Poor Baby

One week ago today, I woke with a sore throat, stuffy nose, and aching head. Because I worried my bug could infect others, at 8:00 a.m., I dressed and slogged to a nearby walk-in clinic.

"Acute upper respiratory infection. It's caused by a virus," the doctor said as he removed stethoscopes from his ears. "Antibiotics won't kill a virus, so I won't be prescribing any. You'll be contagious for the next few days, so it's probably a good idea to stay home and rest."

While I was relieved he had diagnosed nothing more serious than an ordinary cold -- which was likely the same outcome for all of the slumped folks who were stuffing the waiting room by the time I departed at 8:30 -- my illness wasn't serious enough to warrant attention or sympathy.

Poor baby,

I told myself.

(For any evil eyes reading this post, and thinking I'm flaunting my good fortune, let it be known that I'm truly grateful my ailment wasn't life threatening. I am hereby performing

ptu, ptu, ptu

- the simulated spitting that Jewish superstition requires.)

As I walked back to my apartment, where I live alone -- without a husband, without my daughters who live far away, without my mother who is long gone, without friends a door-knock away -- I felt my thirst for sympathy rising with each sneeze. (I know, I know, I could've called you, and you would've rushed over. But, I never want to bother.)

By the time I reached my doorway, I had worked myself into full-blown pathetic. As I unlayered my winter coat, scarf, and gloves, then switched from blue jeans and long-sleeved top to flannel pajamas, I sunk lower into woefulness.

Oh, how I longed for someone to be waiting at bedside to tuck me in, and then pull the covers up to my chin. She, or he, or they, would kiss my un-fevered forehead, ask if I wanted the light on or off, and then tiptoe out. They would close the bedroom door as silently as if an angel food cake were rising in the oven. And later, they would return with a cup of soup or hot tea. (Because I live in a studio apartment, I'm making up the "bedroom door" bit. In truth, they'd have to retire to a corner. But don't you agree it wouldn't evoke the same feeling?) 

Since I lacked the power to make any of that nostalgia-driven scenario come true, in this age of social media, I did the next best thing: I turned to Facebook. On my page, I posted this query:

"I have an upper respiratory infection; i.e. cold. Advil Cold & Sinus helped, but second dose prevented repose. Up all night. Any suggestions for relief without causing me to be wide-awake again tonight? Thanks!"

Within minutes, the remedies and sympathies came pouring in. At last count, 85 friends had paused their own browsing to offer suggestions. With each comment, I felt as cozy as if they were crowding my bedside.

I imagined them rushing to my apartment with their recommended chicken soup, whisky, zinc, Benadryl, Afrin, Umcka, scotch, humidifier, neti pot, apple cider vinegar, Sudafed, Mucinex, Nyquil, ginger tea, linden tea, and Zicam. I could even envision those who suggested acupuncture dragging along a therapist to perform the procedure. And I could practically hear the water running for the hot bath with Epsom salts another friend believed would cure my congestion.

It was then I realized I had received the

poor baby

I had been seeking. All of these Facebook friends -- admittedly I know only a portion by sight -- were providing my

longed-for sympathy and attention. It didn't matter that the succor was virtual, that not a one of them was actually in my apartment; I still felt comforted.

And even though some of the cures were things I'd never try, I enjoyed mentally costuming each of my respondents in a wardrobe that signaled care. Perhaps a nurse's uniform, an herb gardener's green apron, a mad scientist's askew lab coat, a bartender's shirt, or simply a white jacket like the CVS pharmacist who sold me the Advil and Nyquil.

Before complying with the doctor's orders to stay home and rest, I purchased a pile of the antidotes that were on my Facebook list. And, with each spoonful of chicken soup, each thimble of whisky, each sip of ginger tea, my acute respiratory infection slowly dissolved, as if it were the powdered roots in my herbal cures.

So, thanks to the wonders of ancient and modern medicine, virtual and real-life friends, bed rest, and unlimited television, I am just about restored to good health.

Ptu, ptu, ptu.