"No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for... for ten minutes!" --Mr. Incredible
Saturday, September 26th 2:00pm (Act I)
Waverly's birthday party is a success. The cake is magnificent. The bedroom is pink. I have makeup on my face, food coloring on my fingers, and pink paint in my fair. FABULOSITY! I am Supermom.
Eighteen fancy little girls arrive at my doorstep. A couple mommies stay. (Did you know that age four is the year that parents start DROPPING THEIR KIDS OFF AND LEAVING THEM? SHIT!) Nineteen fancy little girls make tiaras, color Fancy Nancy pictures, receive ministrations of purple eyeshadow and pink nail polish, dance to vintage Piaf, eat hors d'oeuvres (that's a fancy word for snack) and Cake (that one deserved proper noun status and is therefore capitalized), and OPEN PRESENTS! The mommies drink Mimosas while the girls get on their sugar high and turn heathen. They scream, they squeal, they swing from the chandeliers. It's like Lord of the Flies but with tulle and hairbows. I search the house for a conch shell (I have none).
As my powers appear to be useless here, I drink another Mimosa.
Later we unveil Waverly's Big Girl Room. It is very pink. She is overjoyed.
The mommies come back. (Whew!) I deactivate my Wonder Twin powers and take a nap.
Saturday, September 26th 7:00pm (Act II)
Johnny and I attend another (!) party. This one for a friend recently home from Iraq, a real superhero, who hasn't had a proper birthday celebration in several years. He is a Bostonian; he taught me how to box; and I'm pretty sure he sustained injuries a few weeks back when I clung to him for dear not-being-thrown-in-the-pool. (Ladies, there is a fine line between throwing out a man's back and leaving him sexually traumatized. Just sayin'.) So I bring him this cake, which I made with the help of my trusty sidekicks Meghan and Jenny:
It is a hit. So is the Yankees pinata.
There is drinking. There is beer pong, which Johnny is supernaturally good at. Also, there are cougar attacks. COUGAR! ATTACKS!
(Did you know that cougars lack the ability to see their own reflections? If they spot themselves in a mirror they hiss, snarl, and dismiss their own handbags as fakes. Luckily for my young friends I am able to divert the cougars, hide their keys, and then extract my men from certain bodily harm and likely sexual trauma. YOU'RE WELCOME.)
Friday, October 2nd 6:00 pm
It's first down on the sixty yard line. Johnny and I are playing flag football with some friends. I know what you're thinking. Becky and Johnny have had enough sutures, broken bones, concussion, and dislocations to get a trauma surgeon through her residency. WHY ON EARTH would the Powells engage in any kind of sport? Isn't Becky about to have knee surgery? Doesn't Johnny already have a steel ankle and a titanium elbow?
Well, I'll tell you. It's been eight months since any of us has been in the E.R. THAT IS LONG ENOUGH, PEOPLE! AND we think we're invincible. AND it's flag football. WHO GETS HURT PLAYING FLAG FOOTBALL?
He's running. He's cutting. He's faking. He's reaching out to catch the ball...he's tripping. He's falling. HE"S DOWN.
He's not moving. SHIT.
It's his shoulder. I see his collarbone jetting out at an odd angle. I tell him I'll call an ambulance.
Apparently, Superman doesn't ride in ambulances. (Apparently, I didn't read enough comic books as a kid.) I call Marvel and they say that This Is So.
So Johnny stands up and is able to walk to the car on his own. Just a shoulder injury, right? I drive him to the Veteran's Hospital where he receives care because he really was a superhero in the 82nd Airborne. But by the time we get there his skin is pale, his pupils are pinpointed, he's not speaking, and he can't move his neck. The ER doc asks me why I didn't call 911. The ER doc calls 911 (YOU HEARD ME CORRECTLY--THE DOCTOR CALLED 911), because there is no one there who can handle head and neck trauma and the VA doesn't have ambulances AND HE NEEDS TO GO TO DUKE HOSPITAL! (Did he say head and neck trauma? Ohmygod he did! Why didn't I call 911?) HIS NECK MAY BE BROKEN! It's Friday night in Durham so it's another HOUR before the ambulance arrives to transport us to Duke.
DUKE. (That's a scary word even if you're not a Tarheel.) That's the place they send you when the regular doctors can't fix you. Duke, where the doctors are so highly regarded that I'm surprised THEY don't wear capes. My husband may have a broken neck. My husband may need emergency surgery My husband may be paralyzed. My husband is in pain. Childbirth-grade pain. I am terrified. This is my strong, stoic husband. He is the world to me and our children. He is our provider, our protector, our field guide, our coach, our navigator, our encyclopedia of the natural world He owns the heating and air conditioning company that puts food on our table and pays our bills; our children believe his job is To Heat and Cool the Earth. He is our Superman.
My sister Jenny arrives at the hospital. Luckily for Johnny and me, the girl knows her way around a trauma center like she IS FEMA. She's like The Question from DC Comics, tirelessly and aggressively grilling the doctors and nurses about Johnny's injury and prognosis. I am relieved. Jenny has taken charge. The texting begins. The Bat-Signal appears in the sky over Durham.
We wait and wait and WAIT to be allowed to see Johnny (ohmygod is he hurting ohmygod can they fix him ohmygod he's all alone back there ohmygod half the people in the freaking ER are growing tails and snouts and if John's neck isn't broken he'll probably die of the Swine Flu and has anyone seen my hand sanitizer?) I imagine Johnny in a wheelchair, in a rehab facility. I think about insurance and disability and mentally calculate the sums in our bank accounts that will have to pay the bills until he gets better. (Because unlike Professor X or Bruce Wayne we are not independently wealthy AND I HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS!) I think about what kind of job I can get if he doesn't. Get better. Oh God.
Johnny goes through X-rays, CT scans, and examination after torturous examination. He is finally unstrapped from the backboard. The nurse gives him 6 cc of morphine which may as well be kryptonite for all the good it does him and then, finally, something strong enough to knock him out.
(Insert passionate, profanity-laden paragraph about my agitation with Duke Hospital and the American Healthcare "System" HERE. Not enough time? Not enough words in the English language? YOU'RE SO RIGHT. NEVER MIND.)
Saturday, October 3rd 4:45 am
Johnny is discharged from the hospital. He has a separated shoulder and a disc injury in his neck. He leaves with a neck brace and a sling and the ability to walk. Soon he will have to do battle with the villains in Orthopaedics and Physical Therapy, but he will go on to defeat and diminish threats against humanity, especially when those threats involve furnace coils, refrigerant, or our four year old daughter.
Meanwhile, Back at Secret Headquarters:
Supermom here, wishing to thank all her Superfriends for everything they've done for us in the last 48 hours. I should bake cakes for ALL OF YOU. Thank you for the texts and phone calls and emails that kept me grounded and reminded me I wasn't alone. Thank you Keith for the beer you were sure would kill Johnny's pain until we got to the ER. Thank you to Kelly and Laurel for giving my children a fabulous day and my husband a day of rest and quiet. Thank you Aunt Lori and Jenny for the dinners. Thank you to the nurse at Duke who explained everything to me in plain, calm English as it was happening. Thank you to the paramedic who warned me that Duke was on lockdown due to H1N1 and wouldn't be letting me see Johnny for a few hours, thereby preventing a certain mental breakdown on my part and likely bodily harm to the security guards. Thank you nice guy at the front desk for letting Jenny go with me to Johnny's room even though it was against the rules. Thank you Mom for being the best nurse in the world and for all your help with the kids. And THANK YOU Bono and the guys from Muse for making my world villain-free for a few hours the next night.
YES I DID GO TO U2 THE NEXT NIGHT. JOHNNY WAS UNDER MY MOTHER'S CARE AND WAS WELL-SEDATED ON PAINKILLERS. I *AM* A GOOD WIFE AND IF I GO TO HELL FOR GOING TO THAT CONCERT I'M SINGING "RESISTANCE" AND "SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY" THE WHOLE WAY DOWN.
The saga continues....