January 14, 2013

What Kind of Sick Person Are You?

Ahh, the flu season. When adults are reduced to crying out for their mommas and sales of hand sanitizer skyrocket. There’s nothing like it; and there are definitely distinct types of flu sufferers.

Recognize any of these?

The Wounded Animal
In the opening scene of “To Kill A Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch shoots a rabid dog. The dog was perfectly fine before the disease, but once he contracted it, he went mad and terrorized the town, attacking people at will – even those who might have offered help. The Wounded Animal sick person is kind of like this. He/she is a normally upbeat, go-getter puppy-like being. But when sickness hits, look out. The flu won’t make them go mad. It makes them go crabby; and The Wounded Animal snaps, bites and growls at everyone around them.
Recognizing The Wounded Animal: They respond to “How are you” with guttural noises, grunts. The asker is often heard saying with a puzzled look “All I did was ask how he/she was doing.”
Handling The Wounded Animal: Leave them alone. Seriously, don’t even look at them. If you insist on helping them heal up with gramma’s magical chicken soup, push a bowl into their general area and run away quickly; or feed it to them with a long-handled spoon to avoid getting bitten.

The Weeble
Remember Weebles? You know: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” And it was true. You could push those things down, and they’d pop right back up. It was great fun for five-year-olds, but not so much with The Weeble sick person. He/she needs to fall down and stay down, or rather, lay down, but they refuse. They show up at the workplace, PTA meetings, church services, behind you in line at the grocery store, coughing, wheezing, and achoo-ing on you and everyone within a two-foot radius.
Recognizing The Weeble: They don’t give you a chance to ask them how they are. Instead, in between hacking, sneezing and grabbing their gut, they say “Oh I’m just fine. Really I am.” They may also have a space heater in their office to crank up when they get the chills, and a personal fan to cool down during fever spikes.
Handling The Weeble: The healthiest way to handle The Weeble is to stay away. Shun them. If you must communicate with them, email or call. Holler down the hallway. Fly paper airplane notes into their cubicle. Bathe in hand sanitizer if you come into any contact with them. Just avoid getting what they’ve got, because chances are that it’ll have you wobbling and falling down. Hard.

The Storyteller
James Taylor, Randy Travis, Vince Gill. All great storyteller musicians who paint pictures and weave heartfelt tales through their words and melodies. However, The Storyteller sick person paints pictures to pull you in, in the worst way. They want you to feel the runny nose and upset stomach. They want you to know just how bad they had it and will go to any and all lengths to put you there in the bathroom, bedside or wherever it was the worst for them.
Recognizing The Storyteller: Their response to “How are you” takes no less then fifteen minutes, and is punctuated by “…and then” and/or “you wouldn’t believe what came out of…” and/or “hey, where-are-you-going-I’m-still-talking.”
Handling The Storyteller: Let them go on while occasionally glancing at your phone. If their monologue nears the ten minute mark, just say “Oooh…I’ve gotta take this call.” Which is perfectly acceptable. They’ll find someone else to listen to their story. Besides, if they’ve got enough strength to tell a flu saga, they really aren’t that sick anymore anyway.

Of course, there are more: The Island (me) – they just want to silently suffer in solitude; The Cling-On (Jamie) – they consistently put you in germs’ way by making you touch them, e.g. “Feel my forehead” “Scratch my back” “Rub my temples;” and of course, The Trooper (Georgia) – they get hit with it, don’t complain throughout and bounce right back after a day or two.

So…what kind of sick person are you?


  1. LOL. How right you are. Except I think most people - me included - would like to believe that they are "Islands" when, in actuality, they are something else. I'm probably a Wounded Animal. Guess I should probably go buy myself a muzzle.

    I'm married to a "Terminal" sick person. His symptoms are always much more severe than anyone elses and he spends a great amount of time and energy acting as though he will succumb to the latest health crisis at any moment.

  2. HAH!

    Actually, I think everyone's gotta be a hybrid of some sort...I have been known to engage in Weeble-ism from time to time...