Still Life with Pharmaceuticals

Three cases of pink eye. His & her prescriptions for antibiotics prescribed on the same day. Enough Sudafed to make a meth dealer happy. Robitussin chugged straight from the bottle. And the go-to Alka Seltzer Cold & Cough. It’s been an interesting, painful week. Oh and Daniel, the original Patient Zero? After his initial bout of illness, he was fine after a couple of days. His parents, however, have been the walking dead.

How is your week going?


Greetings from Hell…I mean Siberia…I mean North Carolina



Greetings from snowy North Carolina. No, you didn’t misread that.  My fair state is having another snow storm and this storm comes packing ice on top of snow.  In my area, we might see 6 inches of snow with a half-inch of ice on top before another couple inches of snow comes through tomorrow.  A half-inch of ice?  That could be catastrophic, to borrow the adjectives the forecasters have been using.  It really could be, though, because that’s the threshold at which branches snap and power lines buckle.  Fun times!

In this area, we have two winter weather events that make us catch our breath and say a prayer: the ice storm of 2002 (we lost power for 5 days) and the ice debacle of 2005 which resembled Atlanta’s situation a few weeks ago.  And we might have enough ice to recall 2002 and current traffic closely resembles 2005.

I’m glad my little family is at home.  We’ve been home all week actually.  Daniel appeared to be getting sick on Sunday but we kept our fingers crossed.  Monday, however, he was pale, lethargic, and warm.  He also threw up at the front door.  Home it was!  Yesterday his eyes started to take on on the tell-tale look of pink eye, so we stayed home and went to the doctor. Yep, pink eye. And Jimmy has it too. It also snowed a little bit yesterday.

This morning I woke up around 3 AM and had a scratchy throat. I currently feel like I’ve been hit over the head with a 2×4. Daniel’s school was closed today (good decision IMO) and it started snowing at 11:30 here. After 4 hours of heavy, big, fluffy flakes, the precipitation has transitioned to a mix of snow/freezing rain. Yay!

Again, we are home, snug and safe. We’ll “weather” whatever comes our way.  Keep your fingers crossed everyone feels better soon and that we don’t lose power. I might lose my mind.

Signing off from the frozen tundra known as North Carolina.

Unexpected Sick Day

sick preschooler

Sweet Boy resting

Today did not go at all like I thought it would. I had prepared to give a somewhat engaging presentation (culminating in doughnuts for bribery) on what I do at work for Daniel’s class, expecting that I would be at work by 9 and at my favorite Pho dealer by 11:30 to quench the craving I had based on watching too many episodes of No Reservations. Instead, I spent the day at home.

I was making coffee and getting breakfast together this morning when I heard Jimmy yell, “KEANNE! Get in here!” I ran in to find that Daniel had thrown up a bit on my side of the bed (always the favorite for cats and kids alike) and was bent over the toilet coughing. OK, one incident of throwing up when he had been coughing earlier that morning was not reason to panic or change plans. He threw up again about 10 minutes later. OK, it is practically clear; again, maybe it is mucous.

I was determined to keep to our routine because I am mission-oriented in the morning, so I thought happy thoughts, and we bundled Daniel into the car and we set off. About 5 minutes later, he threw up all over himself, and I turned around, asking Jimmy to email his teacher.

Our poor, sweet boy looked pale and lethargic, yet tried to play. About every 30 minutes, he threw up until around lunchtime when whatever was agitating his tummy left and he was ravenous.  We kept meals very light and thankfully, everything stayed down.  I knew he was feeling better when he refused to attempt to nap at quiet time and instead played “quietly” in his room. Oy.

Sometimes I stress about missing work, but today, I was OK about it. I had been talking with coworkers yesterday about how we were ready for the holidays and here I was barely into the working week and already needing a sick day to take care of a sick child when I was going to be out the rest of the week at a local conference and out on Friday because of a teacher workday. And I regretted not a moment. Yes, I answered the occasional email that needed my attention, but for the most part, I was off the grid. I was thinking of items to tempt a delicate palate (yes, we did go through half a pack of applesauce). We watched a billion episodes of No Reservations because Daniel asked to watch “Anthony Bourdain” and how can we refuse such quality television?

Most of all, we thought of today as an extension of our weekend.  I washed more laundry, did dishes and straightened up, but the pace felt slower and more manageable than during the weekend when there is so much pressure to get everything done ASAP.  It was pleasant being able to do those tasks at my leisure (who am I?).

We cuddled. We did chores. We watched a billion episodes of No Reservations. We cleaned dry erase marker off of Daniel because it amused him to draw on himself.

Sometimes, you get what you need, even if it is not what you want or expected.

Treading Water Badly

There is this thing called a “Super Bowl” tonight.  Apparently, large numbers of huge men in tight pants and ginormous shoulder pads form two teams and run, touch and jump on each other, ostensibly seeking a brown oval ball. This behavior goes on for hours.  In the middle of the game, there will be a performance; it typically sucks. When there is a pause in the action, attention shifts to the commercials, which are supposed to be funny but usually end up being too try-hard.  And then we all gather around the water cooler at work the next day to recap it.  I wonder what the aliens will think of this lame behavior.  Fun fact: sports were invented to channel male energy in lieu of battles and wars. Socially-sanctioned fighting is cool!

Usually we watch the Super Bowl so we can feel culturally relevant.  I hate football.  What a slow, irritating game!  Give me hockey or basketball any day.  This year since we don’t have cable, we aren’t watching the game.  I couldn’t tell you who is playing although I do know that Beyonce, queen of the world, is performing at halftime.  And Twitter is keeping me informed.  As for us, we’ll be watching Downton Abbey and we might even finish the season because the season 3 DVD arrived last week.

Y’all, last week was rough.  Crazy busy at work.  Nights flying by as if they were minutes long.  Poor Daniel has a nasty abrasion on his neck due to a playground collision and then threw up 10 times on Friday.  Thankfully it looks like his tummy trouble was due to congestion and not the flu.  I woke up on Saturday with a nasty migraine – the second Saturday in a row.  I’m really sensitive to changes in barometric pressure; nice to know my head could be part of the NWS spotter program.  Jimmy has had headaches as well.  The tummy trouble upended any plans we had for the weekend, and we feel like we finally hit our stride today.  And now it’s time to go to bed and prepare for the soul-crushing reality that is Monday.  At least we all had much-needed hair cuts.  I swear I think I lost weight from having my mane chopped.

May this week give us a chance to breathe.

Working Mom’s Lament

My eyes fly open, and I sit up. I look at the clock and curse. 2 AM. I’ve been asleep only for 4 hours. The only sound in the room comes from the monitor from which I can hear Daniel’s wheezing and coughing, sounds so weird that it seems he is almost speaking in tongues.

I listen to his labored breathing and hope he’s better by 7AM because I need to go to work for a two-day workshop after two sick days at home. Unable to go back to sleep, I surf on my iPhone, visiting blogs and trashy celebrity gossip sites.

My alarm goes off, and I stumble to the shower to start getting ready. Daniel wakes up, and I get him from his room. His forehead is hot, and his face is flushed and puffy. He’s whiny and crying, “Momma, hold me” while I kiss and hug him and turn on Super Why so I can finish getting ready. He begins to cry, and my heart breaks. He should stay home today. I should stay home today with him. Finally ready to go, I put on his jacket over his cozy footie pajamas and feel grateful that he is going to his grandmother’s house where I know my sick boy will receive lots of cuddles and hugs.

At work I make his doctor’s appointment, booking the only available time, a time that of course is the most inconvenient one. I exhale, pull myself together and go to my workshop, prepared to razzle and dazzle despite sounding like I swallowed a frog and having a scratchy throat and throbbing head. Calm and focused on the outside, twitchy on the inside as I await the verdict from the doctor’s office: an ear infection. I immediately replay the last 4 days in my head, searching for any clue that would have told me Daniel had an ear infection instead of letting him suffer longer than necessary.

Class over, I head to the required evening dinner and working session, checking in with Jimmy. Daniel is miserable: no nap, feverish, needy and clingy. He won’t eat or drink anything. Guilt, today’s constant companion, waves hello. I should go home. A good mother would go home. Previous generations of women fought hard so I could sit at that table and think about being at home. Should, should should. Always should.

The moment I swallow the last bite of braised lamb shank (while Jimmy is eating leftovers if he has even eaten at all), I make my excuses and fly. I race home, but I’m too late: Daniel is already in bed. Jimmy and I chat about the evening and how pitiful Daniel was. No longer racing anywhere, I slump, my body reminding me I’ve been awake since 2AM.

I get ready for bed and wonder why I do this routine each and every day. Why I go to work. I have good days during which I accomplish a lot and make a difference:  I’m queen of the world.  I have bad days during which I feel tied in knots and tripped up by processes and people, making no progress and feeling like it is impossible to make even the smallest impact.  On those days I resemble that poor guy in Munch’s The Scream painting.  He looks like he might understand the special hell that is working with bureaucracy.

Birth and death and sickness and health and change and carpet beetles cycle around and around. Lately I feel like I’m constantly moving and running and getting nowhere, especially during times like this. Exhausted, I wonder why I bother. I gave up ambitions of setting the world on fire years ago; I’m just a rat in a cage.

I go to bed, thankful that the breathing coming from the monitor is smoother and less labored than the night before.

Four hours later, my eyes pop open. It’s 2AM. Time to do it all over again.

Roller Coasters

We wait.  My anxiety levels are through the roof.  My stress levels are high. I can feel the cortisol coursing through my body.  When the phone rings, I twitch before answering it.  J called me three times on Monday, and I almost screamed at him to stop calling me because every time he did, I worried he was calling with bad news.

Bad news.

That’s so…delicate.  Bad news.  Deterioration. Death. That’s what we are anticipating and dreading with each phone call.

We’ve been up, euphoric, one day with good news and down, despairing, the next with bad news.  We’ve had instances where those upheavals have occurred in the same day, almost hourly.

It’s tough, and I have no doubt that it is toughest of all on the patient, J’s beloved grandmother, and his mother, her daughter.  And of course on J and his brother and grandfather.  I have no problems giving J all the time he needs to spend with his grandmother and mother.

We love Mum.  We don’t want her to be in pain, and this up and down is terrifying and confusing.

Roller coasters are fun at amusement parks.  They are not fun when it is your life, your reality.

Tonight was a good night for Mum, so we took Daniel to see her.  Unfortunately, Daniel had not had a nap, so he deteriorated quickly after about 20 minutes.  Even though I had only arrived a few minutes before, I bundled my wee one into his coat and carried him to the lobby, ignoring his weepy protests of “Put down, Mama.”

Daniel means the world to Mum, and I hope she was able to witness her dynamo of a great-grandson for a few moments tonight.

I don’t know how many more moments we’ll have.

I’m beginning to hate roller coasters.