Jen Jeffrey: It All Started With A Big, Fat, Purple Bruise

Saturday, February 15, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

After the itty bitty snow a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to the substantial snow that we were promised this past week. I like at least one good snow for the winter, but then, like most Tennesseans, I am ready for spring.

On the day the magical scene began, I was reclined with an ice pack on my head and trying to keep my eyes closed. I had been dealing with terrible headaches recently because I stopped hormone therapy when my sister made a change of direction in her business and I no longer would receive the pellets for free. I didn’t have too many symptoms of menopause before I began bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) other than hot flashes and extreme headaches so I thought it would be fine and I could deal with a few hot flashes. I had forgotten about the debilitating headaches which affect my work and my daily activity nearly crippling me.

While all my friends were delighting in the snowy sight, making snowmen and photographing glistening landscapes, I was trying to get rid of a two-day headache so that I could finish my work and be ready for my trip to Nashville to meet Jason for a Valentine weekend.

Now ladies…. You understand the ‘behind the scenes’ plans as we get ready for a special date. Men may not realize what takes place before, but we girls have a silly regimen in preparing.

We make sure we plan our salon appointment around that date, our manicure, and we may even buy a box of Crest White Strips to put a little extra sparkle in our smile. We wax or pluck our eyebrows and we take extra care to lotion up our hands to ensure their softness when they are held.

The week before I was to meet Jason, all of the ‘little things’ I planned were not falling into place very well. As my estrogen level was decreasing, I had headaches the week before that made me behind on work and kept me from the gym for a few days. I not only workout at the gym, but I tan. I didn’t get any teeth whitening strips so I thought I would just ‘smile’ while I tanned (beauty tip – tanning beds will whiten teeth if you smile while tanning). I have been drinking coffee again lately and I was afraid it will stain my teeth. The week before I was to meet Jason, I had very little time to do those extra ‘oomphs’ that a woman does.

Before I decided to discontinue the BHRT pellets, I had gone in for my lab work and the tech blew my vein leaving a big, fat, purple bruise on my arm. Bruises are not pretty! I hoped it would go away before Valentines weekend. But a big, fat, purple bruise was not going to keep me from seeing Jason.

If that wasn’t enough to throw a kink in my girlish plans to be primped and polished, I also had something new come up. For the first time in my life I had ‘dry scalp’. My head had dry flaky skin from all the dry heat we have used during this very cold winter. Amy, my hairdresser, told me a lot of people had been coming in with dry scalp. But a big, fat, purple bruise and dry, flaky skin was not going to keep me from seeing Jason.

I was resourceful and pulled out a jar of Vaseline and slathered up my head until it was a greasy mess. I put a hot, wet towel wrapped turban-style on my head and covered it in a plastic Bi-Lo grocery bag. It was not a sight that I would ever want my boyfriend to see or anyone else. I slept that way overnight and the next day just for good measure, I added a little more Vaseline before washing it. With my hair growing out longer it looked as if I had dreadlocks.

I finally washed my hair and my scalp felt great! It was smooth again and there were no flakes of dry skin. As I dried my hair, I was mortified to see how greasy my hair still was. I knew it would take a few washings but I didn’t want to wash it so much that my dry scalp would come back. Since I didn’t have anywhere to be for a few days, I left it alone hoping the grease would come out after I washed it the next day. But I wasn’t going to let a big, fat, purple bruise; dry, flaky skin or greasy hair keep me from seeing Jason.

I had just a few days for my big, fat, purple bruise to go away and to try to get to the gym to tan and to get the grease washed out of my hair. I didn’t take all this as a sign not to go on my trip because even though I am girlie and I like to polish up a bit, I am not vain enough to cancel plans over these tedious little things. The main thing was getting to see Jason. This would be our first Valentine’s Day together and I wanted to be with him.

When I had gotten the hormonal headache again and just a few days before my trip, I thought if I iced my greasy head and popped a few ibuprofens that it would surely go away and I could still make the trip. A big, fat, purple bruise; flaky, dry skin, greasy hair and a hormonal headache were not going to keep me from seeing Jason.

I know better than anyone that God has a sense of humor, but He knows that I am stubborn (as well as resilient). I am so strong willed that a few bumps in the road wouldn’t change my mind and whatever unknown thing that God was protecting Jason or me from – He would have to add a few boulders on the bumpy road in order for me to listen. Since I could not control something as big as the weather, I guess that was the next hurdle God would use to change my plans.

We had time to prepare for our winter storm so Mama and I had our ‘bread and milk’ in the house, but I wasn’t too worried.  I heard Bill Race and David Glenn’s forecasts telling us that it would warm up and melt the snow on Thursday so I knew that I could still make the trip to Nashville on Friday, (though I was a little concerned about traveling over Monteagle Mountain). Still… a big, fat, bruise; dry flaky skin, greasy hair, a hormonal headache and snow on the mountain was not going to keep me from seeing Jason.

On the night the snow came in heavy and wet, it made Mama afraid as the trees began snapping and breaking off next to the house. Every time a limb fell close – it was too close for her comfort. She would holler for me and I would have to reassure her that God was just doing a little ‘necessary pruning’ and told her how strong the trees roots were. After calming her, I went back to bed and secretly prayed that God protect us from a big old tree falling. This happened up until four o’clock Thursday morning and we finally drifted off to sleep. After just a few hours of rest, my headache was worse by the time I woke up at seven. I went outside and saw several branches all over our yard and our drain pipe had fallen off of the house. Heavy branches blocked the very end of our driveway and now I was trapped!

I was STILL determined to go on my trip! I had all of Thursday to try and get over the two-day headache and catch up on work that I missed from the day before. All I had to do was move those heavy branches so I could get out! I have to admit, my strong will was weakening at this point and I was becoming disheartened. With my head still pounding, my resolve to push on lightened as I began to think about … my big, fat, purple bruise, my dry, flaky skin, my greasy hair, my hormonal headache, snow on the mountain and heavy branches blocking the driveway.

Maybe this was a sign that I shouldn’t go on my trip.

After taking a few photos of the debris for Mama to have in case her homeowner’s insurance would cover the clean-up, I came back inside and before we were able to brew coffee, a big bang shot out and I dropped my head in despair…. “That was the transformer,” I said to Mama, “we just lost electricity.”

Sure enough our heat was off along with everything else. Now, moving the branches was not just about making the trip – but was more about keeping Mama warm in case we had to leave and stay in a hotel. Headache in tow, I became Hercules and, though I could not lift the branches, I found a way to scoot them over enough for my Jeep to drive out. When Jason called to check on us I told him with my heart sunken in my chest that I didn’t think I was going to make the trip.

He said, “No problem, we can just have our Valentines next weekend. I just want you safe.” He was so good about it and that took pressure off thinking I had to make a trip with a big, fat purple bruise, dry, flaky skin, greasy hair, a hormonal headache, snow on the mountain and now … with no power, not being able to work that day and trying to get it done before leaving. Now, I could work over the weekend since I wouldn’t be gone. Now I could have another week for my bruise to go away. Hopefully, I would be able to get my hair squeaky clean and I would not have to wonder about snow on the mountain next weekend.

Mama was feeling a little down having very little sleep and being concerned about our ordeal, so I went ahead and gave her the Valentine gifts from me a day early. I gave her two musical cards that made her jump (which I loved) a box of chocolates, a puzzle book, some make-up and a plant. It was good to see her cheer up. I rested my head and took more ibuprofen and just before evening my two-day headache had subsided, but our electricity was still out.

It was cold in the house and I wanted a hot shower and to wash my greasy hair. Mama and I packed a bag and headed to the Courtyard Marriott at Hamilton Place. Their staff is always so gracious to let me hold some of my interviews in their eating area. It is usually quiet and much better than meeting people at a noisy coffee shop. Sully at the front desk was very cordial, friendly and wonderful taking care of our needs. He honored the senior citizen’s discount with Mama’s AARP card and gave us a room on the bottom floor.

I showered and the greasy residue finally came out of my hair. Mama and I went to Macaroni Grill for a nice hot meal and came back to the hotel exhausted ready to slip into the nice warm queen-sized beds. Mama’s neighbor called to inform us that the electricity was back on and we were able to go home the next morning. Not long after I got our bag unpacked at the house and ready to dive into work, the doorbell rang. I saw a girl holding flowers from Chattanooga Flower Market. I thought one of my sisters had sent Mama a bouquet for Valentine’s Day.

With mine and Jason’s plans changing at the last minute, I never dreamed that he would have had the opportunity to have flowers sent to me. I looked at the card and they were from Jason. I had never heard of Chattanooga Flower Market, but they arranged a gorgeous bouquet of a dozen long-stemmed roses with beautiful and unique greenery and an additional spread of color. Since I didn’t get to see Jason, I posted a picture on Facebook of the gift that I will bring him next weekend for him to see on Valentine’s Day. It was a framed picture of a greyhound that I sketched.

Our Valentine’s Day weekend didn’t go as planned, but for some reason I wasn’t supposed to make the trip to Nashville. And, all it took to figure that out was a big, fat purple bruise, dry, flaky skin, greasy hair, a hormonal headache, snow on the mountain, heavy branches blocking the driveway and the power going out.

jen@jenjeffrey.com

Happy Valentine's Day
Happy Valentine's Day

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