Home Sick

As many of you already know, the Black Death swept through our household this past week, taking out first Jack, then John and the nanny's daughter (who was babysitting Jack when the plague struck), then the nanny, and finally me. It was a long week, and a dark one. I realized something about myself that I'm not particularly proud of - when it comes to illness, my empathy level is low. And when I'm sick myself, I'm a downright baby.

Naturally, I managed to fend off the stomach flu until smack-dab in the middle of John's trip to Moscow, ensuring there was no one I could reasonably count on to care for our child. The nanny had already come and gone early in the day on Wednesday (she wasn't supposed to come at all, but I think she felt guilty and wanted to at least take Jack to preschool). By two o' clock, I knew things were on a downward spiral. By three, I was lying in a post-vomit stupor on the sofa, thinking if I could just make it until 8:00, everything would be fine.

But every time I tried to make myself vertical, the nausea returned, along with the feeling I was going to lose consciousness at any moment (unconsciousness being a generally undesirable state in the caring of three-year-olds). For the next three hours - the longest three hours of my entire life -  I moaned, groaned, cried, tried to sleep on the floor only to have Jack jump directly onto my gut, and wondered deliriously if epidurals were available for people with the stomach flu. At some point Jack brought me "Tylenol" and "lip cream" in the form of wooden blocks, but his nursing skills could only get me so far. I knew I had to get Jack dinner, so I dragged myself to the bedroom, thinking if I could wheel myself around on my desk chair, I might be able to get a slice of pizza into the microwave (I know, I know. Parent of the Year, right here!). But by the time I had wheeled myself back into the kitchen, I was in tears.

Six o' clock was about the worst time I could call the nanny for help considering what traffic is like in this city, but I knew there was no way I could get Jack fed, changed, and into bed without help. An hour later she showed up (along with her annoyingly cool 19-year-old daughter, who used to think I was semi-cool until she saw me in my gnome T-shirt with mascara smeared across my face). The nanny had thoughtfully called our part-time doctor (aka Dr. Snake Oil; another story for another time) on her way to see me, but the detour she made on his behest was, I'm afraid, worthless. He told her to buy me antibiotics. I am now out $20 and own a box of Russian antibiotics I will never use.

The nanny managed to get Jack to eat dinner and get the house relatively cleaned up, so I went and slept for about an hour until Jack started screaming because he wanted me to put him to bed. Fortunately I'd regained enough strength by then to accomplish the task, and then I went to bed myself. I slept through most of the night, and on Thursday I was up and about for most of the day, because when Jack is conscious, there is no rest for the weary, even when the nanny is here. I had toast for breakfast, rice for lunch, and by dinner I was so hungry I ate the lasagna I'd made for John along with a bowl of pistachio ice cream. Not one of my wisest decisions, admittedly, but rather tasty.

Here's the thing I learned from my first real illness in Yekaterinburg (aside from the fact that the next time my husband is sick, I should probably come up with something kinder than, "Great, now I'm going to get sick." Even if it's true.). Up until now, I haven't really been that homesick. I've been sick of Russia from time to time, and heaven knows I've missed my friends and family on a daily basis, but I haven't had that lonely, desperate feeling I had when I lived in London as a 21-year-old. Technology has made it SO much easier to get a hold of someone I love if I ever do start to feel like that, thank goodness. Even though I'm eleven hours ahead of most of you, I never feel disconnected from the rest of the world.

But on Wednesday, while I was lying on that couch in what I was sure were my death throes, I just wanted my mommy. Or my sister. Or Lauren, or Alexis, or any of my amazing friends who (probably) would have weathered the nanovirus to make sure my kid wasn't starving. That's the thing about living a million miles away from everyone you love (aside from your husband who has a knack for ill-timed business trips; recall the deer accident, which took place while John was in Tver): when you're really in a pinch, no one can hop in the car to help you out. A phone call, though nice, isn't going to put your kid to bed. A Skype chat, though tons of fun, isn't going to put dinner on the table or hold your hair back when you really need it. Technology is all well and good, but sometimes, nothing can take the place of a real live human being. Nothing can take the place of a much-needed hug.

In other words, even though we talk often or email regularly, I miss you. A lot. Now go give each other a great big hug just because you can. And then, when you're finished, break out the hand sanitizer. Because this flu season is a bitch.


  1. I just saw on the news about the meteorite...that it was visible from where you guys are. The YouTube videos are crazy. Did you guys see it? Was it reeeallly a meteorite? ;-)


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