I’m not sure everyone who cares for the chronically ill experience the same feeling, the same impact. I know I do, but there may be others who handle things better. I just know, for me, it takes very little to color life darkly. The small stuff, a lousy cold, can suck the life out of a good time.
Marty got a cold. It changed my view. Marty sneezed, coughed and wheezed; it colored my every waking and sleeping minute. It still does, it still will until the last dribble, until the last cough is clear.
It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be reasonable. It is real, just as real as the seasonal color changes. The change in her cough colors everything I see and how I feel on a minute to minute basis. It’s just plain crazy to let something so small change not only my perspective on the present but my memories of the past. Crazy clearly is my life.
Marty’s cold came the day before Christmas. It kept us from Christmas Eve services with our children and grandchildren. Given the report of the chaos of those moments maybe the cold spared us anxiety. I would have liked to have had that anxiety with my kids; Marty would have liked to have had that anxiety.
The cold wasn’t the flu, it wasn’t with high fever or the oft times accompanying low blood pressure or low oxygen levels. It was a cold; a hacking, sneezing, snot dribbling cold. It was something simple, but something that changed my perspective on holidays, present and past.
Christmas day was full; Marty rested the best she could given the blowing, sneezing and running. The family was there, the house was brimming with people, with food, with warmth; with all of the good things of Christmas. We sang Noah’s prayer, we ate, we laughed, we traded gifts, it was the red and green and bright lights of Christmas.
But, by the end of the day, when it started to get quiet, when family filtered out the door and the day started to wind down, the color of the day, for me, grew darker as I grew more tense and more worried and more focused on the dark side of my life with Marty.
By the end of the day I had carefully and artfully taken what had been a comfortable Christmas and convinced myself that we had never had a good holiday, that there had never been a worry free Christmas and that I was destined to miss out on the pure joy of any special time because of some cough or sneeze or wheeze. I completely colored our entire life with dark shades.
Normal for most is treating the cold, accept the cold, deal with the snot, deal with the cough, lie down for a day and move on. We don’t deal in normal; at least I don’t see any of this as normal. I see it, right or wrong, as the potential precursor for something much worse than a cold. How’s that for optimism and Christmas joy. A cold is the harbinger of a funeral.
At the dark of that Christmas night I pitied myself into a party. My daughter tried. She reasoned with me, “Mom is stronger, healthier and better able to withstand a cold, we know more than we used to, this is just a cold, we know what to do.”
Doesn’t matter, didn’t matter, I let the perceived magnitude of a moment in time color reality and erase years of reality.
We came home from the lake the next day a day earlier than we had planned. Marty got a bit better during the day but she still labored under the cold and all of the coughing and sneezing stressed her lungs to the point she was wheezing too much. But she got better and just like Erin tried to tell me, Marty is stronger and we do know better how to handle things.
It took me days to gain the perspective to see what I had talked myself into, the tricks I had played with my own head. It took me days and sweating with Gretchen the fitness muse to finally say, I over reacted; I maximized and let the moment take over not only our present but our past. I wish I was smarter, I wish I could see the truth in real time.
We’ve been to Great and Wise, he had a cold over Christmas too. Marty is over the cold and God willing will avoid the flu making the rounds. We did take the flu shot, I hope you did too.
By the way, I did get the same cold and just like Marty, I got over it, just like a normal person does.