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Jul 22 2014

Why I Don’t Believe in Family Secrets

By at 4:03 pm

family-secrets

Secrets are not good for a healthy family life.

Discretion is. But secrets are not.

I was already in my 30s when one of my closest friends, the daughter of my mother’s best friend, told me that my grandmother had had multiple sclerosis and my own mother had a mild form of the same disorder. I remembered my grandmother being unable to walk, but my mother would never discuss why. If I asked, she’d say, “It doesn’t matter.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 27 2014

Coming Out of the Cancer Closet After 20 Years

By at 4:36 pm

cancer-closet

A few years ago, my mom’s cousin passed away from ovarian cancer. While I live far away and could not attend the funeral or shiva, I wanted to do something and so I wrote a note to each of her children, my cousins, sharing with them personal recollections I had of their mom and hoping that these memories would help bring them comfort. I also made a donation in her memory to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Since then, I have been receiving the Fund’s email updates and newsletters on a regular basis, usually a few times a month. They have been sitting in my inbox, or when I think to move them, in a separate folder, all unread. I can’t bring myself to delete them because what if, God forbid, I ever need to glean some tiny but important piece of information from them, and yet, I can’t bring myself to open them, because for the past 20 years I have been trying to move on and live a “normal” life. But the fact remains, I am an ovarian cancer survivor.

During my senior year of college, I was diagnosed with Stage 1 of a very rare but also very chemo-responsive form of ovarian cancer. After betting I could keep up with several friends in the gym and doing 200 sit-ups in one day, I woke up in the middle of the night in excruciating pain and drove myself to the emergency room believing I had appendicitis. (In hindsight, I should not have been driving and should have called 911.) Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 26 2014

Kveller Story About Boy’s Leg Amputation Gets the Media Spotlight

By at 2:06 pm

11-year-old boy gets his wish to have leg amputated

Like just about everybody else, we here at Kveller love to get attention. But attention is that much sweeter when it means an amazing 11-year-old boy gets to share his story far and wide.

Earlier this month, we ran a story by Zimra Vigoda called “Choosing to Have My Son’s Leg Amputated was the Most Difficult Decision I’ve Ever Made.” As the title suggests, Zimra’s 11-year-old son, Amit, was born with a rare orthopedic condition whereby his right leg is chock-full of pathological fractures that don’t heal. After dealing with pain all his life, Amit decided it would be best for him to have his leg amputated, and after much consideration, Zimra agreed.

Apparently, Zimra and Amit’s story spoke to many, because since the post went live on Kveller, they’ve been making the media rounds and sharing their story on major news outlets. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 24 2014

Toughing Out the Pains of Pregnancy to Prepare for a Natural Childbirth

By at 11:11 am

pregnancy-naliboff

Allow me to kvetch for a moment. At 32-weeks-pregnant, pelvic instability has become my constant companion. The tendon connecting my left leg to the rest of my body feels like it’s been tightened past its limits. Something deep in my butt just feels wrong. The outside of my right hip aches. And my lower back feels out of joint, and I can’t lie on my stomach to have my husband crack it. Oh, and he woke me up twice last night to ask me to please stop snoring (thanks, acid reflux!).

Thanks for listening. I just had to get that off my chest. (And speaking of my chest, things are pretty out of sorts in the boob department too.)

Pregnancy is full of aches and pains and discomforts, or as my yoga teacher puts it, sensation. When we’re holding an uncomfortable pose, she invites us to experience the sensation without judgment or fear. To find our edge and meet it, and possibly surpass it–for 10 more seconds? Thirty? Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 6 2014

Man Plans, God Gives You Shingles

By at 11:44 am

sick-woman

After all the late-night/early-morning work I did covering the Winter Olympics (in addition to my standing freelance assignments and that whole parenting three kids thing), I promised my husband that I would take some time off afterwards and not do any work at all. (Well, except for my standing freelance assignments and that whole parenting three kids thing).

My husband didn’t believe me. God, apparently, didn’t believe me, either, because, literally less than 24 hours after the Ladies’ Long Program ended in Sochi, God decided to make certain I kept my promise to take it easy by striking me down with a case of shingles.

For those unfamiliar with shingles, it’s caused by the chicken pox virus that has been lying dormant inside you probably since elementary school flaring up and making one half of your body feel like it’s on fire. There are also some blood-red blisters (in my case along the back and above the rib-cage; but that can vary from patient to patient) that eventually erupt and scab over for visual effect. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 4 2014

My Breast Cancer Scare Changed My Life and Made Me Appreciate My Blessings

By at 2:39 pm

biopsy

It all started innocently enough–with a nondescript letter from the hospital where I get my annual mammograms and ultrasounds (dense breasts, anyone?). It was included in the stack of mail that accumulated during our December pilgrimage to my sister’s ski house in Vermont (Christmas Day on the empty slope–a gift to the Jews, even if there are no available Chinese restaurants for dinner). The envelope’s only distinguishing characteristic was a sticker attached to the front. “Not a Bill,” it read. “Please Open.”

Inside was a form letter summoning me back to the hospital for additional scans of my breast. After consulting with the aforementioned-sister, who also happens to be an OB-GYN and multiple cancer survivor, we decided that there was no cause for alarm. I hadn’t received any ominous phone calls from my doctor. The follow-up appointment they scheduled was weeks away. And plenty of women are called back for additional views.

So I resumed my normal routine without panicking. Laundry. Lunchbox packing. Writing. Trips to Trader Joe’s. Schlepping to after-school activities. Rudimentary dinner preparations. The joys of typical suburban life. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 18 2014

How to Explain to a 6-Year-Old that Exercise Can “Hurt So Good”

By at 12:04 pm

explaining the pain of yoga to a child

We were at family yoga at the YMCA when Ronia started complaining that her thigh hurt. The yoga teacher, an infinitely patient soul with a hilariously incongruent voice that sounds like she’s been smoking a pack a day since 1975, had us in a mildly challenging pose, and Ronia, along with two other kids in the class, suddenly piped up that it hurt. The complaint came back three more times during the course of the 45-minute class. Each time we stopped and did a brief examination, her leg appeared to be fine. I wondered if she had pulled a muscle, or had a bruise somewhere that we couldn’t see.

The class moved on, and eventually we came to inversions i.e. going upside down. This is my favorite part of any yoga class, and Ronia’s, too. She loves headstands, and often practices them at home. When I showed her how to get in a handstand she was a little trepidatious, but with a quick spot she was up against the wall in a nice strong handstand. After a moment she came down, and then she said, “Ow! My shoulder really hurts!” Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2014

Battling the Nagging Feeling That My Body Isn’t Good Enough

By at 9:47 am

exercise gym

“Your body isn’t good enough.”

I won’t lie–I struggled through the first week of my exercise challenge. Last week, I sweated and grunted as I pushed myself to do the classes. I pushed myself to even attend the classes, let alone do all the exercises. I was exhausted by life: yelling babies, a husband stuck on a business trip due to weather, a series of colds that had transformed my house into a Kleenex burial ground.

But the worst part was getting to the classes, struggling, and having to watch my heavy image struggle in the mirrors that lined the classroom. I was definitely not “Most Likely to Succeed.” If, on the other hand, they had an award for “Fattest Girl in the Room,” it would be me. In a sea of Lululemon-outfitted, long and lean ex-athletes, I looked like a physical typo. I tried to avoid meeting my own eyes in the mirror, as though to say, “I don’t know her.”

“Your body isn’t good enough,” I told myself when my eyes involuntarily met my reflection. And it felt like a slap across the face and the heart. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 28 2014

Exercising While Pregnant, Pee Breaks and All

By at 9:29 am

pregnant woman lifting weights

I was a little late to the exercise game. When I lived in Boston, I walked nearly everywhere. Between that, my relative youth, and living in graduate student poverty, I stayed fighting trim. After moving to North Haven, a place with no public transportation and vast distances between things, I bought a car and embarked on a sedentary lifestyle. After a few years essentially without a social life, where most evenings were spent on the couch eating cheese and crackers and watching Netflix, I had become downright zaftig.

I’m only 4’10”. I don’t have many places to put excess. Once my expansion had finally sunk in–thanks to an inadvertently exposed midriff in a family photo–I embarked on a lifestyle change. From a hilarious aerobics class to a new found love of yoga, Pilates, and eventually running, I went from couch to half marathon in about as much time as it had taken me to merge with the couch in the first place.

When I became pregnant, I was determined to keep up the good work. For a few weeks after the two blue lines, I took the dog out for runs. While usually we’re good for a few miles (even though his legs are only three inches long), I found myself breaking out in flop sweats after the first half mile. We toned it down to walks pretty quickly. As I entered the doldrums of the first trimester, even walks became slogs. My husband started having to take the dog for his exercise, while I trudged behind. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 21 2014

When Mommy Has Cancer & You Go to Disneyworld

By at 6:08 pm

magic kingdom haunted mansion

“Are you sure this isn’t too scary for him?”

I clutch our 16-month-old son, seated on my husband’s lap beside me, and draw one hand up toward his forehead, lingering just above his eyes.

“Don’t worry about covering his eyes–they say this ride is for all ages,” my husband whispers, “even if it is called the Haunted Mansion.”

As the ride lurches us forward into a dark, cavernous room, I try to remind myself that he doesn’t understand enough to be scared of this. He is too young to “get it.” Right?

I forget, if only for an instant, that I had been repeating this same quip every day for one month and 27 days: “Thank God he is too young to understand, or remember, any of this.”

It has been one month and 27 days since I dropped my son off at daycare and reassured my husband that of course it was fine if he went to his big meeting and skipped just.this.one doctor’s visit of all the dozens he had been to with me in the last two years. Read the rest of this entry →

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