When it comes to being sick, men are babies. I know this because there are six children in my family (five grandkids and yours truly), and I was sicker than any of them over a period of five months, which is how long it took me to recover from an illness that so baffled medical science that it was impervious to prescription medication and was finally eradicated with a self-prescribed dose of blackberry brandy.
It all started after my twin grandchildren, Zoe and Quinn, were born. Before my wife, Sue, and I took a trip to meet them, I had a flu shot. The pharmacist who gave it to me said I was very brave considering that many men are — you guessed it — babies when it comes to needles.
“Some of them have even fainted,” she said.
“Wimps,” I replied as I rolled up my sleeve. “I’m ready for my shot now.”
“I just gave it to you,” the pharmacist said as she put a Band-Aid on my arm. “Stay healthy!”
I wish I could say I did, but I came down with something I thought was either the flu or a sinus infection or black lung disease. So I walked in to a walk-in clinic to make sure I wasn’t contagious.
“You’re not,” said a physician, who took a throat culture with a swab that was attached to a stick approximately the length of a javelin.
“Do I have a pulse?” I inquired.
“Yes,” he reported. “You are, technically, still alive. And the culture shows that you don’t have strep throat.”
“I get most of my culture from yogurt,” I said.
The doctor looked like he was about to get sick. “I am not going to prescribe antibiotics,” he said. “Just take some over-the-counter cold medicine, and you should be fine.”
The day after Sue and I met the twins, I developed a dry cough, probably because it wasn’t raining. (Now you know why I never went to med school.)
The symptoms persisted after we got home, where I also started to sneeze. Sue, who didn’t want to catch anything, told me not to come near her.
“Do you want me to go to a room with achoo?” I asked.
Sue rolled her eyes, which were heavy, indicating that she was getting sick, too.
She recovered quickly, which is more than I could say for myself, so I went back to the clinic, where another physician asked if I had allergies.
“I’m only allergic to myself,” I answered.
“As you get older,” she said, sizing me up as older, “you can develop allergies.”
She prescribed a nasal spray.
“With the size of my nose, will I need a hose?” I asked, noting that my question rhymed.
“No,” the doctor said. “You won’t have to call the fire department.”
On a return visit to see the twins, I found that Quinn was sick. So was big brother Xavier. Zoe was starting to come down with something, too.
When I got home, I learned that my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly also were sick.
All the kids got well, but my postnasal drip, or pre-nasal drip, or neo-nasal drip, or whatever the heck I had, was hanging on. I returned to the clinic, where I should have my own parking space, and was given a different spray.
“If this one doesn’t work,” said a third doctor, “take some antibiotics.”
My illness persisted. Finally, after I had run out of medicine, I opened a bottle of blackberry brandy and had a shot.
The following day, I was cured.
“The next time I get sick,” I told Sue, “I’m going to take this stuff first.”
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media and is the author of four books. His latest is “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures.” Email: JerryZ111@optonline.net. Blog: www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com.