I am a terrible patient. Ask anyone. No, for real. You could ask someone I’ve never met and just by looking at me, they would tell you I suck as a patient. I am a control freak. I am also a doer, not a have-done-for-me-er. I suck at asking for help and suck even more at letting people help me. I could have a severed artery and if anyone asked, would simply repeat one of the most famous movie lines in history, “’tis but a scratch.”
Therefore, it was with growing horror that I realized last weekend that I was coming down with some as-yet-undefined bug. That in itself was bad enough. I mean, for God’s sake, it’s summer vacation. And this past week has been one of the most perfect summer weeks that has ever existed, with glorious blue skies and days that were hot enough to swim but nights that were cool enough to turn off the air conditioning.
Our days of freedom are dwindling. Pretty soon, I’ll be spending Sundays missing once-in-a-lifetime catches while I try to prep the weeks’ lunches and dinners during halftime of the Giants’ games — while also yelling through closed doors to find out if homework is done. These last weeks of August are like the bottom of the wine bottle. You know you had a good time, but is it too much to ask for just a little bit more?
Losing any amount of time to illness seemed not only unfair but just plain ludicrous. Who gets sick in August? I suppose you might have an allergy attack or suffer a hangover after finishing that wine by yourself, but flu-like symptoms? Ridiculous. And yet, one minute I’m wandering around the market, wondering when the bags of coffee got so heavy, and the next thing I know I’m shivering under a comforter, trying desperately to deny that I have a fever. Did I mention that this all happened hours prior to my husband’s departing flight?
So what does one do when she’s clearly ill and needs to drive her husband to the airport? She quietly swallows down a few Advil and gets in the car, that’s what. It was so early, I had an excuse to look the way I did. No one gets up that early on the weekend and leaves the house bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And he would never have to know that, though the car’s thermometer read 86 degrees at 8 a.m., I turned on the heat. What purpose would have been served by making the man worry? It’s not like he was going to a bachelor party. It was a necessary business trip. Besides, I have an amazing community of family and friends, all of whom are kind, generous, and willing to help me at a moment’s notice. And if I had told them I was sick, they totally would have.
I tried to keep it under wraps, figuring if I took a day or two on the couch, I’d be good as new. I only revealed the severity of my symptoms to one confidante. I trust her with my life. I trust her with my children’s lives. And also, I needed a ride to the emergency room.
Turns out, she’s a squealer. Under the slightest pressure, she squealed to my parents and then THEY squealed to my sisters (who don’t even live in this state) and then, whilst I was under the influence of a lovely morphine drip, I was nudged into self-squealing to my husband. Not one of us would be a good spy. Not one.
At the end of the day, I thanked God for my squealing bestie. Not only did she drive me to various medical appointments, she chauffeured my children to their necessary locations and shopped for me. Then she tag-teamed in other friends and even my sisters, who came with reinforcements. Though I was a solo parent, my kids ate almost every meal (hey, they’re teenagers, let’s not get nit-picky).
Grandma and Grandpa provided take-out and odd snack requests (how many teenagers hear, “What do you want from the market?” and reply, “Can I get a baguette?”) and even kept me company when things got pretty ugly. Because no one else can see you ugly cry and still understand every mumbly words like your parents, even when you’re in your 40s.
Also, this illness brought with it a few other positives. I mean, I already knew that my family and friends are pretty much the best people on earth (sorry — I’m sure you’re all swell, too), but being down and out, without my husband, caused my kids to rise up like freaking phoenixes from the ashes of mom-sickness. I was brought to tears by how they took care of me, themselves and the whole house. They even kept the animals alive. All of them!
Every day they did laundry and dishes. They cooked meals and cleaned up. They made sure I was staying hydrated and one bad night, even got up in the wee hours to bring me pain relief. While I slept, hoping the next day I would feel better, they didn’t count on it and made sure I never woke up to a messy house. And no, it wasn’t the morphine causing me to hallucinate. They really did all those things. Turns out, they’ve been listening to us this whole time.
My kids have heard me ramble on and on about the importance of helping others, all their lives. They’ve seen our family jump into action when someone we know is in need. They know that the world is a better place if you treat others as you would like to be treated. And I was so damn proud to see them step to the plate and hit a home run. I’m not saying that I ever want to get sick again (I’m still a terrible patient, just ask my son who yelled at me more than once to go lie down), but if I do, I know that I needn’t worry because all the people around me are freaking awesome. I am the luckiest woman in the world.
Another bonus in all of this is that my princess, who loves to cook and bake, learned to clean up after herself, as well. Without mom to nervously flit around her, cleaning up the path of destruction in my very-small kitchen, she was forced to see the horrors that she wrought. Now she makes a mean Thai chicken AND a mean all-purpose cleaning spray. My work here is done.
But seriously, the Thai chicken recipe is a Weight Watchers creation that is delish and easy to make. We don’t love green beans so we subbed in mixed power greens and LOVED it. Serve with or without rice. I like it over riced cauliflower (which they now sell at Costco). If you use pre-cooked chicken, this is ready in about 10 minutes, start to finish.
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium uncooked scallion, sliced
1 medium size clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups uncooked green snap beans, each sliced into 3 pieces
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Asian hot sauce, such as chili paste*
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, Thai or Italian
- Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat — add oil and swirl to coat pan.
- When hot, add chicken and saute for 3 minutes.
- Add scallions and garlic. Saute until quite fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add green beans, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and chili paste and saute until green beans are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add basil and cook for 1 minute more.
Yields about 1-1/2 cups per serving. Note *Adjust the amount of chili paste according to how spicy you like your food.
The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.