A not-so-festive thing happened during Christmas break. One morning, as soon as my feet hit the bedroom floor, a foreboding feeling crawled up from the pit of my stomach and told me to get to the bathroom – fast.
Seconds later the tell-tale abdominal cramps of a stomach virus doubled me over. The next hour felt more like six, as I rode the wicked waves of nausea. There’s no need for more detail because, if you’ve lived long enough to learn to read, you’ve no doubt been in this unfortunate position at least once or twice. In short, I was feeling neither holly nor jolly.
At one point, I spread a towel out on the cold tile of the bathroom floor and laid down on it so I could curl into the fetal position and pray for sweet relief. Sometimes a stomach virus feels like a cosmic punishment for every bad deed you’ve ever done or considered doing.
Some people, including my husband Tom, are brave little soldiers when they serve their time in the viral trenches. I, on the other hand, am not stoic when I’m sick. I’m more of a melodramatic mess. My worst-case-scenario mindset goes to all the dark and disastrous places when my stomach stages a revolt.
Although I don’t want Tom to see me in that pitiful condition, I also need to know that he is somewhere close by so he can point the paramedics to my location, should things take a dramatic turn for the worse. (And in my mind, things are always on the verge of taking that turn.)
Thankfully, I didn’t need him to call in the professionals. After a little time, a serious pity party on the bathroom floor and some over-the-counter medication, the virus relented and left me alone. As soon as the pain began to subside, I remembered how truly incredible it is just to feel well again.
My post-viral haze on the bathroom floor gave me time to think – time to put some priorities in place for the New Year. Before that virus got a hold of me, I would have told you I wanted to have a lower number on the bathroom scale in 2017 and that I want a higher number in our bank account. I’d have said I want to be more organized and much more productive.
While all those things are good and worthwhile pursuits, I realize now that they’re not nearly as important as the thing I already have – good health. My brief end-of-year illness brought me back to basics. Back to remembering how fortunate I am to have a body that can get over the occasional virus and to be able to get out of bed and move through the day without a physical struggle.
For decades, people have been toasting “to your health,” and there’s a good reason why. When we set aside all the “should’s” and goal obsession this time of year brings with it, we realize it’s awfully good to simply be well. Without that, all the other goals seem so much less important.
For those who are having more than their fair share of sickness, or time in the hospital, or time on the bathroom floor, I hope 2017 brings you renewed health and a strong body that feels good again.
And for the rest of us, I hope we get all the things we need or want in the New Year. May our to-do lists be littered with checkmarks by this time next year. But above all that, let’s raise a glass and wish for only this: “Here’s to our health.”
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.