Hospitals, Part 1

My mother was recently in the hospital. You know this from my last not-a-post. I’m going to tell you about what happened.

For the last few years, my parents have been forced to play with fire. They lost their health insurance when my father’s company laid him off. It wasn’t until recently that they qualified for certain state insurance and began seeing doctors again. My dad faced his own terrible diagnosis. That is a story for another time. My mother realized her diabetes was back with a vengeance.

Mom’s new primary care doctor told her she had outrageous blood pressure and sugar levels and was very insistent she be hospitalized. Clearly, he didn’t know her quite yet. She was very insistent that she stay put and after a verbal fighting match with the doctor, was prescribed a medication that was supposed to lower her blood pressure and another to lower her blood sugar.

It apparently didn’t work.

I was woken by a text message on my phone from her, “Michelle are you home?”

“Ya in bed. Y”

“I don’t feel good”

“Need medicine?”

“I think I need to go to the hospital”

“Oh my ok”

“Can you take me?”

“NP lemme get dressed real quick”

“K”

I pulled on some pants and a shirt. I knew from experience that emergency rooms are very lengthy visits indeed so I grabbed my phone charger and mentally checked that there was a book in my purse. I brushed my hair, rubbed on some deodorant, and slipped on some shoes. I walked out of my bedroom and down the creaky wooden hall to see my mother sprawled flat in her computer chair, her night shift clinging to her body and rendered sheer from the layers upon layers of sweat on her body. Her head had lolled back and she was slurring her speech. I stood there mouth agape for what felt like minutes as I took in the sight of her. In reality, I snapped to work and touched her arm. Cold. Slicked with sweat. Almost dead. I told her we weren’t driving and that I was calling 911.

“Hello, what’s the reason for your call.”

“My mother’s in some weird kind of shock! She’s lying here like she’s dead and she’s cold to the touch but she’s still kind of talking, you need to send me an ambulance!” I provided my address and was told help would be on its’ way.

I was dutiful and vigilant as I grabbed water bottles, her purse, her medications, and put them in a plastic grocery bag. I snatched her robe off the towel rack out of the bathroom and delicately slipped it around her. I carefully buttoned her night dress all the way up to her neck and secured the robe across her chest to give her modesty.

I waited for the ambulance.

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This is also not a real post, but I assure you, one is on it’s way.

Me: *browsing Facebook* Aww, look, a bunny. Oh wait, that’s a giraffe.

Hubz: ‘A GIRAFFE’? How did you go from bunny to GIRAFFE?

Me: IT LOOKED LIKE A CARTOONISH BUNNY RABBIT, ALRIGHT?

Hubz: But those are two EXTREMELY DIFFERENT things!

Me: Clearly, you don’t see the world the way I see the world.

 

In other news, both my mother and our family pet have been in the hospital over the last 4 or 5 days. No, it was not some horrible accident involving my mother trying to pick up the rabbit and him turning Vorpal Bunny on her. Thankfully, they are both home and doing better. I will definitely be writing about it, probably in many different ways. But for right now, I’m just trying to play catch up with school and the house.

Keep your eyes peeled in the next day or two.

It Started Out With A Crayon

In elementary school, it was important to my teacher that we students learn to tell a story. I remember learning to fold multiple pieces of printer paper, staple them down the middle, and create a booklet. Inside this booklet, on the bottom half of each page, we were instructed to write a short story about something we enjoyed and to draw a picture of each page’s contents along the top half. I very specifically remember the colors I used (waxy pinks and reds, greens and yellows, blues galore) and how awkward the big crayons felt in my small hands and how terrible I was at drawing dogs and stick-people. Yet, this was my beginning in the writing world. I wrote stories mostly about my dogs and about my family: antics we would all get up to. How funny it was to watch the little, mostly-hairless white one run around the backyard and the bigger, fluffier, matronly tan and white Cocker Spaniel tailing after him.

From there, I would spend the next twenty years writing what I was supposed to write: essays, book reports, mid-terms, and finals. Somewhere along the way, though, I kept needing to write my own stories. Like my mother, I kept logs of our family vacations in pretty little journals. I would write fan-fiction as a teenager when I wasn’t satisfied with how the book, TV show, or movie played out. I kept a personal diary. I began writing more and more intricate status updates on social media, telling more stories of my personal life, except this time I would leave myself open for others’ opinions. I’ve never been a fan of the minute-by-minute update and generally only say something if it’s worth saying.

One thing that has stayed with me my whole life is my need to tell a story. It feels so good to write everything down and know I can go back and look at it later if I wish. When I write my travel diaries, it makes me happy as I’m writing them because it’s like experiencing the events all over again as I dig and pull specific details out of my mind to flesh out the pages. Later, it’s fun to go back and read again once I’m home and thinking of the more fun times.

I think writing has been in my blood the whole time. When my grade school teacher showed us how to communicate those small parts of ourselves, she truly lit a spark. That little spark has lived in my heart ever since and only now am I honestly allowing it to fan into flame.

Guess What’s Crazy: Life. Life is Crazy.

Today is Wednesday. A new post was neglected Monday and today almost slipped by me. You get to be privy to a blog post that is going to be entirely written on the fly with very little editing. Normally, my posts are lovingly crafted, proof-read, edited, then proofed some more. I have at least one person read it, usually The Hubz (imagine the eye-rolling and deep-sighing he exhibited when he read The Hubz Ballz.) But this past weekend and week were very busy for me.

So as the title indicates, and I’m sure everyone is aware, sometimes life can get away with us. It can make us forget what’s truly important in order to prioritize for the immediately important. Immediately important for me was to burn through The Color Purple by Alice Walker (a novel whose movie I had seen many years ago, but never got around to reading) in order to play homework catch-up for one of the courses for my Master’s program. I won’t review it now, but suffice it to say that I was ugly-crying by the end. I won’t tell you if it’s for happy or sad reasons, just in case there are other souls out there who neglected to read it (you really should stop by the library and pick it up).

I was also swamped with work (Labor Day is a busy time in the retail world).

And my poor kid was swamped with zillions of little tonsil stones that I had the unequivocal joy of scraping out of his throat with a q-tip. Actually, about 100 q-tips. Dead serious.

And a million other reasons that I just never had the chance to sit down and write. But the point I’d like to make is that it’s okay to sometimes forget what’s really important to us when we get distracted by all of the things, as long as somehow we get around to remembering again. Today in my nutritionist’s office, I had a small break-down. Day-to-day, I’ve been able to hold everything together. “There are tasks to be done and then sleep to be had.” No time for crying or feeling, really. And sadly, no time to realize there wasn’t really a single thing I was doing to make myself happy (besides goof off for a few minutes on some game app).

Last week, I had just interviewed a local business in order to write something up and see if the local papers will bite. I had a great time with the owner as he showed me around his shop and told me his dreams for the business and for himself. I love talking to people and getting to know and understand them, asking questions. But as soon as the next day came, it was time to go back to work and forget about these happy things. It isn’t that the work is all that bad, it can be annoying but what job isn’t? It’s just that it isn’t personally gratifying for me beyond helping someone find that thing they’re looking for. But it’s long, and it’s physically laborious, and as soon as it’s done there’s either a shower and bedtime, or other necessary things at home to be done (laundry, shopping, cleaning, child-raising). The Hubz is fantastic and steps up and gets quite a lot of this done. But I need to contribute, as well.

So it’s fairly easy to forget the things that are important. As I mentioned, there was a little crying jag in the nutritionist’s office today. All it took was for her to notice the fabric  fraying around the edges, the one holding me together in this day-in, day-out business. She squinted a little bit at me as she leaned closer, “Are you okay? You look like you want to cry..” And that was it. The finger was removed from the hole in the dam. Suddenly the water was springing forth and I could feel my isolation-wall collapsing, brick by dusty, crumbling brick.

I felt my face fall and the sting of tears prick my eyes and burn my nose. I felt my throat begin to close and immediately reached out for a tissue as the tears came stronger, even as I angrily tried to hold them back. I hate crying in front of people, even my husband. I know it’s nothing shameful and that it’s good for you and releases those much-needed endorphins. Nevertheless, hiding my tears is a habit ingrained into me from years ago that is very difficult to release.

As I sat there and made a nice, big puddle of emotion, she talked to me. I forget already exactly the words she said but she brought up how happy writing made me. The hiccuping began to slow down, my eyes opened a little wider. She reminded me to do more things that make me happy. After our appointment, I went out to my car and sat for a little while. Finally I decided to really start looking into local papers and how to submit freelance pieces. I emailed a local reporter for advice. We’ll see if she responds back. But either way, I’m still gonna be writing.

Now, I have to make good on all that speed-reading for my class, and write up the response to that beautiful book. This is it for tonight, blog. I’ll try not to neglect you again.

Birdzilla, Arts-ings, and The Wienermobile.

Somewhere in my small town lives a monster. A creature that science has yet to explore, dissect, and understand. It sleeps through the day but at night? It emerges. It leaves a trail of destruction in its path as I and my neighbors sleep. This creature… is Birdzilla.

Yes.

It is of unknown size and shape. It’s diet is unpredictable, but… colorful. Every few nights, Birdzilla passes over my home. He flies atop my car. And he releases… the most gigantic quantities of airborne feces I have ever been witness to.

I mean, really.

I mean, really.

I have seen remnants in blues, greens, purples, and pinks.

It’s as if Birdzilla takes a 12-pack of Crayola crayons and doodles the most horrifying scrawls across my vehicle.

 

The entire side of the car, yo.

The entire side of the car, yo.

I should have known it would be a weird day from the get-go but I of very much naïveté did not, could not, put two and two together.

My main plan was to get lunch with a friend. Very simple in theory, but complicated in practice. You see, first I needed to get my car washed (thanks to Birdzilla) and then I needed to stop by the bank on an errand. From the bank, I desired an iced coffee and en route to my favorite coffee shop, emerged the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. No, I’m not kidding.

I told you I wasn't kidding.

I told you I wasn’t kidding.

So as you may have guessed, I decided to follow the Wienermobile instead of getting coffee. Who needs caffeine after having the incredibly rare opportunity to chase down the Wienermobile? That’s not even a question anymore. Because the answer is ‘nobody’, that’s who.

Eventually, the highway took me north enough to finish my errands before heading up for lunch. This friend shall be named She-Who-Destroys-Perfectly-Good-Drawing-Paper, for reasons you will discover later. For now, she will be shortened to SWDPGDP or, Swagdapa. Because, reasons. Swagdapa and I had a jolly good time traipsing the downtown and eating quesadillas, pastries, cappuccinos, and bubble tea because we are bottomless pits. Afterwards, we decided to drag our art supplies (yes, I keep a cache of charcoals, pastels, and 18″ drawing pads in the trunk of my car) on a hike out to the middle of the woods. We parked our butts on a bench on top of a ridge overlooking the pond and started arts-ing.

I made a very conventional but Impression-ish pastel of the treeline while my friend made… a mess. I looked over and saw her dunking pastels in our cup of cleaning water and smearing it all over the drawing pad she had bought in town. I watched as she scrawled lines and gave her thoughts visual form. They began stark, and cold. Minutes later, the page was completely black save for some red streaks thrown in for good measure, hidden in the background. The center of the page had disintegrated under her soaking, heavy hand. There was nothing left to destroy so we decided to let it dry on a log while she worked on the next piece.

This next one was more whimsical, with greens, and blues thrown in amid the black. A face emerged, though only in lines and color. This page, too, was left to dry. We tossed our supplies on the ground and hustled down the hill to go look out over the river. Swagdapa, so very devil-may-care, called out terrifying witch cackles across the water, testing her own echo. It was through this we discovered we weren’t alone and across the pond were a couple children, who immediately fled and ran into their house up the hill. Oops.

We returned to the scene of our artsiness and my Ever-So-Good-At-Wasting-Art-Supplies friend decided it would be a swell idea to smear the still-wet paint across her face and down her arms, posing dramatically while I snapped away on my camera phone. Immediately after, she decided to transform my entire right arm into a sleeve of burgundy brown.

I do wish I had taken pictures but I was covered in paint.

We ended the day with dinner at the local diner and a car ride up and down the highway blasting 90’s tunes: childhood and nostalgia for me; something new and shiny for her.

Karma

Karma likes to come get me quite often.  I suppose, in an act of retribution for my past action of laughing and teasing my husband mercilessly about his missing (decorative) balls, karma found me.  It began as any other day, except that this was the very next day from that day, and I was relaxing across the bed.  In our house, the circuitry is God Awful and we can’t have too many appliances plugged in at once in the summer or the whole place loses power.  On this particularly hot day, I had turned on our bedroom A/C to enjoy while I played a mobile game on my phone.  Naturally, the power gave.  The Hubz dutifully got up and left in order to cycle the power.  He left me with specific instruction: turn the A/C off as soon as the power comes back.

I heard him in the background as I focused solely on selecting the PERFECT outfit and accessories for my sorority girl to enter the fashion show with.

Minutes later, the A/C roared to life again.  It startled me enough to remember that if I wanted ANY electricity in the house again, I’d better shut that beast off.  In a fit of haste and panic, I attempted to Buffy-kick my way up off the bed.

This did not end well for me.

Immediately upon swinging my left leg up and behind me in order to propel my entire body up, I felt my hip pop and crack as, indeed, my whole body flew up off the bed.  I managed to switch the A/C off amidst my tortured flailing of arms and hands as I cried about my freaking leg that I’m pretty sure was going to snap off like a chicken wishbone.

And that, kids, is what Karma is all about.

I spent the next few days limping and whimpering about my poor hip, and The Hubz spent them grinning evilly but helping me walk along beside him to go get some ibuprofen.