Have you ever been a burden to your family? These final three days of February, I’ve been bedridden and, in the words of my wife, “disgusting.” No doubt. I am disgusting. Having a fever of 103 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, despite Foreigner’s attempts to make that situation sound sexy.
This influenza bug has my face puffy, my lips cracked, my nose dripping and sneezy at first, then clogged as my sinuses began to swell. My joints and spine have been aching- especially at points where I have some chronic chiropractic issues. My eyes are all squinty because light sources feel like a fistful of electromagnetic knives. Because I can’t breathe through my nose, drool tends to line the sides of my face when I’m slumbering. And then there’s the coughing. It’s loud, erratic. It’s the type of abrasive self-important sound that I would frankly find annoying were it coming from someone else.
The worst part is not being able to be around my kids. If I could just trade all the contagious viral bodies for some energy and the ability to move around without getting dizzy, I could help share some of the parental burden and joy. Being with my children provides my wife a chance to get some space of her own, which she often loses due to staying home with the kids while I work.
As it is, my wife’s been pulling 24-hour duty tending the kids and me, with some brief respites provided by each of our amazingly supportive parents. Thankfully, everyone lives nearby.
I’ve pitched in with a little middle of the night housework, which hasn’t helped a ton. There’s too much I shouldn’t be touching/infecting. The number one goal of the last three days has been to keep me away from the kids so they don’t get sick.
This bout of influenza has me thinking about end of life issues. Not just for me, but for the people in our life who get sick and infirm. How awful to feel like a burden to your family in the final stages of life. I’ve written before about how blessed I felt to share a lot of time with my grandfather before he passed away. It didn’t feel burdensome to me to sit with him at the nursing home, but I can imagine that if/when I’m in that situation, I may feel totally guilty for what my health would be doing to my family.
I feel like there’s an important lesson I should be learning from this experience. I don’t know what it is, yet, but I believe it has something to do with honest compassion and the joy of being around other people you love.
One minor lesson I have learned is that the final temperature I can reach before I start talking out loud to myself is 101.7.