Wednesday, June 20, 2007

6/20/07 The diagnoses

Diagnosis tummy: diastasis recti with an umbilical hernia.

Which is how you say in Latin: "Sorry, hon, that pooch is permanent. You done had too many babies."

The glue ("linea alba") that holds your -- not my anymore -- abdominal muscles together is stretched too thin now, and abdominal contents simply push out. The proof of this is when I lie on my back and lift a leg -- a ridge forms through my belly-button. Multiple pregnancies is the culprit, though not everyone who has multiple pregnancies gets it.

The good news: it's a common, harmless condition.

The bad news: no diet, no exercise, no surgery, no therapies, no drugs, no waiting -- absolutely nothing -- will fix it. No matter how thin or fit I ever get, I will always have this fanny pack around my middle.

If there's a silver lining, I guess it's that it happened as late in life as it did, as my expectations for bodily perfection are lower now anyway. I'm seeing my golden years peek on the horizon; I should be glad I've gotten away with what I have so far. But let's just hope low-rise pants stay in style, 'cause waist-buttoning is out for me forever.

Diagnosis back: mild scoliosis.

Not me, Dave. He didn't see a doctor today for any particular diagnosis, he saw one because I insisted and made an appointment for him. He is 40 now, after all. Men are supposed to get checked. Though the curvature in Dave's upper back is obvious, I hadn't noticed before that one shoulder is lower than another, indicating a spinal curvature. He has a vague recollection of hearing something about scoliosis earlier in life (maybe Laura remembers??). Another live-with-it thing, though the doc recommended against jogging. Not that Dave was in any danger of that.

Diagnosis sanity: severely compromised, and unable to withstand any further trauma.

Due to a schedule that hasn't settled yet, it happened this week that I had all three all day today. This, unlike the diastasis recti that ravages my midsection, is not a harmless condition.

Plus the cleaners this morning.

The kind ladies (who I appreciate so, so much), were scrubbing away upstairs smack dab when Katrina needed her morning nap. For the very first time ever in my dubious career as mother, I took my baby to a gym childcare and said, "Put baby to sleep please!" The Y Childwatch ladies, and Katrina, happily obliged. It was a good solution; I got the boys out of my hair, got out of the cleaners' hair, and got in a short workout before Julian's and Katrina's swim class.

Putting Gabriel into the logistical mix shouldn't, on paper, add much to the effort, as he is basically self-sufficient (can open car doors, strap himself in, un/dress himself, etc). However, while he alone doesn't directly cause problems, the effect he has on Julian is overwhelming. Dealing with the boys together at swim class today was an astounding pain in the ass, as they were constantly shouting together, running together, making obnoxious noises together, ignoring me together, being incredibly annoying together.

By the end of the ordeal of getting everyone dressed, I overheard two other mothers saying to each other, "I'm glad I have girls!"

Then I attempted to take everyone to Trader Joe's.

That didn't bode well when one too many unbearably rude insults by Gabriel (I forget what started it, but I do recall being called a liar) made me turn around and smack him, while in the busy parking lot at the Campbell Trader Joe's. I'm sure the numerous observers, who really were just waiting to park or cross the lot, were truly taken with my honed parenting skills. Great.

One of those observers was standing outside Trader Joe's, conducting a survey of some sort. I looked at her apprehensively, awaiting judgement, knowing she'd seen my transgression. But she smiled at me as I kneeled with the boys and reviewed the rules (which Gabriel claimed he didn't have to abide by) before we went into the "grownup place."

That same someone smiled wryly at me again, about 10 minutes later, when I furiously dragged a foul-mouthed protesting 5-year-old boy out of the store with one hand, yanking a puzzled but agreeable baby along for the ride on my hip, strap the kid forcefully into the car, and open the wagon hatch (the car windows were already open).

I don't know if she smiled when I fumed back past her to retrieve my cart, then head straight to the cashier with what I had, even if it didn't include the #1 thing I went there to get.

And then she smiled at me once again, sympathetically, when she saw me emerge about 5 minutes later, groceries in hand, 3-year-old asking plaintively, "Mommy, are you mad at me too?" I wonder if she smiled too at the tears in my eyes.

It's at times like this that I feel the worst for poor innocent Katrina.

At home, Gabriel went straight to his room until lunch was ready, as I needed a serious time-out from his rude defiant behavior. It took me long enough to get things under control in the kitchen that by the time I went up to release him, he'd curled up in bed and gone to sleep. Good.

Gabriel's time in the pokey allowed Julian to play with sidewalk chalk after lunch, unfettered by Gabriel stepping or kicking the chalk, or bossing him around and telling him he's not allowed to scribble. Gabriel ridiculing Julian's drawing bothers me a lot more than Gabriel crushing his chalk, but it's not really a punishable offense. I address Julian instead, talk to him about his drawing, tell him how cool I think it is, and contradict every mean thing Gabriel says.

Nothing short of a miracle occurred when we got home from the TJ's disaster though. Katrina fell asleep in the car on the way home, usually a nightmare for me because then that's IT for her nap. But she didn't wake up as I unstrapped the boys or unloaded the groceries. I gave it a shot -- and was able to transfer her to her crib and she took a long nap from there! A successful transer! A first!

If any evidence is needed to confirm my insanity, after everyone was up, fed and/or snacked, I took the bunch to Target. What a sucker for punishment. Why would I dare, especially when my patience points and good-momma-karma have been completely drained today? Maybe I wanted a chance at redemption, who knows.

But I succeeded. We pulled it off. Gabriel was in a great mood, and mostly talked excitedly as I shopped and mm-hmm'd him as convincingly as I could, about how he was going to build a motorboat and drive the boat to Africa with a purple pickup truck. He wants to live in Africa when he's grown-up. When I asked him what country he'd want to live in, he said, "Lake Tahoe!"

It also helped that Julian, being my only progeny who hadn't napped that afternoon, was rundown and tired, so he rode in the cart for a while. Between the physical barrier of the cart, Julian's lack of energy to get sucked into a game of Make Mom Hate Her Life, and Gabriel's new enthusiasm for shipbuilding and international travel, the trip to Target went very well.

Katrina, as usual, demanded that several other shoppers join her inner circle with her tractor-beam smile.

I went for a run at Rancho San Antonio tonight, late enough to span sunset and the onset of dusk, when all the animals come out. Deer, rabbits, birds...the whole cast of Bambi was there to see me detoxify my mind and body. I had only good, warm thoughts about my children as I puffed along.

I'd promised myself an easy run, but at the last minute detoured onto Mora trail, to avoid running past the Farm twice...I've run that trail before, but not in that direction. EEEP! STE-EEE-EEE-EEP! I had to coach my feet for every next step. But as difficult as that was, it was a single-minded, focused, nose-to-the-grindstone effort...something I really needed after a full day of dealing with my two sons together.

When I got home, I intruded upon a charming scene: Dave and Gabriel were sitting on our bed, reviewing coin-counting. I'd gotten Gabriel a small coin purse today at Target, and he wanted to put his coins into it, and play more adding-up games. He reminded me today that he had to "buy" breakfast, for instance. He insisted on labelling his new coin purse himself, with his full name, including his middle name James.
(Which reminds me, don't let even the most meticulous 5-year-old use a SHARPIE, you know those permanent markers, on the wooden butcher-block counter. But you knew that. Did I? Hel-LO. How long have I been doing this mom thing?! Do I not get it yet?!)

And here I sit, still sticky from my run, still frazzled and guilty from a traumatic day...well, traumatic afternoon...well, traumatic incident...actually, it was really only a traumatic moment, but it dominated my frazzle. Gabriel is overall such a nifty kid...he's just so (darned) persistent and determined and tough-skinned. He makes me so, so mad, and I love him so, so much.

I should be in bed with a hot water bottle on my head instead of typing now. See earlier reference to Diagnosis: sanity.


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