First Time Colds


It’s Friday, which means I can finally admit this has been a hell of a week. Last week at this time, I was salivating over the thought of a whole fried fish and maybe some fried plantains for dinner. Later on that same night, I was cradling my feverish baby in my arms in a rocking chair in the dark.

Two different friends of mine both let me know this week that they were being biopsied for cancer. It was all terrible and scary. I can’t tell what was more depressing: that my friends have possible diagnoses, or that I’ve come to expect these phonecalls and emails with a certain regularity as I get older.

Every time I get this kind of news, I’m never quite sure what to say.  My brain goes right to the endgame. I can’t help it. I’m wired for tragedy or something. I have to remind myself that my husband and child are still alive and well and maybe we should not waste the weekend doing laundry and go out and see a mountain or something. News like this will re-order your priorities. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be constantly mindful of the order of these priorities withOUT the shitty cancer scare? Like, why do I need that cancer karate-chop to the back of the knees every few years? Why can’t I say FUCK IT to the laundry and the to-do list on the regular without it?

The kiddo’s fever didn’t last long. Hallelujah for that. Ms. Beans is only six months old and fevers can lead to all sorts of things if they get high enough. Luckily, Mr. Burdy and I made it through the night without an emergency room visit or panicked call to the doctor. We briefly considered administering Children’s Tylenlol, but the good lawyers over at Johnson & Johnson’s (you know, a family company) have covered their asses by not printing dosage instructions on the bottles anymore (instead it says to “consult your doctor”). There was a This American Life about how many people die each year from complications due to improper aspirin dosage, so you might say I was a *touch* panicked about the administration of ANY medicine. Fortunately, we didn’t have to break the seal or call the doc. We did, however, have to deal with a week of runny noses (both Mr. Burdy and I got a mild case of Ms. Beans’ illness) and coughing in the night. Between Beans and Burdy, the stuffiness, the snoring, and the tossing and turning, our bedroom sounds like a Tuberculosis ward from about 8 pm till about 8 am.

In the morning, all is forgiven, though, because, crusty-nostrilled as she is, Beans “sings” me awake most days. Lately, she’s mastered the sound of the letter “g”, so we’re officially all goo-goo and ga-ga around here in the daylight. This, after a week of practicing her ear-piercing, back-of-the-throat Pterodactyl cry. Maybe next week we can move on to the F’s or something.

My mom and mother-in-law have been invaluable these last few months when it comes to questions of fevers and everything else. They’re both champs at knowing just what to say and when. For a while there, though, the response to my every concern was, “Have you tried giving her some rice cereal?” We’ve moved on, thank goodness. Ms. Beans has accepted our ground up brown rice and pear offering but concedes it doesn’t a) make her sleep better at night, b) keep her from getting fussy right before dinner time, or c) make her poop regularly. So much for rice, grandmas.

When I talked to my mom about the fever, she waved it off. A fever of 101 was nothing to worry about, she said. “You used to get fevers of 106!” she texted me. And while I contemplated how much of my brain had been melted down into sludge by my body’s own immune system in between the ages of six months and two years, another text came in. “You used to get fevers so high, you would hallucinate!”. Ah, there we go, everyone. We finally have it: the explanation to my Don Quixote-esque imagination and possibly my part-time OCD.

Miss Beans and I are in the purging stages of this cold now. All faucets are set to “leak”. We seem to be washing nothing but hankies and burp cloths and the Nose Frida (go ahead and Google that gem if you’re curious). Now we just have our own grossness to deal with. My friends with the biopsies? Well, it’s one day at a time. Fingers and toes crossed it’s nothing serious. All our love being sent their way. Reassurances and support from here to the moon and back. A big frustrated, awkward, begrudging, sense of gratitude for our strange and beautiful bodies that hold us up and sometimes tear us down.