Life in Bits

Janiel Miller - Mom. Writer. Distractifier.

Tag: Food Poisoning

A Christmas Stocking Full of Baby. Yeeouch!

Seventeen years ago on Thursday I went into labor. A week early.

This year we are celebrating the birth of my eldest son almost a week early again. Because I'll be gone on the momentous occasion. But it's kind of the kid's own fault. If he hadn't been so anxious to get here all those years ago, he'd have been born on Pearl Harbor day instead, and I'd totally be here for that.

But no. The little dude was so excited to bust into this world that he had to arrive ahead of schedule. And bless his fuzzy little head–which seriously looked like he was wearing a toupée–he hit the ground running, and had kind of a lousy first month. That's why I'm getting him an über-cool present this year. I figure it's time to make up for the stress.

So. Seventeen years ago this Thursday:

I was in my kitchen overlooking a gorgeous valley, doing the dishes while my three year-old daughter danced around between my feet. I splashed suds and wondered why my nesting instinct hadn't kicked in yet. Maybe it only did that with first children.

I seriously had none of that going on this time. I wasn't anywhere near being ready for this little baby. I mean I had his room set up and some adorable little boy clothes hanging in the closet. I had a name picked out. But I still had baby-buggy-loads of testosterone slamming through my body in preparation for the little tyke. I had read that that's what happens when you make boys. Your body creates the testosterone. And let me tell you,  I WOULD run over you in the parking lot if you got in my way.

I figured all of that would calm down and I'd start decorating and cleaning things before this boy thought about arriving. But I only had a week, and nothing much had changed. Probably he was going to be late. I mean, my daughter had been late (still is, bless her), why not this guy?

So, I scrubbed and sudsed and washed and dried and OW! Jeesh. What was that? OW-W! Man. I must have eaten something funny. Serious pain was stabbing my stomach-tal area. Actually, slightly lower than that. Huh. What had I eaten for lunch?

I knew it wasn't labor. My daughter's birth had started slowwwwwly. In fact so slowly that I wondered if my labor was going to be pain-free. A question my doctor answered by saying, patiently and without cracking the slightest smile into the phone, "Um,  no, Mrs. Miller. Labor almost always hurts." No way in heck was it labor this time though. I mean, this was beyond painful.

Plus it was sudden. First time around I had laughed when I thought about women in movies going on their merry way then suddenly grabbing their bellies and screaming "THE BABY'S COMING!" Labor so wasn't like that. It didn't just slam into youuuuuOWWWWWW! Man! This really HURT. Maybe I should call my husband.

So I did. I rang Bruce up and told him not to worry, I wasn't in labor, I was in food poisoning. I was just going to shower and see how it went. He was quiet then told me that maybe I should call my OBGyn. I snorted and told him I was a week early and I'd done this before and I THINK I know what having a baby feels like. Then he did something brilliant. He said,

"I know. You're probably right. But you know? I'm just a guy and I get nervous about these things. Would you call him and let him know just in case? To put my mind at ease?"

Eh. Why not? I mean, that's a reasonable request. So I said I would, then hit the shower. I remember clutching the soap dish, bending over, and breathing in sort of a Lamaze -like fashion in order to deal with my food-poisoning-induced lower abdominal pain and near inability to stand up. Good heavens! You eat one little peanut butter and mayo sandwich, you pay for it through the gut!

Well, I finally got myself out the door and to the doctor's office–which happened to be right across the street from the hospital. I rolled my eyes over my husband's worry the whole way there. Then I was ushered right into my doctor's office. I had called ahead and told them that I wasn't in labor but my husband wanted to be sure. They said they'd see me. Just to make him feel better.

So, I went in, told the doctor once again that I wasn't in labor–after he helped me uncurl from the fetal position, then had the exam. I remember the doctor looking calmly at me after he was done and saying, "You're right. You didn't need to come here."

"I knew it," I said.



"Are you sure?" I mean, seriously? It was just a little food poisoning.

"Well, no. I mean we could always keep you here and let my nurse deliver your son."

"ACK! Never mind! I'll meet you over there."

"That seems like a good idea. Can you drive?"


"Oh. Right. I'm on my way."

So, I called my hub during the minute it took me to change parking lots, and he got there just in time to almost catch our son. The boy had been facing the wrong way and did a little damage on the way out. But he was so happy to be there he baptized me with his little sprinkler system as soon as the doctor had him in hand.

And he was gorgeous. Donald Trump-hair and all.

The hospital sent him home in a Christmas stocking. He went back the next day with breathing issues, and spent a month dealing with that, thrush, jaundice, and a rather annoyed circumcision. But, that little dude brought a bucketload of sunshine with him and it still hangs around him most days. 

So, all in all, I'm pretty happy it wasn't food poisoning.

Happy Early Birthday, boy!

Wasn't he purty?


Coming Soon: Castles, Sheep, Music, and Moss

Irish knight, with pike and World War II helmet. Chick in a yellow sweater.

Please don't ask why.

Because I'm going to tell you all about it starting on Monday.

Assuming we can get the pictures off of the clever universal location Sir Knight has wrangled for all of our computers to access.

Which I can't access.

And assuming I can get set up on YouTube so the videos I took can be hosted and placed in the posts.

Assuming you can watch them without getting nauseated. Please keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times, and your seatbelt securely fastened. Rather than insecurely fastened. We can't have insecure seatbelts. Not in this economy. Who can afford the therapy?

And assuming I get over jetlag and can string a few words together in coherent sentences.

Which is doubtful. I can't do that on the best of days.

But if all this works out, I'll start detailing the trip and posting pictures and video on Monday. And hopefully it will be wonderfully interesting for everyone.

What's not to love about a place that plays music, tells jokes, is filled with castle ruins, and eats bacon the size of Kentucky?

Yeah. Monday. Sir Knight Dude and I will see you here.

But – Just to wet yer whistle:

Cliffs of Moher – Doolin

Christchurch Cathedral – Dublin

Butler House – Kilkenny

You feeling your Irish yet?


Fish Sauce. I’m Totally Freaking Out. In My Brain.

So I was shopping at the local grocery store because I had a hankerin' for Panang Curry but couldn't afford the Thai restaurant we love so much, and I'd found this recipe, right? And it was super easy — just a few ingredients — and it included things like peanut butter, coconut milk, and fish sauce. 

But the fish sauce worried me, you know, because I don't really want to eat some strange fish's sauce. But that's what the recipe called for and since I always do exactly what I'm told I went and bought the sauce that is presumably made of fish. Or came from fish. Or is owned by fish. 

Anyway I bought the sauce along with a bunch of other foreign ingredients, and it was totally expensive, but I was totally expecting it to be fabu, right? So I went home and started pouring everything into my crockpot because that is the way really organized women do things. Then I opened the fish sauce . . . and woof! It completely destroyed my olfactory aura. Like it smelled as if a thousand herring had walked into my kitchen and died. 

But I didn't smell it until it was already mixed into the coconut milk, lime juice, and peanut butter because it had like a delayed smell-cloud-affect. I started turning green but I figured you know, it's fish. And so I decided not to worry about it and finished making the dish. 

And then when we were eating it I totally had a flashback and realized that the bottle hadn't had one of those little protective removable plastic covers over the lid. You know, the kind that are perforated and you tear them off and you feel all secure and happy about using the product because you know it has been tightly protected by perforated plastic and no psychopaths have probably gotten in and poisoned it, so you and your family won't die. 

And I started to have an apoplectic reaction because my bottle hadn't had that plastic seal and we were probably eating psychopath-poisoned fish sauce, and fish sauce probably just comes poisoned, I mean who cooks with sauce made from fish? Especially fish that have sat in a barrel and fermented for like a year and a half? 

So I looked at the bottle and realized that it had a non-removable lid — like it was part of the bottle. And the pour spout was more like a dropper spout, so if any fish-sauce-poisoning-psychopaths had gotten to it they would have to have used a syringe to put the poison in. And then I thought THAT'S IT! WE JUST NEED TO LOOK FOR A DRUGGIE WHOSE STASH SMELLS LIKE A THOUSAND DEAD HERRING! And we need to find them before we all die so they can at least be put in jail and pay for their heinous crime against fish sauce. And us.

And this is what I said as I stood at the Customer Service counter at my local grocery store trying to get help.

They replaced my fish sauce.



Are We There Yet?

Remember the old “What I Did For Summer Vacation” reports we all had to write at some point in elementary school? Wonder what those were all about. Did our teachers really want to read through 30 children’s “I’m hungry!” “He’s on my side of the seat!” “I have to go to the bathroom!”-filled treatises on parent-torture? Or those airless summer drives to see the Grand Canyon and every gas station along the Platte River? The dragging of unwilling offspring to view battlefields that the inside of the station wagon could rival? Maybe.

As far as traveling goes, I’ve got nothing to complain about. With a father in the Air Force and a mother in possession of extreme wanderlust, we racked up serious mileage on the trip-front. Add to that my later job as a marketing representative for a software firm, and I could have hosted a travel show. On the whole I have great memories from these outings. As well as some, ah, interesting ones.
There was the time when:
  1. Our family was camped on Rehoboth beach in Delaware and the edge of a hurricane blew through nearly blasting our little tent-trailor out to sea. On the up side, I got to drink my first pineapple milkshake at 1:00 a.m. in a little cafe as we waited out the storm.
  2. I was beach-slapped by an enormous sneaker-wave that I’d turned my eight year-old back on to holler to my family. After being tossed end-over-end I came up with a years-long fear of deep water and 70 pounds of sand in my swimming suit.
  3. I got the living tamales scared out of me by a witch doctor in Old Town New Mexico. He was a nice man and I think he felt really bad. I wasn’t buying it though. You can’t tell a five year-old that a dude with red and black war-paint all over his face is Mr. Rogers’ best friend.
  4. We spent a year the summer of ’72 driving from Maryland to Utah. Station wagon. 55 miles per hour. 5 kids. Enough said.
  5. I flew from Salt Lake City to Illinois, via Atlanta, plus a two hour drive. With food Poisoning. More than enough said.
  6. We stopped to get directions when going to visit my brother in Vienna, Austria, and a disturbed hitchhiker who thought we were picking him up jumped into the car as we took off. He regaled us with tales of all of his friends who had committed suicide, and got us solidly lost before we dropped him off at the city asylum to visit his brother.
  7. Our intrepid pilot decided to dodge thunderheads above Indianapolis instead of flying over them, or keeping us safely land-locked on the ground. We banked on our wingtips and dropped 20 feet in a shot. Oddly, no one stood by the cabin door to wish us well as we picked our way through the wreckage and disembarked.
So, looks like I do have a few tales to tell. And maybe that’s the point. I could use these in my writing. Or at least keep things interesting at a party. I guess an eight year-old’s retelling of a family vacation might be good entertainment for a teacher after all. And perhaps for the world at large. Imagine how you could embellish it for a book!


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