Sunday, July 20, 2008

Goin' to the Cabin

Tomorrow I'm going to the cabin in Montanta. I've been going there since I was a wee babe in arms. I've taken my own kids when they were babes in arms. Now they're no longer wailing babies whose nighttime crying echo through the uninsulated cabin at 2 am to keep the relatives awake.

Now they just scream. Usually for joy. They scream because they're at the cabin, because they're playing Pit on the porch, because they caught a fish (keep your fingers crossed) or because they're jumping off the end of the pier into the frigid lake. They're screaming because they're being towed behind a boat on an enormous floaty thing with their cousins.

They might wail a bit when I'm trying to get a palmful of slivers out with my tweezers or, heaven forbid, needle. They might complain when it's their turn to "do the dishes" without a garbage disposal or a dishwasher. Or when it's their turn to set the table for 14 people next weekebd when all the family will arrive for a little reunion. Or when it's time to clean the cabin and go home there will definitely be protests.

But these are the cries of kids living life and having fun. I prefer these cries to inconsolable babies in the middle of the night. You could say my cabin ship has come in. I've been waiting for lots of years for the kids to be manageable and self-sufficient at the cabin. And this year it might be the magical one, the one where I get to do want I want. I might be able to sit at the beach for several hours without having to get up to take care of anybody. I might get to read on the beach--something I haven't done for 15 years.

I will teach my kids that rather than walk all the way up the hill to the cabin to use the bathroom, to do what I used to do--walk out into the lake. If they refuse they can walk up to the cabin by themselves!!! Hooray.

When I want to read on the porch swing in the afternoon, they can join me to read together or they can go do something else for a while. Guess what? Nothing will happen if I ignore them. Yee haw!

I will miss a few things. Snuggling with babies in fuzzy sleepers in the warm cabin beds. Watching their toddler faces consort with fear and excitement when they see the bearskin hanging on the cabin wall. Watching them put sand in their mouths at the beach and then scream when it tastes horrible. Watching them go back and forth in the wooden swing that latches onto the beam on the porch. Seeing them in the high chair that me, my siblings and all my cousins used as babies.

But I'm ready to move on to this exctiing phase. I don't think I'd go back if I could.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Last Weekend's Great Blog Material

"Oh, Ellen, that's great blog material," my mom told me after I'd described the events of the past few days. Indeed I had to agree, that the only thing good that came out of last Friday and Saturday was the hopefully good story it would make in writing or telling. Oh, and the 70s TV reminiscing around the campfire was a definite plus.

OK, you've all heard of youth conference. It's where youth leaders from church spend weeks organizing food, shelter and bathrooms for 25 teenagers. For one night away they pack 17 coolers full of stuff for dinner, breakfast, snacks and other essential equipment. Actually they didn't have to bring the port o potty. It was delivered for a pretty sum, the bishop told me when I was in the throes of wishing I were dead.

I didn't have to do much for youth conference. Just show up with Adrienne at this cool ranch house in Heber, Utah, for the festivities. I arrived just as they were serving taco salad for dinner. I had a reasonable amount of taco salad, and then the girls and I set up our enormous tent. We argued about whether to put the rain flap on, but decided to leave it be.

The speaker (a former Eastern-Euopean biathalon Olympic gold-medal winner, recently joined the LDS church and moved to Heber Utah) was inspiring and mesmerizing to listen to. She brought her Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals to show us, but those stayed in the box for most of her talk. The things that were most dear to her were church and family. The gold medals were kind of an afterthought. Even the 12-year old boys were quiet for this story.

Around the campfire the over 40 leaders and I had a great time thinking of all the theme songs we remembered--"Beverly Hillbillies," "Genie," and "The Partridge Family." We laughed and laughed and ate s'mores. I ate one, a reasonable amount considering that at one point 16-year old Tyler G. had fourteen marshmallows stuck in his mouth. He didn't spit them all out, either. Probably 10 of them went down all at once. Typical youth group disgusting stuff.

Bedtime came. I settled on an air mattress next to Sammie and Adrie. Managed to fall asleep. About 2 in the morning I awoke suddenly. My stomach was grumbling, and I felt queasy. In the tent next to us 16-year olds Stephanie and Rachel were telling each other their life stories--loudly! We yelled and them to stop and they'd hush for a few minutes, and then gradually put more drama(and volume)into their voices. It was impossible to sleep, and my stomach was not cooperating.

I thought maybe if I used the port 0 potty I'd feel better. It was a reasonable assumption. So I found my flashlight, put on my shoes (but didn't tie the laces--this is important!) and unzipped the tent. I started to make my way across the meadow through all this brush. I wondered why we were were camped so far away from the potty. There was a dry stream bed that you had to jump over, and I did so but not well. That darn shoe lace tripped me and I smacked down hard on my left shoulder on a giant rock.

So now I was lying on a rock at 2 or 3 in the morning feeling like my arm was broken, and really needing to use the bathroom. I pushed myself up with my right arm, and climbed out of the dry creek bed, a bit dizzy and disoriented. My left arm would not move.

I stumbled into the port o potty and managed to do my business. But then couldn't pull my pants up because my left arm was throbbing. I pulled my pants up on the right side and got into the car. I scootched around on the seat until my pants were up. Then I started praying for my throbbing arm and queasy stomach. I knew I needed help.

I woke up Jared and Amy Hess who were sleeping in the back of the truck near my car. They got a chair for me to sit down in. Jared went to get the bishop and his wife. They stumbled onto the scene, and asked me what happened. I said I needed a blessing, that my arm woudln't move. They gave me a blessing and then drove me to Heber Valley Hospital where I threw up for 10 minutes in the bushes after the car stopped.

In the emergency room I was required to lie flat on my back so they could ex-ray my arm. I prayed the whole time that my stomach would settle enough so I could get the ex-rays. At one point the bishop's wife, Cynthia, had to take my bra off because the metal was interfering with the imaging. SO there was poor Cynthia walking around the hopsital with my bra. I took deep breaths as they stretched my arm backwards ever so slowly to get the right picture.

My arm was not broken. It was deeply bruised, the doctor said. I could move it better now. Back in the car. Back to winding roads. Back to upset stomach. A minute before we got back I asked the bishop to pull over so I could throw up. Which I did. It was now 5:30 in the morning, and the bishop and Cynthia went back to bed.

I stayed in the car, wishing I could die. The stomach pain was unbearable. It reminded me of being in labor, except that when you're in labor the contractions stop and you can catch your breath. These pains were like going through transition in labor with no stop.

And it's not like I could go sit on the port 0 potty, either. And there was no where to lie down. It was hellish.

After writhing around in the car for an hour, I finally called Darren. "Come get me!" I begged. "I feel like I want to die."

Forty-five minutes later he pulled in, my knight in shining armour who was less than amused by the whole situation. The first thing he told me was that I wasn't going to girl's camp in two weeks and that I was never going camping again without him. Those of you who know Darren, know that he says things as they are.

We stopped in Heber for some Pepto Bismal which helped me get down the canyon. Darren also bought a bagel sandwich that made me sick to look at. Darren had me down the canyon in about 25 minutes. I collapsed in my bed but not to sleep. I endured about 8 more hours of steady pain. The only time I felt a little better was when I stood in the shower, which I did several times for 45 minutes. Darren called the on-call doctor who said I was probably having a gall bladder attack. He was about to take me to the emergency room again, when all of the sudden the pain let up a bit. Just a bit. Enough for me to collapse in exhaustion for about six hours of fitful sleep.

At 6 pm I emerged from my room, happy that I was alive and that the pain was gone.

Since then I have not had another attack but there is a 70 percent chance that I will. I have given up all fatty foods because that is what triggers an attack.

At my annual physical on Tuesday (just happened to have it scheduled), the blood they drew showed that something wasn't functioning optimally with my liver, and that probably means that I really am having gall bladder problems. Thanks for the stamp of approval, doctor's office. I also had a bladder infection.

So on Monday bright and early I go get an ultrasound so they can look at my gall bladder. Whether it's just irritated or has a string of stones in it remains to be seen. Whatever the result, I am probably headed for surgery if I want to avoid another attack.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?