There’s a curious kind of self-pitying spiral you can get into, at any time really, but mostly when you’re sick.
The sniffles start, or your nose stuffs up or the coughing begins, and wherever you are, the only thing you want to do is go home and be in your own space, not at work/a play/the gym/this restaurant. You start to daydream about that chair in the corner by the window, imagining yourself there with a big velvety blanket and a hot cup of tea with lots of honey. You start to feel bad for yourself, sad that you can’t be there, doing that, because that is what illness should earn you.
Then you get sent home. You pile up the blankets and cushions and make yourself a nice little nest. And for thirty minutes, it’s heaven. Your tea soothes your throat with its heat as it goes down, your limbs are comfortable and toasty warm, and you enjoy whatever TV show or bad movie you’ve thrown on.
You’re an adult, doing what adults do when they feel under the weather. That should be enough. You’d think the self-pity was gone at this point. But you’d be wrong–this is the most dangerous moment, when your whining inner six-year-old-with-chicken-pox is gathering its forces.
You’ll notice at first when your tea goes cold or runs out. Suddenly there’s no hot tea to help keep your throat from rasping. You’re all cozy in your blankets, in your window seat. How are you, the sick person, expected to go get more?
Then you get hungry, and the only thing you want, the only thing you can imagine ever wanting, is a grilled cheese sandwich. Made with two slices of cheese, on a skillet drenched in butter. But again–is it fair to expect you to make this for yourself? The kitchen is cold, the stove is hot, you’ve got blankets wrapped around you…it’s a recipe for disaster. Delicious, delicious disaster.
Before long you’re sweaty and upset, half-in-half-out of your blankets, too hot under them and too cold outside of them, about to cry at the stupidest things like a long “buffering” period on a video you want to watch and the only thing you can think of is “DOESN’T THE UNIVERSE OWE ME A NURSE RIGHT NOW?!” You think of those lucky souls who have parents or spouses or significant others to take care of them and you want to sob because that’s all you want, that’s the thing that would make it all better. Then your roommate or friend does come over and brings you some soup and all you can do is insist that you’re fine and that you don’t need their help, and secretly wish they were someone else, usually an unspecified “someone” whose presence would fix everything. Probably it’s Jesus.
And the best you can do is toss back some Nyquil and pray that tomorrow will be better. But you know it won’t be. Because tomorrow will be a Nyquil-head day, and you took the pills to prove it.
((**Liberal use of hyperbole in this entry. Harrison, I did not wish you were anyone else when you came over. Mom and Dad, I’m embarrassingly well for all of the whining I’m doing. Jesus…I thought they said you’d always be there for me, man. I’m still waiting on that grilled cheese.**))