Monday, December 22, 2008

Alex's 2nd Birthday

With Christmas 2006 over, it was only a two day respite until the next big event: Alex’s 2nd birthday. The actual day of his birthday was a work day for me, and I struggled with what to do for his birthday for weeks. I wanted his second birthday party to be very special. He was too little for a skating party, too young for an arcade party, my house was a wreck after Christmas just days earlier, and I didn’t have the time or energy to clean up for a big party at home, and I’m too cheap to rent out O2B Kids for the day, so I was unsure what to plan.

I decided to make it a day at the park, in spite of the weatherman’s week-long prediction for cold and rain. And a good call it was, because the day turned out to be perfect: cool, but not cold....not cloudy, and not hot. Just a beautiful, breezy, mild winter day.

I had ordered his cake a few days before; rather, I had sent hubby/daddy to the bakery to order the cake. I wanted a “Bob the Builder” cake for Alex, to represent his new and passionate devotion to all things construction equipment. Over the last few months, he became fascinated (hog wild, in other words) with dump trucks, bull dozers, back hoes, bobcats, road graters, crane trucks, front end loaders, you name it. If it moved, and better yet, came in contact with DIRT, then he was crazy for it. So a lot of his Christmas presents just days before were “Bob the Builder” videos and toys.

So off Pete goes to the bakery and orders the cake. We assume it’s a done deal. The morning of the party, Alex comes with me to the park to set up for the party, and hubby goes to pick up the pizza we’re serving for lunch, and the ice cream and birthday cake for dessert. He gets to the bakery and gives our name. The following is what took place:

Bakery employee: Um, did you place that order, sir?
Pete: Yes, I did, about 4 days ago.

BE: Could it have been under any other name?

Pete: No....try maybe our first names....Pete? Jamaica? Alex?

BE: Sir, I just don’t find your order in the book.

Pete: Well, how about just getting me the cake. It’s the “Bob the Builder” cake.

BE: (after looking) Sir, we don’t have a “Bob the Builder” cake today.

Pete: What do you mean, you don’t have one? I ordered it. Four days ago.

BE: Sir, I apologize, I just don’t know what to tell you. We don’t have a “Bob the Builder” cake for pick up today, or any order under your name. Are you sure you placed the order here with us?

Pete: Yes, of course, I’m sure. I told you, four days ago.

BE: Well, did you place it over the phone?

Pete: No, I came in and ordered it.

BE: Who did you talk to?

Pete: Well, I don’t know her name, but it was a woman, and she told me it was she herself that would be decorating the cake.

BE: Well, I can’t explain what happened, but it appears she simply did not write down the order, and did not decorate the cake.

Pete: Please tell me you are kidding.

BE: No, sir, I’m not.

Pete: But my son’s party starts in half an hour!

BE: I’m very sorry sir.

Pete: Sorry doesn’t you know my wife? What am I going to do?

BE: Well, we have plenty of cakes to choose from.

Pete: But, you have no “Bob the Builder” cakes.

BE: Well, we have a nice Elmo cake here.

Pete: Alex doesn’t care about Elmo!

BE: Well, how about a dinosaur cake?

Pete: Alex isn’t into dinosaurs! I need that birthday cake!

BE: Well, does it have to be a “Bob the Builder” cake?

Pete: Do you know my wife? She wants a “Bob the Builder” cake for our son, she sent me four days ago for a “Bob the Builder” cake, and THE EARTH WILL OPEN UP AND SWALLOW ME WHOLE, THE SKIES WILL RAIN FIRE, OCEANS WILL FLOOD ALL THE LAND, AND SHE’LL PROBABLY KICK ME IN THE NUTS if I don’t show up with a “Bob the Builder” cake for our son’s birthday party that starts in 20 minutes!

BE: Sir, I’m sorry.

Pete: Can’t you make me a “Bob the Builder” cake, like, right now?

BE: Sir, there is only one cake decorator in this bakery, and she’s not in today...she called in sick.

Pete: Can’t you make it.....please?

BE: I don’t know’s a pretty precise talent, which I don’t have. I can bake you some nice loaves of bread if you want some?

Pete: Bread? Are you nuts? Did I mention what my wife is going to do with my nuts if I don’t show up with the cake she wanted for our son’s birthday party? I spent a week in the hospital the day after my son’s birthday last year, and I don’t want to do it again this year. Please, you gotta do something!

BE: OK...let me see. Your son likes building things, I take it.

Pete: Yes.

BE: OK, how about we do this? Go to the toy aisle and get me 4 small Matchbox trucks....whatever you think your son would like.

Pete: OK.

Pete returned about 15 minutes later, and this bakery employee, who was an awkward, scared, very young kid in fact, was getting increasingly nervous as the conversation went on, ended up saving the day, as well as Pete’s nuts. He took a chocolate cake, mounded some more chocolate frosting on top to make it look like a big pile of dirt, added some thin, wispy chocolate shavings on the top of that, and then placed the 4, tiny, toy-sized bulldozers Pete had found in the toy aisle on each of the four corners of the cake, and had written “Happy Birthday, ALEX” in the middle with red icing. TAA-DAA!

So hubby arrives, albeit about 20 minutes late for the party, with pizza, cake and ice cream. He hurriedly tells me what happened and waits to see my reaction. Now, I admit I can be a tad exacting and precise (OK, anal-retentive, Type-A, OCD, you name it), but I don’t really think I would have actually kicked him in the nuts (at least, not in front of witnesses, geesh). The cake was fine, and even more of a hit because of the story behind it.

The whole party turned out to be a wonderful success. Lots of family came, lots of friends with little kids, someone brought their gentle, sweet dog. The kids played for about an hour on the playground, exhausting themselves. Then it was time for pizza and soda and chips. Then on to the masterpiece: the cake! Alex had a great time, the weather cooperated, the food and cake was great, the love shown to my firstborn was overwhelming. The kids all went home partied and played out, which made for a nice afternoon for all the parents who came: long naps!

And many, many thanks to the bakery employee who handled a very tough, potentially disasterous situation with great finesse and caring and quick thinking.

What a great day, and a great end to the year 2006. We kept it quiet on New Year’s Eve, as we almost always do. So we caught a breather before 2007 began....and what a year it would turn out to be!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2006

Well, Thanksgiving came and went, with much drama, as always, and we were now looking forward to Alex’s 2nd Christmas. We began our month-long celebration with our annual family holiday trip to St. Augustine. Pete and I began going to St. Augustine one weekend every December years and years ago. I remember one Christmas in particular, before we were married, when had dinner at the Columbia Restaurant in the historic district. We sat there for hours, holding hands across the table, taking our time with our 5-course, gourmet meal, looking at each other over candlelight and Christmas lights, and took turns singing our favorite Christmas songs to each other. We actually had people stop and listen to us....some even commented on our obvious joy in the season, and our caring and devotion to each other. It was a wonderful night, full of love and joy and magic.

Yeah, a few years, a few kids, a mortgage, full time job, taxes, insurance and the price of gas later, just makes ya wanna barf up a lung or two, huh?


But it was evening like that now would still be special, but rare, indeed, because now our meals are spent trying to keep our kids’ butts in their chairs, feet off the table, and fingers out of their noses. And that's just when they're being good.

So the new tradition is to take the kid. And we did, and it was (and remains) a new kind of special and magic. We saw Santa Claus, shopped, ate, watched the holiday boat regatta from the was a cold night, but worth the bundling up to see and do everything.

The following weekend was our annual adoption support group holiday party, where Pete plays Santa Claus each year. This year it was held at the home of our friends Dawn and David and their 4-year-old son, Ryan, where they had recently added a swimming pool, so their back yard was filled with hills and mounds and Alex’s new favorite thing: DIRT! Tons and tons and tons of DIRT! Alex was as happy as a pig in slop; for the first time ever in his short, two-year life, when he saw all that dirt and all those toy diggers and dozers and dump trucks and backhoes, he dropped our hands and ran away from us, not looking back even once. That’s a hard moment for a new parent. He was so excited, though, and having so much fun, it was hard to not be excited for him.

After leaving that party, we joined Pete’s sister and her family at the Festival of Lights in Silver Springs. Contrary to our cold night in St. Augustine, Ocala was hot, hot, hot that night. It seemed a little odd to be enjoying Christmas lights, including snowscape displays, while sweating, but other than that, we all had a great time. They had a boat regatta there, too, and Alex was more fascinated by the police boats than by the decorated boats. Good thing the police were there, too, because two of the boats crashed into each other.

Alex finally began to catch on to this whole Santa thing. We’d ask him who is coming to visit this month; his reply, “Saaa...uh.” What does Santa say, Alex; “ho, ho, ho”. Our next question: what does Santa bring? His answer: “pies” for surprise. He finally began to recognize Santa on display at the grocery store, pharmacy or Target, and it thrilled him (us, too)!

On the morning of Christmas eve, we went to breakfast at the Gateway Grand buffet with my parents, brother and Aunt Chris, and Bob and Jean. High up around the perimeter of the room ran a huge toy train set, so Alex sat gape-mouthed the whole time, spellbound by the huge train. That evening was spent at the wonderful children’s Christmas eve service at our church. At one point during the service, all the toddler and pre-school children were asked to come forward for a scripture reading with the director of children’s ministries at the front of the church. So Alex goes up there, along with about 100 other little ones, where some older school age children performed a re-enactment of the birth of Christ, complete with a manger scene, shepard and sheepdogs. As the sheepdogs are being led down the aisle towards the pulpit, Alex sees the dogs, stands up in the middle of the service, points and screams out, “Look! Dog! It’s Ro-ro!” (Alex’s nickname for my dad’s dog, Rose). Right during the scripture reading, at the pulpit of the church, in front of ministers, other kids, families, and about 900 other people there for the service, Alex does his thing. The Virgin Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, Baby Jesus, and Alex, screaming “Ro-ro” over and over again. He was beside himself, and it was a priceless moment.

And the Alex moments did not end there: at the end of the service, the senior minister is dismissing is with a prayer and Alex, back in his seat with us by now, is jumpy, jittery and bouncing all over the place, being an almost two year old, in other words. I tried to get him to be still and quiet for the prayer, even if he was too little to really understand. I just wanted him to be still and quiet. I tried to get him to bow his head and fold his hands, but it was hard. But I was working it, and finally the minister says, “Amen”, and Alex sees me lift my head up and sees everyone else doing the same, and the room is quiet for the split second after the “Amen”, and Alex yells out, in his own Alex way, “All done?” Just like he says when he’s through with anything: his dinner, his bubble bath, changing his diaper. Really, really loud: “All done?” Needless to say, our new family tradition after saying any prayer is to include: “All done”!

After church, we headed out to my SIL Gloria’s house for our family Christmas Eve gathering. Alex had a blast with his cousin Tyler, who is only 6 months older than he. His cousin Dominique, who was 10 at the time, was completely enchanted with Alex, and kept playing and dancing with him all night. And, of course, Sandy was the same way. Sandy is Pete’s niece and she thinks Alex is “her baby”, so it was quite the competition between Sandy and Dominique that night over who gets to be with Alex. That night also included a very special treat: Dominique gave her own Christmas concert that evening by singing “Silent Night”, “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”. No one in the family has ever sang publicly before, and I was impressed. At 10 years old, I was far too shy and awkward to have done anything like that, especially in front of such a large crowd as that family. It was a wonderful moment to share.

Christmas Day the next morning was kind of quiet compared to the night before with 40 people there. Just the three of us that morning. Alex even slept late that morning, and when he finally did get up and went in to see the tree and all the presents, all he could say was “WOW”! Over and over again: “WOW”! We spent a quiet morning together, playing with Alex and his toys, and then went over to my parents’ house for more presents, and then came back to my house for our pot roast Christmas Day dinner. It even turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!

It was a great holiday! I felt so blessed, I was so blessed. Family, friends, had been a great Christmas, one I would always remember as one of the best. As Alex says, "All done!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thanksgiving & craft show 2006 - Aunt Boo boo is born!

Thanksgiving 2006 was a great success! A huge crowd that year: the usual suspects, of course: us, Adrian and Aaron, Jessica and Rick, Gloria and Sandy, Mom and Dad and Mark, Ashley and Jared, and this year, Aunt Chris joined us, as she had just moved here from Cocoa back in July. So we had the pleasure of her company, as well as “Uncle Bob” and “Aunt Jean’s” as well. And our extra special guests this year were Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell (who had just been declared, after 15 months of surgeries and chemotherapy, to be breast-cancer free)! We had so very much to celebrate!

No missing food this year: everything AND THEN SOME made it to the table. The turkey, a ham (courtesy of Bob and Jean), dumplings and corn casserole (from my momma), rolls and oyster dressing (made by my SIL, Gloria), stuffing, green bean casserole, macaroni (Adrian’s specialty), carrots, and my specialties: the cranberry sauce, sweet potato and marshmallow casserole, cranberry meatballs, sugar coated pecans, and for dessert, my homemade, from scratch, cranberry bread, and white-chocolate and cranberry cookies, as well as a chocolate cake from Bob and Jean, and my momma’s offerings: the pies! Pumpkin, mincemeat, apple and chocolate-peanut butter!

And celebrate we did....and it’s a good thing we did, because another uh-oh was right around the corner. My poor Aunt Chris. One of our loosely held family traditions in recent years has been my mother’s participation in the local holiday craft fair that takes place every Thanksgiving weekend at the O Dome. Well, this year was going to be a big one, with Aunt Chris, Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean, and Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell, all contributing to a combined booth at the craft fair. They had worked so hard for so long, and everyone was so looking forward to the whole weekend. Even Aunt Nell, having spent the last 15 months recovering from cancer, spent many hours doing her crafts while taking her IV chemotherapy! What a trooper she is!
So on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, after a wonderful day spent shopping and getting into the holiday spirit, we’re back home and enjoying the evening with Uncle Albert and Aunt Nell....and even a surprise visit from my wonderful friend D from North Carolina, while Mom and Aunt Chris and Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean are all at the coliseum setting up for the craft show to start the next day. It’s a lovely evening, until we get a phone call that Aunt Chris tripped over a bunch of electrical wires and cables left lying on the floor at the coliseum (no warning or danger sign nearby, mind you), fell flat on her face, and broke her nose! Aunt Chris does not cuss, but the first words out of her mouth were “Oh, S**T!” Mom took her to the emergency room, where she spent hours waiting to be seen, of course....but the real kicker to the story is that the coliseum did not have a first aid booth or a medical emergency kit nearby....and they were not very quick to call an ambulance, and my mother ended up having to clean the blood left on the floor so no one slipped and fell in that! You would think they’d be very anxious to follow up and take care of someone that their negligence had caused harm to!

Well, Aunt Chris was finally examined, had her nose taped up, was dosed with some lovely drugs for the pain, and was sent on her merry way home that night by the ER personnel. She ended up having surgery several months later, after all the internal swelling had gone down. However, a few days after the fall, while she was still at home recovering and healing, still taped up and very, very bruised, hubby took Alex over for a quick visit and to check on her. He explained to Alex that Aunt Chris had fallen and gotten a very bad boo-boo, wanting to prepare him for seeing her all bruised and bandaged. When Alex saw Aunt Chris, he was scared and concerned, pointing to her face and exclaiming, “Booboo!” Hence, Aunt Boo-boo is born! That name still sticks to this day.

Aunt Chris was in pain and discomfort for a long time afterward, and needless to say she never did make it to the craft show that weekend. Luckily, we have a big enough family that there plenty of people to cover the booth at the show, and plenty of people to attend to Aunt Chris at home that weekend.

So Thanksgiving of 2006 had it’s share of drama, yes? Lots of family, lots of friends, tons of food, lots of activity, a few cuss words thrown in, a surprise guest from out of town, a trip to the ER....yup, sounds just about right for my gang! Gobble, gobble!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Halloween 2006

So my last entry was all about my various medical, physical, and bodily predicaments since turning 40. I don’t know if this one has anything to do with turning 40 as well, but it was no less mortifying and painful.

It started just as my nightshades episode was drawing to a close. (And for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, I have no shame. I tell all secrets: well, my secrets. Yours are safe with me. I have lived a life so very rich in bizarre-ness and oddities, and I feel it is my duty to share it with others. Why should I be the only one scratching my head and saying, “Do these things really happen in real life?”) Therefore, I tell the story, just like it is.

While shaving my legs (yes, hubby, I do shave them once in a while) one day around October of 2006, I noticed a little bump, high up on my leg and kind of on the inside of my thigh. Looked like a pimple. Maybe a hair bump. Huh. Let’s shave over it and see what happens.

Fast forward a few days. My leg is now red and hurting and I’m thinking that that hair bump must have been sprouting out one wicked weave! It hurt! Actually, it turned out not to be a hair bump, or, if it was, it got infected. Yuck....but nothing earthshattering.

A few more days go by, and it heals with the help of some ointment. Then, I notice that my right leg is burning. Now, ya’ll know me and hot flashes....we don’t get along. But this was different than a hot flash...for one thing, it was not above the waist, which is where most of my hot flashes occur. This one was sort of in my groin area, way up high on the inside and the top of my right leg, and I thought, well, maybe this was a new variety of hot flash I was having.

Another day goes by and it starts itching. Now, to completely tell the story, you need to know that I was just coming off my “time of the month” and I was wearing panty liners. I did a little investigating and thought to myself that by gum, I must have been wearing these dern panty liners upside down in my know, with the adhesive side sticking up! Coz I sure was burning and itching down there, high up on the inside of my right thigh! Right at where the elastic in the panty leg opening touches the leg, where the leg becomes the groin, it was burning red and hot to the touch. What on earth do they put in the adhesive on those panty liners anyway, SuperGlue?

I mentioned it to my mom, and she thought I had hives. So I started taking Clortrimeton for hives. A few hours go by and I knew it wasn’t hives....I didn’t know what it was, but I was now in PAIN! EXCRUCIATING PAIN! I went to my doctor that same day and he advised me I had a staph infection. Now, a staph infection was what killed my step-daughter in 2004, and that freaked me OUT! STAPH! Oh, dear Lord, I survived hot flashes, allergies, weight gain and Lupus (well, not really, but I am a certified hypochondriac) only to die right here of a staph infection on my pantyline! My poor husband, he loses a daughter and now a wife to a staph infection! The horror! The agony! The misery!

The doctor, who should have slapped me across my face, but instead just gave me a cold cloth and told me to calm down, took immediate action and lanced that bad boy right then and there! Oh, the relief, the release, right there....I felt better immediately.

The doctor drained that nasty thing and sent me home with ointments, antibiotics, gauze bandages to cover my upper-thigh-panty-line-staph-infection, and instructions for my husband to use those long handled Q-tips to dig around in the wound and get out all “that junk” (his words exactly) every night. And come back in 10 days.

So, I ended up walking around for 10 days like I had a corn cob up my butt. And the questions: Oh, dear Lord, the questions I endured, at church, at the office, at the grocery store, anywhere out in public: “oh, dear, do you have a sprained ankle?” Or, “did you hurt your back?” Um, yes, sure, that’s it! Well, folks, I wasn't about to describe to co-workers, fellow worshipers or strangers what was REALLY wrong with me. Just you, Internet! You get to hear everything!

Well, I go back 10 days later...and I’m all better. Now, if I were anyone but MYSELF, the story would have ended here, because isn’t the story thus far full of enough embarrassment and misery? Yes, it is. Alas, however, I am not lucky enough to simply have one horrific upper-thigh-panty-line-staph-infection and be done with it.

Oh, no...not me. I got another one...but this time: straight on my ASS! Yes, right smack-dab in the middle of my right butt cheek! A boil, if you will. A boil on my ass. Is there no worse humiliation?

My doctor was out of town for a few days, and our annual Halloween party was just a couple of days away. So I went to one of those “doc-in-a-box” urgent care centers. I had a fever and excruciating pain and a boil on my ass. So, another display of fine craftsmanship was worked out on my posterior, and the damn boil went so deep, they HAD TO PUT A STINT IN MY ASS CHEEK to drain all the infection out. Again, I was sent home with ointments, antibiotics, gauze bandages to cover my ASS-CHEEK-staph-infection, and instructions for my husband to use those long handled Q-tips to dig around in the wound some more, because he had so much fun the first time around.

So, it’s the day of the Halloween party. I’m still a bit feverish and I am extremely tired, because I CAN’T SIT DOWN, AT ALL, PROBABLY EVER AGAIN, due to the drain stint in my ass cheek. I can lay down, on my stomach, but it turned out to be a little difficult to get ready for a Halloween party for 20 guests while laying down on my stomach. So I had been walking around, upright, for about 10 hours straight.

One of our first guests was my stepdaughter and grandson. Now, I love the boy, I really do, and I can’t fault him for this. But I wanted to throw him out the window at the time it happened. That stint was still in my ass cheek, you see, and the whole area (meaning, my ass) hurt. Little Jared did not know all this, I mean, who wants to hear a story about your grandma’s ass? So he didn’t know. But, he was 5 years old at the time, and what to 5 year old little boys like to do? Run and push and shove. So he can up to me, while I was STANDING at the kitchen sink, and in order to get my attention to ask me a question, he used both hands, TO GENTLY SHOVE ME IN MY BUTT!


The pain! I let out a scream that could raise the dead! I thought I was the dead....or at least the dying! I cried for about an hour, all while my husband had to delicately explain to our grandson that you can’t beat grandma on her butt because she has a tube sticking out if it. The poor kid is probably going to need therapy for the rest of his life.

So a few hours go by, the party gets underway, and a few shots of my high octane jello shots with brandy and rum and vodka help to ease my pain. However, one guest showed up (a friend of a friend) with her little girl in tow. The little girl was precious: about 4 years old, and with cerebral palsy. She had braces on her legs to help her walk, and her walk was very wobbly. So it was with great caution that she toddled with the other little kids all over our house that night.

Later into the evening, some of the bigger kids were getting a little rowdy with some of the littler kids and I went in to calm things down. I’m so used to being Mommy-On-The-Go and hustling and bustling everywhere, that when I barreled into the room to see what the fuss was about, I almost ran straight into that little girl. Now certainly, I don’t want to bowl over any small child, much less a small child with braces on her legs. And there were about 4 other small kids underfoot at that precise moment. So? You guessed it. I braked myself very quickly from running into all these kids, especially the little girl with braces on her legs, and with all these little ones right underfoot, I stumbled and toppled myself right over: landing straight down on my ass!

Well, that was it. Party over. It had been a good one, but it was time to wrap up the night. The party itself had actually been fantastic, until the very end there. Pete, Alex and I had been a pirate family; Adrian came as a devil woman, with THE highest-heeled pair of shoes I have ever seen in my life; Jessica came as Betty Rubble from the Flintstones; Jared came as a Ghostbuster; Mason was a kickboxer; Kiley was a ballerina; Ro and Deb were cool ghouls; Gloria was a witch; Sandy was a prisoner; Joe was Jason from Friday the 13th; and my dad, as always, wore his “This IS my Halloween Costume” T-shirt that he wears every year. The highlight of the party was the treasure hunt we had prepared for the kids. Pete built a box and we filled it with fake jewelry, bubble toys, candy, gold coins, you name it. We buried it and then drew up a treasure hunt trivia map and boy, the fun the little kids had in deciphering the clues and finding the buried treasure! Even the bigger kids got in on the action! What a great night! Another Halloween success!

I do love our annual Halloween parties, they are always so much fun and everyone always has a great time. Gloria, Darrell and Sandy spent the night in their motor home, parked out in our driveway. I think it helped moved the party along a lot that I was constantly on the move, helping people, taking care of my guests, but I was tiring out. Those who were not in the know about my little problem kept telling me to take and break and sit down, or “come join me and let’s talk and catch up”, but I couldn’t. Literally, I couldn’t sit down. And I just couldn’t bring myself to tell everyone WHY.

Until I fell....then all bets were off. I started crying, again....most people probably thought unreasonably so. But a couple of my girlfriends, and of course, my hubby, knew what the problem was, and they herded everyone out of the house, and then everyone pitched in to clean up while I was sent to my room! HA, that hasn’t happened in a few years! But it was nice to not have to face a dirty, partied-out house the next day... and I am thankful to my friends for helping out.

So Halloween of 2006 drew to a close. The stint in my rear finally came out after 3 days, and while I my behind was sore for a few weeks afterwards, it eventually healed without needing any further visits to the doctor. I have not had a staph infection EVER in my life, either before then or since then, so don’t ask me why I happened to get those two, those awful two like that. I’m just chalking it up to another family Halloween mystery! Trick or treat!

Monday, December 1, 2008


Turning 40 the year before had proven to be a challenge. It was sort of ironic, really, considering that finally, at long last, so many of my personal dreams had come true. I was in a good marriage, my family was all around me, and, on the actual day of my 40th birthday, back in 2005, my oldest son’s birth mother had signed the adoption paperwork, making Alex ALL OURS! Too bad my body began acting 40 ( or 70 or 80), even if my head and heart didn’t feel it!

I’ve blogged previously about hot flashes...glowing, glistening, power surges, call them what you will, but they were (and still are) miserable. Like all of a sudden, a campfire exploded in my bra and was raging all over my head and chest! I sweat in places I didn’t know existed. I can’t wear makeup melts and runs all down my face, like something out of a horror movie. Not a “Cover Girl” sight, unless the “Cover Girl” is straight outta Poltergeist! And all that sweat? I constantly feel like I smell like a city bus.

Then, the allergies started in. I had never in my life, EVER, had allergy problems...until I turned 40! All of a sudden, what the heck is this with my nose! I can’t breathe! What’s my problem! Who shoved a roll of hot, dry sandpaper up my nose, huh? And blowing my nose? Looked like a crime scene...I didn’t know whether to call it bloody boogers, or booger-y blood! It was awful!

The weight, I thought at 21 when I weighed 133 that I was heavy...turns out....I didn’t know what heavy meant! Good heavens! I turned into two of me! I liked to blame it on baby weight...but I did not actually give birth to my, are you all going to be mad at me, or can I still say it’s all my kids’ faults? You know, no time or energy to exercise anymore....they eat a lot of junk, etc., etc., etc.

So this is what I was dealing with, on an on-again-off-again basis as the year rolled by. Then, I got a real scare. I developed a head cold, nothing major, everyone gets ‘em from time to time, right? Well, one of my comfort foods when I have a head cold is Campbell’s Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwich. Yum! So I bought all these cans of that wonderful soup, and being stubborn that I am (I get it from my momma) I continued to go to work, even with the head cold. That soup was my lunch and dinner every day for over a week straight. That’s all I could keep down and besides, I love it! Well, about 2 or 3 days into my soup-a-thon, I started feeling much, much better from my head cold, but the body aches got worse. In fact, I had no more sinus trouble, no more chest congestion, no more sore throat, no more ear ache, but severe, awful body aches. They got worse and worse as the days went on...and Tylenol, Advil, Aleve....nothing would even begin to relieve the pain. It just continued to get worse and worse.

And it was a different kind of body ache, too. I’ve had plenty of colds and flus, and lots of body aches from too much exercise, body aches from hangovers and even from a few car wrecks in my lifetime. But this: this was different. The pain started in my left thumb knuckle, then in the rest of my fingers, then my wrists, then my neck, my elbows, my shoulders, my knees, my feet, my hips. By the end of the week, there was not a bone in my body that did not feel like it was being frozen into concrete and hit with a steel rod, all at once. This pain was not was somehow....inside my bones. Deep, deep inside my bones, and in the middle of my joints. I was having trouble walking, bending my knees to sit on the toilet, picking up my son, holding a pencil or pen, typing, grasping the telephone, my toothbrush, a hairbrush, anything. It got so bad one morning that I could not get out of bed. Literally, I could not make my hips move to swing my legs over the side of the bed. I could barely move my arm to grab the bedside telephone to call my husband’s cell phone. My husband got scared and called my mom, the nurse. My mom got scared (and my mom does not GET scared....ever....) and by the weekend, we were all but convinced I had lupus. Systemic lupus. Not the discoid variety that attacks the skin, but the one that’s fatal, no less, where you suffer greatly and horribly for years, then just die. It figured. My life, at long last, was going to become a Lifetime Television Movie. The drama queen I had always been was finally coming to television! Woman waits 40 years to finally become a mommy, the whole long, sad, story, blah, blah, blah.....adopts a little boy and then BAM! Drops dead of something as goofy sounding as lupus a year later. I just knew it.

Well, apparently (and gladly) I knew wrong. I’m still here to tell you that what I had was a reaction to nightshades. Google it if you’ve never heard of it, it’s very informative. And I actually have a connection through my work to well-published author on the misery that is nightshades, but basically what it is, is a reaction in some people to tomatoes (Campbell’s Tomato Soup, for lunch AND dinner, every day straight for a week ring a bell anyone?), and to potatoes, to tobacco, to eggplant, and a few other items that grow in the ground. It causes an excruciation, bone-crushing inflamation in the joints, like arthritis. A bad, bad, awful case of arthritis. Some people can go their whole life without a reaction; some people can go half their life and then all of a sudden, once they get of a certain (a-hem) “older” age, they develop an almost “allergic” type of reaction to these plants. That’s me....I’m officially that age.

Turns out all I could do was wait for the pain subside while I quit Campbell’s Tomato Soup cold turkey (do they have a support group for that, I wonder?). I had every heating pad in the house, plus the electric blanket, wrapped around my body (even though it was early October and still plenty hot outside) and practically ate Aleve like it was candy. It took the better part of a week for the pain to go away, and even then, for several weeks afterwards, I still felt a little achy and weak.

What a miserable few weeks that I said, turning 40, it’s a bitch...I’m glad I don’t have to do that again! And I’ll have you know, to this day, over two years later, I still have yet to buy another can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup! I’m sticking to Broccoli Cheese soup with crackers. Anyone care to join me?