Yesterday was my son’s thirteenth birthday. He is now officially a teenager. How quickly time seems to pass, until you are put in pandemic lockdown and time seemingly stands still, of course.
Normally, we would have thrown a party for this guy. Pizza, ice cream, video games, and a house full of rambunctious, stinky boys. I was a little heartbroken that we couldn’t do that but Luke took it really well. Besides wanting spending money so he could purchase the exact graphics card he’s been wanting for awhile (he’s a bit of a computer geek) he requested Taco Bell for dinner and my homemade cheesecake for dessert. (*Just want to toot my own horn here, but Mom’s cheesecake ranks #1 on his favorite foods list!)
Grandma drove an hour and a half each way to bring Luke a box of donuts for breakfast and visit with us in person. It was raining, so we all huddled in the garage and talked with Grandma from a safe distance away. While it sucked to have to visit that way, it was really nice to see her and I’m so glad she made the trek.
Overall, it was a pretty chill day. As you can see from the photos above, the cheesecake turned out beautifully and was a big hit. Between all the donuts, the tacos, and the cheesecake, Luke was pretty full. That second photo is good evidence that he was in a food-induced coma by the end of the day.
Now I’ll leave you with this, a lame haiku for my son:
Happy birthday Luke Now a teen in quarantine He loves his cheesecake
I’ve been a little nervous about this upcoming infusion, as so much has changed from 4 weeks ago. We are now under a shelter in place order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Essential workers and activities are still allowed, but people everywhere are taking all the advised precautions. I’m wearing a hand-sewn paisley face mask a dear friend dropped off for me last week, as well as a pair of latex gloves.
My husband dropped me off, and we tossed virtual kisses at each other as I got out of the truck. I walked into the cancer center, where my infusion center is held on the 2nd floor. In the entrance area, between two sets of automatic double doors, a man is sitting on a bench, wearing a face mask. I walk through the interior double doors and I’m summoned to a Purell stand and asked to sanitize the latex gloves I’m wearing. The woman at the station then asks where I’m headed. When I tell her the infusion center, she informs me that they have their own procedures and will ask me the necessary questions and check my temperature. I’m wondering if she can read my timid hesitation and confusion through my half-covered face.
I took the elevator this time, to get to the second floor. I usually take the stairs, but I still have poor balance and wanted to avoid needing to touch the handrail, even though I was wearing gloves.
On the second floor there are two women blocking the check in area. They are standing at makeshift stations, tall, round tables holding boxes of face masks. Each table is proceeded by a line of red tape on the carpet several feet away. This is where I’m asked politely to stand. Everyone is wearing a white face mask. I wait patiently for my turn.
When it’s my turn I’m instructed to remove the mask I’m wearing and put on the mask they have provided. They said I could wear my mask over the white mask if I wanted, but I declined and put it in my purse. I’ll save it for another day. I’m asked a series of questions and my temperature is taken, and the woman signs the form for me. So I don’t have to touch anything.
Once I’m cleared they tell me to stand at a red paper square on the floor, several feet ahead. I walk over and wait to be called but it’s tricky because the masks muffle all the sound and I can’t read lips that are covered, obviously. I forget how much lipreading plays a part in my speech comprehension.
A woman far ahead looks in my direction and points at me, because it seemed clear to her I wasn’t getting the message to come over to her desk. She checks me in, quickly, puts an ID bracelet on my wrist, and then I’m sent over to the waiting area. I find a seat away from other patients, breathe deeply, and wait.
When my intake nurse comes through the doors ahead, she sees me immediately and I can tell from her eyes that she’s smiling. As we walk back to my corner station, she mentions that it’s probably hard for me with all these masks on. She remembers me well; I’m a regular at this place. I say yes, that I forget how much I use lipreading until it’s not available anymore. It’s not impossible to understand, just a little more challenging than normal. Nothing I can’t deal with.
To be perfectly honest, the rest of the infusion went just as usual. It was a bit strange to see everyone walking around with face masks on, but I didn’t feel a heightened sense of dread or anything. It felt like business as usual for everyone. For all the nurses and staff, this has become their new normal (for now, at least) and they are well adjusted to it. Once I was sitting in my infusion chair, I felt completely at ease and had no reason to be fearful. And once I had my mask on properly, it was actually quite comfortable to wear. To quote the Dread Pirate Roberts, “I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.”
Ordering groceries these days is really…. weird. First off, the stores have been running out of a lot of things: toilet paper, flour, all the frozen things. Some of the shortages are due to people just panicking and losing their dang minds – like the toilet paper shortage which I’m sure everyone in this country is aware of. But flour and frozen foods, I think those things are flying off shelves because a lot of people are doing what we are doing, stocking up to minimize their trips to the store. So when I placed the order I warned my husband that we might not get everything that we wanted, but we agreed that “we’ll get what we get and we won’t throw a fit.” Of course, I said I might throw a little bit of a fit, but I would do my best to keep it contained.
So the weird part though, is that the shoppers are dropping the groceries off on people’s porches or in their garages. And then they leave. It’s the safest thing we can do right now to minimize exposure, but it’s strange, not to have the normal face to face interaction. Especially when they know that you are right inside the house, watching them unload the groceries. The Aldi shopper apologized to me that my groceries might smell like disinfectant because she uses a lot of it. I told her she was our people, and thanked her profusely. Then she sent the above picture to let me know everything had been unloaded and it was safe to come outside and get our stuff.
As you can see from the photo, we also had a Meijer order delivered shortly before. We had to order from two different stores in order to get all the things we needed. My husband, standing there at the back of the truck, wiped every item down with a disinfecting wipe and I brought them in once they were clean. It was a super fun process I do not look forward to repeating in two weeks when we’ve run out of food and supplies again.
Y’all, in a normal, coronavirus-free world, grocery shopping is one of my least favorite things to do. So I am super grateful for all the shoppers working their a$$es off to make sure the rest of us are well fed and safe at the same time. We are in strange times these days. Be patient, be kind. We won’t be here forever.
It’s been rather rainy the last couple of days but last week my son and I got out for a couple walks with the dog. My son is very active and full of energy, and he’s been doing surprisingly well during this period of quarantine. In the past he’s been pretty busy with sports so I don’t always get a lot of one-on-one time with him. Now that he’s in isolation, he’s been coming around and chatting with me about whatever is on his mind at the time. Folks, I am loving it. And the fact that he loves getting outside to walk the dog is pretty awesome too. Our last trip out before the rain came was with Piper on a skateboard, pulling Luke. She was a little confused about how it was supposed to work, but towards the end she almost had the hang of it. Almost. And you can tell by the smile on her face below that she was absolutely loving the attention.
Welp, I did it! I ran a half marathon. All 13.1 miles with minimal walking. All of this training I’ve been doing really paid off, and I was able to run pretty much the entire way. I walked over slippery bridges and once late in the race because I was sensing some drop foot, but other than that I was good to go. I did NOT feel like I was dying, and despite how I looked to others at the finish line, I felt fabulous. I was all smiles and ready to sign up for the next one.
The Comradery: I simply could not have done this race without my friends. Alicia and Staci were with me every step of the way, guiding me away from obstacles and leading me down hills so I wouldn’t lose my balance. They even kept me from taking off in the beginning at too fast a pace, which is something I tend to do, and pay dearly for on these long runs. I happened to see a couple other running friends before the race started, and that really helped to boost my adrenaline. All the runners I have gotten to know are pretty special people. We are a diverse crowd, and yet everyone is so supportive of on another, regardless of all our differences. We are all running with the same goal, but for very different reasons, and I find that pretty awesome.
The Spectators: I had an entire team of spectators cheering me on throughout this race, and this was pretty dang awesome. My husband, my son and daughter (who had no shortage of hugs), my dad and stepmom, my sister and her boyfriend, my niece, and as a last surprise of the morning, my big brother. I was so surprised to see him there because he has been so busy working lately I just didn’t expect he would be able to make it. But he was there. They were all there, and they knew why this was such a big deal. It wasn’t just a race. This race happened almost exactly 6 years from when I lost my hearing and vision. In fact, that morning a memory came up on my husband’s Facebook feed. It was a posting he had sent out updating everyone on my long hospital stay. I was so sick and no one knew what was wrong with me, and I could not walk unassisted, among other numerous issues. So to have that come up on his feed the day I was running my first half marathon was just incredibly fitting.
The Final 5k: At 10 miles my family was there cheering us on, as they had in several other spots, and my son started jogging next to me. The excitement of the moment took over, and I invited him to run the final 3.1 miles with us. They frown on this sort of thing, I guess, but no one bothered us about it. He did a great job keeping me going and holding me steady down the hills. However, when we were nearing the finish, we were at the top of a very steep concrete ramp that feeds into the baseball stadium where the finish line was. He danced on ahead of me while Alicia and Staci took my arms to help me down. I was so embarrassed to see my husband at the bottom of the ramp, taking our picture. It looked rather pathetic, as if my legs had stopped working, but really it was just a matter of keeping my balance down the incline. When we reached flat land my son was waiting for me and we began to sprint the last stretch towards the Finish. I was so giddy I was almost in tears. And after I crossed the line I tried to stop but instead just fell to the ground. This is what seems to happen after my races and it alarms people because it looks like I’m hurt but really it’s just muscle weakness and poor balance. The motion of running keeps me on my feet somehow, so when I try to walk it never works. They brought me a chair and a woman put a medal around my neck and we all just stayed there congratulating each other and taking pictures.
It was a fantastic race and I am so glad I did it. Every time I try a longer distance I think about how far I’ve come, and I wonder how far I can go. My curiosity I think is what drives me. I just want to see how far I can go before my body says no. Yes, it tries to tell me no some days, but I’ll always try to call it’s bluff.
I am so grateful to everyone for supporting me and cheering me on. I could not have done this without you. Most of all though, I owe my gratitude to Jesus Christ. I would not have even started on this journey into running and health if it had not been for His sustaining grace and comfort. He is my constant, every day all day running partner. Hallelujah!
September is going to be a ridiculous busy month, but all for good reason. It started off with a camping trip with my daughter and her Girl Scout troop. This is an annual event that we participated in two years ago, only because last year she had only joined halfway through and was kind of on the fence about her commitment to the group. I’m happy to say she’s gotten more excited about being in Girl Scouts. We have a thriving Scout community here and I’ve made friends with many of the moms, so I’ve grown somewhat attached. Most importantly, this is a great way for her to stay active and build on her friendships with girls her age.
The first night we ate dinner as a troop at the Ponderosa on the way. Nice buffet, but kind of ridiculous expensive, if you ask me. When we arrived at camp we set up our our tents and bedding and headed down to the biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen. Go big or go home! They work very hard to make this bonfire, and the girls sing crazy silly songs while the older scouts and helpers roast marshmallows – I’m guessing at least 10 at a time – to make s’mores for everyone. It’s quite a sight to see and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed.
The second day was long and full of activity. The girls decorated an outhouse, had archery lessons, made crafts, played games, and had a costume contest. The theme this year was the Arctic so Natalie recycled her brown fox Halloween costume and renamed it an arctic fox, because apparently they aren’t always white. I am not much for costumes, so I wore a coat and winter hat. It was getting kind of chilly anyway so it made sense.
The last day was shorter but they still had time for boating and fishing. Natalie really loved both the boating and the fishing but I think the boating was her favorite. She was able to go out on the lake on a kayak (or a funyak?) and when she came back in she was ready to hop right back in another boat and go back out. She did really well with the fishing too. She’s not grossed out by the worms so she was able to bait her hook all on her own. She even caught a baby fish!
Over the course of the weekend the girls had quite a few disagreements with each other as they were often either tired or hungry. And of course they are in 5th grade so you’ve got some hormones coming into play as well. They were given a stern lecture though and they were able to straighten things out pretty quickly. My hope is that these girls all continue to build deeper and deeper friendships as the years go on. I couldn’t do life without my circle of amazing girlfriends so I know what a gift that can be.
That last day it was great coming home to a happy dog, a quiet house, and a hot shower! I had a blast but I’m ready for the next adventure. Bible Study Fellowship, here I come…
Today’s short run was fantastic! Barely had to walk at all, and foot drop feels like just a thing of the past. I can’t believe I’m calling 4 miles a short run, but I guess that just shows what progress I’ve made in this training process. What really struck me as interesting during this run is that my breathing was not labored, and I was still able to maintain a pace around 13 minutes per mile. The other exciting thing was that my feet and legs felt lighter, and my legs seemed almost like they were propelling me forward, almost wanting me to go faster. I had to fight that urge, because that’s what landed me on my face last time. The cooler weather is nice too. Overall it was just a really great run, and I feel like I’m finding my rhythm, my groove.
The thing that has me a little perplexed is Friday’s scheduled run. My plan has me running 12 miles. TWELVE MILES! Aside from that being a really freaking long distance for me to run, I don’t even know WHERE I could run from my house that could get me to 6 miles, so that running there and back would bring me to twelve. I do have a decent 8 mile route, 4 out and back, so I guess I could shorten it to 3 miles out and back and just run it twice. That’s 12, right? I’m making a huge deal about that number, but I am curious to see how my body holds up to it, since I’ll be running 13.1 in just 25 days EEK!
I don’t know if you can tell in the photo above, but Piper is wearing a hoodie. Luke has one he wears with the sleeves cut off and the kids thought it would be fun to put it on the dog. Turns out, she doesn’t hate it, and it really seems to calm her down. She’s a high anxiety dog, and when we told our vet about the sweater, she said she would really benefit from a thunder coat, which would fit her better since they are designed specifically for dogs. So we’ve looked at them and will probably buy one for her soon. In other news, I added a pet category to our monthly budget so we can stop using our food budget to buy Kong balls and dog treats. HA!
Now I’m going to let you go because I have banana bread in the oven and the heavenly smell has me wanting to snuggle up in my recliner with a cup of coffee and a good book. Have a great day, friends!
Last week we made our now annual trip to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. This was a favorite place for Mike and me when we were kids, and it makes us pretty happy to be able to share the magic with our kids. The odd thing is that they each love it for different reasons. Luke loves all the thrill rides, and Natalie loves the petting zoo. So while the boys run around riding rides, the girls mosey and shop and make friends with camels and tortoises.
You can see in the first picture below that we had to get a photo to show where we were while the boys were waiting in line for the Steel Vengeance. We were happily exploring the museum, NOT riding the Steel Vengeance. When we got a closer look at the model of the ride (you can see it behind us) and the 90 degree drop it makes, we knew we had made the right decision.
We have always been able to buy our tickets ahead of time and get two for the price of one, but this year Mike found us an even better deal that included drink passes. We all got bracelets that allowed us to get free fountain drinks all day long. This turned out to be a really great thing because they have refreshment stations all over the park, and they don’t just serve soda. They had fruit juices and teas as well. I’m not a soda drinker, but I do love my sweet tea, so this made me very happy. Also, it completely wiped out the begging that’s gone on in the past when the kids are thirsty (as they should be, walking around in 80 degree weather) and Mom doesn’t want to spend $10 on enormous fountain drinks they will likely not be able to finish drinking. With the unlimited drink plan they gave you small cups, so you only got what you needed at the time and by the time you finished it, you were close enough to the next station so you could just get another.
ALL that to say, we never felt dehydrated the entire day! So hurray for that.
Also, isn’t my husband cute with his Coca-Cola logo looking Guns & Ammo shirt? I tried to get a nice photo of us but our goofy daughter photo bombed us. That picture on the right was taken at the end of the day and Natalie was trying not to smile. Her dad always manages to cheer her up when she’s trying so hard to be in a bad mood.
We finished the day with a night ride on the carousel, which was both beautiful and terrifying. I’m not crazy about being up so high in the air and this was the first year I went on it without the benefit of Zoloft. That’s another blog post altogether, but let’s just say I came really close to a panic attack at the top of the carousel. Thankfully Mike could see I was not okay and he held my hand and reassured me we would be okay. I survived, obviously, and will now be working up the courage for next year’s carousel ride. Because tradition trumps anxiety, and also I’m a smidge sentimental.
My legs held up really well all day. Towards the end my knee was hurting a little so I put my knee brace on and that helped some. My balance was suffering and my left foot felt like it was dropping so Mike held my hand at that point in order to give me some stability. I walked a record 21,693 steps that day and nobody had to carry me to the truck, so I call that a win. Everyone had their brand of fun and it was a great and memorable day. I look forward to going again next year!