Head, shoulders! (hand-foot-and-mouth disease) 

I have a new limb. It weighs almost 25 pounds and talks gibberish fluently. Its name is Little Bear. Now that Big Bear is in PreK, LB and I spend almost the entire day alone together. He’s my little puppy dog. I walk out of the room and you can hear the pitter-patter of him crawling behind me. He goes looking for me if I have the audacity to use the bathroom. But since he’s not quite walking, but always wanting to be part of the action, this nanny spends most of the day cooking, loading and unloading dishwasher and picking up scattered toys with a 13-month-old on her hip. I really should incorporate some squats into this routine.

Sometimes it’s hard to determine where I end and Little Bear begins, especially when it comes to our health. Last Monday it was discovered that LB contracted hand-foot-and-mouth disease. What is with this kid and illnesses, you may ask? Go to Gymboree or any organized class for little children and watch those children put their mouths on everything, including each other. There is your answer.

LB was on the mend by Monday but his nanny was on her deathbed by Tuesday. While I spent the rest of the week in bed, my new limb had a speedier recovery. One day of fever and two days of sores. His nanny had almost no sores but had a fever for three days. An agonizing and boring fever.

By my second day in bed, I was desperately missing my morning routine of saying “good morning, world” and drinking coffee while listening to NPR. Everyone always has a sick to-do list, a list of things that they say they will read or organize when they have the downtime that comes with being bedridden. “I’ll finally go through my emails,” “I’ll read that Rolling Stone article, or “I’ll watch that four-hour documentary.” What did this nanny do during her three days away from the Bear House? Nothing. I was too sick to focus on reading anything and I didn’t have the energy to pick something to watch from the list of recommendations on Netflix. The first few days I slept most of the time and alternated between freezing and sweating. I also spent a lot of time thinking about how I take my health for granted, because who doesn’t have those thoughts when you’re so sick that the thought of getting up to pee seems like it will require the same energy as running the Boston Marathon.

It’s amazing the thoughts you have when you’re too sick to function. You start to wish that you’ve used your free time wisely for the past 27 years. You wonder if you are a contributing member of your community and if you are a worthy citizen of the United States. You start to tell yourself how you’ll be different, once you recover. You’ll exercise more and make better eating habits. You promise to become a new person! Don’t worry, I’ve recovered and have already forgotten everything that I had promised myself.

The only productive thing I learned as a result of this virus is that I need to get a boyfriend. I spent three days in bed and relied on my sister to supply me with soup and juice. If I didn’t have her, I’d probably still curled up in my bed, dead from dehydration. When I’m healthy and happy I really don’t think about the fact that being single means that you don’t have someone to take care of you. I don’t need to be taken care of when I’m not ill! But the second I get sick, I think about how one day I will be an old maid dying in her bed with no husband or grandchild to look after me. Just kidding, that’s what parents and modern medicine are for.

Being out of the Bear House for 5 straight days (including the weekend) went by surprisingly fast. I was always in constant contact with the Bears, courtesy to our group chat. I would get photos of the Bear Bros and even a video of Big Bear telling me he misses me and loves me. At one point when watching tv last week, a commercial aired of a woman walking into her sons’ room, who is about the same age as LB, as he wakes up from a nap. I started crying! LB is at an age where every day he is learning something new and I was afraid he was going to start walking when I was too sick to show up to work.

After a low key weekend (excluding a dance party with my high school darlings) I made it back to the Bear House Monday morning. LB is always excited to see me (he doesn’t really know better) but I was more excited to see BB. He’s at the age when he understands his surroundings and picks up when things are off or out of place. BB is in school all day and I usually don’t see him until 4 o’clock. Yet the second BB walked in the door, I was waiting for him, and he gave me a big hug right away. He told me that he was glad to see me asked if my tummy was better. I think ever since he had salmonella any illness in his mind has a direct link to one’s stomach. The rest of the afternoon BB was glued to my side (which isn’t typically the case) and LB was happily along for the ride. Its Wednesday night and although I’m exhausted, I’m starting to feel like a human again. My poor sister, on the other hand, seems to have caught what I had and is miserable in the other room. Evidently being quarantined in my room did nothing to stop the spread of my virus. To be honest, she probably caught what I had before I even knew I was infected. Whatever the case, this isn’t The Walking Dead, and we are all going to make it out of this alive. That is until the next Gymboree- related illness.

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