Monthly Archives: June 2010

Fear factory.

The boy was absolutely fearless.  Climbing on top of large rocks four times his height, standing on the bank of rushing rapids, running off the trail to satisfy his young curiosity.

Absolutely fearless.  So much so that he was oblivious to the more fearful strangers passing by who thought he might fall and break his neck, that he might fall in and drown, that the black bear sighted in the area recently would find him and eat him.

Absolutely fearless.   He had not yet experienced anything to make him fear the outside world.  No falling off a bike, no loss of control while swimming, no friends who had strangers try to lure them with candy.

My parents tell me I was like that, absolutely fearless.  I would spend all day at the park district swimming pool or I would climb trees or I would want the swing pushed way up high.

What I remember contradicts what they tell me.  What I remember is that I avoided the pool’s deep end and that I would only go so far up a tree before I began to shake and that I would stop in my tracks at the top of a long slide.

Absolutely fearless.  Something I can never remember being.

Maybe humans are never meant to be absolutely fearless as we grow and experience the world.  Do you ever see a cat avoid jumping to the highest heights, do you ever see a dog avoid attacking a rabbit?  In contrast, human children learn to be afraid of heights if they fall and human children learn that maybe the rabbit they chased carries disease.

Sure enough, as my world expanded, so did my fear.  Being laughed at in gym class turned into hatred of all things remotely related to exercise.  Falling off an adult-sized bicycle the first time I tried riding one turned into a fear of bike riding.  A few angry customers turned into avoidance of critical work-related telephone calls.

I suppose I can’t call myself absolutely fearful either.  I think nothing of hopping on an airplane by myself to travel places familiar and unfamiliar.  I speak as an passionate advocate for diabetes-related causes.  And most significantly, I managed to rise past that hatred of gym class enough to find an inner athlete a few years ago when threatened by diabetes.  Now, even in spite of more recent damage to my body, I continue to show that old fear out the door.

I may have been of those more fearful strangers following behind that boy and his family yesterday.  But it was also me hiking that trail rising 700 feet in altitude over two miles, only a few weeks after major abdominal surgery (and the second such surgery in less than six months).  It was me shaking off fear of hurting myself through aggravating the recent scars or creating a new injury.

If only I could so easily shake off the other fears that run my life – bike riding or making critical work-related telephone calls or the most feared of all, driving.  By channeling that feeling of fearlessness encountered every time I embark on a new adventure alone or every time I speak passionately about diabetes-related causes or every time I walk (or hike) several miles, I could do just about anything.

I could shut down the fear factory.

Who is the biggest loser now?

You knew it was going to happen.

After a few seasons of The Biggest Loser, one contestant has come forward with an eating disorder that she blames on the show’s excessive exercise and diet regimen.

Yes, weight loss was recommended when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.   Yes, I lost 50 pounds, but it happened over the course of 18 months.   Yes, I have maintained 80% of that weight loss for four years.

For someone who had previously struggled with disordered eating, losing weight safely and slowly made sense.  Focusing on changing habits for a lifetime, rather than for a year, made sense.  Accepting my body in spite of its imperfections at every stage of the process was of most importance.

Successful weight loss in the face of medical issues does not come from extreme diets, like the one portrayed on The Biggest Loser.  Successful weight loss in the face of medical issues is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

Anyone who tells you differently is just trying to exploit for profit – whether in the form of taking your money for expensive weight loss programs or in the form of promising fame on a show like The Biggest Loser on which they will make money in the form of ad revenue.

In advance of BlogHer ’10.

While BlogHer ’10 is still seven weeks away, the buzz has begun to build this week.  And of course, everyone who has been there before is giving advice to the newbies.  So why should I be any different?

  • Not every woman who goes to the conference has children. If you are apprehensive about attending and ready to give up your ticket because of the so-called mommybloggers, be rest assured there are plenty of us without children.  (And just because a blogger might be a mommy doesn’t mean she blogs about motherhood all the time.  Or at all.)
  • Carry business cards everywhere. You never know where you might strike up a conversation – in the hotel lobby, in the conference registration line, in a session, in the bathroom – it is all possible.
  • You are there for the conference first and foremost, obviously.   Limit yourself to three sessions or less – any more can be overwhelming. I attended sessions in all three time slots on Friday last year and my brain hurt by Saturday morning.  If it hadn’t been for the fact I had a friend speaking on a Saturday panel, I would have skipped the day entirely.  This time around, I plan on one Friday session and two Saturday sessions.   Or three Saturday sessions.  Oh heck, I don’t know yet for sure.  (I am NOT missing the ROYO session for sports bloggers on Saturday morning, though!  Especially not with trying to get Garbage Time up and running…oops, shameless plug.)
  • But don’t you dare miss the Community Keynote. I laughed.  I cried.  I’ll be there again to laugh and cry some more.
  • Yes, there are private parties. Some are sponsored, some are not.  Yeah, I was a little upset I didn’t get invited to a couple sponsored events, but I got over it.   My thought on the unsponsored private parties is that is completely okay for a group of women who “know” each other online to gather privately for a few hours.   (And who knows, you might get lucky like I was last year and get invited to such a party as a “plus one” at the last minute, meeting a whole new group of women you never know existed online.)

Any other questions?  Leave a comment and I’ll give you my answer.

Shutting the door.

It is one thing to know you don’t want to do something.  It is another to know that you can never do that something.

Much of this spring, I was feeling somewhat defeated as I continued to discover how my anatomy and physiology was far from perfect, that I would never know what it is like to carry a child or give it nourishment, that I would not know the joy of being a mother.

Women with diabetes have babies. Women with an uterine anomaly like mine have babies.  But both?  Handling both of those enormous risks all at once?  Not to mention managing blood pressure and the thyroid condition.  If I could even become pregnant.  If I could even stay pregnant.

Knowing that I could lose, and lose, and lose, and never win, I just couldn’t let it happen. I was simply not strong enough. I didn’t want a child enough.

After all, motherhood was well below “visiting London”, “living closer to the mountains with a bigger yard”, and even “scooping litter boxes” on life’s priority list before I knew I was broken.

Why the sudden sadness over not having a child?  If infertility was happening to the right woman, why did it bother me so?  Did my prior lack of desire to be a mother mean I knew deep down that something inside me was broken?   Or was I a glutton for punishment wanting to prove the odds wrong?  Or is it true that all women have some degree of biological desire to be maternal, that the biological clock is far from a myth, thanks to all the estrogen and progesterone guiding our monthly cycles?

Whatever it was, I knew there was a decision to be made.  Truth be told, we had been on the brink of shutting the door on having children before I got sick last December.  Even as I was rushed into emergency surgery due to the abscess of unknown origins, it was all about saving the ovaries first and uterus second.  And now, here, the perfect opportunity to do a minor procedure while I was already opened up for a second pelvic surgery.

That is how “tubal ligation” came to be added to the surgical consent form.

Shutting the door turned out to be for the best.  Not only did my right fallopian tube need to be entirely removed thanks to recent abuse from the abscess, but the pathology on the snipped-off ends of my left tube showed older damage.   Of course.  (Remember that part about “if I could even become pregnant”?)

Just as the physical scar continues to heal, so does the emotional one.   Sometimes those hormones, the ones that run the biological clock, send me into a tailspin of “what the fuck did I do?”.   Most of the time, though, knowing that I shut the door allows me an incredible sense of peace.

Tutus in Central Park.

The title of this post says it all.

I will be wearing a tutu in Central Park while participating in the BlogHer 5k in August on my first ever visit to New York City for the BlogHer ’10 conference.

It’s all part of Tutus for Tanner, a group put together in honor of Her Bad Mother‘s nephew Tanner, who is living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.   Not to be grim and without going into too much detail, there is no happy ending to this condition, most unfortunately.

For me, that hits closer to home.  I have mentioned my co-worker and friend, A, from time to time on this blog.  Like me, she and her husband are Midwestern transplants to Colorado.  And like me, she has struck up friendships with people who have become her Colorado family.

One such friendship is with a single mom (M) and her son (Z).  Z and A’s older son were in the same classroom early on in elementary school, before Z became confined to a wheelchair because of Duchenne’s.  Since then, M and Z have become part of A’s family’s birthday celebrations.  There is always room at the table at holiday dinners, too.

I am always struck by M’s determination to get the best care for her son, and for her strong advocacy for disability rights.   So for her, and for Z, as well as for Tanner, I will make a statement walking (or maybe even running?) through Central Park in a tutu.

I have no shame in sharing TMI.

In which the footnotes are longer than the post itself.

Compared to the emotional wreck I was before the second surgery, I am in a good place.  I don’t know if is the anti-depressant*, or the actual real Synthroid my mail-order pharmacy sent this last time**, or the fact that I shouldn’t need a pelvic exam for another year***.  Given all of the ways my body is freaking out with “stress responses” due to the surgery involving female anatomy, I’m kind of surprised that I’m not more of an emotional mess****.

*But I’ve been on it a year!

**I was on Synthroid the first year after my hypothyroidism diagnosis, but later my retail pharmacy switched me to the generic levothyroxine.  And in that time, four years have passed and the generic manufacturer was changed at least twice.  In April, I finally got my endocrinologist’s office to file my prescription with the mail order pharmacy my insurance requires.  And surprise, surprise, they filled it with actual real Synthroid.   Night owl Rachel is back!   Seriously, I can function on five hours of sleep for the first time in years.

***Having had no fewer than eight pelvic exams in the past six months, I am beyond thrilled.  No, I don’t remember the exact number because I was happily hopped up on painkillers for the first several and may or may not have imagined having more than that. 

****Okay, so getting my period two days after major pelvic surgery made me a little cranky and I could do without the night sweats that have been plaguing me about twice a week.   And ew, nipple discharge.  There I said it. 

22 years later.

The maple tree in front of the curved driveway.  The cherry trees and the three pine trees planted for each child in the huge backyard.

This was my family’s home, the house I try to reach in recurring nightmarish dreams. The house where I learned to talk and walk. The driveway where I learned to ride a bike and roller skate.   The yard where I played for hours on end every summer – and sometimes in the winter, too.  The neighborhood where I developed my earliest friendships.

The house itself didn’t look much different last week, just like many “around the block”, but the landscape has changed.  The maple tree is so very tall.  The front pine trees are overgrown, so I must imagine the backyard ones are as well.

(We knew many of our neighbors, so well that our closest ones are still close twenty-two years after we moved away.  The brief drive by the old house was dampered by the reality that the matriarch of the family next door passed away in February.   She was good to all five of us who lived in the house pictured above, and for that, all five of us miss her terribly.)


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