I awoke desperately searching the bed for my pet monkey. When last I saw my dear little Carl, we were working out some intricate choreography while wearing platform shoes and plaid bell bottoms. Carl was perched upon my polyester-clad shoulder, maintaining his balance by clutching my sandy blonde afro. Together with 15 other similarly-clad performers, we sang the theme song of the 70’s group Up With People. When my eyes sprang open, imagine my dismay when instead of clutching Carl and rocking an afro, I found myself in a pool of sweat sandwiched between the Turk and the Midget both sound asleep. No Carl. No afro. Just me entangled in my pink duckie pj's. If there is anything more dangerous than a woman with questionable sanity, that is a woman with questionable sanity suffering from a fever.
On the upside, it seemed that the disappearance of Carl also marked a break in my fever.
The month of January has been one filled with nothing more than bodily fluids, fitful fevered dreams and oh so much phlegm. Just as one patient recovered, the next would relapse. Though it seemed as if the Turk would make it out unscathed, he finally succumbed this week, retreating home from work and hiding in the spare room until his cooties subsided. It’s not that he’s that stoic; it’s that I was that desperate. He was banished to the scantily furnished frigid room simply because the Midget and I could not risk yet another round of exposure to deadly microbes.
Our month of Bubonic Plague didn’t begin with an infected rat, but rather with a tainted Midget. On a brisk Saturday morning, his little Midget body lurched forward with a sneeze. Just one sneeze and suddenly, our entire house was filled with pathogens. That sneeze held uncertain doom for someone but who would be the one to fall?
All of the media hype deeming this the worst flu season to date really got me and in turn, like a good wife and mother, I passed on my insanity to my family. I was determined not to let one of my Turks go down and being a mother, I was clearly invincible. Up until that fateful Saturday, we’d spent the entire flu season in panic mode just shy of lock-down. We’d washed hands until raw. We’d hand sanitized every time we went out into the general cootie-riddled populous. We got our flu shots way back in October. We had utterly avoided all areas where small people with snotty noses congregate since Christmas. We’ve eaten more oranges than the Minutemaid family if there is such a family and we are just plain obnoxious about cleanliness. How could this horror occur? How could our parameter have been breached? Where did Patient X pick up such toxins?
Later that night, no symptoms present, I continued to flirt with danger.
“Mommy! I can’t breaf!” A wheezing Midget shouted from across the hall. After every distant attempt to ease his pain failed, I did the only thing left to do – though I feared it was sealing my fate, a mother’s love is a fierce thing and I did have that whole invincible mom thing on my side. I crawled right onto those Star Wars sheets and curled up next to him. As I laid my head on the Death Star pillow, and listened to the phlegm-filled wheezing beside me, my heart was happy but deep inside I knew, this was my end.
By Monday I was sniffing. By Tuesday I was coughing. By Wednesday I was flat on my back where I remained until the Carl episode on Sunday. My visions of monkeys and afros signified a break but not the end. Finally, over a week later I was capable of somewhat regular daily activity as long as it did not involve bending over and taxing my max-capacity sinuses. As I rubbed in the Vapo-rub and downed a shot of Robitussin on my wild Friday night, I held great hopes for the weekend. I planned to make it up to my boys for having suffered through an extended period of Sick-Mom but as fate would have it, those hopes were immediately dashed by a wake-up call from a barfing Midget.
As we bid adieu to the miserable month of January today, I can’t help but keep my fingers crossed that this will also signify the exit of all things cootie related. But in the meantime, I’ll continue rubbing every surface with Lysol wipes, laundering linens daily and disinfecting every item that enters my humble abode. One dream of a dancing monkey is funny, a second is just disturbing.