This week we tackled new adventures with dear friends in and around Denver. These are friends with history. I’ll talk more about that in Part 2, ‘cause seriously this week was full of the unexpected and would not fit all in one blog.
This was a trip the kids had been looking forward to with glee. We’d only been through Denver as a stopping point. This time we were going to do lots of cool stuff. After Kraig’s funeral, Todd and Miriam Frick told me that they were now blessed with a huge house and that any time I needed to get away, to just call. As spring rolled around, I began to look at our summer and realized that might be a great thing to put on the calendar. Schedules were compared and the week of July 4th was chosen.
As we prepped for this week, I had one loose end—the dog. That dog Kraig insisted we needed that I tolerate for the sake of the kids. And again, God sent someone to help. Nelda used to attend my MOPS group and told me she’d been waiting as others had helped care for practical needs I had since Kraig died. This was something she could do. Such a blessing.
So that left an uneventful 7-hour drive to Denver with four kids and me, the only driver. Should be easy, right? I took some Starbucks with me. We had movies and snacks. Ryan even asked if he could try pistachios. Sure. Nuts are a healthy snack. I hadn’t bought them in about 4-5 years and I didn’t like them that much but why not?
Just into Wyoming we stopped for a potty break and I decide to have a handful of pistachios. Not great. The kids had mixed reviews as well. The nice lady at the gas station told me I had about 48 miles to the town of Wheatland, our lunch goal. Let’s go kids!
About ten minutes down the road, the itching started. First, oddly enough, my eyelid. Then, my neck and my hands. As the miles flew by, I started feeling strange. Is it getting hot in here? Why am I having a bit of trouble breathing? I commented to Kati that there must be some pollen here I wasn’t used to. As Wheatland approached, my chest started to feel tight and I realized my upper lip felt funny. Oh my word—am I having an allergic reaction? You have GOT to be kidding me!
I saw the sign for the hospital on the same ramp as Arby’s but thought, This is silly. How bad would that traumatize the kids?! So we pulled into Arby’s and as I got out, feeling my breathing getting more labored, I asked the kids, “Do I have a rash?” They all looked at me strangely and said, “No but you look sunburned.” I told them to check out the menu while I made a beeline for the bathroom mirror.
When I say I was red, I mean lobster, Technicolor, kinda looked like a giant Oompa-Loompa red, head to toe! And it was then I realized the edges of my vision were going dark. Oh Lord. If I they have to call an ambulance, my children will be scarred FOR-EVER. I realized the hospital was one block away and we needed to go NOW while I could still drive.
So out I went telling the kids we needed to go to the ER right away, we’d get lunch later, but mom was having an allergic reaction. Oh God, please help me keep them calm, I prayed. I kept my voice even, no tears, and kept saying, “It’s going to be OK. This is fixable. They just need to give me a shot and I will be just fine.” Oh God, please let that be the case.
We pulled into an empty parking lot and I got them to hurry because my breathing was getting harder. As the nurse came around a corner from the ER, I waived a hand over myself and said, “This is not sunburn. I’m having a reaction to something and I’m having trouble breathing.” Two nurses ushered me right back and began taking info.
I told them my suspicion was pistachios, though I’d had then once before. But I have no food allergies and that is the only thing unusual I’d eaten. I told the kids they could wait in the waiting room and the boys said yes while the girls would not leave me. As I started texting friends to pray for the kids I realized I needed to tell the nurse why they might need to be watched as well. I could not even sit up so I just said, “My husband died 10 months ago and my kids are probably scared. Could you check on my boys in the waiting room?” She squeezed my hand and whispered, “Oh my word. Of course.”
As she walked out and the doctor came in to say what they’d be giving me, Kati started to cry. He left and then Lucy, with no tears, said, “We’ve already lost our Daddy….” That did it. As tears would not stay back any longer I just kept saying, “I’m going to be fine. I know this is scary but they will give me medicine and I will be OK.”
After about 45 minutes that included an IV full of fluids, meds that made me feel awful, and more that made me feel better, we were done. The nurse had realized I was the only driver so asked the doctor if they could give me something other than Benadryl. We left with prescriptions to fill at a pharmacy a block away and instructions not to eat ANY nuts for a few weeks and then only with an EpiPen handy (FYI – I will follow up with a doctor here first.). And just like that were back on the road.
I had Kati texting friends who had seriously asked if they needed to hop in a car and drive over three hours to care for the kids. Bless them. We texted Miriam we were back on the road and then I began looking for ways to make the kids feel OK. They did great. Amazing, actually, and gladly tossed the entire bag of pistachios out.
We decided to call this our “incident” on the drive to Denver. After I knew they were calm, I started pointing out the ways God took care of us. I could have eaten the nuts at a point when a hospital was not nearby. We made it there. It was a quick fix. Then I realized I needed to shut up so they could let it go. I saved my hospital wrist band as a bizarre souvenir.
On our second day in Denver (I’m not going in chronological order), I got a better wrist band. We took the kids to Water World. My kids had never been to a real water park and we discovered this is the biggest in the US. Wow does not even cover it. Miriam talked me into splurging for the extra VIP tube rental that earned me the better wristband. We didn’t have to walk the five-person inner tubes up to the top of the hills since the altitude was already bugging me. Worth. Every. Penny.
We had an amazing time and learned that at over a mile-high, three times applying sunscreen still misses spots. Oops. Their favorite part was the wave pool and the laughing and chatting and excitement in their eyes as they tried wild things was fantastic. Hearing myself and Miriam laugh so hard we couldn’t breathe on a tube ride with the little girls was something I hadn’t done in far too long. Getting to take the little kids and Ryan off to easier rides while Miriam took the big kids on daredevil slides was perfect.
We stayed almost the entire day, swimming and snacking, and laughing. God provided for the cost months ago and I didn’t have to worry about a thing except finding them in the crowded wave pool or whether Fearless Lucy’s tackling of a huge water slide alone was really the best parenting choice. She loved it.
Two very different wrist bands graced my wrist this week. But oh did both have stories we will be able to talk about for a long time. (Next Part 2: The Blessing of Friends with History)