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In Sickness and in Health…

burbfam-240x238-brandEveryone thinks of me as a kind and caring individual, and I am for the most part. I’m compelled to help others.  It’s what I do. Elderly neighbours, my parents and friends, I’m the person everyone counts on in times of need.

 Having said that, I’m left wondering why, when my husband is sick these days, I have to dig deep to muster up that sensitivity and compassion. It wasn’t always like this. 

I remember as newlyweds, him being sick with the flu. I have a photo of him sitting in bed, impish grin, white sock tied around his neck, with a breakfast tray on his lap, complete with a flower in a vase. Proof, that at one time, I took good care of him. I remember telling my mom how cute he was when he was sick. She just laughed that knowing laugh, which now I know meant, give it time. Well I’ve given it time, twenty- three years to be exact, and things change. Things like leaving his underwear on the floor or leaving the bathroom a mess aren’t so cute to me anymore. Could it be years of taking care of everyone, has finally weighed on me to the point I want to yell,  “You’re a big boy now, take care of yourself!”

 So he’s in week three of a viral, cold thingy. I have been getting up early to drive him into work, and picking him up at the end of the day so he doesn’t have to walk. I’ve made soup and cut up fruit and taken it to him on a tray in bed. I’ve made him tea, and brought him fresh water with a slice of lemon countless times. Despite me doing these things, he feels that when he’s sick, I can’t stand to be around him, or I’m ‘mad’ at him. I don’t know why he would think that, unless when I’m asking, “Is there anything else I can get you?” he’s actually developed the ability to read my mind screaming, “For God sakes, it’s just a cold, suck it up!”

 He will be the first to admit I have a higher pain threshold than him. It was apparent after the premature birth of our son. A two- hour ambulance ride, an emergency cesarean, I looked like I’d gone a round with Mike Tyson. My face and body had swelled up, my eyes were black, I was bruised all over. Doctors said it had been touch and go for both of us.  My husband came to visit and seemingly oblivious to my condition, proceeded to tell me how much pain he was in due to an infected ingrown toenail. I smiled and patted his hand.  Inside I was yelling,  “Are you freaking kidding me?”  Those were the early years, and he hadn’t developed the skill of reading my mind yet.

 I know I sound harsh, and I shouldn’t be so judgmental, after all, I’ve never had an ingrown toenail.  I can’t say how it compares to giving birth and having your body ripped from one side to the other.  Let’s just say people, not just men and women, handle pain differently.

 He says the house is never cleaner than when I’m sick.  I tend to push through an illness, fight it off, whereas he succumbs almost immediately upon sensing a sniffle, and takes to the couch with a blanket and box of Kleenex. The few times when I’ve been sick enough to warrant some care, he insists I go to bed, closes the door, never to be heard from again.

 Well I’m happy to say he is on the mend. The hacking sound that’s been filling the air for weeks has subsided. I am no longer being given a play by play of what stage his illness is at.  There are no used Kleenex bags littering the floors. Things are returning to normal. I am happy for him, I am happy for us.

 However, as I’m saying this, I’m very aware of the tickle in the back of my throat and the tingling sensation in my nose, my forehead feels warm. Enough with the writing, time to start scrubbing floors!




1. Hali - February 25, 2009

Never mind scrubbing floors – lay on the couch and wait for the tea and fruit to come your way. You deserve it. Maybe as women we don’t allow ourselves to be looked after – so relax and give it a try!

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