I will never forget the first time that I got food poisoning. To avoid going into disgustingly vivid details, let me just say that overnight my stomach was so hollow and empty that I lost four pounds. I was so weak that I could barely walk. My throat ached from the dryness but just sipping water sent me running back to the bathroom. My face and neck were uncomfortably warm from the sweat that was escaping from my pores. I stood hunched over the sink as I splashed cool water on my face, resisting the urge to cup my hands and drink the cold liquid. As I reached for a towel to dab my forehead, I saw the reflection of a pale woman with strands of dark hair sticking to the sides of her face, the blood vessels above her eyes splotchy and red. I felt like I was dying. And part of me wanted to. I was really sick.
A few hours later, I emerged slowly from my bedroom, wrapped in a blanket and walking like an old woman. I found my husband, freshly showered and making coffee. The smell of the coffee beans was nauseating and I placed my hand over my mouth and nose. Our two young sons were still asleep and I wondered how I would ever make it through the day. “You look terrible,” my husband told me. “Are you sick?” I told him about my middle of the night activities.
I scuffled back to the living room and collapsed on a chair as I wondered if the worst was over. Since I hadn’t thrown up for a couple of hours, I was hopeful that I could still function and take care of the kids. But the very thought of it was exhausting. I knew my husband had a busy week at work and a series of meetings that started this morning. As much as we are a team, I had horrible guilt that by asking him to stay home, I was keeping him from his work responsibilities.
As my tired head tried to come up with a plan that would help me make it through the day, I overheard my husband on the phone talking to his boss. He was rescheduling his morning meeting and explaining that he would need to work from home today.
I was so relieved that I started to cry. As he walked in the room, he found me sitting in the dark with tears streaming down my face.