This time last year I was in bed. Almost to the day, I had a cleaning crew (well, two women) here cleaning my house in anticipation of my father-in-law and his wife arriving to stay with us for a week. It was the first time they were seeing our new house, and in addition we hadn’t seen them for probably two years prior. They hadn’t met Le Moo, either. And there I was, in bed, in the throes of my “Prilosec fever”, with strangers wandering around my house cleaning. My mom was here helping to supervise, but being the control-freak that I am, it only made things worse.
As a part of the Prilosec fever, I was shrouded in paranoia and anxiety and panic…and pain. I wasn’t eating because of the paranoia, I was stuck in bed because of the lack of energy and nourishment, and I was in constant pain. Anxiety and panic were strangling me. On the morning of December 24th, I went into the local emergency room because I felt I had no other option. I was mired in panic and anxiety, every breath making my body swell with fear. My entire body hurt, I couldn’t stand on my own…I thought I was broken and dying. I spent the entire day in the ER with my mother and my husband by my side. My cousin, a doctor who trained in that particular ER, came and went during the day to support me and help translate when it was needed. She knew the attending on duty and was a liaison for us. She was a God-send. I went home late in the day, after dark is all I remember, and slept in my own bed. But I was no better off than when I went in that morning…with the exception of being rehydrated from a day of IV fluids. I was also told I might have a slow-growing tumor in my head from the MRI, but at that point I was too numb to be terrified.
Christmas day, I sent my husband off with his father and step-mother to my mother-in-law’s house for Christmas. My mom came to stay with me; I stayed in bed all day while my mom encouraged me to eat multiple small meals. My husband came home early to be with me, and his father and step-mother came home later. That night I had my 2nd major panic attack. It was the impetus to finding out about my Prilosec fever.
It’s one year later from all that jazz, and things are better for me. I started with a new therapist in January (that would be T!) and started PT in February. I began turning my life around…slowly but surely I’ve been making progress. I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned about myself. And how much I’ve learned about the people who love me. How blessed I am to have them all.
A few weeks ago–my dad’s birthday–we were coming home from the restaurant and I was in the car with my parents and my brother. Hub needed to run an errand so he was not with us. I asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday, which was coming up in December. My mom doesn’t particularly enjoy food much anymore. She’s at a point where it’s more fuel than anything else. She gets bored with food. I’ve asked her before what we could do for her her birthday and she always says she just wants to be home with the family. It’s kind of the same as Mother’s day. But this year, she surprised me.
I said, “Ma, if you could have anything for your birthday dinner, what would it be?”
She said, “Cheese souffle and lemon meringue pie.”
I was nearly speechless, because she actually answered me. In the dead silence, she told me that she had her mother’s recipes for both and they were foods that she never eats because she hates to make them (my grandmother has been gone for at least five years). So I told her I would do it for her. I would practice the entire time between birthdays to make sure I got it right, as long as she gave me the recipes. I badgered her for a week, and she finally searched through her files but couldn’t find either recipe. So I told her I would hit the internet and find some recipes to try. She told me she wanted to go ahead and try some souffle recipes on her own. I think she was regretting asking me because souffles are a pain to make. But I said if she wanted to try, I’d come over and help.
The next thing I know, she tells me she tried to make a spinach souffle but it didn’t rise. She didn’t know what was wrong, but she was disappointed. She said it tasted fine, but it was more like creamed spinach than a souffle. So I said I’d give it a shot. I had already searched the internet and watched no less than four videos of people making souffles. I was ready.
Here’s the thing. I’m not a great cook. My grandmother and my mom were great cooks in their day. I have things I can make pretty well, but beyond those it’s always a gamble. Sometimes stuff comes out great, sometimes it sucks. There’s no in-between for me. But hey, it’s eggs and a little flour, some milk, butter and cheese. Not like it was going to cost a lot to try. I found a recipe that would make TWO servings, so I went with that. I asked Hub to haul out the Kitchenaid mixer (which weighs about a thousand pounds and I am unable to lift it) and leave it on the island for me. So when I got downstairs this morning, I took care of the dogs and did some work on the computer, then headed for the kitchen. To the great white beast–the Kitchenaid mixer. And I started following the recipe I’d found. With that–and the videos I’d watched the night before–I was off and running.
I got the mixture together and poured it into two ramekins (technically, they were french onion bowls, but who cares!), then stuck them into the oven. Then I called my mom and whispered “don’t sneeze, the souffles are in the oven”. She laughed. When I was little and my mom made a souffle, she’d always yell at us not to jump around, slam doors, or yell. So I told her to prep herself to come over to test-eat the souffle for lunch, then I hung up the phone. And then I went back to the oven, turned the little light on and stared. And stared. I walked away to take care of the dogs for a few minutes, then went back and ZOWIE! The souffles were rising! Puffing up and browning!! I called my mom and said, “GET OVER HERE!” And before I hung up the phone I said, “And don’t slam the door on your way in!”
And thus, the souffle! My first EVER!
This was the 2nd of the two ramekins. The first was prettier, but I took it out of the oven and by the time I went to take a picture it was deflating. This picture was of the 2nd one still in the oven. It, too, was starting to deflate but I caught it before it looked sad. Do all souffle deflate that fast? 😦
So, Ma stood over the island and dug into the first souffle…and smiled. And ate. And laughed. And ate…and told me how light and fluffy it was. How tasty it was. I told her to not act like a Mom and tell me if it really was okay, and she said it truthfully was. So I said, “Happy birthday!” She finally sat down to finish her souffle, then took the second one home to my brother, even though it was deflated and sad. Apparently he wolfed it down happily, sharing only a bite with my dad (who then asked where HIS souffle was, even though he’d already eaten lunch). My brother’s birthday is in January, and he said he wanted a souffle for his birthday. So my mom said we could wait and make a souffle for his birthday since she’d had her pre-birthday test souffle today.
I’m totally making her a lemon meringue pie for her birthday, though. She said I could use a store-bought crust, but we’ll see. Gotta go out and get fresh lemons and some sweetened condensed milk. We’ll see how that goes. But I was so stoked about the souffle…it really was pretty. And honestly, my mom never asks for anything, so I’m SO damn happy I was able to do this for her.
A year ago I was in bed, sick and feeling like I was on the verge of having a full-on mental breakdown. Positive I was going to be living in a mental ward away from everyone I love for the rest of my life. And now, a souffle.
A souffle, people. First time ever, and it rose and got all brown and puffy and beautiful. For my Momma.
Happy birthday, Mom. And thank you for everything. I only wish I could give you more.