It was the Monday before Christmas and Carapace wanted me to take her to see the lights and get in some last minute shopping. So we started off with a nice lunch and made our way into The Big City.
On the way, I started to feel it slipping over me. Pain? Maybe. I'm not particularly good at identifying pain. Discomfort, yes, discomfort. Tired, so tired. Patella slipping out of place--annoying, potentially ruinous of the night's plans, which involved walking through a neighborhood to see the lights. But tired, so tired. So very, very tired. And uncomfortable. And nauseous. Everything comes through as if in static. Sight, sound, touch. So much fun to be driving like this, oh, such a delight. No stress, no stress.
When we get to our first destination, I take a Zomig and stay in the car, try to sleep. A car pulls up in the next space, waiting for someone, it seems like hours, pouring out pounding hip hop. I want to vomit. I sleep for five, maybe ten minutes. I give up and go into the stores. Maybe I am feeling better. Maybe that's why I can't sleep. I'll shop. But the lights are wrong, there are lines, there are people moving faster than I can process. My stomach starts rolling again.
Carapace sees me and tells me I look bad. I wonder what I look like to other people who aren't her. She thinks I look like Death, that I have no color in my face, that my lips are white. I feel like Death, so it is good to get some external validation. Do other people see me and see the same? Is that why they move past so quickly? I lie to Carapace, telling her I feel a bit better, and that we can go to the next shopping center. She's having a good night, this time. And I think she rather likes it when she is the one whose brain isn't misfiring.
We get to Target, and she no longer believes I am doing any better. "You need caffeine," she says as she hands me a migraine tablet. I protest that I've taken the Zomig, that maybe it will start to work. "Doesn't matter." She's insistent, and I'm in no shape to argue. If she'd told me I needed arsenic, I'd have relented just as easily. "We need to get some coffee in you." I buy a coffee at the in-store deli, but it is their last cup of the day. It's weak, old, and not enough. She's bought her last few items, and I promise to stop for coffee as soon as we find a place.
I drive on auto-pilot, taking the literal roads of least resistance. Other drivers are being extra courteous as I slow down, trying to suss out a place to go, a place that won't be too loud, too bright, too unlikely to have coffee. I've about given up when I spot a Whataburger. Assuming they have coffee, it will be in copious amounts, because they don't do small. And, while brightly lit and garishly colored, they don't do "ambient music." I've had all the ambient music I can take for one day, so fluorescently lit orange it is.
We linger over coffee. I discover that the annoying scratchy crinkly sound I've been hearing all day is my knee brace. I have a window now. I'm not completely better, but I can function like this. We leave. Young men in the parking lot are singing about sex. They notice us as we approach and suddenly change their tune: "Fa la la la la, la la, la la." I get in the car, laughing. It's the best I've felt since lunch.
We go see the lights, and they are fun. I'm glad not to have missed them. One more store--groceries. Now Carapace is down on the floor with a seizure. Her window is closed for the day. Mine will close again soon. Time to go home.