So, I’m not dead.
Given that my last post was about being sick, I figure that proof-of-aliveness is as good a place as any to start. It’s existential. Celebratory, even. And if I was so inclined, I could use it to segue into a piece on the meaning of life, thereby reassuring myself of my own relevance and maybe, in some small way, contributing to the betterment of humanity.
Or I could just get right back into the swing of things around here and tell you about how I peed my pants in public the other day. (Jumping rope, and only a little. But still. I call bullshit on kegels, you guys. BULL.SHIT.)
So rather than get ambitious now, I’m just going to talk some more about being sick. Because this has been one of those years in my house. Every person who has children, or spends lots of time with children, knows what I’m talking about. Once every three or four years, every family has one of those winters, when no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, at any given point in time between November and March, somebody under your roof is Linda Blair-ing their way through the newest plague du jour. It’s like Leap Year, only stickier and with more opportunities to miss a birthday party.
Adding to the health woes is the fact that Nick has been sick for most of the last year with some sort of unidentified gastrointestinal issue, which I’m certain he will be absolutely thrilled to discover that I have just shared on the internet. My opinion, which I will add has been confirmed by the authoritative Dr. Google, is that he contracted something while we were in Florida last year, on a delightful family vacation that was capped off with everyone’s favorite travel game, 36 Hours of Violently Sick Family in a Hotel Room. Fun for all ages! Creatively repurpose nearby receptacles and build up your mountain of pukey linens! Can you get better in time to catch the airplane home?
If I learned that they burned that hotel room down after we left, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. It was like an Alice Cooper concert in there.
The first few months after we got back weren’t too bad. For me, that is. I mean, it totally sucked for Nick. But I was all mentally camped out in my very own 3D version of Mystery Science Theater, watchfully waiting for him to transform into the Incredible Hulk or Spiderman. But after a while, when it got obvious that we were not on the fast track to superherodom, the whole thing got a lot less fun and a lot more sucky.
Tests. Tests are what happen when a person has been infected with an unidentified subtropical gut alien. And tests are what we all found ourselves driving to two Fridays ago at 7:00 am.
We’ve been down this road before – after all, it’s been nearly a year that I’ve been waiting on a “Hulk smash!” moment – so the drop-off at the main hospital entrance was pretty perfunctory. Good luck, I’ll be waiting for a call, see you later, bye. Because either one of us would rather shove rusty needles under our fingernails than hang out for hours in a hospital waiting room with two kids, we do it the latchkey way.
About three miles into the drive back home, totally out of the blue, Aidan said, “Mom, my tummy hurts.”
“How does it hurt? Does it hurt like you might be sick, or does it hurt like you’re hungry?”
In response, Aidan took a deep breath… and then vomited explosively all over the back of the minivan.
Well, I guess that answers that.
Fast-forward through the getting home, bringing Pukey McGee inside, and holding-my-breath-while-cleaning-the-seats, it was three hours later and the phone rang. The tests were done, Nick was ready to be picked up, and I had been unsuccessful in finding anyone else who could go get him. This was going to be bad. So, so bad.
Into the van went Isabel. Into the van went Aidan, who was too sick to even protest, and a big pot. “Hold this,” I told him. “If you have to throw up, try to get it in here.”
With the funniest parts of that sentence being the words “if” and “try.”
Aidan threw up the whole way there. His aim was poor. There was gagging and shouting; I didn’t look back. Sometimes it’s better not to know.
Last time we picked up Nick after testing – for which, by the way, he is heavily sedated – a lovely nurse wheeled him all the way out to the car and helped get him into the seat. This time, he had a different nurse. Or possibly no nurse. All I know is that one moment I was passing a wad of napkins to the backseat, and the next Isabel was hollering and Nick was stumbling across the road like a drunk sailor on roller skates. If there was a nurse involved in this disaster, I can only assume that he or she was motivated by the same slightly deranged glee with which we like to spin children in perilously fast circles and then make them walk. Ha ha, look, he can’t walk straight! LMAO, he almost fell down! Oh, look, there’s a car, ooh, what’s gonna happen?
From the instant he was buckled into the passenger seat, it was clear that we had trouble. Did you know that in order to pass a camera through your insides, first the doctors have to fill your intestines with air? Seriously. They inflate you until you’re out of your mind with pain and then leave you to stumble out of the hospital like a tragic Macy’s parade meat balloon.
Nick tried to double over into his agony, but the seatbelt held him fast. At first he fought against it like a rabid gorilla but upon his failure to outwit the seatbelt, he settled instead on simply melting into the footwell, moaning and writhing in pain.
From the backseat: “BLAAAUUUUURRRRGGGHHHHH!” Aidan was vomiting. Again. And missing the pan. Again.
Nick: “OOOhHHHOOoooHHHHhhAAAAArrrrHHHHHOOOoooHHHH!” Groaning, writhing, seat-sliding chaos.
Isabel was screaming. Aidan dropped the pan. There was an explosion of puke and panic and despair, and it was all happening at
55 65 75 miles per hour on the thruway, which is the speed at which I dared any cop to even dream of pulling us over, because I swear to God I would have made that poor soul drive this entire shittastic carnival home.
Inside my head there were obscenities and one-way tickets to warm places.
On the outside there was just silent, resigned determination. And vomit. Lots and lots of vomit.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of why exactly half of the seatbelts in my van no longer click cleanly into place. Because there are just some experiences and some crevices that cleaner will never, ever forgive.
And it is also my proof-of-aliveness. Because if that shit didn’t take me down, nothing will.