In sickness and in health…

I have been sick for two weeks. It started with a nauseous, queazy feeling and morphed into an aching, feverish flu that lasted for days and days. Now, I am on the mend. It has taken a while for me to recover – I still feel a bit weak, and I have a cough that won’t let up – but I know I will be better soon. There is nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being well.

Significant, unexpected progress has been made though, during this fortnight-long illness. A seismic shift has taken place in the Rose family, and I couldn’t be more pleased…

A few years ago just after I left the workforce to try my hand at being a full-time stay at home Mum, I was feeling a bit under the weather and it dawned on me that all of a sudden there would be no such thing as sick leave!! I asked around my mothers group friends – what happens when you get sick? Someone said – if you’re sick enough, your husband just has to stay at home from work. Really? Not my husband…

Hubby has many, many good qualities. He is funny, smart, loving, gorgeous. But he has a firmly held belief that unless you’re him, sick just equals lazy. Florence Nightingale, he is not.

Several years ago I had to take Hubby (“boyfriend” at the time) to the emergency ward at three o’clock in the morning with a very painful appendix. Hours later, his appendix was out. And a day after that, he was lying at home on the couch surrounded by healthy snacks and watching the football. I took such great care of him, that I think he almost asked me to marry him. (As it happens, his recovery was annoyingly swift and the proposal was postponed – for two and half years.) Hubby LOVES being taken care of when he is sick. But somehow, he has not been able to make the mental leap required to determine that it would be nice if he too would care for others (e.g. me – his best friend, lover, and mother of his children) in their hour of need.

And so there I was. I had an unrelenting 38.5 degree temperature, an achy body, and a very sore throat, and all three of our children were also sick and miserable. I tried to keep it together, but I was feeling horrendous.

Thankfully, Hubby was working from home for the week. But he would roll his eyes whenever I asked for a rest. And then, after half an hour or so he would inevitably come into our room, dump our 500kg one year old son into my lap, and storm off muttering something about having to get some work done. The TV got a serious workout. And the dishes piled up.

Then Hubby drove the kids and I to see our new family doctor. When he took my temperature, the doctor said: “Gosh, you must feel terrible.” Cue a long, meaningful look at Hubby. At the end our appointment, he asked if Hubby would need a certificate for carer’s leave from work. Thank you, Doctor, that won’t be necessary. But can I marry you?

Hubby’s armour had been pierced. A shadow of doubt made its way across his (handsome) features. Perhaps I was not lazy after all? All of a sudden, the dishes got done…

When I sent Hubby a message entitled “could have been worse” with a link to an article about a poor woman about my age who was fighting for her life in intensive care after contracting this season’s flu, his transformation was complete. Before I could say “Florence Nightingale”, the washing was on the line, dinner was made, the kids were bathed…

And so it was. A very ordinary couple of weeks in the Rose household, to be sure. We were lucky it wasn’t worse, and next year there will be flu shots for everyone. But if it were to happen again, I know that Hubby’ll have us covered. He has found his inner Nightingale, at least for now. I wonder if this was simply the flu we had to have…

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