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Sickness Stories

I rarely get sick, but today it was 6:00 p.m. before I could stand still long enough without sneezing to brush my teeth. 

I’ve never been more homesick than I was when I got sick in Cuba.  Americans like and expect to be left alone when they are sick.  Evidently, this is not universally true.  I kept waking up to find myself the focus of a crowd of people speaking Spanish very fast and handing me mysterious potions and pills. Surrounding my bed were not only the members of the household where I was staying, but aunts, cousins, neighbors, the pastora, the doctora and the pharmacia, too.  A young man picked up my leg and started rubbing my calf very hard; all the while asking, “Te duele?” (which means  “Does it hurt?”)  Being the polite American I am, I kept saying “No,” even though it really, really hurt.  It found out later that particular folk cure involves rubbing the leg very hard until it hurts.  I was trying to be nice, but I inadvertently insulted his manhood by claiming he wasn’t hurting me. 

A friend of mine came to my window later and I said, “I thought you were sick too.”  He said, “I was.  But I had to get well to get away from all those cures.”

That was my strangest experience of being sick.  What’s yours?

  1. Ann
    January 4, 2010 at 6:38 am

    To me, the biggest thing is matching up people by whether you like to be cared for when you’re sick, or you don’t like to be cared for. I like to be cared for. I get that from my dad. We’re both a little bit sensative that way, and maybe it seems like even hyper-sensitive, but when I’m in pain or sick, I want somebody else around caring about that, and making little caring gestures and inquiries and sympathetic noises kind of like cats make when they’re asleep. Other people HATE that, they are sick and that means they want to be left alone. (It’s not clear from your story if that’s you, Julia, or if it was just the extremeness of the cuban situation.) As you might have guessed, I had a former boyfriend who was like that. I think I practically decided not to marry him just because he didn’t take care of me when I got sick. That’s pretty big.

    As for strangest – I will have to think about that.

  2. January 4, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I like a little care, then to be left alone to rest. I would break up with a boyfriend who didn’t take care of me at all when I get sick, too. Sick or well, I always expect some attention!

  3. January 4, 2010 at 11:54 am

    One of my strangest experiences, related to an illness, happened when we were selling our first home. I had a temperature of 102 and was so ill I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. A family showed up, unexpectely, to look at our house. Without thinking about my plight, my husband took them through the house room by room, including our bedroom with me in the bed. Needless to say, I didn’t speak to him for a week!! Not really, but I was mortified! Oh, and they didn’t buy our house.

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