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God bless those called to nurse
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Watching your wife wrestle with ‘the bug’ is no task for the impatient

“Oh ... I’m gonna die!”

Such dramatic words coming from the lips of your spouse might frighten many. For me, though, it’s just another day on the job nursing my sweet wife back from the brink. She’s in a struggle for control of her body. It seems a devil has manifested himself in the form of the latest viral infection making the rounds.

Bed-ridden, my sweetie rises only when that mysterious urge drives her from over-heated, sweat-drenched sheets to the cold tile of her nearby “chapel.” There, she kneels in worship at the porcelain throne, emitting throaty, guttural chants, mixed with long, resonant moans. The sounds are a cross between Hare Krishna incantations and the mournful baying of a coon dog. No great spirits have yet responded, but it wouldn’t surprise me for a pack of hounds to be swarming our doorstep any moment.

My wife has many sterling qualities: ideal homemaker, faithful partner, etc. Don’t add the term “good patient” to the list, however.

Being sick cramps my wife’s style.

She never likes to be alone, but her coughs have the same endearing quality of nails scraping across a blackboard. A repetitive chorus of pitiful sighs makes it generally preferable to keep her isolated as the “bug” takes its toll. And that’s not to mention what wallowing on pillows soaked by fever-induced sweat can do for even the most stylish of hair-do’s — and attitude.

Knowing her sensitivity to pain, I’ve remained only a few short steps away. I’m the one chained to a laptop computer and cellphone. Occasional jaunts to the kitchen for Gatorade or to the medicine cabinet for pain reliever — or work, like writing this column — are all that dare distract from her faintest beckon call.

It was during one of those episodes that I found her, lying sprawled across the bath mat, drying her tears with the damp edge of our shower curtain. Through bleary eyes and tousled hair, she looked up and barked:

“I’m tired of being sick!”

Despite the two (count ‘em, two) trips we made today to the doctor, my bride has been laid low less than 18 hours.

Patience is not a virtue for this patient. She just wants to get well as rapidly as she got sick.

I take her in my arms. With all the sympathy I can muster, I respond sweetly: “I’m tired of you being sick, too, sweetheart.”

• Robert M. Williams Jr. is an Effingham native who publishes weekly newspapers in Blackshear, Alma, Folkston, McRae and Forsyth. Email him at