Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's the one you don't see coming that gets you

I went wine tasting with a gaggle of girlfriends this weekend. Now, wine tasting, for me, must be a carefully planned sort of adventure, due to the fact that I take some medications that do not mix well with alcohol.

So, as I sat down Saturday morning after a sleeping-aid free night (ugh) to breakfast sans anti-muscle-spasm pill (think calm muscle thoughts), I was giving myself the old pep-talk.

“Self!” I directed firmly, as I tucked into a hearty breakfast of bacon-cheese omelet, side of bacon, potatoes sprinkled with cheddar cheese and a dotting of sour cream and buttered toast. “You have to be careful today. You don’t want to be throwing up. That would be bad. Watch how much wine you drink, and if you do take any of those medications, it’s sip-sip-toss, OK?”

I agreed with me, finished breakfast, and headed out to meet the girlfriends. We started with champagne and things were going well…except that the back muscles were tightening ominously and I began to feel that weird tingling thing in my legs – spasms are usually not far behind when the legs start tingling. Spasms suck. They’ll stop me dead in the water. Sometimes I’ll have to lie down and whimper quietly to myself for half an hour while waiting for the medication to kick in, so I prefer to head them off rather than wait to see if they actually develop. Especially when I’m in public. Because lying down in the parking lot of a winery going, “Owies! Owies! Owies!” is just really not cool.

We stopped for lunch. As I chewed on my BLT with avocado and greedily slurped down a chocolate mousse concoction and felt the first painful flutters back there, I told myself that OK. It was obvious I wasn’t going to get through this day without a Lortab. So. It is what it is, I said and took the pill.

You cannot imagine how sad I was, when I had to pour absolutely delicious merlot and cabernet sauvignon into the old spittoon. I consoled myself with cheeses brie and blue, soft and hard, and slightly more than my fair share of chocolate kisses.

In the car, I drank my water and felt very proud of myself for my obvious maturity. At the next two stops, I sipped and tossed. It was good stuff, and oh, I wanted to pound it back! But I was firm with myself: Behave! I hissed, when I tried to say, How much could just ONE MORE SIP possibly hurt?

You took a Lortab a few hours ago, I said. I can already feel the pain creeping back – you will need another before you go to bed tonight. Sip, and toss. That. Is. FINAL.

Sadly, I sipped; grieving, I poured out.

But, when we stopped for a Thai dinner, I was pleased with myself. No nausea! No whirling head! Granted, the Lortab alone gives me a buzz so even small sips of wine made me one VERY happy camper, but I was not driving (thank you, Terena!) so hey.

I was delighted that I hadn’t overdone and ruined a marvelous day.

However. I was thinking back over what I had eaten. It was a little fuzzy, but I was counting up the fat (those of us without gallbladders have to do these things), and I had the vague notion that perhaps I ought to tone it down for dinner.

So I ordered a vegetarian curry with rice. And vegetarian egg rolls. Because, after all. Egg rolls are an absolute good. And besides. We’d be sharing. One egg roll, c’mon. Can’t possibly hurt.

Yeah, well. Nobody else really wanted egg rolls, having chosen other appetizers instead, so I ate three of the four.

Then we went back to our rooms. And I sat around talking for a while. And then we went to bed.

I was just starting to drift off when my intestines said, “Ahem.”

Every half hour, all night long. Did I have any Imodium with me on the trip, perhaps in the grab-n-go bag I keep stocked with the essentials required by the weekend traveler? Even though I have this come up so often that I buy the stuff at Costco? Even though it happens to me almost every single time I go away for an overnight trip, due to the fact that eating out more than one meal tends to cause a tremendous spike in my fat consumption?

No. No, I did not. See, if I had had the stuff in my bag, well. Things would have been different. I would have slept, for one thing. I am reaching a point in my life where not sleeping is just not something I can do. I cannot pull “all nighters” as once I could.

It was not really the intestinal distress that caused my Issues the next day – it was the utter lack of sleep.

The next morning at first light, I crawled out of bed and made a mad dash for the nearest supermarket for an emergency supply of Imodium. When I got back to the room, my roommate took one look at me and said, “Why don’t you try to nap for a little while. I’ll go get some coffee.”

“Yeah, OK.” Imodium works fast. I climbed back into bed, free at last from the cramping and distress, and began to drift off. To sleep, perchance to dream…I had a couple hours before we were supposed to meet everybody for breakfast. A few hours sleep would do wonders…zzzzz…

And then, the fire alarm went off.

I kid you not. The @*^&@ing fire alarm? WENT OFF. Right over my head. WHEE! WHEE! WHEE! {pause} WHEE! WHEE! WHEE! {pause} WHEE! WHEE! WHEE!

Had there been an actual fire, I probably would have died. I responded with all the speed and agility of a turtle mired in peanut butter. Blearily, I got out of bed. Grudgingly, I put on my shoes. I looked around for my purse.

See, I was waiting for the hotel to realize there was no fire but that somebody had thought setting off the fire alarm would be a funny way to wake up their Sleeping Beauty. Any second now, it would stop. Any second now. Aaaaaaaany second now…sigh. I gathered up my bag, walked to the door, felt it, peered out the window, saw no smoke, felt no heat, and opened the door.

It was only as I stepped across the threshold into the frigid Napa morning that the damned thing stopped screaming about the END OF THE WORLD. I muttered words unbecoming a lady and headed downstairs for a cup of nice mint tea and a lazy conversation with my roommate.

We were supposed to meet the rest of our group for breakfast. Needless to say, the idea of breakfast made me want to just simply die. Even though I was feeling moderately better by the time I had sipped down a large cup of tea and sat warming my sore bones in the morning sun for an hour, food?

Not. My. Friend. Right. Now.

Whenever I am sleep deprived, I feel nauseous. The idea of food just horrifies me. Ugh. No food. Don’t want to look at food. Think about food. Acknowledge food exists. No. No food. UGH.

I was also supposed to drive up to Ukiah to pick up a cat we are adopting. Yeah. Listen, I barely made it home. I had to pull over for a little walk three times, because I was nodding off. I made it! But only barely.

I walked in, grunted at the family (they all asked about the cat, even Captain Adventure), and went to bed for a power nap. Ate some plain white rice and a piece of toast. Played a video game for a little while. Went back to bed.

The next morning, I popped out of bed ready to go.

The first thing I did? Tuck a fresh supply of Imodium into my grab-and-go bag. And I had to laugh: There was a time when the stuff in there was limited to a change of clothes and the bare hygiene essentials.

Now, slowly but surely, it is filling up with a day’s worth of medications. This for sleeping, that for back pain, and of course the stuff for intestinal distress. My purse is a walking pharmacy, with the emergency ‘dissolve under your tongue’ stomach cramp pills and the Lortab in case of crippling back spasms, the allergy pills and the regular old Tylenol.

And I’m only 40. I shudder to think what things will be like by the time I’m 60.

Although with any luck, some bright young whippersnapper will have invented the Hover Purse by then, so at least I won’t have to worry about throwing my back out lifting it all.


Amy Lane said...

Oh gees...no. I will not think about. I will not think about the vitamin and the laxative I have to take every night. I will not think about the immodium should I overdo the sugar. I WILL NOT THINK about what happens when I overdo the caffeine/nutrasweet combo. Nope. Not me. Too young. (I'm 40. Just like you. Too young. Too damned young to have our fun interupted by this pesky mortal shell.)

Anonymous said...

Oh mercy. I feel your pain. Our family tends to carry a lot of the same stuff you do, for the same reasons. Imodium? Got it. Gas-X? Sure, peppermint or cherry creme? Painkillers? Yes, three varieties, and do you prefer tablets or liqui-gels? Oh, yes. The joys.

Rena said...

When the fire alarm went off I wanted to hunt down the culprit and beat them severely, especially when I saw your poor, sleep deprived face peering out the door! Lucky for them, the idjut hid. I seriously could not believe the timing! What an unfunny joke!!!! Spending time with you was wonderful, I just wish you didn't have to suffer from it so much.

I'm 41, so my purse is just a little bit more heavy than yours.

PipneyJane said...

Ouch! You've just lived my worst nightmare. Having suffered for 20 years with irritable bowel syndrome before developing my gall stones, you have my deepest sympathy. I'm a walking pharmacy: ibuprophen for headaches and general pain relief, peppermint oil capsules for the IBS, Ponstan to control my heavy periods, Imigran for migraines....

- Pam