It’s a bit past 11:00 a.m. here on a cold February morning in South Florida. It’s also cold and flu season, and unfortunately I’m a bit under the weather with a bad cold. I don’t seem to have a fever and I still have a good appetite, but my nose is runny and every so often I get these rather uncomfortable and nasty coughing fits.
I’m taking over the counter cold/flu medications, keeping hydrated, and trying to get as much bed rest as possible, and the symptoms aren’t yet serious for me to go to the doctor. (In fact, I’d be doing a public disservice if I go out where other people are right now, so I think I’ll just lay chilly unless things get really dire.)
While there’s nothing remarkable about catching a garden variety cold, for me it is really the first time facing a health issue on my own. I’ve only lived independently for the past six months; until
Mom passed away last July, there was always someone – a parent, a sibling, or even a healthcare professional – on hand to tend to any illness I had.
Before my late mother became seriously disabled after having back surgery in 2010, I could always count on her to take care of me when I got sick, which was extremely helpful, since having cerebral palsy makes it a bit difficult to get things done when I’m suffering from an illness.
This was true when I was a child, and because she never encouraged me to move out of the house when I was a young adult, it stayed true till I was in my late 40s and our roles were suddenly reversed.
If I came down with a cold or the flu – which so far have been the only physical illnesses I’ve suffered as an adult – Mom would go to the drug store and get medications. She’d also make me chicken soup and keep me company till I got better.
Now Mom’s gone after enduring five years of a gradual and debilitating mental and physical decline that robbed her of her mobility, her memory, and her mental health. I was her primary caregiver throughout those five years in spite of having cerebral palsy.
I had help, of course, from home health aides provided by the state of Florida’s Medicaid program and from my estranged older sister. Even so, I think that stress and the physical/emotional effects of taking care of an ailing elderly parent and running a household for five years wreaked havoc with my health.
So here I am, coping as best I can under the circumstances. As I write this, I’ve had this cold for the better part of a week. My girlfriend Laura was here for the first few days of this man-versus-virus conflict and got me the over the counter meds and several cans of chicken-noodle soup.
But Laura doesn’t live in Miami and had to go back home to take care of her responsibilities there, so she’s not in a position to help. And like I said earlier, it’s just a cold, not a bad case of the flu. I will just take my OTC cold meds, drink plenty of fluids (especially chicken soup), and hope to beat this before Valentine’s Day.