8.27.2014

DEEP THOUGHTS...

There is a convergence of deep thoughts occurring within me right now.  Internet, I deliver them to you thusly:

1.  Plenty of words have been written about raising toddlers.  Everyone has a trick or a method that they swear is the end all, be all.  Today I had an epiphany that was so obvious, it borders on insulting, but here you go:  toddlers (and really, people of all ages) simply need all of your time, your full attention, your eyeballs on their person every second of the day, your A game, and then some on top of that.  When and if you can deliver the aforementioned, you will be handsomely rewarded with good behavior.  After a few exasperating days of parental fail earlier this week, I decided to scrap all of my well-researched methods, and start back at square one.  Forget everything I've read, and just do something my mom would do.  Get on the floor, look him in the eyes.  Engage him, as opposed to entertain him.  Sometimes I have such high expectations for myself that I lose sight of the forest for the trees.  For instance, I schedule these intricately planned days of adventure, when all he really wants to do is hang out and push his matchbox cars up and down my leg as if I were a living hilly race track.  And so, I am a race track.    

2.  The new Taylor Swift song is, like all Taylor Swift songs, blessed/cursed with such a catchy hook, that no matter how many times you have heard her isolated vocals, you can't stop yourself from singing it.  Always at odd times, too, like when you are stepping up to the bench to argue a motion and the only words that want to exit your mouth are, "Players gonna play play play play play play ..."  I am not knocking Taylor Swift.  There is a place for Taylor Swift in this world, and I am glad she is in it.  But, speaking strictly as a musician, I have these irrational moments when, as my son pushes matchbox cars up the race track that is my leg, I ask, how come she is the darling of pop and not me.  I know, right?!  Oh, and don't even tell me it is because she has the exquisite form of a gazelle and the face of an angel.  Sigh.  T. Swift.  Why must you write such catchy, catchy tunes?!

I told you these were deep thoughts.  Onward...

3.  I have finally discovered that using base coat and top coat on a manicure is a beneficial practice.  You probably knew this already.  You, with your shiny manicure that neither chips nor yellows your fingernails.  But I was not so advanced until today.  Unless I had someone else do it for me, I sought instant nail color gratification and just slapped on any old color of my choice.  No base, no top.  "Why can't I ever make my nails look like a professional manicure?" I thought, whilst unfairly blaming my left hand for a shoddy paint job.  Well, I take it all back.  Base coats and top coats are TOTALLY WORTH IT.  You should see how shiny my "devil's advocate" colored nails are right now.  And clicky.  Very clicky on the keys.

4.  Today also marked the first time that I saw a real live human being wearing one of those gold temporary tattoos in public.  Do you know the ones?  I have seen them floating around Pinterest for awhile now, usually accompanied by amazing midi rings and flowy kaftans.  I saw a woman wearing a gold geometric pattern on her wrist today, and, because I am inexplicably entranced by sparkly things, I almost went to the nearest OfficeMax, got a metallic sharpie, and made one of my own.  But no one wants a lawyer approaching the bench who is singing Taylor Swift and wearing a homemade gold temporary tattoo.      

5.  Finally, please enjoy some unrelated photos I took today, of the little things you must get down on your hands and knees to see, but are infinitely rewarding if you take the time to stop and look.



8.26.2014

ALMOST FIVE MONTHS - AN UPDATE

Here is a realistic look at what (almost) five months looks like, post bariatric surgery:

DIET

Though each day I become more accustomed to my new food plan, it is still a major departure from what I ate before surgery.  You would think that a person could just learn the new thing and be done with it, but eating is a fundamental part of life.  You'd be surprised (or maybe not) how much changes when you change what you eat.  I'm not saying it's all bad, even.  It's just a big change.

I eat six or seven small, protein-rich meals per day.  I drink way too much coffee lately, and though it upsets my stomach, it's better than the alternative, which is feeling depleted and low on sugar.  I am strictly sugar free these days - not even in my coffee.  No cookies, candy, sweetened cereal, soda, etc.  Sugar gives me a bad reaction that I want to avoid if at all possible.  I chew a lot of sugar-free gum to curb sugar cravings.  I feel generally low on energy, as in, I want to eat more but then I get sick.  Which brings me to quantity.

Anything in a large quantity - food or liquid - makes me throw up.  Gross, TMI, yes.  It's not like, projectile vomit.  More like whatever it is has nowhere to go, and gradually just comes back up.  You're welcome for that fun visual.  I feel just as awesome about it, believe me... :/

The other major problem food is raw vegetables.  I can tolerate salad leaves so long as they are paired with protein-rich salad dressing, such as ranch.  Not sure why that seems to help, but it does.

Whole grain breads, cheeses, and cooked/pureed vegetables are okay.  Fried things are not okay.  Anything that you get at a fast food restaurant is not okay.

Each day is an exercise in repeating a lot of the bland boring foods that I know will work, and introducing a few new things here and there.  Preferably NOT before I have to be in court or play a show.  I definitely "cheat" from time to time, and end up paying for it later.  I'm getting used to it.

PHYSICAL

My scar was healing quite nicely for a few months.  Then, I had to get all active again, and I am... CRAP.  Okay, I am just going to get to the meat of this post here.  Pardon the stream of consciousness as it occurs...

I think I have a couple hernias along the incision.

(Pause.  This is freaking me out beyond belief right now.  In fact this is why I even started writing this long-winded post tonight when I should probably be in bed.  Read on at your own risk).

I was warned that strenuous exercise or heavy lifting could result in hernias.  I was pretty good for the first month at least.  But, life calls!  I have two little ones, and am usually a pretty active person!  Life does not wait for me!  And so, perhaps stupidly, I have gone headstrong into summer, feeling like a super person because I got this second chance and all...

Now I have these two hard lumps along the incision line.  When I turn and bend, they hurt.  Duh, I know the internet is not a doctor and I'm not looking for an online diagnosis/treatment.  Of course I am communicating with the powers that be and dealing with this like a somewhat responsible adult.

But I am not happy about this.  The thought of another surgery is enough to make me run for the hills.

Five months out - I'll be honest with you, my entire midsection is still in pain.  It's not the "worse than labor" pain I had the first weeks after surgery, but it is a dull pain that does not go away.  Talking to fellow bariatric surgery comrades in forums here and there, I have learned that I should be patient... abdominal surgery takes a while to heal fully.  You might be healed, but feel off for a long time after.  I feel off.  Most days I just ignore it (warrior princess rawwwrrr... or something) because it is 1,000,000 times better than the alternative: living with the tumor.  Still.  Damn.  One day without pain would be cool.

(END WHINE SESSION).

EMOTIONAL/MENTAL

I was super upbeat when I got home from the hospital, mainly because anything compared to the hospital is heaven!  I try to retain this perspective, but, like anyone, my life has any number of petty annoyances like kids not napping, work being due, phone calls needing returning, etc.  I try my best to remember that these annoyances are GIFTS meaning that I am still alive and able to do just about everything I've always wanted to do.

I am sad sometimes, but the happiness of surviving always, always outweighs any negative thing I might be feeling.  Feelings pass and the overriding sentiment is gratitude.

The specter of October's scan looms in the not-so-distant future.  It will be whatever it will be, and I will live with that.  As school nears for the kids, and October nears for me, I want to stretch out the last bits of this wonderful summer.  Hang onto it and enjoy as best as I can.

But, fall is looking pretty promising, too.

A bee I saw on my walk

Modeling a rainbow loom creation that my sweet daughter made for me

8.25.2014

BLOCK PARTY


They call us the Second City, but none of us seem to mind.  Especially on a hot summer day when the Chicago firemen come to your block party.  They open a hydrant while the kids run through the streets, sticky popsicle hands reaching for the cool water, laughter in the air.

I have a lot of favorites.  But the block party might really be my favorite day.  For one long, languid Saturday, all we do is sit on front porches, share with neighbors, and let our kids loose on a barricaded portion of the street we call "ours."  For one day, time stops and the only pressure we feel is that of the annual egg toss contest.

The block party is unique to Chicago.  I am sure there are great parties that happen to occur on blocks elsewhere, but the Chicago block party is a city-sanctioned tradition you have to see to believe.  Ours begins around noon and doesn't end until the movie is over, about midnight.  A movie?  Yes.  After all the contests have ended, we set up a screen and projector right in the middle of the street.  Chairs are lined up in a makeshift theater, and the night ends watching a show under the stars with neighbors.  Last night's film was "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."  I couldn't help but become emotional as the cinematic music swelled and my son started drifting to sleep in my lap, his played-out, dirty little feet curled together like they used to when he was a baby.  The movie revolves around a quote, ostensibly Life magazine's motto:

"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.  That is the purpose of life."

You just spent ten hours watching your children do nothing but be childlike, as they hula-hooped, scootered, dodged water balloons, played musical chairs.  You shared food and wine with neighbors and listened to Elvis blaring on a sound system.  "...draw closer, to find each other, and to feel."  

My health situation has made me feel, at the very least, close to people.  I feel closer to those in my immediate circles, closer to my husband and kids, closer to family and friends.  But also closer to those who aren't necessarily in my life - strangers who share my diagnosis, caregivers, people who spend time in a hospital and do not have a support system, doctors, nurses, parents.  I feel closer to my friends who suffer heartbreak or loss.  While I have never had a hard time feeling compassion, the difference is that now I am more inclined to act upon it.

"Oh, that so-and-so.  She is a strong woman, she doesn't need me to encourage her today..."  But I find myself offering the encouragement anyway.  Offering a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.  The truth is that we are all strong, but we still need each other.  It feels good to find each other, and to feel.  That is the purpose of life.

That, and winning the cake in musical chairs.