The Best Laid Plans…

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

I have heard that my whole life. It was one of those sayings my parents used when I was upset that things weren’t going the way I had planned. I heard it a lot when I was a teenager, a college student, and well into my twenties. Since my parents were about 30 years older than me, they had perspective I didn’t have. Those movie plans with friends that fell apart when I was 12? My parents knew it seemed like a big deal to me at the time, but they had perspective. Date plans that fell through when I was in high school? Probably for the best, they knew. Study schedule in college that got interrupted? Again, they knew it wasn’t a big deal…I would find a way to circle back and make things happen.

My husband and I returned from visiting our daughter at college yesterday. We drove the seven hours there (including food and gas stops) on Friday and drove the seven hours back yesterday (Sunday). A son of some friends rode with us, because he wanted to visit the university. As we got ready to leave our house Friday to start the journey, I told him he’d be riding shotgun. He looked a little surprised, but I explained that I love riding in the backseat…more room to spread out and less opportunity for me to correct my husband’s driving…thus, avoiding any “tension.” We started our trip at about 8:00 am. I was excited to see our daughter, and I had big dinner plans for both nights with some friends from college who would be visiting at the same time.

When we arrived, our daughter was working on a group project that was due that afternoon, so we had to wait a little while to see her. I knew in advance that our time with her would be limited, because there was a lot going on, and I was OK with that. As long as we got to have a little time with her and some meals with her, I was going to be happy. Once she got the project turned in, she came over and picked up the young man who had ridden down with us, so she could deliver him to the friend he was staying with. We saw her for about five minutes. I then had an afternoon cocktail at a local restaurant with my husband before going out for a lovely dinner with two friends from college, one of whom I had not seen since I graduated 34 years ago! We laughed. We told stories. We drank a little, and laughed some more. And before we turned in for the night, we made plans to get together the next day with another friend, Angela, who would be arriving around lunchtime.

Little did I know my plans were about to go awry.

The next morning, our daughter called me in tears, saying, “I don’t feel well.” I drove over and picked her up, and as soon as she got in the car, I knew she was sick. I felt the back of her neck like I have done her whole life, and yep…she had a fever. I tucked her into bed in the hotel room, and my husband stayed with her while I rushed to the grocery store and pharmacy to get everything I could think of to help her: Tylenol, Advil Cold & Sinus, Gatorade, Chicken Broth, Rice (microwaveable), Premium Saltines , Nyquil, and a COVID test. While I was rushing around, I called my friends and told them I wouldn’t be able to participate in the fun that night, since my baby girl was sick. Of course, they understood. After she got a negative result on the COVID test, we knew it was just a cold with fever, but I felt like she needed me. She was missing some big parties that afternoon, so I knew she was genuinely sick.

A little later, she told me her roommate had the same symptoms back in the dorm, so I rushed back to the grocery store and pharmacy, taking the roommate all the same things I had gotten for our daughter. Then I went back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day watching sports and cheesy movies on TV with my husband and daughter. At one point, later in the evening, our sweet girl looked at me and said, “Mom, I’m so sorry I messed up your plans.” So sweet. I said, “No! Please don’t be sorry! I will see those friends another time! It just gives me a reason to plan something else with them! I’m not happy you’re sick, but I’m getting to take care of you, and that’s what I do. I feel like God wanted us to spend a little more time together.” She got some extra “mama hugs” because she didn’t feel well, and I got extra hugs too. I think we might have both needed them.

Yesterday, she still felt crummy when she woke up, but with a good breakfast and some meds in her, she started to feel a little better. We got her back to her dorm with all the sickness supplies, and I ran to Starbucks to get her and her roommate each a Honey Citrus Mint Tea, what we call a “Medicine Ball” in our house. It always makes us feel better when we have upper respiratory viruses. It’s a blend of steamed lemonade, peach herbal tea, citrus mint tea, hot water, and a touch of honey…the perfect blend to soothe the throat and open up those nasal passages! Read about Starbucks Honey Citrus Mint Tea here.

After dropping off the teas, I gave my daughter a few more hugs before loading up to head back home. Again, I rode in the back seat, so I couldn’t “correct” my husband’s driving. He and our friend’s son picked different music for the trip, and we all laughed and told stories along the way. We also had a “junk food fest” when we stopped at a QT gas station for gas, but that’s a story for later…a story I plan to share soon!

I will make plans to meet my friends another day somewhere, or maybe they’ll come for a visit in Charlotte.

For now, I’m taking care of the husband, who seems to have caught the virus from our daughter. Anyone with a husband knows how that goes; at our house, we call it the “man flu.”

I’ve Been Out of Circulation

I’ve been out of circulation.

Last week, I woke up one day with a fever and a sore throat. I recognized the feeling…it felt like strep throat. When I was growing up, my mother would say I would catch strep throat “if someone who had it walked within 500 feet of me.” I’m beginning to think that might have been true. The last time I had it, I was in my 30s. I’m 53 now, so it’s been a good run, but I still know what strep throat feels like…and looks like. So when I woke up with a sore throat and fever, I felt sure I had strep throat, but I knew I needed to get a COVID test too.

I went to my local Urgent Care and got a COVID test first. I did not get the rapid test, because I don’t trust it. I know too many people who have gotten false results, and I wanted to know for sure, so I got the PCR test. I knew I would have to wait a little while for the results…and isolate…but that was OK. I also told them I wanted a strep test. The doc did a rapid strep that came back negative, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I literally said, “It looks like strep and feels like strep. I still think it’s strep. I need you to send it off for a culture.” The next day, my PCR results said I did not have COVID. And after waiting three miserable days with 102+ fever and a horribly sore throat, the strep culture results came back positive, and the doc prescribed an antibiotic.

The moral of the story? Don’t trust those rapid tests. I don’t care if you’re a doctor and you argue with me here…I don’t trust those, and this experience was a prime example of why you absolutely must get throat swabs cultured when you think you have strep throat. If you don’t learn anything else from me, learn that. I can’t guarantee I can teach anything else, but I can teach you that.

Soon after I started the antibiotics, I started feeling better. What a relief! When I say I was miserable, it is an understatement. I don’t think I have felt that badly since I had mononucleosis when I was 17. No joke. It was horrible…and I lost six days of my life!

And of course, the next day, my husband said to me, “My throat is sore and I have fever.” He called his doctor’s office and explained the Hell I had just been through with strep, and they immediately ordered an antibiotic for him…sight unseen, because strep is that contagious.

I’m not sharing all this just to complain. I want to share a few things that made us both feel better while we waited for antibiotics to do their job…just in case you find yourself waiting for some antibiotics or suffering from cold or flu:

  • Icees and Slurpees. When our daughter was a little girl (she’s now 17), anytime she was sick, one of us would run get her an Icee at Target or a Slurpee at our local 7-11 store. She thought Icees/Slurpees cured all ills, and truly, we may have been on to something. When I was so miserable last weekend, my husband got me a Slurpee, and it made me feel so much better. The cold on my throat was a Godsend! In fact, while I was drinking it, my daughter walked to the bedroom door (no closer, because she didn’t want to catch it) and said, “That Slurpee will make you feel a lot better.” Therefore, I highly recommend Icees and Slurpees, if you can get them. You have to stay hydrated when you’re sick…why not with a frozen drink?
  • Cool Mist Humidifier. Lots of illnesses make your throat dry or cause you to have nighttime cough. Strep made my throat dry, and that made me have a hacking, dry cough at night. I read online that a cool mist humidifier might help, so I ordered one online at Walgreen’s, and my husband picked it up same day. When he got it home, I set it up and added a little DoTerra Breathe essential oil. What a difference! The humidifier kept my throat from drying out, and the essential oil made my room feel like a spa!
  • Hall’s Cough Drops. I’ve tried them all, and nothing worked as well as Hall’s Cherry Cough Drops. They taste good and soothe your throat.
  • Chloraseptic Spray. Chloraseptic makes lozenges too, but I prefer the spray, because I can target it right to my throat when I need it. If I felt my throat starting to tickle as I was getting ready to fall asleep, I’d spray a few sprays, and that did the trick. We keep it on hand all the time. Always follow directions when using…might not be advisable for children.
  • Cool, damp washcloth. Never underestimate the power of a cool, damp washcloth. My husband has finally learned that from me. When you’re sick, a cool, damp washcloth can help in lots of ways. Since this time, I had fever, I placed a cool, damp washcloth on my neck when I was trying to sleep or anytime I was feeling worse. Something about it is soothing. If you have a stomach bug, it helps then too…wipe your face, cool your skin…whatever.
  • Starbucks Medicine Ball Tea. Wow! This stuff might not work miracles, but it might make you feel like it’s working miracles for a short time, anyway! It’s actually called a Honey Citrus Mint Tea, and it contains all the perfect ingredients. A friend brought me one (thanks, Dawn), and I love it! I had no idea it existed! It’s even good on a cold morning when you’re not sick!
  • Soup. We’ve always been told to have soup when we’re sick. It helps. I don’t know why, but it does. I have a friend who sent over some yummy, homemade, vegetable-beef soup, and it made me feel so much better. (Thanks, Linda.)

I certainly don’t claim to know everything about strep throat and recovery, but I do know what helped me feel better with this most recent bout. Obviously, you want to have plenty of analgesics and pain reducers (Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen) on hand, but all the things listed above brought me some relief. The first thing I recommend? Don’t get sick.