I was sick yesterday. Really sick. Dizzy and exhausted with a horrible headache that is still lingering today. I thought, maybe, it was the
case of beer I drank while camping over the weekend. Until my daughter came down with it too.
My daughter rarely gets sick. She is going into the fifth grade and hasn’t thrown up since March of her second grade year. And, I better not have jinxed myself by typing that.
The fact that she doesn’t get ill very often makes this story even worse. This one event guarantees I will never win Mother of the Year.
In August, 2003 my husband won a fun-filled, family trip from his employer. He received four nights in a nice Cleveland hotel, four tickets to Cedar Point (the world’s best amusement park…just sayin’), eight tickets to Sea World (which meant we got to go two days in a row), four tickets to an Indians game and a fully-paid dinner at an expensive restaurant.
We drove up to Cleveland on Wednesday, August 13. The morning of the 14th, as we were preparing for our hour-long drive to Cedar Point, my daughter complained of a stomachache. By the time we got to the amusement park, she had a fever. I gave her some Tylenol and she did her best to have a good time.
Late that afternoon the power went out at the park. Luckily we all had our feet firmly planted on the ground and because we had been there for over six hours, my daughter was sick, and we still had two days at Sea World ahead of us, we decided it was a good time to leave. We hopped in the car and started to look for a gas station, as our car was nearly on empty.
Only problem? Every gas station along the highway back to Cleveland didn’t have power either. And, when we made it back to our hotel on the fumes of the gas tank we realized there was no electricity there…oh, and no water either.
By this time, my daughter was feeling very, very ill. A friend who lives in Cleveland brought us a small amount of gas and despite my daughter’s stomach pain, headache and fever, we dragged her to Sea World (they had power) the next day in hopes it would take her mind off of it.
We did the same thing the day after that, even though she was still feeling sick. We went to the restaurant that night and she wouldn’t eat a thing. We then went to the Indians game, where we stayed for maybe two innings before leaving because she felt so bad. That evening, she was pathetic and so horribly sick that we almost took her to the hospital.
On Sunday morning, as we were returning to Columbus, she was feeling better, but I started to feel sick. By the time we got home two hours later I was in such pain that my husband took me to the emergency room. I had all the same symptoms as my daughter, but I was only sick for a short time before I knew there was something really wrong.
After a couple of hours and a few tests, including a spinal tap, it was determined that I had viral meningitis. Not the kind that kills you, but still. I spent the next four days in a dark room until my symptoms improved.
That’s right, we had been dragging our daughter around amusement parks for three days, in the August heat, during the great blackout of 2003, making her stay at a hotel that didn’t even have ice or a flushable toilet and she had meningitis the whole time.
It’s six years later and I still feel guilty.