People are different; people are very different. Even after twenty-two years together, Carlos and I still have some definite differences, like in the way we manage being sick … hence a tale of two sickies.
I get sick and I want to be quiet, and to be left alone, and to sleep. A eek ago, when I came home early, feeling sick, I crawled into bed, hoping to sleep a few hours and be left alone. Carlos decided that MaxGoldberg, on that new Kidney Diet, needed to eat, so just as I doze off, he comes into the room and starts searching for Max on the bed, pushing my leg and Calling, ‘Max.’ Nudging my arm and calling, ‘Max.’ Pushing me in the head and calling, ‘Max.’
So much for sleep.
Carlos, on the other hand, is like a child, and refuses to sleep. He’s now been sick about five days and if my Mary Tyler Moore Timeline™ is correct—three days coming, three days with you, and three days going—he should be on the downside this morning. Except he isn’t because, rather than sleep, he played solitaire on the computer; rather than sleep he organized his music on the iPad; rather than sleep he watched TCV.
So much for getting better.
Other differences? Carlos will tell you that he is sicker than anyone else. He told me so, that this cold is harder on him than it was on me. I say, but I took three days off work, curled up in bed, sleeping. No, his is worse. You know, because it’s his cold.
I am the patient who likes to be left alone—oh, sure Carlos make some delicious soup for me—and left to my own devices. I close the shades, pull the blankets over my head and sleep; at night, I swear by Nyquil because it knocks me out and gives me the most hallucinogenic dreams I can remember. I use cough drops, and Tylenol and cold drinks in the daytime and hot tea before bed.
Carlos drinks hot tea with lemon and turmeric—his miracle cure, which so far the only miracle I see is that I can scrub it out of a teacup that’s been left on the counter yellowing for days. And he is needy; where’s that blanket he likes? Just a little more hot tea please. Have you seen my slippers—there were by his feet. Is there aspirin? Robbie Toosin; for those of you playing the Ricky Ricardo Board Game, that’s Robitussin. Oh, and as many of you also know, where’s the Bic Boppa Rue; Vic’s Vapor Rub. He will never , ever, take Nyquil because he says it’s addicting, even though I tell him he can get a good night’s sleep.
But the main difference? I shut up. I rest, drink plenty of fluids, and stick to myself. Carlos talks, and talks, and talks, and then apologizes for talking, and for being sick and, yes, for breathing because his throat is so raspy.
I also use humor, because laughter is the best medicine. When Carlos asks if he can get me anything, I reply, ‘You can get lost.’ When he says his throat is so sore he can barely speak, I fall to the floor and say, ‘Thank you Jesus! Silence at last!’
I don’t know about him, but it makes me feel better.
Every Sunday Carlos makes pancakes because Carlos loves pancakes. I like pancakes because Carlos loves making them, and it’s become a regularity around these parts. This past Sunday, he started making pancakes, and then called me to the kitchen, where I found him holding himself up on the counter and saying:
“Could you finish the coffee, please. I took on too much work this morning.”
I finish the coffee, though in my head, I’m thinking, he could have skipped the pancakes, he knows I don’t care, and I hear him say ….
“But I wanted to make pancakes for you.”
I let that go, because the pancakes are for him; he is the sweets person, though, yes, I enjoy a weekly pancake. Then, as we eat, he apologizes for being sick, and being sicker than anyone else, and says he cannot eat the pancakes because his throat hurts too much and he needs to go back to bed.
“Then go back to bed.”
He does; after sipping his coffee to completion; after letting the dog in ; after setting the fans; after cleaning the litter box; after checking his phone; after commenting on the new blooms on his rose bush.
By this time, my eyes have rolled so far back into my head I can see behind me.
We’re different, the two sickies. I am Great Garbo, swathed in blankets and turbans and asking to be left alone. He is Needy McNeedlston, apologetic, and sicker than anyone else ever has been, and defiant about not letting a cold beat him so he won’t even get into bed because it’s daylight.
But, after twenty-two years, things have changed because this morning he asked me a question I’ve been waiting to hear for decades:
‘Do we have Nyquil?’
I may spike his coffee and tea with it all day and let him sleep and let me have some peace.
I’m a good husband.