Monday night I woke with an excruciating pain in my left side, my pillow drenched in sweat. Even trying to breathe was an exercise in torture. It felt as if a belt were wrapped around my chest and tightening, squeezing every time I moved or took a breath — but only on my left side.
I knew enough to know it wasn’t a heart attack, and my husband, a former EMT, confirmed my initial diagnosis. He was also able to confirm for me, by visual examination, an elephant was not, in fact, standing on the left side of my rib cage.
With great difficulty, I swallowed some ibuprofen for the pain and fever, and tried to fall back asleep. Unable to sleep on my preferred left side, I rolled gingerly onto my right. Mr. Wright put his arm around me and I howled in pain. I eased onto my back; Mr. Wright draped his arm over me — I howled in pain.
Finally giving up, Mr. Wright rolled over, falling promptly asleep and leaving me alone, curled into a fetal position, teeth chattering with fever and howling. (Watch for my doll this Christmas season, Baby Chatter Wolf. I’ve developed an entire line of accessories, including a bed with multiple layers of blankets, an ice pack, and a snazzy vomit bucket! Meh… Maybe my best ideas aren’t induced by fevered hallucinations.)
When morning rolled around, my fever was back up — way up. It hit 103 and kept on going. I began alternating acetaminophen with ibuprofen to reduce the risk of overdose, but I also tend to trust my body to figure things out. If I have a fever, there’s a darned good chance that my body is trying to burn something out that doesn’t belong there. My ribs still hurt tremendously, and I couldn’t move my right arm without reprising my howling wolf role. “Maybe I pulled a muscle. In my sleep. At coincidentally the same moment I broke out in high fever,” I reasoned.
I spent the entire day in bed, feeling alternately like the lone survivor of a plane wreck in the Mojave Desert and a trout someone threw into the Sub-Zero.
The kids texted me at 3:30, asking why I hadn’t picked them up from the bus stop yet. I texted back — relying on memory for key placement on my Blackberry because I couldn’t actually see the buttons or the screen — telling them that I was really, really sick with a really, really high fever, and asking them to just please walk home.
You’d think I asked them to swab the decks of the Titanic — with Q-tips. “It’s like THREE miles! You expect us to walk? Not gonna happen. Besides, it’s about to rain.”
I didn’t even answer. I didn’t have the strength. I assure you, though, if I had, my response would have been decidedly more than 160 characters.
These children are 16, 15, 13 and 12. We live in one of the least populated counties in our state. We live on a dirt road. They could walk. And, I assume that’s what they did, because the next time I woke up to vomit, I heard their voices downstairs.
When Mr. Wright arrived home, he immediately began grousing about dinner not being prepared, the house not being clean, and the laundry not being done. You know — his daily speech. (Have I mentioned I’m the world’s worst housekeeper? Well, I am.) Then he climbed the stairs to our loft bedroom and, seeing me still in bed, impatiently asked, “Aren’t you better yet?”
To be continued…
Hi. I thought I’d take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Christina-Marie Wright, but most people know me as “The Gonzo Mama.” That’s the name of my newspaper column and my blog. It’s also my Twitter handle.
I’m mom to seven kids, including one bio child, four full-time step-children, and two toddlers who joined our family by adoption. I like to say my family isn’t blended; it’s pureed.
My first book is due to be out in the next couple of weeks. It’s called, “Everything I Need to Know About Motherhood I Learned from Animal House,” and it’s a collection of essays, anecdotes and musings on marriage, womanhood and parenting.
As you can imagine, I’m really excited about that. I’m also really excited to be contributing to Jaren’s blog, and honored that he asked me to do so. I’ll be telling the rest of the story of my near-brush with death (not quite a “real” brush with death, depending on whether you ask me or my husband) over the coming week.
I hope to get to know some of the readers here, and hear about other parents’ experiences, as well.