By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
Let’s see…where were we before my brother went off into the wilds of Montana, losing both his wi-fi and his dignity as he chased after Sandra Bullock? Oh yes, my husband and I were just starting a wonderful two month vacation in Sun Valley, Idaho. We were enjoying the hikes, golf and watching the Olympic skaters who perform there every Saturday night. We were ignoring the obnoxious people who frequent the town this time of year. We had BIG plans for the summer. And then something went terribly wrong. It started out innocently enough. My husband discovered a small, red spot on his forehead. Now, let me just say right here that men react differently to illness than women. When women get a cold they still have to go to work, cook dinner, take the kids to school, and generally run the household. When men get the sniffles they take to their beds as if galloping pneumonia was going to carry them of to their great reward at any moment. Okay, that’s a generalization. But I’ve found in talking with my girlfriends that it’s got enough basis in fact that I think we can rely on it as “conventional wisdom”. So I brushed off his complaints as being a bit overly dramatic.
Frankly, I was certain that it was a bug bite. After all, we were in the mountains. Plus, the wonder dog (who sleeps on our heads) had been running around in the bushes. The second day, when the spot seemed a bit larger, he was worrying in the mirror over it, and asked me to look at it with the flashlight to see if I could see anything. I did. I saw a red spot. On the third day, when two other spots appeared nearby, I told him to take a Benadryl and slap a little Calamine lotion on it. But the next morning, he insisted on seeing a doctor, convinced he had the Ebola virus, or something close to it. So off we trudged to the local clinic. Usually when he is ill I go in to the exam room with him, figuring that two sets of ears are better than one. This time, however, I let him go in alone, convinced he would come out chagrined about a bug bite diagnosis. Besides, I was in the middle of a really good book. So I stayed in the waiting room. He came out ten minutes later, looking a bit shell-shocked. He began to walk over to me, shaking his head. This was not a good sign. When he reached me he just said one word: “Shingles”.
We are of an age where several of our friends have had shingles and none of them have one good word to say about it. We both envisioned large welts and agonizing pain. Armed with an antiviral prescription, we went to the local pharmacy, where, as luck would have it, the pharmacist told us she had shingles just last year. Great – an expert! She assured us that the medicine would reduce the length and severity of the shingles. I mentioned that I had been tested a couple of years ago and turns out I never had chicken pox, from whence the shingles virus originates. I caught just the slightest rise of her eyebrow, but then she told us that it is actually pretty hard to transfer the virus. Luckily, his shingles were a mild case, he never had any pain, and was back hitting golf balls within the week.
However, contrary to our “expert” pharmacist’s opinion, apparently it actually isn’t that hard to transfer the virus. Sure enough, two weeks later I started getting chills and fever. After four days, spots began to appear on my body. I’m no genius but even I could figure out that I was coming down with “the pox”. So back we went to the clinic. Chicken pox for children means a week out of school and your mom bringing you endless bowls of ice cream and Jello. For an adult, however, it is quite a different matter. The doctor told us that the particular type of pneumonia that is caused by adult chicken pox can come on suddenly and lead to death if not attended to right away. He said in a week either the medication would do its job or I would be in the hospital. Alrighty then…that got our attention.
So…we made the decision to leave Sun Valley the next day and drive back to Scottsdale. I figured if I was going to get really sick, it was going to be in my own bed with my own doctor nearby. My dear husband earned a lifetime of brownie points by completely packing up our belongings, shipping most of it back to our house via UPS, and then loading up the car. I think this means I can never say anything bad about him again. At least for a while. We took off, spending the night in Ely, Nevada again (see blog of July 7) where, contrary to common sense and a need for rest, I laid awake all night worrying that my fever would spike in Ely and I would never see real civilization again. Luckily, however, we made it home where I saw my own doctor and am now practically recovered.
As for our summer – well, it hasn’t exactly gone as planned. But isn’t that just the way life is? We are loving being back in our own home, I am strategizing a re-decoration of the family room, and we are planning for our trip to California in September. So it’s all turned out okay. But I’m not sure we’ll be going back to Sun Valley any time soon – the “bug bites” up there really suck.