Monday, October 17, 2011

A certain symptom

There’s a story in my favourite book - Garrison Keillor’s Leaving Home - where the whole town of Lake Wobegon gets the Swedish flu -

It’s the usual flu with chills, fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, achiness and personal guilt, but it’s accompanied by an overpowering urge to put things in order. Before you collapse into bed, you iron the sheets. Before you vomit, you plan your family’s meals for the upcoming week.

Dave had a flu-like cold at the weekend.  Usually when he’s ill, he doesn’t go to bed. He scorns the very mention of bed. This is his usual mantra: “I’m going out on my bike to teach this cold a lesson.”

But this time he was so ill he did go to bed. I wanted to look after him. I like looking after poorly people (at least I do until it gets boring.) I wanted to make him drinks, fluff up his pillow, bring him treats and a nice cold flannel for his fevered brow, but he spurned all my offers.

Dave: “Do you think I’m going to die?” 

Sue: “No, Dave. You’ve just got a nasty cold. Would you like me to make you a drink?”

Dave: “Are you being a bit impatient with me today?”

He said this three times on Saturday and three times on Sunday, and I kept answering – patiently, of course  - “No. I’m not being impatient. I think you’re ultra-sensitive because you’re feeling so rough. I’m actually being extremely sweet to you. Don’t I keep offering to do things for you?” (Could paranoia be one of his symptoms?)

This morning he was his usual self again, and even though he was coughing, and his head was aching. and his chest felt as if someone was sticking a loo brush down it, he went out on his bike.

I, however, started sniffing, and then worrying that I was getting his cold, and then manically swallowing aconite every two hours as a prophylactic. And no-one was being very nice to me: Zoe sounded unfriendly on the phone, and the man in the cafe was rather off. Didn’t they like me?

Now Dave is sleeping in the other room so as not to disturb me with his coughing. Or is it because he doesn’t like me? And I am sitting here at midnight unable to sleep, two hours past my bedtime, because my nose is running and my face hurts, and now my eyes are sore.

7 a.m. the next morning. I have got it. And Dave just came in and brought me a mug of sweet tea, without my asking. He always looks after me beautifully when I’m under par.

jul07 055


  1. Anonymous3:47 pm


    So sorry to hear that you're sick. I hope you're feeling much better soon. Is the aconite working well? I've never used it, only vitamin C and zinc in combination with garlic and probiotics. I love Dave's spunk:"Teaching this cold a lesson." I have to remember that. ;)

    I am reading "But I Told You Last Year that I Loved You." I can't put it down. (Obviously I did if I'm writing this!) I have so much to do around the house to prepare for a trip to Duluth, MN, in a few days as well as tidying up the yard for winter. I should have known! I shouldn't have started to read this book before I was finished with all my projects!

    Much Cheer and hope that you recover soon! Your blogs do cheer me up all the time, so thank you :)


  2. Dear Ruth
    thank you so much for writing to wish me well. It is especially cheering to hear that (a) you can't out down my book and (b) my blog cheers you up! as for aconite - you have to take it when you feel the very first inkling of a cold. after that it is too late. i am sure i staved it off for a bit but I forgot not to use the same hand towel as Dave in the bathroom. That was silly. Anyway, i feel really crap, but have just had a game of online Scrabble with the Aging Hippie so that cheered me up. And it is only a cold. I am not dying!

  3. Anonymous5:20 pm


    We played Scrabble together? ;) Just teasing. My sister-in-law calls me an "old hippie" which I rather like :)

    Yes, sharing a towel isn't good...I've done it too when my husband and son are sick. Thanks for the advise on aconite. I'll look for it. I HOPE you're not dying! I'm looking for a "next" book from you (she said, selfishly)

    Fondly, Ruth

  4. The aconite is a homeopathic remedy - tiny pills -and you can probably buy it in Wholefoods. Wendy and I bought another such remedy in the Wholefoods in San Francisco.