Friday, June 08, 2007

Quarantine Island

It's not easy being a woman and a writer, especially when that woman, and that writer has a daughter who has the whooping cough.

As a writer, I'm horribly prone to romantic notions of all things connected to words, and that includes words used to describe disease. Whooping cough, consumption, hysteria, neurasthenia... childbed fever... apoplexy... From the comfort of the rather sterile and well-medicated twenty-first century, these things seem quaint and distant-- quarantined to memory.

So, when my daughter came down with a terrible cough, and the doctor mentioned a possible diagnosis of pertussis, I was confused. I knew that she had been immunized, and I thought that we were immune to long bouts of illness that could only be treated with hand-holding, strong broth, and convalescence.

Not so. Whooping cough, or pertussis, has made a resurgence, and immunity as conferred through vaccination tends to wear off.

I've sat by my daughter's side and watched her racked by coughing fits that last for hours and sound like freight trains running along tracks at night.

She will recover, slowly, and I'm nursing her back to health the old fashioned way, with clean sheets, cool beverages, and plenty of love.

Not getting a lot of writing done.

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