As an adult, I always thought that I had a pretty hardy constitution. Using the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 2nd Edition scale I’d put myself at somewhere around a 13 to a 14. Healthy. Robust, even. I probably averaged one trip to the doctor every two years or so, never for anything serious.
I’ve been sick on and off for the past three months or so. Mostly on. Head colds. Chest congestion. Upper respiratory infections. Laryngitis twice. This last is especially painful for me because there is nothing I love more than the sound of my own voice.
I blame the kids.
Children are nothing but walking, talking petri dishes. T2, more so than T1, is a snot and phlegm machine. He’s never really sick himself, he just is a natural disease factory. We live close to Washington, DC. I expect, at any moment, to get a knock at the front door and be confronted by men in hazmat suites who want to take my seven year old and weaponize him. He’d be up for it too. I live with the monkey from Outbreak.
As bad as the coughing is, it’s not the worst thing. He insists on touching everything. He’s got slimy, germy, snotty little fingers that he can’t keep off of anything.
Yesterday we were at Target. His mom was buying stuff for work so he and I wandered around for a bit, checked out the Nerf guns, got bored and then walked to the front of the store to get a pretzel and an Icee at the Target snack bar. We tore the pretzel in half and, in an effort to minimize the amount of crud I was exposed to, got two straws for the Icee. I understand that is like trying to bail out the Titanic with a Dixie Cup, but I have to feel like I am doing something to avoid another trip to the family practitioner.
We are eating and talking, speculating on how long mom was going to be and about how much he needs another Nerf gun to use as a “backup.” I look up and he has both straws, one in each hand, and he is flicking the tips of them with his thumbs.
“What are you doing?” I ask. “Why do you insist on feeling everything up? I got two straws for a reason.”
“Sorry,” he said, and released my straw so he could point at his head. “Brain freeze.”
T1 is reading Ste[hen King’s excellent book, The Stand. It’s about a superflu that decimates 99.9% of the population. I used to consider it fiction. Now I’m fairly certain it’s an inevitability.
C has had twelve years of exposure to build up her immune system. Her white blood cells would kick the shit out of my white blood cells. C never gets sick. I am envious. She pities me. When the superflu hits, she’s going to be one of King’s .1%. I’m going to be dead as fried chicken.
Right now, I feel good. I’ve been on a steady stream of steroids and antibiotics. I’m starting to feel normal. Healthy. It’s been a long road back, but I am breathing clearly.
Last night, T2 started coughing again.