I don’t want to Deja vu!!!

Back at the end of February, Mr.Tot and I were supposed to go to Italy. It was a pseudo-honeymoon tacked on to his business trip.  However, Tot had other plans.  She got ferociously sick – brain-burning, miserable, limp-rag-doll, non-responsive, stick a needle in every square inch of skin, make your mother’s-hair-turn-gray, 105° fever sick.  For a week.  The week that preceded our trip.  That overlapped with our trip so we didn’t go, because we were too exhausted, driving hours-just-to-get-to-a -pediatrician-from-the-middle-of-geriatric-ville, waiting-eons-in-the-ER, holding-her-screaming-body-while-they-stuck-her-yet-again, but-never-finding anything-conclusive, not-sleeping-so-we-could-check-on-her, crying-up-a-tizzy exhausted.  (Okay, so the tizzy thing is my specialty, not Mr, Tot’s so much.)  I swear Tot shortened my life expectancy by a good few years – whoosh.  And she recovered far quicker than we did.  It was an experience I hope never to repeat, ever.  Here, take my hair before I tear it out, and let’s just skip the sequel.  


So, when I was getting ready to take Mr.Tot to the airport on Sunday prior to Tot & I driving to Florida on Monday, and I noticed Tot was warm, and being very clingy, an ominous feeling arose.  Sure enough, she had a fever, albeit semi-reasonable.  Still, I was nervous.  I’m not fond of driving long distances, as I tend to fall asleep in the car – something about the vibration, droning noise and sunshiny warmth – rather hypnotic.  And I was going by myself.  If there’s going to be a crisis, I want/need backup/moral support/physical-hold-me-up-support.  It’s exhausting enough driving 9+ hours, I just didn’t want to deal with a sick child on top of that.  Having to check her temperature frequently, and wondering/second-guessing myself about at what point does it become an emergency?  I found out from our neighbors that there was a 36-hour bug going around, and despite a fever spike over my no-go-threshold, I held off deciding whether to go until morning.


A good deal of Sunday was spent in the Tot’s clutches.  I don’t know about your children, but Tot wants to be held when she is sick.  And I just want to hold her and comfort her.  So it works out well…  most of the time, except when I need to get stuff done or have to pee…  So much for packing.  When I discovered her fever on Sunday, I was torn whether to pack half the house like I have in the past, since I might just be unpacking again on Monday.  I waffled and wavered and ended staying up late, partly to check on Tot as late as possible so I wouldn’t feel the need to wake up at 3 or 4 am to check on her.  Unfortunately she woke up with a vengeance when I took her temperature and seemed to be in some pain, I suspect from gas, and wailed loud enough to wake up the neighboring 3 counties, before I determined by torturously slow trial and error what would calm the savage beast.  Her crying stopped as if I had flipped a switch when I laid down with her on top of me in her toddler bed which still had its three high crib sides so my legs went up and over the end railing.  Remarkably comfy for a few minutes, but I feared falling asleep might render me stiff and useless for the upcoming drive.  I was so relieved to stop her crying that I didn’t dare move until I was sure she would sleep through my extracting myself out from underneath her.  After a few false starts, I succeeded in escaping and figured I better get some sleep if I was to stay awake for the drive.  I managed to get almost 5 hours of sleep before the cruel alarm clock did its damage.  I teetered up the stairs to check on Tot, figuring if the fever was in the no-go but not critical zone, I could administer meds and head back to bed.  I declared her fever-free and set off to finish packing the kitchen sink.  


Amazingly enough. we got on the road by 7am and much to my dismay, Tot appeared to be wide awake.  I was hoping to leave early enough to have her sleep during a good portion of the trip.  I was highly relieved that traffic was not a problem, and after nearly missing my very first exit, decided I better focus on driving and not zone out, lest I end up in M-i-ss-i-pp-i, or some other unintended destination.  Once I no longer needed to navigate for a stretch, I settled in to try to enjoy the ride, and figure out how to use all the features on the minivan that despite the fact that we’ve owned it for 3 years, I still don’t know how to use, or perhaps had forgotten, again.  In the fast lane, a car started overtaking me and I pondered how the grills on some cars look impressive, like really, you should get out of their way, which I did, in part because I was not going all that fast.  I saw, once it passed me, that it was a Kia, and felt somehow let down, like I had been a victim of fraudulent intimidation.  Ah well.  


Time passed, the CD changed from children’s music to classical, and I noticed how the landscape, or my impression of it, changed as well, from ho hum to haunting and beautiful and nostalgic.  Funny how easily our perceptions can be messed with.  I drank in the beauty of the lush green scenery for a while.  The classical music however also was making me sleepy, and once it had worked it’s magic on Tot (see first picture in yesterday’s post), I popped in a book on CD (or rather 11 CD’s) “The Horse Whisperer”.  I found it hard to focus on for a while, realizing that they were suddenly describing a completely different character, and I had no recollection of any transition.  Ah well, I would probably get intimately familiar with all the characters after 11+ hours of listening.  I wasn’t about to rewind. Besides, I suspect that I have read the book in full at some point in my life and just don’t remember it.  A poor memory makes everything fresh and new again.  


Before the book really grabbed me, the sky started darkening rapidly and suddenly the entire sky off to my right became this eerie shade of dark jade green that just completely freaked me out.  All I could think of was TORNADOs!!!  I try not to use my cell phone in the car, but I called my dad to ask him to check on the weather in my area.  Sure enough, there was a tornado watch in effect, not a warning, but still, one could form instantaneously.  Sooooo, suspicion confirmed.  What to do about it?  Keep driving!!!!  No way did I want to stay in the area, so I might as well keep driving, which I did.  Until.  I couldn’t see ANYTHING.  It was raining so hard, I could not see anything except the taillights of the truck ahead of me, except he (or she) was driving faster than I was, and I was losing my taillights, and all concept of where the road was.  Suddenly I was able to see the guard rail and that there was a reasonable breakdown lane.  I pulled over immediately, turned on my blinkers, and held my breath that no one would crash into me.  Tot woke up immediately and started to cry – whether from the pounding of the rain, or the sudden deceleration or the sudden tidal wave of fear coming from the front seat, I’m not sure.  I soothed her as best I could and realized 


(Breaking news — Just did repeat of Sunday Night performance of Tot’s 15 minute scream-fest and my futile attempts to soothe her until I laid down with her on top of me which stopped it cold-turkey — Nana was present to witness it and said she wouldn’t have believed it if she hadn’t seen it for herself.  I hope this isn’t becoming a pattern! )


Where was I?  oh yeah…  and realized that another car had pulled over behind me, and now one was pulling over in front of me.  At least I was buffered, but I still unbuckled my seatbelt and scooted to the middle to avoid getting rammed throught the steering wheel and half-way through the windshield should someone sideswipe me.  (Swiper, no swiping!! as Dora would say)   Since Tot was now quiet and I had nowhere to go and it was 6 am in California, I decided to call Mr.Tot.  At some point in the conversation, my coping shell cracked and the gooey nerve-wracked center spilled out.  Shortly after that, the cars ahead and behind left, which left me feeling exposed and vulnerable, so it was time to hang up, buckle up and move it out.  I focused all my energy on the drive and after one more brief episode of near-zero visibility and a little thrilling hydroplaning joy-ride as cars were zipping past me, the rain let up enough to let my frazzled nerves recuperate.  

I turned the Horse Whisperer story back on to hear the details of the grizzly accident which, in contrast to my early zoning out period, gripped my attention entirely.  I was feeling a bit like a wet dishrag about this time, when I saw a small cloud of smoke at the side of the highway.  As I turned my head to look straight at it as I passed, I saw 5 foot high flames at the base of one tree.  I’m not sure I would have seen the flames had I not looked straight at it as I passed. I noted the mile marker for locating it.  Wanting to do something, but not knowing what I should do, I called Mr. Tot, who told me to call 911, which I did.  I wish there was some sort of follow up that could be done after calling in, but I will have to be content knowing I made the call.  I had had enough drama for one day.  Enough!!!


That ended the brimstone and fire portion of our trip and commenced the let’s-see-how-many-times-I-can-make-mom-stop portion.  Five.  The answer is 5.  No need to go into details and torture myself  further.  Suffice it to say that 23 Tot books were not enough, my backhand blind reach got quite good at feeling things out, and the backseat was officially deemed a disaster area and qualified for federal funds.  On the bright side, I was able to listen to 5 of the 11 CDs, and once Tot determined I was NOT stopping again, she babbled quite happily for the last 4 hours of the nearly 11 hour journey, about what I am not sure as I was listening to my story.  Though I probably should have recorded it in case there were any ominous warnings there among the babbles.  My printout of my google maps was screwed up and the final navigation bit of my trip was rather hairy, but I made it awake and alive and reasonably well at my intended destination while it was still daylight.  Bonus, bullseye and Wooha!    


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