Tuesday, June 21, 2011

on recovering from pneumonia

Charlie was out of town last week on a business trip.


Fortuitously, we had lined up babysitters several weeks ago because we knew Charlie would be out of town last week and I knew that I'd have to work and would need someone to watch the children during the day. We had also planned to have a sitter watch the children the Sunday before Charlie's trip (June 12), because he had bought awesome seats (5th row, center) for an awesome concert at an awesome venue, for my birthday in April, but alas, I was in the hospital and could not go. So the tickets were given to one of the brand new sitters and her friend, while the second brand new sitter stayed with the children, eating pizza and watching movies, so Charlie could visit me in the hospital.

Now considering I was released from the hospital only the day before Charlie left for his trip, I was somewhat comforted by the fact that there would be an extra set of hands (and eyes) Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday to look after our little people. The doctors told me that I'd experience a lot of fatigue as I recovered, so going in to this, there were visions that I'd do nothing but lay in bed, read a book, watch a movie, sip juice and take nice long naps. But the visions did not match reality and the rest that I was supposed to get, never really materialized.

At least not right away.


Wednesday morning started off particularly Zen-like. I didn't do anything except focus on my nebulizer-assisted deep breathing and relaxation. But as Charlie pulled out of the driveway Wednesday afternoon, I came to the realization that there were bills to pay and random paperwork that needed to be caught up on. So I did those things. The sitter left at 6 PM, but there were still children to feed, bathe, and tuck in to bed.

So, I ... being a mother and all ... did those things, too.

Thursday morning, there were two beds to change (including a top bunk) because someone(s) sprung a leak in the night. There was laundry to be washed, things to be put away, and general stuff to do. Stuff that it appears, only tracks on my radar of "MUST DO THIS."

How is it that no one else is bothered by the random pile of things stacked on the dining room table. What is that? How long has it been there? When I moved the pile I noticed that the wood beneath it was slightly darker which led me to the conclusion it had been there since at least the last time we used the dining room table.

Or, thereabouts, Thanksgiving.


Perhaps I should have just told the sitter, "Listen, I also need for you to prepare dinner for the children, wash all the dishes, do a couple loads of laundry, make all the beds, and ensure everyone stays safe," but outside of ensuring the children stayed safe, I didn't have it in me to ask those things. I mean, it was her job to watch the kids.

So I did the remainder of the chores because things MUST get done.

As I did those tasks, I noticed that I was very aware of the children. Even more so than under normal circumstances, maybe because there was the equivalent of a substitute teacher watching them and she was thrown in to a "charged" environment without any strategic opposition or tactical defenses. My senses were heightened as I heard everything they were saying, what they were doing, how they were behaving. I felt like the babysitter was unable to successfully divert energy or establish the control that is necessary when you're outnumbered four to one. I did my best to stay out and let her manage it, but every time our eyes would meet, the sitter would overemphasize how CUTE they are.

*twitch* *twitch.*

They really are cute to me and they are wonderful with their random hugs and kisses and general awesomeness. But I didn't get the vibe that her words were entirely sincere. Although she fully recognized, I'm sure, that her future with our establishment is dependent upon her ability to at least convince me that she can manage our excitable inventory.

Then again, she did get to enjoy an awesome concert from the 5th row, center, so maybe she really was having a great time and I'm just a hypersensitive fruitcake?


Despite the fact I'm feeling a little groggy, but not really "fatigued", out of nowhere, it stuck me that in the whole time we've lived in this house, I've never once had it to a point where I feel like it's completely organized to my standards. Obviously, it's been suppressed enough to not haunt me, but suddenly the realization that our snowman kit was thrown in to our hallway closet along with our umbrellas and non-slip mats that go beneath carpets, and a few random puzzles and hats and painting supplies and a mop and Backgammon game INSTANTLY caused me great angst.

I also happened to notice that the bath toys that had been stockpiled in a plastic container under the sink had a slime on them that required a deep cleansing. And the tub was gritty. There were dead bugs in all of the window jambs. In the boys' room, the containers that I had established for their toys were all mixed up. Plastic dinosaur animals were mixed with action figures and wild life animals and jacks and Old Maid cards and a nightlight?

*Head Explodes*

AM I THE ONLY ONE that understands toys must be organized by material, genre and in the case of action figures ... movie title??

This is clearly the reason I'm sick.

Because when the house is cleaned and organized, positive energy flows through me and I'm immune.

Thursday afternoon I took a break from throwing everything out my uber-organizational spree to go to the doctor where I listened to her instructions about the importance of my medication, rest and hydration. When I returned home, I pulled a chair up to the closet (resting!!!), sat on it, took my prescriptions and drank a 1/2 gallon of water while organizing shoes, slippers and boots. Then I moved on to socks, underwear, pajamas, tights, hair bows and itty bitty hair clips.

So many!

So everywhere!

So necessary to be containerized!

I rationalize to myself that I'm moving so efficiently through the house with Charlie not being here, this is the only time I'll ever have to do this, and my healing depends upon THE BOWS WITH THE BOWS, THE CLIPS WITH THE CLIPS.

Meanwhile, the children played with their babysitter on the slip and slide and in the creek, returning to the house three times - each - to change their muddy bathing suits. In between the children running back and forth, I was using my stellar skills to referee* their tattling sessions.



Friday, we had no sitter.

But we did have to change two more beds because someone(s) else sprung a leak.

No matter. For the first time since Wednesday afternoon, I felt like I was under less pressure. Now I only had to run interference with my four children and not also make sure everyone was playing nicely in front of a stranger which I've decided, taxes not only my psyche but my wallet. With my new found focus, I organized the entire basement. Saturday, I organized the entire garage. It seemed like the thing to do and it felt so blissfully to the core of my soul good.

By the time Charlie arrived home late Saturday night, I had just finished loading the equivalent of 14 Hefty bags worth of Goodwill discards in to the truck. Toys and clothes that the children had outgrown, clothes that Charlie and I had outgrown ... (er, no longer wear), items that made their way 3,000 miles cross-country during our move last year and that we never used in California, but thought we'd use in Virginia until this week when I suddenly had this incredible bout of CLARITY surrounding the healing power of relentless purging.

Maybe it's the Prednisone?


Sunday morning, Charlie informs me that he's out of coffee. Instead of him just darting off to the store, on his own, with my sound reasoning skills and logic, I suggest it's a good idea if we all go. We'll pick up some coffee for him, juice and muffins for the kids, and take a scenic drive on what was a cloudy Father's Day.

We set our destination as the Shenandoah National Forest.


It took us a little over an hour to get to the beautiful, beautiful park. We paid to enter and spent an hour driving along the breathtaking Skyline drive where we stopped to eat lunch.

As we sat at a picnic bench beneath a canopy of trees, although there was no trace of bugs anywhere else in the atmosphere, a cyclone of insects materialized out of thin air and circled our heads. We got up to go for a walk. We made it less than 200 feet before the skies opened and it poured.

Despite (or perhaps in spite of) the torrential rain, black bugs were launching kamikaze attacks in to our nostrils. Everyone screamed as we smacked ourselves repeatedly in the face with our hands. We quickly retreated to the car. We decided that instead of backtracking our route, we'd do (what looked like) a (short) loop and drive home.

Little did we know that (what looked like) the (short) loop would take twice as long as the drive there. Charlie starts the car and within a matter of seconds, the only thing that I'm vaguely aware of is the fact that I'm sitting straight up, snoring with my mouth wide open, and I'm not able to do a single thing about it.

Happy Father's Day, my sweet, sweet man. What better way to spend your special day than driving for five hours with an open-mouthed zombie while bugs nest inside your sinus cavities?

When we pulled in to the driveway, I stayed in my seat. "It feels really nice to just sit here in the car," I told my husband. The high probability of me face planting on the asphalt if I tried to move my legs never once entered the discussion. So I sat there with the door open. There was a soft breeze. I overheard a conversation between fireflies and watched clouds dance across the sky. Two hours later, Charlie suggested that I come in to the house. I walked in the front door and went straight to bed where I remained for the next 48 hours.

Of those, I'd guess that I slept no less than 42 of them.


I'll take a wild guess that this is the fatigue the doctor had warned me about.

Ha, ha, ha. Yes, now I understand what she meant.


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