Nobody ever tells you how incredibly frustrating, horrible and miserable being sick is.
As a child, no one even prepares you for sickness yet it is inevitable. The irony is that the first people who hold us when we come into this world are medical professionals.
No one even prompts us for harm that will befall us. Yet, we got vaccines to protect and shield us from all manner of illnesses.
We don’t even learn our family medical history until we are severely sick and the doctors are searching for answers as to where this may stem from.
Why is that? Is there harm in pre-emptive information? Wouldn’t we rather be prepared for what’s coming than being shocked when it occurs?
LOSS OF APPETITE
Tell us how sickening and nauseous it feels to be on antibiotics. That some medications are beyond any bitterness you've ever tasted.
Injections are administered in areas you do not anticipate and they are acutely painful despite how many times they tell you, “I'll countdown from three”, and you still don't see it coming.
If you have the unfortunate experience of undergoing a biopsy to check if the lump on your breast is benign or cancerous, nobody says it feels close to being stapled and the pain lasts for a couple of days.
That the sight of your favourite food isn’t appetising and even worse it tastes bland and you can’t stand it. It not that you are being a difficult eater, it’s part of the package of being sick.
We don't hear long after you've finished the prescribed course of medication it takes a bit longer for you to feel like your body is your own. Pain free, tumour free, with energy and a normal body temperature.
COST OF TREATMENT
But even in this sickening annoyance there is patience and empathy. We are not fine but those around us are. They drop everything when we are sick.
They rush to come to our appointments. If money is required they will search high and low to meet the hospital demands.
If blood donations are urgently needed, they are first in line to check if they are a match. If they are not, they will make all the calls necessary and find someone.
If we have a long stay in hospital, they are the first ones in and last one out. Even with the running exhaustion they'd rather be with us sleep sitting by our bedside than at home in a warm comfortable bed. They will sacrifice careers; give up lucrative contracts and sell businesses all to save our lives.
They will even against our opinion beseechingly beg us to take one of our organs to save us.
And after they made that incredible sacrifice they are patient and wait on us literally hand and foot even if to just watch us eat one bite of food.
They stay with us. They watch us even when we get worse. They stay and work with us to get better. In the chemotherapy, they stay.
In physiotherapy, they walk through it with us. In counselling, they will wait for us.
They never quit. They never give up. Who are they? They are our parents. Our studious single mothers who give up everything to come to our side.
Our loving spouses who vowed and truly meant those words, "In sickness and in health". They are our dedicated siblings who will travel hundreds and thousands of kilometres to take care of us.
So, our parents didn't prep us for sickness. Schools didn't tell us anything about it either. Nevertheless, our bodies are incredible and they know what to do. Our white blood cells boldly know when to increase and fight an infection that is weighing us down.
Our bodies give us symptoms to alert us when something is amiss. Even when we are in a surprising amount of pain they work with the medication to get us better. They do their very best and get us back on our feet.
Sometimes it doesn't always work and the body gives in to the illness. But it's not without giving its best fight. Even then we are not alone. We have help.
Someone is looking out for us. Making sure we are okay and yet somehow also making sure we are ready. Holding our hand through it all.
And so, for anyone who has given up their time, resources and prayed with you when you were unwell, don't take it for granted even if it was a minor illness.
It takes a lot on our emotions watching loved ones unwell. Extend a “thank you” after they have been there for you because it is expected, but not guaranteed, they would have turned up.
We are not taught sickness, but we know love when we see it. Be grateful for those who showed up when you were unwell.
Burini works with international businesses on commercial litigation. [email protected]