Monday, January 22, 2018

The Nose Knows Nothing

I had to wait a while before I could write about our New Year’s Eve celebration. Not because I drank so much that I was still hung over. Not because I had so much fun that I am only now sending out thank you notes and finishing up my photo books.
No, it’s so I could get a solid hold on what reality I was living that weekend and when I told you, I wanted to get it exactly right.
My husband had a nosebleed in the middle of December. He suffered in silence, as it started in the middle of the night and all evidence of it was gone by the morning. It was no more than a footnote over our morning coffee.
That weekend he had another. I raise an eyebrow and wash a load of towels.
Still, only two nosebleeds. Not a huge deal but certainly strange because I haven’t seen a nosebleed from him since his sinus surgery five years ago, which will live on in infamy. Because I will never forget what a nightmare it was and I want to ensure he doesn’t either.
Christmas Eve comes, and my husband’s schnozzle decides it has had enough of its quiet lifestyle and erupts like a volcano. This one has my attention. It’s everywhere, it’s never-ending, and most importantly, it’s getting our clean, ready-for-company house all dirty. Time to deploy the big girl panties.
We finish cleaning for the party and I wash my hands eleven times (get it? Eleven? Nosebleeds?) and our Christmas Eve celebration continues.
That night, we agree he probably should talk to the doctor after the holidays about the nosebleeds. Someone who drives almost 3000 miles a month for work does NOT want to get that type of nosebleed while driving.
During the week, I boil water and run a vaporizer until our walls are dripping so I can put moisture in the air. He not only has been dealing with the nosebleeds but also got the same illness I had and has been coughing up a lung for the past two nights. It’s the dreaded man cold and I mentally gird my loins.
The moist air doesn’t help. That Saturday I hear him skittering down the hall to the bathroom and just know it’s happening again. A half hour doesn’t seem like a very long time but when it looks like he’s losing what looks like a gallon of blood, it’s an eternity. We’re getting to be experts at managing them but definitely not happy about it. Plans to call the doctor have been moved out of “maybe” into talks of Immediate Care instead, but it stops and doesn’t come back so the talks stall.
New Years’ Eve dawns and over morning coffee, Joe decides to celebrate early by having a party in his nose, with lots of streamers. It’s made worse because he’s coughing so much but finally this one stops too. I suggest a quick care visit but it’s vetoed. The nosebleed stops…
…only to start up again around seven that night and this time, we don’t even need to discuss it before piling into the car to go to the ER. We can’t get it stopped.
They put a sexy plastic ring on his nose that pinches his nostrils shut but that doesn’t work. He graduates to level two; a nurse fashions another one out of two tongue depressors which does the trick but pinches his nose so tightly that he feels like he’s choking. He is, actually, because since he can’t breathe through his nose, he’s got to breathe through his mouth but guess what’s starting to clog his airway? Our friend, the helpful blood clot, trying valiantly to stop the nosebleed.
Joe, being NOT HAPPY
I’m going to pause here to confide that Joe doesn’t do well with swallowing vitamins in the morning. One multivitamin and he’s choking and gagging on it and can barely get it down. The sounds he makes are unlike anything heard in nature, and they’re coupled with his bare foot pounding the kitchen floor as if that will help. I’m pretty sure our neighbors hear this morning routine. It cracks me up because I’m evil like that.
There are four ER nurses in the room with us now, all telling my darling Pookie Pants to stay calm but when Joe feels the gigantic choking blob in the back of his throat, despite the instructions, he most certainly does not stay calm.
To my untrained eye, it appears our room has become the site of a horrible butchering but boy howdy, does that get us ushered immediately and with all due haste into an exam room. I realize that I’m going to have to burn my clothes and Joe’s, but at least I know where all the antibacterial gel is in the emergency room.
Long story short, we were there four hours. For three of those hours, Joe’s nose was pinched shut and he still felt as if he were suffocating. He paced. He griped. He paced. He fretted. He bled. However, all his blood work is fine and the doctor finally comes in and numbs his offending nostril so she can insert this long tampon cigarette-looking thing into his nose. Once inserted, she is able to pump air into it and it conforms into the shape of his nose voila, end of nosebleed. He’s much happier and we get to leave. However, by this time it’s 10:30 p.m. and I don’t feel like cooking but we stop at two different places and nothing’s open. Because it’s New Year’s Eve.
He's such a good sport that he let me use this picture. That's TRUE LOVE, folks.
I am so crabby. Sulky. I’m starving and at 10:45 p.m. I heat up beef for sandwiches. We eat in relative silence and stonily clink glasses at midnight.
The next day is January 1, which is the day my side of the family celebrates Christmas. Joe has, up until now, said he was going to go (even with that…thing in his nose) but now he has changed his mind because he’s not “breathing” right.
This brings back horrid memories and PTSD flashbacks of his deviated septum surgery. It was a truly dark week in history in the Cacciatore household.
Still, I go through the motions of preparing for the ninety minute trek into town. I make the jambalaya I am supposed to bring. I have all the presents I’m supposed to bring all wrapped and organized, so I go take a long bath while having a hot cup of tea. But I know what’s coming.
Joe is still not feeling well. He isn't going and he doesn’t want me to go. He looks like a deer caught in the headlights at the thought of me leaving for the day.
I will refrain from comment here because sometimes time does not heal all wounds, and I was super upset because CHRISTMAS WITH MY FAMILY and I’m missing it.
However, I know a panic attack when I see one, and Joe is having a big one. The look in my poor honey’s eyes when I say I’m leaving him all day long is pure terror. I wouldn’t do this to an enemy; I certainly wouldn’t do it to my husband. Whom I love. It’s a three hour round trip and my husband, my true love, is convinced that he doesn’t have enough air.
He just thinks he doesn’t because we can’t take out the packing from his right nostril, and his left is congested. For all of the soothing, understanding sounds I make, I don’t get why he can’t OPEN HIS MOUTH AND BREATHE THAT WAY LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES WHEN THEY HAVE A COLD.
However, see:  panic attack. I get it. I stay home.
I also pout and cry that day. I am miserable because I work so hard to get just the perfect gifts, the funniest things, the most thoughtful; and I have to send my jambalaya and my gifts into Joliet with my girls.
I miss seeing my brother open his “favorite child” pin, and don’t get to see his kids open presents that were on their Toys r Us wish list. I miss my sister and her kids opening carefully chosen silly mugs. I miss sitting and joking around with my other five siblings because I just don’t see them nearly enough and I like to be snarky in person, not just on Facebook.
But I do what any good wife would do. I take my husband’s concerns seriously and hold his hand while we sit on the reclining loveseat so he can relax enough to sleep because did I forget to mention? It’s Monday afternoon, and Joe has not slept in about five days between his terrible cough and the inability to breath. He hasn’t slept, like, at all. He can’t fall asleep because he’s certain that the second he does, he’s going to stop breathing altogether.
I think of all the soothing things I can do to calm the panic attack he’s having. I give him ONE of my TWO XANAX which as anyone knows is a terrible second only to missing Christmas. I pour him a lavender scented bath and put on soothing music which helps for approximately seven seconds. He’s back to panic mode before he’s even dried off and has his jammies on.
I find my blog on his deviated septum surgery, reread it, and cannot believe the similarities between then and now. Folks, this is a nightmare.
Monday at bedtime, the most horrible night of all, I put on an ocean waves soundtrack, hoping that it will soothe his panic and allow him (and me) to sleep. Joe sleeps for ten minutes at a time, waking up in a panic every single time. He’s convinced that the ocean waves are sending him subliminal messages so I have to turn that off. I warn caution him that I have to work on Tuesday and that if he doesn’t let me sleep, I won’t be able to function. I make him swear he’s going to let me sleep. He goes out onto the couch.
I get two hours of sleep before he shakes me awake. “I’m not sure how I should be breathing.” It’s 1:30 a.m. and we’re both exhausted and one of us is very angry. He won’t take a shot of liquor to help him sleep. The Xanax has done nothing and he’s pacing like a caged animal so I wrestle him down and force feed him a double dose of Nyquil, which has absolutely no effect and as a matter of fact, seems to wind him up even more.
The only thing keeping us going is the fact that we’re going to the doctor’s in the morning so that he can take the packing out. The rest of the night is ghastly. We’re both hallucinating from lack of sleep.
Tuesday morning, after a refreshing three hour rest, I dress for work, (I think?) shove him in the car and drive to his doctor’s office where we park our butts.
When the doctor finally is able to see him, they chat, Joe is prescribed some cough syrup with codeine for the cough, and then—blessedly—Doctor takes out the packing. (look away if you’re squeamish, but gawd, I didn’t think he’d EVER finish pulling that thing out of Joe’s nose. It was about the size of a rolling pin and about as big around.
The effect on my husband is galvanizing. It’s as if someone literally has flipped a switch. His color comes back almost immediately and he’s showing more clarity than I’ve seen in a week. I take him back home to drop him off because although he’s going to take a sick day so that he can sleep, I myself cannot call in sick. Despite trying to keep a brave face, I’m so tired I can barely see straight. I mainline coffee on the way to work.
Five hours later, I’m uneasy because I haven’t heard from him despite a few texts and a quick voicemail. Has he had another nosebleed? Is he even now face down, head in a towel, in the hallway? DID HE GET BLOOD ON OUR NEW COUCH?
The last one spurs me into action and I call him again. A different man answers the phone. He sounds—dare I say—perky. Happy. “Boy, I feel so much better,” he crows. “I was able to sleep.” I repress the urge to tell him he’s had more sleep in the past few hours than I got all night. Good thing I’m at work because I’m rolling my eyes.
“I don’t feel like I’m gasping for air anymore,” he continues happily. “Of course, the doctor did say my airway was probably compromised because of my cough." Of course he did, I think. His doctor is a man so he is a little more likely to empathize with the man cold.
But here’s what matters; there’s no more panic in his voice. While still hoarse, his voice sounds hopeful, like there’s an end to the past couple weeks of wheezing, coughing, phlegm, and let’s not forget, nosebleeds.
His optimistic tone buoys me, much to my surprise. Sounds like sleep is on the horizon for me too. My eyes well up in gratitude. I tell Joe to try to get another nap in and turn on that ocean waves soundtrack—maybe it will tell him to sweep the floor and do the dishes before I get home from work.
*not a man cold, though. No one can be as sick as a man.
PPS...also published on Love, Lust and Laptops today.
About the author:
Christine Cacciatore is a multi-published author who lives—and loves—to write. Together with her sister, Jennifer Starkman, she has published the magical novels Baylyn, Bewitched and Cat, Charmed, with the third book Elise, Evermore coming out soon. On her own, she has written Noah Cane’s Candy, a sassy holiday short romance and Knew You’d Come, a spicy paranormal romance novella. Also, Chris ventured into the Kindle Worlds Mary O’Reilly paranormal series and has written Trouble Lake and Grave Injury. They’re the perfect books to curl up with any time of year but especially Halloween…because they’re chock full of ghosts!
 Chris is a member of the In Print Professional Writer’s Group in Rockford, IL and the Chicago Writer’s Association. In her spare time, Chris enjoys writing, reading, and coloring in her grandchildren’s coloring books with the good crayons. Chris is married to a devastatingly handsome man she met on eHarmony, has three children and a gigantic black dog who helps her pack lunches in the morning. She also has four of the most beautiful, intelligent grandchildren in the world, and their antics keep her in stitches.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Salem Sweethearts...a sample from Weird, Wicked Tales


Silhouette Sorceress by Sattva/

“Don’t you think we ought to take her to the shrink or something?” Dan leaned on the kitchen counter and watched his wife chop vegetables for pasta salad.

Sue glanced at him; then looked back down at her cutting board and sharp knife. Wouldn’t do to lose concentration and bleed all over the veggies before they even made it into the salad.

“Well, no.” She kept chopping, avoiding eye contact. “I mean, she’s just got the imagination of a four year old. It’s probably something she heard on TV. Just relax.”

Dan leaned over, snagged a chunk of green pepper, and popped it in his mouth. “When you were at the store the other day, our daughter pretended to have a baby on the living room floor. For something she ‘saw on TV’, the words—the actions—well, let’s just say she’s got a pretty damn good imagination AND vocabulary. I wish I had recorded her.”

Sue sighed. “I wish you had too. I’d see what exactly you were talking about. I’ve never seen her do anything like that.” She tilted the cutting board and the vegetables slid down into the bowl. “Hand me the Italian dressing,” she ordered. Quit standing around watching me.  It’s creepy.

He shook the salad dressing, twisted the cap off, and handed it to his wife. “You weren’t here. You didn’t see what I saw or hear what I heard. Unless you’ve been watching one episode after another of “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” or “You Gave Birth Where?” your daughter has picked up this information somewhere. And why has she started to wear a witch hat all the time? It’s summertime.”

“Can you please hand me the pasta now?” If you’re going to be in my kitchen while I’m trying to make dinner, at least make yourself useful, jackass. She poured the dressing on top of the chopped veggies, diced pepperoni, and tiny cubes of cheese, and looked at him expectantly. She didn’t address the hat.

He was holding the drained pasta hostage. “Are you listening to me? You’re talking about a kid who still has a little bit of a baby lisp. It takes her five tries to say the word ‘dictionary’, for crying out loud. Yet there she was, lying on her back on the living room floor, screaming that the contractions were coming every three minutes. And another thing—she should be watching Dora, not asking to watch “Hocus Pocus” all the time.”

Sue leaned forward, grabbed the colander of pasta, and dumped it into the bowl.  She laughed. “Don’t you remember her preschool teacher just came back from maternity leave? I’m sure she heard her talking to one of the other teachers about the birth.” She sighed and stirred the assembled ingredients. “And Hocus Pocus is an adorable children’s movie. Honestly, Dan, what’s the problem?” She shot him a pointed look. “Is the grill ready?”

He brandished the package of hot dogs at her. “It’s just freaky, is all. Our daughter used the words ‘contraction’ and ‘pushing.’ But yeah, you’re right. Probably something she overheard.” He shook his head in disgust as stepped out on the patio and slammed the sliding door.

Sue covered the pasta salad with foil and put it in the fridge. “Bethany, can you come in here please?” The little girl’s blue eyes met hers from in the living room and she nodded obediently. She took off her earphones and placed them on top of her iPad, hopped off the couch and trotted into the kitchen.

“Mommy, I’m hungry.”

“Dinner’s almost ready. Can I talk to you about something?”

“I’m really hungry though, Mommy.” The little girl spun around in a circle on her heel. Her black hair spun out behind her, under her black pointy hat.

“Bethany, look at me.” The little girl obeyed immediately. “Daddy said the other day that you were pretending to have a baby on the living room floor. Do you remember that?”  The little girl nodded.

“Remember what Mommy said, though? That if you were to remember something important and grown up that you were supposed to tell Mommy, not Daddy?” Sue watched as her daughter processed this information.

“So when I remember stuff about the place we used to live, I just tell you, right, Mommy?”

Sue gave her a genuine smile. “That’s right.  That’s my angel. You’re remembering more and more every single day, I can tell! Just remember that Daddy doesn’t understand. Only share with Mommy. He’s bothered that you pretended to have a baby.”

“I wasn’t pretending. I was remembering when I had Rose. Mommy, do you remember her?” Bethany clapped her hands, eyes shining.

“Of course I remember Rose, sweetie. She was your beautiful daughter.” The original Rose had been born in Salem 325 years ago to the day that Bethany “birthed” her baby in the living room. Pretty Rose. My granddaughter.

Sue watched her daughter absorb the long ago memories. Bethany’s blue eyes now shone with intelligence beyond her years and she stood a little taller. Sue observed proudly as wisdom, knowledge, and thoughts of revenge settled on her young daughter’s shoulders. It had begun.

“Mama, where’s Rose now?”  Bethany’s hand reached for hers.

“Rose will be joining us again in a few months, darling.” Sue smoothed her palm over her expanding baby bump. “Then you, me and Rose…we’ll be together again, like before.”

“Like our Salem coven?”

“Exactly. And when it’s time, we will finally take our revenge on the judge who sentenced us to burn at the stake so long ago.”

Bethany turned to look out the patio door. Her eyes gleamed. “Does Daddy remember that’s who he was?”

They watched Dan turn the hot dogs on the grill.

“No, sweetie.  But he will.”

The End
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