Sunday, July 17: We had a nice visit from our friends Sam and Kate, who are living in the Baltimore area this summer. We took them to High Rocks vista at Ralph Stover State Park in Tinicum, about 20 minutes north of Doylestown where we live. This is the first place we have found since moving to Pennsylvania where we feel like we are "away from it all" enjoying nature. Sure, there are actually houses within a mile, but if you hike down to the Tohickon Creek, you can't see anyone. Bonus, the water in the creek is so much warmer than our mountain creeks in Utah. You can actually wade in it and keep your feet in for hours and enjoy the pleasant sound and sensation of the water. The kids entertain themselves in the shallow water while we sit nearby.
Little did I know what those moments in nature would lead to...
Monday, July 18: Tyson had to fly out on short notice to visit a customer in Pittsburgh. The crook of my left elbow started itching a little.
Tuesday, July 19: I had a 10 a.m. appointment at the hospital for an ultrasound to follow up on a pregnancy complication that had been apparent in my previous ultrasound. Children aren't allowed at these appointments, and now Tyson was out of town and couldn't watch ours. My teenage babysitter has moved away, my one friend was on vacation, my other friend moved away, and my other friend had just had her first baby four days earlier. Thankfully, my kind visiting teaching companion was able to watch the kids for me.
The appointment went great. The concern has resolved itself and I was told I could go back to regular activity. I also found out we are having a GIRL! I was very surprised, for some reason, and I still haven't really gotten used to the idea. A girl seems basically like an alien, at this point. I have to admit I am very excited to have a little more balance in our household! I'm measuring for right around Christmas Day. My official due date is December 27th. I previously thought my due date was going to be December 16th, so we'll see what happens. It will be a busy, crazy holiday season!
I also had blood work done at that appointment. By that time the rash on my left arm was looking much worse (angry red and bumpy), and more rash was showing up on the inside of my upper right arm.
Tuesday was also the first day of an awful heat wave. It was already 90 degrees and 40% humidity when I dropped my kids off at 9:30 in the morning!
Tyson got home from Pittsburgh late that night. Little did he know what a crazy week he had ahead of him!
Wednesday, July 20: My rash started spreading, blistering, and oozing. Moving my arms (especially my left one) became extremely painful. I hardly could do a thing. Clean laundry started going unfolded, kids watched a LOT of TV, and I sat at my dining table with my arms outstretched with a fan blowing on them. The cool air eased the pain and itching a little, and also dried the ooze. If I got up to walk around, I had to have my arms out to the front/side, JUST like the pose of the Christus:
What does it say about me that this is the SECOND time I've used this picture, less-than-reverently, on my blog? (See first one here.)
Around mid-morning, Tyson called and told me his boss, the General Manager at the beef plant where he works, had been fired. This is quite a blow because Tyson respects this boss, is loyal to him, and considers him a friend. It's not my place to talk about any details here, but one thing is for sure...this will be a rough transition at the plant and it may leave Tyson in a bit of a precarious position job-wise. We had been keeping our eye out a little for other opportunities for Tyson because we felt it might be good if he had the option of a new position/company next spring, and in this economy who knows how many months that could take! The firing of Tyson's boss encouraged us to put that job search into overdrive, just in case Tyson is next. We were glad we got a jump on things, because due to our earlier efforts Tyson actually already secured and interview for a position in Utah. He'll be flying out there next week.
By the time Tyson got home that day my arms looked absolutely disgusting (probably the rest of me, too, as i hadn't managed to shower. He greeted me in the kitchen with a lovely term of endearment, "Heeeeey there, Scary Jesus." (Apparently I wasn't the only one who notice the similitude of my posture.) Here is the bright side to that day. An overwhelmed Tyson came home from work the earliest he ever has since his promotion: 5 pm. Crazy! We're used to not seeing him until about 7, sometimes later. Yes, he leaves our house for work before 5 a.m. each morning.
These are the pictures of my arms that day. I had determined that Beck must have gotten into poison ivy when we were outdoors on Sunday, and I got it on me when I picked him up. Apparently kids don't start developing the sensitivity until they are three years old, while I already knew I was highly sensitive. I had a bad poison oak reaction on my legs several years ago. Oh, and it wasn't just my arms that were affected. I also had/have the rash on my chest, neck, and face, and a couple small patches at the waistband of my pants. So lovely.
That was the last day I managed to get dinner on the table. We spent the whole day having power brown-outs due to the grid being overloaded because of the heat and therefore the power use from air conditioners. That night the power actually went out completely for almost an hour around 10 p.m. I was about to evacuate us from our suffocating house to sleep in our air conditioned van when the power came back on. Phew!
Thursday, July 21: Most of the awesomeness of this day goes to Tyson. My poison ivy just continued to get worse, but i did manage to apply Tyson for about 13 jobs that day. (Since about the only thing I could do was sit at the computer with a fan blowing on my arms, typing with one hand.)
As for Tyson, that day at his plant a cow got loose right at the point when it was supposed to be getting humanely killed, wreaking havoc on the plant floor and getting the plant shut down for the day by the USDA. (The animals are supposed to be treated humanely at all times, of course, and this did not qualify. You don't want further details.) Tyson spent the rest of the day working with others on the team on answering the USDA so they could have the plant up and running again in the morning. This involves a lot of paperwork and promises and stuff I don't really understand or know about, but what I do know is that Tyson didn't get to come home from work until almost 10:30 p.m., so that was a 17+ hour workday for him. And yes, he had to go back the next day at 5:00 a.m. again.
I ordered pizza from Papa John's for dinner that night. Had to pay extra for delivery because I was completely incapable of loading the kids in the car and driving, due to the massive weeping wounds now covering my arms.
Friday, July 22, AKA the worst day on record in a long, long time: I decided I had to push through the pain and take a shower. Miserable, but felt so good to be clean! I also managed to bathe the kids, but by the time I finished that I was about to pass out. This was the worst day of the heat wave. It was 101 degrees, and over 50% humidity, so the heat index was 114 degrees. My poor kids were so stir crazy! When it's this hot we usually go to a big indoor play place to play and get the energy out, but I just couldn't do it! I couldn't even hold and love them properly. Beck was spending way too much time strapped in his high chair or zipped into his baby jail, watching movies. The kids were staying up until ungodly late hours because they weren't expending any energy during the day. I couldn't sleep, either, because I was in such excruciating pain and if I did fall asleep I would soon wake up in a soggy puddle of ooze.
Tyson called mid-morning that day to say that he would be home late from work again. Things had gone wrong, very wrong, at the plant. The line got started late that day because the paperwork was still going back and forth with USDA and they didn't have the go ahead to start production on time. Because of the extreme heat and the late start, cattle started dying while waiting on the trucks and in the barn. The first time he called, twenty had already died. The next time, it was eighty. By the end of the day over 200 head of cattle had died because of the heat and conditions. Just awful, no matter what way you look at it. Needless to say this causes more USDA trouble for the plant, but more than that it is just sad, sad, sad for the cattle to die that way. I know that may sound silly because they are already facing their imminent death, but when done in the usual way they go without fear, and with their dignity. This is entirely different.
I have to admit that throughout this week I had been wishing there was ANY way Tyson could take some time off work to take care of me and the kids, but it just wasn't in the cards, obviously. I had run out of gauze and bandages for my wounds and had taken to taping damp washcloths on my arms instead, just to be able to do ANYTHING (change a diaper, put cereal on the table, etc.). My entire left arm was swollen to 150% its normal size, like a big sausage, and my upper right arm was equally swollen. When it became clear Tyson would not be able to come home I finally had to admit defeat and ask for outside help. I texted my friend Allyson, now back from vacation, and asked her to call me when she had a minute, that I needed a little help. She called a few hours later after waking up from a nap, and I asked her to go to the store and get me some Benadryl and some gauze. Boy, I HATE asking for favors and inconveniencing people. But I couldn't take care of myself and my kids anymore.
She shortly arrived with supplies and with her husband, a former EMT. He fixed me up and gave me a regimen for caring for my rash. While he was medicating my wounds I got a call from my mom...
...from the hospital...
...my dad had had a heart attack...
World. Crumble. Now.
She said he was in the cath lab (surgery) being worked on, and that he had seemed relatively fine going in, but that she wouldn't have real details until he came out and they heard what the doctors had to say.
Well, I completely lost it.
The week had been so hard and now this.
I just lost it.
Why am I so far away from home?
I want to see my dad!
Will he be okay?!
Should I come home?
But how...I'm in no condition to fly or drive?
I started to bawl, all the while with my friends sitting there wondering what on earth is going on.
My mom said she didn't know if she should call me, because she knew I would just feel worried and powerless. She tried to assure me that medical attention was prompt, Dad seemed like himself going into surgery, he had good color, things would be fine, don't cry honey, things will be fine...
...but I couldn't stop. The week had just been too much. But I told her, don't worry Mom, I'm fine. I kind of needed to cry. This is just a better reason than my other ones. That seemed to make her feel a little better.
She said she would call again when she had something to report.
I tried to regain my composure and told my friends what had happened. Geez, I bet they felt awkward, but they were very sweet and offered to take my boys home with them for the evening. I agreed. I was sooooo grateful for the boys to have a proper dinner and some attention and loves and cuddles (my boys ADORE Allyson, Scott, and their teenaged daughters).
When they were gone I took some Benadryl and wrapped my wounds. My phone rang and the caller ID said it was my mom. I said hello and was greeted by my dad, who was trying to sound super chipper. It felt good to hear his voice. He had had a blockage in his left artery and had two stents put in. Prognosis is good and tomorrow they would have results back on an enzyme test that would assess the damage to the heart. He would be in the hospital for a couple of days. We didn't get to talk for long because the doctors came in so my parents had to go. Talking to him was a comfort, and that, combined with the Benadryl, was enough to knock me out for a much needed nap.
I woke up feeling well enough to fold a little laundry, and when Tyson came home he had a few minutes to relax without being attacked by our attention-starved kids. Allyson and Scott returned with the kids and we got them to bed. I zonked out on the couch with my arms elevated.
Saturday, July 23: Tyson had to work again, unfortunately, but he came home a little before noon. I made it out of the house for the first time since Tuesday, when Tyson drove us to Wendy's for lunch and to Rite Aid for more gauze and surgical dressings. The air conditioning in the car felt blessedly wonderful, and that effect, combined with calamine lotion, benedryl, Tylenol, and the cold compresses I had taped to my arms, had me feeling the best I had in days. I even got to stop by and see Brittney's new baby, though I felt a little out of it what with the Benadryl. I received a call from my parents, assuring me that the results of the enzyme test were encouraging and that the damage from the attack was relatively minimal. Dad would be able to go home the next day.
I bought some huge surgical dressings (pads) at Rite Aid, and got all bandaged up for the night ahead. They are supposed to be for "heavily draining wounds" but nonetheless they were completely soaked when I woke up, and I was in pools of ooze again. Sick! This picture of my left arm is from Saturday. Friday it looked and felt worse, but I was not even up to taking a picture.
Sunday, July 24: I didn't make it to church, but word got around a little and a ward member texted to say she was bringing dinner. As much as I would have loved to say, "Oh, no, no, no...no need!" Yes, there was a need. The idea of someone bringing us a warm casserole was...wonderful! I showered again and properly dressed my wounds and finally, finally, I felt that I had turned the corner and was starting to get better.
When I called my parents' house to see if they were home from the hospital, I heard my dad in the background playing with my sister's kids. Her family had joined my parents for a heart healthy Sunday dinner. I spoke to my dad again and asked about his doctors' recommendations. Yes, he will have some adjustments in his diet, even though his cholesterol level was actually moderate. My mom will be making him get more of the right kind of exercise. And, most importantly, he is going to scale back on some of his commitments and take life a little easier. He just Works. Too. Hard. He always is the last one at the office and then heading straight from there to church responsibilities. Never getting enough sleep. Hopefully he will find a way to change these longstanding habits. (Good thing he has Boss Lady to help him...hi, Mom!) We want him to be around for a long, long time!
So, THAT was a week.