Panic and chaos

Filed under: @ 10:55 am

Over the last two years my brand has developed into strict scientific conservatism.

I wear a mask any time I’m out of the house and not in my car. When I’m in public that is. I don’t take walks wearing a mask and I don’t garden wearing a mask, but those aren’t multi-person events.
I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in one of the cup holders in my car and use it every single time I get back in the car. Heck it was only a few months ago that I stopped wearing gloves in public all the time.
I wash my hands obsessively. I changed from a non-washable purse to a series of canvas totes which can be run through the washer. Although granted I did recently switch back to a regular purse, but I still leave it in the laundry room when I come in instead of bringing it into the upstairs. Andrew does go into the laundry room, but he doesn’t interact with the coat rack from which I hang my purse.
I leave my shoes in mostly in the laundry room. I change from my work clothes in the laundry room.

My brand has been: “I do NOT get Covid. I don’t get it, I don’t bring it home, I don’t spread it, and I don’t give it to my husband.” Careless people get Covid. Dirty people get Covid. I am careful and paranoid and conscientious and I follow the rules. I do not get Covid.

We had known that some parts of the family had some type of sniffle. Ward and Beckah (oldest great nephew and niece) had some sort of upper respiratory thing on the first night we were in Santa Fe. But they were also dealing with allergies so…. Calvin (youngest great nephew) had gotten some type of upper respiratory thing that had ended up in him developing croup and having to be at the ER in the middle of the night two days previously.
But neither of us had been really cuddly/snuggly with any of the greats, seeing as most of them were only partially vaccinated for Covid. And since we’d declined to drive anyone around except ourselves and Libby — who is vaccinated and boosted — we figured we’d be able to avoid any sort of plague.

But there I was feeling like someone had tried, clumsily, to remove all of my bones but had stopped and left a good number of them in place. I was hyperventilating, looking at the positive test lurking there on the sink in the hotel room, and trying to figure out how to convince the hotel that they needed to put me in a separate room so I wouldn’t be a risk to Andrew. That’s when Andrew, who had also been feeling a little wishy-washy, spoke with the voice of reason and suggested that he test himself before we started figuring out how to quarantine me.
And, of course, he tested positive too.

Panic. Panic and chaos.
I can’t even begin to describe the horror. Out of town, away from my personal space and sick with a potentially very serious infection. Facing spending 10 days quarantined in a bloody hotel room with my similarly infected immune suppressed husband with a transplanted kidney next to me and no one local who was qualified to manage his particular condition.

Andrew’s thoughts immediately turned to letting family know and figuring out how long we’d have to stay in Santa Fe. My thoughts immediately turned to my life line, the after hours nurse at the Swedish Transplant Center.
I’ve mentioned before how impressed I’ve been with the post-transplant support service at Swedish. Since dealing with them regarding Andrew’s cardiac event and now this, I’m even more impressed. It occurs to me just now that I need to send them a big huge something as a thank you. The woman I spoke with was able to connect to the medical part of my brain and, bypassing the panic, download A Plan into my head. Having A Plan, even if it was A Plan that involved us staying in a bloody hotel room in Santa Fe was soothing.
Well, that, a milligram of Xanax, 50mg of Benadryl, and 3 Advil at least.



Filed under: @ 5:37 am

We grabbed Libby — Caitlin was staying home with Calvin since he’d been sick enough to go to the ER with, as it turned out, croup two nights previously — and headed to Julia’s house on Thursday morning.
There was a good deal of chaos going on there. Julia was very much interested in taking her two older kids to see the pueblos and Julia’s mother in law, Marianne, was also in favor of pueblos. Julia’s wife, however, was the dissenting vote so we ended up bagging Bandalier National Monument in favor of driving up to the Santa Fe National Forest.
Andrew and I had been told by a nice lady at an art gallery that this alpine retreat was lovely, cool, forested, and crisscrossed by nice little streams. Meg had confirmed that report and had recommended a second place up in the mountains so up we went.
And up.
And up.

Seattle is close to sea level. The elevation of Santa Fe is something like 7200 feet. The elevation at the top of this mountain was something like 10,000 feet. It was everything that we’d been promised. Cool, tree lined, crisscrossed by nice little streams. It was quiet and breezy and didn’t smell anything like a western Washington alpine region. The resinous evergreen scent was quite different.
I wasn’t really surprised when I was winded walking around on the short hikes that a few of us indulged in. There simply ain’t no air up there. At least not according to my lungs.

We went back down the mountain for a late lunch at an incongruous Japanese restaurant that is attached to a hot springs resort just outside the boundaries of the Santa Fe National Forest.
It was good food, but I wasn’t really hungry. And I was beginning to realize that I’d had a headache for a while. By the time we got back into the car I was really tired.

By the time we got back to our hotel – after a stop at the Albertson’s pharmacy for Sudafed, Benadryl, and a thermometer (my nose had started to run) I felt bad. Scary bad. Tired and achy and stuffed up and hot. And the Covid test I took once we got to the hotel turned positive after about five of the fifteen minute run time.


We did have some fun

Filed under: @ 4:28 pm

Tuesday morning started with us calling the rental car place since we’d noticed the evening before that the “check engine” light was on in our people mover. The nice lady at Alamo arranged a switch for us which we promptly went to get.
We were scheduled to pick up something like a Rav4 from the Enterprise rental outlet that we had been sent to, but the Rav4 in question was pulling out as we pulled in. The nice man at Enterprise (Alamo and Enterprise are connected somehow, I don’t know how) set us up with a Mini instead.
It was a fair trade. Since many of the family at the dinner party on Sunday evening had been suffering some sort of sniffle we had already concluded that we weren’t going to be sharing car space with any large numbers of germ ridden family so the Mini was a good solution.

We piled into the Mini and headed (literally) for the hills.
Tuesday was scheduled for a family gathering at a river that feeds out from the Abiquiu dam. There was going to be splashing and fishing and sunbathing then traipsing back to Meg’s house for Mexican food. We were lukewarm about the idea of hanging about the river all day and Andrew is supposed to stay out of the sun anyway so instead of waiting for everyone to mount up to go to Abiquiu we went ahead up into the mountains to Tierra Wools (https://www.handweavers.com) which is not quite in Chama (translation: Chama = the back ass of nowhere way up in the mountains north of Santa Fe) but close. It was a lovely drive and we spent an inordinate amount of money on some lovely woolen things. Then we turned around and headed back down the mountain, stopping for the tail end of the Abiquiu dam experience. We met up with the rest of the family in enough time to eat a couple of sandwiches, pick up a couple of rusty fish hooks that some brainless git (NOT family) had left along the river bank, then pack everyone back in the car and head back down the mountain again.
Again, beautiful drive. Breathtaking scenery, and prairie dogs are damn cute in their own environment. There were also LOTS of cattle.
It was good Mexican food at Meg’s.

The next morning David came down from Albuquerque. Nephew Sam and his clan were packing up and heading back towards North Carolina on Wednesday so we got to say goodbye to them and have a nice time with David. I wanted to do some shopping that afternoon so Andrew kindly drove me down to The Plaza. We noodled around together a little bit, but Andrew wasn’t up to walking a lot so he found a nice shady spot with good WiFi and I traipsed around a bit on my own.
After the second time I’d been accosted by an underfed, overly fussy, prissy huckster outside a skin care products storefront, complimented on my hair color, and offered help with “bagging and puffiness under [my] eyes” in the space of 10 minutes I decided I’d had enough of nosing around a tourist trap on my own so I went back to where Andrew was lurking and we went to look at knives.
We had dinner at Julia’s house that evening and put together plans to go to Bandalier National Monument the next day.

I think Google Maps was in on it

Filed under: @ 3:45 pm

We woke up the next morning with the knowledge of why we don’t have a queen bed at home firmly reinforced in our minds.
Andrew and I are not cooperative sleepers. Andrew sleeps in more than three dimensions. I sleep deeply unless something unexpected touches me at which point I jerk.
It wasn’t a restful night.

Still, we got up, showered, contacted Andrew’s GP about the insulin, and went downstairs for breakfast. To find that the complimentary breakfast bar was only open between 0600 and 0900.

Irritating, but not fatal.

We talked to the front desk about switching rooms. The manager showed us a room on the ground floor with two twin beds which, we confirmed, would do nicely. We needed to eat, though, so we arranged with the manager that we’d move our things before official check out time at noon and went to find breakfast.

It is absolutely mystifying to both of us how, why, and what happened next. It’s maybe 7 or 8 miles between our hotel and the center of downtown Santa Fe (called “The Plaza”) where Cafe Pasqual is located. If you know what you’re doing, it’s even a straight line with one right turn to get from where our hotel is to Cafe Pasqual.
It. Took. An. Hour. To. Get. There.
An hour which was punctuated with non-Euclidian geometry, investigations of numerous Santa Fe neighborhoods, and a trip outside city limits.
Granted I’m not experienced with mobile navigation systems and my capacity for rational thought declines along the same slope as my blood sugar, but for fuck’s sake, I *can* read. I read the instructions as they came up on Google Maps and we ended up traipsing around places I don’t think I could find again if I were paid a large sum of money.

We left the hotel at about 9:45 and ended up seated and ordering our food at about 10:55. And we had to be back at the hotel to move our crap into a different room by noon.
It was an insult to the food to bolt it down like starving pirhanas but by the time there was food in front of us we were both starving, it was 11:10 a.m., and we needed to figure out how to get back to our hotel in less than an hour so we could move our stuff in time to not be charged for two rooms.
So our manners left a little to be desired.

Suffice it to say that we got breakfast and we got back to our hotel in much less time than it had taken to get to the cafe. Got our rooms switched and settled in to plan the afternoon. We’d been invited to Libby’s for dinner so we thought we’d go and get Andrew’s insulin and make a stop at Target to pick up additional pillows since the hotel couldn’t provide us with extra pillows and we each sleep with LOTS of them.
Went to Target. Got pillows. Got pillowcases. Even remembered to get Andrew a pair of headphones since the ones that he’d brought with didn’t work with the media player he’d brought.
Went to Albertson’s to get insulin.

Albertson’s had the insulin. Their pharmacy was even open. Our insurance, however, wouldn’t pay for the insulin since Andrew had just had a full 90 days’ supply delivered to our house and they couldn’t see why he should need more.
There are numerous reasons why the American health care system is in desperate need of revision. One of them is that two bottles of insulin – a medication Andrew needs to STAY ALIVE – cost us $583 and that was *after* the pharmacist pulled some strings and used some coupons. 20cc of medication. Enough to last one type 2 diabetic adult human about 14 days. $600.


The fucks begin to mount….

Filed under: @ 3:58 pm

The flights were actually smooth. We went from Seattle to Phoenix and from Phoenix to Albuquerque. We got off at Albuquerque, got our rental car and got to Santa Fe.

The hotel in Santa Fe was a little more run-of-the-mill than we’d planned on, but it was clean and extremely convenient to Meg’s house, Libby’s house, and, as it turned out, the VRBO that Andrew’s oldest niece Julia and her family were renting for this debacle.
Our room, as it turned out, was not the king bed sized room that we’d hoped for and it was right next door to the exercise center. Still, it was a decent hotel and once we got all our stuff schlepped in from the car we set about to settle in a bit.

Which is when we discovered that Andrew had very cannily packed up his insulin and put it in the fridge before we left then totally forgotten to put it in the suitcase.

Annoying, inconvenient, and potentially medically dangerous, but not really too bad.
One of the things that many people don’t know about insulin is that many years ago the federal government decided that this exact situation could be fatal for a lot of people so most insulin isn’t actually a prescription drug. You can walk into pretty much any pharmacy in the U.S., ask for a bottle of insulin and they’ll sell it to you.
All we needed to do was to find a pharmacy before we headed out to Julia’s house for the barbecue and we’d be set.
So we went to the CVS up the road from us.

Did you remember that it was Sunday?

CVS’ pharmacy was closed.

So we went to the Albertson’s pharmacy down the road from the CVS. Their pharmacy was open so we rolled up to the counter and asked for a bottle of Andrew’s type of insulin.
Which, as it turns out is one of the few types of insulin in the U.S. for which you need a prescription.

Annoying and inconvenient, but still not really too bad. Andrew had enough insulin to last the night and all we needed to do the next morning would be to call his GP and have him issue a new script.
So we gave up on giving a fuck and went to Julia’s house for ribs.
And beer.
Lots of beer. At least for me. Lord that was a lot of Lenzers!

Andrew and his three sisters (four). Andrew’s oldest niece, Julia, Julia’s wife Sam, their three year old Mara, and Julia’s two older kids Ward and Beckah. Oh, and Sam’s mom, Marianne. Can’t forget Marianne. That’s, what, six? Andrew’s nephew Sam, his wife Shelley, and their two kids Liam and Ana. That’s four of the Sam & Shelley contingent. Andrew’s second oldest niece, Caitlin and her five year old Calvin. That’s two more… Let’s see, Lucy, the youngest niece, had the good sense to decline to attend. Oh, but Julia and nephew Sam’s father and his second wife were there so Jay and Susan are another two. And I can’t forget Meg’s third ex-husband Rad. Rad was there too which makes….

20 of us. 14 adults and 6 kids ranging from 3 to 12.
And every single one of them at maximum decibels. The neighbors must have been reeling.

Ribs, salad, chips, and beer in great quantities consumed. It was a nice dinner, it was lovely to see people in the flesh and actually meet relatives we’d heard about but never met before.
But it was also nice to get in the car and retreat away from the decibels.

So we went back to the hotel only to realize what it meant that our room was next to the exercise center.


One should listen to the little voices…..

Filed under: @ 5:40 pm

We were scheduled to leave Sea Tac at 0830 on the morning of June 26th. We’d spent much of the prior week with a list of things we needed to get done before we left. Most mornings I’d sit eating oatmeal and add to, or cross things off of, the list. It had been four years since we actually left town for any period of time and we wanted to be sure that we had everything covered.
I should have known something was going to go pear shaped when we’d finished The List before Anastasia showed up on the evening of the 25th.

We wanted to be at the airport by 0615. We thought that flying on a Sunday would maybe keep the crowds a little less crazy and we’d heard that airports have become capital C Crazy. I had checked us in for our flight the day before and (inadvertently) even printed two copies of our boarding passes. They didn’t have our TSA Known Traveler Number on them, but we figured that since we were planning to check suitcases we’d deal with that when we went to check our bags.

We got up at 0500, had breakfast, did our last minute carry-on packing, smooched the kittens (oh yes. any very occasional readers will need to know that Flitter and Pogo are both gone, we remodeled the upstairs of the house, and we’ve got a new pair of kittens. R.T. and Skooch.) and were just on the landing humping our luggage towards the front door when Andrew turned to me and said “I think my heart is doing something funny again.”

Very, very occasional readers (a.k.a. anyone with whom we don’t have frequent contact since I didn’t have the energy to write about that little cross eyed debacle at the time) will have missed the fact that in April, just before we were scheduled to go out of town for the first time in four years, Andrew’s heart developed an electrical anomaly called “Tachy/Brady Syndrome” which is where your heart rate speeds up and slows down abruptly for no particular reason whatsoever. Even to the point of stopping for several (the longest was 11 seconds) seconds at a time. Which involved investigating two hospitals’ emergency departments, one cardiac care unit, the emergency implantation of a dual chamber pacemaker and a (Jesus Christ in the DESERT!) $5000 ambulance trip between Burien and Tacoma. This did, of course, preclude us from leaving town for the first time in 4 years. 2022 has been a real barn burner of a year so far.

So when Andrew told me in late June that his heart felt funny the PTSD from April kicked in. I ran upstairs to grab a stethoscope (you *don’t* keep a stethoscope in your study at home? where do you keep your stethoscopes then?) and listened to what turned out to be a perfectly normal, steady heart rate.

Reassurances offered, we hoiked our luggage into the back of Anastasia’s car and we were on our way to the airport.
But the juju had been cast at that point.

We got to the airport. I got out. I got my purse. Andrew got out. We got our carry on and our two suitcases out of the trunk of Anastasia’s car. We walked to the check in kiosk.
Did you notice something? Did you notice any little deficiency?

I didn’t have the boarding passes.
The boarding passes had our airline confirmation number on them. And our flight number.
The lack of boarding passes, I didn’t know that I’d left them on the back seat of Anastasia’s car until we got to Albuquerque, was annoying but not fatal since we were going to have to get new ones printed with our TSA KTNs on them anyway. And I knew that I had all of the vital information about this trip because I’d very carefully placed every single e-mail that had been generated in planning this trip into a nice, new folder on the desktop of my computer which I then, at Andrew’s suggestion, had e-mailed to myself so I could access the file from my phone. Easy peasy, right?


Wrong because (and Andrew assures me that people who speak Computer will understand what a clusterfuck this is) for some reason Macintosh desktop computers automatically turn those types of folders into Zip files and one can’t un-Zip a Zip file on a mobile device. Or at least not mine.

So we got to the head of the line with our suitcases, a knowledge of our preliminary and eventual destinations, Andrew’s Known Traveler Number, and an e-mail on my phone which was full of information like my KTN, our airline confirmation number, our airline “Frequent Flyer Club” information (for which I’d signed us both up because it was free and of some sort of benefit to us that I have since forgotten), and every other contact and reservation number THAT NO ONE COULD READ.
That’s when I started to hyperventilate.

The nice lady at American Airlines’ ticket counter found our confirmation number and, of course, our flight numbers. She checked our bags. She re-printed our boarding passes. Andrew’s had his KTN on it. Mine, of course, did not. Nice Lady did suggest that we go to the TSA Pre Check line at security, explain the situation, and see whether or not they could find me in their files.
We did. They couldn’t.
That’s when I started to have a panic attack.

I have spent the last two years in a more or less constant state of pronounced germ phobia. I distinctly remember Matt saying something along the lines of “Don’t get this, you’ll die.” (paraphrased, of course) when talking to Andrew about Covid in early 2020. And I had dealt with the fear of leaving our untidy, but distinctly antiseptic, home by taking every precaution I could to be sure that my immune suppressed husband was going to have as minimal contact with The Great Unwashed as could be managed during this trip. The fact that we were standing at the head of the TSA Pre Check line with the nice dude telling me that he had no way of confirming that I had a KTN and Andrew telling me that he wasn’t going to go through the Pre Check line and leave me to go through the regular security line completely blew every gasket I had.

Because he is very familiar with me by now and because he does have a marked degree of authority with regards to the workings of my brain, Andrew did manage to get me calmed down to the point where we actually got through security and to the departure gate. I took a Xanax, we got on the plane, and we figured that the fucks had all been up for this trip.

I just went to thesaurus.com to look at synonyms for “chump” but didn’t like any of the options. The best option I can come up with besides “chump” is quell naiif.



Filed under: @ 4:31 pm

We should have known better.

We thought “Oh, we’ll fly.” Then some obscenely ignorant trumphumper judge decided that the FAA and airlines requiring people to wear masks on airplanes was In Violation of Human Rights or something so we decided we’d drive.
1500 or so miles between Seattle and Santa Fe could, with two drivers, be covered in three semi-marathon driving days which would leave us with five days to hang out with family. Not a lot, to be sure, but sufficient. Even though it would mean that we’d only have one whole day to see Nephew Sam (there’s a niece Samantha and they both go by “Sam”) and his family.

But Andrew got sick in late May/early June and we spent five days between three hospitals, three emergency departments, and two multi-night admissions. Not Covid. Not anything respiratory at all in fact. I’m not sure anyone has satisfactorily explained how he got a urinary tract infection but he did and since a preliminary blood culture was (erroneously as it turns out) positive, there was a lot of arm waving and IV antibiotics to be dealt with.

After which time Andrew was really worn out and I wasn’t terribly far behind him.

We decided that neither of us really felt confident that we had the energy for a three day drive and since we also didn’t to face the possibility of either of us getting sick or completely exhausted in the middle of Goatfuckegypt Utah we decided we’d fly.

We didn’t make that decision in a complete vacuum. Both Andrew’s GP and his nephrologist said that they thought things should be relatively safe so long as we were both wearing high test PPE and kept up with bleach wipes and hand sanitizer.
So tickets were purchased and hotel reservations were made.

We signed up for TSA Pre Check too. We figured the less time we had to spend in lines the better.

What Fate Decided

Filed under: @ 3:52 pm

Yeesh. Two fucking years of pandemic. Two years of wiping down incoming groceries and stripping off work clothes in the laundry room after I get home. Two years of masks, hand sanitizer, take out, social distancing, fucking ZOOM CALLS, “pods”, and not touching anything or anyone ever.

And then came the vaccinations. I got vaccinated as soon as I could figure out how to make someone justify vaccinating me.
Andrew got vaccinated as soon as he got the high sign from the transplant center.
And we got our boosters.
And we got our boosters boosted.
And Delta and Omicron passed us by.

And we thought… Surely a quick trip. Surely since our family is vaccinated. Surely if we’re masked and we’re careful and we maintain rigorous hand sanitizing protocols.
Surely this isn’t a good idea, but surely…. it can’t be a bad one.

Fate, as it turns out, is an acid pickled, fire breathing, menopausal bitch.

Andrew and I enjoyed our previous trips to Santa Fe. Staying with Meg, exploring the city – although granted with a knowledgable guide – seeing an environment so very different from ours.
We were getting a little house bound and wanted to see family so when the idea came up of everyone meeting in Santa Fe for the first time since Tony died and the estate was closed in 2018 we thought… We thought “Well, why not?”

This is why not.

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