Endometriosis Awareness Week

It’s Endometriosis Awareness Week and my friend Erin McCole Cupp is sharing my story of endometriosis and secondary infertility at her blog as part of a weeklong series. Check it out!

"Panda" by George Lu (2011) via Flickr, CC BY 2.0. Text added by author.
“Panda” by George Lu (2011) via Flickr, CC BY 2.0. Text added by author.
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Small Success: Healing in Progress

Small Success dark blue outline 800x800Thursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I used to count it a success if I made the time in the week to get to the gym for a walk on the treadmill, or to get outside for a good brisk walk (it’s 9/10 of a mile around my block, so with a little extra pass by the neighbor’s house, I can make it an easy mile).

And then I injured a tendon in my foot and was assigned, just before Thanksgiving, to wear a very stylish walking boot for six weeks—from morning ‘til night. No exceptions.

das bootI told TheKid that if he caught me walking around without that boot, I’d pay him a dollar.

I wore the boot to Thankgiving dinner, Mass on Sundays and Christmas Day, a concert I was playing in (hey, it’s black, so it blended in with concert dress), and New Year’s Eve. I wore it all the time.

I couldn’t climb up and down stepladders and stools wearing this boot, so I had to let go of my own personal Christmastime point of pride: stringing 1500+ lights on the Christmas tree. My daughter did the lights. There are under 1000 lights on the tree this year but it still looks beautiful, and I’m happy that my daughter was willing and able to do the job I couldn’t do.

I couldn’t go to the mall and do the Christmas shopping, but that’s why I have Amazon Prime, and my husband and the kids picked up the slack and went to the store for me.

The other day, the doctor said I can transition out of the boot. I only need to wear it after lunch until bedtime, through Sunday, and then I can leave it off completely. However, I must wear good supportive sneakers at all times for 5 weeks.

Even to Mass on Sundays. That’ll look lovely.

Also, I’m supposed to be sedentary when I’m out of the boot, which is why I waited until after lunch to go grocery shopping yesterday.

This doctor is not a mom. He has no idea about what moms consider “sedentary.” For me, it means I sit when I’m not cooking, doing laundry, running errands, or cleaning—though I’ve farmed out a good deal of cleaning and lowered my standards there. I’m pretty sure my doctor does not intend for me to spend an hour or more on my feet each evening, cooking and then cleaning up afterward. I should probably plan some slow-cooker meals for next week.

I stuck with the boot for 6 weeks; I’m hoping to stick to sedentary-and-sneakers for 5. I’m avoiding foot surgery, and that’s a success. I’m accepting help from Hubs and the kids, which is hard for me to do, so that’s a success.

God did not send me a foot injury, but he did put me in a place where I can survive off my feet (sort of) for several weeks. My kids are older now; one teenager and two young adults (only one of whom lives here). And I’m not teaching, so I’m not standing all day as part of my job. (No, there will not be a standing desk in my future anytime soon.)

I’m healing. I’m delegating. And I’m letting things go. Success!

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

Advent, Gilbreth-Style

I’ve always been something of a Gilbreth geek. As a middle-schooler, I read Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes so often that to this day I can name the 12 Gilbreth children in order. I even like the movie–both versions, the 1950 movie so true to the book and the 2003 movie that shares little besides a name with the original.

cheaper by the dozen vintage coverFrank Bunker Gilbreth, Sr. and his wife Lillian were known as motion-study specialists. As consultants, they’d visit factories and places of work, observe (and film) employees as they did their jobs, and find ways to refine tasks so that these manual laborers could accomplish more in the same amount of time. In Cheaper by the Dozen, one of the scenes I remember best involved Frank Sr. timing, to the second, self-care tasks such as bathing and toothbrushing. (With 12 kids and one bathroom, this did seem reasonable to me. Besides, the mental image was hilarious.)

belles on their toes vintage coverMy practical (and, let’s face it, lazy) side definitely approves of finding faster ways to do things. And right now, I am deeply grateful for my fascination with economy of motion.

I’m hobbling my way through Advent. Two days before Thanksgiving, my doctor put my left foot in a boot to reverse a split in a tendon. My feet have been aching for more than two years. I’ve had cortisone shots, worn Ace bandages (stylish!), lived on Advil, bought new shoes and spent hundreds of dollars on custom orthotics that make me feel like I’m walking on concrete. None of this helped, and when I went back to the doctor two weeks ago begging to be sent to physical therapy, he told me I had to have an MRI first. I’m glad for that, because it showed that there’s a real problem, though I wish it hadn’t taken two years to get it.

das bootHopefully, wearing this boot for the next 4 weeks will allow the tendon to heal on its own (the split is vertical; he described it as “putting your finger through a ribbon.”) I’m also hoping I don’t wind up, down the road, in a boot on my right foot, because I won’t be able to drive at that point!

Wearing this boot definitely slows me down. We live in a split-level house (stairs everywhere!) so that’s a challenge. Getting in and out of the car is a challenge; this foot takes up a lot more space than it used to, and it doesn’t bend. All in all, I have to move a lot more deliberately.

This means that I try even harder than before never to leave a room empty-handed, to remember all the things I need to gather up when I’m in one part of the house so I don’t have to go back there too many more times, figure out ways to do some jobs while sitting down, and work to reduce the number of steps (as in footsteps) in any given task.

I could really use some Gilbreths around here right now.

chicken parm oven bakedBut I’m finding that it’s good to be intentional about what I do, even when we’re only talking about baking the chicken breasts instead of frying them for last night’s chicken parmesan.

In a season that’s all about mindfulness, I’m in the right place. I have to be mindful about every little action, even the tiny ones like stepping out my front door and turning to close the door behind me (I almost fell yesterday, doing that simple thing, because I didn’t think about which foot needed to leave the house first).

My motto, this Advent, comes from Sunday’s Gospel: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from … the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. … Be vigilant at all times.”

Good advice, both for my foot and for my soul.

Aptly Titled: Cravings

Over at Reconciled to You, Allison Gingras has started a book discussion on Mary deTurris Poust’s Cravings.

cravingsPoust knew what she was doing when she titled that book. I battle cravings all the time.

Usually I lose.

When I lose, my health suffers and my waistline expands.

When I lose, I feel guilty that I’m not displaying the kind of self-discipline my diabetic child has to employ every minute of every day.

When I feel guilty, I self-medicate by giving in to more of the same cravings that I’m already feeling bad about giving in to.

This book is about health, and mental health, and spiritual health, because those all go hand in hand. I’m still resisting the suggestion that I keep a food journal, because I know what embarrassment would result if I do–even if no one sees it but me. But the author of this book has my number, and I need to find other ways of dealing with my feelings–ways that don’t involve feeding them chocolate.

I didn’t gain this weight overnight, but right now I think I weigh more than I did just before TheKid was born. I know it will take me time to lose it, and I’m going to go for manageable chunks here. I’m hoping I can drop 15 pounds by my birthday in late July. It’s a significant birthday, so it would be great to celebrate it a little lighter and a little healthier and with a better relationship to cookies, gelato and Milky Ways.

Join the discussion at Reconciled to You.

Please note that this post contains an affiliate link to the book. If you purchase it using my link, it helps defray my web-hosting expenses. Thanks!

Sick Day

Clearly I have pushed too hard in the past couple of weeks.

I had bronchitis over Thanksgiving, which stopped being bronchitis (I thought) after I finished the Z-pack; it turned into asthma that I couldn’t shake. My inhalers did nothing. I could sing–sometimes–but couldn’t sustain a note or phrase; I just haven’t had the air to do it.

Yesterday after school I felt so awful. So, so awful. But it was show night for the Christmas pageant and I had to babysit my homeroom before the show, release them to their parents after the show, and be there during the show to try to keep the kids on tempo during their songs. And being a substitute teacher, I wasn’t sure how I could go about missing this. So I dosed up on Advil and Dayquil, had a bowl of egg drop soup, went to school and got through the show.

Which went fantastically well, by the way. I didn’t have a huge part in this (other teachers did so much more) but I am so proud of how well the kids performed. And they couldn’t have looked sweeter in their tinsel halos and burlap shepherds’ tunics.

I brought all kinds of things that would be needed for today, including sub plans, and left them on the desk.

After the show I came home and texted the two teachers whose cell-phone numbers I have so I could find out how I could go about missing school today. (Again–this is the kind of thing substitutes just don’t know–because how often would you need it?) I reached the principal, who told me which other subs I should call, and I secured a sub for the day.

This morning I spent 2 hours at urgent care, tweeting to pass the wait time.

urgent care tweets

They gave me a nebulizer treatment right there to see how I would respond. It did help, so they prescribed that AND oral steroids AND more antibiotics and sent me on my way.

I came home and rested after all that, and Middle Sister picked up all my medicine PLUS two caffeinated Boost slushies (if you’re not local, it’s like uncarbonated Coke and it’s amazing in a slushy, but chock-full of sugar and caffeine and all the bad-for-you stuff). For lunch, I had a bowl of dry Cocoa Pebbles, one Boost slushy, two Advil, one Amoxicillin and three steroids. I’m wide awake NOW, let me tell you. I’m kind of afraid to try the nebulizer since that made me a bit jittery all by itself!

The worst part of all this is that I’ll be missing the Festival of Lessons and Carols tonight. I’ve been rehearsing since October for this and hands down it’s the highlight of Christmastime for me, musically speaking. The privilege of participating in this event with the high-caliber musicians and vocalists it attracts is a real gift to me, and it killed me to have to bow out. But I know they’ll do great and, at this point, I’m just hoping I’ll be good to sing on Christmas.