“It’s not fair,” I grumbled to several coworkers over the past few weeks. “Not. Fair.”
I have been sick since Christmas. It started as a little catch in my throat, one that made reading more than one book to the kids at bedtime a struggle. It grew into a cough. Then it grew into a hacking monster that every few minutes would seize my lungs, send me into full-bodied writhing and leave me gasping, slowly trying to ease some oxygen back into the two deflated balloons in my chest. The doctor told me it was bronchitis.
This is what felt so unfair. By almost any standard, I live a healthy life. I drink 72 ounces of water a day—I take a shot of apple cider vinegar every morning—I sleep 8 hours every night—I make sure 80 percent of my diet is vegetables—I take elderberry and zinc supplements—I avoid sugar, starches, and junk food—and I walk my dog, practice yoga, and jog. I should be no match for a meddlesome, microscopic virus.
It’s actually rare that I get sick. And when I do, I’m usually over it in a day or two. I’m pretty much the opposite of my husband, who does not maintain a healthy diet, is sick more frequently, and takes much longer to recover. I’ve sighed at him plenty of times with a holier-than-thou “I told you so” look.
Karma’s a bitch, I guess.
No one else in my house got sick. Well, actually, everyone was sick—but with completely different causes. Logan contracted pink eye from playing at the neighbor’s, Sadie threw up one morning (probably from too much excitement after her birthday party), and Jason learned he has multiple hernias and will possibly need surgery. But they all avoided the bronchitis virus even as it toppled me.
I think the worst part about being sick is worrying what it will do to those you love. And it’s ironic that when we’re sick, when we most need nutritious food to help our bodies fight infections, that’s when we’re in the worst mood to actually cook healthful food. For too many days I relied on gluten-free chicken nuggets, frozen fish, and even pizza to feed my kids as I could barely stay on my feet after work. I kept my fingers crossed that the lack of nutrients didn’t affect them too badly, and for the most part, it didn’t. (Although Logan has had a run of incredibly hard days at school recently … as always, what I wouldn’t give to know if the two are related).
After more than a month of the stubborn hacking-gasping cycle, I noticed my chest was starting to hurt. And it hurt worse when I breathed, particularly breathed deeply. After a few days of clutching my sides and restricting myself to shallow breathing, I ended up going into the emergency room one night and learning that a few of my ribs had separated from the breastbone due to prolonged, aggressive coughing.
“It’s kind of like a sprained ankle,” the doctor explained. “It hurts when you move it—and breathing makes your ribs move. But you can’t stop breathing like you can stop walking on a sprain.”
Unfortunately, there’s really nothing to do about my ribs but rest and wait until they heal. The good news is my cough is finally abating. I’m pretty sure my body has conquered the virus. I am lucky–and thankful–it wasn’t anything too serious. But it still pisses me off that I had it in the first place. Isn’t a healthy diet supposed to insulate me from crap like this? Why even do it—go through the extra work, the extra grocery bills—if I just get sick like everyone else?