Now with pictures!
It’s New Year’s Eve, and I am finding it hard to type, what with being jacked up on Albuterol and all. I had heard that phrase before–“jacked up on Albuterol“–and I assumed it was some sort of anti-depressant. Turns out it’s an asthma treatment. Huh. And that’s the end of the story of my bangin’ holiday vacation. Considering that I can actually inhale now, it’s actually a happy ending. Oh! Did I mention? I don’t even have asthma! It’s been quite the series of primarily unfortunate events, with a few sunny moments thrown in. The following, for your entertainment on the last day of 2007, is the story from the top.
Wednesday, December 19: While not technically a part of my vacation, I discovered late Wednesday afternoon that the 60 holiday cards I’d ordered from one of the cheaper online photo places (instead of the more expensive place with the prettier cards, oh no! because that order would have been about 80 bucks) were indeed WRONG. As in, “Our wish for 2007…” You know, the year that’s ENDING in a half hour. My mistake. Turns out, I should have held out a few more wishes for 2007, as you will soon discover. Instead I reordered the cards with the correct year, thus bringing my total payment to Cheap Photo Place to–yup–80 bucks. On the bright side, my mom, Little Sister, Mia and I picked up Middle Sister from the airport, so things seemed to be looking up by the end of the night.
Thursday, December 20: This should have been my last day at work before the holidays, but I took the day off to accompany my mother, aunt, and sisters to my five-months-deceased grandmother’s house to collect what belongings her asswipe husband deigned to share with us after all this time. My father was with me, he who has space to store the furniture my grandmother left me, and we left my house right after he fixed my dryer, which had been broken for over two weeks. I was starting in the black, see. We got there and did what we went to do and we left, and that’s really all I want to say about that particular segment of last Thursday for the time being.
My dad left from my grandmother’s with a truckload of stuff, and I flew home as fast as my car would carry me because from my grandmother’s we were all going to Charlotte to have Christmas at my aunt’s new house. Charlotte is a little over an hour from my house, and my plan was to leave home in time to feed Mia dinner by 7:30, which is pretty much her absolute threshold for the evening meal. I left my driveway at 6:00. At 6:15 as I pulled onto the sideroad that would take me to the interstate, I heard a loud ka-thunk-ka-thunk-ka-thunk sound. At first I thought it was the annoying music coming from the car behind me. It wasn’t, of course. It was coming from my car. Specifically, what used to be the right rear tire of my car.
I’ll skip most of the details. My roadside assistance service arrived 40 minutes later. In the interim I tried to entertain my kid, who was becoming hungrier by the minute and not at all happy about being stationary in a dark car. The tow truck sound scared her. She cried through the whole spare tire experience. I drove to a friend’s house and fed Mia, then transferred all my crap to her car. My new goal was to be in Charlotte by 9. Having never been to my aunt’s new house, I set her address on the navigator on my phone and hit the road. At 8:45, a mere 19 miles from my destination, traffic came to a dead stop. I could see red taillights for what seemed like infinity. I called my family to tell them I was stuck in traffic, and it was during that conversation that I discovered the following: earlier in the day while we were still hauling stuff from my grandmother’s to my mom’s, my aunt and my sister Little NOTICED THAT MY TIRE WAS FLAT. BUT FORGOT. TO. TELL. ME. People, when I FINALLY discovered the state of my tire, the wall was completely shredded from the tread. I had to get a new one. There was no repairing the damage. I don’t know about you, but I think Aunt and Little owe me a new tire.
I arrived at my aunt’s house at 11. It was raining. My kid, who had been asleep for most of the traffic stall (apparently caused by some sort of explosion earlier in the evening–seriously, a part of the metal guardrail was melted) turned into the Energizer Bunny as soon as we walked in the door and went to sleep at 2:30 in the next morning. The next day was great; we celebrated Mia’s first birthday with the family and left around 4 that afternoon. At home later that night I remember thinking to myself, “This is good. Now I can relax. NOW my vacation can begin.” Stupid, stupid woman.
Saturday, December 22: I had a long list of things to do–unpacking, cleaning, laundry–and did none of them, opting instead to stay in my jammies all day long and play with my kid, who also stayed in her jammies all day long. Which meant that on…
Sunday, Christmas Eve-Eve: …all the things I didn’t do on Saturday had to be done, plus all the other things I’d planned to do on Sunday in the first place. One of those things was having the dog bathed. Suzanna has been living in the garage since September, when she brought fleas into my house (yet another saga from the past few months I won’t get into now), fleas she got from the stray cat I adopted last year and am now trying to relocate. Cat, anyone? Sweet disposition, updated shots, no uterus. But I digress. I unloaded a large amount of money at National Pet Chain Store to have my poor flea-allergic smelly itchy dog bathed, de-fleaed, un-hot-spotted, and settled into a brand new bed. That night she woke me up four times during the night begging to go back to the garage. And the scratching, good lord, the scratching. The stuff I sprayed on the hot spots made me sneeze, or maybe it was the shampoo, and yet, the scratching never stopped. I decided she was just readjusting to the house, gave her some benadryl, and tried (unsuccessfully) to sleep.
Monday, Christmas Eve: The stuff I didn’t get done on Sunday (do you see a pattern here?) was waiting for me on Monday. I was exhausted from the previous night of no sleep. Mom, Middle, and Little were coming for dinner, a dinner I was making and for which I had no ingredients. This would be a great time to sing the praises of the most wonderful child on the planet. Not one time during anything I have described, nor during anything I will describe in the next several paragraphs, did my daughter lose her cool. No crying (well, except for the tire-changing incident), no fussing, no public outbursts. If not for her, in fact, I would probably still be sitting on the side of the road next to my grotesquely flat tire.
I was halfway through dinner preparation when my family arrived with a moving van full of presents, and we had a nice meal–a ratatouille dish much like the one from the cartoon (laugh if you want, but it was amazing) on a bed of couscous with goat cheese and french bread. Little and I stayed up until 3 a.m. watching Harry Potter 5, and everyone, including my daughter, slept until almost 11 Christmas Day.
Tuesday, Christmas Day: It was wonderful–a bright spot in a series of distressingly eventful days.
Wednesday, Mia’s Birthday: Mia and I went to my mom’s to help her go through all the stuff we took from my grandmother’s house. Did I mention? I don’t want to talk about that yet. We hung out with my mom and were (I’m afraid) more messy than helpful. We got home just in time for bed, and I was welcomed by a puddle of pee next to the front door. By this time the dog was really starting to wear out her welcome. I didn’t sleep well because my throat was scratchy and my nose was a bit runny and I had a bit of a dry cough. The smell of Suzanna–I’m not sure if it was the hot spot spray or the shampoo from Sunday’s bath or just her own weird smell–permeated my room…and my sinuses.
Thursday, December 27: Mia’s 1 year well baby check-up was at 1:15. She got shots and cried pitifully. After, I went to Target to buy cute little plates and napkins for Mia’s Saturday birthday party, which was being held at my friend and coworker MJ’s new house (because I wanted to invite more than 5 people, see, and my house is TEENY). Late that afternoon my throat felt really scratchy and I couldn’t stop coughing. I said out loud at one point, “I feel like I’m getting sick.” Mia’s eyes were watery and she had a slight runny nose. I decided that Suzanna could not stay in the house any longer because I was convinced that her weird smell was contributing to our allergic demise. I felt horribly guilty about giving Suzanna the boot, but she seemed okay with the arrangement and I had a party to plan. I bought wine and beer, cake supplies, chips and dips, and ingredients for a baked brie and some spinach rolls I found in a magazine. I was pumped. And I felt like shit.
Friday, December 28: We didn’t leave the house. Mia had a fever; I couldn’t breathe through my nose and my cough had deepened. By dark I was wheezing and Mia was a veritable fountain of snot. I decided that if she had a fever the next morning I would cancel or postpone the party. Still, I stayed up late and made the cake. You know, wishful thinking and all.
Saturday, December 29: If you guessed that my kid still had a fever on Saturday morning, you guessed wrong. She was fine–a bundle of energy and all smiles. Snotty, but smiley. I, on the other hand, was having trouble inhaling. My cough had worsened. The wheezing was audible. My head ached. I seriously considered sending Mia to her party without me. But I didn’t. I went on with it. I hauled all the food and the drink and the kid to MJ’s house (thankfully no presents–Mia has a registry at Heifer.org and has raised almost $500 for the organization in honor of her birthday).
Anyway. I think the party was a success. I think people had a good time. Mia loved her cupcake, and friends of mine from different circles were mingling and making conversation, and the handful of kids who were there played like the best of friends. But honestly, there are parts of the afternoon I don’t particularly remember. By now my chest was actually hurting, and inhaling deeply was a physical impossibility. I was starting to get a little freaked out. Which is how it came to be that immediately after the party I found myself at an urgent care center near my house. While Mia played with a nurse I got a shot of steroids in the buttocks and received a 30 minute Albuterol treatment. Comedienne Suzanne Westenhoefer does a bit in one of her old shows about how some Amish people in a community near where she grew up in PA got addicted to crack, and how they must have been speed-quilting and putting up barns single-handedly in mere hours. That’s how I felt after the breathing treatment. Like I could have cleaned my carpet by washing each fiber individually in 15 minutes. My organs were trembling, and I could feel them. My hands and arms seemed to be propelled by forces beyond my control. It was horrible. But not as horrible as not being able to breathe. That part was an improvement. The doctor sent me home with a high-powered expectorant/cough suppressant, a five-day round of steroids, and an asthma inhaler. He didn’t actually diagnose me with asthma but indicated that I could develop a chronic form of it as an adult, or even just have an acute case in the event that my immune system had been compromised for whatever reason. You know, like dead grandmother stuff and sleepless nights and weird dog smells and flat tires and the general stress of the holidays. Or something like that.
Sunday, New Year’s Eve-Eve: The twitches finally wore off after midnight and I slept well for the first night in over a week. I figured out that if I take Tylenol when I use the inhaler, I’m not quite as crawly and my sleep is not as disrupted. Mia is still a little font of snot, but she is undaunted and is equally interested in her birthday balloon (under strictly supervised circumstances, of course) and crawling under the table as she is in playing with her load of new toys. We’ve been playing a lot, and she’s been napping well, which means I’ve been lying around watching lots of movies. It sucks to be sick, but–fingers crossed–the major drama seems to be behind us.
Monday, New Year’s Eve: Actually, according to the TV in the background, it’s no longer New Year’s Eve. I can hear fireworks outside, and the ball just dropped, and I’ve kissed my sleeping daughter on the head. Let’s put ’07 to bed, people. Here’s to a brilliant new year.