Feeling Better

A picture of better health, taken during my commute.

It’s been two weeks since I was diagnosed with shingles for the second time in my life, and today is the first day I actually feel pretty good and normal again. There’s a very faint soreness in the area where my skin turned red on my shoulder blade — I feel it if I move my arm a certain way — but that’s it. All things considered, I am very lucky. I know it could have been worse.

Continue reading

Finally Out of the House

First time out of the house in a week for me, so we got some frozen yogurt! Still got some healing to do — lingering pain is probably gonna be around for awhile — but at least I’m feeling more like myself today.

Married and Shingled

A selfie as I wait for Martin to bring me water. The filter I used here reminds me of the loopy, blurring feeling I get when my meds work their magic.

I was diagnosed with shingles earlier this week.

This is the second time in my life I’ve duked it out with herpes zoster, which is not the same as the more common herpes simplex virus, but nevertheless, it’s still just as weird and unsettling to be told by your doctor that yes, you are ONCE AGAIN suffering for an unsavory and rare disease that usually affects the elderly.

The first time I suffered from this was in December 2005, when I was 24 years old, and just a few months into my new assignment at the Pentagon.

I blogged a poem about it in an attempt to be cheery since, you know, the holidays. But it was awful. And strange. I remember the right side of my scalp hurting, as if I had been whacked by a hairbrush, or like someone yanked a clump of my hair in an attempt to pull my hair out. Weird, especially since I couldn’t recall anything like that happening to me, but I figured it would go away. After about three days of this pain, I woke up with a visible knot in my neck where my lymph node usually hides, and a slight fever, and my office SNCO (senior non-commissioned officer, one of my bosses) ordered me to get checked out.

My doctor — a petite Indian lady with a thick accent — felt my neck, checked my scalp, took a look at my back, and declared, “You have herpes zoster!”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You had chicken pox as a child, yes? It lives in your nervous system. And it is active again. You must be under a lot of stress. You have shingles.”

So that was that.

I got heavy duty pain meds, anti-viral medication, steroids, and bed rest. I used the time learning about shingles, how the chicken pox virus lives dormant in various dermatomes, and the theories of what triggers it to become active. Because it was caught before a blistering rash actually erupted, I was fortunate: the pain and the skin sensitivity on my scalp could have been a LOT worse. It was mostly my head throbbing and my scalp itching.

I was back to work in a week, and any lingering pain was gone by the time New Years rolled around.

This time?

I didn’t catch it as quick.

At some point on Friday, my right shoulder blade started to hurt like I had pulled it. This didn’t alarm me, as I keep a tension band at my desk at work, doing arm and shoulder stretches throughout the day. Plus, we were planning on going to Ohio over the weekend, and I was lifting and carrying suitcases out to the van as we prepared for the trip. I couldn’t recall moving it in a way to cause injury, but who knows? The pain wasn’t unusual or unbearable. So I ignored it.

On our way to Ohio that Friday evening, while driving through the armpit of Maryland, our van’s dashboard lights lit up indicating engine trouble. Not wanting to break down on the side of the road overnight, we got a hotel room, and spent the night. I woke up Saturday morning with terrible shoulder pain in the same spot. I assumed that I had slept wrong on it in that unfamiliar bed, so I took some Tylenol and tried stretching it out.

Then I had Martin work on it, and when he got tired of that, I had the younger two kids stand on it. I kept asking them, “Do you guys feel anything knotted there?”

But they couldn’t feel anything odd, and that was the first time it dawned on me that perhaps this pain wasn’t muscular. But nevertheless, a warm shower and more Tylenol soothed it. Yet, it was *always* hurting.

We got home on Saturday afternoon after the local mechanic in Maryland deemed it safe enough to return home, and I spent the rest of the evening wearing my heating pad strapped to my back. By Sunday morning, it was more of the same, but then I also noticed that the skin below my right armpit, wrapping around my torso from that spot on my shoulder blade, actually stung like razor burn. Or like someone snapped me with a rubber band.

Weird, right?

Nevertheless, I sucked it up, took more Tylenol, and headed off to the local amusement park with the family that day.

But as Martin drove us there, I googled ” right shoulder blade pain” on my phone, and it led me almost immediately to shingles articles.

However, I didn’t have a fever or headache or fatigue, which were the other major symptoms. I only had the pain.

Yet …

I mentioned it to Martin.

“You can’t get shingles twice,” he said. “You were too young to get it in the first place! Nobody gets it twice.”

“Yeah, but … isn’t that my luck? If it was my muscle, and I pulled it, wouldn’t the heat and massage help it by now?”

Before I went to bed on Sunday, I stood in front of the mirror and stared at my back for awhile, at the spot where the pain originated. The skin looked normal. There was nothing to see. But I couldn’t shake the feeling.

And sure enough, Monday morning, I could barely move my right arm. My shoulder blade was throbbing and the pain along my armpit was raging, and there on my back — in that spot — there was redness and the beginnings of four or five little bumps.

I hollered for Martin. I showed him my back. He swore they were just zits. I swore back at him.

Without much more discussion, we got the kids dressed and headed to our providers’ Urgent Care. (Since we had planned to be in Ohio, I was already on leave from work.) The whole time, Martin tried to convince me I was just getting panicky about b’acne.

I hoped he was right.

However, it took less than 10 minutes for the Urgent Care doctor to diagnose me. He said it was a good thing I got to him within 72 hours of the rash first appearing because the anti-virals can stop it from spreading. But I would still be dealing with a slight rash.

And then he asked, “So? Are you under a lot of stress? More than usual lately?”

All I could do was laugh.

******************

Since Monday, I’ve been home in my bedroom, pumped up on pain meds, anti-virals, and steroids, all taken on a very strict schedule.

They make me groggy and loopy.

The bumps on my back never did grow bigger, but the pain definitely intensified. In the moments when I’m waiting for the pain meds to kick in, I stare at the ceiling and try to think of ways to describe what I’m feeling.

It’s like the most intense razor burn after knicking off a few layers of skin from one’s ankle bone while shaving one-legged in the shower. Surely, other women can relate to that moment when it doesn’t yet hurt, but you know you cut yourself, you know it’s gonna scar deep, and you know it’s going to get worse when the water actually hits it. And then the water hits it, and it’s not just a burning pain, but it’s like acid being poured and seeped into the area around it.

That’s how it feels around those small little bumps that still look harmless and non-threatening.

I can’t imagine how it would feel if I had waited longer, and they actually blistered and turned violent like I saw on those online photos of other people with shingles.

And then there’s the discomfort along my torso and under my armpit, which feels like I dry-shaved the whole area before slathering on some kind of irritating lotion or deodorant.

I’m not the only one who has ever done that in a rush, am I?

In fact, I thought I actually did that — even though I couldn’t remember doing so — but the doctor explained the pain is just the virus stretching out along that specific dermatome under my skin. Had it run its course without medication, I probably would have broken out in a rash along there, too.

Marvelous.

*************

Taking my pills. Hydrating. Again.

There’s always a silver lining.

For me, the silver lining is having this time with my family. All of the kids have had the chicken pox vaccination, so they can be around me, and it’s nice not being completely isolated. Usually, I’m the family doctor and nurse, the one who bandages wounds, distributes the medication, and changes the bedsheets every day so feverish little heads have something cool and clean underneath them.

Now, it warms my heart when I see my kids try and do these things for me. I have a very groggy, but very sweet memory of Lola sneaking into my bedroom to put a clean blanket on me as I napped, leaving a kiss on my cheek. Miss C brings me books and ice water throughout the day. And Jaz checks in regularly, too, asking if there’s anything I need, and quickly getting his Dad if I do.

And speaking of Martin, even though he’s shouldering all the family and house work this week, he gets a silver lining, too.

With pain like the kind I just described, it hurts like hell to have anything touch the skin on my back and torso. I have one silk tank top that hangs loose enough to tolerate, but for the most part? No shirts. No undergarments. No bed sheets above the waist. Even the breeze from my ceiling fan creates little irritating whispers of a burning sensation.

So, most of the time … I stay … comfortable.

With that said, I was having a moment yesterday afternoon. My hair was a mess, my face felt swollen from sleeping so late, I was feeling weepy from the pain, groggy from the meds, annoyed that this was happening, frustrated that I couldn’t do anything about it, and woe is me, and all that jazz.

Martin sat at the end of the bed, nodding, listening, all with a goofy grin on his face.

“But, you know what?” he finally said. “I know you feel bad, and shingles is bad, and I don’t like that you feel bad, but if you’re gonna be sick, and I have to be your nurse, well, I can’t complain about the view.”

And then he nodded at me with that silly grin.

I couldn’t help, but smile, too.

That’s my life.

Married and shingled.

 

********************

There’s a reason I’m sharing all of this.

Yes, it is rare for a person under the age of 35 to get shingles TWICE, like me. The numbers say this happens to less than 5 percent of people who ever had chicken pox.

But anecdotally, just within my social circle, I know many young people — ages 20 to 50 — who have broken out in shingles at least ONCE.

Fortunately, there’s now a chicken pox vaccine given to children so they never get the virus in their system, so they won’t later come down with shingles.

But if YOU are a part of my generation, and you had chicken pox as a child, you are at risk for developing shingles at some point in your life.

So read up and be aware of the symptoms. They are easy to overlook, especially if you tend to overlook and tolerate mild pain issues. But the sooner you recognize the symptoms and get treatment, the better.

You can read more about shingles HERE, HERE, and HERE.

And be sure to click on the hyperlinks I’ve included in this post.

The more you know! 🙂

*********

Martin went to the grocery store this evening. This was in the parking lot to greet him. He thinks he was being pranked.

Sigh of Relief

Last week, I mentioned to Martin that we should schedule a date night and have dinner in downtown DC.

I should have been more specific.

Instead of a romantic evening over candlelight, we spent Friday evening together sitting on a hard, vinyl couch on the top floor of the Children’s National Medical Center downtown, eating Chinese take-out from Styrofoam containers as our son slept in a metal crib nearby.

It wasn’t romantic, but nothing makes you realize how much you love, adore, and depend on your spouse like watching him step up and care for your sick child.

In this case, our son Jaz was hospitalized for his asthma.


A few days earlier, he started with the sniffles.

It was going around. Both his sisters had the sniffles as well, but with them, all I needed to do was put out an extra box of tissue.

I was hoping whatever caused their congestion would skip over the boy, but it didn’t.

It made me nervous. The last time Jaz got a head cold a few months ago, he also experienced his first asthma attack. And since then, I’ve noted that the slightest congestion required extra puffs of his albuterol, either through the puffer or his nebulizer.

At-home treatment usually did the trick, and things seemed manageable.

But by Thursday night — which was only Martin’s second night home from military training — Jaz developed a slight fever and his wheezing started up again. After giving him his usual nightly treatment, I mentioned to Martin we needed to keep an eye — and ear — out on our boy, and left his bedroom door open.

And then I checked on him every five minutes.

Somewhere close to midnight, I had reached the point where I didn’t leave Jaz’s bedroom at all. He was not improving with the additional albuterol I was giving him, and I didn’t feel confident anything else I could do was going to help.

I had Martin hold onto him while I called our health provider’s 24-hour help line.

The nurse on the other end was cordial as I rattled off Jaz’s information, history, and symptoms. She asked if she could hear him over the line.

Jaz — who was mildly awake at the time — lifted his head from Martin’s chest and leaned into the phone, wheezing with a vague smile on his face as he offered up a greeting.

“Hi,” he said, before rasping heavily into the phone.

The nurse was less than cordial when I put the phone back on my ear.

“I do not like how he sounds at all. You need to hang up with me and call 9-1-1 right now to get him to an emergency room,” she said. “In fact, do you want me to call them for you?”

I looked over at Martin, who heard the nurse, too. For a split second, Martin looked as startled as I felt by that direction, but wordlessly, he started to move toward the hallway just as I told the nurse that we would take Jaz in ourselves.

In less than five minutes, Jaz and Martin were out the door and on their way to the local ER.

I stayed up until about 2 am, texting and exchanging information with Martin. Eventually, I fell asleep. While I was concerned, I wasn’t too worried since I knew Jaz was in good hands.

I figured he would be given some steroids, some more albuterol, and be kept around for observation. I assumed that after a few hours, Martin would sneak back into the house, put Jaz to bed himself, and quietly return to me.

Yet I woke up with a start the next morning, realizing my men weren’t yet home.

 

That’s when I learned from Martin that Jaz didn’t respond to treatment at the local ER, and the decision was made to transfer him to the children’s hospital in downtown DC.

I don’t know what threw me off the most: the news itself or hearing Martin get choked up as he relayed the information. I immediately felt guilty that I had sent Martin unprepared for what he was experiencing, that I had downplayed things too much while he was away at basic training and tech school.

Martin’s always turned to mush whenever our kids are sick or injured, and here was Jaz, struggling to breathe, getting an IV and hooked up to monitors, and being transported to another hospital because his condition was that serious.

Yikes.

I told Martin that I would meet him downtown just as soon as I got things squared away at home. And that’s just what I did after notifying my work and arranging care for the girls. I packed an overnight bag and drove straight to the medical center.

I found both my men exhausted and drained.

Martin was in a reclining chair. Jaz was fast asleep in an elevated metal crib.  He was hooked up to a bunch of monitors that tracked his heart rate and oxygen levels, and his arm was wrapped, covering an IV line in case they needed to administer medication quickly.

Martin explained Jaz was now on a two-hour schedule of nebulizer treatments and observation with the goal of getting him to four hours without needing one.

It took more than 24 hours to do that.

Jaz responded well and sounded better after each nebulizer treatment, but it didn’t take long before he started wheezing and struggling to breathe again. The doctors agreed it was the head cold that was triggering him, but since it was viral, there wasn’t much we could do but let it run its course.

So, we waited.

We treated.

We observed.

We became friends with the nurses who came by to check on Jaz. He particularly grew fond of one named Allison. (We did, too, especially when she brought us extra blankets and recommended some take-out places for us.)

The next 24 hours were mostly long and uneventful. For the most part, we entertained the boy and did our best to distract him from all the monitors attached to him, but we also managed to catch a few hours of sleep here and there, too.

On Saturday morning, we were finally able to go more than four hours without needing to give Jaz a nebulizer treatment. His oxygen levels were good, and his lungs no longer sounded like they were lined with fur. The pediatrician gave her blessing to send him home, and then it just became a waiting game for the discharge paperwork.

We spent that time blowing bubbles, setting up a picnic there on the floor when lunch came, and watching the med-evac helicopters come in for landings right outside our window.

Finally, the nurse came by with all the paperwork and checked us out of there.

We could finally go home!

Watching bubbles and helicopters.

A picnic on the hospital room floor. Mmmm … hospital food!

Our big boy. Always a trooper.

The rest of Saturday was pretty low-key. I took a nap and edited photos from Martin’s tech school graduation. The kids ate cereal for dinner, and Martin began cleaning the house again.

Then, after putting Jaz to bed, Martin spent his time playing a card game with the girls while baking me a pan of brownies.

As I watched him patiently explain [again] the rules of the game to his girls, I couldn’t help but reflect on how awesome he was at the hospital with Jaz the night before.

How he was so meticulous with all of Jaz’s paperwork and information, and remembered all the details the doctors relayed to him.

How he paced the room while holding Jaz until our son fell asleep.

How he went ahead and ordered Chinese — and then waited in the hospital lobby for it — because I was too hangry and being very defeatist about it.

How he insisted on sleeping in the plastic recliner chair so I could stretch out on the couch.

How he found a million ways to entertain Jaz when the albuterol made him hyper and stir-crazy.

How he had everything packed up and ready to go within five minutes of the doctor saying, “You guys can go home.”

How just him being there made the situation so much easier.

As I made my final round before going to bed Saturday night, pulling up the blankets and touching the heads of all three children in their beds before snuggling up next to Martin, I finally felt I could breath a sigh of relief.

Both my men are really — finally — home.

More Hospital Updates

7:29 a.m. -Nothing like waking up to the sight and sound of a giant yellow helicopter coming down on you for a landing. Jaz’s room is right next to the hospital’s helicopter pad. From my view on the plastic couch under the window, it was seriously a “OMG!!!! WTF? WHERE AM I?” moment as the hospital’s helicopter hovered just outside the window before touching down. Good morning!

8:25 a.m. – This was my alarm clock this morning. Fortunately, it wasn’t bringing in a patient.

10:15 a.m. – Jaz is doing much better this morning. We were able to disconnect him from all the monitors for awhile and wash him up a bit. He was looking a little grungy there. His lungs sound a lot better and he’s “moving air” more easily. However, all the treatments have left him with a really raspy voice. I think he sounds like a young Jonathan Taylor Thomas while Martin thinks it’s more Louis Armstrong. In any case, the pediatrician hinted we’ll probably be discharged this afternoon.

11:24 a.m. – He’s been cleared to go home!!!

Now, we’re just waiting for the folks to come by with the discharge paperwork, which may take more than an hour. But we don’t mind waiting. The folks here have been SO good to us, and we know now that Jaz’s asthma is viral-induced, which will help determine our game plan during his follow-up appointments next week.

We appreciate all the kind words and support here, too! It’s especially reassuring to hear from those who live with childhood asthma, too, either through their own experiences or through their children. The advice and encouragement is so helpful. A huge THANK YOU to all!!

3:45 p.m. – We are finally home!! As we pulled into the driveway, Martin said, “Just so you know, I refuse to leave this place for any reason any time soon.”

Hospital Updates

11:55 a.m. – Martin took Jaz to the local ER shortly after midnight when our at-home efforts didn’t help our son’s breathing. Six hours later, the decision’s been made to transport Jaz to Children’s Hospital. Jaz’s breathing is normal right now and he finally fell asleep, but it’s taking more effort than they like to keep it that way.  I’ll be joining them once Jaz gets to the new hospital.

1:55 p.m. – Martin and Jaz are now on their way to the Children’s National Medical Center in downtown DC, which I just learned has one of the best pediatric asthma clinics in the country. I’m both relieved and overwhelmed that he’s on his way there right now. And SO grateful we live where we live and have the care that we do.

2:15 p.m. – Martin just sent me this pic of Jaz in the ambulance (above). Just like everyone else in a non-emergency, he gets to sit in morning rush-hour traffic, too. I imagine he’s thinking, “Can’t you guys just give the lights a swirl? Just once?”

3:27 p.m. – Martin’s text to me just now: “Pack for an overnight stay.”

3:40 p.m. – Martin’s cleaning frenzy is paying off: he unpacked all his bags and neatly organized his clothing drawers, along with mine, making it VERY easy for me to pack this overnight bag for Jaz’s hospital stay. #winning

3:57 p.m. – (Martin’s online post) We have a very nice room here and he got great snacks.

8:45 p.m. – Update: We’re still hanging out here at the Children’s Hospital in DC. The goal is to space out his treatments to every four hours, but he’s still needing it every two hours for now, so here we stay. It seems like the only person who isn’t aware of how hard he’s breathing, the tightness in his chest, or how painful it all sounds, is Jaz himself. He’s upbeat, smiling, flirting with the nurses and doctor, and tossing a glove-balloon with us. He slept for a little bit, and ate some Goldfish crackers. There’s always room for Goldfish crackers.

8:47 p.m. – He finally got some sleep! 🙂

10 p.m. – So, we’re staying overnight for observation. He’s still on a two-hour treatment plan, which we’ll try to spread out over the course of the evening. Jaz is absolutely in love with his new nurse, Allison. His face lit up when she came in to introduce herself. She’s here checking his vitals, and for the first time ALL day, he’s willingly offering up his hand, foot, patiently letting her listen to his heart … all the while babbling up a storm. It is cracking all of us up!! As it turns out, she grew up a Navy brat, and doesn’t normally work on this floor, but is floating tonight and just happened to end up as our nurse. It was meant to be! LOLAnd Martin and I are wondering where to order from for a food delivery. We were handed some pizza/Chinese take-out menus, but we’re in DC, dang it. Surely there’s gotta be some good stuff nearby.

10:49 p.m. – Yup. I look like Alice Cooper. #tired #latenight

11:30 p.m. – Jaz finally fell asleep and now Martin and I are sitting down to eat some Chinese take-out. I had mentioned earlier this week that we should schedule a date night and grab dinner in the city. I should have been more specific.

Keeping Things Alles Klar

I’ve started calling him The Tank. Clearly, this kid can handle anything.

Jaz and I experienced his first asthma attack the other night.

It was shortly after midnight when I heard him start to cough in a way that grabbed my attention. It wasn’t a hacking cough, nor would I call it wheezing. It was raspy and desperate, and something about it made me jump out of bed and rush to his room. He was on his side, gasping and moving in a way one does when trying to cough.

But can’t.

Jaz was trying to breathe, but it wasn’t happening easily.

I lifted him up out of bed, and realized he wasn’t really awake. It didn’t seem like he was choking on anything, but I whacked him on the back a few times thinking maybe whatever was causing him to cough needed to be knocked from his throat or lungs. He had a runny nose the past few days, occasionally coughing up whatever was draining down his throat. But it was nothing out of the ordinary.

It certainly wasn’t anything like this.

Whacking him woke him up more, and he started to protest, but without the ability to make sounds other than gasps for breath, the noise he was making was not a cry. That’s when the bells in my brain started going off, and I could feel the adrenaline begin to pump into my own chest.

Why was my son struggling to breathe?

My mind raced as I looked at his lips and fingertips. They were still pink, but he was looking pale. The fact that he was fussing, and gasping, and fighting me was good, but I could feel his stomach sucking in hard.

I never had asthma. While I know people with asthma, I never witnessed an attack. At the most, I’ve seen asthmatics get winded, whip out their inhaler, and move on. I had a faint memory of being told breathing in a paper bag would help during an attack, but was that an asthma attack or a panic attack? Do I even own paper bags? Or an inhaler?

That’s when I remembered that we had a nebulizer from last year when he had some chest congestion. At the time, we were given a bunch of vials of medication to clear his airways. We didn’t use them all, and still had some in our medicine cabinet. I immediately got it set up for him, strapped the mask over his face, and propped him up in his rocking chair while I got on my knees in front of him.

He stared at me over the mask, his mouth open as he tried to breathe, his whole body heaving with each attempt. After a few minutes of this with no change, I decided I was going to take him to Urgent Care.

I put a pillow next to him and then ran out into the hall towards the girls’ room, instinctively calling for Martin before realizing I really meant to call for Miss C.

I shook her awake and asked her to sit with her brother while I changed clothes and pulled on my shoes. Like a zombie, she did as asked without complaint. I rushed downstairs and knocked on Miss Mary’s door, waking her up to tell her my plans to leave with Jaz and that I would have my cell phone with me if she needed anything.

Then I raced back upstairs to find Jaz sitting completely straight up, still gasping, before falling forward in the seat to vomit.

The exertion from trying to breathe forced the contents of his stomach up and out. Then he sort of limply fell over onto the side of the rocking chair, the mask hanging loose from his face as he continued making that pathetic sound.

That’s when I knew there was no way I was going to drive him alone to the Urgent Care.

So I called 9-1-1.

The docs always have the good stuff.


I told the dispatcher that I thought my son was having an asthma attack. She could hear him crying and gasping over the phone, and made some recommendations, such as keeping him upright and having all the medication I’d given him ready so the EMTs would know what he already had in his system.

It took about 10 minutes for the emergency responders to show up. They sent both a medic and a fire truck, and soon there were about six folks in navy blue standing in my kitchen and checking over Jaz, who by that time was quietly wheezing from his perch on our kitchen island, waving as each new face appeared.

The nebulizer had kicked in by then, and the urgency and desperation in his breathing was gone.

The EMTs checked his heart rate and checked for fever, and confirmed he sounded congested, but Jaz was breathing in-and-out again. They said they could take him to the ER for me if I wanted, but they didn’t see a need to give him anything from their bags of goodies since the nebulizer seemed to work. I immediately started second-guessing my decision to call them, but felt better that they were so patient and reassuring, especially when I pointed out that I’d never experienced an asthma attack.

They suggested I make an appointment for him to be seen first thing in the morning, and reminded me to call if his breathing changed.

So, after they left, I made the appointment.

And then I sat up with him in the rocking chair the entire rest of the morning, counting his breaths and listening to the wheezing.

Dude. Mom. I don’t care about your documentation purposes. Your iPhone is blocking my NickJr.

Later that morning, I took Jaz to his peditrician to be checked out, and we were immediately ushered to the back by the nurse, where his vitals were taken.

He was still breathing hard with his stomach. His heart rate was racing. And his blood-oxygen level was low.

I felt like a moron.

Especially when both the nurse and the pediatrician gently pointed out that I should have driven him to the Urgent Care after the EMTs left our house instead of waiting for office hours.

But I didn’t know.

I mean, of course I know, but I was just grateful that he was breathing again. After the nebulizer, his wheezing sounded like what the girls do when they have a chest cold, something that wasn’t as scary as how he sounded before. I thought waiting at home a few hours where I could hold him and watch him and respond to him was a lot better than driving 45 minutes to their Urgent Care, alone in the minivan where he would be strapped behind me, wheezing and out of reach.

Dear lord, did I make the wrong decision?

Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

But before I could let the Mommy Guilt twist me into a fetal position, we were moved to another room, where he was hooked up to another nebulizer. After a round of that, he was also given steroids, and I made a Lance Armstrong joke that really wasn’t that funny, but at least I’m being honest about it.

After all that, we were moved to another room with a television on the wall, where we hung out for about 45 minutes for observation. They wanted to make sure his blood-oxygen levels were back up after the treatment.

So, Jaz and I sat and watched cartoons. After that got boring, he got up to explore the room and all the buttons while I took photos and looked up some asthma information from my phone. The nurse kept popping in to check on us, complimenting Jaz’s behavior and pointing out his cheerfulness as a good sign.

Our pediatrician finally came by, checked him out, and announced that she officially diagnosed Jaz with childhood asthma. She thinks that when his head cold reached his chest, it triggered the attack. So, we were prescribed some things to treat the cold, as well as some things for maintenance to prevent another attack.

I left the doctor’s with a smiling, breathing Jaz and two bags full of goods, and a schedule for his treatments.

For the rest of the day, I worked from home, answering email and calling into meetings between treatments, writing everything down and creating a chart for Mary to use during the day. Jaz was pretty upbeat, and took an extra long nap when we got home.

After his bedtime round of treatments, he started doing this little crazy dance in the family room.

Sure, it was probably him working out the hyperactivity side-effect, but for me, I just took it as a good sign.

And I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

And as if the day couldn’t get any more exciting, Martin called for the first time in two weeks.

He asked if anything new was happening.

I took a look at our son spinning circles and said, “Oh, you know. Jaz went and got new meds for a silly chest cold. Alles klar!”

***********************

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Three desserts.

Martin and I snuck away for an early Valentine’s Day dinner over the weekend.

This time, we went north to Leesburg to eat at an Italian restaurant in the middle of the old town. The both of us ordered the specials: his a grilled Caesar salad and mine the fillet mignon, as well as a whole bottle of red wine from the region where we used to live.


Then we ordered three desserts to share because we couldn’t make up our mind on just two dishes and really, why not?

So, I got chocolate cake smothered in raspberry sauce and cream, and he had tiramisu, and when we finished those, we shared a double-layered crème brûlée

  

Shortly before the waiter brought us the three desserts, Martin pulled out a jewelry box and presented me with a beautiful diamond and silver heart pendant. I loved it immediately, and put it on over my scarf, which I’ve been wearing lately to cover the rash I developed after stopping the antibiotics prescribed to me for my latest upper respiratory infection. (*Post edit: I was eventually diagnosed with classic Pityriasis Rosea weeks later after a few more trips to the doctor. It’s a bizarre viral skin rash. I do not recommend it.)

Because who else would develop a rare and unsightly rash a week before her husband leaves for months?

Me.

Of course.

When not stuffing ourselves silly and discussing my ability to to come down with the weirdest health issues, Martin and I also watched outside the window as vehicle after vehicle carefully pulled into the parking space in front of the restaurant on the busy main street, only to drive off in frustration after realizing the “no parking” sign next to it. (The space is reserved for law enforcement, apparently.)

That never got old.

**************************
Did you stop by Martin’s farewell party
The party is online, and you are invited to drop in and leave a note for Martin before he boards the airplane and heads to Lackland Air Force Base.
You don’t have to have a military background to share anything: he enjoys reading and responding to everyone who posted.
Actually, the both of us have really enjoyed the whole thing. When I created the Facebook event, I did not expect it to evolve as it did. I just knew that various friends and family wanted to wish Martin well.
It’s turned into a really fun space where people have shared their own military memories and advice, some great photos, and other fun messages.
Go visit us there!

One Weak Weekend

We took down all the holiday decorations this weekend.

Or rather, Martin and the kids did most of the heavy work. I sat around for part of it, pulling off a few ornaments before slinking away to my bedroom, feeling so feverish and ill.

It started on Friday when I lost my voice. Continue reading