Sunday, March 30, 2014

Kids: The cold dixie cups of reality

There is one thing that has become totally clear to me through this experience and that is the facts that kids are awesome. I'm not referring to the perfect medicine they deliver of sloppy kisses, big bear hugs and the continuous supply of drawings that say "I love you Mom!" Those are are all amazing and cherished.  But I am referring to their blunt honesty. 

When I walk into a room, I can see the collective thought bubble form above the blank faces of adults. I feel their eyes gaze in wonder at my peculiar gait.  Then usually, before a parent, in sheer desperation, can dive in with a hand to cover their mouth, a clear, loud and young voice will say "HEY! Why do you walk so funny?"  The mortified parent acts as if I've been pelted with verbal rotten tomatoes. Frantically apologizing and shushing the inquisitive child. The reality is the way it feels, to be outright asked, is like a cool cloth to a feverish brow. It is a cold drink on a 102 day.  It is refreshing and welcome.  You see, I am aware that I walk funny. It isn't like for a moment I've momentarily forgotten that I strut.  When kids see me, they are just observing. They are taking notes. They just ask what everyone is thinking.  Kids are awesome

A couple weeks ago, in an attempt to give my kids some normalcy, we went to a movie. As we left, and I struggled and strutted through the mob of schlumping boots and blonde heads, my own son loudly announces "Hey Tucker! Did you know my mom can't walk good?"  He announced to God and everyone, in case anyone was wondering, that in fact his mom can't walk well. There was no judgment in this, just a statement of facts. Just a big bucket of reality that he threw into the air and let sprinkle down amongst the droves of kids at the cinema that day.  His declaration was met with a collective "Ok, cool, where are my Sour Patch Kids?" as they piled out into the gray parking lot.  Kids are awesome.

As I lay curled up on his mom's couch, my son's buddy, Xav, delivered me a scoopful of sweet honest love.  Xav and my eldest son are cut from the same quirky piece of God woven cloth. He approached me and said "I'm sorry... I'm sorry..... I'm sorry you walk funny." Taking his hand, I replied, "Thanks Bud! I'm sorry I walk funny too."  His concern for me was conveyed by what he sees: Me walking funny.  It was a big fat sweet 9 year old version of love and concern.  It melted my heart. Kids are awesome.

If imitation is the highest form of flattery, I am a rock star amongst 3 year olds.  I see them taking these giant big wobbly steps with their arms out, bobbling and giggling. If it is a particuarily bad day, where I may have some tongue clicking, I will hear my 3 year old walking around clicking his tongue, as he plays.  They just see me doing something different, something they find amusing and they mimic me. Taylor Swift has her red lipstick following, I have my goofy gait-tongue clicking posse.  Kids are awesome.



I've decided I'd just like to create a group of truth seekers, comprised of kids, to send out into the world to ask the questions we all wonder.  They can operate under the name Battalion Why.  To the Kardashian Clan, a blunt and honest: "Why are you famous?"  To the sandwhich making teen with a love for piercings: "Why do you have holes bigger than a tube of lip gloss in your ear lobes?" To the professional sports players: "Why do you make gazillions of dollars for playing a game?" To the Secretary of Defense: "Why don't you just bring our Moms and Dad's home?" To the weathermen: "Why do you get paid for your weather predictions?" And all these people would answer these questions, because they are just kids.

They ask with no judgment, just sheer curiousity. They note the obvious.  We are all curious, but as we age, we struggle with what we SHOULD ask, or wonder. We err on the side of never saying anything, or asking anything.  Trust me the person you are wondering about is fully aware they are walking funny, or have lost their hair, or are missing an arm, or is a walking pile of grief due to a death.  The person is fully aware, and they are aware YOU are aware.  But kids, they just notice, and they just ask. They are the tiny buckets of reality. And they are awesome.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


I lie awake again at night
Your jagged breaths punch the blackness
My cheek lies against curls that smell faintly of pizza and laughter
Your small back curled to my chest
The chest holding the heart you've heard from the other side
I curl your soft chubby fingers in my tired palm
So much uncertain 
so much unknown
But at this moment I know peace

Sunday, March 23, 2014

5 grams and about 14 pounds

I'm getting my last round of high dose steroids this morning. It has been a 1000mg of Solumedrol a day for the last 4 days.  It has me wired, with a metallic taste in my mouth and swollen. Swollen like one of those ticks you find under your dog's collar that has been hiding and feasting for 3 days. Yeah, that kind of swollen. The only other time I have felt like this is when my oldest decided he had no real reason to come out on his due date, and waited another 10 days.  I have about 14# of water weight on me.  Thank goodness for diuretics.

Is it helping? Meh.... I dunno. The spasticity (tightness) in my muscles is better, but my gait is still far from normal. It has started to sink in that the life I knew 3 weeks ago, has been altered. It has jumped the tracks, running parallel, and a lot slower.  Where before the direction was clear and mapped out, it now it rolls on tracks heading continously into fog.  

One of the hardest adjustments is the requirement of living day by day.  Activity by activity. Appointment by appointment.  Everything takes a lot longer and more planning. There is very little unconscious activity, except for talking with my hands. Thank God that hasn't been affected. :) I would have to hand in my Norwegian heritage card. 

So this is Life. The beautiful unpredictable beast. I sit in a quiet infusion center on a Sunday morning, while the boys eat pancakes and go to look at airplanes somewhere else in the city.  The daughter gets to be in all girl glory with stuffed kitties, red shoes and girlfriends back home.  And this is where I am meant to be. For reasons yet unrevealed, but I have faith......

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014

    What to do when life leaves you manure.

    Life hands me a lot of things. Most of the time they are blessings and beautiful things. Occasionally, the things come in the form of  Lice, or entire household vomitalooza.  Lets just call the latest surprise, my ongoing spinal cord issues, a figurative gigantic pile of manure on my doorstep. 


    I guess there are two ways to deal with a large steaming manure pile on your doorstep. The first way is to be livid about who would do this to ME? What did I do to deserve THIS? I can be angry and unbearable and just let it sit there. This of course will result in the oldest eventually walking through the large manure pile because he didn't see it, and tracking it through the entire house to find me, to tell me he thinks he has something on his boots. And it smells.  The dog would of course roll in it from head to toe, and she would stink. If I let it sit long enough, the youngest will make manure castles and manure moats and plow some manure fields.  The house will stink, and smell sour, and everyone would just blame the manure. And they would learn to resent the manure and blame whoever or whatever caused it to arrive.

    OR, I may let it sit there for a whlie. I'll be angry it arrived. Sad its so messy and everyone has to deal with it. Worried if it goes away, more will arrive when I'm not looking.  But eventually, with the help of some people, not afraid to get their hands dirty, we will move the manure. We will break ground and mix it into the earth.  We will knead the manure into the the promise of black dirt. And we will plant seeds. Lots of seeds and watch what good comes from all of it. Because something will, it always does.

    So while I wait for the frost to thaw and the snow to melt (or to come again, and then melt and come again and then melt) I am trying to find the positive to my perverbial manure pile, I've decided to share some of the "perks" of being given a stride that resembles a slow, high stepping strutting rooster-horse.  And if you read, and laugh, then I will have done my job and feel purpose!

    Parking. Trips to Target ususally resulted in the following choices; A) Park on the west side of building, but then wonder how you are ever going to get backed out of those spots. B) Park on the distant east end of the lot in the spots that made sense when the doors used to be where they were, and should have stayed, but make no sense to where the doors are now, or C) Park on the north end, where it would just be easier to go eat my weight in Cheddar Biscuits at Red Lobster across the street than go find my toilet paper.  With my temporary handicap tag (that surely confuses those who also see the 26.2 sticker on my car), I won't lie. Front row Rock Star parking is awesome.

    Speaking of Target, I am now able to use one of the dangerous motorized carts. Of course in typical fashion I manage to get the one with a wobbly wheel.  The basket on these carts holds exactly, 1 large pack of paper towels, one 24 pack of toliet paper, the movie Frozen and a large bag of peanut M&Ms. Do not stop, proceed to check out, save $230 you would normally spend, and watch the glee on husband's face that there were no woven baskets, ceramic chevron rabbits, Legos or "organizational" items purchased!

    I've found it nice that no one will allow me to walk and carry liquids. Coffee burns, wine stains, and soda bubbles over.  If I am alone, I resemble a toddler with a milk cup... a cup always only half full. It is pretty sweet to have my coffee brought to me.

    While it makes me kinda sad I can't carry my 40 pound, feels like a wiggly bag of cement toddler.... I can't carry my 40 pound, feels like a wiggly bag of cement toddler.

    Since almost every trip to Fargo somehow involves the Trifecta of Hardware: (Menards, Home Depot, and Fleet Farm), my aforementioned use of motorized carts has made these visits so much less painful. Don't get me wrong, I am a total Do It Yourselfer. But somehow in these stores EVERY aisle needs to be investigated, rebate items collected and prices compared. Now I can just toodle around, with a Moses effect on the crowds, driving and texting, doing drive-by grabs of pickled asparagus and night light bulbs, trying to avoid running into stacks of PVC pipe and bins of balls.  While those things turn on a dime, just maintain a forward motion.  No one likes the spotlight of a back up alarm just because you missed the aisle of orange circus peanuts and 12# bag of pistachios.

    One of my treatments is high dose IV steroids. If it doesn't help the walking, I am sure it is going to help the tendonitis I've had in my foot for a year, my achey hips I have had, my stiff neck and anything else that was hurting. It is also allowing me to be awake at 4am, like I've piggy-backed a case of Red Bull with a pot of coffee and allows great musings to write themselves in my head.

    I've discovered a lot of ups, to this down.  One of the biggest is just, despite the horrible stories in the media, the ones that can chip away at my faith in humanity, it is my discovery that really and truly most people care. They care and they love, and they give selflessly.  And they will be there from the smelly beginning to the beautiful end.


    Monday, March 17, 2014

    My Guide to Leggings

    As I was doing my daughter's laundry today, I realized there still may be some confusion about leggings. I created a flow chart to help with any confusion. I hope it has helped.

    Monday, March 3, 2014

    Chaos in wobbly motion

    This year for Lent I've given up fluid mobility. Well, actually, my brain has decided to give that up, and since I really liked being able to walk normally, and would find it a large sacrifice to give up normal ambulation, I'll just go along with my brain's decision. 

    You know life, that beautiful crazy unpredictable beast?  Well life plopped down in my lap this past week, grabbed my face with both hands, and said, "Have I got a SURPRISE for you!!"

    I've told the sequence of events no less than 2 gazillion times at this point, and just don't have it in me to repeat so I will give you the long and short.  What started Tuesday night as face spasms, like a tetany of the side of my mouth, has evolved and changed into a wonky Funky Chicken-like walk.   My ability to move steadily, effortlessly, and smoothly has decided to take a vacation, due to some yet to be diagnosed reason.  The sun seems to bright, the sound of silverwear being put on the table sounds like cymbals, and I find myself withdrawing from my own son's voice (which breaks my heart) because it sounds like he is shouting.  

    Anyone who is a Mom, knows that Moms are not allowed to get sick, much less removed from the helm of the household ship.  But life has sort of picked up the house, turned it upside down, shook all the players and pieces out, and we are now trying to figure out how things work again.

    My children's true colors have shown brightly through this experience. The youngest, the comedian just giggles and giggles when he sees me walk, because he thinks I am trying to be funny, and that I walk like Spud from Bob the Builder.

    The middle, our daughter, the one who is already far too concerned about what people think, said, "What if people see you walking and think 'Wow! She walks funny!' and make fun of you?" and My oldest, the tender-hearted of the pack, offers me a shoulder to help me walk to the bathroom.  Their unique responses to this has just made me smile.  

    Now should you find yourself, with your world turned upside down, I've compiled a list of people "must-haves" I've discovered you will need.  First you need really amazing people, strong people, people not afraid of a challenge to whom you will hand your children over to.  Managing them is A LOT of work, I know, I'm their mom and some days I just want to quit.  They have to manage playing taxi, checking homework, brushing teeth, building train tracks and all those important daily activities of childhood.  People you trust with your whole heart to care for your minions. These people are usually called grandparents.

    You need family and friends.  Like apples, they come in all varieties. These are the varieties which I suggest you stock in your crisis pantry.   Friends that want to make you food.  Me wielding a knife to prepare a meal is probably not the wisest decision right now, since I'd probably be like the Muppet Swedish chef,  so friends that bring food are fabulous.  
     Next, you really can't have to many of this variety.  Acutally the more, the better.  Family and friends with faith, who will offer prayers, good vibes, and positive thoughts up on your behalf. There is no "too much of a good thing" when it comes to these friends.

    Make sure you have at least one friend that is totally fine with a comfortable silence. The kind that will just sit on your couch and look at you, let you look at them and nothing has to be said.  They will just curl up next to you and let you be. Because there are some moments you'll find you don't know what else to do, but be.

    You need at least one (but more are better) really funny, sarcastic, slighly warped people who will send you funny texts, emails and Facebook messages to make you laugh.  
    They will bring you coffee and celebrity gossip magazines.  And, you need a couple, maybe two or three, who will let you just say some bad words because you just need to. Because they know you are angry, mad, scared, confused and/or hurting and sometimes you just need to let out a string of profanities. And they will just let you, without judgement.

    I'm sure there are many more, but lastly, this person is probably the most important. You need a rock, someone who will hold your hand because you literally need it.  He will show strength despite his own fears.  He will fill you with reassuring words and soft kisses on your head. He will advocate for you and protect you.  He will love you and make you believe it will not always be this way.  For me, this person is called Husband.

    Lent is long. 40 days.  Most years I hope and pray that I can make my sacrifice last all 40.  This year I'm really hoping I fall short.