Friday, March 30, 2012

Before and After

Rainbow chard, caramelized onions, aged gouda quiche
I know you’re dying to find out about how our Pi Party went. And based on the photos, I can tell you what we ate (see below for the list). The rest, however, has fallen into the abyss of distant memory. Lately it has been overshadowed by a more dire, urgent drama.

Right now, the world is divided between The Time Before and The Time After the Flu. Before the Flu, there were pies and green frosting and a sweaty birthday party and glow-in-the-dark games. After the Flu, there were couch pillows splayed on the living room floor, more soggy tissues than I can bear to count, gummy, half-empty plastic measuring cups dripping with purple cough syrup, vomit stains on my heirloom rug, school papers flowing off every level surface, and a lot more dust and dishes than I’ve seen in one place for a long time. The space in between Before and After is the Illness Abyss. It's where those other memories fell. The memories of Pi Day, the Pie Guy’s birthday party, and (presumably) a few contented days in between. Now that they are gone, their prospects for rescue are dim.

It’s not that it’s all disappeared. Just large chunks of time. I remember that first day of the Illness (could it have been just this past Monday?): getting up, getting into the shower, nagging the kids to get dressed. Maybe I fed someone breakfast. I think I cancelled a few things, fearing the worst. Then I remember shoving my healthy daughter out the door to hitch a ride to school with a neighbor. I parked the Pie Guy on the couch with a glass of water and tissues, and dragged my battered body back to bed. That’s where I stayed. For approximately 72 hours. All contact with the outside world ceased. Despite heavy meds, light hurt. So opening my eyes was not an option. I’d like to say that the Pie Guy and I banded together through cough and mucus, fever and pain. We did simultaneously wage war on several boxes of Kleenex. But somehow, with a little help from Tylenol, his energy level and his muscles fared far better than mine. In truth, I was a caregiver in name only.

The big takeaway from this week: There’s not much you can do to help your kid while your eyes are closed. 

So after Day One I guilted the Master of the House into working from home so that at least one eye out of our combined four could be on the boy. I don’t think the Master* realized the intensity of the situation until he found me sitting up in our bed, sobbing over the severity of the sinus pressure. Most days, I’m pretty even-keeled. I’m not a big crier anymore. This kind of outburst usually stems from situations that are extremely painful or hormonally provoked. This week it was pain. Being the wonderful man that he is, when the Master saw me sitting there blubbering away, unable to move air through mouth or nose or even ear, he stopped complaining about his horrendous work load and deadline pressure and remembered that bit about “in sickness and in health.” I love this man. He truly is valiant in a crisis situation.

*Note: I considered calling my hero the MOTH. You know, like the POTUS, only with less veto power. But I thought he might object to the image, so I'm sticking with "the Master," for irony's sake.
For this was indeed a family crisis. Though I knew it wasn’t life threatening because I didn’t get the “ups and downs” part of it (and in typical fashion, my appetite remained intact), I can still see why it was a bad idea to skip my annual flu vaccine. To put it plainly, the flu sucks. It combines several days of flat-out exhaustion, muscle aches, high fever, sinusitis, and possible vomit and diarrhea – it’s the all-in-one sickness special. The Pie Guy is still gagging on his post-nasal drip after a week of this modern plague, with an occasional spew or two (hence the aforementioned stains on the rug). Poor guy.

There are some benefits to being sick in bed. Take today, for instance: once my eyes could handle light exposure, cable TV rewarded me with an encore showing of one of the greats: Best in Show. All it takes is a single round of “God Loves a Terrier” to turn my frown upside down. Also, I learned that a hefty dose of Dayquil at 2 p.m. allows me to write until 2 a.m. (since there’s no hope of sleep anyway). Who knew?

I think that, as in childbirth, the pain of the plague will fade from memory. I even have faith that, unlike after childbirth, some brain cells may even return. Eventually. If you spot those little buggers threatening to make an appearance, please let me know so I can document where they are. After two kids and an illness like this one, I need all the help I can get.

Oh yes, and the pies. Here are the pictures, for which I can take no credit. But you'll get the idea:

Pies from our Pi Day Party
(All were delicious, but stars indicate crowd favorites)
  •  Tomato Pie (see the picture) 
  •  Rainbow Chard, Spinach, Aged Gouda and Caramelized Onion Quiche
  •  *Key Lime Pie
  •  Sweet Potato Pie with a hint of Cayenne
  • Shoo-Fly Pie
  • Apple Pie with Bourbon Caramel Sauce Swirl
  •  *Lemon Shaker Pie
  •  Chocolate Pudding Pie (adored by the kids)
  •  Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Pie
  •  Pizza Pie (predictably, another kid favorite)
  •  Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche
  •  Elijah Muhammad’s Bean Pie (how great for our family – the merging of beanandpie!)

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