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March 26, 2009

B 2 Skrace
Can you play B 2 Skrace, please, Mama? Can you do it? Can you play B 2 Skrace on the radio? Zacky begs, bouncing up and down on his toes.

B 2 Skrace? Hmmm...

Please, Mama? I just love B 2 Skrace! I notice that Zacky is careful to place equal emphasis on each syllable, making B-2-Skrace sound almost like a chant.

B 2 Skrace...B 2 Skrace...starting to sound familiar...

I mutter it aloudB 2 Skrace...B 2 Skrace...chanting yet slurring the parts into a mash-up.

B2Skrace...B2Skrace...B2Sgrace...Bdisgrace...bigdisgrace...big disgrace...

Got it!

Its We Will Rock You by Queen.

And once again, my sole ALS super-powercrazy good interpretive skills of the messed-up language of the five-and-under crowd, due to my personal familiarity with slurring, incomprehensible speechsaves the day!

1:32 pm cdt          Comments

March 13, 2009

Lasagna Dinner: Round Two
So, truth be told, I wasn't really feeling much up to cooking Tuesday night following the Great Grocery Cart Crash of 2009. In fact, I kinda thought maybe we should just do carry-out for the rest of the week.

But with the ingredients already purchased--at great cost to me--I wasn't going to let them go to waste either. Thanks to generous help from Nick and Zack, Jim brought Emily home from gymnastics to more or less (okay, less) the scene I had imagine for Monday night. 

And despite the element of surprise being spoiled, I think Jim appreciated the gesture even more knowing what effort it took just to try. I guess nothing says "I love you" quite like purple-and-black bruises...
11:10 pm cdt          Comments

March 10, 2009

“Clean-up on the Front of the Store”
I was feeling energetic yesterday (note: definitely past tense). And we needed garlic bread to go with the lasagna dinner I had planned. So, since it was a beautiful day and I would already be out and about, I thought I’d stop by the store after picking Zack up from preschool as a surprise for Jim to save him a trip (admittedly, not the most exciting surprise, but luckily he doesn't expect much).

As we headed into the store near the produce area, a new idea took hold. I could really surprise Jim with one of his favorite appetizers: caprese salad. He would love that! And what if we made a fancy dessert? Something chocolate-y and gooey, with whipped cream and of course a cherry on top? The kids would be totally excited about that! I imagined their surprised faces and decided to make it happen. (See, I told you I was feeling energetic!)

As we snaked through the aisles, my excitement over my little plan was building, and Zack and I were laughing and joking and having a great time. Zack cheerfully weighed the tomatoes, carefully selected the best container of fresh mozzarella, and helped me choose a balsamic vinaigrette (he thought Emeril looked “cool” and like he probably made good dressing).

As we chatted and shopped, Zacky blurted out a random observation: “You’re a really good shopper for an ALS person!” (This refrain—“you’re a really good _______for an ALS person”—has become common in the last few weeks, as if he’s just now recognizing that ordinary tasks are harder with ALS, and he wants to acknowledge my efforts).

As we neared the frozen food aisle, I spied the greeting cards and remembered that Jewel carries a few paperback books in that area. Jim has been reading a ton lately while he works out (at least, he reads while he bikes; he hasn’t yet figured out a way to read while swimming laps), and he’s been lamenting the fact that he needs to find a new series or author.
I could really add to his surprise by having a new book by his place at the table, I thought. I pictured Jim coming home to the smell of homemade lasagna, heading into the kitchen to see me pulling a platter of caprese salad out of the fridge, then turning to see the table set with a little gift at his place. Perfect. It might not sound like much, but he would know the effort I went to just to make a trip to the store—and besides it’s the thought that counts, right? He would definitely know I’d been thinking of him. We headed over to see if we could find something suitably political-thriller-ish in the meager grocery-store paperback selection. After rejecting some romance novels that Zack recommended, I found a cross between political and medical thriller that sounded promising.

As we finally nosed our way into the checkout line, Zack challenged me to a race unloading the cart. My trash-talking 5-year-old beat me handily (his “you’re going down!” seems strangely prophetic in retrospect), then helped me put the last few items on the conveyor. While I wrote my check, Zack fell victim to the checkout lane displays: “Can we get some gum? Can I get a candy bar? Can I get a balloon?” While I held firm, the kindly cashier offered Zack a bright orange Jewel sticker as a consolation prize. He was thrilled and began sticking and re-sticking it to various parts of his body.

With a long line of harried shoppers behind us, we scooted forward and parked the cart near the front window. I am very self-conscious of how slowly I move, and I always try to get out of the way as quickly as possible so others won’t get impatient with me.

I stepped alongside the cart to reach my jacket, slipped it on, and then helped Zack straighten out the inside-out sleeves of his coat. Leaning forward to help him get his arms in, I kept my right hand on the side of the cart for balance, while he put his orange sticker on my knee and laughed. I smiled, removed the sticker, and put it on his tummy. When I straightened up, the cart rolled slightly and in that instant—with that tiny movement—my heart thudded into my stomach as I quickly realized what would come next. No, no, no…

I flailed wildly with my left hand, trying desperately to grab the side of the cart and regain my balance. But it was already too late.

As my mind flitted from one disastrous outcome to the next, the cart raised up on two wheels as if in slow motion—why does falling always seem to take an eternity?—reached its tipping point, and then crashed to the ground, taking me with it and pinning me under it in an awkward tangle of limbs and steel.

Cashiers, baggers, and shoppers sent up a collective gasp worthy of a four-star horror movie. I flushed with embarrassment and wished I was anywhere else (yes, even having a EMG) as the Jewel SWAT team leapt into action.

“Just stay where you are,” one employee commanded—as if I had any say in the matter. (Fortunately, she did not pull out a roll of crime scene tape.)

Okay, but could we at least get the shopping cart off me???
I wondered. Or maybe put a bag over my head? (Paper, of course.)

Another employee seemed to read my mind and gently lifted the cart off of my legs and abdomen. I struggled to sit up and glanced around at my audience.

“I have ALS,” I explained to everyone and no one in particular. Blank stares. “Do you know what ALS is—Lou Gehrig’s disease?” Apologetic looks, but still no recognition. How is that still possible?  I marveled, longing to grab a microphone and turn this into a teachable moment for everyone who had witnessed my fall.

I gave up on my explanation and began the familiar self-assessment: head—fine, never even hit the ground (woohoo!); legs—bruised but fine; arms—left one a bit scraped but fine; the rest of me—fine, except for my wounded pride.

Zack, unfazed, placed his bright orange sticker on the top of my head and grinned.

“I don’t think your mom wants a sticker in her hair!” one of my rescuers scolded. Zack’s grin faded, and he looked at the floor.

Are you kidding me?
I thought. I have freaking ALS! I just flipped a loaded grocery cart on top of myself and brought the entire store to a standstill! Seriously, I know you mean well, but the sticker is the least of my problems 

And she definitely did mean well. We simply saw the sticker-on-the-head moment from completely different vantage points. She, a stranger to ALS, was alarmed at my fall and saw the sticker as a distraction that wasn’t helping; meanwhile, I’m used to falling (albeit not under a cart).

Frankly, I was relieved that Zack was being his usual, playful self and didn’t seem to be traumatized by my crash. And I was way more alarmed by the fact that nobody seemed to know what ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease was than by his sticker antics.

As another Jewel employee appeared on the scene to offer his help, I realized that the ring of workers had thus far shown remarkable restraint in not attempting to lift me from under the arms. I’ve learned from experience that for many people, the first instinct is to want to “fix” the situation—to try to get me back onto my feet as quickly as possible. There’s something just plain uncomfortable about leaving someone lying or sitting on the ground after a fall. But grabbing me and trying to yank me upright never works (because I need to get my legs under me to push up) and is actually quite painful. I noticed the SWAT team getting restless, and I decided not to chance it.

“I’m going to need to crawl over to that bench to be able to get up,” I said quietly to the nearest woman. I didn’t relish the idea of making an even bigger spectacle of myself, but I needed a sturdy support. And my desire to get out of there by far outweighed any concerns for my (already irretrievably lost) dignity.

She looked taken aback for a moment, her face registering the same reluctance I felt. “How about this stool?” she suggested, pulling over a stool with a spinning, slick vinyl seat. I got to my knees and gamely attempted it, but, as expected, the seat spun away before I could get even one foot under me.

However, before I could begin my crawl of shame, two other employees whisked the bench over to my spot on the floor. I smiled gratefully, pushed up, got my feet under me, straightened, and sheepishly offered my patented, stuck-the-landing “Ta-da!” with a (one-armed) flourish to a smattering of relieved chuckles.

And it was finally, mercifully, over.

P.S. Needless to say, we did not have homemade lasagna for dinner last night. Or caprese salad. Or a fancy dessert. Or a surprise by Jim’s plate. It’s all back on the agenda tonight, though. Wish me luck! 
5:22 pm cdt          Comments

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Welcome to Aimee's Blah, Blah, Blog...
With great trepidation, we introduce the latest feature on a blog.

We acknowledge the pathetically long gaps between new entries to the website, and we appreciate the gentle prodding from visitors who would like to see more frequent updates about what's keeping us busy. 

So, in an attempt to dispel the notion that Aimee lounges at home all day in her World Series Champions gear (okay, that part is true) with her feet up (never!), eating bon-bons (often) and catching up on the latest trade rumors and spring-training reportswhile Jim is out saving the world in his S-emblazoned red cape, of course—we are experimenting with a blog to provide (weekly? biweekly? monthly?) updates on our activities.

However, come Opening Day, we're not promising anything...

[Note: Aimee is the author of the blog. All first-person accounts are hers unless otherwise noted. Any pro-Cubs entries are obviously the unauthorized work of Jim and should be reported to the proper authorities immediately.]