Monday, April 23, 2007

A pox on our house

I apologize for this post sounding like current events. In fact everything contained here is a few days old...

When we put Colm to bed a week ago Sunday night we noticed a few red spots on his upper torso. By morning it was obvious that he had chicken pox (varicelle). He had to have gotten it at school a week earlier. Normally it would have been no big deal as this is one of those things you hope to get out of the way in early childhood so that the kid has immunity and never has to worry about it again, but in this case the timing was unfortunate. First off, Tess had been required to get a vaccination for school so chances were that she wouldn't be able to take advantage of the this opportunity.

Secondly, this was the week we were expecting two sets of visitors. The first two, Adam and Missy, were due to arrive Monday evening. Their plan is stay for nine days. The second group comprised ofTanya, Jerry and their six month old baby, Gage, are already in Paris and are arriving here on Thursday!
All nine of us have planned an excursion to the Dordogne for the weekend. We've rented a large dormitory style room in an ancient abbey in Cadouin which is near Sarlat. Our friends have moved heaven and earth to get here and to do this trip to see castles and caves with us...and now Colm has the chicken pox. We leave a voice mail for Jerry and Tanya informing them of our situation. Hopefully all may still be well.
Monday night Colm is having a hard time with the itching. We've clipped his finger nails and given him a bath with baking soda...he looks awful. Fortunately he doesn't really know this. Beth goes to pick up Adam and Missy at eight o'clock. It's great to see them, they slip into our house and our routine as easily as a pair of old slippers. Adam has brought his Mac laptop which means that we are treated to wedding photos. Our kitchen counter has a bit of the Mac vs PC look to it.

Tuesday morning Colm is fully covered now and is being tortured by the desire to scratch his back, his ears, his groin. On the recommendation of our neighbor Beth purchased a medication called primalan at the's supposed to relieve itching. The best antidote seems to he holding him. I'm glad I have this time off from work to do that. Colm repeats over and over again that it still itches...
Beth and Tess go out with Adam and Missy and tour the area.
Colm and I watch a video, he naps a little and then I give him an afternoon bath. Tuesday night Colm sleeps pretty well.
Wednesday morning Colm wakes up chipper, he looks a sight but he's not complaining of itching. His spots are hardening and scabbing over which means he is nearing the end or maybe even past the point of being contagious....we're keeping our fingers crossed.

I get a call from our kids' school. They're wondering where Colm and Tess are. Vacation for the little ones is over but we're keeping our kids for the rest of the week...I had forgotten to call the school and tell them. I mention the chickenpox and the director tells me that it has hit other children in the school as there's one mystery solved anyway.
Wednesday afternoon the sun breaks out and we decide to haul everyone to the beach, Colm included. It seems to be a real tonic for him although I don't know if getting buried in the sand qualifies as a homeopathic treatment for chicken pox or not.

Wednesday evening comes and goes and still no complaints from Colm about itching.
Jerry calls from Paris. Unless I mistook him, I think I heard him compain about it being too hot in Paris...I think, what the...
He says, I hope you've got some clouds down there.
Not a chance, I say. You're bringing the sunshine with you.
Then I give him the chickenpox update.
Are we cancelling, he asks.
No, I say, are you?
No, though maybe we'll sleep in the back yard.
I laugh a bit nervously at the joke - hoping that's what it is. I tell him that I think that by the time they arrive Colm may be past the contagious phase. Even if he is contagious, I tell Jerry, healthy nursing babies of six months or older like Gage are not likely to get it or will usually only get mild versions of it, plus by the times symptoms arrived they would be back in the states...according to what I've read anyway.
I listen to myself and wonder if any of this sounds remotely like consolation to them.
Jerry's phone connection goes pieces on us and we have to quit with the plan intact...Thursday evening I will pick up them up at the train station in Bordeaux. The next day, we will pick up a rented van and all nine of us will leave for two nights and three days in the Dordogne...then I have to go back to work.
Thursday morning Colm is scabbing's a brilliant day, Beth is doing yoga beside the pool. I'm pondering the question - can we, should we, take our charming little biological weapon out into the unsuspecting public? Somehow the idea that we'll be staying in an ancient abbey and touring castles and prehistoric caves puts me in mind of the plague. People will look at Colm and be alarmed regardless of whether he is contagious or not.
I suppose one of the defining moments will occur this evening when Tanya and Jerry lay eyes on poor, scabby, pimply Colm. What will their body language tell us? wait and see...
Thursday evening I drove to Bordeaux to pick up our friends. I left early in the expectation of rush hour traffic and nonexistant traffic...both expectations were fulfilled. Miraculously, however, I scored a spot only twenty yards from the spot I had chosen as our meeting point. I went into the station, got a cup of coffee and waited for the train. I decided to try to intercept them on the platform as they disembarcked the train. I stationed myself midway between the two ends of the's a long train but then again Jerry is tall and carrying a baby. I figure that I have a good chance of spotting him. The passengers get off, I look up and down. No sign of them anywhere. I'm a little worried that they either didn't get off the train or that they weren't even on it. I head for the meeting point but there's nobody there. I call Beth to let her know the situation. I then begin sweeping the station. I stop a couple of security types and give them a description. I go to the information desk and do the same thing.
Finally I go to the welcome desk where the announcements are broadcast. The man there listens rather half heartedly to my story. Takes down Jerry's name and then broadcasts a call in French. "jairree aahhrmoan au bureau d'accueil s'il vous plait." I tell the man that there is little chance my friends could have understood that (I don't tell him that he probably couldn't have recognized his own name)...I ask him, can we broadcast in English please? He looks a bit put out and then asks me if I want to do it. I can't tell if he's being sarcastic but I jump at the chance. I take the microphone and in my best high school intercom voice I page Jerry to the information desk, not the welcome desk (accueil). I can tell that the man is nonplussed by my choice but I explain to him that Jerry knows what "information" means and looks like whereas "accueil" means nothing to him. More frowns and shrugs. I thank him and sprint for the information desk about fifty yards away. As I am crossing an open space I spot Jerry across the station. We make eye contact, mystery solved, friends found. We share a laugh about hearing my voice on the loudspeaker. Jerry reveals that they'd lost the paper with all the releveant information, rendezvous point, phone numbers etc... and had simply headed to the front entrance. We collect the family, snap a photo of Gage in his French hour later they're in the bosom of our home.
Friday I get up early to go get the rental van...we're going, Colm is doing much better even if he still looks like something of the Michael Jackson Thriller video. I get to the airport and discover that I don't have my driver's point of fact, I discover that I haven't been carrying my driver's license since we arrived in France. So.... I drive home (30 minutes each way). The whole idea of my leaving early was to help our large group get on the road at a decent hour...oh well, it's obviously time to dial up that Zen state of mind. We're off for the Dordogne.


Anonymous Brenna said...

I'm glad to hear that Colm is feeling better. I remember when I got chickenpox, in fact all three of us got it at the same time. :) Sounds like tons of fun with friends coming to visit. I'm a little jealous about the case of wine coming home with you. Oh how I miss French wine. I love reading about these adventures and just the difference in living. It's been great reading this. Thanks Kevin. Speaking of Kevin, my little brother had the lead in Little Shop of Horrors, wish you could have seen it. He was great. None of us knew he could sing. Take care.

12:41 AM  

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