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Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Get Well Christmas

When I was 16, I woke up on December 24th covered with red spots. Mom called the doctor who insisted we come to his office right away and enter via the side door instead of the reception area. I was quarantined in a tiny exam room at the end of a hall. The nurse explained to Mom that the doctor had been called to the hospital for an emergency, but he would be back "soon." Unfortunately, "soon" turned out to be three hours later. They didn't want me leaving the exam room for fear of exposing what we all knew was German measles to an innocent pregnant woman. Mom asked me if it was ok for her to leave so she could get some last-minute shopping done at the mall near the medical building. I said yes, but I sulked to the point of sobbing as the minutes turned into hours of boredom. Every once in awhile a perky medical assistant would peek in and ask if everything was all right. I always uttered a tearful "yes," but she didn't notice that I was crying and said, "let me know if you need anything." I wanted to scream, I need to get outta here, that's what I need. It's Christmas Eve! I want to be shopping with Mom and making cookies and wrapping the gifts that I spent my babysitting money to buy for my family. I don't want to be in a doctor's office with a sore throat, fever and an itchy rash. I didn't scream. I just counted the ceiling tiles until I fell asleep, drooling on the tissue-covered exam table. Mom and the doctor returned at the same time. The diagnosis was made in about 30 seconds and I was told to stay in bed for three days. There went all the Christmas plans, but I was cried out, so I just moped out of the office and all the way home in Mom's Chevy Nova. Clearly this would not be the merriest Christmas.

Ultimately, Christmas was happy. I didn't gain any weight because I chose not to eat. Why waste good food if your taste buds aren't working? I was strong enough to open presents, and my gift from Mom was a Polaroid camera, which my brother immediately confiscated to take a picture of me looking like a rotten tomato. Everyone laughed, including me. Laughter was the cherished highlight of celebrating Christmas at home that year.

History is repeating itself today. My stepson had knee surgery earlier in the month and he's not quite up to speed yet. My sister had laryngitis and a cold, but we thought she was no longer contagious when she came to a family party last week. Now I have a horrible cold and so does Dad. Even Poudre the cat has been suffering from a stomach malady, with and without hair balls. With all due respect to Poudre, who is better today, his illness has made me laugh. Laughter is our great "get well Christmas medicine." I'll be taking heavy doses of it the next few days!

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