Mar 6 2014
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
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
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
“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
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
“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 →
Jan 20 2014
“I’m going to a really hard exercise class today,” I told my husband as I poured my fourth cup of coffee. “And I’m scared.”
“Why are you scared?” he asked.
“Because I might die,” I reasonably replied.
“Well, on the plus side, if you die, you don’t have to go back to the class,” he responded.
I have five kids. And in the past three years alone–over 28 months, to be exact–I’ve had three babies. They are now 2.5, almost 15 months, and almost 3 months. It’s been a wild ride, and one for which I am grateful.
But I’m not going to lie: it’s been hard. Pregnancy is tiring. Kids are tiring. The older we get, the more interesting and tiring life gets. And my body shows the tiring part. And I want to take control again, both of my fatigue and my tired, sagging self. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 12 2013
The above mustachioed young man is Samuel Sommer, and he’s inspired over 36 rabbis to reach for their clippers. In a bold effort to support pediatric cancer research, 36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave is a fundraising campaign in which a group of rabbis will shave their heads this coming March in coordination with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers.
The fundraising campaign is spearheaded by Kveller contributor Rabbi Rebecca Schorr in honor of her colleague’s son, “Superman Sam,” an 8-year-old Chicago-area boy who suffers from refractory acute myeloid leukemia. As explained on the “36 Rabbis” donation page:
At the end of October, Rabbis Phyllis Sommer and Rebecca Schorr had a crazy idea: what if thirty-six Reform rabbis would shave their heads to bring attention to the fact that only 4% of United States federal funding for cancer research is earmarked for all childhood cancers as well as raise $180,000 for this essential research. Two weeks after this conversation, Phyllis and her husband, Michael, learned that their son, Sam, had relapsed with AML (acute myelogenous leukemia) and that there are no other treatment options for him.
Schorr has already recruited 44 registered shavees, including eight women and one rabbinical student, along with 10 additional rabbis who are fundraising in order to reach the goal of at least $180,000 in sponsorship donations toward research grant funding. Most of the rabbis are gathering in Chicago on March 31, 2014 to do the actual shave.
In just two weeks, their efforts have already raised over $81,000. To learn more about the cause and donate to “36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave,” click here.
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Nov 7 2013
Deborah Cohan, OB/Gyn and mother of two, entered the operating room at San Francisco’s Mt. Zion Hospital to undergo a double mastectomy. Instead of being fearful and spiritless as many of us would be pre-surgery, Deborah opted to have a joyous dance party, and had her entire medical team breaking it down to Beyonce.
To make this hospital dance party story even more heartwarming, Deborah asked all of her friends to join in and make their own “Get Me Bodied,” dance videos too. And they did!
Kudos to you Deborah. You are one courageous lady (and an amazing dancer)!
Via Huffington Post
Oct 31 2013
“I’m a word person, but for this I have no words.” That’s how I started an e-mail to a good friend the day I found out she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. It took me a full hour to process the news, and I spent the next several in tears. That was four weeks ago. Three weeks ago she told me what caused the cancer: her second pregnancy.
Today I’ve found my words again. Chalk it up to going through the steps of grieving–grieving over her diagnosis–but ever since she told me that because she created life, she’s now fighting for her own, I have been angry. Not angry at my friend, who wishes to remain nameless–“The message is the most important aspect,” she said–but angry that after having two kids myself and knowing a very fair share of other moms and having an OB/GYN in my family, I had never heard of pregnancy-induced breast cancer.
My friend never heard about it either, so when she noticed a lump in her left breast, she figured it was a clogged milk duct. She had no genetic history of breast cancer and felt fine. In September, when her second child was 10 months old, she sought treatment for a cough and pain in her chest, back, and shoulders. The doctor diagnosed pneumonia. At a recheck a week later, he found the antibiotics had done nothing. He sent her for further testing, and on September 27th, she was diagnosed with stage four (metastatic) breast cancer.
About 1 in 3,000 pregnant women will get it, according to the American Cancer Society, and it’s the most common type of cancer found during pregnancy or within the year after delivery. Read the rest of this entry →