The Setting: An apartment that has become so messy in recent months that Hoosband has dubbed parts of it The Hovel.
The Soundtrack: The ice machine mostly, accented with phlegmmy coughs and my other grotesque attempts to purge the mucus from my head, nose, chest and body.
On the Stove-top: Chicken noodle soup. Campbell's. Condensed. Monosodium glutamate and all.
The Scenario: Just when it looked like the curtain of the first trimester was lifting and appropriate energy and hunger levels might be eagerly calling my name from the front row, beckoning me to come on stage and put on a hell of a show, the pulleys cracked, the rope spun out, and the curtain came crashing down.
I could finally talk and think about food without immediately running to the bathroom.
I was finding the aromas of Hoosband's dinner choices far less offensive, watching our favorite cooking shows on PBS again, reaching into the fridge more eagerly, and consuming a much greater quantity and variety of foods than in previous weeks.
I was still inhaling saltines by the sleeve, but it seemed that the bad times were more or less behind me.
And then came Thursday.
Wednesday night I had begun to develop a bit of a tickle in my throat. I assumed it was from all the spicy habanero cheddar I'd been snacking on at work, and I figured it would pass within the hour.
By midnight the tickle had matured to a full-on assault, torchuring and tearing out my trachea every time I ventured to swallow and keeping me up all night.
Thursday morning found my mind and body tired, my throat in pain, but my intentions set on going in for the closing shift at work as scheduled. Tiredness I was used to, and I could certainly handle a little sore throat.
Around 10:30 a.m. I was half-watching Gilmore Girls on DVD, half-sleeping on the loveseat, when my phone rang from the kitchen. I jumped up and ran across the room to answer, began to carry on a conversation, and then crumpled to the floor inexplicably, still, somehow, clutching the phone.
"Are you still there? Are you OK? Hello?" I could make out the sounds, but I couldn't answer.
Finally, "I...I think I fell...I think...I passed out. I think I'm OK now."
I managed to stack my bones and muscles into standing position, drag myself into the bedroom, pull off all my clothes, yank on the ceiling fan, and fall onto the bed, still clutching the phone.
"I think I overheated," I tried to convince myself I would be fine. But the facts were these: I was pregnant, I had just passed out, I had no idea why, I was alone, and if I were to fall again and hurt myself or the baby, there was a chance that no one would know for hours. I wasn't even sure if I'd make it through this phone call. "Can you call my husband?"
So Hoosband left work early, and we set out on another adventure to the ER.
We arrived earlier this time, and the wait was significantly less.
The doctors were not worried about my sore throat. I had an ultrasound to check on the Juice and an EKG to check on my heart. Both were fine.
The ultrasound technicians were laughing a great deal at my expense, but I didn't get to see any pictures. I was told that my left ovary is a phantom and that my baby is a wiggle-worm.... At least the second part sounded positive.
I was cleared to go into work that night and close (almost) as scheduled...better late than never...and I was off Friday.
All was well.
Or was it?
By the time Saturday morning made its way to the party, my sore throat had escalated into an all-you-can-blow mucus festival and a renewed connection with my toilet bowl.
Every cough seemed to set off my stomach acid in a new and exciting way.
I tried to go into work, but I couldn't even clock in.
Sunday, Monday, and now Tuesday have found me at home, clutching a roll of toilet paper, and carrying around a rapidly filling snot-rag bag.
It makes me feel dirty to know that in a few minutes I will be calling out of work yet again because of a measly little cold, but what can I do?
Because I am pregnant, I can only take Tylenol, which helps a little with the mucus-induced headaches, but not much else. I cannot treat the cold symptoms with pseudoephedrine and the normal bag of tricks, so I am restricted to unmedicated nasal spray, a personal steam inhaler, vapor rub, chicken soup, hot showers, lots of sleep, citrus fruits as long as my stomach can take them, and fluids as long as I can keep them down.
And since the cold has called morning sickness back from its hiatus, I am not having much luck with food or fluid retention.
I can barely stay awake for three hours, let alone on my feet for eight; it hurts to talk, breathe, and think; and it probably wouldn't be a good business practice to bring my snot-rag bag to work.
So I am grounded. Apartment-bound. Bored, but in too much pain to be productive--hence the hovel.
Heading into my thirteenth week, my gums are starting to swell, which rounds out the balloon of doom formerly known as my face quite nicely.
I have heard the second trimester is a time of painless, pregnant bliss.
Oh my goodness, I hope so.