The first step

On April 16, 2013, I weighed 198 pounds at my endocrinologist appointment. I don’t remember necessarily crying about it, but I do remember being pretty depressed the rest of the day. It had been five months since Rich’s surgery and while he was trying to put back on weight, I apparently was playing along for moral support. I was the heaviest I had been in my adult life and I decided to do something about it.

I started using MyFitnessPal on my phone to track food. I used a BodyMedia armband to track all my exercise. It was incredibly slow going. Today I weigh approximately 176 pounds. Given the adjustment for clothing, I have lost exactly 20 pounds in one year. Fascinatingly, I am still basically in the same clothes but they fit differently (not necessarily better). I’ve gone down one jeans size, depending on the brand, and one cup size. Apparently boobs are heavy.

Over the last few months I’ve stopped tracking food. I’ve been coasting for a bit (thank you, F U February) and relaxing. I don’t weigh myself that often and I don’t put a ton of value in the number I read.

My goals have shifted. I have been going to the gym and lifting weights. Who would have thought that counting to 10, resting 30 seconds and then counting to 10 again could be so fun? I’m learning the difference in an incline press (which is my nemesis) and a reverse fly (which should be called the “how to hold a rapier for 15 minutes straight machine”). I’m having fun. But it hasn’t been quite the challenge I wanted.

We walked 8K in March and I was pleased that it didn’t wear me out at all. I can barely run a 5K, but I am miserably slow. Running is harder for me because of the cardio. I get scared that I’m going to go low. All the symptoms for low blood sugar are too similar to the same symptoms of just exercising in general (shortness of breath, sweating, rapid heart rate, feeling woozy). I tried running at the gym a few weeks ago but I had to stop because my blood sugar was 40. It’s frustrating on so many levels because my muscles could have kept going and my heart could have kept going but my everything else was falling apart.

I want to figure out how to run. I understand the mechanics. I have a training schedule. More specifically, I want to figure out how to run with diabetes, and that is a bit more complicated. Peer pressure and whimsy made me sign up for the Crawlin’ Crab 5K in October. Several of my friends are running in it and I can easily cover that much ground.

But today I signed up for the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon. I’m actually signed up for both, so technically I’m taking the “Shell Yeah Challenge” over two days. As I told my parents the other night, I signed up for a three hour math problem. The running is not concerning me nearly as much as the blood sugar management. Even the training part is intimidating.

I’d rather not run on the treadmill because wow boring. But there’s something to be said for being 20 feet from a fridge full of juice if I go low versus miles from home. I think my plan is to map out my run, let Rich track me via Find My Friends (AKA stalk my spouse), and be able to call home if I get stuck. I wish I could just throw on shoes and a high impact sports bra and hit the road, but my life takes a bit more preparation.

For those curious or interested in following along, I’m using the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Training Program. Since I have 25 weeks until the race, I’m doubling up each week to give me time to adjust and not freak out. I’m using MapMyRun on my phone to pick out routes and track my progress.

Yesterday was my first day and I worked on stretching. I chose the Injury Prevention session on and it was perfect. Today is my first three mile run and I am a little nervous. I am even more nervous about my four mile run on Sunday, as that will be the furthest I have ever run in my life. I also will be doing it in Richmond for Easter which is not nearly as flat as Ocean View.

I’m worried that I will suck at this. I’m worried that it will be too hard. Not the running, mind you. The math. How many raisins do I need to eat and how often on each run to keep my blood sugar stable? What should my sugar be when I start and when I stop?

This may be the only thing in my life so far that I’ve felt like diabetes made harder. Pregnancy was annoying but not that bad. Traveling, working, and every day issues don’t bother me. But this is the first time I’ve paused before trying something. Which is why I’m writing today. If I write it down it has to happen. I am equal parts nervous and excited. Wish me luck!

Post yoga

Introducing Hiro

Last month, as we were in the midst of FU February, Rich promised me a new kitty. I squealed continuously for several minutes and hopped all around his office. KITTY! Little puffball of mew mew mew! With the feather chasing and string attacking! Kitty!

I decided we should get a little kitten because Rich had never experienced that. He had never seen Isis when she was that small. Emily was the mother of the kittens I had intended to adopt so she certainly wasn’t tiny. And Tobias inserted himself into our lives at a year old the way he inserts himself into the lap of houseguests. It has been a long time since we’ve had a kitten.

There aren’t a lot of kittens that show up on the SPCA site, but there are tons of cats. I was determined to stand my ground, though. We were getting a tiny puffball of mew, dammit.

We went to the SPCA yesterday to look around. There was a lovely orange tabby but I learned that the orange dot on their sheet means they’re “sassy” and probably not a good fit for small kids. Mr. orange tabby scratched me while we were playing and I don’t need my kid getting scratched. There was a large black cat named Robin but it was hard to tell his personality since he had been handled by a million children that afternoon and was worn out. His personality appeared to be “exhausted”.

But I found myself thinking about this big black cat once we got home. The woman in charge said he was very sweet. I went back and looked him up online, realizing I was doing that thing you do when meet someone and then stalk them on Facebook.

Shopping for a new cat

So after lunch today I decided I would just stop by to look at him one more time. I wanted to see how he was without the hubbub of a busy Sunday and without my own busy kid quizzing me on which cat we were taking home right now. I walked into his “colony” (these glassed-in rooms where they put several cats) and sat down on the floor. He came over and made himself at home in my lap.

kitty in profile

It was then I started to get an idea for just how huge he was, approximately the size of a small pony. He was so friendly. I talked with the worker at the SPCA and she gave me his back story. He was adopted as a kitten but was returned when his owner deployed. Then he was adopted again at the beginning of the year but that woman returned him saying he was too “intimidating” for her. That kind of gives you an idea of his size. She claims that he bit her but later admitted that it didn’t break the skin and it was only when she was trying to brush the base of his tail. So basically she was alarmed that he was acting like a typical cat and returned him. Poor guy is only two years old and is looking for his third home.

I was pretty sure I wanted this feline pony to be ours. But I wanted to walk around a bit and be sure. There was a tiny little 12 week old kitten named Gingersnap and I decided to visit with her a bit. She was super cute and did all those things I said I wanted. She played with feathers and string, ran around all crazy, weighed nothing at all, and made those precious “mew” noises tiny cats make. I should have been in love. But I just kept thinking about that gentle giant in the other room.

I put the kitten back and went back to check on him. There was another woman in the colony with her kids looking for a cat. She said that she wanted a cat to get along with her kids and her three dogs. She kept trying to coax “Robin” out of the cat condo but he wouldn’t budge. One should note, he is not a cat that you can easily move if he is uninterested in being moved. I was standing there, ostensibly looking at another cat in the room but feeling this urge to tell her, “THAT’S MY CAT!” That was my clue that I should just go fill out the paperwork if I was going to be jealous of someone else paying attention to him.

In another 30 minutes he was mine. I’m glad I brought the largest of our cat carriers because it was a tight squeeze. I had to support it from underneath because I didn’t really trust the handle to stay attached. We went through a ton of possible names. Magnus, Quintus, Bruce (Wayne or Campbell), Fezzik (anybody want a peanut?), and Rich’s favorite Hedley LaMurr. But Ian wanted to name him Hiro.

Hiro the train

We discovered that Hiro means “abundant” and “patient” and “generous” in Japanese. That sounds like our cat. It’s also the very long black train in Thomas the Tank Engine. So Hiro it is. Tobias is being a bit of a kitty butthead right now, but that’s to be expected. The dogs are insatiably curious about this new creature in the house, but we’re keeping Hiro separated for now. I’ve typed half this entry with only one hand as our new cat has been lounging all over the other one. If we were Nascar fans we could have named him Dale and called him “the Intimidator” but it didn’t seem very fitting.

Hiro at home

Not so intimidating

How to keep a secret from your husband in 47 easy steps

Rich and I are generally on the same wave length and we don’t keep secrets from each other. So when His Majesty sent me a message on Facebook a few months ago that Rich was due for an award, we had to find a plausible event to attend where he could get it. Defending the Gate seemed like a reasonable day because he normally likes to go to that event anyways to fight.

And then my mom got her knees replaced so we didn’t want to leave Ian all day with my dad solo if we didn’t have to. I had feigned enthusiasm in fighting rapier at the event to explain why I would go, but then refused to attend any fighter practices in the last two months because I can’t hear out of one ear. And then the weather forecast became more foreboding. It was getting harder and harder to sell this event to my husband.

Yesterday, he was all, “The weather looks rainy. We might want to check again tonight and re-evaluate?” Travis agreed but I played dumb. Then Rich said, “It looks like rain Saturday. Are you sure you want to go?” and I pretended that my weather app was only calling for showers after 4pm. Then later that night Travis messaged, “So I am seeing a 70-80% chance of rain pretty much all day tomorrow.” and I quickly replied, “Oh, but it’s not supposed to be cold and we already promised Heidi a ride so that she can see someone get a peerage so I don’t want to bail on her. We’ll just bring a spare set of clothes.”

I’m a pretty optimistic person, but I was really laying it on thick.

We then drove all morning through heavy rain to get to a muddy site where it was actively raining. Rich was worried as soon as we parked that our van was going to get stuck in the mud. Our son was running all over the place and managed to get soaked within 15 minutes of exiting the vehicle. Rich was wanting to know my fighting schedule so that we could be fair about who fights when, but I didn’t really have much desire to slip around in the mud. We then had to have a big talk where I thanked him for his concern and assured him that I had just changed my mind at the last minute about fighting and was totally fine with spending the day in the pouring rain watching our son so that he could fight with Travis and his friends. He looked dubious, as if this is all an elaborate trap, but acquiesced.

We made it through all the fighting. Ian was on his second set of clothes and we only had one more dry set left. We were literally pouring cups of water out of his rubber boots and we had retreated to the van to warm up. Rich dropped off his armor and the rain was still coming down hard. The car next to us needed help getting out of the parking lot. I arrived as Rich has already removed his fighting tabard after the neighboring car had striped him in mud. He was down to his fighting undertunic and leg armor. He, Travis, and Jim tried to find safe places to push the car that were not directly in line with her tires. We all reminded her to go slowly and not gun the engine. And in the process of extracting her car, Rich was covered in mud a second time.

Ian was in our van staying relatively warm and dry. Rich, however, was now staring at me with somewhat crazy eyes, covered in mud. There was mud splattered all over his pants, shirt, neck, face. It was inside his right ear. “I … would like to go home. I am cold and wet and covered in mud.” And I just looked at him. We were so close. He has to stay. I also really wanted to wipe the mud out of his ear, but I knew that if I touched him in this state he would spin on his heels and walk into the woods to punch trees because he wouldn’t want to lay a hand on me. His eyes were huge in the biggest example ever of the Rich Stryker patented, “I’m not angry, I’m just confused” face I have ever seen. I was frozen.

Meanwhile, our four year old son was hanging over the back of the last seat in our van reminding us that he needed to go poop and would like someone to take him to a potty.

I looked directly at Rich and told him, “I have done everything in my power to not tell you this, but you are needed in court today. I won’t tell you why, but we have to stay.” He stared at me, blinking slowly.

“I don’t have any other clothes. I forgot my chain. I’m covered in mud and look like ass!”

Ian yelled out from the back of the van, “No you don’t, Daddy!”

Thanks, bud. We used half a pack of baby wipes to clean him up. I pulled out the secret stash of clean garb I had for him (he hadn’t planned on changing clothes since he was just going to fight and then go home). Ian reminded us that he still had to go potty. Travis scrubbed all the mud off of Rich’s white belt. Otto loaned Rich his chain. And we went to court.

Their Majesties called Rich into court as the next to last piece of business. They called in the Order of the Golden Dolphin and praised him for his sacrifices for the sake of others. I brought in the medallion that Arn and Terri had driven three hours to deliver that morning on the pretense of dropping off apple pastries for the day shade. My husband smiled in appreciation.

We watched Alyna get her Pelican (much deservedly) as the last order of business and court was over. I walked over to my husband, looked him in the eye, kissed him and said, “Now we can go home.”

Muddy day

Remembering Nana

I can’t hope to have a cohesive narrative from the last week, but I wanted to at least get some things jotted down before I forgot them.

Rich’s mom passed on Tuesday afternoon, February 18, 2014. We were all there around her hospital bed as was the pastor from church and the sweet ICU nurse. Rich’s dad tried to apologize for getting emotional and I told him, “Don’t you say you’re sorry or I’ll get grumpy with you. When I die, I expect people to cry. It’s sad and you’re supposed to cry.” He laughed and acquiesced.

Every funeral should have a four year old. Ian has done very well in handling Nana’s death, as I knew he would. We explained that she has died but that we’re going to a viewing and a funeral. We told him that the viewing would be our last chance to see her but it would just be her body. Several times he has asked, “What happened to her head?” to which I would then have to add, “No, her whole body, including her head.”

We went to the viewing and Ian stayed in my arms. I asked if he wanted to touch her and at first he was adamant that he didn’t. But after a few minutes he whispered, “Mommy, can we go touch Nana?” We walked over and he leaned in to pet her arm, stroke her hair and touch her face. We talked about how she was cold because she wasn’t alive anymore. We then had to have a lesson on why bodies are cold and how hearts pump blood to keep us warm. For the rest of the wake, he waffled between playing with his cousin, playing on my iPhone and walking over to visit Nana. Pretty standard stuff.

The next morning at breakfast, we went to Panera. While Granddad got his coffee and Daddy paid, Ian and I went to pick out a table. He casually told me, “We only need four chairs today because Nana is dead.” That then led to a brief discussion on how he didn’t want Nana to die and he misses her but eventually moved on to his spinach and bacon souffle.

We explained that Saturday was another day to remember Nana and we were going to the church to talk about her. Megan is a truly amazing friend because she drove three hours from Maryland that day to watch our kid for us during the service and reception. Her comments to us were:

Moment #1

The service had just started and the minister was giving the opening prayer. Ian looked up from his toys at the minister, studied him for a minute and then turned to me and said, “Why is he talking with his eyes closed?” “Well, he is praying – talking to God – and some people like to close their eyes when they talk to God,” I said. Ian turned to look at me with this frown on his face, “How do you know so much stuff about God?” It was all I could do not to snort audibly. I told him I was really not an expert on God, but I would be happy to tell him everything I know after the service was over. He found that to be an acceptable answer and went back to his toys. I’m glad he forgot about it later. :)

Moment #2

He was very concerned with you both being sad when you gave your remarks during the service. I assured him that you were both okay, just sad about Nana. As I told Genie, he LOVED the story about Nana making a WOOOHHOO noise when she heard Ian was on the way. He repeated that over and over, making the noise, and eventually made the noise whenever something happened that he liked when we were playing or just walking around. I’d love to know if he is still making that noise.

Anyway, by the time Lee got about half way through his remarks, Ian was looking glazed over. He got his blankie out and laid down on the bench with his head in my lap. I really thought he was going to doze off. Then Lee finished and Gerry went up to speak. Ian started frowning again, then squirmed up and sad (fairly loudly and rather crossly) “Why are people I don’t know talking about Nana?!” It was almost possessive, as if he was fine with you all talking about her, but now he had to sit there and listen to complete strangers who clearly didn’t even know his Nana! :) I explained to him that they knew his Nana before was born. He made several grumpy old man “Humph” noises and laid back down. It was really funny.

Again, thank you, Megan!

The reception was so nice. The weather was unusually warm and we all sat out in the sun while the kids ran around the playground. I dragged out some photo albums so that Gabrielle, Megan and I could peruse them. It pleases me that we could all sit together and share memories. I think someone told Rich that it was weird to see his ex-girlfriend, ex-wife and wife all together like that. Seems fine to me. We all had our time with Pat, in one way or another. Thank you, in particular, to Gabrielle for coming. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to spend time with the woman we did over the last six years.

It was time to leave the church and Ian called out across the parking lot, “can we PLEASE go to Target now?!” He’d been wanting a Gordon train for days and we kept telling him we didn’t have time to go yet. I turned to Rich’s dad and told him, “the world moves on, Granddad.”

That evening, tons of family came to the house to visit. Previously, all the Stryker men were begrudgingly saying that folks would insist on coming over and they guessed that would be okay. But then that evening, his dad turned to me and said, “This is so great. She would have loved this. I’m so glad everyone is here.”

Trish is amazing because she bridges both sides of the family as Pat’s step-sister and Tommy Stryker’s ex-wife. She’s everyone’s Aunt Trish. I also loved talking with Gerry. He spent so much time with the Stryker family and had so much love from Pat in particular, I’m sure he felt like a part of their family as much as his own. I commiserated with him that I also have a kid, Regan, who is mine even though other people raise her. It takes a village. They talked about Rich Sr and Pat buying their house and as they walked through the door, Gerry was right behind them turning on lights and pointing out the various rooms. When he balked at being called a stray by the minister, Rich Sr. said, “No, Gerry came with the house.” I also love that when Lee was born, Gerry stayed with them and did the laundry. Rich Sr said he knew he could go to work and everyone would be in good hands with Gerry there.

By Sunday morning, we were all worn out. We were rallying Ian to get dressed and he said, “Do we have to go talk about Nana again?!” When we told him we were just going to breakfast and wouldn’t be going anywhere to talk about Nana, he blurted out, “but we can still talk about Nana, right?” Of course we can. We can talk about her as much as you want.

You can read her obituary and see a slideshow of pictures through the funeral home’s website. The funeral home was very nice. I told my dad that he should have married a funeral director or at least had one as his assistant because they’re the only people I’ve seen who have to read minds for a living.

The minister said something in particular that I found very fitting. He read 1 Corinthians 13, which was engraved inside her wedding band. But later, he said that “real love is fierce.” Lee said that while his dad may have taught him how to fight, his mom taught him how to be a fighter. And in her way, she was both a lover and a fighter, until the very end. It shaped everything she did.

The greatest of these is love.

Granddad, Ian and Nana

Double the pleasure, double the fun

Tuesday at lunch Rich’s phone rang; it was a nurse from Sarah Cannon. “So I have a strange question … what color are the pills you’re taking now?” she casually asked. “Yellow. They used to be gray but this last time they were yellow. I thought that was strange but figured the color didn’t matter,” Rich replied. “Oh …. yeah, about that.”

And that’s when we found out that the pharmacist had accidentally given Rich pills which were 150mg each instead of 75mg each. Since January 8th, Rich has been taking 300mg of his meds a day instead of 150mg. And from January 8th through January 29th while he dutifully took those pills, the Stryker house has been under a lot of stress.

The good news is the study has lots of data on what happens when you jump from 150mg to 300mg all at once. The bad news is that side effects include constant soul-crushing emo song inspiring headaches every waking hour. A corollary to that is your wife wanting to murder you in your sleep because your way of dealing with headaches is to be an asshole for three weeks straight.

We’re all better here but January of 2014 will have a ripple effect for quite a while. Historians will one day write doctoral theses on how it shaped decisions for ages, like the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife leading to World War I.

Originally I was going on today’s Nashville trip with Rich to ask in very small words what we were all going to do about these headaches. But on the day before our flight, a great mystery was solved. And so I used my time to make it very clear how unhappy we have been for 21 days. I told the doctor that the pharmacist owed us a spa weekend or perhaps an Edible Arrangement. She assured me that it was not being taken lightly and that an entire investigation was in progress. She said there may be blood stains on our next bottle of pills we receive today. We can only assume that pharmacist was killed and his head set on a pike at the desk of the new pharmacist as a reminder to check his work.

Later today, we met with the nurses and they went over all of Rich’s side effects over the last month in detail. The nurse apologized again to Rich. As I was gathering our things, she told him, “I know your wife talked to Dr. Bendell about how unhappy she was and I just want you to know we’re very sorry.” Rich says that there is now a note in his file about his wife, much like Elaine going to the doctor on Seinfeld. I’m okay with that so long as I get my Edible Arrangement.

We are now back on track with gray pills, only occasional headaches, and the foundation of our house settling back into its original place.

gray pills