Archive for March, 2011

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On your left

March 31, 2011

I actually said that. I didn’t mean to. At least not while I was grocery shopping in Wegmans on Saturday night. Yes, the Eggers live large friends. Large. (I realize I am totally off blogging schedule. But I am sure you can handle it.)

“That’s a good idea to say!” The woman smiled at me, as I tried to hide my embarrassment.

On your left is the courteous thing to say when passing a cyclist. In triathlon, you pass on the left. For races that are non drafting this gives the cyclist you are passing a warning, just in case they are about to make a pass on someone ahead of them. The last thing you want is to be passing a cyclist and have them slide over to the left and cause a crash.

Some people actually think it’s a rude thing to say. In many a race rules it states this:  

“YOU MUST RIDE TO THE RIGHT AT ALL TIMES UNLESS IN THE MIDST OF A PASSING MANEVEUR. CALL OUT YOUR POSITION AND LET THEM KNOW YOU’RE “ON THEIR LEFT”

It’s not being rude, it’s being safe. It doesn’t mean we can’t stay BFF. We will just do that after the race. Until then head down and stay right.

But in Wegmans, dear lord it just fell out of my mouth. I was grateful that it wasn’t interpreted as rude. I was prepared to explain. I am sorry I just spend so much time on the bike peeing myself that it just came out.

That would have gone over well I am sure.

That’s sometimes what happens during big volume training weeks. However please know and believe that I did not then blow a snot rocket and grab a bottle of spring water, dump it over my head and throw it towards the nearest hockey net to avoid a littering penalty.

I have some presence about me. Most of the time.

Like tomorrow morning, when there is a little bit of snow on the ground and I am going to go swim outside in an 82 degree pool. My parka hasn’t arrived yet but that’s ok. My favorite people will be there to jump with me, and thereby commencing the outdoor swimming season. The next indoor swim I will have will be November 1st.

And there are miles to cover between now and then.

To top off my pool happiness, in two weeks the pool at the NTC is likely to be set up on Long Course Meters.

LONG. COURSE. METERS. OUTSIDE.

I might have to smoke a damn cigarette after that practice.

“The swim workouts we wrote up are nasty!” Jesse promised me.

Make that a two cigarettes coach. Hit me where I live. I don’t get excited by diamonds, I get excited by carbon fiber, threshold wattage and outdoor LONG COURSE METERS.

My poor husband. Actually, my LUCKY husband. I could be one of those women who brushes their hair and scoffs at the idea of a new powermeter. Who tells him don’t buy new wheels. Who plans vacations outside of races. Who the hell does that?

“We are the weird people on the street” Curt said to me the other night. “Because we work out?” I said to him. “I MET you on a 50 mile bike ride. It’s not like we just started this gig.” If training makes us weird then I am proud to be president. After 10 years, our neighbors know what we are about. It ain’t a secret anymore.

So I called out on your left while grocery shopping. I regularly change in parking lots. The back of my car is my locker room. I get excited by looking at tubular tires and neoprene. I don’t see what’s weird about that.

Tick tock tick tock. Almost time for the pool to open.

In the meantime, I have a bike test to complete, make that two bike tests. Too much time has somehow become too little time as I prepare for Qt2 Camp. The days at camp are scheduled to last over 12 hours. I am not sure when I will find time to keep in touch but I will. Always do.

No worries friends…. I will have a full update on Saturday on how swimming in the snow went. Until then, make sure you order your ROAD ID, becasue road season is upon us!

Love Mary

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Inside out

March 29, 2011

Luc had an echocardiogram yesterday. Six years after open heart surgery…..his heart is 100% normal. See you in four years doctor!

This kid is our miracle

I think today is Tuesday. Not Wednesday. Don’t tell. I don’t always follow the rules. Few things before we begin this morning……..

1. I have signed on again to work with the Rochester Rhinos, Rochester’s professional soccer team! Carly and I will be leading the team through another season of Yoga For Athletes! I am very honored that they are coming back for more!

2. Speaking of yoga for athletes….. we’ve got one more session coming up that begins on April 26th. Please click here.

3. I have some awesome articles in the works for both Xtri and TriDigest! I have been interviewing so many of the amazing women in our sport, and having so much fun in the process. we’ve got some amazing role models out there, that’s for sure! (I will give you my list thus far: Kim Schwabenbauer, Kat Donatello, Jacqui Gordon, Cait Snow, Go Sonja, Rachel Ross, Julie Rosa, Beth Shutt, Charissa Wernick, an article about Sally Meyerhoff……. I will be busy for a few weeks!!!)

4. I leave for QT2 camp in 2 weeks. Yesterday there was no way that some of my teammates and I were comparing the nutrition profile of a Cadbury Creme Egg and powerbar.

Onward……..

Four hours on the trainer might have sounded impressive. But I assure you it was not. It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure. In fact, it was truthfully 1 hour plus 3 hours later in the day. I got off the bike after an hour. I was done, spent, finished. In the garage again, on the Ironman Canada course. The endless winter has gotten to me. I have spent hours going nowhere. The cartoon girl in front of me with socks on and a really great tan was not fooling me.

I got off the bike. I took a shower. We went to Lowe’s and bought pine board so Luc could practice his front kick. Curt asked what happened. I told him I was on the ledge during that hour. I don’t look to him for motivation, he’s been there. I don’t look for him to tell me to get back on the bike or to HTFU. We’ve been at this long enough to know that we need to do what we need to do sometimes.

For this and many other reasons, more important reasons, I love this man.

At 1:30 the boys were going on a dog hike with friends. I don’t get invited to these hikes. Boys get boy time when they need it. I asked how long they’d be gone, Curt shrugged and said a few hours.

A few hours. Like maybe the three hours I still owe? Trust me, that was not his plan, but the chance was there if I wanted it. I got back on the bike at 1:30 and I began again. One hour down Eggers, three to go. Ironman Canada course. We will do this today.

After about 20 miles I felt the sun on my back. Where I ride isn’t warm. It’s cold. Quite cold. It doesn’t help the easy factor. But none of this is easy. It’s not meant to be easy. Doing what I aim to do doesn’t spell easy forwards or backwards. It’s always hard. It’s the challenge I choose to embrace. No one is forcing me to do this, it’s what I choose for myself. I know within me there is the goal that I have set. It’s nothing I need to do more or less, it’s in there. I just need to pull it to the surface.

The sun was on my back and I looked out the window. I can’t see much but trees but somehow this ray of sunlight reached me and warmed me up. To the point where I stripped off my warm cycling jersey and base layer and for the next two hours I rode in just my skivvies, warmed by sunlight, and that was the part of the ride that felt amazing.

In 2 weeks I am heading to camp and I need to be ready. I am going for four days instead of three because…… it was $200 cheaper to fly Wednesday than Thursday. And Curt said if you are going to go to camp, you might as well go to camp.

I have never been to a QT2 camp, I have never spent this much time with my teammates. I have never been to camp as an athlete, I have only run my own camps as a coach. I am not afraid that I won’t keep up. I am not afraid of anything actually (That whole I have been dead before thing…) I know that I will get back on the plane a different athlete than I arrived as.

It’s going to be four days of hard. Hard in many different ways. If I play it right it will be a huge fitness boost.

The agenda

I am not going because it is going to be easy. I may have mentioned before, none of this is easy. Yet at the same time none of it is my right. It’s a personal journey. It’s a personal experience, one that I will share but know this: if you want something bad enough you will take the chance. The chance on yourself.

That’s what I love though, finding out what I am made of. To the core, to the bone. What sustains me when it all else falls away? When it’s me and the race course what drives me forward? When it’s me against me who comes out the victor?

What brings me face to face against myself and can I sustain it? Hells yeah I can. There is nothing, nothing in the world I can’t be face to face with. Victory or defeat.

Here is something I read to my yoga class last evening, one of my favorite poems. Please enjoy.

The Invitation

 by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

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Kyles Run for Memory Race Report

March 27, 2011

“This is going to feel like a conservative effort” The Wizard said to me Friday night on the phone, as we reviewed the plan for Saturday. It was a double gamble I think he called it, a hopefully worthwhile investment as I didn’t run to my potential 2 weeks ago at Johnny’s.

The Kyle’s Run for Memory 5K was Saturday and I had a full week of training on board. My husband scoffed at the idea of having a pacing plan for a 5K, you just go hard from the get go. I don’t dispute that, but when you work with one of the sport’s best coaches, you trust his plan or you get out of hs stable. I understand the reasons we have the plan for a simple 5K. I understand exactly where I am supposed to be at this point in training. I also understand the misconceptions people have. I also have to understand where Curt comes from. He’s never been coached. He began when they didn’t exist. He’s excelled his whole career without ever knowing what his lactate threshold is. He’s a 9:54 Ironman and a multiple time medalist at nationals and a national champion. I respect the way he is….. and while he might mock out the data….. he understands the way I am. It’s why we work.

Jesse is aware of those misconceptions too. Part of our conversation Friday was me interviewing him for an article I am writing for XTri, and he is fully aware of the perceptions people have of QT2. “They think we are the big volume guys.” He laughed, “Most people come to us for Ironman training, which is big volume”. I get it too. People will think what they think based on the small snippets they know of you. For example….. no one thinks I ever eat off the core or that I will sneer at you for not having a 100% perfect diet. Truth is this: I don’t care what you eat. I care what I eat. I care that the Core Diet has brought me back to health. If you perceive that as me eating only grass, then that’s ok. Because I know what I do eat, and that’s what matters to me.

You get to a point…. as I am sure Jesse does…. is you don’t spend time trying to justify what you do. You let the results speak for themselves. Because when you try to explain to someone who isn’t really interested in understanding, who is only interested in tearing it down…. it’s pointless.

So we had a plan for the 5K. It wouldn’t be a PR but that wasn’t what we were looking for. I had assigned paces. Jesse had me set my Garmin to lap pace and average pace. Take off total time, doesn’t even matter.

I love races with a meaning. This race has been around since 2003, and was created in the memory of a boy named Kyle. Kyle died as the result of a sudden epileptic seizure and his family created this event in his name. I don’t know how I would breathe another breath if I lost my son, much less go through the work of organizing a 5K run for him. The people who inspire me the most are people like Kyle’s family. Who truly have not overcome something, because I don’t believe you ever get over the death of your own child. But who create something positive in the wake of that. Like Lauren did with Melissa’s Living Legacy. Like Kyle’s parents did with this 5K.

These are the people I look up to in life. They don’t sit around and feel sorry for themselves…… but truthfully these are the people who really should. They don’t sit around and wish life was better, they take their sorrow and channel it into something amazingly positive.

That’s an example for all of us to be witness to.

Race morning went fine, as usual. I slept like a baby who sleeps through the night. I arrived at the Middle school to realize that the mean age at this race was about….. 16.

What a wonderful thing. The mean age at this race seemed to be 16. Sixteen. Most of these kids were on the cross-country team it seemed, and there were plenty who were not. In the day and age where it seems most kids are sitting in front of a video game, these kids were out running. That was inspiring.

It was cold but the sun was shining. The roads were clear and as I stood at the starting line I pinched myself. Every time I get on the starting line of a race I have this moment….. where I want to cry in happiness. Every time I stand there before the gun goes off I can not help but feel so lucky, that I get to be on a starting line in the first place. Every single time I start a race I thank God above for this ability and privilege. It’s a choice to be an athlete, not a right. I don’t care how the race goes, I do not ever take it for granted.

Ever.

A woman thanked everyone for being there as she prepared to begin the race. I wondered if it was Kyle’s mother. As a pediatric nurse I watched so many kids die, I held the hands of so many parents, I cried with so many of them, and I stood at the funerals of way too many of them. If it was her she looked good, she looked healthy and she looked happy. Tears filled my eyes.

The gun went off and I began to run, I loved the energy these kids brought to the line. Many began calling out to one another in encouragement. I settled into my pace and I felt very good. While I glanced at the Garmin I only looked at it once during that first mile. I know people think Qt2 athletes run with the damn Garmin dangling in front of their eyes, but again, choose to believe what you will. I will just stick to the plan and the coach I trust.

I cruised through the first mile in 7:12. “This is going to feel like a conservative effort” I reminded myself….. I wanted to run faster but more importantly I wanted to feel the effort. For the past 2 weeks I have had data covered up and have been running and biking by feel. And I have been nailing it every single time. Feel the effort.

Mile 2 came in at 7:13 and I still felt awesome. I loved the course, it wound through neighborhoods and through the second mile had a good slope of a hill, which slowed me just a bit. It was then I could feel the week in my legs, but I reminded myself that strength is never my limiter, so run Eggers.

As I crested the hill I began to pick it up. My pace dropped down below 7 minute miles, quite comfortably and then there was the finish line. Eeeks…. a little soon I think. Course was a bit short but I didn’t even have elapsed time on the watch. It was the pacing that became important not the time. And I nailed the pacing. I nailed the plan.

I called Jesse when I was done and relayed the number. “This was a worthwhile investment” He concluded. “We needed to have that on paper, that is the race your fitness reflects right now.” And I agreed. It also confirmed that the issue at Johnny’s was not in fact pacing or training or lack thereof.  We looked at the data after the race and concluded that it was the prior week’s nutrition, I had tightned up the diet too much that week.

See how data can help us…… if we didn’t have it and I had that performance, most athletes would naturally have hit the training path a little harder, beat themselves up a little more. All I had to do….. was eat a little more bread.

Easy. See how data when used correctly can help us identify those things???

The funny thing was this: at Johnny’s my average HR for the race was 173. In a 5 miler I should have been able to get it up to 178-180. At Kyle’s Run my average HR was 167, and my pace was much faster. I could have run further easily. Had I been properly rested I could have gone harder, I should have been able to jack that HR up to at least 185, and 10 beats are worth 20 seconds a mile. Could I have done that yesterday? I hope so. I was going strictly by pace, it was a “Conservative effort”.

Nothing in the past 2 weeks training wise could have made that much of a difference so quickly, we know it takes 4-8 weeks depending for the physiological effects of training to take hold. (some limitations and differences apply). So had we not looked at data, we would have been barking up the wrong tree. So data…. is useful when used right.

Apparently I won my age group, I wish I could have stayed for the awards as I would have loved to watch all the kids get theirs. I felt so proud of them today. It was a good group to be part of.

My 10:30 yoga class was waiting from me in a 90 degree room. Some days I can get a bunch of downward facing dogs in and stretch myself out. But not today. We had 54 yogis who packed the house, which leaves me no mat and no room!!!! The energy was electric. The group was amazing. I wish I could properly convey to you what it’s like within those walls…… but that’s a secret for us. It’s 90 degrees, and it’s hard.

It will peel you like a freaking orange friends.

So our race was successful. It was a good investment. I am happy with where things are right now.

Five days till our outdoor pool opens. Three weeks till I head to Qt2 camp, and then 3 more weeks till Gulf Coast Roast.

Hang on friends…… it’s going to be an awesome ride.

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Fuel Belt Revenge Review

March 25, 2011

Three more swims including this morning’s, and I will be swimming outside for the next 6 months. My outdoor pool opens on April 1st and at 6:30am that morning, we are having a pool party. The pool at Midtown Athletic Club will be eighty degrees. And get this…. you know how when you get out of the pool and run to the locker room, the locker room, or hallways that leads to it is cold???? Not at Midtown. I think the floor might even be heated. Pool is eighty degrees. I don’t care if there is snow on the ground. I am swimming outside.

Then just a few weeks after that I will swim in the outdoor 50 meter pool at the National Training Center with my Qt2 mates.

Pinch me, and pinch me now. I sometimes can’t believe this is my life.

Now, onto the review…….

In some circles, bonking is thought of as something to be proud of. Dude…. I totally bonked on that ride……. man it was a great workout till I bonked…… I can’t think of the last time I bonked, much less bragged about it. I think sometimes people use nutrition as a means tto get attention.

That’s because on QT2… we are not allowed to bonk.

To paraphrase Jesse, you never ever leave the house without your nutrition. Fueling is one of those things you are in complete control of. No excuses. If you dare bonk as a QT2 athlete, better start looking for sources before it blows your workout. See an old gel wrapper on the ground…. you’d better try to squeeze what’s left out of it.

The real tragedy about bonking is this: it sets you back days. A big bonk will set you back weeks. Bonking is Gluconeogenesis. On the QT2 team we understand that there are four things that affect race performance: preparation, nutrition, fueling and pacing. Notice two of those four are fueling and nutrition. Fueling being during a race and during workouts, nutrition is daily nutrition.

So you can see that nutrition is over half of the equation.

We as triathletes are notorious for our Fuel Belts. I think I wore the first ever one. My running friends mocked me out….. you carrying grenades in there??? In all fairness they were purebred elite runners, running 100 miles a week. It didn’t total up to the 20+ hours I was putting in as a triathlete (even though they were so much faster!) Every moment counted then and it does now. So does every gram of carbohydrate, protein and fat that you put into your system. It’s not a rite of passage to bonk, to not drink during workouts. One of my friends told me the story of an athlete of hers that told her that eating is cheating….. yeah we have both been there and done that enough to know that in this sport, fueling is everything. The ounces of weight it might add to a training run is worth much more than the minutes you lose when you bonk.

If I as a recovering Bulimic can understand the importance of nutrition as it relates to health and performance, anyone can. Nutrition on and off the field is a choice.

Fuel Belts have changed over the years. They have gone from the smaller bottle small mouth to a wider mouthed style (LOVE that change by the way). The belts have changed as well.

I remember hating the first one, I wanted to wear it on my hips not around my waist. It rode up. It bounced like crazy for the first 5 minutes of every run. The bottles leaked. How many times did you have a good pace going, you grabbed a swig of drink and then as you were sliding it into it’s trust holder….. damn….. the bottle drop. UGH!!!!! But that was life.

Last week I was sent the Revenge Fuel Belt. It’s the newest of the Fuel Belt line and it looks like this:

The new features of this belt is that it’s fully adjustable, rather than being dictated between a small, medium or large, you can adjust the belt to fit you. That was a nice feature as I often fall between sizes. Okay, I was sold on that. The next feature was this one handed entry and exit idea, which truthfully…. I didn’t believe.

Ever try to put a Fuel Belt bottle back in one handed? Yeah, right I thought! I began to wonder as I got ready for the run…..I wonder if Vinu has completely lost his mind….. didn’t he try this out before he advertised it as a one hand exit and entry? The exit I believe, the entry??? Come on. How many bottles have I dropped with two freaking hands!!! He’s crazy. I was determined that night to prove him wrong.

It was a rather hilly run in the dark, with 2 X 20 minute tempo efforts. If any run is going to prove this one handed entry and exit thing wrong… it’s this one I thought.

10 minutes into the run…. hmmm…. this doesn’t bounce. I am actually wearing it around my hips and it’s staying there. I was sure when tempo began it would ride up and twist and then the bottle dropping would begin. I took my first swig soooo ready to drop the bottle. One handed exit no big deal, let’s see about this….. holy CATS…. wait a second…. did I put that in the right place? I almost had to stop. It slid in with one hand.One lucky turn, I figured.

 No way that would happen again.

Tempo began. I forgot about my little experiment. It was gorgeous outside. There is just something about evening running that soaks me up into it. There are so many evening runs I didn’t do because of my work in Pediatric emergency…… I worked evenings and nights….. man I have missed these days. Where the air is cool yet you need not much clothing…… it just feels great to run and find your sweet spot.

Ahhhhh, looks like it’s about time for some fueling, grab the bottle, take a swig…… slide it right back in. HEY! Wait a second. It worked, TWICE! I was sure when I hit the hills and really got into the sweet spot I would pull the infamous bottle drop.

I can’t tell you how awesome it was to be running outside again. This was what running was supposed to be, meant to be. Simple.

Not to be a corn dog, but the Revenge Fuel Belt felt simple. As much of a cheap plug as that sounds…. it’s true. It is by far the most comfortable belt I have ever used. I never dropped a bottle, and before I would average 3-4 bottle drops during a 70 minute run. At one point I even tried the two handed entry….. and believe it or not it was harder. WHAT? I know. Stranger things have happened to me.

The Fuel Belt Revenge system gets a thumbs up from Mary Eggers. Thanks so much to the gang at Fuel Belt for the goodies they sent me, I have a lot of great stuff to try out!!!!!!!

Speaking of great stuff I have quite a line up of interviewees in the next few weeks, in addition to whom I told you about the other day I have professional triathlete Amy Kloner, race director Kat donatello, Professional triathlete and teammate Cait Snow (um hello 2:56 off the bike in Kona!) , elite age groupers Beth Shutt, and the return of  the one and only Rachel Ross.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, see you right back here on Monday!

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XTri!

March 23, 2011

I am excited to share with you my introductory article over on XTri…. this is real triathlon!!!! In the coming weeks I have several terrific stories on deck, including interviews with Kim Scwabenbauer (Overall amateur female at Ironman Cozumel), professional triathlete Jacqui Gordon and Charissa Wernick, thoughts on coaching the female athlete shared by some of my favorite fellow coaches, a tribute to the late Sally Meyerhoff as I chat with her coaches, and a play by play of the QT2 Spring Training Camp in Clermont Florida.

I will also continue writing for TriDigest, no worries! My pieces over there will be from a coaching standpoint, while at XTri I will explore the world a little bit.

I am very grateful for this opportunity, all of these opportunities I am very fortunate enough to have. While I have worked very hard for a long time… any time you get the chance to do what you love…. is a blessing.

If you have any content suggestions, please email me!!!!!! Thanks for reading!

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Normal

March 22, 2011

(I know we changed to a Mon / Wed / Friday publishing schedule……  but I definitely wanted to share….. my XTri column begins on Wednesday, and I have a really terrific line up of interviews….. tomorrow I shall share……)

It will never be normal. That’s our reality. How many times do I have to be hit over the head with it??? How many times do we have to try and fail before I gain the foresight to realize….. our path is not the normal path. It never has been, and it never will be. Writing that sounds negative, I am not intending it to be. We have a different path. It’s not something that he will outgrow, it’s not something that goes away. It’s not something that’s wrong…. it’s just the way it it.

It’s our normal.

We did the best we could. We had no indication he’d react the way he did. We went to the best possible place. The moment he sat in that chair he began screaming about his heart. Not my heart.Notmyheart……. the horrible thing about it is this: when it is all said and done he apologizes. He isn’t himself when it happens and he feels so horrible. He apologized to the dentist, to the hygenist, the secretary, to everyone in the waiting room. What I loved about the dentist was that he looked Luc in the eye and said this:

“Son you have nothing to be sorry for. You did nothing wrong. No one here is mad at you. We all care about you. We are your friends.” That seeemd to ease Luc’s mind, for now. That he showed. I hugged him really tight and commended him. I do understand that it is not within his control. He prepares himself to relax, it’s just like a switch is flipped and meltdown happens.

That’s what we call it. Meltdown. If you are one of us….. you understand what having a meltdown means.

It’s not a tantrum, it’s not something punishable. It’s not one of these moments of “pull yourself together or else.” It’s not one of these…. that kid needs consequences….. because if that’s what you believe….. then you are more outside of my world than you will ever understand.

This is like living in a world where everyone speaks one language. only a certain few speak this language.

I have heard it from everyone. I will never forget a woman who worked “in the field” who told me she knew how I felt because she had to “make calls to moms like the calls you get”…. oh sister, you will never understand…. and I hope you never have to. This is a world that is not decoded. There is no special secret agent ring. There is no consequence for what happens here because this is actually not always within control. There is misbehaving and then there is the sympathetic nervous system.

Have someone scare the shit out of you and begin chasing you with a great big knife in the middle of the night in complete darkness. That might, just might be what these kids feel. It’s not like you can stop and say…. well hold on now, if I don’t stop running for my life I will face a consequence….  because you are feeling a feeling of terror and panic.

I love that phrase too…… you will have a consequence. In my day it was “Your father will kick your ass. Shape up.”

That…. wouldn’t work. You have to give them space. Don’t crowd them. Sometimes arms around them is like fingernails on a chalkboard. Don’t even try to talk to them. Give them space, keep them safe. They will come down off of it, out of it. They will. Don’t force them because it will escalate them. Don’t say a word. Just let it play out.

When it was over and we were back in the car…… I assured him he did nothing wrong. He told me all of a sudden he remembered being in the operating room and waking up with a tube down his throat. He got scared at the dentist and he knew it was different but he just got so scared. The hard part…… he knew when he was walking in the door that he was here for the dentist. He knew when he got into the chair it was the dentist. He is aware… this is what is hard…… that he loses it and when he’s losing it he can’t stop it. Afterwards he is embarrassed by it. He doesn’t know how to stop it.

I understand. I told him. I do understand. I understand him. So next time we do a sedation. Not a big deal. If that’s what we have to do, it’s what we have to do. This is our reality. This is our normal. There is nothing wrong with you. You did everything right, we are all so proud of you.

We all love you.

By 9pm he was fine. I was listening to him read Harry Potter to me in bed. Chapter 9. We stayed up way too late. But that’s life. It’s our life. We have a really really good life, the three of us. We are one hell of a great team. So we do this together. Whatever we have to do to do what we have to do, we do it together.

Because that’s our normal…… and our normal is beautiful.

h1

Memory

March 21, 2011

October 11th, 2004. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Isn’t it interesting how some days we can’t even remember the conversations we had with people, yet other days we remember every detail and can remember every smell? We can still feel the feelings, still feel the emotions? That’s what October 11th 2004 is like for me. It was the day Luc had open heart surgery. It had been planned for four years. It was to repair an Atrial Septal defect (ASD). On the spectrum of defects it was the best one to have.

But as a parent it was devastating.

We never slept the night before. He laid in between Curt and I and both of us were awake all night. We didn’t speak, we just watched him breathe. Luc knew he was having surgery but had nothing to relate it to, he knew his heart was broken and that it was going to be fixed. He slept so soundly. His perfect chest rose and fell with each easy breath.

The hardest part for me was carrying him into the operating room. In pre-op he was drunk with versed, the cutest kid in there, making everyone laugh. In just his diaper (he was four and not potty trained, we knew long before to just wait as this experience would set him back in development). He was giddy and smiling and it was very cute.

Then it was time.

They brought me a paper suit, the space suit. With a net over my hair and booties over my shoes I picked him up. My husband kissed him goodbye and I followed the nurse. We entered a long grey hallway.

You know how in the movies for dramatic effect a hallway suddenly gets longer…… that’s how I felt. I can still feel the way I carried him. As you carry your child. Chest to chest. His legs wrapped around my sides, his cheek on my shoulder, his arms around me. Mine around him.

Be brave… I kept telling myself…. be brave…… I had prepared him the best I could. We used a bear and we talked about the “space gas”. They had told me to tell him he was going to a party…. but I declined. They are amazing at what they do….. they are the best….. you don’t prepare a child for open heart surgery for telling him he’s going to a party.

As much as we had talked and prepared, he really had no idea that in just minutes he would have a breathing tube, his chest and sternum would be cut open, and he would be placed on bypass. Which means the vessels of your heart are detached and attached to a machine while your own heart stops.

His heart would not beat for thirty minutes. That’s what happens in open heart surgery.

I was pretty positive mine would not beat either.

That walk down the hallway was one of the most difficult walks of my life. I put all my faith into god and into the team who would be fixing the large hole in his heart. Because of these people he would continue to live a long and healthy life.

Soon we were at the doors, they swung open and there was the machinery and sterility of the operating room. They cheered because he was there, but one look around and he knew the gig was up. I knew every single person in that room, I prayed for them all, that they’d be their best today. And they were.

He began to scream and they sat him down on the table facing me. His arms reached for me, his eyes screamed terror and so did his voice. The plastic mask was placed over his face and he held his breath. I never lost eye contact. We counted down. I felt like I was going to die. What did he think, I can not take fear.

Be brave Mary…….. the anesthesiologist said to me…. be brave Mary……. I nodded and smiled and played along.

Before I knew it his eyes rolled back, he passed out, they laid him down and got to work on the IV, the monitors…….. the nurse put her arm around me and walked me out the door. She gave me a hug, told me he would be safe, and the door was closed.

There I was, alone in the long grey hallway, holding onto a little Buzz Lightyear stuffed toy. I put my hand on the door. Be brave Luc…… be brave…….. I stood there for a moment, then I looked down the hall. As long as it was on the way here, it was longer on the way back. I began to walk.

Someone came up behind me and must have heard me crying. She put her arm around me and walked with me. I told her I was lost. She told me she’d bring me back to pre op. I found my husband, and we went up to the lobby where my parents and Rich were waiting.

It was all fine. The surgery went smoothly. His recovery was amazing. eleven days later he even broke his foot. He’s a healthy strong kiddo. And he has a scar down his chest which to me signifies the gift of a long life he was given.

This afternoon Luc is getting a baby tooth pulled. His adult tooth is growing along side of it instead of on the same track, it has to come out. He has no idea. As silly and small as a tooth is….. it reverted me back to the feeling I had that day when I walked him into the OR six years ago.

We started off with our family dentist who…. good lord he sucked with Luc. He told Luc to man up. He told Luc that he could give him laughing gas and when he whipped out the plastic mask….. Luc immediately thought he was having open heart surgery again. It was awful. I fired the dentist right then and there. His brother does my taxes, next door. When he saw me come in last time he tried to make amends. Why did you fire me? Because you suck with children I told him.

We found an  incredible pediatric practice. They are truly remarkable. They work with kids with special needs all of the time. When they told me they needed to pull the baby tooth, I knew they would be able to get it all done without traumatizing Luc.

But once again I am taking him to have something done of which he has no idea. Part of me knows it’s the right thing to do. If he knew he was having his tooth out the weekend would have been filled with anxiety. Instead we had a great weekend. A great family weekend where we laughed and laughed and laughed. I just don’t feel good about him not knowing what will happen to him.

It’s a tooth Mary. It’s going to slide the heck out.

Oh trust me I know. He won’t even know what they did until we walk out the door. It will all go fine, he will be fine.

It’s amazing the memories a simple procedure brings up for me…….  the feelings I still hold from walking him down that hallway six years ago. I knew those feelings were still there, I just didn’t know how deep. I just hope that for Luc today……. it doesn’t bring up the same fear.