posts tagged with 'illness'

lost week

Last week was rough. On Monday morning—before breakfast, even!—I made a poor life choice going over a jump and smashed into a tree. Besides cutting up my face wonderfully, I did something to the nerves in my neck that left my hands numb and my arms sore. That slowed me down some, I can tell you! Then just as I was feeling better on Thursday it was time for our second Covid vaccine. Welcome, of course, but when I woke up on Friday I found that the post-vaccine fever had combined with the nerve damage to leave the about the most uncomfortable I've ever been. Sleeping especially has been really hard. And then on top of all that, adding insult to literal injury, the woodchucks and rabbits have been absolutely destroying the garden. It's extremely discouraging.

me, bloodied and bruised

trying not to let the bastards get me down

But we're alive, and enjoying seeing more and more friends in person, and I imagine I may one day start to feel better again. My shoulders don't hurt so much I can't type, at least!

what a pain!

I've been getting to think some about pain lately. Just before Thanksgiving I had a dental procedure that left me hurting for a little bit (I may write more about it in a year or two when I recover) and then on Tuesday this week I did something to my back that really laid me low for the next day and a half. Leah is suffering her own difficulties, and is looking ahead to surgery in a week, plus—from an unrelated problem—eating is really painful for her lately. So we're kind of a wreck!

My recent back problems started when I was playing hide-and-seek with the boys and my mom on the rocks above Fawn Lake. I found a great spot, a cleft in the rock where I could crouch down out of sight, and naturally it won me the game. But when I got up I felt a twinge in my lower back, right above my right hip. Then just moments later I slipped on some leaves and fell some way down the rock, but that's normal: I fall all the time! Mysterious twinges are much more alarming.

The pain got worse rather than better over the evening, and by the time I went to bed I was really in a bad way. The fact that it took me three minutes to figure out how I was going to get myself down onto the bed, and that whenever I moved the wrong way the intensity of pain took my breath away, made me wonder if I had done something to my spine. Would I need to go to the hospital?! I also really wished I had filled that prescription for 800mg Motrin tablets that the dentist gave me. As it was, I had to make do with regular generic ibuprofen at 200mg every couple hours all night (I was awake every couple hours to take one because of course every time I moved I would wake up!). Not a pleasant night.

But then by the morning I was already a little bit better: good enough to sit in my chair to do a meeting for work. And while I couldn't ride the bike park the kids built in the street that afternoon I felt good enough to wish that I could. And by Thursday I was back to full capacity, albeit with some lingering twinges (good thing: I would have hated to miss that party!). As I said to Leah, there's nothing like intense debilitating pain to make you appreciate regular aches and pains!

Leah was very kind and caring. Because she's a wonderful loving person of course, but also because she's anticipating a couple weeks of needing care herself coming up! And I'm happy to do it... as long as my own health holds up. If not, it's up to the kids! How do you think they'd do as caretakers?

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at least it wasn't Covid..

I thought that the boys' illness was due to too much sun, and attributed a weak spell I felt myself to vacuuming in the heat, but in retrospect we may have actually been sick. The clue was that by 9:00 on Friday morning I was so weak and dizzy I couldn't stand up, and that I wasn't able to eat anything between Friday breakfast and Saturday supper. There was also some time spent in the bathroom; I won't trouble you with the details. So I guess, as well as heat exhaustion, we all picked up some sort of stomach bug among the throngs at the pond. A 24-hour bug, thankfully, rather than the coronavirus—which I assume was also a possibility if we were in a position to be taking on germs at all. I wonder if four months of social distancing and mask-wearing have let our immune systems start slacking off?

The most notable thing to me about being sick—besides the kindness and consideration of my family—was that I was able to reach a point where Gatorade was palatable. More than palatable, even; more like the nectar of the gods, at least when it was watered down with ice. It had the stuff my body needed! I wonder if any of that appreciation will linger now that I'm almost back to normal? I don't think I'll risk a trial.

too much!

Saturday evening after our delightful outing to the pond I was talking with Leah about how well-adapted the boys are to the sun, since they eased into it by being outside every day all spring and into the summer. They're basically sunburn-proof, I said. That was after we'd been at the pond for two hours in the middle of the day and all three of them had a delightful healthy glow. Well, yesterday we went back to the pond, and this time we stayed there for six hours: all the way from 8:30 until 2:30. As we finished our lunch I suggested they take a little break in the shade—there were places where they could be in the shade and still be sitting in the water!—but they were having too much fun. They were feeling great, and talking about what all they could do the next time we came. Could it be tomorrow? As we made our way back to the car, though, I noted how red they were looking. Harvey scratched an itch on his face and found that it hurt some. And we were all super tired.

As it turns out, the sunburns weren't actually very bad. All the redness was gone by mid day today. Hooray, but it turns out sunburns aren't the only thing to worry about from a full day of sun exposure: between the heat and the dehydration and all the exercise, all three boys were totally wiped out today. And worse than wiped out, downright sick, with almost feverish symptoms. Zion threw up a couple times in the morning and slept for an hour in the middle of the day; Harvey threw up after supper. Leah and I tried all day to get liquids into them: water, gatorade, lemonade, chocolate milk. Lijah and especially Zion couldn't find anything to their taste—trust Zion to worry about taste when he's dehydrated and throwing up. As the symptoms kept on towards bed time I started to wonder if they could have actually picked up a bug of some sort at the pond. After all, they were around people more than they had been any time in the last several months! But right now I still do think it's just dehydration and heat exhaustion. "Just"? That's plenty! Zion told me this afternoon that he's never going back to the pond again. I hope he feels better in the morning!

catching up

What strange times we're living in. Since I last wrote, everything is different. I wish I had been noting down everything as it happened, but had I done so I probably would have looked stupid in retrospect—there was a time, for example, when I thought this virus business was no big thing. Happily we got Lijah's birthday party off before the epidemic got going, then we hosted Bible Study here a week ago on Tuesday evening. On Thursday we thought we were going to a homeschool music gathering, but the hosts, with an immunocompromised family member, were more on top of the news than we were and cancelled. We met up with one other family at their house anyway, played some music, and took a hike. Then Friday we cancelled our Book Group here but still invited families who wanted to join us. Just one took us up on the offer and the kids played outside while the adults talked about SARS-CoV2 and social distancing. We had lunch together, but carefully. They left at 1:30, and nobody has been in our house since, nor have we visited anyone else.

I guess that's only been four days, but to be honest it feels like a lifetime. Not because the time has been hard—on the contrary, except for some base-level existential dread we've been having a great time! I guess it's just that with so little on the schedule the days have felt stretched out. Not so much that I've had time to write, clearly, but lots for board games and stories and learning to use Zoom. It looks like this is going to be our schedule for quite a while now, so maybe I'll be able to work some writing in there too.

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sickish day

It's a good thing we went outside lots yesterday, because today sickness kept us inside most of the day. It wasn't too terrible: we had a fine relaxing day, and read lots of Norse mythology. Before he started feeling poorly Harvey drew a comic called "How Odin Got His Eye Patch". Then the boys all fell asleep by 7:30, one in bed and two on the couch downstairs. So I didn't get to read bedtime stories. The lack made me very aware of how much time our bedtime routine takes up every evening. Without it, I was able to do the dishes, clean up the books and board games, finish a woodworking project, and clean off the boys' desks. Yikes, that sounds like a lot of work! I hope they're better tomorrow evening...

that's more like it, winter

snow on the trees and everything else in the yard

sticky snow

The groundhog was right! Over the last week it finally started looking like winter around here, and we've been enjoying it to the fullest—or at least, as full as we can manage in between bouts of illness.

It started last Tuesday with a brief but intense fall of wet snow that caught us as we biked home from a mid-morning outing (to pick up some hot bar bacon from Whole Foods, if you must know). By the time we finished our lunch of bacon sandwiches the snow had changed to light rain—light enough that we didn't think twice about heading out to play in it. Even Lijah! The snow was amazingly sticky, and it was no work at all to put together a good-size snowman. He came out looking pretty cheerful despite the damp.

our snowman smiling

our genial snowman

I told the boys about a snow chair I made last time I'd experienced such great packing snow—long before any of them were born. Of course then we had to make one for ourselves. Because Lijah was getting tired of eating snow cakes we limited ourselves to a Zion-sized model.

zion sitting in a snow chair

cool and comfortable

As I put Lijah down for his nap the other boys spent some time using the snowman as a swordfighting dummy. I was pretty grumpy with them when I noticed—that was my snowman too!—so when they took their rest I rebuilt him out in the front yard. Those balls were so big I couldn't get them on straight, and when the temperature shot up the next day I was sure he wasn't long for this world. But he managed to hold on, and it turns out his lean was just the thing to prepare him for Thursday's blizzard.

our snowman through the blizzard

leaning against the blast

Folks talk about how summer is the best time for getting to know your neighbors, but I find snow storms are fine too. Tuesday evening Harvey helped the neighbors with their snowman, and on Thursday, with everyone home for the storm, parents and kids alike enjoyed playing together in the bitter blast. We shoveled with the neighbors on one side (then tossed a football around for longer than you'd expect given the conditions) then took a lovely adventurous walk with the family on the other. In a blizzard construction sites become magical wonderlands.

Harvey and friends climbing up a giant snow-covered pile of dirt

Harvey leading the pitch

On our way back from that walk we stopped in at another neighbor's house to say hello—they were surprised and charmed to see us, and it was just too bad we were too wet and exhausted for a proper visit. Too bad too that Zion and Lijah were to sick to venture outside at all... though on the other hand, snow days are also great for cuddling on the couch and watching shows!

The next day was Friday, and all the school kids had to go back to school; so it was a perfect day for us to go sledding. The wind was whipping the fine snow all over the hill and the trails were far from broken, so we were glad of our new-to-us giant snow tube, which glided wonderfully over all the powder. It was also a great place for Zion to rest when his post-illness tiredness caught up to him.

Zion relaxing in our giant snowtube

taking it easy

His fatigue and the biting wind meant we didn't stay too long out on the big hill, but on the way back to Grandma's house we found that the path in the woods offered some promising terrain for the toboggan, so we spent half and hour or so there. Harvey worked hard to get the plastic sled down, but it was our five-foot wooden toboggan that was best for the job: we managed a couple runs with all three of us of a hundred feet or so, around two big sweeping turns. It was great!

Harvey sledding down a path in the woods

where you have to steer

Saturday Harvey and Zion got to play with the neighbor we visited Thursday—a small investment in relationship building pays off big! They had a great time until Zion bumped his head and had to be brought home, then he and Harvey had a great time. Harvey was gone from 10:00 until 4:00—now that's a playdate!

With more snow in the forecast for Sunday we were a little nervous about getting to church—and more importantly getting home. The snow in Cambridge was wet and not really accumulating so we thought we were fine when we started towards home at 2:00, but as soon as we headed up the hill away from Cambridge things took on a more dramatic aspect.

snowy conditions on Rt 128

not so bad I couldn't take a picture...

It was pretty scary, and we were glad to get home and cuddle up for the rest of the day. Monday was another snow day, but the sun was out by mid morning so despite the whipping wind we could have had yet more snow fun... but there's only so much of that you can do in a row! Instead we visited a library.

The last couple days have been warmer again. I meant to write all this Monday, but Harvey finally came down with the stomach bug that got us all in sequence: Lijah and Zion Thursday, Leah Friday and Saturday, me Sunday night, and Harvey Monday night. So now we've all had it, and it's done. Quick, let me have some time to write before the next sickness strikes us! Zion had a fever at bedtime so we might not have long to wait...

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a stroke of heat

It's been really hot here the last couple days: hot enough to take over our lives—our entire theory of existence. But we put the air conditioner up in the bedroom (to make napping possible) and I figured out how to open most of the stuck windows, so I think we're going to pull through. I got to the windows this morning when I went downstairs to discover it was maybe ten degrees warmer inside the house than outside—too much to fix with the doors open before the sun got up and the outdoor temperature raced back up again. So the house was warmish today, and we didn't know what we were going to do with ourselves all day; until the boys solved our dilemma by coming down with a debilitating fever. Then they were happy to lie on the couch with the fan on them and alternate between sleeping and watching movies!

Two of them, anyways; Lijah has escaped so far, so he spent his time at home jumping on his brothers, messing with the iPad, and putting the vomit bucket on his head as a helmet. To defend them he got to go on errands with Mama and Dada, and enjoy AC and samples at stores as diverse as Whole Foods and Costco (no points for guessing which outing goes with which parent). Here's a picture of Zion sleeping on the floor this morning; he dropped there on the way to the breakfast table for pancakes, and if Lijah hadn't sat on him he probably would have been there all day. As it was he transitioned to the couch where he stayed all day—until maybe 7:00 when he got up to have a pancake at long last.

Zion asleep on the kitchen floor

needs his rest

By that time the heat had broken (after a terrific windstorm with only a little rain). Yesterday it never broke at all: terrible hot well after dark. And we were all healthy, though less raring to go than we would have been in more temperate conditions. Though in retrospect, maybe the early warning signs were there. We certainly took very well to the news that it was, apparently, National Hammock Day.

Harvey in the hammock reading an Asterix book

celebrating in style

Just the thing when the heat index is over 100°.

I have no problem with it being hot in the summer. It's to be expected. And I think with the AC and the windows (and the hammock!) we're all set for a couple more days of this craziness—all set, that is, as long as the other three of us don't get sick!

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cold weather

It was really cold here this weekend.

a screenshot of the weather report, showing -33 wind chill

see? cold.

In response, or just through sympathetic resonance, all the boys in the house came down with colds. Lijah is worst hit being smallest, which means Leah is really worst hit: when he can't sleep due to a stuffy nose and croup-y cough, she's the one that suffers. Zion looks the worst, with red irritated skin under his nose and one eye and all round his mouth.

Zion in his carseat looking like death

not sad, just tired

Today, though, just as the weather turned dramatically warmer—a 60° swing in under 48 hours—the big boys and I are clearly on the road to recovery. If he can manage a little sleep Lijah is sure to follow, and we'll all be ready to enjoy whatever this crazy winter throws at us next!

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sick days

School is dangerous. We had a homeschool gathering here this past Friday, and illness entered the house with one of the visiting children. Harvey went down first, slowly collapsing Saturday evening and throwing up all night. So the rest of us kind of knew what to expect, which is... something of a relief? What's surprising me know is how long it's taking Zion and me in particular to recover. Neither of us have gotten our appetites or energy back, and four days is an awful long time to go without eating real food. Leah's managed to mostly escape the plague, but at least one of the other kids who visited Friday also got sick, and I fell pretty bad about letting an event I planned become such a disease vector.

I'm not going to let it stop me doing something similar in future, but I might wait for the next one until it gets a little warmer, so the kids can spend a bigger part of the time outside. It's hard, hard to stay indoors this much from an activity standpoint—we've all had enough of indoor activities and indoor voices by this point, I feel—and now I think the germs need room to spread out too.

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