Thursday, April 12, 2007

If You're Not Bleeding, You're Okay

With a doctor in the house, statements like, "I've had green poo for three days" or "I think there's a growth on my ass" become matter-of-fact and ordinary.

But although the DNB is good to have around to address such pressing issues, he tends to leave the empathy at the hospital. It's not that he doesn't care when I'm not feeling well, because he does. It's just that he knows too well which ailments are curable and which simply need to run their courses. If it's curable, he springs into action, giving advice and searching Epocrates. If it's not, as most ailments seem to be, he'll mumble, "I'm sorry baby," roll over, and go back to sleep.

This is why when I'm sick, I need my mom.

My mom always knows what to do. When I was younger, I used to get frequent migraines. The routine was the same: as I lay in the dark, trying not to even blink, she would bring me ibuprofen for the pain and a cold, wet washcloth to put over my eyes. Then she would turn on a tape for me, often episodes of A Prairie Home Companion, to give me something aural to entertain me until I fell asleep. Besides, only a mom can deal with three children simultaneously sick to their stomachs in three bathrooms; only she would not lose her mind when I told her later that I didn't want to get the sheets dirty by throwing up on the bed, so instead I leaned over and puked on the carpet.

When the DNB is sick, though, no matter how slightly, he needs total and utter sympathy, along with constant attention.

He lies on his back in bed, covers pulled up to his chin.

"Kiss my forehead," he says faintly, eyes closed with the sheer effort of speaking.

When he thinks it's been too long since I last visited him in this bedroom Cocoon of Death, he drags himself downstairs, looking helpless and forlorn. "I don't feel good," he announces.

"But muffino," I remind him, "You only have a cold."

"But I don't feel good," he repeats, brow furrowed.

He stands in the middle of the living room staring aimlessly for a moment before shuffling back upstairs.

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