Three years ago, my husband complained of intense abdominal pain. We rushed to the ER, where he was diagnosed with appendicitis. The doctor immediately wheeled him into surgery, and Tom emerged shortly thereafter, feeling much better and bearing a tiny laporoscopic scar. Laporoscopic surgery is also known as minimally invasive surgery, and involves the surgeon fixing what’s wrong with a tiny incision and a pair of chopsticks.
Tom’s resulting scar was about the size of a dime. When he was wheeled out of the operating room, I felt the rush of relieved, overwhelming emotion that you feel only when someone you love wakes safely from anesthesia. That love shriveled up like a raisin as soon as he opened his mouth, though. Because, when I leaned in to smooth the hair off his brow and ask Tom how he felt, this was his reply: “Well, I feel ok, I guess. You know how it feels, because it’s probably a lot like when you had your c-section.”
I hate speaking in generalities, especially gender-related ones. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and state that only a man would compare a laporoscopic appendectomy with a c-section, where a doctor slices open your lower abdomen to extract (in my case) a stubborn ten-pound baby. My c-section scar is six inches long–but who’s counting–and constantly threatens to pop out of my bikini bottoms. His appendectomy scar is barely visible to the naked eye and is grown over with hair in any event. I’m not saying men are weaker, by any means. But I AM saying that only a man might proclaim that he’s staying in bed because he feels “sniffly” and has “a huge canker sore” in his mouth. I may know a man who actually said that to me last Friday, or I may not. You decide.
I’ve taken an informal poll of my girlfriends, and it appears that I am not alone in living with a guy who immediately turns into a 3-year old as soon as the first symptoms of a cold appear. In my instance, Tom’s preferred method of dealing with illness is to chug a gallon of Theraflu, reject all food by dramatically recoiling from it, and then shuffle aimlessly around the house in his pajamas, looking lost and pathetic. Since he happens to have started eating healthier a few months ago, I now have the added pleasure of hearing him repeatedly mutter to himself, “Why am I still getting sick?? I drink so many smoothies.”
It’s going to be a long winter.
I’m not sure if Tom or others with Y-chromosomes want to hear this, but for what it’s worth, there is a pretty good body of evidence that women show enhanced levels of immunoreactivity in general compared to men (hence the likely reason why MS and other autoimmune diseases tend to affect women more than men). With enhanced immunoreactivity would come enhanced production of immune factors that make one feel lousy during illness, so in this regard, I would posit that women probably actually feel worse when ill compared to men.
Matt, your comment totally made my day. I feel totally equipped with the ammo I need to deal with Tom’s next ailment.
a must watch
Great post (and blog). My favorite is when I’m coming down with something and the empathy usually involves a statement like “Does this mean I’m gonna get sick too?” and arms length affection…
Sounds like when I get sick and Tom wedges a pillow between our faces in bed. Thanks for posting, Mari…
I really think you should have a 2nd blog to get Tom’s perspective on these posts!
I’m considering a Tom’s Corner. He’d have to provide content, though, which is the difficult part.
I’m afraid my wife would fully concur with this post, but my theory is that sicknesses attack men with more fire power. I have to believe if she felt the way I do when I have a cold she wouldn’t perform any better.
interesting theory, izzy…i’m going to leave that one to the scientists…
Love it! Here is the link to the commercial I was telling you about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCxC5tu6CwQ
you need to write a sitcom
i could just mount a camera to tom’s head
i’ll start contacting peeps in socal to see what we can get on this