Of Mice and Medicine

A few days ago, I underwent a medical procedure. Nothing life threatening, but something that will keep me out of the gym and off the streets (running, that is) for much longer than I like.

So, by day two, I was already – literally – dreaming of running. I had my outfit picked out. My course. Even my running partners.

Being thus out of my normal workout routine, though I had been forewarned, was not as easy to take as I had hoped when I imagined myself lounging on a chaise, pampering myself with a marathon of movies and mountain of books I could read at will.

So, suffice it to say, I was less than happy when I started developing telltale signs of an allergic reaction to one of the post-op medicines I had been prescribed. Would this delay my recovery?

As I contemplated the rising red bumps on my torso and back and felt a flush working its way up my neck to my face, I turned my concern from recovery to survival.

I retrieved my surgeon’s card that had his private cell phone on it and dialed the number.


And repeatedly got the same voice mail message.

Which I couldn’t understand because it was in, you guessed it, Turkish.

After a few attempts, I then tried the other number on his card, that of his department. No luck. Not even a message with an optional telephone number.

(I do know my numbers. Sort of.)

Then I tried the hospital, choosing the English line option.

(The doctors are located in the same building as the associated hospital.)

No answer. Apparently, no one who was working the lines spoke English.

(Because, of course, the reaction started after normal business hours.)

Ring ring. Ring ring. (Repeat.)


So, I started feeling slightly panicky. If I stopped taking the antibiotic, which I was 99.9999999% sure was the culprit behind the reaction, what would happen? I didn’t want to become an infective mass of flesh.

But what would happen if I didn’t? I didn’t necessarily want to go into some allergic reactive fit, especially since my husband was out of town.

(Not his fault. My surgery was presented like it would be pretty much a walk in the park, so I just scheduled the thing while he was still traveling. No need for him to sit by my bedside while I snoozed. Of course, it didn’t turn out to be quite the walk in the park I was led to believe. Ah, well. We all know that story. Or, at least, I do now.)

And I didn’t particularly relish the idea of repeating a similar post-surgical event that happened in Russia.

(I was forced to leave my kids surrounded by a bloody scene similar to one from the Chainsaw Massacre after a repaired broken nose started bleeding uncontrollably. And I do mean uncontrollably.)

(Thank goodness for good friends who are close neighbors. Unfortunately, my close neighbors who were good friends have all moved, and their houses are still sitting vacant.)

(By the way, the broken nose was the result of a slightly intoxicated game of tag in a swimming pool in Thailand that ended with me breast stroking straight into an underwater, moonunlit cement bench. Moral of the story: Don’t play tag under the influence, especially not in a strange, dark swimming pool.)

So, I was not really keen on having some fit in the middle of the night, despite the boys being about a decade older (and questionably wiser).

Next, I called my husband’s secretary, to see if she could translate the doctor’s voice mail message or navigate the hospital emergency hotline. Voice mail.

I then tried my husband’s number. Some message in German. (Another language that I do not spreche.)

I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I began scouring the house for an antihistamine. Unfortunately, what allergy medicine I didn’t give away to a friend suffering from the season was thrown away by our very efficient housekeeper who had apparently analyzed the dates on all meds and thrown out any that had expired or were close to expiring.

(And, yes, maybe that was a good idea, but I would rather take an expired antihistamine than none at all. Plus, I am pretty sure the pharma companies are conservative on those dates.)

In any case, fortunately, I found a Russian package of Zyrtec that our housekeeper probably couldn’t decipher and didn’t look at closely. (Encountering Cyrillic can have that effect on one.) Unfortunately, my Russian skills are pitiful enough when it comes to reading cooking directions for rice, much less a medical package insert.

So, I did the logical thing.

I guessed.

I popped a tablet out of the package and threw it back with a chaser of green tea (the only thing handy).

Okay. Deep breaths. Repeat mantra: Your body will not puff up like a balloon. Your air tube will not swell up. You will not need to run out of the house looking like the Marshmallow Puff Man in drag in a panic of suffocation while trying to flag down a taxi.

(Because, of course, I was not supposed to drive. Which I found out after the surgery. Anyway, how well can one drive when not able to breathe?)

I tried the doctor again. No luck.

I then called my husband, realizing I had called the office number before (to his defense, I had called the last number he had called me from, not realizing it was from the main office line).

He answered.

And gave me the telephone numbers of the English-speaking advocate at the hospital.

Who didn’t answer.

Either telephone number.

(But, he also reminded me of a no-fail, English-speaking, emergency medical service that I could call and had, in my flurry of activity, totally forgotten about.)

(And, of course, responded just like a concerned spouse should do but, after all, what could he do when a few thousand miles away?)

But then I tried the doctor again, and he did answer, and he gave me the advice that I had already taken.

So, feeling slightly calmer, I headed downstairs to the kitchen to gather up all the meds that were scattered over the countertops after my rampage through our large medicine basket.


Squeak squeak.

Did I mention that there was major construction going on next door? If the noise weren’t bad enough, it appeared that some mice recently ousted from their homes were looking for a new one. And apparently found it in our kitchen.

I immediately pointed the dog in the direction of the mousey noises, and she promptly laid down in front of the suspicious cabinet.

And went to sleep.

Her ears, despite the loud squawking emitting from inside the cabinet, did not even perk up.


I was not dealing with a mouse (or mice) in my health-compromised state. I was just not. And I doubted that the bug-fearing son would be up to the task of catching a mouse (or mice). And the other one was, like me, conflicted. We didn’t want to hurt the mouse (or mice). We just didn’t want it (them) in the house. But we were too big of wusses to attempt a rescue.

(I have, to my defense, saved mice before. When I was a lifeguard at a swimming pool, they would get into the gutters and get swept away, their little feet paddling frantically until I rescued them.)

(After which, I would throw them, gently, over the fence of the pool, all the while threatening pool suspension to the juvenile delinquents who were waiting on the other side to torment the poor creatures when they landed.)

So, I threw the mouse a silent apology, closed the kitchen door and went upstairs to get ready to bed.

I thought, in Scarlett fashion, “I’ll deal with the mouse (or mice) tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.

I said my goodnights to the boys, shut the bedroom door, and gave a sigh of relief as I switched on the A/C and waited expectantly for the cool gust of air that would create a sleep-worthy climate-controlled environment.

Which never came.

Because, of course, the A/C wasn’t working.

So, that was my evening. How was yours?

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