I knew this week was going to come. Maybe not exactly as it did, but I knew the honeymoon was going to be over. One way or the other.
Last week I thought I would take the kids up north to St. Cloud to visit my sister and her family, but more importantly, with more adults in house, I could get a much needed break.
My hopes were a little dashed when I was told I had to pick up a cousin (a four year old girl) on my way. But I still kept hope alive. Three adults to four children is still better than lonely old me to two of them.
Long story short, even with three adults, especially when one is preoccupied with birthday party preparations, keeping four kids from themselves is no easy task. The days were tiresome. Coupled with restless nights sharing a room with four kids, the weekend was far less than the relief I’d hoped for.
Sunday back at home in Minneapolis, I started feeling something uncomfortable in my bones. In my joints. In my head. I chugged it off to sleeplessness. After putting the kids to bed, I took a hot shower and had two Tylenols sing me a lullaby.
On Monday, I woke up to a piercing headache and a slight sore throat. Usually, this will call for a slow start to the day. But when you have two kids you need to serve breakfast, get ready and take to school and daycare, slow is not your word in the morning. We rushed through our morning rituals and I actually made it to work a little earlier than lately. Lately because before this adventure started my work day started at 730am. These days, I aim for 8 and get there around 8:15.
By the time we got home that evening, the headache was gone, but the throat was feeling slightly worse. I thought a cold was coming. I’m not scared of those; I have had some miserable ones, but colds never knock me out.
On Tuesday, I woke up with a full blown fever. Under normal circumstances, this would call for a call-into-work-and-stay-in-bed-all-day. But when you are the only one with two kids to care for…well you can most certainly call in sick to work, but there will be no staying in bed all day. So I closed my eyes, pulled myself from the bed, dragged myself to the kitchen and started on breakfast. In addition to our usual breakfast, I made us all tea with lemon, because while the headache was throwing the body blows, the throat too was jabbing at my defenses. I figured soon the kids will come down with whatever was nabbing at my health.
At work, the fever mounted. I took two Ibuprophens, and still felt worse. I was freezing. I kept my scarf around my neck and turned on my space heater. I keep a space heater under my desk at all times. As an African in American, my idea of cold is different from these Minnesnowtans. Standing was nearly impossible. Thank God I work at a computer station and had more than enough to keep me clued to my desk all day. Lunch came but my appetite didn’t. I should go home, I and my co-workers kept telling me. But I knew with two kids and only me, I better hold on to my PTO, because sooner or later they will need me to stay home.
I don’t know how, but I worked the entire day. Even my productivity didn’t take a hit. That evening, my appetite was still on vacation. On the other hand, the headache had moved up a notch; I couldn’t swallow, yet that was all I wanted to do, even when I had nothing in my mouth. Poor kids, they entertained themselves until it was bed time. Daddy couldn’t even dance to Estelle with them.
I have never felt so alone. Lying there on the couch helplessly watching my kids circling around me; my daughter knowing daddy was sick, my son suspecting something not right with daddy but not knowing exactly what; I have never felt so powerless. I wanted someone home with me, home to play with the kids, take care of the kids, order me to bed and take care of the rest. But when I thought about it, I had no one to call but me. My closest family (indeed our closest family member because maybe more so than me, my wife is all alone in this part of the world) is up in St. Cloud. I was hurting, but I didn’t think it was bad enough to make my sister drive an hour to come take care of me and my family. I have friends near but I’m hardly the type to ask friends for favors. Besides, for some things, you have the right to ask only family. I think so. So I lay there, one eye closed keeping my head from opening, and the other at the kids trying to fill the hours before bed time.
On Wednesday, I relented: I took the kids to school and daycare, returned home to medicate myself and get some rest. I made some peppe soup and logged in to work to turn my email out-of-office autoreply on, but ended up working a full days worth. I didn’t feel as bad as I did the night or day before.
In the bathroom later that day, on my way to the shower I had a hunch and decided to take a look down my throat. Yep, I saw couple of white spots. After shower and praying, I got on the Internet, Googled the phrase “strep throat symptoms” and self-diagnosed myself positive.
Thursday was better than Wednesday was better than Tuesday, but I went to one of those Target Clinics anyway. For $20 co-pay, the nice nurse lady confirmed my diagnosis: I had strep throat. And that it would be highly contagious for at least 24 hours after I start on the antibiotics.
I had a poetry workshop that afternoon at a school for disabled children. I canceled that. At work, my director asked me to go work from home…for the health and safety of my co-workers. I obliged.
I spent Thursday and Friday sitting at my living room window hunched over my laptop replying to emails and managing Annual Report reviews.
Friday evening, I was obviously on my way to 100%, but clearly not yet there. The kids and I had pizza for dinner, pop corn and a movie later, and danced to Estelle a little more. At about 9pm, I was changing my son’s diaper and getting him ready for bed when we heard a knock on the door. I sent my daughter to investigate and heard her scream, “MOMMY!” I thought she was confused until I heard my wife’s voice. “What are you doing here?” I said with lackluster. But deep inside I have seldom been more excited to see her walk through those doors.
She is going back to Utah this Sunday evening for another two to three weeks.