I’m not sick, I’m not sick, I’m not sick (repeat)…

March 11, 2009
The Groah’s have been sick a lot this winter. If my calculations are correct atleast one of us has been sick for the past 9 weeks. I was the most recent victim of the funk, starting last Friday. I’m happy to report that a week later I‘m finally starting to get over it. It’s times like these I feel really fortunate to be a Marine. Little known fact, Marines get sick- they’re just not allowed to act sick. It’s a really strange cultural norm. Even though it defies all logic getting sick does not earn you a single ounce of empathy in my line of work. So what ever you do, don‘t tell anyone- just go to work and act as if you feel fantastic. Your fellow Marines don’t care that you just brought a horrendous case of pink eye, influenza or black plague to work. What they’re more concerned with is that you demonstrated enough intestinal fortitude to walk through the door in the first place. Who cares if just infected every person in a 20-square mile radius- it only matters that you made the effort to do so.

This philosophy may be confusing to those of you who have never been in the Marine Corps but it makes perfect sense to those of us who have. Here is why- when you’re deployed to a foreign land and expected to interact with the indigenous population (who most likely harbor serious resentment towards you) it doesn‘t matter how you‘re feeling that day. Just like “no crying in baseball“- there are no sick days when you’re deployed, so you drive on. This attitude becomes so ingrained that it’s almost impossible to shut it off, and the next thing you know your pulling out your own I.V. so you won’t be late to work. For instance I recall one time when I was pretending not to have a god-awful case of exploding buttocks (that’s what Connie and I call diarrhea) and had to get to work. Work is a good hour and change away and when I timed how often my butt “blew-up” I knew it would be a hazardous commute. But I also knew that the Marine Corps probably wouldn’t survive if the “Shane” didn’t make it into work that day. So I sucked it up (not literally that would be friggin gross) and drove on. When I got home from work and Connie asked me why I risked it I told her- “Well, I figured if I shit my pants on the way to work then that’s the Marine Corps telling me to stay home- but I didn’t so obviously the Corps must have needed me today“. She says that‘s stupid- I call it MOTIVATED.

I tell you all of that to get to the point of how this mentality screws with my family (non-Marines). When they are sick or hurt they have no obligation to pretend that they’re feeling well. My boys let us know of every ache and pain, real or imagined, in amazingly vivid detail. Furthermore, if Mack or Cayden become ill they want the drugs that correspond to the affliction. They got this from Connie. One of the amazing things that Connie brought to our marriage was her extensive knowledge of over the counter medications. Until our union I had no idea that different medicines were designed to treat different symptoms- expectorants, decongestants, etcetera. There is even a medicine which helps reduce flatulence- I think it’s called “Beano” or “Gas-X“. Regardless of the name I don’t think the kids are taking it- they love every noise emanating from their butts and would never agree to willingly silence it. The point being, who would have thought that every thing that ailed you had a corresponding magic pill? When I was growing up you had two possible treatment plans when you didn‘t feel well. First and foremost my Mom would demand that you accomplish a bowel movement- until that magic happened you didn’t get any other type of medical care. For instance, when I was 13 I broke my arm and she made me poop before going to the emergency room- do you know how hard it is to wipe your ass with a broken arm? If you accomplished step one and were not completely cured she would break out the Tylenol (the only medication in my childhood home). But the thing is step one usually worked (except for broken bones) amazingly well- so when my boys complain about not feeling well they go straight to the crapper.

Back to how my mentality screws up my family. Since I’ve been groomed to act well even on my death bed my family has no idea when I’m ill and potentially contagious with some exotic funk. I’m basically a 200 pound germ meandering through our home infecting all who have the misfortune of coming in contact with me. I don’t mean any harm. I am not purposefully trying to spread whatever I have contracted it’s just that after 21-years of pretending that I’m not sick I’ve kind of come to believe it. Connie and the boys, however are not Marines and thus fallible to all those illnesses which I pretend bounce right off my impenetrable Marine immune system. So at the end of the day I’m probably the reason that my family has gone through almost three consecutive months of feeling like shit.

The way I look at it I can either admit my weaknesses and allow myself to act sick when in fact I am- thus providing a red flag to not to kiss Dad or drink from his water glass. Or, the rest of the family can enlist and earn their impenetrability the hard way. I’ll let you know what I come up with.

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Michelle posted the following on March 17, 2009 at 7:06 pm.

Hi, Shane. Enjoy your blog! Not sure where I came across it, but I check in with you every once in a while. I’m surprised you don’t have a bunch of comments from moms on this post. Seriously, I’ve had this conversation with so many moms before. We aren’t allowed to get sick…there are no “sick days” as a mom. I’ve been throwing up in the bathroom and had a toddler asking me for snacks or other items. Three days after giving birth to my third child I was feeling under the weather (exploding buttocks) and my husband got on a plane for a business trip without even flinching – leaving me alone with the three. (My other kids two were 4 and 2 at the time.) I guess the moral of this blog post for me is…the Marines should be full of moms!!!

admin posted the following on March 17, 2009 at 9:14 pm.

Michelle, loved your comment- How true you are, my wife and I have both enjoyed the drill of meeting our kids needs while barely able to stand. I wonder if my kids will remember those times prior to placing me in a nursing home? Probably not huh?

I would love it if more Moms commented- but I also want to hear from those Dads who have put in the hours of sacrifice that it takes to be considered an involved parent.

BTW, your story of three kids and having exploding butt is friggin scary, I have a tough time keeping my two from burning down the house when I am feeling well, maybe the Marine Corps just needs a Michelle?

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