Our daughter, Dimples, has been a sullen teenager for over a week now. She is nine. For the past ten days, she has been a bundle of emotions – mostly sad and grumpy – and often dissolving into tears at the slightest provocation. The latest catastrophe was her father’s failure to find the note that she had left on her night table under piles of tissue requesting eggs for breakfast the next morning. He served cereal. This betrayal was almost too much for her to bear.
My alarm at this early onset of teen moodiness was somewhat calmed by her seeming return to her cheerful self Monday afternoon. This transformation coincided with the lessening of her mutant cold virus symptoms – and with their transference to me.
As soon as I woke up Tuesday morning, I felt like I had been smacked to the floor by our bulldog, Wonderbutt, about a thousand times. I immediately understood why Dimples has been so inconsolable lately, and wished that I had been more understanding. The onset of this miserable virus made slitting my wrists an extremely appealing alternative.
Without Dimple’s stamina from dancing and synchronized swimming – and, let’s face it, I’m not even close to being nine years old – I quickly buckled in surrender. I informed the Cap’n I was not going to work today. Not wishing to inflict my startling emotional and physical symptoms on the world at large, the Cap’n concurred that this was a fine idea.
I slept in, and got up about 10 to get some cereal. In the living room, our bulldog, Wonderbutt, looked at me defiantly from his perch on the Cap’n’s leather chair. He had been busy while I slept – dismantling a couch cushion. I sighed. I know it was because he heard me stirring in the bedroom, and was upset I had not come out to visit him that morning.
I went back to bed after the cereal. Returning to the kitchen, I realized that Wonderbutt had decided to add to his earlier work by pulling down another couch cushion, ripping off the zipper, and depositing fuzz and foam all over the floor. It was apparent that his frustration at my retreat from the world was mounting.
After lunch, I decided to sit in the chair with Wonderbutt to assure him that I was not planning to ignore him forever. He immediately settled into my lap and contentedly put his head down. I fell asleep, too, half-sitting up and leaning against the arm rest. And there we stayed for an hour or so, with me twisted like a pretzel to accommodate our 71 pound bulldog, and our happy bulldog snoring with his tongue hanging out as though he had not had an opportunity to relax all day.
And I felt better.
I have a cold. Or allergies. It’s hard to be certain. Not that you care. Not that I am implying that you are heartless. I just think my health is probably not your top priority at the moment. Particularly since it’s not even my top priority.
My actual top priority is trying to think of something to write today. Because I have been a complete wuss and babying myself with this blasted unplanned, unprioritized, uncertain illness, nothing of note has happened in my life. Usually, when nothing of note occurs, I try to write about unnoted occurrences. Or try to make something happen, like teach Wonderbutt a new trick that is doomed to fail. But I don’t even have the energy to do that. Plus, I’m a little disoriented, what with the medication and the movie I talked Dimples and myself into viewing.
I just watched Labyrinth with my 9 year old daughter, and I feel like I was on a two hour trip. And I’m not talking the Gilligan’s Island kind of trip either. Seriously, what kind of drugs were Frank Oz and Jim Henson on when they agreed to that script? I understand David Bowie jumping wholeheartedly into that project, but the mutant muppets and plotless nightmare of a script made me seriously consider asking Dimples if she just wanted to watch The Sound of Music for the 15 and a halfeth time.
A very young Jennifer Connelly is in Labyrinth, and I found myself wondering what it must be like to be so absolutely stunningly glamorous that even I, a 43-year-old heterosexual woman who is desperately trying to find the remote so she can switch off this horrendous dreck, can’t keep my eyes off of her. Many years have passed since Jennifer Connelly played that role, but I bet she has not once ever worn her pajamas for 24 hours straight and sprawled out on a couch with a gaseous bulldog draped over her legs and a wide-eyed nine year old daughter snuggled into the crook of her arm questioning what the heck does David Bowie have packed into those tight pants? (I was wondering the latter, not my daughter – at least I hope not.) I was also wondering if I had mistakenly taken my medication twice. Or maybe I hadn’t taken it at all and had fallen into a coma.
So, anyway. I have a cold. Or allergies. And I do not recommend the movie Labyrinth.
I succumbed to my hypochondria yesterday, and called in sick. I slept in until 10 AM.
And then guilt set in.
There I was, lollygagging in bed with 10 million things to do.
By missing work, that would mean I have twice as much to do on Monday, leaving even less time to do anything at home.
The house was a mess, the dogs wanted to play, and there was a stack of mail I needed to shred after combing through it for any official letters from attorneys announcing that I had just inherited a million dollars from a dead uncle who won the lottery.
So I got out of bed and tended to the first priority – downing a bunch of medication and a Diet Coke.
Caffeine and prescription drugs now coursing through my system, I determined the next logical task was to go back to bed.
But Wonderbutt did not see the wisdom in that decision. Entirely oblivious to the fact that only two humans had left the house in the morning instead of the usual three, he was suddenly alerted to my presence by my rummaging in the medicine cabinet and refrigerator. He decided to bark down the hallway until I made an appearance.
I peered around the corner and told him, “Hi”, but that wasn’t enough. He informed me that he planned to continue barking until I did what I was obviously staying home on a workday to do – entertain him.
I sighed. “O.K. 15 minutes. Then, I’m going back to bed.”
Wonderbutt was elated. He tore around the house in circles, and brought every toy he could find to deposit in front of me. He proudly showed me the pillow he had been in the process of tearing up, as well. Mrs. P.I.B., on the other hand, lifted her head once to give us a “Please shut up” look, and remained stretched out on her side, obviously refusing to have her normal napping routine disturbed.
After Wonderbutt finally flopped down, panting, on the floor, I thought I might just complete one more task before returning to bed. Reasoning that tackling the mail would not be too taxing, I took care of that next. Then the shredder got full, and I had to empty it.
Then I figured I should probably take out the garbage. But the bag wasn’t quite full. So I needed to do more cleaning to fill it up.
Wonderbutt loves garbage bags, believing them to be some sort of doggie pinatas. As soon as he saw me carrying the bag, he revved up for a second bout of racing around the room. It was so exciting that he just couldn’t contain himself. Really. He peed all over the floor.
After cleaning that up, I started to reprimand myself for not allowing myself to take a day of rest. I felt yucky, though. So I figured I would just take a shower, brush my teeth,and go back to bed.
But there weren’t any clean clothes I wanted to change into, so I felt obligated to do my laundry.
You have probably concluded by now that I never went back to bed. So, when Cap’n Firepants called to check up on me that afternoon, I commanded him to never let me take a sick day again, because they make me feel worse than I would’ve felt by bravely trudging through another day of work and taking care of all of my obligations.
I hope he remembers that when he gets sick next week.
My post “Results of a Study on John Denver and Depression” referred to the fact that mental illness appears to run in our family. In “Name this Phobia…” I admitted that I am fearful of dying with a messy house. I realize these confessions may make me sound slightly unbalanced. But I’m actually completely unbalanced as today’s submission will confirm.
I am related to a hypochondriac. I will not mention who it is, although I am pretty certain this relative does not read my blog. So, if you are a relative who is reading my blog right now, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU!
My concern is that hypochondria is hereditary.
So I am afraid that I am going to complain about being sick all of the time.
Which kind of worries me when I think I might actually be sick.
Sometimes when I think I’m sick, I think I’m just thinking it.
Especially if I just happened to watch a drug commercial or chance upon an ad in which was listed a lot of symptoms and side effects.
So, not wanting to appear hypochondriacal, I ignore the symptoms, and wait them out.
But then I start thinking, what if this is something real, and I, by ignoring it, am making it worse? What if it’s cancer, or some as yet unidentified Terminal Illness, and I could have saved myself by going to the doctor three months ago, but now it’s Too Late?
And, I will have to tell my husband and my daughter and Wonderbutt and Mrs. P.I.B. that I have two days to live because I was paranoid about being paranoid.
But that, I think, is exactly what a hypochondriac would think.
And, as everyone knows, hypochondria comes from the Greek word meaning “under the cartilage of the breastbone.” And Greece was the home of Socrates who died by poisoning, so I clearly must choose to go to the doctor immediately.
But I am part Sicilian, and as everyone knows, including germs and cancer cells, you should “never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”
Of course, another part of me is Irish, so I am clearly fearful of terrorists. And I suspect they have been poisoning my food.
But that’s exactly the way a hypochondriac would think, so I clearly should ignore my psychosomatic symptoms.
And then I will start laughing hysterically and pitch over backwards and die.
I’ve been watching the Princess Bride too much.