Single parent status

Hey gang, checking in.

Ian is now registered for summer camp at Norfolk Academy (space camp, chess/3D printing camp, soccer, and swimming every afternoon) for June and July. He's also registered at the Jewish Community Center for camp in August (also with swimming twice a day). I was able to pay those in full (which included a discount for doing so) because of your generous donations.

Ian is seeing a counselor every other week, at his request. So far that's going really well. We spent Spring Break in Tampa with friends where we played in the pool, saw wild animals, and went kayaking.

We celebrated Ian making A's honor roll last week for the third quarter. His certificate is on the fridge and he was delighted to see both Shrop and me in attendance. He also used his own money at the book fair last week to buy a journal *with a lock*, a Minecraft book, and a giant 15" long pencil. We're back to reading Harry Potter again before bed. He just met Professor Snape in the potions class. 

He's spending the afternoons with my parents down the street as he's not very comfortable with the house being empty now. We just got two kayaks with a lightweight trailer and have already been on the water a few miles from home. As my mom said, we're not letting grass grow under our feet.

Once I finally got an appointment, the Social Security office visit was painless. Direct deposit for Ian's death benefit is already set up and will start June 1. I must say having that behind me is a relief.

I'm not sleeping 10-12 hours a day anymore, which is a welcome change. I am back on the wagon of getting massages regularly so that I can turn my head to the left *and* the right. And I can't rave enough about my witch doctor (chiropractor and applied kinesiologist) for clearing up my head, my muscles, and my heart. Anyone local to Tidewater should go to Applied Health Chiropractic and make an appointment with Dr. C. Honestly, it's worth a long drive or a flight to see her. 

I'm doing a keto (high fat low carb) diet to manage my anxiety and my blood sugars and that is working well right now. I put heavy whipping cream in my coffee, I buy eggs from Costco in five dozen packages, there are three different types of shredded cheese in my fridge, and I cook lamb at least once a week. I do miss sweet potatoes but not bread. (I may have an occasional small sweet potato.)

Shrop has finished his senior project as of last week and will graduate this spring with a mechanical engineering degree (in addition to his previous BS in Psych and MBA). Commencement is May 6th and we're celebrating with friends. Shortly after that, he leaves for Mount Everest for two and a half weeks where he will hike 38 miles to base camp (and the same 38 miles back down) with his besties. I'm excited for him and very happy that I'm not also going on that adventure right now. 

I'm pleased to say that I'm doing better than just surviving. I'm thriving. When I went to renew our membership at the JCC so Ian could go to camp (and I can lift weights and do yoga) the front desk attendant's computer blurted out the first six notes of the "Always Sunny in Philadelphia" theme song as he accidentally clicked on a link someone sent him. I had assumed hearing that song after it played in our living room non-stop for a year would make me cringe, but I actually smiled. I checked the box on the form for "single parent" and will assume that song was Rich's participation in the whole process. 

Hammock season has begun

Hammock season has begun

I am not pregnant

Let's just be clear from the start. I don't want anyone to only read the first few sentences of this and hurriedly offer congratulations. I am not pregnant. No fetus is in progress. Ian is still an only child. Rich is not allowed to conceive a child while on the trial drugs from Sarah Cannon. I don't think they would kick him out of the study for it, but there are lots of warnings in the paperwork. After his previous trial, he had to wait 90 days before he could conceive to ensure the meds were out of his system. He took his last pill on June 18. That means he was cleared to conceive as of September 19. We were already back at Sarah Cannon on September 15 discussing the next trial for which Rich was eligible.

I had stopped taking birth control pills in August in anticipation of trying again, but to say that we had a small window to conceive is an understatement. We went to the Jones Institute to freeze sperm on Sept 22 just in case. My window of fertility was the beginning of October.

We had a lot of sex. This is not standard "we're in love and excited and going to make a new life" kind of frequent sex. There are IV lines and fistula bags and wound care issues. We have a five year old in our house and frequently in our bed. We're flying to Nashville for medical appointments. I'm traveling for work. This is not for wusses.

I was so convinced that if we just worked hard we could make this happen. I looked for a midwife. I talked to our doula. But just like clockwork, my period started on October 12. At that point we had been assigned the week of the 27th through 31st for Rich to start his next trial drug. I would be most fertile that same week. It was down to the wire. This is not for wusses.

"Hey honey, let's pack up all your TPN and wound supplies, fly to Nashville for a week where you will be examined and scanned and injected with mystery chemicals. And while we're there, let's have as much sex as possible to race to make a kid. Yeah, I know your fistula output just sky rocketed to two liters a day, but I'll light some candles and play Sarah McLaughlin and it will be fine."

We survived that week but only barely. Now we just had to wait and see if our hard work paid off.

It only took me one cycle to get pregnant with Ian. I stopped taking my birth control pills, which I had been taking for 17 years straight, and the next month we made a person. Pretty easy. As my friend says, I could have used Rich's toothbrush and gotten pregnant.

This time, it's been harder on many levels. If I managed to get pregnant, I would be 36 weeks when it was time to fly to San Francisco for the American Library Association conference. I would be seven weeks pregnant when I ran another 5K and half marathon back to back. I would be desperate to sleep all the time but still responsible for groceries, laundry, housekeeping, child care transportation, TPN delivery, wound care and that little thing called work. Oh, and logging all my blood sugars and food for 36 weeks. But it all seemed worth it to expand our family as we have wanted and do so without paying thousands of dollars to have it done by the Jones Institute.

Here we are, though, Monday morning of my period week and I'm most definitely not pregnant. That means our great pregnancy experiment has come to a close as quickly as it was put into motion (no pun intended). I'll go back to the pharmacy and refill my birth control pills for next week.

I did some of my best positive thinking these last two months. I bought prenatal vitamins. I reactivated my account on BabyCenter to calculate a due date. I saved my pants that are too big for me. I let my alcohol supply get alarming low. I made a spreadsheet of my hours to see how many weeks I could spare next summer for maternity leave. If optimism alone could conceive a child, I would give Kate Gosling a run for her money.

But no luck.

I am mourning something that never happened, a life that never even started other than in my imagination. I would like Ian to have a sibling other than Cancer. But as someone told me, no sibling for Ian is worth having a mother who can't pass a field sobriety test because of exhaustion. We are all stretched thin right now.

Don't hide your babies from me. Don't hide your beautiful round pregnant bellies from me. I'm hosting a birth circle tomorrow evening at our office where we all sit around and talk about birth stories, the excitement of pregnancy, the joy of birth, and the trials of motherhood. All those things are still important to me. I'm just cheering others on from the sidelines right now.

I'm going to spend the next six months or so reveling in the body I only recently got back from my first pregnancy. I'm going to buy new smaller pants. I'm going to restock the alcohol in the house. I'll devour some unpasteurized soft cheese, gas station sushi, and questionable lunch meats. Maybe I'll do all that while sitting in a hot tub. I'll get a foot massage. I'll keep training for my half marathon later this month and the one in March. I will revel in my bladder control. I'll get my HbA1C back down to something reasonable before my next endocrinology appointment. I'll keep everyone posted on the status of my #wasbutt.


Upon finishing my first half marathon

This is all about my running so feel free to skim unless that's your thing. I signed up for the Crawlin' Crab 5K over six months ago, but wanted to try to push myself a little bit. I can run a 5K but much further than that and my blood sugar will plummet. I couldn't imagine the rolling suitcase of snacks I would need to take with me for a longer run.

It didn't take much for Kimmie to convince me to sign up for the half marathon in addition to the 5K. It was called the "shell yeah" challenge and I would get a fancy medal if I did both in two days. I convinced myself I had six months, so I could figure it out.

And then Rich got sick. Memorial Day weekend I was only set to run five miles in my training schedule and from that moment hardly any running got done. As the summer wore on, though, I really needed something to bleed stress.

Dan at work convinced me to get a new Garmin watch that had lots of fancy features in it. It was a small fortune which pained me to spend, but I love this watch dearly. Dan (and Curtis) also convinced me to try Galloway's run/walk method to gain distance without the nasty side effect of hypoglycemic death.

And suddenly everything became clear. The reason my blood sugar was tanking was because I was over-exerting myself. My poor heart rate was way too high and that was trashing my everything. So now I run for a minute and walk for 30 seconds. Or sometimes I run for 30 seconds and walk or a minute. It all depends on what I'm trying to accomplish that day. I went from barely being able to finish a 5K, to running 10 miles around my neighborhood with no ill effects.

And this past Sunday, I finished my first half marathon. It took me three hours, seven minutes, and 28 seconds. I totally don't care about my pace because I finished with a blood sugar of 125 and never went low on the entire course. I also have no knee pain at all.

Running is supposed to be about improving your pace, but I don't really care (or at least I don't care very much). That's probably for the best because I was just reading that one can only hope to gain 3-5% in speed over a 16 week training cycle. That would mean my next half marathon would be eight minutes faster over the entire course. That's hard to get excited about. Nevermind that one porta-john stop could add those minutes right back.

So my metrics are all about my heart rate for the moment. I would like my running heart rate to be lower so that I can run for longer. That will improve everything.

I have noticed that my body is responding well to all this running. I have hip muscles now. I think they're called iliopsoas. I also have what I have defined as a "was butt". It might be the tensor fasciae latae but it's that little plum-sized dimple on the outside of your butt when you flex it, where you used to have butt until you flexed it away. I'm no medical professional, so I'm sticking with "was butt" for now. I did find a classical example.


That lady on the right must have just finished a half marathon as well. They all just recently stripped out of their sweaty sports bras and shorts.

As for me, I am continuing my quest for a righteous "was butt", some sculpted hip flexors, and calves you can bounce quarters off of. Oh, and my feet are ridiculously strong now too, which I didn't even know was a thing. I'm doing the Harbor Lights 5K and half marathon on November 22-23 and I also signed up for the Shamrock 8K and half marathon in March. Wish me luck!

Calves of steel