Monday, October 18, 2010

One small glass of milk

It's nice to hear parents extol the virtues and accomplishments of their kids, how they scored a goal during the soccer game, how they gained entry into an overpriced college, how they got through AP calculus without ever opening the book. Often, so many parents blather on, almost as if they themselves conquered the task at hand. But in the end, I smile, nod, and think: "You are clueless as to how lucky you are."

For me, I am proud to say that for the first time in nearly five years, my child drank something other than water.

Yep, I know the progenitor of the AP kid will guffaw, roll his or her eyes. Drink? Something other than water?

Yep, that's what I said.

My child has not drank anything other than water since she was two and half, the point in her young life when her disability emerged from the dark crevices and stole her growth, her ability to talk, her level of tolerance to most foods including any liquid besides water.

And so for years, she has not tasted milk or juice of any kind.

But after a long awaited visit with a dietitian last week, we set forth a plan to introduce small amounts of foods into her diet, all with some coercion. That included small sips of chocolate milk, which we assured her tasted like brownies, one of 10 foods that she currently eats. (Of course, brownies may soon fall to the wayside, just as all foods do at some point.) It took us the better part of 30 minutes to get her to swallow the quarter-cup of flavored cow juice, and she nearly threw it up twice due to her gag reflex.

Yes, it was a baby step. But it was a step in the right direction. And I wasn't anything short of proud of her for agreeing to try it, for forcing it down, for not spewing it back up as she often does with foods she deems as foreign.

After she finished, I tried to hold in the tears, knowing that she may just be one step closer to what society deems as "normal." No, she won't score the winning goals in soccer. No, she most likely won't get into a prestigious university. And no, she is not calculus material.

But sadly, I know of children who have hurdles that are far more difficult than Grace's, and I feel for them, for their parents. So we take what we can get, even if it is only one small glass of milk After all, there are many more half-full glasses that await us.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dogs run wild

This afternoon a strong wind exhaled across the path as I tried to reel in the dogs on our daily trek by Tyler’s spot. The terriers steadily pulled, their harnesses firm against their chests, the leashes taut as they extended five feet ahead. They furiously sniffed for trickles of urine sprung from the bladders of bitches unknown.

It was a quick two miles, not nearly enough to satisfy my pressing need to suddenly break into an open sprint beneath the sun. But I couldn’t, and I found myself fighting back tears as I walked faster and faster, a speed that some “runners” call “running.” For me, it is not.

Ever since I decided to follow my doctor’s orders, I have felt overwhelmingly frustrated with the idea of not running for six weeks. Right now, I’m at Day 23. That’s a mere 3.5 weeks in.

So how to sate my need to run?

Bike until my knees hurt. Walk the dogs until they protest. Do P90x even though I’m no longer in love with Tony Horton. So I bike 30 miles in a sitting. I walk 9 miles in a day. I do the plyometrics and the squats and the lunges.

Still, the underlying desire remains, like a stain-seeking terrier restrained by a leather harness. I feel as though I want to pull, pull away from this fast walking pace and find a stride that leaves me breathing hard, makes my heart race, gives me a reality check that life is too precious to not extend myself.

People who don’t run cannot truly imagine the frustration of hearing a doctor tell you that you are sidelined. It’s as if a part of you has been removed, a vital part that largely defines who you are and what you do. And so as I bike and as I walk, I close my eyes and envision that I am running along the path, past Tyler’s spot, beneath the clouds and the azure backdrop. I think of the young man who died too young, a boy who now runs wild only in spirit, in memory.

And so I am like the unknown bitch that runs free, without harness, without leash, without my owner holding me back as I pull steadily away in the fields of bull thistle and dandelion. Free, I run, like a dog who knows no limits. Lucky dog.