In Summary

Posted by on Apr 5, 2011 in The List, Weight | 7 comments

◊ Tuesday Weigh-in: 218.3 (O.M.G.) ◊

At the risk of sounding like McCroskey (and seriously dating myself with that comment), looks like I picked the wrong week to quit eating. Actually, all of April is looking pretty tough in that respect. Going to try, though. And there’s always May.

And speaking of it being April already, I thought maybe it was time to (finally) summarize the list that started this blog and expired in January. Here’s the list with the progress noted:

# Goal Progress
1. Lose 100 pounds (from pregnancy weight) Lost 80 pounds
2. Run a 5k Done! 6/26/10
3. Finish writing a novel Finished NaNo
4. Read 20 books I already own Done! 11/22/10
5. Learn to knit Done!
6. Wear the purple dress Done! 9/25/10

Now I’ll go through them individually.

1. Lose 100 pounds (from pregnancy weight) – I didn’t lose the whole shebang, but did manage to lose 79.2 pounds. That’s pretty good, even though I’ve gained back 40 of that. Needless to say, this will be on my list for this year as well.

2. Run a 5k – Not only did I run a 5k, I ran a 10k. Ran both all the way, no walking. Yay me!

3. Finish writing a novel – I wrote a 50,000 word novel. It needs a LOT of editing, but does have a beginning, middle, and end. I won’t say that I accomplished this goal because my intention was to have a finished product, not just a first draft, but it’s closer to a finished book than I’ve ever come before and I am going to give myself a big ole pat on the back. Yay me!

4. Read 20 books I already own – Finished this one, but there was never any real fear about it. My intention was not to buy any new books until I had read 20 that I already owned, but I dont’ think anyone who knows me thought I would make that. I held out for a long time and didn’t buy very many, so I think that’s pretty good.

5. Learn to knit – This is kind of an ambiguous goal for me and hard to quantify. I can knit now. Not very well, but I can. Sort of like I am with the piano. And the flute. And…well, let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

6. Wear the purple dress – I don’t fit into it anymore, but I did wear the dress. And I looked damn good in it. The hostess at the restaurant said I looked elegant.

So…that’s it. Is it just me or does that feel really anticlimactic? Oh, well. On to my new list.

New list for 2011:

1. At the beginning of the year, the first item was to lose 30 pounds, getting down to 160, which was my original goal from the last list. Unfortunately, I have since gained 30 pounds, so the number to lose is now 60 pounds. *sigh* Still keeping 160 as the goal by the end of 2011.

2. Finish a half marathon. I’m signed up to walk the Rock&Roll half marathon in June. Since I’m walking, I’m not really worried about finishing. I haven’t really been exercising much lately, though, and the 10k I half walked/half ran a few weeks ago rendered me virtually paralyzed for several days, so I think I better get my butt training. I have started a training program since then, but last week didn’t go so well…

3. Write first draft of the Kaylee novel. This item was originally to finish a novel all the way through editing, but I’ve decided that’s too ambitious for this year with everything that’s going on for our family. Next year BamBam will be in preschool (look for a very excited post about that in the near future) and I’ll have some time that I can devote to writing. I’m pretty sure that will be on the list for next year.

4. Log all the books I read on the blog. I like this goal because it’s just about reminding myself of the pleasure of reading. I’m going to read whatever I want, no restrictions. And I’m going to log it so I can look back and remember that I did treat myself to some time to read. Right now I’m reading The Likeness by Tana French. I highly recommend it as well as her first one, In the Woods.

And that’s it. I started to put in some stuff about the boys or our family in general, but decided that I want the list to just be about me. Besides, that kind of stuff (like be a better mom) isn’t really quantifiable and I need that for the list. For this list, anyway.

See you next week!

Read More


Posted by on Dec 2, 2010 in Musings, Weight | 12 comments

I wasn’t going to talk about this on the blog. I really wasn’t. But I’ve been telling strangers on the street, so I started to think why not talk about it here? So, here goes:

I had breast reduction surgery.

No, I won’t be posting pictures. Hey – you – the one who just sighed with relief. Those pictures would be amazing and you’d be damn lucky to see them. Still not posting them, though.

I’ve had to wear a bra since I was in fourth grade. I know people who haven’t had big boobs probably think that’s a fabulous problem to have. Let me tell you something: It was mortifying. I spent my adolescent life trying to hide them. Trying to hide myself. What made it even worse was that there has always, always been more than a cup size difference between the girls. Bathing suits were a nightmare. Not because I was fat, that didn’t come until my mid-twenties, but because any suit I tried just enhanced the difference.

So, when my OB/GYN asked me 18 months ago if I wanted a reduction, I jumped at the chance. I had thought about it for years, but wanted to get past nursing my children first. At the time, I wasn’t finished nursing BamBam yet, so I still had to wait, but in January 2010 I had my first glorious consultation with a plastic surgeon.

It was wonderful to talk to her, to finally meet someone who not only understood, but explained things I hadn’t even realized I didn’t understand. I’ve had shoulder trouble for the last few years, but I attributed it to my posture during nursing and the way I carry my kids around, never to the fact that I’ve had humongous breasts for 30 years. I’ve been to physical therapists, always either men or thin, flat-chested women. They talked to me about my posture and told me to try sitting up straight for five minutes a day and then increase that amount of time each week. And I tried, I really did. But I never realized until I met with the surgeon that I’d been slumping for 30 years because of my breasts. Well, I realized it, but I thought it was just because of the shame. I slumped so I wouldn’t be noticed. Wouldn’t, if you’ll excuse the expression, stick out. But talking to the surgeon made me realize that I also slumped because of the weight. These physical therapists don’t understand that. And until they strap 20 pound weights on their chests and walk around with them 24/7 for a few weeks, they never will. They can’t.

It was such a relief to realize that I hadn’t just done this to myself out of shame. That there was a real, physical reason for my shoulders to slump. And I can fix it. Insurance will even pay for it because it’s recognized as causing real physical problems. Such a relief.

But there was another obstacle. Something I had done to myself, and that was my weight. The surgeon explained that reducing the size of my breasts at my weight would make my stomach seem even larger because I wouldn’t have the shelf of my breasts to mask it any longer. In addition, if I lost weight at that point, some of it would come from my breasts, making them even smaller. We set my surgery date for April and I was supposed to get down to 200 pounds by then. If I lost more weight after, it shouldn’t make my breasts any smaller. So I dieted. I lost about 10 pounds and was beginning to falter. I realized I wasn’t going to make it, even though it was only mid-February.

Then one night Marathon Girl (before she was Marathon Girl) told me that she had talked Cookie into doing The Program. I knew that MG had done it. I’d seen her miraculous transformation. But talking to Cookie about it that night, I started to think that maybe I could do it, too. The clincher? Marathon Girl told me it would really help her out to have me go work out with her in the mornings. She lived down the street from me, so she was already planning to pick me up on the mornings we would go to the club. We did for several months. MG has since moved across town, but Book Club Maven has moved closer to me and we’re going to drive to the club together. Anyway, that got me psyched enough to go to the seminar and the seminar did the rest. I also talked Sparky into going with me, but then you already know that if you’ve been reading this blog.

The one hitch to the program, aside from the sheer amount of time you have to schedule for all the appointments, was that I would have to postpone my surgery. I’d waited so long and I was hesitant to put it off. What if I lost weight in my breasts and insurance would no longer pay for the operation? In the end, I decided the weight was more important and went with The Program. But then you knew that, too.

I was down to the low 180s by July and I’ve fluctuated between 183 and 188 for the next two months. Very frustrating. Still, my surgeon was pretty impressed when I came back to her office at the beginning of October weighing 186. Sparky came with me so he could hear first hand about the surgery and the restrictions that would govern my recovery. For six weeks, I would not be allowed to lift my arms over my head, move my elbows more than a foot away from my hips, or pick up anything heavier than 15 pounds. Something like, say, a 30 pound toddler. Oh boy. But it’s necessary so that you don’t tear open the incisions. We had to rearrange various things in the house so I’d be able to reach them. We were very fortunate that my mom agreed to come help out for the first two weeks (THANKS MOMBO!).

I checked in for surgery at 5:30 am on Thursday, October 21. It took roughly five hours and the surgeon removed almost four and a half pounds of breast tissue. That’s just under 2,000 grams. The insurance company requires 500 grams to qualify for the surgery, so I’d say I was pretty well qualified. Times four.

I stayed the night in the hospital, where the food was surprisingly good. It was under 24 hours, though, so still considered outpatient. Go figure. I was wrapped very tightly in an Ace bandage for a week. It was itchy and, in case I didn’t mention it, excruciatingly tight, so I couldn’t wait to get it off. I also wasn’t allowed to shower and could only wash my hair by leaning over the sink and having my mom do it. We only did that once – when you’ve had surgery on your chest, it kind of hurts to lean over the sink. The bandage was removed the following Friday, but then I put on a tight sports bra that I was to wear 24/7 excepting brief periods (showering and whatnot) for the remaining five weeks of recovery. Blerg.

They removed the stitches along with the bandage and replaced them with surgical tape. They said it should come off by itself after two weeks, but I could remove any remaining tape in the shower. Right. What they didn’t tell me was that I should take heavy pain medication before doing so. After two weeks and three days, my tape was still very much attached except at the ends under my arms. Like the trooper I am, I got in the shower and started to remove the tape. I fear the screaming may have woken up the entire west coast. The tape sticks to the scabs, you see. I’ll say no more. Except OUCH!

The arm restrictions didn’t seem so bad at first. I hurt anyway, so it’s not like I wanted to do anything more than sit quietly on the couch. After a few weeks, though, it became quite annoying. I had to sleep on my back, which I never do, and I had trouble getting to sleep that way. I also had to use these elastic bands I attached to my pajamas and looped around my wrists to keep me from accidentally moving my arms out of bounds as I slept. I had to change the boys’ diapers on the floor at various changing stations we set up in hall closets. I had to coax BamBam upstairs for naps every day because I couldn’t carry him. I stopped taking either boy to music classes because BamBam has a tendency to pitch fits on the sidewalk at unexpected times and I just couldn’t deal with that without the ability to pick him up.

I had planned to do National Novel Writing Month in November, but quickly realized that was just insane. I should give myself time to heal. So I did. I tried to relax, but just ended up getting kind of depressed. And when depressed, as you dear readers know by now, I eat. A lot. And there was no question of exercise. At two weeks, I was permitted to walk on an inclined treadmill as long as I didn’t bounce anything. Right. I did it twice. Not even as easy as it sounds.

So I’ve gained weight instead of lost it. What’s more, it’s all going on my waist, which is where the remaining 40 pounds I need to lose was lodged anyway, and my boobs no longer stick out far enough to camouflage it. This did not help with the depression. Or, oddly enough, the eating.

I started this post over two weeks ago. I had this whole metaphorical post planned on restrictions that I can’t remember now. Something about all these restrictions meaning that I couldn’t possibly be expected to restrict my diet as well. It was very deep.

And I can’t believe Thanksgiving is over and it’s already December. I was supposed to see my doctor tomorrow so she could take another look and release me from the restrictions. To my surprise, they moved the appointment up to Wednesday, so I was released yesterday. The first thing I did was raise my arms over my head. The doctor said I’d done a great job with the restrictions. Go me. I was hoping to be able to ditch the sports bra at that meeting, but it didn’t work out that way. I still can’t go too long without one, so the bra stays, at least for a few more weeks. She did say I could go get a cheap, more comfortable one to wear, though.

She warned me to go slow in resuming my normal activity level, saying that if I did too much too fast I’d end up feeling like a truck ran over me. I, good girl that I am, went home and picked both kids up, bounced them around, and so on. Turns out the doctor was right. I’m taking a lot of Advil today.

I’m also still eating. I thought I would magically be able to go back to the Program and everything would be okay. Yeah, not so much. Luckily, I have a dietician appointment on Monday and am hoping to resume training next week as well. My former trainer isn’t available at the time I need him, so I think I’ll have to have someone new. I need to get started right away, though, so I’m going to do it. I hope I’ll be able to handle that much exercise by Monday. I need to push through regardless because I can’t gain the weight back, especially now that my boobs are smaller. I can’t stand looking down at my protruding stomach. I look like I’m about six months pregnant.

I found it really interesting when the doctor showed me my ‘before’ pictures. I’m still swollen now, so they won’t take the official ‘after’ pictures until I’m three months post-surgery, which will be March. She said by that time I won’t believe I was ever that big. I can’t quite see that now. I feel…not myself and I can’t imagine not remembering the weight I carried around for 30-odd years. I did tell her that several people have been shocked when I told them about the operation because they didn’t see me as having big breasts. She said that’s because I wore a good bra that held them in well, but it didn’t negate the weight. I liked that.

I’m jumping back on the Program (at least BY) Monday and plan to get down to 175 by my birthday on January third. That’s the list deadline. It’s not as far as I’d planned to come, but I’ll get into that in my summary post. I’m hoping to jump back into writing again, too. We’ll see how that goes.

So, if you happen to see me in person soon, feel free to compliment me on my proportionately perky rack, but please don’t mention the protruding stomach.

Read More

Purple Dress

Posted by on Sep 26, 2010 in The List | 8 comments

I wore the purple dress to dinner on Saturday night. The hostess commented on how elegant my dress was, which felt pretty nice! I’m posting some pictures. Doesn’t Sparky look nice? I really like the tie he picked out. BeBop had to ask him what it was, ’cause he’d never seen one in person before. Codewriters really don’t wear them to work, you know.

We went to Canlis and the food was excellent. We particularly loved the Canlis prawns and Canlis salad – thanks for those recommendations, Dorene! We shared two desserts: chocolate covered chocolate and a trio of doughnuts. I thought I would like the chocolate most, but it turned out the best part of the whole meal was the doughnut with mango ice cream. When we go again (in some distant future), we’ll ask for the trio of doughnuts with only the mango ice cream. In fact, we might make a whole meal out of the prawns, salad, and mango ice cream doughnuts. Yum.

Still feels kind of weird to celebrate weight loss by going to dinner, but that’s just how I roll.

Read More

Emotional Eating

Posted by on Sep 24, 2010 in Autism, Musings, Weight | 8 comments

At lunch the other day, I was telling a friend about how helpful it was to move from the regular counseling group in the Program to the intensive group. She asked what the intensive group was and I said it was mainly for emotional eaters. Now, I don’t think there’s anything weird about that, but her concern for me was evident in her face. She said she hadn’t known I was an emotional eater. I said, “Meh, who isn’t?” and her reply shocked me a little.

“I’m not,” she said.

I’m pretty sure I said something eloquent like, “Wha-huh?” Then I asked if she eats when she’s bored…and she doesn’t. My mind was blown.

I’ve been yo-yoing in the 180s for two months now. Life is stressing me out and I’ve responded by eating it. I ran a 10k last week and I’m barely even proud of myself because I’m so ashamed of what a slacker I’ve become with eating and exercise in general. How twisted is that? But, that 10k? It was one of only two workouts I did last week. I’m supposed to get in five. And during the race? I ran the whole way, but what I was concerned about was how slow I was, that it felt like everyone was passing me by.

I had pizza for lunch one day and then told my trainer about it. He tried to tell me the whole thing about the momentary comfort not being worth it and I stopped him short. Because the thing is, when you spend your morning dealing with 30-odd pounds of screaming toddler who refuses to talk or acknowledge when you speak to him while dragging a preschooler around to therapy appointments he doesn’t want to attend, the momentary comfort a pizza provides is totally worth it. Even if you feel sick to your stomach afterward, that’s better than you felt before. At least there’s a physical reason for the nausea. As I’ve said on this blog before, if food as comfort didn’t work, there would be no problem with emotional eating.

I want to take a moment to remind you that this is a raw emotion I’m expressing here. My new way of dealing with it is to write it down and put it up here. I don’t feel like this all the time. I’m lucky in so many ways and I genuinely love my life. I don’t need any of you to do anything other than be the friends you already are to me.  I do totally appreciate your concern, though.

Having one kid with special needs was a challenge. Having two is proving…difficult. I think. I don’t really know because I have nothing to compare it to. This is my entire experience with parenting. For all BamBam’s fits, though, it fills me with joy to watch when he laughs. He laughs with his whole body. For all BeBop’s tantrums over transitions, he’s the friendliest little guy you’d ever want to meet. I love that he has a big smile for everyone who comes his way. They’re fabulous kids.

On Monday, I let BamBam have a fit – complete with rolling on the ground kicking and screaming – on the sidewalk for a full five minutes while I just stood there feeling completely helpless. Or exasperated, they kind of feel the same these days. A mom with her three year old in tow passed by and said to me, “Hang in there, Mom.” I’m working on it.

So I asked my thin friend who doesn’t eat emotionally what she does for comfort. She stays in motion. And that’s a big part of my problem. When things get bad, I want to curl up into an inert little ball and then I want to feed the ball. I do feel better when I organize and get things done, but my tendency is to rest instead and an object at rest stays at rest without a force acting upon it.  I need a force. I tend to get pretty testy when other people try to push me into action, so that force will have to come from within. I haven’t the faintest clue how that will happen, but, for now, that’s tomorrow’s problem. Where the hell is Obi-Wan when you need him?

Read More

Running on Empty

Posted by on Sep 4, 2010 in Autism, Musings, The List, Weight | 3 comments

I’m on a boat. It’s a ferry, actually. Taking a day trip to Bainbridge Island to recharge and do research for the novel I’m working on, as it takes place on a fictionalized version of the island.

I’m writing again, campers, which feels phenomenal. Even though it’s becoming clear that my plot is whack. Seriously, it would make people who followed Twin Peaks with no trouble go, “Huh?”

But that’s tomorrow’s problem. I’m writing again and that’s what matters. I wrote the second scene yesterday, so I’ll have something to offer my critique group (who I’ve been ignoring for two months, which included responding to the critiques of my last post. Sorry about that ladies. I hope to be back soon.) when my turn rolls around again. And now I’m doing research on a ferry – how cool is that? Even if it is only 50F and rainy, I’m still enjoying the ride and plan to enjoy the island.

So, the running on empty thing. I don’t mean literal running because that’s going fine. I’m slow as hell, but I can run six miles without stopping and that’s pretty cool. Especially since my 10k (~ 6 miles) is coming up next weekend (excuse me for a moment while I freak out a bit).

No, I’m talking about figurative running. See, I’ve been running around my life like a mad woman for well over a year. BeBop started evaluations and therapies last summer. Then we added preschool and more therapies, switching therapies, screaming about going to therapies. Then we had his tonsils and adenoids removed. Then the National Novel Writing Month, where I basically locked myself in a room for a month and wrote 50,000 words. Therapies still going on. Then I took a six-week revision course for my novel and went to more therapies. BamBam was evaluated for speech and occupational therapy, then started with his own OT. Then I committed myself (and Sparky) to The Program (still ongoing), which took up most of the time not already dedicated to taking the kids to therapies. Then preschool ended and summer camps started. We had to juggle the therapies and the dance continued. Then we had BamBam evaluated further and I freaked out about that. Then we went to Texas for a tour of the families. Then we came home and…nothing.

Not entirely nothing. The boys still have OT, but most of the other therapies are on hiatus until school starts next week. I’m still on The Program, but it’s not as time/appointment intensive in the second phase. I thought I would spend the free time doing all the things I don’t normally have time for, but I’ve basically spent it watching TV and eating graham crackers. And feeling really bad about myself for not accomplishing anything. My house is dirtier than ever and I’ve just found out that BamBam’s therapies will be home visits, as in they will occur IN MY HOUSE, but I just can’t seem to tear myself away from One Tree Hill to do anything about it.

The thing is, I’m spent. I’m running on empty. So I’m taking today to recharge my batteries (please forgive the metaphor shift).

I’m also realizing that I don’t do well food-wise when I’m not busy. It’s hard to resist the graham crackers in the morning if I don’t have to rush out the door. And if I give in at breakfast, the day is pretty well shot.

And if I’m off by the time dinner rolls around, I feel like I’m dragging Sparky right down with me. As he said last night, his eating is not my responsibility. He also pointed out that I have made sure there is back-up healthy food available in the house, so even if I do order a pizza, he has a healthy option available. He even took it last night. I did not. I ate the pizza.

So, while I only gained 0.2 pounds in Texas, I gained six pounds my first week home. I know some of that was cyclic in nature and some was delayed reaction to the poor choices made in Texas, but still. I managed to get most of it off, but I can’t seem to get back down to 180 and won’t if I continue to eat like I am (she says as she digs in to her fish and chips lunch. Research calories don’t count, right? And there’s an ice cream shop prominent in the book! Yippee!) I’m worried that I won’t fit into my dress by 9/25 (the new dress date night) and that I won’t hit 160 by the list deadline in January. I know that sounds like a long time, but I’m having surgery in late October and I’ll be off exercise for six weeks and I’m moving in the WRONG DIRECTION.

That said, I feel ready for things to start next week. I think it will be a relief. Of course, it ramps up pretty quickly, so I may be whistling a very different tune come Wednesday. But for now, I’m ready. And optimistic. I’m not sure how or when it happened, but I think maybe my tank is full.  I’m just not looking forward to the gas bill.

PS Thanks to Lucy March (and Jonathan Coulton) for my two new favorite songs:



Read More

End Phase 1

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010 in Autism, Musings, The List, Weight | 4 comments

§ Tuesday Weigh-in: 180.8 §

Yeah, I know, it’s been more than two* weeks. Sorry about that. There was stomach flu for both BeBop and me and then there was a lot of stress about BamBam, which I will get to in a minute, and now we’re off to (actually in)  Texas visiting both sides of the family for a few weeks. Haven’t had much time to think about writing.

I’ll address the Program first. That weight up there is my final for phase 1, the first 20 weeks of the Program. I lost exactly 50 pounds in phase 1, though my trainer will tell you I lost 45 because I gained 5 pounds between my initial assessment and starting the program and he doesn’t think I should get credit for that. I contend that since I had been dieting on my own for a month or so before the program and lost 10 pounds I should get to count them. Since I’m the one who has been doing all the heavy lifting in the program (and also the one who is doing all the telling about my progress), I win.

The next phase is maintenance, though I’ve still got about 40 pounds to lose (possibly more after this trip – there’s Mexican food here, after all). I’ll meet with the trainer twice a week rather than three times and only see the dietician every other week. This phase lasts 12 weeks, though the first few I’ll be out of town. I’m supposed to check in with my dietician on the phone tomorrow**. We had discussed doing a 90/10 thing (eating on plan 90% of the time) while I’m gone, but I’ll have to tell her it’s been more like 70/30.

I will probably do better next week*** when Sparky goes back home because the boys and I will be in one place and we won’t be visiting a lot of people, just my parents. We started out with my mom and step dad for a day and a half, during which we had dinner with the friends who introduced Sparky and me (Hey guys!). I only realized after they left that I completely forgot to take pictures! Then we drove five hours to stay with Sparky’s parents and sister. We had lunch yesterday with his favorite high school teacher (his favorite teacher really, the high school part is just description) and his high school friend, his wife, and their son. Lovely to meet all of them after hearing about them for so long. He knows some really nice people. We’re driving back to my parents’ on Wednesday and will visit Sparky’s aunts, uncle, and cousins on Thursday. On Friday, my brother, sister-in-law, and three fabulous nieces will join us at our mom’s house until Monday. Oh, and we’ll probably meet up with my step brother for a meal in there as well (hi Ed!) and my mom’s friends from her old job (hi Kathy and Glenda!). Add to all that the fact that it’s nigh on impossible to keep BamBam from jumping head first into Mom’s pool and I’m already exhausted.****

Okay, little aside because BeBop is playing with a book on the floor in front of my chair telling me about the pictures. Right now he’s on a page that has a lot of pictures of food items. He said, “And when you feel sad, you can eat some food and it will make you feel better.” Eek! I had to stop writing for a minute to discuss with him that there are many things you can do if you’re feeling sad that don’t involve eating. You can go for a walk or play with some toys. And he said, “Or take a nap.”  I think I might need a nap right now. Thankfully he’s moved on to the page with the construction trucks.

Where was I? Oh yeah, end of phase 1. At the end of phase 1 of the program, they have you do some tests. They take your measurements and weigh you. They do blood tests. They do something called a dexascan (though I have no idea if that’s spelled correctly) where you lie down on a table and this scanner moves over you to measure your percentage of body fat. It spits out a picture that I thought I might post…until I saw it. Yeah, I thought it would be so much better than the one I had at the beginning of the program, and it is, but a picture of my fat still looks pretty fat. I’ll just tell you about the measurements instead. The dexascan said that I went from 47.9% body fat to 37.5% body fat. My trainer’s measurements showed that I lost 8 inches off my waist and 8 1/2 off my hips. My cholesterol is down to 162 (I think it was 295 before, high cholesterol runs in my family). Oddly enough, my HDL (good cholesterol) was down from 41 (April 2009) to 39, so I guess I’ll need to talk to the Program doctor about that when I get back. Exercise is supposed to increase it, but I’m already doing a lot of that!

As you can see, I’ve been doing pretty well. Lots of progress. Even so, whenever I eat off plan, I feel like I’ve instantaneously gained back at least 40 pounds. It may seem like a good thing to use as a deterrent, but it won’t work for me in the long-term because I want to feel better about myself than that. I need to celebrate how far I’ve come and I don’t want to beat myself up for eating off plan – that’s part of how I got into this in the first place. No, the goal is to have balance in my life, so I’m going to have to work on body image on the inside, too.

One of the things that has been a trigger food for me lately is graham crackers. I may have already mentioned this, but I’m too lazy to go back and look, so I’ll just tell you again. BamBam refuses to eat most foods other than pureed baby food, chicken strips, and graham crackers. So we have graham crackers perpetually at the ready for him. I see them and think I can have just one, but it never stops there. And I don’t even like graham crackers. But they’ve become a gateway drug.

I thought at first that it was the heat (I know I mentioned that) or that I just have no will-power, but I realized a few weeks ago that it’s stress. The heat doesn’t help, I meant what I said about that, but the main thing is stress. Yes, there was stress over  preparing for the impending trip to Texas, but there was something bigger that was causing me much more stress. And I made it infinitely worse by not acknowledging that I was stressed about it at all.

[About 10 days (and a considerable amount of chocolate) passed between writing these two sections.]

You see, BamBam has Sensory Processing Disorder, aka Sensory Integration Disorder. Wait, let me back up and tell you about BeBop first.

When BeBop was a little over two, there were some concerns about his speech. We all thought it was due to the constant ear infections he had and hearing tests certainly seemed to back that up. So we thought that it would get better once he had ear tubes. Well, the tubes stopped his ear infections, but his speech didn’t significantly improve. So, shortly after he turned three, we took him to a speech therapist. She was not so subtle in pointing out to me the reasons she felt that he had significant delays…and not only in speech. Between what she said to me in person and the way she worded her report, she basically made me feel like he would never be able to dress himself or do much of anything more than drool. I know that’s an overreaction, especially since he was already doing many things, but I’m telling you how I felt. I like to think I would have had a better reaction had I been prepared for something that dramatic to be wrong, but I know I’m kidding myself. You’re never prepared for something to be wrong with your kid, regardless of the extent. Or your experience – I was a genetic counselor for crying out loud. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe my experience made it worse. Because I have known kids with profound disabilities. And this time it was my kid whose hands were flapping (hand flapping is a self-stimulatory behavior – and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, count yourself lucky).

The speech therapist and our pediatrician felt that it was PDD – pervasive developmental delay. I was freaked the hell out. In one day, he went from a normal, if quirky, kid who had some issues with talking to a child dealing with autism. And it was my fault. Something I’d done, I was sure, because it had to be. Didn’t matter that the pediatrician specifically told me it was nothing I’d done. All my training in biology and genetics went straight out the window. It was definitely my fault. Yes, I know on some level that it’s not, but I’m still struggling with that concept. If only I had (fill in the blank).

Anyway, we started him in speech therapy and occupational therapy. His occupational therapist specializes in sensory processing disorders. His progress in her care has been remarkable. After a few months working with her, his vocabulary skyrocketed. Seems that once he was better able to deal with the sensory input, he could concentrate on actually communicating.

BeBop started preschool in the fall and did wonderfully there. The teacher told me in April that she thought he would be an early reader. Can you imagine how that made me feel? I’m actually crying right now just remembering it. He still goes to all his therapies (speech, occupational, physical, and a social skills class), but he’s thriving. I’m so thrilled that I sometimes forget that the road to get here was paved with tremendous stress and heartache for me. And largely for me alone because I haven’t shared it with a lot of people. That’s partly because it’s in my nature to be that way and partly because many people I share it with don’t really get that there’s anything wrong. They can’t see it and I can’t really blame them for that, but it makes it difficult to share if I’m afraid they’re going to silently judge me for overreacting or, so much worse, being melodramatic.

So, a year later, BeBop’s still got some issues, but is doing so much better. His OT recently told me that, although she’s not a psychiatrist (it’s a psych who would make the diagnosis of PDD), she felt that he had an isolated sensory processing disorder rather than PDD. She said he’ll be quirky, but so is Bill Gates and he seems to be doing just fine. BeBop still needs therapy and will for a while, but these days I don’t think most people would be able to tell he had any issues at all. I’m rushing him around to various therapies and worrying that he’ll never be potty trained, but basically settled in to our normal life routine and not stressed about it.

And that brings us to BamBam, who, incidentally, got that name because he loves to kick things with his feet – he even kicked BeBops door off its hinges a few months ago. He was six months old when all BeBop’s therapy started. One of the things the OT mentioned about BeBop’s development had to do with crawling – how and when – so I watched BamBam like a hawk. He crawled on all fours right at the standard time, so I was able to breathe again. But then I started to notice little things that reminded me of BeBop’s early develpment. Like the way he seizes up when he gets excited. We thought it was so cute with BeBop, but that was before I knew what it meant.

I took BamBam to our OT to have him evaluated. Turns out he has many of the same sensory issues that BeBop has, so we started him in occupational therapy. I was so cool about it. Really, you would have been proud of me. No freak outs at all because I knew everything would be okay. I even started this intensive weight loss program so that I can be healthier and have more energy to deal with all the demands on me. One of the things they talk about is stress management, which I think is funny because the total time suck of the program is one of the things that stresses me out. Back to BamBam.

Unfortunately, we also noticed that BamBam has a speech delay. I know, I know, how do you tell there’s a speech delay in a kid that young, right? Well, he has no words. He babbles all the time, but doesn’t say words. Except sometimes. Like in the pediatrician’s office, when we both swear we heard him say ‘trash’ – I’m so glad I wasn’t alone or I would have thought I imagined it. He never said it again, though. Anyway, it’s not just the lack of words. I can’t tell if he understands things I’m saying or not. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Like BeBop, BamBam’s speech didn’t improve after he got ear tubes. The pediatrician and I have been discussing this for a while and decided that if his speech hadn’t improved by 19 months, we’d have him evaluated. So, in early July, I took him to a local place that has comprehensive services for kids birth to three (BeBop was too old to go there by the time we had him evaluated). BamBam ran around the room, flitting from one thing to another, just the way he does at home. The speech therapist echoed back to me, and agreed, that it was impossible to tell if he understood things. I find it hard to describe, but I’ll try because I’m just that damn stubborn. If you show him three different toys and tell him to grab the ball, sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t. When he does, you can’t tell if it was because you told him to or if that was just what he wanted to do in that moment. And when he doesn’t, you can’t tell if it’s because he doesn’t understand what you’re telling him to do or if he’s just not paying attention to you because he’s focused on something else. It’s maddening. I won’t go into more detail (What’s that? Too late, you say?), but basically they’re suggesting he have three different therapies there in addition to the OT he already has. Their terms are different than I’m familiar with, but I think they were motor, social, and education. Whatever those mean. He’s not getting speech yet because the speech pathologist feels we need to work out his sensory issues first. If he still needs speech therapy once we can get him to sit still for a few minutes at a time, we’ll add that on then.

Up until the evaluation, I was still under the impression that I was not stressed out about this at all. Just another day in the busy life of a stay-at-home mom, carting the kids around to their various activities. When we got home, I ate a graham cracker. Then another. Not a huge deal. Although I had been having some issues with graham crackers and my diet, as I said above. They’re not on my diet. With good reason, too, because that was just the start. I ended up eating my way through anything I could find in the house. A friend of mine drove BeBop home from camp that afternoon and I told her I realized I might be a little stressed over this whole thing. She looked at me like I had an arm growing out of my forehead and said, “Of course you’re stressed.”

Yes, you can say, “duh” now, but I really didn’t know it. I thought that because we’ve been through this with BeBop and we’re getting BamBam help even earlier, that I shouldn’t be upset about it. I know from experience that it will be okay. I’ve been here before in a very similar situation, so there’s nothing to be upset about, right? Right!?! Uhm, no, Michelle, that’s not right. You have a second child with special needs and it’s okay to be upset about that. More than that, it’s normal to be upset about it.

Okay, so I’m stressed. I actually felt much better once I admitted it to myself. Well, that and after I ate my way through a bacon cheeseburger and a hot fudge brownie sunday. Hey, it’s a process. I’ve been struggling on and off with the diet ever since. Being on an extended trip hasn’t helped with that either. It’s hard at home and that’s intensified exponentially on the road.

I know he’ll be fine and that these therapies are what he needs. He will be fine. But I’m scared anyway. I want everything to be perfect for him. He deserves it. He’s such a sweet little guy. They both are. And they deserve everything to be wonderful and smooth for them. I keep telling myself that this will make them stronger and more interesting. Part of my brain shouts back that I’d rather have them boring as hell but happy. Which is funny to look at now that I’ve written it because the one consistent thing people say when they meet my boys is how happy and friendly and smiley they are. What do I know anyway?

And then there’s that pushy girl in my head. You know, the one in the back with the wretched, annoying voice? She keeps telling me what a horrible, selfish mother I am because part of my stress is that I don’t know how in the world I’m going to fit three more therapies a week into our already packed schedule. I’d taser the stupid cow if it wouldn’t knock me out to do it.

To close on a happier note, I can tell you that the visits with Sparky’s parents, sister, Aunts, and cousins were lovely, as was the visit with my brother and his family. The visit with my mom and stepdad has been lovely as well, but it’s not over yet and you never know what kind of hell might break loose around the corner. 🙂 And as consolation for three weeks of waiting for another post, I leave you with pictures from a professional photo shoot we did while my brother’s family was here. I’d post pictures of Sparky’s family, but I can’t find the stupid USB connector to download the pictures from my camera! I’ll try to post some of those in a few days when I WILL find the USB connector.

Back row: My brother and Sparky; Third row: Me, Gilmo, and Mombo; Second row: BeBop, Bean, and my SIL; Front row: Bug, BamBam, and Blue

Left to right: BeBop, Bean, Blue, BamBam, and Bug

My favorite picture of the bunch because it shows off my boys' personalities.

*More than three weeks now. I needed some extra time to stele myself to write the kids’ issues part of the blog.

**Well, it was tomorrow when I started writing this more than a week ago.

***Yeah, I was so totally kidding myself about that. Much worse with Sparky gone.

****Once again, this stuff is all in the past as of the posting of this blog, but if I go back and fix it all, I’ll never get the stupid blog posted.

Read More