As You Like It: The Great Schottenfeld Pandemic

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It started with a cough. Not a very impressive cough at first, but as the days passed it grew. Steve kept telling me that he just had a cold, and when I insisted that it sounded like something worse, he got cranky. Now, I’ve lived with this man for 36 years, and I know when a cough is just a cough and when it sounds like his lungs are about to leap out of his chest. But my husband is nothing if not stubborn, and so the coughing and the nagging escalated.

I was nagging because Mariel was home and we were looking forward to Lisa’s visit as well. Having a contagious husband was not part of my plans. I wanted him to enjoy the daughter who was currently here and the one who was coming. Plus, I didn’t want to catch whatever disease he was incubating. I wanted this man on antibiotics now! So I ramped up the nagging and was then joined by Mariel. There was much eye rolling (mine), pleading (hers), and then out and out yelling (me again). Steve was coughing so much that he had to sleep downstairs sitting up so that he could breathe. I was worried because no matter what my husband said, I could hear that his cough was not a normal one. I was sure that he had the plague.

The final straw came when he took my mom in for her physical. She was fine; he was a wreck. Finally, after almost two weeks of threats, he caved in and went to the doctor.

The next day I kept checking my phone for updates. Late that afternoon Steve sent me an email telling me the results of his chest x-ray: pneumonia. I was relieved that he would finally get some drugs to make him better. Little did I know that the cure would prove worse than the disease.

The doctor gave him some sort of uber-super drug so I figured that Shatz would be running hurdles in a week. Unfortunately he experienced all the side effects (and I swear at least 20 more) that were listed on the package. For the next few days he was back on the couch, weak and listless, while we yelled at him again — this time to get him to eat or drink something. I felt awful screaming at him when he felt so lousy. It’s just that I get scared silly whenever he gets sick. I can’t imagine living without him, so if he’s suffering from anything more serious than a hangnail I get a little nuts.

Steve was finally feeling better when I woke up with a scratchy throat. This couldn’t be happening. I had recently been ill and had just gotten my strength back, so I was determined that there was no way that I was going to be sick again. I did it all: ate raw garlic, drank Echinacea tea and gallons of water, rested, sucked zinc, screamed at myself — all to no avail. After a couple of days I had the same cough that Steve had. It scared me right into the doctor’s office, where I was told that my lungs were clear; it was probably just a bad cold. So, equipped with codeine-laced cough medicine and a script for a chest x-ray in case I got worse, I practically skipped out of that office knowing that at least I didn’t have pneumonia.

But the gods were having a high old time laughing themselves silly. Mariel had already left for Houston when we began getting texts from her telling us that she was feeling sick. Two days later she called me wanting to yell at her father — you guessed it, she had pneumonia and was given the same kick-butt antibiotics that Steve had suffered through. I told her that she could not scream at her father — only I could do that. Besides, he was still recovering, plus he had already promised never to wait that long again to see a doctor.

The scoreboard at that point: Steve — pneumonia, Mariel — pneumonia, me — God only knows what, but it was doing a number on me. That Saturday night I had a dream that there was a bull’s eye on my chest, and a few seconds later I woke up coughing so badly that I couldn’t breathe. Sunday I was off to the emergency room for a chest x-ray. Again it was not pneumonia, but my sides were killing me since I had sprained a few muscles thanks to all that hacking.

Mom, after getting a clean bill of health at her physical, came down with a horrible cold. So there we all were — sick, coughing, wheezing, no energy and keeping our fingers crossed that Lisa and Matt would not be taking this gift home with them.

Today’s scorecard: After trying every combination of cough suppressant, antihistamine, and antibiotic, we’re on the mend. It was the vacation month from hell, but we managed to crawl back. Today I even managed to go to the gym and not die. But of course last night half of my class was coughing, wheezing and moaning. I’m thinking seriously of searching for a designer surgical mask to wear until this epidemic moves on. Or maybe I should just go to bed and pull the covers over my head till spring.

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avatar Posted by on Jan 17 2013. Filed under As You Like It, Featured Content, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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