Thursday, March 22, 2007

Noah's Favorite Song

This song came on the radio while I was driving Noah to school one morning. I started singing along and he loved it. Since then, he has specifically asked me to sing this song again several times. Then, I showed him the video on YouTube and he was transfixed. He actually told me that this was the "best song I've ever heard". This is certainly better than Laurie Berkner.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Living with a Hernia

Can you hear James Brown singing this or what?

Living with a Hernia
My gut is shot
Intestines are spillin'

Living with a Hernia
Piece of Gore-Tex
And the hole will be fillin'

So, I have a consult with a surgeon next week to discuss options for correcting my hernia. It is a common problem for men and tends to run in families. My brother has one and my father has had two, both of which have been corrected. My father lived with one for 10 years and we used to make fun of him because he'd come home at night, sit down on the couch, shove his hand in his pants, and push it back in. Right, push it back in. That is the basic solution for most men until it gets so bad that they need to have surgery. I am able to do the same when it gets too pokey and wants to stick out for a bit. But, that is nasty. I keep thinking if I keep my finger on it while I eat, that I will feel some digested food go by. Yuck.

Monday, March 19, 2007

List of Things to Do

I went for a decent run yesterday. Nine nice miles, although it was cold and windy and not the most enjoyable experience. In any case, I am trying to get my head straight about running and I want to refocus on my running goals. So, here they are:

1. I currently weigh about 172 pounds. I had been down to 170, but I've gained a bit the past few weeks. It is time to stop messing around. I need to cut out the midnight PB & Cookies nonsense. I want to get to 165 in an effort to get faster and I must hit that number before my next marathon training cycle. That means, I have until the end of May to lose 7 pounds. I can do this.

2. I need to get faster. My goals require more speed, plain and simple. So, I need to incorporate some degree of speedwork. I think the best way to do that is to focus on training for a 5K and attempting to run one at 7:00/mi pace.

3. I need more speed because my goal is to qualify for the Boston marathon. I need to be able to run a marathon in 3:10 to qualify and I need to do that before I turn 34. That is going to be rather hard, frankly, so I may end up getting to qualify in the next age group, which requires a 3:20. I still want that 3:10, though. I would like to qualify for and run in the 2009 Boston Marathon.

4. To get to Boston, my goal for this year is to run a 3:25 in a marathon. It will likely be MCM again, if I get to run any marathon at all. I could try Richmond, too, which is likely to be a faster course. In any case, a 3:25 would be a major step forward and a drop of 18 minutes from my previous marathon performance. If I put in the effort, I can definitely do this.

So, to recap, I want to get to 165 pounds, run a 7:00/mi pace for a 5K and be able to do a marathon in 3:25 by year end. This will put me in position to train for a marathon in late 2008 in which I can score my Boston qualifying time. Along the way, getting personal records in a 10K and a few other races would be nice.

Non-Twin Post

Okay, so the twins are really the big thing in my life right now. No surprise there, of course. It is what everyone asks about and what consumes most of my thoughts and energy in one way or another. However, there is more to my life than simply my twin daughters. More even than my wife and Noah too. There is me. So, this is just an update on some things about me.

One of the big things I had hoped to do before Audrey got home was to remodel the two bathrooms upstairs. The hall bath, which doubles as the kids' bathroom and a de facto guest bathroom when we are entertaining, and our master bath. The master bath just needed some touch-up really, but the hall bath was old and nasty and really just begging for an overhaul. It was the first thing we wanted to do when we moved in, but we got an initial estimate that was way past our pucker point, so we put it off and moved on to other projects. But, after having talked with my father a bit, I was convinced that we could redo the hall bath without too much expense or effort. So, I proceeded to spend most of my free time while Audrey was in the hospital getting ready to do this job. The main goal was to replace the rotten vanity and to get a tub that allowed for anyone other than a damn midget to take a bath. I can honestly say that my mission has been accomplished. In the process, my father overbuilt the vanity and we shoehorned the biggest tub I could find that would fit into a standard 5' space. I also had to spend far too much time selecting tile and listening to my mother claim credit for picking out the granite countertop we went with. My father got us a deal on the top through a friend and drove the top up from Florida, but my mother still wants to be known as the one who picked it. She is a ridiculous cow. The one thing I didn't do is actually finish either job. I mean, you know, there is a working toilet and all the plumbing is functional and we can take a shower and all. But, the master shower has no doors and there is still a fair amount of painting to do. In any case, the wife seems happy with the effort and so I think the whole affair won't keep me from getting laid.

But this long ass bathroom story really isn't the story at all. The whole point here is that all of this damn work took a toll on me. After having done all the heavy lifting, a few snow storms hit. A combination of the shoveling snow and throwing out all the construction debris gave me a hernia. No joke. It sounds like something an old man gets, but I got it. An inguinal hernia to be exact. It was pretty bad at first, at least in the sense that I could feel the bulge in my groin area. If you don't know, an inguinal hernia is a very common happens when the lower abdominal wall is weakened (sometimes it can tear) and your intestines poke through. Yeah, that is right. My guts started to spill out into my crotch. It has gotten better since, but I will need to get surgery to correct it. So, in addition to all the other health-related shit going on at my house these days, I've got to have a doctor cut a hole in my groin and stitch me up with some Gore-Tex patch. I'm not kidding. They will put a piece of mesh inside me to patch up the hole. It isn't that different than the kind of patch they will likely put into Eva's heart to close up the hole between her right and left ventricle.

So, in addition to blathering on about running and updating on how my kids are doing, I'll add some sort of status check on how my upper penile area is doing and I bet you'll really like it.

The House of Horrors

The House of Horrors...that name came to me the other day as I stood next to my daughter, Eva, who was in the NICU and surrounded by loads of equipment. She is in an incubator, which they call an Isolette, but that is really just a product name. Call it an incubator or just a big plastic box for all I care. It is like an acrylic, or more likely Lexan, prison for infants. Or, maybe a toaster oven on very low heat. It is a big box on wheels that has an air warmer built in and a bunch of holes of various sizes in it so that wires, tubes, and hands can get to the baby. The kid just hangs out inside, sleeping mostly, while the outside world periodically interrupts to mess with her. People stick needles in her, change her diaper, flip her over, wipe her mouth, but none of these automatons in hospital scrubs ever show her the kind of TLC that she really needs.

As a parent, you are stuck with the choice of either hanging out in an amazingly depressing place so that you can look at and periodically touch your kid or of staying home and calling nurses to get updates on her health. It wears on you...the visits to the NICU. You have to wear an ID band for security. I guess people might try to steal a sick baby or that a parent who can't afford the care might attempt some weird healthcare version of a "Dine & Ditch". The band gets you access, but only after you stand at a door and have someone call the NICU to check if it is okay for you to come in and visit. If they are doing something serious to your child, like shoving another IV in her arm, they don't want you around. And, since you never know when they might be doing something like that, you always have to call ahead. They also don't want any parents in the room when they are admitting a new baby. But, oddly enough, they don't have a problem with parents being in the room while they do what seem like basic operations on other people's children. It is rather disconcerting to be with your kid while doctors seem to be working on another person's child.

The worst part is the look on other parents' faces. The red swollen eyes of a mother who has been crying all night as her son tries to fight off some infection. The look of passive resignation as someone else's child struggles for each breath or heartbeat. The line between hopeful future and lost cause is so thin you can't even see it.

Regaining a Voice

I did lose my voice at one point in the past few months, but this really more about the fact that I haven't posted since early December. Things have been rather hectic and while I've had a lot going on in my life and a lot to think about, there hasn't really been an easy way to put it down in words. As my family and I seem to be coming to the end of the road (even if this is more like a long on-ramp to a major highway), I think I actually have cogent and interesting things to say about this experience.

So, I think I'll start blogging again. I should start with a bit of a recap and an update as to where we are at this juncture. For the few readers that I do have, some of this may be old news. Just over four months ago, my wife and I were living our life and happily waiting for the arrival of our second child. But, not long after Thanksgiving, we found out a number of things that changed our expectations and plans dramatically. First, we found out we were having twins, something I like to refer to as the "buy one, get one free" sales event. Second, we found out they were monoamniotic, meaning that it was a hig-risk pregnancy and that the suggested course of action was for Audrey to be admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks. And, third, we found out that one of the twins had a congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

At 24 weeks, Audrey entered the hospital and I took over manning the fort, so to speak. It was like being a single dad except that I went to the hospital almost every day to visit my wife. There were a lot of ups and downs - regarding the surgery for one of the twins, our son's behavior through all of this, handling my workload - but we made it to 35 weeks and our babies were delivered by c-section.

So, we welcomed Naomi and Eva into the world by having them admitted to the NICU. While premature, they were both of decent size. And, Naomi has already come home (more on her and getting her home in an upcoming post). Eva is still in the NICU awaiting surgery for her heart condition. That should be happening this week and we hope that she will be coming home in a few weeks.

So, that is the short version of where we are at. Long version and lots more to come.