It’s tough to be sick. The worst is if you’re a baby, of course, because you can’t actually communicate what’s not feeling good and get any meaningful assistance to ease the suffering. As children get older things get a bit better because they can say “I have a tummy ache” or “my head hurts” or just a miserable “ugh, I wanna die.” And once we get to adulthood we’re generally on our own and simply say we’re not feeling great while trying to slog through most of our daily routines in that miserable haze of illness.
By high school you hope that your children are fully able to clearly and accurately convey what’s going on for them. My 14yo daughter has been home sick this entire week and she’s very good at explaining what’s going on. It’s easy to look and see that she’s under the weather too. Heck, her losing her voice this morning was no surprise at all. She lays on the couch or in her bed, distracting herself with a favorite game on her iPad — Plants vs. Zombies, if you’re curious — or cuddling with the cats.
I get to be Florence Dad-ingale and as I’ve found out before, caregiving is really, really difficult. It might be worse for me because I’m someone who appreciates a schedule and routine and her being sick definitely throws that for a loop. But whether I’m in the kitchen making up some soup for her (my trademark matzoh ball soup, of course), getting a new box of tissues or just consoling her, I can feel the underlying tension between wanting her to feel better and being frustrated that my regular work schedule is disrupted.
I can cope. I can work at home (with about 75% efficiency) or sneak out for an hour or two during the day, but mostly what I’m thinking about right now as she’s in her fourth day of being home sick is how caregivers actually do this day in and day out. There’s a level of patience (for your patients!) that I think I just don’t have in my DNA. When I think about the hospice care workers with my Mum on her last few weeks on Earth, it really is so impressive. They were so giving, so gentle, so patient.
And so it goes. K- will be up and about soon enough and I’ll be able to head back to my favorite café with my computer. Until then I’ll take good care of her and only occasionally grumble at the travails of parenting. 🙂