I called my mom on the anniversary of my dad’s death. It has been six years since he passed. My mom answered, “Your brother, Daniel, just called to say he remembered that it has been six years.” I paused, “I miss him, Mom.” She replied, “I know, I do too.”
We talked about her health, “No symptoms, right?” I asked. “No, I feel fine.” But a pause came over the phone. “Kim, I am worried about you. If you take another office job, you may not survive this.” I forget that even at 84 and me at 54, she is still a mom. I am still her youngest. She will always worry.
And she has reason to worry. I overheard her tell a friend when I was a teenager, “Kimmer, she has always been my sickest kid.” And she was not wrong about that. It stung hearing her say that to her friend over the phone, but I have not been blessed with a strong immune system.
My earliest memory of me having the flu was at Christmas, I was six years old. I heard the family in the rec room laughing and opening presents. My grandparents were down for a visit. Me, laid up in a bedroom, weary from fever, Mom peeping in to give me fluids. Fast forward to eight years old. My dad had an early morning shift at the Air Force Academy. My mom still at work. The nurse at South Elementary called, “Please come get Kim, she has a high fever.” My dad picked me up off the nurse’s cot and put on my flowered winter coat and I barley remember him putting me in the back of the car to get home. The doozie of illnesses came when I was twelve. Ophthalmic shingles took me for a loop when I was twelve the spring of 1978. I was barely five foot and ninety pounds. Six weeks later, I was blind in my left eye and lost fifteen pounds. At sixteen, I missed a Nuggets basketball game that my friend’s dad had tickets for us to go to. I stayed at home with the flu. At nineteen, my mom had to come and get me from my job at Current, Inc. because someone found me on the bathroom floor. I had an extremely high fever and passed out, again, the flu.
As an adult, I take a great deal of vitamins, I try to eat careful, and workout regularly. But every cold and flu season is a “white knuckle thrill ride” of me getting at least one bad cold, one or maybe even two sinus infections, and about every two to three years a case of the flu. This season was the presumption of positive with Covid 19 in March, that scared my spouse of twenty-three years to call an ambulance due to my poor breathing.
I came to the realization the other day, “I can’t fix what I never had. I never had a good immune system.” So, I will wear a mask, even before it was mandated in Colorado, I have been wearing one whenever we venture outside. I will still take vitamins, maybe they help and maybe they do not. I will still eat careful and exercise. At forty-nine my eye doctor told me, “You know what happened to your left eye can happen to your right eye?” I did not know that. So, I had my primary care physician administer the then shingles shot. Last year, myself and my husband were administered the Shingrix shot, which has a higher prevention dosage than the first shingles shot we had five years ago.
I hope to stay shingles free and Covid 19 free. But there are no guarantees. We all have to be our own guide to keep ourselves healthy and safe. Stay secure and be blessed.