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It's a Long Journey

Sunday, October 12, 2008

SparkPeople has always been one of my favorite sites ever since I discovered it last New Year's Eve. I have found the closeness that develops with unseen friends comforting. You are there for each other unconditionally, supporting, counseling, and just plain listening.

As many of my Sparkfriends know, I disappeared from the radar in June. Also, as many of you know, I have suffered from chronic back pain. As the summer progressed, the pain became increasingly worse, and different. It was no longer muscular pain, but little twinges of nerve pain when I least expected it. I actually quit driving, because I did not feel that I was safe. I was afraid that I would go to step on the brakes, and lose control. Yet I tried to continue my exercises and manage my weight. When I had a severe pain and lost control of my bodily functions...while on the treadmill...I finally got the support I needed from my family doctor. I was immediately referred to a specialist. Yet, it took one never ending month before my surgery could be scheduled...a month that I spent drugged and nearly bedridden. The pounds crept on until surgery. By the time I entered into the operating room, I had gained 15 pounds.

The type of surgery that was performed was a TLIF with instrumentation and autografting. I have rods and screws holding two of my lumbar vertebrae in place. As of this date, there is a miniscule amount of new bone growth taking place. Of course, I have yet to return to my work as a high school science teacher. During the early weeks of recovery, I suffered with depression, crying uncontrollably, especially when I was not able to accompany my son as he moved to college. I also went off of my pain medication "cold turkey". I am not certain that I would recommend that to anyone. It was a rough five days. I now only take muscle relaxers and use acetominophen to manage my pain. With the onset of physical therapy, some of my nerve pain has returned. But, those that have been through this process say that this is not uncommon.

There are some upsides, though. I dropped 15 pounds after surgery. However, I still cannot get into my pants. I have lost so much muscle tone that my tummy protrudes. I am working on strengthening my core muscles. I am weaning myself from the turtle shell brace that I have had to wear. I am back on the treadmill...and I am now up to 7 minutes a day. This is a far cry from when I was walking 5 miles a day. But, I will get back up there eventually. And, another upside is that I no longer cry at the drop of a hat. However, I still regret not being with my son as he moved into the dorm. There will be other years, and other memories to make. And, I will never forget how he took care of me the first two weeks from the hospital. He fed me, gave me my meds, and helped me into and out of bed. He set the alarm and woke up twice during each night to rub my legs with a heating pad to combat the nerve pain. That is quite a lot to ask of an 18 year old just days before leaving for college.

My Boxer Buddies will appreciate the role that my Boxer, Missy, has played in my recovery. She has been constantly at my side. And, in the days after my son left, she helped me in my struggle to get out of bed, lodging her head under my arm and pushing up as I lifted myself up with the walker. Luckily my husband observed her doing this, as he would have never have believed it. It will be tough on her when I finally return to work, and it will be even tougher on me when she passes over the Rainbow Bridge as I will always remember the strength I drew from her during my recovery. During the long hours at home by myself, Missy and I have shared meals, watched an incredible number of movies, taken naps in the afternoon, and shared dreams of a healthy future. She is an amazing dog!

So. to sum it up, my summer had it highs and its lows. I am no longer using the walker. A cane has taken its place. I can start back to work for half days in two weeks. My son has adapted to college life, and was accepted into four ensembles. He is lead trumpet in the Jazz Band, first trumpet in the Brass Quintet, and is seated fourth (behind two second year graduate performance majors and a Senior) in the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Symphony Orchestra. Plus he is a substitute for the Quincy Symphony Orchestra. Not bad for a freshman! Although the medical bills have been staggering, we are holding our heads above water. And as far as the return of the nerve pain, only time will tell if it is just a flare-up from the physical therapy. At any rate, my quality of life has improved 99%...even if I still can't bend, twist, or lift anything. And...It's great to be back on Sparkpeople!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SAMSON65 10/25/2008 8:41PM

  Hi! I am a retired music teacher with a 26 year old daughter and 2 boxer buddies. Samson will be a therapy dog and my 6 year old Jazz is just a love.
Hope you are feeling better now. Isn't it amazing how boxers come to our rescue!!
Your son must really play well. Best of luck to him with his aspirations. emoticon

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CAROLLEE61 10/12/2008 11:29PM

    you are a great inspiration to me keep up the good work! emoticon

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Post-Graduation Blues

Monday, June 02, 2008

It's that time of year again when I send members of the graduating class into the "real world". As always, it is a time of stress for me, but even more so this year because my son is a member of the Class of 2008. Why does it make me so sad? Commencement itself is a beginning, yet my time with these young men and women is ending. Some of them I will never see again...some I will see only rarely. It's hard when they have been a part of my life for four years. I daresay that there were many that I saw more than their own parents, and that in itself saddens me. I have experienced their ups and downs...their dashed dreams...and their dreams realized. I have lived through the heartache of losing one of them. I have cried with them, and I have laughed with them. Their successes have been my own. It's a sad time of the year for me, and as long as I teach, it will always be a sad time. But come fall, the cycle will begin again and I will do my best to prepare the next graduating class for the world that awaits them...

  


Trying to Find "The Making of Arachnophobia"

Monday, April 14, 2008

My latest quest is that I am trying to find the documentary that aired on television in 1990 call "Thrills, Chills & Spiders: The Making of 'Arachnophobia'". I would like to show it to my Biology students when we talk about the phylum Arthropoda (the phylum that contains spiders, insects, crustaceans, etc.). Talk about a challenge! Maybe I'll just email the Disney people and tell them that I would like to have a copy! What are the chances that there is anyone out there who taped it when it aired? Hmmm...But stranger things have happened. And, there are lots of SparkPeople. Maybe, just, maybe I will find it some day.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOXERWOMANB 4/14/2008 10:20PM

    Oh Ann! You yucked me out!!! I absolutely detest spiders!!! I would hold a snake, a rat, you name it........but a spider ---
EEEewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!! I can't even get close enough to kill them!!! I sort of forced myself to deal with them SLIGHTLY in the past 5 years as I was making and moving my flower beds....I always moved the rock borders only to be surprised!!! It makes me cringe, just to remember it!!! lol When we moved into this house 10 yrs. ago....we had a few huge spiders, garage, basement, etc. I could not live with that! I called an exterminator and told him what we had. He said, do you have trees? I said, well yes, we actually prayed to find a house with trees and this one has a row of 9 elm trees down the front! He laughed and said, well that's where they're coming from! It nearly made me sick!!! I said, well I don't care what else you kill, but I want all of THOSE THINGS killed! We've been fortunate not to have hardly any since then other than the flowerbeds. I have no idea what made me so phobic about them but I absolutely will not stay in the same room with one! If hubby isn't home to kill it (and I like to tell him, I couldn't find our 357 magnum pistol!) than I must leave until he's home!!! lol Isn't that sick. I've tried to make myself watch tv shows or books with tarantulas, etc. and I can for awhile but then I get the creepies again! When I was young and lived in Texas, the neighbors had one or two tarantulas inside. I was so paranoid that they would get up on our bed, each night, I would carefully tuck in all blankets and anything that hung down from the bed!!! What a basket case!!!! lol

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Have Some Fun...Help Me Plan a Graduation Party

Sunday, March 30, 2008

It as been awhile since I blogged. So much has transpired over the past few weeks. My son was accepted into Western Illinois University School of Music and he received a renewable Talent Grant to cover the cost of tuition for the entire four years. Plus he was selected by his classmates to be graduation speaker. All of those hours of practice payed off!

Speaking of graduation, who wants to help me plan a graduation party? In our community graduation parties are big, almost like wedding receptions! I have already started gathering up supplies and making some items that are freezable. I know that there are many of you out in Spark Land who have been through this before and have awesome ideas. I could certainly use your input!

It will be a music theme. I bought some beverage napkins with music notes on them. Because they were expensive, I only bought three packs of them. I used coupons from Hobby Lobby to purchase some cheaper black napkins to go with them. For paper plates, I once again bought some pie plates with music notes, and bought some plain black ones at Hobby Lobby to go with. I will use ordinary plain white styrofoam dinner sized plates also. I baked up a large batch of sugar cookies, and used a music note cookie cutter to cut them out. Currently they are in my freezer, and I will frost them closer to the date. I was such a good girl...I only ate one to see if they tasted OK. I bought graduation cap and diploma mint molds and have made mints already. Once again, I only tested one! I also purchased chocolate molds in the shape of music notes and trumpets, and have prepared chocolates. I probably didn't need to do this, but the molds were so cute. I did sample more than one of the chocolates...I bought a couple of cans of mixed nuts on sale. Plus I am stocking up on bottled water and various brands of soda when I can get them on sale. Obviously, saving money whenever I can is important.

As far as cake is concerned, I will bake cupcakes, since every other party will serve the traditional bakery sheet cakes. I thought that by making cupcakes, I could bake three or four different types, and people could very easily take one with them. That way I wouldn't have a lot left over. Besides, bakery cakes are one of my weaknesses, and if I bought one, I know that I would over indulge. My son would like to have a chocolate fountain, and I will provide sponge cake and fresh fruit as dippers. I bought a chocolate fountain after Christmas for $10.00. Talk about a bargain! I couldn't pass it up.

Now for other foods. Any ideas???? What type of sandwiches do you think would be good? Salads? Relishes? I was pretty good at thinking about all of the sweets, if you noticed, but I am not doing well with the other items. If it makes any difference, the party will start at 6:00 the evening before graduation.

So, have fun helping me! I really will be looking forward to ideas that you might have!
Ann

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JULIET135 3/30/2008 11:36PM

    Hi BBCRAZY!

At my son's graduation last year, I set out a stack of 3x5 note cards with a several different colored markers and put a sign next to them that said, "Write down your favorite memory of your best piece of advice."

We had so much fun reading those cards and reminiscing about the memories people had written down.

I haven't gotten to it yet, but I plan on putting the cards in a scrapbook with some photos when I get the time. :-)

Good luck with your party planning! It is a very exciting time.

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Thanks for Your Support

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Things are finally returning back to normal after one of the roughest weeks at school in years. My students are the greatest. I know that young people these days sometimes get a bad rap, but my students have pulled together and have given each other the strength to carry on. I love them dearly, and I am proud of the maturity that they have shown. Although Ross and Kara are gone, I will carry them forever in my heart...

And, it is amazing the support that my fellow Sparkers have shown! Your kind words, thoughts, and prayers were greatly appreciated. Now it is time for me to get back on track with my diet and exercise routine. I have had a minor setback with both. My goal is now to reach my goal weight by my son's graduation! I can do it!

  


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