Last night we were packing and I realized my eyeballs were hot. “My eyeballs are hot,” I told my husband, because I like to update him periodically on how I’m doing.
“Huh,” he said. Or “Hrm.”
I continued to pack, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was thinking about my eyes. Also my body, which had begun to ache. “I’m all achy,” I said, to no one. Scott had left the room. He was on the phone with his parents.
I got out the thermometer and stuck it in my ear. It’s one of those. You jab it in there for two milliseconds and somehow it knows your internal body temperature. It’s magic. Actually it’s not because it’s usually wrong, but it’s wrong in that it’s lower than other thermometers, so I get to add “OR MORE” to the end of the number. I use capital letters because I like a little drama.
My temperature read 99.5. “OR MORE,” I reminded myself. I held the thermometer up to Scott, who was talking to his dad about cars, or home insurance, or high-efficiency boilers. Those are the three topics they discuss instead of their feelings. Men!
After he got off the phone he felt my forehead. “You don’t feel hot,” he said.
“But I am,” I said. Who is he going to believe, his overheated palm or Science? “Don’t forget about the hot eyeballs,” I said.
“Poor sweetie,” he said. I didn't think his heart was in it. I sat on the couch while he packed, and I shivered.
Eventually I realized I was clearly too sick to pack one more box, and I went to bed. “If I don’t wake up in the morning,” I told my husband, “You have to marry again. Henry needs a mother.” Scott whimpered. “I’m sorry, I think I’m delirious,” I told him, and I shuffled to bed.
My mother-in-law watches her beloved grandchild (Henry) on Mondays, so as I was drifting off to sleep I thought, okay, if I’m sick tomorrow, it’s not so bad. I can lie in bed all day and sweat out the toxins or whatever you do with one of these fevers (I don’t get a lot of fevers, you see, so this is sort of novel for me) and then by Tuesday I’ll be okay. I had better be okay. I can’t be sick for more than one day, I told myself. Did you hear me, body?
I woke up this morning and I felt fine. Until I stood up. I took my temperature. 100.2.
I was beginning to lose patience with this sickness. First of all, this wasn’t high enough for me to feel justified in lying in bed all day. (Even if my actual temperature could be MORE. I mean, how much more? I could only imagine.) Secondly, I had no other symptoms. Who gets a dinky little temperature and nothing else? Children, that’s who. Babies. I have a baby sickness.
My mother-in-law arrived, and I tried to get some sympathy out of her. She gave me a little, until she put her hand on my forehead. Her hand was shockingly hot. I think she had stuck it in the toaster, just to prove some crazy point. “You feel cool,” she told me. “Well, you feel hot,” I said, “so there.”
Maybe I’m fine, I thought, and all I need is a little fresh air. I put on some mascara. My mother-in-law looked at me and said, “Well, you look sick.” I put on my sunglasses, and headed out the door.
There’s nothing like a beautiful springtime day to really bring into relief one’s own acute misery. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, and everyone else trotting around on the sidewalk looked vigorous and brimming with good health. I, on the other hand, looked like someone had just killed my dog. And no one had! My dog was home, busily shedding his winter coat all over every square inch of my apartment. I kept walking and walking. I was going to stop somewhere for tea or to look at books or whatever it is I normally enjoy doing, but I realized that if I stopped, I would not be able to make it back home. Finally I turned around and headed back. Heading back meant going uphill. I was miserable. My legs were shaking. Walking was a terrible idea. My fever was undoubtedly out of control. My brain was being roasted.
Then I got home and took my temperature. 99.2. I got into bed, but I didn't feel good about it. Stupid baby sickness.