A Rash of Poison Ivy (and Bad Luck)

I have decided to tell a story about the excitement that has befallen me. Last week, I got into some poison ivy. I tend to have a bad reaction to it, worse than most people. I dealt with it the best I could. I took antihistamines, used ointments to ease the itch. I washed the infected areas. I did what I could to keep it under control.

One of my infected legs.

There were some things about the reaction Wife didn’t like, like parts of the rash turning a deep purple and one of my legs swelling up. Wife, with the help of a few additional relatives said I should go to the hospital. I’m at the hospital now and patiently waiting my turn. While I’m here, I’m going to keep you up to speed on everything going on with my treatment and the fun people-watching I’m doing in the waiting area. By the way, this is being done on the phone, so I’m sorry if things look off-kilter.

It’s been fun here at the hospital. Nurses come into the waiting area, yell a name, and no one answers. I gave my information to the people at check-in, sat down in the waiting area and the. Was seen by triage. The nice people at triage asked me the same questions I was originally asked. A third person asked me the same questions I answered twice already as well as a couple of bonus questions. My religion. My race. I didn’t know what my race had to do with my poison Ivy. The nice person explained it was for research. The person asking the questions told me they weren’t the one asking the questions.

Luckily, I have some books to keep me busy. I’m reading. While reading, I spoke to some relatives over the phone. I gave them a play-by-play of what was happening. There was a guy who was yelling at nurses and then security. A woman was yelling at the receptionist for not giving her a note, which meant she would be fired from a job. The nice receptionist explained the doctor had to see her first before they could give her the note. She’ll get one, she just needs to be patient. She isn’t feeling very patient right now. I stopped reading to take in the sideshows going on here at the hospital.

More shots of poison ivy.

Family Feud is on, but the drama here in the waiting room seems more exciting. I’m just glad none of the excitement is being caused by my family this time. We’ve had enough of that.

Someone else has come in. They’re being belligerent. A woman who came in with him grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him to the door saying, Stop it right now.” Security is putting gloves in. This should be fun. Closer to me, a lady is on the phone while trying to prevent her son from climbing on an end table.

After a six-hour wait, I’ve been moved to a triage unit. It’s nice. There’s a tv. A table for my books. It’s nice to put my feet up. It helps the swelling. No one has come in yet, but some nice people are saying hello as they pass by.

My digs for the moment

More drama. Someone’s mad. They’re tired of waiting. I think all the patients are, but this guy is really letting them know. I can’t hear everything because of the TV in my room. I can’t find the remote control. They didn’t give me a tour of the place but I’m trying to figure out all the important stuff while I’m here.

Two people come in and check me out. My rash (see the pictures) are unlike anything they’ve seen. I’m glad I was able to contribute to medicine. We discuss my prescriptions. They decide to give me a larger dose. Keep being vigilant with the medication and ointments. Resist the urge to scratch (but it feels so good! 😖). I am sent home with a new prescription. I talk to family on the way home. When I come home, I see my children. I hope for some sympathy hugs. Nothing. I eat dinner and reflect on the day, the nice people who helped me, and those who unknowingly entertained me.

Home again.

Follow me on Twitter. @Greg_the_Brave

Family Time and Road Trips

Ahhh, vacation. A time for leaving the hustle and bustle of work and everyday life. A time to replace work with fun. A time to check out someplace new and maybe try new things. Try new food, or maybe indulge in a little extra of your favorites.

Whether we’re on vacation or just trying to live our daily lives, nothing is normal or routine with our family. And even if we’re just trying to live a low-key life at home or away on vacation, action and excitement finds a way to find us.

Booking the trip

Wife and I were looking for a place to take our children on vacation this summer. Sadly, our options were limited as to where. (Check the state’s rules for foster parents if you want to know how.) After looking, consulting, and careful planning, we thought a few days at Six Flags would be just the thing. We found a nearby hotel that included passes to Six Flags. Breakfast was included with your stay. I showed this to my wife as the heavens opened up and a choir of angels began to sing. Brave Daddy had come through for his family!

I got the confirmation email shortly after booking. There was no mention of the included passes, so I called the hotel to find out if that would be in a separate email. Turns out they, “don’t do that anymore.” They stopped doing that during Coronapalooza. I tell the nice lady it would have been nice to know that when the website was saying passes were included. She was sorry.

I consult with my wife. We still want to go to Six Flags so we decide to keep the reservation since the hotel is so close to the park. Lucky for us we live in the 21st century and things can be done with the click of the mouse or tapping your phone. Loving parents that we are, we go online and look to secure tickets for our family. I find a package that fits our family and includes free soft drinks for the entire day of our visit. Brave Daddy has come through again! I check the terms and conditions to confirm this isn’t something too good to be true. I click “buy”. Rides. Food. Free drinks. Parking close to the park. I’d prepare my “Father of the Year” acceptance speech but I need to take care of things for work. I need to cook dinner and there’s a trip I need to pack for. The speech will need to wait.

The confirmation email from Six Flags arrives. The amount paid looks a little (a lot) different from what was listed at the checkout screen. Apparently I missed some things in the finer fine print. I explain to the nice person on the phone the price at checkout did not match the price charged to my card. The nice person explained the reason for the price. I asked for a refund. They don’t do that. They were sorry.

“If you actually get somebody on the phone, nobody can help but everybody understands… And they’re always sorry.”

Bill Burr

Getting There

The glorious day of leaving on vacation finally arrives. Doggie goes to the kennel. The car is packed. Everyone has their screens and headphones, ready for the ride through the fair commonwealth of Massachusetts. I love travelling and I love driving. Living in eastern Massachusetts, we don’t normally see western Massachusetts. I’m travelling to a different place. We’re going on vacation. We’re going to an amusement park. Life is good.

After our excursion (including a stop or two for food and bathroom breaks), we finally arrive at our lodging. A quaint place of business strategically located off the highway for travelers such as us. I go to the front desk to check in and get our keys. After getting the necessary information, I look over and see a “restaurant” with tables pushed to the side and chairs stacked on the tables. I ask the nice person behind the desk if that’s where the breakfast is served in the morning. The nice person gives me a look indicating they have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t need them to say anything. I know this is going to be good. There’s no breakfast. They don’t serve breakfast. It would have been nice to know that when their website touted a free breakfast with your stay. They were sorry.

Donut Dip. Our source for breakfast.
Go there. You’re welcome.

There was a silver lining to this story. Not having breakfast at the hotel meant we needed to find a place to feed our starving children. Parents know what a tedious, thankless job this can be. I did a search of the area and found “Donut Dip”, a quaint shop near the hotel that would, could, and did solve our breakfast conundrum. The Boy and I left and returned with donuts, coffee, and juice for all of us to fill up and prepare for our excursion in western Massachusetts.

Fun at Six Flags

We arrived at Six Flags. The temperature was hot. Thankfully, we had access to the water park. After going on a couple of rides and trying to find cold drinks to cool off, we decided to splash around the water park. From the water park we were back on the rides. The Boy was the most adventurous. He went on every ride he could. He was ecstatic every time he found out he was tall enough. He and one of The Gaggle went on the SkyScreamer. It’s a ride that climbs 400 feet and goes in circles. He loved it. I think he’s still excited about going on. This was just one example of the joy he felt going on the rides.

Our daredevils on the Skyscreamer.

Like I said, it was hot when we went. Luckily, our membership allowed for free soft drinks all day, everyday. There was a small problem: Half of the concession stands were closed when we were there. The concession stands that were open didn’t have functioning fountain machines. We were looking for rides and looking for drinks. Sometimes the lines for the drinks (and the food) were longer than the rides. If you’ve been to Six Flags or any amusement park for that matter, you know how long the lines can be.

I was in line at one concession stand and thought I was going to get a little added entertainment when someone tried to jump the line and fill their cup ahead of the people who were patiently waiting in line. Despite multiple reminders that there was a line and you couldn’t cut, this person continued to attempt to fill their cups. People got louder. I thought there was going to be a brawl. I had my cell phone ready to record whatever was going to go down. Would I be YouTube famous? Who knows? It didn’t happen. The person left the line. No additional drama.

We went home with more gear that when we got to the park. Children loaded up on hats, toys and souvenirs. People won prizes for winning games. My children don’t have enough stuff in their bedrooms, so naturally they got more. We stopped at a diner for breakfast before the trek home. We unloaded the car, picked up Doggie, and crashed for the night. In the morning, we packed up again for a couple of nights down Cape Cod. There we regaled Wife’s parents with glorious tales of Six Flags, the hotel, food, and a near-brawl over soft drinks.

Cape Cod presented its own challenges but challenges go with the territory when it comes to my family. I had daily shopping excursions with one of Wife’s aunt. Every time we got back we found out something was needed. We added it to the list and set out the next day. There was lively conversation at mealtimes that focused on the vacation and the fun we had food shopping. The days on Cape Cod were a lot cooler than the sweltering days in Western Massachusetts. We went to the lake one day. The kids went swimming. I stayed on the sand with Wife until The Oppressed came to me and begged me to go into the water with her. I did and I’m still recovering from the shock of the cold water. My kids would swim in a blizzard if we’d let them. Cold doesn’t faze them at all, unless of course we’re walking to or from school, taking a hike, or playing a game outside.

Doggie tried to play with my in-law’s dog, who was totally disinterested in that. Both dogs spent their time competing for table scraps that might fall from the table. They played the percentages and hung out near the Boy, who was the smallest of the family and the least careful with his plate of food. Both dogs also hung out near the grill. Their dog suddenly decided he needed to mark his territory at the grill. That was never a problem before. Now it needed to be official.

The dogs co-existed. Our dog was excited to have a playmate. Their dog tolerated our dog and made it clear on many occasions that there would be minimal playing. There were campfires at night where we had drinks and made s’mores. Walks downtown resulted in ice cream and candy. None of the kids wanted to share despite numerous requests. I reminded them I would have shared with them. They told me that’s nice.

Now we’re back home. Wife and I are back to work. We share glorious tales of our trip and learning experiences with friends and family. Camp will be starting soon. Kitty was excited to see us. Doggie was excited to have someone to (sort of) play with. It was an exciting time. I spent three hours at the grocery store to restock the refrigerator and pantry. The Boy is back at his friend’s house. The Gaggle are still sleeping until noon or later. Everyone is adjusting to life back home.

My new book, “Down in the Farm” is now available on Apple Books.