Wednesday, April 6, 2011

181. The Kissing Disease

"OK, we have a two-hour window of me not feeling 100 percent like ass, so let's make the best of it," I said, cramming my last piece of clothing into my suitcase and zipping it up.

"Sure you're going to be OK?" Cayden asked, throwing his bag over his shoulder and then reaching for mine.

The pain relievers had kicked in and lowered my fever, so at least the throbbing in my head and the constant internal chills had stopped. My throat still felt pretty awful, but I was finally able to complete a sentence without crying from the pain. I had zero energy, and every time I moved it felt like the floor was moving under me. Hey, it was progress. But I knew the medicine would wear off within a couple hours and I couldn't take more for another three hours.

"I'll lock it up," I said, giving Cayden a somewhat reassuring half smile.

I didn't argue too much when Cayden demanded he carry both of our bags. I could barely lift a toothbrush to my mouth, much less a 30-pound bag to my shoulder. By the time we checked out and made it to the subway station, I was exhausted. There were no open seats on the train, so I let Cayden wrap me into his coat and hold me against him.

"I hope I don't get you sick," I said, muffled from inside his coat. "I really hope it's not mono." I was beginning to fear it was mono and not strep because my symptoms had never been so severe.

"What's mono?" Cayden asked. Being that he didn't know what mono or strep were, I decided I'd wait until I got back to the states to go to the doctor.

"It's the kissing disease."

"I want it," he said, reaching his face down to mine in an attempt to kiss all over my face. I burring my face farther into his shirt so he couldn't reach me."

"I'm so sorry you feel ill, baby." The way he said 'ill' made me chuckle. I didn't think I'd ever actually used the word.

We got off at Termini and hiked across the station to find the luggage drop-off center. I was more than grateful we weren't going to have to lug our bags around all day (and by 'we' I mean Cayden).

"OK, let's get some food in you and then head to the Vatican before you start feeling bad again."

We chose the closest cafe or a pastry pit stop.

Then we jumped back on the train and headed toward the Vatican. Once again, there weren't any seats on the train. I wanted to complain. My legs were shaking. I didn't have enough energy to hold myself up. Cayden rubbed my arms as I leaned against him and I felt the pain in my skin start to creep back. It felt like my whole body was one giant bruised sunburn. I knew that meant my fever was coming back. Somehow that 2-hour window had turned into one. I kept my mouth shut and opted for an internal conversation instead. Whitney, do not ruin this last day in Rome for Cayden. He's excited to see the Vatican, and even though it's the last thing you want to do right now and you'd rather curl up in a little ball and hide under the dirty, occupied subway seats, you have to lock it up for Cayden.

When we got off at the station, I had to give myself another pep talk to make it up the stairs. By the time I made it to the top, my head was back to full throb. My teeth were chattering. I wanted to give up. I wanted to sit there and tell Cayden to have a blast, just pick me up on the way back.

I hooked my arm around his and tried to use him for support. As I mentioned before, I have a tendency to pass out when my fever gets too high. At least with an arm around him, he'd be able to catch me before my face met cobblestone.

We'd walked a few block before I couldn't take it anymore. I spotted a pharmacia a little ways away and told Cayden we needed to stop. I'd accidentally left my medicine in my bag back at Termini. I wasn't supposed to take another dose of pain relievers for another hour or so, but I didn't care. I was desperate.

I plopped down in a chair in the pharmacia while Cayden stood in line. I propped my elbows up on my knees and held my throbbing head between my hands. For the second time that day, I felt tears sting behind my eyelids. I wasn't just upset that I was sick, I was upset that I couldn't enjoy Cayden and that he had to put up with me. I couldn't even talk to him because my throat hurt so bad. I talked quietly, and whenever he asked me to repeat myself, I got a little more angry. Well, I should say frustrated, not angry. But I hated that I was feeling anything but love and appreciation for him. He was my everything, and I was upset that he couldn't understand my whisper.

I swallowed three capsules of something and pulled myself out of the chair with Cayden's help. I was pathetic.

We walked in silence the rest of the way to what we thought was the Vatican, but ended up being St. Peter's Square. All I really wanted to see was the Sistine Chapel, but we ended up in St. Peter's Basilica, staring up at a ceiling equally as beautiful.

[insert st pete photo]

Two lines formed in an ally. One line would take us to the stairwell to the top of the cupola, and the other took us to the tombs.

"Are you up for it?' Cayden asked, gesturing toward the line for the stairwell.

WAS I UP FOR IT? Was I up for a climbing 320 steps with my deteriorating shoes and throbbing head just to see the view of a city I'd already seen from the top of Janiculum? Sounded like a blast!

"There's an elevator," Cayden offered, seeing the rage in my eyes.

It was 7 euros to ride an elevator. Count me out.

"How about you go ahead and I'll curl up and die right here and then you can take me to the tombs when you're done." I regretted before I'd even finished the sentence. Cayden was just trying to show me a good time in Rome and enjoy the city himself. I was being a huge bitch. A whiny bitch.

"I'm sorry. I really am sorry. I just feel awful. How about we save our money to see the Sistine Chapel instead?" Cayden pulled me against him and gave me a tight squeeze.

"I just wish I could do something to make you feel better," he said. "I'm rubbish when people are ill."

The words "rubbish" and "ill" made me laugh again, instantly putting me in a better mood.

"Wow, that's all it took to make you smile?" he asked, pulling me away. "Just one hug?"

He put his arm around me and led me out of St. Peter's Square. Cayden stopped to ask a guard where the Vatican was.

"Down and to the left," was the answer.

What he should have said was, "way the hell down there and then take a left and walk until you think you're going to die. When you pass out, pull yourself off the ground and go another 50 yards and it will be the giant building on your left."

Of course, it probably wasn't THAT far, but to me it felt like a 5K I didn't want to finish.

But I did finish. I finished for Cayden.

We made it all the way to the ticket counter before turning back. It was 16 euros per person to stare at a wall. Yes, a beautifully painted wall, but that was just ridiculous.

"We could take a picture of a post card and say we were here?" Cayden suggested.

I stood on my tip toes and gave him a kiss. So much for the Kissing Disease.

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