All’s Well That Ends Exhausted…

Everyday Adventures

A much more honest version of that old saw, don’t you think?

Part I

I barely know where to start, but we’ll go with last Thursday morning, how’s that? Todd woke up with a backache. That, in and of itself is not incredibly newsworthy, it does happen occasionally, but you have to remember that’s Todd tolerance level (to alcohol, meds, pain, my ideas) is pretty damn high and his usual attitude is to get on with things regardless.

So the fact that he was vocalizing some pain issues should have tipped me off that this was not going to be standard operating procedure.

As I was going to lunch I got  a text from him…


He failed to mention the chest pain that morning. Master of understatement this one. I truly debated leaving right then and there. Some people would have, but I’m trying to curb some of my natural panic-mode inclinations, so I decided to abide by his wishes and stay put.

Sure. it was a bit alarming that they’d sent him to the ER, but it’s not uncommon for a beleaguered urgent care center to refer patients up a level to better be able to handle their case load. Meanwhile, I was a bit distracted at the office, watching for further updates to come through. After an hour of him being at the ER and nothing, I finally got this:

Screenshot_2017-01-26-13-26-22And then I left work…

Homeboy neglected to mention they transported him by ambulance. Do I need to even explain how crucial a piece of information that was?! King of the understatement.

That was the longest my commute ever felt.

I get to the ER (at least I knew where it was, this time), sign some paperwork, and finally I can go back to the triage rooms.

Had I not been pretty damn anxious by this point, I might have taken a picture of the scene I walked into, but I didn’t. Let me see if I can adequately paint this picture for you:

Empty medical bay, a gaping void where the hulking white bed once stood. To one side of the room a boot stands, toe pointed towards the wall. On the other side of the room its mate lays tossed hurriedly aside. A box of EKG leads sits on the table, discarded adhesive covers littering the workstation. A monitor beeps. A disembodied voice moans from elsewhere along the corridor.

In my state of just this side of panicked, the far flung boots were a silent reminder that very bad things happen in rooms like this. I paced until they wheeled him back into the room, fresh from the ultrasound that revealed a perfectly normal aorta (thank goodness!) and a gallstone that was situated right at the opening to the duct, causing the pain and discomfort.

Surgery is likely in the near future for Todd, but we’ve done this once before with me, back in 2008, so at least we know the drill about what to do and not do. We finally got out of there around 6:30 and had to stop by Urgent Care to get some things out of Todd’s car. He couldn’t drive it home because they’d given him some meds before discharge and even though it was less than 5 minutes away, no sense chancing a fluke accident and him being technically “under the influence.” He’d also had the meds on an otherwise empty stomach, so they might have had a chance of making him sleepy, if it weren’t for the ensuing burst of adrenaline when we got home…

Part II

We both noticed Duncan didn’t come out to greet us when we pulled into the backyard. This was odd because we were home a bit later than usual (say, 30-45 minutes after I’d normally get home) and he’s usually very excited to see us. We’re discussing this fact as we get ourselves and our stuff out of the car when the neighbor to our right comes out of his backdoor, asking for our attention.

He calls his son out to him and says he’s got to face the music. Simultaneously, Todd has noticed and called attention to the fact that the back gate is standing open.


The neighbor boy has been playing ball in his yard, a narrow strip behind the duplexes that runs along our property. The ball went into our (Duncan’s) fenced area and Mr. Slick decided that he could make it in and out without Duncan noticing.

Three guesses how that turned out.

Duncan barked. Boy fled. Boy left gate open. Boy denied it to Mom and Dad when they noticed it a little while later.

And when did this happen, you might be wondering? About 30 minutes before we got home.

So we rush inside, drop our gear, grab leashes, and head out to search, on foot, around the neighborhood. Each going separate directions. I walked down to the park and looped back up a block or two, Todd took the streets behind us. Not a sight or sound of Duncan was to be had.

Meanwhile, I’m still worried about how Todd’s doing, so when our paths crossed as we make intersecting loops, I suggested we pack it in for now so I could get him home and fed. We posted on NextDoor and had an uneasy supper in a way too silent home.

Duncan’s gotten out before, due to his own devious streak, and we’ve spent a bit of time and money ensuring he cannot escape the backyard at will. He’s even let himself back in on at least one occasion, so that if the neighbor on the left hadn’t ratted him out, we’d have been none the wiser about his solo adventures. But this was different. This was at night, this was due to the poor judgement of a stranger, and this time we didn’t find him right away.

To compound the problem, he’d recently pawed his tags off his collar (breaking the split ring they were on) and we’d tried one fix that didn’t last but hadn’t found another solution yet, so he’s wandering around without tags. Fabulous. And he’s microchipped, yes, but (for the non-pet owners out there) you have to register the microchip and pay a separate fee. The pwperwork to do that went AWOL pretty quickly, and Duncan tried to eat the backup tag so I couldn’t read the numbers. He’s due for a vet visit this month and the plan was to have them scan his chip so we could get the number and finally register this wayward son of ours.

Timing’s a bitch, ain’t it?

We decided to go out one more time, together in the car, and crawl our way through the little streets that surround us, going as far as Broad Street just in case. As we were running out of roads, about 3 blocks from home (in an area we’d already covered to no avail), we caught a flash of something in a wooded lot. Duncan was finally found.

It was a very happy reunion, and a short trip home to get him fed and snuggled. And for me to write our address and phone number directly on his collar. Why I didn’t think of that before I have no idea.

Of course, then I see that Duncan has worked said collar off and is chewing on the plastic clip latch thingy.

So off to Walmart the three of us go (we were taking no chances) to get him a new collar, a package of split rings to add the tags to, and a lock for the back gate (the front gate’s been locked for quite some time). He may have also received a new toy for being such a good boy riding in the cart, but you could hardly begrudge him the hedgehog that makes piggy noises.

Part III

After the double shot of stress on Thursday, Friday found us in zombie mode so I took advantage of an unencumbered Saturday morning to sleep in ’til noon, then work on projects for the afternoon and evening. All this to say it was no surprise that I was still awake just shy of 3am when the first Tornado Warning lit up my phone.

I went upstairs to wake Todd and Duncan and bring them down to (relative) safety. Our house has no true safe spot for riding out a tornado threat–all rooms are exterior rooms, even the hallways have windows courtesy of the doors at either end, the closest we can get, if it really gets dangerous, is the closet under stairs among the Halloween decorations and my wedding dress.

Instead, we fell asleep on the sofa, all three of us, while the local news kept continuous coverage of the storms flowing around and through our town. We woke up sometime after 4, when the first wave of warnings had expired, and went up to bed for a few more hours.

Sunday was spent watching the news reports and being vary wary of the weather. Mid-afternoon we got a lull in the weather, a gap large enough between storm bands to be able to go grocery shopping. We lost power briefly a couple of times, but figured we were out of the woods when the last warning expired with only a wind advisory remaining.

Naturally that’s when we lost power for an hour or so.

Par for the course.

We were lucky, in all three instances. I’m ever so grateful for that fact, for our family being intact as well as our home. I just wish the reminders of our good fortune didn’t come all at once and with so much for potential for bad.

Planning Through Advertsity

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
Stormy sky with a flash of lightning cutting across it

image via stock.xchng | photography by hummel_12

While many people ascribe to the hills-and-valleys notion of life, I prefer to think of life as a swinging pendulum. Most of them time we’re swinging through the center with those outlying side-to-side swings taking their turn (though not always politely).

Around this time last year I don’t think anyone in my circle made it through spring without some sort of crisis. Family troubles, work troubles, money troubles, illness, car, computer and every other trouble under the sun. This year hasn’t been quite as rough, but there were some definite brier patches out there.

It’s bad enough on the usual day-to-day when the stress-level amps up, but add in wedding planning and that stress level easily goes to 11.

Let’s look at a few worst-case-scenarios and see what our options are.

Loss of a Job

One the one hand, if you were to lose your job mid-plan it might sound like a god-send in that you now have SO much more time for that list of DIY projects you’ve been meaning to get to. On the other hand, if you’re the one paying for the wedding and you’re counting on that steady income as part of your saving plan, your budget just took a major hit.

The first thing you do, of course, is to start looking for a new job and pronto! Maybe you can leverage your wedding passion into a job with a wedding pro and, in the process, make a connection that will benefit you down the road.

Might as well find that silver lining, right?

Illness (or worse) of a Loved One

In some cultures, mourning is serious business. The death of a family member can prohibit celebrations for a year after the event, which can mean postponing the wedding a year or more.

Whether for that reason or just to make sure your nearest and dearest are with you on your wedding day, some people push up their wedding plans the moment a parent or grandparent’s health starts to fail. And I can certainly understand it.  If, for whatever reason, that isn’t possible or plausible, it’s tough to keep planning a happy occasion in the face of potential tragedy, but even in the face of that, your marriage deserves a happy start, so keep planning as you can.

Situations like this are when you’re very lucky to have wedding insurance! Last time I checked you can purchase it at any point in the process, so if there’s a known situation that could mean postponing your wedding for a while, get the insurance at the first sign of trouble and you might be able to recoup the deposits, etc. for the vendors that aren’t able to accommodate the necessary changes. (It might sound mercenary, but it’ll be one less thing to worry about in the middle of everything else.)

It’s the End of Your World as You Know It

Sometimes, though, something happens that rocks your world to the core and you just wonder how you’re going to pull off this wedding.

Sometimes you don’t. At least not right now.

Last year I faced one of those make or break situations at work. It was beyond what I’d ever experienced before and after a particularly surprising and unsettling alteraction I spent the entire day trying to get a grip and failing miserably. The weekend was shot; I had to cancel some commitments because I just couldn’t face leaving the house. The next week was spent in a state of nervousness that is best described by the irregular heart beat I experienced every time I thought about the situation for too long.

And then all of my websites went down thanks to a hacker. Like I needed that?!

Like anyone needs that.

After a couple of numb weeks and a lot of hard discussions, things have leveled out (thank goodness). But it was close for a while, and I just couldn’t think about the wedding for a solid month or two. How can you when the world has gone completely pear-shaped? So I put everything on hold, left the stack of work where it was, knowing that it would be there when I came back to it.

As usual, the pendulum swung back to the middle and, thankfully, stayed there for quite some time. Eventually I found my groove again and thinking about the wedding became fun again instead of daunting. Like the song says ‘If you’re going through hell, keep on going’–sometimes that’s all you can do!

Have you faced any adversity during your planning process?
How did you handle it? 

Embrace the Insanity

64 Arts

“There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.”
~Edwin Denby

So, you’re self-conscious? You “don’t know how” to dance? You feel awkward?

Join the club.

I’ve often been accused of spending too much time in my head, over-thinking things and not acting enough. I highly doubt I’m alone. It’s tough to come out of our shells, isn’t it? Tough to overcome that shyness or just go ahead and try something without worrying how we’ll look.

There’s a saying, I think, about the definition of bravery is being afraid of something but doing it anyway.

Perhaps, for us thinking types, we can think our way to a door. A door that leads to a dance floor.

So, what can you gain by dancing, regardless of training?

  • A natural high! Dance enough that your heart rate raises and you’re exercising in a fun way. Keep it up and you release endorphins in your brain which make you happy, like you can take on the world–or just keep on dancing.
  • Health benefits. Depending on what type of dance you’re doing, you can reap the benefits in ways from lowering your blood pressure to strengthening your bones to weight loss.
  • Community. Dancing can be done in private, sure, but getting out and taking a class or going to a club gets you living life in public, meeting new people and enjoying the social aspects of the activity.

And just think: on a busy dance floor you’re just another person enjoying the music!

Music for your Health?

64 Arts

We already discussed how music can exacerbate a tense situation or cocoon us during rough times, but can it really help heal our bodies as well as our spirits?

Many think it can.

I had a roommate who was a classical guitar composition major at FSU. I remember when I first moved in he asked if it would bother me if he practiced in the living room. Uh, not unless me listening would be a problem for you! I mean, really, twist my arm, here. But one of the summers I lived in that cute little house in a bad neighborhood (it helped that the roommate and his brother were both former Marines–instant safety boost!), Sam went up to Atlanta to work with a family friend who dealt in alternative therapies for cancer patients.

While this article is what started this train of thought (see what I mean about synchronicity?), it’s high on snark (nothing wrong with that) but a little shy on references. So I decided to do a little digging to see what I could come up with.

Music Therapy appears to be a growing industry–you can get degrees in it at Berklee College of Music or through FSU’s College of Music (and, I’m sure, others–those were just the first couple to pop up). Some still consider it a very alternative method of wellness-care and healing while others consider it one of many treatments that can not only improve mood but, as mood is tied to overall improvement, also improve the effectiveness of traditional treatments, like my roommate’s friend.

Okay, that’s high-level, doctor’s-type music therapy, but what about at home, recreational music therapy?

I know I benefit from having music on, it helps me to focus–usually. See, music choice is key to effective therapy. Like when I have a mountain of data entry to get through at work (possibly the most boring part of my job) I can usually power through it if I’ve got some fun power rock going on in the background (80s/90s hair bands being my rock of choice). And let’s just say that my Bejeweled Blitz score tends to be much higher when I’m listening to up-tempo music  (as this 2006 memo from Stanford would seem to predict is true for many).

At the same time, going back to the idea of fragility, some days that same fun, rocking music has the opposite effect, practically stultifying any sense of productivity or focus. During those times it’s beneficial to listen to more soothing music, say some of that New Age piano or a meditative CD, to reduce the stress hormones coursing through our bodies. Those same, dulcet tunes have also been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, pain sensitivity and even the urge to scratch and itchy rash or skin disorder!

So, I guess the next time I have to go a week without Zyrtec for one of those annoying-but-necessary tests, I should keep my iPod close at hand!