Not your average suburban mom. I’m more your typical, normal, commonplace, everyday, garden-variety suburban mom. With a thesaurus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"You Say Goodbye"

I never outgrew my 4 year old bangs
So my dad died on Friday.

My best memories of my dad are, surprisingly, after he and my mom divorced. There was a sweet period of about a year where I enjoyed seeing him on the weekends and we would have Important Talks about Grown Up Topics, like books and music, on a level my 12 year old brain was not accustomed to. It was in those talks that I began to see a glimpse of the man my dad could be; a glimpse of the man that my mom fell for and was capable of briefly helping to raise three kids.

But in those weekends I also learned that my dad was a very broken man. He was bound by addiction, mental health issues, and an extrememly low sense of will and personal drive. No one lives inside a vaccuum, and the effects of that brokenness were not his alone to bear, and unfortunately had tragic effects on his relationships, especially those with his children. On the bright side, I have memories like this:

The Time I Got The Sex Talk From My Drunk Dad: An EPIC Tale I Will Appreciate Forever

Once upon a time I was 12 and my dad was drunk and he played me Meatloaf's Paradise By The Dashboard Light and said,

"Sex is wonderful, sex is great,

but if you do it now,
it will be a big mistake."

It was like a poem he didn't even mean to write. If it was a rap battle he would've won. (Um, Kel, I'm not sure you know how rap battles work.)

Chosen specifically for the barbell
He loved reading and passed down to me the love for a great novel, as well as recommendations of authors and a bizarre affinity for the writing of Stephen King. (Don't ask.)(But since you're asking, The Mist and The Long Walk are my favorites.) He fervently loved THE Ohio State (a love not passed down)(Go, Bama, Roll Tide) and the Beatles. He loved sarcasm and could be really funny and wildly, hilariously inappropriate.

In the dark moments I have most of the memories you would assosciate with being the kid of such a troubled man. The last decade has been the hardest, but I'm thankful for those years because they really cemented in my heart that

1. You can't save someone who doesn't want saving.
2. An unrecovered addict will never love anything more than himself. That has nothing to do with who I am or what I do.
3. You can't reason with mental illness. (And, for free, depression is a big fat liar.)

The latest hospitalization began much like the others that had been occuring with more frequency over the last four months.

Because: Pilgrims
I got a call from LifeAlert in the middle of the night on November 18. Dad had fallen again, but this time broke his femur. He was taken to St. Joe's and scheduled for surgery on November 20. I visited him that night. He was not feeling great (Kel, it's cool you're being careful not to say how hella crabby he was) and I left with promises to call and check on him.

The next week did not go well for him. He developed pnuemonia and was placed on both an oxygen mask and a feeding tube. Thankfully he was still in the ICU so he had excellent care. On Thanksgiving Day he was particularly pissed about the feeding tube, but had enough spirit to fight with me about his discharge rehab plans. I received a phone call from the hospital social worker on Saturday to discuss those discharge plans.

The next day he was off the oxygen mask and knew jello was on the agenda for that evening; his first solid food in a week. It was November 29th. Then, something happened.

There are many theories. I know what I believe happened, but it will never be proven so we can only speculate. Somehow his main IV (the one in his jugular)(the one sutured and taped in place) came out. An air embolism entered his bloodstream, causing cardiac arrest, and, ultimately, a lot of brain damage.

The next nine days were spent watching and waiting, in meeting with doctors and social workers, and being included in both hospital rounds and neuro examinations. The highest level of function my dad was thought to ever be able to acheive was something called a semi-conscious state. He had no purposeful response to sound, light, or pain. With united and heavy hearts, we made the decision to remove life support.

It was while dropping by the ICU to retrieve my dad's cell phone that I realized I arrived exactly as they were taking him off life support. A resident and a nurse quickly shuttled me down to the family room with promises to retrieve me once he was cleaned up and settled. I stood in a room with two other families eating their cafeteria snacks and akwardly answered a call from Lauren (spoiler: she's been AMAZING through this), sharing that I was at The Exact Moment and getting all high-pitched and tight-throated in my dialogue while the other families pretended not to listen. (In truth I'm a *much* better pretender than all of them and felt like bowing at the end of my call because their pretend not listening sucked and I felt like they should have at least applauded the show or something) (something = cash)(or Starbucks)(#notpicky)

To mark the seriousness of the occassion, the entire team (all five residents and his two nurses) stood respectfully in the room while I entered. I don't know what I expected in the room, but dad looked exactly the same as he had the previous week, just off the ventilator. I said some lame thing to my dad, like, "I bet it feels better without all that junk in your mouth", and knew if my dad were able he would make some horribly inappropriate and extrememly embarrassing sex joke in response to my rambling. Not gonna lie, that's when I teared up a bit. This was actually the first time I got weepy in front of all of them, and Doctor F. took it upon himself to save me a bit.

"I just wanted to tell you how impressed we are with you and your kickass sister Cassie." (Ok, so he totally didn't word it that way but that's what he meant.) He continued, "We were all talking earlier about how well you've handled this." He went on to share specific things about us that impressed him, citing two questions I had asked during our meetings and how our first priority in decision making was to respect my dad's wishes. Since my Love Language is Words of Affirmation I was lapping this stuff up like iced coffee; it was a serious balm to my soul. As he wound down in his monologue of praise, I, overcome with gratefulness and teary-eyed, responded with,

"Well, once the results were in and it was clear he didn't have any higher brain function, the decision to take him off life support was a no-brainer."

*cue: me looking horrified*
*cue: the docs trying to hide their smiles behind Professional Faces*

My dad would've loved that moment.

He died three days later.

My dad and Esther, 5 months before he died

Thomas Stephen Brokaw
September 6, 1951 - December 11, 2015

Dad, in the world you had many troubles. But your legacy is pretty epic. You done good.
Steve, Cas, and me

I pray he found peace and freedom in the end.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Still Busy Doing Warrior Stuffs

Texts with Hubby
Oh, and this year's Warrior Dash viking helmet.
I posted this on Instagram.
Where you can follow me.
I'm Sublurbanmama.
I know, it's a stretch.
Happy bi-yearly blog post!

Last week I was pulled from a sound sleep by the repeated peals of "Mama...Mama...Mama..." from across the house. It was hella early, and as I stumbled in a haze through the hallway to find the origin of my summoning, I could only speculate that the dear child who needed me so desperately was trapped in a sinkhole that suddenly struck our laundry room, or bound and held captive by suburban pirates who wanted to steal the giant container of Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Latte in the fridge, because for what other possible logical reason would the blessing from my womb be waking me at such an awful hour of the day?

I peeked in the bathroom to find my cherished only son sprawled like an octopus about the toilet - his rear inside the bowl with the rest of his limbs splayed akimbo. "Mama, it's about time you got here. Can you wipe me?" (1. Dude. Really? Gross.) (2. He's five. I KNOW ALRIGHT.) (I make myself feel better about wiping his tush by pretending it's my secret Super Hero identity "The Obliterator of Filth".) (Also, I have a Poop Alarm Clock. Don't get too jelly.)

In case you were wondering if my life got any less glamorous since I last blogged, rest assured, I'm still living like a Kardashian. And by that I mean large portions of my day are spent giving attention to the derriere of one family member in particular. *cough* Ezra *cough*

Other than living the Stay At Home Mama dream I am still plugging away with powerlifting. My shoulder is healing nicely, albeit slowly. (2000 Awesome Points for "albeit" usage.) I was officially released from physical therapy in June, and since I'd been there so.freaking.long they named a private room after me gave me two free t-shirts instead of one. #baller #knowspeople

Totally not me because I'm not stupid and
know to get my pop culture info from google
and Urban Dictionary like a responsible 36 year old
While I do miss the people at therapy I'm really really really happy to be back working towards my original goals. One thing injury cemented for me is that I know now I enjoy the strength aspect of lifting more than body building. While I do some body building work for aesthetic purposes (because c'mon, Mama Bear needs some fly lookin' delts)(if you didn't picture me saying that as Regina Goerge's mom, you're reading it wrong) (because I'm not a regular mom, I'm a cool mom) (obviously), most body building I do as accessory work for my big three lifts. There is just something unappealing about doing a million reps of a lift that works one main muscle at a time. It bores me and it is challenging in the wrong kind of way. It makes me feel like, "Oh, this is so not fun and the challenge is rooted solely in making myself finish the set." Powerlifting, where I'm lifting really heavy weights for a few reps, works a bunch of huge muscles at a time and has me all, "OHMYLANTA I WONDER IF I CAN LIFT THIS WEIGHT WITHOUT CRAPPING MY PANTS." (If you have to guess which of those two thoughts is more fun to have I don't even know why we're friends.) Plus? In powerlifting I get to wear a belt, so....

This is the closest I will ever come to being a fitness blogger/social media superstar because the level of embarrassment I had over taking this selfie at the gym was ridiculous. But there is me, in the far away mirror, rocking my capri's and Converse, and documenting that I did lift two hundred and thirty five freaking pounds. Twice.

The hardest part of this year has definitely been maintaining my weight. The hard part is that gaining weight makes me so much stronger. Like, not marginally stronger either. It's like "DAYUM GURL, go on and eat those Larry and Lenny protein cookies Wheaties because = 30# PR's for daaaaaaays" stronger. And that is seductive. What's not seductive is the discovery that my favorite dress no longer fits. So this year I am finding my sweet spot, or window really, of where I'm comfortable being as far as numbers on the scale. (Honestly, there is something I like about saying, "I've lost 100 pounds." I need to weigh 153 to be truthful for that. I also want to compete in the 148 weight class when I'm ready to compete. So my happy training window is around 153 strictly for emotional reasons. And I'm okay with that.)(Kind of. It was also really nice weighing 143 pre-shoulder injury, and I have a hard time not making that my new standard for where I need to be.)(Like, I'll weigh in at 153 and feel like I'm 10 pounds overweight and I get temporary amnesia where I forget that I'm still down ONE HUNDRED FREAKING POUNDS and all I can see are those ten pounds up from my lowest adult weight and I feel like I'm at my heaviest all over again.)(Also? The Kelly that was 253 pounds wants to smack 153 pound Kelly for even struggling with this ten pound dilemma.)(But 153 pound Kelly totally gets it.)

So there is a little bit of an update for y'all! I've gotten so many emails this summer and I appreciate every one of you that take the time to read this little blog! Thanks again from the bottom of my heart. (Which is the best part.)(Because it's closest to my tummy.)(And that's where all the cookies are.) #science

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm pretty sure Jake is a meth dealer.

Delt and Trap inhibitor taping
Kinesio tape 4 lyfe
I'm equally in awe and super pissed at the complexity of the human shoulder. There are a lot of little muscles, tendons, arteries and such streaming allllll through that mess. I've discovered that they are all a bit interconnected. If you make one angry they can collectively gang up on you in group protest, because apparently they have unionized and know the power of collective bargaining. Like, "Oh, Kel, you messing with ROTATOR CUFF? Let me introduce you to Rotator's friends: Pec Major, Pec Minor, Long Bicep, Delt, and Tri. Under the superb leadership of Captain Trapezius they will no longer be working for you. Until, of course, you take care of Rotator Cuff who is a giant PITA and made up of a billion (or four - whatever) tendons."

In related news, that shoulder injury I mentioned in passing a few months ago? IS SLOWLY KILLING ME. When it wasn't healing on its own (i.e. me complaining about it and icing it sporadically) I ended up at physical therapy three times a week where they actually had a plan in place to fix my rotator cuff (and pec major, pec minor, and long bicep)(because they are all in on it). This plan involved rehabilitation that included not only a therapist and a team of techs but also the instructions that I not lift anything outside of therapy.

I'll let that sink in a moment.

No lifting. No training for my powerlifting meet. No access to my favorite (and most effective) method of stress management. No getting stronger or sculpting my body. No lifting.

My first session should have been a heads up that I was going to need to be in this for the long haul. My assessment was with my new physical therapist Jake (who fully embraced Movember by growing a wicked 'stache and saying the words "testicular cancer" way too frequently) (and also scarily reminded me of Walter White from Breaking Bad with his shaved head and reddish mustache) (the obvious conclusion is that Jake is a meth dealer) (I'm pretty sure). He also totally reminds me of my little brother in that he doesn't think I'm funny at all let me get away with ANYTHING.

Our first session went well. By well I mean I fully expected to be rehabilitated and back lifting my maxes in less than a week and Jake understood the reality of the situation and CRUSHED MY SOUL with the truth.

An average therapy session starts with 15 minutes of heat, then moves on to a bunch of exercises to strengthen my back and the muscles in my shoulder. I do these exercises under the supervision of one of three techs: Matteo, Tim, or Shane. At home I call them The White Hats because they remind me of the easy-going jock frat boys from college. Their primary job is to make sure I am doing each exercise safely and effectively tell on me to Jake when I ask to up my weights again. These guys are so much fun.

Next is 20 minutes of hands on therapy with Jake while we fight about what I can and can't do at the gym, a short ultrasound treatment (that I'm convinced is going to give me super powers a la Peter Parker and the radioactive spider bite), and finishes with 15 of the best minutes of my life spent in a machine called GAME READY *angel chorus sings*.

"Darling, it pains me that you can't deadlift."
Game Ready is a cold and compression machine that feels like swimming in McDonald's iced coffee while Tom Hiddleston reads you poetry and calls you "darling" in Loki's voice. I get velcroed (totally a verb) in an arm/shoulder sling and sit while it pulses icy water all around and squeezes my poor, tortured muscles. It feels incredible.

There will be Game Ready in heaven.

So therapy is both awesome and terrible. Awesome because I love the people at the rehab clinic (even Jake but don't tell him), and terrible because they give me one pound dumbbells and I have to make myself *not* act like a disdainfully smug jerk holding them. Also, the ban on lifting has been obeyed by me completely at all times. (That sentence is a lie.)

It's hella hard to watch the months of hard work I put in at the gym disappear. I feel like I'm deflating. I spent the first two months of therapy nodding along to the rules Jake gave me and then going and doing whatever I wanted at the gym. That, of course, is the real reason I'm still hurt.

I'm the worst patient ever and also my own greatest enemy, because me ignoring my therapist has only resulted in him being crazily frustrated with me (picture him super pissed and actually hanging his head while he says, "IT'S JUST THAT YOU ARE CONSTANTLY PUSHING BOUNDARIES" as I sit like a lectured toddler while my bottom lip quivers but also like a petulant teenager while my heart screams, "BUT JAKE, YOU DON'T KNOW MY PAIN." (Of course I mean my figurative pain of being banned from lifting. Duh.)

If you missed the 90's I feel for you.
Because: this meme doe
Jake says, "Maaaaaaaybe you can try some wall push ups if you are careful," and I'm all, "I think what Jake meant was bench pressing heavy weight with full range of motion is now approved."  *Enter Lisa Loeb singing, "You say I only hear what I want to."*

About a month ago Kemper put his foot down and basically told me my only job right now is to heal my shoulder. Any muscle building/strength training would have to be secondary to getting my shoulder/chest back. And amazingly, listening to Kemper's directive to rest my shoulder (which Jake had been telling me for *literally* months) actually worked. I'm on the real road to recovery. Finally. Hoorah.
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