Sick Days: A Removal from Reality

When I was a kid, one of the things I liked about snow days was how they felt removed from everyday life. As an adult, they do not have quite the same appeal, LOL. However, sick days with my child have that same time-stopping, reality-removing quality.

My daughter stayed home from school Monday and Tuesday, recovering from strep throat, which flared up on Sunday. Needless to say, I completely lost track of what day of the week it was. When you are caring for a sick child, it really doesn’t matter what day of the week it is—you measure your time in her improvement or lack thereof. The onset of illness is nightfall, and the return to health is the dawn. Night can last hours or days.

Sunday night was rough—she woke me up at 3:30 AM and we were up ever since. So Monday morning slipped in slowly, and I totally forgot to call her out of school until almost 9:30 AM.

We whiled away the sick days completely detached from the clock. We ate when hungry, we played some games, I read her some books, and she got more TV and video time than normal. The days had the same cocooned feeling of a snow day, with the outside world held at bay.

When your child is sick, the minutes seem to elongate into hours in the dark as you hold your child. She whimpers, cries. Whispers, “Help me.” But you can’t because have given her all the medicines there are and now it’s up to her body. Even though she is infecting you with her illness you cuddle her close, because she just wants her mommy.

You want desperately to douse the heat radiating from her body, suction the strangling mucus from her nose and throat, and ice the pain stabbing her throat. But all you can do is hug her and wait for the dawn.

The dawn comes slowly, over the course of several days where you get no work done, even when you work from home. Days spent in comforting, cuddling, and caring for your slowly reviving child. The energy, the motion, and the smile—that brilliant sunshine smile—return little by little, signaling her return to health.

And even though time and work have vanished—forever irretrievable—into those sick days, you don’t care. Because you know people whose children didn’t get well, whose smile never returned. And gratitude that your child is again noisy and messy negates anything lost in the cocoon of those sick days.


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