It's Always The Little Things...

05/17/2017 03:42 pm ET

“It’s always the little things…”

We’ve all heard it before. You’re driving along the highway, and you avoid crashing into a Sunday Driver by a hairsbreadth, and then, as soon as you think you’re in the clear, a tiny pebble hits your windshield and cracks it. Inevitably, someone says “it’s always the little things.” “Gee, thanks for that, you must be great at calling Bingo” - is what you want to say, but, somehow, it ends up coming out as “yeah, right?”

The little things are piddling little annoyances that frequently end up causing you the most inconvenience. For you “normies,” a tiny hiccup can be aggravating, but when you are ill, it could mean plans get ruined for days – which is exactly what happened to me. Recently, a series of improbable and ridiculously unfortunate little events ended up causing me to go without medicine.

Last month, we were heading out for and overnight trip that we had been looking forward to. Allison and I just wanted to get to the hotel, relax, and spend an hour or two together before bed. Unfortunately, life, as it is want to do, stepped in and said “oh, no, no, no, no, that just won’t do.” So, off we went, with the GPS to guide us, with the highest of hopes and a song on our lips. Well, I had a song on my lips, my wife, she had murder in her eyes for the song on my lips. Besides a small touch of homicide, though, everything was coming up roses for most of the drive. No traffic, almost no drivers who got their licenses out of cracker jack boxes, and no rain to darken our windshield. It was driving bliss. That is, until our car’s GPS somehow switched from “fastest route” mode to “scenic route through Hell” mode.

It started innocently enough, with the GPS suddenly telling me to “take the exit on the right.” Unfortunately, at the time, I was seven lanes to the left, and the exit was about to pass. Rather than jerk the wheel to the right and play chicken, I simply waited for the re-assuring “recalculating route” to come through the speakers – and it did, right in time for the GPS to tell me to “exit on the right” again, just as the exit passed us, for the second time. At this point, because I’m no fool, I got over to the right, anticipating that the idiot GPS would tell us to “exit on the right” again, and this time, I was going to be ready, dammnit. So, after the recalculation, for the second time, I turned off on the exit to the right, and the GPS told us, “keep to the left.” Riiiight.

Now we’ve gotten off the highway in the middle of a town that looks like it may or may not have been a test area for nuclear weapons. As we passed a liquor store then another liquor store, and then a Starbucks knockoff called Star’s Coffey (yes, spelled just like that), the GPS told me to keep driving on the same road for nine more miles. “Nine miles? That seems dubious ,” I said. The hotel wasn’t that far away, I thought, but what do I know? So, there we were in the middle of downtown Down Town, and, of course, my pill alarm goes off. Time to take my meds. Great. Because my wife and I have been on road trips before when I had to take meds, we developed a specialized procedure for pill taking while driving. First, I get the pill bottle out and hand it to her, then, she finds the right pill. This usually entails twenty minutes of me saying “no, the green one. No, the other green one. No that’s bluish green. No that’s the small green one, I need the big green one. No, that’s a mint.” Yeah. Once we’ve identified the correct pill, Allison pops it into my mouth, and then we look for water. Like a camel in a desert, any sip of liquid in the car will do, be it old diet soda, warm milk, or bottled water that tastes like you licked the vat at a plastic factory, I only need a squirt. Once the pill is down, assuming I don’t choke on it, I’m back to driving. It’s a complicated dance, but one people like me are used to. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go like gangbusters, and this particular night was one of the less-than-perfect-execution times. My wife went to hand me the pill, and I went to lean towards her. Just then, something on the road caught my eye and I moved my head. So, her finger with the pill went into my eye socket like a rocket, and as I grabbed at my eye and jerked my head away, the pill got knocked out of Allison’s hand and landed – you guessed it – in my drink. A one-in-a-million-shot that seems to happen to me much less than once in million. The disc in the drink melted away like a snowflake made of my peace of mind. With nothing else to be done, we drove on, the inane GPS telling me to “stay on this road for 8 more miles.” I said to my wife, “what do you think, stay on this road, or turn off and see if we get murdered?” As if fate herself was listening in to our conversation, the cars in front of us began to slow down, and some turned around. Suddenly, the unmistakable red and blue of police lights was reflecting off windows and walls. When we got up to the light, we saw that a side road had been cordoned off with police tape, and there was a car with crime scene techs examining it. I turned to Allie and said, “we’re staying on this road.”

The next two hours went just about the same, until I finally decided to use the GPS in my phone, rather than the built-in one that comes with the car. We were at the hotel fifteen minutes later. Unfortunately, after checking in, we discovered that the pill that had melted away after our failed automobile medicine tango was the only one I had brought. A rare oversight had resulted in me being without one medicine that I needed. Rather than go home, though, I decided to white-knuckle the next day. That lasted about ‘till lunch. Then the wrecking ball caught up with me, and we had to leave. All because of a tiny round white disc that, somehow, didn’t get packed. (The epic debate over how exactly it happened will continue until it passes into happy marriage legend.)

So, as you can see, so many little things make such a huge difference, and even more so for those of us who are chronically ill. It makes all the difference between inconvenience and disaster, but that’s an ongoing theme with R.A. From now on, Ill always make sure the emergency pill jar is stock and in the car. Oh, and, I’ll never use the built-in GPS again.

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