a december to remember

Yes, I’m cribbing Lexus’ slogan, because seriously, I don’t know ANYONE who gets cars as Christmas presents (though, Santa, if you’re reading, you know where my driveway is).

Last December was one of the worst months of our lives. I got the flu. Not the “flu” but the actual want to die, 8 days of 102 fever, entire month of sickness, influenza. The kind some people actually die from. (Side note: GET A FLU SHOT.) For weeks, I existed in a sweaty, shivery, coughing, bruised ribs, fluid in my lungs, drugged on codeine haze. Jon was working nights and spending his days dosing me, feeding me, helping me use the bathroom without fainting, and trying to catch some sleep in there too. It’s good to be married to an ER doc when you’re deathly ill, as he took great care of me. He admitted that a few times I looked so bad he thought about taking me to the hospital, but knew they’d pretty much just be doing for me what he was already doing– fluids, NSAIDs, cough meds, Mucinex. In retrospect, I might have needed a chest x-ray, but we survived. (My ribs were sore for a month afterward from all the coughing.)

Little did we know that Jon would be the one to wind up in the ER. One day, when I was finally starting to feel like I might be able to leave the house again, I got a text message from Jon saying that if I was up, he was now a patient in the ER where he had been working, and could I come there, please? He was having a weird heart beat and mentioned it to another doc he was working with, who checked him out, hooked him up to some monitors, and realized he was in atrial fibrillation. Basically, the top chambers of his heart were fluttering around instead of beating in a steady rhythm. Ultimately, it took an overnight stay in the ICU (where I tried desperately not to cough around any of the nurses, because I didn’t want to be kicked out of the unit), where he was the most lucid patient I think those nurses have ever treated, and some hardcore meds to get his heart back into a normal rhythm (they call this “converting” if you want to know some new medical speak). He was mere hours from being shocked with the paddles when the meds finally did their job. We got to look at his heart on the echo, which was pretty cool, to see the heart of the one I love, beating on a screen, but they didn’t establish what caused the a-fib episode. I have a feeling it was the exhaustion of working and taking care of a very sick wife. He hasn’t had an episode since.

Still, as a result, our December last year? While it was one to remember, it was also a pretty sucky one. I’m counting this year as a do-over. I got my flu shot, I’ve been washing my hands like a maniac, and if someone sniffles around me, I’m moving across the room. I’m pregnant, but I’m feeling good. My birthday and hopefully the Baby B gender reveal are coming up on the 16th. I’m looking forward to spending Christmas with my family and New Year’s in Colorado with Jon’s, and we’re determined to be healthy for all of it. Now I just have to figure how to decorate our house in a way that won’t immediately be destroyed by the wild and crazy Tinycat.

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memaw!

A woman gambles in Hot Springs, AR. My hometown. Image via the Google Life Photo Archive, under a Creative Commons license.

I just happened to remember this little anecdote, and it made me smile, so I thought I’d share.

I’m from Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Once the Prohibition-era hangout for mobsters and gamblers and jazz musicians and even the Milwaukee Brewers, who held their spring training there (I’ve heard about all of this from my Grandfather, who grew up there), it still remains something of a sin city.  Heralding itself as America’s first resort town, it draws tourists to its beautiful lakes, and, more commonly, to the horse racing track, which was, until recently, one of only two places where gambling was legal in the state of Arkansas.  There are other “sinful” aspects too– I remember making a video about my home town with classmates in Jr. High, as we were going on a trip to Washington D.C. with students from other states and would be expected to share about our home with the others.  The kids from a Native American Reservation in Wisconsin taught us a traditional dance. We talked about Bill Clinton and showed a video.  We were less cool than the Menominee kids.  Anyway, part of our video was shot from the top of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower, and when asked what that “Playmates” place was, we got red faced and stammered, “Uh, a daycare! Yeah, a daycare!”

All of this is just preface to say, one time, we were driving home in the car with my Memaw, who, though she isn’t from Hot Springs, spent time there in her college years as she coached women’s basketball in a nearby town.  As we drove past a strip club, Memaw said, “I used to dance there!”

WHAT?!

“Memaw, that’s a strip joint!”

And in her Southern drawl, the one that comes out of my mouth, too, when I’ve spent too much time around her, or when I’m particularly tired or angry, she said, “Way-uhl, it wasn’t back then! It was a club where I useta jitterbug!”

Whew. Sigh of relief. My grandmother does NOT have a stripper past.

shoot me to the moon, dad!

Image via Flickr user Irargerich.

Image via Flickr user Irargerich.

So apparently we bombed the moon.  I’m not sure how I feel about interplanetary acts of aggression (though I imagine Marvin the Martian is PISSED), and I’m pretty sure this scheme was cooked up by a bunch of bored nerdy pyromaniacs at NASA, perhaps late one night when they were all a little delirious.  OMGZ, I GOT IT GUYZ, LET’S EFFING BOMB THE MOON! IT WOULD BE SWEET!

All of this reminded me of another nerdy pyromaniac I know and love.

When I was a very small child, we lived in a house on Mulberry Street, a fact I have always loved because I have a soft spot for the Dr. Seuss classic To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street!  The house on Mulberry Street had a tire swing in the back yard.  I don’t have a lot of memories from those years, since we moved from that house when I was five, but I do remember the tire swing.  And I remember my dad pushing me on it.  And I remember squealing, SHOOT ME TO THE MOON, DAD!  And he’d push me sooooooooo high.  In retrospect, it was probably not all that high, but when you’re five, there seems to be a very real possibility that a tire swing really COULD launch you to the moon.  I’d hang on and squeal and giggle and close my eyes tight, waiting for the big push that might one day really launch me into space.  It was obviously a much sweeter shooting of the moon than the one that happened yesterday.

These days, I don’t spend much time on tire swings, but thanks to my dad, I do spend quite a bit of time looking at the moon.  And the stars.  My dad is a bit of an amateur astronomer, and is always calling me to tell me to go outside, IMMEDIATELY, and look at the moon.  Or Jupiter.  Or a meteor shower.  Sometimes I’m the one calling him, like I did just the other day, because the harvest moon was just too big not to get excited with someone about it.

And even though I’m far away from my family, every time I look at the moon, I remember my little sister’s favorite nursery rhyme, which she said so often my mom eventually embroidered it on a quilt for her:

I see the moon and the moon sees me,

God bless the moon and God bless me.

I recently learned another verse:

I see the moon and the moon sees me,

The moon sees the ones that I wish to see.

God bless the moon and God bless me.

God bless the ones that I wish to see.

I’m pretty sure my tire swinging, moon blessing childhood self would have been pretty freaked out that we were bombing the moon. But I’m also pretty sure that my nerdy pyromaniac dad, who loves to make me squeal, would have said, BLOW IT UP! And I would have squealed, NO, DADDY NO! DON’T BLOW UP THE MOON! And then we’d have quite a giggle.