What happened at FinCon16.

th-1It wasn’t anything like we thought it would be. In a bad way.

Abby got sick but we kept attributing the symptoms to other stuff, such as exhaustion, dehydration and her compromised body finding fresh ways to torment her. At one point she weakly mused, “What new indignity are you throwing at me?”

Fortunately, my FinCon16 presentation had been at 8:30 a.m. on the first day so I was able to spend most of the time in the room with her. Unfortunately, she and I missed most of the rest of the conference.

That’s not nearly as self-serving as it sounds. Both of us mourned the chance to attend educational sessions and to hang out with fellow money nerds. And obviously no one wants to be sick, especially so far away from home.

On Saturday we agreed to stay an extra day in San Diego, still believing she could regain her strength. By mid-afternoon Sunday she decided it was time to go to the emergency room.


Within a few hours a doctor was saying, “You have sepsis.” It likely stemmed from a urinary tract infection Abby thought had gone away. She was admitted that night and they let her go on Tuesday evening. (For her side of the story, see “Septic (but thin!)” on her website.)

By the time we got back to Phoenix on Wednesday evening we were both pretty flattened. The seven-hour trip wasn’t easy or comfortable for her, since she was still pretty darned sick. Being in her own bed helped, as did watching the puppy act completely adorkable.

Although I wasn’t ill* I had spent the past week in fight-or-flight mode, eating and sleeping relatively little, needing to make a lot of fast changes (including getting a cheaper hotel and moving all our stuff** there), encountering multiple snafus with regard to parking at the hotel, health insurance, nearly driving onto the naval base by mistake*** and picking up prescriptions.


Sticking around for a while

Also dealing with wicked flashbacks**** to her previous illness and hospitalization and massive anxiety. And did I mention how hot it’s been? While 103 degrees may feel temperate to a Phoenix resident, it’s plenty debilitating to a cooler-climes gal like me. (It was 29 degrees in Anchorage last night.)

I’m trying not to eat my feelings constantly (hint: two kinds of ice cream in the freezer) and also to focus on the positive. After a day or two of continuing queasiness and a “no thanks” attitude toward most food, Abby has been able to eat both good stuff (homemade chicken soup, various fruits) and some bad stuff (cherry-flavored Airheads, Jello).

She still looks pale and is noticeably weary after minor exertions. Then again, she could have died. So I think she’s still ahead on points.

I really miss DF and can’t wait to see him again. But I’ll linger a while longer, just in case. Somebody’s got to make that Jello.

*Would have traded places with her in a heartbeat, but we don’t get to choose.

**Two suitcases, a decent-sized makeup kit, two boxes of books, five bags of FinCon16 swag and a couple of bags of groceries.

***I was so tired I couldn’t think straight and misheard the military guard as saying, “You’re good to go” instead of what he actually said, “You can’t go.” When I started to drive forward he bellowed “STOP! YOU CAN’T GO ONTO THE BASE!” and grabbed the window frame of the driver’s-side door as though he could stop the car, Superman-like. Due to my history of being verbally and psychologically bullied, I shook for about an hour after the encounter. At least he didn’t pull a gun on me.

****Ah, PTSD – the gift that keeps on taking.


Related reading:

468 ad


  1. I fully expected you to give me a run down on what happens at a conference but like I keep saying you never know what will happen. I’m so glad she is on her way to recovery and they caught it before it became a lot worse. I’m also glad to that you were there for her and she wasn’t alone.

    I hope that image and sound of the guard goes away soon. So scary!

    There is no place like home.

  2. I, too, have been verbally and psychologically bullied and that kind of voice still rattles me to the bone. That all sounds scary. I hope you both fully recover from your ordeals.

  3. It sounds like you did all that you can’t and thank goodness you went to the ER when you did. We are always thankful when we travel and are spared any major issues. We know flexibility is key and knowing your surroundings and what is available in terms of doctors/hospitals is important too! Hope you both can get some rest and strength back!

  4. I’m so sorry Abby was sick and you missed the conference, but I’m very glad you were there for her. It could have been much worse.

    May you all feel better soon!

  5. Deborah

    Had you been younger or male, the guard probably would have pulled his gun. Glad all you got was shouting. Really fortunate Abby realized she needed to get to emergency when she did. Sepsis is nasty stuff. So glad you were there to help her. All in all, it was certainly a trip that will stay in the memory books… but not for fun reasons. Wishing Abby a speedy recovery and you a safe trip home to cooler climes and DF!

  6. So sorry to hear about Abby and your trip. Read the gory details on her blog. No matter how old our kids get, there is no one like Mom.

  7. Sonya Ann

    This bites on so many levels. I’m sorry Abby was sick. She deserves an easy and perfect life after everything that she has endured. I mean, can’t she get a free healthy pass for the rest of her life! But she is beyond blessed for having a wonderful mom like you, even if you are trying to get both of you shot.Jello away, dear!

  8. I am so sorry this happened to the two of you! Poor Abby! I hope the remainder of the year makes up for this crummy experience and is filled with happiness and blessing for both of you!!

  9. RoInSanDiego

    This was so awful for you both. I am glad Abby eventually got the care she needed. I wish I could have done more to help you and I am glad you were there to help Abby. Stuff like this is compounded when you are in unfamiliar territory.

    • Donna Freedman

      Thanks, Ro. I’m glad you made it to the open-to-the-public event, and Abby is sorry she didn’t get the chance to meet you as well.

      How’s that luggage scale working?

  10. I’m so sorry Abby is sick! I’ll keep both of you in my prayers. xo

  11. I hope your Abby has a quick and complete recovery and your frayed nerves are recovering too.
    I drive up to a guard every work day. They rotate them so they don’t form friendships. Navy Gate guards have zero sense of humor. Sorry you got the treatment. I’ve messed up also and got the blast.

  12. And in spite of this horrible experience, you still can coin a new word: “adorkable.” I’m going to use it!

    This too will pass. Hang in there.

  13. Now I know why you still hadn’t responded to my offer to pick a bracelet for Abby in my sister’s webshop.
    Hope you will get those awfull flashbacks out of your mind.
    And find comfort with DF. Then if you are at ease again you are still welcome to pick a bracelet with a quote for Abby.
    Best wishes,

    Marit, the Netherlands

    • Donna Freedman

      You are so kind, Marit. Thanks again for the offer of a gift. I will have Abby look through the options before I go home.

      • I don’t know if you can translate her site into English
        but necklace : ketting and bracelet means armband in Dutch.
        You can press the contact button and my sister will
        be pleased to answer your question and send the gift to Abby.
        Have a good trip home .

  14. good gracious, what a cascade of stressful developments. hope all is on the upswing now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *