Fever proves it: Marriage has another degree of difference

It’s not that I’m blaming anyone. After all, the terms were right there in bold print in the Mommy Contract.

Maybe you signed the same one, Dear Reader? The one where you swear you don’t believe in germs — not when it comes to taking care of your ailing family. You convince yourself you’re invincible, have a special super-hero protection shield, and do what you have to do in order to take care of everyone else.

That’s how I ended up last week holding one kid’s hair back as she gave back her breakfast. And how I ended up constantly supplying the other kid with meds, offering Kleenex instead of her sleeve for her sniffles.

It’s how I ended up sharing a bed night after night with my husband as he hacked up 16 lungs’ worth of gunk.

I was the last one standing, as per that contract. Until I wasn’t.

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Which is where my pain begins — not in the constricting sore throat. Not in the aches beginning to crawl up from the skin of my ankles to the fuzz on my ear lobes. (Yes, I could feel each cell.) It was all I could take — the pain, the discomfort, the sheer confusion of what I was sure was a raging fever.

Forget politics and religion; family life once again drives me into the ditch of the great divide. What is wrong with people?

As in, the one I’m married to? As I threw in the towel and lay down on the bed, Husband comes up to me, twists his body to place the underside of his forearm on my forehead.

“Yep, you’re slightly feverish,” he declared.

I rolled my disbelieving, aching eyeballs up at him. There’s no science in a forearm. I want facts. Data. A thermometer. A therMOMeter.

I crawled to the bathroom and started scrounging through that top drawer — the one I swore I was going to clean out before the holidays. Surely, it was in there somewhere. I did find the empty case?

No thermometer.

Well, there was sorta one — I had to settle for the old-fashioned mercury kind. Still, better than a forearm. With my 4x reading glasses, I got my satisfaction: Sure enough, 99.7. True sickness.

“Slightly feverish,” husband confirmed what his forearm reported moments earlier.

“Factual, scientific fever validation,” I corrected.

That is, until I remembered that recent call to our pediatrician. “It’s not a fever unless it’s over 100 degrees,” decreed the monotone, unimpressed nurse on the other end of the line.

Who died and made her the queen? No doubt someone with 99.9, because let me tell you, that’s plenty high enough for me to feel crappy. Tell my aching muscles there is no fever in 99.7. Better yet, tell me how you take a temperature — with something that has numbers on a little screen, beeps, is all scientific.

It’ll be my best medicine. Best if you email. Hard to talk with this thing under my tongue.

And I wouldn’t want to, y’know, pass along any germs.

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