Wednesday, January 16, 2013


For some states it takes a hurricane to bring it to its knees.  For Arkansas, it only takes a little snow and ice.

We had a big snowstorm here on Christmas night.  It started with ice, then 8 inches of snow came tumbling down. I had my brother drive me back home from Christmas dinner with my mom and dad, so I could trudge up the 1/2 mile to my car the next morning to get to work.  Well, that's a little exaggeration.  My partner had already texted me to stay home, because there wasn't much work, but I still had to get there on Thursday and Friday.  The power went out on Christmas night around 9:00, and didn't come back on for 5 days.  Luckily the kids were with their dad and stepmom, so I only had to worry about myself.

The first night I slept in my bed, but it was so cold the subsequent nights that I spent time by the gas fire on my son's twin mattress from his bunk bed.  Had the neighbors for lunch the next day - heated up Christmas Eve Chocolate Lightning Chili (thanks again bro!) on the gas stove with a fire starter.  It was fun and adventurous.  And dirty.  I didn't shower until that Thursday when I finally went to work.

My dad suggested I go to the OR - surely they would have a shower there.  He was right and the staff were inviting once I announced my status - they were a little wary of a disheveled woman in bulky sweaters, jeans, and combat boots.  My hike up to my car that morning took me through tangled downed power lines and fallen trees - I dressed for need and not professionalism.  My guide assured me that the shower was clean, and I would enjoy it.  He warned me that no one had used it in years.  I was so excited to get one after almost three days, I didn't care.

The water was tepid at best and the shower pressure was akin to a crappy light massage.  Once I had dismantled my clothing, however, I was all in.  I rushed and shaved and cursed my darned luck.  Swore the next day I would search for a better one.

Someone in flow (cytometry) told me the Baptist Rehab showers were pretty good, so I searched them out on Friday.  The locker room was clean with a surprisingly warm and modern decor.  I bumped into a Chinese woman who was obviously finishing what I planned to start.  We shared stories and empathized about our predicaments.  She lamented, with a heavy accent, about not being able to iron her uniform for work.  I worried about the water temperature based on my experience from the day before.  She said, "I like very hot water.  This was a bit of a disappointment, but it did the job."  As she was leaving I disrobed and assessed the situation.

There were two showers.  One was equipped for handicapped and one was small.  I normally like the larger environments - I'm pretty tall - but the drain was pooled with dark hair and chunks of unnamed stuff and that grossed me out so I chose the smaller shower.  Braced myself for another cold one but it was hot and lovely.  Left me wondering about the the standards of my new friend.  Did she like showers so hot that her skin boiled?

I was so impressed with the Rehab showers I went again on Saturday - I had to finish up a couple of tough cases before calling it a weekend and I needed to get clean.  Scanned the larger shower and it still wasn't clean.  Walked to the smaller one from the day before.  There was a problem.

Something was on the floor of the shower.  Bits - about ten or twelve, I gathered.  At first I wondered if it was dead bugs, but they were all different shapes and sizes so I rejected that hypothesis.  I looked back longingly at the larger shower, but the hair mocked me.  So I decided to grab a paper towel and clean the small shower.  I mean ten paper towels - protected my hands, closed my eyes, and scooped it all up.  Right before I disposed of it in the trash, I couldn't help but look.  The brown casing exposed green underneath.  Yup.  It was puke.  I almost dry heaved, but I didn't.  Kids prepare you for a lot.  I couldn't help feeling sorry for the poor soul that had puked there, and didn't have the energy to clean it up.  I wondered, cancer being treated with chemo?  Did they get a good swim in the pool before the shower incident?  I sure hoped so, and felt a little pride in helping clean up their mess.

I hosed down the shower with lots of body wash and scalding hot water (at least according to me - my friend from the day before would disagree) and jumped in.  As I lathered up, I thought about what my hardship had taught me.  That given the choice, I would choose a shower with puke rather than one with clumps of hair with chunks of unnamed stuff.  And I loved that I was put in the position to have to make that decision.  Life is full of wonderful surprises.

Thanks to all the good folks at Entergy we all had power within about a week.  Some were luckier than others.  Yesterday we had another ice storm.  I worked late, parked up at the bank, and walked down the hill to my street.  Had to crawl up my hilly yard covered in a sheet of ice, purse and computer bag in tow, to get to my front door.  Loved entertaining my kids, again thankfully with dad and stepmom, with that story on the phone.  Mom in adventure movie.  This time we've got power and the promise of a thaw by mid-morning.  There are lots of things in life to get you all in a tizzy, but this isn't one of them.

Hope everyone out there is warm and safe and power-ful, ha ha.


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