I have challenged myself to keep this synopsis of our recent Holiday Shopping Extravaganza in Miles City short and sweet.
If you know me, you know I’m not exactly good at short and sweet. Five-eight and surly I’m getting pretty good at. Short and sweet, not so much. Still, I guess it never hurts to challenge oneself… so here goes:
- We (Beau, myself, and the three kids) left for Miles City (70 miles to the east) at 8:30 a.m., a half hour behind schedule, on wintery roads. (The drive was not so dramatic as mine detailed in Q: How do six chickens cross the state in a snowstorm?; because I trust my husband just a tiny little bit I let him drive us to and from Miles City, and I only had to suggest 23 times or so that 70 was definitely fast enough, and approximately 8 times I was forced to mention that the oncoming bridge Could. Be. SLICK!) Halfway there I realized we hadn’t brought along shoes of any kind for our almost-two-year-old, who had been carried to the pickup in her jammies.
- At 10 a.m. we thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas program at Sacred Heart School, in which our niece starred as Who Councilman #8 and our nephew handled props.
- For lunch we met my parents and sister at Subway, where the Shoeless Wonder put on shows for an adoring crowd. About this time it became abundantly clear that our 3-year-old, Emi, was catching cold and suffering from a serious case of the mulligrubs.
- Next, a stop at Murdoch’s Ranch & Home to buy cowgirl boots for the Shoeless Wonder (her very first pair!). She was scheduled to get boots for Christmas anyhow, and she won’t even notice they’re not under the tree ’cause she’ll be distracted with trying to steal the big kids’ gifts.
- At 1:20 Beau and the kids dropped me off in front of the hospital and I entered into a sanctuary of kid-free concentration during which I consulted a surgeon concerning my alleged gallbladder problem. More on that in a minute.
- Meanwhile: Beau and the kids headed to the Miles City Saddlery, where Asher counted out $25 in cash and $34.50 in quarters to buy himself a black cowboy hat to go with the “tuxedo” he asked us to get him for Christmas. The boy got style. (Timeout here to extend kudos to the folks at the Saddlery, about whom Beau expressed sincere appreciation for the respectful seriousness with which they treated our little boy’s first-ever significant purchase.)
- Meanwhile, back at the clinic, Dr. B and I exchanged formalities. “I see you were in the emergency room for your gallbladder a month ago,” he said. “Why am I just seeing you now?” I explained that my gallbladder hadn’t give me any trouble since that one night (read: Rough week at the Blake house), so I was pretty sure it had all been a fluke deal, and further, I just had a feeling — call it woman’s intuition? — that there was no longer a gallstone inside my body at all! That’s when he decided it was necessary to review the ultrasounds taken that night at the ER. On his computer screen he showed me a picture of my gallbladder, then pointed out the gallstone inside it. He measured the stone, using the cursor, at 9 millimeters. Then he measured the potential escape route of the stone, which would take the stone into my small intestine. Three millimeters. “You would have felt it if that stone had gone through there,” he deadpanned.
- So there’s a chance… a pretty good one, according to some professionals… that there’s still a gallstone in my body. Why isn’t it bothering me right now? The good doc says the stone was probably trying to escape the night of the attack, and it must’ve jostled out of the too-small escape route at some point that night, providing the relief I enjoy now. Will it ever act up again? Nobody knows; the doc thinks it’s likely. Part of me wants to wait and see. The other part of me does not want to experience another pass-out-worthy gallbladder attack. I asked Dr. B what I can do to prevent an attack. He says to avoid fatty foods (no surprise there), as well as lettuce and cabbage, the digestion of which can trouble gallbladders (who knew?).
- I asked: What should I do if I have another gallbladder attack in the meantime? He wrote me a prescription for Percocet, which I declined to fill before leaving town because I’m still in denial. (Prescription drug addicts out there, please don’t rob my house and try to find the prescription. Even I couldn’t find it at this point in the holiday season tornado that’s taken over our living quarters.)
- Before leaving, I timidly asked Dr. B if he thought my obesity was to blame for my gallbladder issues. “Right,” he scoffed. “What do you weigh, one thirty?” I knew right then that Dr. B is not only an excellent physician but an outstanding, top-of-the-line individual as well. Should I choose to go under the knife, I will do so with complete confidence in him.
- Beau and the kids picked me up outside the clinic after my appointment and we sped to the dollar store so Asher could pick up some gifts for his buddies and so Emi (who is only three, after all, and who has not yet grasped The Joy Of Giving) selected some Christmas gifts To Her, From Her — including a paper doll which Beau is sure is wearing inappropriate underwear. P.S.: I am an absolute danger in the dollar store. Is it just me, or is there so. Much. Good stuff in there?
- Next: we entered the Wal-Mart time warp. Have you also noticed how a person — even an entire family — can become disoriented inside Wal-Mart’s walls, losing track of what time it is, even what day it is, due to a desperate and unrealistic notion that one can cross everything off one’s List if one stays long enough? Folks, we were there four hours. This is not a joke. This is real life. Yes, we ran into several people we know and enjoyed some good visits right there at Wally World. Yes, we were low on groceries and so had to stock up on essentials as well as Christmas goodie fixings. Yes, we had to sneak around with two carts obtaining stocking stuffers for each family member. But four hours? Six hundred dollars? Was it even real? I just feel thankful that we made it out alive.
- There was a Pizza Hut stop before we headed home. There we ran into more folks we know and enjoyed another visit. These friends surprised us by buying our supper. They said it was a Christmas present from them to us! Awwww, we surely needed a reminder of goodwill after four hours in Wal-Mart. Thanks, Jon and Teal.
- Home again, home again, jiggity jig. A light snow was falling in Miles, but my mom had called to warn us it was an all-out storm in Hysham. Sure enough, the farther we traveled west, the worse the visibility and the deeper the snow. Thanks to Beau, we safely pulled up to the house about 10 p.m. Eight inches of snow covered the sidewalk. We left the baby asleep in the pickup and Beau shoveled the sidewalk while I carried bag after Wal-Mart bag of plunder from the pickup to the kitchen, where our big kids emptied the contents of bags I deemed fit for their surveying.
- Finally we got them all tucked snug in their beds. For a few hours at least. And we slept too… while, outside, the snow kept drifting down. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!
© Tami Blake