Sunday, May 8, 2016

"To put it simply --- our brain span should match our life span." --- Meryl Comer

Mother's Day has come and gone, and as I prepare for bed after a lovely day out with my husband and children, my mind turns to a subject I've been subconsciously avoiding all day.

My mother.

And all at once, I'm overwhelmed.  I'm washing my face and suddenly, I'm in tears, completely unable to stop, because it's Mother's Day, and for the first time since I entered her life... I haven't called her to talk to her.

There is no phone in her room at the nursing home, because she no longer knows how to dial one.  One of my sisters, or my nieces, has to call me on their mobile and hand the phone to her, and I have to hope she knows who I am.

I miss... I miss my mom.

Yes, she's still alive, but... I miss my Mom.   I miss the woman I used to call for advice, her calm voice calming me, her laughter when I told her the latest funny thing the kids or the cats did, her excitement matching mine when I told her about a new rose in my garden blooming for the first time and promising her pictures.  I miss her humor, her intelligence when she'd challenge me about my opinions, making me back up my statements with facts.  I miss the stories she used to tell me.  I miss... asking her about recipes, and her rattling off the list of ingredients and how to make it, and then the pause before I said, "Okay, Mom, but... how did you make it?"  And then getting the real recipe.

I miss the woman she was before Alzheimer's stole her from me.  And I want her back.  I want her back, dammit.

But I know I won't get her.  I know she's gone, and what's left behind is this... shell that looks like her, and talks like her, and moves like her, and gives me occasional glimpses of the woman she used to be...

I'm terrified that I'll be just like her.  I'm terrified that I'll lose myself, that I'll forget my husband, and my children.  Just two days ago, my daughter stared at me with stricken eyes and said, "Mom.... don't forget me.  Don't ever forget me, please.  Please."

I smiled through my tears and said, "Like I could ever forget you!"  And prayed in my heart to whoever is listening that I can keep that promise.  "When they develop a vaccine for Alzheimer's, I'm first in line, I promise," I said.

Every time I forget something, every time I can't bring a word or a face to mind, every time I struggle for a word, every time I can't remember a name, or something that happened earlier in the day, a jolt goes through me and I want to scream.  It doesn't help that memory issues and fogginess are a hallmark of Hashimoto's.

A few months ago, when we went to the Ikea in Pflugerville, I had a moment.  A horrible, horrible moment.  Mike was driving, and we had just left 183 and turned onto I-35.  I was reading something on my phone, and I looked up when I was done and for a horrible, horrible moment that seemed to last an eternity, I thought, "Where are we?  I don't recognize this place!  Where... what is this?"

It was terrifying.  Nothing looked even remotely familiar, and this was a drive we'd made hundreds of times over the last ten years.

I didn't say anything, I just quietly stared around, trying to force my brain to recognize something, anything....

Then Mike, who was completely unaware of what was going through my mind, said, "Wow, things have changed so much since the last time I drove through here, I almost don't recognize anything!  Oh, look, the bowling alley is still right there."

I turned my head, and the bowling alley we took the Impertinent Daughter to for her fourth birthday, the birthday she found out she was going to have a sibling, was still there, looking just the same as it had nineteen years ago, and the world slipped back into place.

It wasn't me.  It was that it had been nearly two years since the last time we'd drove that way, and the rapid changes in Austin and the surrounding area meant many things had been torn down and new buildings gone up in their place.

But for that moment, that one terrifying moment...

I miss my mother more than I can say.  And at some point tomorrow, I will probably text one of my sisters and ask to arrange a time to talk to Mom over the phone.  And after I talk to Mom, I will go take a shower so I can cry my heart out without my family knowing.  I once said that watching my mom go through this was like standing on a shore while my mother stood in a boat that was slowly drifting away from the shore.  That we were holding hands as it drifted, and ever so slowly, she was slipping from my grasp, and that I knew one day, she would drift completely away.

Right now... the tips of our fingers are barely touching, barely connecting.

I hate that there is nothing I can do to change that.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  I miss you, and I will remember you... for as long as I can...

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Almost, But Not Quite...

The day is coming, probably sooner than I would like, when my mother won’t know who I am.  

I’m braced for it.  I have promised myself that I won’t fall apart... at least, not in front of her.  I’ll wait until I’m out in the parking lot, and then I’ll probably cry until I’m calm again.

We stopped by the nursing home she’s in this evening on our way home to Central Texas, and when I greeted her, she sat up with a smile, happy to have visitors.  Even though at first, she had no idea who we were, just that we were family.

We all said hello, and I sat down next to her and took her hand after helping her get her glasses on, and I could see her staring at my face, trying to get some sense of recognition.  So I said, “Do you know who I am?”

She smiled and said, “Yes, I do.  You’re Carol... no, wait... you’re Jo.”

A lot of people who haven’t see us for a few years usually mistake me for my middle sister.  A few might mistake me for my oldest sister.  Carol and I share a lot of personality traits, and facial expressions, but she’s fair, blonde, and green-eyed, and I’m olive, auburn, and brown-eyed.  So it’s not that far out of the way that Mom would guess I’m Carol first.

Except she’s my mom, and in her normal state of mind, she’d never make that sort of mistake.

In her normal state of mind.

I hugged her and said, “Yes, I’m Jo!” and proceeded to chat with her, and have the kids sit with her and visit, but I could see that she had no real idea who I was.  Just... that I was family.  That I was one of her daughters.  But... she didn’t know me.

It wasn’t until we were leaving, and I had hugged her and said, “I love you, Mom.”

She said, “I love you, too.”  Then something seemed to spark in her mind and she stared at me intently.  “I love you,” she said as I stepped back to the curtain divider.  “I love you... like... a bush.. and ... and a.. pickle.  A peck.”

I felt tears sting my eyes, and I sang, “A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”

She joined in.  “A hug around the neck, and a barrel in the heap.  A barrel in the heap and I’m talking in my sleep about you, about you...”

“Jo,” she said with a huge smile and recognition in her eyes.  “There you are.  There’s my baby.  That’s my girl, my little Jo.  My tomboy.”

I fought back tears and kept singing.  “I love you, a bushel and a peck, you bet your pretty neck I do.  Toodle oodle oodle, toodle oodle oodle, toodle oodle doodley doo!”

I hugged her again, and she whispered, “You’re my baby, and I’ll never forget my baby.”

“I know, Mom,” I whispered back.  “I love you.”

I left, and I had tears running down my face, but I held it together all the way home, until now.  

That day is coming, when even singing what my daughter used to call affectionately “The Grandma Song,” won’t fire off the right neurons in Mom’s mind.  I’m going to hate that day.  But... I think I’ll get through it.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Not Exactly One of the Maddening Crowd...

I have had to make rules for myself.

I don't go on forums or join Facebook/Twitter groups for Hashimoto's.  Why, you may ask?  Well... as much as I could use the support of fellow sufferers, I'm not exactly wild about the way they descend upon new members like... like... a pride of lions falling upon a tasty young morsel of a gazelle that just happens to wander into their territory.

No, seriously, it isn't pretty.  I've done my lurking in the background, and I'm Not Going There.

The diets they throw at you, the supplements you should try, the exercises, the regimens, treatments...  every single snake-oil miracle cure-all you can think of will be thrown at you, and gods help the person who says, "No, thanks, really, I'm not even remotely interested."

I also don't do more than look at new research from the CDC or NIH, or even the Mayo Clinic.  Why?  Because mostly, I'm just looking at new treatment options, or if they've figured out what causes it, etc.  But I'm not going to torture myself with looking at causes (except in regards to keeping my kids from getting this) or whatever new diet/supplement/vitamin/you name it they may suggest only to later say, "Sorry, our studies weren't as clear-cut as we'd thought, this doesn't really work."

I had to recently make another rule for myself.  I am not allowed to look at the list of secondary autoimmune diseases people who have Hashimoto's have a tendency to develop.

I ended up shaking for two hours and had to sternly remind myself that I was being quite ridiculous and not to torture myself like that.

I need to deal with what is in front of me now and not borrow trouble from the future, as my mother used to say.

Life goes on.  I roll with the punches, and I keep moving as best as I can.  I feel the wind on my face, I watch the roses bloom on the back porch, and the jasmine on the front porch, I listen to my son tease my daughter and make her laugh, and listen to my daughter fuss at my son and make him laugh, I watch the ducks waddle contentedly through the grass in the backyard, and try to keep Muta the Magnificent from crushing my legs as he purrs in my lap.  Life goes on, and I will have good days, and I will have bad days, and as long as I keep moving and keep remembering the good things in my life, I think I'll be okay.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Not All Artists Are Starving...

Since the Impertinent Daughter started her first semester at Texas State, something has been coming up almost every time someone spots her doodling in the margins of her notebooks, or sketching in her sketchbook.

People tend to gather around her when she sketches or doodles.  It's a phenomenon I've encountered time and time again.  Sit down quietly in an out of the way spot, open your sketchbook, pull out a pencil or pen and start drawing, then look up and there's always someone standing there, staring intently at your work.

My daughter is used to this.  What's new is, because she's on a college campus, the inevitable question comes up: "What's your major?"

At first, she said, "I'm an art major."  And she encountered yet another phenomenon that virtually every artist/art student will identify with.

The Interrogation.

"You're an art major?  Really?  But... that's not really practical, is it?  You should be majoring in something that will ensure you can get a job, something that will pay well so you can survive on your own.  Art major?  Really?  I mean, if you have to do it, at least major in art education, then you could become a teacher."

Even some fellow art students will pop out with the, "Are you at least taking commercial art?"

*insert eye roll here*

"Why do they do that, Mom?" she asked as we walked through the aisles of the hated Hobby Lobby (I really, really hate giving my money to Hobby Lobby), looking for the Copic markers she needed.

"Because they don't understand that art is everywhere," I replied.

And it is.  Those commercials you see on TV?  An artist came up with the logos for that business, and most likely did story-boarding for the commercial.  An artist did the lighting and set design for them.

The ads you see in magazines or on billboards?  An artist did the layout for those, the design and the lettering.

Like that pattern on your duvet?  A designer made that?  Yes, they did, but you know what?  They had to take art to get there.

Oh, you know that movie you liked last week?  Yeah, artists did concept art, story boards, lighting and set design, costume design, makeup...

Like the comics in the paper?  Done by artists.  That editorial cartoon that made you so mad or made you go, "Yeah, I know exactly how that feels!"


How about those cool characters in the latest XBox game you just can't stop playing?  Yeah, an artist had a lot to do with how they look.

I could go on and on, but I won't.

And yes, I know the argument of, "Not every artist makes it," or, "not everyone has the talent or the conviction to go the distance..."

Imagine if Bill Watterson had listened to that sort of nonsense?  We'd never have the awesomeness that is "Calvin and Hobbes."  Or Walt Disney?

Anyway, I asked the Impertinent One what she did when people said things like that to her.  She shrugged and said, "Meh, I just nod and say something like thanks, I'll take that under advisement, or thanks for shattering my hopes and dreams, or whatever."

Yeah, that made me laugh out loud.

"Sometimes," she said as she peered at the markers in their case, "people come up to me while I'm drawing and say, that's so amazing, are you an art major?  or what's your major, that is so cool! and I'll say oh, I'm going into game design, or computer science, and they'll be all horrified and say, No, you have to major in art, you're so talented and creative, that's so awesome, look at how cool it is, you HAVE to major in art!  And I'm like, make up your mind!!"

"Well," I said, after I stopped laughing, "the thing is, when you tell people you're going to major in art,  you know what they're seeing in their heads, right?"

"No," she said, turning to frown at me.  "What?"

"Most people, when they hear you're majoring in art, immediately think, Vincent Van Gogh!  Or Picasso,  or any other artist who started out poor and starving."  When she blinked, I nodded.  "No, seriously, they think, starving artist, living in a freezing attic in Paris, living on the generosity of friends and family, practically homeless.  They think you're either a painter or a sculptor, or something that to them is completely impractical, never mind that there are some very successful painters, sculptors, etc, out there."  I shook my head.  "It's ridiculous and has no basis in reality, but that's what's going on."

"That's... disturbing," Miss Impertinent said, slightly horrified.

"I know, but there it is.  That's why you keep hearing you should major in something practical, that can help you get a good job and set you for the future." I hugged her.  "Don't take it personally.  They don't know you, or what you can do.  And you're already learning so much, I can't wait to see what you do next!"

She blushed, but you know, I think the Impertinent Daughter is going to be awesome.  I know she will.

It's a Southern Thing, Yo...

There are times when I am confronted by the differences between my husband's family and mine.

Most of the time, we tick along quite nicely.  After all, we'll have been married for 25 years this month, so obviously, things are working and we get along.  The Husbandly One and I are really good friends and most excellent partners in crime, and there are times when I'm honestly surprised to realize we haven't known each other all our lives.

What a horror for our parents if we had!!  No, seriously, we would have made the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter books look like rank amateurs!!  I am fairly certain that between the two of us, we would have figured out how to legitimately order a flame-thrower  and have it delivered to one of our homes by the time we were ten.  I'm just not sure which of us would have been the instigator and which would have been the gleeful follower, because I'm pretty sure it would have been an even draw.

Still, there are times when something happens and the huge differences in our families and the way we were brought up are unavoidable and stun us both.

Like the time lightning struck our house when we were living out in the boonies and knocked our phone out.  This was back in the mid-nineties, before cellphones were ubiquitous.  We were living way out in the country in Central Texas and my family was back in Houston, and his in Texarkana.  I kept asking THO to call my family from work to let them know we were okay and what had happened, and he would reply that he wasn't allowed to make long distance calls from work not related to his job, and that my folks would be fine and not worry. In retrospect, I should have written a letter, but it would have taken at least four days to get to my folks, and remember, back at that time, if you didn't have a phone, you didn't have internet because DIAL-UP.

I worried, because at that time, I spoke to my mother on the phone at least every other day.  I was a young mother with no close neighbors, alone in a house with a toddler, a large dog, and three cats.  The phone was my lifeline to sanity and grownups.

We also didn't expect for it to take almost two fucking weeks for Southwestern Bell, our telephone company at the time, to come out and take a look at our phone.  And that is another story for another time.  So, what was the huge difference between our families?

I am the youngest of three daughters in a Southern family.  In a Southern family, you may grow up, you may move away, but you always call your mom or your dad, and you will always be their kid.  They will let you go, but they will never stop worrying about you.  And if you don't check in with them on a regular basis, whether it's once a day, once a week, or once a month, they will come check on you.

So, one week after the phone went out, at 1 o'clock in the morning, we were awakened by someone banging on the front door of our house while someone shouted my and my husband's name, demanding we answer.

Our dog went nuts, and later, we realized he was barking with joy, not aggression, and our daughter was terrified.  The Husbandly One went to the door and opened it to find my dad and my nephew-in-law standing outside, my dad staring at us with a half-terrified expression, half fury.  One tearful phone call (with my nephew-in-law's dying cell phone, no less) with my mom later, we got the story from my dad.  After two days of not hearing from me, Mom started getting nervous and tried calling me.  Of course, our phone being dead, she couldn't get through, and an automated message gave them an error message.  Mom waited for us to call, and waited, and waited, and soon, she became convinced that something terrible had happened to us.  Unable to bear it any longer, she finally got Dad agitated enough to decide to drive all the way out where we lived to check on us, and take along NIL for support.

They were afraid they were either going to find us dead, or gone.

Dramatic, but not unexpected, considering my mom's vivid imagination, and I couldn't blame her one bit.

THO explained about lightning having struck our house and showed them the blown up tree next to the house, and our dead phone (we ended up having to replace both the phone and the answering machine), and my dad frowned at him and said, "Why didn't you call us from work?"

THO said, "We're not allowed to make non-work related long distance phone calls."

My dad frowned and said, "You could have explained that your phone was out, and you have family who would be worried about your well-being that you needed to contact.  Or you could have gone to any payphone and made a collect call to us, we would have accepted it.  Or you could have made that collect call from work."

As my dad explained all the ways my husband could have made an effort to contact my family and let them know we were okay, up to and including calling my nephew who was going to UT at the time and having him pass on the message, I was trying not to smirk because my dad was confirming all the arguments I had been making over the previous week about contacting my parents ASAP.

"What was that all about?" THO asked after my dad and nephew had gone.

"I'm a daughter," I said, and nodded at our toddler.  "One day, when she's grown up and off doing her own thing, you will completely understand why my dad had that panicked tone in his voice when he was banging on the door."

And yeah, he gets it now.

This past week, though, the difference has reared its head in a completely different way, though it is again, family related.

Last Monday, THO got a call that his mother was in the ICU of a San Antonio hospital, sent there for a blood pressure reading that was through the roof and blood oxygen levels that were almost impossibly low.  We drove out to check on her right after THO got home, and she was in terrible shape.

It's been a rough week for all of us, but most especially Ma, as the doctors struggled to get her blood pressure down to more acceptable levels, to get her sodium levels up, and to get her lungs clear enough to breathe so her blood oxygen levels would rise from the forties up to a more acceptable 98%.  It's still not quite there, but I'm thinking 90% is pretty damn good.

What has blown my mind in all of this is... there has been no diagnosis.  Nobody knows any details, (and this includes Mike's brother who has the medical power of attorney) of what the doctors think is going on, or what could possibly be wrong, or even of what tests they are doing.  Nothing beyond the medications to bring her blood pressure down, something to calm her down, something to help her sleep, and breathing treatments twice a day to open her lungs up so she can breathe.

This absolutely floors me.

I am tempted to sic my sisters on this, because seriously, if this had been my mother?  All three of us would know every single detail, from who exactly the doctors were, to what they were thinking and the results of every single test they had run, and what tests they were thinking of doing in the future.  We would have gone through Ma's apartment to find out every detail of what she'd been eating, how much she'd been eating if at all, what medications and supplements she'd been taking, and how much candy or sweet things she'd been eating, just in case.  We'd be taking shifts staying with her at the hospital so we could be on hand when a doctor showed up to check on her, to ask questions, and find out what was on the agenda for the day.  We'd know her nurses, what they had planned, what she was allowed to eat outside what was being served in her meals so we could tempt her with something that might encourage her to eat.  We'd have a notebook where we'd be keeping track of her blood pressure readings to coincide with what the nurses were getting, and we'd also put our heads together to remember what meds she could take, which ones she'd had reactions to, and which ones we knew she could tolerate and what she couldn't.  Because we're Southern and that's what we do.

How do I know this?  Because that's what we're doing with our own mother, who broke her hip a few weeks ago, spent time in a rehab hospital, and is now in a nursing home, because she has Alzheimer's and my eldest sister was killing herself trying to be her live in caretaker.

I simply cannot comprehend not wanting to find out this information.  I can't understand having my mother in the hospital and not wanting to know what is going on, where are the doctor's going with this, what... it's driving my husband crazy that his siblings are just being so... complacent  about this, because apparently, my Southernness has infected him.  It's stressing him considerably, because he wants to know and they can tell him nothing.  I've held my peace about this all damn week, because I didn't want to make it worse, but last night, I think he was kind of relieved when I finally blew up about it.  At least he knew he wasn't alone in feeling that way any more.

For all that my husband was raised in Texas, his parents (and his older siblings) are from Connecticut and New York, and they still have that mentality, I guess. It's just... one of those differences that makes me throw up my hands and want to rip off their arms and beat them over the heads with it.  I just... don't get it.  I really, really don't.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Warning for Whinage...

Sometimes, I just need to... vent.

I am so tired of being... tired.  I am tired of the cycles of feeling kinda okay, and then feeling like absolute crap.  I am tired of not having the energy to do the things I want to do... or the things I need to do.

I am tired of watching my husband come home, exhausted from a day's work, only to have to take up my share of the workload because I can't do it.

I am tired of the headaches, the joint pain, the muscle weakness, and the overwhelming fatigue.  I am tired of my hair falling out.

I am tired of wishing the rest of it would just fucking fall out already so it would stop making my head hurt.

I am tired of my fingers looking like sausages when they swell.   Of the way my feet ache.

I am tired of being cold all the fucking time because my thyroid is playing dead.

I'm tired of my immune system playing helicopter parent and attacking every single part of me just because it's paranoid and thinks I'm about to get sick.  Or that I'm already sick.

I'm tired of having to say no to my husband and kids when they want to go do something that requires energy that I don't have, because I really, really, really want to go swimming and hiking and climbing and having adventures... but I can't depend on my body because my thyroid is an asshole and my immune system is stupid and...

I'm just tired.

Mostly, I have good days.  And I'm able to be positive and somewhat philosophical about having an autoimmune disease.  I try to look at the positives and try to basically make lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown my way.

But every once in a while, it just... overwhelms me.  There's so much to do.  So much.  Just doing a couple of loads of laundry will sometimes take me all day.  I just swept the dining room and living room and it feels like I've been cleaning the entire house, re-digging the garden, replacing the roof, mowing the lawns, and jogging a marathon right afterwards.

No, seriously, if I'm going to be this tired and sore, I want to have earned it, not just... gotten up out of bed.  If I'm going to hurt this bad, then I figure I should have, oh, I don't know, climbed a mountain.  Or taken on four teams of Navy SEALS in a hand to hand fight and WON.

I know that in a couple of days, I'll feel better and my mood will improve.  But right now?  Life sucks and I just want to curl up somewhere and cry for the next two or three hours.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Unbearable Stench of Impossible...

So... the Impossible Son is now a freshman in high school.

*pause for motherly whimpering*

In our small town, the freshman campus is separate from the high school.  It's also on the other side of town from where we live.  Not a big deal, because this is a small town.  I am lucky, though, that his first period class, athletics, is at the high school, and so is his last class of the day, because this means he can walk to school in the morning and walk home in the afternoon, since the high school is just down the street from us.  Which means... no more sitting in long slow lines of cars to drop off/pick up my student, HUZZAH!!!!

*dance of joy, dance of joy*

Since Impossible is also on the high school cross country team, this also means that every other morning, he has to be at the high school at 6:30 a.m. for running practice. The Husbandly One drops him off on his way to work, and if I wait long enough, I can go out on the back deck and see the whole team go running by.  They get back to the school in time for the team to shower and get ready for their first period class.  Which, for my son, is athletics, as I mentioned earlier.

The next thing I need to mention is that my son, at 14, is the tallest person in our house.  He is all long arms and legs, and the basketball coach pretty much started drooling the moment the Impossible Son loped into the gym.  So... the Impossible Son spends first period playing basketball pretty much nonstop.  All. Period.  Long.

All freshman who have their first and last periods at the high school are required to ride a bus to go back and forth.  This bus leaves at a very specific time, and if a student isn't there at that time... too bad, so sad.  There is only ONE bus for this.  I totally get that.

However, what this means for athletic students is... depending on the coach, there is NO TIME FOR A SHOWER.

This... is NOT a good thing.

So, Tuesday morning of the second week of school, I was sitting and staring at the story I'm presently working on and wondering if I needed to do little tweaking of my outline when the Dropkick Murphys start screaming, "I'm a sailor peg, and I lost my leg! Climbing up the topsails, I lost my leeeeegggg!!"

It's my phone, and I think, "I turned in the athletic forms, he has all his school supplies, omg, what has he done now?"

"Hey, Mom."

I frown at look at the clock, thinking, did he miss the bus?

"I need to come home and take a shower."

Blink.  Blink.

"Wait a minute, didn't you take a shower after class?"

"There was no time," he said a little sheepishly.  "I mean, I barely have time after practice to throw on my clothes!  I have to get out to the bus as fast as I can, no time for a shower!"

Okay, I know that's true, it was true when my daughter was a freshman, and will probably be true until the construction at the high school is finished.

"Impossible, you'll just have to suffer through it," I begin, knowing the school won't just let him come home.  Then I realize, the ringtone was the Dropkick Murphys, not the Legend of Zelda.  He was calling from the school office, not his own phone.

"Mom, everyone in my class says I reek!  I stink, Mom, even the teacher says so!  I need a shower!" he insisted.

It doesn't normally take me this long to catch on.  "Wait a minute, are you just calling me on your own, or did the teacher send you to the office to actually go home and take a shower?"

"Yes, Mom, my teacher insisted!"

"Okay, I'll be there in a few minutes."

I was sort of stunned, but, having been around the Impossible Son when he was sweaty, I could sort of see it.  Thing is, he didn't have that much of a body odor problem, really.  It was mostly his feet that would get us during soccer season, where we would beg him to keep his shoes on until we were out of the car.  But that's soccer pong, and just means keeping his gear clean.  So, I got in the car and drove over to the freshman campus to sign him out.

The freshman campus was built in 1923 and has all the problems you'd associate with a building that old.  It's small (the current class of freshmen are practically bursting out of the seams), it smells, and it's hard to air condition.  In fact, only the classrooms and offices are air conditioned, while the halls are NOT.  It's like walking into a sauna when you enter the building, and you want to hold your breath until you get into the office, where it's nice and cool.  At least for a few minutes.  Air conditioning at the freshman campus really means not as hot as the hall way.

So, I wade through the sauna to the relative comfort of the office to sign my son out.  He arrives and keeps a careful distance from me, and when we get outside, immediately moves downwind of me.

"It's bad, isn't it?" he asks, eying me as we walk to the car.

"Not really."  I take a careful sniff, but I don't smell much because... he's downwind.

"Just wait," he says ominously.

Amused, I unlock the car, we get in, I pull the window shade off the dash, start the car and get the AC going... and immediately my eyes start watering, my gag reflex leaps up and punches me in the throat, and my nose and lungs start rebelling and trying to escape.

"Oh... my... God..." I gag, turning to stare at my son in horror.  "Did you roll in something dead??"

He's grinning at me.  "I know, right?" The Impossible Son's cheeks are red with embarrassment, but there's an odd sort of pride in his eyes, too.  "It's awful, isn't it?  I told you!  You didn't believe me!"

Frantically opening all the windows in my car, including the sun roof, with the AC going full blast in the faint hope of getting the... the... STANK out of my car, eyes watering and leaning away from my child, all I can say is, "Holy crap... how the fuck did this happen??"

"Mom," the Impossible Son says as leans helpfully away from me, "we ran four miles this morning in cross country, and then I had to go straight to basketball practice!  No time for a shower!  And then we barely have time to dress before we have to catch the bus!  We all reek!"

I think all my nose hair was gone by the time we got home.  My eyes are watering just remembering this.  It was horrible.  Like... old cheddar cheese that's been sitting in a bowl of water in direct sunlight for three days, and moldy soccer socks in a hot car, with a little muddy dog and three weeks unchanged cat litter box.  During a hundred degree summer.  With... sweat.

*is still horrified*

I never thought I'd ever say that about one of my children, but omg, he reeked.  It made soccer pong look... pleasant.

So, after he'd decontaminated and changed clothes, he told me the story.

He was in his second period biology class, and the teacher had broken them up into smaller groups to work on their assignment.  First, the kids in his group had started moving away from him with, "God, Impossible, WTF?" and "Dude, did you even take a shower??" Then some of the groups that were close to them started complaining and became vocal about insisting he go home to take a shower.  The teacher, noticing the increasingly vocal protests, called him over to find out what was going on.  At this point, Mr. Impossible had had enough.  "Miss Biology Teacher, I really need to go home and take a shower," he said apologetically.

She said humorously, "So you're a little sweaty, you're fine, stop messing around and get back to work."

"No, I really, really stink, that's why they're all complaining," he insisted.

At that moment, the AC came on, and the vent was apparently behind him and blew air directly toward her.  He said she was opening her mouth to probably tell him to go back to his table when his personal cloud of stench was blown into her face.

She froze.  Her eyes went wide and her nostrils flared.  Her eyes bulged as she stared up at him with horror, then they reddened and started to water.  Her nose looked like it was trying to pinch itself shut.  Her hands gripped the desk so hard, her knuckles went white.  And her mouth snapped shut.

He said, "I seriously started to worry about her, because it was like... she stopped breathing!"

Of course, she stopped breathing!  She was trying not to smell him.

After a moment, she started frantically pointing at the door.  "You," she said, scooting hastily away from him after thrusting a hall pass at him.  "You!  Home!  Now!  SHOWER!!!"

"Well," I said, leaning toward him, "you smell much better now."

"I should," he said as we got in the car to go back to the freshman campus.  "I used almost half my body wash cleaning myself off!  Do they make industrial strength body wash?"

"No, and before you ask, Axe Body spray is not shower in a can," I said firmly.  "If you had used it you would not have smelled better.  You would still have the Stench, it just would have been... the Stench WITH Axe Body spray.  And that would have been much worse."

"How do you know?" he asked as we pulled up to the school and I parked.

"Because the pot smokers at my high school used to try to disguise the smell of what they'd been doing before school started with this mint breath spray called Binaca.  And it never worked."  I grinned at him.  "They never understood why they kept getting caught, but you know, it was because instead of smelling like pot smokers, they now smelled like Fresh MINTY Pot Smokers™!"

He laughed.  "I'll pass that on!"

"Good.  Because we're all kind of tired of smelling sweaty teen pong with Axe Body spray!"

You know, I'm still working on getting the smell out of my car!