Monday, September 02, 2013

the old gray mare ain't what she used to be

Before I post about our summer vacation - from which we've just returned - I need to capture the memory of a few little health challenges I experienced this past month.

In early August, my sister, Eileen, and my nephew, Tommy, came to visit us in Virginia. The purpose of their trip was college tours. Tommy is a rising senior in high school and he is interested in several schools in this area ... most notably, the Naval Academy and Virginia Military Institute.  When they went for a tour of Annapolis, home of the US Naval Academy, we tagged along.


What we saw and heard really inspired me.  In essence, there are three tenets of the program that are weighted equally. Those tenets are Moral Conduct; Physical Activity; and Academics.  What that means is that you not only have to have good grades - you must also be physically fit - and possess sound ethical practices.


To evaluate the students (aka: midshipmen) on the physical component, they test students throughout the year and they must be able to do 80 sit-ups in under two minutes, and 80 push-ups in under two minutes.  In addition, the male students must be able to run 1.5-miles in under 10.30 minutes and the female students must be able to run the same distance in under 12.30 minutes.


Seeing as it's the Naval Academy - the last test of physical ability is that the freshmen must be able to swim 200-meters in under five minutes.


By the time they're a junior, they must be able to swim 700-meters in under 30 minutes.

While wearing their khaki uniforms. 


If you are accepted to Annapolis and complete all four years, you receive what is the equivalent of approximately $400,000.00 in scholarship money which covers your tuition, room, board, and all supplies. Last year, almost 14,000 students applied and only 1,200 were accepted. So the odds aren't too great. But as we were taking a tour of the beautiful campus, a light bulb suddenly went off for me when I realized how we could easily send four children to university at the same time (where they'll be required to keep an extremely tidy room...).


Why ... they'll all go to Annapolis. Of Course!


It's a lofty goal that I suppose requires the childrens' consent.

At this moment, the girls aren't too thrilled about being in the Navy. But in the event I can convince them - I've started a physical regiment to get them in tip top shape.  Two weeks ago, this past Friday night, I demonstrated to the children how many sit-ups I could do in two minutes.  (If you must know: 65 when I do them "my way"and a mere 15 when Charlie showed me his way, which is purportedly the "correct" way." Or something. I like my way better.)

I need to mention that for the first half of August, I was battling a nasty upper respiratory virus that hit my lungs. So to stem the potential for a pneumonia recurrence, I went to the doctor and was prescribed doxycycline. Less than five minutes after taking my first dose, I was on my knees tossing it back up again. Apparently, I have the exact same reaction to doxycycline as I do to augmentin. My doctor prescribed another medication, Cefuroxime, which I hesitated filling because I don't enjoy clutching toilets and thinking I'm going to die and it seems the older I get, more and more antibiotics have that effect on me.

So, anyway. The day after my antibiotic puke fest (and two days after the sit-up-a-thon), I was feeling better, so I took the children to the pool and timed them on their laps.  We've definitely got some room for improvement, because it took Henry nearly five minutes to swim 50 meters doing the doggie paddle. Meanwhile, I'm hollering, "IS THAT ALL YOU GOT? HOW ARE YOU EVER GOING TO MAKE IT TO ANNAPOLIS SWIMMING LIKE THAT?! WHAT ARE YOU ... A KINDERGARTNER?!"

He was laughing so hard he nearly choked, as I wondered aloud why my kids never take me seriously.

Following our intense lap swimming, we went down the monster water slides at our pool. And because I'm young at heart, I went down first.  It was so much fun, I did it again. And again. Times five.

Everything seemed to be going well for me, until that night.

As I was packing for a flight to Houston that left at 8:25 on Monday morning (for a meeting on Tuesday), I noticed my lower back hurt, in the vicinity of my tailbone.  I knew it was my tailbone, because I've broken my tailbone before. Or twice. Once in middle school when a boy who I later learned, had a crush on me, pulled my chair out from beneath me as I sat down. (Tip for boys: that's not a good way to win a girl's heart.) And another time when I was in high school and sat down prematurely for the chair lift while skiing.

So there I am on Sunday night and my tailbone is sore. And my cough has returned. By the time I went to bed, I was in so much pain, I had tears in my eyes, it hurt to breathe, and I was wishing for my mother.  Was this related to the sit-ups on our hardwood floors? Was it related to me upchucking a lung due to the doxycycline reaction on Saturday? Was it related to the water slides?

What pray tell, was wrong with me? 

Not knowing, I took Advil and went to bed. By 2AM, I was miserable, and the thought of being on a plane was emotionally crippling. The bump-bump landing, especially.  So I hobbled out of bed and told Charlie I was taking myself to the Emergency Room. In the middle of the night. Again.

Long story short, they gave me a shot for pain.  They took several x-rays. They concluded that I had a contusion to my coccyx most likely due to sit-ups on the hardwood floors and water slides.  Once again, Father Time was kicking me in the rear. This time, literally. Alas, there was nothing they could do except prescribe me muscle relaxers, pain killers and give me a rubber donut to sit upon.

I left the hospital at 4:50, arrived home at 5:00, slept for 45 minutes, and was picked up and taken to the airport. Before I left, William woke up and seeing me hobbling around with a rubber cushion tucked under my arm, whispered with a smile, "WHAT ARE YOU? 200 YEARS OLD?! Heh, heh, heh!"

I boarded my early flight and coughed all the way to Texas. Once I arrived in Houston, my pain killer shot had worn off, so my driver took me directly to the pharmacy to have the three prescriptions filled that were prescribed to me in Virginia + the one antibiotic prescription that I never had filled in Virginia that the doctor called in for me on Saturday.

My plan was to spend Monday touring around Houston - a city that we're supposed to move to, within less than two years. My reality was checking in to my hotel room, taking a picture out my window...


Downing my four prescriptions (three of which indicate, "May cause dizziness and/or drowsiness"), and dozing off by 2PM.


The next day, I woke up at 6:30 and had to repeat my prescription regiment before I walked to the meeting.  A meeting which I had to attend, because my intern was making her final presentation to our senior management team and they needed me there to provide moral support and give feedback as to whether or not she should be offered a position within our company.

The meeting went very well.

I remember there was chocolate cake and ice cream.


My intern was offered a position next year with our company.

No one laughed at my rubber donut and I think I only drooled once.


  1. Awwww, poor Jen! I'm so sorry : (.... Yes, annapolis is cool isn't it? Joel just reviewed his student aid for this coming year and he is getting a grant! Woot woo! I told my husband that he needs to get a job making $50,000 when the kids start college so we can get free money then too. He said, "Nope, they are joining the coast guard!". We spent Saturday evening at a pool party with a whole bunch of Navy Seals. Talk about physical fitness....they were a site for sore eyes. I can't believe there are people who are seriously at that level of fitness. It was awesome.

  2. DUDE.....take care of yourself! (and moving closer to the Dallas area would make me happy; just sayin')

  3. Okay, I know you've only gotten comments from me periodically over the years (AND we bought your awesome bracelets, AND you were awesome enough to send girlscout cookies to us while stationed overseas AND i take almost all of my parenting advice from YOU), so you probably don't even remember my name BUT... if your kids EVER need a recommendation to USNA do email me ;). My hubby is an alumni and since I have practically known your kids since EARLY childhood (;)) and I LOOOVE you, we'll hook you up ;)!!!!

  4. $20 bucks say that we end up moving to VA by the time you supposedly move to Houston. I've been looking for jobs for Scott (not that he's ready to move mind you) but they are all in the bay area or DC metro....perhaps we can rent from you guys ; )