My lovely wife and I have just survived three hacking, coughing, sneezing weeks of headaches, fevers, and fatigue. It was one of those times in life that demonstrate how wonderful it is to be in love with the person you live with. Nothing tells more about a relationship than a stuffy nose and productive cough. This is especially so when it is obvious I’m the one who brought the bug into the house.
Younger people may find this gross, but it is in taking each other’s temperature and making hot tea or a rosemary-thyme steam that we really know the value of having a partner. No one else is going to forgive the disruptive coughs or risk nearness when there is a fever like someone who actually loves you.
Whether it is because of this winter’s lack of snow or the extreme swings between high and low temperatures, I don’t know. What I do know is that both of us spent most of February thick-headed and runny-nosed. By the time we broke down and went to the doctor, we were ready for the miracle of science to cure our ills. We got reassurance “that this too will pass” and something to quiet the coughs and let us get a little sleep.
Then it was back to long hours on the couch, searching Netflix for something new that didn’t explode. There we snuggled up and appreciated how wonderful it is that someone can love you while you are sneezing. It got so pitiful, even the dog began to avoid us.
Fortunately, I’m in a business working with older people and so can’t go to work if I am sick. This gave us the greatest luxury modern medicine can offer: time to simply rest and recuperate.
That isn’t something enough people have today. Too many work multiple jobs with no sick leave benefits. They have to soldier on and take symptom suppressants while they struggle through the workday, infecting all around them. Not so for this old guy and his wonderful wife; we got to lay low and let the vile cold run its course.
Being over 60 with a cold is kind of scary. It is amazing how low it can lay you out and how hopeless it can make you feel. There were points when it was hard to believe people don’t die from the sniffles. The older we get, the longer and more precarious the road of recovery can be.
We are in the 21st Century and there is still nothing anyone can offer that is better than chicken soup, lots of rest, and reassuring hugs from someone who truly cares. With all the advancements of science there is still nothing more therapeutic than the look of a loved one who can see through the fog of illness to the vibrant person you still are somewhere deep inside.
Aging in place, it doesn’t happen by accident and you should always have some Kleenex in the house.
Scott Funk is Vermont’s leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families. He works as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage and HECM for Purchase specialist. You can access previous Aging in Place columns and Scott’s blogs at scottfunk.org. His new e-book is available on Amazon.