Monday, March 10, 2014


It's been quite a while since we had to come to Philly anticipating more than an overnight stay.  I can pack for a weekend in a tote bag, but five days requires a bit more thought.  Of course, I never come here without a couple extra days' worth of stuff, because we don't always get what we anticipate anyway, right?

I have a bag that always comes along.  It has some toiletries, a deck of cards, some spare hair ties, and....who knows what else.  The last time I really needed it was in November of 2012, and I can honestly say that while I've pitched it into my bag several times since then, I haven't checked the contents at all.  While I was packing this time, I picked it up to throw it in with my stuff and thought.....wait.  This thing is heavy - let me see if I can pare it down.....

I dumped it on my bed and found:

Three expired albuterol inhalers, the best of which was only 4 months out of date.
A full-sized bottle of shampoo.
Ditto for conditioner.
Deck of cards.
Migraine meds, expired.
Motion sickness pills.
Hair ties, two new packages (about 75, total)
Gum - one sealed pack, one very stale open pack.
Hair spray, sample size.
Dental floss.
Toothpaste, sample size.
Body wash, sample size.
Lotion, sample size.
Tylenol in a small Ziploc bag, age unknown.
Advair inhaler, expired.
Nasacort inhaler, expired.
Loose change, about $5 worth.
Two different types of lip balm.
Three new razors.
Packet of pen needles.
Manicure set.
Disposable toothbrushes.

There was one glaring omission:  No deodorant.

Now, you also need to know that gathering dust on the towel rack in my sister-in-law's bathroom there is a shaving kit.  It's been hanging there since February of 2012.  It contains:

Folding brush with mirrored handle.
Deodorant (see, I'm covered).
Hand sanitizer sample.
Toothbrush (two of them, actually).
Toothpaste, sample size.
Dental floss.
Bar soap sample.
Emery board.
Biological Odor Eliminator (two bottles - it came with the kit, okay?  LOL)
Pad and pen
Deck of cards.
Hair gel.
Adhesive remover wipes (leftover from dialysis days)
Wrench (one of the tiny fake ones that comes to assemble pre-cut furniture?)


I also have a drawer at my sis-in-law's that has some spare undies, t-shirts and jammie pants.  I think I kinda get why hoarders hoard.

There is a reason for this pack-rattery behavior.  Each successive hospitalization that we went through with Babygirl reinforced to me the idea that I am woefully unprepared.  Unprepared for a sleepover.  Unprepared for a lengthy stay.  Unprepared for emergencies.  Unprepared to be Mom to a kid whose life will never, ever again resemble anything 'normal'.  These bags are tangible efforts to control the uncontrollable.  There is nothing to fear but fear itself and the lack of a good toothbrush, right?  Like Steve Martin, "All I need is this lamp....and my dog....." Yeah. 

If all that stands between me and chaos is a bag of toiletries, then it had better be a kick-ass bag, right?  Nothing bad can happen to Babygirl if I just have the right hand lotion?  Enough Chapstick?  A freaking nail clipper??

All of our illusions of control are just that - illusions. We can cocoon ourselves is a clean house, keep up with school and tutors, and be able to throw on our Supermom cape and tights at a moment's notice and grab our kick-ass toiletries bag, but not one of those things alters the reality of our life:  We. Have. No. Control. Ever.

Patients often tell me that they don't want certain tests because they are afraid of the potential results.  I always tell them, "The test doesn't change what you HAVE.  It only changes what you KNOW."

Having a sick child is like this.  I never had any control over anything before I found out she was sick.  I just didn't know it.


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