It has been a strange sort of week. With the mid term holiday finished and my family back to school and work I had decided that I was going to make sure that I did something enjoyable for me each day as well as getting on top of the mundane chores that I procrastinate about far too much. I was determined that I was going to make good use of my time.
There were a couple of things that I hadn’t factored into the equation though. The first was an obvious oversight on my part. Although my sons returned to school after the half term break, my daughter didn’t. She had a couple of exams to sit, but was otherwise free to study at home (or not as the case may be) until her exams finish in a couple of weeks time. Now, this isn’t really an issue as, of all the members of my family, she is the most willing and able to look after herself. If she is hungry she will fix herself a meal; if the doorbell rings she will deal sensibly with the caller; if she has to go out then she will remember to lock up the house before she leaves. I don’t need to stay in just because she happens to be at home.
The second occurrence was, however, more disruptive to my plans. At the end of the weekend my husband contracted a nasty stomach upset and was unable to return to work. He spent three days (and three nights) afflicted with cramps and unable to hold down any food. He was suffering, he felt very sorry for himself, and he seemed to expect me to be able to do something to help.
Now, I am not a very sympathetic person. Having spent my three pregnancies dealing with morning sickness, and having to cope with my other children through the last two of these, I know how miserable it can be to feel constantly ill. I also know what it is like to go without sleep as, having my three kids in three and a half years, I had five years of broken nights. I know how hard it is to function through serious sleep deprivation and nausea; I did understood that my husband was truly suffering. I also knew that there was nothing to be done but rest, drink plenty of fluids, and wait a few days for the problem to clear up which, thankfully, it is now doing. It was a stomach upset; it would sort itself out in time.
I used to get an upset stomach every time I went on holiday; I was obviously unable to cope with the change of diet. The most miserable place to suffer this affliction is in a tent. It is also more difficult to cope in a hot country. Now that we no longer go abroad I no longer seem to pick up the bugs, but my husband is not so lucky. We have had to cut short a couple of trips away due to his susceptibility to this type of illness. I was quite relieved that he picked up this latest ailment in the comfort of our own home.
I tried to be a good little wife, ensuring that he had fresh water to sip on and leaving glasses of coke to go flat as an alternative drink that would help keep his salt and sugar levels up. Other than that, there was little I could do other than keep the house quiet to allow him to rest as best he could. I have to say that my main concern was that he had a bug that could be passed on to the children. With GCSE’s and music exams still to sit I did not want my older two to catch anything nasty. This attitude did not impress my patient.
It seemed unnecessary to stay in all the time, especially as I felt that telling him he just had to cope until he got better was not helping. Thus, I did visit the gym a couple of times and went out on one of my long walks. Generally though, I have tried to stick around in case I was needed. I think we are all relieved that he is now getting better.
Good health and pain free living is a blessing that we take for granted far too often. Even a minor illness brings home to us just how miserable life can be, how difficult it can be to find enjoyment in anything, when we are suffering. Perhaps I need to work on showing more empathy; on being gentle and kind rather than realistic and honest. I need to remember that, just because I choose to try to be stoic myself, I do not have the right to demand such behaviour of others.