Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Working on the Resolutions

Laugh more. Stress less. Write more, and flow. Crank down the criticism. Make time for games. And hair cuts (today's felt good). Let go of worry. Maintain a sense of humor. Just keep rowing.

Remember the wonderful things I've learned through yoga: to be still in the moment, to pay attention, to breathe.

Kindle flames of friendship, and let the warmth suffuse my life.

Enjoy the process of moving through life, changing from one day to the next, making connections, making statements, creating worlds of thought. Look people in the eye, find the light in everyone.

Cherish my children every day. How quickly they grow and move on!

Remember who I am.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

White Chicken Chili

I had friends coming over for a meal, and wanted to make Giada De Laurentis' recipe for white chicken chili. The recipe calls for ground chicken and of course when I was looking for ground chicken, I couldn't find it anywhere. But hey, no problem -- I had, hiding in my pantry, the meat grinding attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer. Time to put that piece of kitchenware to use! I bought a combination of boneless chicken breasts & thighs.

It was easy to put the attachment onto the mixer, and soon I was grinding with ease! I called Dominic over to check it out, knowing how he loves cooking and all things mechanical. He started helping to push the meat through the chute.

"This is pretty cool!" he said.

"Yes," I replied. "I haven't done this in a long time. Not since I was a kid."

"Why did you do this when you were a kid?" he asked.

"I used to make chopped liver with my mom," I said. We used to grind up the cooked liver and onions and some other stuff. But I don't do that anymore."

"Why not?" he asked.

"I don't eat liver anymore," I answered.

He looked at me, and asked, "Because you stopped being a cannibal?"

Then I explained that it was cow liver, not human liver, that we used to cook, and somehow he thought that was even more disgusting.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


When Daniel was diagnosed with type 1, a wonderful woman, C., took me under her wing. C also had a son, a bit older than Daniel, who was dx'd about a year before. C emailed me long letters daily, making sure that we were all okay. She answered all my questions in detail. When I could no longer stand to hear or read anything else about diabetes, she just sent notes that said, "I understand. I'm sorry." She found resources for me, and went with me into Daniel's high school when we had our 504 plan meeting. When the diagnosis happened, we felt like we suddenly had to assimilate an incredible amount of knowledge in order to keep our son alive and functioning. It was hard to remember everything; we had lists and spreadsheets littering every surface of the kitchen... it was crazy. Looking back, it seems so long ago, although three years is not so long. Three years ago, in the middle of the maelstrom, I couldn't imagine regaining a sense of balance, and normalcy.

Fast forward, and we are standing on our feet again. Diabetes is always lurking, ready to lash out if Daniel lets down his guard, but now he knows what to do to keep it under control. And I know what I have to do. In the US alone, 40 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every day. Forty sets of parents grip needles for the first time, trying their best to overcome their fears and inject their children. Thousands upon thousands of bits of data swirl around in their brains, as they try to remember blood sugar to insulin ratios, correction factors, emergency phone numbers. I know I have to be the person at the other end of the phone or the email, ready to say, "I understand. I'm sorry."

Tonight's phone call was pretty difficult. The family was 6 weeks in, and the child was only 8. Mom was unable to give her child a shot... she just couldn't do it, and relied on her husband. She is volunteering in her son's school constantly, because she is scared to have him be there without her. She can't trust anyone else with her son, but she also barely trusts herself!

I remember that feeling of dread, the horrible dreams that I measured out the wrong amount of insulin, that I calculated the carbs wrong, that I sent my child into an awful low. Dreams of endless nights at Children's Hospital. I was just reliving those feelings as I listened to this woman's voice.

We both talked & shared for a long time. I think sometimes it just helps to have someone listen to your fears -- someone who truly gets it. The best I can do right now is just to be there when she calls or emails, and to let her know that her son will be okay, and that they will get through this awful time.

I think it's kind of sad that they call this newly diagnosed time, when your body is still producing some insulin, the honeymoon period, as if it is a lovely thing. As if getting to know this companion, the one who will be with you the rest of your life, is a cause for celebration.

Monday, September 20, 2010

8 Days a Week

So I thought it would be a good idea to take online courses in Educational Technology Integration so that I could get a certificate which could somehow lead to the job I'm trying to create for myself at some point in the near future. I've jumped into the world of online classes, Grad School a la Chat, with reading assignments up the gazork. I feel like I'm in a 24/7 conversation. It's a bit maddening, and quite different from my previous grad school experience.

But then again, my previous experience was a delicious, self-indulgent soak in poetry. The all night conversations included, at times, visiting artists, and shared bottles of wine. The connections made in that environment were bone deep, and have continued over these many years. The connections I'm making in my current class are through Skype, and can so easily disappear with the last click of the mouse on my final exam.

This class isn't a bad thing, but it feels like a necessary thing. Something to get through. It's difficult though, to do homework of my own, after sitting down to help my children with their homework. I'm ready to discuss "Tuck Everlasting," or write about the Cheyenne Indians, rather than a comparison of the educational value of Learning Today's Smart Tutor program to Math Missions Spectacle City Adventure.

So if I haven't responded to an email, or given you a call for a while, it's because I'm trying to make a deadline, and figure out how to write coherent sentences. I'll come up for air when this class is over, or when I'm out of chocolate, whichever comes first.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September evening

I love the hiking/biking trail that goes through our neighborhood. I like to walk in the early evening, when the heat loses its grip on the day, and the woods are alive with the chatters and chirps of many little creatures. Today on my walk there were joggers, bikes, scooters, people on the phone, groups of friends, and a man, iPod in ears, singing to himself in a language I did not understand. Bike wheels spoke, “thump thump thump” over the wooden footbridge, then, “hissssss” on the paved trail as I walked along.

I can tell that fall is approaching, even though the air is still hot and dry, and the trees are starting to crisp from lack of rain. The sunlight has changed – golden honey dripping through the branches, catching up loose leaves in its flow and scattering them on the ground. On the last part of my walk I saw a medium sized buck standing away from the path, in a patch of sunlight near a stand of oak trees. As I passed him he heard the whisper of grass under my feet, and he looked up, chewing. For that moment, there was no one else on the trail. The grasshoppers fiddled melodies, and somewhere a clock ticked closer to autumn. The oak trees understood, and released a fall of acorns. They rained down in the sunlight in front of the deer. A sprinkle. A nutstorm.

Then it passed, as storms do. The trail traffic resumed, the deer looked away, and I walked past, to the road that leads to my house.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eat a lot of peaches!

We are lucky to have a little farm near our house, and they have THE BEST PEACHES. Every week a different variety is in season. We have to keep checking in so that we don't miss the ones we love. The white, low acid peaches -- Sugar May, White Ladies, Sugar Giants, Saturns -- those are our favorites. I also enjoy the yellow peaches, which are less sugary but more deeply peachy.

Just peachy.

Today I dropped the peaches, 3 at a time, into a small pot of boiling water. Boiled them for 1 minute, then took them out with a slotted spoon and put them in a bowl. Carried those gorgeous, glowing globes (snort) to the sink and slipped them from their skins (that's what the boiling does), sliced them up, and stirred in a drop of lemon juice to make sure they didn't brown. We had them after dinner with a choice of peach or vanilla ice cream.

Ahh, summer...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Shimmering in the heat

It's rather boring, isn't it, to speak of the weather, of the relentless heat, the grass going dormant and crisping as if the sun was trying to achieve that nutty, toasted grass flavor? Yes, but I can't help it. Can't change it, so I'm doomed to talk about the blasting, shimmering oven just outside my door. Even the pool is warm. Swimming laps is just slightly more refreshing than jogging. I drive around, and the car air conditioner competes with the ever-warming dashboard for control of the car's temperature.

The hot air washes the colors out of the grass, flowers, sky, and drifts, barely moving, in the steely light. No wind.

I was hoping for a thunderstorm tonight, a cicada-silencing, child-frightening, wild tumble of leaf rip and water sheet. But the trees are motionless. A sedentary cloud above. Dominic is watching "The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)" and the earth is still. Still hot.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Long time no type

Wow, I can't believe it has been almost two months since my last post. The end of the school year was so busy, and at the end of May Daniel had a 5 day stay in the hospital just to add to the fun. More on that later. A couple of days after school ended, we went on a trip to my in-law's house, and took in some college visits while we were up in New England. We came back home on Friday, and the hot and humid weather is in force. I am so thankful for air conditioning!

On May 24th I had just arrived at work, and I was setting up my computer in a quiet place away from my classroom so I could work on grades. The receptionist found me and said that my child's school nurse was on the phone for me. Doesn't that always send a shiver down your spine? I mean, with Daniel it could be anything from "we need more supplies" to "his blood sugar is way high/low, take him home!" The last time I got a call from a school nurse, it was for my younger son, Dominic, who got a goose egg on his forehead during recess and spent the rest of the day in her office with a headache. Ugh.

This time the nurse said that Daniel was having trouble breathing, that he complained of pain in his left shoulder, and that his left arm was numb. Yikes! I gathered all my stuff and drove across the county as fast as I could. I tried calling his pediatrician, but it was Monday morning and I got an automatic message saying that I was 5th in line, which is usually a 10-15 minute wait. I called the nurse back and asked if she thought, based on how he was feeling, whether I should try to get him into the pediatrician or take him to the ER. She said, "Oh, if you can get him into your pediatrician, that would be good." Then she told me to hold, and I could hear a discussion going on in the background. She came back on the line and told me, "okay, I think it would be good if you took him to the emergency room."

I freaked out and drove faster, wondering if Daniel was having a heart attack, and why the school nurse didn't put him in an ambulance. But at that point I was close to school, closer than an ambulance, so I picked him up and started heading for the nearest hospital. My brain was going, "closest hospital? or Children's hospital? Closest? Childrens?" Daniel said, "why are we going this way? This isn't towards home? Can't I just sleep this off?" Sheesh. "NO! We are going to the ER!" Daniel rolled his eyes. "I don't want to go to the emergency room!"

I didn't tell him that I was worried about his symptoms because I didn't want to freak him out. Luckily, the ER was pretty empty, and we were seen right away. The doctor listened to his heart, took his vitals, and said, "Well, we're going to do an x-ray. And we'll do an ekg just to totally rule anything else out, but his heart sounds fine."

That was a huge relief for me. They rolled in the ekg machine, and quickly ruled out a heart attack. The x-ray showed the real story -- that his lung had spontaneously collapsed. The doctor said that they would be sending Daniel in an ambulance to Children's hospital (Ugh! Should have gone there first!) where they would do a further examination. She said that many times these pneumothoraxes heal on their own. Sometimes you need a chest tube. But she thought he'd be fine.

So here's the deja vu part of the story -- 3 years before, in May 2007, Daniel was diagnosed with diabetes. We started at this same hospital, and then they sent us in an ambulance to Children's. At that time I was in such shock that my brain wasn't functioning enough to figure out who could take care of my other 2 kids. This time was different. My brain was making lists. First I ran upstairs to see my mom, who was in the hospital for another issue. Luckily she was better, and a day away from being released. I let her know what was going on. Then I got on the phone. I called friends to take care of my other two kids because the doctor told me we would be in the hospital at least over night. Then I called my husband's boss. My husband was out of town on a business trip, and I needed him back right away! His boss was great -- once she found out what was going on she started making travel arrangements for Matt before she even contacted him.

We got to Children's hospital, where they told us that Daniel needed a chest tube. They inserted it in the emergency room, while he was awake (high on morphine and numbed with something else), while I was holding his hand. When they cut him he said, "Ouch?"

"Oh, you felt that? Give him some more "something-caine."

Then a few minutes later, Daniel said, "You have your fingers on my rib right now, don't you?" Oh God. I held his hand, bent my head down, and decided quite firmly that I would NOT be a fainting parent." It was a tight squeeze between his ribs, but then the doc said, "You'll hear a pop!" and it went POP and the tube was in. We spent the next few days waiting for the lung to reinflate. It took 2 tries, but finally worked with no surgery.

My husband came home, my kids were cared for, and Daniel and I spend 5 sleepless nights with the wonderful staff of Children's. He's fine now, with a little scar on his chest as a reminder of that crazy week. There's a 30 percent chance of it happening again, in which case they would do surgery right away to make sure that the lung can't collapse again.

The pneumothorax had nothing to do with his diabetes. He fits the profile of tall, skinny, young male -- apparently it is quite common. Just like type 1 diabetes.

All's well that ends well. I'm thankful that we're all together now, and on our way to see the fireworks. Happy fourth of July!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Gluten Free Potstickers

I'm teaching a gluten free cooking class for a few weekends, and found out that the oven at the church where I'm teaching is just not very reliable. You have to turn it on an hour or two in advance of cooking, and then crank it all the way up to get it warm. The temperature gauge is not reliable, and when I taught a class on how to make gluten free flatbread, the bread came out al dente, which is not how it is supposed to be. So I was researching recipes that don't use an oven and came across Gluten Free Gobsmacked's (Kate Chan) recipe for potstickers. You can find it here.

I made a test batch tonight, and they were yummy! I made changes to her recipe, though, because of the ingredients I had on hand. For the dough I followed her recipe exactly, and it turned out great. She says she uses the same dough for egg rolls, and I think it would work very well for ravioli, too. It rolls out easily (between sheets of parchment paper or cut-open large ziploc bags) and handles well. A few of the potstickers cracked a little when I filled them, but they held together when they were boiled and nothing leaked out. They also held together when I crisped them in the pan, and the crunchy dough was delicious!!

Her filling recipe calls for chicken thighs, which I didn't have at home. I had a package of thin-cut pork loin chops, so I used that. I also had some baby bok choy that looked lovely and fresh at the store this week, so I used that instead of onion. I chopped it up and sauteed it very quickly, for about 2 minutes, over high heat in some olive oil before adding it to the recipe. Finally, instead of parsley I used cilantro. I am growing both in my garden this year, but had already cut some cilantro for another recipe and needed to use it up. I found it helped to mix the "meat paste" by hand to really incorporate all of the ingredients.

When all was done, the recipe made 24 potstickers. I think I could have gotten a few more out of the recipe if I had rolled the dough a little thinner than the 1/8 inch that the recipe calls for. I think it would have held together okay. Based on my calculations, each potsticker was about 12 carbs.

As I was making the potstickers, I thought how Daniel hasn't had them since he was diagnosed, about 3 years ago. Slowly, slowly we are finding ways to make all his favorite dishes. This was a labor intensive dish, though. I think that the next time I make these I will split up the work -- make the "meat paste" the day before and put it away, so that there is less cleaning up of the cuisinart between steps. I will also make a really huge batch and freeze them, the way I have done with ravioli, so I don't have to do it so often! I think it would also help to cook/clean with a partner on this one!

It was good work tonight, though. It took my mind off the things that worry me. My mom had to go to the hospital today. All good thoughts and prayers are appreciated. And in the meantime, I'm taking some butter out of the freezer to make more gluten free cookies. I can just keep on cooking until the phone rings...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Artificial Pancreas

I've read a couple of intriguing articles about a robotic/artificial pancreas, and it seems hopeful for the near future. There's a great article in Wired Magazine this month here, and and another article from the LA Times here about Boston researchers who are using a combination of insulin & glucagon in their trial pancreas. They seem to think that something can be on the market in as little as 7 years.

We have the technology. All the pieces just have to be put together. It's very exciting. I hope that when it all comes together, that health insurance companies will make such devices available and affordable.

Also, although the technology is wonderful, an artificial pancreas is still not a CURE! So let's keep working on that, eh?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hog Heaven

We've just returned from a trip to western North Carolina, with a college visit in Virginia along the way. When I researched our trip, I didn't get too many good "hits" for celiac-friendly places in the general vicinity, so we packed up the car with GF pasta, flour, bread, pizza dough, cookies -- enough to last a hungry teenager for a week. Right before we left I found the Glutino brand oreo type cookies which, according to Daniel, are pretty good for a GF cookie. Still, I knew there would be a number of times that we would have to eat in restaurants, so I was concerned.

We stayed overnight near Blacksburg, VA so that we could do a tour of Virginia Tech. I asked the hotel clerk for food recommendations, and she reeled off a list of fast food names that were not good for gluten-free eating. Then she said, "Oh, and there's a barbecue place a couple of miles down the road. You can't miss the sign with the big pink pig." We decided to check out the menu. It was either that, or a baked potato at Wendy's, which would have been okay, but not great.

I went into the restaurant first to ask about gluten free choices. I don't know -- I may have been the first person ever to ask, because I had to explain gluten. However -- the people at Due South BBQ were wonderful. They went over all their ingredients, and we determined that it would be okay for Daniel to eat there. It turned out to be okay for all of us. The meat was falling-off-the-bone delicious, there were numerous sauces to choose from, and we even were lucky enough to visit on a night with live music.

Our tour guide at Virginia Tech had a soy allergy, so she was a good person to ask about dining with special needs. She pointed out a dining hall where we could eat lunch. It was okay. Based on what I saw, I'm not sure it's that easy to stay on a GF diet there. But wow, what a lovely school.

As we headed south, barbecue became our go-to choice for safe celiac eating. Granted, we had to ask that no hush puppies or fries or rolls touch the plate, and Daniel couldn't satisfy his sweet tooth afterward (unless they had vanilla ice cream). But he could eat his fill of barbecue (ribs, pulled pork, chicken), beans, and cole slaw with no problem. By the end of the week we had all had enough of barbecue. Even my husband. I've never seen that happen before!

I did find a listing for a totally gluten-free restaurant in Asheville, But there was major construction on that particular road, and we just couldn't find it. We ended up eating at Moe 's Southwest Grill (a fast food chain) for lunch that day, and the lady behind the counter there went out of her way to make sure Daniel's nachos were gluten free. The cheesy sauce that is poured on top of nachos is often NOT gluten free, but she sprinkled regular shredded cheese on his nachos and heated them up in the clamshell cooker. It took an extra 5 minutes, but we appreciated the attention to detail.

On one of our trips, we ended up in the small town of Brevard, NC. We found a lovely place there: Rocky's Soda Shop, which is set up like an old fashioned soda shop restaurant with a lovely lunch counter, great milkshakes, and fun, touristy stuff for sale. (I bought a Transylvania County t-shirt that has the saying "Transylvania County / Just Bite Me"). We were hoping to get a bunless burger there, but they only sold hot dogs. Hot dogs often have gluten, so that was a no-no. But they also made chili, and the cook told us what was in it. He even made it into a chili/salad combo so that Daniel could have a side dish. They were great. The milkshakes were made with Edy's ice cream, which we know is okay.

So the celiac thing went okay. But with all that fat, the blood sugar numbers were running high! We had a little scare when Daniel changed his site one day, and when he was trying to prime his pump, it gave the message "no delivery." He tried and retried a few times, and finally it worked. We didn't know what happened, but were happy that the pump was pumping, When we got home, this happened again, so we called minimed's technical assistance number. Daniel kept trying to get it to work while he was waiting on hold, and after about 10 minutes, it started to work again. When the technician came on the phone, she told us that it probably was not the pump (whew!). It is usually the case that there is a problem with the set, something that happens at the factory. Perhaps the lubricant didn't get all the way into the set, or the needle is bent. They have a set of steps to go through to find out exactly what the problem is. But they were nice, they sent us a couple of replacement sets, and if the problem happens again Daniel will go through the steps with the technician to find out what is wrong. I'm just glad it's not the pump!

Western North Carolina is beautiful. We visited plenty of waterfalls, saw wild elk, wild turkeys, hundreds of butterflies, and we hiked a lot of trails. And climbed a few. Nothing like a steep incline to get those leg muscles working! The scenery on the Blue Ridge parkway is gorgeous! My daughter and I had lots of fun checking out the arts & crafts as well! My friend Jeanne taught us a great family game (pegs and jokers), which was our fun activity every evening.

We even got to feed some burros, which lived near our cabin. They like carrots! All in all, it was a great trip.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Range of Motion

It feels so good to have my cast off. And while I remain stiff and sore, and I don't have my complete range of motion back yet, typing is certainly much easier now than it has been for the past 6 weeks. type type type type ahhhhhhh.

A little more than 6 weeks ago I was doing some lovely yoga stretches on the kitchen floor, right before bedtime. I stood up, and then I guess I tripped over my own feet... I don't know exactly what I did. I only know that I was falling forward, off balance, and couldn't get my feet under me to stand up. The kitchen counter was zooming quickly toward my face, so I put my hand out... and ouch. I happened to be right next to the refrigerator when this happened, so I grabbed the ice wrap out of the freezer and ran down the stairs to where Matt was typing away at the computer. I couldn't get the ice pack in it's little comfort sleeve, so between curses I asked for his help and then paced the basement in a rather manic way. I felt that if I stopped moving (or cursing), my arm would hurt more. I think Matt thought I had suddenly lost my mind.

It was late, and since I could wiggle my fingers and there was no swelling (thank you ice) I did not believe that I had broken anything. I didn't want to wake up the kids to tell them that we were going to the hospital, either. So I told Matt that if it was still bad in the morning, he could take me in for an x-ray then.

After a night of no sleep, I thought it would be a pretty good idea to get an x-ray. We are about halfway between two hospitals, and we went to Montgomery General because it was opposite rush hour traffic. Matt dropped me off at the emergency room entrance and went to park the car. The nurse at the desk asked what was wrong, and I told her that I had hurt my wrist & needed an x-ray.

There was another nurse standing at the desk, just shooting the breeze with the admitting nurse. She pipes up, "OH, my daughter fell and broke her wrist, and it was just AWFUL! She had to have SURGERY, and SCREWS put in, and it took her MONTHS to get better!" I thought, "gee, what a nice welcome committee," and said out loud, "I don't think it's broken... I'm just playing it safe." And thanks for scaring the crap out of me.

The emergency room doctor was great. She told me, after pressing here and there, that she thought I broke my radius and my schaphoid (thumb) bone. The schaphoid break is difficult to see on x-rays, so she planned on having the radiologist take a good close up. When the x-rays finally came back, she showed them to me on the computer. "Look," she said. "In these 3 x-rays, you can't see the break. But in THIS one..." and there were the break lines. Not all the way through, thank goodness, but fractures.

The nurse handed me some pills to take (I had to ask what they were -- advil) and told me that if I went to Potomac Valley orthopedists, then I wouldn't need to pick up my x-rays from radiology because the Potomac people could just get them on their computers. So Matt took me home. CVS said my prescription would take 2 hours (UGH!). I called Potomac Valley to make the appointment for the next day. "Do you have your x-rays?" they asked. I explained what the nurse said. "We can't get the x-rays over the computer," was the response.

So back I went to the hospital. Did I mention that they are doing construction there? No parking anywhere. I drove around and around the parking lot for 15 minutes before I finally found a spot. Went to radiology, gave my name, signed for the x-rays, and left. CVS finally had my prescription (pain meds) but I couldn't take them because I still had to go out to pick up Dominic from after care at his school.

When it was time to get him, I thought I'd better put that x-ray in my purse so I wouldn't forget it in the morning. I look closely at the CD -- and the name on it was not mine. *sigh* They gave me the wrong x-ray. Some lady's lungs. I called Montgomery General, and they apologized. They told me my x-rays would be waiting at the front desk.

So back I go to to the hospital for the 3rd time that day, kids in tow. I pull into the driveway (wasn't about to drive around looking for parking) and hop out, because my x-rays are supposed to be sitting there for me at the front desk. No... they are not. They send me back to radiology again.

At radiology, I hand over the wrong x-rays and ask for mine. The lady behind the counter starts yelling at me. "Who gave you these x-rays? I was looking for these, I had to make a new set! Did YOU sign for these?" On and on. LADY. I have not slept all night and I have a broken wrist. GIVE ME MY X-RAY.

I finally sign for the correct x-ray and go home. Take my meds and go to bed. The next day I go to Potomac Valley to see the orthopedist. They pop the x-ray CD into the machine and... there is only 1 x-ray on it. Not the one where you can see the breaks. I explained what the ER doctor told me, so they took some more x-rays. They did not do a close up, and they didn't get the angle right... so they did not see the breaks! Oh, and did I mention -- my wrist is not swollen AT ALL. The orthopedist is looking at me like I'm crazy. I told him I had the report from the hospital, but he says, "Oh no, I'LL call over there myself."

After a while he returns and says that based on the hospital's report, AND my pain, they are going to cast me. See you in 6 weeks. Gee, thanks.

On Thursday, after they took off the cast, this same doctor breezed into the office, checked my x-ray, pressed quickly on my wrist, and declared everything to be just great. He said I could go back to full activity. I told him that I do yoga, and that I put full weight on my hands for full arm balance. "No problem," he said. Just stretch it back and forth." He waggled his hand a bit. "It will feel funny at first." He spent about 2 minutes total in the room with me and then was on his way. They gave me a splint to wear, but I had to ask them how long I would be wearing it, if I had to wear it at night, etc.

Luckily, my friend Marci's husband is a hand therapist, and he heard the story and made time to see me on Friday. He gave me exercises to do to get my range of motion back. He recommended that I don't put full weight on my hand until 10 weeks after the injury, and recommended therapy to help with the stiffness and pain.

All I can say is, WTF, Potomac Valley? Also, if I ever slip and fall on the ice in front of Montgomery General hospital, and find that I need an x-ray, I'm going to get in a cab and have them drive me over to Holy Cross. I think that will be much safer.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cabin Fever

I don't know how people who live in cold climates get along. One week of this snowdiculousness and I'm ready to climb the walls! It doesn't help that I still have a cast on my arm that needs to stay dry, and doesn't make shoveling easy.

Of course, people who live in cold climates have the resources available to deal with this much snow, and most likely would have had their road plowed by now. Or they would have just gotten into their 4 wheel drive vehicle and gone out. Not the case in Maryland.

So we've played Scrabble and Bananagrams and video games. We've emailed and facebooked and tweeted, taken pictures, payed bills, cooked cooked cooked, and laundry laundry laundry. The house is vacuumed and dusted (to an extent), but somehow, the kids' rooms remain a mess. Daniel had a cold and high blood sugar readings, but that subsided after a few days. Nora and Dominic take turns either playing nicely or screaming at each other loud enough to be heard by their cousin in California. We're all antsy.

I do have something to show for a house-bound week -- a couple of excellent gluten free recipes. Roll-out cookies and brownies. They are seriously the best gluten free brownies ever. They are so good, I think I might have to market them. And as fearful as I am of taking great leaps, that's saying something. I have no idea how to follow that path, but am encouraged to take the first steps.

After my road is plowed, that is. Until then, we will eat all the brownies ourselves.

Friday, February 5, 2010


The storm has been dubbed Snowmageddon, for threatening multiple feet and its windy, blizzardy nature. But no worries. Snowmageddon all you want! There's chicken stew already made, sitting in the fridge. The diabetes supplies are all stocked up, and I even fought my way through the grocery store yesterday for some and delicious Florida strawberries (but actually to pick up some washing machine soap). Matt's home, too -- yay!! He picked up some red wine just before the heavy snow started falling. The neighbors are already checking in for play dates & get togethers. Life is good.

The powers that be let us off at noon today, but there were so few kids in the class that it was an easy day. Maybe we'll even be off on Monday, my busy day, for a complete bonus.

In Maryland we don't get the February break that school systems in New England get, and it always seems like a looooooong stretch from winter break to spring. Hard to stay focused, short days making for short tempers, and it feels like the school year has gone on for 10 months already. As my friend Leah says, every February she says she's quitting. (I'm sure the students have the same sentiment!)

But this year mother nature has given us a reprieve. Break out the board games and pour the cocoa (or the wine). Thank you, snow. I really needed you.

A few lines from Billy Collins' "Shoveling Snow with Buddha"

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Endo craziness

What do you do when you just can't get in to see the endocrinologist? Daniel is supposed to have an appointment every three months to check his A1c, go over his blood sugar history, and have a quick check up. I usually make the appointment three months in advance -- at the end of whatever appointment we're at. But we had a major FAIL this time. My husband took Daniel to his appointment in November. I didn't tell him to make a new appointment before he left. So here it is, 2 months later, and I started thinking hmmm. When is Daniel seeing the endo next? Yikes!

The next available opening is in May. MAY! I took it, of course.

Since Daniel was diagnosed, we've only had experience with the endocrinology department at Children's Hospital. I love the staff, the nurses, and especially Daniel's endocronologist. But it is so hard to get an appointment there! It seems like you have to have an emergency to be seen sometimes! At some point in the not to distant future, Daniel will grow out of the Children's system. I don't know at what age they no longer consider him to be a "child." I wonder where we'll go, and whether we'll have to wait 3 - 5 months to get an appointment.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

GF Goodness in Stamford, CT

A couple of weeks ago when we took a drive up to visit my in laws in Connecticut, we stopped in Stamford to take my husband's aunt out for lunch. I Googled around looking for a place with a gluten free menu, and found a place listed right in Stamford where we were stopping. It is called Frascati's, and it is at 581 Newfield Avenue.

Frascati's is a small, Italian restaurant with a great GF menu. Daniel ordered a pizza (they use the Still Riding pizza crust, which we also can get here at restaurants in MD). But they had more than just pizza. They had a full GF menu with GF pastas, appetizers, and a warm delicious GF brownie for dessert. Daniel split a calamari in tomato sauce appetizer with my husband. We found out later that, even though it is not on the menu, we could have requested gluten free fried calamari, and the chef would have prepared it. Daniel hasn't had that since being diagnosed, and I think we might make the trek up to Stamford again just for that!

It is just so nice to go to a restaurant where we don't have to worry, and where everyone in the family can find something they can eat. Thanks, Frascati's, for making it easy and delicious.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

At last!!!

Daniel got his braces off today. Phew! Poor kid has had an appliance of one sort or another in his mouth for the past nine years -- longer than he's been alive! Of course, he still has to wear retainers, but still -- what a relief. At least those can come off!

I told Daniel my retainer story. I had mine in junior high. I took it out to eat, and put it on a napkin on my tray. When lunch was over, I forgot about the retainer, and dumped it into the trash everything else. A class period or so later, I got that "UH OH" feeling... and not too long after that I was digging through enormous trash cans looking for my retainer. I found it. I boiled it...

Today when I was at work, I saw another teacher walking in front of me. She had pump tubing coiling out of her back pocket and then going under her clothes. The coils were sticking out quite a bit, so I tapped her on the arm as I was walking by and said, "hey, your tubing is sticking out." She said thanks, and tucked it in. I walked back to my classroom, sat down, and thought, wait... maybe that wasn't the right thing to do! It's something I do automatically when I see Daniel's spilling out of his clothes, because he tends to catch it on door knobs or drawer handles. He's ripped a couple of sites out that way, ouch! Anyway, I'm his mom! But until the moment this afternoon when I saw the other teacher's tubing, I didn't even know she was diabetic. Should I have said anything?

Speaking of pumping, Daniel has really taken over his diabetes management over this past 6 months or so. I used to tell him when it was a site change day. Now he tells me. He mostly does that himself as well, unless he's inserting into a place that's difficult for him to reach. I wonder how diabetics who live on their own reach the back of their arms, or other difficult spots, for that matter. I'm sure some have partners, roommates, moms, or other friends who help them out with the "ka-chunker" (as we call it) to insert the infusion set. But what if you live on your own? Daniel can twist around and get his hips pretty well, although he has to look in a mirror. The arms are practically impossible for him.

In any case, it's been wonderful for Daniel to take charge of his care. It makes me feel better about the looming college separation. Now if he would only take on gluten free cooking...

I guess I'll search youtube for how to self administer infusion sets in difficult places -- you can find almost anything on that site.

Keep smiling!!