This is my favorite photo from our recent family vacation. I was going to post it without much comment, but it occurred to me that this is exactly what's wrong with social media. The little, perfect snippets of time with just the right filter applied that paint a picture that is not accurately representative of real life. So paired with this dreamy image I will provide this backstory.
Our history with bad luck vacations started off with a bang with our Honeymoon From Hell. Since then we've had a series of disasters. Well, I take that back, we have always been very good at making the best of it. It's practically the Toupin family motto. Toupins: We Make The Best Of It.
There was the camping vacation that was ruined as we narrowly escaped a band of severe weather en route to our Plan B- a hotel. Then there was the tiny-cabin vacation - which also included pouring rain and made our tiny-cabin feel more like a humid and damp cave. Then there was the other camping vacation when it (surprise!) rained again. Oh and then there was the indoor water park hotel where it didn't really matter that it was pouring rain because we were indoors. But don't think that was too much of a relief since it did fall right on the heels of a major family issue. So our vacations have never been relaxing. At all. Which is the precise reason you take a vacation.
But this recent one? This one takes the cake. It's been a rough year (hence the lack of regular whimsical fuckery posts which was the intention of this blog). Seeing as though things have been so tough we decided we needed, you got it, a nice RELAXING vacation. Hey, let's get crazy and do FOUR NIGHTS/FIVE DAYS. Let's do it right. Fuck yeah. So I booked a sweet looking little lake house in New Hampshire that was pet friendly, just in case we wanted to take the dog. (And now here's a bit of foreshadowing.... PRO TIP: "Pet Friendly" on Airbnb means "smells like cat piss.")
Sunday - the day before vacation
News from mom about dad: Dad's recovery from his triple bypass surgery a few months ago is not going well and he's having a lot of pain in his sternum (y'know the place where they have to saw through to open your ribcage to get at all those pesky clogged arteries in your heart?) He had x-rays done and they are awaiting results to see what's wrong.
While packing the final few items into my car I get a call from a number I don't recognize. I consider ignoring it ("I'm on VACATION, yo!"), but then pick up. Turns out that the mammogram I had the previous week doesn't look so hot. (Spoiler alert: I DON'T HAVE BREAST CANCER!) Areas of "dense tissue" in my right breast are worrisome and they'll need to get more images and possibly an ultrasound. I make an appointment for the following Monday and in the meantime they're going to compare my recent mammo images to a previous one to see if maybe the dense tissue has always been there (in which case I wouldn't need to have more images done). Google results for "dense tissue" seem to produce equal parts reassurance and worry. Determined not to worry until I have something to worry about. Vacation, HO!
Arriving in NH we receive news that my dad's x-ray results are worse than expected. It appears that some of the wires holding his sternum together have broken, he'll have to go back up to Mass General for a CT scan and to meet with the surgeon.
When I found out that there was no internet and spotty cell service at the lake house I was happy to be away from that, but now, faced with waiting for news/updates it was unbearable to be so disconnected. I had to drive 10 minutes down the road just to see if I had a message from my mom or my radiologist yet. Finally I get a message from the radiologist that the dense tissue areas are new and that I do need more images. Panicky and over-stressed we decide to go home, I reschedule my appointment for Wednesday (the day that my dad will be going back up to Mass General). This way we can also get our dog (which my mom had been taking care of, but won't be able to Wednesday while she's with my dad at the hospital.) Oh, and also happening at this time? Pouring rain. Pouring rain that's supposed to last until Wednesday night. Fuck it, let's go home. The weather is so bad on the way home and halfway there we get that terrifying alert from the NWS on our phones. TORNADO WARNING - TAKE COVER NOW We just keep driving.
We arrive home. Exhausted. We collapse.
I have more mammo images taken (inconclusive) and on to an ultrasound where they quickly rule out any danger. I'm free and clear. Elated, I head home, we repack for NH and get back on the road, this time with the dog. We drive again through the pouring rain. On the way we receive a call from my mom about the results of the CT scan. It turns out that ALL EIGHT of the wires that were holding my dad's sternum together have broken,
explaining the tremendous pain he's been feeling. This is without doubt
caused by the fact that at the same time that he was supposed to be
recovering from this surgery my parents lost their house and had to
move/clean out generations worth of junk out and into a tiny apartment.
He was not supposed to really be doing anything at this time, but
instead he was doing the work of many people. We helped as much as we
could, but it was too big of a job for the small team we had. At this point it's too late for his sternum to fuse back together as it's supposed to during the healing. Talks of metal plates and plastic surgery to reposition his pectoral muscles. Another major medical procedure.
Vacation take 2. Back to the lake house. Exhausted. We collapse.
We have a lovely day (!!!) JUST starting to ease into vacation, really beginning (despite the stress) to relax a little, decide that since we have one day left let's really make it awesome!!
Receive call from mom saying she broke our washing machine.
Then we drink too much tequila.
Exhausted. Stress sleep/nightmares. Finn falls out of bed.
we head home.
I don't know what the moral of this story is, but despite the chaos, stress, terror and worry coming home to hear the news of what's going on in the world helps to put things in perspective. We had a week that was supposed to be relaxing turn into a nerve-freying mess. But I don't have cancer. My dad, despite needing another major surgery, had a heart that's functioning great, Tom rigged the washing machine (I'm sure that's no surprise to anyone that knows him) and above all Finn had a BLAST on vacation.