For some, a marker they’ve reached adulthood can come in the form of signing a lease, buying a household appliance, or sitting on hold with the insurance company after filing a claim. One defining moment for me came when I was a young mom caring for my infant daughter and I became very ill. I did my best to take care of her (it wasn’t pretty, but I muddled through), all the while wondering who was going to take care of me. I was grateful for my husband’s presence, but since he couldn’t breastfeed the baby, I was still on mom duty. Though I relished being a mom most of the time, when I was running a 102 degree fever, all I wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position under a mound of blankies, watch cartoons, and have my own mom bring me strawberry jello.
The oft-quoted African proverb says it takes a village to raise a child. Like most of us moderns, I didn’t have a reliable village on hand. Instead, I learned, as they say, to adult. It’s been nearly 34 years since I was initiated into adulthood via caring for a baby when I was ill. During the last three weeks, I’ve had the norovirus (in other words, a wicked bad case of the stomach flu) with a strep chaser. All things considered, it is easier to be ill without the responsibility to caring for little ones. But still, adulting while sick requires a bit of advance planning and a big stack of hall passes so you can ferment in peace until you recover. Here are some pro tips you may wish to use if you don’t have anyone bringing you strawberry jello on demand.
Have more sweats, yoga pants, and old T-shirts on hand than you think you’ll need. You will schvitz, you will stank, and you don’t need to worry yourself with creating a fresh supply of ratty clothing via having to do a load of laundry.
Like the people who stock up on water and batteries prior to hurricane season in FL, you should keep some cans of chicken soup in your cupboard. Extra adult preparedness points for having homemade stock in your freezer.
If you have to go see the doctor, ponder for a moment how many sick people have touched the doorknob leading into the office before you arrived. Consider donning a hazmat suit.
Things with plots (like movies) are way too much work when you’re sick. This is when basic cable comes to the rescue. My grown-up version of all-day cartoon watching includes shows like History Museum Hunters, American Pickers, old Dick Cavett episodes, documentaries on PBS, a little news to get the blood pumping, and some Chip and Joanna. Stay away from the Food Network at all costs. You do not want to watch people baking cakes or sauteeing octopus when you are sipping lukewarm canned chicken soup.
If you solicit medical advice from your Facebook friends, be prepared for wisdom and zaniness, all in a single comment thread. My recent bout with strep netted me a suggestion to gargle with a bit of cayenne (some logic there) and eat applesauce mixed with garlic (nope).
Your email inbox will continue to pile up like when you’re on vacation. Resist the temptation to check it. Or worse yet, try to answer it. It is likely you will either send something that even the codebreakers during WWII couldn’t decipher or you will co-sign on a loan with a Nigerian prince.
Even if it is 30 below zero when you start to recover, open the windows in your house for a few minutes. It’ll do wonders for that funky air in the house.
What other sickness-while-adulting tips would you add to this list?