Thursday, March 13, 2014
I feel like time is moving so slowly because of pain. I am weary with pain in many ways--fatigue is getting to me along with the constant discomfort I am having. I picked an argument with my husband this morning on the way to school because of...toast (??) but actually, he hadn't warmed up the car and it was very chilly. It aggravated me and my body so much to be cold that I said anything that crossed my mind rather than being my usually diplomatic self. to top it off, he apologized to me and that was crazy. I know he understands, but it is driving me crazy.
Yesterday, I decided that I should make an appointment with my pain doc and see if there is a way to help this difficult situation. I see the surgeon on March 28 and I will surely point out to him that his comment that the fentanyl isn't helping is really mistaken! Anyway, I have my pain doc's clinic listed as Dr. F in my phone and I have his personal number listed by his first name F. Somehow, I dialed his personal line rather than the clinic and I was decidedly shocked when he answered the phone and I realized what I had done. I was a bit tongue-tied but I shook it off and explained myself. He told me that he wouldn't be in the clinic on Friday (He is there on Tuesday and Fridays) because of a conference, but if I would call the clinic, he was walking right down to tell them to "fit me in on Tuesday." We talked about the last injections he gave me, and then I called the clinic. Sure enough, before I said a word, my favorite nurse (ha!) grumbled that he had told her I was calling and that she had to fit me into a "full schedule." Then, she gave me an appointment for 1:30 on Tuesday and told me that they had to double book him and that I needed to come 15 minutes early. I guess I called him by mistake for a reason.
I get to begin my 2 week spring break after school on Friday. I will be so glad--today was so tough with pain--and the fact that the woman in charge made fun of me today. I am aghast that any adult would make fun of someone who is clearly disabled and uncomfortable. I am having a great deal of difficulty standing up as much as usual and I don't doubt that there are moments--like the end of the day when this happened that someone can hear pain and fatigue in my voice. She was in the crowded office when I needed to make a copy and as I worked my way around, she was there and asked me how I was. I quickly said "ok" and she did a little limpy couple of steps and mimicked me. I couldn't get out of there fast enough. What is wrong with her????
Anyway, I finally finished my progress reports and will print and distribute them tomorrow. I am going to help my kids to refresh their book baskets during Thursday lessons and Friday should be a reasonably easy day--many of the teachers have special activities on the last day of the quarter and the primary aged children have a field trip to go bowling in the afternoon. I will be able to plan for when we return and gather my materials, water my plants and get my room ready for whatever the custodians need. I am going to be teaching three intersession crocheting classes and I have a meeting for a half a day on Wednesday, but that is the total of what I am doing that won't be in the pool.
Finally, I lost 3.2 pounds my first week at Weight Watchers. I did their new Simple Start program, but I am going onto the Points Plus plan this week--not enough choices in the other plan for me. I do a good job with portion control and the latter is healthy eating with unlimited portions. I need a variety so that I can eat with my family and what I really need from WW is some accountability up close. I like the leader, he is a fun and kind of irreverant, sassy guy named Marty who is starting a club of people who will walk around his meeting next week. Ha, I signed on because it is the sassiness that I can enjoy. He sure isn't full of himself and seems to really practice what he preaches.
For now, I am just glad to be home--and I am thankful that the snowstorm missed us. I don't know how this happened because everyone in a circle around us got 3-4 inches of snow in white out conditions. We got colder temps, but no more snow. We broke our local snowfall record a few weeks ago, so there was nothing to be gained by this one! I am really worried about our rivers around here though. I suspect that the great snowfalls locally and north of us are going to make this a difficult spring. The saving thing may be the fact that our ground is frozen to record levels--but that is disturbing the farmers. I guess this will be the winter that may never end!
Time to head off--take care everyone!!
Saturday, March 08, 2014
I am so tired. I think I am beginning to realize what my back feels like when I don't have pain meds or injections to help me out. It's not a fun time to live with it, that's for sure. I went three nights with almost no sleep at all and it wasn't fun. The one gift it gave me was a six hour sleep last night, but I am still tired and a bit groggy after sleeping that long last night.
I've been a busy girl and have taken care of a lot of "stuff" that was clogging my list of things to do, both at school and at home. Some of it required a bit of help--my son Marshall came to school and helped me to take down all of my snowflakes and winter decorations. Even if it isn't over, I'm pretty tired of looking at them or thinking about winter. I still had a sign on my door that, although it lights up and is pretty, the message :Let it snow," had to go. I also cleaned out the shelf that sits by my table with all of my supplies and decluttered three file drawers. Yay.
I did a lot of calling and paperwork too. We got a lawyer to help us to get a decent claim from Nationwide, the insurance company of the guy that hit us on July 2, 1012. He needed a lot of paperwork, copies of bills, health insurance "stuff," and forms for him too. I also spit out a second letter to Mayo Clinic in response the the smart alecky letter I got from the RN in response to my first letter. There were at least three lies in it and that made me feel angry on top of everything else. I decided that if I were to have peace, I needed to respond. I bluntly asked why the doctors I had requested couldn't look over my case and my pictures and give their opinion--I haven't heard yet. I also went through a bit of rigamarole and called Mayo to get a copy of my MRI that they did sent to Dr. Mendoza at University Hospital. Finally, I called and left a message for my pain doc, but Nurse Rachet apparently hasn't handled that message as of yet, even though I called on Tuesday and was able to get my prescription on Friday. (They require three days for written prescriptions.) I may have to call him privately next week because she doesn't always do what she should, as history shows.
Finally, I did a bunch of stuff at work--and even though I am having a progress report weekend, I had a lot to do last week. I contacted the union president to find out if I might be eligible for the sick leave bank to cover some of the many days I will be off work with these procedures and I do not have enough sick leave to help out. He told me that I had to contact HR and as soon as they gave him the go-ahead, he would send out the paperwork and notices to help me collect days. I contacted Hr and made an appointment for Tuesday after school, but he made it into our building twice to see me prior to our meeting. All I need is a note from the doctor basically giving the necessary information--2 surgeries and the length of time I will be off of work. That was easy enough, so I contacted University Hospital for this and the letter came today.
I also got to speak with Dr. Mendoza's nurse for quite a while. I found out that I won't be able to go back to work between the two procedures because if I am better as early as 4 weeks after the first procedure, they will do the second procedure--the big one then. (The first surgery is to place spacers between my vertebrae where they are all damaged or gone.) The total time that they excpect me to be off work for both procedures is 14-18 weeks total, which is a bit different than the 4-6 months he said when we talked--that would be 24-30 months. I guess he really wanted to paint a picture of the severity of this procedure--or maybe was sharing the big extremes. I told his nurse that my son's wedding will be September 20 and that I had to be capable of attending and enjoying it--she said that they were looking at starting all of this in early May. I didn't know that either. I see the doctor on March 28--and have already been cleared for surgery, so I'm pretty ready.
I also went and re-joined Weight Watchers because I want to be as healthy as possible. I think I need that weekly weigh-in and meeting to give me a boost that I haven't quite been able to get here recently. Now, before anyone takes that wrong, it is all about me and time. I have had to juggle my family, work, getting to the fitness center and time online to spark. Obviously, the latter had to get left behind a lot. I used to have a lot of time for my spark teams, but they haven't been active lately and I am not sure what to do about that. Even my friends and faithful team members aren't coming as often. I need someone to give me a push--and I think having that someone close up and personal will have the most bang for the buck. I may have two months until my surgery and if I could go into that 10-15 pounds lighter, it would make things easier for me. I am going to try my best!!
I am down to 25 mcg of fentanyl now. It is an obvious difference that when I was using 75 mcg. I think those dual injections that my pain doc gave me have worn off too. My back is getting a bit more testy each day and I find myself hanging on to stay upright and having a lot of throbbing, lousy pain. It has distorted my sleep even worse than before. I am not feeling very good and the hydrocodone isn't covering this much. I guess I should have expected that. By the end of the month, I will be off the fentanyl altogether--for the first time since 2006. It's a big deal--it's a powerful medication, 250 X the strength of morphine.
I am hoping to get my progress reports finished so I can print them on Monday. That will allow me the opportunity to prepare lesson plans and goals for the fourth quarter and try to make it so someone can do at least part of my duties. This is tricky because since half of my job is paid for through Title 2 as professional development, there isn't a sub who can do that part of my work. I am not sure how the district will manage that. My day is also split apart with me doing 3 sections of Title 1, three sections of Title 2, 2 sections of Title 1 and a final section of Title 2. I had to do things this way to get the staff to play nicely with me. If we cannot find a reading specialist--maybe a retired one--to do my work, I don't know how a sub can do it. I have to start end of the year testing on May 1 and it is due to central office by the last Friday in May. I also have a school-wide baseball game on May 6 to take care of. Then, the beginning of the year includes testing, student selection, and scheduling which not just anybody can do. It is looking like that is the part of my work year that I will miss--I don't know how my job will work under this situation. However, I am thinking that that isn't my problem. Taking care of myself and timing things so I can be at my son's wedding is my problem. I am taking care of MY problems.
I know there are some other things I need to attend to--I am hoping to pace myself during my spring break and get some of that done. We start our book study for the Lenten season on Wednesday--a book called "An Altar in the World, a Geography of Faith." I think I can put a few things that need doing off of my list then! I will do my best, that is how I do things.
I hope this finds you all well and finds you meeting goals. I think we will see the spring season of new life soon. That will be good for us all!
Friday, February 28, 2014
Today's visit to University Hospital was a winner. The endocrinologist was a kind, delightful professional who was very respectful and caring of my situation. She believes that my report of osteoporosis is more normal than not. Even though I have lost bone mass, she said that my bigger bones were still doing okay, acknowledging that the metal I have with so many of them interferes in good readings. I had been warned by my PCP that the meds for osteoporosis like Focamax are really hard on you and can result in damage to the esophagus and stomach. They also would be in conflict with some of my other meds and would require me to take them after I awaken (ha ha, if you know my sleeping schedule these days you'd get the humor) and that it would be counterproductive for someone planning to have surgery on their spine. She said that although there isn't research to prove this, there are indicators that suggest that osteoporosis medications interfere with bone healing--especially the spine. She told me that even if I were taking them, they would take me off of them before the surgery. The good news is that she things my habits and diet are good indicators that I don't need the meds right now and with strong follow up, she didn't recommend any treatment unless the tests she did today on my thyroid and parathyroid levels indicated trouble. I will know for sure by early next week how those tests turned out. I expect the thyroid test to be low, but within normal limits. I have never had a parathyroid test that I am aware of. That is a hormone that deals with bone density.
I also contacted our union to find out what I might do to sign up for the sick leave bank. I have to have approval from our Human Resources director. I sent him and email and I have an appointment for 3:30 on Tuesday to discuss it. On a related note, this silly replacement computer has been driving me nuts with the slow, non-responsive junk. I emailed the folks in technology and they got my computer yesterday, replaced the hard drive and got it back to me so I could work on my progress reports this weekend. It did come back with several pieces of software a bit squirrely-- I had to upgrade several items and have Microsoft Office loaded on it, but other than that--they did me a tremendously big favor.
I talked to a parent I have been trying to contact for weeks and we made some progress with the conversation--but we also have a complete conference scheduled for Monday. I can include other interested (and helpful) people who will prevent this from being anything but the honest and honorable conversation the child needs for us to have. This is a good thing!
All in all, today has helped to counterbalance some very difficult days this week. I am lucky that it went so well!!
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I'm sitting here as uncomfortable as I can be--an hour and a half after I took my pain meds and have been thinking about you a lot. I'm not thinking of you very lovingly and I would like to apologize for that. I rarely think of you very lovingly--but I hope that you are aware that everything I do really is out of my love for you.
I have had quite a journey trying to figure you out recently. I think the majority of my issues come back to my father and the severe, early-onset arthritis he shared with me. I have went the route with replacing my knees and my right hip and through a lot of repairs and removal surgeries to handle that arthritis. My back is my big issue and it is part of this story. I remember seeing my dad walking, bent over to his left side when he was in his 30's over back pain. The problems in my back were most likely inheirited and inevitable. The infection in my spine was given to me by a sloppy hospital procedure and neither of us could have seen that coming nor prevented it. That has brought me to this place--where I have had to struggle and search the best medical facilities on this continent to decide what is best for me.
None of these things are the things on my mind. My life is on my mind and the many ways I abused you by horrid eating habits and a lack of activity for so many years. I am trying my best to make up for that and when I started losing weight about ten years ago and when I joined Spark People in May of 2008, I made the commitment to put you first. I have changed the way I eat and there has been no going back. My portion sizes are true portion sizes and I never overeat any more. I am proud of that when I remember myself as a girl clearing the table and eating things that were left because they were there. I eat 5-8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day--without fail. I cannot start my day without fruit and I naturally include produce in everything I eat now. I still have room to improve and am working on the amount of red meats and deli meats that go into me, but it is coming. (I am a work in progress as we speak.)
I am also thinking about activity. I have never been inactive--I have worked multiple jobs the bigger part of my life and I never take the "easy way out" of anything. However, I have learned a few things to add activity to my life. Even though I have constant, nasty pain in my back and I often have to stop and let that pain settle out of me, my pedometer shows that I automatically have over 10,000 steps registered everyday. Who'd have guessed that out of the girl who spent her childhood reading every book in the library and who would go outside purely to read or sew or knit? I also go exercise 6 out of 7 days a week and love the weekends when I can spend unlimited time at the fitness center and do extra "stuff" in the pool. I use carefully selected exercises for you, dear body, and am now back to lap swimming that is easy on you. I joined a water exercise class yesterday that was for YOU--and although there were many things that were hard for me to do, I enjoyed what I was doing.
I don't often think about you in a positive way, body. I know that I say awful things to you and about you when my back is screaming at me. I am sorry for that. I know that my back would be better if I had made the changes I started in 2006 much earlier, but I hope that you give me credit for what I am doing. It is a scary thought to consider what might be going on with you if I hadn't finally figured this out. I know it is easier on you in so many ways having me be 141 pounds lighter--and I am working on this last 25 pounds again. I took time off with the holidays and the issues with my back (shame on me) but I am back in full force with my plan to get them off of you. You deserve that. Also YOU know that my efforts have made an incredible difference. My healthy cholesterol levels go up every time my doctor checks and my bad cholesterol is way in the healthy range. My blood pressure is in a very acceptable range, averaging 116/76 every time it is checked. I do not have high blood sugars any more either. I give you much needed Vitamin D, iron, and calcium daily--and do a great job of getting all of my other nutrients in through my dietary choices.
I want to apologize to you for a lifetime of abuse that it took me until age 51 to straighten it out. However, I know that you know I am doing a great job of caring for you these days. It is possible to change things and make things better, isn't it.
Thank you for all you do and all you have put up with. You gave me an excellent brain that has allowed me to be the teacher I am, helping one child after another gain literacy day after day. I wouldn't be the person I am in heart or mind without your help. I am who I am because of you. Thanks so much--and know that you will be happy with the changes I am working on now (even at my age, lol. 58 doesn't mean that I am unable to learn "new tricks."
PS--I didn't really mean the nasty thing I said when my back was hurting last night--I wanted to sleep. I know you know that sleep is important and I am trying to do better with that too!!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Those of you who know me and who have followed my blogs know that I have dealt with a great deal of abuse in my lifetime--and much of it has been related to the fact that I have been obese for the majority of my life. Obesity seems to open the door for bullies to target someone and go for them in body, mind, and spirit. In my case, that included my parents and family, the people I went to school with (particularly in elementary and junior high school), strangers, and some work colleagues. Physical disabilities seem to provoke the same responses in mean-spirited bullies as well. I just realized how public this blog is--and I think it is time to change direction. I cannot tell the story that I need to tell here until I resolve it in a very professional way, and for the good of the order, I intend to do exactly that. I was mistreated last week and I do not intend to do as I have done my entire life and roll over for that kind of thing anymore. I am as good as anyone else and I have committed no crimes against anyone or anything--so, I will do what is needed to protect myself now and in the future and I will do what it takes to protect myself, my integrity, and my values.
The big news for the week is that my reading day turned into a smashing success. There were only two or three little wrinkles in the day which is to be expected when you consider that part of the schedule included 37 guest readers and an outside program--and every wrinkle was attached to somebody being late for their scheduled activity--NOT A BIG DEAL. The students had an amazing day and so did the teachers. I took lots of photos (that I cannot share here because of confidentiality and student privacy laws) and I saw an entire building of people on task and having a successful day, reading all day long. Even kids who had been frequenting the office due to lots of misbehavior did well--I only saw one child in the office and that was at lunch, not during learning time. I am collecting evaluations from the staff that I will publish for everyone to see and they are wonderful. It was a great culmination to my work.
Our family night was not as well-attended as I wish it had been. I am not sure exactly why that happened. Our parade of storybook characters only had about ten people in it which is okay, but it made me feel a bit disappointed. The program with the first graders was awesome--the kids used rhythm instruments and performed to the repeated phrase in "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst, one of my favorite authors and children's authors. Her sense of humor is divine. Then, the principal shared the video they made after videotaping from almost every classroom in the building. It wasn't well-received partly because it needed a bit of editing. The principal went out on a limb and let a couple of 5th/6th grade boys do the taping--but she also let them create the video and they focused on the same two classrooms. People were disappointed that it stayed on those rooms and that they didn't get to see their own child or child's class. They put music to the video which masked the actual reading. Anyway, after that, we had the book swap and book fair before our meal of green eggs and ham--they were beautiful and tasty!! We drew names for door prizes from parents who submitted evaluations. The evaluations basically said the same things I mentioned about the video needing more editing/ adult support and a couple of them criticized the fact that they didn't ever receive notification on the purpose of the event. I had written a special note up about that and on Valentine's Day, I was promised that it would be copied and given to the staff to send home with the students. That did not happen. That actually was the beginning of the string of events that I alluded to in the first paragraph.
Anyway, my dream and goals were all met by the day that we had--our students had a successful and productive reading day. They got to see that we, as a staff, value reading enough to give it an entire day. They got to work with at least three teachers that day--theirs, one with a buddy reading classroom of cross-grade students, and one in a "teacher swap" activity in which a different teacher taught a reading event in their room for 30 minutes. That not only gave the students a fresh face to work with and a chance to see that everyone is a reading teacher, it gave the students a new "special" adult in the building that they now "know." Teachers were pretty apprehensive about that activity but on the evaluations I have received so far, it has turned out to be one of the day's big successes. I knew that the day would be one of the best ever for the kids and I have talked to many children who gave it a big "thumb's up" with the request that we do it again "tomorrow." That tells the story. I am glad that I hung in there after all of the years and times I proposed this event and finally got it on the schedule. It was more than even I imagined it could be for the students, and that was the point.
We are now starting our work to meet goals to go to the River Bandits' baseball game on Tuesday, May 6. The kids have a reading goal that is divided over four weeks--one for each "base" and "home plate." They earn a prize when they get to each base and the home plate prize is a ticket to a baseball game along with a ballpark lunch. Every other year, we provide buses for this event and take the entire school--and this is that year. It is a great time and I get to go along to help supervise and take care of details. I counted out all of the information sheets and prizes for all 19 of our classrooms and distributed them before I left work on Friday.
I worked probably an extra hundred hours in the past 2-3 weeks on all of these reading events in addition to my regular work. I even called guest readers while I was in Rochester to schedule people. I put a lot into the special reading events and I am happy to report that it was worth it.
On another topic, I received a letter from the RN that I saw at Mayo in response to the letter I sent. It was defensive and a bit argumentative. He tried to justify what happened and began by saying that I had his name and credentials on my Mayo itinerary and that he introduced himself. The fact is that the itinerary did not mention any names and simply said "surgical consult." He stated enough to let me know that he conferred with the ortho I saw originally and that nobody else was ever brought into my case. He also mentioned that we had a "pleasant and lovely" conversation--hmm, I left in tears. I am wondering what his definition of difficult might be. Anyway, I don't know if I am going any further with my complaints to Mayo or not--my pain doc thinks they should be denied payment for the visit since it wasn't what I expected or asked for and there was no physician involved. I am going to consider today if it is worth anymore of my time. I made a decision now and I excluded this guy and his information because it wasn't valid. I will share with the spine specialist at University Hospital and hopefully, he will contact the specialists at Mayo and let them know how I was kept from them when my needs fall into their specialty area. That might be the way that my story will get to them, and they can prevent this from happening to their potential patients again.
This week is more routine in many ways. I do go to University Hospital on Friday to visit their endocrinology clinic to discuss my osteoporosis. I saw my PCP this week and he wanted to start treatment ASAP. but he decided to defer since I was seeing the specialists and let them make my plan--he wants the report. I think I am back onto a schedule that is about me these days--and I think I need to get focused on me and my health needs and my future. I lost pool time and spark time this past week and am starting over again with most of my streaks and the like. It is time for me to get back to Weight Watchers as well--I would like to finally beat up this remaining twenty pounds before my surgeries. That will put me in my best possible condition for recovery from the standpoint of physical ability and good health. I expect to be blogging again more often and checking in on my friends who motivate me and keep me going.
The good, the bad, and the whatever--I have experienced it all in extremes this past week. I am looking forward to a week of the mundane and the "normal" (whatever that is!)
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