Tuesday, October 30, 2007

October 27, 2007

WARNING: Due to necessary background info - this post is long. Get over it, or move on now. If you choose option B - may the fleas of several camel herds invade your skivvies...


My four year old daughter is a stalker. She's a loving, caring, protective stalker...but truly - I think she could be categorized as a bit "obsessed".

It all started in Feb of 2007. We were invited by our local hockey team, The Columbus Blue Jackets, to their "Gold Ribbon Game". The Blue Jackets Foundation raises an incredible amount of money for pediatric cancer research and various ped onc charities. The Gold Ribbon Game is part of their efforts to raise awareness. They invite local cancer children to attend the game, participate in aspects of the game (riding the zamboni, throwing out a puck, being interviewed on the Jumbotron), and to come to a "meet and greet" with players after the game. Prior to this event, I knew absolutely zero about hockey. Post event, I knew little more about the game - but I knew I LOVED the Blue Jackets.

At first, I thought I was crazy taking 3 girls to a hockey game. All I'd ever heard was that hockey was violent and the fans liked it that way. What in the Sam-hill was I going to do with 3 of the girliest girls there ever were at a hockey game? I'm thrilled to report, I was utterly, completely mis-informed. The game was exciting, fan-friendly, and an absolute blast! We cheered, we clapped, they danced. In all, we enjoyed every moment of it!

After the game, we attended the player meet-and-greet. And there, my friends, a lovely young man named Dan Fritsche, became a victim.

Just as the meet and greet started, the team reps requested a group photo of the players, heroes (the program is called Hats for Heroes), and the police officers in attendance (the local FOP helps with HFH). An important note here - Avalon is man-shy. At Disney, she wouldn't even pose with Peter Pan, for Pete's sake. Here, they wanted her to smile with huge, scary hockey goons and guys in full-out police uniforms. All I could think was...Right, that's gonna happen...

Being that she was also the tiniest one there, I figured there wasn't a chance she'd show up in the pics. Just then, one of the players leaned down, and asked if she would let him hold her for the picture. She rather leaned back, looked him up and down (seriously, she sized him up!), and did the unthinkable...she agreed! You could have knocked me down with a feather. I thought, I'd better take a pic of this...no one we know will ever believe it.

After the pictures, the kids and their siblings were invited to take individual pictures with the guys and to have the players sign their shirts and hats. Dan was the first player we asked for a picture - so I could thank him profusely for being so gentle with her. After making the rounds of the room, she went back to him and asked for another autograph. She had completely lost track of who was who, and was just doing what everyone else was. Not only was Dan not irritated or annoyed with her...he was very amused and very kind. He told her he'd already signed her hat. At that, she cocked her head, thought about things - and promptly stuck her belly out as far as she could with, "Well OK then - you'll have to sign this!" He laughed and signed on. Poor man, he didn't know what he was in for.

A few weeks later, we were invited to our local Children's Hospital for the opening of the Columbus Blue Jackets Family Resource Center. Its a place for parents of in-house patients to go and get on the internet, do laundry, take a shower, eat. Day parents can go there to use the lockers, breastfeeding rooms, wait between appointments, etc. Its a very big deal. Avalon and a few other Heroes were there for photo ops with some players. Unfortunately, most of the players were ones she'd never seen before. Rats...we were back to Ms. Man-Shy. I took Dan aside and told him I thought she'd agree to anything, if he asked her. I explained how bashful she is, and that she really seemed to like him. He smiled, said "No Problem" and took care of her like she was his own. Avalon was never away from his side. She sat on his lap, held his hand, and did everything asked...right next to her big hero. Oh yeah...the seeds of love were planted.

Moving forward several more weeks, we were invited to be a part of a fundraiser for the CBJ Foundation and the Hats for Heroes project. A few Hero families were invited to attend BD Mongolian restaurants with Blue Jackets players - to thank people for coming and supporting the Foundation. As with the hospital, we're always willing to go to fundraising events, because no one in our family is shy about thanking people. I will hug/thank/chat with anyone gladly. I'm so grateful to have my daughter, I will never be able to thank the universe, or generous people enough. So...I went to ambassador my way around the room, and Avalon went to see...Danny.

As soon as Dan got to the restaurant, Avalon was waiting for him. At events, the players show up in street clothes, and then don the fancy jerseys that the PR team have waiting for them. Its kind of like a performer putting on a costume. Normally, they're not considered "on" until they're dressed and led into the room they're "working". Avalon could give a hoot less about the outfit. She stuck herself to Dan like a fly to a horse's heinie - the second he walked in the door. No amount of pleading on my part worked - she was stuck fast. Dan couldn't have been kinder about it. He held her hand, hugged her, and proceeded to spend the next few hours signing autographs with her on his lap. When a fan would want a picture (without Avalon!) he would gently set her down, then promptly pick her right back up. I was chatting with one of the PR team about feeling guilty she was bugging Dan. His answer? "I'm Dan's age. I would give anything to have her follow me! Don't worry, he's not bothered. He's enjoying her hugging her as much, if not more, than she's enjoying following him. Stop worrying, she's just fine."

During the course of the evening, I realized - he was right. Dan never looked cross or irritated. He looked at Avalon with genuine kindness. And not the manufactured, for-the-camera brand of kindness. No - he treated her like an uncle. When the crowds were gone and he was back to being Danny, instead of "Dan Fritsche, Columbus Blue Jacket player" (said with loud announcer voice...), he continued to "hang out" with Avalon. She "helped" him get his dinner, and fully stalked him while he ate. She worshipped him, and that was quite alright with him. Oh yeah, I fell head over heels in love too. You can't treat my daughter that well - and not expect me to love you!

Several weeks later, we did another PR event with Dan. Same as before, he annoyed fans by signing autographs with his little buddy firmly planted on his lap. He would set her down for photos - but promptly pick her back up. When too many people wanted pics, he moved a chair right next to him, so she could sit there and not have to get up and down. In all, he again, made it obvious that he really cared, not just a for-show tolerance. In all, he was a gentleman, and a wonderful friend.

Over the summer, we lost track. Avalon never stopped talking about him - but we didn't manage to keep her healthy enough to be able to meet up with Dan and his girlfriend like we had planned. He was still a huge part of our family, as Avalon included him in her "who loves me" list - but we didn't actually see him.

And now, we are finally at - today. I told you this would be long! But, if you didn't know the other stuff - you can't appreciate how funny tonight was. Tonight, we were able to attend a CBJ home game, courtesy of tickets donated to a pediatric cancer charity we are involved with. Thanks to a cancer/brain damage kid who doesn't move quickly, a baby who doesn't believe in time schedules, and a mom who needs 8 more arms, we got to the game at the end of the first period. As we were riding up to our seats in the elevator, Dan scored!!!! This was HUGE!!!

The announcer was yelling, the place was crazy - and Avalon was shrieking about "Her Danny!". You would have thought her own brother scored. The entire elevator trip (God's slowest elevator...) she talked/squealed/babbled about how "proud" she was, how happy Dan would be. She kept saying, "That's my Danny!!" The elevator operator and our fellow travelors looked at her like she was nuts. Too funny.

Once we got to our section, the ushers were kind enough to switch our seats to the wheelchair section. We merely asked where to leave her chariot - they made room for us to stay down in the open section - so she could stay in her chair. It was a very kind act, and actually worked quite well for her. Well, the next two periods were an exercise in "Dan-watching". We had to constantly update her as to his location, his actions. She got pretty good at following him herself, after a while. The funny part was her defense of him. He'd get shoved into the glass walls and she'd shriek in defense. "That's my Danny!! You be nice!" Mind you, if he got a good shot in, she'd cheer for him to smash the other guy. What a hoot!

So here I sat, middle-aged mom with a 4 yo in a wheelchair, and her 6 yo sister. (Dad, big sis, and baby brother were several seats down) Sisters 2 & 3 were both wearing purple velvet princess dresses with gold holographic sequins that sparkled like sunshine in the sodium lights of the stadium. In all, we couldn't have looked less like hockey fans. Yet, my girls were screaming like fools for their men. Its important to note, the two little ones yell for different players. Daughter #2 couldn't possibly share a crush with Daughter #3. Daughter #2 stalks her own favorite player, Jody Shelly. While she hasn't had quite as many occasions to interact with Jody, his wife understands her crush and completely endorses it by reminding her hubby to be extra kind to my 6 yo. You seriously have to love these people!

Anyway, overweight, middle-aged supermom and her two screaming princesses were quite the comical lot. The ushers around us weren't helpful - they kept egging the girls on. The band o' men in front of us - weren't helpful either, they found the girls riotously funny. So, I gave in to pressure - helped the two stalkers follow their "prey" and sat back and thoroughly enjoyed myself. And then...dum dum dum dum....it happened. (that was my pathetic attempt at forboding music) Dan was involved in an "altercation" - right below us. Mind you, we were pretty much in nosebleed section - but the view was amazing. So, yes, the "event" was far below us, but it was literally - right in "front" of us - we could see faces/expressions clearly. It started as a typical hockey scuffle - with our wonder boy getting in his fair share of beat-down. During this, Avalon was cheering him on, and yelling at the other players - all pretty normal. Then, it happened.

As the refs held Dan away from the other player, the Shark bad guy reached around the ref - and sucker-punched Dan in the face. I thought I was going to have to sit on Avalon! She started shrieking, "That's not nice!! Hey! You can't hit my Danny! I don't like that! That was MEAN!" I'm telling you - she was the picture of righteous indignation. Kids don't get any angrier than she was. The be-all, end-all was her yelling that she was going to go down there and beat that guy up. She wasn't going to let him hurt her Danny. I think the guys in front of us nearly hurt something laughing. The ushers told her she should. Oh yeah, they were helpful.

As the cameras followed Dan clear off the ice, Avalon was watching the jumbotron, "talking" to him. You would have thought he could hear every word. She carried on a full conversation with him, via his image on the jumbotron. In her mind, he even answered. That's when I really "got it". She actually thinks the entire Blue Jacket hockey enterprise exists for her! I don't think she understands that these are professional athletes. She doesn't get that thousands of people watch these players, or want to get autographs. She has no clue that millions of people watch hockey on TV or know Dan's name. All she knows is her "boyfriend" Danny wears a big red white and blue shirt, and skates around - sometimes getting into fights with nasty guys. She has no concept of his celebrity, his job, his life. To her, he's a nice guy who loves her - and sometimes other people want to say hi to him. She doesn't know why - because he's "her" friend. What a gift, to love someone so much - you're completely blind to what they really are.

For we adults, that altered view of reality can lead to poor choices, bad situations. For my tiny person, her "love is blind" approach serves her well. She sees Dan for what he really is, a kind, gentle young man with a heart of gold. She sees past what society looks at - to the real human underneath the uniform. While I do pity my dear hockey friend for being the object of her stalking, I celebrate him greatly for encouraging her delusions. He embraces her affection - and returns it. Every time he takes time to chat with her, walk with her, treat her like a princess - he gives her back a piece of her childhood that cancer stole. Cancer robbed her of innocence, freedom, and often of joy. She's suffered years of chemical torment, and faces a lifetime of pain. She has endured more medical treatments in her 4 years, than most of us in a lifetime. And yet, she is here, she is happy, she loves life, and she can still pitch a fit and threaten life and limb to "protect her man". I can't ask for more than that.

Avalon has won the heart of a stranger, and he has helped fill a part of her heart that was taken by a terrible beast. Its much easier to stand up to a mean hockey player hurting your friend, than it is to yell at your brain for not working right. Its easier to find strength holding onto a friend's hand, than it is to fight your own weak legs. Its easy to get lost in the love of a friend - because they give you support even when they don't know it. They give you hope - and something to look forward to. And sometimes, hope and love are all that get you through the day.

Yes, my daughter is a stalker. But thankfully, she found someone to stalk, that will walk slow enough she can catch up to him. She's a blessed stalker, indeed.
To "our Danny", I send a heartfelt "Thank You". You'll never know what you've given a certain little girl. ;-)

Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer issues and torments

Sunday, October 28, 2007

October 26, 2007

Crazy day here - not exactly perfect for the dieting diva, but full of life for the crazy cancer mom...

Tonight was a Halloween Party with a local "relief" group for children with life threatening illnesses. First of all, let me enlighten you. It takes an enormous leap of faith to have to admit that you have a child with a life-threatening-illness. Maybe some parents make that transition more smoothly than I did. All I know, is that every time I read that qualifier on the group's website, it still makes my heart sink to my knees...

This particular group serves children of all diagnoses. The unifying element is that any of us could lose our children. Its a sobering reality at times. We also belong to a different local group that only serves pediatric cancer families. These two wonderful organizations have been our sole source of family entertainment for the past few years. I am grateful beyond words to them.

Its a fascinating thing to attend an event like tonight. On one hand, I find it extremely life-affirming and positive. Everywhere you look, there are families just like yours. No one bats an eye at a wheelchair, mask, or bald head. We're all in the same boat - just using slightly different oars or life jackets. We're all facing down the same demon - death. But mostly, we're all enjoying the same thing - every minute we get to spend with our kids.

Having a medically fragile child is like getting a daily message from the universe. Every time I see her tire before she should, pause a second going up the stairs, pick up the latest hunk of hair to come out...I hear the whisper in my ear, "Appreciate her. Hug her. You never know." Of course, no child comes with a guarantee (or instructions!). But a medical child reminds you of that constantly. Its something I've come to be grateful for.

The Halloween party was not without its stress, or effects on my diet. I did manage to start the day off well, eating my regular eggs with cheese and onions. (I'm telling you - my breath is just permanently awful...) But, as I spent the day in crazed overdrive, trying to finish sewing two princess fairy costumes, my eating habits degenerated a bit. I didn't dive headfirst into the box of trick or treat M& M's that live in my garage....but I did surrender to peanut butter on some savory saltines. While the protein of the peanut butter would fit the bill for most carb-conscious people, I will politely remind you that peanuts and I do not get along well. Peanuts leave me red-faced, swollen, and generally speaking - less than healthy. Ah....the joys of limited funds, food choices, and time to care about what I ate.

I managed to finish most of the princess fairy costumes. Actually, for the party, they had to become merely princess costumes - the wings were sacrificed to time constraints. They are sparkly and fancy and looked great even w/o wings, so the little ones forgave me. Frankly, we haven't quite figured out how to work the wings with a wheelchair yet, anyway. This bought me some more time to think.

Daughter #1 was also very forgiving about the fact that I haven't even taken her fabric out of the bag yet. She borrowed a skirt from me, and a much-coveted gypsy coin-scarf - so she was able to fancy it up and make her dad nuts from the ringing. The pester factor totally over-rode the feeling-neglected-by-my-sewing-machine issue. Glad to be able to work the system...

Once at the party, I was, again, thrown into my alternate universe of the med-mom. A huge part of me wanted to scream for joy because we don't have to mask Avalon anymore. Problem is, we really should - she's probably as immuno-compromised as before. I think we're going to have to revisit that when we finally narrow down what auto-immune issue she has. For now, we rather blindly chose to be carefree - so my heart walked this odd line between elation and panic.

Then there was the issue of her "chariot". This was the first event she's officially "wheeled" to. She's always been in a stroller, but the chariot was a new twist. On one hand, its fantastic to get to take her without tears. She grinned and enjoyed her way through the entire night. She was able to get out of the chair and twirl and bounce and explore in a few rooms. The chair gives her the freedom to spend her energy where she wants, instead of losing it all just getting there.

On the other hand, this was yet another reminder of how much life she is continuing to lose. Even riding in the chariot, she was exhausted in a few hours - and begging to go home. How devastatingly tired do you have to be to want to go home after riding everywhere? I think she's in far more trouble than what she lets on. That's the hidden beast that plays havoc with my diet resolve.

As for the actual diet, the party didn't help much with that, either. They provided dinner for the families, and it was delicious!! What it was not...was geared to my anti-carb plan. We had our choice of rotini or bow tie pasta, our choice of alfredo or marinara sauce, then our choice of chicken or sausage bits to go on it. I chose bowtie, alfredo, and chicken - and topped it with freshly grated Parmesan. It was literally heaven on a plate! God bless the people who picked the menu - it felt like eating out at an expensive restaurant...for free. Wahoo!

Of course, I could have merely partaken of the pasta and been happy with my rotund self. Oh no, mon ami, I had to go all hog-wild. In addition to the pasta delight, I did, indeed, eat a piece of garlic bread. And if that wasn't insult enough...I also ate the dirt cake complete with gummy worms! Ha!

As my sister, and several of you, keep reminding me - this journey is a lifestyle change. As much as I would love to "take the hill" in a day - the fact is, I'm in for the long haul. Going to events with the entire family, is a rare blessing. Our world isn't what it used to be, and will never, again, be what we had originally dreamed. That's OK. I've decided, its also OK that I choose to live and enjoy the special moments when they come along. Getting to laugh with my kids and experience a place and things we can't normally afford - is a beautiful gift. Watching my girls pick out a new dress-up outfit that was donated by some kind soul, was delightful. Listening to all of the kids laugh, like they have no cares in the world...was PRICELESS. Who am I to pollute these memories with my personal stuff? I didn't, I won't, and I don't regret it.

So like I said, it was a crazy day here. I sewed like a madwoman for hours. I got in and out of the shower in record time. I dressed like a ragtag, colorblind witch because a) it made me laugh, and b) (most importantly) in allowed me to wear a witch's hat with purple hair that camouflaged the fact I didn't have enough time to detangle/brush my own hair! I ate things I shouldn't, and enjoyed every bite. And lastly...I thoroughly enjoyed the glee with which my children embraced their evening.

Thin may be in, but a child's smile wins by a mile.......

Alicia Hall
Losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness for pediatric cancer

Please pass on this blog and the website! The more people who visit here - the more kids we can save.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October 25, 2007

I hate my body. No no, not in the normal my-boobs-hang-to-my-bellybutton, my-rear-end-needs-warning-beepers kind of way. I'm beginning to hate it in new, heretofore un-thought-of ways.

First, I should probably provide you with a smidge of pertinent background info. I'm hypoglycemic. In fact, I'm a stupid over-achiever in the area of insulin-production. I'm so hypo-glycemic that during insulin tolerance tests, I black out from low blood sugar - in record time. Drink the nasty goo - out cold in 20 minutes. By medical standards, I'm rather fascinating. By life standards...this much insulin - stinks.

Insulin helps store fat. Let's see, I produce whoppin' boatloads more insulin than I need. Want to guess about how easy it is for me to store poundage? Oh yeah, like taking candy from a baby...and gluing it to my sitting-down-side. I gain weight so easily, I swear I can smell a sugar cookie candle and gain 1/2 a pound!

Not to mention, that low blood sugar is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It works overtime to keep itself in business. It happens something like this... Put any form of carbohydrate into my body, and it will temporarily raise my blood sugar. In response, my pancreas kicks into high warp gear and produces enough insulin for a third world country. When the insulin is dumped into the system, it eats the sugar from the food, and because I have so much of it - most any free sugar in the system. I immediately (and quickly) lose nearly all blood sugar - making me hungry, tired, shaky, irritable...and in search of more carbohydrates...whereupon the entire cycle will start over again. See the issue?

So, while it has become a bit cliche in the past few years, for me, its true. Carbs beget carbs. The more I eat - the more every cell in my person screams out for them! Its a vicious, mind-altering circle. It sounds so simple. Avoid high carb, high glycemic index foods - and curb the appetite of the beast. Oh yeah, and Rome was a 24 hour project.

On the rare occasion that I've managed to break the choke-hold of the beast, I do feel about 1001 times better. The overwhelming issue is attempting to battle my way free from the half-Nelson hold of carbohydrates. All it takes is one slip-up, one day of stress, one moment of weakness...and my body starts this death spiral straight toward the runway. I'm here to report, I've crashed an entire squadron since I started this Fat-A-Thon.

Today wasn't quite an all-out tailspin day, but I wouldn't have won any airshow awards for free-flight either. I started out like a rookie at Indy, full pedal to the metal, and ready to win. I had two eggs with cheese for breakfast, and coffee with sugar-free creamer (bleck). I felt like a million bucks! Protein tames the hunger beast, the carb-craving Cyborg, and the energy vampires - all in a neat little package. Then...dum dum dum dum.... it was lunch time. And there, the story shifts from triumphant tale, to tragic saga.

The tragedy of lunch speaks to those limitations of life-in-the-real-world that we discussed previously. In the perfect diet-vaccuum of RealityTV or Hollywood Hottie, I would have a house full of healthy, vegetable/protein food choices. In the time and finacial limitations of my world, I found myself staring blankly at carbo-land. Sure, sure, I had planned on having broccoli for lunch. Then I actually saw and smelled the broccoli - and decided that botulism didn't sound too appealing. This left me hungry and desperate, very bad bedfellows for a dieting diva.

Long story long, I caved. I jumped off the deep end of the carb train - right into a vat of tater tots. They were there. They were easy. They were sooooooo goooood.......... Rat tails and bat farts, I doomed myself. I ate the wonder taters, I got sleepy. Damn blood sugar.

Having red-baroned my own bi-plane for the day, I decided to half-way salvage dinner. I did embrace the can o' tuna dinner entree, but I did so with the help of more than a few savory saltines. So yes, the omega-happy, protein-rich tuna was way high on my "Yes!" list, but the vehicles that delivered it to my hanger...were less than ideal. Better some good than none...at least that's what I thought.

Then tonight, it hit. For the second time this week, I wanted to yack my cosmic "cookies" to the moon. As I sat there, contemplating worshiping at the great white porceline alter, I had myself a mighty epiphany. I felt like this two days ago, a few hours after I had an oh-so-healthy lunch of tuna salad. No woogies in between, no other signs of malaise. Just waiting-to-wretch a few sordid hours post-tuna. Fabulous. Now my stupid body has gone and decided to hate something that's actually good for me.

Told you. I'm beginning to hold some contempt for my personal vessel. I'm beginning to hate my body for reasons entirely unrelated to the amount of pudge I own. I think I may have a problem here with person-to-pudge-PR. I need to do a better job at selling myself to me or there could be a full-scale revolt. That might be difficult to mediate...

I suppose I could eat a case or two of Hershey bars, and hope that by the time I come out of the sugar coma, the warring factions will have reached a peace treaty.

Nah, my luck they'd wait for me to arrive, and promptly order lunch.

- Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of pediatric cancer


Please feel free to email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com or comment here - all are welcome!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23, 2007

Rat crap and bat farts. The date just jumped up and bit my not-shrunken-enough-for-my-liking bummage. I expected to be approaching feminine and sultry by now - not holding at fat and sassy. Crap on stress and comfort foods!

Well, c'mon. I suppose its not entirely fair to blame my bulge on the stress. After all, the stress didn't bend my elbow, or use the jaws of life to pry my pathetically skinny lips open. (oh yeah, I do have one ridiculously skinny thing - my upper lip. For real, if I dare to smile, the darn thing utterly disappears! Cryin' shame my rear end doesn't disappear if I shake it...) No, no...I have to lay claim to my lack of forward progress.

Basically, its a darn sight easier to be pudgy! This thin-quest is time-consuming. I now understand how those crazy people can lose so much weight on "Biggest Loser" - they're removed from normal life. No kids to interrupt the exercise regimen, no laundry to do, homework to check, meetings to attend, diapers to be changed, floors/toilets/dishes to be washed. They don't have to shop for/pay for/prepare the healthy food. They don't have to cook/dole out/clean up the not-s0-perfect-diet-food that the rest of the family eats. In essence, those brave souls leave the real world, and suffer (oh so publicly) for a brief period of time in a complete diet vaccuum. That is starting to sound rather Eden-esque to me.

The problem with that show is that real people/real lives don't work like that. Same with the celebrity diet stories. Actress Penelope Fluff-N-Stuff looks amazing in her Designer Dudley Do-Right Dress. After gaining 50 pounds during her pregnancy, she's looking fabulous only 7 weeks after the birth. How does she do it? Well, I'll tell you how. She's got money, nothing but time to exercise, money, a personal trainer to keep her on task, money, a cook to shop for and make perfect meals, money, a nanny to allow her time to work out, money, and no real committments. Ask me how many of those categories I can qualify in? I'll give you a pickle if you can figure it out.

Pickles R Us! You guessed it! Zippo, bupkus, nada, zero de hero. I'm fighting the fat while feeding 4 kids & a he-never-gains-weight-hubby, attending hospital meetings and charity events, chasing a diapered hurricane, fighting medical mayhem with a pre-schooler, and helping two kids go to school online. My kingdom for a diet vaccuum! OK, if I had a kingdom, I might have some of the afore-mentioned money. So...how about, "My right boob for a bit of dieting peace and quiet!" (Hey, boobs are the one thing I have an overwhelming abundance of. I may as well get some use out of them.)

Point is, that show is really beginning to burn my over-sized britches. If they really want to impress me, do a reality show in a real situation. Follow real people, taking care of their families, going to work - and see if you can squeeze healthy living into their worlds, without sacrificing too much of the lives they live. I'm here to report, its not nearly as easy as it sounds. Its not as easy as I'd like/wish/hope for.

Of course, nothing worth having ever is.

Bat farts, this whole self-awareness thing really does bite.

Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness of pediatric cancer warriors and their issues - www.crazycancermom.com

I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment here, or email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com

Monday, October 22, 2007

October 22, 2007

I'm going to "plagiarize" myself tonight. I belong to an on-line support group for children with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). Earlier this week, a mom posted about her recent bouts of forgetfulness. Below was my answer to her. Bear with me...


I think forgetting things is totally normal! I have a theory. I developed it during Avalon's heaviest tx, when I realized I was forgetting stupid things on a daily basis. Of course, there's no science to my theory...but I love the "picture" it gives me.

Here's what I postulate:

There is only so much room in our brains. Sometimes, the brain has to decide to "dump" info - in order to make room for the non-negotiable stuff. Our baby's first smile, our wedding day, the last time we hugged a friend...those are non-negotiables. They have permanent real estate in our minds.

"Negotiables" are things like grocery lists, to-do lists, chores, meetings. Normally, we can juggle the negotiables pretty well. We have a large allotment of space and energy for them.

When cancer "came home", there was a fundamental shift in the percentage of my brain that was given to the two categories . Suddenly, things I may not have paid much attention to before, like how my child's hair smells, how sunlight makes her dance...became non-negotiable. I began to hang on to details of my children like I never had before. Then, I created an entirely new category..."super-stuck"...the things that I needed to cling to, to keep my child with me. "Super stuck" holds the medical info that is vital to her survival: medicine info, side effects, warning signs...anything medical that absolutely, cannot be forgotten.

The inherent problem is simple. When I expanded "Non-negotiables" and then added "Super-stuck" - it reduced the amount of room/energy available for "Negotiables". Sometimes, things just fall right out my ears. There's no real estate left.

I suppose, at some point, "Negotiables" will reclaim some territory. Once you're OT, you don't have to remember med schedules anymore. Far enough OT, and you reduce the doctor's appts you have to remember. Eventually,"Negotiables" will be able to have some more of my time and energy. For now, I don't miss them.

The good news is, my ability to care about "losing" "Negotiables" - also fell out of my ears. I simply don't have the mental space to give a fig when I forget something. I suppose there is an inherent beauty to this plan.

I have a fair reason to "steal" from myself this evening. First, I'm stinkin' sleepy - and probably not terribly witty or entertaining at the moment. Second - this theory is infinitely applicable in my life right now. As Avalon's medical needs have once again stepped forward, they've run squarely into her "social calendar", my other daughters' school schedules, and my own ridiculous list of committments.

Over the last few weeks, I've forgotten more than I've remembered! I can and have remembered every intimate detail of Avalon's medical issues. I've remembered every symptom, vital reading, doctor's statement. I have, however, forgotten nearly everything else. I've forgotten meetings, school assignments, birthday plans, this whole blog. How nutty is that?

Have I forgotten the diet? Hmmm, yes and no. I remember I'm supposed to be dieting - but can't manage to remember to get to the store to get the healthy stuff I need. Basically, I think that in light of the recent stress...my brain has opted to take a mini vacation. My non-essential thoughts didn't fall out of my head...they opted for a bus to Vancouver instead.

Time to re-group, re-focus, and re-energize. This is a whole new week. I've cancelled a few non-essential commitments, and am attempting to re-direct my meandering mind. Tomorrow, I start anew. No more cheating in the name of stress, no more caving to the easy food rather than the more difficult healthy choice.

Ahhh...self awareness. Sometimes, it just sucks.

The "Come-Back" kid, Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness for cancer kids www.crazycancermom.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16 - part 2

OK, so you want to laugh? Fine, fine...I know my place in the world. Suffer humiliation for the greater good.

Well, before hell broke loose and our world was rotated backward...I had been having a good diet week. Saturday was our son's 1st birthday! Short man turned a whopping one year old. Wahoo! Bonus - I finally broke - 15 pounds. Double wahoo! My mother ever-so-lovingly lied her pantaloons off - and told me she could see a difference in my mid-section. Crazy old woman - but I love her for fudging. Truth is, I still can't fasten my "fat pants", and its royally burning my buns.

As I said, that -15 was before the apocalyptic weekend of torment. Saturday pre-party, I was great - didn't have time to eat. During the party, no problem. I only ate a salad (no spaghetti) and a few small pieces of french bread. Not perfect - but not nearly as horrible as I would have liked. Sat evening - diet was still in tact, I was at the hospital, no decadent food available.

Sunday dawned OK (except for the total lack of sleep...), there wasn't any food to be had. My sister (the bad-hair babe) had gone to the ER with Avalon and I, and spent the night on the spa-rific pull-out hospital torture device next to Avalon's bed. As starvation and caffeine-deprivation threatened to paralyze she and I, she offered to go forth and hunt and gather some rations. Of course, we would pick the one hour a day that the cafeteria is closed! Being resourceful, super-aunt/sister managed to scavenge things from a refridgerator unit to ensure our survival. She choked down a turkey sandwich wanna-be, and found a wonderful chef salad for me. (and coffee...a big, beautiful cup of coffee!) Again, not such bad fare for a dieter.

As Sunday wore on, I wore down. By the time hubby and I had our "changing of the guard", my resolve, my heart, my everything was completely trampled/shot/totally stick-a-fork-in-me done. I came home, put the kids in bed, and ate like it was my job. As I told a friend on Monday, I didn't fall off the diet wagon, I held my nose and jumped head-first into the deep end. Ask me if I care.

Did I know I was eating out of frustration? Fear? Anger? No sh#@ Sherlock! It certainly wasn't for the pure enjoyment of the food! I don't even like cake. Luckily, we'd had a birthday swaree...so I had a ready supply of super-sweet goo to stick my emotions to the moon. I ate, I rested, I ate some more, I fretted, I ate...you get the picture. What you may not get...is the fact that I really don't care! I don't mind one little tiny bit if I gained back 5 pounds. I had to survive that night, and my old friend - sugary, starchy, carb-o-rific pile of calories got me through. Oh well.

I'm sure the thin among you, or some shrink, or the registered dietician divas of the world would have a list of alternative emotional boosts ready and waiting for me. When I'm more highly evolved - I might consider some of them. For now, I'm still new at this Healthy Living game, and I still embrace the notion of "comfort foods". Am I comfortable with the size of my pants? Nope. But I'm not terribly comfy with my daughter's medical life either. Apparantly, one will have to take a little longer to shrink - while I learn to cope with the other.

Another stinking lesson learned. The universe will not bend to my will and leave my family alone long enough for me to become a super-model. How dare it?! I mean, seriously, if Publisher's Clearinghouse would knock on my door, the Fairy of Perfect Health would sprinkle dust over my kids, and everyone who drives while talking on a cell-phone would suddenly lose their car keys...I'd be a size 6 in a month. No stress = no pigging out. Seems simple enough.

Until such time as I can alter the laws of physics and reality, I suppose I'm stuck with stress. Guess I'd better get a bit more adept at dealing with it. It appears, the stars are rather fond of tossing it our direction.

Maybe I can burn a calorie or two if I can learn to lob it back...

Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness of Childhood Cancer http://www.crazycancermom.com/

You're always welcome here! Thanks for joining me!

October 16 - part 1

If you only want to laugh - bypass this update and wait for part 2, later on today. If you want an update about Avalon, my cancer child, then read on!

I won't lie or sugarcoat it. It was a long, exhausting, terrifying few days around here. After some rather heated discussions with a neuro-surgery nurse practitioner yesterday, we were released from the hospital. We had to promise to follow up with Avalon's neuro-opthalmologist - and she was kind enough to squeeze us in. (4 hour wait at her office - my kiddos deserve Nobel Peace Prizes)

Here is what I posted to my online ALL-kids group (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). I'll try to explain any shorthand I used. The group are all medical families - so I can "cheat" when I explain things to them.
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

First, thank you from the bottom of my exhausted, terrified heart for all of your support. I really do adore all of you. I knew, come what may - I had help.

Second, thank you for your positive, healing thoughts. We had the best possible of all outcomes. We are currently - *At HOME!*

After being released (long story, won't bore you) - we had to go see Avalon's neuro-opthalmologist. Avalon did, indeed, have shunt failure. She was, in the middle of catastrophic shunt failure when we reached the hospital. The neuro-optho verified that when IV morphine has no sedative effect - it means the body has "used" all of it for pain control. Here's the amazing thing - Avalon "cleared" the shunt blockage, on her own.

Apparantly, the protein in her brain must have solidified into "sand". The doc explained - its like "sleepies" you get in your eyes. Those are just hunks of protein. These same grains can form inside CSF (Cerebral Spinal Fluid), if circumstances are right (actually, when they're horribly wrong). The grain can come from really high CSF protein, or as a result of a viral infection. Avalon had a runny nose last week. Her auto-immune disorder makes her as immuno-compromised as if she were still on heavy chemo. The simple runny nose, led her body to producing extra CSF protein, and it all added together to form these granules. The grains then clogged one or more holes in the shunt system. Clogging the holes, caused shunt failure - and incredible pressure built up in her brain. So high - it was causing autonomic failure(the Heart Rate, Respiration abnormalities)

The reason her pupils were different sizes? She blew one up! Yes, you read that right. On the ultrasounds of her optic nerves that we took today, it showed that she has a huge hole in the covering of the optic nerve - directly behind her left eye. The pressure got so high - it actually formed a bubble behind her eye - that exploded! The explosion (which must have happened on the way to ER) relieved some pressure - and must have moved the grains ofprotein enough to get things moving again. The HR/resp/fever/white count problems that we saw - were all fall-out from the blockage. Had she not cleared, they would have escalated - and she would have required shunt revision (new shunt-brain surgery) , with time served in PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). Avalon's optic nerves were still horribly dilated today - with lots of peripheral vision loss. (normal diameter 10-12, Avalon's were both over 17) There is no doubt the pressure must have been astronomical - past history of optic nerve diameters, shows it had to be more than 4 times normal (normal adult intercranial pressure is 100-120. The last time Avalon had one optic nerve with a diameter of 17 - her pressure was greater than the measuring device which tops out at 420).

When I asked the neuro-optho if I got my miracle...she said, "You bet! And then some."

As of Monday morning, Avalon's WBC (White Blood Cell count) was down to 9.0 (from 17). Her HR (Heart Rate) stabilized to107, and BP (Blood Pressure) normalized to 89/58. Best of all, she started talking! In fact, she didn't quit talking/squealing/bouncing all day. She had been listless, glassy-eyed, and very, very quiet. As with previous times we've quickly lowered her pressure, it kind of leaves her hyper. We've done LP's (lumbar punctures) to check her Intercranial pressure - and to draw off fluid to reduce the pressure. When we've done that - it lowers her pressure quickly. When her brain gets to expand to normal again, it reacts by making her act like she's taken baby "speed". Yesterday, the insanity was very, VERY welcome.

The giant downside to all of this, it can, and most probably will...happen again. Until we get the protein taken care of - she will be at risk of shunt malfunction with every cold she gets. We have to revert back to induction/DI type of germophobia (Induction/DI are very intese phases of chemo - the kids have virtually no immune systems). The slightest virus - can truly kill her. We got LUCKY. Next time, it might be brain surgery, or worse. That kind of pressure is lethal...quickly. Its hard knowing that its lurking, but we figure we can learn to deal. We learned to live with cancer! This is just shades of the same. Avoid germs at all costs, watch her behaviors, listen to what she tells us - respond as quickly as possible. The good news is, next time - I think I'll be able to remove the relapse terror from the table. The WBC were simply responding to her pain and brain malfunction. Nothing more. Whew.

We have clinic this week, so we'll be able to monitor blood values. We'll see the neuro-surgeon within a week or so, and are still waiting to hear from Physical Medicine and Rheumatology (can take up to 6 mo). But, at least we're on the right track. We got our Miracle last night - and I credit a huge part of it to all of you. You all added your energy to Avalon's and helped her fight so hard she popped! There's something to be said for that.

(this last part was for new people on our ALL-list. However, its pertinent to any parent, anyone helping a family member deal with medical issues) One last note. I had rather heated, less-than-friendly discussions with a neuro-surgery nurse practitioner today. I've learned something about myself, that I hope I can empower the newbies with. I no longer give one fig or holler about what some medico thinks about me. I don't care if they don't like me. I don't care if I annoy them. I don't mind calling someone out on a mistake - they need to know when they are wrong, and the consequences their actions can have. I don't have to be nice/friendly/accomodating/a doormat. I am always polite, always patient. HOWEVER, I will no longer tolerate people who don't read charts, don't do what they promise, and don't listen. My only job is to advocate for my child. When you are new at this, its easy to be pushed around. I'm not advocating rudeness or bossiness. I'm simply saying, be empowered to embrace your "Mother Bear" (or Papa Bear - I know we have new dads too) Its OK to stand your ground. Its highly recommended to be informed, aware, and involved. NO ONE will look out for your child like you will. 3 years ago - I may have stayed quiet and my daughter would have been harmed. Now, I made sure I told the NP she was very wrong - and needed to read the chart, the ID bracelet, and here's-a-thought, LISTEN to the parents. I want you to know what I wish someone had told me. Its OK to stand up for your child.

Sorry so long. Its hard to explain Avalon's crazy stuff. Again, I LOVE AND RESPECT my wonderful "List Family". You mean the world to me. Thanks to each of you - and may I someday be able to help you find your miracle.

Similarly, I LOVE AND RESPECT my blog family. I apologize for having to go "all serious" on you the past week. While I am normally pretty light-hearted (OK, a certifiable nut-job), I am also committed to being honest here. Life isn't all pretty and rosey for anyone. Life is about learning to hurdle obstacles, dodge bullets, and still figure out how to enjoy your blessings. If I'm honest with you - hopefully, I can help you honestly appreciate your own blessings.

Thank you for taking time to read my rantings and care about my little person. I am more grateful than words can ever say to have her still. I KNOW that her life is a gift - with no guarantees. I appreciate your help in holding onto my special present.

- Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness of Pediatric Cancer www.crazycancermom.com

Stop by and drop me a note! alicia@crazycancermom.com or feel free to comment here. All are welcome!

Alicia - Losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness for cancer kids atwww.crazycancermom.com - mom to Avalon(4) dx 10-9-04/OT 12-28-06 (YAY!)dx pseudo-tumor cerebri 6-06, V-P shunt 1-07, Aurora (12), Ambrosia (6), andAnam ( 1)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

October 14, 2007

Short and sweet, totally unlike my normal ranting. I did conquer my cancer-woes - was feeling up to regaling you with my dietary misfortunes...

Then, my cancer child, Avalon was admitted yesterday, with "suspected shunt failure". Avalon has brain damage from chemo - resulting in pseudo-tumor cerebri (or intercranial hypertension). She has a Ventricular-Peritoneal shunt (VP shunt) in her brain that empties excess fluid from the brain to the abdomen. She currently has an autoimmune disorder that has yet to be completely identified. The auto-immune disorder has led to protein in her Central Spinal Fluid (CSF). Protein in CSF makes the CSF thick - like sludge. (gelatin is protein - think jello) Thick CSF can clog a shunt - causing it to clog.

When Avalon was admitted yesterday, she presentedwith an excrutiating headache, pupils dilated to different sizes, low-grade fever and pain, pain, pain. Gives you any idea, at 1:00 am they gave her IV morphine...and she was still wide awake at 3:30 am. The doc said that indicated the pain was so bad, it "ate" the morphine - not making her sleepy at all. Great.

Shunt study CT scan showed normal function. X rays showed the setting to be OK. WBC came back at 17.5... (normal values are under 15) Yes, I'm getting worried. Today, HR (heart rate)was all over the charts. She's on heart monitors, etc - and making everyone scratch their heads. Oxygen sat has been fine, but she's been constantly setting off alarms for Low/High respirations and High heart rates. HR, will go from105 to 150 to 115 in a few minutes - all while she's perfectly still. She'll be laying watching TV, and she'll be panting like a dog (resp 39+), then suddenly start with long, slow breaths. Its mind-blowing. No question, something is past wonky. She's admitted under Neuro-surgery, but Heme-Onc is considered "consulting" and Neuro is doing anything they request. At least they're all playing nicely together.

If you follow this blog - please think of Avalon tomorrow. We can use any and all positive thoughts. She's on the "add-on" list for a GA-LP (General Anesthesia - Lumbar Puncture (spinal tap) ). They're drawing fluid for protein testing (see how high its gotten), looking for infection, looking for (gulp) leukemia. I'm in no-man's land. One hand - could be shunt failure - meaning brain surgery to replace it - only to face the same issue - until we get the CSF protein under control. Other hand...CNS relapse. What on earth do I hope for? I hope to get through tomorrow.

I HATE cancer.

I LOVE all of you.

Forgive my silence for the next few days. This blog, my mission, and all of you are vitally important to us. But, being 100% mommy to a very, VERY sad little girl is paramount right now. We do not own a laptop - only an ancient desktop PC. Those are a little difficult to transport to and from the hospital when hubby and I do the "changing of the guard". So, my computer time is limited.

Thank you all for understanding. I'll find my humor and assault you with it soon.

- Alicia Hall - the Crazy Cancer Mom - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness for Childhood Cancer kids. www.crazycancermom.com

*Remember, you can always email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com or comment on this blog.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007

This blog, my website, are about pediatric cancer. Yes this is about surviving weight loss - but with an underlying purpose. I'm trying to give you a glimpse at surviving the insane world and stress of Childhood Cancer.

I laugh, I muse, I try to look at life as a rare, beautiful gift that is to be cherished each and every day we're given. For the most part, I'm a pretty positive person...but somedays...the Beast claims my heart, my energy, and my resolve.

I know people come here to laugh, to relax. I LOVE you for that! I feed off of your positive energy - I appreciate you. But as I say in my profile, I hope I can teach a thing or two sometimes, as well. Today, I want to teach you all a little bit about living with Childhood Cancer.

For many of you, this is already real. Welcome my sisters and brothers. None of us wanted to join this fraternity - but I hope you've found the hidden beauty that lies within it. I hate the Beast, I abhor the toll the Beast takes on our children and our souls...but I'm not so blind as to ignore the lessons its taught. At least, not on most days. Today, the lessons are very hard to hear.

Today, I received an email about another new ALL angel, three updates from families grieving their lost angels, and the heart wrenching news of the second relapse of an online friend's son. Mothers and fathers who understand that time with our children is "borrowed", but who will live their lives in agony because the loan simply wasn't long enough. That, is life with Childhood Cancer.

Today, I gave in when my own cancer child begged to ride her 'cooter like her big sissy. I gave in when she badgered me that she was strong enough to make it all the way down the block. I also gave in and carried the scooter back to the house, while her biggest sissy held her hand and helped her fight her way home, through pain and exhaustion. And I easily gave in tonight when, after saying it was bed time since 6 pm, she finally let herself go to sleep at 8pm. That, is life with Childhood Cancer.

Today, I came to grips with the reality of what my daughter is left with. Chemo left her with bone damage, brain damage, and now an auto-immune disorder. She is 10 months past her last dose of ritualized poisoning - and yet she faces demons of exhaustion and pain every day. Today, I realized that I thank God each night for those demons...they mean she's still here to fight. That, is life with cancer.

Today, I ate more than I should, accomplished less than I wanted to, and cried more than I like to. Tomorrow, I may do it all again. Or, I may laugh, rejoice, celebrate, and enjoy this crazy life. What makes it a life with cancer? I will do it all with an undercurrent of urgency. If I know nothing else, I know this...you just never really know...

And that is really Life With Cancer.

For today, The Beast took his toll on my heart and the souls of several people I've come to care deeply about. Tonight, I will dwell fully within my sorrow, my grief for what they've lost, for what my daughter has lost. Tomorrow, I will move forward. Tomorrow, I will renew my resolve to effect a change. I have to.

I live a Life with Cancer.

Peace and Grace to all of you.
Alicia Hall - the Crazy Cancer Mom - losing weight, and my mind, to raise awareness for pediatric cancer www.crazycancermom.com

email me your thoughts alicia@crazycancermom.com or feel free to comment, all are welcome here.

Today's menu: Lots of stuff I shouldn't have had: crackers, nachos w/cheese, pudding

Monday, October 8, 2007

October 8, 2007

Four days?! Have I really not assaulted you with my diet rampage in 96 hours? (Hah! I can still multiply! Maybe my gray matter hasn't completely solidified...)

Well, lest you begin to miss my musings - I will commence my evening escapades.

Oddly enough, I haven't even thought about dieting the past few days. Weird, huh? I mean, isn't that what everyone tells you is preferable...a lifestyle change, instead of a horror-of-horrors-diet? I'm certainly not going to go all platitudes on you and say I've conquered my blubber demons. Oh it is to laugh....

I'm simply saying, that life rather got in the way of the diet the last few days...and it wasn't so bad. I've been diving into vast pools of clutter - desperately searching for some lost paperwork. I've been cutting/sewing/cursing while attempting to assemble two fairy ensembles for two cute, but time-consuming, little cherubs. I've been scaling grand mountains of laundry and conquering foothills of dishes. All in the name of "cleanliness" - which I've been told is akin to "godliness"...but I have my deep seated doubts about that. In all, I've been up to my need-to-be-shorn armpitties in normal household stuff. Hence, not much diet dribble. Who knew?

I did remember my poundage and its limitations on Friday. Rather, I was FORCED to face my weighty problems...as I renewed my Driver's License. Ack. It all started rather innocently. I had to drop off paperwork to my daughter's caseworker. No problem... 3 kids, a car ride - easy enough. However, right before I left, I received a rather pitiful phone call from my dear sister - about her day o' tragic events. Thus began a series of events, that I will get to relive for years...four to be exact.

As the story goes, my frugal sister decided to try to save a few dollars on Thursday evening. She found her locks in need of some love...but her wallet in need of some padding. Putting the two together, she realized she was in a less-than-desirable position. Lo and behold, the universe smiled on her - and she found a coupon - for none-other than the local hairstyling school. For a budget-friendly seven dollars, she could have her hair trimmed and eat her proverbial cake too. Seemed like a win-win idea! After all, she only needed a "trim"...how hard could that be? Let me just say...famous last words....

By all accounts, the quick, penny-pinching trip to the "student stylist" was vastly pricier than anticipated. To be honest, my sister actually ended up paying nothing for her haircut. That is, unless pride and confidence have a monetary value. When the stylist gasps then weeps...it really doesn't bode well for how you will look for the next few months. My sister's own whimpers at least reclaimed her seven dollars - even if her self esteem is temporarily AWOL.

Enter the phone call Friday afternoon. By the time the poor woman got a hold of me, her hair cut was only one chapter in her tale of woe. Turns out, that she had been inadvertantly sent to the wrong hotel to present a very important work speech. By the time she figured it out, tracked down the correct location, and broke land-speed records getting there...she delivered her speech - 45 minutes late, with bad hair. Then there is the issue of the speech itself. The same person who misdirected her location, also failed to give her the handouts associated with the speech...AND the disc containing the powerpoint. So - we have a stressed, late, empty-handed, powerpointless woman trying to do a presentation...with bad hair. I'll let you imagine how our phone call went.

Moving forward, I arranged to go to her house, post-caseworker meeting - to offer my support for the life-altering tress-distress. Its the least any self-respecting sister should do. Show up, listen to the horrors of how you came to look akin to a sheared sheep...and be righteously indignant on your behalf. This is what siblings were created for. (OK, we're often better known for ridicule - but she was far too fragile for that)

As I left the caseworker's office, I had what I now know to be, an ill-fated epiphany. I thought, "Well, I'm driving right through town. I'm sure I can save myself a trip - there has to be a BMV along my route somewhere." You see, we finally received the paperwork for a handicap placard for Avalon. (While my legs work perfectly fine, and I don't mind pushing Avalon from further out in a parking lot - it only took being trapped at the hospital once to convince me to cave to the placard. We had to dismember her chair and hand it over someone's car to get it in a few weeks ago.) I merely needed to stop in, pay my $3.50 and walk out with my little magic card. At least, that's what I thought.

My first mistake was thinking I could save time. I can never save time. Time is my mortal enemy. The harder I try to thwart it - the more it will thwap me between the eyes. This was no exeption. I called my pixie chick sister and garnered the info I needed, the site of the BMV that I, correctly, had presumed was on my route. No problem! Pull in, pay up - back in the car in no time. Right.....

*At this point, I will do one of my temporary diversions, think of it as a "flashback". This particular Friday was not exactly a stellar day for me, aesthetically, that is. Yes, I did have on real clothes. No pajama pants, no gardening clothes. But face it, it was 90 degrees out - in October! I didn't exactly dress to impress. Then there was my hair. In my zeal for zen-in-the-home, I hadn't exactly paid much attention to my personal attributes over the weekend. Long, super curly hair gets a bit wild-man-Jack if left to its own devices for a few hours. Try a few days...and I'm well on my way to dredlocks. As I rushed around like a chicken-on-speed trying to leave for my meeting - my hairstyle of choice had been to skin it back and put a thousand or so bobby pins in, to try to manage a bun that was smaller than the size of my head. I didn't succeed. As for make-up...I own it. I had some left-over smears under my eyes and maybe clumped on a lash or two - but that's about it. I was pretty.....*

So here I was, the picture of matronly mistakes...poorly dressed, makeupless, pudgy, with 3-day-old-tangled/skinhead-hair-a-go-go. Again, I was pretty... I plod this way, with 3 kids in tow - into the lovely brown-stained-smelly land of the BMV. Frankly, I think the carpet and I were in a fair competition for most-bedraggled that day. I smiled at the clerk, gave her my paperwork, and laid my $4.00 on the counter. She politely smiled back, and requested my Driver's License to complete my simple in-and-out transacton. Then Satan, himself, had a laugh at my expense.

BMV "Ma-am?" (I hate ma'am)

Me "Yes?"

BMV "Your driver's license is expired."

Me "Are you serious?! I haven't looked at that thing in years!"

BMV "Well, it expired on your birthday a few weeks ago. You've been driving illegally!" (said with extreme emphasis...as if I've been found guilty of a capital crime against her mother)

Me "OK, I'll stop in a couple of days and get it replaced."

BMV "But Ma-am. You are ILLEGAL. You can be stopped and ticketed. This is very serious." (Said with unmistakable glee - that meant had I left, she'd have called Smokey and rat-finked me out. I'd have had a ticket in 2.2 seconds)

Me "Fine. Just do it. Aww crap, I look awful!"

BMV "That doesn't matter." (oh yeah, that helped my mood)

(at this point, I figured I might as well laugh. I decide to be a smarty pants.)

Me "You know, you're providing quite the public service here."

BMV "Thank you!" (I didn't know what to do with that...)

Me "No, you need to understand. I'm on the way to commiserate with my sister about a bad hair cut. She'll laugh so hard at how bad my license looks - she'll forget to be miserable. Her hair will grow out...I'll be stuck with this for 4 years."

(enter new, I-considered-smacking-her BMV clerk)
BMV #2 "You can always come back and pay $19.50 to have a new license made."

Me "Like I said, I'll be stuck with it for four years."

*And the final insult to the whole ordeal?

BMV "Ma-am, do you weigh what your driver's license says you do?"

My sister's gales of laughter are the only reason I didn't go back to that BMV fully armed...

- Alicia Hall - losing weight, and my mind, raising awareness of childhood cancer www.crazycancermom.com

Thursday, October 4, 2007

October 4, 2007

Several random thoughts...40 year old brain...don't expect great literature this evening.

First, my arse hurts. The back of my front, my built-in seat cushion, my truckin' tuckus...my arse...is killing me! Why you may ask? (and don't even go all 20-something porno on me) Because I bent to the winds and caved to the masses. I did conventional exercise today. ...And the day came, and it was done.... And it sucketh.

I may never, truly survive if I have to regularly partake in this insanity. Who, just who in the flippin' Hill of Sam decided that purposeful over-exertion of your gluteus maximus is a joyful event?!! My roundy nether region is powerful sore...and it sucketh!

No, no - I didn't go do one of those you-have-lost-your-marbles super-human lifting weight thingies. I simply walked. Two miles. Wearing a 20+ lb baby in a backpack, while pushing a wiggly 4 yo in an old loaner-model-until-we-get-the-good-one wheelchair. Two miles. Up hills, down hills, over bumps, around skinny, cute, pity-faced-because-my-daughter-is-in-a-"chariot" twits. Two miles. ...And it sucketh.

Worse...and I do mean WORSE of all...I'm not going to lose one god-forsaken ounce!! Why? WHY, you ask? Because I'm a weak-willed simpleton (yeah - don't remind me about yesterday's rant) who cannot control herself in the face of certain temptations. Did I slather myself in double dark chocolate fudge and drown my sorrows in it? No. Did I barricade myself behind a wall of bagels and eat my way out? No. Did I vacuum suck three dozen bags of Hershey products while simultaneously funding the latest Godiva retail venture? NO! (and dang it - now I want to, since I brought it up)

Oh no, nothing that tasty. I've fallen prey to what I thought was a good, healthy chip-alternative for the kids. Peanuts. Damn you Mr. Peanut!! How dare you be so luscious and dreamy... How dare you wink at me from behind those suggestive glasses. How dare you draw me in with your suggestive top hat and cane...beckoning me with elusive dreams of fancy formal occasions. Fie! Fie on you, you tempter of weak-minded dieters!

Brass tacks, I'm allergic to peanuts. While, thankfully, they don't constrict my airways (like sunflower seeds do), they do whole-heartedly hate my person. One spoon of peanut butter is enough to make my cheeks (facial cheeks) bright, flaming red and swollen. Peanut anything raises my blood pressure, and completely destroys anything resembling a metabolism for days. I could eat 12 peanuts a day for a week (nothing but the peanuts) and gain 15 pounds. I'm telling you honest - peanuts and my innards should NEVER meet.

And yet, I purchased them on the fateful shopping trip we discussed yesterday. I figured I could easily avoid them - they hate me. As with so many things the past month...I was wrong. WRONG, wrong, wrong, wrong. Oh no, I have not just not avoided them...I've scarfed them. LOTS of them. Today? Oh...conservatively 1 & 1/2 Cups or more. Oink, oink, oink.....

What demonic, black-hearted force has overtaken my common sense? I KNOW the stupid things are out to get me...and yet, I ate them. My face currently feels like a blast furnace, and my derriere/legs/back feel like the back end of a racehorse after the Kentucky Derby. I could have enjoyed the loss of some fatitude today. (the rest of my day was perfectly acceptable) Instead, I will have eaten little, exercised much, and still likely GAIN WEIGHT. AAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

OK, a primeval scream (or 6) can actually help your mental state. Whew. I suppose I will have to chalk today up to yet another learning experience. Gack. You'd think by my current ripe, old, age - I'd have learned enough by now. Apparently, there is no age limit on stupidity by consumption. Fabulous...I wonder what else is lurking out there, waiting for its chance to take me down...

As for my random thoughts - here are a few of them. Its October 4th, and I'm so OVER breast cancer awareness month - I COULD SCREAM. Please, please - don't get me wrong. As a woman, I am THRILLED that Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become part of our national conscience. I can remember the days of the "whisper". "Did you hear? Mrs. Smith has breast cancer." (all said very hush-hush, and "breast" was barely audible) I'm tickled "pink" that this awful disease has reached a level of acceptance and support that has afforded it the ability to move forward in treatment and survivorship by enormous leaps and bounds. I buy my share of awareness products, vote for awareness issues, and weep for the pain endured by friends in the fight. I GET it. But, WHY does no one "get" our kids?

"30 days hath September..." says the poem. No days, had cancer kids...say I. Why didn't one national talk show focus on our kids? Why did CNN cancel its one 3 minute report on Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? WHY?!!!

Breast cancer is heavily funded by the government - because it affects millions of women. Drug companies trip over themselves to fund research, because they have millions of potential customers and payoffs. Both groups ignore our kids - because there aren't enough of them to "count". The parents of 12,500 children each year, would beg to differ with that.

Enough soapboxing, time for my requests. Please, please, please, consider "helping" our kids. If you think this blog is funny - send it on. Send it to Ellen, Rachel Ray, Oprah, Good Morning America, The Today Show, etc. If I make them laugh...maybe they'll listen! Send it to your friends, your enemies, your family (whichever category they fall in) Maybe they will know the right people to send it to. A few clicks, and one of us may make the difference of a lifetime. Those of us in this horrible fight, are frustrated and desperate. We feel like we're banging our heads against 1000 foot walls, and only denting our heads, not the establishment. If you have any brilliant ideas, amazing contacts, or magic wands of attention - please share! I'm game for anything - as long as I can talk about "my" kids. I believe in the beauty of these special kids - I just want the chance to show everyone else.

OK, apparently, soapboxing is rather equivalent to primeval screaming. It can be quite good for the soul! Forgive my rants - and understand the LOVE they are screamed with. I will literally do anything to thank the people who gave me back my daughter. Its a gift that can never be repaid.

Hugs to ALL of you!! This blog, your eyeballs dragging across it...are keeping me sane and in the "fighting" mood. You rock my world!!!

Alicia - the Crazy Cancer Mom - losing weight, and my mind, for cancer kids. http://www.crazycancermom.com/

I love to hear from you! Please feel free to post comments on the blogs - or email me at alicia@crazycancermom.com

Breakfast: one egg, 1/8 C cheddar cheese, 1/4 C mushrooms, 1/4 C onions, 1/2 TBS real bacon bits, 1 C coffee/creamer

Lunch: ditto - I'd made 2 eggs for brkfst - but only ate half then, peanuts, 1 C coffee/creamer

Dinner: peanuts, taco meat, lettuce, cheddar cheese, sour cream, onions, diet Coke, peanuts,

4 glasses water, walked 2 miles!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

October 3, 2007

I've been grocery shopping...and it was a spiritual event.

I want to share with all of you. I had a great epiphany at the grocery store. It's cheaper to be fat.

You know, its a sad thing. We over sized people are never (OK, rarely) portrayed well in the media. On TV shows, we're usually the slothen, hill-jack, never-worked-an-honest-day schmucko who gets bumped off in the first 5 minutes. Or, we get to be the welfare neighbor with 12 kids and bad style. Often, we get to be the mistreated, under-appreciated assistant/secretary/housekeeper who rats out our thin, rich employers to the detective flavor-of-the-hour. Pick your substandard, subservient position...Hollywood whooptie-hoos will generally send anyone with any flabiliciousness straight to that door.

In real life, we don't all fit that particular casting couch...but there are some similarities of note. You just don't normally see well-padded women traipsing around golf courses or country clubs. I've been doing my fair share of elbow-rubbing with the higher-salary set as I speak to raise money for our hospital. I've noticed that I'm usually the "best fed" in the room. Worse, I always feel like my lower income bracket is somehow tattooed across my ample hindquarters.

Why is that? Do higher tax brackets mean higher commitments to healthy lifestyles? Do more zeros in your salary mean more will power in the kitchen? Do larger homes mean more room to store smaller clothes? Horse hockey! Money may be the deciding factor...but its not about will power or commitment. Its about the almighty dollar.

Its dad-blasted pricey to be healthy! I mean it. I'm not talking nickel and dime more pricey...I'm talking double-the-grocery-bill who-needs-lights kind of pricey. Pasta, white bread (whole grain stuff might as well be made of dollar bills), potatoes, rice...are cheap. I can get a package of spaghetti big enough to feed a third world country for dinner - for 5 bucks. OR, I can get three bell peppers to cut up for my morning eggs and maybe evening dinner - for 6 bucks. Even if math isn't your forte...that just doesn't add up. Two loaves of white bread, 1 giant jar of strawberry jam, a double pack of peanut butter...and I have lunch for 4 kids for 7 days - cost = $11.00. Or, I can pay $6.99/pound for 3 pounds of deli turkey, $3.29/ea for 2 loaves of whole grain bread, $5.99/lb for 2 lbs cheese and get 1 week's lunches for approx $40.00. Get friggin' real!

And if you pay attention to my lunch menu - my kids were only getting sandwiches. If I decide to be kind, I can flush out those meals with fresh fruits and veggies...or chips. Would you like to take a flying fart guess at which option is cheaper? Its insane! The deck is stacked against us!

As I fought my way through the local warehouse store, pushing a cart that weighed more than Babar, arguing tooth and nail with two chip-crazed daughters and one carb-crazed tween, all while being pummeled with a pillow attached to the baby's "buggy buddy"....I had a life-changing epiphany. I'm not gluttonous, weak, or simple-minded... (OK, the last one is arguable on some days...but that's for another discussion) I'm merely POOR. The epidemic of obesity in our country isn't caused by television, evil processed food companies, or infiltration of our commerce by terrorism-minded grocers. We're fat because its darned cheaper to be!

Millie St. Rich isn't better at comprehending the carbohydrate/fat/serving size information on food labels. Millie is simply better at figuring out how to pay for that luxurious thing we call "healthy food choices". Low-fat, low-carb, whole-food, organic items aren't merely a mouthful to say, they're a wallet-full to fund. It creates a rather interesting hypothesis. Would we be so overweight, if the "good" stuff was cheaper than the bad? If consumerism forced the choice barometer to swing fresh, whole, healthy...would the illicit foods of the world suddenly move to the price bracket best afforded by affluence?

In days past, that's exactly what happened. Ruben painted round women, because they were the "picture" of health and abundance in his day. Women of bodily substance had to be women of wealth - they were the only ones able to afford empty calorie food and avoid calorie-burning exercise. Now, high calorie foods are abundant and more affordable than their healthy counterparts. Worse, the people who can only afford the cheap, available, unhealthy fair...are often so overworked trying to make ends meet - they can't "afford" the time to squeeze in the kind of calorie-burning activities their bodies need. Talk about your conundrum...

Do I have a grandiose scheme to reverse the socio-economic Fat Trap? Would that I did. (old English - not a typo...I paid attention in Jr. English!) Alas and Alack (OK, just being a smarty pants here...), I have no earthly idea how to bring about an all-stop and 180 reversal. All I do know, is that somehow - my little epiphany removed some of my personal guilt. Am I right to let it go? Hmmm, perhaps that's not mine to determine. If I get a vote, I say, "Yes!" I didn't create the pricing structures...I merely fell prey to their ease of my financial woes. Did those cheaper prices dictate that I eat waaayyyyyy more than the suggested serving size, eat late at night, never attempt any exercise, or never meet at cookie I didn't like? Ummmm, no. So, while I can muse over the reversal of fortunes...I cannot hold that interesting fact culpable for my own tuckus.

Where did all of this ephinanizing leave me? Dirt damn poor, with a cart full of healthy crap, and four convinced-their-mother-is-a-no-fun-toad children.

Oh well, maybe if I buy something sugary and awful...I can hold it up like bait and get them to chase me for exercise....

Hope I gave you some "food" for thought. ;-)

- Alicia - losing weight, and my mind, for cancer kids. http://www.crazycancermom.com/

Breakfast: 1 C coffee w/creamer, 7 macademia nuts (we were running out the door)

Lunch: 1 C coffee w/creamer, 1 Diet Pepsi, 2 crunchy Kashi pumpkin granola bars (1 pkg)

Dinner: diet coke, fake crabmeat - dipped in butter with lots of garlic! - 1/2 C peanuts (ack I'll pay for that) 8 macademia nuts - yeah yeah, too many calories for dinner, exactly why being gone all day and getting super hungry is stupid...

Monday, October 1, 2007

October 1, 2007

Happy, Happy, Happy welcome-to-the-beginning-of-the-Hill 30th Birthday to my sister! Welcome to things sagging, and parts crackling. Welcome to Ma'am, no more doors being opened, and the "joy" (NOT) of never being carded again. Welcome to excess in spots you don't want it...and deficits in spots you'd love to see chock full.

Does age affect your keester? In a word...YES! Sure, sure, there are skinnies out there who look dad-blasted fabulous for the miles they've traveled. Then, there are the "real" people. Do we real people have different DNA? Maybe, but I won't be so flippant as to use that as a cop-out. I fully own my roundy shape. I prefer to think we fluffy people have different OOL - Outlooks On Life.

OOL people know that exercise is good for you and sugar is bad. We've read the articles, been terrified by the statistics, and *drooled* over tiny little outfits we'd love to cram our over-sized derrieres in. Problem is, we are perfectly capable of *fooling* ourselves into thinking that "just one" won't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Also, we OOLs generally have issues with taking time to sweat. Oh, we have more than a bit of sweat in our worlds. We sweat where bill money will come from, if we're raising our families well, if we're affecting global warming, and heck, we even sweat the small stuff. Our problem lies with finding the time and energy to sweat in ways that are deemed "aerobically" satisfying. We OOLs are often lacking the proper *tools* to fully meet our functional sweat requirements.

Of course, a few OOLs may lie in my personal camp. I despise sweat. I mean, take me out and beat me with a jumprope or 12...I can't stand sweat. I don't mind exercising in a *pool* - but those aren't generally accessible in the "tropical" wonderland of Ohio - unless you happen to have an abundance of funds and can join a happy club somewhere. If you are wondering why I haven't done so...see the previous paragraph about why OOLs sweat.

So, my dear sister, beware. If you find yourself in the company of the OOL crowd, you may find your britches shrinking, your baggage growing, and your wallet with a bit of an echo. We are often labeled *fools*, and refuse to follow most *rules*, particularly those bent on curbing fun. We have a tendency to choose a laugh over the grind, and are well known for attempting to leave worries behind. We are irreverent, pudgy, and utterly non-compliant at times.

We might have a radical OOL - but overall, we're pretty *COOL*. Welcome to age and wisdom. Its everything its cracked up to be and more.

Power to the OOLS!

Oh aging...we love to denegrate it...but I'm fighting like hell to make sure my daughter gets to gripe about it... - ALICIA - the Crazy Cancer Mom - losing weight, and my mind, for cancer kids at www.crazycancermom.com

Here's the deal. Our larder is so barren, we can hear the echoes. Today's menu was born of desperation and starvation. These, my friends, are not happy bedmates.

Breakfast: 12 pieces of pepperoni, 2 C coffee w/creamer

Lunch: salsa, sour cream, corn tortilla chips - the crumbs at the bottom of the bag, diet coke

Dinner: 2 or 3 oz deli turkey (Viola! I found a bag in the back of the fridge!) , water

Yep - I'm hungry. Probably won't lose an ounce. Stupid chips. Stupid sensitivity to carbs. Stupid no food. Stupid no time. Stupid no money. OK, stupid rant...I'll go to bed now.