What I am writing is real. I’m not padding, embellishing or exaggerating. This is my actual life. These things actually happened to me this month.
No, wait. “Happened” is a poor descriptor. “Happened” implies an inherent sense of innocence. As if the subject in question was a victim of circumstance. As in “The tornado ‘happened’ to destroy my house,” or “The rock ‘happened’ to fall out of the sky and hit me in the head.” Instead I’ll go with “transpired.” These events I’m about to share transpired at the hands of my decision-making skills. I’m never a victim of anything other than my own actions.
You’re going to read this and think to yourself, “Self, this can’t be real. No one could possibly ever make such idiotic choices.”
Oh, but they can. They can do a lot of stupid things. They can even do those things again. Over, and over, and over again…
Why I Haven’t Written in a Long Time: Part 2
If you haven’t read part one of this saga, I highly recommend you do so now. If you have, I’ve provided you with a recap so we can all start on the same page.
- I made bad choices and got myself into some serious hot water with the husband and the IRS.
- I freaked out and decided to get a job.
- I accepted a job offer less than two full days after I made the decision to get one. I did not consult my family.
- I was in a neck brace, but didn’t tell you why.
- I resolved the tax issue and almost quit the job but decided to keep it with the understanding that I could terminate my employment whenever I wanted.
Somewhere in between resolving the tax issue and my second week at my new job, my daughter was invited to a birthday party at one of our favorite locales, Defy Gravity. You might remember my previous experience at this excessively loud/smelly indoor trampoline park.
The party was on a Sunday evening. When I dropped her off it was immediately apparently that school nights are significantly less crowded and odorous than those on holiday vacations. But more importantly, they had started selling special jumping socks. Reusable jumping socks; for $1.95 I would never, ever, ever have to shove my tiny feet into another pair of sweat-infused soft-soled shoes for the rest of my life. Noting the improvements and being the wonderful (overindulgent out of guilt over being the worst alcoholicy, tax-evading) mother that I am, I offered to jump with my son while my daughter was at her party.
Last time we jumped my daughter and I had roughly three square feet apiece. This time my son and I had the entire place to ourselves. Literally the entire place. We did flips, played frisbee, had distance contests and so on… I should’ve left well enough alone. But it’s me. If I could leave well enough alone, I could stop after two drinks and bake only one dessert at a time. It’s a physical impossibility. Me leaving well enough alone would be like Jillian Michaels patting you on the back and letting you go home after five push-ups. I take it to the max. Every. Single. Time.
Two minutes… Just a hundred and twenty miniscule seconds before our session was up, I decided to do one last flip. Like a true jackass I yelled, “Hey! Look at me!” ensuring the attention of not only my son, but the entire staff as well. The minute my feet left the trampoline I knew I wasn’t going to make it. My timing was off. Instead of landing on my feet, I landed square on my head, forcing my neck to twist inward. I heard a bit of a “snap” sound, follow by excruciating pain radiating from the nape of my neck, down my left arm. The closest descriptor I can conjure up is “pins and needles,” but that doesn’t do the sensation justice. It was among the highest level of pain I’ve ever felt. And that’s a whole lot of pain. You’re talking to someone who has birthed two children and survived a nasty (near life-ending) case of peritonitis.
(Side note: Do not get peritonitis. It hurts beyond anything I could dream up. Along the lines of spontaneous limb amputation. In fact, I remember thinking that I would be willing to severe my arm to make the pain stop and I really, really meant it. And then they cut you open. And then they sew you up, but only to the inner level. That means you have an enormous, gaping wound. You can see inside yourself all the way down to the part where your layers of skin and fat stop (it’s deeper than you think) and your insides are. Then you live in the ICU for two weeks and they don’t let you eat or drink anything for the entire stay. Not a bite, not a drop. Nothing. Then you get post-op pneumonia and then that makes you need to cough a whole lot, which also hurts beyond explanation, because you’ve got the open wound and all. And that open wound, created in March, will not fully heal until August, leaving you with a hideous, unsightly scar that compliments your stretch marks quite nicely. Oh, and also during this time you’ll have two children in diapers and your husband will be deployed for most of it. Again, this actually happened to me.)
So there I was, sitting on a trampoline, looking like a fool and trying to save face by laughing it off. My son decided it was an opportune time to throw a ball in my face. It was not. In my most dignified, tear-holding-in, mature tone I half yelled, half cried, “why would you do that to someone? Why?” I got a lot of stares.
We found my daughter and headed to the car. I was still in the yoga pants and t-shirt I’d brought to change into. Unfortunately, having planned to change back into my regular clothes before we left, I had nothing other than knee-high boots and was forced to drive home in my new jump socks.
It was a windy night. Not breezy. Nebraska windy. So much so that pulling my car door open was a feat of strength and keeping my vehicle on the road was a challenge. Within minutes the pins and needles sensation had become so great I’d lost almost all movement in my left arm. I was one-armed driving in socks, trying to steady my car just enough to avoid an accident.
I think I went into shock at that point. Losing mobility in my arm suggested a serious injury. I started to feel faint. I was one-armed driving in socks, trying to steady my car just enough to avoid an accident, hoping to stay conscious.
I’ve never been able to master the art of Bluetooth voice commands, nor have I ever been able to figure out how to lower the volume on my car’s voice command prompt. I wasn’t in the mood to have “MAIN MENU!!!!” screamed into my ear while attempting to enunciate the name of my (unlucky) friend (victim) of choice, so I had to use the touch screen. I was no armed driving in socks, trying to steady my car just enough to avoid an accident, hoping to stay conscious.
I finally arrived at my friend’s (victim’s) house to drop my children off and change back into my street clothes before heading to the ER. I claimed I needed to change so I wouldn’t have to walk in shoeless. In truth I was far more concerned about the state of my yoga pants, which had fallen victim to the trampoline incontinence we discussed previously. (You’re welcome for that, by the way.)
Trying to change in that condition took what felt like a half hour. Cramming myself into skinny jeans is challenge enough with all limbs operative. I insisted on driving myself, which was flat out idiotic given the circumstances. I also refused to allow anyone to call 911 during the whole peritonitis fiasco. Because it’s me. And that would’ve been too reasonable.
When you arrive at an emergency room with a neck injury, unable to move your arm, they take you very seriously. I was bumped to the front of the line, even ahead of a visibly distressed woman suffering from a serious case of influenza. In hindsight I feel terrible that I went ahead of her, but at the time I genuinely thought I had a broken neck. I silently thanked the husband for pestering me into getting the flu mist. Don’t tell him that.
Even thinking I’d fractured a vertebrae, I still winced at the scale and made a comment about how heavy my boots were. Because it’s me. And I knew the nurse cared a lot about my weight.
The abridged version of the ER visit is this: They put me in a full neck brace. I had a CT scan. I was diagnosed not with a fracture, but hyperextension. Apparently this is akin to whiplash. Or as the doctor put it “being in a serious car accident.” They downgraded me to a soft brace. I gave in and accepted the hydrocodone they were determined to force on me. And there I was, foolishly fearing I’d be labeled a drug seeker. (I swear I’m not)
I’m convinced there was some kind of “Who can hand out the most opiates?” contest going on. The doctor clearly knew I take Antabuse: we discussed my medications in detail. If that’s not a red flag, I don’t know what is. Especially considering it was my sixth visit to that ER in four years; making it the fifth time I was prescribed narcotics (one of which was morphine). Six if you count the time I left with a script for my minor child. This is what happens when you don’t “look like” an alcoholic. People trust you too much, even when you specifically tell them not to. Maybe next time I’ll wear shabby clothes and carry a brown paper bag. That’s the official uniform of alcoholics. It’s the only way people can identify us.
I guess I could also just not do stuff that might result in injury.
And so my friend (victim) left my children with a sitter, met me at the hospital, helped me fill my prescriptions and got me home. This is the second time she’s done this for me. Why are people friends with me?
Given that I was in pain, in a brace and heavily medicated, I was forced to call in sick twice in my second week at my new job. I felt incredibly depressed both because I hated the thought of being considered unreliable and because I found myself hoping the injury would sustain itself long enough that I’d have to quit. I knew I’d made a terrible mistake.
After one week of work I’d already had to postpone appointments, make special arrangements, and start telling my kids “no,” more often than not. Due to the commute, the weather, and the parking arrangements, eight hours of work plus an hour break translated to eleven hours away from my home. Forty hours was fifty-five. The idea of flexibility is great, but I suddenly I found myself spending what felt like hours on the phone saying, “I can’t do Tuesday, what about Friday? No? What about next week?” I failed to see the flip side of the situation; when your job has variable hours, you have no consistency. At least on a Monday – Friday schedule I could set stable weekly appointments. For us this includes an hour of super-fun therapy with a drug and alcohol counselor, two hours of occupational therapy (one per child!) and an hour of social group for my son as a minimum. We also have visits with psychiatrists, standard medical checkups, trips to the dentist, a million prescriptions to fill, and on and on. And just like work, every hour long session became three.
I’ve stated many times that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to career versus home versus whatever else you want to do with your time. I had suddenly remembered exactly why I quit my better, stable job: At this point in my life, working doesn’t work. I knew this. But it’s me. So I forced myself to keep working, mostly for the sake of avoiding a “You were right, I was wrong,” conversation. I figured I’d push through a few months. I told you that already.
I hope you all know where this is headed. Baking.
Precisely twenty-four hours after my injury, I decided I desperately needed to use up the three bananas sitting on my counter, threatening to go bad. And so my neck brace and I made our way to the kitchen to make banana pudding.
I went through about two dozen recipes, trying to match what I had in my cabinets with the necessary ingredients. It became apparent that I would not be able to make what I intended without those weird Nilla wafers that no one ever has for any reason other than making banana pudding.
So I went through another two dozen recipes, trying to match what I had in my cabinets with the necessary ingredients to make weird Nilla wafers. I was successful. In just under an hour, I had several dozen faux wafer cookies that neither looked nor tasted “better” than Nilla wafers as promised by the conspirators at allrecipes.com.
And I went to work on the pudding, which was to be made with cream cheese, milk, pudding mix, and whipped cream. But I didn’t have any whipped cream so I made some.
And I went back to work, carefully pouring my pudding mixture over my “better” than Nilla wafers wafers and banana slices (neatly dipped in lemon juice). I thought to myself “hmm. This mixture seems thin. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to set up.” And I thought some more and waited to see if the pudding would start to firm up. But it didn’t. Because it’s me. I neglected to add the pudding to the pudding mixture.
There was no option other than scraping it all back into the mixing bowl, but since it had already been poured over the “wafers” and bananas, it wasn’t going to be a clean separation. I was able to get most of it off of the “wafers” but the bananas were having no part in it.
In my neck-bracy haze, I imagined I could just leave the bananas in the mixture and they’d just break up in the mixer, resulting in a pudding/banana layer rather than pudding over a layer of bananas. Yeah… that doesn’t work. Instead it became somewhat of a chunky paste, which I poured back over the “wafers.”
Then I thought to myself, “hmm. This seems like it’s too thick. It shouldn’t be so dense. Usually instant pudding and milk fluff up more than this.” But it didn’t. Because it’s me. I forgot to add the milk.
I scraped it all into the mixer again. I added the missing ingredient again. I turned the mixer on again. This time, however, I was met with a wonderful surprise banana/cream cheese/pudding/milk explosion. It went everywhere. The floor, the sink, the overhead light fixture, the stovetop, my shoes, my neck brace. It didn’t explode the second time I flipped the switch though, since the bowl was only half full at that point. I dumped what was left in the pan and shoved it in the refrigerator tilted to the left side since I couldn’t get it to fit any other way.
Clean-up was less than enjoyable but I managed to get all of it, with the exception of my brace that is. It smelled like fermenting fruit, and yet somehow I was too afraid to take it off. I imagined my self like one of those Kayan Burmese (Should I be saying Myanmarese? Myanmarites?) women with all the neck rings and pictured mine failing and snapping upon removal. I read somewhere once that that didn’t really ever happen. I didn’t trust my sources enough to tempt fate.
My next few days were spent in bed, in a smelly neck brace, pouting and lamenting my foolish life choices while watching something like fifteen episodes of “American Horror Story” on Netflix. That show is less scary than immensely irritating. Those people make worse choices than I do. I spent half my viewing time thinking “JUST LEAVE THE HOUSE ALREADY! FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY IF YOU CAN’T AFORD IT! GET. OUT. NOW! If your daughter refuses to move with you, leave her! She can deal with the spirits alone!… Oh wait, what’s that?… You can’t because you let some strange guy hit the girl you had an affair with in the face with a shovel right in front of you and instead of calling the police you buried her and built a gazebo over the grave and someone might find it?” Now you’ve really done it. You stayed so long people are dying. YOU GUYS SUCK!”
On day four I was given the go-ahead to remove the brace. I’m telling you, there was something terrifying about it. Once it was off, I felt so fragile I was afraid to turn my head. Although it was nice to get away from the smell of fermentation, which was sort of making me think about sangria.
The sangria comment reminded me that I have something funny to show you that’s not at all related to this post. A few days ago I tried to take some pictures on my phone and couldn’t because the memory was full. I had been uploading the pictures from time to time but I never really noticed the culprit: duplicate copies in the photo stream. I don’t understand what that is. I bet it has something to do with the cloud. I don’t understand that either.
Anyway, I’ve had this iPhone 4S since the day they were released. I stood in line in the freezing cold to get one because I had broken the screen on my 3S two weeks earlier and had been using it that way in anticipation of the most current version. Yes, I was drunk when I broke it. All three times. And both times on the one I’m still using.
Having never cleared the photo stream, I still had every single picture snapped since 2011. I found thirteen photos of alcohol. Not me drinking (though there were quite a few of those too), snapshots of the alcohol itself. What?? Was I so in love that I felt the need to carry around keepsakes on my phone?
For your viewing pleasure:
Nebraska’s own Lucky Bucket wheat. It was as tasty as the bottle indicates.
A half-consumed bottle of what I’m guessing was Barefoot Pinot Grigio. My signature wine, not bad for $5.00. When you’re buying in volume, you have to consider costs. I have no clue what this was about.
Ah… My sangria phase. It was painfully hot that summer and I found it refreshing. And strong. I made gallons of it. If you’ve ever found yourself at my house, wondering why I have six or seven large plastic pitchers, this is your answer. I’m positive my friends and neighbors remember this. I took it everywhere.
It was so important to me, I treated it with love.
Costco pinot. In what I’m assuming is my garage? Yeah… this makes no sense.
Some unknown red. Probably cabernet.
I didn’t buy this. I thought it was funny and I wanted a memento. I do remember this. Yes, it’s from Utah.
I also remember this- purchased at World Market in Kansas City. The chorizo and chips were for the husband. They were not good.
I’m pretty sure I drank this in a moving vehicle (as a passenger) but I don’t recall the who/what/where/why part.
My all time favorite. You can’t get Widmere here, so whenever I got my hands on some, it was a special couple of days. I think I got really mad at the husband after I found the case empty after a single day. He kindly reminded me that he’d only had one. I accused him of lying.
More Costco knock-offs. Don’t buy this.
Ahhhh. The Brad Paisley concert. I had no idea who that was, but a friend (my hospital pal) had extra tickets and I like going places, so I went. And I drank a giant can of Dos Equis.
Last but not least, I have no recollection, but I’m positive I was celebrating Miller Lite’s new punch top. I was doing that already. They just made it easier.
I’m glad I found these. They gave me a good laugh. They reminded me of a time in my life when I planned my entire day around buying (you have to rotate stores or else you’ll look bad) and drinking. And being hung-over. All the freaking time. I mean all the time. More importantly, I noticed there we no pictures of my kids. Now I can delete them and take another step forward. (Slow clap)
Alright, I need to wrap this up. I’m pushing four thousand words, which probably means I’ve lost half of you already. I can’t imagine why. This is such an exciting read.
After the brace came off I went back to work. I would convince myself I was going to quit, then I’d go in and have a good day; that only added to my confusion. I would then convince myself to stay. I bargained and bargained. First it was committing to two months, then it was two pay periods, then it was the next few days. On day ten, after not seeing my children for almost four days, I admitted there was no way I could save face. I turned in a letter of resignation and that was that. Another stupid, moronic, ridiculous, impulsive, insane decision.
If you ever hear me talking about going back to work again, stop me. (Unless it’s writing) Honestly, I’m not sure I’m well enough for it. (Sad face) I’m in the semi-depressed phase that tends to follow a failure. It’s taken me days upon days to complete this post. In the end, I just needed to come out and get it off my chest.
I’ll leave it at that and call it a night. I’ve just suffered several losses at Uno and I’m exhausted from muddy foot races, monkey bars, and stick throwing contests.