January 8, 2012 12:25:00 AM
This may be the flu season, but one does not have to have a microbe or a virus to qualify as being sick. Any old ailment that knocks your feet out from under you will do. It can transform a relatively decent person into a growling bear. When it does, it is probably best for the patient just not to speak at all.
Sometimes when you are the patient, you wonder why people don't just leave you alone and let you die in peace. Yet you still appreciate the kindnesses of family, remembering the definition of home: the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. Well, family are those who, when you're down, have to try to get you up again.
Recently, after a total knee replacement, I had to call in my troops to help. My long-suffering sister spent two weeks stepping and fetching for me. Before she left, we had finally gotten our act together.
She was not familiar with all the details of my fairly new house. A typical conversation might go like this:
"Margaret, would you please cut off that light?"
"The overhead light."
"Where is the switch?"
"On the wall."
"By the door."
"I don't see it."
"Well, it's there."
"Oh, yes! Here it is."
"No. Stop! That's the alarm system! It's the wall behind you."
And so it went. She is an early riser who, by her own admission, is no good after 4 p.m. I come to life as the day ages. We had to accommodate different biological clocks. This was true in spite of the fact that when you are "sick" you tend to go to bed with the chickens, wondering if you'll ever feel like staying up again.
Doesn't it grate on your nerves not to be able to do the things you usually do? Doesn't anybody do things the way you would?
Suddenly, one day you feel as if you can do anything. Why does that feeling blow up after 15 minutes? Recovery is difficult. Once you demonstrate you can resume some chore, everyone expects you to take it over completely. Why does resuming normal activities not allow you to backslide?
Thank heaven for physical therapists. I am a firm believer in their value. They know just how much to push and pull -- both physically and psychologically.
It has long been a given that a female will almost rise from her deathbed to get her hair shampooed. Putting on makeup may be a different matter. When she finally decides to do so, it means she has conceded that she might live after all.
Why does anyone assume that once you drag yourself out the door and stagger to the grocery store, you are ready for Life as Usual?
And why, oh why, are people so decent that no matter how one might grumble or whine, they persist in bringing in enough delicious food to feed a convention? If you are ever tempted to doubt the kindness of humanity, get sick enough.
Be that as it may, having had two knee replacements by now, I am glad I don't have three legs.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.
5. The Hell of America BOOK REVIEWS