why you’re glad you’re not me

A stabbing pain in my throat awoke me in the middle of the night early Saturday AM. I get up, drink water (ouch!), brush my teeth, and take some Tylenol. Even at this point as I head back to bed I’m thinking, “There’s no way Ralph can go to work tomorrow,” it hurts bad enough. When my eyes open in the morning I realize it’s the Saturday of a three-day weekend. It will turn out he really does need to wait on me hand and foot.

Saturday afternoon and my throat is swollen and getting worse. Swallowing becomes very painful yet compulsive as I feel I have something back there. I check my throat with a flashlight and… well, I won’t overshare what I see there, but it’s gross and scary. I hit the Urgent Care clinic and they have closed early for the holiday. Fuck! This means either suffer without medicine, diagnosis, and antibiotics (if it’s a bacterial infection), or hit the emergency room going as an uninsured entity (I am meanwhile trying not to curse my husband’s choice to move us onto a different plan, leaving us exposed for a few months).

I go anyway, get a throat culture, which will be ready Monday morning. The doctor tells me he is “9 out of 10” sure this is a viral infection which means I will likely have to wait it out. If I’d like, I can start antibiotics now on the off chance it is indeed strep. I decline, trusting his diagnosis. “Can you get me something for the pain, doc?” He perscribes Vicodin. I go home, take one. My throat feels more and more full and the pain meds don’t seem to help my throat in any way, although the rest of my body enjoys being stoned.

Ralph hovers, makes tea, rents movies. During Saturday and Sunday I watch every single episode of HBO’s “Rome” (P.S. it’s good, nice and smutty in that way HBO knows how to be). I feel worse and worse. Then comes night and things get really bad. I can’t fall sleep. As soon as I start to drop off, my breathing becomes shallower and I wake, gasping for air. Repeat, over and over and over and over. Swallowing is impossible to avoid but I flinch eat time. I cry. I take pain medicine of all types.

Eventually at about 4 AM fatigue takes over and I get a few hours of sleep. I wake a few hours later, at dawn; my family is still sleeping. By the time everyone is up around 10 AM Sunday I know I can’t go through a night like that. I am ready to take antibiotics on the chance they will help. My husband calls to see if the doctor who treated me can call in antibiotics. He tells them the pain is worse, that I’m having trouble breathing, my speech is muffled. I hear words like “CT Scan” and “reevaluation”. He tells me they want me to come back in and that the emergency room charges will all be lumped together, since both visits come right on top of one another.

This time I am not feeling good enough to smile or chat with the nurse. My pulse is high. The nurse in triage takes my temperature twice, disbelieving it at first. They put me in another exam room and eventually a (different) doctor comes in and listens to heart, lungs, checks my throat. He now has “upgraded” me to some kind of secondary bacterial infection. However he has a strong European accent and I am feeling dizzy. I can’t even communicate how scary it was for me to not be able to breathe the night before. He leaves and I get dressed, and wait. The nurse comes back in and re-checks my vitals. She tells me my pulse is 153 and it’s too high. Soon I am hooked up to an IV for a liter of fluid. She comes in and puts morphine in, twice. My throat still hurts but the aches and chills of my body subside. She adds prednisone in hopes to reduce swelling and gives me the first dose of antibiotics.

I go home and sleep for hours. When I awake, my throat hurts as much as ever but I feel so much better.

My mother calls me last night. “Don’t worry about the money. If it gets scary again you go back to the emergency room. I mean it – don’t worry about the money.” This made me want to cry. I wasn’t worried about the money precisely, but I was irritated as hell thinking of how inconvenient my illness is (to happen in clinic off-hours and while we are uninsured).

Things are still wretched. The effects of yesterday’s hydration and morphine nap seem to have worn off. It is hard to drink, let alone eat. Not to mention any of my other recreations: for the last couple days I haven’t had coffee, cigarettes, booze, or more than a few tablespoons of food at a time. I tried a little red wine last night, a little bite of chocolate cake, and it was just too damn painful. I am down to only four Vicodin. At first I couldn’t believe I’d received fifteen. But it turns out I need at least two to not be in agony. I hope I can get through the day OK.

So two days of my life were just erased. Well, “erased” is not the right word, exactly. To the outside world, I ceased to exist. In my own world, I experienced two days of varying degrees of agony. And it looks like it’s still happening.

I had planned to write more but I’m pretty tapped out and will now seek the electric blanket.

where are you going my little one?

This morning after my walk I was accosted by what could only be described as … cuddle-zombies. I spent the first part of the morning downstairs catching up on email as the kids slumbered. As is typical, my daughter arose first and came looking for me. I usually wordlessly scoop her up in my arms as she shakes her hair out of her eyes and instructs me where to take her for morning cuddles. Today’s destination: my bed. Where we find the younger one awake (and oddly posed in Downward Dog) whereupon he springs up into standing position on the bed, raises his arms, and makes odd caveman sounds in urgent appeal for me to pick him up. Somehow we all fall into bed, Sophie under the electric blanket on my right, Nels on top of me, smelling lovely and heavy with sleep.

Nels has been saying, “Ice Age the Meltdown” when he sees the poster for said film (P.S. Stick to Pixar). Except he says, “Ice Age the MILKdown!” with a significant pause on the “milk”. It’s basically as if someone built a little robot in the shape of a boy, a robot whose sole design purpose was Cuteness. Today serving breakfast I am saying it too: “The MILKdown!” when Nels interrupts: “No, Mama,” he says with offended dignity. “It’s meltdown.” (Sophie claims credit for this correction).

Obviously I am very sad about this. What people don’t know is that a small child saying “Milk” is one of the nicest things one can hear, especially when they misuse or mispronounce it (Sophie used to say “Mut!” when she was very small, later graduation to “Muk!” and now, of course, the proper expression). Luckily Nels still has words that, when pronounced, make me want to bite him: I hope he hangs on to his “noonles” and “tomayno” (for an example of the latter see the first few seconds of this film) for “noodles” and “tomato”.

I can’t even phoenetically represent the way Sophie says “squirrell” and “twirl”. I can’t even copy it verbally. I’ll have to record it for posterity before she changes.

Today’s pre-dawn walk was an uninspiring, but effective “Newtown” route that inexplicably gave me a blister (I’ve been using the same shoes for all my walks with no trouble so far). Erica and I got to watch the sunrise and I got to hear a long story involving well-digging and home financing. It was a good story though, for reals.

Now: on to a mid-morning bath with my wee little monsters.

"There’s been some nasty stuff going around…"

** Warning – Graphic! **

Last night it was finally my turn to get sick. I don’t mean the head cold or sore throat that is a minor inconvenience but really to effect a cure to these illnesses I need only to sit down and rest during the day, rather than run around cleaning, washing, drying, and kid-wrangling. I mean the kind of sick where the first leg of the journey consists of being entirely occupied with vomiting, the second leg body aches and chills and thrashing about in undefined misery, and finally – this afternoon, when I felt better – the kind of bone fatigue where the act of taking a hot bath wipes you out for a few hours.

I remember when I was pregnant I’d get sick, but really since then I haven’t been very much. I’m not much of a puker and no illness lasts me for very long. But last night, moments after my little family went to bed (my daughter dispensing medical advice such as, “Mama, if you’re a little bit sick, you should drink some peppermint tea. If you’re really sick, you should puke.”) I hit a cute little cycle of waking, a 15- to 20-minute nausea buildup, and then an extended puking session. Clean myself up, go back to bed. Repeat, each time feeling weaker and enjoying the taste of bile slightly less.

At about 1 AM I decided I was officially not having fun. One of the suckier parts of my vomiting marathon was that no one in my family knew it was going on, nor could they help. I was dastardly cold all night but so sick I couldn’t do anything about it. In bed I pushed, pulled, begged, yelled at Ralph to get up. Finally I crawled out of bed was best I could, hunted for the electric blanket control blindly and finally grabbed a down comforter. All the moving around triggered another bout of vomiting. I longed for release from misery but couldn’t fall asleep and couldn’t get warm and thus spent a night of suffering. Every time I’d crawl back to bed, incidentally, the entire family including the cat would roll over and clutch at me. Something I enjoy when I’m healthy; last night in my weakened state I could barely fight them off.

This morning I wasn’t much better. I sat awake but dizzy on the couch for hours. At 11 AM I was finally able to drink some tea. I have never enjoyed tea so much, even at the rate of a half sip every hour. After a long midday nap aided by Tylenol I could (and did) eat. It seems my body is gradually relinquishing its reign of terror and my hopes are that I can at least function relatively normally tomorrow.

To help me cope with all the ass time, Ralph rented me Season 1 Disc 1 of “House”, which I am enjoying (although it’s an awful program to watch when you’re ill). Hugh Laurie is one of those guys definitivy “not my type” whom I still find damn attractive, and his personality in the show just seals the deal. The show itself is only “decent television” rife with all the trappings of the various runoffs of the ER hospital daytime soap genre: cute doctors in tailored clothes, soft lighting, invasive “tender” piano music letting us know that yes, we’re supposed to be misty-eyed watching the hard-as-nails misanthrope MD holding the dead baby long after clinic hours are over.

And – with this blog entry I am once again shot. Here’s hoping I’ll wake tomorrow with my bodily faculties restored and hopefully a willingness to eat.

let’s get physical!

Vignettes from this morning’s chapter in my quest for a kick-ass bod. Yeah, I’ve been working out. Did you notice? Check out the ass. Actually, I need more of an ass. This flat, yet broad, expanse of corduroy could use a little ghetto.

So anyway, a local gym is offering free membership for those willing to supervise their daycare mornings. My loverly friend Steph is taking advantage of this great deal and asks me along to her workout this morning. Excellent! I know the gym has a trial membership, but I’m not sure this trial will also include the daycare option… So… I’m a considerate woman (read: schmuck); this morning an hour before Steph picks me up, I call.

I get some pipsqueak on the other end, making powershakes or whatever. I can tell she doesn’t “get” the daycare arrangement. She’s acting vapid. I continue to press my point, thinking, For heaven’s sake, I shouldn’t have called! Finally, she breaks her slack-jawed silence: “Are you looking to get free daycare?” she accuses. Vomity little tart. I almost hang up. In a cold fury, I ask if there’s someone else I can talk to. She puts a manager on and in two minutes I am off the phone, issue resolved (“Sure! Come on in!” the seemingly more sensible manager chirps).

[Sigh!] OK. Time to get The Girl out of bed (sleeping in, the little sodder), off to preschool, gym bag packed, hurry hurry. 8:45 AM, Obstacle #42 of the morning: I have no athletic shoes (the closest thing being my least butch pair of docs). Aha! The neighbor girl’s Vans she left with me – at a 9 1/2, a full two sizes too large. Fuck it. Nothing, not rabid children or bitchy gym-counter girls or the fact I am wearing pajama bottoms, my hospital socks, and clown shoes – will keep me from pumping iron!

We get there. Throw the kids in the childcare room. Flaunt our “personal sweat towels” (Steph’s old burp cloths) and my iPod. I do a little time on the elliptical machine. My ass screams in protest. I flail off to do some stretches so I won’t be crippled tomorrow. I flop on the mat next to an older black man who is rolling an exercise ball into position. He is at least sixty pounds overweight yet I noted he spent over twently minutes on a stair machine kicking ass. Wearily he settles himself on the ball and picks up a large staff-like object across his shoulders. “Is that your Jedi saber?” I ask him. He sasses back, “More like Friar Tuck!” Giggle, giggle.

It’s a good workout and we end up in the steam room (me and Steph, not me and the older dude). My towel is tiny and I am reminded of the locker room scene in Starsky and Hutch. A short shower and a kid pick up, then we’re on the road for blessed, blessed coffee.

I feel great. I don’t even hate my life for the rest of the day.