11:59:15 pm on
Sunday 16 Jun 2024

Three Hands
Matt Seinberg

Before you get any funny ideas, get your mind out of the gutter. This isn’t about sex. This column is about how it stinks to be sick and not have anyone around to help take care of you. 

My friend Mike always gets a bad cough this time of year, and he always blamed it on the dust and heat in his apartment. Last year, and this year, he had the heating system cleaned, and all the radiators vacuumed, hoping it would solve this problem.

Well, needless to say, his cough is back, and worse than ever. I saw his post on Facebook yesterday, and it made me laugh. Of course, I have to share it.

I need a third arm or hand. I'm coughing so much over the last week that now I have seizures on both sides of my back. A cough gets one hand covering my mouth, 1 hand going to one bottom side of my back, and where did God put that third hand I need for the other side?

I know how he feels. When I had bronchitis last year, not only couldn’t I breathe; every time I coughed, it was a new experience in pain. Having a bad back is hard enough, but aggravating with coughing spasms makes it even worse. You don’t know where to put that third hand first.

If you’ve never been that sick before, consider yourself lucky. Poor Mike is at work, walking around and not only looking sick, but also coughing up a lung at every inopportune moment. We’re both in sales and dealing with people all day. Not many customers want to deal with someone that sounds like he could die at any moment.

I can say that since I’ve been in that position. You’re in the middle of a sentence, and all of sudden you feel that big cough coming up, and all of a sudden you’re wracked with pain, twisted up like a Twizzler, begging to whatever god you believe in to please let it end.

Your customer doesn’t know what to do, and just stands there hoping you’re not going to pass out. The nice ones might offer to get some water, while others will make some sort of excuse and leave. If you’re lucky, they may come back and remember you as the “coughing guy.”

If you’re home alone nursing that illness, having that third hand and arm could come in handy. No pun intended. The question is where would you want it? If it came out of your back, you’d get a great massage. If it came out of your chest, you could blow your nose with it, while holding your sides during a bad coughing event. Again, get your mind out of the gutter.

I will never forget the worst time I was sick, about 11 years ago. I had to take Michelle to the doctor for a checkup and he took one look at me and asked, “Do you feel like a truck ran you over?” The answer is of course yes, and he said that I had the flu, and to get home immediately and get into bed.

He even wrote me a note that I could give to my job so they knew how bad I was. Several days later, the truck feeling was gone, but now I couldn’t breathe. I went to my regular doctor and found out I now had bronchitis. He wrote a note as well, and I was now into my second week out of work.

I was lucky that as a manager, I had unlimited sick days with pay. Toward the end of week two, my boss called and asked when I would be back in, and said that if I wasn’t back my Monday, I would have to go on short-term disability.

Since I was almost better, I said I would be back on Monday. My doctor said that even though I might feel better, a full recovery could take up to a month and I could get very tired very fast and that I should not exert myself if possible.

He was right of course, and that month was awful and I wish I had that third arm and hand. I now know how Mike feels, and I hope he gets that third arm and hand he so desperately wants. I’m sure even after he’s sick, he’ll put it to good use.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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