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Man Sick

Okay, I'm man sick. As any man will tell you, being man sick is far worse than when a woman gets sick and I can prove it.

Last week, the Lovely Louise had a cold. She sniffled and coughed for a couple of days but went on with her business with no problem. Last Friday, I finally caught her cold. By Sunday, I was dying. It's now Monday, and while I'm not actually dead yet, it's only a matter of time. I know this for a fact because it happens a couple of times a year. The only mystery is why I haven't expired before.

Years ago, my oldest daughter and I used to have contests to see who would be sicker. I would get the flu, take my temperature, and wave it in front of her. “See how sick I am,” I would shout triumphantly to her and my wife. “102° fever. Beat that, kiddo!” Of course, she would catch the flu from me and immediately go to 103°. She just had to beat me. I hate losing.

For the last few years, every time I've caught a cold, it has turned into acute bronchitis. Every time. While I understand that it's typically a viral infection and there's really not much you can do, my doctor prescribes Levaquin, Prednisone, and Tussionex to get me through. Levaquin is an antibiotic to keep my immune system from crashing. Prednisone is a steroid and makes me feel like Superman. (I can understand why athletes take steroids; they're amazing!) Tussionex is a narcotic cough medicine; it immediately kills the cough and I sleep for days. Good stuff!

By the time all the medicine starts to wear off in about ten days, I'm over the worst of the bronchitis. The biggest problem is that weaning off Prednisone makes some people (like me) overly emotional. I remember one time when I was at the end of the steroids and watching TV, and I saw a dog food commercial. They had put a bowl of dogfood on the counter where the dog couldn't reach it. The dog looked so sad I started to cry. Those mean bastards, I thought, how could they torture the dog like that? Tears rolling down my face, all I wanted was for the poor dog to get his damn food. Yup, steroids are funny.

Every winter I have business in Cape Cod and have to fly from Florida to Boston. I hate it. A flying tube full of runny-nosed people coughing and hacking and no outside air. I get sick almost every time.

About two years ago, I flew home on February fourth. By the sixth, I was in full-blown bronchitis hell. I did the Facetime thing with the Lovely Louise, who thought I looked terrible. Putting on a brave face, I told her I was fine, and since we were buried in snow I was just going to hunker down and fly back when I could. The next day I tried calling her, but there was no answer. Louise always answers her phone. When I still couldn't reach her by six o'clock that night, I got concerned. I was just about to call the police to check on her when she called. She told me her phone’s battery had run out and she had just gotten it recharged. We chatted for a minute and she promised to call back a little later. When she hadn't called back by nine o'clock, I tried to reach her. No answer again.

Now, picture this. I'm all alone in our house on the Cape. There's about three and a half feet of snow on the ground. No one knows I'm there except Louise. All the lights in the house are off and I'm sitting in the sunroom, bundled up in blankets, watching TV, and surrounded by Kleenex boxes. I'm worried about Louise because I can't reach her and I'm thinking of calling the cops.

Out of nowhere, I hear the back door open and footsteps coming down the hall to the sunroom. My first thought: serial killer! And I don't have my shotgun handy. The hair on the back of my neck goes to full attention and adrenalin starts coursing through my body. I'm in full fight-or-flight mode when in walks … wait for it … the Lovely Louise!

She was worried about how I’d looked the day before and decided to fly back to Cape Cod to take care of me. She wanted to surprise me, and well, she certainly did that! Once I got over the shock of having been scared so completely, I once again realized what an incredibly lucky man I am to have found a woman who would do that for me.

Even more important, I found a woman who understands that being man sick is always a life-and-death situation, although I don't think she really believes it. At least she tolerates my moaning, groaning, and complaining without killing me. I do understand, however, that her patience and sympathy only go so far, so if someday you don't see me posting here regularly, please check to see how our tomatoes are doing. If they're growing extraordinarily well, please check for my DNA in the soil, because whenever she threatens to kill me, she always threatens to bury my body under the tomatoes.


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