Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Taking Breaths

The past three years of having a toddler in my life has put me face to face with my mortality. I doubt too many moms in their 20s wonder if they will live long enough to see their daughter marry or if they will get to meet their grand kids, but at age 45 with a 3 year old, there are moments that the panic and sense of sadness about the possibility of not being there take my breath away. 

January 15, 2012 was one of those days.

I have had a series of health issues and diagnosis over the past 20 years including PCOS, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, and Hypothyroidism. However,  my blood pressure and heart rate remained healthy so when I couldn't quit yawning, felt my body going numb, my speech slowing, and my focus getting fuzzy, I wanted to believe it was anything but a stroke.  The ER doctor said otherwise. I was having a mini-stroke called a TIA (transient ischemic attack) -- likely in reaction to some new hormone medication. Luckily, it was minor and I had no permanent damage, but it was definitely the final wake up call I needed to throw my hands up and say "uncle" to losing weight on my own and doing everything within my power to be here for my Bean as long as possible. 

It has been 11 months since I was shaken to my core and made the choice to have Gastric Sleeve surgery and am currently down 50 pounds. Not only do I feel much more confident that I will be here for Bean, I also know that if for some reason I am not here, that her memory of me will not be the tired, overweight Mom sitting on the couch in pain and watching her child from the sidelines. It will be of the new Mom I have become this year. The mom that slides down the tall tower slide at the park; the mom that chases her down the street when she bolts away; the mom that agrees to carry her even though she is too big to be carried; the mom that lets her make messes with paint and glitter, and play dough because she isn't too tired to clean it all up.  A Mom that lives by this quote: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take; But by the moments that take our breath away…."


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Broke Back Mama

The one thing that every mama HAS to do for her little ones is pick up. Pick up stuff off the floor. Pick up stuff out of their mouth. Pick up laundry. Pick up dishes. And of course, pick up the little one -- all 30 squirming pounds of them. Somedays I feel like I have bent over 10,000 times and decide I can't do it one more time so I pick things up with my toes. Other days I just step over the crap on the floor and hope that someone else (read: hubby) will pick it up without me having to ask (read: doubtful).

In my 30s when I started seriously contemplating having children, I knew that all that picking up would be a challenge. I hurt my lower back in college by rearranging REALLY heavy dorm furniture by myself out of inpatience. After that initial healing time, my back would go out with heavy lifting or a fast twist, but I would do a few stretching exercises and it would go back in place. A few car wrecks, bad falls, Yahoo frisbee games, extra pounds, gravity, and decades later it took a few visits to my back-cracker to get things straightened out.

Amazingly, I have managed to survive two years playing the pick up game with only a few back episodes. But I really did it this time. And wouldn't you know, it wasn't even Bean that broke my back. Once again, I decided to rearrange some crap by myself out of frustration. Two days later, I could barely stand up straight. By day three I was in the chiropractor for a "tune up" only to find that things were not going to come back together as quickly as they had in the past.

Enter the DXR: (Blaring medeval horns here) a modern torture device similar to being stretched on a rack. For the next four weeks I will spend several days each week strapped down to a table that angles me backwards, shoves posts between my armpits to stabilize me, puts me in something similar to a rock climbing harness which caribeeners me to another side of the machine, adds weight to my lower body, bends me in half, and stretches out my discs for 30 minutes. So not a good look for me. And I am paying for this kind of torture. I am thinking they could at least offer a few entertaining variations such as a hot guy dressed in leather telling me how bad I had been or a handsome prince coming to save me from the torture chambers.

(True confession: my chiropractor is pretty cute, which makes the visions of me being splayed out on this machine even more garish in my mind but if he would dress up at least I would be distracted from this truth.)

The first day was yesterday. The procedure itself was not horrible. In fact, I would say dental work is far worse. Getting off, however was excrutiating. Something about the curve in my spine and the table fought the whole time and I thought I would never walk right again. This is what happens after all that stretching out: your body has to collapse itself back together. Like an accordian. All my breath left me with that pain. After ice and stimulation (another device where electricity is jolted thru my body) I thought I could make it home. However, once I got in the car I realized I could not lift my leg enough to move it from pedal to pedal. In fact, I was totally stuck in one position because of the angle of my driver's seat. I had visions of still being there the next morning, but decided to call Jeff. (Yes, I should have called the chiropractor to come help me, but at this point I was a hot mess of tears and snot and mascara. See true confession above.)

Jeff peeled me out of the car with the jaws of life. Okay, it was really with his strong man hands, but to me they were the jaws of life because I was dying. DYING. On a scale of 1-10 I was at a 20.
At home, I collapsed on our bed in a heap with an ice pack and wished I had on a diaper so I wouldn't have to get up until the next day. No such luck on that so I hobbled around with a cane a few times until 6 hours later when I was suddenly able to take more than a few steps without losing my breath. Hmmmm... maybe this was not permanent. And when I woke up this morning, I was pleased that I was able to get out of bed with only minimal cane-age.

Then I got to repeat the procedure. This time I took Jeff for entertainment; no costumes -- he was my Pandora DJ. The accordian collapse of my intestines and spine did not send me to tears this time and within 3 hours of the procedure I was able to walk without the cane. And 6 hours later I was actually STRAIGHT!! Not pain free, but straight up and down for the first time in 10 days.

So there is a glimmer of hope that this Broke Back Mama will be able to get back to picking up. For now I will keep using my toes, teaching my toddler how to pick up for me, and praying that my husband doesn't decide to trade me in for a better model.

(P.S. In case you are wondering, I have some fabulous friends who are helping entertain Bean for part of the day so I can get tortured without worrying about her. LOVE them.)