Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Virginia Curse

My parents moved to Virginia just over a year ago, which means that they are now 9 hours driving distance from me, which is about 460 miles, most of them in the endless state of Pennsylvania. Needless to say I don't make it down there often. Additionally, the few trips that we have made usually end up with one or both of us getting sick with something or other. Nevertheless we decided to undertake our semi-annual journey to see them last weekend, to admire the dogwood and red bud blossoms and to celebrate my upcoming birthday. The plan was to leave on Saturday, April 12th, and come back on Tuesday, which was a nice plan that sadly failed because as per usual I came down the day before with some indeterminate cold symptoms. Fortunately parents were also sick at the time, so they did not protest too much when I told them we would come down on Thursday the 17th instead and stay till Sunday.
The plan was to be ready to go first thing Thursday morning and get to VA by dinner time. Naturally it was all much more fascinating that that.
To start of I got food poisoning on Wednesday. If you have read my previous post here, you know that I have emetophobia, which is the fear of vomiting. So when I woke up at 3:37am Wednesday morning and just KNEW that I was about to loose my dinner, I was very surprised to find myself the epitome of calm. I got up, took a sip of Emetrol, which is an anti-nausea liquid like cola syrup, and began to plan my eminent dilemma. I decided in favor of a bucket, got a nice little trash can liner, picked the kitchen with it's easy-to-clean-in-case-of-accident floor, sat down on said floor and announced (out loud) to the universe that I was ready to vomit. And didn't. That went on for about two hours, in which I waited until eventually whatever it was that I ate came out by other means. At one point I got really cold and went to get a sweater from the bedroom, and Husband asked me what I was up to. "I am going to throw up", I said to him. "That's great!" said my Husband, "Good for you!" Eventually I gave up and went to sleep for a few hours, annoyed with the universe for not letting me be sick.
Since I was still nauseated and feeble in the morning we got a late start, but at least we were on the road. The weather was gorgeous and as we drove we passed through spring into summer, which improved our moods considerably. Until the car died that is. We had been driving for about 7 hours at this point and the battery just died at a red light, in the middle of Nowhere, VA. I called AAA and tried to explain to them that I was on Route 15 in VA, that I was surrounded by fields and therefore did not know what town I was in. I told them that I was so many miles from Culpeper, that I could see an intersection with such-an-such a road up ahead, at which point the very rude AAA guy asked me whether I was perhaps in North Carolina. People drove honking by without bothering to stop, until I finally chased down some woman who was idling at the intersection and she told me I was probably in Haymarket.

While we waited for the tow truck to show up we tried to make the most of it, grabbed our cooler and had a little picnic in the unmarked field (managing to get ticks on us, which, however, we did not discover till next day). Since it was late in the day, the tow man had to drive us to another town ($), where a Goodyear 'mechanic' told us that we needed a new battery in order to run diagnostics tests ($$). In the meantime, I began to suffer from a sharp shooting pain in my ear. Gratefully once the diagnostics tests were run the alternator was given a clean bill of health, so we got back on the road and made it to Charlottesville just before midnight. It all seemed quite worth it to see my parents again.
Mom had to work the next day and we slept in a bit, but upon awaking I discovered that my ear had gotten worse, was hurting now all the time and was loosing hearing to boot. The executive decision was made that I should go to Urgent Care and have someone take a look at it ($$$) in case it was infected, which it turns out it wasn't, just very full of liquid. The doc suggested using Afrin, a highly addictive nasal decongestant to try and drain the ear naturally, and I found a remedy online of placing heated salt in a sock against your ear to draw out the moisture. Thus passed our Friday.
On Saturday we went to see the historic Morven gardens. I felt very British, going to tour an estate that sits on ~7400 thousands acres of land and garden. I swear, it was like something out of "Pride and Prejudice". This garden is only open to visitors about once a year, and since it is now owned by UVA, they are talking about starting a farm on it to grow food for the school. The gardens were lovely, the tulips in bloom, and the little cobbler's cottage was my little dream house. Then I came down with a mad fever. When we got home I just passed out on the couch, and my mom, a true Russian, poured vodka in my ear, which oddly enough helped! In fact I was able to rouse myself and participate in a lovely dinner party with my parents' friends, all of whom are fantastic characters. It was just a blast.

Leaving was slow, as my parents inexplicably decided to talk in earnest about investments and retirement plans, but we finally got on the road, this time in a downpour. It rained annoyingly and heavily, but stopped five hours into the drive, which is exactly when the car died again. This time we did not muck about with tow trucks but walked over to the nearest store and bought two new car batteries ($$$), figuring that they were bound to get us home, and they did. As a bonus, we both came down with a cold next day, from which we are both still recovering. So ends another trip to VA. But at least I got to see my parents, which was really all worth it in the end.


maeverin said...

Geez, no ho-hum trips for you, huh?
those pics are BEAUTIFUL! i especially love the sign that says "on this site...nothing happened" what a great time of year to travel that way though!

incidentally, what did you eat that gave you food poisoning?

Paulina said...

I believe it was a dodgy chinese chicken salad from the cafeteria. There was an article in this week's campus paper saying that there was a rash of food poisoning, possibly associated with the campus dining premade salads. That's my guess anyway. The other things I ate that were odd was a calzone filled with a white 'ham and cheese' mixture and a brownie with whipped cream. All three were suspicious.

Rogener Pavinski said...

Well! What a adventure! I could not avoid little laughs. =)

Paulina said...

laugh out loud if you want!

El said...

You know, it's funny, but I was talking to a friend of mine (the only other emetophobe that I know) last week about how, when the time comes where I know, without a doubt, that I'm actually going to be sick, my emetophobia goes away and I get very calm and accepting. Almost zen-like, as laughable as that sounds. It usually comes back about an hour later, though.

Usually I feel so bad that it isn't even a conscious thing, more of a, "There's nothing I can do to stop it so I might as well just ride it out," haziness.

El said...

Oh, and my mom lives in Virginia too. Imagine that! :)

Paulina said...

Yeah, I am trying really hard to just remember that feeling of 'it's ok' but it's starting to creep back a bit.
Virginia, eh? What are the odds!