Michael was having non-stop hiccuping from the Decadron. It was awful and horrible and I couldn’t listen to it. I stopped the steroids and called the doctor. They prescribed Thorazine as they did in the hospital. It didn’t work. It didn’t work in the hospital either. They said to up his Protonix. The extra Protonix didn’t work either. He was in horrible pain from the hiccups and I sit with him for most of the day and I would be a nervous wreck because the hiccuping was like nails on a chalkboard to me. I couldn’t stand it. And then he started saying “ow” after each hiccup. I stopped the steroids.

We tried something else, Bentyl, on Monday. They said to stop giving him Tums because of the calcium and prescribed Mylanta and Maalox instead. They contain magnesium and he’s had diarreaha in the past. I was nervous about this course of treatment but I wanted to try anything and everything. The hiccups were killing him and listening to him was making me homicidal and jumpy. Because there was nothing I could do.

So yesterday was Christmas Eve and since Michael is sick, everyone is coming here. I had a lot of cooking, baking, cleaning and wrapping to do. My son Michael, my daughter Gina and I spent the day trying to do the Christmas Eve thing. Gina is 15 and wants to learn to cook so I had to slow everything down so she could observe and take notes. By mid afternoon I was clearly overwhelmed. I snapped at my son Michael and he was upset because he had been doing so much in the house to help me and here I was snapping at him. We retreated to separate corners. I was in no mood to resolve it or fix it. I just wanted some space.

Michael’s hiccups continued. His stomach was in distress no matter what we gave him or what he ate. He’s not on chemo or radiation and I was unclear as to how to make this all stop.

At some point I was at the kitchen table and he went past me. My son Michael was in the living room and we were talking about something that was forgotten and how we could cook without it. As we were talking, he looked past me and said, “Do you know he has no pants on?” And I turned around and there was Michael in the laundry room in just a tee shirt.

I knew what had happened. Last week he had diarreaha all over the place. It had come down his pants leg and he couldn’t get into the bathroom because, for some odd reason, he had locked the bathroom door behind him the last time he went in and we couldn’t get in. So he couldn’t get up the stairs to the upstairs bathroom and the downstairs bathroom door was locked. So he kept moving around the kitchen and laundry room leaving a trail wherever he went. Both Gina and I have weak stomachs and the place was reeking and we were both gagging. I couldn’t get him upstairs because it would be all over the rugs so I tried to unlock the bathroom with a hanger, keep him in one place and not throw up from the smell.

It was a fun day.

So I knew what was going on here. I knew what had happened. I got him into the bathroom and cleaned him up and put clean clothes on him. It was the magnesium. Okay that Maalox or Mylanta or whatever he was taking had to stop.

Gina and I cleaned up the bathroom, washed (SCRUBBED) our hands and turned back to cooking but found everything burnt. I had to throw out a lot of my spaghetti sauce and I didn’t have the ingredients to start again so I had to try to salvage it. Not easy. Part of me wanted to cry but I thought I just had to concentrate on getting this stuff done. I was hours behind as it was.

I gave Michael his meds on the couch to try to quell the stomach and he was having trouble swallowing his pills. He kept trying to drink and couldn’t choke them down. Suddenly he started throwing up. Not just throwing up. Projectile vomiting.

He walked through the living room, projectile vomiting on the hardwood floors I had waxed the day before. Through the kitchen. Projectile vomiting on the floor I had just washed. Into the bathroom. Projectile vomiting all over the room we just cleaned. It was all over him and he turned around to get a towel and, for some reason, forgot where he was going and came back into the kitchen and continued to vomit. I had to leap across puddles of vomit, while gagging, and grab him and bring him back to the bathroom. Now the kitchen, on Christmas Eve, smelled like spaghetti sauce, chocolate chip cookies, Lysol and vomit. Nice.

I remember when we were first married. I was in school. Michael was home sick with the flu. He’s not been sick much in our 12 years but he was sick with fever and stomach distress. The door was on his side of the room. My side of the bed was closest to the wall.

He was asleep and I had been studying all night for a Math final. Math is my worse subject and even though I was taking Math for Morons I was still fretting about the exam. I was a nervous wreck. I studied til the wee hours and then, exhausted, I dropped my books on the floor next to the bed, turned out the light and tried to get to sleep.

Michael woke up thinking he was going to throw up. He was disoriented from the fever and instead of rolling to the right and out of bed and out the door to the bathroom, he rolled left, right over me and crashed to the floor with a thud. I turned on the light to see if he was alright and he had gotten up on his knees but before he could stand up straight, started throwing up, all over my books.

I was screeching. SCREECHING. STOP THROWING UP ON MY BOOKS!!! GET UP GET UP!!!”

He caught his breathe for a minute and looked up at me and said, “Thank you for your support.” And I continued screeching, I had visions of failing my math final dancing in my head. He finally worked himself up to his feet and staggered into the bathroom.

He’s told this story for years. Let me tell you what my wife does when you’re sick to your stomach and disoriented with fever. He just loves this story. And he thinks its funny as hell. I’ve told it a time or two myself.

He hasn’t been sick too often in the past 12 years so I’ve never had a chance to prove I wouldn’t be all screechy-crazy pants on him if he threw up on my books.

I’m always fairly nutso about the house on a holiday or when company is coming or both. This year wasn’t going to be an exception. Things were not getting wrapped or cleaned as quickly as I wanted but I was keeping a handle on it. Normally the top of my head will blow off if something gets broken or spilled when I’m preparing things. Normally I would lose it completely if I burnt the spaghetti sauce because I was distracted.

And there was a part of me that was screaming inside. But overall I was taking the whole thing in stride.

After it seemed like he was done, I brought him upstairs to shower. A hospice nurse has been coming to shower him because the two of us almost crashed to the floor the last time I did it…but he has a shower chair now and I thought I could handle it. So I tried to delicately and gingerly get him upstairs so that he didn’t vomit all over the rugs that I just had cleaned last week.

We made it but I forgot a few things. I went running downstairs for towels. It seems to me I wash towels a million times a day. I ran threw the kitchen and slipped on some of vomit and before I fell I grabbed onto the counter. I threw my socks off and continued on, barking to Gina to clean that up. Which she did.

After Michael’s shower, I got him situated again. Both Gina and I walked around the kitchen getting ready to make the apple pies. We looked like two people who were shell shocked. We kept bumping into each other and saying “sorry” in a dazed, confused sort of way. I could not concentrate on what I needed to do. I kept burning the food. Things kept getting thrown out. Michael, my son, was wide-eyed at the amount of garbage we were generating and he had to keep getting rid of.

The three of us cleaned things up and continued to work on the floors. The hardwoods are completely trashed. There is no way to repair them without waxing them and it’s too late to wax them.

I opened the refrigerator and it was warm. I opened the freezer and everything was melted. I could hear the compressor clicking on and off. Oh no. I need the compressor to cut out on Christmas Eve.

I closed everything and shut the refrigerator down. Perhaps it’s overheated and could use a rest. I put it back on an hour later. No go.

It’s too warm outside to put food out there which I did once in my very first apartment when we had an electrical outage one day and the refrigerator didn’t come back and the landlord was out of town. But it’s 50 degrees out. No help there. Where is a freeze when you need one?

Nothing is going right. Nothing looks good. The house is a mess. Highly unusual. The floors look like armies of muddy soldiers plowed through. The refrigerator is leaking. The food is getting warm.

And somehow I’m holding it all together. I haven’t yelled. I haven’t cried.

I just love Michael and I realize that none of this would be happening (save maybe the refrigerator) if he were not sick. We wouldn’t even be having Christmas here and things would be cooked and wrapped much earlier than they are. And food would be cold wherever we were.

Today is Christmas. The rest of the kids are coming in a few hours. The house is still a mess. Michael threw up again this morning all over the bathroom floor. Now it’s even worse.

I’m sure everyone will understand but I am so far out of my comfort zone, it’s not even funny.

And the only thing I can seem to concentrate on or care about is that he knows I love him. I can clean the floors, I can get the house back in some kind of order at some point, but he’s the most important thing to me. Today. And always.

It’s been a long time since I screeched at him that he was throwing up on my books. So much has transpired between then and now. So much love has been shown to me by him. He has stood by me and loved me and my kids for that whole time. I won’t be yelling about that stuff ever again.

I find my inner stillness a bit strange. I should be completely freaked out by now. But I’m not.

When I covered him back up a little while ago he said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get you anything for Christmas hun.” And I said, “All I want for Christmas is you.” and kissed him on top of his head.

And that’s what I have. And I realized that is why I didn’t freak out about everything else that had gone on and how the house looked and the way the food is not quite right and the warm refrigerator. Because there’s only one thing I want and that’s the one thing I have.

And, no matter what, I’m so grateful.

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