I have the plague.
Okay. Maybe it’s not the plague. Actually I think I may very well have the “mystery virus” that is popping up all over the midwest. Reports say that those primarily effected are children. I know I’m not *a child* but I’m *with child*—er—so maybe that puts me in the high risk group? Regardless, I have been sicker than I’ve ever been before with some sort of respiratory illness that has rendered me short on oxygen and energy.
In other words I’ve been a worthless sack of humanity this past week. Hence my absence from the radio and this space.
Of course, the show that is the Savage household doesn’t shut down for sick days. Kids still go to school, activities are still attended, and the to-do list still needs doing. Of course, none of my chores have been slam-dunked this past week. Instead, it’s all been a giant example of “half-assery”. Well packed lunches were replaced with lunch money; kids were a little less polished in both their appearance and preparedness; and chores? Well, I resorted to a bare minimum to-do list leaving peripheral duties…like laundry… for the weekend.
I’ll be digging myself out for days.
Isn’t that how us mothers do illness, though? We put ourselves last and come hell or highwater we can’t take a day off no matter how crappy we feel. It’s both noble—and stupid. Noble because nothing will stand in the way of being present for our children. Stupid because after we drag ourselves to these supposed watershed moments sometimes sickness prevails and we look plain stupid for not listening to our bodies and collapsing into our beds.
What am I alluding to? Allow me to set the scene.
Drew had his first NCAA cross country meet of his sophomore season this past Friday. The race was in Athens, Ohio, a mere four hour drive from our home. Knowing it would be an all-day commitment both Sean and I made the necessary plans to attend. Friday meetings were rescheduled; babysitters were hired; and rides home from school were arranged. I thought my ducks were in row—until I got sick.
Sean: Do you think you should go? I mean, you don’t look so hot.
Carolyn: I’m not missing this. I’ll take some tylenol and rest in the car. There’s nothing anyone can do for me here, anyways. It’s viral. I’m pregnant. I have no choice but to suffer through it and wait for my immune system to kick in. Plus, what harm could come from watching a running race on a golf course?
Little did I know.
Fast forward to the morning of the race. My cough was epic causing me two very inconvenient issues. The first was easily solved by a text to my midwife who gave me permission to use my inhaler. The second, however, was bit more of a nuisance. You see, I’m 28 weeks pregnant and my sweet little two pound bundle of joy is resting comfortably on top of my bladder.
My forty-five year old, warn-out, saggy bladder.
I don’t want to get graphic here, folks. So, let’s just say that not only did my cough cause me to have to refill my inhaler but it also led me down an aisle of the drug store I’d never paid much attention to. As I stood in that aisle I realized how little I knew about the product I needed and was quickly overwhelmed by the vast selection. There were mini-pads, maxi-pads and full on under garments. Some were designed for men. Others for women. All of them promised discretion and came with guarantees of absorbancy.
I studied the products and sized up my issue. It’s only a little when I cough. I need to catch it. Not collect it. I don’t think I’d classify the issue as a major leak. Let’s categorize it as mild to moderate. And with that, I grabbed something I thought would do the trick and scurried back to the tampon aisle–a place more befitting of a 45 year old woman…who’s not pregnant.
By the time we arrived at the race I was convinced I was prepared. Tylenol had been swallowed; inhaler had been inhaled; and any mild to moderate “spills” were guaranted to be contained…it said so on the package. I was confident. And all was going swimmingly. The race started, Drew was off, and I commenced my waddle across the course to snap pictures where I could.
I was so proud of myself. I was there despite the fact that I felt like hell and sounded like I had a fifteen-pack-a-day habit.
Everything was going great until Drew hit the third mile. It was then that I thought I should make my way towards the finish line. Sean had long abandoned me to run around the course encouraging Drew at different stages of the race, so I was alone. Me. The very pregnant mother of a sophomore in college.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Nothing has gotten me more stares than the wondering eyes of my fellow collegiate parents. I can practically read their horrified minds as they ponder going back to the days of bassinets, burp cloths and bottles AFTER having successfully booted one chick from the nest. I’m sure maybe an iota of what I imagine is projected onto their private thoughts from somewhere deep in my psyche…but I have no doubt the looks of astonishment I get from that crowd are genuine. And I understand them. If it were someone else I’d be thinking the same thing.
That being said, I’m a little self conscious around the whole college parent scene. And, on this particular day I was trying hard to look inconspicuous. It was going okay until I fell.
As I began my waddle towards the finish line I managed to find a well camouflaged, twelve inch hole and promptly fell into it. My camera flew out of my hands. My sunglasses fell to the ground. As I was falling I remember thinking, “Holy hell! Please don’t let anyone be watching.”
No such luck.
Unfortunately, the tumbling mass of pregnant woman managed to catch the peripheral attention of at least a dozen other bystanders who ran to help.
I wanted to die.
I wanted to die because it was embarrassing. I wanted to die because drawing more attention to myself was the last thing I wanted. And, I wanted to die because if hurt like hell. I’d twisted my right ankle something fierce and as I quickly popped up and assured the growing crowd around me that I was perfectly fine I was thinking, I think I just broke my fucking ankle AND for the love of God hold onto the one last shred of dignity you have and don’t fucking cry.
But it was too late.
I could feel the tears coming as my ankle throbbed. Out of desperation, I made a last ditch desperate attempt to mask my pain by laughing—because you know—that makes sense. So, I laughed like what just happened was the funniest thing I’d ever seen–which under normal circumstances may have saved me and lightened the mood of the very concerned bystanders–but instead, given my current bought of what may have been the Ohio version of ebola, sent me into an immediate respiratory spasm. Before I knew it I was doubled over coughing so hard I could see stars.
That’s when the horror set.
What happened next is somewhat of a blur. I think my fuzzy memory of exactly how this went down is due to either oxygen deprivation from the cough or because the the human mind, out of self-preservation, is hard wired to forget traumatic incidents.
And traumatic it was.
Because with every cough. Every contraction of my diaphragm. I flooded. I quickly thought about the packaging I’d so hastily read earlier that day as the words “mild to moderate” mocked me. There was absolutely nothing “mild to moderate” about what was happening in that moment.
This was a catastrophic event.
When I was sixteen I wrecked my mom’s car during my driver’s license exam. When the secretary of state person drove her to the scene of the accident she gently told me something important as I sat in the back of the cop car explaining to the police officer that, “I can’t provide you with my driver’s license because I was actually taking the driving test when I disregarded that stop sign“.
She said I’d laugh about this one day. At the time, I didn’t believe her.
But she was right.
I have no idea if anyone around me truly realized what happened in that hole on that golf course last Friday afternoon. After I eventually caught my breath, I thanked everyone for their concern, assured them I was fine and then pointed to the finish line. By the grace of God, the runners were coming. They all left which gave me a moment to take inventory of how bad the situation was.
Luckily I had a change of clothes in the car, and a cooler full of ice to plunge my ankle into. As for my dignity? Well, I admittedly checked that at the door during my first labor and delivery experience. No harm, no foul. And with that, I waddled to the ladies room.
Later on that evening Drew noticed something was amiss.
Drew: Why are you limping, Mom?
Me: I fell in a hole at the race.
Drew: Oh man [horrifed]. Did anyone notice?
Me: Yes, Drew. Many people noticed.
As for how much they noticed? Well, hopefully I’ll never know.
FYI…My ankle isn’t broken. And, I’m happy to report my virus is responding to antibiotic treatment. I guess it isn’t ebola. I’m hoping to be back to my regular old self by the end of the week.
Of course, laughing…with proper protection…has helped as well.