Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In sickness and in health

On Monday morning the dear husband woke up with a blocked nose (perfect end to a long weekend, hmph - a long trip back home with a sick man and a teething baby, grrrr, I need another mini-break) and, after inspecting the contents of his man-size tissue, declared his sinuses infected. I made the sign of the cross with my fingers and told him to stay the hell away from me and the kiddo until he was well again. Four hours in an enclosed space (read: motor vehicle) put paid to that idea. By Monday night Ezra was sniffly and snotty too and yesterday morning I just added to his already red-lining grumpiness by whipping him off to the clinic for another bout of vaccinations. In the fraction of a second between the needle going in and him beginning to scream, I could swear he looked at me like I was responsible for every bit of pain he was enduring.

Fortunately for my sanity, my very dear friend Catastrophe (not her real name) had popped out from Germany on a whirlwind visit and the couple of hours I got to spend with her were enough to prevent me from drowning in my son's slimey sorrows. (I really do feel sorry for him, poor thing still gives me brave, watery smiles whilst coughing and spluttering and choking. Ag shame. Is this where the maternal guilt starts? Not being able to wave a magic wand and make him all better?) Conversation turned to illness and I admitted to C that, not being a sickly person myself, I find it hard to be sympathetic to those who are. Particularly when it appears (to me) that a lot of 'sickness' is just attention-seeking behaviour. She laughed as only she can and told me how she lived in guilt for feeling the same way about a friend of hers who, as it turns out, just has a really shoddy immune system. Food for thought.

It's amazing how you can take a thing like a healthy body for granted. I sit here lumped on the couch in perfect health judging those who are less fortunate, while out there are people like Mrs Catastrophe (the friend's mom) who are living in imperfect bodies - fighting diseases they will not be cured of - and doing more with them than I have ever asked of my own. I think I'm a hero for carrying and giving birth to a baby in the prime of my life, Mrs C is close to twice my age, has done the childbirth thing at least twice more than I have, can carry a 50kg bag of animal feed on her shoulders and is running the bloody Comrades marathon this weekend. And every day of her life she has to make a conscious effort to preserve her health, through diet, exercise, medication and sheer force of will. Who the hell do I think I am judging people like that?

I get mad when I have to acknowledge how wasteful I have been with my health, and how abusive I have been with my body. How many times I have forced it to keep going on little or no sleep, on lousy food choices, on binges of alcohol, caffiene and nicotine (and even a few mind-altering drugs when I was younger). I wonder what the catalyst for taking better care of myself will be? A horrible illness to scare the bejeesus out of me? And why am I waiting for a catalyst of that nature? Do I really not have the motivation to act now in the hopes of preventing that kind of thing? It surely is better to be proactive than reactive.

I don't really know how this post morphed into self-flagellation, and I don't really know what I'm going to do to make myself feel better about the way I treat myself. But they say if it's worth talking about it's worth doing something about. So maybe I am my own catalyst.

Aargh. Rant over.

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