O.k. so it wasn’t my proudest parenting moment! Jamie had a bad stomach virus. The kind where you can’t stop vomiting, etc. and feel like you want to die.
Being long distance, she was calling often, sick and afraid, and we kept telling her it was a terrible feeling but would surely be over in 24 hours. 48 hours tops. 72 hours? Well, at 84 hours (and counting), we, too, were getting worried about her becoming dehydrated.
I also felt pretty terrible that I hadn’t traveled the few hundred miles (287, to be exact) to take care of, and comfort her … which she’d been begging me to do for days. Because I don’t think it matters how old you are – when you’re sick and alone, you usually want someone, especially ‘mom’, to ‘baby’ you and, in this case, literally help feed you and clean up after you.
So here it was Monday morning and we decided Jamie definitely needed medical care – which wound up entailing a call to 911, an EMT home visit, a gurney trip out of her building and ambulance ride to the nearby hospital. All totally new experiences for her. Also, tons of IV liquids and lots of tests at the hospital which, thankfully, all turned out negative.
I left my office around 1pm and finally set out to come to Jamie’s emotional – and physical – rescue!
Like so many things this year, I treated it like a mission. Mission Jamie. Just knowing I was on my way comforted her (and me), and I knew it was the right thing to do. Of course, in hindsight, I would have gone down there earlier or at least pushed her to see a doctor sooner, but that’s hindsight, right? (Plus, I comforted myself with the fact that it wasn’t even as bad as the time she was a teenager and I yelled at her to get out of bed and stop being a lazy ‘piece of something’ I think I said? A few minutes later, the doctor left a message saying she had mono, which exactly mirrored a really funny episode of Everyone Loves Raymond.)
In any case, the trip was the kind of thing I just decided to do, even though it was a totally foreign and uncomfortable thing for me to drive that far alone. Anyone who knows me can attest I have the worst sense of direction imaginable (only my mom possibly being as challenged).
I’ve found more ways to get lost, even with a GPS – including my famed trip back and forth, to and from New Jersey, on the George Washington Bridge, when I had no intention of even going to New Jersey! I also tend to get ‘road hypnosis’ … wanting to fall asleep on long, monotonous stretches of highway, whether I’m driving or not. And, I tend to be non-stop starving for some reason, as if I have a Pavlovian response to car travel, making me instantly hungry.
My three main roles on long car trips – for basically my whole adult life – have been eating, sleeping and reading (not necessarily in any order) from the comfort of the passenger seat.
But I was on a mission, as I said, so I just drove home the 45 minutes (of course, the opposite way of my long-distance journey) to randomly throw some clothes, toiletries and snacks for the road into a beat-up New York Mets duffle bag and various other backpacks and shopping bags. I also brought along a couple of reassuring copilots in the form of Otto the stuffed Otter and a ‘Joe Cool’ Snoopy doll. I understood why Tom Hanks felt less alone with ‘Wilson,’ the smiley faced volleyball by his side in the movie Castaway.
I also armed myself with some music in the form of old-school CDs – Maren Morris, Legends of Motown, Sheryl Crow and my home-made ‘Driving Happiness’ CD I’ve blogged about before. Unfortunately, I realized I couldn’t really listen as I had the GPS lady talking to me over my blue-tooth and was too nervous to lose her!
My six-hour odyssey (for a normal 4½ – 5-hour trip) included tremendous traffic jams; stop-and-go treks over really long, high suspension bridges draped in fog; scary, long, dark tunnels; and, creepy elevated curvy roads (o.k. maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but that’s how it felt!).
To top it all off, there were periods of such torrential rain I could barely see the 18-wheeler truck in front of me. I should explain, while I’m a fairly nervous navigator, I’m a pretty fearless (pretty fast) driver, so the rain had to be REALLY bad for me to pull over … twice! I began to think I had magical powers, however. Because I swear, both times, the MINUTE I pulled off to a rest area I could barely find, the rain would INSTANTLY let up, just in time to pour down again the minute I got back onto the Turnpike.
Six hours and 287 miles later – in rain and humidity that makes your glasses fog up every time you leave your vehicle – I finally arrived at Jamie’s apartment at around 8:30 pm. She had been released from the hospital and was there waiting. And about an hour after that, I finally arrived for real, having to travel a couple of miles away to find a parking spot where I wouldn’t be towed away, and get an Uber back to her place (being pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to use my new Uber app!).
After helping Jamie and her two cats re-nourish and hydrate some more, I took on some ‘haz-mat duty’ where I thoroughly cleaned up her apartment. By around midnight – I read her some children’s books we both love, in her comfy bed with her cats nearby. The next day, we continued to nourish Jame back to health and I did all her laundry.
Then we went to episodes of Frasier – a sitcom fave of ours. I was laughing so hard I thought the neighbors might complain. Just one sample scene: Frasier is bothered by rudeness all around him, including a famous rock-and-roll star who lives directly upstairs from him in his Seattle high-rise apartment. The rocker is playing his music so loud, Frasier keeps calling to complain. In utter frustration, Frasier finally yells out, to no one in particular in his empty apartment, “Doesn’t he ever stop for sex or drugs???!!!”
One more bit of comic relief came when I told my mom, on the phone, that Jamie was ‘recouping well.’ She said, “She’s pooping well. Oh great!’
We read more kids’ books that night and I hit the road the next morning, heading straight to the office. I felt so much better about Jamie, who was feeling stronger and healthier by-the-minute. And I have to admit I felt super-proud of conquering my own fears to make the trip down there, to my ‘baby.’
At the end of a thankfully easier trip back home, I thanked my copilots, laughing to myself as I mimicked another favorite movie of mine, Apollo 13 – telling Otto and Snoopy, ‘Gentlemen, it’s been a privilege flying with you.’
P.S. Jamie is just about totally back to normal now, four days since I left. She actually just arrived home today, with her two cats, for the summer … yay!