Venom Therapy

January 30th, 2020

How long has it been since this head cold began? A year? Ten years? Actually, according to my calendar, it’s been under three weeks. That can’t be right.

This morning I forced myself to take my morning constitutional loop around my daughters’ campus. It was a balmy 33 degrees, and my daily headache hadn’t yet set in. As I was walking, I noticed more bird noise than usual, and caught a glimpse of a grayish rodent running under a car. It seems the animals, too, have decided that since winter is never going to be over, we might as well just get on with it.

We creatures can adapt to pretty much anything.

Case in point: I am taking my daughter Eliza to Dartmouth once a week for fourteen weeks for “venom therapy,” which is a badass name for the treatment they give you for a severe bee allergy. My kids call it being “allergic to beehives,” but the reality is that Eliza is allergic to wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets — but not honeybees, thank god.

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We started the therapy this week. It’s a pretty routine procedure that they do all day, every day up there in the super high-tech allergy department at Dartmouth. Yet, I was terrified and on high alert the entire time. I have to be honest, it was scarier to me than when she actually got stung by the yellow jackets last summer and had an anaphylactic reaction.

It didn’t help that she started coughing not long after the shots. Coughing is one of the main symptoms they look out for, and the nurse came running in to monitor her vitals. Then the doctor. “Are her cheeks usually this rosy?” he asked. “Is her voice always this raspy?” 

I think so?

Full of doubt and terror, I wasn’t sure how to answer any of the questions. It’s an exquisite condition of being a mom that you also have to act suuuuuper chill around your child when you’re freaking out inside.

To stall, Eliza and I went for a luxurious dinner at the hospital food court before leaving the premises. For good measure, we ran around the corridors for a while after that. Then we began the long ride home, an hour and a half on a lonesome dark highway connecting two rural outposts. In the car, in the dark, a wave of terror passed through me with every cough.

Then, she began complaining “my belly itches.”

Hives? I considered pulling over to check, but pulling over would mean it would take more time to get to Brattleboro and closer to the hospital if we needed to go. I decided to press on, consciously speeding, my brain on high alert for any danger both inside and outside the car.

Finally, about 20 minutes later, when I asked, “Does your belly still itch?” Eliza replied, “Oh no, that was just from the potato-chip crumbs I spilled down my shirt.”

I didn’t relax, though. I still haven’t, and I doubt I will for the next fourteen weeks. Or, let’s be honest, 20 to 30 years.

What I’m eating:

Blueberries from Chile. I really try to eat seasonally, particularly when it comes to produce, but goddamn this January is getting the best of me. Sometimes a girl just needs a handful of blueberries in these dark days.

I was taken aback though to hear my daughter say, “No thanks, I only eat blueberries in season.” Whoopsie!

What I’m reading:

The bright side of January: I read a lot. I have read 3 ½ books already this month:

  • The Grammarians — a light little novel about a pair of identical twins who grow up to be dualing grammar snobs

  • Inheritance — Dani Shapiro’s riveting account of her 23andme experience, which uphended her entire life

  • Americanah — I already mentioned this one a few posts ago. Incredible novel.

  • Lacuna — Halfway through this Barbara Kingsolver story about a little boy and his narcissistic mom

What I’m listening to:

The macabre Radiolab episode Body Count (Are there more people alive right now than have ever lived on the planet in history? Do the living outnumber the dead?)

The Throughline podcast episode The Phoebus Cartel, on planned obsolescence and it’s nefarious cousin, psychological obsolescence.

What I’m watching:

This hilarious Super Bowl ad revering Boston accents which is so funny, but no decent Masshole would ever let their car park itself. Also, “wicked car” is in improper usage. It should be “wicked cool car” or something. Wicked is an adverb, not an adjective.

What I’m working on:

For Eventbrite: The 2020 Event Trends Report — a major ebook I finished late last year that’s finally through the editing process!

For Strivr: I contributed a lot to this spectacular shiny new magazine, Rise, although I can’t claim 100% ownership over any piece, as these things tend to be a collaborative effort

For Justin Jones and Scott Waddell: That one time Southwest Airlines altered the airline model

For Helpshift: Fully Automated Customer Service: The Myth and the Reality 

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