Category Archives: Illness

My New Year’s Resolution this Year: No More Resolutions!

No New Year's ResolutionsThere is one topic of conversation today that dominates all others: New Year’s resolutions.

Correction. For this year only, everyone’s talking about surviving the Fiscal Cliff. However, a close second is the aforementioned New Year’s resolutions.

This year I’m boycotting.

Every year on January 1st I vow to eat healthier and to exercise more. It’s one of those blood oath vows that I am 100% certain will stick. My goal is to lose 20 lbs., which is stupidly unrealistic because in order to maintain 110 lbs., I would have to live on a diet of diluted vegetable broth and run a half marathon on a daily basis. Frankly, I could care less how much I weigh as long as I lose this jiggly abdomen I’ve acquired this year and have arms strong enough to paint a ceiling without taking a break every five minutes.

I’m not going to call it a resolution. But I’m definitely doing more planks and eating less popcorn.

I also think I’m going to get more organized. It actually is a necessity because the clutter is clogging up the good stuff I can’t find. I keep meaning to make the transition from paper Day Planner to Google Calendar so the rest of the family can see what I’ve planned for them without having to decipher my chicken scratch.

Every year I hope that the coming year will be the one that gets us out of debt. This year I’m more realistic. Short of winning lotto, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I just plan to keep what I’m doing – paying my bills on time, juggling balance transfer deals, and only buying what I absolutely need. There are a lot of folks who are too poor to even accomplish that goal, so I absolutely feel like one of the fortunate ones. Of course I still wouldn’t turn down that lotto win.

Maybe I’ll eat healthier, exercise more, get organized, and pay off some debt in 2013, but I’m not going to make a deal with the devil to do it. If I fail, I’m not going to kick myself, single-handedly devour an entire Boston cream pie, toss out my Thighmaster, haphazardly throw the contents of my entire garage into a rent-a-dumpster or run through the mall like a banshee throwing my Visa card at everything in sight.

It’s the resolution relapse that bites you in the butt every time.

When exploring a list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, I realize that there’s a bunch that I already do. I’ve never smoked, I already quit drinking, I tell my kids and husband everyday that I love them, I volunteer, I recycle, and I already went back to school. I’d like to learn more Spanish than “¿dónde está el baño?and “con queso por favor,” but if I don’t master the language this year, I can at least practice rolling my “R’s.”

Many people put travel among their list of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t, because it would cancel out the previous paying-off-debt goal.

Some aim for a better job. I actually like my job, and my boss pays me well, but I could use some extra hours in the off-season. I can aim for that, but I’m not going to call it a resolution. It’s more like making some phone calls to see if there’s any freelance work to be had.

Wait. I already do that.

Another typical resolution is to learn something new.  If I had the time, I’d do that more often, but I figure that I’ll have plenty of time for that in the old folks’ home.

A resolution that’s popping up more these days is vowing to manage stress. I could use a little more of that one, but since my bad bout of shingles last year, I’ve really been trying to get enough sleep and not get freaked out by the things I can’t control. So I guess I’ve been sticking to that last year’s resolution. Done.

Here’s what I really want to do in 2013:

I want to write more Facebook comments.

I want to accept that other parents won’t become more courteous drivers just because I roll my eyes at them when they double park at school pick up.

I want to watch more Jon Stewart.

I want to quit obsessing over gas prices.

I want to take a bath one day.

I want to find a better hiding place to store my son’s coloring pages than the recycling bin.

I want to dye my hair before my roots are an inch long.

I want to beat my kids in a game of Apples to Apples.

I don’t want any of my blogs to be stinkers.

Sometimes I just want to do nothing.

I’m hoping to do all these things in 2013. I’m just not going to call them resolutions.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Debt, Family, Financial Insecurity, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Illness, Kids, Parenting

The Ill Timing of the Ill Child

Nothing can cramp the status quo day of a working parent more than a sick kid. I wake up in the morning eager to greet the world and earn my much-needed paycheck when my little angel stumbles into the kitchen.

“Mommy, I don’t feel good.”

The Virgo in me wants to immediately correct his grammar.

Well, Sweetie. You don’t feel well.

But because he don’t feel good, I hold my tongue and touch his forehead.

Damn. It’s warm. But I tell myself otherwise. It’s not a fever. Perhaps he was just too bundled up while he slept.

He coughs.

Ditto damn. I try to ignore it. He’s almost 6. Maybe his voice is changing.

Then I hear the gag. I try to pretend I didn’t notice it. I instinctively jump out of the way as he vomits all over my jammies.

Crap. I guess he really is sick.

Some working parents earn a salary and can take time off work. Others get an ample amount of sick pay and can take a day off with pay, then take the second day off after they catch the nasty bug from their bedridden babe.

The unlucky working parents who don’t get compensation or time off have a lot of choices, but they’re all between a rock and that place that’s even harder than the rock: stay home with the kid and miss work, pay, and possibly jeopardize their jobs; sneak their sick child into work and risk contaminating the whole office; pump the sick kid full of medicine and send them to school with fingers and toes crossed; or let their little Typhoid Mary stay home from school alone, risking dire consequences and the possible wrath of a Child Services intervention.

Unlike most working parents, I have one big advantage.

I work from home, so if my kids are too sick to school, I put them back to bed, turn on the tv, and plan on taking a few more breaks playing nursemaid – serving soup and medicine, and sucking up to lots of whining. I can stay home and cuddle with them because although they’re sick, what really makes them feel better is to just have their Mommy. I fantasize about wearing a surgical mask and latex gloves and protecting myself with a 10 mil full body bubble, but since I don’t wear protection when I’m hugging and kissing their sweaty foreheads, or wiping their green snot, or double-wiping their diarrhea butts (thankfully the girls are older and I make them do that themselves) there’s a chance that all those abnormal bodily fluids pouring from my kids’ orifices today are going to be leaking from mine tomorrow.

I don’t think childless adults can possibly comprehend the sheer panic that goes into the instantaneous schedule juggling that goes into effect when your child suddenly takes ill. Any plans you might have – work, social or otherwise – must immediately be cancelled. The problem is, it’s hard to find the time to cancel those commitments because your child has a bowl resting in his lap while you race for the pediatrician’s office before the small window of drop-in hours closes. The minivan careens through early morning rush hour traffic with the parent voice-dialing her iPhone, and in between business calls she shouts in the direction of the back seat at her ill little imp:

“Aim for the bowl! Aim for the… DAMN!”

And as Brando himself would pine:

“The horror! The horror!”

You can spend 200 bucks on an auto detail, but that putrid puke stench is never going to completely come out of your carpet.

Jake at the pediatrician’s office not looking all that sick.

Last Friday, Jake woke up crying. He said his throat hurt – so bad in fact that he couldn’t even eat Cookie Crisp cereal, so I knew it must be bad. I tried to take his temperature, but our thermometer is a little off, so what I have to do is take my own temperature and assume it’s normal, then take his and add or subtract. I was 95.1˚ which would normally mean that I was already dead from hypothermia, and Jake was 98.4˚ which would in Goldilocks terms seems just about right, but by making me 98.7˚, Jake was actually 102˚ which means that he officially had a fever. This combined with the sore throat could possibly mean strep throat, which apparently is incredibly painful and therefore would explain Jake’s tears.

Call me Sherlock Holmes. That was exactly the doctor’s diagnosis.

After the pediatrician visit, a trip to the pharmacy for an antibiotic, 2 oz. of cough medicine and 1-1/2 oz. of Children’s Advil, Jake was happily clutching his favorite blanket and looking forward to an entire day watching SpongeBob.

And after walking about 30 feet away, I went back to work.

Thank you God for my work-from home job, for walk-in hours for pediatricians, for children’s liquid antibiotics that taste like bubble gum, for Otter Pops, for fluffy blankets that are machine washable, and for husbands who will eventually come home from their jobs and take over nursing duties.

But thank God mostly to Nickelodeon for SpongeBob. Now I can get some work done.

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Filed under Anxiety, Career, Family, Humor, Illness, Kids, Parenting, Recuperating

For Father’s Day, My Husband’s Wish is to Just Be Left Alone

Marc, Tom & Lina at the Saturday night Dodger game against the White Sox.

My husband Tom loves baseball with a passion, so for the past few Father’s Days, we’ve taken him to a Dodger game. It’s a perfect tradition – leave at noon for the 1:10 game, stuff ourselves with Dodger dogs, cotton candy and this incredibly tasty ice cream bites treat called Dibs, and take in some sun. It’s a bummer that Emily and Mary can’t make it since they spend Father’s Day with their dad (my ex-husband), who of course trumps step dad, but we take Jake, Tom’s mom Lina, and one or two of Tom’s childless buddies.

A few weeks ago Tom revealed to me he actually isn’t as fond of this tradition as I thought he was. In fact, it turns out that he not only hates day games (too much sun), but frankly he doesn’t like going anywhere on a Sunday, even if it does seem like fun. Apparently he would like to spend and entire day resting up from weekend fun, which basically nixes any holiday that falls on a Sunday – Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter. If he had his way he would hold Hallmark hostage until the card company switched all those big days to a Saturday. Better yet – Monday so he can get a holiday from work.

Emily, Mary & Jake at the Dodger game

This actually works out better for all of us since it means that Emily and Mary can join us. They don’t really follow the game, but they do like the food. The girls and Jake also like clapping with the organ, doing the wave, and trying to hit the illegal beach ball that gets bounced around in the stands. We brought our friend Marc, a huge sports fan (he attended every single home Kings game and three that were out of state), but he’s got a bah-humbug attitude about these activities. I was afraid that Marc was going to climb over the bleachers and pop the beach ball with a sharpened soda straw. Still, it’s always fun to go to any sporting event with someone who’s a fan of the game.

Tom had a bit of a damper for this year’s Father’s Day. He came home from work early Friday with a horrible upset stomach and it lingered on through the weekend. Although he trudged through the Dodger game, he didn’t really feel like eating anything, which is kind of like going on a cruise when you’re in the middle of a cleanse. Sure, you’ll have a good time, but the meals are a big part of the trip.

Tom & me at the Dodger game after I ate too many garlic fries

On the other hand, I gorged myself on a platter of garlic fries which were dripping in either oil or butter, and then it ended up reeking from my pores all night. Needless to say, Tom spent Father’s Day Eve sleeping on the sofa. There’s nothing like garlic sweat to really mess up an already upset stomach.

The next morning, the kids and I cooked Tom a special meal of extra-thick bacon and a huge omelet with extra cheese, or what should have been called The Clogged Artery Breakfast. I was still full from the night before, the girls we going to eat breakfast with their dad, and Jake was dying for a Poptart since it’s a treat he only gets on the weekends. So Tom was left to eat by himself, or at least pretended to eat while we were watching. With his wobbly stomach, he probably dumped it in the trashcan as soon as we left the room singing Happy Father’s Day to You.

The kids serve Tom breakfast on the sofa

The girls departed with their dad, which left just Jake and myself to celebrate Tom’s fifth year of fatherhood (sixth if you count Jake kicking around in my stomach). I figured it was Tom’s big day and he could spend it any way he wished.

And his wish?: to be left alone to watch westerns all day and play the MMO game Dark Age of Camelot with his virtual friends.

Just one funny card. No gift to open. Lina bought the Dodger tickets and I bought all the food there, and since Tom didn’t feel like eating, that pretty much means that I gave my husband bupkis for Father’s Day. Jake drew a picture of himself on a palm-size rock and made a paper tie for his dad.

Jake gives Tom his Father’s Day gifts

We gave Tom his wish for the most part. Jake played with Legos. I cleaned the house, which was so filthy it should have had cauthion tape stretched around it. Jake and I ran some errands and brought Tom some minestrone soup for dinner.

Pretty boring. But for my low-maintenance husband and his queasy tummy, it was a great Father’s Day.

The nice thing about today is that it will be very easy to top it next year.

If you’re a dad, I hope you got exactly what you wanted for Father’s Day.

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Filed under Baseball, Family, Friends, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Illness, Kids, Parenting

Amateur Night

Sober alcoholics have a nickname for New Year’s Eve: Amateur Night.

It’s when the normies (what those same sober people call normal drinkers) who usually have a glass or two of wine when they go out to dinner or a few brewskies in front of a ball game go out for one night of the year, start drinking over dinner, continue for the rest of the night, then pop open a bottle of champagne at midnight. The next morning they’ve cancelled their trip to see the local parade, and instead they’re moaning in bed and racing to the bathroom every 15 minutes to puke their guts out.

Then they make their first New Year’s resolution that they will most likely break before year’s end: never again.

Sometimes they’ll do a shorter version of the same song and dance on St. Patrick’s Day with the green beer, or on Cinco de Mayo with a few pitchers of margaritas. There’s a good reason that the Highway Patrol works overtime with extra sobriety checkpoints on these holidays. It’s because of the amateurs.

I was invited to a New Year’s Eve party with old friends I was looking forward to seeing, but ended up at another bash with a bunch of my daughter’s friends and their parents who have all become good friends of mine. Definitely a quality problem being invited to two parties on the same night. Everyone should be so lucky on New Year’s Eve.

As someone who used to drink a lot but no longer drinks at all, New Year’s Eve can sometimes be a little uncomfortable, unless of course I’m staying home – which my husband did. He’s had a week-long ear and sinus infection and if I dragged him to the party, I know he’d be tapping his watch at me before 9:00, and that wouldn’t be fun for either of us. So he was the one who stayed home, and yet he was also uncomfortable. Double bummer for him.

The party was a potluck, and it was a smorgasbord of everything from pizza to lox to brownies to potstickers. Of course the kids woofed down the pizza and baked goods, and about 18 of them were running around, jumping on the trampoline, dancing in unison with the Wii, and blowing horns well before midnight.

There were 10 couples chatting about what it’s like to be new middle school parents, how we spent the holidays, and the new movies that came out this week. A good amount of wine and champagne was being poured (for the adults – not the kids), and yet I don’t think one grownup became even slightly blitzed. The kids and I toasted with Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider, while the majority of their parents clinked with champagne, and it took a good ten minutes to get around to hugging everyone after shouting “Happy New Year!” No one picked a fight, made a pass at someone else’s spouse, passed out, or loudly slurred the phrase, “I am not drunk!”

I’m quite sure my friends didn’t make a quick u-turn in the middle of the street when they saw the flashing lights signaling a sobriety checkpoint or throw up in their shoes. And my guess is that they’re waking up this morning a little later than usual (after being up well past midnight) and they’re bright eyed and bushy tailed enough to cook their kids a stack of New Year’s Day pancakes.

I was thinking of writing my New Year’s resolutions for today’s blog, but I figured every other blogger in America was doing that. I’m just glad that one of my resolutions is no longer to quit waking up with a hangover. I haven’t had one in over 16 years. And the added bonus of that is that I have found some wonderful friends who are responsible drinkers even on New Year’s Eve, and don’t care that I’m toasting with Martinelli’s.

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Red heads have more fun

I finally dyed my hair last night.

I don’t have the time or money to do it the right way – sitting for two hours in a vinyl chair reading a weekly magazine featuring a bunch of 20-somethings I’ve never head of since I don’t watch reality tv. Someday I dream of being flush, with time on my hands and I will have a standing appointment every five weeks with Jennifer at Suburbia Salon. I will be one happy woman.

Instead, I stock up red hair dye when it’s on sale and buy even more when I have a coupon. Every month or so, my grey roots start rearing their ugly heads on my hopefully-not-so-ugly head.  After putting the kids to bed, I throw on my old dye-covered tank top and boxer shorts, put on the cheapest plastic gloves ever made and start soaking those roots.

The problem is, I’ve now had shingles for seven weeks, and my scalp is still burning. I assume that hair dye is a big no-no since the last thing you should throw on a burning scalp is ammonia.

Since last week when I was finally well enough to get out, I’ve been hiding three months of grey roots under a Santa hat, but now that Christmas is over, it’s kind of like floating that heart-shaped mylar Valentine’s Day balloon well after the Easter bunny has delivered his goodies. It just looks sad and desperate.

So I was extremely excited to find among my hair dye stash a product I bought a couple years ago by mistake – Clairol Natural Instincts in #22 cinnaberry with antioxidants and vitamins C & E! (they have the exclamation point on the box… I‘m excited, but not excited enough to add extra punctuation).

Why haven’t I used it? Because when I bought it I didn’t realize that it was non-permanent color and washes out after 28 shampoos. Granted, I could be cheap and lacking in hygiene and let that baby last for a good seven months, but frankly if I didn’t mind if my hair got greasy and nasty on the 5th, 6th and 7th day, I probably wouldn’t be so anal about my grey roots.

I did the math. If I wash my hair every other day, then my cinnaberry hair would be gone in less than two months. And that means completely gone. By the end of the first month, those stubborn grey roots would be three inches long and stealthly peeking their way out of my head, slowly materializing every day of the second month like an overly long magic trick.

I had forgotten to exchange my Clairol Natural Instincts and eventually lost the receipt, so it sat at the back of my hair dye collection, waiting to get thrown out as soon I planned to de-clutter the bathroom.

Until last night. I pulled it out and found two wonderful words on the box: ammonia free! (exclamation point mine this time). I could apply the dye to my raw scalp and it wouldn’t hurt, and it would tide me over until I was well enough to get the real thing.

I can now go out in the real world and tie one on at a New Year’s Eve party, although I never know who or what I should be tying. I just know that red heads truly have more fun than three-inch grey heads.

I’m in the process of clearing away clutter and other needless stuff. I’m happy to have my red hair back, but unfortunately I’m re-thinking about throwing things out. You never know if I’m going to wish I kept that stained “Happy Millennium” t-shirt.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Financial Insecurity, Humor, Illness, Recuperating

Shingle Bells

My shingles are actually healing now

It’s been two and a half weeks since my last new post and I’ve been busy sitting on my pity pot. It’s actually somewhat justified since I’ve been recuperating from shingles to my eye, face and head, and the pain has been excruciating. I felt a little better when I was released from the hospital and was well enough to blog about how I was hibernating, but a few days later the pain returned full force.

I started drafting a blog that was paragraph after paragraph of pain and sleep and missed events and how my world had gotten very small.

Boo Hoo. Poor me. Poor me. Pour me another painkiller.

I was too tired to look at Facebook, so I missed a message posted a couple of weeks ago by my friend Amy: “Tonight Gary asked me if you were going to write a song called Shingle Bells for your next blog.”

You can thank Amy & Gary for sparing you my dismal ramblings of recuperation. Instead, here’s a song to the tune of Jingle Bells:

          Shingle Bells

  • Shingle Bells! Shingle Bells!
  • Shingles! Go away!
  • It’s no fun, I have to hide
  • The blisters on my face
  • Shingle Bells! Shingle Bells!
  • Shingles make me pray
  • Take a gun and shoot my eye
  • To take the pain away
  • Gnashing like Van Gogh
  • With a full force of a plague
  • This time to heal is slow
  • I’m crying all the way
  • Yelling from the stings
  • Shaking from my plight
  • It’s no fun to writhe and fling
  • From shingles in my eye

(Repeat)

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Hibernating

I'm in here somewhere

I’m hibernating.

It’s not my natural state of being, so I am completely out of my comfort zone.

I’m typically the whirling dervish Mama Bear nabbing a teddy for Jakey Bear, collecting warm fur blankets for Mary Beary and gathering wheat and dairy-free nuts and berries for Emily Bear so the den will be sweeter smelling for all of us during our long winter’s nap.

But somewhere in the midst of my busy-ness I hear Papa Tom Bear pathetically pleading:

“Sweetie, just stop. You’re sick. Go to bed.”

My husband normally doesn’t have a pathetic bone in his body, and he don’t beg fo’ no one. But he’s worried about me.

After two ER visits, a 9-day stay in the hospital and a diagnosis of shingles to my eye and left side of my head, I am finally home with strict orders to rest.

The sad thing is, rest is the only thing that makes me feel better. The pain in my head ranges between 1 and 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, it looks like I’m wearing a Star Trek Klingon mask over half my head, and the IV on my left hand gave me phlebitis, a blood clot that made my hand and arm bruised, swollen and unable to move without a boatload of pain.

phlebitis

My husband tells me that the phlebitis is God doing for me what I can’t do for myself. It forces me to stay away from work, typing, and chores. It also teaches me humility as I ask for help with simple tasks like tying my pants, fastening buttons, and opening lids. My mother-in-law drove me home from the hospital and took care of me my first day home. In the middle of my first hot bath in forever, I had to call her in to ask if she would shave my right armpit. I’m not sure if I was more grateful or embarrassed.

I am tired all the time. I stumble out of bed around 9:00, eat a couple of bites of something and park myself on the sofa. By noon I’m back to bed. I get up again around dinner time, then return to bed a few hours later.

I don’t always sleep. At 3:00 in the morning they call that insomnia, but at 3:00 in the afternoon it’s called… I don’t know what. During the wee hours I grab my iPad, which doesn’t seem to know if it should be horizontal or vertical while I’m lying down, so the screen often resembles a prop plane in a tailspin. I post my progress on Facebook and I’m amazed at the outpouring of well wishes. My friend Gabe responded that Facebook saved him while he was recuperating from back surgery. I read about everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner, their Black Friday shopping experiences and how they’re now setting up their Christmas trees. I press the “Like” button often. It’s comforting to virtually experience their lives, even if it is only in a sentence or a photo.

The afternoons I lie in bed in and out of sleep and listen to the sounds of my family going on with their lives without me: Emily chatting and giggling on the phone with her friend; Mary singing Adele’s Rolling in the Deep at the top of her lungs; Jake dragging his 3×3 foot plastic waffles across the living room floor, building an elaborate house; Tom yelling at the dogs for snagging his lunch. Even though I’m not participating, I love being home to experience it, even if it is just audibly.

The phone rings a lot, mostly with people offering to help. We’ve received two roasted chickens, baguettes, a variety of salads, tuna salad, two turkey roll ups, a dozen deviled eggs and a pumpkin pie. I tell people we’re fine with meals, but when my friend Sam offered to bring baked ziti for dinner tomorrow night, I caved. I love a good ziti. We’re still accepting rides to and from school, and it’ll probably take me all spring to make up the car pool commitment.

My friend Lisa offered to spend a couple of hours cleaning my house. It is a testament to a very good friendship for her to not only sincerely make such and offer, but for me to actually take her up on it.

Mary gave me a hug the day I came home from the hospital. “You’re so skinny, Mommy!” she remarked. I’m embarrassed to say that I was thrilled by that comment. I lost 10 lbs., and I still don’t have much of an appetite. But I would definitely trade the reduction of two dress sizes to get my old life back.

About a week ago, I started to become a little more lucid and asked my husband to bring my laptop to the hospital. I spent about two days drafting my blog Shingles! – More Painful Than Childbirth and somehow thought that it would magically transpose itself from my brainwaves to the Internet. I didn’t really factor in the effort of actually typing the thing – especially with one hand.

I typed a little. Slept a little. Typed some more. Slept longer. I finally finished it and was just checking the typos when my body shut down.

I remember my husband telling me a story of how he was watching a women’s triathlon with his ex wife, and there were two contestants running neck and neck more than a mile ahead of any other runner, when only a matter of yards away from the finish line, both their bodies shut down. My husband imitates something that looks like a headless chicken flailing, rolling, and flapping its limbs helplessly as the other participants ran past them to win.

This is how I felt on the last few typos:

Small i. Need capital I. Where’s shift? Hold shift. Keep holding. Where’s I? Hold shift. Tap I. Almost. Almost… got it.

I uploaded the blog around midnight, then slept through the night and most of the next day. The day after that I was released from the hospital, and I slept most of that day as well.

So now I sit here, my first time typing longer than a few answered emails. I’ll upload it, have a few bites of dinner, then go back to bed.

This post is longer than I would have liked, but I just don’t have the energy to go back and edit it.

It might be a while before I post another blog.

I’ll be busy hibernating.

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