Thursday, October 19, 2017

Fire Ants Part II

Fire ants are the worst. Even worse: being allergic to them. Which I discovered today that I am.

My first interaction with them was awful, but normal. My second interaction with them my foot swelled up. My third interaction, today, I had a severe allergic reaction.

I was out with a colleague discussing a new sidewalk project we would be collaborating on. I stepped into the grass for just a moment, but it was a moment too long. I felt a sharp bite on my toe and feared the worst. When I walked away and checked my foot I had five or so ants crawling on my toes. They had already bit me. Now back in my office, I started scratching my foot profusely because these things start itching fast.

Then my eyes started itching. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and my eyes were not only itchy, they were red. Then my whole body started itching - my back, my chest, my head. And my face was starting to get red, too, along with swelling. My ears felt hollow and were each a bright red.

I was starting to panic. This was definitely not normal. I decided I needed to get to a medical professional. All my close friends at City Hall have left, my friend that works nearby at TWU rides her bike to work (yay!). I thought about asking my boss, but when I walked by his office his boss was in there. I knew he had an important meeting at lunch (it was 11 am) so I didn't bother to ask him (he would have done it in a heartbeat because he's a fantastic boss; just last week he helped me change my flat tire and fix my license plate).

I had a meeting at 11:15 with our website guy, so I went to his office and told him I had to cancel because I was having an allergic reaction to fire ants. It was obvious by my face, so he urged me to go the Clinic. I got in my car and drove myself to the clinic.

I admit that I sped. I don't normally speed, but I felt like at any moment my eyes or throat could swell up. The itching was getting out of hand at this point, and my heart was racing. I was scared and stressed. When I'd scratch my head I could feel little bumps all over it. Everything itched and my face was more red and more swollen.

I arrived at the Clinic and they immediately put me in a wheelchair and took me to the ER, realizing I needed more care than they could provide. They were so sweet and awesome and I will not forget that. I was checked in and two nurses immediately went to work on me (yay nurses!!). One asked me questions and got me ready while the other put a needle in my arm. I was rather emotional and felt like crying, but somehow held it in. When the one asking questions went to put the BP cuff on my arm she noticed a huge rash on the underside of my arm. We then checked my stomach and, yep, more rash. She decided something had to be done now so she went ahead and gave me some steroids, benadryl, and pepsid intravenously right then.
Can you see how red my right foot is?

This photo is so unflattering, but this is what I looked like. You can't tell, but I was extremely red. I felt like my face was ten times bigger than normal. 

It had an almost immediate affect, and I could feel my body relaxing. It also created a cold sensation and I asked for blankets. She brought me two warm blankets and it was heaven! She left me there so the drugs could do their work (and sleep, since the benadryl makes most people drowsy). The Nurse Practitioner from the clinic who had got me into a wheelchair (and is my PCP) came to check on me and it warmed my heart.

In between sleeping I texted a couple people. First an update to my friend Stephanie, who had first suggested to me a couple months ago after my foot swelled that I was probably allergic to fire ants. I wish she could have been there with me, because she is a fantastic, calming friend (she works for FEMA so she's down in Houston). I texted my boss so he would know why I wasn't there. Unfortunately, FYI was auto corrected to dying and I had to send a reply saying I was definitely not dying. The coworker that I cancelled the meeting with also texted to check in on my. He felt bad that he hadn't offered to give me a ride and he was concerned if I had made it.



The PA came into explain to me that this is how allergic reactions start - not on the first bite or incident, but a progression of worse reactions. That is exactly what I experienced. The nurse recommended I get an epi-pen, since my next reaction would likely be worse. This scares me because fire ants are basically everywhere.

I was discharged and came home. My face has finally gone back to normal after feeling puffy most of the afternoon and evening. I am completely fine, just a little drained from the crazy day. My boss called me later to check in on my. Several friends texted to make sure I was okay. It was scary, being at the hospital alone was stressful, but everyone there was extremely helpful and I was in good hands.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Little Kitty Update

Turns out little kitty, who I had named Blackberry Jam, is actually a boy. A series of events led me to google "how to tell sex of kitten", and after that it was obvious that Blackberry Jam was a boy.

The name just didn't fit anymore, so I changed it to Chance. And that name is entirely fitting for this cute little cat that I took a chance on.



Chancey is adorable. 






He's also incredibly annoying. He wants to play with the blinds. All of the time, which includes when I am trying to go to sleep. He wants to attack Biscuit. All of the time, but occasionally lets Biscuit lick him. He wants to play with my bare feet. All of the time. Earlier this week I bought a new toy for him to play with since, unlike Biscuit, he doesn't want to sleep all the time. Even though I likes the toy and plays with it a lot, he still also likes the blinds and my feet and Biscuit.

It can be exhausting. Having a kitten is extremely different than my older cat. But I love him. He has come a long way from the scraggly, tiny kitten found at City Hall.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Fam in Texas

When Ivy and I left New York, she had a huge issue getting out due to earlier storms in the Atlanta area. It was so awful (for real, it took her a whole twenty-four hours to get home to Seattle after leaving our hotel room) that Delta gave her a voucher. Well, they technically gave me the voucher because I paid for the ticket, but it was in Ivy's name and only she could use it. Since I was already planning on Em coming down for the Matchbox Twenty concert, I decided to have Ivy come down, too. And might as well have my mom come as well to make it a full girls' weekend. 

Em and mom arrived Friday afternoon and we went straight from the airport to Austin (for the Matchbox Twenty concert). Ivy flew into Austin just before midnight. Then we drove all the way back to Denton that night. I stayed awake by listening to various Broadway soundtracks. I put on Twentyone Pilots just before getting to Denton and Ivy woke up to sing-along with me. We got home about 3:15 a.m., but it was worth it to be home and already in Denton. 

We tried our best to sleep in on Saturday, but I have a lot of windows and once that morning sun starts shining it's hard to keep the eyes shut. No big deal though, because our plan was just to hang out in Denton that day. We went to the Square and had lunch at Mellow Mushroom and ice cream at Beth Marie's. We almost didn't make it through ice cream - we were all so tired! So we came back home and all took a nap before going on a evening walk. We closed out the day with a rousing game of Phase 10, which mom won. 






The next we took the train to the State Fair of Texas! I was very excited to share this event with my family; it's kind of a big deal. The first thing we did was get a Fletcher's corn dog. Well, Em has an aversion to hot dogs so she didn't get one. And neither did my mom. Their loss. These corn dogs are seriously delicious. We also tried out this year's new food: fried Fruit Loops. They were okay, but I preferred my fried desserts to be chocolate based. 






We checked out the museums before heading to the Pan Am Arena for the pig races. Except they ended at two and the three p.m. show would be a rodeo/stampede. It was fine, but the pig races are more fun. We checked out the livestock before getting a second round of food. We caught a pet show with all kind of rescued pets - cats, dogs, birds, a porcupine - which was cute and fun. 




I made sure we all got a nutty ice cream bar before we made our way to the car exhibits. We had fun checking out all the cool new cars and trucks and imagining ourselves purchasing one of them! We rode the train back home, and everyone was tired. And poor Em was suffering from allergies. 




They left Monday afternoon, all on the same flight from DFW Airport heading for SLC (Ivy's connection to Seattle was there). Hopefully they had a good time in the great state of Texas! 



Thursday, October 5, 2017

Matchbox 20 Concert

I went to my first Matchbox 20 concert seventeen years ago. I was a senior in high school.

I went to my sixth Matchbox 20 concert seven days ago.

Matchbox is celebrating twenty years since the release of their debut album, Yourself or Someone Like You, which gave us the classic, "Push." When I found out about the tour I knew I had to go. For various reasons, I decided to hit up the concert in Austin and invite my sister to go with me.

The opening act was Matt Nathanson, a pretty cool dude with a few songs that I know (but those I heard I also liked). He came on right at eight and played for exactly forty-five minutes.

Then Matchbox 20 came out, playing four straight songs from their first album. They played a decent mix of songs from the other albums, but played nearly all from the first album. It made me very happy. The closing, pre-encore song was "Push" and the crowd went wild. They came back out to sing "3 am" and "Long Day", before closing it out with Rob on the piano playing "Bright Lights".

I loved jamming out and singing along to all my favorite songs. The played one of my favorites, "Hang" and reminded me how awesome they sound live.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Susan

Last year I was sitting in a movie theater watching the abysmally awful Bridget Jones's Baby when I received a text message. And then several others. Since I'm not a doctor I don't check my phone during a movie. When the movie ended and the lights came up I pulled out my phone to see what was going on.

It was a text from my former boss in Topeka, which was strange. He was letting me know that Susan had passed away unexpectedly.

My mind couldn't process it.

I quickly left the theater, and while walking to my car I couldn't control the tears. I read the text again. Susan had been hiking in Colorado when she fell and hurt her knee. Her dad picked her up and brought her back to Kansas. Overnight, while in the hospital, she developed a blood clot in her leg that traveled to her heart.

My emotions had nowhere to go but out my eyes. And they came hard and fast and uncontrollable. Biscuit had fleas, and I needed to go to PetSmart to get flea treatment. I went in in a daze and barely controlled my tears while making my way through the store.

Cleaning my home and cat of fleas was a good distraction for the rest of that Sunday evening. My dear friend Suzi, when I told her the news, stopped by unexpectedly with tacos and chips and queso. It meant so much to me.

It's been a year now since Susan has been gone.  I think of her every day. I want her to be remembered, and think always of how I can help her memory live on. I'm generally failing at that.

I miss her.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Last Sunday I decided to finally watch the Spielberg classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, during its fortieth anniversary run in theaters. Two years ago I saw Jaws for its fortieth anniversary release and was only disappointed that I hadn't seen it sooner. I didn't quite have that same reaction to Close Encounters.

I thought the film was technically brilliant and beautiful. The light images of the "flying saucers" were amazing, and mood and atmosphere were not lacking. But, for me, the story didn't quite capture my interest. This was especially true after Richard Dreyfuss goes crazy and insists on ruining his life. His wife sadly had nothing to do but scream and be hysterical. The government people covering up and figuring out were interesting, to a point (especially with the casting of famed-director Francois Truffaut), but it all ultimately went on too long.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Baseball and Tennis

I traded in the arts for sports on Monday, hitting up both baseball and tennis. I went to one Mets game when I lived in NYC, and never made it out to watch the U.S. Open. When I realized I would be there during the U.S. Open I immediately bought a ticket.

Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium share the same subway stop in Flushing, Queens. Needless to say, the subway was full and the station a flurry of activity. 


The Mets were playing the Phillies, and both teams are nowhere near the playoffs. So I just sat and enjoyed the game. Sitting in front of me were Royals fans! The game wasn't terribly exciting, but at least it wasn't oppressively hot. I chatted with the people around me and cheered for the Phillies (because my dad is a Phillies fan). 


 This dog's owner dresses him up for tips post-games. He was so calm and chill!


After the game I walked over to the Flushing Meadows Corona Park to kill time before the tennis match. I've never been to this park, but it is large and quite awesome. It's where the large Unisphere is (you see it in the Men in Black movies, the large globe). There were so many people there - playing sports, riding bikes, eating ice cream, just enjoying the lovely weather. 




I then headed over to Arthur Ashe Stadium to wait in line to get in. There are several courts at the grounds. I chose to get a reserved seat for the evening match at Arthur Ashe, which is the main court where the big stars play. I had no idea who would be playing that night when I bought my ticket, but I lucked out and got to see Roger Federer play! 



People are crazy for Federer! I've never been in the presence of that before. He played well and everyone was happy for him. But, tennis fans are pretty nice to all players. Maybe because it's a solo sport and it seems really mean to boo at an individual. The crowd cheered and clapped for the opponent, but it was clear that everyone was there to see Federer and he was the star (certainly warranted). The women's match was after, and sadly it was getting quite late at this point so I only stayed for the first match (or is it set? I don't know; I had to google tennis terms while there). It was such a fun, neat experience though!



 

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