A Want a New Drug

Wed, March 27

I thought I would add an update on Zach’s journey with arthritis. About two months ago the doctor recommended increasing the dosage of the methotrexate (once a week scary drug) to 8 tablets rather than 6. The swelling in his wrist and thumb had definitely gotten better, but it wasn’t “perfect” yet so she wanted to try this. Meanwhile Zach has been doing well. He continues to be great about taking his medications with no side effects and no complaining! Also, he does not seem to be limited with activity at all which I’m so thankful for.

So cut to this most recent check-up appointment this past Wednesday. As I suspected the doctor is still not totally happy with how his wrist is progressing. Since we have maxed out on the amount of methotrexate that Zach can take she recommended that we try Humira. Ugh. This drug is a tad scarier than the methotrexate and has multiple serious side effects including lymphoma. The doctor assured us that since 1995 she has prescribed the drug to many kids and she has only had one child who has developed lymphoma. My first reaction is – BUT THAT IS ONE CHILD TOO MANY!!!! We don’t really have a choice here, however. If we continue to just use the methotrexate there is a chance for bone damage in Z’s wrist and thumb. We just can’t do that. So, we start on this new adventure with Humira. Oh, and did I mention it has to be injected??!! At home?? By us?? (And by us, I mean Mike!). I mean, I COULD probably do it, but it freaks me out putting a needle in my child! Mike is probably the better bet for not only staying calm, but getting it right!

The nurse had us practice with an empty syringe on a pillow like thing. (My favorite part of the practice session was when the nurse asked us if we were familiar with using syringes. My smart-ass mind immediately wanted to say, “yeah back in my heroin days I got really good at it!” but I refrained and just said, “no”). The injection has to go into either his thigh or his stomach. Guess which one he prefers?! The other administration option is a pen. The advantage of the pen is that you don’t see the needle (that would be my choice!!), but you don’t have control of how fast or slow the the medicine goes in – you just have to watch the little window. On the other hand with the syringe you see the needle, but you can control how fast or slow the medicine goes in. The weird complication with the syringe is that you have to put it in at a 45 degree angle and pull the plunger back first. If blood gets in the syringe you can’t use it and you have to start over. Now, do you see why Mike should be the nurse?! Yeah, I’m not good with tools of any sort and that is too much pressure! Apparently the medicine stings going in (gulp). After practicing both options, Zach chose the syringe method. He actually got a kick out of the whole thing. Yeah, it is fun to play with when it is not actually going in your skin!! This medicine is stored in the refrigerator and we were instructed to leave it on the counter for 20 minutes to warm up before using. The one good thing about this whole thing is that he only has to take it every other week so that is good! He keeps taking all of his other medicines too. We will probably start the Humira this weekend just as long as all the insurance stuff goes through and Zach’s TB test is negative!

I was remarkably calm and unemotional during this appointment and hearing this news. I’m not sure why. Well, Zach and I could not stop laughing at the funny habit the student doctor kept doing in the room (we are so bad!), so that might have been why. I think at this point we just trust in our doctor that we are doing the right thing and have faith that it will eventually heal my little duder.

Why I write.

The other day I found a really cool website filled with creative writing prompts. I decided that I want to devote more consistent energy to writing and that I’d pick one of these every now and then just for fun. This one struck me as a great place to start since it deals with writing itself.

Tell us the story of when you first realized that you needed to be a writer. (Did it happen when you were young? Was it after you read a particular book?

So it all started in 2nd grade when I was put into a special group of kids who liked to write stories. I wrote a story about a mouse who was granted three wishes. I vaguely remember the story, but I do remember how good it felt to feel like I was good at something. Then throughout elementary school I kept a journal sporadically. In high school I started writing poetry and kept a journal frequently. I poured out my teenage angst in my journal many times late at night in my blue Laura Ashley bedroom. I always felt better after writing and I somehow always felt more creative when I was in a darker, depressed mood (used that teenage angst to be creative!). During this time I remember starting to really enjoy my English classes more and more, especially the writing. Then in college I minored in Communications because I loved reading literature, analyzing it and then discussing it in class. I loved being part of the honor’s program because we had lots of classes like this. Bring on the writing, I thought! I was actually sad as I was writing my last “blue book” final exam of my college career in American Literature (okay, yes part of that was that I really loved college in general and was sad about graduating, but still!).

In my adult life (before my blog) I have found that when something either awesome or awful happens it eventually finds its way onto paper. Usually it has to sit and percolate for awhile, but once I get inspired somehow and/or the planets all align just right, I find a piece of paper or my computer and it just kinda flows out of me. When I get that inspiration I’m driven to get it written down until it feels finished. It does not matter what else is going on around me (kinda like now), but I just have to write until I don’t have to write anymore. It is very strange and really cool too.

And now with my blog (started in 2010) it has been so fun to write pretty regularly. I feel lost when I don’t have something to track or blog about. I miss it when I don’t do it. I feel more connected with myself when I can express myself through words. Writing is very personal for me. It is like I leave a part of myself on the page every time. I feel so good when I hear that my words have moved someone in some way…touched them, inspired them, or made them laugh. I do feel that I am better than the average bear at using words to express myself. It is just part of who I am. I write. I don’t get paid for it and maybe never will, but I will always write. For me.

Does size matter?

March 20, 2013

So I have a big dog. Henry is a mastiff/lab/great dane mix who weighs about 95 pounds. We know he’s a big dog. My parents know he is a big dog. Zachary’s friends also know he is a big dog. As a matter of fact, anyone who regularly comes to the door knows that Henry is a big dog. The only one who does not realize Henry is a big dog…is Henry. He has a body image problem. You may remember the line, “fat man in a little coat” made famous in the movie Tommy Boy. Well, this dog is a little dog in a big dog body. He is in complete denial of his gargantuan stature! We have had Henry for about 2 years now and we have observed many behavioral characteristics over that time which provide evidence about Henry’s psychological condition.

1. He thinks he is a lap dog.
This is a big problem. When we curl up on the couch at night Henry immediately jumps up too (yeah, the “no dog on the furniture” rule was out the window within Henry’s second week with us!) But he doesn’t sit down next to us…oh no. He sits or, or more accurately, full-out lays on top of us on the couch! Somehow this is comfortable for him. It does not seem to matter what position his front legs are in in relation to his back legs or his head. As long as he is making physical contact on top of you (most likely his “elbows” are pressing right onto your bladder), he is fine and dandy! Then he nuzzles his head underneath your arm somewhere and within seconds he is asleep. Now I will admit at times this is nice. Henry is nice and warm and on some of those cold winter nights he is more efficient than any blanket around our house. But other times it just does not work out well. For instance, many times there is no room for any other thing on your lap besides the beast. Book or laptop is nudged aside deliberately by a cold, wet nose as if to say, “hey, pay attention to me! I need to get comfortable on you so I can nap!”

This lap dog delusion is also demonstrated at nighttime. After spending most of the night sleeping with Zach is his bed, Henry often comes into our bedroom in the early morning, jumps up and curls up right in my spot while I’m in the bathroom. When I come back to bed to find a furry ball right by my pillow he looks up as if to say, “What, I’m a small dog?!”

2. He wines like a baby.
Henry is very vocal. When he sees the neighbor dog outside or wants to go outside to see Mike in the garage (heaven forbid he is away from daddy for any long period of time) he wines like a little, bitty, puppy dog. It is a long drawn out wine that totally sounds like a two-year-old toddler wining because they have been told “no” at Target or something. He also breaks out this wine at weird times just to get attention. For example, we will be eating dinner in the kitchen while Henry is in the family room with his leg propped up on the couch like an Ohio State super fan waiting for the game to start, and then this pathetic wine starts to emanate from the room. It is as if Henry is saying, “hey, yo people, my dinner is over…time to come in here and turn on the boob tube so I can lay on you! Now assume the position” But of course the wine is not that assertive.

3. He has a baby woof.
Now if the situation does not get resolved to Henry’s liking, the little baby wine is followed by a baby woof pretty quickly. You would think he would just dig down deep and let out the big dog bark right away. Don’t get me wrong – he does have a big dog bark, but only uses it when he is absolutely desperate. It is on reserve. No, usually he just relies on his baby woof to make his voice heard.

So there you have it. Three different behaviors that clearly document that my large dog has a body image problem. Don’t even get me started on how most of the time he does not even know that he is a dog. That is a blog entry for another day.

Sticker Shock

March 4, 2013

My joy and excitement quickly turned to anxiety when I realized I would lose my stickers. Yes, I was gaining a new car, bigger and fully loaded with all of the creature comforts that I wanted, but didn’t really need like seat warmers, dual temperature control, sunroof, navigation system. You know, the basics. But in return for the glamorous purchase of my new sweet ride came the trade in deal of my little Honda Fit: the cute, little, sporty, loud, semi-comfortable car that I’ve driven for the past 4 or 5 years. I get sentimental when it comes to giving things up. Old cars, old houses, old jobs…okay even sometimes old clothes make me feel sad and anxious having to give them up. But this time the giving up was more than just the car…it was MY STICKERS!!

Let me explain. Over the years I have collected, actually earned, a number of racing/running stickers that I proudly displayed on the rear window of my little car. The first one in the collection was the “Swim/Bike/Run” sticker from the women’s triathlon I did in September of 2010 (I think). Next came the 13.1 sticker from the Cleveland Half Marathon (my first) that I ran in May 2011. Then the coveted 26.2 sticker from the Akron Marathon (Full) that I ran in September 2011. And last, but not least perhaps my favorite one of the bunch…”Toenails are for sissies” that I bought at a marathon expo (I gradually lost 8 toenails post running the very hilly Akron marathon). As panic set in and my anticipated loss became more real, I looked up at my husband and blurted out,

“Oh, no, what about my stickers?!”

He tried to reassure me by saying, “Honey, I’m sure I can order you the same stickers again online if you want.”

The same stickers, I thought to myself. Is he insane? They won’t be the same stickers! They won’t be THESE stickers – the actual ones I earned! Sure, I probably could get the same stickers again, but they wouldn’t be the originals – the ones that are all dirty and dog-eared from weather and wear on my car, much like my body was after doing those races. No, it would just not be the same.

Sensing that the new car deal might suddenly go south with this dramatic tension happening, the salesperson got in on the situation suggesting they could try to salvage them by removing them with a razor blade. They wouldn’t be able to stick on the new car, but I could still just keep them. (You know keep them with the other stuff I hoard, I mean have, from my race experiences: the stack of bibs on my dresser and the medals still hanging from my mirror. I keep meaning to put together a commemorative display for this stuff, but alas time alludes me). For a split second I actually entertained the idea of the “crazy razor blade salvage expedition”, which is what I would have called it had we gone through with it. However, I came to my senses. We had already been there for like a billion hours, so I take a breath and said,

“No, that’s okay. I’ll just take a picture of them.”

So I trotted out with my phone to take a final look at my accomplishments in sticker form and take my picture.

As I checked to make sure that the picture turned out I realized that I just needed to let the stickers go. A new car awaited me all clean and ready for me to start again.

It dawned on me that this situation illustrates how I struggle with releasing the past in my life. It is difficult for us to release the past, even when it is good. But, if we never release the past we cannot be open to new opportunities in the future. Races were run, celebrations were completed, and stickers were stuck. But I didn’t want to get stuck in the past like those stickers were stuck for good on my car. My growth would be limited if I stayed stuck in remembering past accomplishments or good times. It was hard to let them go, but it felt good too. Making space for a clean slate of opportunities to come my way on my car and/or in my life.

As I was saying goodbye to my Honda Fit, I remembered that there was one more sticker on the back that I had forgotten about. But ah-ha it was a magnet instead and it said “Namaste” on it.

“Hey, I can keep my Namaste magnet! “I proclaimed, my spirit lifting.

Yes, even with all this space clearing and making room for growth, perhaps there is still room to save a special place for some of my past after all. Even if it is faded and dirty.

Fruit Fast Cleanse – Relfection

Sun, March 3

Whew! So I made it to the other side of the fruit cleanse! Yes! I say that, but it really was not that difficult at all. As I look back over the three days the first day was definitely the hardest – getting used to eating only fruit, and feeling a bit fatigued and just out of sorts. But by the evening of the first day I felt good and then just continued to feel great through yesterday and even this morning. Oh, total weight loss was just over 6 pounds (for those who are curious), but again NOT a weight loss regimen!!!! Because I am all about reflection, I thought I would share my observations and the things that I learned about food and myself over the past three days:

1. A calorie does not equal a calorie.
I pretty much ate the same amount of calories during each day of the cleanse as I normally do, but I felt more energy and did not feel any fatigue. I would have thought that just eating fruit I would feel nausea or would not have the energy to do the things I normally do. Plus I lost weight eating the same amount of calories and doing the same amount of activity as I normally do so that illustrates that maybe a calorie is NOT a calorie. Also, as I mentioned in my other blog posts, I did not wake up hungry as has been my pattern my entire life Fri, Sat or today. Not that there is anything wrong with your body being hungry – that is what it is supposed to do. It was just interesting that the foods I had eaten the day/night before on the fast (fruits) kept be me more satiated than my normal diet does. Hmm.

2. Protein is over-rated
I thought for sure I would need and miss protein. As a pretty active person I always thought that protein is just crucial to your body, especially to maintain a regular activity level. And I am not saying that it is not a crucial part of your diet – it definitely is! However, I was amazed at how I was able to function at a high level still without it for 3 days (save for about 1/4 cup of pistachios). My power yoga class (90 minutes) was pretty awesome yesterday with no protein except for whatever is natually occuring in fruit?

3. Caffeine is the devil
Okay, I think I already knew this, but this fast just confirmed that caffeine really does not do me any favors. I didn’t quit it during the fast, but cut it down to about half of what I normally drank (and skipped the half-n-half). Usually by mid morning (after I have finished my coffee) I start feeling hunger, but also a little queasiness or anxiousness. That is the time I grab a little snack (usually hummus and carrots) and I feel better and it gets me through lunch. I feel like it “soaks up the caffeine”. Well, during this fast I did not get that queasy feeling as much at that same time. I had cut the coffee down, but I had also not eaten wheat in the morning like I usually do. Hmmm – interesting, maybe wheat is the culprit too??

4. Sugar
I noticed that my body reacted differently to food with varying sugar levels. Sometimes I needed something more sweet, but sometimes I needed something more starchy. It is also interesting just being aware of what you are eating and how it affects your body. I hope I can continue that awareness and eat in accordance to what my body needs rather than just out of habit.

5. It is good to break up your routine
It felt good to shed habits and eat differently for a few days. It took the stress out of figuring out what to eat or cook. Obviously this is better just for the short term because I actually like to cook, but it felt good to take a break from my habitual foods that I eat (like toast and almond butter everyday).

6. Fruit comes in all shapes and sizes – just like us!
I loved being able to include avocado and tomato into my eating. Using the definition of fruit that includes food that has seeds helped to counteract the really sweet fruit that is out there.

Overall I’m glad I did the fruit cleanse. I feel like it is something to check off the list. I know I can do it and I learned a lot from the experience. But I’m happy to go back to my regular healthy diet a little bit wiser and more aware. Last night as I ate my baked apple with cinnamon, honey and raisins I got a little sad about the fact that the fast was ending. Oh, the last day for my baked apple snack! Then I realize, I can still eat fruit as a snack! Duh. I mean I eat fruit during the day, but seldom will eat it as an evening snack. Hopefully I’ll choose it more often rather than immediately grabbing for pretzels or another wheat carb. Hey, maybe I’ll wake up NOT hungry more often!

Fruit Fast Cleanse – Day 3

Sat, March 2

Well, the third day is almost complete! I have felt great all day today – lots of energy – more than normal on a Saturday for sure. I did a 90 minute power yoga class this morning and felt really good doing it! I woke up NOT hungry again today which was so interesting. I have lost over 6 pounds as of this morning which is crazy. I’ll do one more weigh in tomorrow to see how much I lost during the entire 3 days. I limited my coffee again (about 1/2 cup) which helped to minimize feeling more hungry and anxious during the morning. Today was the day I probably felt the best on the cleanse – I basically forgot that I was doing it.

Here is what I ate today:

1 banana
1 clementine
1/2 cup black coffee

Large all-fruit smoothie

2 plantains
1 cup blueberries

1 avocado
1/2 tomato
1 clementine
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
1 baked apple with honey

Practiced for 90 minute power class

I’ll do one more blog entry tomorrow with my final thoughts on the blog.

Fruit Fast Cleanse – Day 2

Fri, March 1

Well, Day 2 is almost complete and I still feel amazingly good! I was blown away this morning when I woke up NOT hungry. That was something notable for me because I always, always wake up starving in the morning. I was not surprised that I was down a couple of pounds this morning from yesterday morning – probably water weight. Again, I’m not after a weight loss here…just the experience. I was also amazed at how satiated I felt all day. I mean I would have thought by just eating fruit I would be starvin marvin, but not the case at all. I think partly because I’ve been eating the same amount of calories that I have been all along (tracking on my fitness pal), but also because of the staying power of fruit. I did not have any protein today and didn’t feel like I missed it. Of course today had to be the day for “National Peanut Butter Lovers Day” and thanks to Facebook I was very aware of that. I love peanut butter, or better yet, almond butter. Let’s just say I could write the peanut butter lover’s diet! Anyway, I digress.

Again today I didn’t eat all the food that I packed for lunch and snacks. Speaking of food, here is what I ate today:

Smoothie with one banana and one coconut water (chocolate flavored)
2 cuties (clementines)
Black coffee (about 1/2 of a cup)

One avocado mixed with about 3 tomato slices and a squirt of lime juice
1/2 of a cucumber to scoop my “guac”

1 cup of red grapes

2 plantains
1/4 cup raisins

I may have another microwave “baked” apple again tonight if I’m hungry. I did not practice or run today because I had a lunch meeting (to share my pics from Guatemala – holla!)

My observations from today are:
1. I’m amazed at how much I feel pretty good doing this regimen. Today I have not felt the tiredness I felt yesterday. I have had no trouble concentrating at work either.
2. As weird as it sounds I have not been that focused on food. Having a strict regimen like this takes the guesswork out of it (and the stress a little bit too I guess). I haven’t felt deprived (which was a HUGE concern for me about this) and haven’t really missed anything. I thought I might miss bread, but not yet! Granted it has only been 2 days, but still!
3. I have noticed the difference in how I feel eating fruit of varying levels of sweetness. For example, I felt better (more satiated) after eating fruits that were less sweet (e.g. avocado and tomato vs. red grapes). It is also interesting how plantains can transform into two totally different tasting foods depending on how ripe they are. Last night they were more ripe and tasted sweet like applesauce, like they did in Guatemala. I prefer them that way, but tonight the ones I made for dinner were not as ripe and tasted more like a potato – still really good with the heft of a sweet potato. If you tasted them side by side, you might never know they were the same fruit!
These little things amaze me! Maybe I’m getting more clarity afterall during this fast.