When I Wasn’t Here

When I Wasn’t Here March 10, 2024

stuffed animals tucked into bed with a tissue, a hot water bottle and a thermometer
image via Pixabay


I got sick again.

I’d not been terribly sick in January or most of February, but then my number was up.

First Adrienne brought home a severe head cold and a fever– the tests they swabbed for at the nurse’s office came up negative, so we’ve no reason to believe it was anything worse than that. She spent Monday drowsing at school and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday sick in bed at home, then Friday at school far too tired. Next, Michael caught it and was down for the week. Then, just as he rallied, I caught it.

It’s terrifying to be sick when you’re chronically ill. It reminds you of every other time you’ve been ill: the doctors who didn’t believe you, the humiliation and the gaslighting, the years of sucking it up and pretending it must be your imagination. The flare-ups. The weeks and months lost to severe fatigue and pain. The day it changed. I’ve been unwell with one thing or another my whole life. I had two emergency surgeries in 2008 and more in 2009. From 2009 to late 2020 I was sick in bed on and off with a hodgepodge of symptoms that were misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Then I got diagnosed with PCOS, got in treatment for the fatigue, and I’ve spent the past few years in ketosis– still more sluggish and exhausted than a typical person, but without the life-destroying head fog and exhaustion Then Adrienne started middle school instead of homeschooling, and I started catching a virus from her every six weeks or so.

Every time I catch the virus, I panic.

I try to sit up and force myself to get some work done, just to prove to myself that I still can. So much depends on me. I have so many deadlines. I won’t go back to being helpless. I’ll stay alert and get things done. But, of course, I don’t.

It started with days of ominous fatigue, then fevers and congestion, then all the symptoms together. I’m in bed just now, with a terrible headfog. It’s taken me more than an hour to type the above skinny paragraphs.

I’ve wanted to go out to see the very first wildflowers of the year, but a hike has been out of the question. I don’t have the strength to walk around the block. And that’s just as well, because Jimmy is borrowing Serendipity. He ordered all the parts he couldn’t source locally for both of our vehicles, and by a stroke of terrible luck the online seller sent him the wrong part for his Dodge and the refund will take another week. I’m keeping my key by the door so he can drop by and borrow it to shuttle his children to school and his partner to work. In between trips, he tinkers with it. He discovered that the badly dented door, and not a loose wire, was the reason it kept going into “limp mode.” The hinges would jiggle when I drove over a pothole or up a hill, and that sent a message to the computer that I’d gotten into a crash. On Thursday, he took Serendipity all the way to the junkyard in Mingo. I expected him to be gone for an hour but he was gone for more than two. From my napping spot on the sofa, with my head all fogged with a low grade fever, I was afraid he’d died. I had nightmare mental images of my car a shattered wreck on the freeway and Jimmy gone forever, his wonderful partner and children wondering why he never came back. Just as I was ready to panic, he was on my porch with a gently used jet black door, a perfect match for my Nissan. He said he was sorry that he was so late. The junkyard was so busy that they’d waited until almost closing time and then handed him tools, telling him he could take whatever door he wanted for the price of the cheap one he’d asked for if he’d cut it off himself, and that’s when he’d seen the perfect match for Serendipity. Just yesterday, he got the door on. He’s been replacing the motor mounts in between rain showers today.

This evening, Adrienne and I sat up in bed, chatting and playing with the guinea pig.

As someone who homeschooled from sixth grade until college and then homeschooled my own child until she was almost twelve, I didn’t know how much fun Saturdays can be, precisely because you don’t have to do anything. You can sit up in bed and chat with a child and play with a guinea pig.

We chatted about Lady McFluff and how much fun it will be to get her a baby sister guinea pig when we get the chance. We talked about all the things we’ve put off buying because we put every penny towards finally fixing the car, and what we’ll do when we can finally drive out to Robinson again. We talked about how wonderfully she’s doing in school.

Even through all the exhaustion and sniffles, it felt good.

Yet again, I was struck with that realization that I’ve had more and more often lately: that I’ve failed at everything I’ve ever done and my whole life shattered. And, here in the shards, I’ve found a bit of happiness.

I’d like to have more than a bit, but the bit is nice.

And then I had to put down my head and rest again, because I’m still sick. But when I got up, I went to write about how I’ve been and apologize that the blogging has been so sparse this month.

That’s what I did when I wasn’t here.

And I’ll hopefully have some more exciting writing coming up really soon.


Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.




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