Why I Will Henceforth Dehydrate Myself in Public.

Not Recommended Reading

Caution: This story is so humiliating that I didn’t even tell it to my husband for several days. And it took me all of a month to come back and read it and decide whether I’d cringe too much to share it here.

(I will, for the record, but alas. I am a blogger. And I have a duty to overshare.)

(But fortunately for you, you have no such duty to read. So turn off your computer now before it’s too late.)


I’ve been sick. A lot. Sickness tends to wear at you in many ways, and those ways are sometimes in conflict with one another, creating unsavory circumstances.

This story is a cautionary tale about one of those situations.

I was on my next-to-last day of antibiotics and worse than ever. My cough had kept me up half the night for the past four nights, I was an emotional wreck, and fearful that my lungs were completely full of pneumonia and I was going to die at any moment.

I had called my Mother that morning crying, because that’s what I do best when I haven’t slept in four days. And she, being the good mother that she is, was already making me homemade Chicken Soup, offered to keep my kids so I could return to the doctor, and visited every avenue of potential cough suppressants.

“You know what? I think I still have some of your Grandmother’s cough pearls…I need to check. She used to take these pearl thingies that worked WONDERFULLY. I’ll find them. I wonder if they’re still any good…?”

My Grandmother died SEVEN YEARS AGO.

I think I’ll pass. But thanks, Mom.

So I dropped my kids off at my parent’s and left before Mom could find her moldy drug stash, went to the doctor, discovered that I was not dying of pneumonia, and then went to the drug store to get my new prescriptions – prescriptions which, perhaps, my life depended upon.

I was careful not to breathe the air at the doctor’s office or in the pharmacy because I’d found out the day before that in addition to Dysautonomia, I have a seriously compromised immune system, so I would continue to catch every bug that floated along my path until they could decide on a treatment plan.

Must avoid all paths.

As I waited to pick up my prescriptions, I found myself in an extreme dire need of visiting the little girl’s room.

Stupid Dysautonomia water intake requirements.

I followed a giant, serious-looking, radio-chattering policeman down the restroom hall. Where I discovered that the bathroom available was one. And it was co-ed.

So I was going to have to wait.

I did a jig in the hallway, fearing how long that wait might be depending on the nature of his business inside. I tried not to listen to his radio chatter through the door.

Fortunately, he emerged quickly, so we crossed paths (me holding my breath in case of germs) and I went in.

And this is the point in the story where my lapse in judgment occurred.

I sat.

I’ll admit it. I’m a public restroom sitter. Despite the fact that it’s unsavory to think about and one of my friends ruined me forever by forcing me to consider all of the butt-to-butt contact one does with other people by sitting on toilet seats, I will never be coordinated enough to be a squatter. And an uncoordinated squatter can lead to a significantly high amount of bathroom injuries…and therefore germs.

So I sat. And I was in such a Red Alert State of Need that I forgot to look or wipe the seat first.

And as fate would have it, that law enforcement officer had not been enforcing his own aim.

That horrible feeling of warm moisture crept over my being. Very moist moisture. Dank moisture even.

If you’ve never experienced the sensation of a stranger’s urine making contact with your backside, then God Bless You. Because you are Fortunate above all others.

I, however, was overcome with horror. I jumped up and panicked. What does one do in this situation?

The first thing I did was look at the floor around the toilet. It was quite soggy also, confirming my fears that this wasn’t just a case of a self-moistening toilet seat.

(They exist, guys.)

I repeated the mantra of my nurse friend.

Urine is sterile.

Urine is sterile.

Urine is sterile.

But my head did not buy it, because my compromised immune system was performing a death wail over the top of my chant.

I waddled over to the sink, where the soap dispenser bladder was out of its container and lying in a puddle of pink soap in what looked like a cleanliness murder scene, and there were no paper towels, pre-moistened wipes, blow-torches, or other items that would have been helpful to me in that moment.

So I waddled further, over to my purse, frantically digging around, and finally finding my hand sanitizer.

And I emptied that bottle onto my hands. And slathered my butt cheeks. Both at once.

Wax on, wax off.

Sanitize on, sanitize off.

I doused my hands and arms with the remaining droplets in the bottle and then scraped soap out of the leaky bladder and washed them again with searing hot water.Then I washed my arms. And my hands again. Then once more, my hands.

I slumped out of the bathroom to pay for my prescriptions. And in an act of absolute compulsion, bought four bottles of hand sanitizer.

If only I’d skipped the pharmacy and taken my Grandmother’s petrified pearls.

Drain Shame.

There are things that an iPhone alters about your life from which you will never escape.

Traffic light entertainment, for one. I admit it – I struggle with not picking up my iPhone at a red light. Smart phones have effectively made me forget how to simply be still.

Also? Curiosity. Every “I wonder…” I ever mutter is followed by a Google search or thorough internet stalking. Which is further followed by the exultation of curiosity satiated.

And then there’s the measurement of my attentiveness to real life served up by my battery life at the end of the day.

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If my battery life is in the mid-range by day’s end, I feel victorious. Clearly I paid attention to my kids, didn’t grab my phone at every traffic light, and engaged in real life today. Way to go, Rachel! Give yourself an extra ten minutes on Instagram.

But if it’s at 10% before the kid’s bedtime, then for shame. I should have read more books aloud and refilled more sippies. I clearly kept my Twitter feed too up-to-date and really should back off on my HauteLook shopping.

(I know. I have a problem with inner judgment. I also judge myself about my self-judginess, if that helps.)

This week, as Chris and I were preparing to dump the kids on the Grandparent’s for a few days and head off on an anniversary getaway, my self-analysis was even more ruthless than usual.

Remember…you’re not going to see your precious children for four days. You really should cuddle for five minutes longer before bed. Even if your eyeballs are about to fall out from exhaustion.

Yes he just elbowed you in the boob with all of his three-year-old might, but don’t yell in pain and startle the poor child…he’ll remember you that way while you’re gone.

And so it was the worst of weeks to also suffer from Drain Shame.

Yet every day, my phone was at 30% — by lunchtime!

Unheard of. Horrifying. I am a putrid mother.

I berated myself constantly.

What are you DOING?!? Who do you think you ARE?!? People don’t care that much about what you have to say! Pay attention to your dang kids for cryinoutloud!!

It did seem strange that my extra pre-vacation awareness was being so overshadowed by my apparent device addiction, but battery percentages don’t lie. They pierce your soul and gauge your goodness with accuracy previously only known by Mary Poppin’s tape measure.

The day we left for our trip, I carried along with me a bit more Mommy-Guilt than usual – the kids and I had suffered through a rough morning, and THAT BLASTED BATTERY PERCENTAGE was staring me down with the suspicious eyes of Maleficent and Snape’s lovechild.

I talked to the kids on the phone that night and they seemed to still love me, so I relaxed and began enjoying our trip.

The next day, Chris and I toured The Biltmore Estate, which took hours, and phone photography was highly unallowable. So except for two quickly stolen shots, I kept my phone in my purse to avoid looking suspicious (which I was.)

Yet.

When we left Biltmore, my phone battery was below 40%.

40%!

There was no way.

It was impossible.

Unless I had a gremlin in the bottom of my purse that was streaming movies while I wasn’t using my phone, my battery COULD NOT be at 40%.

I sheepishly admitted my deplorable battery life to Chris, feeling especially horrible for my now admitted problem. Surely he would judge me. He would think I was sneaking off to the bathroom to get a fix. I mean I basically believed it myself – how else could I have gotten to 40%??

He, being the not-as-constantly-self-judging-and-unhealthily-self-loathing one of of us, said, “Oh – it’s probably something to do with the iOS 7.1 update – you just did that, remember? Why don’t you Google ‘7.1 battery life issues.’ I bet you’ll find it.”

WHAAAAT? There’s a possibility that I might not be the most reprehensible person on the planet?!

NO.

I obeyed and Googled immediately, and there it was.

All. Over. The stinking. Internet. Everyone knew but me.

7.1 Kills Batteries.

7.1 Leaves Location Services On

7.1 Bugs Will Drain Your Phone

9 Ways 7.1 Will Deplete your Phone Battery

Apple really screwed up this time

I wasn’t a terrible mother!

I wasn’t a terrible wife!

It wasn’t me – it was all a lie. All a big fat Apple-Driven lie to heap guilt upon me and make me think I was an addict.

(Okay I probably am but not as bad as I thought.)

So. If you, too, have been suffering from Drain Shame, I am here to relieve your pain and guilt.

It’s not you. It’s Apple.

So go find yourself something else to feel guilty about.


Neither self-judgment based on battery life or Mommy Guilt is recommended by this blogger or her family.

Update: If you’re suffering from this same drain, go to Settings –> General –> Background App Refresh, and turn it off. It’s a new setting with 7.1 that allows all your apps to track you in the background, therefore leaving location services on continuously. It seriously helped my battery to turn this off.

A Television Reality Check.

So I’m writing this post while sitting on my couch being filmed by my local news.

(You can see that I’m not lying and also how bad my typing comes out when typing on a tiny iPad keyboard if you pay real close attention towards the end of this video…)

So yes, this was the second time I’ve had a news interview about blogging, and yes, I still wince watching myself. This is why I type, not talk.

(But I really need to force myself to start vlogging just to get better about the EYE CONTACT thing. And the talking too fast.)

But nevermind my awkwardness. Y’all already knew about that character trait already, right?

I’m here to address the fictional aspect of television.

We all already know that reality shows are the least realityish reality ever concocted. And I felt compelled to admit that I too, when seen on tv, am totally not living my own reality.

 

MY TELEVISION HOUSE: There are a few toys behind me on the couch. You might catch a glimpse of an old baby gate that hasn’t been pulled out of the corner for two years and that I forgot to fold up my blanket before shoving it under the end table, but for the most part, it was somewhat clutter-free.

MY REAL HOUSE: Multiply the toys strewn about by a factor of 9,864. The ones you did see were the evidence of Noah’s Last Stand, because I’d already cleaned, re-cleaned, and re-re-cleaned his messes. The boy is a strowing genius. Also, the pillows would be thrown all over the room, my blankets would be strewn about the couch (I like being warm and that’s why I live in Alabama), and at least three sippy cups would be peeking out from various locations under the furniture. Also, our train table, at which you saw Noah playing, is usually stacked at least three feet higher with crap.

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MY TELEVISION FLOOR: It actually looked nearly clean-ish.

MY REAL FLOOR: Contains crumbs from yesterday’s cookie, a stray half-eaten apple, eighteen invisible Legos waiting to eat your toe skin for breakfast, fifty-seven Hot Wheels, five abandoned craft projects, and at least a week’s worth of un-swept miscellaneous build-up.

MY TELEVISION NOAH: He’s cute. Right? Blue eyes, carrying around a giant fire truck…stinking adorable.

MY REAL NOAH: His nose is stuffed with crusty boogers and his upper lip is sporting a snail trail (see Monday’s post for why), he has a perma-stache of goo from his last meal hanging out on his upper lip,

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and no. He would NEVER be wearing actual clothes at this time of the morning.

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A pajama shirt would be a miracle.

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MY TELEVISION ALI: She’s focused, interested, and most importantly, wearing non-slept-in clothes.

MY REAL ALI: She does school every day in mismatched pajamas. When getting ready that morning, it took her at least five minutes to understand the concept behind why she had to get dressed when we weren’t even leaving our house. The news crew surely wouldn’t mind her Disney Princess Pajama Top and Dancing Ballerina pajama bottoms. Right?? Also, she would normally be wearing her “craft apron” over her pajamas (yes she has a craft apron don’t you?),

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as well as three pairs of socks stacked one atop the other. Or just two socks, but they’d definitely be mismatched. Making a statement with footwear is very important to her.

MY TELEVISION SCHOOLROOM: We had our schoolbooks, Noah’s Legos, my coffee cup, and my planner on the dining room table.

MY REAL SCHOOLROOM: Yes, we do actually do almost all of our school at the dining room table (except that which I can get away with while laying on the couch.) HOWEVER, my table has never looked that neat in its life. It would normally contain at least 763 toys that Noah had brought in to play with while wriggling uncontrollably in my lap, food from the fridge that he’d helped himself to, remnants of a glitter glue deal gone bad, five pages of stickers, two coloring books, a dead ladybug or two, and my coffee cup wouldn’t even look that good. YES. I EVEN WIPED MY LIPSTICK MARKS OFF MY COFFEE CUP. Because I can never just have one spot from which I drink – so I end up with a lovely red bunting all the way around the mug.

Also? This cabinet would usually be open, just waiting for Noah to dump it all out again.

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Sad, sad cabinet.

MY TELEVISION SELF: Okay yeah I talk awkward on camera. But at least I had makeup on, blow-dried hair, and was wearing actual clothes.

MY REAL SELF: I would absolutely still have pajamas on – most likely on the third day of those particular pajamas, and they would definitely have remnants of Noah’s sticky grip. I actually wouldn’t have lipstick bunting on my coffee cup because I wouldn’t have a molecule of makeup on. Okay yes I would – I would have dark circles under my eyes left over from yesterday’s makeup. My hair would probably still be wet or worse, an oily mess, and definitely not brushed.

OUR TELEVISION INTERACTIONS: The children were calm, happy, not at all frustrated, and downright adorable. Can I say that? Because when I compare them to…

OUR REAL INTERACTIONS: After I drag her out of bed and down to breakfast and to the school table,

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Ali’s distracted by something out the window, I’m trying to explain how to do her math problem, Noah is repeating in a constantly rising decibel level, “Open it Mommy, open it Mommy, OPEN IT MOMMY, OPEN IT MOMMY!!”, Ali’s getting frustrated because she doesn’t understand what I’m saying because she’s distracted by something out the window, I’m frustrated because I can’t get her to pay attention to what’s going on or get Noah to please be quiet about the glue stick that he doesn’t need opened anyway, and then he figures out how to open it himself and before I can stop him and rubs glue all over my cheek. And then I put myself in Mommy Time-Out.

aka the bathroom.

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So that’s how it really goes down around here.

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Just in case you wondered.

P.S. –  I’ll be back on the news in the 4pm hour on Monday (pre-recorded) and in the 9am hour on Wednesday (live) on ABC 33/40 (they have LiveStream for those of you not from around here) to talk about a brand new project I’ve been working on for a couple of months. But no worries – you’ll hear about it first thing Monday morning.