Sunday, September 23, 2012


This blog has been silent for the past few weeks because I've been recovering from pneumonia. And let me tell you friends, pneumonia sucks. I am now three weeks out from my initial diagnosis and I still feel deeply, deeply exhausted.

The best way to recover from pneumonia is complete bedrest, for 1-3 weeks. HA! That's hilarious. My three extremely active children laugh at your "bedrest"! Bedrest is for LOSERS. The two year old especially gets irate if I try to lie down on the sofa--he says "Mommy! No mommy, no!" and tugs and pulls at my arms and legs until I sit up. He cares not for television, so there is no respite bought by a simpering Thomas the Tank Engine DVD (believe me, I tried. Oh how I tried.)

The funny thing about having a serious illness is that your house does not automatically clean itself when you are unable to do so! The dogs do not stop shedding; in fact, one of them (coincidentally the one with the biggest bladder!) may become so anxious about your new state of lethargy that she decides to pee on the hallway rug. Over and over. The dishes continue to be used, and as such continue to pile themselves in the sink. Little droplets of milk left in sippy cups quickly transform into reeking sludge. And you watch all of this from behind the shackles of your infected lungs, because you lack the strength to even push a freaking vaccuum cleaner.

All food tastes revolting. If you are lucky, you can force down half a can of soup once a day. Gone out the window are your lofty nutrition standards. No more baby kale and fresh berry smoothies for breakfast, no locally sourced roast chicken with sweet potato hash for dinner, no poached eggs quivering atop a bed of brown rice. Nope. The antibiotics you are forced to swallow once a day make the act of eating repulsive. But in order to protect your gut from the evil medicine you *have* to eat, so you try to do so quickly, with absolutely no joy.

At nighttime you crawl exhausted into your bed. You are freezing, so you pile on the blankets and lean against a towering mountain of pillows. You spend the first hour in bed coughing every two minutes. You try to cough into a pillow, so you don't wake the two year old slumbering nearby. Eventually your body gives up and you sleep fitfully until morning. You wake up sore from coughing--it feels like a metal band is wrapped across your ribs and upper back.  You can't ever get a deep enough breath.

You feel terrible for your poor spouse, who has to pick up your slack on the homefront. You haven't had a meaningful interaction with your kids for days. You expend all your energy just trying to stay conscious--nothing extra.

And while this all transpires, while you are at your weakest, the world around you slowly explodes. One of your children is profoundly bored at school and is not able to work to reach his/her full-potential. You try to make it work. You meet with the child's teacher, hacking and sweating your way through an hour long discussion about differentiated learners in a typical classroom. You come to the realization that your beloved neighborhood school is no longer the best fit for your child--your child who needs to work at his/her own pace, to go deeper. You scramble and hustle to find an alternative. You put a call out to the universe and the universe responds with an amazing opportunity--an amazingly *expensive* opportunity. You take a deep breath and push forward--you can make it work. You *have* to make it work. You feel relief at the solution for your brilliant child and deep regret at the loss of your neighborhood school.

Somebody close to you takes it upon him/herself to help you through the illness. You are unable to connect with this person to discuss what "help" means to both of you, and the person arrives on the scene unable to contribute in a way that would make a difference for your daily struggles. There is conflict. A lot of conflict. A lot of extra draining, extra not-helpful conflict. You are angry that this person can't just actually "help" in the ways you need him/her to help, but at the same time cognizant of his/her limitations. You won't ever have the help you need and you need to get over it. You are angry at the other people involved, the people who won't stand up for you in the conflict, who refuse to take sides. At this time more than any other in your whole life you really just need to feel like someone has your back. Your achy, tired, weakened back.

At the same time someone else close to you steps up to the plate in a most unexpected and delightful way. This person has his/her own struggles, yet he/she drops everything to come to your aid. This person does not accept your pitiful attempts to refuse his/her help; he/she shows up on your doorstep and takes all three kids to the park. Even the toddler goes happily with this person, cheerfully blowing you kisses from the backseat of the car as it pulls out of the driveway. Your gratitude to this person knows no bounds.

Most of all you are angry at yourself for still being sick. You hate feeling weakened by illness. You cry with frustration at the things you can't do, things that are necessary for your family's health and happiness. You feel betrayed by your body. What was the point of eating well, exercising 5 days a week, nurturing your mind/soul--what was the point of all that self-care if you were going to be felled by a secondary infection anyway? You might as well have been stuffing your face with peanut m&m's and watching "Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo" all day long.

You wait it out. You have to; there is no other option. Slowly you will regain your strength. Slowly you will pick up the pieces of the broken relationships around you, of the frightening transitions in schooling, of the neglected pets and dirty house.

You will get better. You have to.

1 comment:

  1. I had pneumonia almost 30 years ago and the memories just will. not. go. away. Two weeks of absolute, unmitigated hell. The only good thing was that I'd been trying to grow a beard for years at that point & it was always too itchy after a couple of days -- with the pneumonia, by the time I regained the awareness that I even *had* a face, I had two weeks' worth of nice, full beard. The facial hair lasted 'til it was time for a new passport (I think that was 2006?), but the memories of those few lucid moments while I was sick... well, those will probably be with me when Alzheimer's has robbed me of my name.

    I feel for you, I empathize with you, I understand what you're saying at a far more personal level than might actually be absolutely necessary. :-)

    Hang in there, the disease DOES eventually leave your body, and you DO regain your original levels of strength ("after a couple of months" he mumbles in a quiet aside).

    I'll send some healing vibes in your direction. :-)