I was in the stairwell close to the 5th floor of the nursing home where my grandmother resides when the phone rang. I paused, startled by the ring, and trying to suppress my slightly out of shape panting before I … Continue reading
So many things in life make no sense at all. I don’t need to fill in those blanks for you. No doubt you have a bunch of your own things in mind.
The illogical is part of our existence here. What we do with it is what defines us.
Meghan’s right foot stopped growing a few years ago. I didn’t notice for a little while. She was already wearing a size 9 in the 5th grade.
She had had 5 surgeries to embolize an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) in her right knee. At some point they theorize that by slowing the blood flow to the AVM, the blood flow to her lower leg and foot also slowed, stunting its growth.
Now, on the surface that may not sound like a big deal, and I guess for a while it wasn’t. Most people have feet that are slightly different sizes, many a half-size off. Most people are still able to fit them into one pair of shoes.
But the left foot kept growing. Right now it’s stalled at a 10. We can’t be sure it it’s done.
The ramifications of this began to have far-reaching effects. The different foot size adjusted her entire stride. The smaller foot is weaker, and naturally over pronates. There began to be back and shoulder pain…
There was one more knee surgery last May – to clean out some residual blood and quarterize a few spots in the knee-joint. That proved to make the knee even a little weaker.
There came a point where each foot needed its own pair of shoes.
Keeping her in a pair too big would compromise the weaker AVM leg. Putting her in a pair that was too small was just impractical. So we began to buy shoes in a 9 AND a 10.
Now we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to buy two pairs of shoes at a clip. We have only one child, and I find good shoes to be a wise financial investment. Buying the two pairs is never what bothered me.
My trouble came with what to do with the other shoe.
I threw some away, but that didn’t feel right.
People, not thinking it through, directed me to odd shoe websites. But, the odds of me finding a perfect match were slim to none. It didn’t make sense for us.
So, the shoes began to stack up in the basement.
Some internet searching brought me to National Odd Shoe Exchange (N.O.S.E,) And a million bells and whistles went off. Here was a real, 501c3 charity that accepts “in kind,” or actual SINGLE SHOE donations. They pair them with actual people. They work with amputees. They work with real people, registered in their database, and they send them shoes! History of NOSE
And, since they are a registered 501c3, our donation, as well as any postage, are fully tax- deductible. An added, unexpected bonus.
So, today I mailed a box to Arizona.
In it were three “pairs” of shoes. 10s for the right, 9s for the left, just the opposite of my girl.
And somebody, somewhere, or maybe even several “somebodies” will benefit from Meghan’s adversity.
It seems almost ironic that as I write tonight we are nursing a left shoulder that “froze” today, more than likely the result of the
“off sides” stride.
It locked up in the pool. During the last practice before the big meet this weekend. She has trained so hard. She fights every obstacle head on.
Feisty. Tenacious. And in pain.
Tomorrow there will be more ice. More stretching. More anti- inflammatories.
There is no pause for this young lady. Life keeps careening from one obstacle to another. Yet, she walks straight and tall and with her head high through it all. Counting her blessings. Growing up too fast.
So many things make no sense at all.
But for us, tonight, the knowledge that in a few days time 3 “pairs” of brand new shoes will be available to someone…
Well for us, that is a bittersweet way to find some sense in this big mess.
Winning. It feels good. And it’s not about being first. And it’s not always about being “the best.” Sometimes winning can be as simple as not losing!
Every day we wake up and prepare for battle. The “sword” is sharpened before we get out of bed. We can not take a step unprotected, or unguarded. And, even being on guard against Cowden’s Syndrome all the time is often not enough. So often things just happen…
Sometimes we get
a little A LOT frustrated. Often we feel beat up by this beast that we battle. “It” gets quite a few swipes in. But, we have, and we WILL always remain on top. That’s why we are BEATINGCOWDENS.
So tonight, as we drove home from a swim meet in the Bronx, we chatted – my girl and I.
And it was pleasant, easy conversation.
So often as the weekend comes I reflect on the week that was in awe that THAT much “stuff” fit into the week.
This was no exception.
Last month she was sidelined from the swim meet. Recovering from knee surgery just three weeks prior, she was in no condition to compete.
This month she was all in, and we both loved it. It is such a treat to watch her when she gives it everything she’s got. It’s an even bigger treat when she takes 4 seconds off the 100 free and 1.5 seconds off the 50 fly.
The conversation on my end for the long afternoon of waiting was pleasant and easy. A bunch of overheated parents held captive together, all sharing a common hope that their children swim their best. Meghan talked comfortably with her peers, easily passing the time between events.
There are goals, qualifying times in her brain, but today she was pleased by her success and so was I. She may reach these times this season. She may reach them next season. But, we agreed that it doesn’t matter as much as her continued progress. And I was able to tell her how proud I am that she persists. Through 5 knee surgeries, through thyroid numbers that would level the strongest among us, through chronic pain – quitting is not in her vocabulary. This is the focus she will take with her for the rest of her days. This is the attitude, this “I CAN do it,” is what I pray will follow her all of her days, through all aspects of her life.
This week she got a part she wanted in the play she’s been working on in after school drama. She was patient. Persistent. She calls drama “fun,” and the students, “funny.” She never acted before. Except for every day when she “acts” like a pain-free “regular” 11-year-old. She’s thrilled.
The marking period ends this week I think. Her averages on the “Pupil Path” app impress me. And I was a pretty good student. I don’t check her homework, or really bother her about anything. “I’ve got it, Mom.” And the numbers tell the same story. All those years of working together on good study habits paid off.
The fund-raiser, “Jeans for Rare Genes,” is taking off. And we haven’t seen anything yet. People are reaching out. They are coming to the event, donating raffle baskets, making monetary donations, and offering their time and energy. Local businesses have been extraordinarily supportive. Meghan had seen the best in so many people. She knows her life matters. Her story matters. Her drive is being rewarded. Her big heart is teaching her to dream bigger, and help more people.
We lost our Allie Girl, our 11-year-old rescue in December. She was with us 7 and a half great years. We miss her. All of us, especially her Dad and her “furry” sister Lucky. Felix approached me about rescuing another dog. I thought it might be too soon. He reminded me that Allie had a good life because we rescued her. He felt strongly we could be that same kind of help to another dog, and by doing so we would honor Allie, and help Lucky’s loneliness. I told him I was open – but no puppies. I wanted to know we were saving a dog. I wanted a dog no one else wanted. That made sense to me.
Sweet April showed up on a web site Felix was following. A three-year-old lab mix with an uncertain history, rescued from a high kill shelter in Florida. She was being fostered in Pennsylvania. “It’s all in the eyes,” Felix said.
We put in an inquiry, and left an application with references.
The Email said she was going to be in Brooklyn Tuesday night. Could we come and see her? And if everything went well and she and Lucky got along, would we consider taking her?
TUESDAY? Who takes a new dog on a Tuesday?
Apparently we do.
April arrived at our home around 7:30 PM Tuesday, after a brief visit to Petsmart for a new collar, and to meet GiGi and Pop!
We had to get her in, fed, settled and all of us off to bed within a few brief hours.
She found her spot. And Meghan has slept better this week than she has in years.
Lucky has developed arthritis in her knee, and a visit to the vet Weds. with both dogs in tow was very emotional for me. April checked out as healthy and strong. And my Lucky had her very first blood test. I am happy to report she is healthy as can be. I left with a script for anti-inflammatory medicine for her. She’s going to need it to keep up with her little sister.
And somewhere I can imagine Allie smiling in Heaven, as Lucky is the recipient of the playful nips she used to give so frequently.
The sight of two tails wagging again was good for us all.