Monthly Archive: September 2017

When the Wheels Fall Off the Bus

Originally published as a TinyLetter


Well, this week did not go as planned! On Monday afternoon, the baby was sent home from day care because she was throwing up and lethargic. When I updated Darren via G-chat, he said that he was also feeling bad. He came home that night and face-planted on the couch, immobile. He tends to be a bit dramatic when he’s sick (see The Man Cold vs. The Mom Cold), so I gave him a bunch of ibuprofen and thought it would pass.

The next morning he still had a horrible headache, so after dropping off our four-year-old at school, I took Darren to urgent care. They referred him to the ER for a CT and blood work. We spent the day at St. Dominic’s with the baby in tow (who was still sick, as well, and projectile vomited in the exam room) waiting for test results. Darren’s mom, Jill, works at St. Dom’s and came around lunchtime to hold the baby so I could get some food.

Darren needed a spinal tap to test for meningitis. Just the words “spinal tap” make me a little green, but he said he felt only the stick from the lidocaine shot and then didn’t even realize the spinal tap was happening.

I wasn’t scared until the nurse started an IV on Darren, saying that he was being admitted to the hospital but not telling us why. “The doctor will talk to you about that,” she said. The CT hadn’t shown any physical abnormalities, but my mind still began to run wild.

I walked out to the common area and heard the doctor say to someone on the phone, “Meningitis.” He came into the exam room and told us the same. The spinal fluid hadn’t shown any bacteria, which was a relief, because bacterial meningitis is far more serious than viral meningitis. Darren very likely had the latter. They moved him to a hospital room and started antibiotics just in case it was bacterial (after culturing the spinal fluid, they confirmed that it wasn’t). I wondered if I should take the baby to the ER that night for testing, but the advice nurse said to wait to see her regular pediatrician in the morning. Turns out it was just a normal virus, which has passed now.

In case you’ve been around us recently and are freaking out that you might get viral meningitis, read this from the CDC. You don’t need to worry. In short, it’s typically a regular virus that manifests as cold, flu, etc. in most people but, for whatever reason, inflames the brain and spinal tissue in the rare instance. So you could have caught the virus that made Darren sick (he’s no longer contagious), but it’s very unlikely to develop into meningitis. Darren and the baby probably had the same thing.

And if you’re thinking, “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?” — it’s a weird situation, trying to figure out whom to tell about an emergency, and when and how, especially when words like “viral meningitis” can cause unnecessary panic. It takes a surprising amount of energy both to keep all the different circles of people informed and to manage a flood of replies (questions, worries, and offers to help, by text, phone, email, and Facebook) when you’re already overwhelmed. It’s a blessing, of course, that so many people care about us and want to pitch in. We truly appreciate it, and you don’t need to do anything differently. I have more bandwidth to engage now, from here at home, than from the ER.

Jill watched the kids on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings so I could visit Darren. Every time he moved, he felt excruciating pain in his head, but the rest of the time he was able to watch baseball and instant message his Creative Distillery team. He joked that it was kind of a vacation — the most peace and quiet that he’d had in four years.

I took him home on Thursday afternoon, and he’s doing OK. He still has a nasty headache and tires easily, even walking from room to room. A full recovery will take weeks. It’s going to be an interesting adventure, given how much we already have going on when we’re both healthy. This morning I was trying to color pictures with a whiny four-year-old while preventing the baby from putting each crayon in her mouth, while the dog was barking for food and the cats were scratching up the new furniture. There are a lot of competing needs to meet all at once.

So yeah, this week kind of sucked, and things are going to be a little rough for a while. But it could be much worse, and we have a lot to be grateful for. We live a few blocks away from excellent medical care. We have insurance. We sought treatment early. We have tons of loving support from family and friends. My boss and team cleared my calendar for the week. My in-laws will do anything for us. Seth and Alicia, our dear friends next door, picked up our son from his after-school program when I was rushing to drop off Darren’s prescription and pick up the baby. They fed him dinner (he even ate vegetables!!), then fed us, and took him to school the next morning.

I get choked up thinking about how fortunate we are to have our little village surrounding us. When the wheels fall off the bus, we have a lot of people helping us put them back on again.

what’s fueling me

Celebrities Read Mean Tweets #11
 – Jimmy Kimmel Live (h/t Gillian Burgess)

President Obama: Dropping off Malia at college was like ‘open-heart surgery’ – (h/t Laverne Dicker)

Teen Titans Go! – A wickedly funny cartoon that the whole family loves.

Snack Pack Naturals Chocolate Pudding – Chocolate pudding makes everything better.



If this post adds something to your life, please share it!

Stay in touch:

Image via Tsuji, Flickr Creative Commons

Am I Turned Outward Today?

Originally published as a TinyLetter



As I dropped off my daughter at day care, a poster on the wall caught my eye. “AM I TURNED OUTWARD TODAY?” it said in white capital letters against a red background.

If you ask me that question at any given moment during the day, the answer is probably no. One of the hallmarks of being an introvert is a “rich inner life,” as I’ve heard it described; I’m often so lost in thought that I don’t register what’s happening around me. I’m turning an idea over in my mind, running through To Do lists, or ruminating on something that’s bothering me. I take up residence in my own head without even realizing it.

Last night I was reading a bedtime story to my four-year-old, one called “Lion Lessons” that he’s chosen for the past few nights. When I got to the middle of the story, I noticed a scene that I’d read out loud several times before without even registering what it said, because my mind had been a thousand miles away. This happens we’re playing action figures, too. I’ll have Spider-Man run away from Venom, and my son will say, “No, Mommy! They’re friends!” He’s told me, but I didn’t hear him. I was just going through the motions.

The problem with turning inward is that you miss out. You’re staring at your phone instead of being aware of your surroundings (it kills me when I look up and see my baby girl smiling at me, and I wonder how long she’s been trying to get my attention). You don’t take in useful information (my mind has wandered off during more webinars than I can count). You’re so focused on your own little corner of the universe that you don’t observe what’s going on elsewhere.

When this happens en masse, neighbors don’t know each other, and we’re blindsided by the things that happen in our communities. Here in Mississippi, the State Board of Education voted yesterday to take over the public school district where my son is enrolled. A community group came together to try to maintain local control, but it was too late. On a national level, forward-thinking Americans were shocked by the election last November and only then realized that we’d been asleep at the wheel, not attuned to the way that millions of people were thinking. We were not turned outward.

The poster on the wall at my daughter’s day care came from Harwood: The Institute for Public Innovation. I looked it up and learned that it’s “a nonpartisan, independent nonprofit that teaches, coaches and inspires people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together.” I found a HuffPost piece by its founder, Richard Harwood, who wrote:

Being intentional means becoming more deliberate in your actions. It is to make choices about whether to take one course over another. It is to be more attentive to your surroundings – that you hold a greater awareness about who we are, who we want to become, and the kind of change you seek to generate. In these ways, being intentional is about being more directed.

But I am moved most by the following definition of intentionality – which comes in two parts. The first involves what I think of as “wakefulness.” I love this word. I encourage you to consider its meaning and potential for your own engagement. Wakefulness suggests that we are alert. That we come to the world awake! Our eyes are wide open, our hearts are open, and we are willing to see and hear that which is around us. In being wakeful, we are ready to engage, to be with others.

We can start now by asking ourselves, “Am I turned outward today?” We can get out of our own heads, look up from our phones, talk to our neighbors, and go to school board meetings. If we see something gets us fired up, we can share it with our friends instead of just consuming it. We can pay attention to what’s happening in other parts of the country and the world; we can call our representatives and vote at the ballot box and with our dollars.

If each of us can turn outward a little more, we can take those rich inner lives and leverage them into rich lives in general, for us all.

what’s fueling me


Nathan Fielder: How The Cult Comedian Rules the Outer Limits of Awkward (Rolling Stone) – Nathan for You is one of the most uncomfortably hilarious shows on TV, and I laughed out loud at some of the scenarios he’s cooked up to help small business owners.

Inspired Man Bolts Out Of Bed At 3 A.M. To Jot Down Great New Worry (The Onion) – Me, pretty much.

By the Book podcast – A believer in personal development and her no-nonsense friend follow the rules of a different self-help book to the letter for two weeks at a time. It’s fun to hear about what worked for them and what didn’t, and they share takeaways from books like The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

 If this post adds something to your life, please share it!

Stay in touch: