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Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life is Unraveling?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

We've had one of those weeks around here, and I'm not just talking about one of the worst blizzards Chicago has ever seen -- I'm sure you've been hearing about Snowpocalypse 2011? Before I get started with our sob story, you've got to see this video a friend of mine shot and edited, it's been all over the local news stations in Chicago. He caught one of his neighbors stealing his snow shovel, with surveillance cameras, and then you see how he retaliates. It's priceless. You never know who you're messing with, and this neighbor happened to mess with the owner of Tunnel Vision Technology -- they're in the business of installing high-end technology and surveillance cameras in businesses and homes, hotel lobbies, condo buildings, etc. (My friend David Welles is the owner, and also the guy Bill Rancic hired to put video cameras in his new Hinsdale, Illinois house, you may have seen the episodes on "Giuliana and Bill.") Check out the video he made for a good laugh -- apparently blizzards bring out the worst in people.

Anyway.

Living in a big city with a little kid during a snowstorm isn't exactly what you'd call "convenient." But that's not even the worst of it...

Monday my husband called me from his new restaurant to tell me that he "did something" to his back. I figured he pulled a muscle or something -- after all, he is in the restaurant biz, he's always bending and lifting something -- but this was more than just "doing something." He was and still is barely able to walk, bend, lift, move, get out of bed, or put on his socks. So Tuesday, which was Preston's first day of school (he did great at daycare by the way), I insisted we take Jay to a doctor to see what was going on. But because the snowstorm was coming, all the doctors in the practice I go to for my own back problems had canceled their appointments. The city of Chicago was literally sent into a tizzy over the looming storm. (In our defense, we prepare for, and recover from, snowstorms quite well, thanks to Mayor Daley.)

So I took Jay to the ER on Tuesday, at a hospital near our house, and spent hours there, where they did nothing more than pump him up with drugs to dull the pain he was experiencing. We figured a few good painkillers, some muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, and we'll be good to go. I had to leave him there, right as the storm was starting, to pick Preston up from daycare since they were closing early in preparation for the blizzard. What should've taken me five minutes, took about 30 to get there...and by the time I got him back in the car, we were in full blizzard mode here, and I had to go back to the hospital to pick Jay up. You've never seen traffic and mayhem like this, and we were literally five minutes away...it was almost an hour before we actually got home.

And home is where we stayed for days, with a husband whose back is totally out, a toddler with cabin fever and a hint of a cough, a dog who was sick with a bad tummy, and a very worried mom (a.k.a. me). Wednesday we told the nanny to stay home -- everything in the city was basically shut down, as was my office (first time in the near decade I've worked for Playboy) -- and Thursday daycare was closed, too, as were all Chicago Public Schools. 

All the while Jay's back is still totally shot. I'm usually the one with the back problems -- I've mentioned before that I had back surgery four or so years ago, and had a flare-up a few months ago, which I've been in physical therapy for the last few months. The point is, I know back pain all too well; and still, I wish it was me this time, because seeing my husband in this kind of pain is worse than being the one who's suffering.

Friday I finally got him in to see an orthopedic doctor and we had x-rays taken, an MRI, got more scripts for the pain, and now it's a waiting game. Over the weekend my parents invited us over to spend the day with them, so they could help out with Preston, while Jay tried to relax. Thank god for family when you're in crisis mode, right? I have the best parents in the world, they are always there for us -- when we need them, and even when we don't. It made it so much easier to have more hands on deck on Saturday -- we considered staying the weekend, and I'm wishing we had.

It's Monday now, and Jay's still in tremendous pain -- we just got the results of the MRI back, and they showed that he has a shallow disc protrusion and it's sitting on a nerve, which explains the pain he's in. This was exactly the problem I had that led me to surgery four years ago... Regardless of the outcome of his problem, I know this isn't going to be an easy road. We're supposed to leave for Miami on Wednesday for a much-needed family vacation that we're taking with good friends of ours and their toddler who's around the same age as Preston. But now I'm not sure if we should go. I'm nervous to travel with Jay feeling like this...but on the other hand, maybe he'll be less miserable being in a warm climate?

To make matters more inconvenient, our nanny took her own vacation this week, to coincide with ours. So she's out of the country till next Monday, and we don't have alternative childcare for the days that Preston isn't in daycare (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). So today, Jay had planned to be home with Preston, but since he's limited in what he can do, I had to stay home from work too, to make sure everyone is taken care of, with help from our dear cousin Elana who came over to play with Preston so I could make some doctor appointments, take him back to the hospital if needed, and try to get some work done (like I said, we have the best family around).

Time is ticking on our decision. To go to Miami, or not to go?

It's been a trying week for both of us, but I'm doing everything I can to make sure Preston doesn't feel any upheaval. I gotta be honest, though: Upheaval really isn't my specialty. I have a lot of balls in the air, and when one drops, they all start to fall. I'm trying to stay positive about this, and not let my worries get the best of me. But in times like these, how do you find a way to cope? When things start to unravel, what do you do to keep some semblance of normalcy for the sake of your sanity and your kids?

With everything I just said, would you still go away on a family vacation? We have this great relaxing trip planned with our good friends; I've been looking forward to it for months. Are we crazy to go, or crazy to cancel and stay here? The weather is cold and snowy, our nanny is gone all week so I'll have to take vacation time from work to be home anyway, so I might as well do it in Miami, right? I'm actually the one leaning toward not going, but Jay says he's up for it. I need to decide today.

You know what they say: When it rains, it pours. Well, in our case, it storms. 

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