Tag Archives: Illness

Wise or Wussy?

In December, we villainize the Grinch, but he’s an angel of light compared to Germ Gremlins, lurking throughout the winter. Eventually, after counterattacks with antibiotics, chicken soup, vitamins, herbs, oils and oatmeal-mud baths, we conquer illness.

Sort of.

Recovering engenders a dilemma almost as uncomfortable as the sickness. Should I return to work? Or continue to nurse my illness at home with medicine and movies?

Our parents’ generation posed one diagnostic question: “Are you breathing?”

If they detected movement of a Vicks®-coated chest, the response never varied: “Get out of that bed, you lazy bum!”

Resistance might result in an employer dragging the unfortunate to work by the toes, à la J.C. Dithers, the comic strip boss of Dagwood Bumstead.

Sometimes a tough stance works. The Greatest Generation accomplished great things.

However, some of that generation also puffed cigarette smoke into kids’ ears to cure earaches.

Today’s extreme critics of the do-while-dying work ethic declare no one should leave home until she/he passes a germ-detector test and submits to a complete-body Lysol® spray.

Perhaps Homeland Security should include such procedures at airports. Sitting by a living petri dish doesn’t exactly ensure safety. Maybe disposable hazmat helmets might be issued on flights?

If an inventor wanted to make big bucks, he might market preschool hazmat suits. Sleep-deprived parents not only would make him a billionaire, but also their patron saint.

Yet medical experts issue warnings about overprotection, lower immune ability and allergies. Attempts to make the Germ Gremlins extinct can backfire.

So how does a person of the Not-So-Great Generation who rejects Gremlin paranoia make the wussy-or-wise decision?

For once, technology proves helpful. Many can work at home until fully well. Opponents protest that this takes all the fun out of being sick. However, the benefit of wearing ratty bathrobes remains.

Still, we must escape quarantine some time. Recovering from flu, Hubby and I craved our church’s spiritual and social encouragement. After service, though, we dashed out the back door to avoid handshakes and hugs.

Wouldn’t a universal “I’m-almost-recovered” wristband come in handy? Then we wouldn’t have to proclaim from the rooftops that we shouldn’t shake hands. That we’ll admire a new baby from afar. That we’ve recently been slimed by sick grandchildren.

Even at the cost of perpetuating Germ Gremlins, we must avoid avoiding others. In John Steinbeck’s 1960s classic, Travels with Charley, he criticized a restaurant that boasted “food untouched by human hands.” Lives untouched by human hands would allow the Gremlins to wreak even worse havoc than the Grinch. We need each other like we need food and water.

I need hugs every single day. Shun family and friends to stay wussy-well?

Not wise.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When do you choose to return to work?

Winter River Walk

During a bout of winter flu, I became one with my family room sofa. Hubby couldn’t tell the difference between us — except that the sofa looked livelier.

Between his patients and me, my doctor husband had been doing care 24/7. When I eventually felt better, he couldn’t wait to get out of the house. “Would you like to take a walk?”

“Sure,” I said. So what, if my brain waves were still AWOL? Enough of the four walls, even if The Weather Channel declared that it was 25 degrees, but felt like -25.

My only exercise had consisted of visits to the fridge (“Stuff a fever, stuff a cold”), so I needed benches where I could rest atrophied limbs. Hubby didn’t want to drive far. Where to go for the nature walk we craved?

We ended up at a nearby town park. Bundled like Nanook and Nanette of the North, we strolled across a pedestrian bridge that spanned icy, silver-blue water. The river flowed, mirroring black-limbed trees, some still draped with fall’s russet finery. Snow patches sparkled in the sunlight. A deep quiet had settled over much of its hibernating shores.

Those whose winter vistas include oceans and beaches might consider the river view akin to an arctic Hades. But on this chilly, sunshiny day, the sharp air tasted like heaven.

Despite possessing wings, clumps of geese and ducks had not succumbed to the siren call of the balmy South.

Perhaps feathered relatives, perching on beach pier posts, shook their heads about their kin’s staying in Indiana.

“Must have made a wrong turn,” one goose told its mate. “Your family never could find their way out of a chicken coop.”

However, the river ducks and geese acted as if they liked it, despite swimming against the current. I had never seen waterfowl swim sideways before.

Maybe they couldn’t find their way out of a chicken coop.

They all quacked and honked at us: “You own a warm house with central heat and a fireplace, yet you’re freezing to death out here. And you think we’re stupid?”

They had a point. Above feathered rants and raves, I heard the family room sofa calling me, and Hubby agreed our winter river walk should end.

I returned to the sofa a little longer. The river community also will remain largely subdued. But an undercurrent of life, stronger than the river’s, flows through the dormant shores. And through me.

Who knows? Maybe even my brain waves will return.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Can you remember a favorite river walk?