The privilege of being sick

Last week my allergies conspired and pegged me with an upper respiratory infection. It was bad enough to make me run a fever each afternoon and feel puny, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday.

He prescribed some antibiotics and over the counter meds and sent me home with a tidy sheet of instructions. I’ve done this before and know the drill: wait approximately 24 hours for the antibiotics to kick in and resume full speed.

But Thursday morning when I got up I said I felt really bad, and logically my husband asked if I was going to rest. Stunning both of us, I said, “Yes” and got back into bed.

Day One of The Big Rest consisted of actual bed rest. That night I turned off the light next to the bed and fully expected to leap out the next morning ready to go. 

Instead I woke up holding my head in my hands with a raging headache. And so began  Day Two of The Big Rest. Day Two was a slight variation on Day One because I did actually read some.

Amazingly, The Big Rest lasted through Saturday, which consisted of more reading, public radio, and half-listening to  Braves games.

On Sunday I got out of bed and commenced The Ease Back In.

Those four days were really unremarkable, except that on Friday I began to think about how privileged I was. I have a great doctor in town, reliable transportation to get there, and insurance to cover my office visit and  prescriptions. We work hard but neither of us need second jobs to support ourselves. Bills get paid and food gets bought.

Sure, it would have been a harder on us if this had happened when our daughters were young and at home, but there wasn’t added stress over getting to the doctor, or paying for the visit or meds.  The point remains the same: for some of us being sick and taking care of ourselves is a privilege. For over 17 percent of Americans without insurance, there are no privileges.

About Katherine Helms Cummings

During the day I am a social and environmental activist whose professional work has been in the nonprofit world for the last 12 years. Most nights and weekends I am an artisan making accessories with upcycled cashmere and woven textiles. My handmade items are available at The Sassy Gal http://thesassygal.org
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One Response to The privilege of being sick

  1. Kathy Floyd says:

    So well said! My husband and I juggle time off when our son’s asthma acts up. What does a single mom with no insurance do? I can’t imagine how hard that is. We live in the richest country in the world but still have these struggles.