From soup to nuts, and back again


20131113_174218No sooner did I drop my husband off at the airport, than I felt the tickle at the back of my throat.

He was off on a Navy trip to Bahrain for a couple of weeks, leaving me in charge of the house, the bills, the kids, the dog, the trash, the leaves, our son’s college applications, our daughter’s inevitable fashion crises, and my own mental and physical well-being. So, this was the last thing I needed.

By the time I got home from the airport, the tickle had upgraded to a full-blown head cold. One of those throat-itching, eye-watering, lung-wheezing, phlegm-thickening, mucus-dripping, sinus-filling afflictions; that compels you to guzzle cold medicine and bury yourself under the covers, because you’re going to be totally useless.

But being useless was not an option. Before the three-o-clock middle school pick up, I had to walk the dog, have a mammogram, shop for groceries, iron my son’s dress shirts, start my column, return a few emails, walk the dog again, get something out for dinner, and try to take a shower and look human.

Head cold or no head cold, I had to be firing on all pistons.

I decided to make one minor adjustment to my jam-packed schedule that might ease the pain of functioning while sick: I’d take five minutes and throw some chicken soup on the stove before heading out to my 9:30 am mammogram appointment.

In a flash, I had onions and carrots chopped and sautéing in a pan, alongside my old Revereware soup pot which was simmering with chicken and spices. Next, I plopped four ribs of celery on the cutting board and began slicing.

I was coming to the end of the bunch when, shshshwing! There it was – the very tip of my thumb laying neatly on the edge of the cutting board.

The next few seconds were a slow-motion controlled panic. I watched my uncut hand reach for the severed cap of flesh and place it back on the tip of my thumb, albeit crooked, and unravel multiple sheets of paper towels to wrap my bleeding appendage. I flicked the stove off, grabbed my purse, and jumped into my minivan, mumbling to myself, “it’s gonna be fine, it’s gonna be fine, it’s gonna be fine.”

“Hi, I’m here for a mammogram [nervous laughter] … you’re never going to believe this [nervous laughter] … I just cut the tip of my thumb clean off,” I jabbered to the lady behind the base clinic check in desk. Despite a convincing look of utter apathy, the woman directed me to a nurse who preliminarily wrapped my thumb and told me the doctor would take a look right after my mammogram.

As the adage goes, you learn something new every day, and on this particular day, I learned that it’s nearly impossible to unhook your own bra strap with one hand. Somehow, I was able to get the task done like some kind of awkward high school boy on prom night, just before the technician came in to squash my bits and pieces between two glass plates. After several painfully humiliating images were procured, I was free to dress and head back across the clinic to see about my bleeding thumb.

With only one of the three hooks of my bra strap precariously fastened, I waited for the nurse, then the doctor, then the nurse again, then the doctor again, before my thumb was finally treated, and I was released to go wait all over again for a tetanus shot at immunizations and for medication in the pharmacy.

Four hours after entering the clinic doors, I left with a bandaid on my arm, wilted mammories, a thumb that looked more like a chicken drumstick, and a completely neglected To Do list.

Despite the chaos, I felt compelled to finish my chicken soup, needing it now more than ever. At dinnertime, I ladled the hot soothing elixir into bowls, careful not to slosh any broth onto my bandages, and placed them on the table with a box of oyster crackers. The kids and I sat in silence, inhaling the salty steam, blowing gently on spoonfuls.

“I can’t believe you made this soup with all that craziness going on today, Mom,” my middle schooler said with a compassionate slurp. “Mmmm,” she mumbled with her mouth full, “it’s still really good, Mom.”

Yes, it certainly is.

Tagged: , , , , ,

Comments: 27

  1. energywriter November 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm Reply

    Great story. Brave mom. Left a comment. sd

  2. Sharon November 21, 2013 at 2:11 pm Reply

    WOW! What an amazing Mom you are! All that and still wrote a great story, funny in a macabre sort of way.
    I understand the calm trip to the clinic. I can stay calm and focused with a bloody stump but scream bloody murder at a scratch. And – with the kids – I cleaned them up, bandaged to boo-boo, drove to doctor, sat and waited. Then – once the dr or nurse took over I’d promptly pass out.

  3. Maz November 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm Reply

    OK Sweeney Todd, I sure hope your thumb comes together as masterfully as your account of making “soup” did.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 19, 2013 at 6:51 pm Reply

      You should know, Maz, since I learned to make soup from you! (That’s my mother, in case anyone hadn’t figured it out yet!)

  4. Mimmik89 November 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm Reply

    I want to be you when I grow up! What a great sense of humor you manage to carry even as life try to cut you off at the knees…umm…the thumb tip? Well anyway, glad you are healing up now!

  5. John November 18, 2013 at 12:28 am Reply

    Interesting that there are no guys admitting to having read this. I was married to such a woman for a 20-year Navy career. We retired in 1985. It took cancer another 14 years to finally knock her down.

    • John November 18, 2013 at 12:31 am Reply

      Oops. Sorry, I didn’t see you there, Larry.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 18, 2013 at 5:58 pm Reply

      Well thanks for your service, and sorry to hear that your wife passed away. She sounds like someone I would have really liked!

  6. Larry Stadtmiller November 17, 2013 at 5:25 pm Reply

    Your soup looks delicious.

  7. sweetrosie November 17, 2013 at 4:26 pm Reply

    Oh dear! So funny but obviously not…great post and you did well to get to the clinic. I might have fainted or called an ambulance 😉

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 17, 2013 at 8:16 pm Reply

      The clinic on base is only about a half mile away, I could’ve walked faster than an ambulance!

      • sweetrosie November 17, 2013 at 10:33 pm Reply

        Lols, I couldn’t have, very lazy AND horribly affected by my own traumas. I felt quite sickish reading about yours 🙂

  8. chef mimi November 17, 2013 at 4:19 pm Reply

    at least the wilted mammaries always perk back up in a few days? so sorry about your thumb.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm Reply

      Unfortunately, my mammories haven’t perked up in a very long time!

  9. lauriebest November 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm Reply

    There’s an old saying around here (Mennonite country)…something about ‘the faster I go, the behinder I get’ that might apply! My best to you and your poor finger.

  10. Grace November 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm Reply

    I gave you five stars even though I got a little light heading reading about the tip of your finger laying on the cutting board. So do you look a little like Frankenstein’s monster now?
    Sending healing prayers….feel better my friend

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 17, 2013 at 8:11 pm Reply

      No monsters here, just an ugly little BooBoo. Frankly, i’m having a harder time with the head cold!

  11. saminaiqbal27 November 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm Reply

    WOW! Very brave and amazing lady you are. Where I would have surely panicked and made things even more worse you kept your head cool and hence a lovely remark from your child about the soup can make any mom’s day. Take care and hope you will feel better with every passing moment. Best wishes and hugs from me.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm Reply

      You guys are so cool for boosting my ego! I didn’t think I was handling things so well, so thanks for putting things in perspective!

  12. Anonymous November 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm Reply

    You are totally amazing! A TRUE Super Woman after my own heart!!

  13. BulgingButtons November 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm Reply

    You poor dear, what a day! Sending compassion and warmth your way.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari November 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm Reply

      Thanks BulgingButtons, still have the headcold and the bandaged thumb, but my sanity is on the mend!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: