Down and out for the count

Friday, February 3, 2006

Perhaps you're reading this from the comfy confines of your office chair.

Perhaps you're lounging on the couch.

Or, perhaps you're like the unfortunate few who are reading this while curled up in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, unable and unwilling to move more than three feet away from your current best friend, the toilet.

Hopefully, you and your family have been on the lucky side and have avoided whatever nasty bug returns every winter and is floating around, knocking entire families to the ground.

More likely, at least one person you know or maybe it was yourself who has been sick enough this winter to warrant staying home from work or school.

For most people, it takes a knock-down sickness to keep them from work and in bed for the day.

If you stay healthy, you assume some little bug is not going to keep you from going about your daily business. If you lead an active lifestyle and stay in shape, you like to think sickness is somehow going to miss you. If you manage to stay sick-free through the majority of the winter months, then you must have development an immunity this season.

Of course, this just means you'll fall harder and farther when you do finally get sick.

Plus, there is one final obstacle to prevent a person from spending the day sick in bed: Small children.

They just don't seem to understand that parents can get sick too. They don't understand why you can't fix them lunch even though the smell of anything stronger than grape jelly makes your stomach lurch.

They don't understand that the bathroom door is shut to keep the not-so-pleasant sounds of the bathroom from escaping, not to encourage and improve their knocking and door-ramming skills.

This is when a sick parent with small children yearns for the ultimate relief, that is their spouse or another adult to take over for the day, allowing the aforementioned sick parent to take those precious 12-minute naps.

Being sick enough to be confined to a bed or couch can quickly change your attitude.

For example, my husband and I refuse to pay for cable television, simply because there is not enough on TV to warrant paying for all those channels.

But after just a few hours flipping through the network stations when I was knocked down with the flu bug recently, I began dreaming up a new TV service: Cable for the sick and solitary.

I didn't want 600 channels for the long term. I only needed additional stations for the day, to divert my attention from how awful I felt, to get me from one nap to the next, to last me from one trip to the bathroom to the next.

Sure, I could have inserted a movie into the DVD player, but that would have required a minimal amount of energy, energy I just didn't have that day.

Instead, I'm now fluent in snowcross, a mix of motocross and snowmobiling; I can name the latest competitors on the PGA tour; and I feel prepared enough to go on Wheel of Fortune.

An appreciation for room-darkening curtains may also develop as you try to sleep away your sickness.

Normally, I like rooms to be bright and full of light, the sun bouncing off all the dust motes floating through my house.

But when you are on your fifth nap of the day, all you want is darkness and mini-blinds just don't suffice. When all you want is sleep, you don't care what your neighbors think as you drape blankets and sheets over every window in your bedroom.

There are such draperies available called room-darkening curtains for purchase. Of course, they'll cost as much as your bedroom furniture, making those three layers of sheets on your windows look even better.

Fortunately, these winter bugs usually knock a person down for just a day, two at the most. While this may make the illness seem like a minor inconvenience, this leads to the second problem with the winter flu season:

If you're the first one sick in your house, that means everyone else is likely going to be sick within the next day or two. Guess who gets to try and get better while cleaning up after everyone else?

-- Ronda Graff is so afraid of her family getting sick again that she runs in the opposite direction if anyone even mentions having a upset stomach.

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