My son was the first casualty. It started about 5 in the morning, when he came into our room and said, “Argggle. Clack. Snort.”
Or something like that. He was stopped up and sniffling, and his throat was hurting, which he countered by doing that weird clicking thing kids do to somehow offset sore throats.
We took him to the doctor, and they swabbed the back of his throat with one of those long Q-tip thingees, which, judging by his reaction, is one of the single most painful and invasive procedures ever. The doctor gave us the bad news and the good news. The bad news: he has strep throat. The good news: he has strep throat.
The reason that was good news, she told me, is that we definitively knew what was causing the funk, and it was easily treatable — a dozen leeches, a few incantations, and a cool rain after a full moon and he’d be good to go. Or some antibiotics. One of those options.
After a few days, he was on the mend and ready to head back to school, which meant, of course, it was time for everyone else in the house to get sick. My daughter was the next one hit. She woke us up the same way our son did, including the weird throat clicking. As I came to, I realized that I was suddenly not feeling so hot, and based on my initial assessment, I was roughly 8 billion times sicker than anyone on the planet had ever been. I was huddled in a ball groaning and clicking and occasionally saying, “I’m siiiiiiiick” to no one in particular, as those are side effects of such an illness for a dad.
My wife took our daughter to the doctor, who also received the Q-tip throat stabbing confirmation of strep. We were both knocked out for the day. My daughter endured the day by curling up on the couch watching Netflix. I stayed in bed and occasionally texted my wife downstairs to remind her that I was sick. She seemed to appreciate that.
Twice during the day, I made my way downstairs to eat something. My head felt like it was filled with rubber cement, and my throat felt like I had swallowed a cactus. This didn’t exactly lead to a rip-roaring appetite. That said, I knew I needed to get something in my stomach. Also I needed to make sure my wife was getting my texts.
As I slowly made my way to the Saltine crackers and orange juice, I noticed my wife and daughter enjoying a shared chuckle at my misery. When I mentioned to both of them that I was the sickest anyone on the planet had ever been and I didn’t appreciate them mocking me, my wife confessed that they were not laughing at my sickness, but at the fact that, with each step, I let out a little groan. I dispute that I was doing that, though the Mean Girls insist I was.
I was holed up for several more days, which is actually an exceptionally long time for me to be sick. My daughter got better a lot faster than I did, but clearly she did not have the same strain of vicious attack cold that I did. I believe at some point along the way my wife may have gotten sick, too, but I was too busy being extra sick to notice.
When I finally started feeling better, I was careful not to rush too fast back into things. For one thing, I have found that, once your cold is pretty much defeated, cold medicine can make sure you feel like you have WAAAAY more energy than you really do. As I was standing on my back porch at 6:30 in the morning taking the dogs out, I started to feel a little pep in my step that I had not felt in several days. Not finding a cold to battle, the cold medicine in my system said, “Hey, man — you’re all better. After you walk the dogs, you should clean the kitchen. And jog around the block. And build a cabinet. And cut the grass. And….” Fortunately, the wisdom of time overruled this impulse, and I went back for some more rest to completely conquer this illness.
The whole family seems to have turned the corner, and I think we have all put the illness behind us. And that’s a good thing, as I was tired of groaning with every step.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C., and now lives in Charleston. A graduate of the University of Alabama, you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.