Tag: sick

Charlie’s Room: Sick Day

Marianne was feeling sick. Isaac kept waking up to hear her coughing in the middle of the night. By morning, he felt like he hadn’t slept much at all. His throat was sore and he felt sort of floaty.

He was pretty sure he was sick too.

After tucking the covers back around Marianne, Isaac put on his slippers and trudged down the hall. He could hear Charlie coughing. Isaac sighed. It was going to be a long day.

He called in sick and then called the attendance line for the school. Then he started cooking some oatmeal. He finished cooking breakfast as Marianne stumbled into the kitchen, looking half awake.

“Sick day today,” he said. “I called in to excuse Charlie and me. You probably should call in sick too.”

“My afternoon meeting is just a phone call,” Marianne mumbled. “I can do that.”

“Okay.” Isaac turned off the stove and dished up some oatmeal. “Orange juice?”

Marianne made a face. “Sounds terrible. My throat hurts. It would be like lemon juice in a paper cut. Throwing up orange juice would be awful, too.”

“Good point.” Isaac put the pitcher back in the fridge. “Would cocoa be better?”

She shrugged. “I think so.”

Charlie woke up late and Isaac reheated everything while Charlie sat at the kitchen table with his head buried in his arms. “I don’t feel good.” Charlie’s voice was muffled. “I don’t want to go to school today.”

“It’s a sick day today,” Marianne answered. “We’re all staying home.”

“But what if I still feel sick tomorrow?” Charlie asked.

“Luckily, tomorrow is Saturday. You wouldn’t go to school anyway.”

They decided to stay in pajamas and watch movies. Marianne and Charlie went to set up nests of blankets and pillows in the living room. Isaac promised he’d join them shortly.

After leaving the dishes to soak, Isaac pulled out his family recipe book. It was the one his grandmother had put together for him when he was finally old enough to hold a knife steady and chop vegetables. It was a huge book, and all of the recipes were handwritten.

It had everything from the family cocoa recipe to great-great-aunt Betty’s wood polish. Today, he flipped through the pages and stopped at the elderberry cough syrup recipe. It didn’t cure colds instantly, but it did seem to keep them from lasting longer.

He dug through the cupboards and fridge to pull out the dried elderberries and honey and cinnamon bark and cloves and ginger. As he chopped and boiled, he started to relax. Just the fumes were helping him to feel better.

He added a good spoonful of the syrup to mugs of peppermint tea. While they cooled a little, he popped some popcorn. It took a couple of trips, but soon he was snuggled into his own little nest watching movies.

That night, Isaac woke himself up coughing, but Marianne seemed to be sleeping better. When he got up in the morning, he could smell pancakes. He stumbled into the kitchen, yawning. Charlie was already there waiting. “I think I feel better than yesterday,” Charlie said. And then he coughed a few times. They all laughed.

The sick day became a sick weekend. They stayed in pajamas and watched movies and drank peppermint tea with elderberry syrup. By Sunday evening, Marianne and Charlie were feeling better. Isaac was pretty sure he was well enough to go to work in the morning.

“So, this cough syrup is a secret family recipe.” Marianne held up the nearly empty jar of syrup.

“I don’t know that the family recipes are secret. We just never seem to be able to share them. Something always happens, and we get distracted. I think it’s a charm on the book.”

Marianne put the jar down. She looked puzzled. “What book?”

“The family recipe book my grandmother made. The one with all the handwritten recipes.” It was right there on the counter.

“I don’t think I’ve seen that one. You’ll have to show me later.” Marianne looked out the window.

Isaac nearly pointed out that the book was right there. But, as he opened his mouth, Marianne was already marching to the back door. “Charlie,” she yelled over her shoulder. “Get the spray bottle. There are cats digging in the garden again!”

She ran out the door, and Isaac picked up the recipe book and took it back to his desk. He shut the drawer with a sigh. He knew that Marianne wouldn’t ask about it later. He wasn’t even sure she could see it.

Perhaps Charlie could? Maybe they could try a recipe from the book sometime. Charlie was certainly old enough to chop vegetables.

Charlie came running through the kitchen with the spray bottle of water and hurried out the back door to join Marianne. Isaac watched them through the window as they chased the cats away from the rhubarb bed. They certainly seemed to feel all better. The sick days were at an end.

Charlie’s Room: Fireworks

Marianne and Charlie were making a house call. One of the neighbors had some sick potted plants and they needed some expert help. Charlie was rather thrilled to be considered an expert.

“Should we bring something to check the pH of the soil?” Charlie asked.

Marianne laughed. “I’m sure they used potting soil. Besides, what would we bring? We’ve never tested the pH of our soil.”

“Good point. I’ll go comb my hair again.” And Charlie was off.

Marianne shrugged. “He’ll be fine once we get there. There’s nothing like plants to take away stress.”

“Even if the plants are sick?” Isaac asked.

“Hmmmm. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”

After they left, the house was much quieter. It was also colder. It was especially cold outside, and it was taking a while for the house to warm up again. Charlie let all the warm air out taking so many trips back inside for things he forgot.

Isaac decided to wear his warmest fuzzy socks. He trudged down the hall, trying to decide whether he needed a sweater as well. He reached for the bedroom doorknob, but pulled his hand back quickly. Static electricity. He should have done less trudging across the hallway carpet.

Isaac reached for the doorknob again, and pulled his hand back again. More static electricity? But he hadn’t even moved. That wasn’t how it was supposed to work.

Had someone set up some sort of trick? Isaac examined the doorknob more closely. He didn’t see anything stuck to the doorknob, and there weren’t any suspicious wires, either.

However, there was a strange shimmery sort of spot just above the doorknob. Isaac leaned in and squinted. He could just barely make out a round lizard-y sort of shape. And it appeared to have wings.

A dragon? How did a small, mostly invisible dragon end up on his bedroom doorknob? He was fairly certain there wasn’t a dragon in the house before. From what he could tell, life was a little more shocking with a little dragon around.

It probably came in out of the cold. But why the doorknob? Did it need metal to perch on? Maybe it would set things like wood or cloth on fire.

Isaac hurried to the kitchen and returned with a nice two-handled pot, and lots of pot holders. He set the potholders on the carpet, several layers thick, and put the pot on top. Then he took a big step back.

“Look at this pot,” he said softly in his most encouraging voice. “It looks much more comfortable than that slippery doorknob. I bet you’re pretty uncomfortable perched up there. I’ll just go away for a little bit, and you can sit in that pot there, where you’ll be able to rest.”

From what Isaac had sort of seen, the dragon seemed to have a large head and small wings. He was pretty sure it was a baby. That probably meant that there was a mother dragon somewhere out there looking for it.

He didn’t want anyone burning the door down to get inside. Or the roof. He needed to attract the attention of the mother dragon somewhere safe so that she could take her baby back home to wherever invisible dragons lived when they weren’t perching on doorknobs.

What would amplified static electricity look like? The answer seemed clear. Fireworks.

There were a few small fireworks somewhere in the garage leftover from their New Year celebration. It had been cold and they all wanted to go inside early. Isaac found the right plastic tub and opened the metal tin inside.

He sorted through the fireworks left. There was one that made a crackling sound but didn’t shoot any sparks high in the air. That would probably be best.

Time to see if the baby dragon was in the soup pot. Isaac stopped by the kitchen for the pot lid. And a lighter. When he returned to the hallway where he’d left the pot, he was a little surprised to see that the top layer of potholders was smoking.

He’d returned just in time! He put the lid on the pot and ignored the muffled screeching. He put the firework and lighter in separate shirt pockets. He picked up the pot with some of the extra potholders and raced to the entryway.

Should he stop for his coat? The potholders were already getting warm. He stepped into some boots and somehow managed to maneuver himself and the pot through the front door.

The driveway was clear. Isaac set the pot down in the middle of the driveway. He set off the fireworks. Then he took the lid off the pot and hurried back the the front door. The screeching was louder.

It wasn’t long before there was a rush of warm wind and a thump. The screeching stopped. The pot tumbled over on its side. There was a crackling, electric sort of sound and another rush of warm wind.

And then it was very, very cold again. Isaac shivered as he hurried over to pick up the pot and bring it inside. He was relieved that his bedroom doorknob didn’t shock him when he went to get his fuzzy socks and a giant sweater.

He was warm enough to leave the sweater on the couch by the time Marianne and Charlie returned. They chattered about the house call as they prepared dinner together. Charlie was pretty sure that once the neighbor stopped over-watering the plants, they’d recover.

Marianne opened the drawer of potholders. “What happened to the potholders? They look singed!”

“Invisible dragon,” Isaac said. “It was just a baby.”

Marianne looked at the potholder on top. “It must have been a very round invisible dragon.”

“It was in a pot,” Isaac explained.

“Of course,” Marianne said. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Friday Flashback: How Louis Saved the World

This story was originally posted on September 29, 2017. Aliens are fun to write about. They come from far, far away, which already makes them sound like part of a story. Other than the long-distance travel, they’re completely mysterious. It’s an interesting idea to explore.

Louis was home in the middle of the day, because he was sick. If it was up to him, he would have been at school.   Today they were going to make ice cream as a science experiment. That was much better than staying in bed and staring at the ceiling.

Unfortunately, Mom said that if you have a fever and a runny nose, and a terrible cough, and a sore throat and can’t stop sneezing, then you should stay home. Throwing up after breakfast hadn’t helped his argument at all, either. So, Louis blew his nose again and sneezed and looked at the ceiling.   Ceilings are boring.

“Mom, I’m bored,” Louis yelled. Then he coughed. Ouch.   His throat really hurt.

“Then take a nap,” his mom yelled back. “You need to rest so that you can heal.”

Louis scowled. He was much too old for naps, and he wasn’t at all sleepy. Well, he was maybe a little bit tired. But not really enough to fall asleep yet. He turned and watched the shadows on the wall move.   The wind must be blowing through the tree outside.

And then, the shadows started to fade, or maybe the room started to glow.   Louis wasn’t quite sure. It was all a little strange. Everything looked a little bit foggy. Louis blinked, and when he opened his eyes, he wasn’t in his bedroom any more.

He was in a strange metal room filled with blinking lights. Something was making a clicking sound. Three tall skinny beings with greenish skin and bright blue eyes looked at him. They were definitely aliens. Louis looked back. One of the aliens said something, but Louis didn’t know what he was saying. “I don’t speak your language,” Louis said.

The aliens approached and one of them looked closely into Louis’s face.   The aliens smelled like dust.   Lots of dust. Louis sneezed right into the alien’s face, and then he couldn’t stop sneezing.

The alien backed up, but the other two crowded closer. The sneezing hurt his throat and upset his stomach. Louis threw up on the other two aliens. The aliens backed up and bowed. One of the aliens pushed a button on the wall, and the room started to get brighter.   Everything looked foggy. Louis blinked.

And he was back in his room looking up at the ceiling. Had any of that really happened? Mom knocked on the doorframe and came in. “How are you feeling?” she asked. “Any better?”

“Mom, I was just captured by aliens,” Louis said. “I threw up all over them, so they let me go.”

“That sounds like a nice dream,” Mom said. “Is your stomach still upset?” She put her hand on his forehead. “Oh dear, you’re still quite warm. Would you like some ice cream?”

“For lunch?” Louis asked.

“Why not,” Mom said. “You’re feeling sick.”

Maybe being sick wasn’t so bad, except for the staring at the ceiling part.   Even being captured by aliens wasn’t terrible. It had been kind of interesting.   If it really happened at all, of course.

Two days later, Louis was back in class. He’d missed the ice cream experiment and a math quiz, but otherwise things had been pretty quiet at school. Susie said that Dan threw up on the slide just a day ago.

Louis decided that being sick probably happened to everybody at one time or another. He was glad that he felt better now and could move forward. He hoped he didn’t feel sick again anytime soon and that he never threw up on the slide.  That sounded embarrassing.

Hundreds of thousands of miles away, the crew of an alien space ship coughed and sneezed and stared at the ceiling and tried not to throw up. “I thought it was too eager to give us the samples we required. It was completely suspicious,” one said.

“I thought it believed we were peaceful scientists,” another replied.   “How was I to know it recognized us as a possible threat.” The alien sneezed and sneezed and sneezed.

“Well, I’m going to recommend we don’t try to colonize this world. The inhabitants are far too hostile. And they don’t fight fair, either,” the last one said. And then he threw up.

Taking Breaks

Sometimes, I get sick. Or life gets crazy busy. Or I’m feeling really overwhelmed. Life has its ups and downs, and that’s okay.

But, when it takes me a lot longer to do less, and adding one more thing to my schedule seems impossible, something has to give. Knowing my limits is important. Otherwise, I can burn out and that takes a lot longer to recover from than a yucky cold or a few busy weeks.

There are two difficulties when I decide to take a break. The first is deciding how much to put on hold. The second is keeping the break temporary.

If I have to take a break, it’s usually not just with my art. In many areas of my life, there are things that can absorb neglect better than others. I can put off doing laundry for a week if I have to. I can’t imagine skipping brushing my teeth unless I can’t move at all.

Some things I just don’t feel comfortable skipping. I will continue posting to my website, even when school is starting or just before Christmas. I will continue drawing a face a day and doing my other drawing practices. However, I may put off my art studies for a week or two if I need to. I might put off copying cartoon ideas from my various notebooks into the appropriate sketchbooks. I might not read any art books or watch art videos.

Sketches from Christmas break. Everyone is enjoying some relaxing time off around here.

And even though that isn’t skipping much, taking something out of my schedule seems huge. I feel like the rest is so much more manageable.

And when crunch time ends and I’m struggling to recover, I may wait an extra week to put things back in place. Recovering isn’t easy. There’s so much make up work to do. Dishes, laundry, emails, phone calls…

But when I feel like I have my schedule back without feeling like I’m constantly scrambling, the break is over. It’s time to pick things back up. If it’s hard to do, I use the methods I wrote about a few weeks ago for finding motivation.

What do you do if you pushed too hard for too long and you feel completely burnt out? When you just can’t get yourself to start anything at all?

My advice is to be gentle with yourself. It’s going to take a lot longer, and you’ll have to start smaller. Instead of trying to jump back into your old schedule, find something you can do. If you can’t paint, can you sketch faces? Can you doodle? Can you color in a coloring book? Can you go to a museum? Can you go on a walk and look at fall leaves or interesting clouds or flowers or birds?

Find something that sounds fun and do that. Then do something else fun. Can you do something fun once a week? Once a day? Give it some time.

Are you still feeling burnt out? It may be time to redefine your goals. Are the goals you used to have what you really want to do? Does something else sound better? Really imagine what it would be like to achieve different goals.

If you have a goal that you really want to achieve, how will you get there? What skills do you need to develop? How will you develop those skills? What do you need to practice?

Now, try to find motivation, like I talked about in my post a few weeks ago. If that doesn’t work, go back to finding simple, fun things to do. Try again later.

Recovering from burnout isn’t easy. Instead, take breaks when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Set aside enough tasks that you can feel the relief of letting those things go temporarily. Then, when you’re ready, pick them up again. Take care of you.

When you return from your break, things might not come as easily. Things you draw may look funny and wrong. Go easy on yourself. It won’t take long to get back to where you were if you stay consistent. You’re just a little out of practice, that’s all.

If you feel like you need someone’s permission to take a break, you have mine, for what it’s worth.

Sloth from my story, “Sloth Picnic,” published on 12/5/18.

Do you sometimes take breaks? How does that work for you? Have you ever felt burned out?

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