I was at the Phantom of the Opera, in Las Vegas, when the Norovirus hit. I had wanted to see that stage production for fifteen years and finally, I was there. You can imagine my disappointment when I had to run from the theater praying that I would have the strength to walk the half mile or so across the street to The Mirage hotel and through the massive building to the elevator and up to my room. There is where I spent the rest of the trip…in my room!
I wondered how I could have caught the virus, since I was so meticulous about washing my hands and keeping them away from my mouth, and all of the other things that we are told to do to avoid getting sick. Yet, there I was, the sickest I can ever remember, and no one to take care of me. My sister was there, but I didn’t want to expose her to the virus, so I told her not to come around me. I suffered through it alone and managed to take enough medicine to make the flight, and the drive home from Knoxville.
A week or so later, I rolled over in bed and saw the time on the bedside clock. I jumped to my feet wondering why my husband hadn’t awakened me before he left for work. I had a bridal consultation in thirty minutes, so I was nearly in a panic. I ran up the stairs and as soon as I got to the top I hear “OOOOHHH!” , “OOOOHHHHH LOOORDY!”. I ran down the hall to find my husband in the guest room, with his arms outstretched across the pillows, writhing and moaning. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I’ve got food poisoning from that chicken you fixed last night.” I said, “You don’t have food poisoning, you have the Norovirus. I ate that chicken too and I’m just fine.” “NO, it’s food poisoning, it won’t come up and it won’t go down.”, he insisted. I informed him that he would have to take his writhing downstairs to our bedroom, because I had a bride and her mother coming in a few minutes and he couldn’t be across the hall moaning, “OOOOHHH LOOORDY!”
While it may appear that I have no compassion, my female readers will understand me perfectly. A sick two-year old is easier to deal with than an ill, grown, adult male. There are exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, men feel they should call 911 for a hangnail. For sure, the world is supposed to come to a screeching halt so that their needs can be met.
During every consultation with a bride, my cell phone would ring and it would be Chuck. He was calling from downstairs. “Are they still here?” in the most pitiful voice that he could muster, he would ask. “Yes.” I would calmly reply. “Could you bring me a popsicle?” “Would you crush me some ice?” would be the requests. When the women would realize that it was my sick husband, they would knowingly giggle.
About day four, I begged him to take a shower, but he told me it was too soon, and that he was too weak. I wanted to say that he was stronger than he thought, but odor wasn’t everything.
It was Thursday evening, a week after the virus hit. Amidst running a business, scrubbing toilets, doing laundry, and multiple trips to the store for medicine, Gatorade, and other things that would make him more comfortable, he arose and announced that he was going to take a shower, requesting a “baked tater” for when he got out. I was so relieved that he was feeling better. I put the potato in the microwave and continued working on the seven cakes I had to bake. Three were due the next day at noon, so I was working pretty frantically trying to get them baked, iced, and decorated.
How a man can make his way up a flight of stairs at 3:15 am, five feet away from the kitchen, and ask his wife (who had been working full-time, and taking care of her husband, and had just gotten to bed at 3:00 am on the couch, because the other beds had been contaminated by said man and there had been no time to disinfect them) to crush him some ice, takes guts! However, the dutiful wife, who shall remain nameless, drags herself up, rolls up ice in a kitchen towel, and proceeds to hammer the ice with a meat mallet, so hubby dearest can get some relief from his thirst.
Friday morning, at about 10:00, I had the mixer running making the third cake, which was due by noon. My sick, but feeling better, husband came into the kitchen. “Can you make me some frozen biscuits?” He asked. “No, honey I can’t. I am making this cake and it requires that the oven not be pre-heated when you put it in. I can make you some wheat toast or a bagel. That would be better for you than a biscuit anyway.” I was kind! He whined! “I can’t eat nothin’ colored!. I can’t believe you won’t make me a frozen biscuit. I’ve layed in the bed all mornin’ waitin’ for you to wake up so you could make me a frozen biscuit. I don’t know what’s the matter with you. You haven’t tended to my needs. You haven’t spent 10 minutes with me in three days. I’m just an interruption in your day!” “For example,” He continued. “Last night, when you fixed me the baked tater, you didn’t think a word about me needin’ something to drink!” By this time I had pretty much had it. I mumbled something like, “I think you’re just having a big pity party.”
I stopped the mixer and followed him downstairs, explaining again why I couldn’t bake the biscuit. “ Greenwood Market sells biscuits. Will you go get me one?” He begged. “I’ll go get the cake in the oven, take a shower, and go get you a biscuit.” I conceded.
He was obviously dying, because he barely had the strength to tell me where his wallet was, so that I could get some money out of it. “Would you get me two biscuits…and a loaf of white bread?” He said. Five minutes later, my cell phone rings. “Are you still there?” Where else would I be, I thought. “Would you have them throw in some of them broasted taters?” He demanded. Not really demanded, but by now it felt like it.
Yeah, he was too weak to speak, but he could call his buddies and tell them all about how sick he was. He even called his brother-in-law and told him that he was just checking to see if he would be a pall bearer at his funeral!
I got home with the food, and as I rushed up the stairs to take the cake out of the oven, he added, “You’ll need to take the peelings off those taters and put them on a plate. You will also need to come wash these sheets while I’m in the shower.”
I ran down the stairs, stripped the bed, and put the sheets in the washing machine. I hear a thump, thump, thump on the ceiling. The thought occurred to me that he really was too weak to take a shower and that he had fallen or passed out. I flew up the stairs and into the the bathroom. “Are you okay?” I was seriously concerned. “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO? FREEZE ME TO DEATH?” He yelled! Apparently the washer had cut into his hot water.
When I made the suggestion that perhaps he could begin doing some of these things for himself, and how I had managed to get through the virus without anyone to help me, he got huffy. “What do you want…a medal?”
I finally got the bed sanitized and disinfected. Charles said that he would sleep in the guest room, so that I could sleep in our bed that night. I couldn’t wait for a glorious night of restful sleep. I had agreed to keep one of the grand dogs that night and she always sleeps with us. At three o’clock in the morning, the dog got sick all over the bed, so I had to strip the bed again! Wash, scrub, sanitize.
It had been ten days since Norovirus made a visit to our house. Ten days of crushing ice, shopping for Gatorade, Immodium, and pizza! Yes pizza! Who gets a virus and wants pizza? I’m not mentioning any names, but his initials are Charles Archer. I came home from church on Sunday, knowing that I had a short amount of time to make a wedding cake for cake decorating class and also the intricate flowers that would go on it. I walked in the door, anxious to get started on my project. Charles says, “I’ve been thinking that I want a pizza.” The pizza could not come from the pizza place down the street, where we always buy our pizzas, but across town at Pizza Hut. When I told him that I didn’t have time to drive over there to get it he said that if I called it in that by the time I stopped at Food City and bought him some more Immodium, Gatorade, toilet paper, nachos, and cheese dip for the Super Bowl that night, that the Pizza would be ready.
I hopped in the car and hurried to Food City. I bought the items on his list and a gallon of milk for me. It all slipped out of my hands in the parking lot, busting the gallon of milk. I just left it and got in the car. I know my limits! When I got home, Charles said “I thought you were going to get some milk.” I glared at him and told him I had dropped it and it didn’t make it home with me. As he held up another bag, he quipped, “Looks like that’s not all you broke.” His cheese dip had broken and was all over everything else in the bag. He didn’t unpack the bag, but he set his cheese-covered box of Immodium in the sink for me to clean up!
It was Sunday evening and hubby announced that he would be sleeping in on Monday morning, but that he would be going to work in the afternoon. To myself I whispered, “Praise you Jesus!”
Monday came and went. We slept in the same bed that night. Tuesday morning he rolls over and says, “Call the doctor!” Alarmed, I asked, “What’s wrong?” He replied, I’ve got bronchitis.”
I don’t know if there is a real health or fitness point of this story, but I do know that patience is a virtue and not one I usually possess, but I managed to display a lot of it during this trial in our marriage.
My brother told me that the next time Chuck was sick that he was sending ME a get well card! I am publishing this with my husband’s full permission, because he realizes the errors of his ways and has since been much more considerate of me when he is sick. In fact, after that saga, he took excellent care of me while I was recovering from oral surgery. (He also wrote the previous sentence and asked if I told you that he got sick again later.)
I encourage you to follow to the letter all of the things that you have heard and read concerning how to avoid getting sick and how to avoid spreading sickness. Wash your hands often, cover your nose when you sneeze, cover your mouth when you cough, and stay at home when you are sick. I strongly advise that you purchase an ice crusher and stock up on Gatorade just in case.
I am definitely washing my hands more often and observing the suggestions for staying well. As for being slave labor, I have washed my hands of that too!