Sick of Being Sick

French "Doliprane" on the go, Ottawa, October 2015

French “Doliprane” on the go, Ottawa, October 2015

I look like shit. Not in a “ah ah, look at this selfie of me looking sooo au naturel!” way. I mean, I look like shit, no selfie provided, trust me on the self-assessment—I just took a shower, saw myself naked, I know what I’m talking about.

Toenails are painted, nails are trimmed, eyebrows are plucked and appropriate body parts are waxed during a weekly self-inflicted masochist exercise. Skin is dutifully moisturized twice daily and it almost looks like I dye my hair—except I don’t, the blond streaks are from the sun (at least I hope?).

But I have deep dark circles under my eyes, calluses on my hands and my skin is dry. My neck and shoulders hurt. I have blisters on my feet and a deep cut on the back of my right hand (I fought with IKEA furniture but I won, I have a new three-drawer chest, assembled all by myself).

I sound like Dark Vador. I cough.

I’m sick again. I’m so freaking tired of being sick.

If I was supposed to meet up with you sometime this year and if I cancelled because I was sick… well, I wasn’t just making an excuse, like back in the days when we were claiming we had “female issues” four times a month to skip gym class. I was actually sick. I’ve been constantly sick for the past year.

It’s nothing, really. Just cold symptoms. Fever, runny nose, headaches, cough, lack of energy, rinse and repeat. I spent entire nights coughing and entire days wondering if I could make it until bedtime. Alright, one more cup of coffee and it should do the trick. Trust me, I can have caffeine after 4 p.m. Or 5 p.m. Or 8 p.m., for that matter. I’ll sleep.

It’s a vicious circle. Mark catches bugs at daycare, gets sick, and then I get sick. I’m constantly sleep deprived, because apparently, 18 or 18 hours isn’t enough to do everything I need to do. I get sick. I have to keep on going. I can’t call in sick because I don’t have a boss. Ah. Ironic, isn’t it!

A few weeks ago, I made an appointment with my doctor. I rarely see her, I usually go to the walk-in clinic if I’m really sick because it can take days to get a slot with her. Case in point, last time we went for Mark who was sick, she wasn’t available and no other doctor in the practice could see a kid. Ah. As if kids were feral animals…

As I was sitting in the waiting room, I mentally drafted my elevator pitch, desperately trying to synthesize the past three years of medical history (yes, it had been three years since I last saw her for me) and any question or concern I could have. You have to speak as fast as you can. Visits rarely last more than five or ten minutes. Fucking healthcare system.

Sure enough seven-and-a-half minutes later I was walking out of the exam room. The gist of the visit? “Well, of course you get sick, your son is in daycare”, “you should sleep more” and “have bloodwork done”.

Since Mark will continue to go to daycare and that I already know I need more sleep, I headed downstairs for the blood test, the best idea out of the bunch. My veins are apparently so small that they need to use the needle for babies—and it took several attempts to fill a couple of vials.

I received the result of the blood test by email—God forbids the doctor will take the time to see you again for such trivial matter—a couple of days later. Apparently, my B12 levels are low. I don’t eat enough meat. You bet. Last time I had meat was in France, last summer. I’m not vegetarian but I’m too lazy to cook meat for myself and I don’t crave it. Conveniently, you can take B12 vitamins, so I traded a steak for a four-dollar bottle of pills. Less tasty but more realistic.

Arguably, French take too much prescription drugs, but Canadian doctors do the opposite: no matter how sick you are, they tell you to get over-the-counter cold drugs, that’s it. In the spring, I got really sick. Like passed-out-in-bed sick. After a day, Feng drove me to the walk-in clinic. “Could be pneumonia,” the doctor said. “Have some x-rays done.” “How long will it take to get the results?” “A couple of weeks”.

Never did the x-rays. A few days and many Tylenol pills later, I was okay. I’m sorry, but what good do x-rays do if getting results takes so long?

Yet, I’m grateful that I’m overall healthy. I mean, a cold is nothing, even if you have a two-week-long cold every… three weeks.

I’d be alone, I would barely notice it. I’d sip tea, take it easy for a few days and sleep earlier.

Problem is, I’m not alone.

And dealing with Mark and the routine while sick is something I wouldn’t wish on… on Stephen Harper.

“Mark, listen. yes, we can walk home from school but you have to be very nice, okay? I’m a bit sick, I can’t carry you.”
“Mommy coughs?”
“… Er, no.”
“Mommy not sick.”

Eh, this kid can be a Canadian doctor!

But that’s the extent of his empathy. He doesn’t care that I’m sick. And unfortunately, the world doesn’t stop spinning either. Assignments have to be completed, lunch boxes have to be prepared and money had to be made. C’est la vie.

This blog should be sponsored by Advil. Or Tylenol. At least, I’d get something out of my misery.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Oh man. I hope at least your hubby can help take care of you!

    Wait, so you were already taking vitamins and your level was still low, or you starting taking them after your blood test?

  2. Martin Penwald on

    A French doctor (future in-law of one of my siblings) recently told that seeing a doctor in unnecessary for roughly 95% of cases. I guess Canadian doctors get to the same conclusion.
    One thought, here : medical results by email? Patient-doctor confidentiality is for losers? Email is clearly not safe enough to protect that.

    Allez, hop ! Un suppo et au lit !

    • Les suppos! LE truc que je n’ai pas ramené de France!

      I kind of agree, I don’t think you need to see the doctor for a simple cold. I usually don’t either, and I don’t expect a magical fix. Yet, if you can’t function and you get sick a lot… then you turn to doctors for advice.

      And then you run away.

      I was very surprised to receive medical results by email. Twice, actually, pap test (c’est pour les femmes… tu peux pas comprendre ;-)) and the bloodwork results.

      • Martin Penwald on

        It is not because I don’t have any practical experience with women that I don’t have any knowledge in the area 🙂

        • To be honest, many women have no idea what a pap test is… that’s why we receive pamphlets at home in Ontario!

          (Je me disais que tu ne connaissais peut-être pas le terme anglais. My bad!)

  3. It sucks, I feel your pain – since going back to working with children, I have been in a similar state 🙁 I hate taking days off work but when you work with kids/have kids, it is inevitable. Hope the B12 works out for you x

    • I always wonder if daycare teachers (and teachers in general) have a better immune system over time. I mean, these kids are dirty and full of germs, mine included!

  4. Isn’t it ironic, on one of my tabs I was checking the timings of Service Ontario so that I can apply for our OHIP, and on this tab I am reading this.

    Get well, stay well, do eat that meat 🙂

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