Seven Steps to Dealing With A Sick Husband
What do Rambo, Superman, Al Pacino, President Bush and your husband all have in common? That's right ladies...one little case of the sniffles and suddenly they are reduced to a helpless, infantile and often whiny disposition. What? You don't think that Rambo's missus kisses a lot of boo-boos to make them better? Is it so implausible that Laura spoon feeds old George some chicken noodle soup while he lays abed watching countless episodes of Sponge Bob Squarepants?
I will build my case first with a true-life story...I call it...
The Christmas Pimple
It was Christmas Eve day...and I had about twenty people coming over for dinner. With just my husband, his two little girls and his mother visiting from Florida, my apartment was already more crowded than I liked it to be...I couldn't imagine what it would be like once everyone else arrived. Still, and call me a masochist, I was looking forward to it. I'd planned an extensive menu of made from scratch munchies and was currently up to my elbows in fresh spinach when it began...
Ed's youngest daughter tugged at my sleeve as I was trying to figure out how to put a frightening amount of fresh spinach leaves into a pot that didn't seem big enough. "Daddy isn't feeling good," she told me, "he told me to come get you."
I wiped off my hands and walked into the living room where Ed was lying on the couch, writhing in pain. "What's wrong?" I asked concerned...feeling his forehead. "My leg!" he gasped, his face white and sweating. I rolled up the leg of his sweat pants to get a look. On his thigh was a boil...a rather nasty looking boil...but still, a boil...probably from an in-grown hair. I got up, went to the bathroom, ran a washcloth under hot water and folded it into a neat square as I returned.
"Keep this on the boil...if it cools down, get another one. Do you want a Tylenol?"
Ed's mother chose this moment to walk in on the scene and seeing her baby in the throes of an agonizing death, dropped to her knees next to him...feeling his forehead. "Oh honey...what is it? What's wrong?" she cried in concern.
Ed's teeth clenched and he barely managed to speak between spasms of pain. "My leg...I have...a boil."
Seeing that he was in good hands, I went back to my kitchen to finish preparations for dinner. Before long, I heard this god-awful thumping sound...sort of like a *THUMP! SSSSSSSSSSSh. THUMP! SSSSSSSh. Thump!* I peered from the kitchen to see Ed, clinging to every surface as he hobbled across the room, dragging his useless appendage behind him. His mother, wringing her hands in a rather distraught fashion was close on his heels.
"Laurie...do you have Epsom Salts?" she asked.
"Yep...they're in the bathroom."
"C'mon sweetie...let's get you into a warm tub with some Epsom Salts."
The bathroom being on the other side of the kitchen wall allowed me to overhear the sounds of the ensuing struggle.
"Just take your pant's off..."
"What...it's not I like haven't seen you naked before."
"Just send Laurie in..."
"Laurie's busy...I'm your Mom...c'mon...stop making such a fuss!"
I have to admit those Epsom Salts really worked...or actually the threat of those Epsom Salts did. Ed came scurrying out of that bathroom with his pants still on and his limp miraculously cured. He retreated to the safety of the couch.
Once I had dinner under control I checked on him again. I was pretty sure eventually the boil would blow like Mount Vesuvius...but at the moment, it was still stubbornly refusing to give. I reheated the compress and placed it back on my husband's leg.
His mother watched over my shoulder. "You know, I don't like the look of it..." she said. Ed moaned piteously. "Perhaps," she said, "one of us should take him to the emergency room." My jaw sort of dropped as I imagined strolling into the emergency room with my husband, sitting alongside cases of broken bones, car accident victims and some life-threatening burns.
"Yes ma'am," the emergency room attendant would say, "what seems to be the nature of your emergency?"
"Well you see...my husband has this really painful zit..."
I looked at the two of them in disgust. "If you want to take him...take him. I'm not driving him to the hospital for a pimple."
Heartless, maybe. Eventually it popped without surgery and no appendages required amputation.
I did learn one valuable lesson though...it was Mom's fault. Oh yes...
Whenever a man falls ill, his fevered brain hearkens back to the good old days when his Mommy tucked him into bed, served him special food, allowed him to watch television and in general made a fuss over him. While Mommy might not be around anymore...perhaps living safely in some warm locale, sipping pina coladas and playing bridge with her friends...lucky for him he has you.
Lucky for you, I have come up with several pieces of wisdom to help you cope during these stressful moments. You are not alone...
This Could Happen To You If You Don't Follow the Seven Steps
Nothing says lovin' like chicken soup
The Seven Steps
- 1. The Remote - Forget the medicine, the thermometer, the chicken noodle soup...without this handy little device you are SCREWED. Once, when my husband was ill, weakly calling my name...probably to give me the terms of his will...I walked in to discover the reason for my latest summoning. It was truly pathetic. There he was lying on the couch...his right arm extended and flapping weakly in the air...the remote lying two inches from his fingertips on the coffee table. "Honey...could you...get...the...*gasp*...remote...I...*weak moan*...just can't...reach...it." I smiled as visions of clobbering him with it briefly crossed my mind. I now attach the remote control to my husband's wrist with some sort of bungee cord. Problem solved.
- 2. Fussing - It is important to give your patient the "Illusion of Mom." Shove a thermometer in his mouth every so often and tell him to keep quiet. Keep in mind that leaving it there for more than ten minutes may raise suspicion...so as much as you enjoy this peaceful time, don't make the mistake of overdoing it. Touch his cheek and forehead with the palm of your hand and make a concerned face. Say things like "Mmmhmmm" and frown. This will actually make him feel better. He will know he is in the hands of a true professional.
- 3. Feeding - You will have to feed your patient occasionally. In their devolved state, things like macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into little triangles with crust removed, gelatin and alphabet chicken noodle soup will work wonders. If they are good, you might want to give them a small glass of milk and some animal crackers. Don't forget the occasional flat ginger ale or 7-up. He'll remember how his sainted mother always gave him that for a tummy ache.
- 4. Medicine - Knock them out completely as often as you can. Nothing says I love you like unconsciousness. If it comes in a cherry flavored liquid...even better.
- 5. Baby Talk - Essential to healing, your big strong man will expect you to coo and fuss over him. Everything he does should be important to you...whether he just blew cookies all over your expensive comforter or had an amazing case of the runs and left it for you to look at and flush. You are the Mom-like being...great and powerful. Gypsies can only read tea leaves...but you can see portents in excrement and vomit.
- 6. Well-being - Whatever it takes, rubber gloves, those germ barrier masks, copious doses of hand sanitizer and Lysol...do NOT get sick yourself. If you think any of this loving care will ever be reciprocated...then perhaps you should take your own temperature. Your miraculously recovered mate may lean over and pat your hand as you try to weakly rise from the bed to tend to dinner or house work and murmur things like, "Don't worry about all of that honey...it's not important." But what he really means is...they can wait until you feel well enough to do them. Those dirty dishes piled up to the ceiling in the sink aren't going anywhere...
- 7. Sympathy - Unless you want to nominate your husband for an emmy performance at some future date, you'll have to commiserate with his misery. It doesn't matter that he puts those soap opera actors suffering from a terminal brain tumor for the third time to shame with his groans, moans and pathetic whimpers of agony...ignoring him will only encourage him to an even more dramatic performance. Pat his hand, stroke his cheek, reassure him that he is very, very brave...and then hand him the Kleenex and tell him to blow.
If you remember these few words of advice, you'll be out of the sick room and back to doing what you want in no time. However, if all else fails...invite his Mom over to take care of him. The period of recuperation seems to be cut in half the first time she offers to give him a sponge bath.