Close-Proximity Sickness In A Tiny House

Sick man

Tom is over there. I am here, at the desk. He said something to me but I’m not entirely sure what it was, or if it was to me, or if it was him who said it. Maybe it was just a groan.

We both have flu. I think that’s what it is. When he sniffs and moans a lot and can’t go to work and even misses a work-related trip to Auckland. When I can’t move very fast, am unsure of many facts like which day it is, and send my stomach into a nauseous plunge by looking too fast from one email to the next.

Yes flu, that’s what I think it is.

When I say he’s over there, that’s in a matter of speaking. He’s almost within arm’s reach (though I wouldn’t reach my arm, lest it plunge me into a spiral of hellish vertigo). This is a tiny house, after all. We’re always pretty close to each other.

But we’ve never been sick in it before. Not both of us. There have been times, before, when we had flu-overlap or synchronised colds, but those times we had space. Space to be left alone, space to be insulated from infection.

Does being sick, you know, require much space? If so, we are testing how much. But we are doing okay (apart from feeling ghastly).

Yesterday, Tom was in bad shape. He remained as a lump in bed while I, feeling the achy beginnings of the flu in my bones, used my relative robustness to get some key chores done. If we were both to be sick, there were things to do.

Laundry. I drove to the laundromat and got a huge tub of clothes and towels washed and dried.

Stocking up. Between wash and dry cycles, I visited the supermarket for lozenges and tissues and food essentials, and the Bin Inn for, well, I can’t remember now — all I recall is how hard the labels were to read and how hot I was.

I drove home, though I remember little of the journey apart from a faint sense of having been upset by the windscreen wipers. When I got home I was still wearing my reading glasses.

But we had clothes and food to get us through an average-length bout of flu.

By this morning, my brain had mostly gone on holiday. Climbing up and down the ladder to the bedroom was a feat of muscle memory. Aches were setting in. Ambitions for the day were abandoned; sometimes, you just have to let it go, and rest.

 

Fed up man

The key to handling illness in a tiny house, if cross-infection has already happened, seems to be alternation. I shower while he sleeps. I sleep while he eats. I talk to him about Winston Peters while he sleeps. He watches a horror movie while I blog.

We try not to tax each other’s brain too much with conversation and difficult questions. We cover our coughs and use hand sanitiser, though it seems amusingly late in the piece for that kind of precaution.

Our neighbour sent a kind text to see if we needed anything — we didn’t, but the offer lifted my spirits.

And it was a beautiful spring day, brilliant and breezy. In the afternoon we opened all the doors and windows and gloried in the cool and the fresh, disease-less air.

Throughout the day we gave each other “space”. But in the evening we actually went out for a walk around the farm with the dogs. It was a slow, confused, carefully trodden ramble, with conversation limited by the fact that our thoughts are what you might call “loosely organised”. But we got fresh air, moved our flu-clenched muscles, and eased our boredom.

Tomorrow it may be the same again. Not much fun, but we are getting through it. We do our foggy-headed best to be nice to each other.

There was something else I was going to say, what was it. And I was going to move some paragraphs around, the way I like to do.

But sometimes you just have to let it go, and rest.

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