The Season of Sick

For four years, my house was a healthy place.

There was only an occasional allergy flare if I accidentally dusted or went outside when something was blooming.

Having a cold, flu, virus, or stomach bug was something we had gratefully avoided for a while.

At least, that is, until my child started school again.

The first week or so, he came down with something.

“He’s rebuilding his immune system,” I thought.

I didn’t know he was rebuilding mine as well.

A few days later, I came down with whatever crud he had.

Two weeks passed, and we were back at the doctor, getting swabbed for strep.

Of course, it came back positive and a round of antibiotics was prescribed, along with something for nausea because this strain also made one sick.

“It’s going around,” the doctor said. “This is the fifth case I have had this morning.”

“He hasn’t been sick in years,” I said. “He’s gone back to school and this is the second time I have been in here with him. The first month of school is not even over yet.”

The doctor just nodded and handed me the scripts.

By some small miracle, I didn’t get strep, but I have caught everything he else he has brought home.

And he has been sick just about every other week with some form of creepy crud.

The usual remedies that have been my tried and true methods have not even made a dent in these maladies.

Oscillococcinum, elderberry syrup, hot tea with lemon and honey – none of them yielded their usual results.

“We are going to need Granny’s home remedy,” I told Mama one day.

“Vicks all over the body?” she replied.

“No. Moonshine.”

As sick I have been the last few months, it seemed like a sensible cure.

At least it would knock me out for a few days.

Just when we would get through one round of illness, another one struck.

It has been a never-ending cycle of crud.

“I feel sick,” Cole said one evening.

“Don’t even start with that,” I said.

“I do though,” he protested.

I knew he did. I just wasn’t ready for yet another round of whatever throat, upper respiratory, stomach demon he was going to be fighting this time.

He somehow shook that one off, only to have it rebound the last week of school before Christmas break, right as he was taking finals.

“If I hadn’t missed any days of school, I wouldn’t have to take my finals,” he said, his head leaning against the window as I drove him to school.

“Well, you’ve been so sick, you haven’t had any choice but miss,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “You know who got to exempt? The kids that have come to school all sick and spreading their germs. That’s who. Because of them, I am sick and having to take these finals.”

I felt his pain. I have always been of the “if you’re sick, you stay home” camp and thought the whole perfect attendance thing was over-rated.

When I picked him up later that morning, he was looking forward to a few weeks to rest and recoup. And Taco Bell, his own cure-all method.

I thought surely a few weeks of rest and in his own familiar environment of germs would help he recover, and we could enjoy the holidays well and happy.

But the next morning, I woke with a tickle in the back of my throat.

“Oh, no. No, no,” I thought.

For the next 10 days, I was sick with whatever pestilence and plague my child had been fighting.

We sounded like a bunch of seals coughing 24 hours a day. There were days where all I did as sleep off and on as I watched Hallmark movies. I am not quite sure if I even showered as days ran together, only separated by the countdown to Christmas on the tv screen.

I went through tons and tons of stuff – cough drops, soup, tea, you name it – before finding solace in the old standby of Nyquil.

“It’s an OTC moonshine,” Mama declared as she sang its praises. “And it will help you rest, which will help you get well.”

I didn’t like taking it, but I didn’t like being sick either.

After what felt like an eternity, just a few days before the beginning of the year, we were back to our old cough-and-mucous free, feverless selves.

Then, Cole had to go back to school.

The first week was fine.

Maybe he has finally built his immune system back up, I thought. Maybe mine was as well.

Then, the second or third week, I had some tummy bug.

I went back home after taking Cole to school.

He was calling by 9:30. “Mom, I think I have what you have,” he said, sounding weak.

Just this week, he has missed yet another day.

It has been a vicious, awful cycle.

I am to the point I do not want to leave the house until all the bugs, viruses, flu strains, and everything else are over.

“Is mono contagious?” he asked the other day.


“This kid at school has it.”

“They were at school?” I asked. He nodded. “Where do they sit?”

“Right behind me.”

Of course they do.

The season of sick was evidently a long way from being over.


Trying to Break The Chicken Rut (7/13/2016)

I wanted a new small appliance and announced this fact to my husband the other day.

He just raised his brows at me, not saying a word.

“I want to make protein shakes. I get tired of chewing sometimes.”

He nodded. He probably gets tired of eating the same stuff every day, too, and I had been in a chicken rut.

“You can’t put chicken in a blender, can you?” Cole asked, grazing on a bag of baby carrots.

“Somebody else may, but I don’t.”

“Didn’t you have a blender?” Lamar asked.

I have had three since we have lived here, maybe a total of 4 since we’ve been married.

What happened to the first one, I don’t know.

I bought one when Cole was a baby because I had visions of making him homemade baby food.

I realized it was kind of easier to buy Gerber’s.

I lost the lid to it one day and quickly found out holding the lid off of a Cool Whip container on top of a blender was not a good idea.

The second one came when I was on a Herbalife kick. The blender worked for a while until one day, the seal somehow was broken.

Smoothie shot out of the bottom and all down the counters, across the kitchen and landed on one of the dogs.

“Fix it!” I begged Lamar.

“This is a part I can’t fix,” he said. “You’ll need to order a replacement one online.”

Said replacement part was more than the blender had cost to begin with, so Lamar discreetly and without discussion, put the broken blender in the trash.

I decided my life was not complete without a blender and decided to get another about a year later.

“Are we really back on this aisle?” Lamar asked as I dragged him to look at blenders. “It’s just gonna tear up, you know.”

He was probably right, but I bought it anyway.

I think we used it maybe five times.
I nearly choked on a piece of frozen fruit that wasn’t even close to being blended.

This thing was not really good for blending anything with ice.

It was stored for a few months until Granny had mentioned before she died, she wanted a blender.

“Are you making margaritas or pina coladas?”

“Neither, I want a milkshake every now and then,” she said.

I took her the blender but with the caution of slightly thawing her ice cream first.

But now, as I said, I am in a chicken rut, meaning if I eat anymore dang grilled chicken, I may sprout feathers.

“If I had buttermilk and flour, I could fry it,” Lamar said.

He has to be the one to fry chicken; I have caused near fires in my attempts that somehow yielded chicken burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.

I get tired of salads. They feel like a tremendous amount of work for stuff that a rabbit eats.

“Didn’t you get a new juicer a while back? What happened to that?” Lamar asked.

“It was a juicer,” I said. “I don’t want to juice; I want smoothies.”

“I like juices better than smoothie,” he responded.

We stared at each other for a moment.

“So what kind of smoothie making blender are you thinking about getting?” he asked.

I wasn’t sure yet.

Then, I saw an infomercial about the Nutri Ninja Nutri Pro Auto IQ Super Sensory tabletop duo thing that would not only make me smoothies, it looked like it could juice, too. Or maybe it just pulverized the vegetables into liquid. It had all the bells and whistles. I mean, it had ninja and ‘nutri’ in the name – it was like stealthy nutrition just sneaking up on you.

“Your own body has been breaking down food to get the nutrients since you’ve been eating, you know,” Lamar said when I told him it would break everything down into easily digested liquids.

“Yeah, but a frozen chunk of strawberry can nearly choke you to death,” I said. “I kind of want this.”

It had all these attachments. It had a big pitcher to make a huge things of blueberry-almond milk-banana smoothie for us. There was even the option to get a food processer bowl or something like that.

“It does look like it can do everything,” Lamar said.

Was he hooked too?

I needed this. I was already thinking of how I was going to be getting all my fruits and vegetables in. I was going to be healthy – healthier than I had ever been in my life because this thing was going to extract all of the nutrients I had been missing.

I wondered, briefly, if you could juice cheesecake. A cheesecake infused smoothie maybe?

I pulled up the website and was set to order, until I saw the price. Considering my history with blenders and other small mixing-type appliances, that sounded awfully high.

Did I really want to be that healthy? I was doing OK on my steady diet of Dove bars and coffee.

I was sick of chicken now, but in a few months, I may be ready for grilled chicken on everything again.

And I would probably get tired of smoothies or juices or whatever concoction the thing made.

It sure would be a spendy item to be stuck in the bottom cabinet behind the cake plate I never use.

“You gonna order it?” Lamar asked.

I sighed.

I think I’ll wait.

And once again, healthy decisions were sacrificed because cheesecake – and chicken — is cheaper and doesn’t take up precious real estate in my kitchen cabinets.


You can’t teach an old dog new tricks (2/10/2016)

Much to her irritation, Mama was told by her insurance company she needed to get a checkup.

She hates being told what to do, particularly by some stranger informing her she needed to get poked and prodded for blood work and to have her insides examined.

“I’m 70 something years old and I feel fine,” she argued to me one day. “I don’t want to go to the cussed doctor.”

Hey, I don’t blame her. I don’t like going myself.

She wasn’t complaining of anything other than the regular old people stuff.

But to the doctor she went.

The doctor was surprised Mama wasn’t on a bunch of medication and told her that.

“That’s easy, I stay away from doctors,” was Mama’s reasoning. “Best way to get on a bunch of prescriptions is to go to someone who will prescribe them.”

But the doctor wasn’t satisfied – how could this 70-something year old woman not be on a bunch of meds?

So she ordered some more tests.

“I can’t eat after midnight,” she complained one afternoon.

Nothing makes you want a sandwich at 11:58 p.m. like knowing you can’t have anything after midnight.

She just knew she was going to starve between midnight and 9 a.m. when she was scheduled to have blood work drawn.

The results were unnerving.

“The doctor said I am close to being a diabetic,” Mama announced.

“Oh,” I said.

“I don’t believe that,” she huffed. “I am fine.”

This is the woman who still insists the food pyramid she was taught over 60 years ago is accurate and chided me over giving my child organic yogurt and sunflower seeds as snacks as a toddler.

“Mama, you do eat too much sugar,” I said.

She snorted at me.

“I do no such of a thing! I’ve cut way back on my Pepsi so I am barely have any sugar at all.”

“Mama, sugar is in things other than soft drinks.”
She didn’t want to hear it.

According to her, she wasn’t eating anything that tasted good as it was – she wasn’t going to give up her occasional candy bar or milkshake.

“Do you think maybe it may be you eat too much protein? Or bread?” I suggested.

She scoffed at this notion.

“You can never eat too much protein.”

“Actually…you can,” I tried to tell her.

“No, you can’t. Your body needs meat. Are you going all vegetarian on me again?”

When I announced I wasn’t going to eat anything that gave birth at age 13, my mother rolled her eyes, fired up another Virginia Slim and told me that was the craziest thing she had ever heard and was terrible for my health.

“I have omitted red meat from my diet,” I explained.

“You’re going to get rickets,” she declared.

“No, I am not. I feel fine and we don’t need as much protein as you think. You are always in fear of not getting enough protein and having excess protein is just as bad as not having enough.”

“Your grandmother was nearly 93 years old when she died and she ate fatback and biscuits every day until she died,” was Mama’s argument.

Granny did eat fatback and biscuits. She also didn’t graze like Mama did or eat as much bread as Mama.

“If you think you will have some massive protein deficiency, maybe you should try limiting your bread. I think that is a contributing factor of a lot of your problems. Celiac is hereditary….”

Mama thought I was being ridiculous.

Similar to our conversations when she smoked years ago, she was not going to listen to any of my suggestions- no matter how valid they were.

The doctors were not done. She had more tests. This time, she was told she has three hernias and would need surgery.

“I don’t want surgery. I feel fine,” Mama insisted.

I didn’t know what to tell her. I worry about her, more than she worries about me now.

“Mama, I really think if you lost some weight, it would help this,” I said.

“Maybe,” she said. “I have lost 2 pounds since I went in December.”

“That’s good, Mama,” I said. “But, I think you may need to lose more than that.”

“I don’t think I eat that bad now,” she said forlornly.

“Would you consider doing what I suggest?”

Reluctantly, she agreed. She would try. But I better not expect a whole lot.

I sent her my copy of “Wheat Belly,” to give her some insight into the way the grains are different now and tell her how maybe her eczema and other skin issues were caused by the bread.

I also sent her a few other health books.

I have had her on aloe vera juice for over a year, but I was going to get her on some other supplements, too. Surely, surely, a better way of eating would help.

When she got the book, she read a few chapters before she called me.

“I’m kind of understanding some of this,” she said. “I admit, it does make sense. But it’s hard to give up bread.”

Yeah, I kind of knew about that.

I heard her chewing on something and asked what she was snacking on. “Oh, I got the best bread earlier – it’s a cinnamon raisin swirl bread, and I toasted it with some butter and jelly.”

“Mama,” I began.


“It’s bread.”

She paused.

“Oh. Yeah, well. But it’s good for me bread. It’s got raisins. That’s a fruit. It’s fruit bread. Right?”

It’s hard to make a lot of changes, especially when it comes to what we eat. But one day, she’d get it.