February 25, 2012

What I've learned parenting an athlete

    With the graduation of my second child quickly approaching I am realizing how different the life lessons we learn from each child is.  Now mind you my three kids are completely different.  My oldest daughter has always been completely focused on having a career in Opera.  My son is one of those people who can not only pick up any sport very easily but tends to excel at them all.  Then my youngest daughter, well the jury is still out on here but she's always been able to excel at what she wants whether it was sports or an art with minimal training.

     Parenting an athlete has brought its own set of realities.
  • You learn very quickly that your schedule is not your own.  While granted this is pretty true with any activity your child is involved in with sports it is a bit different.  Practices run late.  If a game before yours runs overtime your schedule is now upside down.
  • Unlike the arts most often you do not get to choose your child's coach/mentor.  When they first start out playing they are simply lumped on a team with every other eager child.  You are told when practices are.  
  • Weather issues come into play and you have to adapt.  In one season you may go from relaxing in your foldable sports chair enjoying the breeze to be huddled under blankets or searching out the tiniest bit of    shade
  • INJURIES.  From a simple tumble on the field or falling from the high bar they are simply going to happen.  Allowing someone else to be the "first on the scene" and in control of a situation involving your child.
  • Expenses.  Simply put sports no matter what you are involved in gets more and more expensive.  Whether you need private coaching or are traveling to a tournament every other weekend.  Playing sports takes a toll on family finances.
     Patrick started out playing one season of T-Ball then absolutely fell in love with soccer.  For the better part of 8 years he ruled on the field.  Then side lined by an illness he had to walk away from the world he loved.  In the summer of 2010 he thought he might like to play tennis.  He had a friend teach him and they played one or two games over the summer.  Last year he made our school's tennis team.  This year he is ranked third in singles and first in doubles.  All at once our life fell into all of those athletic realities once again. For good and for bad it has generally been an enjoyable season.  Then it happened.  Patrick had a game Tuesday (which being a boy/senior/teenager) he forgot to tell us about.  We got the call to pick him up from school like usual and I went to get him.  As he walked to the car I knew something was wrong.  This wasn't a "lost both matches" wrong.  He was hurt.  
     With each sport there are certain injuries you "expect" or maybe simply you're just not surprised occur.  When he broke his foot in second grade playing soccer as much as it was rough you expects things like that.   Meg being sore and bruised while learning a full eagle on the uneven bars was not surprising.  Even Em calling with an exhausted voice after a long week of performances is not surprising.  Seeing my son's leg and ankle torn ripped up knocked me for a loop.
     Towards the end of a 2hour+ match he reached over his head and somehow twisted in such a way that he slid across the court tearing up his calf and ankle.  Even his tennis shoes didn't escape unscathed.  Being a "mind set" player he got up finished the set and won the match 10-8. 
     His leg looks as if he skidded off a motorcycle and got road burn, they call it court burn in tennis.  Twisted ankles, sprained wrists, these are the injuries I expect in Tennis.  Court Burn~ not so much.  Four days later the wounds are still nasty red and are painful.
          This was a new lesson for me.  In the past we have always been at our kids sporting events.  And if for some strange weird reason we weren’t had they gotten hurt, even in a minor sense, we would have gotten a phone call; If not from the coach from another parent.  Nope, didn’t happen.  But then again this is High School tennis.  There is no booster club uniting the parents.  There is one coach for V/JV Boys and Girls Tennis teams.  And simply realized, it wasn’t a big deal and they let Patrick handle the situation. 

          So with all the realities of parenting athletes what I have learned is this:

·         You hurt every time they don’t win
·         You hurt every time they don’t play as well as they wanted to
·         You hurt every time they get hurt
·         You smile every time they lost
·         You smile every time they play well
·         You smile every time they come home in one piece
·         You’re proud as they learn to lose graciously
·         You’re proud as they learn to win graciously
·         You learn an allegiance to a team of kids you never met before
·         You learn to let someone else become the “IT” person in your child’s life
·         You learn to not hate the phrase “Coach SAYS”
·         You learn that crockpot meals are a godsend
·         You learn the importance of carpooling
·         You learn that unfortunately not all teammates have supporting parents
·         You learn that you’re proud to be “Patrick’s Mom” and not Bren

Most importantly you learn that your child has the ability to take something that they simply thought would be fun to try and turned that into a passion.  You have been given the gift of seeing that your child regardless of how they handle anything else in life can be dedicated to the concept of a team, work well with others and understand hard work.

I have watched my son go from playing a sport because it was fun to developing a passion for success.  I’ve watched him grow from a little boy into a man and it happened while he was playing sports.

February 19, 2012

Um Yeah??

.Um  Yeah?

It is kind of weird to say it’s the anniversary of my stroke.  Unlike other milestones that survivors celebrate saying you’re celebrating the anniversary of your stroke just seems well weird.
                How often do you hear people proudly announce they’re 1, 5 or even 10 years cancer free? They’re not celebrating the day they found a lump or received bad news from a doctor. No they’re celebrating the day their body was rid of a disease.  Same applies to addicts. Whether it is Alcohol, Gamblers or even Sexual Addicts Anonymous they celebrate the first day they beat their addiction not the day it shattered their lives. 
                So how do I handle this Anniversary?   
When I look back on the year and all that I have been through it is pretty emotional to say the least.  Strangely the last few days I have been having crystal clear memories of moments before the stroke.  I can remember driving to BJ’s with Michael and Patrick thinking about all that I needed for the Chili I was making that night.  I remember going into BJ’s and looking at the TV’s.  The last thing I clearly remember was trying to talk to Patrick and the words came out garbled and his replying how sometimes his tongue gets twisted around words. 
A scary memory that has been haunting me for a few days now is one from a couple of days before the stroke.  We were driving to Tampa and as usual I was having a bit of a headache.  I recall hearing this voice in my head.  I also remember thinking ~What is your problem why would you think that?  What the voice said was “I can’t take much more of this I’m going to crash”. I dismissed the thought and continued listening to a Kathy Reich’s book on tape. 
                With those thoughts comes an overwhelming sense of irresponsibility.  How was I not listening to my body?  What was I doing shopping with a headache like that?  How could I have prevented this from happening? 
                Chances are there is very little I could have done to prevent the stroke.  Is it possible that what I thought a great busy weekend just too much and the straw that broke the camel’s back?  Maybe.  Is that to say if we didn’t go to Tampa, Orlando and been simply busy I wouldn’t have had the stroke?? Who knows?  From what the doctors have said it was going to happen sooner or later. 
I know that I am incredibly lucky with how and where my stroke occurred.  The fact that Michael knew the warning signs was tantamount to my receiving near instant care.  The fact that the hospital was barely 5 minutes away from BJ’s which enabled me to receive the needed medicine to prevent further damage was monumental.  My acceptance into an incredible rehab facility, or the fact that I even had access to one was again incredible.  Most importantly the support system from many many people during and continuing to this day is beyond comprehension.
So returning to my original question:  Why does celebrating the anniversary of my stroke seem so weird or here’s another word choice uncomfortable? 
Maybe it shouldn’t be celebrated.  Maybe I should pick a different day? Which day would it be?
·         The day I moved out of ICU
·         The day I was able to talk?
·         The day I was allowed to eat food
·         The day I left the hospital to go to Rehab
·         The day I no longer needed a Wheelchair
·         The day I dressed myself
·         The day I left Rehab/came home
·         The first day I spent by myself
·         The day I was allowed to drive again
·         The day I could finally eat any food
·         The day I was done with speech therapy
·         The day I was done with physical therapy
The list goes on and on of small milestones?  Here’s the reality~ I’m still recovering in some ways.  While it isn’t as often I still have issues with aphasia.  I am still dealing with the migraines that have plagued me since.  I am still in stress therapy.  My family still watches me for signs of a stroke. 
Most of all I am absolutely terrified of having another stroke. 
Unlike the cancer survivor who gets a check-up to confirm that they are still cancer free, there isn’t a test that can tell me I’m stroke-free.  Unlike the addict who knows what their one specific downfall is, I don’t have one trigger that I have to avoid. 
So how to handle the day, well just as you wouldn’t celebrate the anniversary of a car accident you survived I am not going to celebrate.  However I am going to recognize the change that is was brought to my life.  The stroke did shatter my world.  But just as an artist can use pieces of broken tile or glass and create a mosaic I have been able to start putting together the shattered parts of what used to be my life and create a new me.  While I have lost certain aspects there has always been gain.   Or here’s another analogy:  It is not as if the picture of my life broke into pieces that fit back together like a puzzle.  The basic picture is still there however the pieces don’t fit together as tightly, some colors have changed and a few pieces were completely lost in the process. 
February 19th will always be a day that I reflect back on.  I am sure as the years pass this day will hold less and less meaning in my life.  One that I am looking forward to celebrating is the anniversary of this blog.  While I was writing while in the hospital and rehab when I “opened” my blog and essentially myself to the blogosphere was an exciting milestone in my entire recovery.  I hope that my new website will be ready for that celebration. And of course we can't forget the creation of "Lady Bren" :0)

Since I started thinking on this day one song keeps replaying over and over in my head…. Enjoy

February 14, 2012

Was it worth the three points?

            Nope this isn’t a weight watcher question.  I’m talking about getting points on your license for speeding in a school zone.  Now in the spirit of full disclosure I do not claim to have a perfect driving record, though I do not have any points on my license. 
            Seriously I simply do not understand some drivers.  In my daily commute taking Meg to and from school I drive through 3 school zones in the morning and 4 in the afternoon.  None of these school zones are in a neighborhood.  They all are on county roads with flashing yellow signs.  Without fail I can plan on seeing at least 2 or 3 police cars sitting in these zones every day. 
            Even more amazing to me is that at least 3 times a week I see a car pulled over receiving a speeding ticket.  More often than not I witness this in the morning near the high school.  Despite what you think it isn’t the teenage students who are the offenders rather it is adults driving past the school  hanging their heads in shame while the officer writes their ticket.
            The high school sits right on the road and has a digital marquee with the week’s events.  There are long lines coming from both directions waiting to turn into the student parking lot.  Just before the school there is a four way stop that you have to drive through.  And as if all of this wasn’t enough to clue you into the fact that you are in a school zone almost every day there is a police officer standing in the median with a radar gun not 100 yards past the entrance to the school.
            So tell me what would make someone drive over the posted school zone speed limit?  I really think I am beginning to understand why comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Engvall are so popular.  Their simple styles of sharing every day observations hit a cord with all of us.  While we’ve all laughed at jokes with a great punch line it seems to me that the stories comedians tell about real life (with admittedly flourishes added here and there) are the ones that get the biggest laughs.
            Maybe that’s why this morning as I watched another driver sharing their license and registration with the police officer I heard Bill Engvall in my head saying “Here’s your sign/ticket” 

February 8, 2012

Where have I been?

     I don't know why I have not posted here about all that's going on...so very sorry.  So excited about all that I am doing for my blog and well myself.

       First my blog....I have bought my website ~ woo hoo!! So now I can be found at LadyBren.com
The site is still under construction~ I truly had NO idea how much went into creating a website from scratch and after days of spinning my head I decided to use WordPress as my design/hosting page.

     Second me... I have not been very healthy with my lifestyle choices this past year (and NO I am not playing the stroke card here at all).  So I am going to make my life pretty much an open book in regards to the changes I will be making.  In the past I was incredibly successful using a combination of tools.  The easiest to share with you is sparkpeople.  Here's a link to my Sparkpeople page  FYI you won't actually see my weight I'm not that open or that brave :0)~~~ Sorry you can no longer view SP pages unless you are a member.. which is free HINT HINT
    In addition to SparkPeople I have been asked as a blogger to join a beta version of SlimKicker.  The designer Christine asked to me check it out.  Here's how she describes it:
I'm making an app that turns living healthy, and fitness into a RPG game, where users earn points, and "level up' as they achieve their goals. Everytime they eat something healthy like vegetables, they earn points. Everytime they complete a workout, they earn points. You can upload an image of something you'll reward yourself at each level for further motivation, such as new clothes, a spa, vacation, etc.

Each level will present different challenges. The challenges will follow a certain structure. Goals like keeping track of everything you eat, or taking the stairs for a week. Small, concrete goals rather than abstract ones like "be healthy" or "exercise more". The whole point is to create a holistic framework/game that frames living healthy into an empowering journey, and something you can achieve.

So what does it hurt to check it out and give it a go.  The site is VERY new and I've found a couple of spelling errors and such.  But I'm all for trying something new! Once I am comfortable with that I'll share my page and such.

Doesn't sound like much I know but I have been busy with those things and life of course.

Until my website is complete I will continue to post here.  But please feel free to head over and see what's happening until my big reveal :0)