Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Monday Memories: Tales from Sick Bay

Ugh... finding it so hard to find time to blog these days, even though I really want to!  Even my normal middle of the night writing time has had to make way for sweet, sweet sleep these days.

But, today I have time to write.  It's election night in Canada, and I am keeping my sweet little girl company on the couch, watching the election coverage while she fights through some sort of stomach flu she's picked up.  Poor girl is such a trooper.  Lots of barfing, high fever, and aches galore.  And, I have now watched Barbie and the Three Musketeers (I know, I know) more times than I care to divulge.

(*Perhaps I should take a moment here to forewarn you that this post contains A LOT of gross references to barfing.)

Kaycie actually astounded me.  While she was clearly very ill, she seemed to be able to compartmentalize and preserve her desire to have fun and be entertained... despite looking and acting like death warmed over.

For example, our first indication that Kaycie was sick was when she up-chucked seemingly out of nowhere at her cousin Maddy's birthday party.  One moment she had been dancing on the stage in Dave and Buster's party room with all the other girls at the party, and the next she was re-decorating Ken's shirt.  When we got her all cleaned up and snuggled into Daddy's lap, I said to her, "Is there anything we can do to make you feel better before we go home?"  Kaycie just looked up at me with dark circles around her eyes and mumbled, "I just really want to dance with the girls on the stage" before dozing off in Ken's arms.

Even more entertaining was her display of multitasking later that evening.  She was laying on the couch watching a movie - eyes half open, feverish and listless.  Suddenly, another wave of barfing hit her, yet as she was spewing her guts out, she never once let her gaze drift from the TV screen.  Even when I came over to rub her back while she was repeatedly heaving, she gently moved my arm out of the way so that her view of the movie would be unobstructed.  It was the weirdest thing I've seen in a while.  Talk about captivated!

As all this was going on, I naturally found myself recalling the many, many times I was sick as a child... and times I wasn't really all that sick (wink, wink).

My dad was seemingly in charge of morale boosting whenever I was sick.  Right off the top of my head, two instances come to mind:

- Once, our family was on vacation at Disney World.  We'd been camping at the Disney campground and I was waiting with my family at the bus stop for the shuttle bus to the Magic Kingdom.  I felt really nauseous, but as a little kid who was DESPERATE to get to Disney World, I was trying my best to hide the fact that I was so sick.  Suddenly, though, I could fake it no longer.  Projectile vomiting pretty much sums up what happened next.  I was mortified that I had done this in front of a crowd.  Always knowing the right thing to say, as my dad gently led me away from the bus stop, he said, "I think you impressed those guys back there... did you hear that one guy say, "I've never seen anyone puke that far before!"?

- Another time, I had thrown up all over my pillow in the middle of the night and (I did warn you about the gross factor, but one last warning in case you skimmed over the first one) basically had mashed it all over my hair.  I sleepily stumbled downstairs and into the kitchen to find my parents.  My dad looked up at me as I said, "I threw up in my hair".  Without hesitating, he said, "Oh... I thought you had put a pretty flower in your hair."  (Note: It is possible that he actually thought there was a flower in my hair... either way, I instantly felt better.)

My mom, on the other hand, always knew what would make me feel better.  Today, I found myself trying my best to say and do things for Kaycie that my mom would have done.  She knew just the right way to stroke my hair and rub my back, and she would always go out and rent me a pile of movies to watch from the couch where I was propped up with lots of pillows and supplied with as much flat gingerale and plain toast as I wanted.

Sometimes she would come up with fun things to help me pass the time.  I remember the thrill and excitement that shot through me when she showed up beside me on the couch and passed me her cassette tape recorder, saying that maybe I would like to record a story or a song with my voice and play it back for myself.  Me?!?!  All by myself?  I was allowed to use the tape recorder?!?  To a little kid, this is a big deal!  I don't know how much time this actually kept me busy for, but in my mind, I had a glorious afternoon on the couch - barf bucket close by - recording songs, plays, stories, secrets, and.... imitations of boys from my class.  Ok... I wasn't the coolest kid in school, but at least my mom might be pleased to know that I don't remember being sick that day... just how awesome my mom was.

I was also prone to what Ken's sister cleverly calls "mal a l'ecole".  "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" was a completely bad influence on me.  I remember licking my palms to make them clammy while moaning and groaning in my bed.  I used to do ridiculous things like set the temperature dial on my water bed to its highest setting so that when my parents felt my forehead I would be so hot they'd think I had a fever.  Actually, that little stunt almost backfired on me when my mom took my temperature and got a reading of 105 degrees F.  I had to confess quickly to avoid a trip to the doctor.  Luckily, I think I was able to pass the whole thing off as me just trying to get warmer overnight resulting in me feeling sick.  I got a bit of a mini-lecture on messing with the temperature dial, and off to school I went.

I do remember trying to replicate the trick that Elliott used in "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial" to convince his mom he was sick.  One morning I realized that I had a test I wasn't ready for that day, and so I got ready to give the performance of a lifetime to get out of going to school.  My mom came in and in my best fake sick voice I weakly gasped, "I.... think... I'm... sick".  Mom grabbed her trusty thermometer, stuck it in my mouth, and left me with instructions to keep it under my tongue for 2 minutes as she walked out of my room.

I only had 2 minutes... I needed to act fast!  Luckily - I thought - I had the foresight to remember to turn on my reading light earlier in the morning so that it would be nice and hot by the time I had to put on my game face.  I scrambled out of bed and held that old-school glass thermometer up to the light bulb.  I stood there looking at the thermometer with glee... this would be fool proof!

Suddenly, the thermometer burst open.  Noooo!!!!  Little beads of mercury fell all over my carpet and I was helpless to do anything!  Not only was I helpless to do anything, but I was instantly terrified.  My mom had always warned me that if I accidentally broke a thermometer to never, ever touch the mercury inside.  I'm not sure what would actually happen if I touched the contents of a thermometer, but I was convinced it would mean instant death.

So, I was suddenly and simultaneously facing my two biggest fears:  instant death AND getting caught faking sick!  How could I have ever thought I could get away with this?!!  I had little time for panic, though.  I had to act swiftly.  I grabbed an envelope from my desk and used a pencil to nudge the little jiggly spheres of mercury into the envelope.  I somehow managed to get them all, and I tossed the intact end of the thermometer into the envelope and scrambled back into bed.

The shame of this story is that I have absolutely no recollection of what happened next.  I likely made up a story about dropping the thermometer, but I do remember that it was very important to me that my mom NOT realize that I was all the way on the other side of the room beside a hot reading lamp when the thermometer broke.

But, back here in the present, I sit here looking at my little cutie pie snoring away, and I can't help but wonder if she'll have cherished memories of her mommy taking good care of her while she's sick... or if she'll just remember that I got in the way of her movie!  If the way she just snuggled into me is any indication, though, I am hopeful that cherished memories will win out.

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