Friday, April 1, 2011

Why It Particularly Sucks To Be Sick When You're A Mom

In case any of you missed me over the last couple of days... I'm back.  I've been too sick over the last couple of days to raise my head from the pillow, never mind write a blog post.  You may recall that I recently wrote a post about how it sucks to take care of your kids when you're feeling crappy.  Well, I wanted to take another go on that topic... from a slightly different view point.

I have been sick now for almost a month.  It started with strep throat.  The day after I completed the 10 day treatment with antibiotics, I started having a horrible case of the runs... for 10 straight days.  Then I got a cold and respiratory infection.  Went back to the doctor to find out I got c. difficile from the antibiotics I took for the strep (hence the runs, nausea, stomach cramps, etc.).  Who knew that taking something to help you get better could actually make you sick???!!!  This is what Health Canada states about c. difficile:

The use of antibiotics increases the chances of developing C. difficile diarrhea because antibiotics alter the normal levels of good bacteria found in the intestines and colon. When there are fewer good bacteria, C. difficile can thrive and produce toxins that can cause an infection.
OK, enough about that crappy stuff - no pun intended.  Because what I really want to write about is how when you're a mom, you truly never get a break.  You NEVER get a time out.  As the matriarch of the family you are expected to be there to make things run smoothly... or better yet, to make things run they way they always run.  And when they don't, everything gets thrown off.

My husband simply has NO CLUE how to be around me when I'm sick.  Although he obviously wants me to get better, it's like he's angry at me for being unwell (and hence not happy and bubbly).  When he asks me how I'm feeling, it's like an accusation.  He wants me to say "all better" but if I'm not feeling better, I'm almost tempted to lie just to avoid his audible disappointment.  He has zero bedside manner and just has no idea on what to say to make me feel better.  And the longer this goes on, the less empathetic he gets.  It's almost like he doesn't believe me.  Thank goodness I had a diagnosis from the doctor this week - it was like phew, I have validation and proof that I am actually sick!  This morning he actually said that he thinks I'm depressed because I haven't "given" anything to him or showed him any affection while I've been sick.  WHAT??? 

So to fill him in (and any other husband/father who might have the same issue) I have the following to say: 
  • Show lots of compassion and empathy - and stay positive.    
  • Let mom feel miserable - it's OK to feel bad when you're sick.  You don't have to pretend to be happy, nor do you have to feel guilty if you're not!
  • Give her a hall pass - have no expectations of her in any capacity.
  • Take charge!  Take over the tasks normally done by mom, even if the kids want mom to do it.
  • Don't lecture her over what she needs to do to get better.
  • Just be there - you don't have to play doctor and make her better.
My husband is the kind of guy that doesn't know how to just listen  - he always has to solve the problem.  And this proves true when I'm sick.  This is not a problem to be solved and if I'm crabby and miserable, then you just have to buck up and deal with it.  And I bet I would be a lot less crabby and miserable if he said a few more nice things and genuinely tried to make me feel better instead of lecturing me and being annoyed over how my illness is impacting his life. OK, I'm done with that rant.  I love my husband and we all have our things.  Bedside manner is just not his.  But there is always hope!

This is definitely the longest period in which I've been sick.  I hate how that makes me feel in terms of my kids.  Although you expect your spouse to understand, it's hard when your kids are little.  Although they know I'm not feeling well, I'm not sure they fully comprehend.  I feel tremendously guilty that I'm not able to do all that I normally do with/for them.  It's one thing if it's for a few days, but as I mentioned, this has been going on for nearly a month now.  Even I'm sick of me being sick.  When it keeps dragging on like this, you start taking short cuts.  I feel like I'm letting them watch way too much TV because I don't have the energy to do more with them (=guilt).  I feel torn because I want to see them and yet I can't wait for bedtime (=guilt).  And then there's the whole contagion part of things - they want to lie next to me but I don't want them to catch what I have (=guilt).  They don't really know how not to be around me (=guilt). 

Basically, I feel like I'm letting everyone down right now.  All this because of something beyond my control and something I would obviously not choose had I a choice.  For the record, nobody wants me to feel better more than me myself and I. So I guess on all accounts, patience, patience, patience.  We all need some when mom gets sick.  But boy, I really hope I kick this virus as fast as possible!

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