Friday, January 9, 2009


I rolled over and asked Verna how she was feeling.

“Don’t talk to me,” she mumbled, “I’m sick.”

Maya, nestled between us on the bed, woke up and said, “Don’t talk to me Daddy; I’m sick.”

Life imitates life.

Verna came down with some devastating virus the second day into the New Year. Kaiser said it was RSV, which means no fever, no flu, but Verna still feels like crap: pounding headache, raw and painful sore throat, extreme desire to be shot like a rabid dog.

Maya has a slight fever and general malaise, but overall she’s been fine. That hasn’t stopped her, though, from telling me now several times not to talk to her. And also having her mimic her mother’s coughs, where she opens her mouth and emits a low-key machine gun sound. The girl has a flair for drama and excess already.

Where did that come from?

Being sick sucks. It might’ve been different for Verna if she hadn’t survived cancer. But when this virus hit I know that Verna was thinking: “Shit, my body has betrayed me yet again.”

She hasn’t felt much better for a week. A woman I know casually from the park, who happens to be a nurse, said she and her daughter had the virus, and it often lasts for 4-5 weeks. Weeks?

Fortunately for Verna in terms of having help and unfortunately in terms of our finances, I started only a part time job this week, Wednesday-Friday. So I was able to take Miguel to school and pick him up on Monday and Tuesday. And also play with Maya before her nap. On Tuesday she and I went to the library where we got five books, one of which she seems to love most, Click Clack Quackity Quack. She’s been repeating that phrase a lot since then.

Since my job is only part time, I am also busy on Mondays and Tuesdays with freelance writing assignments, finding additional work, and figuring out the meaning of life. But one of my other priorities now is just picking up the slack so Verna can remain camped out on the couch.

So what if the kids get chocolate ice cream for dinner with gummy bears as an appetizer? There must’ve been at least two or three minor food groups in those selections. OK, just kidding. I made wholesome meals: pasta with broccoli, veggie stir-fry with tofu over brown rice, organic macaroni and cheese with tofu hot dogs. Sounds yummy, eh?

Last night Verna decided to use a folk remedy suggested by our witch, er, friend, Amanda, a native of Transylvania, er, England. She told Verna to rub Vicks on her feet before bed and then cover them with socks. Supposedly this will cure Verna of her hacking cough that threatens to explode one or both of her lungs.

Vicks vapo-rub wafting in the living room brought me back to me childhood when my mother rubbed the goop on my chest and covered it with a small towel so it wouldn’t get on my pajamas. The powerful aroma of Vicks means to me childhood, sickness, warmth, being nurtured back to health by my mother.

When I got up this morning to take the dog for a walk Verna was sleeping soundly. I woke her, though, because I had to leave for work and she wanted to make breakfast for Miguel.

“Did the Vicks work?”

“I was fine until three a.m.,” she said. “Then I started coughing and couldn’t stop for hours. I’d just fallen back to sleep.”

Maya would be up soon, we knew, mouth wide open, coughing and telling me not to speak with her.

No comments:

Post a Comment