Is it a good place to be sick in?
January 27, 2009 § 2 Comments
I had a terrible cold. And I knew it was going to be terrible because it moved in slowly, like a prowling cat, first just a little stuffed nose, headache. Then all over achiness and exhaustion, then a congested head and sinuses and then a full blown punch-you-in-the-gut-pick-you-up-and-throw-you-in-a-pile-of-feces-sickness. It stuck around like a friend in a crappy band who needs a place to crash between ‘gigs’. Each day I’d go to bed, fuzzed and mellow from Nyquil, saying ‘tonight’s the night this thing kicks out. Tomorrow I’ll wake up clear and refreshed’. And it wasn’t until at least eight days passed that I even began to consider saying “I’m feeling better”.
The thing with being the mommy AND the accounting assistant is that when you are sick, life must go on, although you are granted some degree of defeatist foot shuffling, heavy, gurgling sighs, early bedtimes and creamy, high fat soups. What you really NEED when you’re sick, however, is a good place to settle in and be sick. And so this is how my mother and I judge interior design in all its forms. Sure, you could have gone to all the finest schools, banged out the feng shui, spent $10,000 on a 5 foot square room, but pal, if we look in that door and decide that it’s not a comfy room to be sick in, you’d better run and get a couple afghans, stat.
I suppose it’s an offshoot of my love of nesting and shelter and ‘huddling’ and ‘snuggling’ and ‘cuddling’ and my dream of sleeping in a pile of animals. I want everything clean, well padded, warm and welcoming. If it were up to me, our whole house would be nothing but pillows, blankets, over stuffed chairs, deep cushy couches, and multilayered, need-a-ladder-to-get-in-’em beds. I want to live and love in the bottom of Jeannie’s Bottle And really, who wouldn’t?
And yet, the place where we’re all supposed to be sick, where we’re all supposed to be healing, is grossly lacking in this cushiness. When I was in the hospital overnight (three times in the last two years), I found myself not resting, not healing, not getting better. The rooms were cold, with cold stone floors, and walls painted an eerie yellow that changed in the clouds and sunlight. The sheets were scratchy, came untucked too easily, and were always bunched up over on one side when I woke up. There are no comforters in the hospital, which is where they are most needed. Instead there are gray or industrial baby blue wool blankets, and one pillow. Go ahead, ask for a second one. Watch the nurse plot your death.
It was in detox that I noticed how uncomfortable it was in the hospital. During a time when I felt i needed the most emotional and physical cushioning, when I needed to be wrapped tight like a swaddled newborn, keeping out the light and sound of the real world, I was escorted to a barren room with a sharp angled bed, blanket drawn tight over the sides and tucked into the metal railing. Flourescent light, linoleum floor. It was a punishment to me. A prison. And although I stayed for the allotted time, I was sure that I wouldn’t start healing until I went home.
My bed was waiting at home. My family. The smell of food cooking, the sounds of normal conversation. Gold glowing lightbulbs under cream colored shades were waiting to guide me. No chrome, no glare, no wheels rattling down a hallway. My home is a good place to be sick in. A deep, warm, scented bath dulls the nerves, softens the muscles. Well read books, sometimes three deep, stacked and packed into shelves, wait to distract your mind from pain, from suffering, from worry. A bed, wide and soft, with layers of blankets, warmth, comfort and softness carry you to sleep.
It’s always been my goal to have a healing home, to have a place where you could finally find respite, quiet your heart, rest your weary feet. I don’t know if it’s French Provencial, Bauhaus, Arts and Crafts or Colonial. It may make a designer scream to see that we have a blanket folded over every chair and pine mixed with chery. The end table in the living room was found in the alley. I’m not going to be featured in Architectural Digest or Midwest Living. That’s fine. I don’t need it. What I do know is that if you’ve got a cold, come on over. Our house is a good place to be sick in.