Thursday, October 25, 2007

Garrett and the Great Vomiting Evacuation Excursion

There has never been a more miserable three hour car ride in the history of the world ever. Since the dawn of time no vehicular extravaganza has been worse. I promise. It all began with the psychotic winds and giant flaming fingers of fire and reverse 911 calls. The Witch Creek fire was rapidly approaching Ramona and I was rapidly throwing Garrett's clothes into a suitcase before putting him to bed. After all, we'd only gotten the "prepare to be evacuated" call at this point. I put the boy down for the night and starting sifting through stuff. Which stuff was just stuff and which stuff was stuff that was more important, more sentimental, more necessary than the rest of the stuff? Throughout the whole decision making fiasco I had a nagging stomach ache that I tried, somewhat successfully, to ignore. 60 mph winds were knocking on our door and whirling past our windows, neighbors were shouting back and forth in an attempt to get photo albums and important documents into their cars, sirens were screaming and motorcycles were revving. Garrett suddenly began crying. Of course it was because of all the noise, so I ignored his wails, knowing full well that he'd put himself right back to sleep. Troy began packing the car in case we got the official notice to evacuate. Garrett fell back asleep. I grabbed odds and ends we might need. Garrett screamed again. This time he sounded mournful. I thought that, perhaps, he had lost his beloved Paci. I went into his room to pop it back into his mouth.

Vomit. Vomit. Everywhere. Chicken nugget chunks in his bed, on his blanket, in his hair. I got him up, stripped his bed, threw the barfy sheet, mattress pad, and jammies into the wash. Troy gave Garrett a bath and wrapped him up in snugly new jammies. I called Kaiser to find out what to do. (I mean, not that I can't handle a little puke but he weighs 23 pounds, he'd dehydrate pretty quickly). They told me that he would be fine as long as I kept fluids in him. One teaspoon of pedialyte every ten minutes. Sounded simple enough.

And then we heard the sirens very loud and very clear and very much driving down our street and telling us to get out of our homes because the fire was a-comin'. And Garrett puked again. And again. And again. And there was no warning. Just a quick heave and then stinky chunky saliva everywhere. Somehow we managed to get all our stuff (well, ok, so significantly less than all our stuff but enough of it anyway), our vomiting baby, our panting and panicked dog, our extremely irritated cat and a feral cat who we had been keeping well fed but had never actually picked up before until right that second, all loaded up into our Hyundai Santa Fe. Our street alone was a disconcerting shade of gridlock. My son was a disconcerting shade of vomit. Our house, as we drove away, a disconcerting shade of wood and stucco and fire food. "Goodbye home. Hope you don't burn." We started out heading for my grandparents house down in San Carlos.

The Evie, (affectionately changed from Evil when we decided, about 18 months ago, that she wasn't all that bad) was in a carrier in the front seat, moaning and bellyaching and carrying on. The Oliver was in the back echoing Evie bellow for bellow. The Beck was in the back panting and trying to lick The Barfer's head. The Barfer was in his car seat refusing so much as a drop of liquid. So much for that pedialyte scenario. The Me was in the backseat next to The Barfer and, despite bringing a trash can and towels and papertowels, was catching his vomit in my hand because that was the only thing he would throw up into. Crying and retching he would shove all other things away and pull my hand toward his pathetic face to make a repulsive deposit. The Husband was in the driver's seat, trying to use one of three roads to exit Ramona--along with over half of the population.

It took us just over three hours to get from our house to the emergency room at Kaiser down in Mission Valley. I've made that trip a billionty times before and it takes 40 minutes. It took us just over two hours to get from our house to highway 67. Um...I've made that trip 80 billionty times before and it takes ten minutes. TEN MINUTES MORPHED IT'S LITTLE SELF RIGHT INTO TWO HOURS BECAUSE ALL OF RAMONA WAS SIMULTANEOUSLY LEAVING. Horray! As we were crawling, wait, no, I am sure I could have crawled faster, down San Vicente we watched the flames licking the hillside. We surveyed the gridlock. I caught puke. I felt myself getting more and more nauseated. My bladder filled. My cell phone failed to work. It got to the point where I literally decided it was in the best interest of my child to not be in his car seat. So I made the conscious decision to Britney Spears it. I'm not proud but let's look at the facts. An old man on a bicycle flew past us. Where he was going I haven't a clue. We were driving less than a mile an hour. If it wasn't safe for me to hold my son, it's not safe for me to push him in a grocery cart. He writhed around. He fell asleep in my arms for a few minutes. He stood up, cried, and began retching. I tried to stop it but it was too late. He vomited in my face. It wasn't the first time I'd ever had someone else's barf on my face (hey Katey, here's your personal shout out!) but that on top of the stress of the fire on top of the fact that Oliver had decided to crap and spray in his kennel on top of dog breath on top of needing to urinate badly on top of really starting to worry about my small son who was quickly dehydrating caused the following:

Whilst bursting into tears I sobbed, "Troy, I seriously can't handle this."

Troy is very rarely extremely firm with me. He adores me in ways I never imagined possible, but Sunday night was cause for putting a foot down. He looked at me and replied, "You have too." And that was that. I stopped crying. We inched along. Garrett slept here and there and cried occasionally. And then we finally turned on to the 67. I fastened the boy back into his car seat and there was much silent rejoicing. Then the retching interrupted the rejoicing. No, not Garrett. Me. Into the trash can (I knew there was a reason we brought that!) I purged. Not once. Not twice. But three times over the course of the next hour. Initially I thought it was whatever Garrett had but, I recooperated quickly so it must have been the smells and stress and the sheer weight of it all.

The car smelled of pungent smoke, cat urine, cat fecal matter, infant vomit, apple pedialyte, dog breath and adult vomit. It took three hours to drive 32 miles. I tried to force feed my son liquid. I held pedialyte and a trash can filled with my stomach contents in between my legs. I held my son's stomach contents in my hand. I wondered when I know if fire consumed my home or if I'd return to it again. It definitely wins for worst car ride ever. But the night doesn't end there. Sometime near my grandparents house I realized that Garrett was vomiting red. I don't know a whole heck of a lot about puke except that I happen to do it somewhat frequently and after you get ride of whatever you ate you start upchucking bile. And bile is yellowy and thin and not slightly thick and red. We had been toying with the idea of the ER because of the fluid loss. This confirmed it.

We evacuated our home in Ramona at 9:50 pm. We went to sleep at my grandparents house in San Carlos--40 minutes away--at 5:15 am. To make a long emergency room visit short, after sitting in a little cubby for over two hours, where he continuously vomited, Garrett was given a suppository to stop the hurling. It worked and, despite being a little tired and a lot grumpy the next day, he was really no worse for the wear. The color of his vomit was deemed "normal" although I've never seen that color come up outta me.

The night was overwhelming. The days that have passed have been calm but exhausting. We were the first town evacuated and we will be the last to return. Because of our water situation, we are being told that we can't return until the first of November. Praise God that my home is still there. But I'm trying to figure out why my last few weeks of California life--when I have so much to get done--are spent sitting around my grandparent's house. All that comes to mind is Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

Gridlock aside. Emergency room aside. Impending move aside. There is simply nothing I can do other than be still and know that He is God.


  1. You win. Worst car ride indeed.


  2. Wow. That is some story. Ode to the vomit. Welcome to being a mom, hey? Hoping you guys will return safely to your intact home.

  3. Lori,

    You tell stories so well. You really do. This was almost enjoyable to read...except for how awfully un-fun and stressful it sounded.

    I'm sorry you guys were evacuated. I have been thinking of you for the past several days. I'm glad you and your family are safe; I hope you get home safely soon.

    Love ya!