Friday, November 11, 2011

The Plague

I have a little piece of advice for all of you this evening. A nugget of wisdom from the trenches of parenthood. The next time your child contracts strep throat, get him the hell out of your house. Pawn him off on a grandparent. Find a nice convalescent home. Hire the homeless guy on the corner who is willing to babysit for some spare change and a tube of toothpaste. Whatever it takes to get your germ-infested child out of your house, DO IT. Or better yet, leave him there and get out yourself. A few nights in a swanky hotel certainly wouldn't hurt any of us, now would it?

I do not tell you this in an attempt to undermine your relationship with your child. Rather, I have your own best interests at heart. When a child contracts strep, it is certainly not fun. It is miserable and pitiful and heart-wrenching. However, a quick trip to urgent care and all is well. By the time a child gets one or two doses of an antibiotic in him, he is back to his old running, jumping, howler-monkey self. When an adult contracts strep, however, it is much uglier. The recovery time is much greater. The illness is much more sinister. I know this from experience now.

Yep, that's right, I am no longer the last woman standing in my house. I succumbed to the dreaded Streptococcus bacterium. Apparently, to my utter surprise, I am not Wonder Woman, nor do I possess a super-human immune system. I am a mere mortal. And for the first time ever in my life, I caught strep.

It was nothing short of hell. I have never in my entire lifetime been that sick. I've had colds and stomach bugs. Hell, I even had a twin pregnancy and a C-section. And never—EVER—have I been as sick as I have been for the last three days. One minute I was standing upright and healthy. The next minute I felt as though I had been whacked in the knees with a baseball bat. I was knocked completely horizontal and stayed that way for three whole days. My throat was on fire and my tonsils were covered with white pus pockets that made it feel as though I had popcorn kernels stuck all over the back on my throat. The glands in my neck were swollen to the point that it hurt to move my head or simply lay on my pillow. I felt as though my neck would explode at any minute. And my head....the pain in my head was like no headache I had ever had in my life.

And can we talk candidly about something really gross for a second? I am a firm believer in full disclosure on this blog (also known as TMI). So let's talk about post-nasal drip. We've all had it at some point, I am sure. That utterly nasty feeling of snot sliding down the back of your throat. A river of snot. Snot you try to cough up, to no avail. Snot you try to suck down, with no success. But that doesn't stop you. You continue to make hideous coughing and hacking and sucking and gagging noises, to the complete repulsion of everyone in your house. This afternoon, I was doing just that when suddenly, a huge chunk of something “came up.” Having never eaten an oyster in my life, imagine my surprise when I hacked up what could only be described as an entire oyster. I spit it into a tissue. Then I screamed. Then I think I cried a little, as screaming was painful. I ran to show Ruanita the oyster I had hacked up (because she married me, and therefore, signed up to look at any marine life I may or may not expel from my body). The kids wanted to see it, too. So, being the paragon of saintly motherhood I am, I showed all of my children the oyster in my tissue. Nicholas recoiled in revulsion and screamed, “Throw it in the trash!” Lucas immediately turned green and said he was feeling nauseous. Sophie was completely unaffected and simply said. “Hmm.”

The throat pain and headache and swollen glands and post-nasal drip and hacking up oysters I had never consumed were all bad. However, the worst part, by far, was the fever. Or rather, the chills and the sweats that accompanied the 102 degree fever. I would spend hours lying in my bed covered up with a comforter, a quilt, an afghan (doubled over), another quilt, a double-layered fleece blanket, and one of my kids' sleeping bags zipped open. I would lay under the weight of all of those covers and shiver. I had goosebumps and could not lay still because my entire body was spasmodic with chills.

Worse than the chills, however, were the hot flashes. I would lay there for hours on end with no blanket in sight. Just sweating. Not moving. The ceiling fan on high. And perspiration would just pour off my body. It would drip off my face. Run down my chest. I would completely drench one shirt, only to put on another and soak it within a matter of minutes. My bedsheets were wet. My pillowcase was wet. I could eventually smell myself, too, which was disturbing to no end. Now, I normally pride myself on being a fairly hygienic person. To lay in bed in a puddle of your own sweat, smelling your own B.O., without the physical ability to get up and shower was nothing short of pure hell. On a positive note, however, I lost five pounds in three days. Five pounds of sweat.

After three solid days of laying in bed, I am finally feeling better this evening. I am certainly not 100%, but the fever has gone away and my head is pretty much ache-free. My throat is still popcorn kernelly, but I know that will eventually fade, as well. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am no longer praying for God to end my life merely to end my sweat. And finally, at the end of day three, I remembered ice cream. That ice cold creamy confection that soothes even the most kernelly of throats. I had a gigantic peanut butter milkshake for dinner while wrapped up in a snuggie watching Kissing Jessica Stein. And I didn't perspire a single drop.

The next time my kids get strep, I am moving out. Seriously. I may have to leave the state. I hear New Mexico is nice this time of year.


Madgew said...

Shannon, this was hysterical and oh so sad as well. Strep is the worse. Maybe should have worn one of those masks. But you are back on the other side now. Hopefully, your new job is not pressuring you to go back to work. But, if they do when people start dropping like flies they will regret their decision.
Also, that chunky oyster could have been from your tonsils. There is a phenomenon that happens when the tonsils fill up called tonsil stones (check it out on google). Glad you are feeling better. You really are a terrifically great and funny writer.

Post a Comment