Some people like to be taken care of when they’re sick. Others want to be left alone when they’re sick. And I think that pretty much covers everyone.
I don’t think, for example, there is anyone out there who, when sick, really likes to take care of five other people, some of which are also sick, and some of which are teenage boys, which is worse than being sick.
And in short, I would have really enjoyed being someone besides me for the past couple days.
An Excellent Excuse
Looking back, I now understand that I’ve been sick since Friday. In fact, in my post from that day I mentioned my first symptoms: a sore throat. I just didn’t realize that the sore throat wasn’t from the race last Thursday; it was the beginning of the mother of all colds.
And the truth is, I’m excited at the prospect of using what I now realize was the onset of illness to explain the fact that on the group ride Friday afternoon, Jill easily kicked my butt.
Which is to say, the largish group of us were all riding together until after the Tibble Fork turnoff, which is where the road really turns uphill. Jill, in a display of cruel kindness, stayed with me as everyone else dropped me hard.
“Go,” I said, “Don’t let them get away.”
And she did. Jill bridged the gap nearly instantly. That woman has a serious motor.
At the time, I thought I couldn’t hang because I’m fat and out of shape. Now, of course, I realize the real reason I couldn’t hang is because I was getting sick.
[Note to Kenny: You owe me big time for not making this entire post be about why your shoulder in the below photo is bloody. But I'm not going to talk about it because your point about "I hate riding with bloggers" got to me.]
Saturday, I woke up miserable. Sore everywhere, eyes runny, nose snotty, unable to breathe. I just wanted to go into a cave and be alone. I’ll come out when I feel better. Honest.
But the twins had other plans. I had promised to work with them on riding their bikes.
How could I say no to that? Or more to the point: even though I was sick, I didn’t want to say no to that.
So we found an empty parking lot, and got to work. And I’m glad we did, because yesterday was the day when it all finally came together.
Here’s Carrie, making it look easy:
And leaning into the turns:
And here’s Katie, with exactly the expression I want to see:
Thinking about how in a few years we’ll be hitting the singletrack together, I forgot all about being sick for an hour.
Arts and Crafts
Susan doesn’t have much use for things nowadays. Out of everything she owns, the list of things she actually uses on a daily basis is pretty short:
- Her powered easy chair
- Her down comforter
- Her Kindle
- Her iPhone
The thing is, when she’s in bed it’s been hard for her to reach the Kindle and iPhone when they’re laying on the windowsill being charged.
And so, Saturday, I managed to break through my brain cloud and come up with an easier way for her to reach — and charge — those two things.
Yes, it’s a pair of nylon pouches that hang from the rail on her hospital-style bed. I made it by cutting down a Banjo Brothers Pocket Messenger Bag, using a torch to melt the nylon at the edges so it doesn’t fray, then stitching it and fastening it in place with about twenty zipties. The charging cables are ziptied in place, too, so they won’t fall to the floor when not in use.
It’s as functional as it is ugly. Which is to say: very.
Cancer — or any other serious illness — can hurt you in two ways. The way everyone thinks about is by the damage it directly causes. But it can also hurt you through indirect damage — your body is designed to move, not be kept in one place and one position all the time. If you never get to move around, your body suffers in more ways than I would have expected.
And that indirect damage can be incredibly painful.
I don’t want to get into specifics, but starting Saturday afternoon, Susan started hurting pretty darned bad due to some of that indirect damage. By Saturday night, it had gotten unbearable. A nurse came out and helped improve things, and I headed north on a 20-mile drive to the nearest 24-hour pharmacy.
It was late at night. I was sick. My wife was suffering. I was in a dark place.
And then I found out that one of the kinds of medication Susan needs isn’t covered by our insurance.
Then at this pharmacy — the first time I’ve ever been to this particular pharmacy — the pharmacist asked for the patient’s name.
“Susan Nelson,” I said.
“Is that by any chance the ‘WIN Susan’ Susan Nelson?” he asked.
And of course it is.
He expressed his concern, wished us the best…and waived the cost of the non-covered pills.
I have lost count of how many times people — sometimes people we know, often people we don’t — have been kind and generous toward us, but I appreciate it every single time.
I’m still sick. And it’s been a very hard weekend. But there have been some good moments.