Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Transportation goes *boink*

Well, my car is making an alarming noise.

It started last night on the way home and this is just what I don't need right now, dammnit! I'm fretting enough about how the hell I'm going to get gas money (I've already spent my power bill for petrol, can you believe it? Gas is 20 cents more in NC.) without this. The whole thing will be moot if my bloody car blows up. Ugh. Not to mention the tiny detail of Evil Genius Husband not being able to get to work.

What drama.I swear, any time I think that nothing more can possibly go wrong, one of my cars gives up the ghost. I think they're out to get me.

I contemplated nicking Dad's Thunderbird (or whatever the hell that latest car of his is ... It's a Ford Somethingorother Coupe) and driving it but 1) I'd rather not drive his car without asking him (although I'm sure he wouldn't mind), and 2) if I can't put petrol in a Toyota Camry, I doubt the T-bird will get better mileage!

Oh well, I'll figure something out.

----

Perhaps I could bicycle to Winston-Salem! I found this pic of Dad:


I'm hoping that he recovers full use of his leg since he loved cycling. He's been a runner most of my life but eventually messed up his knees so badly that he had to quit. He started cycling and - as he does with everything - became completely immersed (read: obsessed). If he can continue to do it it will really help him to recover mentally.

I know his getting on a bike is a long time in the future, but at least that can be a goal toward which we are working.

-----

Well that's all I have for today unless I come up with some pointless ramble later on. When I rang the hospital this morning there was no change and his operations are not until tomorrow. If I hear anything, I'll post it right away.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:00 am   3 comments

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bad news, good news, bad drive

I went to the hospital today. What a crap drive. It was pouring rain and the only two types of people on the motorway were the 'hell-I-can-drive-in-this-stuff' types in their fullsized trucks, Hummers, and Chevrolet Compensators flying by me in a swirl of water and the timid, fearful types who, instead of just getting the hell off the road, drive 25 in the fast lane.

Oh, and me. I was on the road. Angry and on the road.

Dad looked a bit better. They had him sitting up a bit and had cleaned the last of the dried blood from his nose and mouth. The breathing tube is also now in a different position. He no longer has that horrible Two Face lopsided scowl from the tube dragging down the right side of his mouth. It looks more like he's just holding it between his lips like a large straw and that little change makes him look more comfortable.

He's been spiking a temperature. He did it night before last and last night. They took blood cultures and lung cultures and decided that he is developing pneumonia. They have him on a broad-spectrum antibiotic until the cultures come back. Obviously, the next few days will be critical.

On a good note, his leg looks great. They are having him back in surgery Thursday and will also be fixing his left thumb (which I didn't know was broken) at the same time.

I always spend a while just chattering at him. I have to stop frequently since I tend to get verklemt, but I try to come up with non-sensitive subjects: interesting stuff I saw on the way up, the weird noise my van makes, cool things I found on Snopes.com ... the stuff he and I normally talk about. I avoid talking about the accident, or Kimberly, of course, since I don't know exactly what he can hear or understand and I don't want to upset him.

He's no more responsive. When I speak or touch him he might move his head slightly, move his lips, open his eyes slightly, but it seems more like a reaction to the stimulus than a purposeful thing. He drifts off to sleep easily - a good thing and not surprising considering his morphine load.

I wonder if he dreams? I wonder if they're filled with breaking glass and crumpling sheetmetal?

I hope not. I hope he's having his regular brand of dreams. (He's always dreaming about chasing bad guys and shooting at them. What's up with this? Is this a guy thing or what? I mean, my Dad's a gun owner, so it makes sense, but, I'm a gun owner and *I* never have this dream. My mild mannered disguised-as-a-school-teacher Evil Genius Husband who has never, that I know of, even held a real gun has this dream. This has gotta be a guy thing!)

Anyway, I had some, longer, more coherent convos with colleagues and friends of dad as well as with Kimberly's dad (v. v. hard to even converse with him. We both get choked up) today. It's nice to hear from everyone. I hope I'm not sounding too strung out when I talk to people.

They are having a Memorial Service for Kimberly on Sunday in Statesville. If you're friend or family and would like to attend, please email me or ring me for details.

-----

Sorry this is so brief and rambly.

(Note: edited this morning to correct the stunning array of typos ... Jeez.)

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:51 pm   0 comments

Monday, November 28, 2005

More Monday thoughts ... waiting

I have been trying to tie up some details of Dad's to help out and stay on top of things. I had a long list, from 'find out lady's name who takes care of the animals' to 'contact insurance people' (please note that these are listed in order of importance. I freakin' hate dealing with insurance types).

I immediately ran into the problem of not being allowed to do much. The phone company, for example, refused to clear the password on the voicemail at the house. I wanted to change the message so that anyone who rang would be directed to actual humans and could find out what's going on. These are normal security/privacy measures, but they also present a potential problem.

Dad has had massive trauma to his lungs. Even though he's minimally responsive, he's under heavy sedation so that he can heal and will be for awhile. It may be 2 weeks or more before he's coherent enough for him to be told about Kimberly, much less able to make decisions. Or it may be the end of the week (hope, hope, hope!).

What I really want is for Dad to suddenly sit up, spit out his breathing tubes, and roar: "What the HELL is going on?!". Then I won't have to worry about this fiddly stuff. But I have to accept the fact that that might not happen anytime soon.

So what do I do? Wait, like someone suggested? Wait for dad to recover? How long? Two weeks , a month, three months, what? What if he has bills due right now? Do I risk damaging his credit because I was ... waiting?

I'm also worrying about money for him. His medical bills are going to be astronomical. I could be saving money for him right now - remember I'm the ThriftyChik - by stopping the cable that no one is watching, disconnecting cell phones no one's using, changing all the car insurance to minimal, etc, etc. Nothing drastic or permanent, just little things to save money.

Not to mention that it makes me twitch to think of him being billed for things that he's not using.
But how much is too much? I certainly won't do anything he'd not want. I'm not gonna sell his airplane or anything: ("Look dad, I got 200 bucks for that plane you had in bits! Cool, huh?") I also don't want to step on anyone's toes, offend anyone, or do the wrong thing. That everyone involved in this has his/her own opinions on how things should be handled has been brought into sharp focus for me. I don't need any more disapproval.

But my first obligation is Daddy and doing what will be the best for him.

So is there some universal time limit? What's de riguere in these situations? Should I let myself be influenced by what other people might think? Or should I shut up and quit whining?

OK, don't answer that last one.

-----

Alright, I'm on the road here as soon as I get the babies fed and my mom shows up. Daddy ran a fever night before last and last night which worries me. They also had to give him another unit of blood today after his surgery. I will nail down that orthopoedist today and have him explain what was done. He and I have been playing phone tag.

It's dismal, cold, and rainy ... perfect traveling weather, eh? I'll try to update tonight.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 2:26 pm   4 comments

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A new week, Monday

Well, I've made the critical error of sharing my frustrations over the phone calls with a few people. Some people's tones have grown distinctly chilly.

I seem unable to explain to folks that I really do appreciate the condolences and offers of assistance. These people are wonderful for thinking of me. I also don't mind fielding calls. I understand that everyone wants to know what's going on. It just can get a bit overwhelming.

*sigh*

We're all very stressed, and we're all very upset, and I know I have an obligation to be here for everybody. Please, anyone reading this who has my number, don't hesitate to ring me. I really mean that. All I ask is that you bear with me right now and remember that, not only am I worried sick about my dad and trying to be here for everyone and trying to get all the small stuff taken care of (like ringing the insurance people, etc), but I'm also trying to take care of my young family as well.


On a related note: Thank you everyone for your comments here on the blog. I appreciate the contact more than you know. It's nice to think that I have this invisible 'net' of humans to catch my thoughts.

Thank you so much.

----

I am so strung out. I'm not sleeping well and then every other day or so I make the 4 1/2 hour drive up to the hospital where my dad is. I walk down that chilly corridor and into the ICU, partially excited at seeing him and partially sick at having to see him like this.

The environment doesn't help. The hushed voices, that horrible smell (from what I assume is a disinfectant). I feel like the atmosphere clings to me when I leave. You know how when you've been in a smokers house, you get home and your hair and clothes smell like cigarette smoke? Well I feel like death is on me, like a contagion, and it's making me very nervous. I know it's a dumb feeling, but I can't help it.

----

I feel like I have an unhealthy obsession with all of this. Really, I think about this situation all day. I wonder if Kimberly suffered (I hope fervently not. I hope she never really even knew what happened.) I worry about Dad dying. I wonder what I'd do if he did. I worry about their animals at home. I know they wonder where their people are. I ponder how I will take care of Dad when he is recovering. I worry about his bills not getting paid right now. I'm frustrated by not being able to do more.

Sometimes I just feel like screaming and breaking things.

----

They had Dad in surgery today to do some repairs on his leg. They will have to do more surgery but are understandably waiting until he's stronger to do too much. They gave him 3 units of blood last night in anticipation of the operation today and when I phoned at mid-day they said he was out of the OR and doing as well as could be expected.

I'm going up there again tomorrow and so will have updates tomorrow night.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:57 pm   4 comments

Saturday, November 26, 2005

More thoughts ...

I think the hardest thing right now is trying to keep up some semblance of normalcy around my children. They're old enough to know that something's wrong but not old enough to explain the situation to.

I have told my oldest, Boy, that Granddaddy's got a very bad owie and is in the hospital. He (my son) also associates hospitals with the happy arrival of a new sibling so he doesn't get the significance right now.

I rang my mother and told her. That wasn't fun. At all. She still lives in that uncertain twilight of loving the man, her first husband and the father of her only child, and hating him, the man who left her after 18 years of what she thought was a good marriage (gosh, that bit sounds familiar). She definitely reacted a lot worse, initially, than I did.

You see, oddly, I've been waiting for this call my whole life.

My father has flown airplanes and has driven fast cars for as long as I can remember. Ironically, he wasn't driving Thursday - something we were puzzling over especially since Kimberly never drove the Corvette. My dad likes to drive, he likes to be the one in charge, the one piloting the craft (I'm the same way). Some questions may never be answered and you can run 'what if' scenarios through your brain until you go mad.

We've kind of reached a consensus that he must have been grading papers in the passenger's seat while Kim drove. The little boy who hit them (apparently traveling over 75 mph) crossed over the centerline and the nose of my Dad's Corvette acted like a ramp - the Beemer literally drove up the hood, crushing the windscreen, and vaulted over. There's a chance that Daddy actually never saw what happened at all.

I went back up to the hospital today. I opted to drive in the daylight today rather than be up all night Monday night. Nature helped out by pissing down rain the entire day, making it dismal and cold and holding me up waiting behind traffic because of accidents on the roads.

Dad looked slightly better - though still ghastly - his skin was a bit pinker, he could open and close his eyes, and he responded by moving slightly when you spoke to him. It was almost worse, though, than seeing him like he was before. He kept frowning and moving his lips around the two tubes in his mouth, making me wonder what he was trying to impart (or if he was just randomly moving). He would pull against the restraints on his arms and that upset me (even thought I know that they have to tie their arms down so that they won't move suddenly and harm themselves). His bruises stand out black on his pale skin and he still has blood caked in his nostrils and at the edge of his mouth from the accident. It was just altogether frustrating and disturbing.

I spoke with another Dr Very Young who was very sincere and knowledgeable but who told me not to expect dad to be coherent any time soon. I was proud of how I can speak so calmly to the staff. What I really want to do is grab the nearest doctor by the lapels and scream into his face: "FIX HIM! Make him work again!" and shake him like a ragdoll until he complies. It's a good thing that I don't snap like that, folks'd be wiping spit off of their faces all day.


-----


I have learned something already through all of this.

People want to talk to me. Not my aunt, his sister, or my husband or her husband ... me. hey not only want to offer their condolences and their assistance (both of which I deeply appreciate), but they also just want to talk. This talking is for them. It's a form of therapy for them to help them wrap their brains around what has happened. It takes a similar form with everyone:

"Oh my god, I am so sorry. I just can't believe that this has happened. Oh my god. They were just here, having dinner with us. They were such a great couple. Oh god I just can't believe this, really. Do you know who was driving? Do you know if the boy was drinking? Do you know when your dad will be off the respirator? Will he be able to walk? Will he stay at that hospital? Do you know how long? Where are you staying? Are you from here?"

And so on and so on. Now, please don't think for one second that I don't want these folks to call. I really, really appreciate everyone who's rung and everyone's good thoughts and offers of help. But, after 10 or 12 calls, many from people whom I have never met, and 10 or 12 times reciting all the horrific details and fielding long strings of questions including some that were, frankly, not pertinent ("now, where did you go to high school?") I was strung out, upset, and on edge.

But it taught me something. In future, if *I* ever am speaking to a person who's had a loved one badly injured or killed I'll remember that this person is overwhelmed. A person in this situation is not only grieving, but is having to handle a million things and talk to dozens of different people. If I ring them I will remember to express my condolences, offer my help, and then hang up. Any strictly nosey questions and lurid speculation can wait until later.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 12:04 pm   1 comments

I hate the holidays

Seriously. I have for many many years. People go crazy. They drive like maniacs, shove by you in stores, break in line, try to run you down in parking lots. They scowl and growl and spend their days feverishly shopping, for gifts, for food, for deals.

After the last two days, of course, Thanksgiving has taken on a distinctly morbid feel for me.

I also used to find hospitals comforting. Up until Thursday I associated hospitals with the birth of my children. On the fourth floor at Palmetto Baptist hospital in Columbia, the environment is warm and soothing, alive with hushed, excited voices, and accented by that big plate glass window separating an ever present crowd of thrilled family from a room full of plump newborns. The whole hospital is comfortingly painted, littered with soft chairs, and easy to navigate.

Not so the North Carolina Baptist hospital. True, I arrived at 1 am and through the emergency entrance but still. I was immediately struck by the dark ER waiting room lined with dull-coloured, threadbare chairs. When I was directed to the floor where my father was in the ICU, I was forced to trail down long, drafty hallways painted a sickly green trimmed in black. The 5th floor itself was yellowish tan with dark dark brown doorjambs and baseboards. Who approved these colours? It gave the place a nightmarish quality reminiscent of Stephen King.

And cold. The entire, huge labyrinthine hospital was freezing cold. I spent the whole time with my full length coat on plus my scarf and - when negotiating the echoing, maze-like halls from place to place - my gloves.

The ICU was interesting. I'd never been in an ICU before. It was just a room full of beds with broken people in. There was a nurses station, and just the beds with their heads set along the wall, each with a cluster of beeping, hissing, chirping machines.

My dad was right by the door and it was really weird seeing him. It was like looking at a mannequin or a wax figure in one of those historical museums. You're fascinated at how realistic they can be and creeped out at the same time.

He's under heavy sedation and has been since the accident. He's intubated and on a respirator since his ribs were shattered and the bits punctured his lungs and collapsed them. He's also in a neck brace that cranes his head back, making him look stiff and even more mannequin-like.

So he looked very unreal and unlike himself. His already pale skin was waxy and cold to the touch and he was bruised everywhere and covered in small cuts - presumably from the glass out of the windscreen. He also looked very fragile and thin which was disturbing. He's non-responsive so I have no idea if he could hear me. Just as well, since all I could manage was: "Daddy, I'm here ..." before I choked up.

He definitely could have been a wax figure in a Halloween horror.

The staff of North Carolina Baptist, by the way, was terrific. In direct contrast to their chilly, shabby hospital they shone. From the security guard who parked my car at the ER entrance to Dr. Really Young and Cheerful, to the efficient nurses in the ICU, the staff was fabulous.

I'm going back up Monday the second Evil Genius Husband hits the door. I've spent the last few days explaining to everyone that: 1) I must care for my children and EGH works at a job where he cannot just casually take time off, and: 2) we are 4 1/2 hours away from this hospital. That's 9 hours minimum on the road and I must get some sleep myself or *I* will be lying in an ICU somewhere as well.

I also have been struggling to attend to the details of my dad's life - contact his job, his insurance people, take care of his animals, stop his paper, collect his post, etc. Everyone else seems to be taking a slightly cavalier attitude about this. "Don't worry about that stuff," and "Someone else will take care of that," and "We'll worry about that later," have all been said.

NO. I have no control over what happened to my father. I have no control over his recovery. But I do have control over this. I am a very organized person. I deal with emergencies well.

LET ME DO THIS!

This is not only therapy for me, gives me something to do with my brain, but it will help my dad if only in a minimal way.

What I want most to do is to tell my dad that everything will be OK just like he used to do for me when I was little. Aside from the fact that I can't get out more than 3 words while standing at his bedside, I just can't tell him that. Because it won't be OK. It will never be OK again. his wife is dead. Nothing can change that or make it better.

So now I numbly wait. I'm trying to act as normal as possible in front of the kids. I'm trying to not act like a zombie around EGH. I'm trying to sleep.

I thought I might go out into the barnyard and build something - my own therapy - but I don't know how much I can do with my finger messed up. We'll see.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:28 am   7 comments

Changing gears ...

http://www.salisburypost.com/area/284787633798558.php

The man (Hill) is my father. Ms Beam was his wife.

I've just gotten some sleep after 39 hours of being up (many of those on the road) and I will try to compose a coherent blog post later today.

Have you ever had those horrible dreams where you know you're in a dream and the monster is about to get you but you can't wake up?

I feel like I'm in that dream right now.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:48 am   0 comments

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Gobble, gobble!

When you get a chance today, between going back for seconds on the pecan pie and lounging in front of the telly, check out my new webcomic: Deceleration Trauma. There's a permanent link in the sidebar and I plan on publishing one every monday.

Make sure you check out the previous ones. I've got 3 weeks worth up.

----

Other than having a ball drawing my new comics (Yes, I have 2 ... the other one's on my other blog), I've not been doing much. Most of my activities have been curtailed because I smashed my finger with my sledgehammer while splitting wood:


OUCH!

But I have been taking a few pics (of the non-gross-out variety, lol). A very happy Bulk:


Evil Genius Husband and the Incredible Bulk (plus Abe):


My ever-lovin' green-eyed Boy:


And the Incredible Bulk after his first solids (some of mummy's porridge).


Now if that doesn't put you in the mood to eat, I don't know what will, LOL! Happy turkey day, everyone!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 12:33 pm   2 comments

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hammers and nails and boards, oh my!

Ohh, I have gotten SO many projects done! I'm really pleased. I will also be posting pics as soon as I drag my sorry arse out and take them!

I converted the run-in into two lambing jugs, and built a pen inside what is soon-to-be the ex-feedroom. This tiny pen - just big enough for my largest doe/ewe - has a built in feedbin and hay rack and a stanchion that closes on the doe's neck so she can't turn around. I have had problems in the past with yearling ewes rejecting their kids. We also had an orphan last year.

If I had had an 'adoption box', like this one, I could have stuck one of my older ewes in there and pressed her into adopting that lamb. This will also help with flighty young animals who want to reject their babies.

I'm hoping I never have to use it!

I also went ahead and did what I should have done originally and built a built-in feedbox and hay rack for the pony's stall. It's an old fashioned real stall: he stands tied in it, and he is so rarely stalled (only in nasty weather) that he tends to get bored and tosses his feed bucket about and steps on his hay. All that is in the past now. I hope, lol.

My next projects are: free standing feedroom for Evil Genius Husband so that he has room and a proper door that's big enough for him to get through without stooping, a woodshed, and a dovecote.

I'll post again with pics so that all this makes more sense!

Oh and so far we've gotten 2 racoons and 2 'possums in the trap! Where are they all coming from??

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 1:30 pm   1 comments

Monday, November 14, 2005

They're like little ... PEOPLE!

How is it that my oldest child is not yet four but I feel like everybody's growing up way too fast? Why do I look at my daughter and think: "Soon she'll be in college and I'll miss all this stuff that drives me insane."

And then I burst into tears.

But, seriously, I know why I'm feeling this way (aside from being old as dirt and already sad that the next baby, unconcieved, will be my last). It's things like this:

It was naptime and I peeked into the two oldest's room where they were leaping about and playing as they do before they actually sleep. Boy, who was sitting on the edge of his bed and facing me saw me but The Human Crash Test Dummy had her back to me. Boy and I regarded one another for a second, THCTD between us trying to put her shirt back on (she gets naked randomly throughout the day then redresses, often with everything inside out and/ or back to front). Finally Boy said: "What?" - talking to me.

THCTD, who thought he was talking to her, said in a clear piping voice: "Nothing, Brother, I'm just thinking."

-----

And now for today's rant! (and there was much rejoicing)

-----

Why the HECK is it that everything for children nowadays must make noise?

The toys make noise (I'm hearing Denis Leary in my head, here), the stuffed animals make noise, the playsets make noise, action figures make noise, exersaucers, swings, crib toys, teething rings ... AAAAgghhhhHHhh!

Who decided that this was a good idea? When did it become acceptable to make a plastic barn with plastic farm animals and buttons to mimic the sounds of the animals so the kid doesn't have to?

When folks learn that I don't buy electronic toys for my kids they - after a boggled silence - always say: "Wow, it must be quiet at your house!"

Nope. It's not. My house is filled with the sounds of children making their own sound effects.

When a button is pressed on a toy in my house it may beep one time and bark the next. Our Buzz Lightyear dolls don't know just a few pat phrases, they can say the entire dialogue from the film. My children, ages 3 1/2, 2 1/2 and 18 months spend their days in elabourate roleplaying that stuns me. My kids aren't geniuses, they've just been encouraged to use their imaginations.

Mine have never owned ONE 'educational' toy. What exactly does three electronic buttons on an Exersaucer teach one's child? How to press a button over and over? Even the most formidible ones, bristling with toys, just get boring after awhile. Have you seen the latest ones?. They're just ridiculous, geared toward eager credit-card-clutching parents, not educating the child. You can't even see the baby in there amid the bewildering array of crap.

My exersaucers are all thrift store finds (surprise, surprise, right?) and are the old fashioned plain ones. Just a tray. Nary a toy in sight. With them I get to put various toys up and keep stimulating baby with new stuff. I also am required to actually interact with my child. I have to go pick up all those toys that are gleefully thrown down by a happy baby discovering how cause and effect work in his world.

-----

I can't let a good Monty Python quote go uncommented-upon, so here's a tie in: a belated trick-or-treating pic from this year. Evil Genius Husband went as Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Blog, and that's The Human Crash Test Dummy as a spider (she didn't fall and hurt herself once that night!), and Boy as a firefighter.



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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 11:35 am   1 comments

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Rash decision?

I did something dumb yesterday.

About 6 months ago I discovered that my youngest daughter, Bitty Girl, has a contact allergy to - of all things - Ranch dressing. I had served an hors d'ovours type meal with Ranch to dip the raw veggies in. Within minutes Bitty had a mild red rash around her mouth. By process of elimination over the next week, I determined that the culprit was the dressing.

Fast forward to yesterday.

Yes, you've already figured out what I did. Again. DOH!

Here's my rashy angel:



You can see it better here (Does this kid have the biggest nose-holes you've ever seen on a child, or what?) :



Now, clearly, she's in no discomfort and happy as a clam. It apparently doesn't itch or burn. It also goes away quickly. This is her just three hours later, after her nap:


Happy baby! Now mommy ... no more Ranch!

What is it with me and rashes, anyway?! Bitty is the one who had the reaction to the MMR and scared the snot out of me. The Incredible Bulk is having rash issues as well right now, but of a different source:
YIKES! This one's candida (yeastie beasties) and it's driving me nuts! He's teething and gnaws on his fist all day and everywhere the drool is smeared is a light dusting of candida rash. Bah!

(Don't mind the weird face he's making. You'd look like this too if someone was shoving a camera with a flash in your face as you were going down for your nap! Acually I think he looks a bit like Dr Phlox from Enterprise!)

So if any of you has any tips or advice on what to do about these various rashes (other than: "Don't feed her Ranch dressing again, you twit!") I'd appreciate it! Cheers!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 4:17 pm   15 comments