My lifelong quest to try new things and adventures has yielded some great memories and stories. However, my latest "new thing"–quinoa—places nominally low on the list. I boiled the little faux caviar beads and ate a small bowl for lunch with cottage cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. I decided that chasing them around for a bite proved to be a mouth marathon that I don't want to compete in again and, well, it's a good thing, because hours later I was covered in hives.
Quinoa! Well, Hell's Bell's, I should have known. I am allergic to several grains—whole wheat, granola, some combos of niacin, malt (no Colt 45s for me). WTH? Anyway, I took two Benadryl and scratched myself most of the morning.
Mid afternoon, I was on my way to CVS to get more Benadryl. I was just cruising along and talking to my daughter on the phone when my throat started closing up. "Gotta let you go sweetie," I said, trying not to alarm her. I needed to save my last few breaths to grunt out "Food Allergy!" at an unwitting CVS employee in the consultation line.
The startled pharmacist replied, "Get to hospital now."
Well, have I ever told you guys that I'm cheaper than dirt? Yup, my throat was closing and my heart pounding—but dayumm, can I save a buck or two here?
I called my doc while driving to ER. Same alert spoken in forced breaths: "Food allergy, hives, throat closing—can I come by and get a shot?"
"Nope, go to hospital or urgent care, might have to trach you for asphyxiation," they tell me.
I pulled into Urgent Care and they ushered me on back pretty quick. A few minutes later, I had a steroid shot in the hip. My throat opened immediately, and that's disturbing in itself. But thank God, I could breathe and I was on the road to recovery. I didn't call to tell Don about the episode until I left. I didn't want to disturb him; he was on the way to a friend's house to pick up a farm table she gave me. But... I did have the text ready for the doc to hit send if I started flopping like a fish in his office.
Next morning, the alarm went off and I jumped off bed... uh oh... no legs. I could barely move but had to give an 8:30 a.m. quote. I figured coffee and an Ibuprofen would have me moving in no time.
I was about halfway to the client's door when my left leg gave totally out. "Improvise Renae," I told myself.
I pulled out the cell phone—faked receiving a call (talk and all) and performed an award-winning, mock acting job of searching for a signal with hand in the air. This gave me a few extra seconds between step dragging across the yard.
When I finished the bid, I called Urgent Care. "Hey, I had a shot yesterday and today I can't walk." They called in a pain killer that sounded romantic to my pharmacy. I'm into alternative medicine, no scripts for me unless absolutely necessary—but he told me I will be able to move again and then I can get to my regular physician.
The 20 steps to the front door of drug store/grocery store was an obstacle/endurance course that required zig-zag jaunts to objects for stability and rest (i.e. garbage cans, bike racks and vehicle rear veiw mirrors). My version of a slow-mo Harlem shuffle.
I got to the entrance and there was this motorized contraption with a basket basking in the sunlight of the foyer. I waited for customers to file by while I tried to read the operating instructions on its panel. I gingerly touched the levers. Oh hell, first time for everything. I climbed aboard.
I cruised through the store in the handicap cart avoiding free standing displays, bananas, and pyramidial mounds of oranges and apples. I kept my head down and my eyes averted.
Everyone was looking at me. Why am I getting so much attention? I wondered.
Then it dawned on me that I am half the age of most people that drive carts. And then it dawned on me that I can't say that anymore because they would have to be a centenarian to be twice my age now.
"What happened to you?" pharmacy assistant asked.
"Who knows...allergy one day... can't walk the next," I replied.
"Where'd you get the shot?" she asked.
"In the hip." I answered.
"Did they rub it out?" she asked.
"Nope" I replied.
The busy pharmacist came over and handed me a printout of high-dose prednisone side effects.
Naturally under "rare," one of the side effects is steroid-Induced osteoporosis. It could be worse: another side effect was avascular necrosis (aka bone death). When I got back into the handicap cart, I bumped the reverse handle.... again. I red-faced beeped myself backwards and to the closest register.
The manager (my age) comes to my aid. "Can I help you out with these ma'am?" he asked nicely.
"No thank you..SIR..." I replied, admittedly a bit catty.
"No, I insist," he continued.
"Okay... let's make a deal. You can help me if YOU drive the cart back in," I told him.
He laughed and agreed. We had a nice little talk in the period of time that the .003 mph handicap cart moved to the car. True to his word, he commandeered the cart when I threw my bags into the seat.
I smiled as the handicap cart disappeared into the automatic doors.
An unexpected emotion surged through me, I put my head on the wheel of the car, and shed a few tears of humbleness. Pride is really not an admirable trait. We rob others of the joy that they receive by helping us.
I love to help others but the tide turned that day and I was on the receiving end. I hid the happy sounding painkillers under the seat of my car, put the car in reverse, and started backing out.
I had a momentary start as I recalled the back-up beeper alarm on the handicap cart. Aww hell Rome wasn't built in a day.