Using My Spoons

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Inspired by Reena’s Exploration Challenge #108 – 10/10/19

 

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.*
Every damn day. This life, a daily grind of excruciation.
Always having to adjust mentally, physically and emotionally.
Moving through my day as cautiously as possible.

Pushing through the pain, feeling productive & proud.
I’m beyond the agony when I’m able.
But some days I have no spoons and I go
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave**

 

*Source: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot
**Source: “Dirge Without Music” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

There’s No Place Like Cancun

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Thanks all for still supporting and reading some older material of
mine this past week while I stepped away for a brief hiatus!

This vacation was the get-away to continue the birthday festivities. Well, it started that way. The hubs wanted to rediscover Las Vegas again after a 13-year absence. Sin City without kiddos – hell, yeah! I was on board and looking forward to it very much.

Now let me begin this Ortensia-like Truly Madly Ordinary tale.

I do hope I can make her proud! 😉

~~~

Day 1  

The morning started like any typical day. The alarm woke us, I showered, and my hot tea with a small bite to eat inhaled. We were out the door like usual except, of course, neither of us had to go to work. All we had to do was make sure we were on time for the plane ride to Las Vegas. We were. Of course, we hoped everything would go off without a hitch. It didn’t.

The first indication was in the taxi ride to the airport. I received a notification from AA that our flight is being delayed two hours, then another bing of my phone to let me know it would be three more hours. Great way to start the vacation. Thankfully, another notification chimed in to say the delay would reverse course to the original delay. But we still would miss our connection in Dallas. A reschedule of that flight got us onto the infamous Strip two hours later than we anticipated.

Getting off the plane gave us a teaser of the weather we could expect during our stay. The wall of heat hit us quite hard. Wow, was the initial thought. Good thing I had packed lots of sleeveless, cotton shirts and spaghetti-strapped camisole-like tops. I would be sweating. On the upside, I thought to myself, “I’ll get a tan.” The husband was expressionless, but I knew what he was thinking – “Oh, god.”

Thankfully, the air-conditioned cab we grabbed came with a charming driver. Abdullah was a pleasant diversion from the heatwaves I watched ripple in front of the car on our way to the hotel. We enjoyed his personality and polite banter. A short-ride and he dropped us off at the entrance to the hotel. We thanked him for his conversation and waved goodbye.

It was after dinner when we arrived, so our first thought was food after checking in and unloading our luggage. The hotel had given us deep-discount tickets to Denny’s. It became the obvious choice for the evening. Being worn out from the extended travel, we decided to eat and then head in for the night. There were a few necessities we needed that Walgreen’s filled nicely. Back to the room, watched some TV, mapped out some possibilities to do during the week, then lights out. The adventures would begin soon enough.

Day 2 

Being Vegas is two hours behind us; we woke up reasonably early. But actually, that was perfect as the crowds were at a minimum. The Mirage offered what we thought would be a great buffet option that morning. And it was. A bit pricey, but the food was tasty. So far, so good. Drinking our coffees, we narrowed down the things we wanted to do versus the maybes. The first item on my bucket list was Ziplining down Fremont Street. I wanted to soar like Super Woman. But I figured we could do that closer to the time we were leaving. It went to the end of the to-do list. The hotels which I wanted to revisit were The Venetian and The Bellagio, but we were determined to get to as many as time would allow. The goal was to walk much of the Strip to see how much it had changed since our last time here. You’ll see why this gets funny in a minute.

With breakfast done, our legs set in motion and we headed in the direction of the next nearest hotel. Harrah’s was the first stop. It looked exactly like ours on the inside – slot machine after slot machine and gaming table after gaming table. It was cool. Not as in “Oh, that’s so cool looking!” but cool as in it was comfortable. Then it was on to the next one – the Imperial Palace. Right after that was the Flamingo. There may have been different lighting, furniture, and carpeting, but they seemed all the same. And just about everyone came complete with the same gift and candy shops too. Oh, and a Starbucks or two, depending on the size of the hotel.

This was when things got tricky.

We’d managed to walk thru one hotel after the other pretty much without having to spend much time outdoors but come mid-morning we were mostly outside. The temperatures were rising, and we were starting to wilt in this dry heat. And running out of patience when the outdoor cantina personnel seemed to ignore us for five minutes after being seated. That was just too much, and we left to find shade and hydration. We walked a bit more to find another sidewalk restaurant spraying us with wonderful cold water as we walked by. That was the deciding factor – we got cooled down. Since it wasn’t quite lunch yet, we opted for a fruit plate and liquids. It seemed to hit the spot, although I felt like I was having a carb-high after eating half the plate. It took a bit longer to recoup, but then we headed back in the direction of our room.

As soon as we entered the hotel room, we stripped and laid down, and promptly napped. We were so drained. With my heart condition and the husband having experienced a previous heat-stroke, we decided – better safe than sorry. Geez, getting older has its drawbacks.

Upon waking, we thought maybe swimming was an option. We’d frolic in the water for a few hours and then head out for dinner and evening activities. Sounded like a plan. Bathing suits on – check, water bottle – check, room key – check. All set, we headed down to the pool area. Thankfully, there were still two lounge chairs available. We grabbed towels and spread them out, and pulled the chairs under the shade of the umbrella. Thinking we could lay here for a bit before plunging into the pool, we sat down but within literally minutes decided to head into the water to cool off. It was 109 degrees out.

The ground was so hot the soles of our feet burned when we plopped them off the lounge. Ok, flip flops on. Proceeding towards the edge of the water and putting my hands on the railing produced a small yelp of pain. It forced me to go to the other side of the pool where the stairs and the railing, were in the shade. It was so nice to dip into the pool! It was good to feel the cool-down. That, however, did not last. Within a couple of minutes being back on the lounge chair, we were dry and over-heated again. The next dip in the pool was considerably longer, but we opted to get out and stay out after that. So back to our room it was until it was closer to dinner time. Light eats that evening and then lights out. We were asleep fairly early that evening.

Day 3

The next day we opted for Starbucks for a light breakfast before venturing out again. Our plan was to stick to the “walk thru the hotels vs. being outside in the heat” route as much as possible. We figured we would start toughening up eventually. Spoiler alert – nope.

We went through all the hotels as planned. Yeah, us! Even stopped and had some alcohol-laced ice cream and soldiered on. But the last bit of trying to reach the Hawaiian Marketplace did us in. Not only were we outside too long (20 minutes, tops), but we had to walk up the ramp because there was no escalator working — bad idea. Sweating profusely we realized we needed air conditioning soon or we would expire. We got to the Aria hotel, rested as long as possible, and then headed back to our hotel. Along the way, we entered Caesars too, but to get to our hotel, we had to cross the street putting us back out in the elements again, sapping more strength. But we continued on.

Back in our room with some food in our bellies, we took a nap again. There we remained until dinner time. Both of us took a much-needed shower and readied ourselves for some fun at the Venetian. Relaxed and looking forward to the sights, we headed out the door. And into the wall of heat. Thankfully, the Venetian was right next door to our hotel.

I stopped to let my husband take a picture of me with Leonardo DiCaprio (wax version at Madame Tussauds) and into little Italy, we went. We enjoyed a lovely Italian dinner at Casanova, complete with wine and oysters. This little bit of information may or may not be relevant to the rest of the story.

On the way back, we passed Madame Tussauds again, where I danced vibrantly to Jennifer Lopez’s song –“Let’s get loud!” A few other women who walked by had the same rhythm move them. Ah, the freedom of being yourself in Sin City! Then we walked back to our hotel to retire again at a much earlier time than we’d expected. Both my husband and I were a little gassy too. This may or may not be relevant to what happened next.

Day 4

The trauma began around 1 AM.

I’m sure that every person reading this will have had first-hand knowledge about what is detailed in the following paragraphs. Whether personally or having witnessed it happening to an infant. Forgive me in advance.

I awoke to extreme pain in the belly region, followed by a sudden urge to use the bathroom. Let me say the operative word – explosive. It reminded me of the show M*A*S*H when Colonel Potter was dealing with his constipated horse. If you’ve seen it, you know what happened after they administered the enema. Between the hours of 1 AM and 3:15 AM, the need to visit the bathroom was seven times. Each painful episode felt like a complete evacuation of all my fluids, leaving me gradually getting weaker. Something had to give, and that something was me giving in and getting some help.

My husband, kind man that he was, jumped into action and called the front desk for assistance. The security team came to the room to make sure there wasn’t some domestic issue going on and ordered that the EMTs be called in.

And then the urge to vomit hit me. There was nothing more to give, but I sure gave it my best effort. I tried so hard that my chin muscle hurt for days after.

The medical team came and checked me out, stating we had two options – either stay in the room and wait it out, or for me to get transported to the hospital for fluids and testing. I opted for the safety of the hospital. We didn’t fully know what was going on, but since it could have also been a touch of heat exhaustion, it seemed the right thing to do. I’m not a spring chicken, you know.

After a chest x-ray (to make sure the heart was good), a bag and a half of saline, blood work, anti-nausea meds, and CT scan on the stomach region, the diagnosis seemed to be gastroenteritis. My cardiologist would have been proud as my BP was better than normal even with the stress of that event! So, long story short and 4 hours later, I was back in my room resting and afraid of the continuing cramps. We both closed our eyes for a well-deserved nap. Sarcastically, I thought – “Happy Birthday to me.”

Once he’d gotten some sleep, my husband stepped out for supplies for me – Powerade, chicken and rice soup, and water. He grabbed some food for himself from Panda Express. The rest of the evening was spent in the room. The cramps continued but had gotten way better. Lights out at 8 PM.

Day 5

I took a much-needed shower, thinking I would be fine. Wrong. As soon as I drank from the water bottle, back to the toilet I went. It went right through me. Ok, time for Imodium. My husband went back to Walgreen’s for medication and more Powerade, and I went back to bed to rest. The room was all I saw that day. And the pain continued.

Day 6

We woke at 4:45 AM to catch our flight back home. My thought was I should be better, or? But no. I soldiered on. The off-and-on grimace on my face throughout the day told the story of the off-and-on pain-producing cramps. I sure couldn’t wait to be out of this airplane. We eventually got back to our final destination at 5 PM. I was relieved to finally be home.

The moral of this story? No more vacations with my husband unless we go to Mexico because every single spot we’ve visited together besides Cancun has involved a significant hiccup. I don’t need this excitement at my age anymore.

Dosing As Needed

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waking up to an unusual ease
it’s going to be a good day

aahh, relaxed
breathing a sigh of relief

gone is the strain from yesterday
the agitation has lifted

would that every morning
felt this way

a smile can emerge again
not feigned, but real

there’s hope again
thank you, science

My Decision

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Karl-Ludwig Poggemann

Inspired by GO DOG GO CAFÉ – Tuesday Writing Prompt #1 and #2

 

pro-life chants
challenging the
pro-choice crowd

both sides
waging war
on the other

where you stand
doesn’t make you
a monster

course of action taken
won’t mean
you’re cruel

but what to do
when crushed dreams happen
after accidents

Holes

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“Mama!” screeched little Jennie.

“Yes, dear. What’s up?” yelled Dana, her mom, from the kitchen as she continued to focus on making lunch from the kitchen.

“My nooth sis hoot. Sall reb!” came the answer back from the living room.

“That’s nice, honey! Lunch is almost ready, come to the kitchen table, please.” said her mom as she scraped the spread on the sandwich.

Jennie walked up behind her mom and tugged on her shirt.

Dana turned around and screamed.

“OHHHH!!! JENNIE, WHAT HAPPENED!?!?!?!” as she jammed a big glob of Nutella into Jennie’s nose to stop the massive bleeding.

**This was a dare from my husband to incorporate a childhood favorite into a story along with children and orifices. LOL

Unnerving

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Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

I don’t think I’ve experienced a silent moment, ever.

Every morning I awaken to a barrage of a million tiny pinpricks of fuzzy noise filling my ears. And so the daily task of getting that under control begins. The focus becomes, oddly enough, the fine art of distraction.

This audio companion has impaired me for as long as I can remember. Going back to my early childhood, I recall laying in bed at night when everything around me was still, and all I could hear was this buzzing. It just felt like it was a part of me until the day I thought I was going crazy. No one else seems to have this happening to them! I remember calling my best friend, and she laughed. “You’re not crazy, it’s tinnitus!”  What a relief, I had a name for it. It was just a part of me. I went about the business of accepting it.

It’s not been easy but who said life would be. Nor is it fair. Right?

Coping, distracting, even just listening to it acceptingly – these became my tools to handle what was naturally my physical state.

People think I’m weird for playing my music in the car thunderously loud. They can hear me coming from a mile away. It’s a coping mechanism, in part. To be truthful though, the other reason is that good music just naturally sounds better in the higher decibel range. Am I right?

So on the days when it’s too hard to mentally distract, I turn it up. It helps drown out the daily invasion of uncomfortable and unwanted sound. I’ve been told that repeated exposure to loud noises can make it worse. Uh huh, like I haven’t had it worse already.

This torment can be harder to cope with when I’m only surrounded by my four walls. You know, the place where I spend most of my time. Writing kinda requires it. But I’m also a person who likes to keep to herself – Read: I want to be alone! This means I must concentrate fiercely on my work or my surroundings in order not to notice what’s going on between my ears. Background noise can help ease the burden of staying on top of it, but it’s exhausting.

Every external sound I hear layers on top of this foundation of annoying buzzing, dampening it slightly. As music, noise, or voices pile on, the less the static invades my being. The more I don’t notice it, the better I’ve distanced myself from this maddening disability.

Forty-plus years after understanding what I was dealing with, the tools still work, but it’s getting harder. It’s disquieting. No pun intended.

And there is no cure.

I’ll just have to deal with it, some more.