Grimacing At The Keyboard
by Nicole Freire
Isn't that a great photograph? I love the macro setting on my camera. It makes me feel like the Ansel Adams of ordinary objects.
I'm grimacing and/or gnashing my teeth (you guessed I was a teeth grinder, didn't you?) because I feel uncertain as to where this column will go today.
Do you want to hear about last Thursday? Let's see, I had bronchitis last week and it wasn't getting much better, so I went to the doctor, but not my regular doctor because she was out, so I went to the doctor on call and he scared the hell out of me.
Trouble breathing? Let's do a lung test. Blow into this tube! Chest hurts but no ‘crunchy' lung sounds? EKG! Here, take these papers and go get some blood work and a CT. Why? Because you're 40 and you take birth control pills and maybe you have…………..a BLOOD CLOT IN YOUR LUNG.
Off to get blood drawn. Pressure bandage on right arm. Have the CT scan. Wait. Doctor calls back, let's do an iodine CT! Fine! IV in left arm, iodine makes me feel like I'm on fire. Leave with pressure bandage on left arm. Feel like I look like a junkie.
Stumble home. Doctor calls. No BLOOD CLOT, thank you, just some sort of potassium imbalance. Take giant pills, retest in a week, and drink ridiculous amounts of water in the meantime.
Feel like my immune system is made of cheesecloth. Am tired TIRED of being sick.
Go outside; watch hillside burn for a while. Check what we have packed already: pictures, pills, pillows, knitting, birth certificates, books, power cords, cameras, phones. Check Edhat and the fire maps every 15 minutes. Debate as to when we should leave. Oldest daughter freaking out - can she still have her birthday on Sunday?
So tired. Put on pajamas. Load stuff into car just in case. Receive reverse 911 call. Make decision to leave, start throwing more stuff in bags. Cops start driving down our street, "Get out, get out", or something like that. Kids start screaming and crying as they scramble into the back seat. Husband and I are running around like chickens with our heads cut off.
I'm in the car when the fireman comes to our door with giant flashlight and sooty face. "Get out, get out". Kids cry some more, husband locking doors and windows, FINALLY we are backing out of the driveway, kids roll down windows and start waving goodbye to all our neighbors who are doing the same thing, "Goodbye! Goodbye!"
Drive up to Santa Maria to the sanctuary of Mimi and Papa's house, collapse in guest room. Sleep.
So, that happened.
Here's what I forgot to bring: the emergency backpacks from the Red Cross, real shoes, and my grandmother's silver.
What I brought that was stupid: knitting, IPod, four books. I think some part of me thought I was going on vacation.
How I knew I was rattled while packing: brought four shirts, one pair of pajama pants, five pairs of underwear.
Inappropriate thing I said while we were being evacuated: "Do you think this is what it was like in Chile or Nicaragua when they would go door to door kidnapping people from their homes for political reasons?"
Do you see what I mean? Is this another column about my stupid and endless health issues? Is this a column about freaking out while being evacuated Thursday night?
I feel like throwing up and celebrating --- simultaneously. Maybe it's the potassium pills. I'm so glad to be home, sleeping in my own bed and listening to my neat freak neighbor up on the roof with a leaf blower, blowing ash past my window like snow.
I don't know ... what did you forget to bring when you were evacuated? There were 30,000 of us, according to the stats. What did you bring that was totally unnecessary? Did you hyperventilate? Just a little bit? Tell me, please.
And if anyone has advice on boosting one's immune system, please tell me. I'll do anything at this point, burn sage, adjust my feng shui, eat vegetable soup. I won't give up gluten, though.
Guess what? They have chocolate cake in Santa Maria, so if you are turning 12 you can still have a birthday. Also, you can go see the new "Star Trek" movie in your pajama pants and flip-flops and nobody will notice.
And before I forget, have you guys been watching the "local bathroom' bits on edhat? Oh my god they make me laugh so hard. Please check them out.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.