The last time I had a fever was in 2001, the year I moved to San Diego alone. I had felt shivering cold for a week no matter how many fleece and wool sweaters I layered in the sunny San Diego weather. In a moment of clarity, I took my temperature. Incredulously, I read 103.5 °F (39.7 °C) on the thermometer. The high fever and an unremarkable ache on one side of my lower back were my only symptoms. I quickly called Orchid (who lived 1000 miles away at the time) and said I needed to go to urgent care immediately for an unexplained high fever. He called a friend of mine who had recently moved nearby and said to him, “You drive her. You make sure she’s okay.” It was part request and part thinly-veiled threat, and my friend knew it. Take care of her for me. At urgent care it was discovered that I had a kidney infection. “It happens that way sometimes,” they said, “the infection goes straight to the kidneys.” I remember the week of dizziness and headaches that followed as I recuperated on strong antibiotics, collapsing sometimes on the couch in my research lab as I attempted to work through the fog as much as I could.
Fevers are amazing things. This week my fever was 102.2°F (39 °C). When it’s been years between fevers, it’s easy to forget how a fever feels. But fevers are like a drug your body slips in your drink. The one that makes you feel awful but the feeling is recognizable next time you have it.
As I curled under the covers, thermometer in mouth, loyal cat by my side and a light shining in my eyes that I wished I could darken, it occurred to me that feverishness is a strong memory from childhood. Blanket, thermometer, cat, annoying light, feeling delirious. I have lived the scenario so many times, it seems.
The difference now, of course, is that I can’t devote myself to my recuperation. Even though Orchid graciously let me take a long nap on more than one afternoon, bedtime routines still occur, messes need to be cleaned, food is required and a certain cute toddler demands to be picked up. “I want to hold you,” she says, arms outstretched. Who could say no to that?
I said to two-and-a-half-year old Flowergirl, “Please be patient with Mommy today. Mommy feels woosy.”
Flowergirl laughed a long belly laugh at the funny new word and just said, “Whaddahek?” (her way of saying ‘What the heck?’)
That sums it up, doesn’t it? When a parent is sick, children of all ages, houses, jobs and other responsibilities just don’t understand. What do you mean you need to rest? Whaddahek?
It doesn’t matter how much one is affected. I spent several minutes attempting to determine the correct subject-verb agreement for “the outdoors”. Should it be “the outdoors becomes” or “the outdoors become”? That pesky S threw me off, and why does “the outdoors” – an arguably singular thing – have an S a the end anyway? These were my feverish thoughts, and in the end chose incorrectly.
I look at our cat Morpheus lounging in bed all day with a new envy. He slumbers endlessly and his responsibilities consist of sitting on people when we need to be sat upon and being an excellent nap companion. Important jobs with a great sense of personal accomplishment, I suspect.