Learning To Function With One Hand

(Apologies in advance if there are any typos in this post. I’m typing with one hand. )

Confession: I am not a good sick/injured person. I don’t like being cooped up in the house. And I really don’t like not having the use of my right arm.

I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in early August and while I know its not forever, cabin fever has definitely set in. Right now, my movements are very restricted: The only approved way of moving my shoulder is to be standing, bend at the waist, and let my arm slowly hang away from my body. That’s it. And now you know how I get dressed every day: Put sleeve on bad arm, bend, pull it up, pull over my head, insert good hand, and SLOWLY adjust said shirt.

Bras?  The only ones I can wear are strapless or bandeau tops. Although my favorite so far is the tank top with a shelf bra. So. Much. Easier.

My sling is gigantic. It even has its own pillow to keep my arm away from my body. I also can’t drive for another week, and when I do, it can only be for short trips and I have to use my left hand for everything. (Translation: I’ve been cooped up in my house for nearly six weeks! And most of that time was spent alone. HELP ME.)

So … life has been very small recently. And slow.

Of Cavities And Picky Eaters

The boy is the picky eater in our house. “I want macaroni and cheese for dinner!” he’ll proclaim, but when it is placed in front of him in all its day-glow orange glory, he’ll take one bite (maybe) then say “I’m done.”

Excuse me? Baking powder? A sphincter says what?!

It’s not like I’m putting overcooked brussels sprouts and canned ham in front of the kid. This is macaroni and cheese. The stuff of childhood. And I have to buy the blue box, because he refuses to eat the “natural” kind.

The orange stuff.

The orange stuff.

Meanwhile, the girl child has polished off her portion, has mowed through her sliced fruit, her sugar snap peas with hummus (one of her favorite snacks), and is munching on a slice of turkey breast.

“I eating Mama,” she’ll say. “I listening!”

“I know baby,” I’ll say, then turn back to the stone-faced 4-year-old. “You have to eat FIVE bites of macaroni and cheese. BIG ONES. And all your fruit.”

For those keeping score, five big bites is to compensate for him specifically requesting said macaroni and cheese. The fruit is to keep ze bowels moving. Because lordy, if he gets stopped up that’s a good THREE days of mineral oil and eventually stool softener to get things moving again.

TMI? Sorry. Welcome to my world.

So dinner is basically a Mexican standoff. A gunfight at noon. Whathaveyou. We sit and stare at each other until he eats. It is SO much fun. Oh, and he STILL doesn’t eat meat. It baffles the mind.

"You will eat your dinner!"

“You will eat your dinner!”

Meanwhile, his sister has cleaned her plate and gets to hop down and watch a movie of her choice. Even if it’s his turn to pick. And if he gets upset, usually she’ll say something along the lines of: “Just eat, Sean. You taking too long.”

But why the long, drawn-out process? Why not just say “fine” and let him be done? Well, Internet, I’ve tried that too. What happens then is that when its time to get into pajamas and get ready for bed: He’s starving. SO HUNGRY. But now my food is cold! I want cereal! With milk! But I’m still hungry! I don’t want to go to bed! and  WAAAAAAAAAAH.

So we struggle. Daily. And I fantasize about scientists creating a pill that gets him all his nutritional needs and fills his belly. But then I’d have to figure out a way to get him to eat it daily. (Back to square one.)

Meanwhile …

The shortcake has cavities. Yes, plural.  On her back molars. The dentist says part of it is because her mouth is so little and that her teeth are very close together.

But if we’re honest with ourselves, its because of the fruit snacks, raisins, and goldfish — all of which she loves — and all of which stick to the teeth and spread their sticky, sweet, cavity-inducing selves all over the enamel. As a result, I have hidden the rest of our fruit snacks and they won’t be making any more appearances. (Also? I got tired of the picky eater trying to fill himself up with these. Fruit snacks do not a meal make.)

Sugar-filled cavity bombs!

Mmmmm … sugar-filled cavity bombs!

I’ve replaced the kid-height snacks with Z bars, granola bars, boxes of raisins (they’re healthy, we just need to be more cognizant of how many she eats), applesauce packets, and snack-size bags of popcorn and “better” crackers. In the fridge, I’m going to make small bags of carrot sticks and sugar snap peas. So far, the girl is loving it. She ate 2 bags of popcorn (about 1/4 cup popped per bag) and a bag of crackers yesterday. The boy? Not so much. He survived on blueberry shredded wheat. Which is fine by me, because hell0 — FIBER.

We took her to the pediatric dentist on Friday for her fillings. Yes, we. Because of the medication they give the kids, two adults are required to be there to ensure nothing bad happens to the kid on the drive home. Like falling asleep and flopping forward and cutting off their air supply and dying. Seriously. So … I wasn’t worried AT ALL.

First off, the girl handled the whole thing like a pro. The only time she cried was after the procedure was over and the dentist turned her movie off before the song was over. That caused sobbing. But aside from that? She was a boss.

And I’ve got the slideshow to prove it.

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And a video. To show just how loopy she was. (BTW, she didn’t lose her footing. She straight up almost fell over.)

Life, Interrupted

I seem to be unable to put an entire cohesive post together, so think of this as expanded bullet points.

If I were a car, I’d be a lemon

I had shoulder surgery when I was 19 years old. It was an old sports injury, the doctors had shaved the interior of my shoulder socket to prevent grinding and shrank my shoulder muscles so my shoulder would stay in the socket. I thought I was done with that issue.

Except that for the past five years or so, my shoulder would slip out of the socket once a year. Until a couple of months ago, it was only a little slip and I was able to put it back in the socket by myself without incident. Kinda like the end of this clip, except I don’t slam it against a wall, I lean and gently twist and nudge downward:

Sorry for that.

Anyway — in late March, my shoulder FULLY slipped out of the socket, prompting an ER appointment after there was lingering pain after I got it back in the socket. After sending me home with a sling after a round of X-rays, I was referred to a shoulder specialist. He’s ordered an MRI, but at my appointment last week while he was assessing my arm, an offhand comment he made really caught my attention: “You have to think about how you move your arm.” It’s true. He’d tell me to reach above my head as if trying to get something off a high shelf, and I’d pause, rotating my shoulder and arm, trying to find the correct angle. I never even realized I was doing it.

He also commented on my limited range of motion. He called it “significant to severe” in its limitation. His bet (he’s 99% sure) is that I have a lateral tear, which the MRI will likely confirm, because this guy was GOOD. And once it’s confirmed, I’ll be having surgery on my shoulder. AGAIN. To repair the tear and to “laser” my shoulder muscles to shrink them again. In the meantime, I’m blowing through my supply of Aleve and Motrin with ridiculous rapidity.

Stress Management = messy house

For awhile, I was staying up to about 1 a.m. daily, trying to stay on top of cleaning the house. I was getting less than 5 hours of sleep and essentially burning myself out. My “to do” list was so long, ever growing, that I actually considered getting some no doze just so I could get ahead. That list, and my daily responsibilities, began to weigh on me. I started to feel like Atlas. Except that my burden had shifted to my chest: I could barely breathe from it. I’d find myself having issues drawing a deep breath. The pressure on my chest was so great I started having panic attacks. Hyperventilating. And not knowing why.

I talked to a counselor, who as a stress management aid, told me to take 10 minutes for myself each night, and to give myself a set bedtime and that no matter what I’m doing, when that bedtime hits, to go to bed. No excuses.

My house is now a disaster zone. It’s ridiculously messy. But that feeling of not being able to breathe? It’s gone. I’m not hyperventilating. No panic attacks. Just feet that have been pierced by tiny, sharp, plastic toys as I try to cross the living room.

Total Upheaval

The Fiscal Cliff has pushed us over our own proverbial ledge: Hubbs was laid off a few months ago, and despite calling our mortgage company the very next day, we’re still in loan modification purgatory — meaning we’re still waiting for an answer as to whether they’ll modify our loan. And they just asked for more documents. Again.

As someone living between the proverbial rock and a hard place, it doesn’t feel as through they’re trying to help me. At all.

And so we’re going to rent out our house for a year — or more, depending on how things pan out. This means moving in with my incredibly generous parents. It means renting a storage unit. Discarding a ton of stuff. Trying to fit everything we need for daily life into two 8×10 bedrooms with only the teensiest bit of overflow.

It means upheaval for my children, who will need to adjust their expectation of what “home” is going to mean. Who will need to adjust to brand-new teachers and a brand-new preschool. But it also means more love: They’ll be living with their grandparents and uncle — enough to send them jumping up and down and yelling “yay!” when we told them. They’ll have dinner at my grandparent’s house once a week, which warms my heart because I grew up doing the same thing and have wonderful memories of those dinners and visits.

I adore my parents. I’ll never be able to thank them enough for helping us. For upending their house to make room for us. For my dad grimacing, but allowing me to paint the kids’ room a light blue — despite abhorring any wall color but white.

I never expected to move again. I was going to grow old in this house — watch my kids grow up here. They took their first steps here. Said their first words here. I expected to walk with them, hand in hand, on the way to their first day of school from our front door. I expected to teach them how to back out of this driveway when they learn to drive.

Maybe I still will. You never know what life brings. But not matter how it turns out, we’re together, and we have a loving and supportive group of family and friends that are with us no matter where we call home. And in the end, that’s what matters most.

Dear Immune System, I Give Up

“I effing hate you.”

This time it was me saying it. Hubbs gave me his plague: Sore throat, occasional cough. I gave him a golf clap. Well played sir, well played.

But it wasn’t just that. It turned into me choking on even the smallest sip of liquid — especially my own saliva. It felt like I was swallowing broken glass shards. And then I started to feel crackling, tingling in my ears. My lymph nodes were ridiculously swollen. I would be bent in half by body-convulsing coughs.

Urgent care says: Sinus infection with post-nasal drip. BAD sinus infection that is quickly turning into an ear infection. Solution: Heavy-duty antibiotics, cough syrup with codeine (yay!), and allergy nasal spray.

I’m finally starting to feel human again.

But I must have pissed off the fates. Because they weren’t done with me yet. Sean got the stomach flu on Tuesday — he threw up three times at day care, again in the car on the way to the doctor’s office, on the way home from the doctor’s office, and once more before he went to sleep that night. Allie came home with a raging fever.

Yesterday was a blur. A hellish blur. Both kids were cranky in the morning. Inconsolable. Wanting to cuddle. Wanting to sit by themselves. Sean was a complete paradox — inexplicably loving, huggable and cuddly one moment, raging toddler swinging haymakers the next. Everything was like the end of the world. The day dragged on in a tantrum haze.

Allie was more constant. She wanted two things: Mama and her binky. If she parted with one, it was instant waterworks, end of the world crying.

I need a nap just writing all that.

The good news is that the two monkeys are feeling better and that I have some photos to post next week.

Whee!

 

Tough Love

On so many levels.

Level 1: It’s all about ME
So the whole weight loss thing can be a bit frustrating. Hubbs isn’t exactly following the WW plan and has his late-night drinks and loses almost 2 pounds last week. Me? I stick to it as closely as possible and do you know what happens? Do you?! I lose 0.4 pounds. Now, the optimist would say: Hey, at least you didn’t maintain or gain weight. You still lost weight! Good job! The pessimist says: WTF dude? That’s it?

I’m leaning pessimist these days.

Back in high school I played sports 24-7. Well, not sports, I played softball. And I was a pitcher. (Go ahead, snicker and insert jokes here. The Hubbs always does.) I’ll tell you straight-up that I have the utmost respect for all pitchers out there on the professional level. Know why? They work the hardest. That’s right, I said it. The pitcher works harder than anyone else on the field to maintain their game. Who is involved in every play? Where does every pitch come from? See?

Anyway, here’s a rundown of my “normal” daily activity level back then:

  • Monday: School, then 2 hours with a personal trainer to work on endurance and explosive power.
  • Tuesday: School, then at least 1 hour of pitching practice when my dad got home — we’d do game-day scenarios after a 30-minute warm up.
  • Wednesday: School, 2 hours with the personal trainer, where “warming up” meant 20 minutes on the stair climber before circuit training.
  • Thursday: School, then 1 hour of pitching practice (with my pitching coach) followed by 1 hour of hitting practice (hip twists and bat speed drills).
  • Friday: 30 minutes of arm whips by the front door followed by 100 hip twists.
  • Saturday: At least 2 games.
  • Sunday: Off

I went from that to … well .. nothing. No wonder my ass is so big.

Nowadays, my exercise is running after a 2-year-old and taking care of a 5-month-old. But I need to do more during the week. I’ve been making the “no time” excuse for too long. I need someone (myself) to get into that trainer mode and tell me to quit making excuses. No whining. Get off your ass and just do it. Get it done with. Because — I know this for a fact — you feel so freaking good after those endorphins kick in.

What I think this boils down to is making myself a priority. It sounds simple, it really does. But in reality, its much harder. At least for me.

My other problem is snacking. I’m a grazer. I graze when I’m making dinner and packing the kids’ lunches for the next day. Yesterday I horked down half a package of club crackers while cooking dinner and making the kids’ lunches. Was I hungry? Kinda. Why did I eat them?  

Because they were there. 

I really need to cut that crap out. I mindlessly ate like 16 points worth of crackers — more than I allot myself for most meals — and I wasn’t even hungry. If I have to graze, I need to eat an apple — or something healthy — instead. Mind over matter, as my dad used to say. Everything I need to succeed is in my mind.

Level 2: Being 2 Can Suck Sometimes
They call it the “terrible twos” for a reason. Kids suddenly have very strong wills and want to exert their independence. They have these really big emotions — like frustration and sadness and anger — but don’t have the tools or the vocabulary to express them. Put those all together and what do you get?

In a word, tantrums. Horrible, ear-splitting tantrums. Embarrassing tantrums. Roll your eyes and grit your teeth tantrums. We’ve rocked the spectrum here.

And really? There’s not much you can do about it. So we make sure he’s safe as he flops dramatically to the ground and then let him flail about like a possessed sock monkey. We tell him that he needs to calm down and stop crying and that once he does, we can go play again. And then? We walk away. Preferably into another room if we’re at home. Two seconds later the crying stops and little feet come slapping across the floor behind us. This is often followed by a “harrumph” as he drops to the floor to play with a toy or a “powe” with arms extended, indicating he wants us to pick him up. (Powes are followed by hugs and snuggles, which I prefer.)

The public tantrums are harder: As in, we’re in the baby section at Target and he pulls an ear-shattering tantrum. We have no idea why. And then he wants me to powe him. Not Dad. No way. He wants Momma. Who has his sister strapped to her in the baby carrier. So the sister gets unstrapped and handed off to Dad and the two of them spirit away to another aisle/section/store/country while I turn to the crying, sniffling, shouting, kicking, and writhing mass that is my son.

Me: “Do you want Mommy powe?” He screams and shrieks but doesn’t answer. I kneel down, pull him into my lap, and wrap my arms around his little body. He’s still screaming and my right ear starts to ring. “Buddy? I need you to calm down and stop crying so you can tell me what you want. Can you use your words?” Cue louder shriek and the left ear vibrates.”Dude.” A little firmer now. “Hey.” He looks at me. “Do you want Mommy powe?”

“Yeah.”

“OK then!” And he’s up in my arms, his little hands are coming around my neck and his head lays against my shoulder. He’s still crying, just not as loud. “Do you know what you want? Can you use your words and tell Mommy?”

“Powe.”

…. Hmmmm …. “Mommy’s already powe-ing you. Did you want to snuggle in the carrier?”

“Yeah.”

Oh my lord. “OK….” So I strap my 29-pound toddler into the baby carrier, silently thanking the manufacturer for making it so strong: It’s officially approved for children up to 40 pounds. He stays like that for about two minutes before crying because he wants down. But he doesn’t want down-down. He’s jumping and whining and I’m about the pull my hair out when it hits me: “Are you hungry?”

“Yeah.”

I bust out some caramel rice cakes, graham cracker cookies, and a sippy cup of water, plunk him down into the basket and smile at him. The crisis is averted for another 10 minutes.

Dear Universe: If I ever said anything about screaming kids before or made some comment about their parents? I apologize. I really, really do. Because I am now that parent with the screaming child, and it is an obscenely uncomfortable position to be in sometimes.

Count It Down

Some randomness, since its all I can muster these days:

  • The boy’s birthday parties went really well. I decided to not cook and got pick-up. BEST DECISION EVER. All future parties will be catered.
  • Remember when I said the Munchkin had gas and not colic? WRONG. I should explain a bit though: After my surgery, my milk supply pretty much went belly-up. I basically nurse her 3x a day and follow each feeding up with a bottle of formula. Ze milk is GONE. So she’s a mostly formula baby. This change was not good to her. This change? Was horrifying. Screaming, inconsolable child. Miserably constipated child who couldn’t poop on her own. Wailing, flailing, desperate child and parents. Several appointments with the pediatrician ensue and we embarked on our science experiment: Which formula won’t make her scream? We stuck to the Enfamil family of products, because its the brand they had in the ICN when I had Buddy, and well — I’m what they call loyal that way.

    Anyhoo.

    We tried out FIVE different kinds of formula over the span of about two weeks. Each formula change was like the dip of a roller coaster: Will it work? Is it worse? Will ANYTHING help this kid? In the end, something helped. Its the Nutramigen formula. The hypoallergenic one. You know, the one that costs $10 more a can than all the other ones.

    But you know what? I’ll gladly pay that $10 if it means my kid isn’t in pain every single freaking night. If it means that she can poop on her own again and without pain. That’s kinda important to me. (And who’s kidding who? I’m not gonna pay the extra $10. I’ve got coupons up the wazoo and am surfing the Web for the best deals.)

  • Our backyard is a wasteland. Check that. It is THE wasteland. It consists of cement, dirt compacted into a hard surface that could probably cut glass, and a steep hill with a rotting, leaning wood retaining wall keeping it at bay. It even has rusty nails poking out of it. The hill is dotted with rose bushes sporting thorns as big as my thumb nail. I’ve seen black widows out there.

    And the child LOVES being out there. My son is an outdoorsy kind of boy. He loves to water the plants, so we bought him his own watering can. He thinks the hose is the best invention ever, and will laugh for an hour straight when the Hubbs sends streams of water into the air. Because he’s almost 2, he has two speeds: running and sprinting. Across uneven pavement with rotting, rising wood spacers reaching up to trip him. His little knees are covered in scabs and raspberries. He runs from crumbing concrete to compacted dirt and back with a gigantic smile on his face. Then he launches himself at the yard furniture, climbing

    And my heart is lodged in my throat the entire time.

    So I’ve talked the Hubbs into looking into estimates for the backyard. I’m going to bring a couple of people over to give us estimates on fixing the backyard into something safe for our kids to play in. Maybe some grass. Maybe some tanbark/mulch. Definitely a new, pushed-back retaining wall. I have big dreams. We’ll see how cruel reality is.

  • I go back to work April 20. Its so different this time. With Buddy, I was panicking about going back. This time? We know the day care providers and love them. Buddy loves them. The Munchkin has already charmed them. And there’s that small, insignificant fact, that she doesn’t have a breathing problem either. Makes life much easier, that whole normal breathing thing …
  • I’ve decided that starting Thursday, I’m breaking the boy of the binky. Notice I did not say I was going to TRY. I’m going to freaking do it. Even if it gives me hives. I’m going to do the same thing I did with the bottle: Cutting the tip off. Being that he’s getting his two-year molars in right now and has been inseparable from the binky lately, I’m making it even harder on myself. But hello? Going back to work on the 20th. Not a lot of time left.

    That’s all my brain can handle right now. Toodles!

Boo!

No, I’m not dead. My brain may be though. Hence, bullet points!

Why yes, if you tell me I’m pretty, I’ll smile!
  • The Munchkin is two months old, her hair is crazy thick, and her cheeks are still insane.
  • There’s a cold draft that comes from the garage at night and it drives me NUTS.
  • Buddy loves his little sister. He calls her baby and will stop whatever he’s doing at the moment to lean over her and rub his cheek against hers. One of these days I’m going to get a good picture of it — one where it doesn’t look like he’s smothering her — and it will give you cavities.
  • This kid’s farts … oh lordy … lets just say that Hubbs has blamed a couple on me based on the volume.
  • I talk about poop WAY too much. And yes, I’ll spare you.
  • Schlepping two small kids around takes a lot more planning and effort than originally anticipated.
  • We’re keeping Buddy in day care part time to keep him in the routine of going. He likes routine. Also, it gives me the chance to clean up every once in awhile.
  • I kept him home all last week: We’re breaking him from the bottle.
  • It hasn’t been pretty.
  • But went better than I had anticipated.
  • He has retaliated by refusing to drink it at all. The doc isn’t worried as long as he’s at least eating dairy.
  • The binky is next. The thought gives me hives.
  • HIVES I TELL YOU.
  • Munchkin SMILES and coos now. It melts my heart every time.
  • Remember that ovarian cyst I had while pregnant with the girl child? Yeah, its still there. So it has to come out. Two days after my birthday. (Last year, I had bronchitis on my birthday. So far, birthdays in my 30s haven’t been so hot.) BOO is all I have to say to that.
  • Super Spouse will be home the entire week of my surgery and my mom will be up to take care of the Munchkin for a couple of days.
  • I’m not looking forward to the soreness of recovery.
  • Or the look on Buddy’s face when I tell him I can’t pick him up.
  • Or the way my heart will break when I see that look.
  • Stupid cyst.
  • So when my doctor brought up the surgery, she says … “SO … are you done having kids?” And I say “I think so.” And she scoots closer. “Do you think or do you know?” And now my eyebrows are up around my bangs so she continues, “because, since I’ll be in there anyway, if you ARE done having kids, I could tie your tubes.”
  • And then I did this:

     

  • I talked about it with the Hubbs, and after some serious discussions: No, we don’t want any more. And we don’t think we’ll change our minds about that. But the … finality … of the tubal — they cut them and cauterize the fallopian tubes — was just a little unsettling to me. So I opted for a 10-year, hormone-free IUD instead.
  • More than you wanted to know? Too bad!
  • The Munchkin has gas every night. I hesitate to call it colic, because it doesn’t last for hours on end, but its close and she’s been waking her brother up with her crying. I’ve recently found that laying her on her stomach along my arm with the palm of my hand on her stomach seems to ease her discomfort. It also found that this position can result in spit up oozing down my pant leg.
  • Did I mention that I recently bought 3 different laundry stain removers?
  • We had the carpets cleaned the other day by a fabulous local guy who scotch-guarded my front living room “high traffic area” for free. He also brought zucchini bread, which was crack-tasticly good.
  • The reason we had the carpets cleaned is because our cat peed ALL OVER our second living room in the EXACT spot that Buddy will lie down on when he plays with his cars. I may have over-reacted a bit: I told her that if she ever did it again, she’d be on the menu at my Chinese grandmother’s house.
  • Not really, but its a running family joke. Someone gets a new pet and she tells them to “fatten it up” for her, because (insert animal breed here) is mighty tasty. Then she giggles and we freeze for a second, because honestly, there are some traditional dishes she makes that I eat yet have no clue what is in it. (However, I know its not a pet, OK?)
  • Something I learned from carpet dude about stain removal: 1. Rubbing the carpet is bad. 2. Put a folded body towel on top of the stain and stand on it to bring the liquid up. 3. Use Nature’s Miracle — the one from the pet store used to get ride of the urine smell. He said its natural, so less harmful than other stuff, and it will pull the stain out better than other stuff. Also, OxyClean has bleach in it. I didn’t know that.
  • We’re bad pet owners. Either that or bad communicators. Maybe both: For a week, both Hubbs and I thought the other person was feeding the cat. We were wrong. How did we find this out? Hubbs went to change the litter and there was nothing in it. Dowt.
  • Enter $500+ vet bill (cringe) and guess what? Early onset of RENAL FAILURE and possibly cancer. Oh, and the cat that we thought was maybe 6 years old is 10 years old — a senior citizen. 
  • Enter special vet/prescription food and some crazy tests that we still haven’t done because they need to be done at home and I haven’t been able to get it set up the past couple of days due to the two yard monkeys.
  • Enter heart-to-heart talk about not being able to afford cancer treatments if/when it gets to that point for the fuzzy butt and pinky-swearing to not get another pet. EVER.
  • Enter discussion about how the kids will break us at some point and we’ll end up getting a pet anyway.
  • On a lighter note, I have two more months of maternity leave.
  • I go back right after Buddy’s 2nd birthday.
  • I’m already starting to think about his family party and what to do.
  • What I really want to do: Ditch the party and take him to the zoo instead. But he deserves a party too. Too bad my extended family wouldn’t really enjoy the zoo. Especially my 90- and 80-something grandparents.

OK, must run. My kitchen looks like a bomb went off in it and I have to figure out what I’ll throw together for what I call dinner these days.