A little over a week ago, I asked Uncle Bob to put up the pea trellis in my Pleasant Street garden. Funny, but I didn’t hear one pea(p) out of him about trellis timing. In the past, I planted my peas first and he put up the trellis after the sprouts broke ground. This didn’t seem logical to me but it was a bad habit we’d gotten into the first year I planted peas. I dreaded asking him to put up the trellis. He’d ask if I’d planted the peas yet. Then we’d discuss which came first, the trellis or the peas.
I’m exhausted having the conversation in my mind.
Fortunately, Uncle Bob was distracted by the shingling of his roof and the pea trellis was in place the day after I asked. Handy and I went over in the evening to plant the peas. It was a clear and lovely night and unbeknownst to me, I was being eaten alive by ceratopogonidae. Midgies or no-see-ums.
In little more than twenty-four hours, I was wide awake in the middle of the night, scratching the bites. It was horrible and discouraging because I thought I’d turned the corner with my “spring cold.” On Saturday morning, feeling not terrific, I made a visit to Dr. Helen’s Hospital.
“Hi Mom, I’m not feeling great today. Look at all these bug bites on my legs.”
I pulled up my pant leg. Helen gasped.
“You’ve got to be careful. Bug bites can be dangerous.”
They can be? Maybe she was talking about Triple E or malaria.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“ZIKA!” she exclaimed.
For a woman who never wildly surfs the Internet, Dr. Helen does a good job of keeping up on medical maladies and emerging health issues. Little escapes her scanning eye. Plus, she’s always got what an ailing patient might need. Got a headache? Dr. Helen has a bountiful pharmacopeia of potions, powders, and pills, as well as many naturopathic solutions. Heating pads, ace bandages, instant ice packs? The good doctor has these too. And if you’re not feeling robust and energetic, she might remind you that you need a nap, sleep being the foundational ingredient of health and wellness.
“Zika?” I asked.
“It’s all over the news,” she said.
I then told her how the bites, when combined with the nose-blowing and coughing, had resulted in a little dizziness.
“Let me take your blood pressure,” she said.
Out came the blood pressure cuff and the pumping began.
My blood pressure, always on the low side, was even lower than usual.
“You’re going to drink a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt,” Dr. Helen commanded and she got up and started rummaging around the apothecary for salt.
I drank the cup of warm salted water and we discussed the best kind of cream to relieve my bug bite discomfort. Then she began discussing how important it was to vigilantly avoid bites in the future and the steps she’d be implementing this summer in light of “Zika.”
Dr. Helen suggested I go home and rest and then she issued her favorite and most dreaded prescription:
“You’ve got to take better care of yourself.”
How many times have I heard this? For how many years? And each time I’ve heard it, I’ve resisted the idea of “taking better care” of myself because it seemed selfish to put myself first in a world with so many needs.
But Dr. Helen is right and I’m lucky that I get to see her more often these days to be reminded of her wisdom. I do need to take better care of myself because frankly, I’m not a kid anymore.
And I’m not on the Moxie Festival Committee anymore, either. I know, shocker. I resigned a few months ago and although it was difficult to let it go, I know the show will go on without me. And that’s ok.
Time is marching on and Handy will be here soon to start work on the new, bigger garden fence. Or something.