when good coffee goes bad

Last month we got to experience our first serious trip to the E.R. and our first non-birth-related hospital stay. I suppose after two kids and nearly five years of parenthood, we’re statistically below average on that front, but this is one case where I’m happy not to be an overachiever.

We’ve been on a “breakfast for dinner” kick, and were in the final stages of preparing the night’s meal, including a fresh pot of coffee for Tim and I. I moved to put the coffee back on the burner, got distracted by Gwen, who was getting into the fridge, when the pot slipped out of my hand and came crashing down on her head, shattering on the floor.

Tim swooped her out of the mess immediately; my first reaction was, “Broken glass, bare feet, NOT GOOD,” and it’s a few seconds later, as I’m watching the steam rise off her clothes, that I realize she’s probably burned, too. Tim undressed her and sure enough, her skin was already peeling and blistering down her front and back.

9-1-1. Ambulance. Second degree burns to 30% of her body. The smaller local hospital transferred us to Bangor that night, and we were told she’d probably be there a week, with two to three weeks to fully heal. IVs, pain medication, abrasive baths to remove dead skin. Burn care and regular follow-ups after.

Gwen and Ellie

My constant refrain throughout was, “It was bad, but it could have been worse.” And though it’s not in my nature to put a positive spin on something like this, I learned some important things.

We have an amazing network of family, friends, and co-workers who sent messages of love and well-being, visited, offered support, and helped out where they could. We didn’t have to worry about work, or home stuff, or Ellie. The staff at Eastern Maine Medical Center were responsive and caring. It reinforced that we are so lucky to know the people we do.


I learned that our daughter is a trooper. Two days post-burn, she was just as happy and cheerful as ever. Two-year-olds are resilient and incredibly quick healers. I was relieved, because having to fight her about her medication every day for three weeks would have been hell.


I also learned that I am surprisingly competent and calm in a crisis situation. I held my shit together during the ordeal, the treatments, and the aftermath. It sucked, it was a rough week, but I got through it with a mostly positive attitude, minimal guilt, and the occasional laugh. I have to thank the Celexa for some of that, because if this had happened six months ago, I don’t think I would have handled it well.

Thankfully “a week” became three days at the hospital, and “two to three weeks” became one week’s healing time. She still has a faint outline, but it probably won’t scar much, if at all, and hopefully she won’t remember any of the trauma. We will, but as I keep telling myself, it could have been so much worse.

the no good, horrible, very bad week

Last week was Tim’s second big business trip. I wrote about my experience when Tim went on his last trip but I was feeling more confident this time. With a bit more experience under my belt, I was certain it would go more smoothly and I was fully prepared to handle a certain level of chaos.

I am a Capable Adult ™ now, after all.


Well, well, well.

First of all, his company sent him to Hawaii. Let’s just start there.

Hawaii. In January. That’s not a business trip, that’s a honeymoon. I thought I was jealous about Europe, but Hawaii in January is epic for a person who is used to snow, ice and below-freezing temperatures. Heck, anywhere warmer than fifty degrees is drool-worthy when compared to the alternative. It’s just plain wrong.

Once I got over my jealousy, we got down to the real work of finding ways to make this a little easier on me, the anti-single-parent. Tim made plans to have extra help around in the evenings in the form of Ellie’s two favorite sitters, he cooked and froze extra meals, and since I’m back at work I figured being at the office during the day would offer more than enough opportunities for adult social interaction to keep me sane.

With all those measures in place I thought, “What could go wrong?”


Ugh. That’s a picture of me, looking at my pre-last-week self and thinking, “Self, sometimes you should just shut the fuck up.

The week before Tim left, my dad was admitted to the hospital. Nothing seriously life-threatening, but it’s rare for anyone in my family to have a “hospital-serious” illness, so that was concerning. Tim considered canceling his trip but we decided against it. We expected dad would be out in a few days, no worse for the wear, so no need for Tim to stay home.

The night before Tim left, the baby was inconsolable and refused to sleep for more than an hour at a stretch until about 3 a.m.–a rare occurrence for our Gwen. Tim’s flight left early so neither of us got much sleep, starting the week off with a bang–or more accurately, a snore.

The night Tim left, I backed our van into a lamp in the Target parking lot. I know I’m not the best driver, but I usually have the wherewithall to avoid hitting giant, well-lit inanimate objects. I’m blaming sleep deprivation. Thankfully the van itself was not harmed, save for a scratch, and everyone was fine… but I haven’t hit anything with my car since I was a teenager with a learning permit. Embarrassing much?

Monday passed without incident, and this is probably the only time in my life where I will rank a Monday as one of the best days of the week, because it was all downhill from there.

I woke up at 2:30 Tuesday morning to Ellie’s frantic sobbing. I ran to her room to find she’d vomited all over her bed. Her first stomach flu! Lovely! She continued to be sick throughout the day and I did my best to console her in between loads of laundry.

Oh, so much laundry.

That evening I remembered just how contagious the stomach flu can be… so instead of eating the lasagna I’d heated for dinner (one of the meals Tim graciously prepared before he left) I had a few bites of raspberry Jell-O and stuck the lasagna back in the fridge.

Good thing, because I spent most of Wednesday either in bed or the bathroom. I won’t go into the gory details; let’s just say the “I Can’t Keep Anything Down” Diet worked its magic and I lost over 10 pounds in 24 hours.

Ellie stayed home and watched episode after episode of Dora the Explorer, with the occasional break to play games on my iPad, and I tried to wake myself up once in a while to make sure she hadn’t strangled herself or burned the house down around us. I only caught her playing with a lighter once. Parenting WIN.

We even spread the love to one of our sitters, who had to cancel on Thursday and Saturday due to illness. Go Team Sick!

While all this was happening, my father had to be transferred to a local hospital for further tests–again, not super serious but not the quick in-and-out procedure we’d hoped for. More stress.

On Thursday morning I was feeling better but not 100%, so I stayed home from work. My mom (who stayed with us while my dad was in the hospital) offered to take the kids to school, and that’s when we realized I’d left one of the overhead lights on in our van for three days. The battery was dead and my mom had to call AAA for a jump.

Meanwhile, my darling husband is posting photos like this on Facebook:

Kailua Beach by Tim Moore

He has some nerve, but karma is a bitch. On Friday, his flight out of Hawaii was delayed due to mechanical failure. Apparently the plane was fully boarded and on the runway, ready to take off, before they noticed a problem (because that’s not scary at all!)

Tim called me from a hotel in Honolulu to let me know this–and then had to run to the bathroom mid-conversation to vomit. Apparently that stomach bug was strong enough to follow him across 48 states! After some fancy finagling with his flight schedule he arrived home on Sunday morning, only 17 hours later than planned. Given our luck, I’m just grateful his plane didn’t drop out of the sky.

Kids go wild
What do we do when Daddy isn't home? Play the "Stuff On My Baby" game, of course!

Thankfully things have settled down a bit since he got home. Life is mostly back to normal, with the exception of my dad still being in the hospital (he’s recovering from surgery and doing very well!)

As for the whole traveling thing, I was really hoping the third time would be the charm… unfortunately this was the worst trip of them all. To think, our family hadn’t even had so much as a bad cold since winter started–to get hit with the stomach bug from hell, on top of my dad being sick, on top of car issues and flight cancellations… gah!!!! When it rains, it pours.

What life lesson do I take away from this experience? I’m not quite sure. Part of me thinks chaining Tim to the house is the only viable solution, but he’s not having it (and I’m sure his employer would take issue with that). I could take the Positive Spin route and choose to forget the negative stuff entirely–after all, Tim got home safely, I lost ten pounds, everyone is still alive.

Eh, that’s not my style.

Instead, I’ll say this: Sometimes, no matter how well you plan or how positive you are, life is just plain crappy (literally and figuratively in this case) and the best thing you can do is put your head down and keep going. It sucks, but you’ll get through it because you have no choice.

And it’s going to take a lot of effort not to be an anxious wreck the next time Tim says the words “business trip.”

post gallbladder surgery

Last Wednesday I had that stupid gallbladder removed. I was a bit skeptical about having the procedure because my symptoms weren’t terrible and I had a lot more anxiety about the surgery and recovery than I did about the attacks themselves.

Call me crazy, but I’m just not keen on being cut open. It’s a thing.

A few days before the procedure I had a third attack, though, and realized I’d made the right decision. I did not want to end up in a situation where I had to be rushed to the ER and was glad I’d decided to plan this instead. I was far less anxious about it after that.

Going into the operation I felt pretty good, though the intake nurse kept going on and on about how young I am, which was irritating. I’m a couple months shy of 29, I have two kids, a prominent gray streak, a mortgage and now I drive a goddamn minivan. At what point in this scenario do I qualify for adulthood? Gee, since I’m so young I’ll just be stupidly impulsive and quit my job, drop my kids off at the nearest orphanage and start living like a college kid again! Sounds a lot more fun than gallbladder surgery!

Anyway, annoying hospital staff aside, the surgery itself wasn’t bad (at least I don’t think it was, given I was asleep during the actual procedure.) This was my second time waking up from anesthesia since El was born, and I’d forgotten how much that sucks. Like, why are you making me breathe??? That was the most restful sleep I’ve had in years! I don’t care about breathing right now, just let me sleep. I’m sure you can find another organ I don’t need in there somewhere. Hey, look, I still have my appendix–I don’t need that! Put me under again and let me sleep!

Alas, they made me breathe, and by the time I was conscious enough to speak my first word was, “Hurt.” I had referred pain under my right collarbone from the CO2 they’d used to inflate my abdomen (like a human balloon! Freaky) and my belly felt like it had been hit by a truck. A quick dose of painkillers took care of that, and an hour later I was sitting up, dressed and ready to go. They handed me a prescription for Vicodin and ibuprofen, then sent a very woozy me on my way. When they say “outpatient procedure” they aren’t kidding. I went into the hospital at 5:30 a.m., was in surgery by 7:30, and Tim picked me up at 10:30. They should open up a drive thru for this stuff.

The next couple days were a little rough, mostly because I couldn’t do as much as I wanted. They encouraged me to walk and do stairs to help the healing process, but the first day I was loopy from the anesthesia and narcotics, and the second day I was in pain every time I moved. After several weeks of conditioning myself to get up and move on a regular basis, it was hard to just… sit. Light walking and very slow, deliberate movements were the key to not feeling like crap. Thankfully that passed quickly, and by the third day I no longer needed the Vicodin and the fourth day I was back to my normal activity level.

No more excuses for not being able to change diapers. That didn’t last nearly long enough...

Probably the worst part was/is the incision sites. Even now that they’ve mostly healed and the steri-strips have come off, I have this irrational fear they’ll tear open. *shudder* They freak me out, and I’ll be really happy when they’re fully healed.

All in all, I’m glad it’s out. So far I haven’t had any side effects–I can eat pizza without gastrointestinal distress (obviously that was the end goal here–it’s all about the pizza!) My surgeon explained that I had a small stone lodged in the opening to my gallbladder, ready to throw itself into the abyss and cause all sorts of painful trouble, so it’s a good thing we caught this early and there were no other complications.