Please allow me to share my tale as a warning to those of you who think that this pillowy, salty-sweet, crunchy bag of delight is safe. It’s not. Well, it probably is, kind of like saccharin is – if you ingest it in typical, socially normal amounts, it’s probably not going to give you cancer. But if you are prone to excess, and slog back cans of Diet Fizzy Delite by the case, it just might hurt you.
In my defense, they are selling mighty big bags of kettle corn nowadays, and do you think there’s a SINGLE warning on the stuff? Anything like, “CAUTION: Read the bag, moron, and pace yourself. This is NOT a single serving. You will NOT be labeled a quitter if you use a chip clip and have leftovers” ? Nooooooooooo. Not a thing. So if you use food to self-medicate – BE WARNED, kids – this one is dangerous and not to be underestimated. And as you’ll see – this wasn’t ENTIRELY my fault. I was provoked. I needed help coping, and the kettle corn was readily available….
Let me give you the back story:
Last weekend was the first one in a couple of months where the hubby and I had a weekend together. No kids, no plans. I really wanted us to have an old-fashioned date. I wanted some quality time where he and I did something together other than get groceries or home-improvement supplies. I suggested the local science museum, the art museum, the comedy club….
His reply was “anything sounds good. You pick.” GAH! I HATE THAT. Does that mean that everything actually DOES sound good and he really does NOT have a preference? Or does it, as I fear, mean that he really would rather do something else that I haven’t suggested yet?
The lack of enthusiasm caused us to bleed away Saturday futzing around in indecision. I rested. We ran a couple of quick errands. It was OK, but I really wanted us to, you know, reconnect, and this was one item I was unable to find at Home Depot. I was sad, listless, and a bit lonely. So I opened the new bag of kettle corn that I had just purchased from Costco the night before. (Yes, I should know better.) I stuffed my feelings back with bite after bite of cane syrup and popped corn. I chewed and I swallowed my emotions so they could leave me alone for just a little while longer.
On Sunday I tried to fly the “date” idea again. After lunch, we (read: I) decided it’d be fun to go see Lark Toys. I’d read about this place, and thought its retro toys and carousel would make a nice day trip. (Trust me. I know the creepy Santa on their home page would lead you to believe it’s a trap, but it gets lots of good reviews and is locally quite popular. I swear it is not a trick meant to lure you into the lair of creepy gnomes and possessed antique dolls with pale skin and glassy, unblinking eyes….)
Hubby agreed to drive, and I agreed to let him. And the drive was actually quite pleasant – he toned down the testosterone display (he usually drives like a rabid cheetah in search of a fresh kill), so I could actually enjoy the ride, as opposed to “tolerate” it (read: death grip on the door handle and praying for a divine dose of Xanax.) The drive was really pretty, too – lots of cliffs and bluffs, lakes and rivers, and several small towns one could only describe as “quaint.”
The toy store was lovely. Not an electronic toy in sight. It was filled with all sorts of whimsical things – dinosaurs, wind-up tin toys, puppets, building blocks and logs, and active toys to catch, throw, and jump with. These are the sorts of toys, I’m sure, that parents think are good for kids…unfortunately, given the choice, our little cherubs end up gravitating towards iPads and X-Boxes, and sadly, even the best of us get tired of fighting them and eventually just let them plug in.
The hubby and I had a pleasant day, mostly. But there was, frankly, something bugging me. The hubs had decided to wear one of his “special” T-shirts. I think I mentioned previously that he had recently acquired a collection of in-your-face anti-religion T-shirts, and he decided to wear one today. Now, to be fair, it was one of the more minor ones…but dang it, he KNOWS I hate them. And I decided to take it personally that he chose to deliberately wear one on our DATE. I thought about mentioning it to him before we left – but honestly, what good would that do? He’d probably change into something else, but it would certainly irritate him and the mood would be dead, and it wasn’t easy to break our inertia to actually get us headed on some sort of a date in the first place…so I attempted to suck it up and try to enjoy the day despite staring into the flame-embellished “HERETIC” written across his chest.
And I guess I failed.
We got home, I cooked dinner in a very quiet house while he played some video game (the current favorite is Destiny, which I call Density, because it’s funny every.single.time. I am so clever. <chuckle>) I made a very nice, healthy dinner of Italian stuffed peppers (I use this recipe, and it’s great. Note, this EASILY makes enough filling for 3 peppers, and I invariably have a spoon or two of filling left over that will only fit in my pie hole. (Can’t waste it, ya know.) I don’t put the sauce on top, and I mix up the cheeses depending on what is 45 seconds from going bad in my fridge. But if you like bell peppers, these are really good.)
And later, I sat on the couch, feeling the same listless, lonely emptiness I’d felt the day before, now highlighted with the fly-in-the-otherwise-lovely-salad disappointment of the day and the fourteen-shades-of-blue Sunday night blahs…and I once again reached for the kettle corn.
And I finished the bag.
I FINISHED THE BAG. THE ENTIRE FREAKING BAG.
TWENTY-FOUR (!!!) SERVINGS OF KETTLE CORN DOWN THE CHUTE IN TWO DAYS.
I’m not sure if I should be pitied, embarrassed, or high-fiving myself. (I’ll go with Door #2, Alex.)
So on Monday, I had a well-deserved food hangover. I was bloated and puffy and had a bit of a stomachache. (And I’m sure you’re thinking, “Dude. DUH. You ate a bag of popcorn meant to feed a small village for a week IN TWO DAYS!”)
Otherwise, it was a normal day. I worked. I came home from work. I made a tuna melt. I did a load of laundry. I called my kids, who were at their Dad’s.
About five minutes after I hung up the phone, I suddenly went into labor.
Now, this is concerning for a number of reasons. One, I’m in my 40s. Two, I’m not pregnant, to my knowledge anyway. I had my tubes tied about ten years ago, and if I remember biology correctly, if I AM giving birth right now, this baby has only had a two-week gestation period. Three….it f@$(#@ HURTS LIKE HELL.
I didn’t mull this over for very long (see #3 above) before I told the hubby that I probably needed to go to the hospital. In about 10 minutes I had blown past “maybe this is just gas” to realizing that the pain was not only THE WORST THING I HAVE EVER FELT, but that it was coming in waves. Every 3-4 minutes or so, I’d get a brief, 5-7 second respite where I didn’t feel like ripping out my uterus with a fork would be a relief.
The next couple of hours were a blur. I’m not sure how the wheelchair appeared. I remember shaking quite violently from the pain. Somehow, they got an IV started (they must have a sniper on the needle ward.) I recall being asked how bad the pain was, on a scale from 1-10. (I believe I said “fourteen.”) There was morphine.
And then there was relief.
All of the usual tests were run. CT, ultrasound, tubes of blood. This all took a while….Interestingly, for the CT scan, they had me drink the contrast instead of injecting it. The nurse said – AND I QUOTE – “because you’re skinny, this will help us get a better view.” SHE CALLED ME SKINNY. <swoon> I may marry her.
By now, it was well after 3 AM. The doctor came in to deliver the diagnosis:
“Well…we don’t know.”
EXCUSE ME? I nearly DIED here. (Ok, cue the melodrama. To my credit, I was in an insane amount of pain.)
“There is no definitive cause for your pain. There are some things that may have contributed…but we can’t say why exactly this happened.”
Possible Cause #1: My bloodwork showed that I was a little low on potassium. Potassium deficiencies can cause muscle cramps. So this could have been a Charley horse in my babymaker? REALLY? Who does this stuff HAPPEN to???
Possible Cause #2: “You did show a moderate amount of stool in your colon. Sometimes, in very thin women, the wrong mass in the wrong place can cause a significant amount of pain.”
(I cannot believe I just wrote that on the Internet. Humiliation, party of one. But – did you notice? SHE CALLED ME THIN. That’s TWICE now. It’s OFFICIAL!!!)
“Have you eaten any high-fiber foods lately?” I shook my head innocently. “No…nothing I don’t normally eat…?” (NO WAY was I admitting to my gluttonous debauchery. NO. WAY.)
Possible Cause #3: It’s a virus. You should feel better in a few days.
Treatment Plan: Drink this potassium solution to boost levels. (This, for the record, was not yummy. It was fluorescent orange and tasted a bit like an orange popsicle…that is, if you also blended in the stick, the paper wrapper, and some earwax.) Take Milk of Magnesia to see if that helps. And take Advil for pain. (That’ll be $4500, please.)
So we got home at about 4 AM. And I realized that my spouse had been sitting by my side, holding my hand, for SIX HOURS.
Six long, grueling hours, in the middle of the night, surrounded by germs and doctors and nurses and tests, knowing he needed to work the next day, and not complaining even once.
He was there for me. In exactly the way I needed.
It’s funny how, just when I think maybe he’d be better off without me, perhaps we’re not well-suited for each other, and maybe he’d be HAPPIER without me sighing and pouting and disliking this and frowning about that and HATING THOSE STUPID T-SHIRTS…something like this happens that shows me in high-definition, high-resolution clarity how much he really does love me.
Even if sometimes, I do stupid things like eat too much kettle corn. Even if I give an obnoxious T-shirt far more power than it deserves.
He does love me, and this week, that’s been enough.
Post Script: If you’re interested….I guess it really WAS a virus – but the kettle corn certainly, uh, contributed. On Tuesday I took my Elixir of Expulsion like a good little patient. (It actually tasted pretty good…like the filling of chocolate-covered cherries. Yum. Highly recommend as a beverage of choice over the oral potassium.)
Later that night, I had a similar pain episode, but I headed it off with about 6 Advil and a heating pad, and it subsided after about 30 minutes. That night, my stomach made some unholy noises reminiscent of demonic exorcism. (It made the cat jump about a foot. That was freaking hilarious.) There was no more significant stomach pain after that.
I spent most of the week resting. I slept a lot, and my stomach kept subtlety reminding me NOT to challenge it. I started to turn the corner at about 3ish on Friday (just in time for the weekend! yeah!) and today I broke out in a viral rash – this is something that little kids get, but I didn’t start getting until my 30s. <insert obvious immaturity jokes.> My typical pattern is that I break out across the torso once I’m over the worst and the virus has started to wind down.
So I’ll live.
But will I buy kettle corn again?
<sigh> Don’t hold me to “never”….I can be a really slow learner.