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Viruses, vertigo & other gifts from our kids

For all the important things we give our kids – roots, wings, our unconditional love – there is so much more those little people give back to us.

Croupy coughs. Runny noses. Debilitating colds.

Last week, my children passed on a whammy to me, a nasty virus that settled in my inner ear, triggering a non-stop, world-spinning case of vertigo that made Alfred Hitchcock seem like Mary Poppins.

You can kiss-kiss in public and call everybody your BFF, but when you really want to test a true friend, you'll ask her to drive you and your red bucket of vomit to the emergency room in rush hour traffic at 8 a.m. on a Friday when your husband is out of town.

After two days of lying curled in a fetal position in the dark in a spinning bed at South Miami Hospital, a doctor told me I was suffering from a condition called labyrinthitis, which is exactly what it sounds like: a torturous curse dreamed up by the Dark Lord in a J.R. Tolkien novel.

Imagine drinking an entire bottle of Jack Daniel's then hopping in one of the cups in the Mad Tea Party ride at Disney's Magic Kingdom with Satan behind the controls.

Four days later, the spinning continues, although it has subsided some with medication. I still can't walk in a straight line. I'm not allowed to drive, which seems a little unfair since half the people on the roads of Miami appear to be suffering from the same ailment.

The physical therapy exercises prescribed by the doctor involve rolling my head in large loops, a movement that triggers new waves of nausea and dizziness. Thanks to the kindness of my generous neighbor/friend/cooking goddess, I've had to venture out of my house only once, when another good friend volunteered to drive me to the grocery story so I could get food for my kids' school lunches. I staggered down the aisles, gripping my shopping cart with white knuckles while my eyes ricocheted in my head like arcade pinballs. I fit right in with the other Winn Dixie shoppers.

The good doctor says it could take several days or weeks to fully recover and that I may be susceptible to reoccurrences for years. I've discovered that a number of people I know have suffered from similar instances of vertigo. They've sadly offered their empathy, like membership in a private club nobody wants to belong to.

I love my children, but when it comes to giving, I hope next time they stick to the picture frame made out of popsicle sticks.

What's the worst thing your kids have ever brought home?