I should’ve known The Week of the Polar Vortex would go down in the record books. But, in our case, it wasn’t for snow.
We woke up on Monday to a world gone white. I bundled Miss A—our toddler-age daughter—within an inch of her life, and we went for a walk outside.
It was so bitterly cold that I called my husband when we were on the half-mile lane and asked him to please pick her up. Then I continued walking, snapping pictures until my fingers grew numb and the sun was a golden egg, balanced on the horizon.
I started to think that maybe I was made for the artic tundra. I was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but moved to Tennessee when I was three. Still, my father’s stories–about the great blizzards layering everything with snow like pillows of down–were alluring and whimsical.
I imagined snowshoeing across the lowland with my wolf-looking dog at my side and a heavy wool hat pulled over my pigtail-braided hair.
Then our pipes froze and burst, popping my fantasy bubble.
The day before it happened, my husband showed me how to turn the water off down in the basement. He had worked for hours upon hours the previous day, thawing the outdoor faucets until the bathroom’s hot water gushed into the tub.
I thought we had surmounted the obstacle until I heard a sound like a shower running. I put on my muck boots and trudged outside. The outdoor faucet was just dripping.
I came back inside and touched the carpet. Wet.
Heart pounding, I grabbed Miss A and ran down to the basement. I shut the water off and called my husband. He came home early from work and started tearing out the wall to reach the pipes.
This was on Wednesday. By that evening—insulation peppering the soggy carpet and a dehumidifier running at . . . er, full steam—I noticed that Miss A was unusually grumpy and the glands of her neck were swollen.
By Thursday, she was obviously coming down with something. Around ten o’clock at night, she started crying and coughing and did. not. stop.
My husband—having ingested something foreign earlier that day, which we still cannot pinpoint—broke out into hives that gradually grew so severe he could barely walk.
Meanwhile, I sprawled on the couch with our daughter on my chest, watching the fans on our front porch clip shadows over the moonlight and counting the milliseconds until dawn, when I knew her breathing would grow less labored.
My husband’s hives and my daughter’s bronchitis both grew more severe. On Saturday, my husband drove to urgent care while I drove to get our daughter’s prescription filled for a form of steroids. She was wheezing so badly by that point the pharmacist thought she had asthma.
I’d planned to keep the prescription on hand, just in case her lungs locked up that night, but the pharmacist’s concern alarmed me so much that I found myself administering the medicine in the parking lot.
Then, a sunbeam pierced our felt-gray clouds.
My precious husband—doped up on his own dose of steroids (at urgent care, they had rushed him back and put him on an IV)—agreed to take the midnight shift so I could sleep.
At five, I crept downstairs to check on my family. My daughter and husband were both sleeping in our bed: though feminine and beautiful—with her fever-sweated curls and long lashes—her features are an exact replica of his.
It almost brought me to tears to watch them both finally getting some rest. Instead, I crept back upstairs and slept some more.
By the time the sun rose, we were all on the mend.
How about you, any stories about the Week of the Polar Vortex? And the above video is just for fun. Isn’t the little girl adorable?
Visit with Jolina at www.jolinapetersheim.com
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