Tag Archives: exhaustion

This Is Batshit Crazy. For Reals. Or, About the Time My Family Got a Crash Course in Rabies

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So, if you ever wanted a crash course on rabies and America’s culture of fear, here it is…

Friday night found me tired and eager to go to bed. I went down to use the bathroom, brush teeth, and then went out to the living room to say goodnight to my hubs who was watching television.

All of a sudden a small, brown bat swooped around us!

Naturally, I squealed and jumped out of my skin.

My husband calmly got up to open the front door to let the bat out. But the bat swooped back through our dining room and disappeared.  Or, I lost sight of it because I screamed like a monkey, and ran to lock myself in the bathroom.  (Yes, it is a well known fact that batwings can manipulate door handles quite well.  They are more pernicious than octopus, people.)

Over the next hour we searched high and low for the bat. We were all Mulder and Scully with flashlights and a Swiffer duster thing I grabbed to smack at the bat if it flew into my face.  The bat is out there, Scully. . .  Trust no one.  

We couldn’t find it.

Long story short, my daring (and darling) husband finally located it up in a crawl space in our attic maser suite.

It is a goddamn good thing I did not marry a squeamish man, folks.

Because, it was in our bedroom, people. The bat had burrowed into the insulation in our room, under an eave, just a few feet away from where we rest our heads.

And there were piles of icky guano (bat poo) that indicated he had been in residency for a while.

Hubs couldn’t get the bat to come back out, and it was getting really late.  My adrenaline surge had succumbed to the melatonin I’d taken only moments prior to the bat showing up. I was on my way to bed, remember?

So the Spousal unit sealed up the crawl space with some tarp and duct tape. Then we hit the hay for a very jumpy and tense sleep.

The next day we worked on inspecting our eaves and then sealing stuff up. By “us,” I mean my husband did that crap.  He’s awesome like that. I’ve never been so happy I married him.  He put piles of moth balls in there, installed LED lights, and put on a radio with NPR blaring into the eave, all to discourage the bats from returning.  He reinforced certain places and secured the bat hatches, so to speak.

We went out to dinner with friend and chuckled about the bat. We’ve had bats in our house where we lived prior to this house and we let them out and got on with our lives.

It was never a big deal.

So imagine my surprise when my daughter’s pediatrician insisted we needed to call the department of health post haste.

I’d brought Emily in because she had a cough. Guano can cause respiratory illness and Em had been present when my husband was using the shop vac in the bat cave.  So, I mentioned the bat situation to the doc, feeling a sense of chagrin, and certain that she would laugh me out of the office.

The doc shuffled through a drawer to get the number.  Call now, she insisted.

Not one to be indoctrinated into a culture of fear, I waited and called the next morning, again feeling chagrin and certain that the hard working folks at the department of health would laugh at me for wasting their time with my bat story.

But they transferred me to triage.

And then triage transferred me to a nurse.

And the nurse took down all the pertinent info about my entire family and instructed us to go to the hospital for rabies vaccination.

Are you fucking kidding me, I wanted to ask?  But I didn’t.


My husband was not convinced.  He’s done a lot of reading on the subject and insists that you are no more likely to get rabies from a bat than from any other wild animal.

Yeah, I countered, but these wild animals were maybe swooping around our heads as we slept, drooling all over our slumbering bodies.

I learned that while rabies can be transferred from animal to human by a bite or a scratch, it is also transmissible just through proximity.  And drool.  So, if the bat swooped over us and just one droplet of its juicy, contagious saliva fell on us, we would be at risk.

I was scared enough to leave work early to collect my children and make our way to the ER.

The health department lady had called ahead, so they were already going on the journey into the bowels of the hospital’s rabies clinic to collect our precious serum.  We got to the hospital, went through triage and registration, and then were brought to a holding room where we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Eventually, a doctor came in to explain what would happen, and he confirmed what my husband and I thought–  that the health department was being overly reactive and borderline ridiculous.

The doctor said if we lived in any other country, this would not be an issue, but for whatever reason, our state’s department of health has gotten crazy vigilant about bats and rabies.

While rabies in bats is still pretty rare, it has grown in our state over the past four years from 4% to 8%.  Rabies is 100% fatal, and by the time you develop symptoms, it is too late.  There is no cure.  This information made me 75% freaked out, and 25% annoyed, and that is where my percentages end.

It was a long wait.  We all grew tired and hungry, but I was a very proud mama bear at how well my children sat and played and handled the long wait, way past their bedtimes.

On the other hand, I got pretty punchy and wondered if the guys at the nursing station would play Grey’s Anatomy with me.  I texted my BFF to see if she thought it would be cool if I casually sauntered up to one of them and mentioned that I was scrubbing in on a craniotomy.

She texted back, LOL, go get some FOOD in you.  

We sat with the kids and waited for hours until they finally came in with four trays of syringes.

And here is where it gets fun, folks:  The first round of treatment is a course of rabies vac, and a dose of immunoglobulin  (whatever the hell that is).  The immunoglobulin is based on weight, so the more you weigh, the more you get.  Super awesome!!  Since my hubs and I are “Fatties for life” (fist bump!), we got to have six shots each.

Our poor children had three apiece.

The kids went first.  Emily was psyched that she got to hold a shiny, light-up ball, and she didn’t bat an eye (no pun intended, I swear) as they plunged the medicine into her.  Not even one tear.  Damn, she’s incredible.

Jack sat on my lap and knew enough to know it was going to suck, but he was brave and got through it with merely a whimper.

It is worth noting that they no longer give the shots in the stomach. The kids got theirs in their thighs, and my husband and I got two in each thigh and one in each arm. I guess that is slightly less repulsive.

I was not so dignified as the rest of my family.

I saw them coming at me with all those syringes and got dizzy and nauseous.  They had to lay me down, and my husband held my hand through my hyperventilating, as they all coached me to breathe.  Let me tell you, I would much rather give birth every day of the week than have six needles simultaneously plunged into my flesh.


The immunoglobin was thick going in, and it burned (That’s what she said!!  Holla!!  Did you see that, I made a joke!)

After it was all done, we sat and were observed for any ill effects for fifteen minutes. By this time we were all cranky and really ready to go home. We were discharged and trudged out to our cars, decorated in what seemed like an entire box of Angry Bird bandaids.

We will have to go back for four boosters over then next few weeks.  The good news there is that we only get one shot at each one.  But the best news is that we get to pay our insurance’s hospital copay for every single one of us for our foray the other night.  $150 apiece!

Obviously I am being bitterly sarcastic about that.  Shelling out $600 for rabies medicine fucking sucks bat balls (excuse my French).  It feels horribly discouraging that we are paying what could have been enough for  a weekend away at a nice resort, or half of what it is going to cost to professionally “bat proof” our bedroom, for a treatment we likely do not need, simply because Americans love to get all scared about shit and layer on tons of cure.  But I guess that is probably another blog post there.

Right now, I am trying to focus on my family’s health and safety, and my gratitude for those blessings.  I think I will feel heaps better after I finally manage to get a good night’s sleep.  If that ever happens again. . .

To be Continued… 

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Naked and Afraid– From a Parental Perspective

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I had every intention of posting yesterday, as I usually like to on Mondays.  But it was a busy day with the children, and a sudden spike in temperature left my brain logy and unmotivated.

So then I had every intention of posting last night after I got the kids to bed.  But there was champagne in the fridge (left over from Mother’s Day), and an episode of Naked and Afraid on the DVR.

You guys.  Have you SEEN THIS SHOW?!

If you haven’t, I’ll give you a brief rundown.  It is a reality show where they drop two strangers, one male and one female, off in a remote, poisonous spider and snake-infested locale without any food, water, shelter, toilet paper, fire, or yes, you guessed it, clothing.  The two “survivors” strip down to their birthday suits and then have to tromp off into the bush or desert or Himalayan foothills to live for 21 days.

They are allowed one item to take with them to assist in their survival in these inhospitable places.  They are almost always a machete, a pot for boiling water, a fire starter, or duct tape.

OmG.  I love this show.  I am not usually a fan of crappy reality TV, but this show does something for me.

Here’s how each episode usually goes:  The two survivors get dropped off all gung-ho about how they are going to conquer nature, find a place to build a “shelter,” and make much ado about collecting “cordage.”  They then pass out in the shelter and starve for the next 21 days until they hike through the jungle or swim through alligator filled waters to their extraction point.

Sometimes they are able to get a fire started and sometimes they kill and cook a snake.

Snakes.  Why did it have to be snakes?  Eeeewwwwwww!!

Occasionally the nature gets the better of them either physically or mentally.  There have been episodes where a person gets a tropical fever, food poisoning from rancid snake (I know, right?), or severe dehydration.  A medic will be called onto the scene and either give them the go ahead to continue their mission, or they will “tap out.”

So, on last night’s episode, the chick tapped out after about seven days in Guyana, leaving her partner to weather the next 14 days all alone.  It was pretty horrible for him, and he almost succumbed to “extreme loneliness.”  One scene shows him crouched in the dark of his crappy lean-to, begging god to help him.

It was awkward and hard to watch.

I loved it!

At this point, my husband said, “Clearly this guy doesn’t have children because if he did, he would know 14 days alone is such a short, short time.”

Maybe it was the champagne, but I chuckled at his little snipe.

Damn skippy, I thought.  It would be bliss to be able to take a poo without a wee face peeking around the door, and a squeaky voice saying, “I just wanna’ check on you.”  Because then I think, well lookie here, I’ve become a total cliche.  I’m THAT girl who “just wants to pee alone.”  

When I think of parenthood, the word RELENTLESS comes to mind.  Yes.  All in caps.  And bold.  Just like that.

And frustration.  And fear.  And exhaustion.

I could write myself into some conceit about how parenthood is as challenging and scary as being Naked and Afraid, but imma be honest with you, I’m really just too freaking tired to go there because my daughter had a bad dream and was sleeping with us last night and her little body was like a radiator and it was already 99 degrees so I got like no sleep.

Aside from the champagne, the best part of Mother’s Day for me was getting a couple hours to go for a long drive (not while under influence of said champagne).

By myself.

I listened to my music really loud in the car, and I took a hike by my favorite ocean spot.  You guys.  It was amazing.  I felt so good!  Because every once in a while I just need to be totally alone for a few hours.  It feeds my soul.  I wish I could tell you that every need I have is satisfied by being a mom and a wife, but we are being honest here.

There are times I fantasize about packing a bag and walking away.  Times when I am sad and distraught, exhausted and feeling like a fraudulent failure.  I don’t think I am alone in this fantasy.  But when I really break this fantasy down, I don’t even get the imaginative suitcase out of the figurative closet because I can’t.

I could never leave.

Not even for 21 days.

Because the other word that comes to mind when I think about parenthood is LOVE.  All in caps.  Bold and italic and underlined.  And at the end of the day, it is love that motivates us.  Some of us go test our mettle in nature.  Others of us launch babies into the world and learn a whole new meaning of the word bravery.

So I’m tired and sweaty, but my nude body is not being eaten alive by bugs in the middle of Africa, and my babies are sleeping and there is fun stuff to watch on the DVR.

Let Us Eat Cake, and Other Thoughts That Keep Me Going

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IMG_6067There is a hunk of birthday cake in the freezer.

This thought keeps me going.

I have four loads of laundry to do, healthy meals to make for the week, moldy shower curtains to take down, wash and re-hang, a birthday party for which to prepare and attend, sibling disputes to referee, beds to make, and floors to de-crumb.  You know how it goes.

My hands hurt.  My back hurts.  There is a nagging pain in my neck.

Whaaamp whaaahh.

But if I make it to the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, I can sit on the couch and eat frozen cake.

I haven’t exercised in way too long, and my kids are watching way too much TV.  We’ve eaten fast food more than I’d like to admit.  Sometimes I go days without offering them a vegetable.

I don’t get around to changing the sheets on our beds very often, and tend to forgo activities I consider “adult” like buying wrapping paper or drying my hair.  I’ve gotten lazy about sending Thank You cards, and forget to return phone calls.  Many days, I look at my clients with an engaged face, but a disengaged mind as I contemplate the list of how I am failing as a mother, wife, and social worker.

It goes on and on.

Being a working mom is hard.  Like way harder than I could have ever imagined.  I’m sick of talking about it, and bored to tears of writing about it.  It’s not a unique a story, and I actually have it a lot better than most.

And that cake is there.  It is a little slice of nice, the thought of which momentarily stops the monotonous broken record of maternal depression and exhaustion.

Maybe I’ll eat it.  Or maybe I won’t, because just knowing it’s there, just in case, satisfies.

I feel guilty I’m not on Pinterest in my spare time, looking up crafty shit to do with my kids.

I.  Just.  Can’t.

I feel really, freaking guilty I don’t spend every second admiring my children’s ethereal beauty, and that I count the hours until bedtime.  I feel even more guilty after they are in bed and I realize another day is past us and I squandered it being frustrated and mindless.

Maternal depression is tricky.  It is misunderstood by society, and seems taboo to address head on.  I don’t think of myself as “a depressed person,” but every once in a while I become so overwhelmed by the mundane, it suddenly occurs to me, “I’m depressed and that is why every minute activity or request is being interpreted as a complex demand which threatens to push me over the edge of despair.”  (I.e., spending 20 minutes unraveling the vacuum cord after Jack “helped” me clean.)

I don’t even like using the words “I’m” and “depressed” in the same sentence.  For the record, I’m also not a person who eats her feelings, but imagining that cake. . . it just helps.

Before motherhood, depression sucks, but is tolerable because there’s more access to self care.  This is not to say depression can’t be totally debilitating to non-parents, and it is certainly not a competition about who is more depressed than who.  But I’ve found self care becomes a lot more elusive for moms who work and use money formerly set aside for organic diet and massage on daycare, or who are shuttling kids around to dance and soccer and don’t have the time to work out unless they get up before the sun.

There is also a weird dichotomy that if we don’t take time for ourselves we are martyrs, but if we do we feel oddly and uncomfortably entitled.  It doesn’t help with the whole guilty/worthless/trapped/hopeless sense one has when depressed.  Stupid jerk, I find myself telling myself.  What did you think motherhood would be?

Then comes the unbalanced, lack of perspective and sense of failure.  You don’t even deserve all you have.  It takes some strength to keep the train from careening off track.  So, let us eat cake.

Other thoughts that keep me going?

My daughter wakes me up every morning, pokes my nose gently with her pudgy finger, and says, “Hug mama?”  I love her chirpy voice and cookie dough smell even more than freezer cake.

20140118-083136.jpgThe kids may not eat veggies, but they eat fruit all day long.  Their preferred beverage is water, and so is mine.  We are all getting our fiber, and are wonderfully hydrated.  So there is hope for our health.

The kids played nicely for ten whole minutes the other day, so there is hope we might make it another year without them mauling one another.

We read to the kids every day.  They love books.  So there is hope that extra half hour of TV won’t demolish their brains.

Jack goes to karate and does everything he is told, the first time, every time for a whole hour.  So there is hope maybe he won’t always be a stressy ball of tantrum.

Emily pooped on the potty twice in the past month!  Sure she also peed on the carpet and dumped out a pantload of crap on the bathroom floor, but she also pooped on the potty twice!  So there is hope I will usher yet another child into big-kid-pants.

Jack’s sunflowers offer their bright faces to the sun.20130827-093636.jpg

It’ll be okay.

It’ll be okay.

These are the hard years.  These are the years when there is never enough money, time, patience, energy, room in our bed, or sanity.  These are the years on which we will look back with longing for arms stretched up to us.  These are the years when we are growing plastic, little brains and are under the gun to do it right, do it good, do it quick.

These are the years when tending to our own mental health so often takes a back seat to the needs of our families, work, home.

But we need our oxygen so we can keep breathing for those slimy little critters, who we can’t remember when last we bathed.

Sometimes a little cake on the couch does just the trick.  Sometimes simply thinking about cake helps.

These are the years when our kids need our hugs, smiles, and random potty jokes in the middle of the day so much more than something crafty from Pinterest.

It’ll be okay.  We will get there.

What do you do to take care of yourself when you are overwhelmed or down?  Share a thought that keeps you going.  

 

Exhaustion

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My fatigue is bordering on depression.

Emily has been sleeping through the night, and I am getting 7-8 hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep, but I am deeply exhausted.

If I lived in Victorian times, I probably would have taken to my bed for a few weeks, propped up on pillows and served by my house staff hand and foot.  A dose of morphine might have been given to me to take the edge off.  The neighborhood would have buzzed with concerns for my health and even the possibility that- gasp!- I might not make it.  Eventually I would have recovered enough to be taken out to sit in the sun for a few hours a day, and after another few weeks of that, maybe my children could come and visit me for a few minutes.  But only for a few minutes!  And only very quiet, mild behavior, because no one would want to upset my fragile recovery from that awful, consumptive, exhaustion.

Of course I do not live in Victorian times.  I live in this time of full-time working woman with the second and third jobs of being wife and mother.  I live in a time of impossibly messy apartment and difficult child.  I live in a time of “why do my carpets smell like urine, did Emily pee out here?”

I don’t want to wash my hair.  I don’t want to pick up toys.  I don’t want to go grocery shopping.  I don’t want to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or slice strawberries.  I just don’t wanna.

All these “don’t wannas” pose the question, “what would I like to be doing?”  Honestly, I don’t know.  Maybe just sit still next to the ocean by myself.

I look at the piles of laundry and the filth on my kitchen floor and am plagued by the thought that I just can’t keep up.  I’m a failure.  A fraud.  A crappy mom.  A snarky wife.  A neglectful friend.  An ill-tempered co-worker.

In short, I suck.

Jack has been in a very tricky and angry mood over the last week, after about three weeks of perfect behavior.  I think he is anxious about the end of the school year and the transition to summer-mode, which means a new daycare scenario, etc.  His behavior is usually his way of communicating stress.  But oh, man, I just don’t have the energy to deal with it.

And it doesn’t help that my husband has a case of “Man Flu” that just seems to be lingering on and on.

I am so tired I don’t even have the energy for a good, frustrated cry.  But in my dreams at night, that is all I do.  I walk around crying, weeping, sobbing into my subconscious.

It isn’t that I lack supports.  We are so fortunate to live close to both sets of grandparents who drop everything at a moment’s notice to help out.  I have good friends who are always willing to listen.  I have a husband who is generally supportive and helpful.  It is just this sense of not being able to balance it all that pushes me near the edge.

Sometimes I dread the weekends.  I dread being home with my family because I have to worry about what to feed them, how to entertain them, when to clean up after them.  I stress over chasing around after Emily who is more mobile and fast every day. I am fraught with Jack’s behavior.

How is it easier to be at work, dealing with the woes of humanity, than to be home enjoying my sweet family?

Does this make me a jerk?  I have so much more than so many, yet fight to appreciate it on some days.

I haven’t written a real whiney bummer of a post in a few months.  I apologize for not having something more delightful to say, but I’ve got to be honest–  I am just worn down to nothing today.  Maybe tomorrow I will feel better, but today I am telling you the truth that I just can’t say anything else besides how bone-weary I am.

At least I’m not a liar.

Now to get up and transfer laundry from washer to dryer.