March 7, 2001
Musical Beds


David is sick this week.

It started with a dry, scratchy cough on Sunday: I could hear it while he was singing in the shower that morning ("I got de handle, baby ... coughcoughcough ... You got de blade ... coughcoughcough ... So don't try to fight me girl ... coughcoughcough ... "). By Monday night it had escalated into fullbown Upper-Respiratory Yuck.

Today we're both trying to catch up on some of the sleep we've lost this week.  Unfortunately, only one of us is doing so from the comfort of our big lumpy bed. The *other* one of us is laying face-down at her desk this afternoon, with her office door locked and her phone switched over to "Do Not Disturb Or I Will Kill You Totally Dead."

For the past three nights in a row we've been playing an exhausting game of Musical Beds. It goes a little something like this: 

  • Secra and David fall asleep together in their big lumpy bed, somewhere around 10 p.m.  

  • Fifteen minutes later, Secra is tiptoeing out to the living room sofa with her pillow and her blanket, driven from the bed by her partner's energetic snoring. Secra knows that she could probably poke David in the side with her finger, and he'll obligingly roll over on his side and the snoring will stop for a few blissful minutes. Secra understands, however, that when David has a cold, it really doesn't matter WHAT position he's laying in: he could be standing on his head, for all the good it'll do, and he would still snore like a rusty Evinrude. So unless she wants to spend the entire night poking him in the side with her finger -- which she doesn't -- Secra realizes that sometimes it's best to just surrender the skirmish and avoid the war altogether.

  • From her spot on the world's most uncomfortable sofa -- there's a reason why we call it "The Ouch," OK? -- she soon hears that the snoring has been joined by a raspy, intermittent cough. Finding it impossible now to fall asleep, Secra lays in darkness and listens to her beloved wheeze and hack and struggle for breath from the next room ... feeling powerless to help him. 
  • At one point, she drifts off for a minute -- just long enough to have a brief entertaining dream about overflowing bathroom fixtures -- before she wakes with a start at midnight and hears ... nothing!  Once she determines that the racket in the other room has indeed subsided, Secra sneaks back into the big lumpy bed and lays a discreet foot and a half from her beloved, not wanting to disturb him. 
  • Forty-five minutes later, Secra is back on The Ouch again. David's nose has started whistling. (She's not sure, but she believes it's whistling "Don't Mess With My Toot-Toot.") Another quick catnap. Another silly disjointed dream ... this time, opening her suitcase at the St. Louis airport and discovering it is filled with newborn kittens, which she is supposed to distribute at the big Boomer Bash. 

  • At 4 a.m. -- jolted awake by the nocturnal tapdancing of Upstairs Neighbor Guy -- Secra tiptoes back into the big bed, where all is silent once again, and she sleeps the sleep of the dead for two criminally brief hours, until it's time to get up and crawl into the shower and get ready for work.

And that's what this week has been like so far.

You can't be mad at the guy, of course. It's not his fault. I'll bet that *I* was no gentle ocean breeze to sleep with when I was sick, either. Everyone gets a pass on involuntary bodily noises when they're sick.

Still ... my first clue that he was really sick? I mean really, really sick, as opposed to *borderline sick* or *moderately sick* or *I don't want to go to the Sales Meeting sick* ... ? When he broke down on the third night and asked for a dose of my cough medicine. Usually David avoids all over-the-counter medicines like the plague. While I maintain a medicine-cabinet inventory of cold and allergy meds, pain relievers, women's vitamins, antacids, nutritional supplements and assorted *herbal remedies* (including my beloved St. Johns Wort) extensive enough to rival the corner Walgreen's ... he won't even take an Advil for a headache. So when he actually asked for some of the generic store-brand cough suppressant/expectorant/decongestant/anticoagulant stuff I keep in the cupboard, I joyously flew out of bed to find the bottle of Tussin.

At last! Something concrete I can do to help! 

Once I'd located it -- tucked away behind the Benadryl and the Tums With Calcium and the Valerian Root -- I sat next to him in the bed and carefully poured the recommended dosage into the little plastic cup. Then I handed it to him and watched as he slugged it down. (For a split second -- as I watched him guzzle -- it gave me a startling and disturbing *visual* of what he must have looked like as a drinker, slamming down a vodka shooter.) He winced, grimaced, smacked his lips, rubbed with his mouth with his fist, blinked a couple of times ... and then promptly rolled over and fell asleep again.

Forty minutes later I was back on The Ouch. The last thing I heard before slipping into another ten-minute coma was the sound of a rusty (albeit cough-free) Evinrude, rumbling from the next room.

Some nights you can win the skirmish ... but still lose the war.

before i have to kill somebody ...
help bring back Fast Lane Tea!
[tell 'em SECRA sent you]

throw a rock