I felt Cayden shift in the bed. I hadn't opened my eyes yet, but I could tell it was morning. I'd taken pain killers and a sleeping pill before bed so I could try to sleep it away. But I knew there was no escaping strep. My insides started shaking again. I clenched my teeth so the chattering wouldn't wake Cayden up. Holding in the chills made everything hurt even worse. I wanted to throw the sheets off me so nothing was touching my sensitive, burning hot skin. But I needed them for internal warmth. It was almost as if my organs were frozen and my skin was on fire.
Cayden rolled closer and draped his arm around my waist. I wanted him to touch me and hold me and comfort me. But I winced when he touched me. His arm on my waist added fuel to the fire and it felt like he was pressing against a giant bruise. The gross yellow kind.
I tried to make my body stop shaking. With his arm around me, I knew he'd feel it. The concentration made my head throb even harder. I felt another swallow coming along.
"Are you cold?" Cayden asked, his voice thick with sleep. His instinct was to wrap his arms around me to warm me up.
"No," I tried to say, but it came out in a strained whisper. "No," I tried again, and then tried to roll out of his grasp. I finally opened my eyes and saw Cayden open his, a look of confusion spread across his sleepy face.
"I'm sick," I said, trying not to cry. I always cry when I admit I'm sick.
"What?" Cayden asked, still trying to wake up all the way.
"I think I have strep throat," I said with chattering teeth.
"What's that?" Cayden asked, scooting away from me slightly, as if I had the plague.
I tried to figure out how to define strep throat in the fewest words possible. It hurt to breathe, much less talk.
"Sore throat," I said, fighting the urge to swallow. "Fever. Chills."
"Oh no," Cayden said, reaching over to rub my back.
"Don't," I said. Tears stung my eyelids. "Everything hurts."
"What can I do?" he asked.
"Pain killers," I said, pointing to the package on the bedside table. He popped out two dissolvable tablets and handed them to me. I felt like the most miserable person on the face of the Earth. I wanted to break down in tears, but crying made everything hurt worse, and I couldn't collapse into Cayden's embrace or I'd be in even more pain. I'd had strep throat at least 30 times in my life, but never had it been so bad.
I needed a doctor. I needed antibiotics. I needed that huge, painful shot in my "hip" (see: ass) to make me feel better. I needed a Z pack. I needed my mom. None of those things was accessible from Rome. Well, I'm sure they had doctors, but I didn't know the first steps in getting to one.
It was our last day in Rome. Our flight was leaving at 5 that night, so we had all morning and all afternoon to squeeze in our last few must-sees: St. Peter Basilica and the Vatican, mostly the Sistine Chapel. I couldn't fathom the thought of getting out of bed, much less climbing the stairwell to the Cupola of St. Peter's Basilica.
How was it possible that I was always sick around Cayden? There was the great jalapeno-out-the-nose vomit incident of 2010. A never ending sinus infection over Christmas and New Years. And now strep. Well, and the sinus infection, because that decided to hang around for months on end.
I convinced Cayden to go back to sleep while I waited for the pain killers to kick in. I wasn't even sure what I was taking, but Cayden reassured me they were for pain relief. I squeezed my eyes shut and silently begged the Strep Throat Gods to leave me the fuck alone.