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Bexfield 2021 Christmas Letter (Chapt 13)

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  • Bexfield 2021 Christmas Letter (Chapt 13)

    Here is the (lightly edited) Christmas letter from 2021 referenced in Chapter 13. A piece of toilet paper graced the front of the card.

    The Bexfield Year of 2021 Can Best
    Be Summed Up in Two Words:


    Due to supply chain issues and staffing shortages, but mainly David slacking (for some lame-o reason), the release of the 2021 Bexfield Holiday Greetings was delayed. So it’s now the Lunar New Year BHG.

    To describe 2021 as a Holy Sheet year for the Bexfields doesn’t quite do it justice. And we’re not talking (thankfully) about toilet paper shortages la 2020. The last 365 days were as monumental and consequential as any in their lives, on par with 1993—when they got married, sailed around the world for four short months, lived with family for four long months, moved to the other side of the country far away from family (except the grandparents!), and embarked on new careers.

    That’s not to say the couple didn’t partake in more traditional pandemic entertainment in 2021. They baked amazing bread and watched Squid Game (they finally caved and got Netflix). They invented entertaining games (Rotgut Roulette) and played entertaining games (Inside and Limbo on Xbox with friends and Cards Against Humanity with, uh, Mom). Friends and family visited from afar and near (too many to list!). All-in-all, enough to be a noteworthy year. But what fun is that? Time to turn up the volume—to a Spinal Tap worthy 11!

    JANUARY arrived inauspiciously/auspiciously depending on your point of view, as rioters/patriots stormed/toured the capitol. Shortly thereafter, Joe Biden took office, a day that will be remembered primarily because of Bernie’s mittens. Meanwhile, David barely noticed as he was busy celebrating a UTI-free month, after having five cases since July of 2020. That joy was short-lived, however, as by month’s end, he had acquired another Dave urinary tract infection, aka “dropping a DUTI.”

    That was just in time for David to ring in
    FEBRUARY by enjoying another festive round of antibiotics. Meanwhile, Laura noticed curious small mounds forming in the backyard…gifts from a gopher. A rejected $2,600 estimate later, the little guy was trapped for $250 and is now presumably happily burrowing under fields in upstate New York. But going off DUTI was a mirage, at which point David opted to stop wearing pants for the sake of convenience.

    MARCH, for the record, just plain sucked, and not because the Ever Given got epically stuck in the Suez Canal stuffing up your Amazon order. Laura’s father passed away unexpectedly on the 27th, days before turning 83. Even the muted promise of David getting vaccinated against Covid was short lived, as researchers determined that his MS drug seriously blunted its effectiveness.

    APRIL predictably started and ended with all things Tim Richard Miles, including his obituary, which is posted on

    The month was, as expected, a blur, and
    MAY threatened to follow suit, the only difference being a seemingly inevitable call of DUTI. But then David had another calling, one that that actually required pants, as he was asked to officiate the wedding of the mother of a dear friend. (The intimate backyard ceremony nearly went without a hitch—literally—as the betrothed couple had misplaced the marriage license.)

    JUNE, oh glorious June, arrived with such promise. The end of coronavirus harkened, conjuring splendid moments of celebration in history: the end of Prohibition, the conclusion of WWII, parades of championship teams not involving Tom Brady. The couple dined indoors with friends, carefree and maskless. They ventured out to restaurants for the second time since March 2020. The pair even posed for a New Mexico Magazine photoshoot. Such pandemic promise meant planning for Laura’s 50th blowout reached a fever pitch, with preparations for a catered meal, professional bartenders, and even a private flamenco show (complete with a surprise scheme to fly in dear friends). Better still, the month was blissfully DUTI free!

    Things really looked to take off in
    JULY, starting with Richard Branson becoming the first billionaire in space, launching from New Mexico’s Spaceport. Laura’s dad’s house and his clock/flashlight/glass collections were finally cleaned out after months of effort and an estate sale. But then, in a Lucy moment, the football was yanked all Game of Thrones finale style, only without cool dragons. DUTI called, again. Delta landed—the variant, not the airline—and promptly soared to new heights, effectively grounding any hope of a 50th celebration.

    AUGUST arrived with David, in full-on pout mode, having a hairbrained idea. Despite one week before Laura’s b-day, could a scaled down party work? Outdoors, BYO everything, with an unfairly trimmed guest list (sadly nixing even family)? “I never cancelled my flight.” Best friends from the coasts were still all-in on the surprise. It all came together as our neighbor called to tell Laura that she had “received a package,” which appeared to be perishable and would not fit in their fridge. For good reason. When Laura walked over to get her gift, the screams of seeing a bestie—and not an oversized summer sausage—were heard literally down the street. The whole celebration wrapped with an unforgettable outdoor flamenco performance that was so lit even the cops were called out to investigate. Really!

    SEPTEMBER continued to be a whirlwind for Laura. She stumbled onto the live set of a Western movie filming at the Rail Yards’ WHEELS Museum, where she has since donated her dad’s collection of railroad pocket watches. Then she finalized the sale of her father’s home. Unfortunately, the month also brought some unwanted closure. Laura’s prestigious career project at the USGS—NAQWA, the acclaimed national program assessing water quality for all Americans—was unceremoniously shut down (she is now the creator and manager of a team that reviews the quality of water chemistry data). September ended with good news/bad news. My sister and her partner broke ground September 27 on their new casa blocks from the Bexfields (yay!) while a double DUTI arrived (ugh!), inspiring David’s urologist to propose a permanent catheter, as his trial run of self cathing apparently wasn’t preventing infection.

    Which brings us to the nothing-short-of-OMG OCTOBER. A dear college bud visited with her husband for Balloon Fiesta… and things deflated from there, as it was an insanely heavy DUTI time—four in three weeks (for a total of 15 in 15 months). It got worse. Something had been causing David a scary rash of mental issues for months, and they were now peaking—obsessiveness, feelings of grandeur, paranoia, fatalism. (Profuse apologies to friends who unwittingly experienced Delusional Dave!) At the same time his body was cratering. Desperate, he sent an urgent appeal to his docs: something was catastrophically wrong. But something also was categorically weird: every time he went on antibiotics, he felt better, way better. That made no sense with multiple sclerosis… until the October 23rd edition of The New York Times, where columnist Ross Douthat wrote about his own struggles with a puzzling, vexing disease. Bingo. Putting together the puzzle pieces, David realized why 7 disease-modifying drugs, 5 clinical trials, and a stem cell transplant all failed to slow his MS. Because he never had MS—he was misdiagnosed 17 years ago. By all accounts, it appears he instead has the rarest form of Lyme disease: Lyme encephalomyelitis, a type almost indistinguishable from MS.

    Armed with this new discovery, as
    NOVEMBER dawned, his PCP started David on doxycycline, an antibiotic used to treat Lyme. Days later his perpetually swollen feet, which had earned David the nickname Big Feet, went back to normal (please, resist the urge to call him Feet). His new strength gains had to be measured on a near logarithmic scale. And in what can only be described as a “relief,” his chronic bladder issues went AWOL, a welcome dereliction of DUTI. Indeed, most of his “MS” symptoms have since started receding.

    Which brings us to
    DECEMBER. Despite the damper of Omicron, the Bexfields are beyond blessed to once again have mountains of hope, as David is relearning everything. How much he will be able to recover is wholly unknown, but bet against him at your own peril. And yes, he is as befuddled as ever about how to tell the fans of his popular ActiveMSers website—his last exercise video (
    ) got over a quarter million views—about this new chapter. [PLEASE DO NOT DISCUSS HIS LYME DIAGNOSIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.] But his first thoughts remain with Laura. He promised his wife of 29 years (as of January 23rd) that he’d whisk her away once again to faraway lands when he was healthier. Laura expressed more pressing needs. “I just want to travel to the couch … and watch you make me dinner.”

    Dave Bexfield