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As I write this today it’s the first day I’ve actually felt like a normal human being.
I got sick over New Year’s; I was laid up for six days, hacking up a lung, losing 10 pounds – most of it from some sort of mucus – sick.
This wouldn’t normally have stopped me in my tracks. Two years ago I’d have toughed this out. Forgive me for being graphic (well, more graphic), but I’m the guy who toughed out the worst of illnesses and worked anyway. I had an ear infection at work once that was so bad, and I was so stubborn, that I worked through the pain. So pained though I was, I went to work and wouldn’t leave. Well, I wouldn’t until a reporter came up behind me and asked why my ear was bleeding.
That’s an indication of how stubborn and – yes, I’ll admit it – stupid I was. I could have lost some hearing or burst my eardrum, but I was too steadfast in my work ethic to let go.
But that’s changed. Drastically. I got a head cold on a Thursday. By Saturday night it was in my chest. I knew when my lungs were laboring too hard and infection had set in. It only took two days and I was there.
I went to the doctor Sunday morning. I was laid up for six straight days. Even that didn’t cure it. I’m on my second round of antibiotics for what turned into pneumonia and a sinus infection.
So what changed?
I lost my wife to pneumonia in 2011 under roughly the same set of circumstances. She got sick on a Saturday, had pneumonia and went to the hospital on a Tuesday and was dead on Saturday. That quickly. The resilient strain of pneumonia had turned septic, spread to her lungs, infected her kidneys, which failed, and she couldn’t hold on. It hit with super speed. All my kids knew was that they saw their mom Tuesday morning and never saw her again.
I can’t put them through that again. Even today I see the effect it has. Over the past three days my son has had ongoing nightmares, coming into the bedroom each night needing to sleep with me. My oldest texts me constantly asking how I’m feeling. Hannah, my middle, had a nightmare last night that I died, leaving the four of them alone. She was sobbing uncontrollably and it took over an hour to assure her that the steroids, antibiotics, and inhalers were working. I was breathing and doing well.
So when I had spent six days going to bed at 8pm and near comatose on the couch, hacking up pounds of phlegm, I changed course. I continued to make dinner. I continued to hug Noah and Sam, tickling them while sitting on the couch, rather than chasing them. I went to work, by necessity, sure, but showing I was mobile and texting Abbi during the day.
None of this was to be a martyr. This was to assure them that I was still here, not leaving, and still the authority and leader of their household. But they were also told I was going to the doctor again and taking care of myself. I made decent meals and made myself eat, even when I didn’t feel like eating but needed to eat. In return, they feel some comfort.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do another seven loads of laundry.
What about you? Do you take care of yourself? Do you see the affect your actions have on your own family? My own father once said – your actions are just affecting you any more they affect all of us. So do you take that into consideration?
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Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins, is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.