t want to come in anyway.
Now comes the point where I admit I might be sick. After a full week of hearing people in my life tell me to go to the doctor, I am finally at that space. That space where I can admit I need help. Help of the narcotic variety, that is. A little Codeine? Don’t mind if I do. A Tylenol cocktail? Why, yes, please. Bubble gum flavored antibiotics? Come to mama.
Of course, deciding to see a doctor and actually seeing a doctor are too entirely different scenarios. In the scenario in my mind, I call, they answer, I go in, they are glad to see me, I get medicine, they say goodbye, I come home. What really happens:
They don’t answer.
I have some lovely flute music to occupy myself while I am on hold for thirteen years.
Christmas comes and goes. My baby graduates from college.
Eventually, they come back on the line and what do you know? I’m still sick.
They can squeeze me in in three days.
I’ll be dead in three days, I say.
Okay, come in now, they agree.
I go in.
They are busy. Small children sneeze on me, and one licks me.
I read Redbooks from 1989. Crickets chirp. Tumbleweeds tumble by. I’ve heard every song Michael Bolton ever sang on the soft rock station. Twice.
They call me back.
I explain my symptoms. Well, not really. My voice is gone at this point, so I charade my symptoms.
Flailing wildy, I make gestures and do a little improv interpretive dancing.
You don’t feel well? The doctor asks, as I back flip over the table and mime Scarlet Fever. I land to a 9.5 from the Romanian judge.
I nod, in relief.
Would you like something for that? The doctor asks.
I embrace him fondly and get snot on his coat.
He writes me prescriptions. I mime a marriage proposal but he declines.
The thought of driving to the pharmacy to pick them up makes me cry, but I am strong! I am Wonder Woman! I am invincible!
Before I brave the horrors of the pharmacy, I need a nap. And some tea. Maybe a sandwich.
Afterwards, I feel a little better. I skip the prescriptions, toss what’s left of the Nyquil, undress the neighbor’s cat, and comb my hair.
I hear my husband sniffle gently.
Horror crosses his face. “I’m so totally sick! No one’s ever been so sick! I’m calling in sick! Honey, I’m sick, would you make me some soup while I go immediately to the doctor? I’m sick!”
Ah, my hero. My manly man. He of the bulging biceps and raging testosterone. My G.I. Joe.
“Don’t get too close,” he gasps, as I rub his chest with Vapor Rub. “I wouldn’t want you to catch this…don’t want you getting sick…I can take it though…is my soup ready? My soup, cuz I’m sick? Man, I’m so sick,” snarf. Blurp. Snoffle. “I’m so glad you didn’t catch this, honey. Aren’t you glad you didn’t get sick?”
“Don’t worry,” says I. “I never get sick.”