But there is an “us.”
Everyone in the house is sick, except me. It’s only a matter of time. My oldest has a wicked gag reflex and every time he coughs, he pukes. I’ve had to keep him out of school for 3 days, not because he was particularly unwell, but because I can’t have him barfing in class. He has no control over his cough. I dread when he gets a cold.
My youngest gets excessively clingy. I can’t move from her side. She whines and cries and typically sits on my lap in the rocking chair for hours. I start to break out in a sweat, not just from the heat of her body, but from the panic of being confined in one place for an extended period of time. This girl’s got to move.
My husband has a pitiful look on his face, a red-tipped nose, a pile of tissues scattered about the house, and bottles of cough syrup lining the kitchen countertop. Somehow he still manages to get up at 4 am and go for a run in the cold.
When I get sick it’s a whole other story. I still have to go to work and take care of other sick people. I still have to take care of my family. All I want to do is lay in bed and watch Lifetime movies, but that’s not going to happen, ever. When I’m sick, congested, coughing, aching and a patient comes in with the same problem, I’ll admit, I’m not too sympathetic. “I just don’t feel good, I don’t have time for this, I need to get better.”
Really? You think I’ve got time for this? You think I want to be sick? You’ve just got to deal with it, your body will fight it off in 7-14 days, there’s no magic pill, because if there was don’t you think I would have taken it by now (blows nose)?
Yes, it’s a special kind of hell when you are a doctor (or ANY healthcare provider) and you are sick. No sympathy. No one cares. In fact, they all look at me a little strangely, like I’ve done something wrong. Didn’t I wash my hands or follow my own advise? Doctors shouldn’t get sick. Like your hairdresser should never have roots. Your dermatologist should never have a pimple. Your mechanic should never have a flat tire. You get the picture.
I shouldn’t have to get sick, but I do. I’m human, too. I touched the cart at Wal-Mart then bought that delicious Smart Food White Cheddar Popcorn, ate more than half the bag and licked my fingers afterward. My darling children stand 2 inches from my face and cough, spittle spewing unencumbered through the air directly into my nostrils. Patients come in with their 104 fevers, hurling into their wastebaskets that they bring from home. That’s thoughtful, actually. It really is inevitable that I get sick, too. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than me, more like “us.” Mucus.