I don't get seriously sick a lot. I better knock on wood when saying that, as that is what I used to say about Janey. This winter hasn't been an easy one health-wise, and last week it was my turn. Starting about last Sunday night, I had a fever that got progressively worse, lots of coughing and all out body aches. On Wednesday I finally gave in and went to the doctor (thank you, Maryellen, for getting me there, literally and figuratively!) and a chest x-ray showed I had pneumonia. The doctor was quite sure I also had the flu, but because of my probable Sjogren's Syndrome, he wasn't able to get a swab for that. Either way, I was pretty ill. He gave me antibiotics and said to stay home and stay resting for at least 5 days, although I'd probably be tired and recovering well past that.
Today's been 5 days, and I do feel much, much better. Still very tired, and doing any little thing makes me need to take a nap, but so much better that is makes it almost worth being sick, to remember how good well feels.
The big, huge thank you here goes to Tony, for taking over all of my Janey duties. Being sick in bed with a child like Janey in the house is not easy. Last Monday, before we realized how sick I was, I got Janey off the bus, around 3, and took care of her until 4:30 when Tony got home. That hour and a half was about enough to do me in. It made me realize what a house of cards we live in. Janey needs full time supervision, every second, still now, even though it's easier than it was a few years ago. But with me barely able to move, she made a wreck of the kitchen getting some of her favorite unconventional snacks---things like ketchup and romano cheese and duck sauce. She came off the bus wet, which isn't common, so I changed her, which took almost all I had. Then within a few minutes she was wet again---another change. Then she had a toileting accident of the other kind---lots of cleaning up. I felt like I was going to collapse, and I did, when Tony got home.
The rest of the week, Tony just took over. He got her on the bus in the morning, which involves dressing her, giving her medication, brushing her hair and teeth, getting her something to eat (they have breakfast at school, but we always feed her at home too as she doesn't eat well at school), making sure her backpack is set, waiting for the bus with her---all that while he was getting ready for work himself. Then he came home early each day to get her back off the bus, took care of all her afternoon and evening needs, made supper for her and us...did it all.
My thought all week was how much I admire single parents of kids like Janey. I won't say what I've sworn never to say---"I don't know how you do it"---but I will say you are incredible for doing it. And that I hope you get support, and I wish I had millions of dollars to help you, or at least time to give you respite. Parenting kids like Janey is at least a two person job.
How did Janey take my illness? Quite well, actually. One thing that was kind of neat is I got a little of the Daddy treatment. Seeing me, after Tony got her off the bus and fed her and so on, seemed like a huge treat for her. I haven't really gotten that in the past. She came into the bedroom and had a huge smile on her face, and gave me a big, big hug. She was excited when I could haul myself over to snuggle with her on her bed. She was actually a sweetheart all week. If it had been a tougher week for her, as so many weeks are...well, I'm glad it wasn't.
I've got to sort out in my mind some realizations from this week. Mostly, I have to think about how easily everything could fall apart. If either Tony or I started to become more disabled from the health issues we already have, it's hard to picture how we would be able to take care of Janey. And the truth is, we will, at some point. Even without our on-going health issues, we are getting older. But as we've found so often, there's not a lot out there to help. We are grateful, as we always are, for her school. Tony couldn't have worked at all last week without school. I think next year I have to bite the bullet and find some kind of afterschool that works, if possible. And we have to start looking for that needle in a haystack, perhaps---some way to get Janey more care when she is an adult and we are...older too.
For now, I'm just happy to be on the mend. I will be glad when this winter is over!