kls_eloise (kls_eloise) wrote,

The Second Great Alternator Disaster of 2009 - with a side of swine flu. Just for variety.

Moving further back…


The weekend before Halloween,  [info]jtdiii   hosted his annual gourd mutilation party. We’ve always had conflicts, but it’s always looked like a fun afternoon and this year we decided to go. We got there about an hour later than I had hoped/planned, but had a lovely time visiting.  I didn’t carve a pumpkin, but next year I’m sure the kid will want to.  Somewhere around 7:00ish we headed home. This was about two hours later than I had initially desired, but we were having such a nice time watching Charlotte bang her head on things that we weren’t rushing out. Okay, the head-banging wasn’t part of the nice time. She’s really GOT to stop leading with her head.

She goes down the stairs to the slide at day care – head first. She got her first bloody nose at daycare last week by losing her balance and face-planting into the gate. Do you see a theme here?

The on-ramp for the highway home is one of those almost 360 degree ramps that spins you around before dumping you on the interstate. About halfway around, the car radio turned off, and after a moment I said to Bob “why did you turn off the radio?” His answer was “because I’m having a problem.” In my befogged universe I was thinking “okay – but why turn off the radio?” After a moment it became clear – HE hadn’t turned off the radio, the radio had turned itself off. That was the first system to go. The car then proceeded to turn off the traction control, the ABS, and the headlights were getting awfully dim. We were watching the cascade as the computer turned off one electrical system after another, presumably in an effort to keep the engine running. I-84 heading into East Hartford really isn’t the ideal place for this. We bailed off the highway at the first available off-ramp, and luckily there was a Holiday Inn right there, with a large, well-lit parking lot. Bob parked it under a light facing nose out, and turned off the engine. When he attempted to refire it – nothing.

So there we were – sitting in a Holiday Inn parking lot in East Hartford on a Sunday evening in a dead car with the baby in the back. Charming.  Bob asked “so who do we know that we can call to ask for a ride home to your car?” Hmmm. My parents are on the other side of the state. His dad shouldn’t drive after dark. We’re east of the river. That would be  [info]vynehorn ! Luckily she decided to pick up the phone even though she didn’t recognize his cell number, and true friend that she is came out and got us. While she was on her way we formulated a plan of attack, and once she got there we moved the car seat into her car and she drove us all the way home to Burlington. She offered to stick around to help us get his car home, but we figured it was probably going to be a late night and didn’t take her up on it. After all, Charlotte can sleep in the car seat, but the rest of us had to get up and go to work the next morning.

Once we got home, the real fun started. Bob headed off in my car to buy a battery, and I sat Charlotte down to try to feed her dinner. He tried the auto parts store first, but they didn’t have the correct battery for his car, so he headed on to Wal-Mart. They didn’t really either, but we’ll get to that. He got home as I had finished feeding Charlotte and gotten her into pajamas. I figured that would allow for a direct car seat to crib transfer at the end of the fun. We loaded the battery, the jumper cables, an assortment of tools, and the child into my car and headed back to East Hartford. While we were doing all of this, Vynehorn had called and warned me that I-84 east was at a dead stop for construction, so we would probably want to go around. Not wanting to spend an additional hour playing in the traffic, we dropped down route 9 and back up I-91. On the way, we noted the stopped traffic for construction on I-91 south – one way we might travel home. Then we saw the sign advising delays for construction on I-84 west – our other main route.

Can you tell what Connecticut has done with the TARP money? Every bloody highway in this state is under construction.

The problem with this was that we couldn’t afford to sit in stopped traffic on the way home. We were operating under the assumption that the alternator had died and the battery was not receiving a charge. That meant that we were going to try to get his car home solely on the power in the new battery that we had purchased, and sitting for an hour was not going to advance that cause – especially with the necessity to run the headlights. Obviously alternate plans were required.

We arrived back at the Holiday Inn, popped the hoods, and got to work. Bob’s plan was to jump start his car with the new battery so that my car would take the initial strain of ignition. He took out his battery, went to install the new one… and the battery was an inch longer than the case. We had similar problems when we lost the alternator in my car last spring and were switching batteries back and forth. The battery that all the books list as being the correct one for his car does not fit. That was a bad moment. It was now late enough that everything was closed – including Wal-Mart. Cue memories from our last side-of-the-road incidents: will the new battery fit in my car? Why, yes – yes it did. And my battery fit in his car. He got everything installed, all the cables tightened, and I got out a map of Connecticut so that we could plot a route back to Burlington that would hopefully get us home before he ran out of juice. He started his car, we did a comedy act running around to disconnect cables and close hoods, and peeled out of that parking lot.

We tried to get down I-91 to route 99 in Rocky Hill, but got a warning sign of traffic backups, so we grabbed the Silas Deane Highway waaaay up in East Hartford and ran down the length of it until we could cut across on secondary roads to route 3, which took us to route 9, to route 72… you get the idea. It was a long, tense drive home, but we got there. Oh – and my gas light came one just as we were pulling out of the hotel parking lot. Nice timing. Once home I put Charlotte to bed while Bob switched his old battery into my car and went out to get gas. We figured we’d use my car to get them all charged up while we waited for the mechanic to have an opening.

The next day Bob kept my car and dropped me off/picked me up at work. The mechanic couldn’t take the car until Thursday, so it looked like we were going to have a week of that. Inconvenient, but doable. Monday morning I woke up with a sore throat, but I chalked it up to sinuses, and it went away over the course of the day. More concerning, Charlotte woke up with her eyes crusted shut. I asked Bob to call the pediatrician to get that checked. He ended up driving over to make the appointment – their phone lines are completely clogged, thanks to H1N1.

Now at this point in the story the time line gets scrambled. There are things that I know happened, but I have no idea when. I’ll identify the things that I have hard dates for, but the rest of it occurs in some floaty, undefined territory labeled “that week.” I have to say, it’s creepy to be missing a week out of your life. It definitely confuses you.

Monday I definitely woke up with a sore throat, it definitely went away over the course of the day, and we definitely went to barony meeting because Charlotte’s eyes looked fine and I felt fine. Those are some of the last things I can positively identify. Tuesday morning my throat was on fire, I was cold, and I felt like someone had worked me over with a baseball bat. Unfortunately I had three agreements on my desk that I hadn’t gotten to on Monday that really had needed to be dealt with the previous Friday. Now, at some point they sent Charlotte home from daycare because of conjunctivitis, and at some point Bob had gotten an appointment for her with the pediatrician. I don’t know when either of those things happened. What I do know is that Bob dropped me off at work on Tuesday, I processed those three agreements, he did something involving Charlotte – maybe that was the pediatrician visit? – and then picked me back up. She had conjunctivitis in both eyes and an ear infection, and got eye drops and bubble-gum flavored amoxicilian. I assumed that I had the evil virus that’s been going around work, and fell over onto the couch.

I honestly don’t remember much else other than being sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I was living on ibuprofen because the aches and the throat were so bad. I had it all – aches, chills, probably fever (it felt like it, but on that much ibuprofen I was probably suppressing it,) headache, nagging cough, running nose – something in the universe did not love me. I alternated between the couch during the day and bed at night. I remember at one lucid point looking at Bob and saying “please don’t get this until I’m done,” because he was essentially single-parenting.

I do remember two things: Wednesday night I had to follow him to Cheshire to drop his car at the mechanics, and Thursday afternoon I had to drive home after picking it up. I do not recommend driving when you feel like that. Thursday the throat got really bad – by the end of the evening I could barely swallow my own saliva, and it felt like acid going down. I ended up getting into my percoset prescription in order to sleep. Friday morning Bob called our doctor, got me an appointment, and drove me down. I was there for the throat, but the doctor asked me about the rest of the symptoms and told me that I probably had the flu. He also told me that if I had the flu it was pretty much guaranteed to be H1N1. At that point, I frankly didn’t care. I wanted two things – to go back to bed, and to be able to swallow. He took a throat swab (asking very sincerely if I would please try not to cough in his face when he did,) told me that while the strep test was inconclusive my throat was visually horrible, and gave me a prescription for amoxicillin.

That’s about all I remember. It’s just gone. I thought back, and the last time I missed two days of work in a row for illness was over ten years ago. I was out for the entire week with this. Last week I was better, but I still wasn’t able to drive – I had this tendency to come unstuck from the ground – or at least that’s what I felt like. I didn’t really want the world going grey while I was driving, and I wasn’t up to full days anyhow. So Bob drove me in to work in the morning and came to pick me up whenever I couldn’t manage any longer. Monday I made it to 2:00, Tuesday to 3:00, etc. I didn’t really get much done, but I had to get out of the house and I was afraid of using up all of my sick time with two months of prime illness time yet to go in the year.

This week is better. I still feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, but it’s a smaller truck, with fewer axles. Today I think we’re down to a panel van. At this point, I’m hoping to be back up to speed by the end of next week, at which time I will have been down a month with this.

Oh – and it was the alternator. The shop replaced that AND the rear brakes that were shot. Because another $1,000 car repair bill is exactly what we need right now.


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