Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tickets

I've touched on this subject slightly before, but since it gets it's own post, the story deserves to be told from the beginning. Little man has a thing for numbers. He likes to count. And count. And count. He writes down numbers and fills up pages and pages. He recognizes patterns, which simplify mathematics and it's more advanced ways. He understands money and counts it, saves it and negotiates around it. I'm not saying "Rainman" obsessive. Not blow you away genius type doing quantum physics. Thankfully. A really smart kid. Little Man has many other talents of the mind and body worth a subject of their own,  but numbers definitely integral. All the old folks of the family/friends circle meet or see him and immediately prophetically voice his future calling to become a great mathematician or engineer (then they see him run and do karate and...). But numbers, through creative outlets have led to an interesting interest of maintaining a collection - of tickets.
True to form, not the typical collection, but one nonetheless, that had outlasted the many attempts along the way (except with money which he's always enjoyed collecting, as we all do). Simple tickets. The kind you get at some schools or some teachers. The kind you get at fairs, festivals, raffles and special events.
Most tickets need to be traded in for a prize, a ride, an entrance to this or that. That's what they're for usually, the means to the ends. Well Little Man, would ultimately rather keep the ticket. Sometimes we're able to manipulate the situation allowing us to do the thing AND keep the ticket/s. At times, depending on the venue, it's not exactly the right kind of ticket so the calculation to turn them in and collect is made. A rare occasion. They're pretty universal and range in colors. The kind I've described in the past as Andy Warhol painted and silk-screened. It's a funny little collection. The ways a 6 and a half year old rationalizes the sacrifice of giving up something for keeping a ticket is fascinating. The dedication and devotion to the cause is impressive. The independence invoked by situations where he needs to buck up and ask the person in charge of the tickets if he could keep his for "the collection" is a priceless lesson in going after what you want. Sometimes it's possible. He certainly has learned that it never hurts to ask. And usually whichever one of us is with him at the time has to explain further to the third party his thing for tickets in some funny one-liner sort of delivery. Keeps things interesting and light amongst interactions.
He counts his tickets and handles them often. And pretty much gets a lot of enjoyment out of them, their growing numbers  and the processes involved in acquiring them. So we go with it. Have for a while. And it seems to be sticking around and growing. So like a marriage, you have to get creative and find ways to spice it up. Take it to the next level. I'll let your imagination roll for a bit and then bring it back to Little Man's level.
On a recent trip to the local office-supply-super-mega-chain-conglomerate, I noticed or was reminded that we could purchase a roll of these suckers and have control in-house. Use it as a tool. I mentioned it to Orit and agreed that at the next visit to the same or similar place, one of us would buy it and we'll figure out how to apply them. So, while I was away a few days on a recent out of town job, Orit purchased a roll and began the process of laying down the rules and negotiating the terms of rewarding with tickets. A process which continues to evolve, be shaped and amended daily. Certainly more intricate in nuances than Pavlov's experiments. But we hold firm in our convictions and our ways. Sounds easy. He keeps us on our toes that's for sure. So you have to get creative. Or you don't. We do.
Reading is another big part of Little Man's life and daily routine. Currently he 's in the midst of refining fluent reading and the confidence and ability to get past the difficult climbs and plateaus of any learning curve. He reads. And is quickly becoming more fluid and less mechanical. We're over the hump of small books with large letters perceived as easy books for him. He gets that size of letters don't make a difference in difficulty. And longer words just need to be vocalized and broken down to sections until it clicks. And he's at a stage of prolific reading. He's always been a prolific listener of stories. No bed time stories and no dessert are the two worst punishments he could conceive. And mostly in that order. But now HE reads. And even though it started as a chore, he's quickly acquired the liking as the proper skills have fallen into place. Our current trend is poetry. Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein to name two very prolific writers of novels, short stories, poetry and songs that we've been exploring for a while. He usually reads a couple of poems and turns over as sign of his readiness to listen for the remainder of his conscious experience.
Which brings us to last night and the reason for this post. Last night the urge for tickets was stronger than the urge to sleep. Little Man is usually not one to fight that sleepy feeling that creeps in at a certain hour.  He tends to recognize the feeling and allow it to do it's thing. Not last night. Tickets have found their way in our home to encourage his reading. So, tickets, as the ends to the means of reading, were triumphant. He devoured poem after poem. Some a few lines short, others up to four pages long. And not big bulky letters that take up space. With his mind on the growing collection and his hands often rubbing his tired eyes, he changed positions constantly trying to stay awake. I even saw him falling asleep for a slight second  a couple of times and quickly coming to, saying "where was I"? Reminded me of hearing my grandfather telling me stories when I was a kid. Not until he had secured 18 tickets for himself was  he ready ready to hang up the towel. To give you some sense of scale, it's usually around 2,3 maybe 4 tickets per night thus far. I get the sense we'll need to take another trip to purchase more rolls of tickets sooner than later. I'm ok with that. 
These tickets may mean something different to him and us. But ultimately they are a means to an end. For him a collection. For us, learning. Another tool that benefits all of us players involved in this particular game of life. A simple tool, applied simply to achieve something positive.  Parenting is not new. Cliches overly describe it's universal messages. The techniques are not new and not all apply to all. We simply all have a duty to get creative and experiment in order to learn to apply them in our own lives. As I heard someone say once, "you're bringing a person into the world, it might as well be good one." That's the part some people don't seem to understand comes from their own efforts beyond letting nature takes it's course. We didn't invent anything new with this ticket collection reward system. We just discovered that it works for us and the feeling that comes with it - Well, it might as well be our invention.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mariee

We have a new kid. Well, not so new really. She's been with us for about 6 months or so. We made no formal announcements. It just sort of happened and life went by... So here, I make my formal introduction of Mariee D. to my world of readers. Wait a minute, D. is not H. (as in Harpaz), so how could we have had another child you ask? It all started at Starbucks like all of my mornings do. The one two blocks away, where the local bunch of loud mouthed Israeli contractors smoking outside and taking over the tables hang out. Planning the tear-down of quaint 1940's homes of the neighborhood for ugly McMansions that take up the whole lot and are made of the newest, cheapest materials that science and technology have given us. Plastics instead of wood. Composites instead of real stuff. It's one thing the materials, but why does character, detail and beauty need to be sacrificed alongside? Anyway, back to our newest family member cause you guys must be curious by now about this Mariee. She's not a baby and she certainly did not come out of my beloved's womb, as I may have misled above. At Starbucks, for a while I would see Mariee as a fixture of the place. An older lady, my guess at the time upper 70's or early 80's, that would sit and hang out with the many colorful characters that frequent the joint. Sometimes alone, others with her dog, but always dressed with what I can only describe as an ecclectically hippie-ish disheveled sort of look. We first met when I was sitting with our two dogs. Mariee started talking to them and me and we developed an acquaintanceship. She has a dog, Nova, I would see with her every so often. Nova's full name is, get this - Nova San Ita Shima De La Nocha De Lus Mojuba I love You Forever Which Is Further Than Beyond. I kid you not. She repeats it the exact same way every time. A little glimpse into Mariee's world for you. Typical of her owner's somewhat disheveled look, Nova (I'll keep the short version) was leashed with a short knotted rope tied to an old red knotted up leash. Just one of my Starbucks people. You get these sort of on the surface relationships when you frequent any place long enough. Often they stay on the surface. Like in my Starbucks case of being known by an alias for years in a premeditated attempt to distance myself from the Israeli contractor bunch. This way I can sit and hear all their talk without them having a clue I understand all their chauvinist remarks. In some cases, like Mariee's, over a little bit of time you begin to scratch under the surface and beyond. That's how I found out about the cancer. Breast cancer. And the spreading. On one occasion where we actually sat together and over our coffee's she got quite chatty and spilled out about her ordeal - all while smoking a cigarette. On my end, I felt sad hearing her story, but shit happens all the time to all sorts of people and what is she doing smoking anyways? I suppose everyone has their own level of compassion and though I was feeling a bit of it, I didn't set out to adopt her quite yet. For now she's another colorful person coming in and out of my daily routine. Time went by and I'd see her here and there at Starbucks or on the way to or from, until it became apparent that she actually lives in the building directly across the street from our house. And we (by then Orit had developed the same casual type of on the surface relationship with her) began to notice her getting weaker, older and balder. And I don't know at what point exactly or how the relationship was taken to the next level, but it did. Of course it was not me. Orit, who had been really good over the years of purging herself of picking up strays (metaphorically speaking, but needy souls tend to find her) did it and did it big. My humanitarian, compassionate, angel of a wife, always the one to take it to the next level. And though I may be nothing like that myself in parts, it's one of the reasons I am awed by her with every new day and every new adventure she brings into our lives. As some of you know and some not and most don't know the half of it, she's full of them. What I am not, I get to be vicariously through her. And vice-versa. Another tip for the future relationship manual. Sometimes the hardships of responsibility to the human spirit are beyond my everyday abilities. I need to retreat and go into my cave at times. I can allow that because I know she'll be there when I come out and I'm certain that I'm coming out to better worldknowing she's out there making those human connections.
So, Mariee, in her struggles to remain strong and independent through her sickness became more and more dependent on little gestures of Orit's kindness (I did contribute a bit too). Walking Nova, who's a 70lbs. dog who gets excited seeing other dogs on a leash. There was the one time Nova pulled her down to the ground, right onto a pile of shit. On her face. She told us that one with the humor she manages to muster even in the midst of the deepest of depressions. Walks here and there have turned into rides to doctor's, test's, pharmacy's, chemo, supermarket and even once to the hospital for a panic attack. The paramedics came and stood across the street as they so often do come to the building across the street. It's subsidized senior housing. Not a home, but independent apartments. Full of old Russian folks mostly. Not an unknown building to the local paramedics from the fire department. But this one time in particular, I had a funny feeling and ran out to ask what apartment number they were here for and of course it was her. So Orit drove to the hospital. I stayed home with Little Man.  Who has been slowly developing a relationship with her as an unavoidable fact of her being around Orit, her "Guardian Angel" a lot. The Monsignor that she talks to asks her about Orit with every visit. Marrie said that even though her Angel is Jewish she WILL go to heaven. No way she could burn in hell. Marrie never married, has no kids and is completely alone here. She's not upper 70's or 80's as I'd guessed but 66. The cancer and chemo has taken a huge chunk of her visual youth. The mind, still wants to be a kid. She has a brother and a sister out of state, separate states, living their own lives but supporting hers. They discourage her from living in their respective states as the health care would not be covered nearly as such as in California. They probably couldn't  afford it. But they cover her basic needs here. California covers the treatments. The rest falls on the new family from across the street. The every day nitty gritty of the ups and downs of a sickness and it's tolls. The calls back and forth and meals and tag alongs to youthful worlds outside her own, of old people and sickness. So like another child you love, you take on the burdens that come. And sometimes do things happily, sometimes not so, but with compassion. Orit just does it naturally. It's in her essence. And so I embrace it (sometimes grudgingly but always ultimately with no regret). It's hard not to, being in it. And the great thing is that Little Man sees and lives with it all. Yet another amazingly colorful experience and person for him to make a connection with. And he has. He started to call her "Grandma" last week. And you two real Grandma's out there need not feel jealousy, but rather be proud of the beauty he has in his heart. He did it because he recognized that she needed it from a certain point in their inevitable bonding. And for that and much more I am proud.

Today was a special day for two reasons. One being the amazing story of the rebirth from the earth of 33 trapped miners in Chile. A story that will live amongst legendary tales and should be covered in a completely separate session on it's own. An emotional day of absolute success on par with landing on the moon, which I did not get to experience. I'll add it to the list of topics to possible revisit here another time, as the personal stories begin to come out. The other, a simple story. Starbucks is yet again involved. I walk in and see J, one of a few Starbucks workers we've befriended. He said to me, " I saw Mariee yesterday. She told me about Theo calling her and telling her she is not alone. And that it was on a day that she was feeling particularly bad." I laughed. Now, I will confess that it was obviously done with the encouragement of mom and dad as we dialed her number. And coached him somewhat. But he said it as practiced cause he knew it would make her feel better. And he knew she was feeling pretty shitty. And that's more the point. No arguments like when asked to pose for a photo, or this or that or typical 6 and a half year old excuses. Did it happily. And it made it's impact. I knew it would. He knew it would. I could hear her reaction on the phone. I knew I would hear it from her later and I heard about it from J at Starbucks, who in turn, turned it around on us and said "it's an amazing thing you're doing with Mariee." I said, "it's all my wife." He said, "you're a part of that family." And that's why I like going to my Starbucks and the reason I decided to talk about our not so new kid, Mariee.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Inspiration

Coinciding with some good happenings and experiences, I've been getting a lot of super positive and encouraging responses from those of you I encounter in my daily, and not so daily life. So it's safe to say that good things are happening and it's an exciting time. Yet another crossroad of inspiration and direction. Some of the feedback conveyed is almost as descriptive as I can sometimes be in my ramblings. I'm honored by all of your comments. Touched by some. Many, astute with observations. One in particular came out of nowhere and was just so straight up honest, it struck a chord. He came up to me after already roughly 30 minutes of shooting the shit about this and that at work, along with a few other guys around and said to me "by the way, I hate you." What the hell are you talking about was all I could think and was obviously written all over my face as nothing came out of my mouth. He repeats, "I hate you - I hate you, cause you inspire me". Uncomfortable pause, furrowed brows... "I don't read. I don't ever read anything. And I've been reading everything on your blog." Well then. In that case I hate you too, with a big thank you. So inspiration inspires inspiration which in turn responds with inspiration. The "he" who said it, knows who he is. And if he's the true follower and reader that he claims to be, he thus gets his recognition here and will know that what he said stayed behind, with an impact - Good one.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Some of us veer off a path to follow other paths and dabble as such. Some focus on one shtick and stick to it a lifetime. Orit and I talked about inspiration the other night. In a different context, but still the same. She mentioned Theo was my main inspiration. Said it with a hint of sadness possibly realizing or thinking that once upon a time, she was my inspiration. For a long time, she alone was my subject for pictures and words. In a sense, she's right. Not absolutely though. I'm a dabbler of inspirations. I go through intense phases of prolific outputs within one body of work. And then walk away. Sometimes revisiting ideas of past, changing and adapting for the materials at hand and the era in my life and mostly the space I have to produce it. I don't walk away completely from previous themes, as they always seem to linger overhead, providing an umbrella signature of my being. So in my presence, my work and my choices, Orit continues to be the leading force of inspiration that drives me forward. Even with little man being in front of the camera or the subject of a story, it's all inter woven by the dynamic of our creative lives and our greatest creation. Every frame shot, every story written and every piece built is but a fraction of the larger collage of me.

The reason I chose inspiration or rather inspiration chose me as a topic this time is all because of a little monkey. A monkey that jumped out of my knee apparently (I'll explain...). That monkey was my inspiration coming out and the supposed beginning of relief from the pain my knee has been waiting for. Most of you are completely lost by now, so let me explain. Or at least try to. I'm not sure I quite understand, but my inspiration (Orit) tells me to at least be open to it. As some of you may know, I have bad knees. One bad one with a slight meniscus tear, another overcompensates and is heading in the same direction. Fast forward... My sister, Ayelet, healer of babies, mothers and now knees. Actually, all ailments, not just knees. That was just me being a smart-ass. Her life in the spiritual world is in a realm that I may claim to somewhat understand, in concept, but I don't. I'm not a quiet person internally and its difficult for me to step deep enough into the quiet to attain this "understanding." But, past the giggles of perceived kookiness, lay all sorts of possibilities I will never understand. But, I can at the very least respect them. So my sister learned a new technique of healing at one of the intensive seminars she participated in. A new ability to heal through the mind via remote control. She can "get into me and my knee" and do it from where she resides in Israel, all while I'm asleep in my Los Angeles home. What the hell? All I have to do is sleep. I've got nothing to loose. There's a 10 hour difference so our timing is perfect. She just needs an hour to do her magic. Visualize the knee and go to work. My biggest fear before going to sleep is, will she see me naked? It's my sister after all. I woke up the following morning half hoping for a miracle bounce in my step. Unfortunately, I started a three day location job that turned out to be very physical and only managed to aggravate both of my knees. I'm not skeptical about the whole thing yet, though. Still open, and even though I haven't had a chance to speak to her in depth yet, from Ayelet's end, she had quite an experience. No, not seeing me naked. She saw the monkey I spoke of earlier. You may laugh, as did Ayelet and Orit when they spoke on the phone while I was off working. I heard the story from Orit. Ayelet was working on my knee in her focused state of mind, when she saw a monkey come out of my knee. Surprised, she asked the monkey who he was? "I am Gal's inspiration," he said. He was imprisoned within the confines of my knee and was now released. So there you have it. Believe it or not. The funny thing is that little man has had many nicknames over his lifetime, one of the longest running ones, being "monkey." And as Orit has stated, he's my inspiration. My writing began as a result of his surgery and continues to revolve around him with every new topic. Ayelet's healing process is not a one time thing. It will take time. At least 6 more visits into my knee while I sleep. Again, here I ask what do I have to loose?  If it helps in any way and surgery can be avoided, I'm game. In the meantime, I can continue to hope for the best and procrastinate the invasive western medical route as long as I can manage the situation. If my understanding is correct of the whole monkey thing, I need to continue to ride this wave of inspiration flowing through me in all it's avenues. That, with the higher power of the mind will lead to the rebuild of my knee over the course of the treatment. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, enjoy my monkey.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fractions

Fractions - an interesting topic for me to write about here. And though it might sound a bit random, you'll soon see the relevance. Especially here. 
After dinner tonight, as the last of the strawberries in whipped cream with dark chocolate shavings (that Orit quickly threw together - bless her!) disappeared, the topic of fractions came up. Mathematical fractions we're talking about. Little man uses fractions in his vocabulary and did so again tonight, prompting the discussion. He said something to the effect of having "half of a square or three quarters of a triangle..." in regards to something or another, which of course all I remember of now is that it made us laugh. But, I wanted to get him to understand what it really meant. What a fraction really is besides the 4 that he already knows  (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 & 1) and uses properly, I might add. So while Orit and I stepped into and over each others attempts to come up with a proper visual aid in the lesson, the idea of what a fraction is in it's simplest form hit me after almost 39 years. One. Parts of one. Only need one sheet of paper. And unlike Orit's attempt with a messy aid... no cutting. Just folding. All in tact. So we have one sheet of paper. Torn out of a magazine, a random page, which later becomes part of the story in it's content (perfection!). Meticulously, as with Origami, fold paper in half. We get two sections that add up to make the one whole sheet. Simple, but the beginnings of a profound never ending concept. Starting with one-half sections or two halves. Fold again. Make the creases nice and noticeable and voilĂ , quarters. "Theo, what's next?"  All you educated adults can see where it's going. Little man deduces the pattern to eighths, sixteenths, 1/32, 1/64, 1/128, & 1/256. The math was done all in the head, with a bit of back and forth trial and error, but man, that little head of his is sharp and has a real thing for numbers. Our visual aid, with every fold and re-fold (to make sure the crease is distinct) was opened to make sure the amount of sections match the math. Yes. And as we moved deeper and deeper into the process, Orit and I could see another moment of what I've described in the past as "the assimon fell!" Those not familiar with the Hebrew coin/word/expression, it means moment of clarity when something is just understood. Look further back into the blog if you want it's origin. Not everyone is able to turn an opportune moment into a lesson to a 6 and a half year old child, after dessert. This is where tonight, I succeeded in my small, but significant achievement. And besides the fact that today was mostly a day of chauffeuring with some other self satisfying/gratifying moments, this was the one that I found writable.
As for why it should be a topic of relevance other than a good story in-itself on the blog, with my writings, my work? My Theo-roids, that capture fragments throughout the whole of little man's life thus far? Or the make-up of the Progress Report in it's grid form of 12 single Theo-roids? Or in the single frames that make up a Polarama? Or a pinpointed image that is but one part of the story in a Wood piece? You see, fractions/fragments/sections/moments/images are much more than just the lesson of the evening. Fractions are thematic to my life and work. That little man gets it, and me, is priceless. So I say to myself, as Hilton Garden Inn seems to want me to know - WELL PLAYED.
 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mud Run

So it all began a few months ago. Through Christy, Orit found out about this mud run event and it sparked an inner flame that started burning. The burning for a challenge and getting dirty was compelling. She told me about it and in so, had made the decision to do it. Forget the fact that she can't run without getting what we later found out to be called "stitches" A common problem with people cramping cause of not breathing properly. People have been telling her that for years, it's just that apparently no one has actually shown her a technique to correct it. I'll step in and say a word about this here. About one year into our marriage of 11 years, we made an attempt to go jogging together. I specifically remember saying "in through the nose, out thought the mouth," and showing her. She does not recall, so ultimately that's what goes. Here, this is my blog. I tell MY objective truth. Anyway, we are stronger than any one small disagreement, so we move on. She will do this thing and she will get past the "stitches." And I say, go for it - get dirty! So the decision was made. The team of women was organized and the training began. Kickboxing has become more of the routine for her of late. The plan - to step it up in stamina through kickboxing and introduce running in between. Squeeze that between being a mother, wife, photographer, and caretaker of all and hope for the best. But most importantly, it's about having fun. And checking one off the bucket list (skydive - check, shave head - check, run a 5k mud run - now I'm getting a little ahead, but check, not at liberty to mention others...). Hell, i wanted to join. Registration is open till  the day of, but my bum knees. Bummer! I've been in pain from my torn meniscus. I'm sure the inevitable day will come you will hear about my knee surgery. For now it's just a source of anxiety. Just went through the whole surgery thing with little man. Back away from me for now. Mud. Individually and as a group, they stuck to the plan as much as their daily routines allowed. Did I mention the "stitches" are no longer an issue. Not that she remembered what I claim to have said 11 years ago. Thanks to a trainer (husband of team mate) that showed her what I claim to have shown her 11 years ago. Again, I say here, we are stronger than any one disagreement (and by the way, if you are able to do that, the disagreements don't pile up or linger - chew on that for a bit. There's more advice if you want it...). Bottom line is, she's over the stitches and she can run now. Problem solved. There are walking breaks, but there is a definite building of gradual stamina. She went running on the beach the other day. Yet another benefit of Southern California life.
Today was race day. The much anticipated day finally arrived. Christy is staying with us for a few days. The ladies woke up early and went to the event to begin the process of signing in, getting their numbers, yata, yata, yata. Orit wakes me up to say goodbye and adds, "Theo is making batter, make him crepes. Goodbye." Now those of you who know Orit, know her crepes. And there is nothing else that needs to be said. Those who don't know her crepes, don't have any idea what you're missing and there's nothing I can say to get descriptive enough in what it does to people, especially little man. He can live on them every day, twice a day. And he has this control over his mom in getting her to make them for him at any given moment (almost) and with the shortest window of time. She has them down to an art form in speed, finesse, but mostly taste and texture. With that said, this morning... I get up after finally little man wakes me up a second time with a "crepes?" and a smile. I get up and walk to the kitchen and see the blender and batter in it, ready to go. Mom's expertise has not gone unnoticed by little man. He just needs me to do the pan-to-fire negotiation. So off I go, heat the pan, get it ready... "Theo, does mom use anything in the pan?" He answers, "butter, only on the first one." Ok. So I make them (I've learned from seeing Orit as well, though I'm better at this part. Glad little man can make the batter). He tells me they're ok and eats two with Nutella. And we quickly get our shit together to see mom race, and possibly, possibly, join the kids race at 11:45am. A half mile obstacle mud run. So armed with all I think is necessary gear, we went. Of course not as well prepared as mom would have been. But nothing, a quick stop at Starbucks wouldn't fix (water and a snack for a growing boy and an ice coffee for me). And I won't mention I remembered to bring a towel, and extra clothing, but forgot the flip flops to wear after the muddy shoes. Whatever. Builds character and callouses, walking barefoot. We made it to the race just as they had started and found our spot to wait to see mom and her team as all the hard core of the 5000+ people expected, began to pass by at the second of as it turned out only two mud baths in between some obstacles and marked off areas around the property of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. We waited. We were quite in awe of the whole spectacle. A few polaroids. And there she is. Running in a sea of wet, muddy people, some in costumes, running through a strange situation.

We exchange our yells of acknowledgment and encouragement and moved on to the next  position of viewing the runners. It's hot. And we've had a taste of a little mud as it splashed us by the runners and I could see little man had his head and his eyes on the fact that he was gonna do this too. One more vantage point as they snake around their path for little man to high five his athlete mom. Then we saw her crawl through rows of hoola hoops, run over what should be a slip and slide, kick her way through beach balls and go off into the distance around the stadium property, back around the other side, over hay stack stairs and there we got one more high five opportunity and off to the finish line over there yonder. Well, we didn't actually see the finish, cause we were running around looking for the place to register him for the kids race in time. But Orit finished proud and strong in 1hr 27secs and made her way to see little man numbered and ready at the starting line for his race. And off he went. Over a few little traffic barriers, around a turn, in through the mud bath, over some more walls, another turn, hoola hoops, slip and slide, turn and straight away. Half mile. Was that really half mile? I don't know how many ran in his category of 4-7 year olds. I was too hot and concentrated on him to notice. He ran the whole way. Good stamina. Fifth place, not that anyone (except him and I) are keeping score. And that was that. A few more polaroids. And the mud run was done. 


He and I headed home via In-N'-Out Burger. little man gets the meat, cheese and bun only. I decided this time to go purist as well and forgo the sauce, lettuce, tomato, onions... There is something to be said about about a burger that tastes good in it's absolute purest form. No dressing, no fries, no nothing. I may have been converted to the less sophisticated, more simplistic palate of my kid. Made it home just a bit before the dirty girls came home. We all took a nap today. Woke up for dinner. Tonight, we have breakfast for dinner. And a walk of our collective dogs (Christy has her dog Toki with her and she's pals with China and Roody). The ladies are exhausted. Orit fell asleep watching a movie officially at 10:00pm or so, but unofficially we lost her already at around 8:15pm. She was floating in between. I asked her at this point how much she actually ran of the course. Her answer was about half. Run, walk, run, trot, walk... I know she's proud of herself and had fun. I know she's already planning on checking off the list the larger Camp Pendelton Mud Run next. I am proud of her and Theo. They know it as do you all now too. Proud of Christy and all the other crazies having fun out there too. Speaking of Christy, she manages to let work lure her to her portable office for a few more hours of a workaholic fix. But that light went out too now. And that is the story of the LA 5k Mud Run 2010.  A vignette into the story of a mom (and a kid) taking on a challenge, by a writer who is taking on sort of a challenge of his own. The writer is always the one left awake in the middle of the night. I fear to see and hear the aches and pains the ladies will experience tomorrow. Not worried about little man. He didn't think his challenge was very hard. So why am I the one with ice on my knee? Goodnight. New Theo Progress Report coming next... 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Crossroads

I suppose I've reached a crossroads in my new public writing thing. There is no one tying theme to write around that is so encompassing at all times to keep me churning in on the keyboard as I've grown accustomed to over the past two weeks. The surgery is in the past. Well, there are still the looming bills that will soon start to trickle in from the hospital, the doctor and the who knows who else will try to ride the collection train. And the insurance EOB's or lack of B's (is more like it) will not match, and the correspondence will begin back and forth and we'll have it all wrapped up in 8 months or so. But that's just the bureaucracy side of it. Not an interesting topic, dealing with pencil pushers. All that's left of the actual procedure is a small remnant of the froggy voice. Still not the old sounding little man, but he may never be exactly that way. His airflow is different in his throat and nose and as a result his voice too, works differently. Soon enough the old voice will no longer be in our memory and the new one will be the old one. But that's it. Nothing else to mention about regarding tonsillectomy and our experience. Topic done. There lies the crossroads. What now - to write about? Need to find another umbrella to write under and have the ideas trickle down like a steady rain. And like lightning, a flash seeped in and a seed was planted. Just keep going about whatever, mix it with whatever and serve it as whatever... Now I need to nurture it into a discipline, until it starts to flower... This is a blog after all. Everything goes. It's my blog and I'm just doing my thing. You chose to to ride along or not. I try to keep my life interesting enough to keep you interested enough.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ventura, CA 08/19/10


I needed a break from writing. We all needed a break from my writing. You need it too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Follow-up

A couple of days have past. I've been here and gone, working and not working as are the waves of my world. The boy that once was before the Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy is now, once more. Doing and being as he did. At full throttle. With exception to the breathing, the oh so important reason for the whole damn thing. Quiet. Silence. Stillness. I can't emphasize it enough. Those of you who have had the pleasure of either having us as overnight guests or vice versa, have witnessed the grandfatherly sounds that have come out of little man going back to him being little raisin. Amongst friends, these "sounds" have been a source of laughter. In reality, I've had to get up at 2;30am, get dressed, go downstairs and out of a NYC hotel, walk down Broadway a block and a half to a corner market and get earplugs to bring back to the room for Orit and I to get some sleep. Man. Even then, over the plugs, I put on my Bose headphones with a little music. Just one sample. We're well traveled and have had our fair share of close sleeping situations, worthy of several stories  Well, no more. At least not snoring stories. We'll continue the travels. The past, preserved as memories and on film (and digital), are where those sounds live now. And here, lives silence. I'm slowly getting used to it. Don't get me wrong, I've appreciated the silence from the moment he took his first post-op sleep. It's taken a bit longer to get accustomed to it. As he lays asleep next to me now, both of us laying parallel to each other and laying across his full size bed (the opposite of normal) - my head leaning on wall, back on mattress and feet on ground. Little man on his stomach takes up the whole width of the bed as his legs bend and touch the wall near my head. I don't hear him. The fish tank filter is louder. The crickets are louder. My thoughts are louder. I have to stop writing, excuse me... And put my palm on his back to feel the beautiful up and down rhythm of life. And so it goes, up and down, as a symbol and metaphor of life.
Little man has enjoyed me reading him these stories. He listens attentively and corrects me or emphasizes at things he  likes. It's been cool. He gets to re-live a moment, just a day or two behind and this time through my language. Same with Orit who's been the final sounding board to each post (as she's been my sounding board for all other writings and everything else of the past 12 years). And the rest of you out there that have responded with interest and with kind words. I enjoy hearing feedback and that it's even interesting or entertaining is welcoming. It's got me going. So I'm going.
Another night of sleep for all of us behind us and today another busy day (for little man). I'll confess today I've been beaten by the heat and my body is fighting gravity with every step. Retroactive fatigue, I am taking a day of rest. Dead weight on some soft cushiony surface. Me and the dogs are one today. On the agenda for those active in the household; Theo is spending the day with friends, starting the morning with art at Edie's and moving on to swimming at Rowan's. For Orit, we have running on the beach on the menu as a starter course for this weekend's 5k mud run she's participating in and dinner with a girlfriend.  I'm looking forward to the mud run (and no, it's not a precursor for mud wrestling, though I'm ok with that too). So as you see, the secret to a happy household, is a well balance of family members doing something fun, personal and completely separate (at times...).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Healed

I've had another full day trip to the Bay Area. It's sort of been my commute the last few weeks as it's the 3rd time this month. That was yesterday. Another day of waking up and leaving before the family opens their eyes. Getting on a plane, rental car doing what I do and coming back. All in a days work. This time I made it back before little man was asleep and got to see him finish off a day of good health and good spirits. And after the silent breathing began and little man was drifting into the deep sleep his body deserves, I got the run down of the day from his mom (i'll explain "his mom" In a bit). A good day, she said. I called in the morning when I landed in Oakland and little man answered the phone. A few seconds of fumbling and then his "hi." He tells me he's at karate. I'm surprised he's picking up the phone in that case. He continues to say he's not doing it, but his mom is (he calls her "my mom" to me sometimes and it cracks me up - I'm like, dude, I know it's your mom - she's my wife!). Orit does kickboxing where he does karate, so he was hanging out with his buddy. I asked him later if mom looked sexy kicking and punching the bag in class. He said he didn't watch. Ah, the 6yr. old mind. Anyway, after class, the two of them saw a movie, ate and little man went to his first karate class since the operation. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the marker we've been waiting for. The sign. Or maybe much more definitive than a sign. Maybe the ribbon at the finishing line that was broken by the knife hand with the first KEEEAAAYY! Patient no more. The rebuild of the healthy boy routine may commence and our lives can continue to move forward. Today, Theo went to a bowling birthday party. He ate pizza, cupcake, bowled a strike, screamed out loud (apparently really loud) and was lost in the moment. Exactly where you want him to be. Now they're back. Orit and little man are taking down his old art from the walls, making room for new material. Starting fresh. And in the moment. Breathing easily...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A share

In addition and sort of in conjunction to what I posted today, I wanted to share one of the many responses I've received form you people out there... (especially regarding Randy's Donut Therapy).

Hi Theo,

Hope your doing well today, and feeling much better,

Ever since I saw you eating that chocolate glazed donut I've been craving one. So this morning I went over to Dunkin Donuts here in Boston and boy was it good. I don't think It's as good as Randy's but it was still pretty yummy.

Love you buddy, Uncle Jerry


Open the flood gates

 

Another full day and night behind us. Yesterday - we'll call it the day the flood gates of food opened up. I was off working again (keep it coming, no complaints), but apparently an ultimatum was placed upon little man.  Mama had just about had it with seeing him continue to deny real food from entering his body. The double clap is gone, thank god. Food is the last front. The foot was put down and the war of wills began. He gets nothing till he eats the food on the plate. Don't even talk to her. She doesn't want to hear it. The healing will begin when he eats, and If he wants to get back to karate, he'll have to eat. And that did it. There used to be public phones in Israel that took a special call coin with a hole in it (like a donut) called assimon. It would slide down behind see through glass into the visible mechanism and when it locked into place, it clicked and you got a dial tone. These phones no longer exist, but a saying remains that "the assimon fell" as an expression of "it sunk in." Back to little man. Mention karate and "the assimon fell". And fell down to his belly hard as the plate was devoured and he asked for more, and more and more. And then, get this, he asked Orit if she would take him to Randy's Donuts? But that's between you and dad, she said, trying to get out of it. It can be with you too, he said. Then without shame, he asked if he could just stay and she could go and bring some back? That was pushing it, but he pulled back quickly. And they went. And he had another session of Randy's Donut Therapy via the chocolate glaze. And I came home to find this small betrayal (at least there was the extra they brought home) and have to learn to live with it. We all since had a discussion and came to the conclusion, that Randy's is a special (and mostly far) trip reserved for warranted occasions. All other whim donut moments will have to be directed towards the local shop which we now must discover by exploration. So who knows, maybe that will be the next topic to write about.
Amongst the other things in our busy day, Orit and I went to an orientation for Theo's new school. A new charter. Smaller, more independent and thought provoking than standardized public system. Looking forward to seeing it develop and take shape. Met principle and some teachers... Maybe this will be a topic.
Then, went to a gallery opening to meet the owner and then a bar and maybe this will be a topic.
And lastly we came home back to our sleeping child and release of Aimee (who works for Orit and helps out with little man on occasion). And I almost sat on him before I realized he was sleeping in our bed. Goes back to our lack of current structure or routine. And now I'm back to the topic. Little man, surgery, healing, dealing and parenting. Yesterday, thus far, the best day.
This morning started almost rough. Little man runs into our bedroom silently crying as he does when he has his bursts of pain in the throat or ear and lays head down besides us, crying. Can't touch him. Just silence. A few minutes. And it's done. I have to drive the big grip truck back - wanna come with me, and we'll go get some pancakes? Froggy said yes. And off we went in the truck (he loves doing this for the rare vantage point he gets from the cabs of these trucks), driving along the 101 into Hollywood.
And we went to Mel's Diner. He ate pancakes and maple syrup and bacon. Slow as can be (which is great, but invokes the need for patience) but ate like a champ. And we moved on to Samy's to pick some rental gear up and visit some folks. There he gave a demonstration of his strength being back and readiness for karate. Is it karate night tonight? No. Tomorrow? Ok. Keeeaaayy!  And now he's hanging at Rowan's house for a few hours, while we deal with the rest of our lives and beings (Rooody has a rash and is at the vet)...
And now he's back and is a cone head...



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Post-op check up

"Say ahhhh, one big time and I won't have to do this again." The doctor said he did a great job. The doctor, that is. Humor for, he's healing nicely. Good doctor. Nice genuine guy. Made  little man smile. Doc asked if he managed to make him sound like Mickey Mouse? Doc has done this twice a week for 35 years. I still say groggy froggy, a new. unique character. Not an old disney one. Didn't take much for him to get the mouth open either. First request. Nice and wide. All good. All the symptoms are natural. Progression is good. This time next week, he's 100%. He just needs to get back to eating. As alarming as it may look on an already little guy with a tight body, a loss of 5 pounds is the common average. Nice and short and easy visit. On the way out, we were told there is no charge for this visit - It's post-op. Surprising. As it should be, but certainly not expected given health care and our experience with it. We took it happily, though. And then in the car I think oh no, another week? He did say that? I thought I knew the schedule. Regardless. That's to 100%. In the meantime we continue the descent down the mountain of recovery.
Ups and downs fill each day. Downs usually cycle around the eating issue and occasional pain. Peaceful level to ups are in between. This evening's up was the local Chuck E Cheese type mini-golf/arcade place - Castle Park. Theo is a big collector of tickets. He likes those tickets you get from a skee ball machine or those kind of arcade games. The kind of ticket that Andy Warhol painted. The kind you usually trade in for some cheap plastic prize. Little man is usually more interested in keeping the tickets and counting his growing collection. It's usually not about the prize for him. Before I fell for his request of quite out of the blue at 5:30pm, he came to me and said "if you take me to Chuck E. Cheese," later we compromised on Castle Park place, "I'll put in $10 and you put in $10 and that way we don't have to spend all of just your money." He had $10 in hand from his money box (which has $100 and has been counted many times over the past days). He had me. He really closed the deal when after thinking about it for a moment he realized and said it was actually all my money anyway. Cause I originally gave him that money to begin with. So we went. And spent $25 on tokens. $5 dollars more and he owes me $2.50. He got 497 or so tickets. The most he's ever gotten here. This time he wanted the prizes. There is something not the same about these tickets. And there are just too many them. So he picked out prizes as the 16 year old girl at the counter subtracted on a calculator till it came down to a tootsie roll. From there, we went to the food part and I tried to get him to eat as I promised Orit. His problem definitely does not begin in the ordering stage. Earlier it was a hamburger at IN-n'-OUT. Now a slice of pizza here. On both occasions he ordered with free will and I was stuck eating them (with a  gun pointed at my head). Two bites from him and the throat hurts. And that's that. But, can he have a slurpee? A red one? Dad? Fine. Orit did say anything. My mom said, if he wants sugar, give him sugar. I'm happy to just avoid drama right now. So red slurpee in hand, we walk through the glass doors and satisfied little man says "that was fun." And so it was. Still don't have a proper night routine. Not that we need one. He's out of school, has no obligations or commitments and we lead a far from routine life. He'll get his his routine back. I don't know if we'll ever really have it. But that's the beauty! Gotta go move little man from the couch to the his bed.
Yesterday, I left the house before the sun and little man awoke (and safe to say before most of you). I came back long after he was sleeping (and safe to say after most of you). A long day in the far, hot, high desert. I promised I'd come in and kiss him and again, I had to stick around a little to see his chest move, cause the old breathing is gone. At least back then I could tell he was obviously alive and breathing from our bedroom. It was like sure telltale. It's like moving from NY to LA and missing the noise. But you get used to the quiet quickly and enjoy the better quality of life. And that's what it was all about.
Anyway, the story about Theo's surgery, from my perspective is not always from first hand account. When I'm not around, Orit is quite reliable as a source and always quite detailed in her storytelling. I asked how the day was and she nodded. All she knew for certain was; 1) That she's just about had had it with the double clap (and I really wish there was a way to write down or describe better the sound effect of the action when she did it because it's much more profound than the words double clap, and, it came with a priceless expression). And 2) and in starting 2, she started to crack up, actually helping the demonstration of imitating the high pitched froggy voice and mannerisms of little man, nailing it spot on. And we laughed. And that was hot...
Morning came with a quick meltdown that was swiftly controlled with a quiet holding from mom. He gets moments of pain in the throat or ear. He can't swallow. And it makes him cry. Which makes it worse. He can't help it. And neither can we (which makes it worse). So we just roll through it. And then it goes away and he's fine for another while. We had another moment when he and I were at Starbucks. There was no chocolate croissant and the pain revisited, simultaneously. That was the perfect storm. That too passed. And we walked it off. And now our old friend Rowan came over for a few hours. And it's as if they just saw each other yesterday (I believe it's been a good six months). They're making a concoction outside and doing their thing. A head apart in height (Rowan being a giant and little man being called that for a reason), but as one head together. Another moment, in their moment. Thus, I sit down to be in mine.
We have our post-op appointment with Dr. ***** today at 2:45. Should be interesting to see how he manages to get Theo to open his mouth enough to see what we're there for to begin with. I've tried several times to get a look deep enough to see anything, but the mouth won't open wide enough for me. We had a talk, him and I, about that on our Starbucks walk. And about what I see as the great success in the breathing department. He gets it. He knows it's true and understands the health aspects. He gets that it will have to be different with the doctor. It's a different relationship. But sometimes I also momentarily forget he's actually only 6 and lives in the now. And now, he feels like shit and the last time he saw the doctor he put him under and caused everything in the first place. So it ALL sucks! And that's cool with me. I get it. It just takes a moment to get that understanding and some work to maintain it. So we'll see what the doctor says...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 6?

Forgive me if I have somewhat lost track of the days. In looking back at what I wrote, today is day 6. Orit say's 5. Eleven years of marriage will do that to you (though I must tell all we're going through a really good period of parallel growth, so don't worry about us!) The operation was Tuesday morning - I started counting then. Today is Sunday. You do the math. With that established, today went as such;
Actually before I get into today, I want to add that we had a fun visit last evening post Randy’s Donut Therapy from our friends and neighbors, Sam and Lucy, who are always welcome to barge in unannounced. It’s what we love about their mom and welcome all of them over and over again. The three buddies had fun collaborating seamlessly to create a funky bird. They’re a funny and uniquely individual threesome that complements itself well and it was nice to see them together doing their thing, all being into the same thing.
Also I wanted to add, that I have received quite a few responses from some of you interested in the Randy's Donut Therapy technique and it's philosphy. I will put some brain power into that possible new age treatment and it's marketability soon enough.
This morning, little man woke up quite late for him. But I must believe that he's sleeping deeper, better and longer because he breathes better. We don't hear him. It's crazy quiet. I've been so used to my loud little man. The change was immediate. So he sleeps well and long. But, he woke up with an earache. And that too is one of the like clockwork moments expected from the benefit of having a long history of this procedure and much experience. Expect an earache on Day 6 was in the manual. Unlike our oral/medicine issues, the ear is fair game and little man is pretty disciplined at taking drops or olive oil or any other Orit concoction, so long as it's not in the mouth or nose. And no, don't say suppositories (Miriam). So we had him comfortable quickly laying on his side, watching tv, letting the drops soothe. By the way, there will be much damage control on the tv and sugar/nutrition front when this is all said and done. The manual says that's on day 10. I'm still holding out for an earlier success story. But, I'll take success story at it's own schedule nonetheless.
I'm in a revived interest of moving my body recently. Trying to find ways of constantly rotating types of physical activity so as to not get bored. And catch up and join Orit, whose been kickboxing for a while now and getting strong. I need to get it together before she can actually kick my ass. She's got the emotional hold, so it's only fair I hold on to the physical ability of not getting my ass kicked by my wife. Not that I would ever use it... But at least while we wrestle... Anyway. I had arranged it already last night to get up unusually early for me on a Sunday, to play tennis with David. He came over to see little man before hitting the courts. It's been a while since I've played. David and I used to play in NY and I used to be real good. Played very seriously when I was young until I abandoned it when I was 17. Still am good, just takes me a bit to get my rhythm back after a long hiatus and most noticeably the stamina is no longer what it used to be. I'll stay away from the age cliches as I feel myself as young (until the knees start to say otherwise). As I was leaving and trying to get Theo's attention pried away from the zombie state of tv and recovery, I leaned down to his level (as his head is sideways because of the ear drops) and said I'm going to play tennis. He rolled his eyes to me and said "are you good?" I said, Yes. And the eyes rolled back to Tom & Jerry. And I left. My mother in law and wife like to make fun of my attire and my fashion before leaving for my workout. Actually it's just my mother in law. Orit just joins in for fun, but secretly loves it. Theo is so used to my shit, it doesn't even phase him. And so I push my mother in law's buttons back. I'm proud of the black socks, black sneakers and cut off old sweats look I have. And I raise my socks higher in open defiance. I’m not going to the WASPy country club and I don’t own any white tennis attire. With my newly shaved look (my annual or bi-annual ritual of cleansing the head and the face, besides the added benefit of Orit feels like she’s having an affair...). I am who I am and mother in law, Miriam (up till now referred to as Safta - grandma in Hebrew) is as well. And we like to spar. And we're both good at it. So it works. And people around it get a kick out of it. And Theo, absolutely adores her. And she, there are no words to how much she lives through him and for him when with him.
Came back from tennis feeling good, but the muscles where secretly already conspiring to constrict and knot later. Edie and Charlie came over to hang out with Theo. The boys got some good peaceful play time. Little man was worn out after though and laid down to watch Ponyo, which was so graciously brought by our guests.The day has its ups and down moments with the emotional realms when you have a hard time communicating still. And your neck is stiff from holding it a certain way to avoid pain in the throat. So those moments still happen at times and as randomly as what may trigger them. But, we talk through them. Or sometime shut up through them. And move on. We went to Balboa Park to feed the ducks, ride the scooter on the path and get some fresh air. Funnily enough, we were feeding them right in front of the sign that mentioned why you should not feed the wildlife. Obviously, we did not see the sign before or this time, until we turned around to leave. But the ducks ate. And then scrambled away like running backs trying to hold on to the bread in the coming onslaught of bread thirsty ducks. And we enjoyed the moment. And he rode his scooter a bit and got sidetracked with a small meltdown and this little man is tired and weak. And normal. And extraordinary. So we went home. And we no longer have any kind of bed time routine. We never even know which bed. This week has dictated it’s own schedule. Baths or showers or bed time or pajamas are not much on the lexicon in regard to a certain hour anymore. In turn, things such as what is going on at the moment occur: I’m in the office, writing. Orit is walking into the room, disorientated, making a face and adjusting her eyes to the light since falling asleep with Theo on our bed 2 hours ago. Both in clothing, interwoven, creating some kind of chinese character shape. Is he out for the rest of the night? Probably. At least it’s quietly. And tomorrow will be good.

Theo Progress Report 08/08/10

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Randy's

So we didn't go to the party. Theo and I stayed behind and let the ladies go. So I read Theo all that I've written thus far. He got into it, listening attentively, and actually remembering to come back after a pee break! The story triggered a few memories from the hospital which we discussed. And reminisced about the happy juice. I was reading the portion when I previously asked him if it was all worth it. He quickly interjected with the still current answer of NO. And that told me it was time to get out of the house. The sun was calling and the cool afternoon breeze asked us to join it (one of the benefits of Southern California living). So we grabbed our card game and took a walk to Starbucks for a coffee and a chocolate milk - one of our neighborhood doings. Here, Theo smiled. Here, he did his winning dance and did some air karate punches. When I won, he slyly pretended he did instead. He was finally in a place to get lost in the moment. He still can't raise his head up and looks up only with his eyes. He still can't open or stretch his mouth bigger than what it takes to do a medium sized smile. But, it was good to get outside. Good to walk and joke and get competitive over some friendly games of TAKI, if only for the sake of it's what we do when all is normal. And in moments such as this, normal is special. 
On the way back home, after still not eating a real nutritious meal since the surgery, only bits here and there, he said to me he wished he could go to Randy's Donuts. Now, those of you familiar with LA know what and where Randy's is. And those of you familiar with the Progress Reports have recently seen an installment photographed there. Those of you who have seen the movie Ironman II (and numerous other movies) are familiar with the scene Ironman sits inside the big donut. Well, we saw this movie a few months back and afterwards I mentioned that the big donut from is near the airport and one day I would take him. That one day became that moment, and a memory was established  to look forward to again in the future. One of those dad and son things. So something triggered that memory on our walk back from Starbucks and of course inside my head, I'm already planning the trip. But, I do the adult, responsible thing and say that when we get home, if he eats a decent enough dinner, we'll go. The promise was exchanged. He did and off we went. And now we're back and in Theo's words, "it was sooo worth it!" (still in a cute froggy voice). We both went with the classic chocolate glazed and it just melted in our mouths as soon as it entered. This is certainly not the best donut in the world. Some purists out there have their place of choice. But, for us two (and mom and safta who got a to go order), this was the best donut at the best time ever! We stuck around for Theo to indulge me with a few polaroids (keep your eyes open for next Progress Report). An iphone photo (see below) and back home. Quiet drive back listening to Bill Withers until I lower the volume to hear Theo say, "we're satisfied." When we got home and shared our to go bags with Orit and Safta, Theo wanted another bite. One big bite, where his mouth opened wider than it's been in 5 days. And then a smile came along with the realization that he's one step closer to full recovery. I call that Randy's therapy.



Day 5

We're in day 5. Behind me, Theo sits at Orit's work table stringing beads into a bracelet for Luka, who just turned 3 (we're going to her party for a short time this afternoon). Orit is standing over him providing the fine material from her arsenal and showing him technique and strategy... A picture of normalcy on the surface. Still far from it as the poor little man is still far from normal. But with every day he regains a little strength and the smiles, though still reserved for those very special moments where they're worth the pain, are being seen more often. Day 3 passed smoothly with much less tears. Only the occasional ones and those mostly from frustration and food or lack thereof. At least not pain - that is one comfort. The communication is still by notes and nods and thumbs up/down. The occasional froggy voice  comes out on occasion. The calling or beckoning by the quick double clap is still funny and cute and brings us all to attention (though this will get old soon!). I had to rush to a last minute trip up to San Francisco in the evening to work in Santa Rosa the following morning (Friday). Considering all of us and Safta have been bound at home and going stir crazy, I felt ok about going on a quick overnight adventure. The Borowsky women have super nurturing powers, he's in good hands. Obviously I was updated along the way with his status by every possible form of mobile communication, including talking. Not to him though, as he was not so ready for the phone. I came back the following evening to find the Borowsky women sitting in the living room reading. The dogs sprawled out on their pillows and Theo is next door at Connor's house. Now that's a good sign. He came back a bit later. He was still quiet. Still still. Slow. Weak. He hasn't really eaten in a few days. Here and there some pampering goodies. But no nourishment. Nothing that normally fuels an active 6 year old boy. They sat around at Connor's house watching tv. Not quite different than at home, but at least he wants to switch up the scene and be with other people. Another good sign. All things on schedule. I was hoping that my little man would bounce back quicker than schedule, ahead of the curve. Like so many other attributes in him. But not in healing. Average. As described. It's still a good thing. Its still healing and I'll take it with patience. And gratitude.
When we met the doctor for the consult, one of the things he said was that several days after the surgery, Theo's breath is going to smell quite badly. Don't be alarmed. Just the healing of the skin... Well, just on schedule and as described, though it's really hard to describe, the breath is indeed - putrid. Having two dogs, and particularly one gassy one, we used to step into a room and stop for a moment knowing China is in there. The tables have turned and smelly one is our son. But like a good fart, which everyone is disgusted with (but also attracted to) he's like a magnet that's hard to walk away from. 
Which brings us to the stinky present of this Saturday morning of Day 5. Theo has eaten crepes with a renewed interest for breakfast. The bracelet is done. Were back in our bed in a comfortable silence. I'm facing and typing on my iPhone. Theo is facing SpongeBob and fondling his ***** under the covers. A boy is a boy, surgery or not.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Surgery - cont...

Day 2, we were warned would be the most difficult day (besides that horrible moment earlier described of coming back into post-op consciousness). One that would involve pain management and helplessness. I suppose having 50 years of history behind these procedures gives us the luxury of having a schedule of expectations. And again here, even knowing does not provide comfort or preparedness when it comes to the particular moment. The thing is that we're not all the same. And some of us will just about do or go through anything to avoid something else. That is the case of Theo, liquid medication and pain. You'd think that after 6.5 years and numerous occasions of having to deal with any form of medication for him, let alone liquid, we'd know better than to actually go to a pharmacy, spend the time and money for the prescription, and attempt the futile act of getting it to go into his body. It's a combination of smell, taste and psychosomatic anxiety that won't let this act happen. Trying to understand it in the moment, is as useless as trying to explain it. And on this day, it was no different. There is not much worse than seeing your child suffer and not be able to do anything about it. We hear that in one story or another from every parent. Alas, I believe it to be true. When it's a suffering that can be prevented or managed it's all the more frustrating as the common sense wielding adult. Talking, swallowing, crying all hurt.  The drama surrounding the medicine amplifies the emotions and activate the involuntary muscles that trigger more hurt. Nevertheless, time has to go by and as slow as it may seem, it did come to an end. No food. Not even the much talked about and anticipated ice cream. No yogurt, popcicle, slurpee, juice, ice chips, jello or anything else we had ready. Barely even water, but there, we had to put our foot down and force the minimum small sips to avoid dehydration. No talking - instead, Theo discovered the best way to communicate is by clapping twice to call for attention (I swore I would not buy him a bell as Safta suggested) and writing the rest down with a pad and pen. That in itself is quite amazing to go through with a six year old's writing skills. That's how we got through day 2, slowly into the night. Knowing that in the morning, day 3 would bring the beginning of the other side. On a back note,  during the moments of actual sleep on day 1 and 2 (both during day and night) the quality of breathing was such that we've not heard in Theo before. His blocked airway and lack of clear breathing during sleep is the reason we had the procedure done in the first place. So even though he may not see the end  of the tunnel, we are very much there already. I slept with Theo on the sofa bed this night. Orit and her mom, both in separate rooms needed some quiet and replenishing of their nurturing strength. But on this night there was no waking up in pain and tears. Most surprising was the deep sleep I managed to get into. No more old man snoring was coming out of the little guy. Before falling asleep I had to get real close to him and listen for breathing next to his mouth. A few days ago we could hear it from down the hall. Now I'm inches away struggling to figure out if he's breathing. Amazing.  And day 3 arrived gloriously! Discomfort is a godsend compared to pain. Even a 6 year old can appreciate that. Food and drink have come back into our routine. His voice is still like a little groggy frog and so the pad and pen are still the tool of choice. It's a path that has strengthened his need to advance his reading/writing skills as it is not just a subject of school anymore. In some instances it's the only form of communication. Quite a lesson and just one of a few gained from this whole experience. Going into this thing, Theo was excited and brave. Immediately after leaving the hospital he said he said it was worth it as an experience cause he knew it would be for the better. Today I asked him again how he feels - if knowing what he knows now, was it worth it? No, he said. The memory of pain and discomfort is still all too fresh. And I can't blame him. But I suspect we shall be moving further forward into recovery tomorrow and normalcy will be around the following corner. And then the nights will once again be quiet in the Harpaz home. The breathing will be deep, clear and healthy. And all the benefits a proper sleep will give Theo the bouncing board for growing into the potential that's within him physically, mentally and emotionally. I look forward to walking along every step of the way, teaching, learning and being.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

About the operation...

We woke up this morning 6:30 and without food and water got Theo to the hospital at 7:30. After about an hour and a half of waiting around, filling out paperwork, and paying a portion of the bill, we were finally taken to a room where Theo was given the much talked about "happy juice" that we've known for about a week would make him loopy and droopy and funny... As Dr. ***** said at our pre-op consultation last week, there indeed is nothing funnier than a child on drugs... Theo has been looking forward for the "happy juice" and mask that follows, to experience the feeling of being put to sleep without being able to control it. It's been a topic of several serious (and funny) discussions over the past days. He's shown a very keen interest in the whole process and questions everything along the way. Last night we watched an animated medical video online, showing the experience from pre-op preparation, through the actual procedures of both tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy, and through the expectations of recovery. We have all gone into this with as much knowledge as we could absorb and were ready. But even knowing, you're still never really ready. And when he took that "happy juice," boy was that funny! I videotaped him in that state. Possibly a shorter, edited version will make an appearance soon. Wait to see. But I assure you, we were having so much fun with him in those few moments, I just can't really put it into words. We've never seen him anywhere near like this. It was so foreign and so real in the package you think you know inside out and every which way - it just floored us. We saw him get loopier and droopier while maintaining such a big smile on his face that it made the send off, to some stranger arms that took him into the operating room, somewhat bearable. I guess it kind of took the edge off our nerves as well and we didn't drink any juice. Anyway, a short trip to the cafeteria and a little wait and it was done. Not quite sure how long the actual operation was, but it could not have been more than 45mins. We went in and there he was asleep and connected to a monitor and fluids. He looked so calm and sweet and vulnerable connected like that. It was a few minutes that we stood over, watching him and talking to him, as he drifted between worlds of consciousness. Then he woke up. And reality hit and hit hard. Pain and consciousness met and the shit hit the fan. He was screaming and trying to violently pull out anything connected to him. And this kid is strong! The nurse had to tape his free hand, while we grabbed him, so he couldn't pull out the iv in the other. Then, still while both Orit and I held him down with all our force, he was given morphine to cope with the pain. And in a few minutes, it was done. And we could breath again. And we knew the worst was that moment, and that moment was now behind us. And as I write a few hours later, I can confirm that indeed that was the worst of it. He slept for a bit until they moved us to the recovery room and there he started to come in out and becoming himself again. We stayed there for about two hours or so. Theo started speaking like a little groggy froggy and we talked and laughed as we watched his loopy video and answered all his inquisitive questions. When he was ready to try walking we gave it a shot and came back to bed cause of a little nausea. He laid down a little more and gave it a second shot going to the car in daddy's arms. Made it into the elevator when, he got really nauseous and vomited all over the floor, and daddy's shoulder. So we headed back to the bed for another period of laying down. And a short period after that we made it down to the car and smooth sailing ever since. Theo is home, in our bed, feeling good, watching tv, eating jello and drinking water. Orit is asleep next to him. Safta is asleep in Theo's room and I'm going to make some cream of wheat for the little man who apparently has an appetite, so he must be feeling good. No doses of pain medication thus far either, so that's another sign. They say on day two the pain is more severe and then lessens over the next three days. Knowing this guy, it will be faster and he'll be bouncing off the walls in no time! (That was a few hours ago...)
And then the hunger was lost to the returning pain and the emotions rose and currently we're riding the calm side of the second wave...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Theo Progress Report 08/01/10 (Ooops...)

(...should have been sent out before the last one. Rearrange the time-line in your minds. This one has a happier tone.)

Theo Progress Report 08/03/10 - Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy surgery

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Theo Progress Report 04/27/10 - "The Rings"



Theo has become quite enamored with the famous traveling rings next to the Santa Monica Pier. "Action" - a local pro has noticed his natural abilities and enhanced them over a few meetings. Another quirky life coach for the little guy. Just means we'll be spending more time at the beach...