Childhood illness brings out only true friends

I kind of forgot about it until last week. The pain, the rejection, the isolation. I was totally exiled; an outcast.


I speak of the time when, at age 26, I came down with a case of chicken pox.

That’s what I said.

I caught them from my little nephew, who was then 6. We were at a party at my sister-in-law’s house when my mother-in-law mentioned that Cody was just getting over the chicken pox.

“I hope you’ve had them!” she laughed, assuming I had.

Indeed, I had not. Yet.

I shrugged it off, thinking, “I’ve been lucky so far; I’m sure it’s fine.”

And I gave it zero thought as Kerry and I attended his 20th high school reunion the next night. I was much more concerned over the rather large “pimple” forming on my forehead. “Great, just in time for me to meet all the old girlfriends,” I thought.


I still wasn’t thinking of it the next day at Mass when I began scratching my arms wildly and told my mom how crappy I was feeling. The nurse in her took immediate notice.

When we got back to her house, she said, “Let me see your stomach.” Huh? Well, OK.

Bam! There they were: two little tiny pox inside my belly button, just as Mom suspected. And so it began.


Let me tell you something, people: When adults contract childhood diseases, it is NO trip to Disney World.

Funny, isn’t it? How a 4-year-old can breeze through chicken pox like a ride on Space Mountain, but a gal in her mid-20s will be absolutely knocked to the ground, as if by a 90 mph line drive to the stomach.

Not only did I feel like death warmed over for the next two weeks (my hair actually hurt), I was completely shunned socially.

Cannibalistic zombies in a post-apocalyptic world would have been a more welcome sight than I as I tried to return to work 15 days later.

“Ew, you’re here I mean, hi, Patty” was the typical greeting awaiting me back at my programming office at the TV station upon my arrival.

As person after person backed away from me and surgical masks and latex gloves began popping up along my route at the station, I got the distinct sense that I was, in fact, unwelcome to return to my life.

Grownups really, really don’t like the idea of catching kid ailments, yo.

I forgot how bad it feels to be shirked by your family, friends and colleagues. How sad it makes you when people see you coming and start running the other direction, yelling, “Unclean! Unclean!”


But it all came rushing back to me in hurry. Yep, I was quickly reminded of it as my eyes swelled up like Dolly Parton’s bustier last week. Did I mention they were redder than Lucille Ball’s hair?

“Oh, man, Patty, what happened to you?” was the typical reaction to my severe case of double conjunctivitis last week. I swear I heard someone gagging as I walked by.

I felt like an Amish girl seen wearing a micro-mini with fishnet stockings and stilettos. People were completely offended and gasping in horror at my appearance – and, hey, wanted me far, far away from them.

Even the gals at the eye doctor’s office were like, “Oh, hey, hi, there, um, could you sit – over there, in that little room, way in the back of the office building across the street???”

After I signed in, they doused the pen in bleach and burned the clipboard in a bonfire.

Heck, they wouldn’t even let me touch the doorknob on my way out:

“Oh, um, we’ll get that for you; uh, don’t touch anything or come back, er, unless something is really, really, bad. Um, we’ll, uh, call to see how it’s going, OK? Bye, bye now ,” they said, shoving me out the door with a very long stick.


Oh, well, could have been worse. They could have actually moved my office up to the storage space up in the attic. Then again, it’s not Monday yet

Stay healthy, friends!

Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist whose impression of The Thing was DEAD ON last week. Contact her with coupons for Visine at