Saturday, April 21, 2018

It's Been One Long, Emotional Week at Home

It's been a solid week since HD was diagnosed with an incurable, potentially fatal disease. I don't think the reality of that has sunk in yet though. I'm literally acting as his pancreas. 

Honestly though, I feel like the mother of a newborn. I'm exhausted from waking up at 2:00am every morning to check his blood sugar levels. He had a low the other night, in which case I had to wake him up to eat some fruit snacks. But then I was awake at 2:30am panicking about him. Is he going to be okay? Is he going to dip lower before breakfast? How do you go back to sleep after that? How do you shut the worry off at night? All parents worry about their kids but my worry has skyrocketed in the last week. 

I feel overcome with worry throughout the day too. It's similar to the first day you take your child to daycare or have a babysitter over, leaving them in someone else's care. Newborns can't really get into trouble - they eat, sleep, and poop. But my 9 year old, he has a fully functioning brain that tells him he's hungry. Up until last week, when he was hungry, he could just go grab a snack, no big deal. But now it's terrifying to know he can eat when he's hungry. When he's at home with me, I feel like I can keep him safe, but when he's at school, I'm not there to be his food monitor. We've set up snack bins in the pantry, and in the fridge, with labels on everything. Snacks in this bin and this bin you can eat freely when you're hungry without having to get an extra dose. Snacks in these two bins, you can *only have one* between meals. It's helpful though it's not fool-proof, after-all, I'm working with a boy who often has trouble controlling his impulses.

We took him to school Monday after lunch because he was so excited to show his teacher and friends his wristband from the hospital and tell them all about his weekend. I took him into school Tuesday morning, with the assumption that his doctors had sent his medical orders over. They hadn't. He wasn't supposed to be at school without them, so after reaching voicemail after voicemail, I finally left a message for someone. It was frustrating having a list of phone numbers to call, but not being able to reach a person at 9:00am. I returned to his school Tuesday at lunch to give him his insulin and to get a few more things sorted out with the school nurse. 

By Wednesday morning, HD was feeling confident enough to GIVE HIMSELF his own insulin shot! Huge relief! The school nurse, for whatever reason, can't give him his insulin shot at school. I'm not understanding the reasoning. Only he himself, myself, Perry or a "parent designated adult" can give him his shots. I'm lost as to how to figure out who to designate as that person. I'm in an area where I'm still very alone and haven't been able to get a hold of the right person when calling the ADA. Luckily there are two other kids at school who also have T1D so the process of eating and counting and dosing are not new to them. 
He received his diabetes bear in the mail Wednesday afternoon, along with a bunch of handouts and books about diabetes. Along with his bear he received a practice needle of glucagon, his medicine we give him if he has really low blood sugar and is unresponsive. He demonstrated to Ms. Gail how it works, though JP found it all to be very boring, 

We were running low on test strips by Wednesday evening. I was not prepared for how much they were going to cost. The doctor still hadn't sorted things out with our insurance company so in the meantime, we were in limbo, and ended up needing to buy enough to get us through until our insurance was squared away. Unless you have a prescription for them, they are $80 for 50 strips. In a typical day, we'll use between 5 and 7. Yeah.... it'll last us about a week. I was able to *finally* pick up more insulin from the pharmacy last night. Ask me how annoyed I was about this... We were using the pharmacy at Safeway because that is typically where we shop, but our insurance carrier is requiring us to use a CVS pharmacy, so I told them we'd us the Albertson's near our house. Imagine my surprise when they sent it to the CVS pharmacy 25 minutes from my house, located in a freaking Target store. You know what that means?! A lot of impulse buys because, well, it's Target and I love Target. At least it's near-ish to my work, but still very frustrating for me. 

Once I had our insurance debacle somewhat figured out Wednesday evening, Ms. Gail and I took him on a hunt to find reading glasses. He mentioned the other day that reading was getting hard because the words were getting fuzzy. Common symptom. My mom directed us to the dollar store, since you know, they're only a dollar. He found an orange pair he liked, though the pickings were slim. I later found him some brown ones that look way cute on him at Ace Hardware. Who knew they'd have reading glasses for $4?!
I'm also struggling with how to calculate the serving size for the food he eats. This morning, I made buttermilk pancakes because Ms. Gail came bouncing into my room saying that's what everyone wanted for breakfast. She knew this because she told her brothers that's what they wanted. I took the recipe at hand and put it into a nutrition calculator to see how many carbs were in the recipe. We dosed him after breakfast because we didn't know how many pancakes he'd eat. He ate 16. The original recipe said it served 4. I'm living in one big word problem right now. Add this and this and divide by this but if x is too high, subtract this and add one for each of these and add it to the first  sum. Give him too much insulin and he'll go low, give him too little and he'll go high. 

I finally broke down crying Thursday night. The list of things needed to be done kept growing and I just needed help but I didn't know what kind of help. I needed to go grocery shopping, but first I needed to meal plan, but working until 4 or 5 every day has made that difficult. I was fortunate to find a box of mac n cheese in the pantry, but remembered as we sat down to eat that Ms. Gail had gymnastics that night. When we came home I found HD had homework and he *refused* to do. Writng is such a struggle for him. It would have taken 5 minutes, but we fought about it for over and hour and a half. The house needed tidying. HD's pile of supplies kept growing bigger and I needed to find a new place for it all. Perry has been working extra because his store is under staffed. By the time he arrived home, he's tired, I'm exhausted, and just overwhelmed with everything. The tears started rolling by bedtime. Uncontrollable sobbing in the corner of the kitchen. 

I just want to take this away from him. I know he'll be able to live a normal life but it still doesn't make it easier to digest. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

This is Fine...

I have anxiety. The phrase “this is fine” has been a running joke for the women in my family because of the relate-able humor we all have when it comes to anxiety. When talking about uncomfortable situations, it tends to make us feel better when we say, “This is fine” after something that seems so regular to most but very uncomfortable to the rest of us.

Here’s a little humorous example, though it wasn’t humorous at the time. I agreed to help out at a store in downtown Portland. I’ve been bouncing from store to store and this one happened to be one I had previously been to. There is a parking lot in the back but when I arrived it was full. Just going downtown gives me anxiety having to navigate through traffic on unfamiliar roads so to have the lot full tipped me off, but this is fine. This is fine. I’ll just find the parking garage. But now there are one ways to navigate and now I’m super far from the store and in the middle of downtown where I can’t just stop and re-plug in my coordinates. But this is fine. Finally I find the freaking parking garage and park but now I’m not seeing where to go to get out. I’m the basement of a parking garage super flustered and I ended up confessing to another women how I’m completely lost, flustered, and now late for work. And the phrase I’m thinking while I’m stuck in a parking garage? This is fine. The entire day at work, I’m put in these scenarios where I’m needed to complete certain tasks that haven’t been taught to me yet and I’m uttering the phrase “This is fine” just to make it through the day. (The latter is more stressful than anything.)

It’s a little humorous I was lost in a parking garage, right? I’m sure a sane person would have been fine. But me? No. I have found I don’t enjoy exploring or navigating new places on my own. I prefer to have a second person with me to ease my mind about finding parking, finding the building, finding the entrance, etc. I went out on a "date" with my husband the other weekend, when it was actually more of a me-tag-along night out with a bunch of his co-workers. I did survive. But I had to find parking on my own, in dark, which I HATE. I ended up sitting in the car for several minutes before I was able to convince myself to get out and go find him. In a crowd of people, which I hate. Guess who walked right past the entrance to the bar? This girl. But you know what? This is fine. I eventually found him and he then tried to make me go to the bar to order something. ON MY OWN. Nope nope nope. I took his drink and called it good.

I tell you these stories because you know what I have to do now? Navigate an entirely new world. Appointments and new people. Lots of new people. And calling people. I'm so introverted it hurts. In the past 24 hours I have had to push my anxiety aside, repeating "This is fine" over and over.

We left the hospital yesterday afternoon, as soon as we were done with lunch. On our way home, HD and I stopped at the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions the doctor sent over, but only one was ready. so we went home and took a nap. Come dinner time, we prepare his meal and correctly count how many carbs he'll be consuming and do the math to see how many units of insulin he needs. I go to shoot him up only to discover the nurse sent us home WITH THE WRONG NEEDLES. We're digging through our binder on how to use these ones because they weren't the ones we practiced with. I'm almost in tears as now scenarios are flashing through my mind of us having to back to the hospital to get more, but then I remember something about picking needles up at the pharmacy so now I'm panicking about it being closed early because it's Sunday. They were open. But now I'm worried they prescribed the wrong ones. So much going through my mind and I'm trying really hard to not just break down and start crying. They had the right ones, and the rest of the night went smoothly.

Now Robin is home and she's thinking he can't go to school until the school is ready for him, and now I'm worried about work. I was able to take him to school today though. I waited until he had lunch at home along with his insulin shot before taking him. He was really excited to tell his teacher and friends about his hospital stay though when he arrived at school, he was looked a little timid. We first met with the nurse to just reiterate that yes, he does have diabetes. Yes, the doctor is sending his orders over. He's got his snacks ready in his backpack and he knows what to do with them. (But I hope he remembers!) I labeled everything. In detail. He's got his blood sugar monitor. He won't let others prick him. He likes to do that himself.

This is fine. Everything is fine. He is going to be fine. It's literally three hours. Perry is at home if he needs something. Everything is fine. I showed him his snacks he was free to eat at school and wrote directions on a bag of two other snacks, should he feel like his blood sugar is low, even though it was pretty high when he arrived at school. Imagine my surprise when I call home at 3:30 to see how school went and I hear Perry say he ate ALL of his snacks. Apparently he was hungry. Gahh!! What?!? His levels were fine when he got home. Everything was fine.

I'm going to be fine guys. This is going to be fine.

The Beginning of Our New Normal

Friday was a stressful day for us. We went straight from the doctor's office to the Children's Hospital in Portland. In retrospect, I should have stopped to get lunch for Ms. Gail and me but I had tunnel vision - got to get to the hospital! Ms. Gail and I did a lot of sitting and waiting that afternoon in the emergency room until they admitted us to the ICU. HD *hated* getting his IVs in his arms. Honestly I don't blame him. 
I really didn't like seeing him hooked up with all his cords and wires every where. Because all he had to eat was a little bit of oatmeal that morning, come 3pm, when we were moved upstairs to ICU, he was getting hangry. He was already cranky enough having been prodded and poked at for the past several hours, and then to be hungry on top of it... Unfortunately his next meal wouldn't be until breakfast the next morning. I'm pretty sure he asked the nurse just about every time she came in if he could eat yet. I felt terrible for him! I did think ahead and grabbed Perry's iPad before we left home, so that kept his mind occupied, as well as the tv with all the new kids movies on it. Ms. Gail was also a trooper. They brought in a small bin of Pet Shop toys and she just sat and played with them in the window until Perry came to get her around 5:30.

I felt bombarded with doctors and nurses coming in to talk to me about the game plan for the next day and what's going on in HD's body. SO much information all at once. It was re-stated several times that Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin (or make any at all) to allow the body to utilize the glucose found in the foods we eat. Also, *we did not do anything wrong* and *it isn't caused by the foods he currently eats*. Now that we know he has diabetes, we also know that JP and Ms. Gail each have a 1:20 chance of also developing diabetes. If they do, at least we'll know what to look for and already know how to help them.
I was under a great deal of stress Friday night because I was scheduled to work on Saturday. I never work on Saturdays, but I was scheduled for this one because there was no one else to work. They really needed me there because they were already short handed. I'm not the kind of person to just call off work. I don't know that I've ever called off work before. I already felt terrible about the thought of it, but I reluctantly agreed to at least work in the morning, even though Perry and I *really needed* to get started on our education and training. While I was at work stressing and panicking about my kid in the ICU, HD was moved out and down a floor to general care. When I arrived back to the hospital he was proudly holding his new dolphin balloon and SMILING! The night before I really had to work to get a smirk out him, so for him to be smiling...!!
I laid in bed with him for a little bit Friday night before settling down on the couch, but took full advantage of his bed the next day because he had one of his IVs out. I think he enjoyed his extra mom snuggles. Grandma Betty stayed for the training session too so she is able to take care of him when he goes to visit her in Montana this summer, without us. JP and Ms. Gail hung out at home with Grandma's sister and her husband. Thank goodness for helpful people! During our education, which was about 3 hours long, we learned how to check his blood sugar levels, dispense insulin, and correctly calculate dosages. I felt like there were numbers flying around the room!
 After the adult training session, I taught HD how to check his blood sugar and was able to walk him through the process of giving himself the insulin shot. He practiced on a foam star, and was very *I know, I know* about the whole thing. At dinner time, I walked him through the steps to check his blood sugar levels again, and he did really well with that portion. However, he was not about to have me give him his insulin shot. Until this point he was still getting his insulin via IV. I felt as if I was verbally wrestling a calf for branding. It was horrible. He was very firm on the idea that he was *not* getting another shot and *you can't make me* while his hands blocked me in every direction. The nurse just stood by and watched. It was pretty great...After about ten minutes of me insisting and him refusing, he finally gave in and let me put it in his leg. Talk about a great first shot for me...

His next dose came at bedtime, and knowing the nurse would be in soon, he got out his blood sugar meter and checked his levels all by himself. Obviously I was way proud of him, but I could also tell he was proud of himself. I made a big deal about it and wrote it on his dry erase board for everyone to see. His night nurse was so proud of him that he earned himself an extra cup of ice cream. (He didn't need to know he needed the extra carbs!) The kid was glowing! He followed his ice cream up with a double serving of sugar-free jello.

I would like to say the sugar got him going, but it was apparent he was feeling more like himself that evening. We had just finished watching "Princess + the Frog" (his choice, not mine!) and he had just consumed all his jello when he started pranking his nurse. Because he had one IV in, he was hooked up to one monitor still. When his arm was bent, his hose would kink and his alarm would go off. This would cause his nurse to come in and straighten his arm, turn the alarm off and leave. He caught on to this process pretty quickly. As soon as she would leave the room, he'd get that evil little smirk on his face and bend his arm so the alarm would go off. He was dying of laughter by the 5th time though I was trying to get him to stop by the third attempt, reminding him she had other kids to take care of too. Regardless, it made me happy to know he was feeling much better than the he had been in the past week!
I stayed the night at hospital with him again but this time he willingly shared his bed with me. Thank goodness because I was freezing in his new room. The nurse and I woke him up at 2 am to check his blood sugar level again, and I gave him a correction dosage before trying to fall back to sleep again. His doctor showed up around 9 to go over a few things, and then Perry and the rest of kids showed up just in time for the second three hour education session to start. HD was able to sleep in until about 9 when all the commotion began in his room. JP was very interested in all the pokes HD was getting.
Before we were able to leave the hospital, Perry had to show he was able to administer his insulin as well. He *hates* just the word needle so this a was a huge thing for him. His hands were incredibly shaky but he got it done! HD even asked for dad to do his lunch dose as well.

It's a lot to take in all at once! We left the hospital with lots of information and resources to utilize. The staff there was AMAZING! Right now my biggest concern is with HD's impulsiveness. He often comes home and just snacks at will so that's a concern for me. In the hospital he was in the mind set of "I'm sick now at the hospital but they are going to make me better so I only have diabetes for a little while." It was heartbreaking to him he say, "when I'm done having diabetes" when we were discussing Grandma caring for him this summer. It'll sink in. This is fine. We are fine. Everything is going to be fine.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

We’re off to the Children’s Hospital

It has been quite the “Friday the 13th” for our household. As I sit in the emergency room with HD hooked up to an IV and Ms. Gail playing quietly nearby, I thought I’d take a moment to type out what’s been going on here.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had friends come to visit us over spring break. I was surprised when HD slept in until 8:30 in the morning on the morning they were set to leave. I believe I may have even whispered, “Praise the Lord!” because this kid is usually up at 7:00a on the dot so I welcome the extra quiet time in the mornings when I get it. He knew we were going to go swimming in the morning, so it was unlike him to over-sleep when fun is to be had! However, by Sunday morning he was sleeping in until 9:30am. He didn’t seen quite like himself but Perry and I figured he was going through a growth spurt and just needed extra rest.

A couple nights later Perry and I were discussing him after the kids went to bed. He’s always been a small, skinny kid, but Perry thought he was looking extra thin lately. I hadn’t noticed because I hadn’t seen him without his shirt off in quite a while. He also prefers to snuggle with his aunt instead of his mom...because of that, I welcomed him to sleep with me when he woke me up late Monday night. I knew he had gone to the bathroom before he went to bed so I found it a little off for him to go pee again (a lot a lot) before crawling into bed with me. He woke up in the early morning to go again and then once more when he woke up in the morning.
 I had been in contact with his teacher, checking in on how he was doing academically so while I was at it, I asked him how he had been at school the past couple days. He also noticed HD seemed a little out of it. With his exhaustion increasing, I made an appointment with his doctor on Friday to be seen. The appointment couldn’t come soon enough. He took a two hour nap that afternoon and then still went to bed at his usual time. He wasn’t eating and was just overall moody. The day before he bawled at Costco when we didn’t buy more protein bars. Tears running down his face. It was horrible.

I had a good idea of what could possibly be going on with him by Wednesday night, thanks to Google. I searched for fatigue, excessive thirst (he has a water bottle from his aunt he had been drinking out of, but I had initially thought it was just because it was hers and he felt “cool” using his aunt’s things), excessive urination, moodiness... it all pointed me in one direction.

By the time his appointment came around this morning, he was hardly eating anything and was very fatigued. I was going to send him to school and then scoop him up later in the morning but I knew he wasn’t up for it when it came time to wake up that morning. I had let him sleep in the living room curled up in my chair, and he was not bothered in the least by people moving around. I managed to get him to eat *some* oatmeal before we left, but he wasn’t feeling it.

I was fortunate to have Robin come along with Ms. Gail, HD, and me to the doctor this morning. When listing out the symptoms, you could tell his nurse practitioner already knew what was up before we ran a few tests. Robin was good at helping me explain the changes we’ve seen. She’s been such a great resource to have this past eight months. Before we headed to Portland, it was confirmed with his blood sugar reading of 440 (normal is between 70-120 before eating) it was very likely he has Type 1 Diabetes but would need to be confirmed by the endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital. Without my previous research, I would have been shocked to hear it, but I kept it together pretty well.
I’m feeling terrible about his weight loss though. Last fall when I was making weighted blankets, he hopped on the scale and clocked in at about 51 lbs. At the doctor today he weighed a measly 43 lbs. He did not have any weight to lose! Without his shirt on, you can see each one of his ribs. When looking at his legs, his knees are like balls in the middle of a rod. His wrists are incredibly small. I just wish I would have noticed sooner. Yes it’s the winter and he wears long sleeves and pants and sweaters but still. I’m trying to not be so hard on myself.
Right now the hardest part is seeing him so out of it. He’s not my bubbly little boy who has the tendency to drive me nuts on occasion. I want my prankster back. As much as I’m enjoying his willingness to let me snuggle with him, this is not the child I know. As his mom, it’s incredibly hard to see him in such a long state of fatigue, crankiness, and just  looking overly weak and pale. We’ve got a bit of a hospital stay ahead of us, but we’ll be leaving with a bunch of resources and so much new knowledge to retain.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Recap for March and Spring Break

What a busy March it was! Seriously, where has this year gone?!

The kids are thoroughly enjoying their new bikes still. When it's raining or just too chilly out, Ms. Gail can often times be found biking around in the garage. The boys have been building ramps for a while to attempt to jump off of but they haven't quite figured out the right materials to use yet. They'll grab firewood and put cardboard on top to bike up. It's quite the fail. Other times they'll use some flimsy thin wood that usually breaks. Ms. Gail has been brave enough to attempt to bike up one of these bike ramps. We haven't had any too-terrible aches from them and they're having fun...

In the middle of March, Robin convinced me I needed to run in the Shamrock 5K with her in Portland down by the river. I knew I was going to die. I didn't immediately, but the following several days nearly did me in. I *could* *not* *move* and Perry enjoyed laughing me. But regardless, Robin and I had an entertaining morning together. It was also my first time using public transportation in Portland, so that was a little exciting.

During our run, I felt like Robin needed to leave me behind and finish without me. She is a 1000x more in shape than I am. (In fact she took 3rd overall in a dry-triathlon at her gym the day before!) She didn't leave me in the dust, instead she kept pushing me to keep going. She's pretty awesome like that. Around the 2 mile mark there were a few people handing out shots of beer, which we both happily accepted. That gave me just what I needed to finish the downhill portion of the race. As we were finishing up the last 50m or so the announcers were calling out the finishers who were crossing. I didn’t hear my name, but we both heard Robin’s loud and clear. I may or may not have sprinted through the finish line just so I could say I won. I was winded at the end but Robin was feeling good. Before heading back home, we turned in our tickets for a cup of potato soup and a beer. I always drink light beer so for whatever reason I decided to grab a darker beer. Regretted that decision immediately. It still quenched my thirst but I felt like I betrayed myself.

For spring break I had been thinking about taking the kids back to Montana because I had the week off work. As I mulled it over while resting at home after the race, I was having a hard time with the thought of taking my Honda Pilot on another road trip. It needs some work done, nothing too terrible, but I wasn’t feeling good about it. Perry and I had briefly discussed getting a vehicle for me this year, but we kept putting it off so this was a little push to go get it done. We stopped in to a couple places around town to see what they had but didn’t find much. We were looking for a van. It’s always been a pain for HD to climb over the seats to sit in the back, especially with car seats and booster seats. Ideally we were in the market for a vehicle with bucket seats in the middle. All three vans we saw had bucket seats as well as a DVD player in the back. The kids were thrilled but Perry and I were just meh about it.

After searching online, I was able to find a couple good options. The dealership was able to bring my favorite one over to the lot closest to us later that week. After everything was done and signed, I drove off with a 2017 Kia Sedona with about 10k miles on it. I left her parked in the driveway for the next few days though and instead took my Pilot to work in downtown Portland and because I wasn’t comfortable driving it yet.

We ended up staying home for spring break. We were planning to go back so we could see nanny and aunt Kim and Aunt Kile and cousins, as well as Grandma. The more I thought about going the more I couldn’t justify it. My sisters and mom had just come out a few weekends prior and then Grandma was planning a trip out for the weekend after we’d get back. Instead I had a friends and her kids and mom come out to visit during he middle of the week. It was so so nice to see her and her mom again! We took all 5 kids + the infant baby to OMSI on Wednesday. We spent most of day exploring the exhibits as well as checking out their featured exhibit, Robot Revolution. Before heading home we stopped at IKEA and did some shopping while the kids played in the kids area for an hour.

While in town, they stayed at a hotel, and we took full advantage of the pool there. My kids love swimming so much! I need to get a family pass to a swimming pool.

It was an enjoyable spring break, and a much welcomed break from work. It’s been frustrating for me. I was hired with the understanding I’d be working from 9-3 four days a week but during February and March  I was getting about 18 hours a week. It’s not a huge change but you do the math for the difference in hours. It adds up! I’m barely breaking even after paying for Ms. Gail to go to daycare and preschool. They say it’ll get better. I’m really hoping because I want to work!

Friday, April 6, 2018

We Got NEW Bikes!

Last weekend (March 10-11ish) the temperature hit 70 degrees on Sunday and it was AMAZING! Did I mention it was still the beginning of March? Seriously! Last year all it did was rain. I think this area set a record for consecutive days with rain. Not this year! 

The weekend before Perry and I spent the majority of our time finishing up the extra room which will now be our spare room / library. By library, I mean we have A bookcase in there, so that counts, right? I finished painting in the early afternoon, and then jumped in on painting in the main part of the basement. I wasn't planning on spending the whole day painting, but I'm not in the mood very often so I took advantage of my willingness and got a ton done.

In the meantime, Ms. Gail spent her afternoon trying to ride her bike without her training wheels on. It was a hand-me-down bike and one of the training wheels broke off this past fall, so I took them off and bought her new ones to put on, except I didn't put them on. I encouraged her to try to use the balance bike to scoot around on but she was having none of that idea. Before Perry and I knew it, she had gotten the hang of stopping and starting on her bike (without crashing!) all on her own. I was floored when she brought me out to see and she was biking up and down the road. Girl was determined!

With the weather being so perfect this past weekend, we took the kids to the store to pick out new bikes. HD and JP were both in need of bigger bikes (and new bikes because they left theirs in the rain a few too many times...) The kids were SO EXCITED!!

We ended up having to take JP's back to the store. Turns out using the hand brakes was a little challenging for him. He ended up with a green (duh) bike that only has petal brakes. 
Ms. Gail's new bike was one size up from the one she learned on and is still a little on the big side so we opted to keep her extra wheels on until she was more comfortable riding on this one.
After spending the whole afternoon biking around the driveway, the kids begged us to take them on a bike ride.
I willingly brought up the rear and happily let Perry take the lead. He and the boys were always way ahead, stopping occasionally to wait for us to catch up. Ms. Gail really struggled going up hills, but so did I so I gladly walked with her.
My bike was also in need of some serious work. It would shift gears without me actually shifting gears and was terrible to ride. Did I mention the left hand brake for the front tire didn't work? That was a problem that was hard to get used to! As soon as we arrived home, Perry brought both our bikes into the garage to see what he could do to fix them...

***Several weeks later....***

It's a gorgeous spring evening out and HD comes excited inside to tell me he can bike without hands. Of course I *have* to see this. When he says he can bike without hands, he actually means, he can quickly take them off and put them back on again. Robin and I reminisced about biking down our gravel road with no hands. I should have left it at that but I didn't. I went and got my bike to show HD how I could also ride with no hands. For the record, I would like to say I CAN DO IT! With that said, on my final run, I took my bike down the driveway and picked up speed. A LOT of speed. With no hands. Before I got to the garage I went to stop, not remembering Perry FIXED my front brake handle. Previously I had to squeeze it really hard for it to kind of work. Now I hardly have to touch it. So with that said, I instictively grabbed that brake, my bike immediately stopped. The back end came up over the front and I lay smashed on the pavement underneath my bike. Robin is now dying of laughter. HD has a look of embarrassing disgust on his face and Ms. Gail is screaming "MOOOOM!!!!" So yeah. No bruising though!!