Monday, December 5, 2011

"No Problem" My Ass

There’s a saying you hear and see everywhere you go in Jamaica.  “No Problem!”  That was until Tom and Michelle Stien arrived.

While Tom and I have so much to be thankful for, we aren’t particularly “lucky” people when it comes to winning contests, lotteries, or things going smoothly in general.  As Tom always says, “If my raffle ticket was the only one in the drawing, I still wouldn’t win.” Or “If it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all.”  Just think back to my unfortunate cab experience on Tom's birthday!

We thought we had beaten the odds this time around. Tom won a sales contest at work that meant an all expense paid trip to Jamaica for 5 days and 4 nights.  Tom and I haven’t been on a vacation (alone) since our honeymoon.   We were supposed to go to Cancun before Maddie was born, but a hurricane obliterated the whole region a week before our trip.  We’ve never left the kids for more than two days and while we were apprehensive about leaving them, we knew that we both desperately needed this trip.

After a great deal of coordination between packing our stuff, the kids’ stuff, and getting them to Tom’s parents, we were on our way.  We arrived in Jamaica at about noon on Thursday.  Unfortunately, it was overcast and not exactly warm.  We finally made it to the hotel, secured our dinner reservations, excursion schedules and headed to our room.  We were told we had an ocean-view on the fifth floor.  SWEET! Of course, the room key did not work and the bell-hop had to take us back to the front desk to get our room changed.  We arrived at our second room and it had two double beds.  Sorry, haven’t been on a trip alone in almost 8 years, sleeping in separate beds is NOT an option nor is sharing a bed smaller than the one we sleep in at home despite the fact we wouldn’t have any kids or pets joining us.

We finally got settled in our room and it was time to eat lunch.  The weather was still not looking so good, so rather than drink the afternoon away, I headed up for a nap. When I woke up it was raining.  Fan-frickin-tastic.  Luckily it was almost time for dinner by that time and within the hour the rain had subsided.  We headed to dinner, but I still felt a little unsettled.  I hadn’t called the kids yet and wasn’t even sure how to call home based on the whole cell phone situation on the island.  I had had my phone enabled to make calls from Jamaica, but I knew it would cost a small fortune.  Tom suggested I set my mind at ease and head upstairs to call them before bedtime.  I tried calling and it wouldn’t go through. I called T-Mobile to see if there was some sort of code and after being on hold for 15 minutes, it took the guy another 15 to pull up the information.  I got back to the table at dinner just as they were about to take my plate away and Tom suggested I just hang up and wait until the morning and call from our hotel room instead.  I ate my dinner and had a glass of wine and tried to relax and enjoy the rest of my evening.

We headed to the hotel bar after dinner, but since we were staying at the Ritz Carlton, it was pretty conservative and certainly didn’t have a nightclub of any kind.  Not that I am complaining about staying at a Ritz Carlton, but I was hoping to do some dancing to Bob Marley.  I headed up to bed because we were supposed to go on a dune buggy tour in the morning.  I’ll admit I wasn’t real jazzed about the dune buggies.  As fun as it sounds, I just wanted to park my ass by the pool and relax.  I hate to admit this, but ultimately I cried myself to sleep because I missed my kids, I was worried that the weather was going to suck and I was never going to get the relaxing tropical vacation I longed for.  Tom said I absolutely did not have to go on the dune buggy tour and I could just stay behind and chill by the pool.  I love my husband.

I woke up the next morning and the skies were blue and the sun was shining.  I had breakfast, relaxed for a while and then headed to the hotel gym once Tom left for the excursion.  I enjoyed a workout without worrying about Colin getting kicked out of the childcare center or having to leave to go pick up someone from school, take Maddie to dance class or any of the other “life” things from home.  The only thing I was in a hurry to do is get to the pool before I lost sun time.  I did get through to the kids and was happy to hear they were doing well with grandma and grandpa. 

I was finally in vacation mode.  I put on my bathing suit and cover-up and headed to the pool.  I was able to chat with one of the other wives, have a fruity drink and have lunch on the beach.  Tom returned and had a BLAST, but was covered in mud.  We both enjoyed our day on our own terms.  Tom headed up for a nap and one of the other wives and I headed to the shops to pick up some souvenirs.  I returned back to spend some time with Tom before heading to our dinner with the group.

The dinner was at the Jerk Center on the beach and then we all headed to the hotel bar where as luck would have it, there was a woman singing Bob Marley.  Finally, I got to cut loose and dance.  Unfortunately, I cut loose just a little too much and woke up feeling pretty rough around the edges.  We were supposed to go on a catamaran, but figured it was cancelled due to high winds like it had been the day before.  Of course, ours was still a-go and I was a bit concerned that the mixture of my hangover and history of motion sickness was going to make for the longest 3-hour tour of my life.  We set sail and sure enough we hit some major swells.  I could feel the vodka swishing in my stomach with each wave and within a half-hour I was puking into a plastic bag.  I felt better, but it was only temporary and I found myself losing it one more time.  The people of Jamaica are so courteous and kind, so I can’t think of a better group of people to toss my cookies in front of.

I was finally feeling better, when the other flip-flop dropped.  Tom informed me that his insulin pump wasn’t working.  As many of you know, Tom was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when he was 9 years old and has been insulin dependent ever since.  He used to have to take shots, but he made the decision to go on the pump before Maddie was born since it gave him better control over his blood sugar. 

Once we returned from the excursion, we tried changing the battery and then called the manufacturer to see if there was some sort of quick fix for the error he was getting.  When that did work, we had to switch modes and find a way to get some insulin into Tom.  I went to the nurse at the hotel and we were lucky she had ONE lone needle to offer us.  The next step was to talk to the group coordinating our trip and see if we could get a flight home ASAP.  Even though we had one needle, it still meant Tom would have to constantly deliver insulin to his body like the pump did.  This is going to get a little technical, but before he was on the pump and gave himself shots, he used two different kinds of insulin, one that was long acting and one that was short acting.  Now he only uses short acting on a regular basis.  He had plenty of insulin with him since when we were on our honeymoon, his insulin went bad and he was miserable and could barely eat or drink anything (like I said, we have horrible luck).  Therefore, he no longer has the long acting insulin readily available.  Basically he wouldn’t be able to eat or drink much and wake up every hour to check his blood and take insulin. Even if we went to the hospital to get the long acting insulin, he had no idea how much to take since it had been so long since he has taken it.  He was concerned if he took too much, he would go low and that can be fatal.  We have had to call 911 for this in the past and it seemed like a huge risk to have this happen in a foreign country.  Ultimately, neither one of us would have been able to enjoy ourselves with the all the work and worry necessary to keep Tom alive.  We decided the safest best thing to do was head home.

I headed down to eat some lunch and within 20 minutes Tom came down to tell me we had to leave.  I left my uneaten lunch and packed our bags in 15 minutes.  Before I knew it, we were on our way home.  I’m not gonna lie, the first thing I did was cry and feel sorry for Tom and myself.  What the hell did we do to deserve this?  I think we are fairly good people.  Tom works really hard at his job and has never won a trip before while many of those on the trip were rattling off the various company-paid-for trips they had been on.  We are committed parents to our children.  We give to others.  Why us?

But I wiped away my tears because the first thing I thought of was our kids.  As much as I needed time away from the monotony of my daily grind, I missed them like crazy.  There were several babies and young kids staying at our hotel and every time I would see one of them, my heart ached a little bit.  I didn’t want to walk through the resort sobbing because I figured I didn’t need to bring anyone down and besides, they would probably think something awful happened like someone died.  Then it really sunk in.  There were so many worse things we could be going home for.  Furthermore, we have such a wonderful life to return to.  While we were at the airport Tom stopped dead in his tracks and turned and looked at me.  He said I could have stayed behind and he could have just come home on his own.  I could not have even imagined staying behind.  One thing that we have learned and made abundantly clear over the years is that we are a team.  Through thick and thin, the only way to make it through life is to do it together.  After all, we made vows for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

I am not ready for death to do us part.

Then we started to think of all the “silver linings.”  Tom mentioned that maybe since so many other things in our life are good, all the other things we consider “good luck” aren’t really that important.  All I knew is that having my husband alive is much more important than two more days on a beach.  So, we made a list of all these silver linings to remind us how lucky we truly are and cope with our complete bummer of a situation.  Many of these things came up as we were waiting for our flight in utter disbelieve that we were heading home, or on the plane, or at home listening to our kids whine, cry, misbehave, thinking “right now we would be sitting by the pool.” Many of these items made us laugh, which is one of the major benefits to marrying your best friend.  So, here they are:

  1. Tom is alive.
  2. We got to see our kids.
  3. They were soooo happy to see us and we got the biggest hugs and kisses EVER.
  4. Our livers will thank us later.
  5. We decreased our chances of skin cancer.
  6. I don’t really like rum drinks anyway.
  7. Tom and I got to have a “bowling date” playing on his iPad on the plane on our way home.
  8. We still got to go to Jamaica for 2.5 days.
  9. I’ve never been to Jamaica.
  10. Tom got a “pin” on his map.
  11. We ended up having a layover in Miami on our way home and I’ve never been to Miami, even if it was just the airport.
  12. Tom wasn’t real sure how we would be able to catch the Bears game while we were in Jamaica.  In the end he got to watch it at home.
  13. I had a column due on Monday and sent it before I left and it didn’t go through.  I was able to send it on Sunday.
  14. I was still able to get most of our souvenirs for the kids and Tom’s parents.
  15. I am already halfway finished with my laundry.  I am trying not to dwell on the fact that part of that is due to the fact we didn’t wear a good portion of the clothes we packed.
  16. I just watched the weather and it is going to get REALLY cold later this week.  We had 2 extra days to adjust.
  17. Our family pictures were ready to pick up on December 1st and I was able to pick them up sooner.
  18. Since Tom’s parents got a 2-day reprieve from babysitting duty, we don’t have to avoid asking them to babysit next Friday.
  19. We didn’t miss any of the excursions.
  20. Only 199 days until the first day of summer.
  21. Only 277 days until we go to Disney World.
  22. I still can’t help but think there is another reason for us coming home early.  Maybe the universe prevented something from happening to the kids, Tom’s parents or us.  I still believe there is a reason for everything.

I also got back to good news on the work front and made me so happy that rather than coming back to a inbox full of issues and fires to put out, I was greeted with lots of positive aspects of the budding business that I am working for. (Shameless plug…Visit to “Meet Vivi.”)

As I sit here writing this, we would likely just be arriving home if everything went as planned.  At least now we can stop thinking of what we “could be doing at ‘x’ time.” Now, I am in full-throttle Christmas mode to raise my spirits and appreciate flakes flying rather than curse them.  I fully plan on sitting in family room in my pretty pink sundress that I didn’t get to wear and make a margarita. At the end of the day, I can honestly say regardless of our vacation woes, I am one lucky girl.

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