Friday, December 28, 2012

Raising a Feminist Man?

We have been watching some classic Christmas movies, including the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  We don't go out of our way to promote the Santa myth, but we have played along and not burst Bean's bubble as of yet!

Tonight Bean says to me that only boy reindeer can be Santa's reindeer.  I said, "you know...I'm pretty sure I heard that boy reindeer don't have their antlers at Christmas, so if they have antlers they have to be all girl reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh... I'm not entirely sure about this - we can look it up if you'd like."

After working out that deer and reindeer are not the same thing and that female reindeer grow antlers, we talked about why the movie might be getting it all wrong.  Were all of Santa's reindeer actually girls, and the movie was totally wrong?  Or maybe not all of the the reindeer have antlers on Christmas Eve?

He was musing about all of this, and I thought it might be appropriate to add the "sign of the times" factor.

"You know, Bean, that movie was made at a time when a lot of people thought that girls and women shouldn't work.  At the very least, many many people thought that girls and women aren't as good at a lot of jobs as men are," I told him.

He looked at me intensely and said, "well that's dumb..."

"Some people still think this, honey.  And it's still really hard for women to get certain jobs because of it."

Silence while he thought.

"...some people think boys shouldn't wear skirts.  And some people think that women shouldn't wear pants!"

This was just too much for him to believe.  Indignantly he said, "well.  If I ever meet those people?  I will tell them that's NONSENSE!"

And, thanks to the same movie, a week before Christmas, while brushing his teeth, Bean said to The Beast, "so the elves make all these toys. And then Santa gives all the toys to the kids. But then there are no presents for the elves! That's pretty unfair to the elves, I think."

I'm putting all of this in the column of successful feminist parenting!

Also, if you want to know whether the male reindeer shedding their antlers earlier than Christmas tidbit is fact or not, this is a funny take on it.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Scrub-a-dub-dub, Brea's favorite tub scrub

My usual quick tub scrub is just baking soda.  Then I rinse the tub and carry on (usually with a bath to reward myself for scrubbing the tub!) - perhaps spraying a little vinegar as well.  But my tub has been feeling grimy lately - it's not dirty, but there was definitely soap scum built up and it just hasn't felt totally clean.

So, on Wednesday (my usual day for cleaning the house), I pulled out the big guns: lemon wedges!

It's so simple, and it works so well.
1. Cut a lemon into quarters.

2. Sprinkle baking soda in the tub (or sink).

3.  Use a lemon wedge to scrub.

4.  If you come across a particularly scummy and stubborn area, pour a small mound of baking soda elsewhere in the tub, dip your lemon in it, and head back to the scum.

The baking soda and the acid in the lemon interact as you scrub and break up the scum incredibly thoroughly.  This is also a safe cleaning supply for kiddos (Bean helped me!), and it smells truly lemon-fresh when you're done!

Photo Credit

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tonight's drama brought to you by the letters C, L, E, A, and N.

Bean's kind of an expert room destroyer.  His room was completely picked up and even vacuumed about 2 days before this...

As in "clean you room."

After quiet time today, I went into Bean's room to get his laundry hamper.  It took me a solid 30 seconds to locate it, as it was on its side on Bean's lower bunk. 

I can assure you that is not its proper place. 

So I said, "Hey Bean.  How about you clean your room?"

Bean:  "Noooooooooo!  I'll do it later."

Well, crying and negotiating and cajoling all led to us striking a deal that he would clean his room after dinner while The Beast and I were washing dishes and picking up the rest of the house.  This was to be done with no physical help - just our telling him what to work on next. If it wasn't cleaned up by the time we usually read a book, there would be no book.  If it wasn't cleaned up by the time A-Train usually goes in the Ergo and Bean usually gets in bed on our floor, he couldn't sleep in our room.

We shook on it.  This is the New Deal of Bedtime.  It stands from here on out.

After dinner, some other consequences led to his door having to remain open, giving his brother free reign in there (except for the top bunk).  So then, of course, Bean's freaked out about all the crap on his floor that his brother can now get to. A-Train immediately grabbed Bean's sacred cardboard hoplon, which sent Bean into absolutely hysterics, and then Bean negotiated to have his door closed while he cleaned up his room (a reasonable request since A-Train is likely to get in the way of or reverse any progress made...).

So then, of course, Bean just played in there with the door closed.  He cleaned up minimally and then he got distracted.  And then, when bedtime came, he wailed and wailed that no one would give him advice on how to clean up his room.


Bean is finally calm after sitting with me on the couch for a couple minutes and me promising him I will give him advice on cleaning up his room in the morning, but we are done for the night.  And now The Beast has A-Train in the Ergo sounding like he is being tortured.  Because the Ergo, man, it's brutal...


Thursday, November 22, 2012

My heart might burst at any moment

The Beast making what I learned today is a hoplon.  It's a kind of shield!  Thankful for both these guys.

Before my surgery, Bean and I had a nightly routine of laying down in his little nest-bed on the floor and talking before he went to sleep.  We'd talk about random stuff - literally anything might come up. 

One of my favorites, from back in September:
Bean, after reading a bedtime story:  "Can we talk?"
Me:  "Sure.  What do you want to talk about?"
B:  "Tell me about salamanders."
Me:  " about salamanders?"
Bennett: "just...anything you know.
Me:  "...uh...salamanders...they're lizards...?"  (They're not...)
Bennett:  "ok."
Me:  "That's all I know.  What else do you want to talk about?"
B:  "Dinosaurs.  Everything about dinosaurs."
....we talked about dinosaurs for a little while, including that I would still be scared of a huge, plated, strong, spiky plant eater...

Me:  "What else do you want to talk about?"
B:  "I don't know.  What do you want to talk about?  What do you want to know about?"
Me:  "Hmmm...tell me about being a little boy.  I've never been a little boy."
B:  "Well, it's much harder than being a girl."
Me:  "Oh?  How's that?"
B:  "Because boys harass each other a lot more than girls do."
Me:  "Oh?  Yeah, I guess that could be true.  Though there are some pictures of Aunt T harassing me."
B: "Why?"
Me:  "...because she was bigger than me, I guess?"
B:  "Oh."
Me:  "What else do you want to tell me about being a boy?"
B: "Nuffing. I can't think of anything else.  What else do you want to know?"
Me:  "Do you want to tell me about being Bean?  I've never been Bean, either."
B:  "Well, it's not very hard."
Me: "Oh.  So being Bean is pretty easy?"
B: "Yeah."
Me:  "Is it fun, then?"
B:  "No.  It's not fun."
Me:  "Oh really?  So it's easy but it's not fun.  What would make it fun?"
B:  "If my name was [Friend]."
Me:  "If your name was [Friend], your life would be fun?  Well, then I will start calling you [Friend]!"
B:  "And you'll be [Friend's Mom], and Dad will be [Friend's Dad], and A-Train will be [Friend's Little Brother]."
Me:  "Ooooooh.  So you think [Friend, his mom, dad, and brother have a pretty fun life?  Got it."
After surgery, not only could I not get down on the floor to do this, but we had to kick Bean out of our bedroom so that I wouldn't crush him or trip over him with my crutches.  It ended up being a really abrupt change in routine, because we hadn't thought of it beforehand.  So, the night of my surgery he slept at a friend's house.  The next night he wasn't allowed to sleep in our room like he had been for months.  He took it in stride, though.  I was proud of him.

He has now been back in our room for a couple of weeks, but only last night did he again ask me "Mom?  Can we talk while we lie down to-ged-oh?"  (There are but a few remnants of toddler talk left in his annunciation, but there is one of them!  *sigh*)  I'm so pleased that I can comfortably get down on the floor, lay down and talk to him, and get back up!  I can only really lie on my good side, but I'm feeling pretty grateful for these several minutes of quiet talk at the end of his days as a warrior.

Tonight he asked what I wanted to talk about.  I said, "well, it's Thanksgiving, so maybe we could say what we're thankful for?"  He named off the things he had put on a gratitude turkey at school, informed me I was not allowed to be thankful for smoothies, and then wanted to move on to talking about Zelda - which we're still playing a good deal of, as I'm not yet quite able to get up and play fight.

We were talking about some of the characters and what he thinks is going to happen, and I clarified that one particular character had been mailing a love letter.

"Maybe he loves them because they're nice," he said.  We talked a little bit more about love - how sometimes you can't even say exactly why you love someone, and sometimes people you love aren't very nice to you but you don't stop loving them (like when he yells and is uncooperative I don't stop loving him).

Clearly on the mend, laying down with my sweet kiddo, talking about love?  Is there a better way to end Thanksgiving?

And who could not be grateful for this picture and everyone in it?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"I gotta ask....what's with the skirt?"

We all went out to dinner tonight at a local pizza place. While I waited for the check, The Beast took the boys outside so we could stop asking them to sit down and stop shouting.  The waiter came over, handed me the check, and then sat down across from me saying, "ok.  I gotta ask.  What's with the skirt?  Is it a kilt-loving thing, or...?"

My first thought was "I am not wearing a skirt," but then the kilt reference registered. Bean was wearing a skirt and a swim shirt (they "match" because they are similar satin-y textures).

Honestly, I don't even give the skirt a second thought anymore.  I don't even always realize when he wears costumes anymore.  I generally only take note if he tries to leave the house in pajamas, or if it is 30 degrees out and his legs are bare (I did suggest he wear his leggings to dinner...and he did agree to wear his warm boots - both items from this year's costume).

Every now and then, I'm reminded that my son is wearing a skirt by other people's reactions - like the guy headed to Rocky Horror dressed as Dr. Frank-N-Furter who appeared to have the wind taken out of his sails upon seeing my skirt-clad 4-year-old yelling and doing "fighting moves" down the sidewalk as I hobbled alongside him on a crutch (you think you're a spectacle, Frank-N-Furter?? This is my every day!).

My conversation with the waiter went like this:

Me:  "Do you know the movie How to Train Your Dragon?"

Waiter:  "Yeah, of course!  I own it!"

Me:  "Well...who would you say is the most bad-ass warrior in that movie?"

Waiter:  ".....the dragons?"

Me:  "Astrid.  Astrid is totally the bad-ass warrior.  Hiccup certainly isn't."

Waiter:  "....ok...sure."

Me:  "Well, my son loved that movie, and he wanted to be Astrid for Halloween last year.  I made him an armor skirt with spikes and stuff, and now he thinks of skirts as armor."

Waiter:  "Oooooooh!  Ok."

Me:  "Frankly, I tried to convince him to settle problems with his words and wit like Hiccup, but he was only interested in the fighting.  So he had to be Astrid."

Waiter:  "Yeah.  You can't fight dragons with words!  ...but I never really thought about the fact that Astrid was the bad-ass warrior before."

I loved that this guy asked me point blank about the skirt.  I get the sense that a lot of people think it must be a political statement from me - that it sprang from a feminist parenting playbook of some sort.  In reality, Bean wanted to be (as The Beast pointed out) the most stereotypically masculine protagonist in his favorite movie, and that character just happened to be a female in a skirt.

He is aware that girls usually wear skirts, but he doesn't think there is any reason boys can't wear skirts.  He knows he gets attention for it, but he doesn't have any reason to think there are assumptions that go with that attention.  And I find myself wondering if the waiter would have asked The Beast about the skirt.  I think The Beast takes less note than I do, as he can name types of actual armor that look skirt-like and is kind of a nerd of Ancient and Medieval warfare, myths, philosophy, etc.

Someday Bean is going to realize that people assume things about boys and men who wear skirts.  He is going to recognize that some people become confused - even uncomfortable - seeing a boy in a skirt. And that day is not far off, I am sure.

But for now, beware my skirted son, for he is armed to the teeth.  (At least in his imagination.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chuggin' right along

Sneaky Link

My spirits have not been particularly high this week.  I miss running.  I wish I could at least go for a walk.  I miss The Beast as he is working 6 days a week (and I need to set up a date for us).  The boys are fighting a lot.  Bean seems to be in another difficult phase.

Bean seems to be back into major negotiations mode.  He's negotiating everything and, more obnoxious, he's being sneaky.  After the perfume incident, The Beast and I were just too frustrated and spent to deal with it right away.  The Beast was frustrated that it meant more work for him, I was experiencing a range of emotions over the perfume itself (what if he had swallowed it?  What else did he take?  It was Mom's, and I don't want it to be tainted with some big disciplinary event...).

We basically slept on it.  We told Bean we didn't have the patience to do bedtime that night.  We gave him hugs and kisses and said we were going to go calm down and we'd talk about it in the morning.

I decided that it was much more important to me that he be safe and that he hear about Grandma Nita than that he repent or somehow be punished.  So, the major consequence-that-could-be-construed-as-punishment was that he had to keep his door open for a few days so the room could air out.  This meant his brother and anyone else who came over had free access to his room, which meant he had to keep his room kind of picked up and keep special items up high on his bunk bed.  He didn't fight me on this even once over the 4 or so days I enforced it.

The second thing was that we sat down and looked at the two items he had snuck off with, and explored them safely.  I showed him how to put on the perfume, just the way Grandma Nita had shown me.  I showed him pictures of the bottle Grandma Nita had had (it differs from mine).  He really wanted to spray it at a target (if the weapons phase is like the dinosaur, airplane, and dragon phases, we've got a year of hardcore interest in weapons ahead of us...), and I told him I would give him a different spray bottle for that - the perfume was a special thing and it made the house stink if it was sprayed a lot.

Then we moved on to the bite plate he'd snuck off with - he said he'd used it as a fairy bow!  (Surprise!  He weaponized it!)  I told him we could find something else to use as a fairy bow - the bite plate was mine, it is made to fit my teeth.  He seemed ok with it all.

Basically, though, I really tried to imagine myself looking back on this in 10 or 15 years.  What would I want my teenage and young adult son to remember and learn from this?  I wanted him to know that he was more important than a thing - even a really special thing.  I wanted him to understand why it was special, and I wanted him to have a special interaction with it.  And I wanted him to remember that his safety was a priority and there are potentially dangerous items in the bathroom - that medicine cabinets aren't curiosity shops!

There have been a couple other incidents of sneakiness and downright defiance.  And a lot of yelling (by everyone).  I can't get up and get to him quickly to stop him from doing things (mostly bullying his brother), and I can't squat down to his level at all, but yelling is effective.  Which sucks.

He also seems to be in a renewed phase of turning things into other things.  It is creative and his attention to detail is amazing.  We give him random things (a broken purse strap, plastic gears, etc) and see what he does with them.  He comes out of his room with his life jacket and declares it a breastplate.  He builds weapons and creates sheaths and quivers.  He declares he has magic powers when he wears particular gloves, and they might require modifications to intensify his might.


Recovery has also not been the smoothest this week.

I was put back on crutches on Wednesday after having been off them since the previous Thursday.  This wasn't a tremendous real-world setback, but it was a huge mental blow.  Basically, starting last Sunday I was having increased pain every afternoon/evening/night.  I called my doctor just to check in and be cautious, and he said I should go back on the crutches to reduce my activity for a few days and see if that helped.  It did.  I guess I was overdoing it (note:  as soon as I had pain, I was done for the day and not pushing through.  But I was also feeling really good in the mornings and early afternoons.  So I guess I overdid it.  Blah.)

I'm almost 4 weeks post-op.  My range of motion is definitely slowly improving, but I still limp and I still end up with pain in my hip every now and then.  I think the pain is mostly my psoas seizing up, so I've been trying to stretch it and massage it and take loads of deep breaths and just relax.

I also might get to ride a bike in physical therapy this week.  I don't think it's exactly going to be a cardio workout, but it's a step in the right direction (the right direction being the one where I am out of breath, drenched in sweat, and am so sore a couple days later that I gleefully complain every time I stand up or sit down...).

So that's that.  I don't feel like I've got much interesting to say these days.  It's not all bad:  The Beast took the boys away for a few hours yesterday and I got a bunch of random stuff done, I'm looking forward to the holidays.  I'm just not as boisterous as usual.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ugh. I stink.

Last Christmas, my sister got me a bottle of Lulu - a fragrance that our late mother had worn, and it had had this distinctive bottle, and we'd had little samples of it...

This evening, my four-year-old drenched his bed in it.  My house wreaks.  My kids wreak.  My hands wreak.  His room is unbearable. (Thank goodness mine is in a spray bottle and not the dumpable packaging pictured above...)

I'm not even sure how to feel about this.  I'm upset that something lovely and that I would gladly have shared with him is now asphyxiating me.  I'm terrified that he is getting into things he shouldn't be and that he's at an age where I literally canNOT childproof the house against him.  I'm furious that he is being sneaky.

He has been sneaky about cough drops recently - which he is allowed to have, especially since he has been coughing.

Is this the beginning of some new phase?  How to handle to handle it...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Two steps step back

Bean and me, just under a year ago.  I will get there again sometime...I hope.

I know I'm still very early in recovery from FAI surgery.  I know.  I KNOW. (this is code for please let me have my pity party)

But I'm going bonkers.  I'm going bonkers sitting and not exercising.  I'm going bonkers with how tired I always am (I'm sleeping 3-5 hours more than normal every day!).  And both of those things are leading to the worst thing:  I have almost zero routine.

I mean, I do have a routine in that I have our lives set up so the kids are cared for.  I don't feel like I'm being (or have ever been) lazy.  I don't feel like I should necessarily be doing something I'm not.


I even finally went out for my usual "me time" yesterday - the first time I've taken that time since before surgery - and I was so tired that I cut it very short and came home and slept until 6PM!

I'm celebrating the little things (I cooked most of dinner today!  woot!).  I'm enjoying the kids a lot.  But three weeks of video games and Facebook and election coverage is rotting my brain!!!  And the kids are refusing to go outside (and I can't make them. I mean...I have to have back up to make it happen!).  I can't even get down the craft supplies without help.  

I have help during the week to get the kids out of the house, and that help (a friend and fellow mom) is awesome.  The whole thing is just getting old.  We're talking 3 weeks of not being alone with my kids.  I got on a futhermucking step stool for the first time in three weeks today.  I haven't even been able to go on a walk with my kids and enjoy the fall air!

And the past two days I have had increased pain.  I don't know why.  I have been off crutches since last Thursday.  I haven't walked more or been up more or anything Sunday and Monday.  I thought yesterday's might be because I sat with my hip and knee at 90° angles.  It was so bad that I took half a Percocet so  I could sleep last night.  But I've been cautious about how I've been sitting today.  Still the pain is back.   I suspect I will be on Percocet again tonight.  BLARRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

I don't have anything particularly witty to say.  I'm not feeling funny.  I'm feeling crowded and sluggish and mentally foggy and soooooooo frustrated.

Nucking futs.  I'm going futhermucking nucking futs.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2011. Just a little late.

Two posts in one morning.  Really really early morning.  Because otherwise this post will end up TWO years late!

Last year, Bean was obsessed with the movie How to Train Your Dragon.  No matter how much I talked up Hiccup (the main male character) and his problem-solving through knowledge, understanding, and diplomacy, Bean was way more interested in Astrid (the main female character) with her war axe and general bad-assery.

So he was Astrid for Halloween! I loved this costume.  It was the first time I made a costume - ever - and the first time Bean requested a costume, and we made it together as a team and had so much fun!  Plus, I thought it was simply adorable!

So here's how we did it.

1. We went to Once Upon a Child and found this striped shirt (picked out by Bean) and brown skirt that was pretty plain.  We already had the BabyLegs (he picked his favorite color) and the boots.

 2. He made funny faces.  Very important step.

 3. I cut a yogurt container in half.  The bottom became the outside of his pauldrons.

 4. I covered the outside of the yogurt container halves with silver Duck Tape, and wrapped four Duplo blocks in the tape as well.  I attached the Duplos as spikes on the pauldrons, and then took strips of scrap leather (I found a package for very cheap at a craft store) and taped those to the back (one short piece to hold the pauldrons together) and front (two longer pieces, which could be tied and untied to take the pauldrons off).
5. You can kind of see it in this picture...I found little scrapbooking brads that had pyramid-shaped protrusions on the tops and used those as "spikes" on the skirt.  I don't sew and I don't have any fancy equipment, so I just put the brad end through the fabric!

6.  You can see this in the top photo, but I don't have a separate photo of this step.  I took a cheap bath towel and cut a mantle from it (the "fur" around Bean's neck, under the pauldrons).  It was just a circle with a circle cut out for his head and an opening (laced and tied with more of those leather scraps).  Then I cut out some rectangular pieces to cover his boots, and put some more brads on those.  They were also "spiked."

And that's how we did it!  He wore that "armor skirt" consistently for months afterwards until I told him it was too small and we went and picked out another one.  He cracks me up with the skirts.  He knows it gets him attention to wear skirts, but no one has ever said anything negative about him wearing a skirt.  He knows that usually girls wear skirts, but he doesn't know there is any kind of stigma about a boy in a skirt.  And, besides, these are part of his armor!

2 weeks post-op!

Recovery is going well!
 I have been down to one crutch since Friday morning, and I really turned a corner on Saturday - more mobility (I can pick up my leg more and more easily every day), close to zero pain. I'm hoping I'll be off crutches by Friday after physical therapy, though I'm definitely still limping and that's my metric for how long I should keep the crutches around, per my surgeon.

Despite weakness and tightness, I am feeling like I will end up in less pain than I was before the surgery - which is the whole point, so that lifts my spirits. I don't have shooting pains down my leg when I sit for long periods - I have slightly increased numbness in the thigh after sitting, but that breaks up once I get moving again and it's not painful like the stuff before.

I don't know if I'll ever run a half marathon again, but I at least feel like I'm headed in the right direction.

I'm definitely taking it easy, though. Life is moving at a much slower speed, and that's been fine. I'm actually really enjoying my kids right now - even more so than usual. We're playing a lot of video games and reading books and snuggling a ton. Bean had a hard time at first - mainly with missing his dad after he'd been home caring for all of us for a few days straight.  But Bean has settled into things quite a bit more. Now we just wait for Thanksgiving when The Beast will hopefully be convinced to take a few days off, since he's been working 6 days a week!

He's in the midst of some busy and stressful stuff and really needs at least 40 hours a week to work.  So we've hired a friend, J, to help me with the kids (and the dishes and, somewhat, with the laundry and anything else that requires heavy lifting or deep bending).  It has worked out very well - we hang out, she kid wrangles, we are getting out some (did I mention I have also been driving since Friday?  Woot!).

(You might want to skip a few paragraphs to the cute pictures of the kids if you get queasy talkin' about wounds.  I'm about to talk about my incisions.  Which I have heard medical professionals refer to as "ports" and "holes" but no no no they are incisions because that makes me shudder much less violently!)

As of this evening, the steri-strips are off the two incisions (lalalala they're not "ports" lalalala) that are furthest toward my backside.  The rear-most looks like I got a little scrape there.  Seriously, that's it!  It is just flecks of scab - like remnants of the stitches and nothing else!

The middle one is a little more...well...damp?  It definitely looks like there is a layer of skin missing, and a gouge healing.  But it's not too bad.

The third one...I'm going to have to get up the nerve to remove it.  Or maybe I'll make The Beast do it.  It looks the size and shape of a cigarette burn.  I'm afraid to take the steri-strips off of it, and I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to tomorrow.  (Not sure if I may take them off or should take them off...)

And yes, I totally took pictures but I don't want to freak anyone out...

So anyway....

The boys are so excited for Halloween tomorrow.  We've been playing a lot of Zelda (specifically Ocarina of Time), and they're both obsessed.  Bean calls it "Link" and A-Train calls it "Guy."  And they both do fighting moves and act out the defeated/game over fall that Link does.  Hilarious.

They are going to be "kid Link"  (A-Train) and "adult Link"  (Bean) for Halloween.  Which basically means A-Train will be in green, and Bean will wear a red tunic (which only fits Link as an adult in the game).  He's also got sweet knit gauntlets and an enormous sword (not pictured below because weapons weren't allowed at this event).

Bean wore the leggings, shirt, and boots portion of his costume for about a week straight.  Including to bed.  We finally convinced him to let me wash it (I almost offered to just go get another set of clothes!), and he decided to wear an amazing outfit as a compromise.  I'm sad I didn't get pictures!  It was essentially a pirate costume with a skirt over the top and the boots for his costume this year (which, incidentally, totally came from the girls' section at Target.  They're what worked best!). 

I asked him what he was dressed up as:  "A hero."  I dubbed him Captain Compromise and quickly got his costume washed!

Their hats and belts, plus Bean's sweet gauntlets were made by a kind, hilarious, and creative friend of mine who also owns Pretty Smart Stuff - you, too, can ask her to make custom costumes or a lamp shade from soda bottles, or pretty much anything you can think of out of anything you have on hand.  She's clever! (Pssssst!  If you look in her shop, you might find something named after me!)

Somehow the sizes for their hats got switched, and Bean is absolutely set on wearing all red, so he is wearing this teeny hat that looks like a yarmulke sprouted a tail, and A-Train is wearing a giant hat that will fit him for years to come. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A law that potentially disenfranchises Americans with disabilities

Photo Credit
During this election season, we have all heard a lot about voter fraud and potential issues with new voter I.D. laws in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.  My friend Marion sent out an email highlighting an important aspect of this that I have seen mentioned nowhere else.  I can put it no better than he did, so here it is in his words with only the explanation that Marion has a disability that prevents him from getting a driver's license:

Hello to My Dear Friends, It has been a mighty long time since I've caught up with some of you. Forgive me? Here's hoping life treats you well. I'm forwarding a link to you but it won't be active for listening until Monday 10.22.12 at 5am in the morning. This link is a radio interview with me that airs at 6:30 am and 8:30 that same morning on WOSU NPR in Columbus, Ohio.

Here's the story. (Some of this may or may not be included in the story but I think you should know what happened to cause this.) The interview comes out of my experience with the new website for change of address on one's voter record. I'd sent a card weeks prior had not been processed and I was determined to vote in this election. I tried to use the website and was not able to change my address. I eventually learned the website was run by the Secretary of State's office. When I finally spoke with someone there they informed me that "According to Ohio State Law only those who have a driver's license and not the Ohio State issued photo ID card holders were allowed to access the online database". "The Driver's License number is the only way to connect an individual to an identity." They promised to provide me with the language of the law to support their statements. So, I called a couple radio stations, the police and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Of course, the police and the BMV both assured me other than the obvious (driving privilege) there was NO difference whatsoever between the two cards or their numbers. As for the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's office, (on and after the 9th) the response was lack luster. They left me feeling like they neither cared to fix the problems with their website nor about how my rights as a citizen had been violated.

That was inspirational and now this is my new personal cause. This kind of web based discrimination against disabled citizens doesn't need to happen. Please, just spread the word (forward this interview) as much as you deem fitting! This just might become a National conversation.

Today, builders (business, government, or public) cannot even start construction without proper access points and accommodations for people with disabilities as part of the blueprints. Should any government websites be allowed to block disabled citizens access? Just a thought.

Thank you,

This link to the interview will be active at 5am monday 10.22.12.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Physical Therapy: Week 1

I had my first physical therapy appointment today - it's going to be once a week for awhile, and then I believe more often once I'm actually able to work on strength (as I understand it, that is 2+ months down the road.  This recovery process is no joke.).

I got to the office and filled out a bunch of paperwork.  When asked what my goal for therapy was, I wrote "To run a half marathon? Too much?  How about to walk without a limp?  Better?"  Later, there was the question of what I had previously done for this problem and whether it had worked.  I wrote "Physical therapy.  It worked, but not completely so I had surgery."  And I put "maybe?" next to whether surgery worked.

My therapist came to get me and was laughing and saying "your intake paperwork is killing me!"  I immediately knew I liked him!

His first comment was that we had to fix the way I was using my crutches.  Then he asked for the whole sordid tale of the last 8-ish months (which really starts with 10 years ago when I first noticed my snapping psoas, but I started to really fall apart in February).  He winced over a few things - especially about the physical therapist a decade ago who said the snapping psoas was benign and was just due to my having low body fat.  "Never go back to that therapist," he said.

Then he did some evaluating and pretty quickly said that I have a single therapy goal for this week:  straighten my right leg and lay flat.  Literally, that's it.  A very simple-sounding goal, which I'm fine with because yesterday's goal was to put on my pants by myself (which took upwards of 5 minutes, and I probably fell asleep twice, but was accomplished!).

He kept straightening my leg, little by little, and asking if it hurt.  "'s more like uncomfortable with a side of creepy crawly ickiness."  I can't even describe it.  It's not exactly painful.  More like nails-on-a-chalkboard cringe-worthy.  I wanted to make it stop, but it didn't exactly hurt. 

As far as I understand, there are two things making it feel like this and I have to work on both this week.  The first is that there's a lot of swelling going on there (not surprisingly, right?). The second is that my psoas was cut, so now it would like to curl up into a ball and keep my leg slightly contracted forever and always; not too contracted (I actually can't really pick up my leg), but definitely not straight.

So, for the inflammation: 1) I have to keep icing (but not as often as I have been) and 2) do some light squeezing sorts of exercises to move the fluid toward my heart/kidneys/abdomen/basically parts that will get it the hell out of my body.  The exercises aren't really too bad - he said if I'm getting sore or feeling more stiffness I need to back off because the whole point is to get rid of all that right now.  (There's plenty of time for soreness, right?)  Also, these same exercises will help keep blood flowing while I am mostly off my feet so I don't get a blood clot (because dying would be a bummer!).

For the contracted psoas, I have to lay down and relax and have The Beast help me by starting with a pillow supporting the leg a lot but then lessening the support each time I'm able to relax.  This is the difficult thing for the week - just laying there and relaxing and breathing and not making The Beast pick my leg back up.

I have to breathe through that nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling and let the nails keep scratching until they fade away.  ::shudder::

At the end of my appointment, as I put my shoe on (yes, I can put my own right shoe on!  Another small accomplishment post-surgery!), I said, "I know I might regret asking this, but do you have any sense that you wish you'd seen me before I had surgery?"  Yeah, I know, it's probably dumb for me to ask these questions when I've already had the surgery and can't exactly undo it,  but I partly ask to make decisions going forward about whether to keep running or find another sport/endeavor/sanity-saver. 

His answer actually put my mind at ease to some extent.  He said, if anything, he wishes he'd seen me in February before the half marathon.  He says it sounds to him like I was breaking something down at that point, and he suspects the labral tear actually happened after the race when I was running low mileage but suddenly could not run even 4 miles without limping home.  He also said that once there's a tear, that's surgical. 

So, essentially, once I realized that simple rest and stretching was not going to improve things, it was too late.  I'm ok with that - though I will probably not, in the future, train through even a minor injury without being evaluated.  Live and learn, right?  This time I learned the hard, stressful, painful, and expensive way!

Before I left, the therapist moved the grip on my crutches up higher. The crutches say they are for someone 5'10" or taller, and I am barely maybe 5'7" but he said they're actually only about 1/2 inch too tall for me, so I should be able to make them work for a couple of weeks (we think I'll be on crutches for 2-3 weeks.).  Anyway, just moving the grips allowed me to stand and walk much more erect, which will help with straightening that leg, too.

Onward and upward.  Or, I guess, downward with that right leg to the bed...

Surgical Saga

I am just too drugged to write up the junk that happened with insurance, so I will save that for later.  It was absurd.

For now, I am bored between bouts of narcolepsy.  Plus I want to document my recovery.  This is both for friends, family, and interested readers, and as sort of a service to those looking at having surgery for femoro-acetabular impingement (FAI), and especially those looking at having it with the surgeon I saw - Dr. G. Peter Maiers in Indianapolis.

I did a lot of Googling for stories of recovery from this surgery, and for stories of Dr. Maiers and felt very lucky to find a blog by a young woman distance runner with a lot of experience with Dr. Maiers who happened to have my exact surgery (for FAI with a psoas release).  You might remember I was totally terrified of this surgery.  I had frequent freak-outs about the anesthesia (I have been under general anesthesia several times, but not since I've been a mom and it really REALLY freaked me out.  Thank you to my friend K, an anesthesiologist, for putting my mind at ease in so many ways!).  And, of course, freak outs about recovery - and just how much I ever would recover.

Anyhoo, we headed up to Indianapolis on Tuesday still not knowing whether I was having surgery.  About 5 minutes from the surgical center, Dr. Maier's Physician's Assistant (she is an angel) called to say my surgery had been approved by the insurance company.  So The Beast and I rejoiced, and then I of course said, "sooooo now I'm going to freak out about the surgery part for a little while.  We've been through this and the surgery is the best idea, right?"  (Yes.  I couldn't go through the rest of my life periodically limping and having shooting pains in my leg, and beating my leg after sitting for an hour - even if I have every side effect of the surgery...would it really be worse?)

We arrived at the surgical center and picked up the cuff for my new best friend, The Iceman. This is basically a fancy ice pack.  It keeps me on ice for several hours at a time.  We then registered and waited for a nurse to come get me checked in and started on an IV.

Once I was in my gown, started on my IV of fluid, and approved as not needing to be shaved by a nurse before surgery (something I was so not looking forward to and kind of hoped they would do once I was unconscious), A-Train and The Beast came back to hang out.

A-Train was so adorable.  He has lately been checking on people when they're hurt - he gently pats them and says "kay?  kay?"  (roughly translated:  "are you okay?") and he insists on giving kisses to ouchies - especially if he caused them.

He  had a little toy fighter jet, and he kept flying it around my room and then he would land it upside down.

A, animated:"Uh oh!  Bawa!  Uh oh!"  ("Bawa" is his word for airplane - I have no idea where it came from.)
Me: "Oh did the airplane crash?  Is it hurt?
A, concerned:  "Yeah.  Uh oh.  Bawa."
Me:  "Can you make it better?"
A, turning the airplane over, stroking it, and speaking in a quiet voice:  "kay?  kay?"

Lather. Rinse.  Repeat.  And repeat.  Again and again.  It was so sweet!

Then Dr. Maiers came in and marked my right leg/hip (it says "GPM YES") and asked if I had any additional questions.  He was pretty thorough at my previous appointment with him, so my only question was "you've done a lot of these, right?"  His answer:  "we just did a count, actually, and it was about 240 last year.  So about 20 a month."  (It's worth noting that there are only two surgeons in the state of Indiana who do this procedure, and a handful nationwide.  People are traveling to see these various surgeons.  So it's not like there is a Hoosier epidemic of FAI.)

As Dr. Maiers left, he shook my hand and also The Beast's.  A-Train took note and started shaking The Beast's hand over and over.  SO CUTE.

In the video, he says "Pee-poh!  Dis!"  (roughly translated to "people did/do this.")  I'm surprised it wasn't "guy!  dis!" because usually men are "guy" and women are "mom-o."  Yeah, my kid calls every woman "Mom."

A little while later, my anesthesiologist came in.  We talked briefly about my kidneys and I mentioned I was nursing A-Train.  He immediately responded, "not a problem at all.  We used to tell moms to double-pump, but there is absolutely no research to say that's necessary."   Basically, he answered my question just the way I'd hoped! The staff was generally really great, and I was impressed with how well the surgical center is run - and also with the beauty of the outside of it.  The fall foliage right outside was gorgeous, and The Beast was able to take A-Train for walks in the woods (Bean, during all this, was at a friend's - thanks to a different friend K for that offer!!).

So they wheeled me to the OR and had be walk in (colllllld in there!) and lay down on the traction table.  They explained that I would get drugs in my IV that might burn, then I'd be out.  They'd place a breathing tube and then they'd position me with my foot in the boot of the traction table.

I don't even remember them giving me the drug.  I just remember being told, "you're awake.  Surgery is done!"  And groggily looking around for The Beast and asking "does my husband know I'm awake?"

I came out of surgery 30 minutes earlier than anticipated, so The Beast was not at the surgical center (I think they went and looked for him in the waiting room). But because he was with our 2-year-old and I couldn't really move or talk, it was decided we would wait until we were talking about me going home before my family came back.  Which was the right decision, of course...but I was so lonely.  I felt desperate to see The Beast - like somehow seeing his reaction to seeing me would verify that I was ok.

It also turned out that no one called The Beast to let him know I was awake - he just happened to see a nurse and she asked if he was waiting for someone.  That was over an hour after I was out of surgery! 

Anyhow, after I asked if my husband knew I was awake, the next thing I remember was seeing the nurse get a syringe ready (most likely of morphine) and quickly saying "can I breastfeed on that?"  She said the anesthesiologist noted I was breastfeeding and approved everything.

I was sitting up in bed, and felt like I was sliding down it.  The nurse said I sort of was, but when she went to out me at a different angle it hurt way too much.  Finally, she helped me bend my bad leg so my foot was flat on the bed, which (surprisingly) felt better in every way. 

After a whole bunch of drugs (morphine, Percocet, and Dilaudid are what I remember), the nurses started talking about me going home.  They called my husband back and gave him my discharge instructions, and included a video of my surgery!  I assume this is video from the scope end, and nothing external - if there is no cutting of my skin and not a lot of blood, I think I might watch it!

Anyhow, they then told The Beast to go get the car and they'd get me dressed and ready to go.  They sat me up and I immediately got nauseous.  A nurse gave me an anti-nausea pill to dissolve under my tongue and sat me in a wheelchair with a barf bag for the short trip to the bathroom.  I told her I was suddenly really, extremely tired and couldn't keep my eyes open.  "It's probably the Dilaudid," she told me.

She helped me get seated on the toilet and told me she'd be outside the door and to let her know when I was done.  As I was peeing (apparently they gave me a LOT of fluids in that IV), I laid my head down on my hands, which were on the bars I had used to help lower me onto the toilet. 

I'm not sure how long I was asleep before the nurse said, "you ok in there?"  And I woke up with a start and slurred, "Iwuz'sleep."  She said she'd thought so!

She helped me stand up and get my pants back on, and then I said I was going to throw up.  "Go ahead and sit down," she said.  So I sat back down on the toilet.  "Ha! I meant in the wheelchair, so you're not sitting on the toilet with your pants on!"  She helped me turn around and sit in the wheelchair, all while keeping a trash can in front of me.

About two hours after I'd come out of surgery, I was being loaded into the car.  Bean was at his friend's, so I had lots of room in the back seat next to A-Train.  And I was HUNGRY.  I hadn't eaten in over 24 hours, except for some graham crackers they gave me in recovery.

What I remember of the ride home was waking up with food in my mouth.  Repeatedly.  And then some instances of desperately needing water right this instant.  I had cotton mouth for 24 hours, plus my throat was a little swollen from the breathing tube.  I constantly felt like food was getting stuck in my throat.

I missed Bean all night. I was relieved to hear he had a great time at his friend's and went to bed there no problem, but missed his sweet face and his current "helpful hero" phase. He has been looking forward to "taking over" for me and doing things like bringing me my crutches and catching A-Train when he runs off.  Bean has been pretty darn sweet over the past day or so.  He wants to play Zelda all the time (well, he wants me to play while he acts it out next to me!), which is a blast and something I can do to hang out with him while I can't move much.  He can turn on the game console, the tv, bring me my iPod Touch (I'm using a walkthrough), and he even helped me get cereal and milk and a bowl and spoon out at the table this morning so I could fix my breakfast without bugging The Beast yet again.

Possibly more from the psoas release than from the rest, I have a lot of weakness picking up my leg right now.  So I am glad I kept up my upper body strength to some degree when I stopped doing much exercising - I am literally picking up that leg to get it on the bed, into pants, etc!  Getting dressed is like target practice right now - I drop my pants on the floor and then carry my leg and aim it into the pant leg!

In terms of pain, it's not as bad as I expected so far.  It actually feels better to put the foot down and bear the tiniest bit of weight when I'm getting around, rather than picking up that foot/leg and only bearing weight in my good side. Dangling the foot/leg on my bad side HURTS.  It just puts way too much pressure on my hip.

I am relieved to report that my "private area" (as the surgeon referred to it in our consult) does not appear to feel numb.  So far, I have numbness in the skin of that thigh, but I don't notice it until I rub it, and then it just feels strange.  It's likely I will get all or most of the feeling back - and I've said before that I would prefer a little numbness to the zinging and throbbing I had before.  So, otherwise, some pain and pressure, and so far fairly localized to the joint, which is more than I could say before as I got zinged all over my upper leg and even around into my back.  I backed off a little too much on pain meds last night and got more achiness in my back and a little stinging in my incisions (which are small, and there are three of them).

In general, so far so good.  I have physical therapy late this afternoon.  I'm kind of scared.  I hear it's pretty brutal because they want us weight bearing pretty quickly (my surgeon's PA and all the nurses keep saying "yes!  bear weight as much as you can!").  I'm all for taking the physical stuff slowly, because I want to get off the narcotic painkillers ASAP.

The narcolepsy sucks.  I'm definitely complaining more about that than the pain!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Kidneys versus Cancer

Ugh. I promise I will write up the insurance nonsense and about how surgery went. For now, I need to get these thoughts in one place so I can start making phone calls.

I am now on to determining risks and benefits of my treatment options for preventing overgrowth of bone (potentially caused by the surgery). I met with a radiation oncologist this morning. My surgeon and my nephrologist had both said to do radiation and not the less expensive and more standard treatment of Torodol (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID). But radiation still leaves me with something like an 8% chance of the bone growth, plus an increased risk of cancer and, because I have a positive ANA (test for autoimmune disorder, totally non-specific) I have a risk of fibrosis in the hip from radiation. Oh and infertility (no more babies anyway, but the likely hormone disruption does not sit well with me).

Other treatment option is NSAIDs (class of drugs that includes Aleve, Advil, and Motrin to name a few brands), but they pose a risk to my kidneys and I am not sure if they are more effective at preventing the bone growth.

I need to find out- given the stability and severity of my kidney disease (currently very stable and not really very severe) - just how high the risk is of a week of NSAIDs.

And I'm not even sure if I have missed the window for the NSAID treatment because they would have started me on it *before* surgery. So I need to find out what the treatment protocol would even be...and fast!

Lots of phone calls to make - have to let radiation folks know by 8AM, as my treatment is scheduled for tomorrow.

Nothing is ever simple with a chronic illness- especially as a rarity even amidst the rare disease. If I were older, the cancer risk would not be as high, because it increases every decade. And the infertility thing wouldn't be a concern if I were already menopausal. And the autoimmune thing is the entire reason for the fibrosis risk.


Keep on smiling. Keep on keepin' on...

UPDATE:  Spoke to my nephrologist while waiting for a call from the surgeon's office.  He said a week of NSAIDs is fine and I should do that - especially if it's more effective.  I just have to get blood drawn two weeks later.  If there is a problem, he said 99% of the time the problem will go away when the NSAIDs are stopped.  However, I then talked to my surgeon's PA (she is an angel, which I will get into when I write up the insurance saga) and she said it's a 3-week course.  Pretty sure that won't matter, given the "99% of the time the problem will go away when the NSAIDs are stopped" info above.  It would be way awesome if this turned out to be the better choice all around.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fried Rice Pilaf

I really have no business taking pictures of food.  I am not a photographer.  At all!

I have been calling this dish "fried rice."  The Beast informs me that that is totally inaccurate since I'm not actually frying the rice, and that it's better called a rice pilaf.  So I have been calling it Fried Rice Pilaf while grinning like I'm being as mischievous as a certain newly-minted 2-year-old (this really happened 2 years ago?!?).

Whatever you call it, this is currently a weekly staple around our house.  It's easy, it's pretty quick, I can walk away from it for several minutes and nothing burns, and it's tasty - the kids tend to pick out what they like and leave the rest, but since the only options are basically rice or vegetables, it's one of those meals that feels easy and satisfying and worry-free for everyone (except for that arsenic thing, which has kind of made me roll my eyes and wonder what the rest of my food is contaminated with...)

I wanted to make a few notes about the ingredients I use - this is an extremely flexible recipe!

First, about those vegetables.  I usually use frozen, so that I don't even need to chop.  I get a bag of "stir-fry mix" and some frozen edamame beans, add some frozen peas (sometimes peas and carrots), plus always some broccoli florets because that is what Bean picks out. I have also used chopped fresh carrot, green beans, and celery.  I'll use sprouts in the winter, too

And about the Bragg's Amino - this stuff is great for anyone on a special diet.  It is dairy-free, wheat-free, and it is lower sodium than reduced-sodium soy sauce.  Plus, it has a stronger (but very similar) flavor and mouth feel to soy sauce, so you use less of it.  In recipes that call for soy sauce, I usually half the amount called for and replace with Bragg's Amino.

  • 2c. uncooked brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp oil (I usually use peanut)
  • 6-8c. vegetables of choice
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger (1.5 tsp ground)
  • 3 eggs (technically optional, could also add tofu)
  • 1/4 c. Bragg's Amino (explain this stuff)
  •  3TBSP rice vinegar 
  • optional:
    •  Leafy greens like kale (remove the stems) or shinginku (a Japanese chrysanthemum, we got it in our CSA last year and I loved it in this dish!)
    • chopped peanuts (for garnish)
    • shredded red cabbage (for garnish)
    • Sriracha sauce (for garnish)
  1. Start the rice cooking! 
  2. Heat the oil in the bottom of a large pot or wok (you can at least pretend it's stir-fry, right?).
  3. Add the garlic and ginger, then all the vegetables.  Mix. Cover - thaw the frozen vegetables while steaming fresh vegetables.  Stir occasionally (when you think of it) and play with kids while you wait for the rice to cook and the vegetables to be ready (if you're looking for kids for this step, I have a couple you could borrow).
  4. Add the rice to the vegetables and mix well.
  5. Make a well in the middle and add eggs, scrambling right in the bottom of the pot/wok and incorporating into the vegetables as it cooks.  (Alternatively, stir in tofu during this step)
  6. Add Bragg's and rice vinegar.  Mix well.
  7. Add greens and mix until they wilt.
  8. Serve with garnishes of your choice!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm completely terrified.

Maybe I just need one of these...or maybe I have good reason to be freaking out?

It has been almost a week since I scheduled surgery for my hip, and I am quaking - at times even crying - in fear.  I have not been great about keeping family and friends up-to-date on what has been going on.  I was majorly - hugely - blindsided by the recommendation for surgery and have been looking at articles/studies/recommendations hoping for nonsurgical options...

So, let's back up...

Back in February, I started complaining about pain in my hip.  Actually, in 2001 I herniated a disc, and when I went to physical therapy my hip would snap during some of the exercises.  It was annoying, verging on painful.  The physical therapist thought nothing of it - she said it had something to do with my low body fat (it doesn't).

But, in any case, I figured I just needed to stretch.  I did a little reading up and figured out I had snapping hip syndrome and started stretching my hip flexors whenever possible.  I powered through some pain and ran my first half marathon, figuring I would get myself put back together afterward.

At the same time, I was having a different sort of pain around the 7 mile mark of every training run - I it ran down the side of my leg and sometime pulled a bit on my knee.  That was iliotibial band syndrome (called IT band syndrome and pretty common in runners).

I spent the couple of months after my race running really minimally - I once tried for six miles and ended up limping home after four.  Finally, when I just couldn't seem to shake the pain on my own, I went to an orthopedist.  Sure enough, he diagnosed me with IT band syndrome and hip flexor tendonitis and sent me to physical therapy.

Physically therapy was supposed to take maybe a month to get me back to running again.  But after 5 or 6 weeks I was still finding that anything over 6 or 7 miles a week - when I was hoping to be running that much at a time - had me limping.

I tried backing off of running and doing other types of exercises - like squats and leg lifts and plyometrics (jumping moves, which I cut out pretty quickly, too).  The pain got so bad that I stopped being able to play with the kids like I normally do.  If they pushed me to the side, I would snap at them because of the pain.  There were days I was limping again.

So, the day before we left for 5 weeks at my in-laws' house, I went back to the orthopedist.  He ordered an MRI, which they squeezed in that afternoon.

After a little bit of phone tag, I finally got the results and started learning some new big medical words:  I have a small labral tear that appears to be caused by cam type femoro-acetabular impingement.  (Translation:  the socket side of the hip is called the acetabulum, and it is lined with cartilage called the labrum.  My labrum has a small tear in it, and that is caused by the head of my femur - the ball part of the ball-and-socket joint - rubbing against the labrum.  I'm told that when the growth plates closed, it did so in a slightly misshapen manner.)

So.  This surgery.  The description of it makes my stomach turn.  The risks make me shudder and cry.  So here goes with that...

It's arthroscopic - they'll be using tiny instruments inside the joint.  Which means they are going to take my femur out of the socket by almost a centimeter (gag).  Then they're going to trim up the labral tear (this part does not bother me), and then they're going to shave off some of the head of my femur (barf).

Then, because I do have a snapping hip that doesn't seem to want to resolve, they're going to give my tendon a snip to lengthen it.

After this surgery, they usually give non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to prevent growth of extra bone (human body = weird. I'm guessing it tries to grow bone the same way it does when you break one?!?).  I can't take NSAIDs because of my kidneys.

Guess what the alternative is?  A dose of radiation.

So.  They're going to dislocate my hip, shave off some bone, cut some cartilage and some tendon, and irradiate me. 

And the risks?  Numbness - including in what the doctor referred to as my "private area," which wouldn't be so bad if that meant my office or bathroom or other areas of my house that are private or I wish were private, but I'm pretty sure he meant my genitals/groin.  Also, because they are shaving off a tidbit of a weight-bearing bone, it creates a risk of fracture.  And because they are taking it out of socket (shudder!), there is some risk that it will dislocate in the future.

That's all I remember.  I might have not been able to hear other risks over the voice in my head screaming "LALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

He pegged the risks at about 1-2% chance.  He thinks he can make me 90-95% better, and the most likely long-term side effect is some numbness in my thigh - where I already frequently have shooting pains, burning, dull ache, etc (depending on the day). recovery...

I'm going to be on crutches for 2-3 weeks, ending whenever I decide I'm ready to bear my full weight on that leg.  I will start physical therapy a few days in.  I will not be able to drive for 7-10 days.  It will be 3+ months before I feel as good as I do now.  But 4-6 months in I might be able to start running (a little).  And I'll be fully recovered (i.e. not getting any better) after 6-12 months...

All while parenting my two kids and having a husband periodically travelling for various aspects of work (no travel planned between surgery and Christmas),

So that's the story.  The bone-shaving, radiation-having, hip-dislocating story.

I have tried physical therapy, I tried yoga (it caused more pain), I've seen three chiropractors... I'm quite open to suggestions.

Oh.  And I have to figure out what needs to happen in terms of nursing A-Train.  He's not nursing super frequently, but he will flip his shit if I can't nurse him for a stretch, and I just had a super painful plug without changing anything.  I haven't pumped in at least 20 months, so I'm not even sure I can pump to relieve any engorgement. 

And, there are no real long-term studies on this surgery.  I'm actually signed up to participate in that (by filling out questionnaires for up to 10 years).  Maybe it will prevent arthritis later?  Maybe most patients are better off?  Maybe maybe maybe...

To sum up:  OMG.  AAAGGGHHH!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The FAST Track

Imagine you bring your brand new baby home, and snuggle and coo and make faces and fall completely in love.  You start to work out who that baby is going to become - does she like to listen to music?  Does he like to be bounced?  What will these interests become in adulthood? 

Perhaps your older child is making plans, too.  When A-Train was tiny, Bean once told us he wanted a different baby - one who could walk.

And then, sometime late in that first year, or perhaps sometime in your child's second or third year, what if you discovered your beloved baby has a genetic disorder and might never walk, or might now have and later lose that ability?  Or might have seizures.  Will require constant care.  Now who will this child grow up to be?  And what about the excitement of the older sibling?

In my family, there are two such kids; The Beast's cousin has Rett Syndrome, and my cousin has Angelman Syndrome.  I have such fond memories of both of these kids as babies and toddlers - my cousin as a happy, slobbery cherub in everyone's arms at my sister's wedding (he's still happy and slobbery!); The Beast's cousin dancing at our wedding until we all thought she might fall sleep on the dance floor.  They were so full of possibility (who would they be?  Would he always be so social?  Would she always love to dance?).  And, though neither can talk, and they each have motor difficulties, and the list of challenges goes on and on, they are still full of possibility.

There is promising research going on to treat or even cure each of these syndromes, and a breakthrough in one could benefit the other as well as other genetic and neurological disorders.  Each of these disorders has been cured (yes!  cured!  not just treated) in a mouse model!  There is immense hope for these kids and their families.

Currently, Chase Community Giving is having people vote on Facebook for various charities to split $5 million in grant money.  The Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) is, at this very moment, in 10th place.  Can you help me lift them up so they can share in this, and help these babies shine for everyone as they do for their parents and for me?

You can click here to vote for FAST!

For more information, you can visit FAST, check out this post from The Feminist Breeder, and read this post by a father whose son was very recently diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome.

Please vote today!  It won't cost you a dime!  And please share one of the above links or this post!  Can we raise FAST to one of the top spots?!?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bog Lady

We went out on my in-laws' bog yesterday - my first time out there. It was amazing!

More Sundew!
We crashed through some rotting trees and then followed a coyote trail to the middle, where it was sunny. There, The Beast showed me sundew and wild cranberries. There were red and green mosses (the red is quite beautiful) and some grey lichen that was brittle with the dry weather of August and the beginning of September.

I foraged for wild blueberries, and checked out the Labrador tea (which I thought had an unpleasant smell). Then we followed another trail, which had a deer print along it, so we assume it was a deer trail.

Red moss, grey lichen
We came back around and found another coyote trail, with two webs attended by enormous spiders. While The Beast took pictures of one spider, I made all the plants around me shake by bouncing on the spongy ground.  Then I found some salal berries (yum) and a mass of more wild blueberries.

As we went back out of the bog, I joyfully crushed some more logs and stumps (I felt massively strong). The Beast spotted some owl pellets and, separately, the bones of some small animal. And then he gave me a botany lesson: I can now identify bracken fern, lady fern, sword fern, two kinds of blackberries, and salmonberry leaves in addition to all the plants mentioned above.

And I picked and ate blackberries along the way back!

Labrador tea

Thursday, September 6, 2012

If You Give a Baby Some Milk

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today.  I loved it so much that I asked her if I could post it on my blog.

If you give a baby some milk,
He's going to want an arm cradle to go with it.

If you cradle his head while he eats, he's going to fall into a milk coma. He'll look so sweet and smell so good lying against you, that even when he falls asleep and finishes drinking, you won't want to move him.

Your arm will have other plans, however. It will jerk involuntarily from the weight of his over-sized he

ad. The jerk will cause Baby to wake momentarily.

In the blink of time his eyes are open, the baby will spot the ceiling fan spinning overhead. He'll remember that he has a story to tell the fan. He'll wake fully and coo and babble and laugh with his best friend, Fan.

The laughing and cooing will get the baby's stomach juices moving causing bottle rockets to go off inside his diaper.

You'll get up to change Baby's diaper. He'll cry throughout the process, growing ever-louder and more wiggly as you clean and re-dress him. You'll pray to all that you hold dear that his screams won't wake your older child.

All this crying will wear Baby out. He'll start giving nap cues.

You'll put him in his swing and his head will loll to one side. His eyes will roll back in his head. You'll suddenly remember that you should breathe.

Just as he's about to drift off, the gas from all his crying will rise from his belly to his throat, giving him the hiccups. He'll try to sleep anyway, but he'll be interrupted over and over again.

He'll want you to rock him. You'll pick him up and cradle him in your arms. And chances are, if you cradle a baby in your arms...

He's going to want some milk to go with it.

Postpartum PTSD

For numerous reasons both personal and professional, my attention was grabbed by an article stating that one in three women suffers symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) postpartum.  The article then goes on to say that 80% of those suffering these symptoms had "natural" childbirths (I roll my eyes at that term, but that's a story for another day) with no pain medication. Another risk factor appears to be not being adequately covered while giving birth.

There are so many issues with this article that I'm not even sure to begin. But because I a) believe that parents and parents-to-be should be well-informed and should make their own choices regarding their babies, their bodies, and their health (including mental), and b) I can see this sort of thing being cited without further discussion, I will just start at the beginning and see where I end up.

So, first off, how postpartum are these women?  According to the DSM-IV-TR (the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual for mental disorders), PTSD cannot even be diagnosed until symptoms have been present for a month or more.  In this study, mothers were interviewed at 2 to 5 days postpartum and again at one month.  There is no mention of any follow-up beyond a month.

Second, (and I admit this should have been my first question!) what is the sample size?  A meager 89 women.  It's a start - and I am truly interested to know how prevalent this is cross-culturally, and also how long these symptoms persist.

Next, what is the birth culture like where these women gave birth?  Are there numerous people coming in and out of the birthing space, making it particularly uncomfortable for these women to be disrobed?  Are the births usually attended by men?  Is there a tacit (or even explicit) expectation that the women will remain clothed/covered while giving birth?  Were these all hospital births?  Were there homebirths?  Birth centers?  Was there a difference between those groups, and was it as pronounced as the unmedicated/medicated split?

I'm glad to see this investigation on the impact that childbirth has on the emotional well-being of mothers.  It's a good start.  And I appreciated the last sentence (a quote from the lead researcher):  “Dignity is a factor that should be taken into account. It’s an issue of ethics and professionalism, and now we can see that it does have physical and psychological ramifications."

I have no doubt that a lot of new mothers feel traumatized by various aspects of the experience of becoming a mother (whether the physical, the emotional, or the spiritual).  I also have no doubt that women experience traumatic births and resulting anxiety, depression, and PTSD.  But I am concerned that stating the statistics within this study  - without context or discussion - could cause more anxiety, and less dignity. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...