Over the last few days I have been feeling a little bit under the weather. I have probably picked up some minor bug – there seem to be a lot of them going around – but it has left me feeling queasy and drained. I am not ill in a big way so do not require medical intervention or oodles of sympathy. It is more of an inconvenience as it has zapped my energy and thereby turned my normal routine into something that requires a lot more effort.
We are not big on sympathy in this house. When someone claims to be ill I expect to see obvious proof – fever, vomit or an ability to sleep for most of the day. I can usually tell when a member of my family is feeling a bit unwell because of the change in their behaviour, but I am of the opinion that a lot of minor illnesses can be sorted with paracetamol and a good night’s sleep. If a patient is unwilling to accept the need for bed rest then they are not that ill.
My attitude was probably developed when I was in my late teens. My parents would have been much more sympathetic than I am and were quite willing to coddle me if I told them that I felt unwell. However, much as I enjoyed this warmth and attention I would not be willing to miss out on a special social event with my friends just because I had a minor cold or fever. Much against my parent’s advice I would dress impractically for the weather and head out into the night where, after a couple of drinks, I would be capable of partying with the best of them. As I seemed to survive this approach to minor illness I decided that how I felt and responded was in my hands. If it was a struggle to get out of bed then I would accept that I required recovery time. Otherwise, bugs could be ignored and life went on.
Once I became a mother illness became a serious inconvenience. Young children will always need to be looked after, and I had no choice but to get up and get on with things throughout their babyhood and young childhood. Even on those thankfully rare occasions when we all came down with some bug at the same time I would have to get myself up to do the necessary bed changing, cleaning and assessing for seriousness that is needed when a child is ill. Once again I learnt that, most of the time, I could take control and keep going when I had to.
Now that my children are older it is easier to do less when I feel under the weather but old habits dies hard and I do not expect to be treated differently. Not so many jobs get done and I have not been going out and about in my usual way but I do not expect special treatment. I had to take to my bed one evening so my husband was aware that I felt unwell and kindly offered to do a child taxi run that I should have taken on to allow me to rest (school arranges 2am meet times for certain trips which play havoc with that night’s sleep). I have done my best to carry on as normal.
I wonder at times how my children will cope with minor illness when they are older. There have been times when a cold or bug has been doing the rounds at school and they have told me that half the class is absent. I do not allow them to miss school unless they appear incapable of getting there. I do not wish to raise them to think that staying home is acceptable for minor ailments. Employers will not be impressed with an employee who stays home with a hurty tummy or a few sniiffles. I wonder if my lack of sympathy compared to other mothers will result in them giving their families the indulgent care that they may feel they were never offered. Given the comments they make about their peers who regularly miss lessons I suspect not.
I am now more or less recovered apart from a continued lack of energy. I find even this suspect. If I really had to get up and go then I could probably manage it. As I have a busy week ahead I cannot allow myself too much rest. I do not wish to spoil occasions that have been eagerly anticipated by moaning about not feeling very well. I shall be giving myself a taste of my own medicine and telling myself to get up and get on with it. How fortunate I am that I have yet to cope with serious illness. Good health for ourselves and our loved ones is amongst life’s most valuable commodities.