Some time in late November, while I was sitting on the sofa with my laptop, watching The Goodwife on Netflix, a little rat jumped on my lap and then skittered off into the corner of the room. I stood up, laptop falling on the floor, and screamed. I ran to see if I could find the ratfink but he was too fast for me. The apartment didn't have a garbage disposal and I figured that the banana peels, etc. in the trash were attracting rodents. UGH.
When Mike came home that night, tired from fending off questions about Trump (we were asked about the election everywhere we went as if we had some secret information only available to US citizens), I told him what happened. He looked around and couldn't find any evidence of rodent infestation.
I think denial is an excellent way to get through life, so I pushed that rat out of my life in the same manner that I push all bothersome things. There was no rat. Belgian pastries are good for you. (There's at least one fantastic pastry shop on every block.) Everyone I know is happy and healthy. Life is perfect.
Denial is awesome.
Two days later, with Mike right near me, the rat was back, once again jumping on my lap and skittering off to the corner of the living room. Damn! Goodbye denial, hello reality.
I jumped up, screaming. Forget denial. This was real. I could no longer push this out of my mind. Mike took a long look at me. Not the Humprey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman Casablanca look of love. No, this was more the "Hmm. Did we include the "in sickness and health" part in our vows?" (Note: yes, we did.)
Me: "I can't live like this. This is nuts. We are paying a lot for this place and there are rats. I want to move to a hotel tonight. That airbnb land lady is going to pay for us to stay elsewhere."
Mike: There was no rat.
Me: Yes there was.
Mike: No really, I was looking right at you. Joan, there are no rats.
Me, thinking: OMG I'm becoming my mother. I am nuts. I'm not putting Mike through this. I'll leave, go to one of those assisted living places. Maybe there are drugs that can stop the rats. Will Andy and Mike visit me there? Mike will be so lonely without me. He needs to find another wife soon.
Me: Do you think I'm crazy? Am I losing my mind?
Mike: You don't seem any different to me.
Me: What does that mean?????
Mike: I mean you are not crazy. Something else is going on.
Me, thinking: OMG I have a brain tumor.
We looked at each other. 2016 was shaping up to be one heck of a year.
So, with one eye scanning for rats, I t
Being the excellent diagnostician that I am, I remembered all the medication I was taking and researched the side effects of each of them. (As a general rule, I don't look at possible side effects before taking a medication, because I figure that was a sure fire way of imagining all of them.) I was taking Metoprolol, a very common medication. Buried at the end of the side effects, under "very rare" was hallucinations. I also found a journal article by NIH recounting 3 patients taking this stuff who had visual hallucinations. BOOM! I'm not crazy and I don't have a brain tumor!
I sent a message to my cardiologist telling him that this drug was causing me to see rats jumping on my lap. I ended my message with a "p.s. I'm not crazy." Luckily, he responded in less than an hour with "You are not crazy. It's the medication."
So I halved the dose, and while I never saw a rat again, I was on high rat alert the last two weeks of our trip. I mean, once you've had rats jumping on you, life is pretty much never the same. Eventually, we left Brussels a few weeks early so I could get completely off that medication and start a new one.
I want to get back to stamping soon. I've missed it. The time off gave me a new perspective on the industry and current trends and what I'd like to create in the future. But more on that, after I've actually made something worth sharing.
In the meantime ....