My husband’s illness has been of epic proportion. The symptoms are ever-evolving, rotating inside of him like a Ferris wheel (and not one of those awesome ones that Ryan Gosling jumps on to ask you out on a date).
“I’m hot. I’m cold. I’m clammy. I’m burning up. I need a blanket. Take this blanket off of me. I need to eat. I can’t eat that. I need a hot drink. I need a cold drink”. This is not man flu, this is Bear Flu.
Not to confuse it with ‘bear sick’, which is apparently slang for “expressing when something is awesome however when the word awesome is not quite enough”. Can you use it in a negative context? “This is bear awful”…I don’t know, Urban Dictionary didn’t say. Then again, you can’t always trust the internet. Which is what I tell my husband when he wants me to Google his ailments and health concerns. We have a rather strict policy about such things. It’s never a good idea because it’s always the worst case scenario. If I have a tumor, I don’t want to be told by the internet.
When he first became ill, I’ll admit I was annoyed. It was the day of my first aid course; my work van was picked up by a co-worker for the after-school pick up. Ben agreed to pick me up. Shortly before the examination, near the end of the day, I receive a text that he is too sick to pick me up. It’s a bit of a schmozzle, getting back to my van. I decide to swing past a Booster Juice to get a wheat grass shot for myself, and a smoothie for Ben. Before I go into the shop, I text Ben. “Do you need anything?” I was close to a grocery store, and could pick up any supplies without making an extra trip. Ten minutes later, I come back to the van, and there’s no text message. I go home with the smoothie. I’m home long enough to settle, shoes off, and wandering around the kitchen. Ben comes round the corner. Since I last saw him, he has developed a limp, a pout and speaks with a quivering voice “Did you get me any ice cream?” “Ice cream? I didn’t hear anything about ice cream”. His face sinks in disappointment. “Oh…I just thought it would be good…for my throat”. He coughs weakly. “I texted you…I asked for ice cream”. “But…I brought you a smoothie”. He gives me a look that says a smoothie is good, but not great.
I grab my purse, my shoes, the car keys and storm out the door. I resent my sick husband, and resent his need for ice cream. That smoothie should have been perfectly adequate. I go round to the 7-11, and face the chiller filled with wildly overpriced products. I spot a brand on sale two for $9.99. I grab two and head to the till. Of course, there is a complication, the price isn’t registering, and they want to charge me $16. I’d like to pay $9.99, take the ice cream and get back to my regularly scheduled life. It took ten minutes, the fluster of two sales clerks, a call to the manager and to get what was clearly labelled in the cooler. Part of me wants to pay whatever they want so I can leave, but my husband has already missed one day of work, I’ve got to save what I can. This further fuels the marital resentment.
I come home, cram the containers in the freezer and check on Ben, who is pale and clammy on the couch. Alright, get the poor bastard some ice cream.
As the flu ravages his body, Benjamin keeps obsessing over the notion that it’s anything other than the flu. I try to soothe him “You just have the flu Bear, that’s why you feel so bad”. My words don’t matter, as he lumbers around the house, following me around like a giant shadow. He breaks my heart, his big sad blue eyes and his feet hanging off the edge of the couch. Despite the giant beard he looks just like a child. He’s weak and emotional, and I want to scoop him up in my arms as though he were a baby.
This pandemic has been described as “the greatest medical holocaust in history” and may have killed more people than the Black Death. It is said that this flu killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century.