Wild and woolly weekendI've been sick all day. It started... well, it seems to have started shortly after I finished lunch -- leftovers brought from home; a piece of fried chicken I actually ate at 11:00 because I was hungry and that was when I got my first break; and then some mac and cheese and green beans, which I ate three hours or so later, when my scheduled lunch time rolled around.
After logging back in from lunch, about fifteen minutes went by. My stomach started to act like a rebellious province; I hit BREAK on my phone and went to the bathroom, where I found I had diarrhea. I went back to my desk, took a call, then went to the bathrom again. Repeat about three more times. Finally, a longish call threatened to see me soiling myself right there at my desk, so I advised my supervisor I needed to go home, called SuperFiancee to come to my rescue, and wound up back here around 5 or so (three hours before my shift ended). I felt miserably tired, and after dropping some more liquid from an area that shouldn't be producing liquid in the toilet, I went to bed. Where I found my stomach discomfort was too profound to really let me sleep, so, yeah, I'm pretty much utterly exhausted at this moment, as I type.
So that's how my Monday has gone, although there have been some developments I'll get to in a bit. First, though, let's head back to Friday, when we got the weekend off with a bang upon hearing the news that SuperFiancee's ex husband was in the hospital with bad chest pains, and they were keeping him overnight for observation. I immediately felt bad; not for The Ex himself, but because I knew the kids would be desolated if anything happened to their bio-dad. Super Adorable Toddler would especially be shattered if he were to suddenly be gone from her life, so I can't wish him any ill, given the givens.
So, that was our Friday; an inauspicious beginning for a weekend where every single minute was already scheduled out the ying-yang. But good news came later Friday night; The Ex had passed all the tests they'd given him and was resting comfortably in a hospital bed. SuperFiancee got special permission to take the kids over for a fast visit after visiting hours were officially over, which set all their minds to rest. I didn't go; if anything would have hustled that man into the grave, it would have been my beaming face, smilin' down at him in his bed of pain.
We were already worried, at that point, about Super Dependable Teen's tortoise. After much importuning on her part we'd gotten her a tortoise as a combined Christmas and birthday present (her birthday is a few weeks before Christmas, on Pearl Harbor Day, and tortoises are amazingly expensive, for, you know, a frickin' reptile) and while she was delighted, the goddam thing would not eat. We brought it home on Wednesday and by Friday we were all still anxiously awaiting the news that Boba (Fett; the Middle Child has a bit of a Star Wars fetish, especially focusing on bounty hunters with buckets on their heads, it seems) had taken his first mouthful of greens. And it hadn't occurred at that point, so, you know, we were all worried, because if we had to take the tortoise back, or, worse, if the fucking thing actually DIED, Super Dependable Teen would have been inconsolable.
Beyond that, Wednesday had been my floating day off for last week, and SuperFiancee and I were over at the doctor's office (my first physical in fifteen years) when we got a call from Super Drama Teen's school. More, as you'd expect, drama. So off we went to make our concern and presence known, and naturally, the Ex was there as well, and boy, he looked awful, too... pasty faced, obviously tired, with a fresh scab by his nostril and another one on a facial mole. He might have cut himself shaving, but he looked like he could just as easily have had some horrible immunodeficiency syndrome. I wanted to ask him if he was okay, but when he saw me walk in with SuperFiancee, he radiated such palpable, furious waves of absolute rage that, well, I just sat there and shut up.
See, last time we had a crisis with one of the kids, all three of us attempted to intercede, and while he didn't say a word to me or about me in front of me, he sent SuperFiancee some very pissy emails advising her that in the future, when the kids had problems, his preference was that he and she alone dealt with it. She advised him right back that I am the kids' parent as well and they spent more time with me than they did with him and I would damned well be involved in their parenting, and he didn't like that one little bit. And it was obvious that seeing me there all but paralyzed him with wrath; in the ensuing discussion with Super Drama Teen and her counselors, he didn't say a word, although he did shake his head vehemently several times when SuperFiancee introduced me to the counselors as Super Drama Teen's 'step father'.
For what it's worth, I'm aware I am not the SuperKids' step father -- yet -- but I am absolutely as much or more of a parent figure in their lives than he is, and hurtful/hateful though it may be for him to deal with the notion, I'm a much better parent to them than he is or has ever been, too. Or so the kids and SuperFiancee seem to believe, and frankly, that's good enough for me.
Beyond all that, SuperFiancee specifically asked the counselor if I should come, and was specifically told yes - that if Super Drama Teen regarded me as part of her support network, then I should certainly be there.
So, anyway. Come Friday, between Boba not eating and Super Drama Teen maybe being in a downward spiral to Funky Town once more, we had a little bit on our plate.
And then, you know, The Ex's chest pains came and piled on.
But we got through that. Saturday was our annual Christmas trip to a nearby town with an antique gallery sited in a converted Victorian girl's school. Visiting this particular place is a Christmas tradition for many local families, including SuperFiancee's, as the antique gallery really goes nuts with the Christmas theme and decorates all their rooms in gorgeous, and usually, rather idiosyncratic fashion. I like to look at the furnishings, but what I mostly love about this place is just the old building itself; the hardwood floors, the gorgeous staircases, the antique interior design features, the old wood of the door sills and frames, the fireplaces in nearly every room... it's a gorgeous place. They have a pretty renowned dining room on site, too; the menu is limited, but they prepare the dishes very well. We all ate there, and it was maybe the most expensive meal we've ever taken the family out to, but it was a good time for everyone.
It was Super Adorable Kid's first time there -- family tradition up until this year had been, no males at all, and the girls don't expedite until they're 13 -- but I am, as always, the Exploder of All Tradition, and after being earnestly lectured every day for hours for the three week period leading up to the expedition on "DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!!" (because, my God, you break a Wilson-era Christmas tree globe in this place and you're suddenly selling all your HeroClix on E-bay to pay the piper), she behaved extraordinarily well, given her age and, well, the fact that where Super Adorable Kid goes, Hell nearly always follows after.
On the way back we detoured to Target to pick up some candles (SuperFiancee wants to arrange a great many of them in our fireplace, which we cannot be sure is a functional fireplace or not, for Christmas Eve and Morning) and a few other what-nots. And then we got home, had some supermarket fried chicken along with SuperFiancee's always exquisite home-made mac n' cheese and some green beans, and retired for the evening, a long, hard, but pleasurable day behind us.
Sunday we had essentially two things on the schedule -- get the Christmas tree up, and get Christmas cookies baked. (Yes, let me get this out of the way right now -- the adults in this house are all agnostics -- the kids are whatever kids are; the eldest is some kind of weird half assed pagan/Wiccan when she remembers to be, the younger two more or less reflect their father's not particularly intense Catholicism, though they choose not to go to church when they're with us -- but we still celebrate Christmas, not in a religious manner -- no manger scenes here! -- but because the two syllable word 'Christmas' is fraught with positive emotional associations for us, and that's the end of any and all debate on the subject. And we wish others 'Merry Christmas' on our own time; we don't intend it as any sort of insult or assault, and y'all are welcome to celebrate anything else you like as a MidWinter Festival, or not, we don't care. But we celebrate Christmas in this house, and any of my fellow lefties or agnostics or atheists who find offense in that need to, as Wong once said in another context entirely, resolve the matter within themselves.)
Our Sunday schedule went straight to hell, and I was truly baptized in my parental role at perhaps the greatest depth to date, when at 4:30 in the morning, Super Adorable Kid came to our room and announced, in tones of gravest import, that she thought she was going to throw up. Hustled into the bathroom, she promptly DID throw up; from what I could see over her shoulder, pretty much everything she'd eaten since the visit to the antique gallery.
Then it was like clockwork; for the next eight hours or so, until shortly after noon, she would throw up whatever she tried to put down -- mostly water, or Sprite, or a little bit of cracker -- every twenty to thirty minutes. This wasn't dainty, ladylike ralfing, either; these were big shuddering spasms of reverse peristalsis, violently racking her tiny little frame each time she had to heave. It made me want to cry, but that wouldn't have done anything for anyone else's morale, so I forbore.
So the family fretted, and tried to stay calm, and SuperFiancee went into SuperMom mode, which is a wonder to behold if you've never had the privilege, and nothing got done while we waited to see if this was something that would pass, or if we were going to end up in the emergency room. And, as I say, finally, shortly after noon, she stopped upchucking and from that point on, rapidly rejuvenated to her normal cheerful hyperactive self (the only has a four click dial, but the first two clicks have HyperSonic Speed on them, and then she's straight into Leap-Climb). Whatever it was, it had apparently run its course, with no real consequences except putting us badly behind schedule -- which, given the relief of seeing The Baby apparently recovering, meant little or nothing.
Also, Super Dependable Teen discovered a trick for forcing Boba to eat, involving pushing on the hinge of his jaw to make him open wide, and then shoving a bit of greenery into it, at which point, he would chew and swallow. So, double relief... the Baby stopped heaving, and Boba could be force fed. Plus, the Ex was out of the hospital by that point -- triple joy. What's losing a few hours of activity (and, yeah, sleep) compared to all that?
It made the day a tizzy and a blur once we launched into it, though. A mad baking frenzy ended up with several dozen Christmas cookies, about half of which required frosting once they cooled. Leaving the older two kids home to watch over their convalescent baby sister, SuperFiancee and I hit the road to get some take out and a Christmas tree. On the way, we passed a Blockbuster, and I remembered a $15 gift card that my cousins had given me in the 2004 Yule season. So we got a nice tree strapped to the roof of our car (and paid only $30 for it, too, as it was one of the lesser desired soft needed pines, but still, it makes a lovely appearance all decorated in the front window next to the perhaps-functional hearth) and stopped back at Blockbuster, where I was surprised to learn the card was still funded after all these years. So I wandered around a bit, thought briefly about picking up a $10 second hand copy of some Indiana Jones game for the X-Box, overruled myself and got an identically priced copy of LAYER CAKE ("It's Bond before he was Bond!") on DVD instead, along with some candy for the kids. Then we dropped by a local barbecue place for one of their family packs and headed back home again. Ate dinner, got the tree decorated with only minor skirmishes with Super Dependable Teen, who obviously badly wanted to prioritize aimless, endless phone chats with her current boyfriend over family Christmas tradition enactment, and even got the cookies frosted. Then, off to bed.
So, now it's today, and I'm home with the diarrhea, and my stomach has started feeling worse and worse all evening and night. I've taken my Prilosec (two a day for the rest of my life is the price I'm paying for a madly licentious youth devouring anything I could find with pepperoni on it), a Gas-X, and finally some Pepto Bismol, which I despise, and nothing has helped. A little milk and a small dry cracker aren't doing much, either. I'm sitting in our bedroom with SuperFiancee and suddenly I'm sweating like a pig and feeling vaguely light headed. I get up to walk around, my stomach feeling heavier and heavier with each passing second, and abruptly, with no warning at all, I do not so much begin to vomit as the contents of my stomach simply ERUPT from my mouth onto the hardwood floor. I stagger to the waste basket in the corner as several other involuntary eruptions occur; I swear, I've never upchucked so hard or so painfully in my life. I finally manage to get into the bathroom for the last of it, leaving SuperFiancee with one of the outer circles of Hell to clean up behind me. Jesus. Sometimes I wonder what she sees in me.
Perhaps not at all amazingly, the relief I feel after emptying my stomach all over our bedroom and nearby bathroom is profound and shocking. I have been worrying that perhaps I'm moving into a stage of something much like Super Adorable Kid had yesterday; but the puke-volcano went off 90 minutes ago, and hasn't rumbled since, so maybe, just maybe, I've purged whatever it was that was giving me trouble and can finally get to sleep. Maybe.
In the meantime, the mop bucket is now my Faithful Companion. I'm devoutly hoping not to test this new friendship with the same kind of baptism I recently subjected our bedroom floor to, though.
Will I learn to hurl myself through the air, propelled by a jet of liquid feces? Or must I instead master the art of zooming about through the ether backwards, impelled by an explosive vomit-blast like some particularly unsettling version of that lame-o The Basilisk? Stay tuned, True Believers, for more adventures in illness!
Oh, and I'm doing some of my best work ever, over at the poli blog, specifically in this new entry. As always, all the Cool Kids are ignoring it, but if you happen to come across any blog awards that allow open nominations, you might keep that particular entry in mind for a mention. And I'll also remind my few, but proud, readers of this choice bit from nearly a year ago, which I still think brings the funny as well as any of those other blogs that get all the big hits. Hmmmph.
Oh, yeah, the physical turned up nothing untoward, but of course they drew blood and we don't have any results from that as yet. The doctor suspects I may have sleep apnea and has opined that he "wants to get some weight off me", and seemed taken aback when I advised him in return that when they could put that in convenient pill form I was definitely in, but until then I'd just have to waddle along in my current rut, because exercise sucks and dieting blows and I won't countenance any of that rubbish, especially when sharing my life with a woman who could and should have her own cooking show on Food Network. I mean, what's the point of living forty years longer if it's forty years without SuperFiancee's home made pizza, or lasagne, or spaghetti with garlic bread, or potato salad, or baby back ribs from Mark's Feed Store? Fuck THAT noise.
And that, for the moment, is all. Except Super Adorable Kid has woken up twice now with a tummy ache, so I'm somewhat worried about that, but SuperFiancee is in sleeping with her, so she'll be on hand for any emerging crises, and I shouldn't be touching anyone anyway until we know if what I have is contagious.
Hmmph. Tortoises are notorious carriers of salmonella. I'm just sayin'.