Newlywed wives get ready for a nugget because I am going to teach you a lesson: when men get sick, even the manliest among them morph into sissies. A husband could be a four-star general who has led brave men into battle with guns blazing, but infect that man with a 24-hour virus or a cough and he can barely muster the courage to stick out his tongue for the doctor and say “Ah!” He has been known to faint when surrendering a vein for a blood test, even when the syringe is teeny tiny.

My husband, Jeff, is also a bad patient. A very bad patient.

My husband, Jeff, is also a bad patient. A very bad patient. This isn’t because he wants to be pampered (at least not on a conscious level), or fears the sight of a tongue depressor. He is not like the husband of a friend of mine who asks his wife to remove the thermometer from his mouth and announce the reading after a dramatic pause. Jeff is a bad patient because he lives in denial that there is anything wrong with him, even when he is white as a Shabbat tablecloth from fever. I practically must hog-tie him down to keep him from going to work. And when I block the door and demand that he stay home, he gets his revenge by getting “busy” with various household tasks.

As you have now guessed, he is an unrepentant Type A. He wants to be useful and productive, no matter the cost to his health or my sanity. This is why taking care of him is exhausting – he needs a maximum security environment to prevent him from attempting to wash dishes, check the filter in the heater, and other random acts of productivity. This sense of responsibility is part of what makes Jewish men so desirable as husbands. But when he is an impatient patient, he drives me insane.

Fortunately, we have been married for a long time and these little skirmishes pose no serious threat to our relationship. But I am the one who will need a new prescription – for blood pressure or anxiety – when Jeff is home sick. Last week, for example, Jeff’s back “went out,” leaving no forwarding address. This forced him into a “stay-cation” of a most painful variety. Ironically, part of the problem is that Jeff has enjoyed such excellent health for so long he doesn’t “do” illness very well. Yet aging waits for no man, and he must learn to adjust. Me? I’m a seasoned veteran of annual viruses, migraines by the million, and other occasional physical miseries. Unlike my husband, though, when I am unwell I have no trouble slipping under the blankets and moaning softly, wondering how long it will be before anyone other than the dog notices my pathetic state and offers me tea and toast.

I wanted to take Jeff to the chiropractor for his wayward back. I have gone to this doctor so often and for so many years that he should have ordered a vanity plate for his BMW that reads, “Thx, Judy.” Naturally, my suggestion was rebuffed.

“No need to go out,” Jeff said. “I’ll be fine in no time. Can you reach that glass of water? Who put it six inches away from me?” Mind you, this was said as he was lying down on a heating pad, working with his iPad held aloft, his face a study in grimaces.

“I think we should go. Look how much pain you’re in!”

“It’s not so bad if I lay totally still,” he said. “When do I get another Ibuprofen?”

I made the mistake of leaving him unattended for about twenty minutes and then caught him in the act of trying to be industrious. Apparently he had forgotten his vow to lay still and in that time he had marshaled all his manly stubbornness and was hobbling down the hall, his posture like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was clutching a box of light bulbs.

“Just where do you think you’re going with those?” I demanded.

“Front porch light went out. Didn’t you notice? Can you just bring me the ladder?”

“Hand over the light bulbs and no one gets hurt,” I said. “Now, I’ll help you to the front porch, and from there to the car. We’re going to the doctor. If you cooperate, I’ll let you get on a ladder by the end of the week, and you can even hang some pictures if you want.”

He grumbled, grimaced and griped, but he had ventured too far from the heating pad to get anywhere else without my help. As I successfully predicted, my chiropractor was able to begin easing Jeff’s pain, and even track the wayward vertebrae that had gone missing. Over the next few days, I was worn out from trying to keep my good man down and out of mischief. At the first hint of mobility, he would attempt stealth missions involving the hauling of trash, watering the yard, and examining the cause of a slow-draining sink. Thankfully, even he knew better than to try to lift my mega-sized roasting pan filled with enough chicken and rice to feed the lost Ten Tribes and bring it to the table. This is a feat suitable only for professional athletes and Jewish mothers with strong biceps (like me).

I am happy to report that Jeff’s back has mostly returned, and he has gone back to work where he belongs. I have removed the ankle tracking device from his leg, and am enjoying my freedom from my stint as a nurse-warden. Now I can get back to my own work and to running this joint the way I see fit, without any meddling from my well-meaning, but sometimes maddening man.