New Years was really fun; I threw a party on New Years Eve (with a pink photo booth!) and hosted a brunch New Years Day. I have found my yearly tradition. Going out on New Years Eve always felt a little reckless; everyone’s drunk, it’s cold, cabs are all but non-existent, and I would rather be home, and warm, and barefoot. (Actually I started off in killer heels around 8 pm, made my friends acknowledge how awesome they were, and promptly took them off again.)
I had intentions of hitting the ground running in 2013 (Lists! Exercise! Determination!) and instead immediately fell on my face right out of the gate with a flu, complete with fever that spiked to 103.3 F – pretty much brain damage territory. I spent about a week in bed, (finally caught up on 30 Rock!) and ignoring the brunch dishes that needed to be cleaned up from January first. Now there’s something growing on the stack of plates that might be on its second phase of evolution and is freaking me out. I’ve debated just moving and buying all new kitchen stuff when I get there rather than attempt to clean out what’s in the sink. It’s really scary in there.
So… rocky start. Silver lining: I lost eight pounds from lack of eating, and I’ll take it.
How are YOU doing? Did you hit the ground running, or was this week a big mushy holiday recovery period for you, too? It’s ok. We’ll get ‘em this week.
1. Watched the first eight episodes of Lost, which I’ve never seen before. (Yeah, only five years too late!) I’m intrigued, but I think I’d be more into it if there wasn’t a supernatural element. A deserted island with a unique mix of plane crash survivors should lend itself to dozens and dozens of compelling story lines without the added necessity of weird, ghostly goings on. It just seems like lazy story telling to me. We’ll see. One question, though: why are Evangeline Lilly’s armpits not hairy? Oh, is that part of the magic of the island, too? Brilliant.
2. Made Rob make me me soup and fetch me pancakes from the deli down the road. Also he: patted my back, brought me fresh tissues, and listened while I told him, “I’m dying, no really, I am.”
3. Checked my temperature several hundred times, just to see. I think the “lifetime” battery in my digital thermometer is starting to bite it.
4. Consumed half a dozen trays of Lemon-Lime Gatorade ice cubes. I hate them until I’m sick, and then I can’t get enough. Thus, they are a good indicator of my getting better-ness: when they start to repulse me, I’m coming around.
6. Had several in-depth, fever-induced conversations with Matty, who is, by far, the best listener of the three. I talked, and he blinked back at me. It was just what I needed.
I was sure the “allergies from hell” are what got me so sick, but the doctor’s diagnosis for my newest and latest virus is that it has nothing to do with my allergies and is just coincidence.
“And the fact that I get viruses and infections a lot?”
Not buying it.
SOMEthing is getting me constantly sick. I’m vigilant with hand washing and Purell usage post-subway rides, but I’m going to step it up, starting with the institution of a strict no-shoes-in-the-house-policy, especially since we walk over half a mile to the subway on a regular basis through this filthy neighborhood filled with dog feces no one bothers to pick up and the ever-present “loogeys” that dot the sidewalk. Oh, and the human pee! On Wednesday there was a man taking a leak on the side of the corner store. The river snaked its way into my path on the sidewalk causing me to have to leap over it. I opened my mouth to yell at him, but then I got worried he would turn around.
Wednesday was a productive day of spring cleaning, although I spent it with the stuffy nose to end stuffy noses. My nose was completely out of commission the entire day, so I was mouth breathing. I took meds to unswell my nasal passages so I could breathe properly, but nothing happened.
This morning I woke up and slammed back down again. Sick? Sure felt like it. My temp was 102. Sick. (Yes, G. I know. I’m sick a lot. I’m going to ask my doctor about it tomorrow, because now it’s starting to scare me.)
I have a theory that it was severe dehydration. This is TMI, but every time I blew my nose (often, about 20 times an hour) it was extremely watery. Plus, the mouth breathing dried me out, too, and the combo of these things for a full day got me sick and fevered. I tried to keep up with drinking water, but I know I didn’t do a good job.
I dreamt of horrible things all day, fever dreams are the worst. My bed was a rotating mix of canine companions. They all got baths yesterday, so I didn’t mind them on my newly cleaned sheets. My favorite was when Leeloo curled up with her back to mine, and we slept for hours spine to spine. Matty rested his gigantic head on my hip, and Tino draped himself over various body parts of mine: my feet, then my arm, and finally my tummy until I rolled over and dumped him off.
It was a nice day, and I had the window open. I could hear city sounds, and they were comforting: traffic in the distance, a baby crying, a dog barking, my neighbors chatting in the yard. The sky went from bright blue to light blue to gray blue to navy to black. Rob bought us milkshakes from the chicken place on the corner and we drank them in bed. He brought me water continuously. I think he is going to have to record the intro for today’s Hey Brooklyn. I don’t think I can.
Thank you to everyone who weighed in on the camera thing yesterday. It gave me lots to think about and consider. This will probably be my last upgrade for a loooong time, so I want to do it right.
I scheduled an annual “lady doctor” visit this week because it was time, and also because I figured I could kill two birds with one stone by having her look at my injured hand, too.
She put me on antibiotics for it, and I took the first Wednesday morning with yogurt, which I always eat when I’m on antibiotics because of the probiotics in it. Antibiotics kill everything in you, good and bad, so yogurt adds the good guys back into your system, and viola! all is right with your bod.
Four hours after I took it, it made my entire digestive system unhappy. This is the second time this has happened, and I think this is my body’s new “thing” now, to yack post-antibiotics. Not cool at all, system of mine.
I was mid-interview with Jane of Foxy & Winston when it first gripped me, and at the end I asked, “Did you notice me sweating? Go pale? Gahhh.”
“No, you look just fine!” she said, but I wasn’t.
Rob drove me home, and it took for-EV-er. I lay in the passenger seat channeling Ramona Quimby, who “declared with every tick of the meter, ‘I will not throw up in a taxi!’” This worked until we were about two blocks from our house. I reached for an empty plastic cup we had neglected to take out last week, and I heard Rob, who seemed really far away, say, “That cup is NOT going to hold an entire hot dog…” He was right.
I did the “most terrible, horrible, dreadful, awful thing“.
He put my pants in the laundry for me, and cleaned up my poor purse, and later I made him hold my hand while my body turned against me, dug deep, and tried to puke my toes out. I think I’ll keep him.
In the middle of my being sick the door bell rang. Rob had gone, so I was home alone and, for some reason, I felt duty-bound to answer the door. Why I didn’t just ignore it, I don’t know, but this was in the absolute worst of it, when I was fevered and having acid-trip like visions of Jesus sitting at the foot of my bed playing the banjo while Matty rocked out on the harmonica, so my priorities weren’t perfectly aligned.
I pulled on the first thing I grabbed, Rob’s robe, brushed past Jesus and hobbled down the stairs screeching, “I’m coming!” which was totally unnecessary, but I didn’t want to put all this effort into answering the door only to find myself alone when I finally got there, weakly mumble-whispering “Come back.” to the retreating delivery truck. I made it to the bottom of the steps, threw open the door, and scared the shit out of the UPS man. My hair was seventeen different directions of crazy, my face was mushed from a pillow and had drool dried all down one side of it, drool that was drying and crusting off into white flakes that I could feel, and rather than speak in complete sentences, I grunted. To top it off, when he handed me the package my robe fell open revealing cockeyed granny panties, one sock slumped glumly around my ankle, and two sad boobs that hadn’t seen the inside of a bra in days. I couldn’t see his face because I didn’t put on my glasses, but there was horror in his voice as he stammered “Uh… have a good day.”
“Ya don’ nemeta sign?” I asked.
“No!” he shouted over his shoulder as he made a retreat. I heard him running for his truck, and then he peeled out of his parking spot and was gone.
“He didn’ ne me ta sign.” I said to Matty, who had taken a break from his jam session to see who was at the door.
The worst part is that I have no idea what he looks like, so I’ll never know which one to hide from when he comes again. Maybe he won’t recognize me.
Rob hates driving in the city. HAAAATES. (For those not hip – “the city” is Manhattan. Brooklyn driving is cake.) He also hates paying parking garages. Still, I asked if he would consider driving me to Heather Armstrong’s book signing. I figured if I could sit in the car, slither out of it and into the bookstore and then slither back into it and be driven back to my bed, I could go for the hour or so. Taking the subway in this state of sickness is out of the question.
“No way!” he said. I figured.
But later: “If we leave now, we can be there on time.”
Yes! He is so awesome.
I put on pants (torture) for the first time in ages and dragged myself to the car.
It was so worth it.
I didn’t bring my camera because it would be a picture of Heather all dressed up pretty signing my book while I smiled pitiful and pale, with a bird’s nest on my head (I’ve got about half the knots combed out, by the way, but there are dreadlocks that are going to need a lot more time, attention, and possibly scissors if the universe decides to really stick it to me).
There’s a mini movement on Twitter to bump her book over Ann Coulter’s on Amazon. Go help.
I’ve noticed that medium-size life disappointments have a tendency to be mercifully bitter sweet, but this one… it’s just bitter. I am too sick to go see Heather Armstrong, one of my idols, as she kicks off her book tour in Manhattan tonight. Also, this morning, I had to cancel a Hey Brooklyn interview with a husband and wife duo who own a bakery and make, among other things, butterscotch brownies. BUTTERSCOTCH! BROWNIES! I’m missing out on butterscotch brownies and Heather Armstrong. This is officially the worst day in the world. Ever. Total. Infinity.
photo from dooce.com
“don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”
There is something that happens to me when I’m really sick that I’m calling the “puke-awesome” effect. I feel terrible, and then I throw up, and suddenly there is this miraculous window of time, about ten minutes, where I feel just fine. It fades away quickly and I’m back to the misery I was in before, but those ten minutes are awesome. I can’t explain why it happens. Does this happen to other people, or is it one of those weird “Only Amber” things that makes everyone think I’m from another planet?
It totally is, isn’t it? Aw man. Now I’m embarrassed.
Anyway, Saturday I took my first antibiotic pill, which said “Can be taken on an empty stomach”, but it was lying. I ended up on my knees with my arms wrapped around the can, and when I sat up I realized I suddenly felt ok. I knew it wouldn’t last, so I started slamming around the bathroom trying to clean up before the rotten feeling came back. I flipped on the shower and hopped in with my toothbrush in one hand and a razor in the other. I hadn’t shaved my legs at this point in about a week, and it was making me about as miserable as the illness itself. I knew I probably wouldn’t have time to comb out my hair even though it needed it, but I got it wet anyway, which felt nice.
Since my hair hasn’t been properly combed in ages, and I went back to bed with it wet, this is what I’m rocking. Rob can’t look at me with a straight face. I’d put on a hat, but none fit over the fro.
It’ll be hell to comb out when the time comes, but in the meantime, it’s a good source of amusement.
You may laugh.
“Noooooo! I don’t want to!”
“You dragged me out of an event to come home. You claim you’ve never been sicker. You loose all rights to say ‘I don’t want to go to the doctor’ when you inconvenience me like this. Get dressed.” He throws me a handful of clothes, and I pull them on, pouting.
At the doctor’s office, I’m handed a thermometer. I place it so I have a good view of the reading as it goes up. 98.6 comes and goes quickly. It ends at 101.4: a fever. He gives me the world’s largest ibuprofen. “Oh,” I say, “I haven’t eaten.” He says it’s fine. “Really?!” I say. I was raised to believe that if so much as consider taking a single Advil without food it will eat through my stomach lining and give me horrible ulcers for life. He promises it will be ok. I take it and feel daring.
My ears are both infected. Rob looks triumphant; justification for him dragging me to the doctor is achieved! “Quit smiling!” I snip at him. He smiles bigger.
“Did your friend have mono?” the doc asks. Rob calls Tracy to see if that’s what she has. She is tickled by our random phone call, and reports negative on the mono. He draws blood for it anyway. Negative.
He pokes at my abdomen. Everything is fine until he gets to my spleen, which hurts so badly when it’s pressed I instinctively grab his arm and fling it off of me. Getting hit a lot as a kid makes me really quick to react rather violently if I’m hurt, even in a doctor’s office. I say I’m sorry, and so does he. Then pokes it half a dozen more times while apologizing, and I choke back tears.
He shakes his head. “I can’t explain it. You should go to the ER for a CAT scan. Better safe than sorry.” He looks truly concerned, and a lot like a handsome version of Andy Milder. These two things have always charmed me about this doctor, which, irrational as it may be, makes me more prone to listen to him, so I agree to go. (Not that the illness drill sergeant I married would have given me a choice.)
Rob worries about me, I worry about the waiting around I know we’re going to have to do, and we both worry about what this is going to cost us.
The girl who checks me in at the ER has a very inappropriate shirt on. Her belly and boobs are barely contained, and it’s distracting and unclassy. She asks me a variety of questions while I try not to stare and judge.
“Religion?” she asks and I’m caught totally off guard. “Um… none?” Then I think: Is this a good enough answer? I know why she’s asking: if I’m on the brink of death they’ll need to know which kind of religious leader to call to usher me into the great beyond. Later, I thought of so many other cool answers I could have given. When I started listing them to Rob he pointed out that the ER was not the time to start fucking with people, because he was playing Sensible Spouse that day. (We take turns.)
The triage nurse is cute and freckled. She asks me if I smoke or drink. I say no, and then go, “Oh, well! I mean, I drink, but not really, but I mean, a beer or two…” She nods and laughs. “I always catch people with that one!” I like her and start to think, “Ok, this is not so bad.”
The beds are set up in groups of two, and I’m lead to one with a sleeping woman in the other one. “Take off your clothes and put this on,” I’m told. Ugh. A hospital gown? I take off my shirt only and pull it on. Rob ties me up in the back, and I make him promise nothing is showing.
The nurse who comes to draw my blood either has one HELL of a hangover or the general personality of Velcro. I try to make her cheer up, because, for the love, if you’re going to shove something three inches into a major vein in my arm, you can at least crack a half-assed smile. Right?
Rob squeezes my foot and I talk to him about the dogs as she draws about four gallons of blood.
I look down after she leaves and am horrified to discover that she left the IV in my arm in case they needed more blood, or to start me on a drip. This is protocol for the hospital, but I was not expecting this, and it scared me half-crazy. I begged every doctor that came by after that to take it out, (they wouldn’t) and refused to bend my arm for the entire stay.
Rob distracts me from the IV with funny stories and corny jokes, and we giggle together. I move my arm and feel it, and I wince. He pats my shoulder. “This is that, ‘In sickness’ part!” I quip. He smiles. I smile. We both love when he is being husbandly and I am being wifely, even if the current situation is not exactly a trip to Disney World.
All non-patients are kicked out the ER so the doctors can do rounds. We tried to bargain with everyone to let Rob stay, but no luck. I start to sob, loudly, while three ER workers talked to me in soothing, condescending tones. Eventually he leaves, and I feel so scared and alone. We are like this, and having him there made me feel safe. Now I feel vulnerable. This has gone from not so bad to sucking the big one.
Three different doctors poked my abdomen (which stopped hurting so badly, even when I tried to make it hurt), and we decided on a few different things: a CAT scan for my spleen was too drastic. An ultrasound was better, less radiation. Then: No ultrasound, a chest xray was needed to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia spreading pain to my lower left abdomen. Eventually: an ultrasound AND an xray. I was wheeled (because I could not walk?!) to another room where the xray was, and left to wait, which I did glumly, with tears pouring down my face. Rob would be back, and not know where I went. When it was my turn, I told the tech I needed to talk to my husband and the doctor before the xray.
“What for?” he asked, in a really heavy Dominican accent, and in a tone that was really condensing and made me hate him instantly.
“I need to figure out if I can afford all of this stuff. Now I have to have two major tests done, and I want to find out how much they are first, and see if I can do one now and one later, or if I can skip one all together and if I can, which one should it be. So I will need to speak to my HUSBAND and THE DOCTOR before my xray.” I said all this while choking on my own tears, which made me feel like a weenie, but I was being as firm as possible. I don’t let myself get pushed into things, ever, even if I have to sob through standing my ground.
“Lady,” he started, and I saw red. Lady?! For real? Oh hell no you didn’t!
“Lady, this is the ER! Medicade will pay for it!”
“I. Don’t. Have. Insurance.” I said, and rolled my eyes.
“Well, someone is going to pay for it! This is New York! Just do what you need and figure it out later.” he said, chuckling. My inner conservative went batshit.
“I DON’T OPERATE ON THAT LEVEL! IF I HAVE A BILL I’M PAYING IT!” I would have gone on and on about how it’s that very attitude that is destroying the medical system in the United States, but I was fevered, and weepy and too freaked out about the stupid thing still stuck in my arm. And he was dumb anyway. I doubt he would have understood.
He slammed out of the xray room and went to the front desk where Rob heard him bitching about me. Asshole.
The cute Asian doctor heard me out and decided I could skip both tests and if something were to start bothering me, I should come back.
“One thing, though” he said “did we get a urine sample?”
Do you know how hard it is to pee, neatly, into a tiny cup while refusing to bend one arm?! I’ll spare you the logistics, but I did it. One word: Keagles. That sounds like a breakfast food, but it’s not.
He gave me a huge cup of water to drink to get my heart rate down before he would let me leave. When I came in it was 120, and the water took it to 74.
He took the IV out of my arm (FINALLY!) and we went home.
I’ve learned my lesson: don’t tell Rob to come home if I’m sick.