Monday, August 26, 2013

Summer, when few books are read and profundity is scarce.

When the mind must dwell lightly upon passing thoughts, as a sparrow lands on a branch before it alights. Kids are calling. Work is fit in.

Every year at this time I write a blog post lamenting my shallow life. I'd like to reach deep and capture those few thoughts splashing around, but the sunblock does its job. I settle into moments, instead, and these morph late August into lists--of gym shoes, highlighters, and 4oz glue sticks, which have been a school supply requirement since Simon first put on a backpack, but which don't exist, you can't tell me they do.

A new phenomenon is claiming my insights and intuitions this time around, namely my job as personal trainer.

Before: Amy experiences her world, sees experiences as a writer does, processes them on paper.

Now: Amy meets with clients who tell her about their worlds. Ideas form and she walks them through some steps she hopes will help.

Whereas my intuition before helped me see an experience from a bird's eye view and later reflect, now I am wrapped into the world of another, in a way that feels way beyond a collection of exercises.

Before: the experience was the material, the writing a reflection.

Now: the person is the material, the session my reflection.

With four clients, I find my head is filled with their needs, and just as you suddenly see the model of your new car everywhere after you buy it, in my reading I think, Yes, this is good for her, wow, he'll really enjoy that.

Thankfully, I am able to reign in some of this, else I could get overrun. Writing ideas down for future reference helps, as does thinking one session at a time. For even though I think long-term for my clients, each session seems to dictate the next, and an injury thrown in can mean toss the plan altogether.

I like it. A lot. Some day I'll write about my very first client, who provided me an experience that threatened to have me quit before I even got going. This was an exception, I learned, and thankfully, after therapy (yes, it was that bad) and peer encouragement, I'm still here; my four clients since have been a joy.

Part of me laments this phase of different thinking--let's call it that--but there's something to this "active writing" that I'm doing. Instead of words moving themselves around on paper, movements do--their order, how I present them, their effectiveness and reception. It's the same process, really. I've always noticed this, as with my theatre work and teaching as well, but I enjoy it more in this form. It's not the exercise component per se, as I've never thoroughly enjoyed teaching large group classes. It's the one-on-one, coupled with the movement.

I've been reading up on Kung Fu lately--see, it's not all laundry and lists--particularly the practices of Sifu Shi Yan Ming. He calls the practice at USA Shaolin Temple "action meditation." The movements mean something.

Action meditation: that's what training feels like to me. It's a nice balance, actually. For me, the last several years have been about moving beyond thinking. I'd done a lot of thinking, and prided myself as an intellectual. But now, I need to plunge my hands deep into the world; this latest incarnation, so far, has been the best fit.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

Each time Theo and I stepped into the elevator at the Radisson in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, we were sure to wave at our counterparts in the mirror. "Are you heading to the steamboat cruise, too?" we'd ask. The door would open behind us--and simultaneously them--and we'd each turn to step further into our own dimensions.

A weekend at a type 1 diabetes event feels a lot like that: a parallel universe where people are testing their blood sugars, counting carbs, giving shots. They're worrying about the same stuff we do and they're pulling out the same black pouch with the same silver meter. One offers up a carb count for that piece of pie. Another woman's kid is approved for an artificial pancreas trial, and she cries at the thought of not asking about blood sugars for just that one day.

The JDRF Ride to Cure took our family to Wisconsin for three days, which we extended to five for a family vacation. Greg and Simon fell easily into the rhythm of the event, participating in meetings, meals, and practice rides along with the other 240 riders. Theo and I meandered through the fun little town, musing philosophically on what we'd do on our last day on earth. Theo put this question to me, which he followed up with "if you knew it was your last day."

We waited at the finish line for the guys, singing loudly to the music welcoming back the riders. It was a cover up, I admit, because seeing the bikes return stirred up a surprising turn of emotion in me. Break it down and you know that the Ride to Cure is really about raising funds, with the ride itself icing on the carb-laden cake. But couple a physical act with a ideological one, and each mirrors the other's power, doubling it. I watched an older rider come in smiling, but then she'd close her lips and compose herself. Smile, close lips. I knew how she felt. For on the other side of the finish line, the inflatable arch read "START." We've ridden our miles, but it's not over yet.

Managing type 1 diabetes, we get caught up in the daily details of numbers and shots, but then we are faced with the bigger picture before us: this all comes down to a thing more significant. To food, that basic of human sustenance. Food, which should be enjoyed and relished, that has become a daily chore and challenge.

You can understand, then, how diabetes awareness and events become like religious rituals. Indeed, the meetings resembled the Christian rallies of my youth, complete with testimonies, altar calls, and tears. You're charged with a higher purpose, and you leave convinced that this weekend made a difference. But then you catch sight of a 2009 Ride To Cure t-shirt, and you wonder how can it be that we're not there yet, that Jesus has not yet arrived for his second coming.

And yet this aspect, too, was meaningful; this was Simon's first time participating in such a heady event, and even my passive, back seat son was stirred. For our television debut, the reporter had a hard time getting him to articulate why he'd ride and raise money for his brother, but that's okay: Greg and I know there's nothing he enjoys more than to make his brother laugh, and every time we close their bedroom door at night we hear, "So what do you want to talk about?"

I have seen Simon make sacrifices so as not to isolate his brother at mealtimes. They are unspoken, but the mirror knows. And on the ride, after never having gone more than 30 miles, he went 58. For six and a half hours.

The weekend in Wisconsin was, hopefully, life-changing, as the money raised by 240 riders will make a serious dent in the disease. We're back to the other side, now, and happy to be home, though the memory of those parallel lives will not leave us any time soon. On our last evening there, JDRF played a video that started off miserably: You can't imagine a world without diabetes, the screen read, moving on to articulate all of the thoughts we never quite say, but always feel. And just when we were ready to turn on the lights and call all this to a halt, the sentences reversed, and what sounded despairing was now hopeful, thanks to the effect all these donations will have on research. A brilliant, magical mirroring of reality, reminding us that it is possible to cross over, and step--ride, even--to the other side.

















Sunday, August 11, 2013

Almost There

Yeah, I get the calls, too.

--If we send you a packet, can we count on your donation of ten dollars or more?

--No, I'm sorry, but we've been giving a lot of money to another charity lately.

--Yes, ma'am, we understand that there are many worthy charities asking for your contribution. By giving to us, however, you will help thousands of children struggling with X disease. Can they count on you for your support?

At this juncture, during recent calls I find myself telling the telemarketer that surely their cause is worthwhile, as is mine, but that funds are limited. Sometimes I even explain that my son has the disease I'm raising money for. One woman said sorry; another hung up.

Knowing how often these calls come, I thank everyone who has followed our journey toward this very week, to the JDRF ride in Wisconsin, for your money, your prayers, your lending of bikes and bike racks, and your ears. Type 1 diabetes is one of those under the radar diseases, in a sense, as no one really knows about it unless they've had a direct connection with someone diagnosed. Even then, you really have no idea until you live with it. We can be annoying, us T1Ders, if we start listing out the daily regimen of math and woe. But we only want you to understand. Why we want a cure.

We raised over $6000 for the Ride to Cure Diabetes. 80% of all money raised goes directly to research. You can track some of how that happened here on the blog, or talk to us some time.

You can see some of the publicity we garnered online--a nice article in a small local paper; one on Fox17's site; and if you didn't catch the awesome television news clip on that article, see it here

Theo was diagnosed three years ago last week; after doing research for an essay contest on life 100 years ago, we now know we can be grateful it hadn't been much earlier. Theo's essay didn't win any prizes, but I think he captures the close-to-home reality that unfortunately is based on truth. For more on the making of this essay and my take, see a previous blog post.


The Cure
By Theo Scheer

Every word the doctor said was blocked out by my thinking. This doesn’t mean I was thinking a lot. In fact, the only words that passed through my mind were, “No. This can’t be happening. No.”
The thing that caused me to be here was stupid Diabetes. “Well, what will it be, Theo? The potato therapy, the rice cure, or the oat cure?” the doctor said. They were all funny names, but I didn’t feel like laughing. “Well?” said the doctor who was getting impatient with my silence. “Oat c-c-cure,” I slowly said. “Alright Theo, this is what we’re gonna do. Every two hours I’ll come with a plate of eight ounces of oatmeal and eight ounces of butter. And you’ll eat it, of course.”
I was too stunned to speak. That’s a lot of oatmeal and butter. And I don’t even like oatmeal that much. I wish I could punch Diabetes in the face. I wish I could be back home, lying on the sofa, eating cracker jacks. I wish the percentage of me dying was a little lower.
“We’ll be right back,” said my mom, grabbing the doctor by the shirtsleeve. My mom rushed down the hallway. She suddenly stopped in the middle of the hallway and fiercely let the doctor’s sleeve go.
“Oatmeal? OATMEAL??? EIGHT OUNCES OF OATMEAL AND EIGHT OUNCES OF BUTTER? YOU ACTUALLY THINK THAT THAT WILL CURE MY SON’S DISEASE? Sir, I am no doctor, and I am almost certain that will not actually help Diabetes.”
The doctor no longer looked afraid. He straightened his back and said, “Ma’am, repeat what you said a few seconds earlier.”
“It will not actually help Diabetes?” she asked.
“Before that,” the doctor replied.
“I am no doctor?” she tried.
“Exactly. You are no doctor. You are just a plain country girl,” the doctor said, prancing around the hallway. “And I would never expect better science from someone like you.”
The doctor turned his head back to my mother only to see he was just staring at a wall. She was gone.
The click clack, click clack of the horse-drawn carriage was the only noise I’d heard since my mother dragged me out of the doctor’s office. “I’ll show these weirdoes what a plain ‘country girl’ can do. If someone’s gonna find a cure for my son, it’s gonna be me.”
Once we got into our home, the doorbell rang. My mom opened it, expecting a salesman. But it was no salesman. It wasn’t a person at all.
It was a huge bowl filled with oatmeal and butter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Tale of Three Complaints, filled with tickles and giggles

Three recent letters to three different companies. Which do you think I'll patronize again?

To: LGS
Name: Amy Scheer

Message: For my 9-year-old son's type 1 diabetes, we have to count the carbs in his meal, divide it by a number (different at every meal) to determine the amount of insulin he needs, and administer a shot. Though there are many variables at play, this math usually serves us well. Tonight I served your clementines at dinner, and carefully weighed my son's to match it up with your nutrition label. An hour later, his blood sugar was dangerously low--30, the lowest he's ever been. We gave him a sugar source and he recovered, thankfully. The only questionable food we counted was the clementine, so I checked the nutrition facts at another source, which would put your carb count at almost twice what it should be. I am fairly certain that this is what caused his low, which is why I ask that you please doublecheck your nutrition facts. Some consumers simply use these numbers for dietary reasons, but for diabetics, it can be a matter of life and death. Please take care of this so that others don't encounter the situation we did. Thank you.



8-5-13

Dear Amy:

Thanks for bringing this matter to our attention. We will definitely check our Clementines nutritional information, and make any necessary adjustments.

We are very glad to hear that your son recovered from his low blood sugar condition, and we hope that he is now well. We recognize that families like yours have to pay close attention to their family members' diets, and we certainly want to provide the most accurate information available. Unfortunately, as you know, the sugar and carb content can differ from one piece of fresh fruit to another, and the dietary analysis from one nutritional authoritiy to another often differs as well. Nevertheless, we will take your comments under advisement, and make any changes that are deemed necessary.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Sincerely,

LGS



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To: Kraft

For my son's diabetes, we have to count the carbs in his meal to determine how much insulin he needs. I'm wondering about your counts on "grilled cheese explosion" mac n cheese. Is it 59g of carbs for a cup, or for half a box? The nutrition label says both. That's a pretty high carb count, so we need to be sure--and I'm worried that half a box isn't quite a cup.


Thank you,

Amy Scheer




From: Onlineteam2@casupport.com

Subject: Re: Your Comment/Question

Date: July 29, 2013 9:31:59 AM EDT


Thank You for Contacting Us!

Hi Amy,


Thank you for visiting http://www.kraftfoods.com/.


Please refer to the nutrition facts panel on the packaging.


The product package is always your best resource for current ingredient and nutritional information.

If you haven't done so already, please add our site to your favorites and visit us again soon!


Kim
Consumer Relations


I called to get a more direct answer, which never came. Subsequently, they sent me a coupon good for one box of mac and cheese, "not to exceed $1.43."


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JUL 25, 2013 | 10:22AM EDT

Name: Amy

Subject: [Mindvalley Support - Product Inquiries]

I'm interested in purchasing the Lee Holden Qi product. I'm wondering if the $99 buys you anything tangible--actual DVDs or CDs? Thanks.




JUL 30, 2013 | 11:52PM EDT

Hello Amy!

This is Suzie from the Mindvalley team=D

I am very sorry for the late reply! If you still need my help…

This program is only available in digital version at the moment; if this changes we will let you know!! =)

Please get back to me if you need anything else, have a funny day filled with tickles and giggles!

Suzie

Mindvalley Experience Manager

Inspiring us this week: Omharmonics

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