Tuesday, December 25, 2012

An incredible Christmas...even with a goiter !

Well, I write this on the evening of Christmas Day, so before I go to bed and sleep the rest of this joyous holiday away, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!

Because my family is Scandinavian, the emphasis is put on Christmas Eve.  So we have a splendid feast on the Eve, light a fire, open all of our big, family gifts, have drinks and dessert and put porridge out for the Tompten, then settle down for a long winter's nap.  In the morning we have an enormous, savory breakfast, and open our stockings from Santa.
I absolutely love it.  I grew up with it, and think it is honestly the best way to do things, and anything else seems foolish!
So Christmas Eve has always been the BIGGEST DEAL in my life. And not the next day.

On the 23rd, Sunday night (the evening before Christmas Eve), I was in excruciating pain.
I had the surgery on my jaw last Friday, and the pain kind of levelled out, and then didn't go away.  I finished my antibiotics, and after that, the pain started gradually worsening.
Obviously this was worrying, but I just ignored it and "kept on trucking" because I had a ton of work to get through, and finish last minute Christmas gifts (that were delayed because of my health issues).
But Sunday we got busy, and I didn't take my pain pill for 7 hours, and then all of a sudden I thought I was going to pass out and I threw up because of the pain.
I was bewildered, and trying to figure out what was going on with my jaw.  The pain was widespread, and shooting all of the way down into my chin.

I took a bath, a Percocet, and went to sleep.
About 2am, I woke up with throbbing pains shooting all around my jaw, and felt a rock hard lump growing under my chin.  I was feverish, and terrified, thinking that something went wrong with my surgery---an infection? A fractured jaw?  I knew as it was the middle of the night and I was groggy, nothing was to be done, so I tried my best to sleep through the pain.
Imagine my surprise when the next morning, Christmas Eve morning, Eli rolled over for a Christmas cuddle with me and exclaimed "holy shit! What happened to your face?!"

The pain was overwhelming and his expression scared me.  I threw on my glasses, staggered to the mirror, and my hurting jaw DROPPED when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror--with a huge lump of swelling under my chin.  It was horrifying.
I started imagining everything that could have gone wrong with my surgery and what we were going to do and fearing that Christmas was ruined.
I was in so much pain I could not swallow--not even to take a pain pill.  I couldn't eat or drink or hardly talk.

We got in to see the surgeon around 10am and he poked and prodded and concluded that I have a blocked salivary gland, a complication of the surgery.
Basically somehow my saliva crystallized in the gland, forming a stone that blocked the rest of it from coming and going, which is why I had gotten such a dry mouth all of a sudden.
It also gives you extreme pain, headaches, neckaches, fevers, et cetera.
And the buildup caused the horrific swelling in my neck, which Eli and I had started jokingly called "The Goiter" (Have you seen that Seinfeld episode??).

The surgeon just tried to pawn off some antibiotics on me, and told me if the swelling didn't go down by Thursday. to have an ENT drain it. Yuck.
I said "What about the pain?! What about me looking like I'm growing an extra chin? I can't eat?!"
and we tried to get me some IV antibiotics, which are stronger and get in your system quicker.
But an awful and unsuccessful trip to the Emergency Room later, it became clear that unless we wanted to spend our whole day in the ER, shell out a ton of money, and have me walking around with an IV in my arm for Christmas, giving myself antibiotics through it for 48 hours, I was going to have to grin and bear it.
Which is what I have been doing.
I'm taking antibiotics and pain pills as needed, and rinsing with hot salt water a ton, in the hopes it will rupture on its own.  It hasn't.  It is agony.  And so embarrassing--I look like a chubby-chinned monster in our Christmas photos.
Oh well, I'm sure this will be a hysterical memory years from now!

I pushed through the pain and Eli and I went with his dad to buy a bow and arrow for my nephew.
We went to the new Scheels sports store, and they said they had bows and arrows for kids, that look like the hunting ones adults use.  A worker there showed us one that looked awfully grown up and said it was fine for a 7 year old--that the arrows would "bounce off" anything they hit, and that they would not even go that far. Even the package proclaimed it the "Safest bow for children" and it came with a temporary tattoo.
The registers at Scheels went down storewide as we got in line, and we had to wait 20 minutes, and only to pay in cash because the computers weren't working, and a big snowstorm was kicking up outside! 
When we got back to the house to wrap the bad boy up, Eli and his dad decided to give it a try and see just how safe it is.  Eli's dad gave it a shot, not even pulling the bow back all the way, and it soared 15 feet, and shot INTO the couch!! There is still a bullet-like hole where it hit.
We all looked at each other in shock, giggled nervously, and agreed "that doesn't seem like a kid's toy."  Eli decided to give it a try, and shot it down the stairs.  It wedged into the carpet, sticking right up into the air.  We were all shocked! I went down to pull it out, and it had gone through the carpet, the foam, and into the wood!  All a bit terrified of giving this to a 7 year old boy, we held onto the receipt and shared our relief that he had another toy, a bow-and-arrow-slingshot thing, to distract him, if he decided the real bow, requiring adult supervision, was not for him.
We've been making "You'll shoot your eye out" references all day!
Luckily, the bow was locked upstairs (in the gun safe) early on in the day. We didn't want any tragic accidents.

Then, with a hamper of toys in the car, and a suitcase, we pulled into my parent's house.
Everything was covered in snow, as our white Christmas arrived just in time!
We felt quite like Father Christmas, hauling all of the gifts inside and laying them under the tree.
We got dressed in our holiday best and had some lovely cocktails with my family (copper camels!) by the fire.
My brother had been slow roasting a ham in a crockpot for 4 hours, on low, and as he carved it up, we all had a bite, and were blown away by it.
It is honestly the BEST HAM I HAVE EVER HAD.  We all agreed.
He marinated it in real maple syrup (not that fake crap you put on flapjacks), pineapple juice, and brown sugar.  It was thinly sliced. It was tender and savory and just incredible! We had it with cherry sauce and potatoes and fluffy rolls and veggies and olives and my grandmother's famous layered jello. What a feast!

Then it was present time! What wonderful presents we all gave and received!
I made my dad cry, 5 times actually (between last night and today) with the gift I made him.  I enjoyed creating it (I always do homemade gifts) and he was truly touched. 
Eli spoiled me ROTTEN! Not just a gorgeous Pandora charm, but several other thoughtful gifts, including some delicious smelling bath bombs from LUSH and a giant gift card to my favorite spa.  Massage, here I come!!!!  We had a delightful time.
And my brother made a white chocolate peppermint cheesecake for dessert.

Eli and I unpacked the suitcase and got into our pajamas, and climbed into the bed in my childhood bedroom.  I had fun reading my old Betsy-Tacy anthology (my favorite book growing up) and then got tipsy on my painkillers and passed out, with a snowy breeze coming in through the window.
We woke up to more snow, and although my jaw was an absolute mess at this point (both agony and swelling wise), I didn't let it ruin my Christmas.
We opened our stockings from Santa, and my aunt joined us as we ate our way through a fabulous breakfast, starring the trifecta: ham, bacon, and sausage.  Plus cinnamon rolls, banana bread, fresh fruit, toast, an omelet, and more.  Bellies full, we opened more gifts, and then played Yahtzee (Eli's first time--I gave him the game for Christmas and....HE ROLLED A YAHTZEE!).

Then we packed up everything (so many presents!!) and headed for Eli's Dad's.
There, we kept my nephews and nieces out of the living room until the presents were just right, then led them in, eyes covered.  It is an incomparable sound to hear children screaming with delight on Christmas morning.
One of my nieces got a giant Minnie mouse stuffed animal, and the other got a Disney princess Jeep (those cars you can actually ride in and drive around)! We were all stoked.  We opened more gifts for the adults, and then settled in to enjoy ourselves.
I taught my eldest nephew how to play his Battleship game (he cottoned on quickly, and beat me), and let my nieces style my hair with the kits they got (plastic brushes and "blow dryers").  It was lovely and I closed my eyes, relaxing, as having people play with my hair has always been the height of comfort for me, when all of a sudden SPLASH!!! Cold water all over my head.
My youngest niece thought that doing my hair required it being wet, and had soaked a towel in water and thrown it on top of my head.  It scared the crap out of me!
We had another yummy meal over there, and then packed up once again to come home.

Eli and I opened a bottle of bourbon, a lovely gift from my brother, and had a toast.
Then I retired to a steaming bath (with Lush products) with my bourbon, a box of chocolate oranges, and my new book.  Heaven.
Now I'm enjoying the Downton Abbey Christmas special (but dreading the end, as my best friend warned me of what is to come).  "The Goiter" is still chilling on my neck, as stubbornly swollen and disgusting as ever, and I dread returning to work tomorrow with an extra 5 pounds...not from Christmas goodies, but from a blocked salivary gland...but I am going to ignore Gerald the Goiter for now, and just be thankful for the glorious, happy, white Christmas that I was able to enjoy, painful lump-of-coal-growing-under-my-chin be damned.



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