by LISA CAPOBIANCO
Restless. That is one word to describe me as an 8-year-old girl with a runny nose, persistent cough, and sore throat.
The time is already 8 a.m. on a weekday and my mom has decided that I am too sick to go to school. After calling the principal’s office to report that I will not be coming in today, she orders me to get back to bed…immediately.
“Go get some rest—you need all the sleep you can get so you can get back to school tomorrow,” my mom says.
Sigh. A sick day in bed is really how I want to spend it, I say to myself, “… not.”
Dragging my feet back with my head down, I go back to my room in disappointment, longing to watch Disney movies or to color instead of pretending to fall asleep for the rest of the day.
“Here—put this on,” my mom says as she hands me the infamous Vicks VapoRub.
Sticky and smelly, Vicks VapoRub is one of the cold remedies I have hated the most since I first encountered it. Although meant to help nasal congestion, the topical ointment nearly ruined my appetite while making my chest feel strange.
Ugh, it’s going to be a long day, I tell myself.
Tossing and turning, I try to fall asleep under the covers while dressed in my flannel pajamas nearly tied up in three different blankets my mom wrapped around me along with a box of tissues beside me.
How long have I been lying here for? Only two hours have passed, and I still can’t fall asleep. I throw the sheets off of me and head straight to the kitchen where my “Get Better Bear” sore throat pops are waiting for me patiently.
“What are you doing up already,” my mom asks me as she sees me heading to the kitchen.
“I can’t sleep,” I reply, grabbing a pop from the cabinet.
“Made for kids, loved by moms” (as the slogan goes), my Get Better Bear Sore Throat pops are these patented bear shape candy with a grape flavor that convinces children like me they are the solution to the common cold. After unwrapping the friendly-looking bear, I skip down the hall into the TV room (with my box of tissues) where I browse at my collection of Disney movies before deciding on flick of choice as an alternative remedy to sleeping. I pick a movie, ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ which is what I should be doing.
One word continues to describe the rest of my day: restless. After the movie, lunchtime catches up on me, and I see my mom in front of the stove making my favorite: Pastina soup—an Italian delicacy that my family makes every time someone has the sniffles. Once I gobble up the soup, I head straight back to my room to color and perhaps even start making a new bracelet with that jewelry craft set I got for Christmas. At the same time I can hear my mom’s voice yelling down the hall: “Get some rest, pleeeeassee, or else you won’t get better,” she begs me as I sit on my bedroom floor keeping myself preoccupied with anything other than sleep.
Why is it so bad to be having fun even though I’m sick, I ask myself.
Sigh. I don’t want to start a fight, so again I try going back to bed but with the same results: tossing and turning while trapped in the same blankets my mom threw on me that same morning. Suddenly, dinner time rolls around before I know it the most dreadful part of my sick day comes: Robitussin cough syrup—the poison that literally makes me even more sick just thinking about it. A red, cherry-flavored substance that supposedly works like magic, the shot of syrup barely touches the surface of my mouth as I start to squirm.
“Are you sure we can’t buy any more bubble gum cough medicine, mom,” I ask as my mom stands over me to make sure I take every last drop.
“No, Lisa, this will work better for you. You’re too old to be taking that other medicine now,” she replies.
Sigh. This stuff really makes me gag. What should I do? Okay—just close your eyes really tight and drink it fast. Maybe the taste will go away faster if I drink it quickly.
Abracadabra…the poison disappears into my stomach as I close my eyes while continuing to squirm. Quickly, I gulp down a full glass of water and head straight to bed (this time I’m ready to fall asleep and ready to forget about the disgusting potion).
Ahhh. I did it. Now I can forget about this and actually not pretend to be asleep.
Flash forward years later and the restless cycle repeats itself. Early last week I suddenly caught a bad cough and did everything but (you know it)…sleep. I even wrote this column while strapped to my sick bed. (But substitute the Disney movie, Vicks, and Better Bear pops with green tea and honey while watching TV reruns of “Beverly Hills 90210”).
Coincidentally my mom also happened to be sick too, and still hovered over me in the kitchen Monday night as I gulped down a shot of NyQuil. Although it tasted slightly less poisonous than Robitussin, the flavor was still unpleasant. Suddenly flashbacks of my early encounters with cough syrup emerged as I took every last drop of the NyQuil.
Sigh. Close your eyes really tight and drink it fast. Maybe the taste will go away faster if I drink it quickly.
Abracadabra…the cough syrup disappears into my stomach as I close my eyes—this time without squirming as much as I used to. Quickly, I gulp down a full glass of water and head straight to bed (and this time I am actually ready to sleep).
It turns out that my original method of getting better continues even while being…restless.
Lisa Capobianco is a reporter for The Observer. Comments? Email her at lcapobianco@BristolObserver.com.
by LISA CAPOBIANCO