July 29--Nurses are wonderful. They take care of us when we're sick and know how to rock a pair of Renova Slip-Ons like nobody's business.
When our children are sick we become nurses. Between medicine, cool cloths for their fevered foreheads and unlimited cartoon viewing, parents do everything in their power to make their children comfortable during times of illness.
If as a parent you do a half-decent job guiding your offspring though the valley of chills, nausea and crust, they will return the favor when the germ brigade decides to hold a pledge drive in your intestinal tract.
I myself have been grooming a team of nurses for quite some time now. Thankfully I only get lay-down-and-cover-me-with-dirt sick maybe once every three or four years. The head nurse on Team Dawson of course is The Wife, who, I might add, looks rather sporty in the nurses uniform I gave her for Bastille Day.
Tax Deduction #1 is our oldest child and well on her way to becoming a decorated lieutenant in the fight to keep me alive. Tax Deduction #2 is a bit young to start making rounds, but a recent skirmish with a virus spurred her into action.
At the end of a particularly stressful week I woke up and with the sensation that I'd been gnawing on a wool blanket that had been the home of several generations of dyspeptic ferrets. Maybe I wasn't paying attention at the grocery store and Crest had actually started selling land-fill flavored toothpaste.
After taking a shower hot enough to melt the smug right off of Jonah Hill, I visited the Center For Disease Control website to see if the plague had decided to regroup and go out on a summer tour. Eventually, I made it back to the bed and passed out, only to be awoken a few minutes later by the determined, yet dainty, instructions of Tax Deduction #2.
"Wake up, Daddy. I have your medicine," TD #2 said as she opened up her trusty doctor kit she received from Santa a Christmas or two back. "We're going to make you better, okay?"
To start with, TD #2 noticed a bruise on my left wrist. The bruise had nothing to do with the fever that was causing me to have nightmares about being stuck on a cross-country road trip with Seth Rogan, but the little nurse wearing the "Barbie Applies For Unemployment" pajamas insisted it needed a Band-Aid. Yes, I know the correct term is "adhesive bandage," but no one outside of a copyright attorney's office uses that term. It's a Band-Aid; move on.
I dosed off while Florence Nightingale Jr. was applying the Band-Aid, so imagine my surprise when I awoke and found both arms covered in them. Apparently TD #2 mistook the freckles on my arms for bruises and thought they all needed attention. Far be it from me to discourage thoroughness, so I patted little Marcy Welby on the head and thanked her for looking out for me.
After a few minutes of controlled sobbing brought on by the realization of how painful taking off an entire case of Band-Aids was going to be, our oldest child -- TD #1 -- brought me some ginger ale in crushed ice.
"Help me TD1," I said. "You're my only hope."
As the hours turned into a second day, I woke up and plopped in a thermometer to see if I needed to make any final arrangements. While I waited for the thermometer to do it's thing, I noticed that TD #2 had pulled every blanket, quilt, sleeping bag and promotional windbreaker we owned out of the hall closet and put them on top of me.
"Are you warm enough, Daddy?" she said when she came in on her afternoon rounds.
"Why, yes I am, sweet girl," I said as I pulled the thermometer that read 107 out of my mouth. "Thanks for keeping me warm."
While some saw the piling of 26 pounds of blankets on top of my person as an attempt to speed up the distribution of life insurance money, I knew that my little impractical nurse was trying to look out for me. In fact, the little blanket stunt that nearly sent me to the great harp jam in the sky probably accelerated my recovery, causing the fever to break several days before it would have on it's own accord.
Feeling like a new man ready to take on the world -- or at least the distance between the front door and the mailbox -- I walked into the living room to thank the team that helped pull me through. I gave TD #1 a hug, which is usually a trigger for TD #2 to grab onto my neck, plant her lips deep into the side of my face and let fly with a zerbert that would startle livestock.
For those of you who don't know, the so-called "zerbert" has been around for thousands of years, although it wasn't given a name until the mid-1980s by Dr. William H. Cosby Jr. According to Wiktionary, a zerbert is defined as "the sound that occurs when someone places the mouth against skin and blows, imitative of the sound of flatulence."
As TD #2 lunged at me to land a window-rattling zerbert, she put on the air brakes to touch my face. I hadn't shaved in a couple of days and she didn't like it one bit. Instead of latching onto the side of my face like a suction cup on a kamikaze mission, she stopped about two inches from my face to attempt the world's first long distance zerbert.
Under normal conditions TD #2 gives zerberts that could end droughts. Her zerberts are robust and monsoon-like in nature, causing many a recipient who can't swim into fits of panic. Now just imagine what kind of deluge would occur if she tried to fire one of those things off without a cheek to take the brunt of the storm surge.
Not wanting to scratch her pretty face on my wire-brush beard, she let a zerbert fly from a few inches away. At first it was funny, but the humor seemed to dissipate when The Wife realized we weren't covered for flood damage.
Jon Dawson's columns appear every Tuesday and Thursday in The Free Press. Contact Jon at 252-559-1092 or [email protected] .
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