Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I'd like to use this blog to give thanks, but I have to admit that the hectic nature of my life these days is getting to me. I am tired, no doubt about it. There are a lot of things going on with my family and much of it has involved the need for me/ us to contribute time and $$. Anyone who thinks that when their kids "grow up" that parenting gets easier is very mistaken. Maybe part of this is because we are blessed with 8 kids, but I don't know somedays. We can't just let them suffer or do without basic stuff--but between college costs, car insurance, extra bills and some of their own mistakes--wow. Our youngest has recently tried "ignoring" some of his assignments/ homework--now of course, I got wind of this and have been online monitoring all of his assignments. He has been giving me a run for my money though, trying to get out of doing things. It hasn't been fun, but it has been getting a bit better.
I do have things to be thankful for--way up on that list is that our son has a job teaching. That is a big thing. Health is in pretty good shape in my family--although mine is a bit off. Mine is far improved than a year ago when I was taking over 20 prescription meds. I have a good marriage and a cuddly electric blanket too. I'm on good standing with my kids, even the one who tends to be a bit dysfunctional. I have a good job, although there are many challenges. My kids that are in personal relationships have good people in their lives. I have an awesome church that is doing great things in the name of our Lord. It keeps me spiritually satisfied and challenged. We have a good life--I am blessed.
I know that you have heard this before, but after reading some of the blogs and threads on message boards, I have to include my personal blessings. I am thankful that I can now get around on my own power--with a walker, yes but I am walking. I am thankful that my health is so improved. I read about the issues that I have been dealing with by constant medical appointments and medication, that now are simply not an issue, and I feel so relieved. I no longer deal with asthma, high blood pressure, nausea, or heart concerns. I can wear interesting and colorful clothing in much smaller sizes--no more X's in my sizes and I used to wear clothing in sizes up to 5X, so that's a big deal. I now wear L's as a rule and I'm working to get rid of the L's as well. Children respond to me differently now than when I weighed over 125 pounds more than I do now. They look at me directly and comfortably--and they compliment my clothing and jewelry. I am taken more seriously by everyone (or almost everyone) and I sense a difference in my professional relationships. I often have to deliver news to parents that isn't pleasant, and that seems to go easier these days, and I haven't had an angry parent respond to me in a negative way that includes name calling with the word "fat" as a part of things.
I am thankful that I feel GOOD. I not only feel better, I feel GOOD. I still have arthritis and it is a major thing, but I have times that I feel good--not drug out from a ton of meds that all acted to slow things down. I feel GOOD and I am thankful for that. I don't even have the words to fully explain this. I do owe a big thanks to SP for giving me the tools to have this special gift. 2010 has been an important year in my recovery.
As we all give thanks this week, I have more than most people to give thanks for--a healthy family, a job that is a perfect match for my skills and passions that can be done easily, even with my "disabilities," goals that are within my reach, and my own improved health. I am thankful beyond mere words.
Thank you all for your support, the other gift from SP. I not only have access to tools and information that have helped me to lose weight and develop a personal, ongoing fitness program, but I have 24/7 support from all of the wonderful people here. I am thankful for each of you in my life.
Life is good!! Happy Thanksgiving.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
OK, a year has gone by since last Thanksgiving--and if you're like me, it doesn't seem possible. Yet, it really is Thanksgiving again. So, what have I learned?
I was post-op last year and I don't remember the holiday at all (shame on me.) However, I know some important things I have learned that will make me a much happier person as we sit down to our Thanksgiving meal this year. Maybe some of the things I learned will help you out (if you haven't quite learned them yet or if you need a bit of a refresher course....)
1. Just because it is on the table, you don't have to eat it--even if you do like it or kind of like it or well, don't hate it.
2. You can choose how much of "it" that you put on your plate--and if one bite of it will satisfy your need to taste it, you don't have to take any more than that.
3. Leftovers are both tasty and useful, and it is okay to have them. Again, there is no need to take the idea of clearing the table to mean into your stomach.
4. It is nice to pick and choose what you really want and to not have food falling off of your plate.
5. It is even more nice to not be so stuffed that you just don't feel good.
6. It is okay to have some dessert--nothing is "forbidden."
7. Even though it is a holiday, it is a good idea to get some exercise in, either by walking or cleaning or using the treadmill or the stationary bike or playing with the kids. There are so many opportunities.
8. No particular food item is so "rare" that you can't fix it or have it at any other time--and most of what shows up for Thanksgiving will show up at the next big holiday or family gathering.
9. I don't want to lose ground, I am happy with the weight loss I have had to date.
10. I want to take care to not revert to a bunch of former bad habits.
That being said, I have a couple of other things that I have observed this past week. I had a tough week with some extra work nights and a bit of stress involving a couple of our kids and a couple of my students. I am sorry that I let those things get me grumpy, but I am so glad that mindless eating wasn't a way I chose to handle these things. I also wrote a lengthy blog last evening, going on and on about all of my recent stress. That blog isn't here though, because after I read it, it made me feel kind of down and "yucky," and for those reasons, I knew that it didn't need to be published. (I did the writing to get the issues out of my system and now, I feel better and I can move on. That's a win-win!!)
Today, I spent my very busy day with our youngest son at his bowling league followed by some errands that included getting him a haircut. I did make it to the pool, of course. I also did some shopping--our pets were all in the need for new feed--then I did some work in my closet before heading over to our daughter's community college trivia night/ fundraiser with our son. We got home around 10:30 (which is when I really started this blog--but I just woke up at 4:15 with it unfinished as well as my SP points for the week. My entire week has been similar to today. Generally, Saturday is "my day" and "my time" to choose how I spend it, but today was much different. I am suspecting that Sunday will be more of the same, but that can be the nature of working and parenthood. At least it doesn't happen all of the time.
I will say that I am so lucky to be able to use my time in all of these ways and to be able to do so. A year ago, "unable" was the big word describing me and my life in every activity and detail of what I needed or wanted. I sure have a lot to give thanks for. I realize that I have a lot to accomplish and a lot on my plate, but when I look back on this past year, I feel pretty good about all that I have been able to do:
1. I have went from wanting to lose weight to actually doing it. 126 pounds are now gone
2. I have went from being in a wheelchair to walking with the help of my walker.
3. I have went from being sedentary to going to the pool and working out EVERY day--and I like working out now as well.
4. I am back on top of my game in my personal life and in my career, rather than being someone waiting for others to do things to/for me.
5. I am now willing to fight for what I believe in and am not as worried that I might offend someone who will retaliate with name calling or belittling me.
As someone who has been obese all of my life, I have dealt with a lifetime of being made fun of. I can remember hearing the boys at school singing the "Here comes the bride, Big, fat and wide" song as a grade school child about me on the playground. I remember hearing a very rude female classmate whom I came to know and did my best to avoid, comment on a silly clothing day that she didn't know why I'd join in because I looked "bad enough every day with my fat self." I also know how many times as an adult that I have bit my lip and kept my valuable comments to myself to avoid attracting attention to me. I have had parents who should have been upset at their child's behavior turn it around and make comments about my size and appearance rather than the issue at hand. When I toss in the ugly things that my own family said to me and about me as that obese child growing up--well, all I can say is that this is now NOT a part of my life any more either. I am having my "thinner" Thanksgiving this year. It is a Thanksgiving that will include a great meal and fun and family--and a lot of things to give thanks for. It will also include healthy eating, because that is my way of doing things now.
Life is good!!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours--I think it will be my best Thanksgiving ever!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Today is the day... I had a tough night and woke up with incredible back spasms at 12:30 AM--and I still haven't been back to sleep. I could go on and on about my pain and my issues, but I think I've come to realize some good comes from everything, even if it isn't great. We learn and grow as people with each event in our life. I shared a quote from Emily Dickinson on one of my Spark Teams and it has given me the courage to think out of the box about some of the less pleasant things in our lives. ("We turn not older with years, but newer every day.") I want to thank my friend Jan (Rollingstonemom) for getting me to see the real potential in this statement.
We wake up each day as a person changed from the day before--and if we take advantage of our gifts and talents, that new person is wiser and more experienced with more love to give and share. How about that--I can be better each day simply by trying and thinking positively. I can control the person that I am when I wake up with some effort. I love this idea and it happened to me today without me really thinking about it.
It could have been a really lousy Monday--I went to work and to serve some 45 needy students in groups ranging from 3 to 6, back to back without much of a break on less than 2 hours of sleep. I was in inexplicable pain as well, and I couldn't take my heavy duty pain medicine because quite honestly, it would have put me to sleep. However, even though our youngest son fooled around and missed his bus, my day unfolded pretty nicely. I start my day before school tutoring one of my younger students 1 on 1. He really put his heart into things and did some incredible work this morning and I was so proud of him, I bragged about him to the principal. My first two reading groups were enthusiastic and every child came on time and prepared to work. I was really enjoying my day.
I am planning to do a book study with my parents in a couple of weeks and I sent a note home today to get some input on what times that parents would want to come and if they are interested. (I ordered 50 copies of a government published book on helping children to read--they are excellent and were no cost to me, double "yay") My boss supports this activity and I have a friend in the district who said that she could lend a hand as well. I am excited to do this kind of work because it helps impact families in positive ways. I am of the belief that most parents (like 99% of them) are doing the best with what they have. If we can give them more, then they can do even better. Since my children are all students below grade level in reading, their help can make a big difference. I am looking forward to this and have some time tomorrow to organize everything because my 1st and 2nd graders will be gone all day on a field trip. Time for paperwork!! Time is always an awesome gift and I have some built in a few times at work this week.
I had a problem with one of my students who just isn't doing anything and it has went on for a while. He didn't give his parent the note I wrote on Friday and had the nerve not to do the work I have been trying to get him to do since October 25. I finally sent him to the office after I kept him for recess and led him through work he could do easily. This is a frustrating thing, because it ties my hands in helping the child to grow--but after I yelled (and shocked everyone in the room because that's not my style,) he was different. I hope that this is for the better and that I have some long term change. He is trying to wear me down so I just let him do nothing, but that would be dishonorable of me. The easy way isn't the right way in this case. This young student needs to know that I am like Lassie and he isn't going to throw me off track. I owe him this much. We are doing a group project and he is going to do his part--and there is no easy way out for him. I hope to get him to enjoy this activity before all is said and done. Anyway, my very shortened break got lost in all of the drama with this child--so I didn't get to eat or go potty all day. Arghh--but I didn't snack and there was some kind of food in the staff room that I didn't get into either.
After school today was mine, I don't see my ten first graders after school on Monday. That was a real positive because I needed time to prepare lesson plans and select new books for my reading groups and define my lessons, vocabulary, letter sound work etc... My husband showed up to pick me up from work early--about 3:45 and we had time to chat and reflect as I worked until about 4:45. It actually was a nice time, we have so little time together. One of our sons showed up about ten minutes before I had everything tidied up to leave for home--to borrow money of course, lol. I don't get to see much of him these days (girlfriend) and it was nice. I also didn't really have any money, so that had to work out for me for the moment.
By then, I had 15,000+ steps on my pedometer. I came home to a prepared chicken dinner (yummy) and after having time with my kids, I went to the pool. That was the first time all day that I was able to move around without terrific pain and I took advantage of that. I did stretches and my regular work out. I also did some water jogging and aerobics, along with some extra core exercises (belly busters-- !!) I worked out so long that I didn't get to go to the hot tub, but I did get 20 minutes in the sauna. I left the fitness center feeling the best that I had felt all day--and it had been a pretty good day in so many ways. I never, ever would have guessed that the best pain med for me would be exercise and that I would enjoy it so much. The pool is a blessing. My sore right shoulder makes freestyle and back stroke both a bit difficult, so I limit how much of that I do. (I'm not so good at them in all honesty anyway.) Another milestone--My swim suits are all getting pretty lame--stretching out and becoming transparent. I have ordered some and they are coming, but I remembered one I had gotten in May. It is a pretty blue flowered halter style tankini with a little skirt. It was too small for me, so I put it away. I don't know what made me think of it tonight, but I got it out and guess what? Yes, it fits now and is unlike anything I have ever owned or work.
I came home for my Spark time and have been reflecting on my day. I realize that I could take a lot of what went on today and give it a negative spin quite easily. I am not thinking that way though--because everything from today has changed me, as will everything from tomorrow and the next day and the next... If I want it to be good, I can have it be good. I am getting ready to retire today with confirmation that I am a very good teacher and that I am making a positive difference for each and every one of my students. I am aware that I can manage my health issues and still be productive. I can maintain the climate and not even let a sleepless night and extra pain get in the way of feeling good. I have a wonderful husband and family who allow me to do what I need for my health and my happiness. We work together pretty well for the most part. I do a good job of handling issues and do not let them cloud what i the most important goals that I have. I have such a great store of energy these days that I can be successful with whatever comes my way!
Who would have ever predicted these things? I am OK--and that is truly wonderful. My ending number on my pedometer today is 17, 836 steps. That's not too bad for a disabled gal with a walker who was in too much pain to sleep well last evening. I also got in 2 hours of work at the pool and it helps me so much. I am still losing weight in a healthy way and can wear smaller clothing. I never guessed this and am so glad that I didn't give up and retire last spring. I have a lot to offer and I owe SP a big thank you for this attitude and understanding.
Life is good and "We turn not older with years, but newer every day." is a wonderful quote. to Emily Dickinson for all of the reflection her words have given me.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Happy Veteran's Day to everyone,
With my children aging enough to make joining the military a possibility for them as a career or life choice, I have had to think about the military and what it means to me in detail. It is a complex consideration, to say the least. It is common knowledge that I was totally opposed to our son Mason signing up for the army as a 17 year old in high school. I still feel that way about him 6 months later as a kid just over 18. He isn't ready to make that kind of a life decision and he isn't ready to do the kind of work that the army asks of the troops. This doesn't make me opposed to the military and it doesn't mean that I would be opposed to that as a career or future for any of my kids. However, what 17 year old is really mature enough to make the kind of decision to do this type of important work? At 17, they are still growing physically and emotionally. At 17, they are still kids and the military is adult work. They need to be ready to make a life commitment that puts them in situations to do tough things and that gives them shared living space in less than decent conditions. They need to be ready for "life and death" in every sense of the word and they need to be ready to act quickly knowing that they do have someone else's back. That is a lot to ask of a 17 year old whose biggest job to date has been some sporting event or social thing that didn't really matter to anyone's existence if it didn't happen.
I am the daughter of a veteran. My dad served in Korea and NEVER SPOKE of his experiences ever. We didn't realize until after his funeral that he was heavily decorated for his work there. He had a lot of medals bestowed upon him which indicates to me that he was involved in some life-changing work that didn't sit well in his heart and skin. My husband's father was a WWII vet who served int he Battle of the Bulge--and my husband tried to enlist in the AirForce, but couldn't get past the weight requirements. My husband is a civilian employee of the US Army and many of his closest friends are vets. He does the work he does to help and support our troops each day. I support the work of these brave and caring people. I have an older son who is now considering the military and I am not opposed to this thinking, although I will be terrified if that is the choice he makes. He is 21 years old and has lived life and worked a bit, and can make this decision on some experience. He knows that there are a lot of reasons that this can be a life changing job and he can take some experience working with and for other people to the position. That makes a difference.
I also need to give my opinion on Afghanistan and the conflict there. I don't like the idea that we are involved in this place that NOBODY has ever had a successful "war experience." I don't like the fact that we, the US, armed and trained the people we are now fighting. I don't like the fact that in this place--as in every conflict since Korea--and especially in Viet Nam, the enemy can be children, adults, people who have been your friend for weeks, people who have helped you out. That is a painful thing for any person to cope with--and in t his place, it is a life and death consideration. I talked to a vet who told the story about the guys in the army paying local people in Afghanistan for helping them and how these same people used the money they gave them to buy weapons to attack them with. It sure muddies up my thinking--but it also makes me respect the people who are there, in the trenches, fighting for our freedom once again--and fighting for the rights of people throughout the world. This is a tough job that requires someone who can emotionally handle everything coming their way as they do their job.
My thoughts on Veterans Day are of great gratitude. I think I have a strong understanding of what any military member commits to when they enlist and the frightening, difficult work they take on. My opposition to my 17 year old son signing up for service didn't make me some "anti-military" person. It made me the mother of a young man who wasn't ready for that kind of life work. I am glad that he is still at home, testing the water in a variety of ways. When he is more mature, if he decides on the military, I still may not like it, but I will support him in his decision. I know that the military will get a hard-working and serious young man who puts everything into what he does. I know that if this comes to be, that he will be mature enough to tackle the life-changing things that people in the military deal with at such a high level.
I respect the work of our military and I support all that they do. I think I really get it and I am glad that there are people out there who can do this kind of work. The people in the military have given us our lives over and over again since this country began. That is an unbeatable track record deserving all of the respect we have to offer.
Happy Veteran's Day--If you are in the service, the reserves or are a veteran, I respect and salute you.
Friday, November 05, 2010
I finally got to see my ortho this morning. It turns out that my shoulder has a tendon that is totally disattached from my shoulder, I have a torn rotator cuff, and there is "considerable" arthritis on my collarbone--all of which are contributing to my shoulder pain and will need a surgical repair. I am not terribly surprised that it is something "big." I have had so many issues with this body that I am pretty aware when it is something big that needs real attention. As a matter of fact, I have kind of a strange tolerance for pain and I had to be taught when I need to seek out some help. I am the person who walked on a broken foot for over 3 months and noted some discomfort, but didn't seek out any help. If my husband hadn't mentioned to my doc that I had complained about my foot hurting, I wouldn't have had him check it out at all. When it turned out that it was fractured, it took over a year of casting and surgery to repair the damage that I caused from walking on it for so long. I have a similar story with knee damage--I had a hole worn all of the way through my patella when I finally got to the doc about that pain. There was also my gall bladder--it was so jammed full of stones when I finally complained about it and had it looked at that it had swollen and was jammed up against my liver, making that an ugly procedure. Three different doctors told me that when I experienced discomfort that bothered me over more than a couple of days that I needed to get some help. I tried to do that with my shoulder and was put off by the staff at the orthopedic group and given the run around--as those of you who have followed my blogs are aware.
I finally got to see MY doctor today. I really love this guy--he is the one who diagnosed and treated the RSD in my right knee after the first replacement went south and I couldn't straighten my leg. (It turned kind of a weird purplish color and even touching it with cotton made it ache. The physical therapist couldn't hardly touch me--I actually vomited from pain at PT one day.) The surgeon who did the replacement got me back with this doctor (He had relocated to another town, but came back just in time!!) They treated my RSD with 10 sympathetic blocks, replaced my replacement, did 10 more blocks while doing the PT and got me back on my feet. He is the most kind and skilled ortho I have worked with--and I have worked with several. I requested to see him when I called them back in early August and they "couldn't get me in" and sent me to somebody else. After 3 months of this mess, I now know that I have a lot of damage in there. My friend asked me if he told me what caused it and I never even thought to ask that. I intend to ask him because my husband told me that he thinks I damaged it when I took that big, nasty fall at school last spring when I was packing to move. I need to find out if that is so, because if it is possible, I intend to seek legal help this time.
Anyway, the surgery center is totally booked until January, but my doc thinks that this needs attention before then, so they were working on something and will call me to give me the date for this work. I will be in a sling for six weeks while the tendon heals and reattaches the way it is supposed to. I will have physical therapy during the time with a sling to maintain my shoulder and prevent it from freezing up. After the 6 weeks is up, I will have intensive physical therapy to get my shoulder working hard. My doctor says that this surgery has a 95% success rate. Those are pretty good odds and that is reassuring. He knows my history with the spine infection, so I will have some extra pre-op tests to make sure that I am well. He also warned me that I cannot have any sores or scratches on this shoulder or that he won't do any procedures on it. (Hmm, my kitty will need to not do anything ornery around me for a while...)
I also am wondering a lot about how I will walk and get around with my arm in a sling. I use a walker and my shoulders are part of how I get around. I had surgery on my arm about 3 1/2 years ago and the doc ordered an attachment for my walker which had a "resting" place for my arm to sit on. (It was in a cast for 8 weeks after the surgery.) I don't see this working with a sling, I am going to have to ask the doctor when we do the pre-op stuff. I do have my wheelchair, but I sure hate to have to go that route again. Maybe I could go back to using a crutch or a cane. The physical therapy people had me go to using a walker because I wasn't very steady with the cane. The problem with a crutch is that it can damage other body parts. I guess it is just complicated to be in this body these days. And I guess that I'll let the doctor figure out my mobility problem.
There are lots of other things playing around in my world, but I'll save them for my weekend blogging. I know this sounds pretty lousy, but I am so relieved to finally have an answer to all of this. It is so sad that between medical people being so overworked, insurance companies trying to avoid paying for patient care and all of the clowning around that doctors have to go through to avoid malpractice suits that people like you and I have stories like the one I am telling right now. I am glad to be on the right end of getting better now. Life is good.
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