I’m not a very nice wife.
When my Other Half gets sick, I don’t usually respond in a mothering and loving way. First of all, I’m not HIS mother, I have my own children. Second of all, he’s a real pain when he gets sick. His tolerance for pain on a scale of 1-10 is a 1. My tolerance for pain is a 10. We 10s have a problem empathizing with 1s. In our view, they lack the moral fortitude to ‘suck it up’ and play ball. I could look beyond that, but he’s such a jerk when he’s sick that it’s hard to be around him at all, let alone minister to him.
Last Tuesday he told me he didn’t feel well. My response was a short, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Hope is Power came over with her chillens and her Dr. Husband (not that kind of doctor.) Hope brought some berries and ice cream, while I supplied the cake and whipped cream. Doctor set off the fireworks and the chillens ran a little mad. Other Half, however, was dour and sullen. He felt bad! I took it as one of his normal and regular battles with intestinal bugaboos and let it go.
The next day he thought he felt better, but later that evening he walked into our living room making a sour face and hit his chest with his fist. “I don’t feel good,” he said. I, as usual, chalked it up to one more ill-advised visit to the other woman in our marriage, Wendy. “Mmm,” I said. I’m always chalking things up—usually to his late bedtimes, lack of exercise, and poor diet. You would think that considering how sensitive his body is he would stop with the soda and the fast food. ‘Tis not so, my friend, he pushes the limit and pays the price.
Some people say El Guille gets his dramatics from me, but let me tell you, Other Half is a significant contributor as well. That’s part of the reason I have a hard time believing him—when he gets sick he has never been sicker, never been in this much pain, never been so sensitive to his surroundings. Like the time he thought he was having a heart attack and it turned out to be heartburn (pepperoni pizza.) He’s just like my dad: a pill when he’s sick. Other Half gets sick often enough that I never know when he’s REALLY sick. We’ve become all too familiar with the Urgent Care place nearby because he’s also only REALLY sick on weekends and afterhours.
I had just put Proximo to sleep in the wee hours of Thursday morning when Other Half got up insisting he was STARVING and could I fix him something? I heated up some buttered noodles with parmesan and parsley. He ate three bites, announced he was both stuffed and that the food was disgusting. All day Thursday was not much better.
Friday, he was a wreck. I left him, prostrate on the couch, with one kid rolling at his feet and the other hitting him with Murdock the Train. He called me at work and told me that he had visited the porcelain gods; offering repeated sacrifices. I could tell he was honestly sick because he wasn’t complaining.
Saturday he complained.
Sunday, at 10:00 at night he said he’d had enough and that I needed to drive him to the doctor. I am beside myself with not caring. I resolve to lecture him on his diet and the poor way he treats his body, but I don’t. He actually broaches the subject, volunteering that he needs to change his ways. Yes, I want to say to him, because it’s not just you, it’s all of us that are affected.
Urgent Care, how I love thee! I’m so used to being there I came prepared: I re-arranged the chairs, brought my water bottle, plugged in my phone, put my legs up, nursed Proximo, watched Jeeves and Wooster, and read a book. An hour later, Other Half emerged from the offices with a sad face.
I resolve to be nice. I need to be nice to him.
He’s been nice about the baby blues (mostly) and I need to empathize with him.
We drive to the pharmacy and he makes small jokes. My heart softens, a little. I laugh when he tells me that the doctor prescribed Cipro. “Cipro?!” I howl.
“Yeah, why?” he says.
“That’s what they use to treat Anthrax.”
“Do you think I have Anthrax?”
“I don’t know. Have you been doing any farming lately? Or received any letters with white dust in the mail?”
“I thought that was just a sample, so I sniffed it. Was that wrong?” We giggle a little.
In line at the pharmacy, some weird woman touches Proximo’s foot and is going for his hands when I swing the car seat 90 degrees in an avoidance maneuver. “EXCUSE ME,” I want to say, “If you’re in LINE at the PHARMACY to pick up MEDICATION because you’re SICK don’t TOUCH my BABY.” But I don’t, I go pick out paper towels and a Ritter Sport instead.
I return to the waiting seats where Other Half has a different pained look on his face. Weird Woman is chatting to him a million miles an hour while he rocks Proximo. I sit down, pull out my iPod and share my earbuds. This shuts up the Weird Woman. We watch Mitch Hedberg's stand up special and wait for his prescription to be ready.
Other Half and I drive home. He asks me to remind him in the future of this sickness so that he can dial it down a little in comparison.
I smile and promise to be nicer.