Or: Summer’s Almost Over And All I Have To Show For It Is A This Eye Twitch.
Or: My Children Came Home From College And All I Know For Sure Is That There Are Now Cheese Stick Wrappers In Weird Places All Over My House.
Or: Summer’s Almost Over But My Saltiness Shall Go On Forever.
So HEY, remember how I mentioned that this summer has completely and totally sucked and most of it I can’t even talk about but long story summed up, I strongly suspect I was a serial killer in a former life, and am now karma’s bitch? No? Well, I did. And I do. And we’re just a few weeks away from school starting back up, so I thought a Summer Summary (say it five times fast!) might be in order. Because misery loves company, and I remain hopeful that said company will sometimes show up with chocolate.
Without further ado, here are the things you probably didn’t care about at all that have been the hallmarks of my personal summer of 2018:
The Continuing Saga of My Stupid Face
I am certain I have whined about my skin here more than once. I get eczema on my face because I am a delicate princess and because I could easily cover unsightly skin crud occurring literally ANYWHERE ELSE on my body, but no, of course it’s on my face. There was a (brief) period of time after I did this crazy elimination diet thing wherein I’d determined wheat was certainly an aggravating factor—if not the actual culprit—and I stopped eating wheat and my face was… almost normal. For a while. Only almost, though, because I still get zits on my chin with regularity, because why not menopause AND acne, amirite?
Anyhoo, although I have invested a small fortune in skin products for the chronically delicate and easily inflamed, I almost never wear makeup because no matter what it is, it angers my skin. But! I started doing community theater again, so of course I’m not just wearing makeup, but STAGE makeup. Which of course my face just LOVES. So I did a show, wore some makeup for the run, my skin got angry, I babied it for a while, my skin improved, I promptly did another show, lather, rinse, repeat. Typical. BUT THEN I did a show this past winter and happened to notice before the run started that my face was COMPLETELY CLEAR. Like, simply beautiful and smooth, the likes of which I probably haven’t seen since my prepubescent days (roughly 100 years ago). “Huh,” I remember thinking. “My skin’s looking pretty good.” This was my first mistake. As the run progressed, my skin became angrier and angrier, to the point where I was wearing more and more foundation to cover it, which was of course making it angrier, and then I (THIS IS NOT A JOKE) basically hid in my house for a solid week following the last performance so that my poor face could be 100% makeup-free but I wouldn’t scare any small children.
Well. My face never healed. It’s been MONTHS. And by about a month ago it was clear to me that NOTHING I was using on my skin was making it any better, and I had reached the point where I was legit tearing up every time I washed my face because all my skin hurt. Don’t ask me how long it took me to realize this was not normal because I now realize I’m a complete dumbass. I finally went to the doctor and she was all OH MY THAT IS A RAGING STAPH INFECTION and I guess it’s good my face didn’t completely rot off?
There’s a happy ending to this story, though: I took some antibiotics for a week that made me want to barf ALL THE TIME (not the happy part), and my skin stopped hurting (the happy part). I still look like I have leprosy, but at least now I’m scheduled to see a dermatologist next month. Yay?
The Continuing Saga of Don’t Ever Ever Ever Ever Own a Pool
I think I never even told y’all how we opened the pool this summer right before Otto left town for a couple of weeks, reasoning that I could start treating the water and running the pump and the kids could swim while he was away, etc. We got the cover off, and it turned out the pump had died over the winter. NEAT. But that’s okay, because Otto called and arranged for the Pool Place to come install a new pump the following week.
The day before they were supposed to install it, I got a call. “Yes, um, hi, Mrs. Otto? This is Dude from the Pool Place. Was it a WhirlyGig1000 pump that your husband ordered? Or a regular Thingymabob500?”
Good thing we had engaged in a lot of romantic conversations about the pool pump before his departure. I was ready for this! “Yes, it’s the WhirlyGig1000. That’s what he ordered.”
“Oh, I just wanted to make sure. People usually get the Thingymabob500.”
“Yes, but see, we have the Thingymabob500 right now, and it died, so we decided to upgrade. Are you still coming to install it tomorrow?”
“Oh, yes ma’am, we are. We’ll see you at noon tomorrow.”
I got off the phone feeling quite smug. That feeling lasted until about 11:00 am the following day, when someone ELSE from Pool Place called to say that they would NOT, in fact, be coming to do the installation, because they had accidentally ordered a Thingymabob500 instead of the WhirlyGig1000.
I was not impressed, to put it mildly.
They did finally come to install the pump about a week later, by which time the uncovered pool—untreated, because we had no way to circulate the water—had turned into a veritable swamp. I took myself down to Pool Place and spent my entire life’s savings on pool chemicals, went home and dumped everything into the pool, got the pump going, and once again felt very smug. Over the next few days I continued my specialized water treatment protocol, and by the time Otto returned, the water was nearly clear.
It remained nearly clear… never quite clearing… until, finally, algae began to grow again. Because the salt cell had failed. (LITERALLY THE ONLY THING LEFT TO REPLACE ZOMG.) (In a saline system, no salt cell = no chlorine. Whoops.) Otto ordered a new salt cell, and promptly left town again. In the meantime, I added chlorine by hand as needed.
Everything is fixed now. We make the children swim every damn day because that stupid pool is their inheritance.
The Continuing Saga of Baptism by Fire
I may have also mentioned that I joined the board of my local theater company because I’m all about community service. (And by “I’m all about community service” I mean “I knew this particular position would be entirely too much work and mostly thankless but I was asked to do it and flattery will get you everywhere with me.”) I still have no earthly idea what I’m doing, but I’m getting a lot better at faking it. So that’s good. On the other hand, I knew going into it that this particular job (handling season tickets) was going to be most time-consuming during the summer, and somehow I reasoned that that was perfect, because everyone has extra time in the summer, right?
No. NO. Everyone but ME has extra time in the summer. You know what I have in the summer? I have extra people in my house who say things like “Mom!” and “I need your help!” and “PAY ATTENTION TO ME” and “I didn’t leave that there, it was your other kid” and so on. So first I had to design a whole brochure (spoiler alert: I have never designed a brochure in my entire goddamn life and had no clue what I was doing) and coordinate with the printer and figure out a mailing list (another spoiler: not as easy as it sounds) and coordinate all this STUFF while my children were being… ummmm… rather needy. And I finally got it all done and—hey, let’s set humility aside here—the brochure looks great and I did a really good job and I was so, SO proud of myself for getting everything done.
But, uh, here’s the thing. I had no sooner breathed a sigh of relief than people started, y’know, ORDERING TICKETS. And processing these orders is ALSO my job. So basically by doing a good job on the first thing I made a lot more work for myself on the second thing, and it’s fine, it’s all fine, it’s GREAT SO GREAT HONESTLY YES IT IS, but it is also a lot of time and probably the wrong time of year but oh well.
The Continuing Saga of But She Doesn’t Look Sick
It’s almost funny to look back, now, at allllllll the years of posts about Chickadee either being sick, or itchy, or injured, and our collective bewilderment over all her bizarre issues and how nothing had anything to do with anything else, no one ever seemed to be able to explain to us why she could sprain her wrist just by pretending to be an airplane (true story), or why she spent about four years completely covered in rashes and hives every summer, or why when she got mono she was one of the rare cases where “feeling yucky for months” is skipped in favor of ACUTE LIVER FREAKOUT GO DIRECTLY TO THE HOSPITAL FOR A WEEK DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT $200.
I probably didn’t mention or glossed over a lot of what’s happened in the last few years as regards her health, but the basic gist is that since recovering from last summer’s bout with mono, Chickie really never recovered. She has not been the same. I mean, the good news is that she’s otherwise happy and doing amazing things and being your basic rock star of a young adult, but the bad news is that we have spent the entire last year going from doctor to doctor and trying to figure out What The Hell Is Going On.
[Sidebar: Should you be interested in an abbreviated list of Assorted Clusterfucks with which my kid has dealt this past year, they include (but are not limited to): a severe bout of costochondritis that was misdiagnosed by the doc-in-a-box in Tinytown as a dangerous heart arrhythmia (necessitating an emergency room adventure and nearly causing ME to have a heart attack); a mysteriously-sprained ankle (woke up with a “sprain”) which was “treated” multiple times to no avail and after wearing a boot for several weeks, her ankle improved but her knee now hurts pretty much all the time; severe fatigue overlooked as “well all college students are tired” by multiple doctors until one finally, grudgingly, diagnosed her with fibromyalgia; heart-rate fluctuations so wild that we bought a FitBit HR so we could record them and SHOW THEM TO A DOCTOR because surely you must be mistaken, surely you are a perfectly healthy young adult and there is no way your resting heart rate of 60 shoots up to 135+ every time you stand up (except that it does); constant pain in a variety of places and types; and finally, the last few months she’s started having symptoms of neuropathy (but no, it can’t be neuropathy, she’s perfectly healthy and so young, blah blah blah).]
I wish this story had a happy ending. What it has is a nearly-year-long wait to see a rheumatologist who clearly can’t get out of the room fast enough each time he sees my daughter, because her case is not straightforward and he can’t just toss a prescription at her and be a hero. She now has a provisional diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which does indeed tie together EEEEEVERYTHING she’s been experiencing, but the rheumatologist will not diagnose it “for sure” without corroboration from a geneticist. Well HEY guess what! She saw a geneticist a little over a year ago and we asked about EDS then, and the geneticist basically said “Well if she has it, she has the kind that doesn’t show up on genetic testing so I don’t see any point in testing her.” So now she’s waiting to see another geneticist. In December. So that she can be… not tested again? I’m not really clear. But hooray for being about 200x more symptomatic right now than she was last time, I guess? Maybe we can get a “real” diagnosis at last.
… but even a confirmed, official diagnosis pretty much gets you nothing, because there’s no real standard of care. So that sucks. A lot. She’s doing okay, but in a single year she has gone from having occasional issues to having daily pain and limitations, and it’s hard not to what-if the future, y’know?
I have no tidy way to conclude this section. It just sucks.
The Continuing Saga of Let’s Pretend We’re Not Living Saga to Saga
Remember how I used to always say “OH LOOK, SOMETHING SHINY!”? Now instead of saying that, I just strive to live like “OH LOOK, SOMETHING NORMAL!” is something I could say about most of my world. Ha! So look—Chickadee and I faced off on a common point of strife between college students and their parents, because isn’t that just delightfully normal? It seems like it might be. And I need all the normal I can get, right now.
[Edited to add: I wrote this post, and a few hours later, Otto walked in the door with a small box. â€œIâ€™m misery!â€ he said, handing it to me. Heâ€™d read the part about misery loving company and how I hoped it would bring chocolate, so he did. I already loved him but that may well be the sweetest thing heâ€™s ever done.]