Thank Goodness the Fruit's Not Ready Yet - Or, How OTC Medications Can Mess You Up

I think every new mother experiences at least one moment after her baby is born when she wishes she could put it back - just for a little while longer; because before they're born, at least you know they're safe. Our fruit is still lazily hanging, safe and sound, clinging to its mother vines in the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard - and after this week's events, I couldn't be happier about that.

Last Sunday, both Jody and I were flattened by a very nasty and persistent virus that also hit the kids, who took turns waking in the night with croup and/or fever. (I think vomiting also may have been involved. I really can't remember.) Along with complete laryngitis, my particular version of the virus involved a killer sore throat that was worse at night. After the third sleepless night of pain, I picked up some Aleve at the drugstore. We hardly ever take medication, so we didn't have anything in the house, and I vaguely remembered being prescribed naproxen for pain relief after being in a car accident in high school -- it wasn't sold over-the-counter way back then. In any event, I took one in the morning, two before bed, and that was all.

This morning, still congested and out-of-sorts from the virus, I woke at 4:00 with the distinct sensation that something was not right. My lips felt swollen and numb. I was hot and itchy. I couldn't breathe properly. I turned on the bathroom light and saw that not only had my top lip swelled to approximately three times its normal size, but also, the backs of my legs and my wrists were completely covered in welts. I started wheezing.

I knew it had to be a reaction to the Aleve -- I hadn't taken any other medications or done anything differently -- so I grabbed the bottle from my purse and sure enough, it listed all my symptoms under "rare side effects." Jody went into full-on levelheaded crisis-management mode, which is one of my very favorite things about him. He woke the kids, rushed us all to the nearest 24-hour pharmacy, grabbed and popped open some Benadryl for me, and then waited in the parking lot of the hospital across the street to make sure the Benadryl was working; if not, we'd be right there at the hospital. All this before 5 a.m.!

I've spent the rest of the day sleeping between Benadryl doses, and am happy to report that I can breathe; the welts are gone; and my lips are almost back to normal (and after that frightening sight you can believe I will NEVER be tempted to get lip-plumping collagen injections. Because really, nothing says, "Look at me! I'm having an allergic reaction!" quite like big puffy fat lips.)

Needless to say, it wouldn't have been a spectacular day to be driving a refrigerated truck 400 miles round-trip to pick up and process a ton of fruit.

All About the Weather

The weather in the Highlands has cooled markedly. Whereas the summer days were mostly in the 90s with nights in the 50s, it's now shifted to highs in the 60s-70s, and lows in the low 40s. This is great for the development of the fruit. It gets a good, long time to develop complex flavor in temperatures that won't stress it out. At this point, the main thing growers and winemakers worry about is rain. You don't want your vines getting wet close to harvest time, as mildew can become a problem, and you don't want your grapes to be picked wet - it can cause seriously diluted flavor.

No rain is forecast for the Cuyama area for the upcoming week. We'll continue to play the waiting game, ready to put our plan into action when the call comes. We're just hoping the pick won't be this Thursday night, as Friday's the only day our to-be-rented destemmer is spoken for.

It's a short post this week - sorry. Not so much to report, and Benadryl makes me very, very sleepy. Once I snap out of it, I'll be back on Twitter with updates. When we get the call, expect more frequent blog updates, pictures and all. Have a great week - and take my advice: Stay far, far away from Aleve. (I wish I had!)