Inside the Mommyvan

Homeschooling & Life Inside the Mommyvan - an old dog learning new tricks


Several months back, a friend posted on Facebook that she & some others were registering for the “Iron Girl” 5K / half-marathon that was coming to town this spring. I knew that running even the shorter distance was out of the question for me with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis, more accirately called Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease) affecting the joints and tendons in my knees, ankles, and feet as it has. I thought perhaps I could walk at a fast enough pace to take on the 5K. The kids and I took some nice walks around the neighborhood, and I knew from my FitBit (which was great until it wound up in the pool) that I walk farther than I would have guessed on even a normal day, much less a Disney trip or similar outing.

Even so, as the race date approached, when I learned that the route would be up and over a 75-foot high bridge… twice, my feeling of dread only increased. How embarassing would it be if I had to get a ride back from the first mile marker ort the halfway point?

The day before, I was on the edge of just skipping it. Unfortunately — or fortunately — the story I sent in got me onto “Team Courage”, a designation bestowed upon women who were overcoming obstacles. With that yellow bib in my registration packet, I felt some obligation to show up. What if someone there was looking for that tidbit of inspiration? Worse still, how would I feel about myself having given up without even giving it a shot? In my kids’ gymnastics class, they’re not allowed to say, “I can’t.” Instead, they have to say “I’ll try.”

“I’ll try,” I said to myself. I showed up, well-rested, well-medicated, well-hydrated, the works. I was going to take the first steps across the starting line, and I’d take whatever came beyond that.

I was feeling pretty good by the time we lined up to start the 5K. There was something inspiring, and contageous, about seeing so many women and even young girls (all the way down to a 4 year-old!) of all shapes, sizes, and levels of fitness, each preparing to tackle her own personal challenges. For some, it was about running flat-out for a top finisher spot. For others, like me, it wasn’t quite as ambitious. “One mile,” I told myself, “You know you can walk a mile.”

And then we were off. My ankles and my knees protested a bit, but adrenaline shut them up after the first 10 minutes or so. Not much later, the Mile 1 sign was in sight, and then the fastest runners passing by in the other direction. The cheers and applause from our side of the road were great. No jealousy or cattiness here, nor when I had turned around at the halfway mark and found myself in a clump of women on the other side shouting encouragement to those at the end of the pack still heading toward the midpoint. Wait, what? I’d made the turnaround, downed a cup of sports drink, and was still going strong when I left Mile 2 behind me.

Now I was going to finish. No question about it. It was getting hard, maybe even a bit painful, but those endorphins are powerful stuff. The last mile (plus a little bit — 5K is 3.1 miles) seemed to go by even faster than the first. 20130430-192225.jpgI was going on sheer determination now, and crossed the finish line in just a hair over 45 minutes. Not last! Not even last in my age group! My pace was better than 15 minutes per mile!

All of these things were far beyond what I had dared to expect, and achieving them was tremendously empowering. I am so often limited by being stuck in a body that is actively trying to destroy itself that this seemed like a real, personal triumph over the disease, even if only for that day.

“Take that, RA!” is what I posted to my Facebook page that morning, along with this post-race selfie. That finisher medal is now a prized posession. It has rekindled my interest in taking walks with my family — exercise that my body can tolerate plus some nice, distraction-free time spent together. I may even have my sights set on even bigger goals, like keeping that pace up for a 10K or maybe even a half-marathon (13.1 miles) one day.

We’re still here. Still making progress, though the former routine has changed quite a bit in the past month. My ankle is healing, but walking in the “boot” did my knee no favors so it’s been a painful game of finding balance with a soft ankle brace, a knee brace, and resting whenever possible — easier said than done!

Our Halloween was, thankfully, an easy one. After much discussion, the kids settled on being a bat (J), a witch (K), and a ghost (S). All three costumes were simple to buy or make, and surprisingly in this age of ever more elaborate costumes, they got quite a few compliments! We had a funny encounter at a neighbor’s house, too. They sit out in their driveway each year watching the kids go by, and always have a bunch of creepy-crawly decorations to scare the trick-or-treaters. My kids, who you may recall attend a co-op science class where the teacher brings in all sorts of critters for them to see and touch, wanted to pet the remote-control tarantula, hold the wiggly snake, and were totally unfazed by the rubber bugs dropped on their shoulders!

School work has hit a plateau, bt I think in a good way. We were all getting a little frustrated with the seemingly endless worksheets, so I backed off on those. We’re at a spot with both reading & math where they need to practice what they know for a while before learning more, so I have been coming up with different ways for them to work on memorizing the single-digit addition facts and some other basics like skip counting. I’m also pushing them to each read at least part of a real book (with me, or just out loud where I can hear them) every day. We have switched to audio books for our long (chapter-book) read-alouds, and we primarily use driving time in the car for those.

Well, it’s off to church this morning, more on our new routine later!

About a month ago, while at one of our co-op days, I went to put some things back in the car while the kids played outside the lunch room. I was rushing to get back in case there was a problem; we were new to the co-op and I hadn’t yet met many people.

My left foot caught on something, I’m still not sure what. It wasn’t just a little stumble, I was going down. It happened very quickly, but I remember thinking I didn’t want to stick an arm out and break that (right, Sis? :)), and also trying to twist around so that my more padded parts could cushion the fall instead of landing on my face. I picked myself and my things back up, glad at least that no one had seen me sprawled out on the pavement. My ankle and knee hurt pretty badly, but I could still walk. I got some rest that afternoon and put some ice on my boo-boos, but life goes on, right? At a previously scheduled 20121004-061052.jpgvisit the following day, my doc took some x-rays and saw no major problems, so I went on wrapping up the knee and ankle and trying to take it easy when they felt especially bad. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), so I’m used to getting on with life even if my joints ache.

Fast forward a few weeks, and my knee and ankle were still painful. My doc was concerned and sent me for an MRI. Yesterday she discussed the report with me. The good news is that I didn’t tear any ligaments, though my knee is still ‘bruised’ inside. The ankle had a more serious problem, for which she immediately sent me off to a podiatrist. The result of that is what you see here. It turns out that in falling, I’d twisted my ankle just so, and it fractured a tiny piece of bone at the back of my foot, which was surrounded by a lot of inflammation. Even that little tiny crack in that little tiny bone needs to be immobilized in order to heal — this explains why, a month later, it wasn’t feeling much better. On went a light plaster wrap and elastic bandage (with strict instructions to keep it dry) followed by this lovely ‘walking boot’.

Fortunately I can still drive, and I am allowed to put my full weight on the foot, as long as I’m wearing the boot. Having the ankle immobilized has reduced the pain substantially. Walking with it, though, is taking some getting used to. I’m much more steady with a cane or crutches, especially with my knee still hurting, and I am supposed to rest and ice it as often as possible. I go back next week to see how things are progressing and (I hope) change out the inner wrap.

Now I need to figure out how to change our routine to accomodate this unexpected development. I was feeling pretty down about that last night, as many days were a struggle already. I know that I will need to allow more time for most anything I have to do, from getting dressed to grocery shopping, and I will have to find a way to motivate my little darlings to do more of the little things for themselves that I usually do without much thought. If I handle this well, though, we could end up making some positive changes that will help everything go more smoothly once I’m back on my feet!