Cody, my 19-year-old son, has pneumonia. And while he had a few high fevers as a toddler, it’s a different story when your kid is six feet tall has fevers of over 103. You can’t hold them in your lap anymore to comfort them.
Antibiotics have kicked in, though, and he’s on the mend. The bigger challenge will be keeping him from overdoing it these next few weeks of recovery.
Despite my efforts to protect myself, it’s no surprise that I started to feel a tickle in my throat a couple of days ago, which has now evolved into a cough and gravelly voice. And of course it’s Friday, and the doctor’s office will be closed just when things might start to get interesting.
I’m not usually hyper about germs or fearful of illness. We all get sick sometimes. It’s a fact of life.
But this week is different, because my 16-year-old, Jacob, is heading out in a few days for a month-long, 100+ mile backpacking trek in Wyoming. I’ve read that bugs can germinate for several days before attacking their victim. I have visions of embryonic hitchhiker germs waiting until he’s at the top of a mountain pass to pounce.
What if he gets sick? What if he needs to be medevaced out of the wilderness? What if this trip, which was supposed to be the perfectly-suited challenge and adventure for my outdoorsy but stuck-in-the-suburbs kid, is cut short by illness?
I sound hysterical, which is pretty out of character for me at this stage of my life. Part of the problem is that I’ve fallen off the bench this week. My meditation bench, that is. Administering medicine through the night for several days in a row has cut into my sleep, so I’ve skipped meditation in an effort to sleep longer.
It was a conscious decision. I figured that my immune system needed sleep more than it needed meditation. But studies show that meditation is also an immune system booster. Now that I am indeed coming down with something, I wonder if I made the right choice. Not exercising this week was surely one more nail in the coffin.
As I write, it becomes obvious that I am not grounded in the present moment. I’m creating stories in my head about what might happen on Jacob’s trip, working myself up about imagined scenarios that I will have no control over once he’s out there. My former economist self (and my mindfulness training) remind me that this is an inefficient use of my resources.
What action can I take today?
- I can continue to clean the surfaces with Clorox wipes.
- I can take myself to the doctor. Maybe she’ll give me some meds, maybe not.
- I can ask the doctor if I can hug my kid goodbye without infecting him before he gets on the plane.
- I can ask my kid what food or other comforts he would enjoy before leaving civilization, cell phones, and computer screens (not to mention family, friends and his puppy) behind for a month.
- I can accept the reality that no matter whether he stays healthy or gets sick, lessons will be learned along the way.
- I can trust that everything happens for a reason.
And after I’ve done all that, I can let go of the rest.
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