Wednesday, August 11, 2010
I think I set a World Record For Almost-Dying: Part Four: Beware The Chili Dogs!
I almost died twice in one week. This is part four of that story.
My ventricles are lazy.
That's the big lesson I've learned from all this; that was what I needed to go to the doctor to have checked out yesterday, in what turned out to be not the end of this story but simply another chapter.
I'm a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason; I've always thought that if you look hard enough, you'll see that every good and bad thing that happens in your life can be pieced together like a puzzle, or a chain of cause-and-effect. So, for example, I think that it was fate that led me to go to school at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and that once there, I got an unpaid internship at the governor's office, because that unpaid internship got me a reference which got me hired into a 6-month limited term position at the Department of Revenue. That position expired in between hiring seasons, and so there was only one job available at the time, at a small law firm 48 miles from where I lived. I applied for that job, got it, met Sweetie and later married her and moved to Middleton, where, ultimately, I would get attacked by bees.
Not that the bees were the end goal of all that. Because if they were, if the grand design of my life was to get attacked by bees and then make dumb jokes about it on the internet, I would find that to be kind of stupid. (No offense intended, God.)
In my mind, the bees were the latest step that fits into the puzzle that is my life, leading me somewhere -- and it turns out that there are more steps, I guess, before I figure this one out. I've never actually figured out the reasons for things happening in advance, after all. It's not like I was driving up to the job interview that time thinking "I'll bet there will be a hot legal secretary working there and I'll meet her and we'll fall in love and one day I will spend a sunny morning with her sitting in a hospital room talking about Priscilla Presley's plastic surgery."
Although I did think "I hope there's a hot legal secretary there." And there Sweetie was. So I'm a little psychic.
I also don't believe in predestination. I don't think I was predestined to meet Sweetie, not like that, and I don't think I was predestined to get stung 16 times by bees (about which, I'll note, the stings are still there. Those were some tough bees.) Or, put another way, I think that I was always going to meet Sweetie, but the how and the where and the why of it -- and what I made of that -- was up to me.
I say that because, as it turns out, Sweetie and I may have actually met in the past. Not past lives; I'm not a nut. In our past. I grew up in Hartland, Wisconsin, which is about 120 miles from where Sweetie grew up. Not an insurmountable distance, but certainly a big enough difference that we wouldn't have expected to run into each other all the time when we were little. Except that Sweetie had a relative who lived in my town and who she'd go visit from time-to-time, and Hartland was a small town, making it entirely possible that I ran into her once or more than once growing up... and then, years later, I would happen to notice an ad for a job and be one of two people who felt it might be worth it to drive 100 miles round trip for a job that paid ten bucks an hour -- and end up being the person they hired to work 20 feet away from Sweetie, who might have been walking around Jackson's Department Store when I was a kid, only I didn't do anything about it then.
Which makes me think that I was always going to keep meeting Sweetie, just in different circumstances, and what I made of it each time (and what she made of it) was up to us - -but if we hadn't gotten together at that job, I bet that a few years down the road I'd have bumped into her at a football game or something, and been given another chance.
That's how fate works to me: Not that every second of our life is predestined, just that the big things are bound to happen, good or bad, and when they do, we've got to recognize them and make the most of them or get through them, and that each one of those things leads to another event that we'll then have to recognize, too and make the best (or worst) of.
Which brings me back to the bees. And the ventricles. And chili dogs.
I think the bees saved my life -- in a very real way -- by trying to kill me as only vicious tiny killer bees can do, in a cloud of stingers and confusion. I think they saved my life because otherwise I would never have gone to the ER the Friday morning after the bees, and if I hadn't gone to the ER I'd probably be dead right now and they'd blame it on chili dogs instead of my lazy ventricles.
I'd been easing back into work all that week between the bees and the next almost-dying. The longest day I'd worked was Wednesday of that week, when I'd "worked" a lot of hours but done almost nothing. I'd had a hearing in Eau Claire, which is about 3 1/2 hours away from my house; the hearing was an early one, but I don't mind driving for work and it seemed like the kind of thing I could handle in person -- that way, I'd get credit for a whole day of "work" but the "work" would mostly be driving and making phone calls.
So I got up at 5 a.m. and got ready and hopped in the car and drove 3 1/2 hours to the hearing, listening to the radio and trying to not feel crummy because of the bee stings, and then had the hearing (we won) and drove back home -- getting back around 2 or so in the afternoon, having "worked" a full 8 hour day. I could have used the bee stings as an excuse to not go into the office that day, but I never go into the office on days like that if I have to; I don't feel it's productive to be on the road driving all day, then get into my office for an hour or 3 and try to focus on something when I'm tired. So I typically go home, and that's what I did that Wednesday: I went home, and went to bed, still tired from all the bees (and the getting up at 5 a.m. and driving all day.)
I mostly slept all Wednesday night, and then got up Thursday to go to work again. My plan on that Thursday was to actually go in and work an entire day -- not just be there or come home early, but to actually work a full day and get stuff done.
The first stuff I had to get done was a deposition, questioning this mortgage lender employee by phone. I gathered up my law clerks to help me out (the law clerks, law students, are great -- they work really, really hard for no money whatsoever, in exchange for the opportunity to watch and admire me while I work, thereby making me seem more important and giving me the chance to later pontificate on what it is they've just learned and witnessed) and got the witness on the phone, and struggled through about an hour of questioning during which I relied more than usual on notes and records -- ordinarily, I can wing it right through something like that without any props to go on.
After that was done, we all went back upstairs to my office to talk things over and give the clerks some instructions on what they'd just seen and what to do now. I got up the flight of stairs and was short of breath and dizzy -- which is actually a rare thing, even though my diet used to consist primarily of Ramen Noodles and foods with names ending in -ito. And it didn't go away. I was still short of breath and feeling tired a few minutes later when I dismissed the clerks and said I was going to, after all, go home, and I spoke to a few people on the way out and said I still wasn't feeling well, so I'd have to take yet another day and I'd be back Friday.
I drove myself home, thinking the whole time Man, those bees are really powerful. When I got home, Sweetie asked me if I wanted to go to the doctor -- she'd ask me that about four more times that afternoon and evening and each time I told her the same thing: "It's nothing. It's just those bee stings and I'm tired from yesterday."
I took a nap, kind of: I felt like I almost fell asleep about 40 times but never really fell asleep, at all, a weird half-sleeping kind of state that hovered between awake and asleep and never really hit either, making me feel more dopey and cloudy-headed than usual -- and that's saying something.
I roused myself up for dinner and to spend some time with the Babies!, giving Sweetie a bit of a break because it had been a long week for her. We ate dinner -- chili dogs, a dinner that would come back to haunt me in more ways than one, it turned out -- and then I played with Mr Bunches and Mr F, but I wasn't myself: I got tired too easily and couldn't chase them around and didn't feel like doing much. Mostly we watched TV and played computer games and I finally at about 7:30 gave up and gave them a bath and put them to bed early; I was just too tired, and also the chili dogs were starting to bother me, giving me heartburn.
I thought. I thought it was the chili dogs bothering me -- because I didn't at that point know about the ventricles, and because chili dogs, it seems, are a clever kind of food that can fool even medical professionals into believing that nothing big is going on, and therefore almost killing me themselves.
So I took some Tums and went to bed, already kind of dying without actually knowing that.
Next: Coffee turns out to have few medicinal qualities.