How to Properly Celebrate Two-Turd-Fifteen.

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When I originally blogged the above phrase on the first day of April in the blessed(ly almost over) year of Two-Turd-Fifteen, I really had no idea. Sure, we’d been pretty much constantly sick since The Unspeakable Christmas four months prior, but it was nothing compared to what would come.

Some would say I asked for it, speaking it forth so early in the year.

I prefer to think of myself as an oblivious prophet.

As we began the approach the end of this memorable year, I knew I needed to do something significant to cleanse us of its filth. I had to put it behind me and gleefully move into what I am preemptively referring to asIMG_4163.

I finally decided on what that should be.

We needed to eat it.

Eat 20154-2 in all its glory.

The time had come, anyway, to order Chris’ biannual Cake Pop order from the brilliant artist Jamie, and I always try to make it new and unique when possible.

So I took a chance and asked her for an extremely custom, specific order.

Even as I sent her the list of all that 20154-2 brought us, 20154-2 kept piling on, presenting us with The Holiday Hole:

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(Chris wrapped it lovingly for Christmas Day, though I told him it really needed Elf-On-A-Shelf or Santa legs dangling down. And maybe some lights. And tinsel. Oh and definitely a giant bow.)

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(No worries. The Holiday Hole is covered under warranty from the original flood. It’s pretty much the least stressful thing that has happened in the entirety of 20154-2.)

But I did indeed send Jamie the list and asked her to make our year in cake pop form, along with a few applicable emojis, for good measure.

And, as I expected, she depicted it in pure brilliance.

And we gleefully ate our year.

We ate all of our illnesses,

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We ate 20154-2,

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We ate my running injuries,

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We ate my tonsillitis hospital stay and resulting tonsillectomy,

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We ate our house flood,

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We ate our epically catastrophic camping trip,

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We ate our countless prescriptions,

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We ate the sad demise of Flexi,

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We ate my long and still continuing recovery from the wreck (there was actually a better emoji for this – the one with bandages on its head – but we ate it before I got to photography. Because edible therapy is the best, y’all.)

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And….we even ate the spider that ate his way out of Noah’s underwear.

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As I explained to the kids all of the cake pops, I gave this special one to Noah and asked him what it was. He stared at it for a minute, read his name, looked at the spider, burst out laughing, then gave me many bemused looks.

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Because if you can’t laugh at your penis spider bites, what is life?

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But we absolutely ate that spider.

(Not Ali, though. She said, “I know it’s not real….but I don’t think I want to eat that one.”)

After discussing each pop and the incidents surrounding them, Ali considered all these things in her heart and then said, “Wow. We’ve really had an….INTERESTING year, haven’t we?”

Yes, honey. And that’s why were eating it.

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May your IMG_4163be infinitely bright. Like ours is absolutely going to be.

Not-Crazy-Renee and the Neighborhood Package Thief.

Not-Crazy-Renee (my neighbor, who I introduced to you Monday) has had an intense holiday season.

For one, she’s post-partum.

No one should have to be post-partum over the holidays – I should know, as Noah was born on December 19.

(Happy birthday, son. You might get a sweet and touching birthday blog post…at some point.)

I remember distinctly the agony I endured when I came home from the hospital on December 23, suffering greatly from the side effects of having been on pain medication and Zofran for four days. GREATLY. I remember crying those nonsensical post-partum tears and attempting to sit up in a dignified manner so as to have our family over for dinner the very next day.

Holiday Post-Partumness is not for wusses.

Good thing women aren’t wusses.

So. Back to Not-Crazy-Renee. She’s not quite as freshly post-partum as I was that fateful year of 2010, but this is no contest. She’s still very post-partum, and with two additional small children at home to boot. Good thing she’s no wuss.

But. A few weeks ago on a Wednesday, Renee had a package that showed it was delivered early in the morning, and a couple of hours later when she went to retrieve it, it wasn’t there.

This was bad news. No good at all. Our neighborhood had recently suffered from its first set of robberies in remembered history, and people were on edge – Not-Crazy-Renee was no exception.

She waited three days before freaking out, hoping she would find it or it would turn up somehow, but it did not.

For some reason, the next Sunday morning was her snapping point.

She texted me while I was on the way to church and informed me that we most definitely had a Neighborhood Package Thief and that I better keep an eye on my deliveries. Of course I had a large package coming that very day (who does Amazon pay off at the USPS to have Sunday delivery? It’s a mystery), and I knew I wouldn’t be home for hours.

I texted my across-the-street neighbor to spread the news of the package thief and ask her to keep an eye out for my incoming box.

Then I tried to talk reason into Not-Crazy-Renee. Because, to be honest, although I was taking the cautious road with my own stuff, I didn’t really believe there was a thief.

“Surely it was just delivered to the wrong address and the neighbor that got it hasn’t brought it to you yet. This happens all the time in our neighborhood!”

But no. She was convinced. It was definitely a criminal element at work to destroy her Christmas Cheer.

My other neighbor texted me back likewise, saying she had just gotten a package belonging to someone else and had taken a couple days getting it to them.

I tried again to offer assurances.

“See? It just happened this week!! The post office is busy. They’re not paying attention. I’m sure your package is out there. It will come around.”

This did not perk her up one bit.

In fact, her texts to me throughout the day became more filled with rage and dismay that some no-good varmint would just flat-out SWIPE her kid’s bike helmet and her infant child’s much-needed batch of pacifiers.

She hoped they were highly disappointed with their haul.

She began investigating installing video surveillance system, and most likely thoroughly considered the possibility of installing booby traps that Indiana Jones himself couldn’t outwit.

A few days later, I had my Eye Duct Cauterization scheduled, and Renee had kindly agreed to keep my kids (or let them entertain her kids – whatev.)

When I arrived to dump my kids upon her, I noticed a sign taped to the basement door. Then, on the front door, a matching sign.

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I giggled.

Something about the commanding tone of the sign coupled with the cheery holiday border said “I’m a delightful individual!! And I will RIP YOUR FREAKING HEAD OFF if you take my kid’s Christmas crap.”

It had the aroma of slightly hysterical neurosis.

And I adored it.

That is, until Ali read it. And gasped. And asked for all the details about this neighborhood package thief. This new knowledge, along with her already collected understanding of the neighborhood robberies, made for a very jumpy almost-nine-year-old, and also a contagious one.

For the next week and a half, every time Ali or Noah heard the UPS man, they ran out onto the porch, grabbed the package, looked over their shoulder while their tiny hearts beat out of their tiny chests, ran back inside, remembered to lock the door for the first times in their lives, and yelled to me, “I beat the package thief! I got your box before he did!!”

Noah took it a bit further and wouldn’t go in the yard alone even for five seconds while I was walking toward the door to join him, all while he would state flatly, “I’ll just stay inside. There’s a package thief out there somewhere.”

After enduring ten days of my children’s constant adrenaline-charged evasion of The Bad Guy, I teased Not-Crazy-Renee about it.

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I was really just meaning to shame her for sport and pleasure, not shame her into taking her signs down.

But take her signs down she did.

However, my shaming proved me the best friend she’d ever had.

Because the VERY NEXT MORNING, which happened to be Day 15 of The Package Thief Saga, Not-Crazy-Renee heard a knock on her door.

She opened it to find a young Mom and her kids, standing on her doorstep, with an Amazon box in hand, looking rather bashful.

She lived one block up, you see – the same house number but a different street, and she, like the rest of us, had been getting voluminous stacks of Amazon boxes delivered to her doorstep, and she hadn’t been exactly inspected each one before she threw it in her “To-Wrap” pile, so when she got around to wrapping her presents and opened the box, she was quite confused as she didn’t remember ordering a bike helmet and pacifiers.

She checked the label and realized it wasn’t her package.

“I have no idea how many days I’ve had it – probably several,” she apologized.

Fifteen days, but who’s counting.

Before the recalcitrant neighbor left, she and Renee had realized they had kids the same age and absolutely must schedule a playdate soon. Extrovert-Not-Crazy-Renee was thrilled at the prospect of a new friend.

It was lovely. Just lovely. A serendipitous meeting indeed.

But just think. If that poor young, harried mother had walked up to the door, already weighed down with the guilt of the package she’d held so long, and had seen this slightly-psychotic sign on the door,

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Do you think they’d have a playdate scheduled?

No, no they would not.

Just call me The Neighborhood Fixer.

Epilogue: My children, along with all of us, are thrilled and relieved with the news that The Package Thief never actually existed. But old habits are hard to break – they’re still sprinting outside to grab any and all boxes before a Criminal Element beats them to it.

In the Collecting of Obscure Medical Procedures…

When I wrote my last post, I had no idea that I would find myself needing every one of those words the very next day.

But first, let’s back up a bit.

So for the last year and a half, I’ve worn duct plugs.

It’s a really fun phrase to say over and over out loud – try it.

Giggling now? Good.

Duct Plugs.

One of the most annoying symptoms of Dysautonomia is severely dry eyes – to the point that no drops can help it. On top of that, I’m limited as to what drops I can put in my eyes, so really – nothing helps.

Except for Duct Plugs.

They’re fantastic. They’re like tiny bathtub drain stoppers that are inserted into the tear duct on my lower eyelid to keep my tears from draining and, therefore, perfectly solving my dry eye issue.

I got my first pair of duct plugs the summer before last. About a year later, they fell out. My eyes had been burning and making me feel ridiculously sleepy, and it occurred to me to check my duct plugs (because you can see the tiny little things sticking out of your eyelid,) and alas – they were gone.

(Let’s take a minute for everyone to go find your tear ducts. Look in the mirror. They’re on the top side of your lower lid, on the nose-side of your eye. You have tiny holes just waiting to drain your precious tears away. They’re quite useful – unless you suffer from an eternal draught. Now. Think of the biggest pore plug/blackhead that you’ve ever squeezed out of your nose, except envision it made of rubber and shoved into those tiny ducts. That’s what my duct plugs looked like. Are we together now?)

I called to make an appointment with my Ophthalmologist (the receptionists all passed around my call so that everyone could hear me ask for new duct plugs), and when I went in for my appointment, he told me what I had previously not realized – duct plugs falling out was expected. In fact, my duct plugs lasted a lot longer than most. He said he’d put the next bigger size in, and hopefully they’d last a while. But it turned out, those were still too small, so he gave me the BIGGEST size of duct plugs available.

(I have big ducts. And I cannot lie.)

He explained that our next step, when these duct plugs left me, would be permanent duct cauterization – it was a great solution, but insurance didn’t allow it until you’d lost a pair of the biggest duct plugs.

So I happily left with my XL Duct Plugs, snugly keeping my tears in Eye Lake.

Which brings us to this week.

Again, I began feeling infinitely sleepy, eyes burning, lethargic, the whole deal. You just don’t realize the debilitating nature of something so simple as dry eyes until your eyeballs are withered raisins, and then wow do you ever.

I made my appointment for duct cauterization (so much nicer to request than duct plugs), made sure I wouldn’t need anyone to drive me home, and anticipated eyeball moistness once again.

I dumped my kids on my neighbor and headed in.

My Ophthalmologist came in and checked out my one remaining duct plug. I asked him to go ahead and pull it so I could get this cauterization thing over with in both eyes. He looked at me skeptically, but agreed to do so. He yanked it out, examined my eyes some more, then said,

“Do you think you can do this without a pain injection? Because the injection is really just as bad as the procedure itself.”

I thought of the all the things I’ve let my Physical Therapist do to me in the past six weeks. I’m tough. I can handle whatever my Ophthalmologist throws at me.

“Sure.”

I’ll be fine, I told myself. He wouldn’t offer to do it without the pain shot if it wasn’t a viable option.

The doctor left the room, then came back with paperwork that I had to sign, acknowledging the permanency of the procedure, and with a pen-sized blowtorch.

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While the door was still open, the nurse walked by and said, “I’ll be right out here if you need me…”

I raised an eyebrow. “That sounded ominous.”

The doctor laughed. I was not sure how to interpret his laugh, but I was pretty sure I didn’t like it.

He told me to lean my head back, and he stuck the tip of his cautery gun on my eye duct and turned on the zapper. I jumped slightly, as one does when a red-hot piece of metal touches their eyelid.

He pulled back. “Did you feel that?”

“Yes, but I can take it. It wasn’t horrible.”

“Hmm. I changed my mind. I want you to get the injection because I want to be able to really get in there and burn it good.”

He disappeared again and came back with an unholy-long eye shot.

He again told me to lean back, open my eyes as wide as I could, and look at the ceiling. He pulled back my eyelid and stuck that needle through the inside of my lower lid.

GUYS.

We have SO MANY NERVES in our eyelid. SO MANY.

The needle went into my eyelid and felt like it was coming out of my right nostril. He jammed that thing all up in my face. I felt the cool liquid of the numbing medication trickle into my sinus cavities from above, and it made me desperately need to sneeze.

But alas. There was three feet of needle in my eye. This seemed like a bad time.

“Keep your eye open!”

(I would have answered “I can’t!” but I couldn’t move without moving the needle in my eye.)

“Are you okay?”

(I would have answered “Are you kidding?” but I couldn’t move without moving the needle in my eye.)

He finally pulled it out, then walked around to the other eye.

WHOSE bright idea was it to get both eyes cauterized on the same day? I should have kept that precious duct plug as long as it agreed to stay in.

It was unbelievable. The pain from the injection was definitely that red crying face from the pain chart, and worse if such a thing exists (a crying poo emoji? Yes. A red crying poo emoji.)

Pain Assessment Tool Poo Emoji

(And as a reminder, this is coming from the person that has happily let her Physical Therapist stick her dozens of times in the past six weeks in the neck, shoulders, leg, and head.)

But I somehow survived.

He told me he’d be back for me when I was numb, and happily walked of the room, leaving me to tend to my gaping eye wounds.

I dabbed. I thought about crying but figured it’d hurt too much. I dabbed some more and realized I couldn’t feel my dabbing anymore. At least that seemed like a step in the right direction.

He came back and had me insert my head into the head brace so he could “get a really good angle.”

He got out his burny tool and inserted it deep into my left eye duct. Pressed the button, heard the electrical burning sound, then the frying/boiling of flesh, then a poof of smoke shot up directly in front of my eye. I guess that was his cue that cauterization had occurred, because he retracted his eye branding gun and stuck it down into my right eye duct.

Button, burn, boil/fry, poof of smoke, retract.

Seeing the poofs of smoke caused by the frying of my live eyelid skin made me thankful for those Son-of-a-Motherless-Goat Shots from Hell.

Each eye took maybe three seconds.

But after he finished, THEN he found it to be the right time to say,

“Oh by the way. Just so you know, the cauterizations will probably open back up at some point. But the good news is, we can do this as many times as we need to!!”

I looked at him incredulously. He did not look like he was being ironic.

The paperwork. Our conversations. Everything had indicated that this was it. The Holy Grail of duct closure. A vasectomy of the tear drain. AND NOW HE’S GONNA TELL ME I GOTTA DO THIS AGAIN AND AGAIN AND POSSIBLY AGAIN.

No.

I said in my most biting tone, as I tried to hold my recently char-grilled eyes open, “You know what, let’s go ahead and schedule ourselves a monthly date.”

As I got in my car to drive away, the numbing shot quite immediately wore off, and I began to feel the third-degree burns in my former eye pits. I fought to keep my eyes open, thinking angry thoughts about the receptionist who told me I wouldn’t have need for a ride home.

But I made it.

And for now, at least, my ducts are closed for business.

Appendix: if you want to see the procedure, I found a very accurate and short video here. Except that my doctor definitely did believe in inserting the cauterizing gun into the puncta. And also if you see me this weekend and I appear to have a black eye, please compliment me on my stellar eye shadow job.