Another first day of school

by Ginger on September 21, 2015

in Random

In my last post, I mentioned fighting with the administration of J’s school district about getting him assessed for first grade. So here’s what’s up with that.

First, background. Here’s the whole kit-n-kaboodle, but the TL;DR version is, we put J in private kinder last year because he missed the age cutoff. It was the absolute perfect decision for our kid, and he absolutely loved (and thrived in) that program.


When we registered J for that program, it was apparently “no big deal” for kids to move directly into 1st grade after this kinder program. However, something changed this last year, and what was no big deal suddenly became very convoluted and insane. And no one at the (new public) school, or the district, seemed to have any clue what was going on.

We started asking about it in January. The first couple of people we talked to said, as we had expected, “Oh sure, no problem, he’s already done a year of kindergarten, it’s a done deal.” Then the story changed. And kept changing. No matter how many people we talked to, no one had an answer that matched anyone else’s, which gave us pause.

Finally, in June, we reached the person at the top of the chain, and she gave us the official details: the kid would have to enter kindergarten, have his teacher assess him in the classroom for social and emotional readiness, then take some academic assessments, and then have the district approve his move to first if all those assessments show he’s ready. We were not given an official time table–somewhere between a week and 2 months after school started was what we were told to expect.

We’ve struggled with this whole process for multiple reasons: the difficulty with the district & school is one, but there’s also the “are we making the right choice to advocate for this” and the “I swear we’re not doing this because we think our kid is a genius special snowflake” reasons, the pros and cons of him being the youngest in his class reasons, and the “oh man, this creates quite the logistical nightmare reasons.”

But, we really do think it’s for the best. J went from a full day kinder program where they finished the year doing 1st grade curriculum stuff to a 1/2 day program where they’re working on writing their letters. In just the 3 short weeks since school started, he’s ALREADY talked about being bored. (One day he said “Mommy, why aren’t we doing any math at school?”) So we did push for the process to move forward, and luckily, after fighting w/everyone for so many months at the beginning of the year, everyone was very willing to work with us.*

J has been assessed socially & emotionally basically since day one in the classroom. They had an intervention specialist do some academic assessments, & last week, we all met to discuss the plans. The long and short of it is that, 3 weeks after his 2nd first day of school at this school, today was his 2nd first day of school, this time as a first grader.

He’s nervous about going to the “big grades” (they have a completely different schedule, playground, cafeteria, etc., so he has to basically relearn everything from the past few weeks), and sad to leave the friends he’s already made in the kinder class, but man it’s going to be so good for him. We met the teacher today and I think she’s going to be great for him. We’ve seen the curriculum, the schedule, & yes, even the homework, and oh it’s just going to be so much better for him. The transition will probably be rough (all transitions with this kid are kind of rough), but in the long run, I think it’s going to be good.

N.C. & I spent a lot of time talking about this over the last 9 months, and the thing with this parenting gig is that there’s no right and wrong answer to these kinds of situations. You take what info you can get, what you know of your own kid and his needs & personality, and you hope for the best. You advocate for your kid when you need to, and you back off when you need to and you really just cross your fingers that you’re not screwing things up too much.

(Although I’m preeeeeety sure we’re not screwing this one up).


*Turns out, our struggles to figure this out were a result of the process changing this year & us being so vocal (nicely, but firmly) helped the district see that they didn’t have the process well documented or explained for the schools, so they’re working on that. In addition, they’ve seen that the process as it stands has some…disadvantages, so they’re working on revising that as well. I don’t like to be the squeaky wheel, but it got my kid what he needed and may help future parents, so I can be ok with having the be vocal in this case.



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What I did this summer

by Ginger on September 18, 2015

in Random

  • Wore a walking book the whole summer.
  • Went to a week long company work retreat.
  • Fought with Jackson’s school district about just getting information about how to assess him for 1st grade since he already completed a year of kinder at a private school (long story, for another blog post).
  • Had a torn tendon repaired, a neuroma & a bone spur removed, and an internal ankle ligament brace put in.
  • Didn’t have use of my left foot for about 6 weeks.
  • Worked (so grateful to have a work from home job during recovery!).
  • Watched season 3 of Orange is the New Black, season 1 of Grace & Frankie, season 3 of Orphan Black, 4 seasons of Bob’s Burgers,  & 5 seasons of Buffy (it’s amazing how much tv you can watch when you’re stuck at home unable to do much of anything).
  • Figured out a way to fall with both crutches & a knee scooter. I’m talented, is what I am.
  • Had family come visit & help with all the stuff I couldn’t do 3 different weeks.
  • Got laid off.
  • Had my debit card number stolen (locally, somehow), but luckily found it out the day after it happened, so my bank account was only 1/2 drained.
  • Turned 36.
  • Never went to the beach.
  • Never went to the pool.
  • Had lots of doctor’s visits, physical therapy & home exercises.

I’m glad the summer is over, is what I’m saying.

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Wait, where’d my summer go?

by Ginger on August 19, 2015

in Random

So school starts for the small person in about a week and a half & I’m feeling a bit crabby about the fact. My summer was stolen by my stupid foot, and while I’m at a point where I can say, “Yeah, the surgery will end up being a good thing in the long run (probably),” I’m still crabby about the fact that all our summer plans went to crap.

My summer has had entirely too little beach and pool and vacation, and entirely too much I-can’t-do-jack and medical bills and stress. I’d like more of the former please, and less of the latter.


On the positive side–recovery is progressing. I’ve been walking without crutches for about 2 weeks now, which includes such wonderful side bonuses as: not going up and down the stairs on my butt, walking into the kitchen to get my own glass of water, and the ever popular feeling like I can contribute to the family again. I can’t go for long stretches at a time–I max out around an hour, and pay for it when I do push that hard, but I feel so grateful to have even that amount of time. Being on one foot only was rough, rougher than I was expecting both physically and mentally & so I’m just glad to be on both feet, however much I can.

I started PT last week, and while I think it’s going to be a slow process, I can already see improvement in my range of motion and flexibility (though don’t be mistaken, we’re talking about improvements of mere centimeters. But it’s improvement nonetheless). My short term goals are: to be able to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night without my crutches (I don’t sleep in the boot anymore, and walking without it is…hesitant, at best. Doing it in the middle of the night is not currently possible, but crutches in the middle of the night? in the dark? yeah, that’s scary.), and to be able to wear a real shoe instead of the boot. I think I’m a couple of weeks away from either, but I’m closer every day.

Longer term, I need to remember that this is a long term deal. I’ve been told it may be up to a full year before I feel “back to normal” & that some things may never be totally back to normal, particularly with regard to some of the nerve sensation (or lack thereof) stuff. The short term goal is to get me up, on my feet, out of the boot, no matter how hobbly, wobbly, stiff and janky it may be. If I can do that by the end of my 8 weeks of PT, I’ll consider it a success. The long term goals are more about the fine tuning after that: eventually no swelling when I’m up on my foot, eventually being able to wear non-athletic or orthopedic shoes (although high heels of any kind may be a permanent no no now. We’ll see how healing goes), eventually regaining my new level of range of motion*, those sorts of things.

And if it takes about a year, that means NEXT summer, and let me tell you, next summer will have some making up to do for THIS summer.

*So, interesting thing about the range of motion thing. One of the things they did was put in an internal ligament brace, which basically just kind of gathers up the stretched out ligament that’s sort of responsible for my sprained ankles (the ATFL for you anatomy folks), and puts it back where it belongs. That’s where the pins come from, and there’s something about netting or something? I dunno. Anyway, the point about this is that I will never have the range of motion I used to have, which is by design. It tightens up the ligament which absolutely helps with spraining the ankle, buuuut that means it tightens up the ligament, which means my foot will just not move as far as it used to. Good for non-spraining of the ankle, but weird to think about.

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1 step forward, 2 steps back?

by Ginger on July 22, 2015

in I'm a Disaster

It’s been close to a month since my surgery, and things are chugging along. I had a pretty rough go of things for a couple of weeks there–I fell (everything is fine), I struggled a lot with being so limited with mobility, nerve pain caused a lot of distress, and I had a couple of emotional breakdowns. Then I rallied. Then I broke down again. Then I rallied. Then I fell again. Then I broke down again. I guess no one said recovery would be easy.

Things are slowly getting better, although not fast enough for my liking. I can sleep without the boot now, and take it off during the day if I’m not up and about, which is really nice in that my number one pain that messes with my head is nerve pain which the boot rubbing up against my foot really REALLY doesn’t help. (It messes with my head because it’s just constant. Constant pins & needles in one area, & a constant feeling of burning & like my skin is being rubbed raw in another. It’s there with or without the boot, but the boot really does make it worse). To be honest though, I still need to wear it a good portion of the day, otherwise the ligaments and tendon start to hurt from not being in quite the right position. (Also, I can actually feeeel them pull a bit, and it kind of grosses me out. I’ll have to get over that eventually, but for now…ew). A bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t so I just spread it around depending on how I’m feeling that day.

I can start bearing a little bit of weight, and I’ve been doing some crutches-assisted, not remotely full weight bearing walking (mostly back & forth in the living room). I’m not even close to being stable on two legs, even just standing, & being up for even a few minutes makes my toes swell up like balloons (weirdly, my ankle doesn’t swell tooooo bad, compared), and it’s just so weird that this leg that I’ve had my whole life just DOES NOT FUNCTION the way I expect it to & want it to.

I go back to the dr AGAIN in another 2 weeks to see if I’m ready for PT. I thought we were going to move to PT after my most recent appt, but given that I’ve fallen a couple of times, he wants to really make sure things are good and healed first. So ok, fine. Meanwhile, my calf muscle has withered away to nothing, and I’m kind of like–uh, how exactly am I supposed to start putting weight on this whole nonsense again? That little chicken leg just is not going to hold me up (is how I feel). (Although I will admit it’s kind of funny to just see my sad little calf flapping in the breeze when I’m not in the boot).

I am off the narcotic pain killers entirely, & am taking just a couple of tylenol a day, which is good. I’ve had some unpleasantness as the narcotics work their way out of my system, which is less good, but hopefully will pass soon. I’m REALLY glad I had them, but I’ll be really glad when there’s no trace of them anymore.

I have this whole list of things I can’t wait to be able to do again: shower without needing to lie down afterwards, keep my foot down on the ground for more than a few minutes at a time, go up and down the stairs on my feet not my butt, shower standing up, go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without turning on every light in the place so I have a pathway, sit at my desk to work without needing to have my foot propped up, walk into the kitchen and get my own damn glass of water without having to bug my husband yet again for something ridiculously trivial.

Mostly, though, the hardest part about all of this is the mental stuff.* Some days really are better than others, where I feel optimistic & think “ok, we’re chugging along, this will all pass soon, things are going pretty well, all things considered, every day is another day towards being better.” And then there are days where I struggle, mightily, to not just fall into thinking nothing but dooooooom “I feel like I’m never going to be better, I’m creating such a burden for my husband, is this ever going to not hurt, I can’t do anything on my own, OH MY GOD I JUST WANT TO WALK INTO THE BATHROOM ON MY OWN TWO FEET IS THAT SO DAMN HARD?” The mental stuff is where I really feel, sometimes, like it’s 1 step forward, 2 steps back, and it sucks. I want to be able to just suck it up, or always be positive, but it’s just hard sometimes.**


Even on the rough days, it’s another day forward. I’m healing, even if my brain is freaking out. I WILL get through this eventually, it’s just a matter of time. So even when it’s hard, even when I’m having an emotional meltdown, my body is still moving forward, healing, however slowly it may be. It’s hard, but it WILL happen. I may shed some tears of pain and frustration but it WILL happen. It IS happening.

I do wish it was happening faster though. This recovery thing is for the birds.

*don’t get me wrong, the not having the use of both legs is hard, really hard. But the days when I can’t get my head out of the cycle of dooooom, it’s even harder.

**I am trying different things to try and get out of my own head on the days it’s rough: reading, work, watching silly tv instead of angsty or high drama tv, leaving the house even if it’s just a short drive, anything to sort of shake out of my funk/get out of my head. But still. Hard.

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The Details and the After

by Ginger on July 5, 2015

in Random

I’m now more than a week out from my surgery. It was a good thing, although I’m at the point where I’m over the whole nonsense & kind of wish I could either undo it or just fast forward through this recovery phase. But let me back up.

One of my biggest concerns prior to surgery was that they’d get in there and then say, “eh, we didn’t really need to do this.” Well, that fear turned out to be unfounded, as they actually did MORE than anyone was expecting. Instead of just repairing the torn tendon, they ended up: repairing the torn tendon, tightening the ligaments in my ankle, removing a neuroma from between my toes, and removing & filing down a bone spur. Somewhere in all of that, I now have a couple of titanium pins in my ankle, though I’ve been told I won’t set off metal detectors, so what’s the fun in that?

All told, it was clearly a case of “there’s some messed up nonsense going on in here,” so I’m glad I did it, and now it can all heal, and yadayadayada.

(Flowers from friends and coworkers help brighten the recovery bedroom.)

On the flip side of that though, this recovery is…not easy. I wasn’t exactly expecting it to be, but the thinking and experiencing are two different things.

I’m in a big ole cyborg boot.  It’s better than the cast I was supposed to get, because I can adjust the straps, and even take it off for brief periods of time, even though I don’t actually like to do that (it feels very unsupported and weird). But even still, it’s hot, and massive and has a tendency to migrate during waking hours so that I have to painfully reposition my foot at least once a day. It’s weird to sleep in the equivalent of a giant snow boot. And it’s so bulky, and pretty heavy, that I feel like I’m trying to navigate a cement block around, blindly.

I’m supposed to stay totally non-weight bearing on that leg, which is both easy (I literally cannot fathom putting my weight on that foot right now without screaming white hot pain) and incredibly difficult, given that you kind of use your legs for a lot. I have a scooter to help me (because crutches are the devil), which has been a godsend.

But it’s also challenging to maneuver the scooter around, without running over my own toes, bumping into things, running into walls, and scaring the animals. Again, better than crutches, by far, but still not easy.

I spent most of the first week in bed.  


Variations on the view were limited.

In the past few days, I’ve been venturing upstairs, to do some work/be around the rest of the family. Slightly different view.

I have to be careful though, because it’s still really easy for me to overdo it–even simply sitting up instead of laying (lying? my grammar nemesis strikes again) down can wear me out & have me paying the price that night. I still need to keep my foot elevated above my heart a good chunk of the day, & it’s easy to let that slip when I’m upstairs working or hanging with the family. I still haven’t figured out the exact right balance with pain pills vs Tylenol vs nothing. And now, I’ve got some nerve pain happening, which is a good thing as far as healing, but definitely tricky as far as pain & meds go.

Beyond that, it’s been hard, because I still need help for everything major. I can’t get up or down stairs without someone to help me on the other end (I do the actual stairs by scooting on my butt). I can’t shower without lots and lots of help. I can get some stuff on my own (basket on the scooter ftw), but have to have someone bring me all my meals, my drinks, my pillows. I don’t like asking for help, being a burden, adding stress to my husband’s already crazy stressful plate.

That’s another thing. I planned this surgery terribly. I had some control over when, and chose now for a variety of (valid) reasons, with N.C.’s input. But now also is a shit storm of nonsense for N.C., and the burden I’ve put on him right now of all times weighs on me, heavily. Hindsight being what it is, I kind of wish I had waited it out a bit more, if only to help alleviate the burden to him.

But it is what it is, and the train has left the station, so all I can do now is keep chugging forward on the getting better trip. I’ve gotten a good rhythm for some things, and while I’m kind of over the whole thing, it’s moving along the best it can. Twitter and text buddies help keep me company, Netflix/Amazon/Hulu help keep me from being totally bored, and I’m at least getting plenty of beauty sleep ;-).

Tomorrow I head to the dr to get the stitches out (gag, let’s hope I don’t pass out, which I almost did when they changed the bandage 5 days post surgery. Stupid vasovagal response). We’ll find out then what the next steps are–when I start weight bearing (hold me, I don’t wanna!), when I start pt, etc.–and hopefully get a better picture of what the recovery process looks like for me specifically.


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