Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fever dreams

There is nothing “easy” about waking up.

I was in bed, warm and comfortable, sleeping peacefully in a tangle of quilted blankets when the alarm went off.

Not that alarm. That alarm doesn't go off until 6 a.m. That alarm, despite being cloyingly shrill, can be ignored for at least two intervals of nine minutes each.

This alarm, which is soft and gurgle-y, goes off in the dead of night. This alarm will not be quieted with a pat on the head.

Mom … I don't feel so well.”

Mmmmf,” I answered from somewhere inside an unusually deep slumber.

If I had been dreaming the scenes in my subconscious must have been serene and without the usual confounding drama. There was neither the anxious panic of not being able to find my twelfth-grade history class nor the sickening heart-race that jolts one awake just before their dozing psyches hit rock bottom.

Everything just felt a little muffled.

The kitten had padded in, as has been her nightly habit of late, and made herself a beard under my chin. She had purred herself to sleep, but now, her long arms stretched in the direction of the whispering discomfort standing at the side of the bed.

Her movements and the chill sent down my collar bones, helped amplify my son's voice.

“I think it's my tummy.”

And then he ran away. Quick, walloping footfalls I could trace to the nearest bathroom, where the boggy evidence of his infirmity sloshed into the septic.

I was groggily awake now. Awake and thankful for his big-boy ability to aim. Awake and pondering all the ways the schedule for this day would change. Awake, but strangely feeling as if I hadn't slept a wink.

Three flushes later, he was curled up underneath my chin – displacing the cat – in a clammy ball of sleepy discomfort.

Wide awake, I begin composing emails, rescheduling meetings and refusing to realize this might not be a twenty-four-hour detour.

Truth is I do not know what to expect. All around me, people had been falling victim to this new and vile virus. I just hadn't paid much attention.

Tummy upset? Tsktsk.
Nausea? Big deal.
Fever? Bring it. We have the miraculous Vitamin I (ibuprofen).

But this one was tricky.

By late afternoon, my pale-faced boy was rosy-cheeked and raring to go.

And then Day Two came. And with Day Two the tummy upset, the nausea, and the fever revisit.

What the ...

Yeah, this thing can last five days,” explained another mother, whom I had only half heard when she shared the agony of her middle-schooler's malaise. “It seems better in the afternoon, but then it gets worse at night and in the morning.”

Soon, Day Two replicated itself twice over.

Then his sister sashayed into my room during the pre-dawn hours, holding her stomach and moaning pitifully.

Mom … I don't feel so well.”

I sat straight up as she scampered off to the loo.

It was the same thing only different: Headache, fever, vomiting.

The only thing I can do is begin to count all the revised promises I will have to break.

And then the unthinkable happened. The mountain of blankets to my left … the one that has managed to sleep through all manners of viral eruptions for the past eleven years started rumbling to life.

Hon … I don't feel so well.”

I hold my breath. This can only mean one thing:

Three down, one to go.

Oh well, at least I might get some sleep.

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