January is such a weird month. You blink and suddenly, it’s February. All the stress from the holiday season is gone, and you’re left with this month of allegedly not much happening, so the days just blur into each other and you reach the end like ????? when did I get here?
Or maybe that’s just me.
It’s been a weird couple of weeks from where I’m standing. This month was going to be fun! I had plans to get my hair done (that’s still happening tomorrow), plans for Mom Dates, and plans to just veg because I don’t need to do anything baking or planning wise until the middle of February.
But I plan and the universe laughs. Last Tuesday, I woke up feeling like my chest was in a vice and, after taking an afternoon nap to try and relieve some of that, heard crackles. Kyle bundled me into the car, and my annual bout of bronchitis got confirmed while my mom put the kids to bed.
I didn’t realize it was an annual thing, by the way, until I was looking at Facebook memories (literally my favorite Facebook thing because seeing what was going on in my life 10 years ago is fascinating, which is why I have a blog) and saw that the first two weeks of January basically always consist of me saying, “Turns out I’ve got [lung disease]” with some frowny face emoji. Last year was a particularly bad year, with pneumonia being the diagnosis du jour, but something always seems to settle in my lungs as soon as Christmas gets packed away.
I do blame Christmas, at least in part. It’s a stressful time of the year, so when the stress has stopped keeping all the sickness at bay, it descends like an angry swarm of bees into my lungs and I spend a good two weeks losing time and more time to resting and trying to keep from getting sicker. And I hilariously never succeed–no matter what was wrong to begin with, something else ends up following it.
Last year, it was bronchitis turned into pneumonia. This year, it’s my big toe.
I hate my feet, always have. When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend who decided he loved my feet after hearing me confess that I hate my feet during a youth group session where we were all confessing our insecurities for some reason. I think he was trying to make me feel better about my feet, but honestly, it just backfired and I not only hate looking at my feet now, but I hate it when anything ever touches my feet.
They’re short, hairy, stubby-toed feet, flat and wide because I’ve got three kids and pregnancy would turn even Cinderella’s feet into SCUBA flippers.
What does this have to do with bronchitis?
So right before I got my bronchitis diagnosis, back when January was looking good, I noticed that I had an ingrown toenail. No big deal, I figured, that happens–I started to deal with it and moved on with my life. The next day, though, I got hit with bronchitis like a ton of bricks, and instead of having the energy to make sure my toe wasn’t developing an infection or looking hellish, I had all the energy of a dying sloth. I spent basically a week straight of afternoons in bed, wheezy and miserable, and on the fourth day, I noticed that my toe was starting to throb.
Bending over was uncomfortable. I asked Kyle to take a look at my toe and he made a face like
Which I took to be a bad thing. He said that if it wasn’t looking better by the next day, I had to go to the doctor because as it stood, it had gone from usual “my feet” ugly to scary ugly.
The first Saturday after my diagnosis, therefore, I bundled up in the car and left Kyle with the kids to drive to an urgent care clinic and see what they had to say about my toe. The closest urgent care clinics all listed 2-3 hour waits (which is typical for weekends during flu season), but the one half an hour away, out past where my parents live, listed a 20 minute wait, and their wait times are usually exaggerated by about 15 minutes. Doing the math, I figured that sure, it was a half hour drive, but the wait would only be five minutes or so, which was far less than I was looking at for the clinics 10-15 minutes away.
…yeah, no, I got there and waited an hour and a half. They had fishing on TV, which was just… that’s a Saturday without cable thing. I grew up without cable, without internet until I was a teenager, so our Saturdays-in-winter entertainment mostly consisted of whatever we could find on analog channels that our antenna picked up (considerably more once we got an antenna booster that we had to adjust for certain channels that came from, say, New Hampshire or something). This commonly included Disney Dark Age films (the only time you’d catch Robin Hood or The Sword in the Stone, for example) but also sometimes included bowling and fishing. Bottom of the barrel stuff, you know?
And that’s what they had on the waiting room, as if it were a raw Saturday in January of 1993 and mom and dad were tired of The Rescuers.
An hour and a half of fishing on TV, and then they called me in. The appointment itself lasted less than three minutes: the nurse looked at my toe, said “that’s infected,” prescribed me an antibiotic and a consult with podiatry, and sent me on my way. It was like the least fun roller coaster ever.
I drove home (wincing the whole way because, as you know if you’ve ever had an ingrown toenail, it hurt like hell) and was very grumpy by the time I got back, because even though it wasn’t a waste of time, it felt like a waste of time, and I hate wasting time.
It’s hard enough being sick enough that you need to sleep a ton (which I was that entire week and have been a lot of this week, too) because you lose afternoons where you can and should be doing something but aren’t. The first week I was sick, I was supposed to make half a dozen phone calls to set up interviews for Isaac’s ABA therapy, to get myself a therapist, to make sure things were in order for all sorts of stuff in the next couple of months… and I did none of that because I was sleeping. That Saturday, I was actually feeling well enough to get caught up on some stuff… and instead I spent the day dealing with my damned toe.
So then I started the treatment plan of antibiotics four times a day for ten days (I’m closing in on done with those, thankfully) and soaking my foot in an epsom salt bath as frequently as I could. The latter has actually been quite pleasant; I think I’ve reached that age where dumb little pleasures like sticking my horrible feet into scalding salt water are the highlight of my day. The former… doesn’t seem to have been doing much, but it doesn’t matter because the podiatry appointment was the real adventure.
I hate feet, as we’ve established, and I’ve also got something of a hangup about podiatrists. I saw one when I was about ~10-12 years old because I was a toe walker and, as it turned out, the tendons in the back of my ankle are too short, which has led to no shortage (ha ha) of pain when I walk a lot or stand a lot or use my legs like a normal person. That, too, has led to no shortage (ha ha) of podiatrist trips, and of all the specialists I’ve seen in my life, podiatrists have been some of the most dismissive, usually remarking that my shoes are terrible and that they aren’t going to take my complaints seriously if I’m coming in with those shoes.
(context was usually summer, shoes were usually flip flops that I wouldn’t wear to walk more than to the car and to the waiting room, but okay?)
And the third ingredient of this anxiety cocktail was my love for those videos of people getting pimples popped or ingrown toenails removed. They’re bloody and disgusting, but I love watching them… until it’s my turn in the hot seat, at which point, it turns into something significantly more nerve-wracking.
I was a ball of nerves by the time I got to the podiatrist, but that ended up being for nothing. After a couple of very painful shots of anesthetic to my toe (not quite childbirth or gallstones painful, but definitely worse than a beesting), everything was over within about five minutes, and I awkwardly shuffled myself home with a no longer infected or ingrown toenail on my extremely numb toe.
And now I’m in the aftermath of two unexpectedly wasted weeks, one taken up entirely by bronchitis and the other a weird mixture of bronchitis and toe pain. I kind of wish I could take a mulligan on the last two weeks so that I could catch up on everything that didn’t happen while I was busy being sick or in pain, but welcome to adulthood, Abby, sometimes you lose huge stretches of time because you’re sick. Sigh.
Hopefully, I’ll start being more productive again now that my lungs are mostly clear. Until then…