Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Things Fall Apart

"Daddy's peeing out of his mouth," laughed Twin B. "No he's not," defended Twin A. "Yes he is! It's going into the toilet, so he's peeing." "No he's not!" "Yes he is!"

The commentary of my five-year-olds raged back and forth as I sat on the side of the tub projectile vomiting for about the sixth time today. Nothing stays down. Even Pedia-lite.

This has been one of the suckier days of my life. I taught Twin B to say, "sucks to be daddy" just to mark the occasion.

A few days ago the whole right side of my face started experiencing intense pain, radiating from my bottom molar up through my temple and down my chin and neck. I tried Ibuprofen and topical anaesthesia, knowing it was ridiculous. Yesterday a dentist diagnosed a cracked molar that had become infected and prescribed antibiotics and Vicodin. He said I should take the pain meds at night to sleep and stick with Ibuprofen during the day.

Yeah. Right. When, exactly, did the entire medical profession decide that everyone experiencing pain is a drug-seeking whiner? If Ibuprofen was doing it for me, I wouldn't be in his office.

As it turned out, even two Vicodins wasn't touching it. The pain felt like the tooth was highly pressurized from the inside, and might explode at any moment, spraying my mouth with shards of enamel and huge globs of pus. This feeling crept sharply toward my temple and down my neck as well, leaving me with the mother of all migraines. Were I in an emergency room, I'd be telling them this is a nine or ten.

I called and they upgraded the Vicodin to Extra Strength. I just had to go get it.

I have the girls this week while mom's on vacation. Twin B woke up puking this morning, and so did I. I couldn't just have a simple dental emergency. No. I had to come down with flu and deal with a sick kid as well.

So Twins A&B stayed home and quietly played while I sat groaning on the couch, devising various strategies to keep pain meds and antibiotics down when even a few sips of orange juice would spectacularly arise. Twin B didn't eat much. but by noon she basically seemed fine. Twin A was Twin A.

It was getting toward evening. The idea of getting the girls dressed and into the car to go get the heavier pain meds seemed overwhelming. I decided to reach out. I stared at the phone numbers on my cell, formulating my criteria: someone who might be able to drop everything for an hour or two, has a car, and is a true friend. I made three calls. Two were returned within the hour. Mary was visiting her elderly mom at a nursing home the next day and didn't want to risk the contagion. She said she'd do her Buddhist healing vibe thing for me. Perhaps it helped.

Bruce packed his girls into his car, picked up my meds and Gatorade, and arrived wearing a germ filter, which kind of freaked out my neighbor. I thought of putting up a big handmade Quarantine sign just for fun.

The pharmacist gave him advice for overcoming the medication vomiting problem that had thus far vexed me. Take half a Vicoden at a time, with little tiny sips of pedia-lite. Keep the stomach empty. Everytime I have a glass of orange juice, I'm throwing a party for my little viral friends.

This week, Dr. Wes wrote a column about how the nuclear family is an invention of capitalism that doesn't offer the support one needs. Families crumble under the pressure. You simply can't be everything to each other.
The extended family, not the nuclear family, is the norm among those cultures that have low rates of homelessness. If you want to blame homelessness on a breakdown of families, you have to lament the replacement of the extended family by the nuclear family, rather than the breakdown of the nuclear family. By the time the nuclear family has replaced the extended family, social disintegration is inevitable, because the nuclear family sucks. ...

Recent U.S. Census data on internal migration shows that one out of every five people living in the United States over the age of one year lived in a different state one year before. Another one out of five lived in the same state, but a different county. With that kind of mobility, there’s no hope of reinventing extended families anytime soon.

We think nuclear families are the norm because corporations promote them. They don’t want us nostalgic for extended families. They like us mobile and fluid. So corporations have used images of nuclear families in the majority of their advertising since Sears Catalogs. The propaganda has worked.

As for nuclear families sucking? Well, it took corporations, a massive civil war, a couple of massive depressions, a Dust Bowl, and two world wars to shatter the extended family. Whereas nuclear families collapse every day from their own inadequacy.

You think the nuclear family sucks? Try the post-divorce nuclear family. These, increasingly, seem to descend from a tree of similar post-divorce nuclear families. My parents never divorced, but they should have. Theirs is a case study in marriage as extended misery. My ex-wife's parents divorced during her early-adolescence. The atoms keep splitting.

It's a sobering moment when you understand that you are now alone, but with kids. This really hit me hard the first time I was asked who my emergency contact was. My parents and I are quite estranged. My sister lives in Sioux Falls, and we talk briefly maybe six to ten times a year. So, who? I haven't even told the person I put down. How lame is that? What if I told him right now? It's the perfect time. He's already picking up my pain meds for me.


Anonymous said...

"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves." I forgot who to attribute that to but it has held true in my life as I am 3000 miles away from my biological family. When my mom died, a good friend came over ti keep me company, do my dishes and take me to the airport. Another friend is going east with her husband for a funeral and I am part of a group taking care of the young kids for a few days. So even if there is an extended family, sometimes the help and support we need comes from those not related to us. Building these communities for ourselves can be challenging butI have found that i get more of what I need when I choose the people to be the closest to. And with that I have several friends who can be my emergency contacts and I am that for a few as well.

Bruce from Accordion Noir said...

Man, that's awful! We're lucky, our kids just went all 19th Century on us and caught Scarlet Fever!

Wikipedia's list of "Scarlet Fever in Popular Culture" make interesting reading. Little Women, Little House (on the Prairie) , the Velveteen Rabbit, and Frankensteins' mom... it was a scary disease.

"Scarlet Fever" maintains its cache. We coulda easily caused a panic here in our co-op apartment if we'd put up quarantine flags and run around screaming. That mighta been fun, but it was cold and rainy out, so we snuggled up at home and watched videos about dinosaurs.

And I don't rant much against Western medicine, mostly just how it's not available to most people. But when your kid just takes some medicine a few times a day, so she doesn't die or make her whole school sick, I'll thank Western Medicine. Hooray for germ-theory!

Public Service Rant: And for god's sake, only take antibiotics when you should (they can't touch virus's like colds,) or they won't help when we need them!