Weirdly Grateful… for blurred vision

NaBloPoMo14DayTwentyNineI am allergic to cats. Naturally, it follows, that I own one. (We’ve had this one, “The Great Fanganini”, for over fifteen years.)

I take precautions. One of them being, I don’t tend to hold him overly much. This policy has served me well. Outside of a few weeks during the year when I am victimized by other allergies, I don’t suffer from cat ownership all that much. My husband does the litterbox; my daughter takes care of other areas of cat hygiene. It works out.

I also suffer from extremely dry eyes. This is an ongoing problem for which I take flaxseed oil. Fish oil would be better, but I’m allergic to shellfish and, as a result, cannot take the fish oil. I use prescription gel drops semi-regularly, as well. As long as I remember to take the flaxseed oil, refill my eye drop prescription, and not to touch the cat too much — cat hair and dander tends to exacerbate, but is not the underlying cause of my dry eye problem — this regimen is effective.

The effectiveness of this regimen, though, really does depend on me. This is bad. Because while I can be relied upon to take care of everyone and everything else that goes on here at the hovel, I don’t always take care of myself. I’m sure I’m not the only wife/mother/pet owner who suffers from this same malady. I call it the “Me Fourth Syndrome”.

Usually I take care of Daughter/Husband/Cat/Me. Sometimes that order gets rearranged where the first three are concerned, but I am almost always the one to occupy the fourth position.

Recently, as in Thanksgiving morning, it slapped me in the face. Literally.

I was on the phone with my mother while I was enjoying a cup of coffee and watching “The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on television. I made the mistake of sitting in my husband’s chair — a chair that the cat and my husband spend a great deal of time in.

Because I was multi-tasking, I didn’t really notice that the cat was attempting to make like a fox stole and wrap his gigantic body around the back of my neck. But he was. And he did. When I realized that there was what amounted to a giant albatross around my neck, I reached around and relocated The Great Nipperini to lower ground.

Within seconds, he had pounced on my lap and, before I knew it, he had begun to nuzzle my face. Literally. The Great Nipperini does not like to be put off. Not unlike the other creatures that also reside here at the hovel, he, too, is an “in your face” type of creature.

Because cat wrasslin’, phone talking, parade watching, and coffee drinking cannot really be accomplished simultaneously, I hung up the phone. As I went to remove The Great Fanganini from my face so that I could return to parade viewing and self-caffeinating, I realized that something was very wrong. Very, very wrong.

I couldn’t see. My eyes felt like there were little woodworkers in them — woodworkers equipped with teeny, tiny pieces of sandpaper. These woodworkers had gotten mighty busy.

At this point both my husband and my daughter had arisen. The daughter was in the bathroom. I yelled in to her to get me the eye wash. Stat!

She couldn’t find it. Then, I couldn’t find it. I also had no eye drops. Even though we had been at the pharmacy refilling her prescriptions just the day before, I never thought to refill my own. “Me Fourth Sydrome” had bitten me in the ass once again!

I applied a cold compress to my eyes, but it wasn’t working AT ALL. I was in pain. My eyes were watering. And, as an added bonus, I looked like I had recently spent some time — a great deal of time — with Cheech & Chong — or other pot smokers of note. If only!

I put out a general alert to the troops that someone would have to take me to the grocery store — they were the only place that I knew to be open on Thanksgiving morning. I needed to get eye wash and some over-the-counter eye drops to alleviate the symptoms caused by The Great Fanganini, who, while all of my hootin’ and hollerin’ was going on, was just sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor looking up at me, as if to say, “Hey! What’s all the commotion?”

My husband went to put his pants on and grab his keys. Once we got in the car, though, he mentioned that he had to get gas and stop at the mailbox. As we were leaving the house the daughter requested a bagel sandwich — to tide her over until the feast we were no doubt in for later in the day.

Somehow I managed to convince the husband that we could take care of his errands (and hers) AFTER I had treated my eye issue — even though both the gas station and the mailbox were on the way to the grocery store, he agreed. Who says chivalry is dead? (Although I was slightly annoyed that he had taken the time to grab whatever it was that needed mailing while he was changing from pajama pants into jeans.)

Because I could not make clear to my husband, in a way that I felt comfortable that he was actually comprehending, what eye wash was or where it was kept at the supermarket, I had to go into the store myself — looking like a pothead. In fairness, the husband did dig out some eye drops before we left the house, that they were likely from 1979 and they burned like crazy notwithstanding, at least he did make an attempt to help me.

Of course I have to wonder if he shared these drops with me so that he could buy himself some time — time for getting gas and visiting the mailbox. Whatever his reasons, at least he tried. For that, I was grateful.

When I stumbled into the supermarket and found the correct aisle — I did this more from memory than from actual sight — I grabbed the eye wash and, what I thought were some sort of gel drops. They were not. But, I didn’t notice that until AFTER I had shot them into my eyes. They relieved the pain, but they numbed my eyes. They contained, as I later ascertained, some sort of antihistamine.

This is how and why I spent my Thanksgiving barely able to focus. I’ve spent other holidays barely able to focus, but those were a result of having had at least a slight buzz on. I don’t miss the buzz anymore, but I hadn’t realized how much I had grown accustomed to being secure in the knowledge that I would be able to remain focused — both visually and mentally — since I gave up drinking.

I found it weird, but not altogether inexplicable, how much my fuzzy eyesight seemed to be affecting my mental acuity. I had never given much thought to this relationship before.

I felt scattered and slightly out of sorts the whole day. I was grateful, though, that I just needed to wait for the eye drops to wear off to feel more myself. And, as an added bonus, no threat of a hangover existed.

I was reminded, once again and in a very strange way, that while I still miss drinking now and again, I have become a person that embraces the mental sharpness that is part and parcel of sobriety. More meaningful, though, is because I hold having my wits about me so dear — and miss it when I can’t — it bolsters my confidence in the fact that I will never take up drinking again.

That lesson, no matter that I have to learn it again and again, is always something to be grateful for.

The Pub Crawl at the Mall

drinkingshoppingThere was a time when malls were for shopping. These days they are veritable entertainment complexes. Drinking establishments are around every corner. The mall is a great place to be an alcoholic. Those of you with a drinking problem can take full advantage of this by participating in a little activity I used to engage in, back in my drinking days— “The Pub Crawl at the Mall!”

Here’s how to play:

Reward yourself with a drink, or several, following a successful purchase. Start small. Buy a box of cards that you have every intention of sending out (but that you never will). Earn a glass of buttery Chardonnay. Chilled.

Knocked the Christmas pajamas off the list? Time for a martini! If you’re feeling particularly festive, opt for the green apple martini. Request a cherry garnish. Red and green! Fa! La! La! La! La! La! La! La! La!

Two gifts and two drinks down— and it’s not even noon! Plenty of time to do more damage to the pocketbook and the liver!

Now that you have a slight buzz on, hit one of the finer department stores. Surely someone on your list (or everyone) can use some nice earmuffs. Buy a half-a-dozen. Throw in a couple of scarves for the ladies and several body wash sets for the guys. You’re on a roll now! Get yourself some lunch. A few chicken wings and a couple of beers should do the trick. Find the place with the Christmas Ale on tap.

Woozy, yet fortified, make your way to the big electronics store. It’s only a little walk through the parking lot. And it’s right next to the place that offers $1 margaritas and free chips and salsa after 3:00. Timing is everything! Kill some time browsing and asking questions of the staff about things you have no intention of buying. Take a crack at making the right decision regarding DVDs. (Remember, last year you bought two copies of “A Christmas Story”— don’t make that mistake again!) Listen intently as the clerk describes the slight, but critical differences, in the latest entries to the “point and shoot” digital camera marketplace. Let him sell you the most expensive one, because it’s 3:05 and, let’s face it, there are a few margaritas calling your name. Never mind that your husband has no interest in photography.

There’s nothing quite like the late afternoon tequila high. It is, however, short-lived. And the only way to recover is a nap. From experience I will caution you about having a brief lie-down near the fountain. There is a very real possibility that you will be pelted with coins and/or picked up for public drunkenness. To avoid the potential for embarrassment (not to mention the attendant legal fees), for the love of God, spend the $12 on a movie ticket and sleep in the darkened theater. Choose wisely, though, don’t go for the blockbuster or the cartoon, select the boring indie title (if there’s a foreign film playing— even better). There’s a good chance you’ll be the only one in that theater, making the cocktail-induced snoring and drooling a non-issue. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, you will need the $15 jumbo bucket of popcorn to soak up the $5 worth of crappy tequila. Don’t cheap out.

This combination of carbs and rest should give you a second wind. Don’t waste it on more shopping. Unless, of course, it’s a brief foray to one of the kiosks where “As Seen on TV” products or calendars are sold. That’s fine. Take ten minutes to grab a pasta pot that’s also a strainer (!) or “The Audobon Official Bird Watcher’s Calendar”. You’ll undoubtedly be able to unload these items on some unsuspecting loved one.

You could rest on your laurels and go home now, but if you want to finish the game (and what self-respecting alcoholic wouldn’t want to do that?), you must cap off your adventure with at least one coffee drink. For added points, ease into this portion of the evening. Nothing says the holidays like a smooth, smoky 12-year-old Scotch! Bartenders just love customers who order $30 drinks! (Remember to tip accordingly!)

Don’t worry about the killer hangover that will be incurred by your fun-filled day of drinking. Starting your day as you finished your night is always an option. Throw a little Bailey’s in your morning coffee. It’s a real eye-opener. Enjoy this tried and true hangover cure while you guiltily fish through your, mostly useless and ridiculous, drunk purchases. Oh, and have a second shot ready for when you tally up the receipts. You’ll really need the “hair of the dog” then. Because “The Pub Crawl at the Mall!”? It never comes cheap.

photocredit: drinking and shopping