Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's Impossible to Know

(Just to start this blog entry with an aside (because I'm good like that), every time I write or think, "It's impossible," I think of Steve Martin in his Wild and Crazy Days when he used to sing, "It's imPOSSible, to put a Cadillac up your nose. It's just imPOSSible...") (Oh, like you don't.) (Well, okay, maybe you really DON'T in this instance.)

So, y'all might have noticed that I tread very lightly in featuring my older daughter Ana on the blog. My YOUNGER daughter is clearly primed to be adored by millions and will bask in the glory. But my OLDER daughter is more reserved. More private. More likely to feel embarrassed.

So, imagine my surprise when, after I took pictures of her yesterday morning, she wanted to see them on the blog. "You always write about Jane and not about me," she said.

I was astonished, frankly. "But I thought you didn't LIKE to be on the blog."

"Well, in this case, it's okay."

There you have it. The capriciousness of a Tween summed up in two sentences.


And here she is summed up in two pictures from the SAME DAY:


Sleeping with her Thomas kitty, where she still looks like a little girl.

And attending the Sweethearts' Dance with her dad at her school, where she clearly is almost 18 and about to leave home and break my heart.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's So Fun Negotiating With THAT One

Jane is now entering into contractual obligations with her best friend in the name of our new President.

(I sollumly swear, that we will not fight anymore, in the name of Priesident Obama.)

All eight-year-olds do this, right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Needs Updating

You know how you get those notices that it's time to download an update to your computer software? Sometimes I wish there was a way to update my psyche.

On Sunday evening, I was coming back from the grocery store (because you know how much I love the grocery store. I thought I'd go on the last night of Winter Break before school started the next day. That seemed like a really good idea. Ack --words cannot describe the agony.) and the sky was as dark as my black mood.

For my birthday, my husband had given me the new Indigo Girls CD called, "Retrospective" which is sort of a greatest hits collection but has two new songs on it. One of them, "Leaving," came on as I was driving home. (It's too new for a YouTube clip, I think, but you can listen to a clip from it here.)

But do you ever wonder through and through who's that person standing next to you
And after all the nights apart is there a home for a traveling heart
But if I weren't leaving you I don't know what I'd do
But the more I go the less I know will the fire still burn on my return
To keep the path lit on the only road I know
Honey, all I know to do is go

Anyway, I was sitting at a traffic light and thinking dark thoughts and thinking how "all I know is go" and I started to laugh.

Because here's the thing: in my reckless and wild youth, I used to end relationships and friendships and other ships prematurely, always filled with a sense that I'd like to leave the party before someone asked me to leave. Honestly, I'd convinced myself that I was a commitment-phobe and that I was destined to grow old and alone and bitter because I would never be able to cure my restless heart. I still have that feeling --that sense that I'm a dark, dark, lonely soul, a slave to my own wanderlust and craving for solitude.

Except, well, as I was sitting there and the heavens began to fall in wet clumps of snow and ice, I realized that:

I am a 44 year old woman.

Driving a mini-van which was filled with food to make a week's worth of lunches for my two daughters, one of whom will soon be eleven years old.

And that I was driving back to my house on the hill -- the lights were beckoning and the fireplace cheerfully ablaze-- to my partner of the last thirteen years with whom I am still madly in love.

And that actually? All I really know is how to STAY.

Yup. The psyche ought to receive some sort of periodic updates. Maybe Bill Gates could get to work on that.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weird and Wonderful: An Update

Things continue on their usual weird and wonderful and other W words that I can't think of because, hello, it's 5:00 AM and I've only had one cup of coffee.

I have no idea what I'm doing up. Thanks for asking, though.

So, the first update is about my ridiculous, spastic and, um, not smart cowdog Scout. Last weekend, when my husband and children were gone skiing, I took Scout for a walk. (I know--a WALK!) He was rushing past me, as he does, on an uneven path and suddenly, he cried out and came up lame.

This is not entirely unusual for Scout, who tends to roll his ankle or something fairly frequently but in the past, he's always shaken it off after a day or so.

Not this time.

Coop took him to the Vet where he made QUITE the impression. (A few days later when the Vet Tech called to check on him, I was going on about him and I said, "You know, he's not the most mentally stable dog in the world." and she said, "Uh huh, I met him.") Dr. Garretson diagnosed him with a possible tear to his ACL--which, of COURSE he has because he's a bargain puppy and has now cost us more than any dog we've ever had.

The real problem, though, is that he seems to have had some sort of psychotic break.

Oh, you only THINK I'm joking.

Seriously, the dog has snapped. He hides in my office in the back and he won't come out. If we get near him, he starts to tremble so violently that he looks like he's having a seizure and then he races past us to get away and inevitably ends up re-injuring his leg and crying piteously. Coop has resorted to carrying him outside. Once outside, Scout runs to a little corner and lies down--does not pee. Does not poop.

This is, as you might imagine, somewhat problematic because at some point the dude is gonna have to GO and then, I would REALLY prefer it to be outside.

But even worse is the fact that Scout very clearly thinks that this pain he's having is caused by ME. He's TERRIFIED of me.I am NOT looking at you.

DOG KNEECAPPER.

So, just when you think the dog couldn't get any weirder...well, you were wrong. (Not YOU--you know what I mean.)

On the wonderful side of things, I had my birthday last Thursday and my mom is here! I love my birthday, especially this year when I'm forty-four (four is my favorite number) and mostly pain-free and people gave me presents. I REALLY like a birthday that includes presents. Especially when those presents include yarn and chocolate and wine and music. SCORE on all fronts.

THEN, yesterday, we all (kids, Coop, Mom, me) drove to Queens to see my foot doctor and then headed into the city to see The Little Mermaid on Broadway. It's the third children's musical we've seen and by far the best. The sets were imaginative, the performers amazing, the orchestra was stellar and our seats were the usual Coop thisclose variety. It was lovely--a wonderful time. My girls seem to be a bit under the weather though, so Coop took them to M&M world which seems to have magical restorative powers. My mom and I sat in an Italian restaurant and talked and drank espresso drinks, which may explain why I am up at the freaking early hour of Zero o'clock.

But anyway, in all this, there has been some knitting. In fact, my mom and I are knitting the same scarf--she in a little different colorway. Who knew that knitting with your mom could be so much fun? I'll post some pictures if it ever gets light outside.

Unless I'm sleeping.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Radical Idea

So, I haven't updated you all about my foot in a few days and I know you're on the edge of your seats wondering WHAT IS GOING ON.

Well.

It's a miracle, as far as I am concerned.

My foot has been taped for almost two weeks now and I am almost entirely without pain. I've been racing around trying to get stuff done, just sure that the pain is out there lying in wait for me, ready to drop-kick my life back to hell. But it hasn't happened.

In fact, the taping has been so successful that my doctor has canceled the surgery to clean out the scar tissue and implant the little thimble-thingy until we see if a simple orthotic (a shoe insert custom-made to hold my foot in a position that prevents it from pronating and crunching bone-on-bone in my ankle area) might be all that is required. At any rate we're going to try it. We can always reschedule the surgery if the orthotic doesn't work.

But I just am... almost without words for the difference a little bit of tape has made to my life. First of all, I don't think it's coincidence that as soon as I confessed to you that I have been in tremendous chronic pain, an answer seemed to arrive. I don't know why I need to learn this lesson again and again but whenever I let myself reach out and admit I need help and comfort, I get miracles.

So, that's ONE lesson.

Another lesson is that I was so mad at my body and myself for daring to be fallible and mortal, I wasn't taking care of any part of myself. Not just eating right and exercising but not doing anything nice for myself at all. I wasn't even KNITTING. I wasn't putting on music and pretending to be Aretha Franklin. I wasn't planning my spring garden or working on my book or any of the things that might have brought me some pleasure even though I was mostly couch-bound.

(To be fair, part of this is that when my pain got so incredibly loud, it sort of drowned out the call of all of those other small pleasures. Y'all, chronic pain is... the big LIFE SUCKING DEATH SCOURGE.) (Not that I feel strongly about this or anything.)

This morning I was standing at my sink, snipping the bottoms off of the large bunch of tulips my husband and children gave me for Valentine's Day, and I felt so peaceful-- this quiet happiness, you know? And I got to thinking about how I never bring myself flowers anymore. It used to be part of my weekly routine that I would put some fresh flowers in my house somewhere and every time I looked at them, I got a little Joy Rush. My husband is the absolute best man on this planet--seriously, I have never heard of anyone better-- at bringing his sweetheart flowers. (That's me, for clarification's sake.) But I used to bring myself a little five dollar pot of something blooming once a week or so. Sometimes it was just basil but more often it was a gerbera daisy or a cheap bunch of sunflowers.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how often we forget to nurture OURSELVES in our daily routines and how important it is. And I had this idea that maybe this week, we could ALL, every last one of us, do some tiny thing for ourselves. I like the idea of a little bunch of flowers but if that doesn't float your boat, you could make yourself one perfect cup of coffee--you know, exactly how you REALLY like it and not settle for too little of this or that in the essence of expedience. And then drink it very consciously while watching the sunrise or set or doing some other type of sun activity.

Or maybe you find a really luscious piece of fruit at the grocery store and bring it home to enjoy, all by yourself, while reading the paper. Or you take one ten minute bath where all you do is soak in the water and feel how it touches your skin and you revel in that fully.

For once in your freaking life, make yourself stop making to-do lists and hurrying through everything.

(Um.)

(Well, okay, that's me. Sorry.)

It just sort of occurred to me how much of our lives are spent drowning out our own needs and desires because they don't seem like worthy uses of our energy and time. We punish ourselves for not measuring up to our own high standards and sometimes, in trying to meet the needs of those around us, we forget to be nice to ourselves.

In my case, it's almost like I feel that I have to get through this enormous to-do list before I can start the LIVING part of life. Like, "I'll enjoy this world when I've lost these 25 pounds, started exercising, gotten my kids through grad school, organize the basement..." and new things keep getting added to that list all the time. I think we, well, *I*, have to consciously take back a little space for myself. To take a few freaking posies and put them in a jar and look at them with pleasure every so often. I can wait to do that until we balance the budget or I can carve out a little priority for me. Just one.

So, some time in the next week, do one small thing just to indulge yourself. I'm not talking about remodeling your kitchen. I'm talking about one tiny thing that you wouldn't ordinarily do for yourself that brings you pleasure when you think about it. Do that thing consciously and with pleasure and setting aside all guilt and multi-tasking and any other distraction. Then report back --I'd really like to know if it recharged your batteries a little bit.

(Now, I have to confess that I really wanted to find some genderless examples of tiny indulgences because I sometimes forget that I have male readers and then I get an e-mail or a comment and I panic, wondering if I've discussed temporary water weight gain or something else that might make members of the male gender uncomfortable. But I couldn't really think of any. So, I'm sorry.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Buh-Bye, Facebook

A quick note to let those of you who follow me on Facebook know that, effective immediately, I am deleting my Facebook profile.

Facebook has just adopted new terms of service. My friend Tiffany, who is an attorney, interpreted them for me thus:

FB's terms of service have always granted the company a broad license to do as it pleases with any content uploaded to Facebook--or even content shared through links on your profile page. The primary (and critical) difference is that under the old terms, that license "expired" if you removed the content. That meant that the user maintained some level of control over use of content because he or she could essentially revoke the license at any time. Under the new terms of service, no such revocation is possible. Continued use of Facebook constitutes acceptance of the new terms of service; the new terms of service say that once you've uploaded something to Facebook, the company has broad rights to do whatever it likes with that content IRREVOCABLY.

Here is founder Mark Zuckerberg's response to objections to this change.

In essence, he says: Don't worry. You're giving us a license to do whatever we want, but we'd never do anything you wouldn't want us to.

I'm very curious as to why, if they'd never use this right, they've gone to the trouble of amending their TOS to create it.


As a writer by profession, this is pretty dangerous for me. I have a live link to the content of this blog on my Facebook page and if I continue to use Facebook, it will have an irrevocable license to use all of that material. If I continue to use FB but just delete the blog feed, FB will still have an irrevocable license to use the content that I have posted to date. I doubt that Facebook would ever want to use my material, but suppose something I write goes viral, becomes a huge best-seller and an award-winning movie and Oprah herself calls to invite me on the show?

(Dudes, it could SO happen.)

Do I want Facebook to have the rights to all of my blog material, completely free of charge?

What do you think Oprah would say?

So, although it pains me because I was just finally starting to get the hang of it, it's bye-bye Facebook and um, well, hello Oprah. (Oh, just hush.)

Ah, That's More Like It

My little family returned home last night from their ski trip.

It's been roughly twelve hours. I'm on laundry load number six million, there are boots and shoes strewn everywhere, the decibel level is markedly higher, previously uncluttered surfaces in the house are now piled high with camera bags and last week's valentines, the cats have defected for more interested playmates and in general, life is just as wonderful as I could have ever wished.

I'm sitting here just smiling to myself. It turns out I really missed them.

The trip was a great success. The girls took to skiing with enthusiasm, did well in their lessons and managed to neither hurt themselves nor anyone else. I could have lived without the text message Jane sent me on Sunday night:

"I am trapped in a chiniese restront with a bunch of drunk guys (not including Dad,) . . . GET ME OUT OF HERE, WOMAN!!!!!!!

Love u!

--=)Jane"

but really, if that was the worst of it, I think we got off easy.

Of course, after Coop delivered my evil spawn home safely, I had to confess to breaking his dog. I took Scout for a walk (Yes! A walk--I KNOW!) and at some point he ran past me and rolled his ankle or something. Today he can't put any weight on it and so he will be making a trip to the vet this afternoon. I'll keep you posted.


Here is the message inside my piece of chocolate last night (Why, yes, I DO receive cosmic messages from my chocolate. Doesn't everyone?):



Life may change us but we start and end with family.

(And laundry.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Notes From the Freedom Front

So, my husband took my daughters skiing and I have had this whole weekend to do whatever I want.

MWUAHAHAHA.

(Er. Um. Sorry about that.)

Saturday

I thought perhaps I would sleep in Saturday morning but someone forgot to send the memo to one Edward the Cat who thought he would knock everything off of my nightstand at exactly 6:00 AM in an effort to keep me from oversleeping.

I had resolved not to spend my free time cleaning and I had even called the house cleaners, who came Saturday afternoon. Nevertheless, in between winding my new sock yarn, I emptied my kitchen drawers (I originally wrote that I emptied my drawers... and I don't know, maybe I've had too much coffee but that made me laugh out loud.) and cleaned them out and I cleaned the refrigerator. I did every last scrap of laundry in this house, including my ridiculous cowdog Scout's bed. I ran my dishwasher three times.

Why?

Because my mommy is coming on Wednesday and I am so excited, I almost can't stand it.

And also because I wanted to treat myself to an utterly clean house which would stay clean for more than 20 minutes. I'm selfish that way.

(I would show you pictures but I'm afraid y'all would want to kill me. Seriously, it's THAT awesome.)

Then I took a glass of wine and a book upstairs and soaked in the tub before climbing into my freshly made-up bed.

...........................................................

Sunday


Today, I woke up just before seven, made my bed, wandered downstairs to make the coffee and feed the pets and then, because apparently I am too little to have unscheduled free time plus a ball-winder plus a lot of new yarn plus a new MacBook PLUS a brilliant brother-in-law who knows how to do these things, I made the following little yarn-fetish video.



(Because I know you will ask (well, some of you. Those who CARE.), here are the yarns featured: Malabrigo Sock Yarn in Stonechat, Claudia Handpainted Yarn - Sport weight in Tealparty and Strawberry Latte (how could I resist that name?), Handmaiden Yarn - Casbah Sock in Glacier (gorgeous cashmere blend), Lorna's Laces - Shepherd Sport in Watercolor and finally, the most luxurious yarn of the whole bunch, Schaefer Yarn - Heather in Thistle. (My first silk blend.))

So, honestly?

Don't tell anyone, but in the end, I've had to sort of consciously enjoy my clean, empty house and all this peace and quiet by reminding myself that in less than 24 hours, my family will be home, bringing a mountain of dirty clothes and demanding food and everyone talking full-voice at once.

My little vacation has been a good exercise. I've learned that the things I crave most often--the ability to eat what I want when I want, the luxury of cleaning something and having it stay clean, the quiet to think and write and knit-- those are NOT the things that bring me a Joy Rush. I wouldn't have predicted that, actually. I would have thought that some solitude and freedom from my normal, structured routines would have come over me like when Scout is so happy he just has to roll around on the carpet in ecstasy. In reality, I find that what gives me that almost painful rush of sheer joy is sharing my life with my family, not focusing on myself and MY agenda but focusing on the hilarious, chaotic, and ever-so-full agendas of the people I love the most.

That's not to say that I wouldn't want to visit here every so often. But I'm going to be really glad to see my people roll up the driveway.

Let's just let that be our little secret, okay?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Feeling A Little Conflicted

So, you know how I'm CRAZY about my little family?

Well, I'm feeling a little guilty.

Um, don't hate me but Coop took the girls on a short ski-trip for the weekend and I have two full days to myself.

Two full days!

It just stretches out before me, like an entire carpet of possibilities. I can WRITE! I can eat cheese and crackers for every meal! I can stay up all night browsing the Burpee Seed Catalog if I want! I can watch HGTV and plan my acceptance speech for when I win the HGTV Dream Home! I can cuddle with BOTH cats! I can redecorate my closet or organize my sock drawer! I can throw a wild party and get a dragon tattoo...

Clearly, this new found unfetteredness has gone to my head because, um, well, it's 3:00 in the afternoon here and not only am I eating my lunch/dinner but I just poured a glass of wine. Will you look at what came in the mail today??


And, mercy, look at THIS:


Well, there go the plans for the wild party and tattoo.

The following is a gratuitous photo of Edward's belly for Becca. Because she asked.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Today, I Came Back From Oz

Today, with my foot still safely taped and pain-free, I:

1. got the oil changed in my car
2. went to the post office
3. picked up a prescription at the drug store
4. went to Staples for photo paper
5. went to Barnes and Noble
6. picked up both girls from school
7. made all the beds
8. did laundry and took several loads upstairs to put away
9. took Scout on a little walk to deliver neighborhood newsletters
10. made several trips into the basement to empty the humidifiers and search for office supplies
11. Stood at the island in my kitchen and wound skeins of yarn. (Have I mentioned how much I love my new ball-winder and swift? Thank you, Coop--you RULE!)

I did all of those things without pain. I am still conscious of every step but not because it's painful but because it's NOT.


Before this latest break-though in the treatment of my foot, I would have been able to do ONE of those things and only one that didn't require much walking. And, Lordy, it would have cost me.

This afternoon I had to take the tape off per my doctor's instructions because he wanted the skin to calm down before my appointment tomorrow when he will tape me back up.

It was sort of the reverse of the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy goes from Kansas to Oz and suddenly the world is in color and there are horses that change color and flying monkeys.

Which, well, brings up a question I've had since I first saw The Wizard of Oz back in grammar school: what was really so great about Kansas? I mean, Aunt Em was pretty dismissive and perpetually worried and if Dorothy went back, she was only going to have to deal with the dog-snatcher woman who wants her to give up Toto, and she'll be right back to walking the fence along the pig-pen and dreaming of life over the rainbow. Here she is, plunked down in a magical land in COLOR with beautiful poppy fields and ruby slippers and thousands of helpful munchkins and she has her DOG WITH HER-- why go back? There's no place like home, sure, but I'm thinking that maybe Oz is better.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I've really enjoyed this visit to Oz, foot-wise. I LIKE living like a normal person, doing the normal errands necessary for my little family. I LIKE not having to measure the expenditure of my finite number of steps in a day. I want to freaking SKIP DOWN THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD.

Dudes, Kansas is OVERRATED.

I think I'm going to click my heels together (gently) and say, "There's no place like Oz. There's no place like Oz."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Little Bit of Knitting

This morning, my husband looked at my new swift which he bought me for my birthday (currently installed on the kitchen island) and he said, "Hey, wait a minute. It's not your birthday yet! When I buy stuff for you to give me for my birthday, I give it TO you and I WAIT to have it."

I waited.

"And then you forget to give it to me."

Uh, yeah. What was your point again?

(Anyway, he can wrap up the big ole mountain of sock yarn I he just bought for me.)

In other knitting news, I finally, finally, FINALLY finished Ei's socks. You know, the ones she won back in (oh, the shame) MAY. Granted, there were some issues with yarn procurement and loss --but in the end, girlfriend got some new socks. Here's Edward showing his excitement at the finished socks. (Jane likes to walk past him and say, "He looks so LIFE-LIKE.")

Now, I need to get moving on DK's that she won at the same time! (Oh, the SHAME.) (And people wonder why I don't do more giveaways.)

There WAS a knitting tragedy, though. I was making some socks for my friend Sherry who is battling breast cancer. My amazingly generous friend Kim sent me this most gorgeous yarn--a cashmere/merino blend dyed by this woman in Australia. This yarn is DIVINE to knit with and the colors are so beautiful and so subtle. It would be my favorite yarn ever except the woman who dyes it has gone on maternity leave and there's no more to be had presently.

This is an issue because the first sock I knitted for Sherry, which I even tried on her and everything, has gone missing. I think I may have left it in the X-Ray place when I went to see my doctor on Friday but since I don't even know the NAME of that place, it's proving a little hard to follow-up. There's not enough yarn to finish the sock I'm knitting and knit another whole one. If I can't get the sock back, I may cast on a pair for Sherry in this gorgeous Malabrigio I have but that will delay my gift and I'd really like to get the socks to her as soon as possible because she's going through a hard time.

Doesn't this one look so lonely?

Also on the needles is THIS sock,
but unfortunately, I have taken a totally unreasonable dislike to this yarn. I can't explain it--I love the colors, it's not pooling much but it's just... I just don't really like it. And not ONLY because of the yarn barf.
I can't WAIT until I get my ball winder...

In non-knitting news, yesterday was Very Special Person Day at Jane's school. The idea was that each second grader would invite a Very Special Person and host that person at the school after hours. She could only bring one person and Jane invited...are you ready?

Her big sister, Ana, almost 11.

Is that the coolest thing? I drove them to the school and then I just sat in the van, knitting for an hour or so, totally content. When they were done, they came out and we were all totally happy.

Oh, you guys, their relationship makes me so happy. Sometimes, I get glimpses of how they'll be when they're grown... and it's lovely. A sister is such a gift. (Even if they don't always remember that, *I* do.)

When we got home, they cuddled together on the couch, reading.

I'm such a lucky mom.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Live Smurf Walking

I thought I would post a little video of me walking because I am GIDDY--GIDDY, I tell you!--with my recently reborn skill. Walking is the new RUNNING! Just click on the post title if you get the blog via e-mail and you will see me walking around the house in my pajamas. Because I know you really want that.



(Dudes, when you've been languishing on the couch for nearly two years and every step has been very painful, it's the little things, like walking up the steps without crying, that make a life seem worth living.)

Plus, in a few days, I have to take off the tape and wait for the surgery to permanently do what the tape has done for almost 24 hours now and I guess that will mean a return to Pain. Let's just hope the surgery works and the pain is temporary because this whole walking like a normal person? Is WAY TOO FREAKING AWESOME!!!!

I can't believe it, really. Let me know if you'd like to see me walk to the mailbox. Or into the basement. Or, um, just around the kitchen. I can do it, yes I can. Walking R Us.

I swear, I need to go find my pedometer.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

More Foot Excitement--Seriously!

Oh, my gosh, I am so excited that I'm actually standing up to type this.

This morning, just after I ordered my new ball winder and swift... (y'all are going to have to Google that if you don't know what it is because I am too excited to find a photo on-line. Basically, they are the two contraptions that allow you to wind skeins of yarn into those pretty, pretty balls of yarn that don't get all in a snarl when you knit out of them. Of course, my husband asked, "Why doesn't yarn just already come in balls?" for which I had no good answer. Why doesn't it? Anyone?)

But ANYWAY, as I was saying, I had just ordered my new ball winder and swift (early birthday present) when my podiatrist's office called. Did I have a moment to speak with Dr. Martin? Yes, I did.

Dr. Martin got on the phone and told me that he reviewed all of my films and scans and everything about my case last night but that something was still bothering him. He said that after yesterday's lidocaine injection into my sinus tarsi cavity, my foot became instantly more flexible. And that was kind of in the back of his mind as being inconsistent with the physiology of my foot. He went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night (Ah, yet another person who can blame sleepless nights on me!) with an epiphany that maybe the problem with my foot wasn't due to the failed fusion or the strange coalition (I know, I know...I don't really understand all of the terminology either. Whenever someone refers to the "coalition" in my foot, I immediately picture an angry mob pressing for union scale wages and coffee breaks.) but due to a totally different problem, namely that the compression on the canal/cavity might be causing an unpleasant bone-on-bone situation.

Okay, if I've lost you... well, it doesn't matter because the basic idea is that if Dr. Martin can insert this little thimble-like thing into the cavity, it will hold it open and stop the compression and hence stop the sort-of excruciating pain I've been in. The only way to test the hypothesis first, though, would be to tape the foot in a position that mimics the way it would be if the insert were already in my foot. Could I come to Queens and be taped?

OH, YES, I MOST CERTAINLY COULD.

You know how I'm always looking for signs that things are going to work out? Well, as I was driving to Queens, first I saw THIS van: ("Refridgerated?" Good Grief, even TRUCKS need editors) and then as I was passing under Utopia Parkway, a bird pooped on my car.

Not really the signs I was hoping for.

But then I got to talking to this woman in Dr. Martin's waiting room and she told me she's done FIVE surgeries with him. She had deformed bones, too, and she thinks he's a really good doctor. And then we got to talking more and she even wanted my blog address!

So anyway, long story short (shorter? Short-ISH?) Dr. Martin taped my foot and I have been walking around like a normal person every since. (Well, normal-er. Normal-ISH?) (Oh, just hush.)

There is still a slight twinge every now and then when I step funny but dudes, I'm walking with a normal gait and not like some sort of sore-footed Hobbit.

I cannot express to you how incredible this is after the past two years of FULF-dom. It's like the difference in the movie The Wizard of Oz between Kansas and Oz. Black and white to color. It's simply freaking amazing.

And you know the other thing? For the first time in a long time, I feel energized by HOPE that there might be some sort of answer to my pain. I still have a ways to go--if this taping shows that the issue has to do with compression, I still have to have surgery (scheduled for February 26) and I have to recover from that and do some intensive physical therapy.

I know that my foot pain is nothing compared with the issues some people are facing. But for me, as an active, fit, forty-three year old woman, it has had a catastrophic effect on my life. The idea that the end may be in sight --that I might once again walk to the mailbox without even thinking about it twice --is just miraculous to me. I swear I'll never take it for granted again.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Another Installment of Barb's Not-So-Excellent Foot Adventure

I met with my podiatrist (Dr. Martin) at the surgical center today, to schedule my upcoming foot surgery and do all the initial pre-op stuff.

I drove out to the surgical center, which is much nicer than Dr. Martin’s office in Queens, and did all the paperwork, etc. Then I was called back and he came in. He had reviewed my file again, and the CT scan of my foot, and had a new idea about where the pain was coming from. During my surgery in March 2007, I had three screws put in my foot to fuse the bones in the middle part of my foot. One of the fusions didn’t work. That joint is a big one and could be the reason I’m feeling pain on the other side of my foot...I know that sounds strange. It’s complicated.

But anyway, then he shot my foot full of lidocaine in the sinus tarsi cavity which runs from just below/in front of the ankle bone all the way across to the heel. A very odd thing happened during the shot though, even though I've had a zillion shots in my foot now and even though I have such a high pain tolerance and even though it didn't even hurt that much, I still almost fainted. I think that was just plain old anxiety. Dr. Martin brought me some grapefruit juice.

But then something amazing happened.

The pain went away.

Completely.

It was very odd—I could walk without pain. Even my gait was different.

This is an extraordinarily good sign that if we clear out that scar tissue, I will be pain free.

Dudes.

So then I went for x-rays and had to wait forever (I turned the heel and knitted down the foot of a sock) and eavesdropped shamelessly on the conversation of these two women sitting near me (late 40's or early 50's), one of whom has a crush on a guy. It was the same conversation I had about six million times —IN EIGHTH GRADE. Mercy. Or UNCLE or something.

Anyway, I was sort of hoping for surgery on my birthday, the 19th, but there were no openings. In fact, the only reason I got an appointment on the 26th was that one of the surgeries scheduled had to be canceled because the patient is getting a divorce. Apparently, if you are getting a divorce, you cancel your foot surgery. (Mercy. Or UNCLE or something.)

So, then I drove home, still pain-free and picked up my kids and all of a sudden I realized that the lidocaine had worn off and my foot hurt. It really HURT.

Um.

Hurts.

Dudes. It's going to be so good to have this surgery --please, please, PLEASE may it work and work long.

To prove that this is ME we're talking about, however, in a novel sort of twist on my day, today is the birthday of my daughter's best friend, Nina. Ana (10) and I had shopped for a present for Nina the day before and I had it in my car so that I could take it up to the school when I picked Ana up. The only thing is that it's this life-sized stuffed penguin and I had it sitting in the passenger seat on top of a mound o'stuff.

I kind of forgot it was there, except for the odd looks I would get every so often.

Which made me laugh.

When I told Nina's mom, Anna, about the looks, she said, "I bet most people were thinking, 'Why isn't she in the HOV lane?'"

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Love (My Husband) Thursday

The kids and I have been chugging along alone today because Coop is out of town.

We went through the morning routine without issue. I picked them up from school and we ran our errands and came home. Piano practice happened. Dinner was planned and will soon be on the table. It's bath night.

And just now, a new message popped up in my e-mail:

"Caught earlier flight
Home by 8:30
Love"

Is there anything better than THAT?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Thing About Edward

[Before I begin this post, I want to tell you all that my heart is filled with gratitude. I can't thank you all enough for your support and concern after my post about being in chronic pain. It...well, it hasn't been the frat party one might have hoped, and it was difficult for me to talk about because I didn't want to seem self-indulgent. I mean, I have friends battling CANCER and here I sit, whining about my foot. But to hear your witty, wise and in all ways wonderful (and non-scolding) comments...well, I thank you. I OWE you. When things get bad, I go back and REREAD you. God bless you guys.]

And now for something completely different...a post about Edward. Because there are few unpleasant things that Edward cannot make better. (And also because I've had some requests for an Edward update.)

You might not have realized this but Edward is all Cat.

He doesn't think he's a dog, and he would never think that was a good thing, anyway. He doesn't think he's human--he's far superior to the average human. He is a Cat and he clearly thinks that is a simply grand thing to be.

He is contrary and arrogant and mischievous and random. He will NOT do what you want him to do and he will not STOP doing what you DON'T want him to do --as witnessed by this family's numerous Edward sightings ON THE KITCHEN TABLE. (I will not have a cat on the kitchen table, nor the kitchen counters and I have been known to chase cats who ignore these rules with a squirt gun.) I have chased Edward and even bopped him on his perfect nose and still he persists.

But I can't ever get very angry with Edward because, see, I know something about him. (Something more than the fact that it's a miracle that we got him back after his six-week AWOL adventure.)

He LOVES me.

No, seriously. He's a one woman cat and I am that woman. DUDES, I would put that on my resume if I still had one.

To the rest of the world, he is every inch the professional cat. He refuses to come when he's called and if you put your hand out to pet him, he will limbo under it.

But when no one is around or awake to see, Edward is a one cat snugglefest. He likes to sleep right up by my pillow, but he will only stay there as long as I am touching him. And he doesn't just want my hand on him somewhere, he wants to be held like a football. I don't know if you can tell, but my hand is completely wrapped around and under his stomach. He likes that.

He has this enormous purr--think Harley Davidson VROOM VROOM VROOM. It wakes me up but I never mind because I always feel like he's giving me a present.

It's funny --our other cat, Thomas is much more of a cuddler. He will cuddle with ANYONE and he's a very solid sleeper --doesn't move much, lays right on you, is happy to be in the general vicinity of any human. Thomas kind of has a Stuffed Animal Complex --as in, he'd like to be one and then there would never be a reason to stop cuddling/napping.

Isn't it interesting that as much as I love Thomas, I love Edward MORE? Because he's selective. (Which dynamic, incidentally, explains a lot about the failed romantic endeavors of my youth. Sometimes that selective frog is really a wart-inducing, bug-eating, weak-bladdered freaking amphibian who merely APPEARS to be selective because his brain is the size of a pencil eraser.) (Not that I'm still bitter or anything.)

But anyway, the thing about Edward is that he's SUCH a professional that it's hard for him to just give in to the love, except under cover of darkness when he makes a beeline for my pillow and settles in. Right now, though, he and I are the only ones downstairs and he CLEARLY wants to be petted but he can't just come curl up next to me. We have to go through this elaborate courting ritual.

So, first, he presents the tail.
From my vantage point on the couch, I see the tail go by and then turn and pass by again.

I dangle my hand.

He comes and brushes against my hand, does a loop around the coffee table and brushes past again. If I try to rush things and just pet him, darn it, he will disappear to do cat things like attack my potted plants. But if we make it past the initial flirting, he will come and allow me to pet him --but only on his terms. If I move too fast and just go right for that soft belly, he will wrap up around my hand and leave tiny puncture wounds to remind me of who is boss.

BUT, if I time everything exactly right, he will nonchalantly get nearer and nearer to me until he is curled up right besides me, purring like a freight train and I will be unavailable to answer the phone or email or the call of nature until he leaves.
In our family, this is called, "having a cat" and it is the only valid excuse for delaying to do something asked of you. "I'm sorry. I can't right now --I have a cat."

Here is Edward, curled up on my desk as I was writing this earlier. He never jumps up here, but today there's a snowstorm outside and he needed his person.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Elvis Has Left the Building

I saw my podiatrist on Saturday and have been in a really deep blue funk ever since.

We are making plans to go forward with the second surgery to clear out the scar tissue in my foot that was surgically rebuilt almost two years ago, leaving me in chronic pain. This surgery shouldn't be nearly the ordeal the first one was.

But y'all?

It was not a good day. (This despite the fact that Coop and I took our daughters to see Mary Poppins on Broadway and it was AMAZING.)

Just to recap: I had my foot surgically rebuilt in 2007 after discovering that I was born with all of these deformed bones in it. Years of running and dance did a tremendous amount of damage and the only option was to fuse the bones in the middle part of my foot. Trying to come back from that has been a long, depressing saga. In addition to never running again, I can barely WALK. We've discovered that I produce scar tissue at an alarming rate and the next step is another surgery to clean out the scar tissue in my sinus tarsi cavity and cauterize it in hopes that it won't grow back and also, in hopes that it is the source of my pain.

Because I haven't taken a step without pain in almost two years and the effect on my life has been somewhat catastrophic. I'm looking into alternative treatment since the doctor said that the best he could tell me was that the latest proposed surgery wouldn't leave me any WORSE than I am today but there are no real options to alleviate the pain if it doesn't work. He thinks I will have to have my entire ankle fused at some point down the road.

I think what hit me on Saturday is the idea that this isn't going to go away, you know? That we can maybe manage the pain aspect (which is no small thing) but that I'm not going to be whole again.

This may be as good as it gets.


And this, my friends, sucks.

I'm very sad and frankly, not a little bit angry. I loved my body when I was strong and active and I hate this one that makes me think about every single step I take. I feel trapped inside this 80-year-old person. I don't WANT a handicapped parking sticker. I don't WANT to never ski again. I miss running so much that you know how some people have flying dreams? I have RUNNING dreams--dreams where I'm running flat out with my heart pounding as if it will burst forth from my chest.

I need to find some hope that I can develop a way to get strong and fit and active again WITHOUT my foot. I mean, the world is full of stories of athletes who train for amazing physical feats while missing limbs or dealing with illness. Right now, I am in so much pain and so despondent, I am having a very hard time thinking of anything positive at all, though. Family and friends have offered many platitudes and much advice but honestly? I'm not ready to hear them. I just am not there yet.

(I'm more in that, "Take your Pollyanna, happy-assed self over to the counter and drop the toaster oven on your foot thirty times a day for two years and THEN talk to me" kind of place.)

(Not that I am bitter.)

My husband showed me this scooter thing that a woman he worked with used. I took a good look at it and took a deep breath. "I would rather die," I said.

I need an overhaul on my attitude, I guess.

The funny thing is that while we were waiting to see the doctor, I read this Newsweek article about how people sort of make their own luck. I really buy into that idea. Almost every bad thing that's ever happened to me has resulted in something good --something I wouldn't have had or done if the bad thing hadn't happened.

Right now, I can't see the way out of this situation. I know it's there, though, because that's just the way things in my life have always worked. Maybe I'll write a book about it and get to be on Oprah. Maybe I'll become a spokesperson for people with FULFs everywhere. Maybe I'll develop some new sort of exercise that will sweep the nation.

Right now, though, I would settle for getting off of this couch and having a life again.