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Have Yourself A Healthy Little Christmas

First off, in my last post I promised I'd pick up with the Saturday evening where my narrative ended. Well, it has been long enough that I've mostly forgotten what I wanted to say, aside from the fact that we went to see a play that was put on by the university where my mother works, and in which she was in the chorus... in very bad weather. KatyBeth was very good, as one-year-olds at theatre events go, climbing relatively quietly between my lap and those of Arazyr and my brother and his wife. She even, in a moment of extreme cuteness, waved bye-bye to the three wisemen, as they left the stage, at the end of the first act. We had some consternation when we lingered afterwards, waiting for my mother to come out from backstage so she could see that we came as planned, despite the weather, and that we could tell her how much we enjoyed it. My mother, however, apparently being unfamiliar with this aspect of amateur theatre, apparently left immediately, out a backstage door, while my aunt, my brother, my sister-in-law, Arazyr, KatyBeth and I waited in the lobby. And waited, and waited. I finally persuaded a very nice young theatre security person to go check backstage for me, and he departed, armed with Mom's name. He came back, rather shortly, and told us that she had left. We left too, a bit exasperated. Mom was apparently rather exasperated with herself, when she found out we'd been waiting, but all ended well.

Next up, the title of this post, explained. But first, a seeming non-sequitur of a segue. I regularly read the Yarn Harlot's blog, and sometimes read bits of her frequently wild misadventures to Arazyr. Even as we chuckle at her amusing turn of phrase, we often shake our heads in sympathy, saying "Poor, poor Yarn Harlot..." Well, I've got a story of like kind. Here is where I will recommend that those who are squeamish about bodily output stop reading immediately, and find a less medical story to read...

Arazyr caught some sort of cold, late last week. He had a doctor's appointment for a checkup on Thursday, anyway, and it ended up turning in to a "sick appointment". It wasn't particularly serious, but the doctor recommended that he not go into work, Thursday and Friday. Friday, we got a lot of snow. Lots of places closed down. Arazyr, who was working from home due to illness, already, was just as glad to have an excuse not to even try to go into the office. On Saturday, I called my mother to get her cinnamon bread recipe, so I could make some for the neighbors. While I was on the phone with her, she told me that she and my dad were snowed in. In particular, their driveway had been plowed in. Dad had apparently been sick, the later half of the week, and had not been up to doing any moving of snow, not to mention that he has a bad back. Mom had also been forbidden to shovel by the chiropractor, though she went out to do a little, anyway. She had several calls pending to several snow removal places, checking to see if they could be hired to come out and clear out the bottom of their drive. She was a bit worried, because she really needed to be at church Sunday morning, and if none of the places she called could do it, she didn't know what she was going to do. Arazyr had an online game that evening that I don't participate in, so I told her that if she ended up really in a bind, to call me back, and I'd come and see what I could do, if she and Dad would watch KatyBeth, while I did it. Later, she called me, and said that none of the services could come out, and did I have a working snowblower. Apparently, something was wrong with my parents'. Also, did I want to come for dinner? Arazyr said he'd be fine on his own, so we packed up, and headed out. A quick check revealed that A)our snowblower was not likely to fit into my trunk at all easily (I can't remember how we got it home from the store, in the first place) and B)that, despite the fact that I'm surprisingly strong for a fairly slender person, especially a woman my age, with the nearly full tank of gas in the blower, I was quite likely to be unable to heft it enough to get it into the trunk without seriously straining something. So, I tossed our snow shovels in the trunk, and we were on our way.

We got there without incident, parking, as one might expect, on the street, because of the aforementioned snow-blocked drive. Dad, apparently on the upswing, watched with delight as KatyBeth cooed over their Christmas tree, while Mom fixed dinner, and I went to get a start on shovelling. It took another session, after dinner, but I got a space just wide enough for Mom's car cleared, at the base, and two 18-inch tire furrows from the garage door to the base of the drive cleared. Then, I went back in, and Mom and Dad played with KB some more, while I made some long-needed progress on the Christmas afghan for my brother and his wife. I was ridiculously far from completion, but I knew a long time ago that this was going to be the one gift that wasn't finished on time. I (I think) wisely concentrated on the smaller projects, so I didn't end up with multiple unfinished gifts. Fortunately, both my brother and his wife have at least dabbled in knitting enough to understand this sort of thing. We left rather late, and everything seemed fine. I confess that I failed to get up early enough on Sunday to make it to church.

In the early afternoon, I made two loaves of the mentioned cinnamon bread, and then we headed over to Mom and Dad's for our regular Sunday family dinner. Dad was still a bit under the weather, but he was far enough into whatever he had that nobody thought for a moment that he was still contagious. I got some more knitting done, and everything seemed fine.

Monday was a fairly normal Monday, for most of the day. Arazyr went to work, I stayed home with KatyBeth and even managed to get a bit more done, on the Christmas presents, including one baby hat that I perhaps insanely added to the gift list, at the last minute. In the evening, we headed to Arazyr's mom's house for dinner, as that is our family dinner night, over there. Shortly before we left, I started getting some minor sniffles. It didn't seem like a big deal, though, and it was too late to reasonably cancel, without being horribly rude, so off we went. On the way there, my stomach started feeling a bit questionable. It wasn't too bad, though, and since my stomach didn't seem to revolt at the first few bites, I just went ahead and ate dinner. It started being a bit more obnoxious, as the evening wore on. I really thought it was just bad gas, for a while, though I quickly found that holding the squirming KatyBeth was excruciating, and had to rely on somebody else to keep her out of the no-no's. By the time I got home, I was running a low fever.

At 2:30 in the morning, December 23rd, I was lying curled up in a ball on the bathroom rug, wondering if throwing up would make me feel any better. It wasn't long before I got my answer. Within minutes, I was on my knees, violently ejecting the contents of my stomach. It was a long bout, and I lost more than I thought I could possibly have in there. A smaller bout or two later, I felt weak, but marginally better. Seemed like the improvement should have been more pronounced, for all the physical strain that went into it, but I moved my curling-up-into-a-ball activities back into my bed. Arazyr stepped up to tend to KB's early morning squeaking. I still nursed her, but he brought her to me, so I didn't have to go anywhere. I was pretty miserable. I asked him if he could work from home, again. He had to go in for the morning, but did come home in the afternoon, for which I was extremely grateful, since my intestines decided to join the apparent holiday purge. I crossed my fingers, and hoped and prayed that Arazyr and KatyBeth wouldn't catch whatever I had, even as KatyBeth seemed to hit one of her fussy stages, where she didn't have much interest in solid food, leaving me struggling to hydrate myself enough to also hydrate her via breastmilk. I commented to Arazyr that I never thought my fondest wish for Christmas Eve this year would be to have all three of us pooping normally. I called my parents and told them that our presence at their Christmas Eve dinner was questionable, and even if I made a near-miraculous recovery, the pies I had promised to make were almost certainly not going to happen.

I did seem to make a near-miraculous recovery. By afternoon, I was no longer receiving calls from nature on the red phone, I had been fever-free for 24 hours, and my stomach had settled down to feeling only slightly delicate, even if I did feel a touch weak. We went to my parents', where I cautiously enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner, I put the finishing touches on all the non-afghan Christmas gifts, and then we went to Christmas Eve services at church, where I even managed to sing with the choir. All seemed to be going well... until shortly after we got home. I set out all the presents for Arazyr to wrap (I made all but one of them, so he was going to wrap them), while he sat down for a bit. Before he got as far as getting up from the couch, though, his stomach started feeling "questionable", a feeling which seemed to get only worse. I ended up wrapping the presents, as nature decided to start using Arazyr's number. At about quarter to eleven, Arazyr was also talking to Ralph on the big white phone. At eleven (yes, at night, on Christmas Eve), KatyBeth, apparently not to be left out, threw up the snacks she'd eaten during the church service, in two small ejection episodes. In both cases, two minutes afterwards, she was running around the house, grinning like a maniac, and squealing with delight, while I tossed anything that got hit, in the washing machine, and when I checked, she had no fever, but still... I called my parents, and told them we would not be coming over for Christmas brunch, the next day.

I deliberated mightily as to what to do. After checking a couple of child care books on my shelf, as to when I should be panicking about a child who had vomited, I decided to trust my instincts, and just watch KB overnight - the only thing she'd pitched were the snacks, she had no fever or other symptoms (except maybe that running lack of interest in much solid food?), but she was happy, and playing normally, even though she'd been up long enough that she had to be exhausted. I tucked the somewhat miserable-feeling Arazyr into bed, then settled down with Baby, in her room, feeling very glad that my friend had come to hang out with us during Arazyr's business trip at the beginning of the month, such that the futon in the baby's room has been usable ever since. KatyBeth slept well, not even waking as much as usual, to nurse. Arazyr, however, had a miserable night. He was in the bathroom frequently - apparently Ralph had him on auto-dial. I got up several times, to see if there was anything I could do for him, but there really wasn't. He couldn't even keep plain water down. I told him that if he wasn't able to keep some sort of fluid down, by about 11 in the morning, I was taking him to the emergency room. He didn't argue. Sometime after the sun rose, he called his mother to tell her we wouldn't be over to her place for Christmas afternoon, either.

At about 10:30, Arazyr had successfully kept water down for about 20 minutes, but he still felt like he was likely to throw up again. I told him I didn't see the point of waiting on things, any longer - if he still felt like he might pitch it all up, again, then we should just go to the emergency room. While KatyBeth seemed ok, I figured there was no point in physically taking her to the emergency room, within 12 hours of her throwing up, and not having her looked at, as well, so I packed the diaper bag (with EVERYTHING, this time, to the point of overflowing), handed Arazyr a towel and a bucket, for coping with any issues that might occur on the way, and put them both into the car.

As I was backing out of the drive, however, I discovered that Arazyr, not realizing we would be taking my car anywhere on Christmas Day, had parked farther over in the drive than usual, upon coming home, the night before. The side mirrors were not going to clear each other. I shifted back into drive, and tried to readjust my exit angle. On the second adjustment path, my car got stuck. Arazyr had been in a bit of a hurry, when he'd last cleared snow, and hadn't cleared very close to my car, and we'd had a partial melt and re-freeze. The ridge of snow and ice that had been behind my car, when it was parked, was now directly in front of the front tires of my little front wheel drive car, and even the low gears proved insufficient to get back over it enough to make the needed further adjustments, without more of a "running start" than I could get, without smashing up Arazyr's car. The side of my car was, in at least one spot, within about 2 inches of Arazyr's. After 2 rounds of getting out of the car, and kicking at the ice ridges and hacking at them with a snow shovel, I finally managed to exit the driveway, without damage to either car, and headed to the hospital emergency room. Upon our arrival, I saw the members of my household registered, and Arazyr was taken off in one direction, and KatyBeth, in my care, in another.

According to the nurse taking admissions, they'd been frightfully busy, all day, and it sort of showed. KatyBeth and I saw another registration person, a nurse, and finally a doctor, with fairly long waits in between. I didn't begrudge them that, though, considering that KB was still quite happy, and I was sure there were many people needing attention much more urgently than she did. She played with her toys, and her little book, and my keys, and pulled things out of the diaper bag, and then started toddling out into the hall, to explore. A tech who happened to be out there gamely tried to blow up a protective glove into a balloon toy for her, but the first one popped (for which he was scolded by a nurse), and the second one (not blown up quite so full), resisted being tied off. He regretfully gave up, apologizing and lamenting that the newer gloves just weren't as good for that as the old ones had been. When KatyBeth started trying to wander down the hall, and into other people's rooms, I had to take her back in our room, and shut the door. She wasn't very happy about that. She did eventually drop of to sleep for about half an hour, and I got some knitting done (yes, I remembered to bring some, this time). Some two and a half hours after our arrival, we were given discharge paperwork, a diagnosis of the ever popular "something viral" (ok, they had a term for it, but all it really meant was "gastrointestinal something viral"), and a prescription for a baby version of a medication that would help stop vomiting, should we need it. We were told we could hang out in the room, until we were ready to leave, or that we could rejoin Arazyr. We chose the latter. He was on an IV when we arrived, and we were told that the doctor wanted all the fluid in the IV in him, and that they were keeping an eye on his pulse rate, which was a bit higher than the doctor would have liked to have seen. We were there for a fair while longer, while the IV dripped. Arazyr's "room" had a curtain, instead of an actual door, so keeping KatyBeth in there wasn't really feasible - I spent a fair amount of time wandering the hall, in her wake, keeping her out of people's rooms. Finally, Arazyr was discharged, with a prescription for the adult version of the same medication they'd had for KB, and we walked out to my car, some four hours after we had arrived. Fortunately, when I called my mom, to give her an update, she gave me the location of a pharmacy that was open on Christmas Day. By the time all was said and done, we were exhausted. Intermittent waves of weakness throughout the day were reminding me that I was not back at 100 percent after my bout with the illness, either. Maybe 85 to 90 percent, but not 100.

There you have it, folks, my Christmas Day, year 2008 - listening to my husband lose stomach contents through the wee hours, watching over my baby girl, to assess how sick she really was, and four hours in the emergency room. It was not, by any stretch a Merry Christmas, though it was a Grateful one. Grateful that despite the fact that we did not get to see our extended families, that we opened no presents, and that the fanciest thing that any of us ate all day was my hard-boiled egg with toast that I had as an early dinner (having had no lunch), that we were all going to be okay, to do those things another day. We may have spent half the day in the hospital, but nobody had to stay overnight, and, thank God, that at very least He'd granted us the blessing of me getting mostly recovered, before Arazyr and KatyBeth got hit with it - I'm not sure how we'd have managed, if we'd all three had it, at once.

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