2015-2016 School Year Things To Do

  • Take Archer to the Museum of Jewish History
  • Take Archer (and Houser) to the Vatican Exhibit at the Franklin Institute
  • Take Archer to Gypsy
  • Take Hunter to the Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • Take Hunter to Please Touch Museum
  • Take Archer on a Mural Mile Walking Tour (April – November, Saturdays & Sundays, 11 a.m.).  Clinton might like this too.  $20/per person.
  • Take Archer to Tequila Mockingbird
  • Take Archer to Man of La Mancha
  • Take Hunter to Stinky Cheese Man at the Arden  (April 6, 2016 – June 12, 2016)
  • Take Archer to Alice In Wonderland/Carroll exhibit at Rosenbach (Wednesday, October 14, 2015Sunday, May 15, 2016)
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The Story About The Ankle

This is going to be hard to write because I feel like an idiot. I will start with the moral: never depend exclusively on your doctor’s advice. Always, ALWAYS do your own research.

In April 2013 a twenty-something year old fitness enthusiast wrote a training plan for a forty-something year old runner who had just started running at the age of thirty-something. The forty-something runner (that would be me) overdid it and had persistent ankle pain, went to the ortho and was diagnosed with peroneal tendonitis. The first ortho recommended rest and physical therapy. The physical therapy worked, but a few months later my ankle started hurting again (it never really stopped, it just got better, then got worse) and I went to more physical therapy which was ok, but not great and then I went to a second orthopedist from the same practice.

Ortho #2 gave me an rx for more PT, and when that didn’t work, he gave me a cortisone shot. Cortisone is a steroid, this detail will be important later. When THAT didn’t work, he put me in an aircast for four weeks and when that didn’t work, he told me to see another doctor because he was out of ideas.

Neither Ortho #1 or Ortho #2 said, “Stop running until your ankle stops hurting.” To be fair, I really love running and I wanted desperately to run, but if they had said, “Stop running until it stops hurting and then you will be healed and can train back up to your race pace,” I would have done that. They said, “You can run if you want to, though I wouldn’t run too much.” As it is, I have been running on this injury for almost a year. I ran the 5 miler with this unhealed injury. Ortho #1 specifically said I could run the 5 Miler.

The vast majority of peroneal tendinosis will heal without surgery. This is because it is an overuse injury and can heal with rest. If there is significant pain, a CAM Walker boot for several weeks is a good idea. If there really is no tenderness with walking, an ankle brace might be the next best step. Patients should very much limit how much they are walking or on their feet until the pain abates. This usually takes several weeks. Resumption of training can then occur, but must occur very slowly and be based on pain. – American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society Website

SEVERAL WEEKS! I could have been healed in WEEKS? I have been in pain for almost a YEAR!

Also, Ortho #2 gave me a cortisone shot. Referring back to that article I linked above, Steroids are probably best avoided as they can actually damage tendon. The cortisone shot made my ankle hurt more – I thought I was having an abnormal reaction to cortisone because I have heard so many people say it has helped them with muscle pain. Well, maybe it helped them. Maybe it damaged me.

I just called a new Ortho practice (based on recommendations from friends and co-workers) and requested an appointment. This time, I am going to go in armed with this article, I am going to do whatever the doctor tells me and I am going to stay off the foot as much as possible. I am also going to meet with a trainer at the Y and get a regimen of exercises that will keep my fitness level up without putting weight on my foot/ankle.

I will heal. I will not feel this pain for the rest of my life and I will run again. I am furious at Ortho #1 and Ortho #2 and myself that it has taken this long.

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The Great Parenting Gauntlet

Remember the gauntlet from … oh, pick an action movie, where the hero has to run over barrels, dodge swinging blades, swing over a swamp full of alligators and do it all without losing the egg he’s carrying? Something like that?

Welcome to parenting two kids. At least, the way I do it.

So, first I have my job, which takes 8 hours of my day plus two hours commuting to and from. For said job I have to be dressed, clean and have something to eat during the day, so add in laundry and groceries and a little prep time … plus making the coffee. Can’t live without the coffee.

So that’s around 10.5 hours per day, leaving me 13.5 hours left. I sleep for around 7 of those.

During the rest of the time, I am co-mentoring a Lego Team which requires reading a whole ton of material, meeting with kids 2-4 hours per week, meeting with my other mentors, preparing materials for team meetings, emailing parents – and these kids don’t just have to build stuff out of Lego, they need to create a project to solve a real-world problem, present it and a discussion of the league’s core values in front of judges and program a lego robot to autonomously complete a long list of complicated tasks.

New information comes home from school every day – field trip forms, classroom rules, homework, new school supplies, band information, gym requirements, tryouts for jazz band. Information from day care comes home – new classroom, new stuff to bring in, new educational plans that parents can facilitate at home.

Relay for Life is starting up again – cupcake baking, fundraising, event staffing.

We’re working out every week, Hunter has a swim class every Saturday.
Workouts – I am getting the guys to the gym twice, I do weights twice and run three or four times, though the times I run with Archer are really not a good workout for me. My ankle (tendonitis) is really bothering me lately. I am frustrated that I can’t run as far and as fast as I want, and am doing my best to rehab it without staying off it so much that I lose my cardiovascular health. No, I don’t want to swim or bike or do the elliptical. That shit bores me, I want to run. Even if I have to run painfully slowly.

Our house is a wreck from the yard sale and we need to reclaim our living space from the piles of stuff we didn’t sell.

The couch is broken, the shower curtain rod is rusty, the cat is peeing on the rug.

Hunter runs around the house like a tiny tornado, leaving destruction in his wake and constantly endangering himself and others. I am trying to teach this menace to ride a bike.

If I have any spare time, I try to feed my soul with books, music and theatre. Amazingly enough, I have seen two plays in the last two months. Go me.

Preparing healthy, tasty meals for my family that everyone will eat, shopping for food that has a short list of pronounceable ingredients – that is another project. Ongoing.

Scheduling play dates for Archer with kids whose parents are just as busy as we are is a juggling act.

I really needed to write all this out because it makes it less overwhelming. I’m actually in a fairly good mood, but the Looney Tunes theme is playing in my head on repeat and I gotta go fix lab errors during my lunch hour so forgive this unedited ramble.

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A-B-C-D-E-F … Grief

My Grandmom Liz died two weeks ago. She was 95 years old and slightly affected with dementia, but still sweet and conversational before her final trip to the hospital that ended with inpatient hospice and then ended.

I didn’t visit her enough, and I kept meaning to remedy that. Oops. Too late, asshole. Should have gotten around to that some time in the past few years.

So she arrived at the hospital with stomach problems. Did you know that you can get a heart attack in your stomach? How’s that for a weird bit of trivia? When I first visited her, she was weak and in pain but getting better. She enjoyed looking at pictures of the kids on my iPhone. A couple days later she went home. Then her condition deteriorated and my Mom and my aunt brought her to inpatient hospice because her in-home caregiver couldn’t handle her care anymore. The last time I saw her she was in so much pain she was on a heavy dose of morphine, could hardly open her eyes and was disoriented, frightened and miserable.

The last time I saw my grandmother, I was hoping for her to die.

The social worker at the inpatient hospice handed us a little booklet with symptoms and timeframes. When your loved one has x symptom, he or she usually has this much time before dying. A lot of Grandmom’s symptoms were in the one week list, some a couple of days. I was surprised that there was a guide to death, that there were death charts, that so many people died the same way that there were statistical norms. Or maybe I was just surprised that this data was becoming part of my vocabulary.

So I did want her to die and I also didn’t, which on its face makes no sense. Here’s the kiddie book version, the alphabet of death and dying.

Grandmom was dying, but nothing is impossible and you never know what will happen, so she could have …

A) had an Astonishing recovery
B) gotten Better
C) continued in her Current Condition
D) Died

What I was hoping for, what I think most people who have very ill loved ones hope for, is not D specifically. Of course everyone who has someone they love who is in pain is hoping (even against all practical knowledge) for A, that Astonishing recovery. If we can’t have A, we’ll take B, getting Better. Better isn’t great, but at least it’s better. What we don’t want for someone we care about is C – continuing in extreme physical and emotional pain without hope of improvement. I wasn’t hoping for D, I was hoping for NOT C. Anything but C. Anything. And if she couldn’t have A or B, if D was my only other option to hope for … it was still better than C.

So Grandmom chose option D. Or her body chose for her.

I hope there is an afterlife, because Grandpop Aaron has found her by now and I am sure he is offering her a sandwich. He referred to her as “Darling” and she called him “Aaron dear”. Unironically. Every day of their lives together.

E is for Embrace.
F is for Forever.
G is for Grandparents.

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Bon jour and au revoir

Life – I hear the rollercoaster clicking and clicking and clicking and sometimes the drop is a thrill and sometimes it takes out my stomach and it’s an awful weight.

Now that we’ve moved from the telephone and the small gathering and the world where we have personal, intimate contact with the people we love and all the updates seem to be through electronic media with the very rare exception, I am not sure how to tell my friends that my Grandmother, Elizabeth Greenberg died two weeks ago. She was 75. She would have been 76 on July 21. She was a professional modern dancer, a secretary, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She had a beautiful singing voice, she loved to read, she had elegant handwriting. She and Grandpop Aaron took me to most of the museums in Philadelphia, a tradition I am trying to pass on to my children.

She died, then we left for Paris.

On Wednesday, June 28 I took my son, Archer to Versailles so he could see the splendour that Louis XIV created. He loved every minute of it. He wants to own Versailles someday. I don’t think the French government will let him have it, but he’s very intelligent and tenacious, so I wouldn’t entirely rule it out.

Here is a great view of the Palace of Versailles, from the gardens behind the Apollo fountain:

Palace of Versailles.

Today I am jet lagged and exhausted.

We found out while we were away, and we came home to our cat, Tiger’s illness. She has stage 4 cancer in her lung, abdomen and colon. She is so weak I can feel death in the room, hanging over her. She purrs when we pet her and she has taken up residence on one of our couches. She enjoyed the gift I got her from Paris – a scarf, because I had a scarf from Paris when I met her and she commandeered it.

Really, there are much greater tragedies in life than a dying pet. I know a kid with stage 4 cancer – THAT is a tragedy. The cat’s a cat. That said, this is the cat I love of all the cats in the world, and my heart aches for her. I don’t know whether I hope for her to hang around so we can spend more time together or to go because she is obviously failing – her body is failing her and I know it’s unpleasant for her.

Really, of all cats, this cat will make her own choice, so it doesn’t matter what I hope for. That’s one of the things I love about her. She will die as she has lived – on her own terms. All we can do is keep her comfortable.

Yes, I am the crazy cat lady today. One paragraph about Grandmom, 3+ about the cat. Dear reader, be happy that I am the crazy cat lady. The narration of the last time I saw my Grandmom is not what you want to read.

This was our favorite statue in the Louvre. We didn’t see all of the statues in the Louvre, but this blew all three of us (me, Houser and Archer) away:

The Captives

I hope I can sleep tonight.

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War With My Body, The Battle of The Bulge

I could not resist the pun.

So, when I made my original War With My Body post, my friend replied with a kind and insightful comment, including this:

But yeah… that voice that tells us that we’re not young enough, not taut enough, not skinny-in-waist enough or chunky-in-the-booty enough is ri-goddamn-diculous.

I’ll say something nice to my body today if you will do the same.

Hello Body.

I regret not taking care of you when we were younger. I got on the health bandwagon late in life (I was going to say “far too late”, but I’m trying to be positive here). I didn’t exercise regularly until I was over 30 and now at 40 I have done a lot of stopping and starting. Now I am battling an ankle injury and trying not to lose my motivation even though the exercise I really like doing and am motivated to do is running. Waah waah waah.

Actually, body, I need to apologize to you for all the abuse you have taken over the years. You have served me well. Even when I have stuffed you with food and let you languish on couches for days, when I have poisoned you with cigarettes and alcohol, you really have not quit on me. We had that one 6-month stint in our mid-twenties when my back fell apart and hurt every single day, but as soon as I got you a better desk chair, you bounced right back. You bounced back from two pregnancies. Body, I have been maligning you and dismissing you, but really you have been doing a fabulous job.

Good on you, body. You’re all right.


p. s. Now that you know I love you, can you hurry up and heal that left ankle? Please?

Hello Brain,

Fuck you. You are the problem. Every decision to lie on the couch and not work out – that was you, you miserable bastard. Every snack attack in the face of stress (and my body may be average weight, but my brain is a blubbering obese girl with a runny nose), that was you, screwing things up again. You got me last night. I didn’t need those Goldfish crackers, but you, you looked down at my injured ankle and directed the hand to reach for the Goldfish to fill up the emptiness inside. Why crackers? Why not water? Gentle stretches? Macrame?

You need a better plan, Brain. We need to fill the emptiness inside with something other than food.

Get on it.

Shelle, your beleaguered Body and Soul.

The above may be amusing (or not), but I am completely serious. My brain needs to be shut down, rebooted and have her cache and history cleared so she functions like a healthy person, at least regarding food and stress. I hope that realizing my problem is the beginning of solving it.

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War With My Body

For most of my life, I have been at war with my body. I have tried to squeeze it into clothes that were too small, hide it behind clothes that were too big, jam it into styles that were made for people taller than me, people with smaller boobs than me, shorter legs, longer torsos, etc.

Today I went dress shopping and the war continued. I stared at my rolls of fat in the mirror and even though I can run 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes, I am still disgusted with myself. A couple things happened today that are making me re-evaluate my personal battleground.

1. I own a size 12 dress that is too small, yet I just bought a size 8 dress that fits perfectly. This leads me to believe that size is a bunch of bullshit.

2. I was looking at a picture of a friend’s wife on Facebook (probably no one you know). She is a lot heavier than I am, and she’s gorgeous. She’s happy and beautiful and her kids are happy and her husband is gigantic but he looks like he’s in great shape – muscular legs, built-up chest … and a double chin.

Now I have to run to a meeting, so what I will do with this information shall be postponed to the next post.

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