photo(58)Is it me, or is everybody sick right now?

I’ve spent the past week shuffling around my house, unshowered and wearing the same pair of grey sweatpants I’ve been rocking for days, and feeling lousy.

I’m at the tail end of it now, where I no longer feel like my eyes are about to cave in and can’t peel myself off the couch. Now I’m just working through a hacking cough that really seems to get going around 3 a.m. and sounds as if I’ve inhaled a pack of cigarettes.

Sadly, I am not a good sick person.

While I scoff at those who want to wallow in their own misery – you need to be spiking a fever over 100 for me to let you stay home from school or else I’m scooching you out the door – I’m a big, fat hypocrite. When I feel yucky, I really want you to feel sorry for me. I need you to feel my pain.

It all goes back to the scarlet fever.

When I was maybe six, I remember my siblings and I all came down with strep throat simultaneously. I guess there were about four of us around then, my three brothers and I. My mom, pregnant at the time with our sister, hauled us all to the pediatrician in our VW Beetle and one at a time, we had to lie facedown on the examination table and get a shot in the rear end. Back in the day, mothers didn’t have to fool around with two tablespoons of glutinous medications three times a day for seven days like some fucking chemist.

Back then your kid would get a shot in the ass and be her way to wellness.

I don’t remember getting my shot but I do recall how one of my brothers carried on about it. He became so hysterical that they had to bring in some additional medical personnel to hold his flailing body down. When it was over and he was released, I could see a gaping hole left in the paper that covered the exam table, torn open from all his crying and yelling.

So the shot did the trick for the boys, but after a few days I still hadn’t recovered and when my mom brought me back to the doctor, she was told the strep had advanced to scarlet fever.

Now this was something.

When you are one of many siblings, pretty much just a face in the crowd, you dream about something that will make you stand out. Something that says, “Hey, this one needs some special attention.”

Even if you can’t swallow.

And scarlet fever did the trick. I could sense that my needs were immediately elevated above the rest of the crowd, could hear in my mom’s voice as she updated my grandmother over the phone that I would require special treatment.

I wish I could remember what that special treatment looked like. If she set me up in her bed the way I arrange my children when they are sick, serving them their soup and sandwich on a special metal tray with legs I picked up at WalMart years ago.

Mostly I just remember getting to be alone with my mother and that she kept asking me how I felt. And that it was nice.

To this day, even though my seven siblings and I have given my mom all sorts of injuries and illnesses to address over the years, she will still pull the scarlet fever out of the bag of ills and hold it up as something to be remembered.

Sometimes we’ll be sitting around going through the list of the family’s notorious medical moments – like the time my brother fell out of a moving car or when my sister was struck right between the eyes by a neighbor swinging a golf club – and shake our heads at the gruesomeness of each case.

“Well, remember the time Amy had scarlet fever?” my mom will throw out.

I sure do. And it was great.

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4 thoughts on “When Scarlet Fever is Awesome

  1. Way to make blog lemonade out of your lemon week. Feel btr soon and thanks for sharing the great story.
    English muffins and orange juice were my special treatment from my mom. 🙂

    • Mrs. Candy … love seeing you here! I read about your son’s injury and could totally relate to not only how you felt like such a cruddy mom for not taking it seriously at first AND how he loved being in the spotlight because of it. Stay healthy!

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