Year Without Pity

I’ve had a stubborn cold with a low grade fever the past five or so days. Not much of a fever mind you, but enough to make me feel like a pot-holed road from dusk ’till dawn. That combined with stuffed sinuses, coughing and gunky lungs has made sleeping a challenge since Thursday (mind you, there’s also a newborn in the house). This morning I performed my normal sick-guy ritual: I flopped heavily out of bed, dragged my achy body to the bathroom and stuck a thermometer in my mouth. From there standard operating procedure calls for me to plod back to bed and spend the next half an hour whimpering while I dab my sweaty forehead with a wet washcloth.

This morning however I met the wife in the hallway. She’d just emerged from the nursery, where I could hear little Joan bleating like a sheep, presumably from hunger. The wife was herself stumbling toward the bathroom, and as we passed I gave her my best lo, pity the poor leper! look. Through one squinting eye (the other one was puffy and shut from having been up most of the night) she shot me a dagger stare that said: Don’t even THINK about starting with me, thermometer boy. So much for the embracing bosom of sympathy.

But before you start thinking something along the lines of: well isn’t THAT just typical of a man!, I’d like to point out that this kind of thing has been going on for nearly a year now. The wife is one of those women who, within moments of dipping the pregnancy stick, you can find face down in the nearest storm drain — where she stays for the next nine months. The rare times when you catch sight of her upright she has a paper bag pressed over her mouth, reeks of peppermint salves, her anti-nausea bracelets on so tight they practically cut off the circulation to her hands. Ummblefuuuuuuuuuuuuuughhhhhhhhh is the only sound she makes.

I suppose it’s unreasonable to expect her to be aware of much under the circumstances (then or now, since she gets so little sleep). Yet the level of obliviousness she’s shown toward the sufferings of yours truly these last twelve months (and rare they’ve been) has left me subsisting on what few crumbs of pity I can eke out of friends and family. In fact just last month one of the wife’s colleagues stopped over to complain about a case of shingles she’d had. Why how awful! But now that you mention it I seem to recall Joe had shingles not that long ago, didn’t you Joe?

Yes dear, those four straight weeks I spent crying like a girl, that was it.

Oh yes, I remember now. I expect that hurt quite a bit.

Yes my sweet. Yes it did.

Such was the full extent of the sympathy I got for the most painful episode of my life. Given which I guess I can’t expect much from a low-grade fever with cough. So I guess I’ll have to go on sponsoring my own D.I.Y. pity parties until a.) I get over it, or b.) baby Joan is weaned onto solid food. Given this stupid thing has lasted for five straight days now, I can’t say for sure which will come first. Poor, poor me.

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