Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some Tough Bitches

Greetings from the Atlanta Marathon/Half Marathon 2012! That's what the caption would say if this were a post card.  
 This past weekend, I had the time of my life cheerleading for my two buddies, Annie (my Cuz) and Missy (my friend/doctor), as they ran in the Atlanta Marathon/ Half Marathon.   My role in this major running event was strictly limited to moral booster/photographer/cheerleader because let me make this clear:
My ass does not run.   
A nice lady on the hotel elevator asked me if I was participating in the event.  I wanted to say, "No, that's why I'm holding an egg and cheese croissant, while everyone else in running at the moment." But I just shook my head.  She said, "I understand.  Girl, you won't ever catch me running unless somebody is chasing me!"
Those were my sentiments exactly.  
Let me say, I took a lot of crap (mainly from my husband) about going away for the weekend as a cheerleader.  I think he just wanted me to feel bad about leaving him with the girls (I totally don't!!) But, he made numerous comments about how I should just jump in there and join the race...why not?? Perhaps because I had never run a complete mile in my ENTIRE LIFE!  But 13.1...sign me up!!
Maybe I should explain how I got involved in this trip.  My cousin Annie, made it her goal to run her second half marathon this year, so I said, "Sure, I'll come along!", since her hubby would be at home watching the kids.  Once she made this commitment, I started to notice something uncanny.  Runners came popping out of the woodwork EVERYWHERE.
You may have heard me mention my beloved small group (it's a church thang) before. Well, as chance would have it, several of the couples in that group are runners.  Two of the ladies are even pregger runners (show offs)!  Then, my friend Kristen updated me on her life, and told me that she is coaching a group of girls in an organization called, "Girls on the Run," which is an incredible non profit program for girls in the third through eighth grades.  Finally, my buddy Missy started training for the Atlanta Marathon.
Here were my thoughts on all these lady runners: Ya'll are some crazy bitches! 
But now?  After this weekend? I'm starting to drink the Kool Aid. If you do not enjoy running or have never attended a running event, you probably feel the way I did.  But, something happens when you stand on the sidelines and cheer as the runners push themselves over the finish line that they have been running toward for hours.  
You get it.  It is an accomplishment that no one can ever take away. Like raising a child, or completing a college degree, or making a marriage work, no matter what challenges arise.

So I woke up at about 5:30 AM with the ladies to see them off and it was a crazy scene.  The hotel lobby and downtown Atlanta were like this alternate universe that was totally dedicated to people who run.  It was pitch black outside; the streets around Centennial Park were totally shut down and roped off for the runners.  Club music was bumping through massive speakers and nervous runners were finding their corrals, or starting points.  It was one of the largest crowds I have ever been a part of, easily 20,000 people. 

I was expecting a flash mob to start dancing at any moment (very disappointed about that).
I blew kisses goodbye and to be honest, it was very emotional.  For one, I was worried about them.  Annie had run a half marathon once before, but this time she had not trained properly because both Annie and Missy had strep throat just two weeks before the race!  So neither one made it to their training goal before racing.  

And let me add that people freaking die from running marathons!

As Annie took off, I could clearly see the picture of her Dad, my Uncle Frank, pinned to the back of her shirt.  I cried just a little.  Race day was the anniversary of her Dad's death.  Not to mention that my Uncle was born and raised in Atlanta.  Oh, and just for good measure, the race was located spitting distance from the CNN building, the news network that Uncle Frank had a major hand in launching.  

Annie ran every single step of that 13.1 mile race, and at the end she told me that her Dad pulled her through.  Every time she reached another hill and wanted to give up, she whispered, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," and goose bumps would cover her body.  She felt a gentle lift, and knew her Dad was there to send her on her way.  

You did your Daddy proud, Annie. 

Missy was a little disappointed that she had to walk a few steps at mile 17.  OMG!! Can you even imagine?  She is a woman of steel.  Missy never ceases to amaze me.  You know the person you meet who can conquer ANYTHING life throws at them? That's Missy!  Become a pediatrician and internist while raising three kids?  No problem!  Run 13 miles a couple of times a week?  Why not?!  It wouldn't even surprise me if she dropped out her babies while jogging and then strapped them on her back.

Her beautiful family was there at the finish line to cheer her on.  

So now what?  

Well...I'm running.  There are no 5K's in my future; let's not get crazy!  But, I will say this.  I ran my first entire mile the other night and it was surprisingly wonderful.  You know that John Mellencamp song, "It Hurts So Good."  Yeah, that would be a good way to describe it.  

 It's not that I am excited about doing it.  But, I want to know that at age 33, I can do whatever the hell I set my mind to.  Because, if I don't believe that, then who will teach my girls to?  

 Congratulations, girls!  Next time, I'll make a shirt that says, "Girls who run like it tough and fast!"  No?? Too much?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One Sick Puppy

I feel old.  And sick.  And mean.  And barfy. 
It occurred to me in my agony last night that I had not blogged in awhile, and I wanted to.  Because this blog was meant to be a forum, if you will.  A place where I can journal about this particular season of my life, with uncensored honesty.  But that changes a bit when you realize that anyone can read your thoughts.  Yikes!  All of the sudden, you think, I better write something witty or perky!
People, I don't do perky.  It's why I did not make the final cut for the Mouseketeers back in Orlando, circa 1989.  They said, "She can sing and dance, but she's just not perky enough for Disney."  
So, today, I decided, "How about a little honesty?"  It will be cathartic! Or perhaps, I will just take some comfort in sharing my misery with others.  
It all started over a week ago, when Savannah came home from school with a mysterious green eye gunk that looked highly contagious and complained of another ear infection.  Oh my Lord!! This is her fifth ear infection since November.  The doctor's office is on speed dial.  That night, she woke up crying in pain, and the next morning at our appointment, the doc informed us that her poor, little ear drum had ruptured.  At this point, the doctor and I both throw up our hands and agreed that it's time for tubes! Now, we just wait for our ENT appointment, while I pump antibiotics into her body.
The next day, Lilah woke up with her little eyes sealed shut by crud.  So now, hubby and I are taking turns wrestling screaming people on the bed, while prying open their eyes to give them drops three times a day.  I actually thought to myself, "This must be what one of those Dateline predators feels like, only not enjoyable at all!!"
A couple of days later, Lilah and I wake up with a sore throat and a general sense of awfulness.  We wade through the afternoon in a haze, sleeping on and off and watching too much Nick Jr.  We drudge through the week, lethargic and mean, growling at anyone who irritates us.  Finally after five days of this crap, I think, "It couldn't hurt to get checked out."  So I make an appointment with our doctor, half expecting her to say, "Suck it up!  You've just got to start exercising, lazy-ass."  
She does not really say this to me.  I just think she should.
As I am insisting that the nurse take my blood pressure again, as I will it to GO DOWN,  my wonderful doctor announces, "You've got Strep and so does Lilah!"
I think I actually said, "Thank you, Jesus! I just thought I was going crazy." So off I go to pick up my wealth of antibiotics, and when they say, "Ma'am that will be ready at about 6 o'clock tonight," I actually start to cry because I am so tired. Did I mention that I just started my period, as well? 
So fast forward two days.  Here we are at home. Me and Lilah.  Just chilling, and honestly she is looking great. I must be like this total drag for her to hang with.   She is ready to hit the ground running.  But I am feeling worse than ever!  
Which led me to open with the "old, sick, mean, barfy" bit.  I am all around impossible to live with.  Hubby subtly pointed this out when he said, "Just to clarify, we do realize that none of this is my fault, right?"  
And I do.  I am just the worst patient ever.  And on a side note, he is the greatest guy ever.  He puts kids in their beds a hundred times a night, without screaming at them.  He doesn't complain that there is no dinner when he gets home.  And he does not comment on the sour smell that is probably coming from the sweat pants that I've been wearing for two days.  
What a guy. Thanks, Babe!  I owe you one. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Keeping Vigil

I love someone who is an addict.
I always cringe at that term, even though I've used it on many occasions myself. The ick factor for me, always the teacher, is that that term puts the disease first and the person second.  We learn in education to use "people first" language; such as, a person with autism rather than an autistic child.  I know that sounds anal or knit picky but it's important.  I wish we could start saying, "a person with an addiction", and I guess that change needs to start with me.
This is painful for me to share.  There is no way to make this cutesy or throw in a few well placed wisecracks on this subject.  If you have ever loved someone with the disease of alcoholism or drug addiction, you know what an ugly disease it can be.   My cousin recently referenced addiction as a disease on her blog, Peach Prenni, and boy did she get some feedback on that one!  To be fair it was only one aggravated, opinionated, anonymous person, but it sure had some bite.  
I don't expect everyone to feel all warm and fuzzy about people with addictions.  If you have known a person with an untreated addiction, who is not ready to seek treatment, you may have experienced extreme frustration, anger, or even hatred in your heart.  It would be so very easy to say, "He doesn't care about himself, and is choosing this life.  So I'm done!!" I've been there more times than I can count, friends. 
But the cold hard truth is that alcoholism and drug addiction are a disease.  I do not say this as an expert.  Not by miles.  However, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that living untreated with an addiction is like barbed wire to the soul.  Not to mention the body. It is dying one slow step at a time.  No one embraces this life willingly.   No one says, "When I grow up, I want to go to jail, perhaps become a pathological liar, and live a life of isolation from those I love. Oh, and better yet, I would like to walk around the world feeling like I want to jump out of my own skin at all times. " 
Like any other disease, there are treatment options. It is a choice whether or not to seek treatment. I have had this conversation with my loved one hundreds of times.  It goes something like this.  
Let's call my family member Joe, shall we?  

Me: Joe, you did not choose this disease.  No one is debating that.  But like anyone with a disease, you have treatment options.  You can attend daily meetings, see a psychiatrist. You can go to an outpatient program.  You can find a sponsor, etc...
Joe: It was just a temporary setback.  I don't need help.
(I then explain the million and one reasons why Joe does in fact need help.)
Me: I cannot support you living untreated.  If someone I loved had cancer and said, "I think I will just wait to die, instead of taking radiation and chemo," I would have a big freaking problem with that.  It's exactly the same thing.

You see, if someone has decided to continue down this sick path, there is nothing to be done but refuse to enable their disease and pray.  
And I do.  Boy, can it ever get exhausting praying the same prayer one thousand times.  It's like standing outside someone's house and holding a candle light vigil for them every night. Don't give me too much credit here.  I have a terrible track record with my prayer commitment on this subject.  Like I said, it can be exhausting.
But it's time to light the candle again.   
If there ever comes a time when I am too broken to shine my own light, I hope that someone will shine it for me for as long as is necessary.  That, and I hope that they are honest enough to tell me to get my shit together. (I do this quite well for others).
I've been around the block enough to know that God has not given up on Joe.  Prayers are being heard and have been answered.  I could give you a hundred examples of Joe's close brushes with death, but they are not my stories to tell.  
Instead I will leave you with this.  Whenever I close my eyes, I see Joe as himself, not as a disease.  A little piece of me cracks inside when I picture his sweet dimpled smile and his incredibly soft blond hair.  I remember his laugh and his witty, dry sense of humor and his ability to find beauty in the world through music. I see his indomitable spirit that cannot be broken and his Little Orphan Annie belief that everything will be better tomorrow. 
And maybe it will.  For today, I will lay to rest the anxiety, the anger, and the fears.  I will give thanks for every good day and each happy memory.  Because one day at a time is all we ever get anyway.