Friday, August 19, 2011

Wall Angels

Since I hurt my neck earlier this year, it has been really painful to lift things above shoulder level.  For a while I stopped unloading the dishwasher.  Thankfully a roommate agreed to take that on.  Then she went on vacation and I started unloading it again, but stacked the dishes on the counter and covered them with a clean dishtowel.  You do what you can, right?

Well, a couple days ago I decided to see if I could start doing my wall angels again.  It is an exercise that really helped my back and neck about a year and a half ago.  

I only did three, and that was plenty.  Then I rested a day and then did three again today.  And, yes, I mean three reps, not three sets.

I was hurting a little bit afterward, but not too much, and I felt fine after a nice long hot shower.  Maybe I will do four next time.  Woo hoo!

For me I keep a neutral spine (naturally curved) and don't flatten my spine against the wall.  This way the transverse abdominal muscles turn "on" to help support the spine.  These muscles are low on the stomach below the belly button and are parallel to the floor.  The exercise feels right when I do them like that, and any help my transverse abdominals can get is a good thing. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Credit Card Woes

My credit card seems to have been frozen.  When I went to the dealership for an oil change today, the charge was rejected.  Could it have something to do with my late payment?  Or maybe that doctor's appointment with the specialist who doesn't contract with any health insurance...who cost over $1,000 in one visit?  Have I reached my limit?

These are questions I have to answer, but I'm scared.

That's what might have gotten me into this mess though--fear.  I let a pile, HUGE pile of medical bills sit there.  And sit there.  I was down.  After the last spine surgeon appointment that I had hoped would set me on a straight course for surgery.  Anyway.  My credit card bill was in the pile.  And I got to it two days late.  Yuck.

Moving forward though.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The "Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever"

Last night I made peanut butter cookies.  These are amazing!  I cut back on the sugar a bit, which makes them almost better than the typical energy bar.  The two main ingredients are peanut butter and egg.

This time I cut the sugar in half (and used brown for more flavor).  Plus I threw in some carob chips (instead of chocolate because of my intersticial cystitis).  I have a confession to make though.  This time I rolled them in white sugar before pressing them with a fork.  Totally unnecessary.  Yummy though.

Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Choral Music

I am standing here (I almost typed sitting here, hardy har) paying medical bills.  This is the time of day when I often get tired.  Really, really tired.  I'm used to feeling like this, but come to think of it, I feel nerve pain and weakness in my arms and my legs, plus I feel like I have just been on a 20 mile hike. 

That's about how I feel.

So I am paying medical bills.  A big stack.  It isn't fun to write those checks and see the money go out, but it will be nice to be rid of the stack.

That's the cold, hard reality. :) The bright, sunny reality is that a dear friend came over last night.  We have been friends for over a year now, and neither one of us had been to each other's house.  So, she came over, and we chatted, and chatted some more.  And then we went for the slightest bit of a stroll over in a nature area, and stopped and prayed.

This is entitled "Choral Music" as that is what I've got playing on Pandora right now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Peace Be Still

Having a hard time.  I feel like it is time to have the surgery, but my meeting with my first choice surgeon has left me feeling very unsettled.

God has been speaking, though--focus, comfort, and peace to my spirit.  The hard part is staying there with Him.  I guess I will just have to keep coming back, minute by minute.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spine Surgeon #2...Bad Injection

A youngish man in private practice.  He follows the "gold standard."  Incision down the middle of the back, rods and screws.  It truly is proven.

He also suggested that I try cortisone injections at the nerve roots before considering surgery because they should diminish my pain and help buy some time.

I scheduled the injections, which he did himself at a surgery center in the building. 

A wise piece of advice:  Change your procedure appointment if your doctor was sick the day before! 

I thought, "What could go wrong?  All he is doing is injecting anti-inflammatory medication."  Well, he could have nicked a nerve with the way I was limping and had searing pain down my leg.  I also bruised large and deep down to the nerve, which took weeks to go away.  It was months before I started to feel like I might be back to normal again.

I don't think I would ever do an injection again.  However, some people do really, really well.  One of my colleagues got them regularly for the arthritis in her foot before retiring and having a fusion done.

Postponed Again?

Things started to come together, and it seems like I may have found "the one."  But first they rescheduled me because they wanted fresh mri's, then the doctor had to reschedule, and again.  Now it is after hours and no one has called to confirm my appointment for tomorrow. 

Yes, I let myself shed a few tears when I looked at the clock and realized.  I called earlier today, but no one got back to me...

So, at least my appointment is in the afternoon so I can call in the morning before having to drive over there.  That is something to be thankful for.  And I have someone to help me drive, if I indeed have an appointment.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Spine Surgeon #3

He was a university researcher, and he saw mangled spines and tumors and horrible things on a regular basis.  He was kind but discouraged me from considering surgery.  Out of the many (maybe 10?) that I have met with now, only 2 said they thought that I would be able to feel the rods and screws and that I would be really uncomfortable.

So, I left disapointed.  No flexible fusion, complications from feeling the rods and screws.  I don't have a lot of meat on my bones and my nerves are really sensitive so I know I would feel them.

As far as the mess left by that injection, he thought it wouldn't hurt to try another injection later and he had good people to refer me to.  It was safer than surgery.

Ironically, at least half of the surgeons I have seen since this one were trained in some way by him.  All the good ones I keep finding have him on their CV.  He is a fantastic surgeon and I really appreciate that he was honest and didn't encourage me to do something that wouldn't work out well.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spine Surgeon #1

I had been suffering from extreme pain in my legs for several months.  At the time, I didn't know why they burned and were so cold and stiff and crampy.  Now several years later, I believe it was because my room was so cold that winter.  The cold, and the resulting lack of time spent stretching led to some really tense muscles and inflamed nerves.

Anyway, it was a lady spine surgeon.  She asked a lot of good questions, and was very thorough in her exam.  I think I probably asked her about flexible fusion and would have been disappointed to hear what I know now, that it isn't proven, and it probably will never be useful for spondylolisthesis.   The reason is that the vertebre will have a tendency to slide forward, and it most likely wouldn't hold or would eventually break the wires.

Amusingly, she agreed with me that I move like an 80 year old woman.  But then she was rather grouchy with me during the physical exam.  "Push harder."  "I need you to try here!"  "Bend more, all the way you can!"  I wanted to say, "I CAN'T!  That's why I came to see you!"

Obviously she wasn't the one, no grouchiness needed in a surgeon.  Onward and forward... I saw two more that summer, and now I have actually lost count.

What I Miss...and What I Have

What do I miss the most?

~climbing hills
~going for walks
~eating in restaurants and enjoying great food and long conversations with friends
~curling up in a comfy chair and reading a good book

I could keep going...but what do I have?

~my car, where I can sit and read
~favorite shady places to park and spend time with God
~a chair that let's me enjoy a short meal out occasionally
~3 amazing new friends this year
~grocery shopping
~2 jobs that I really enjoyed this year
~a bed where I have been able to rest usually pain free for several years

I am blessed.  He takes care of me.  How many times has He worked things out so I could do things without hurting myself and even without drawing attention to myself. 

Example:  The work meeting at Coco's.  There was no way I could sit in those chairs for even a minute, so I got there early to check things out.  The host informed me that our table was already reserved in the back, and I AMAZINGLY was able to get my chair out of the car without hurting myself, and rolled it in. 

Only one other teacher was there, out in her car.  She didn't ask about the chair, and I wouldn't have minded if she did, but it was nice not to draw much attention to myself. 

I happened to be the last to leave somehow, and once again, had no trouble getting the chair back in the car.  I don't think everyone even noticed my rolling chair.  A little miracle from above. 

So when I am down and depressed, let me bring to mind the victories He has made for me and the ways He has been faithful and will be faithful.

Friday, May 20, 2011

He Is Never Late

What I was planning to post today is:

God doesn't let anything through His hedge of protection by accident.  Anything He allows has a Purpose.

God is never late to the rescue.  He is always r i g h t   o n    t i m e.

And then I came home from work.  Well, I left work, sat in my car to pray and read my Bible a bit, drove home and parked, sat there for a minute because a song I liked came on the radio.  Then at the precise time that I left my car and walked around the corner to the house...UPS was there with my cervical traction device.  I asked if he was going to take it away if I wasn't there, and he said yes, it needed a signature.  I could have been away, I could have been upstairs where we often can't hear the door, but God had me walking up to the door right then.

Now is God's timing perfect, or what!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Won't Lie

I won't lie.  I have been crying for over an hour.  I am frustrated and hurting and confused.

There is one, no, two things I will affirm in this, though.

God never allows something by accident and He is never late to the rescue.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No Neck News

Hurts so bad.  But God so faithfully got me through work last night.  Still crying a lot over it.  PT on Friday had made it so bad that I had to lie down most of Saturday.  I still haven't recovered from Friday.

I'm so prone to panic and panic over the future.  "Will I always be like this?  My hope of being able to do things after my back surgery is crushed."

God's message is pretty simple.  "Wait on Me...Overcome by praying for others."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lif Is Rough

Long story short.  Finally found out what has been causing my pelvic back!  I could have told them that years ago, but I guess it was meant to be this way.

In the Bible, after a great victory often comes a great trial.  My neck is killing me.  It seems more and more like a protruding disc.  Can only wait on the LORD.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Grocery Store Adventures

It can be quite an adventure going to the grocery store.  I am no longer able to push a cart, the reason being that they are almost always off balance.  It only takes one or two minutes of pushing before my back muscles on one side start to scream, "Enough!  We cannot abide this twisting motion and compensate for a cart that won't go where you tell it.  Abandon ship!"  And so I do.

Thus, when I go into a store, I only buy what I can carry.  As I approach the checkout, juggling my items, it is not unusual for some sympathetic person to say, "Yeah, I always end up with more that I came in for."  There was a time when I would attempt to offer some bit of explanation, but I don't bother any more.  I just smile and nod.  They don't need to know what they don't need to know, and my pride doesn't need to say that I knew exactly what I came for and I am not shopping hungry.