Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Special Needs Mommy

Kate and Lydia, my bloggy idols over at Rants from Mommyland, asked me to contribute to their Domestic Enemies series.  It's a great series -- full of ranty, snarky goodness from moms of multiples, adoptive moms, foster moms, working moms, military moms ... the list goes on.

I'm always thrilled to write for them, because of their awesomeness, and of course the fact that they have around a trillion readers. 

So today I'm at Rants from Mommyland, ranting about the Domestic Enemies of the Special Needs Mommy.  If I missed any of your enemies, be sure to leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Excellent Birthday Adventure

Last month, I turned 38.  I know.  I am really young to be falling apart like this.  Anyway, for my birthday, we drove up to Connecticut for a memorial ceremony honoring my father-in-law.  I know that doesn't seem like a super-fun birthday activity, but honestly, does anyone really care about birthdays any more?  I mean, once you can drive, vote, and legally purchase alcohol, the partying is kind of over.

The drive from Philly to Connecticut should take about four hours or so.  At least it did before we had kids.  Now it takes at least five hours, because we have to stop approximately every twenty-seven minutes.  And then if there's construction, which there always is, it takes even longer.

We sat in traffic on the Jersey Turnpike for an eternity.  I texted my brother-in-law that we were on our way, but probably wouldn't be there at 2 p.m. for the start of the memorial.

"No worries," he texted back.  "Drive safely."

Then we had to make a "quick stop" for something work-related for my husband, the Absent-Minded Professor.  (Note: the quick stop was to retrieve his freaking driver's license that he had left with the front desk.)  (Also note: there is a reason I call him "the Absent-Minded Professor.")

Sometimes, the Professor's work takes him to various prisons.  Yes, his job is extremely glamorous highly paid rewarding.  The kids think that Daddy going to prison is awesome, and constantly ask if they can go with him for "take your daughter to prison work day."

So imagine their delight when we announced that on this very day, we could stop at a prison.  I thumb-typed it on my phone so I could recount for you exactly how it went:

"Hey, kids!  Good news!  We're going to stop at a prison!"
"Yay!"  (cheering and clapping)
"I want to go to prison!"
"I want to see a robber in the window!"
"I want to see a prisoner and then say, 'see ya, sucker!'"

So, we stopped at Essex County Correctional Facility.  As you can imagine, correction facilities are not in the nicest areas of town.  There more like in the scariest industrial part of town.  In the parking lot, more than one family was having a stress-related Domestic Incident.

Little Dude was mildly freaked out about the whole situation, but decided that staying in the parking lot of the prison with Mommy was worse than going in with the whole family.  So over the little barbed-wire-encrusted bridge we went, right up to the front door.

Here is what it looks like:

Here is what my children saw:

In their heads, it sounded like this (click to play):
Powered by mp3skull.com

We entered the prison.  Really, we entered the front waiting room, where lots of families were waiting to see their loved ones.  Mostly it was moms and kids.  It was Father's Day weekend.  Heartbreaking.  Heartbreaking to me.  My kids thought is was Super Awesome Happy Fun Time.

While the front desk guard searched for the Absent-Minded Professor's identification, my kids took the opportunity to ask lots of questions.  Obviously.

The Peanut Butter Kid: "Sometimes the guards have to whack the prisoners with bats."
Pork Lo Maniac: "Daddy, do the guards really whack the prisoners with bats?"
Absent-Minded Professor: "I don't know.  You'd have to ask a guard."
Pork Lo Maniac (to guard): "Do you ever have to whack the prisoners with a bat?"
Guard: "Let's just say that if restraint is necessary, we'll use it."

At this point, I see that at least two of my kids are starting to do the potty dance.  Of course.  It had been a full twenty-seven minutes since the last pee break.

"Does anyone need to use the bathroom while we're here?" I ask.
Horrified stares from my daughters.
"But there's a ladies' room right there."
"Mommy, in prison the guards watch you pee."
"I'm not taking you to pee in a prison cell.  There's a bathroom right there for visitors."
"No way, Mommy."
Sigh.  "Fine."

After leaving the prison, we have to get back on the highway to find a place to pee, because the prison is actually the safest, cleanest place to pee in that area.

"Hey, I see the Statue of Liberty!"

Wait, what?  We don't normally pass the Statue of Liberty.  Unfortunately, in all the excitement of prison and needing to pee, we had gotten onto an extension of the highway that took us completely out of our way.
Awesome.  Our drive to Connecticut now involved the Holland Tunnel scenic route.  At this point, I texted my brother-in-law again that we were going to be hella late to the memorial.  He texted back not to worry about it.

Four hours late, we made it to the memorial.  It was a pretty casual event, more of an Open House, so it was still going on.  We had missed the speeches, and the town Mayor, but not family and friends.  It was fine.  Except that our family had been horribly worried about us.  It probably would have been smarter of me to text my brother-in-law that he needed to pass on our status to the rest of the family.  I guess he thought I just wanted to update him personally.

We got there in time, though, for all the kids to write messages on balloons to their Bampa, as they called their grandfather.  Except for Little Dude, of course, who has Balloonaphobia.  He played with his uncles and had a blast, though.

The traffic on the Turnpike, the stop at the prison, the wrong exit: none of it mattered.  The Professor's dad, who was a World War II Navy veteran who taught middle school English for more than thirty years, wouldn't have cared that we were late.  He would have been happy simply to have family together, playing, and remembering good times.

Monday, July 11, 2011

You're Just Like Dr. House

Wow.  You guys are totally like Dr. House.  Except hotter.  You're like the hot female doctor on House.  Except I think she's dying or something, which sucks.  So never mind that.

It's sweet that so many of you were concerned enough about my health to play my Name That Diagnosis! game.  That, or summer re-runs are on and you had nothing else to do.  In any case, you're awesome.  And funny.  And you know a lot about thyroids and even more about leeches, weird diets, and goats.

Unfortuantely, it turns out that my actual diagnosis wasn't one of the choices I provided.  See, I'm not special enough to have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.  I have generic Thyroiditis.  Like from Wal-Mart or something. 

Regardless, here were the responses:

What's wrong with stark. raving. mad. mommy. *now*?
24% predicted Graves' Disease
17% predicted Something far more rare and freakish, because after all this is the SRM family
13% predicted Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
12% predicted Genetic Mutation due to DNA of Crap
12% predicted Doctor will think you know too much about medicine and diagnose hypochondria
36% suggested their own diseases, including the following:
  • Lupus (because House says it's never Lupus, and goddamnit he must be wrong one of these times)
  • Sulfite Sensitivity
  • Zombie Fever
  • Fifth's Disease
  • Rickets, only because I like the way it sounds
  • It's your body listening to your mind that has a secret mission to give you some time off with fun, legal narcotics
  • Super Mommy Disease
  • Menopause (I wish.  However, this had the most mentions, so hope springs eternal.)
  • Whatever it is, Miralax will cure it.  Miralax rocks.
  • Crazy food / drug allergy (it was bound to be your turn eventually)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Gluten Intolerance
  • Super Overloaditis
  • Hyperparathyroidism
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Malaria
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Overworked Mommy Disease
  • Imbalance of Bodily Humors
  • Gout
  • Diffuse Connective Tissue Disease with strong suggestion of lupus
  • Mitochondrial Disease
  • Meds are interacting
  • The doctors will not know for sure, they will want to run more tests, if they do finally come up with a name, they will then tell you that you will just have to learn to live with it... sorry, that's just how immune system junk goes.
  • It's your ADHD meds.
  • Unknownitis
  • You have XMRV or other viral infection.  (Is that a radio station?)
  • Due to genetic mutation - new disease (non-fatal, of course) to be named after you.
  • Huntington's. Also almost always the answer on "House." 
  • The tiny goats who run in the minuscule wheels that make your joints work are getting tired. They are clearly suffering from their own goaty insomnia, which has spread to you and now the whole THING has gone kaput.The goats are running around your body trying to find diet coke and chocolate and entertainment! They keep knocking out hair and getting in the way of Important Systems. Because goats get more grumpy and clumsy when tired.  (Um.  Do I hear the bees buzzing in my head again?)
The remaining percentages were about tied for Addison's, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Dengue Fever, Consumption, Rabies, Sarcoidosis (it's always the answer on House), and You're Just Getting Old.

What will the treatment be for my fabulous new disease?
37% said Medication for the rest of your life
21% said Kill the thyroid by making you super-radioactive for a couple days
19% said Leeches
16% said Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound
27% offered these delightful cures:
  • No more yummy gluten-filled bread, pizzas, cookies, etc. for you!
  • Medically, it will be known as "the runaround". In other words, free irony.
  • Head immediately to one of those European countries that require employers to offer 6 weeks of paid vacay a year and soak in deep mineral springs while they bleed you and make you eat muesli -- strictly no kids allowed for the entire time.
  • Gas
  • Fun drugs
  • Give up alcohol and all processed foods.
  • More sex
  • Extra vitamins and leech therapy
  • Holiday in castle in Europe with servants at your beck and call (children kept in dungeon)
  • Make appointment with Dr. House immediately!
  • Starvation diet
  • PICC line with home IV antibiotics for months
  • Gin
  • Drugs to be named later
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Remove that sucker
  • Ice cream
  • Frodka
  • Weird diet
  • When you have that many kids, it doesn't matter. You're the mom, you don't get to be sick. Not that anyone will acknowledge anyway.  (I think this wins the prize for most accurate treatment plan.)
  • Bottle of red, chocolate and the full season of Sister-Wives for a good laugh. And a maid/chef/pool boy for a week to ease tension. Three times daily.
  • Bloodletting and Fecal Bacteroetherapy (I don't know what that means but ewwwwww.)
  • Mandatory massage / spa treatments
  • Prefrontal lobotomy
  • Surgical resection of adenoma or gamma knife procedure
  • Wine.  Lots and lots of wine.
  • Take two frodkas after the children go to bed.
  • Verbal abuse to all who annoy you
  • Nothing, you are female and getting older every day.  This is my doctor's usual treatment.
  • Diet and exercise (because that's all they ever seem to recommend for me)
  • Some kind of expensive new immune suppressant that costs more than your house note and car payment combined
  • Immediate quarantine in a luxurious hotel with a box of wine and Glee DVDs. You're welcome.
  • T-Box, Brownies, and your own personal A/C unit.
  • Either quarantine or nervous hospital will be like a free vacation, so I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. xo
  • There is only one treatment for hypogoatboingism. Chocolate, diet coke and the tv programme/publication of your choice. Hot baths and time alone are both still in the stages of experimental treatment, but have shown very promising results. The goats are lured back to their posts by the resevoirs of awesomeness by each wheel, and your body can go back to working and muttering mutinously like commuters who've encountered both a three hour late train with standing room only and at least three classes of children, now both bored and mutinous, who are meant to be going on a school trip. And teachers who keep counting heads and coming up with more kids than they started with and looking panicked for a few moments before coming to the conclusion that too many is better than too few.  (Definitely.  I definitely hear bees.)
The remaining percentages were about tied between Immediate Quarantine, Nervous Hospital, Geezer Pills, and Miralax.  Surprisingly, Spleenectomy came in with only 1 percent of the votes.  Even more surprisingly, 1 percent of the votes equaled more than one actual person.

Clearly, you're a medically conservative group.  You stay away from over-prescribing antibiotics and lean toward the more traditional treatments, like leeches.  However, you're still up on the latest cutting-edge technology like gamma knives and The Medical Runaround.  Speaking of frodkas, I'd like to note that more people suggested booze and chocolate than suggested going gluten-free.  Perhaps because you know I'm more likely to stick to the all-frodka plan than the all-rice-flour plan.

Thanks for all the well wishes, kind thoughts, and laughs.  Seriously, you guys are awesome.  And hot.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Thyroiditis: A Not Entirely Fictional Disease

First of all, let me say that the responses I got on Wednesday's Name That Diagnosis! post?  Totally kept me going during the wait for my doctor's appointment.  You guys are freaking hilarious.  I love you.
Just before I left for my appointment, I read an article on CNN about how lots of doctors find it annoying when patients bring in stacks of print-outs from the Internet.  The general response from patient advocacy groups (and I may be paraphrasing here) was a collective: "bite me." 

Actual image from my thyroid scan.

The article was headlined "Are You Giving Your Doctor a Headache?"  I figure the doctor can pop some NSAIDS like I am for my freaking joint pain, right? 

I'm pretty much always (very politely) up my doctors' (and my kids' doctors', and the early intervention staff's, and the special ed coordinators') asses about everything.  Despite the extremely scientific nature of my survey and your responses, however, I decided not to bring in a print-out of the results to the doctor's office.  It was probably just as well, as this endocrinologist doesn't seem to have a huge sense of humor.

Speaking of the doctor, here's my formal diagnosis: thyroiditis.  Which totally sounds made made-up.  So I'm pretty sure it's what they call it when they've ruled out Graves', Hashimoto, Addison's, and any other real endocrine disorders.

More specifically, here's what she said, my translations, and my responses:

Doctor says: It's not Graves', Hashimoto, or Addison's. It's thyroiditis.
SRMM hears: We ruled out everything else, so I'm making up a generic disease for you.
SRMM says: So what do we do?

Doctor says: Thyroiditis is usually self-containing, meaning it resolves itself over time.
SRMM hears: We have no treatment for this.
SRMM says: How long will it take to resolve?

Does this come in dark blond with a hint of gray?
Doctor says: We don't know how long it will take to resolve.  We'll redo your bloodwork in six weeks.
SRMM hears: We're winging it.
SRMM says: What happens if my numbers don't improve?

Doctor says: Usually, the numbers get better.  But sometimes not.  That is why we monitor you.  Also, sometimes, the numbers move over into hypothryoid.  But sometimes not.
SRMM hears: It's a crapshoot.
SRMM says: If my numbers improve, will my hair stop falling out?

Doctor says: Symptom improvement will lag behind your improving bloodwork, so your hair thinning problem will not improve right away.
SRMM hears: Ponytails still not an option.  Consider buying some of that spray-on hair stuff.
SRMM says: Crap.

Doctor says: Do you want me to prescribe you beta blockers for your racing heart?
SRMM hears: Gobbledy-gook, because I don't know WTF a beta blocker is.
SRMM says: Doesn't that seem like a decision you should make?  Do beta blockers have any side effects?

Doctor says: The only thing about beta blockers is, they can make your dizziness worse.
SRMM hears: Now you'll actually black out when you stand up too quickly, instead of just almost blacking out.
SRMM says: How about I hold off on that if it's going to make a major symptom worse?

Doctor says: I don't think this is related to your joint pain. If the joint pain goes away as your numbers improve, it is related. If not, it's not related.
SRMM hears: I am uninterested in your non-endocrine-related problem.
SRMM says: Yeah. I'm getting a rheumatologist.

Doctor says: Your positive ANA test [for auto-immune disease] is something else -- not endocrine-related.
SRMM hears: Your positive ANA test is someone else's problem.
SRMM says: I realize that.  I'd really like to know what it is, though.

Doctor says:  Well, it's not Graves', Hashimoto, or Addison's.
SRMM hears: If it's not related to the field of endocrinology, I have no idea what it is.
SRMM says: Can I take copies of my test results with me?  (Translation: I'm thinking about finding a new endocrinologist to follow up with.)

So there you have it.  It's thyroiditis, and the treatment is to watch and wait, and hope my hair stops falling out.  The good news is that it's not something more serious.  I'm particularly happy it's not Graves' Disease, because that whole buggy eye thing really had me worried.  That wasn't going to look too hot, especially with my hair loss.

I'm still compiling the hilarious results of Wednesday's Name That Diagnosis! survey, and I'll post those soon!  Thanks again for the laughs, and all the well-wishes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Name That Diagnosis!

I bet Cocaine Tooth Drops totally make Baby less
cranky.  Until the withdrawal sets in.
You know how it's always something with my family?  This time, the something is with me.  I started having joint pain in my hands and feet recently.  I figured, meh, I'm just getting old, and this is the beginning of arthritis.   

I went to the doctor to see if there was anything I could do to stave off becoming completely decrepit.  Glucosamine and chondroiton?  Better vitamins?  I occasionally pop a few of the kids' gummy vitamins; maybe I need to upgrade to my dad's "active senior" vitamins, which he refers to as his "Geezer Pills." 

The doctor turned out to be a little more concerned.  Because the pain is starting in the small joints and in both hands and both feet, rheumatoid arthritis is a possibility.  I'd also had some routine bloodwork that showed my thyroid was a little off, so he decided I needed to have about a pint of blood drawn right then and there to run more tests.

If Dr. Miles' Nervine doesn't help, the next step in your
treatment is a trip to the Nervous Hospital.
Sigh ... those were the good old days.
Within a few days, he called to say that my thyroid was now way off, to the tune of being hyperthyroid.  I also tested positive for some kind of auto-immune disease, which narrows it down to one of about a hundred things.  I also tested negative for rheumatoid factor, which actually doesn't tell them anything, apparently.

He referred me to an endocrinologist, who asked me a bunch of questions, weighed me, and looked in my mouth.  She ordered even more bloodwork, and a thyroid uptake and scan.  The thyroid tests involved me popping some radioactive iodine and going to the hospital to hang out in the "hot room" three times in two days.  On the last trip, they also injected me with more radioactive crap.

Although all the results are in, the doctor won't release any of the information to me over the phone.  I was told not to worry, but she'll discuss it with me at my appointment tomorrow.  This sucks, because nothing gives me greater joy than self-diagnosing myself via the Internet. 

Since I've been robbed of that fun, the only option left, obviously, is to let y'all diagnose me. 

Here are my symptoms:
    I like this one because it
    makes me think maybe Lydia
    from Rants from Mommyland
    invented it.
  • Old-lady-style joint pain in my hands and feet.  Sometimes I can't bend my toes at all.  If I try to bend them manually, then they stay stuck like that.  Sometimes only some of my toes can bend, and it looks like I'm doing the "devil sign" with my toes.  I find this hilarious, but it totally freaks my family out.  (Also hilarious.)  Note that my endocrinologist doesn't think my thyroid is quite hyper enough to be causing the joint pain.
  • Low Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone.  This is my body's way of telling my thyroid to stop it, already.
  • Sweatier than usual, but then again, it's July.  The air conditioning must be set for "Arctic Blast" at all times.  I feel a little bad that the kids are wearing sweaters and wrapped in blankets, but whatevs.  I'm comfy.
  • Super Annoying Insomnia.  However, if you've noticed that I'm suddenly posting daily again, it's because the insomnia has provided me with tons of extra writing time, so it doesn't suck completely.
  • Weight loss that's not entirely attributable to my ADHD medication.  (Kinda hoping to lose another six pounds or so before they treat whatever it is)
  • Emotional Wreck (more than usual).
  • Light-headedness to the point of almost passing out if I stand up too quickly.
  • My hair is thinning.  Seriously.  Not cool.
Okay, that's pretty much what's going on.  What's wrong with me?  (Well, we all know there's plenty wrong with me, but I mean specifically this time.)  Go!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Autism and Antidepressants in Pregnancy: Don't Freak Out (Updated)

Image credit: Amazon.
You did not cause your child's autism.

No matter what you ate, took, smoked, drank, or did during your pregnancy, you didn't cause it. 

It's not your fault.

A handful of studies have come out recently linking autism to the environment, including the environment in the womb.  In particular, one study, which followed fewer than 300 families, found that taking antidepressants during pregnancy may be connected to a higher risk of autism for the baby.

It’s not a causative link; it’s a correlative link. In other words, maybe moms who reach out for mental health support for themselves are more likely to reach out for diagnoses for their children.

I hope that the mainstream media, before writing frightening headlines, takes the time to interview experts in prenatal mental health.  I also hope that women who are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, talk to their ob/gyns and their mental health professionals about the risks and benefits of taking medications while pregnant.

Nontreatment of depression during pregnancy has its own risks, including preterm birth, growth problems, and a potentially much greater risk of postpartum depression.

There is so much we don't know about autism.  I'm glad that studies are ongoing, and I'd like to see larger studies done on this topic.  In the mean time, let's not freak out.

We parents of special needs children have enough guilt, worry, and stress in our lives, without trying to figure out if five years ago, we made all the right choices.  For those of us with autistic kids, this study kind of doesn't matter at all.  Today I will keep teaching Little Dude how to communicate; I will work with him on potty training; I will help him develop a better tolerance for frustration.  Nothing on CNN is going to change those plans.

Also, please heed my warning: reading a two-sentence news bullet point doesn’t actually make random people qualified to ask me about my pregnancy history with my autistic son. Unless you’re my son’s neurologist, or maybe Oprah, it would be kind of awesome, in fact, if you would just shut the hell up about it.

Update: My friend over at Pregnant Chicken has a whole blog about pregnancy awesomeness, especially what's safe and what's not.  I wrote a little post for her on what experts like the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say about pregnancy and mental health.  It includes links to look up the safety of each antidepressants by category and name, and other resources for women in crisis.  Check it out.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Baby, I'm a Firework. Or Something.

Stunning fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art,
organized by professionals and sanctioned by
the City of Philadelphia.  LOVE.
Let's get one thing straight, right up front: I adore fireworks.  I love really good, professional fireworks that are hundreds of feet up in the air.
You know what I don't love so much?  The horrible noise of questionable legality coming from my neighbor's yard, and the rockets exploding awfully close to my roof.  (Is my renter's insurance going to cover this?)

I wouldn't care so much, because really, what business of mine is it if the local fireworks "expert" loses some fingers while setting off a string of cherry bombs with a lit Marlboro?  Assuming I don't have to drive him to the Emergency Room, it's exactly none of my business.  I mean, one person's obnoxious auditory assault is another person's delightful fireworks display, right? 

I don't even care that pretty much all backyard fireworks are illegal, although Pennsylvanians can buy "Aerial Rampage Shells" in Maryland, and Marylanders can buy "Mass Detonation" kits in Pennsylvania.  Um, yeah ... both states are totally down with raking in the sales tax off the stuff, but don't permit locals to buy.  ID-carrying out-of-staters can just export the dangerous fireworks right back home, thank you very much.  Presumably, both Pennsylvania and Maryland would prefer all of it go to New Jersey, but whatevs.
Cheap-ass fireworks over my house, organized by
a guy with a warm Bud Light in his hand and
tacitly ignored by local police.  HATE.


Some of my kids hate fireworks like a Kardashian hates falling out of the public eye.  At least one of my children has literally had the pee scared out of them by fireworks. 

My lovely friend The Domestic Goddess recently described Fourth of July as "auditory torture for kids (and adults) with autism."  I'd add "or with anxiety, or any kind of auditory sensory processing issue."

Here's the thing: although I adore fireworks now, my kids' worries are nothing compared to the flat-out freak-outs I would display as a kid when the fireworks started.

Once, when I was about five, we were driving home to Brooklyn after visiting my grandparents in Connecticut.  On the way, my mother realized that we could go to the second half of a twi-night double-header at Shea Stadium.  Never one to miss out on an opportunity to see the Mets while simultaneously keeping her children up too late, my mother immediately turned our rented Thunderbird into that parking lot.

You know what five-year-olds don't really have the patience for?  Nine innings of professional baseball, particularly when that five-year-old has been in the car for a while and that first inning starts some time after 8 p.m. This was apparently not of too much concern for my mom, as it was the Mets.  Oh yes, she was a planner, that one.

Hey kids!  Today Mr. Met is going to make
fire rain down on us and kill us all.
Your parents won't notice, because they've
thrown back too many Schaefers.

There was also (bonus!) a fireworks display at the end of the game.  Although I had seen fireworks before, from the roof of our apartment building, I had never seen such a big display, so close.  I could not understand why the adults around me were so calm.  I mean, clearly, fire was falling on us.  Duh.  This was probably the work of the clearly evil Mr. Met, the Mets' freakishly large-headed mascot.

I alternated between attempting to hide under the stadium seats and wild flailing, trying to alert the oblivious public to the imminent danger.  I'm pretty sure I screamed "we're all going to die!" nonstop for the entirety of the fireworks display.  Fortunately for the ticketholders around me, I was probably both incoherent and drowned out by the noise of the fireworks.

To cap off this lovely experience, after the fireworks ended, and I finally stopped screaming, our rented T-Bird broke down on the Van Wyck Expressway.  The good part about this was that it finally distracted my family enough to stop mocking me for freaking out at Shea.  The bad part was that cell phones did not exist in 1978.

Eventually we flagged down some random guy, who drove us to a gas station.  Oh, yes, it was all very safe, I'm sure.  This was back in 1970s New York City the good old days, where certainly nothing bad was going to happen.  I mean, pffft. David Berkowitz had totally already been arrested by then.

Some time after 2 a.m., we made it home by subway.  This probably means we abandoned the rented T-Bird on the Van Wyck, which might explain some of my mother's early credit troubles.

1978 Ford Thunderbird, obviously an ideal family car to
rent.  Apparently my mom was planning a need to
outrun Smokey on our way home from my grandparents'.
It took a long time after that for me to learn to enjoy fireworks.  I'd say the turning point for me was when I was in the Army.  Army posts are fairly unregulated as to what they can blow up, see.  And nobody knows how to orchestrate bombs bursting in air like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Spectacular does not even begin to describe it.

With my neighbors making a racket as I write this, I am reminded of my immense pride in being an American.  The United States is a place where, assuming you have enough gas in your car to drive one state over, you have the freedom to side-step state laws and load up on cheap fireworks.  A few beers hours later, you can then take advantage of some of the world's best medical technology to re-attach your fingers.
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