I ran into my cousin, who I haven’t seen in years, and I couldn’t stop to talk. I just hurried by, telling her that Fin was plugged off, and I had to go. I’m sorry, I had to go. Of course, I forgot his backpack with his spare trach and obturator in the car, so I had to run from one end of the mall to the other. Security guards look at you a little differently when you’re doing the mad medical dash; the authoritative side of them raises their hands in a slow down gesture, until they look you in the eye, and they can see the crazed lunatic parent lingering in there. Or at least they see something they don’t want to mess with. Clear the lane, boys.
And it was basketball tournament time, so the mall was crammed with about twice as many people as it can hold and about fifty times as many people as a normal weekend, excluding Christmas shopping season. I had to slow down with the grandmas shuffling. I had to wade through teenagers in matching letter jackets. I had to dance a little bit as I sashayed by Abercrombie & Fitch. I mean, I had to.
I was a speed walker on speed. I counted the seconds in my head and pictured my son, tongue out, sweat forming at his temples, panting as best he could through his mouth. I only noticed he was having trouble in Game Stop when I saw that there was no snot around his nose. The vent pushes the mucous out. No mucous, no pressure. No pressure, we got a problem. I ran.
Brad Pitt regarded me from his Chanel poster with a look of sympathy and I thought, Brad, buddy, you know what I’m going through. You have like ten children with Angelina, of course, they’re all perfect. I love your hair, by the way. I’m not cutting mine again, ever.
I hopped into the car and instead of grabbing the spare trach and bag and running back through the obstacle course of the mall, I decided to drive all the way around to the entrance closest to Fin and park there. I found a handicap spot and slid right in, then ran inside with the bag.
My wife got everything ready quickly and we decided to try the obturator first and clear the blockage, but I handed her a pack of bacitracin instead of KY and she dipped it in that stuff so we had to scratch that plan. Full-on trach change, right outside the vision center at the mouth of Macy’s and across from Lane Bryant. That’s how it went down. Now let’s get back to shopping.