Monday, October 24, 2011
As the mysteries unfold and schedules for appointments get made, I think I have to do a few things for my own well-being.
First of all, I want to be on top of things as a partner in my health care, not a by-stander. I will make phone calls to as many doctor offices tomorrow as soon as they open. I will probably have to let a few people in on what is going on, to keep myself out of trouble with a certain administrator. However, nothing can be more important than this. I need to call my PCP and find out what their late call on Friday was about--and if I am really going to wait until November 14 to see my GYN. I will call my spine doc and share what has been going on with her staff because I am wondering if this could be part of my increased lower back pain. I will also find out what is going on with the appointment with my orthopedic surgeon. From these two calls, I will find out if I need to call either the OS or the GYN and set up my own appointments.
The next thing I must do is continue to take care of myself and what I value. I will go to the pool unless someone tells me that I shouldn't and I will continue to make other healthy choices. I must be on top of everything else because with pending surgery, I need to be at my best anyway.
Finally, I need to be myself. I am a person of faith and hope. I know that prayer gives answers and support. I know who will help me through any tough moments and that I talk to Him in prayer. I cannot get too busy to refill my spiritual cup and to relax while I deal with anything that is going on.
I also need to give thanks for any number of things right now. I have some tough issues taking place. However, I am thankful that I have medical insurance, as big a pain as it is. I am thankful that I have so many good medical people on my team to help me. I am thankful that I have my family around who can drive me a bit nuts but who cares about me as much as they do. I am thankful that I have been given academic gifts that I share with students who need a quality teacher to support their needs. I am thankful I have a job. I am thankful we have a home and are working to pay for our mortgage, our family's needs and our children's education. Mostly, I am thankful that I have a husband who has went through all of these major medical issues I have had with me, caring for me and helping me in every way.
I am also thankful for the other people in my life who care about me. I have a dear, dear best friend who takes time from her needy family life for me. I have several other good friends as well. I also have a wonderful group of Spark Friends who are as close as my keyboard and who support me in so many ways. Thank you so much, each and every one of you.
This may be a tricky week--but with a plan and my goals, I will handle it well and take care of things the way they should be taken care of. I will keep you updated because you all help me to notice things that I might not know and to feel safe in the confusion that the medical world can be. Have a great week and we will talk more!!
Sunday, October 23, 2011
This may come under the idea of TMI, if it does to you, I am sorry. I haven't done much here at SP for a few days because of this and I realized that I need to talk to somebody about this. It really isn't a topic for my sons or my 16 year old daughter. My 23 year old daughter would talk with me, but with two jobs and school, she isn't so available.
I completed my adventure into menopause fairly uneventfully about 5 years ago. My GYN told me that if I was ever to have any bleeding to let her know ASAP. Well, on Tuesday, I had some bleeding in my underclothing (I know, TMI) I had been constipated as I get from time to time due to my meds--and I wasn't sure of the source, having had my first bowel movement in 4 days that morning. I decided it wasn't a big deal. On Wednesday, I found the same issue, so I called my PCP's office. They have a female nurse practitioner who specializes in women's care and they gave me her first available appt. on Friday at 9. In the meantime, on Thursday, I figured out that it wasn't from bowels and it had changed from bright red to a darker color with some tiny clots. I saw Mara on Friday and we discussed the stuff going on. I told her that it was letting up, and she told me that until she could absolutely prove that this isn't, this is considered cancer. She needed to rule out an overactive thyroid (yes, if you have been following my stories, this is the fourth time that this has come up with me in about 8 weeks...). She said that I needed an ultrasound and an endometrial biopsy. My GYN has been on vacation, but they were going to schedule the ultrasound and get me an appt. Hmm, it turns out that the hospital couldn't get me in on Friday, so they decided to let my regular GYN do both. Her first available appt is at 10:30 on November 14. They didn't think Mara would want this to wait that long and told me that they were taking the appt and would call me back if something else was to happen. Of course, they called at 4:38 on Friday and my sons were too busy playing video games to answer the phone. I didn't find out they called until this morning. And my bleeding hasn't stopped, it isn't a much as a regular period, but I am a bit freaked out. I did a search on postmenopausal bleeding and the info isn't nice at all, this really is a big deal.
Does it seem to anyone besides me that maybe, just maybe, I have too much going on? My lower back when crazy on me about two weeks ago, and we scheduled a new round of injections. I had them Tuesday (after the first bleeding happened)--and my spine doc also gave me a shot of Toradol. She told me that she didn't like the idea of me suffering like this and thought I might need an epidural. Hmm, my regular anesthesiologist couldn't give me an epidural on my last two surgeries because of the metal in my lower spine. I am a bit fearful of them because they hurt so much. I have injections scheduled this week for the pain that is in my right shoulder and the following week for the new pain in my left shoulder. The mess in my neck has turned into pain as well. I really didn't need new pain. The numbness in my left hand is now moving up my hand and my fingers are getting stiff and swollen. I haven't heard from my orthopedic surgeon as of yet.
Can anybody pick through the rest of this? I am not myself--gained 2.4 pounds today, didn't weigh in last week. Every time I get on a scale, it says 2 pounds more than it did the last time. I was surprised my gain wasn't 4 more pounds than it said today because of what it said at the doctor's office and such...
Anyway, on Monday--our first day back to work, I have to find a time to get away from my students and call my PCP's office to find out if they got me a better appointment with my GYN. I have to call my spine doc's office and find out what is going on with my OS and if I should call them about my surgery.
I'm weary, my friends. This is too much for me to take in right now and I am not myself at all. I am moody and weepy and edgy and frightened. This new stuff is something I know little about. I can handle orthopedic and arthritic stuff without batting an eye. I am not sure I even consider carpal tunnel surgery as surgery, ha ha. I have had so much of this kind of thing that it is just another day in my life--and waiting for docs to get things figured out is also a frustrating part of this. However, I just read on WebMD (that I consider a pretty valid source of medical info) that if you have postmenopausal bleeding that it is serious and you need to get help ASAP. They list about six possibilities and two or three of them are cancer. I am afraid of this, and I don't know if this is a normal feeling or not. I need to know what this is and I may go nuts if I wait until November 14th for an answer.
Anyway, I am guessing that the shock of all of this will wear off and I will get back to being myself, but for now, all I can do is apologize for being off of my game. Thanks so much for being my friends and giving me a forum for talking about something like this...
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The title tells my biggest job today. the pain in my lower back is in a "flare" which translates to "growing madly and spiraling out of control" in my book. Today has been about beating this.
I started out very tired today--I slept for maybe an hour at a time all night last night, trying my chair piece to take pressure off of my back and every position I know of to get relief. Anyway, I was tired beyond tired. I thought I had a Weight Watchers breakfast muffin left and I didn't, so breakfast wasn't quite what I wanted or needed today either. Boo hoo--whine, whine--I am in a low down mood that I am trying to fight.
I got to church about a minute before they started serving breakfast. That didn't give me much time to collaborate with the two kind-hearted new teachers that our church hired for the program. They had a guest speaker that came to work with half of the group at a time from the art museum--about masks, what a timely idea!! We did some journal writing and oral reading. I played "Vowel Bingo" with several of the kids which was a good time. Anyway, after lunch, I spent some time with a young lady who had been disruptive off and on throughout the entire program. I finally got a time to talk with her and although she covered her face and tried to tune me out, when I got up to leave, it turned out that she really wanted to talk with me. It turns out that she has been fibbing about her age and she is older than we were led to believe. She is really a 6th grader and her first time stepping into a school was in August of this year when our district started for the year. She barely reads--and does a good job of covering for herself at a higher level than is appropriate. She had shouted something that sounded really rude at another child--in her home language of "Kudu" and when one of the other teachers asked her what she said, that she didn't respond. Then the teacher said to her, "You must speak nicely here to everyone. If you cannot say nice things, maybe you shouldn't be here." The girl told me that the teacher yelled at her for cursing and that she hadn't cursed." I corrected her and asked her what she had said and she told me that she had yelled "Stop pushing on my paper, you made me mess up," I confirmed that she had a right to her bothered by that and modeled how she should have handled it. Then she ranted a bit about teachers everywhere fussing at her and telling her to "do this and do that," always bossing her around. I sure cannot imagine being in her position at her age and trying to figure out the world she has come to with a lot of people in her difficult age range. That's a lot for anyone, but a 11-13 age child with crazy hormones being awakened, well, wow!! I'm sorry for her.
I tried to explain to her that she should watch what others are doing more and to act more like them. Then I asked her if tomorrow we could talk to the entire group about "rules" that might help everyone to learn and have more fun. (The two teachers are very new and didn't start the group with this type of thing. For me, an "old experienced teacher," I find this to be a must at having the kind of behavior and cooperation that is needed for a good learning experience.) I checked with the "real teachers" and they thought this would be good. I need to pick up a ton of post-its for that activity. Anyway, I am enjoying this important work for two more days. I also connected up with the gal in charge of the adult ELL program. I need some information for a brochure I am making about our church program. This satisfies an assignment in one of my classes and we need it to share with educators to promote the program and share its limitations as well.
I went on to the doctor. My back has been awful. The biggest deal with chronic pain for me is that it is relentless. If I could have a bit of a break, I wouldn't be so crabby or blue or tired. She did the regular injections we had scheduled in my lower back and right hip--saving the biggest dose for the nerve that is parallel to my spine and the big surgical scar. She also gave me an injection of "toradol" to get me some more immediate relief. The nurse put about a half a dozen little band-aids on me because I was doing a bit of bleeding and we went home. I fell asleep soon after being at home and I slept more than I have in several days. I woke up twice between 3-6:30, but it was solid sleep. I think that was my doctor's gift with the last injection. She also mentioned that we might need to do an epidural for the long-term pain to help me get past it. That probably won't work because even my regular anesthesiologist had quit trying to do them, the hardware has gotten in the way and they cannot get through the bar and the screws and nuts holding my spine in place.
Right now, I am icing my back again. They told me not to go to the pool tonight--boohoo. I've done some homework and sparking and I have to get back to that soon. I am not in a great mood and I am sorry to the world. My lower back is at its worst and my upper spine is starting to act foolish. My shoulders are both aching and it is too much for me to figure out. Please bear with me. I am looking for ways to cope. My youngest son brought me his prized amethyst. Our pastor blessed it for him and he told me that Native Americans use these stones to help people with healing and getting good energy back. Hmm, I am trying it, I am a believer in the Spirit and this may be helpful.
Thanks one more time for sticking with me as I whine and complain. I really am trying, but I recognize that I am not easy to live with right now. I don't want to cry, so I am venting and trying to come up with alternatives. If I was more capable physically, I would exercise like crazy. (I was told to rest quietly tonight.)
Tomorrow, I am going to stop at school to pick up some sticky-notes, stickers, some art paper, and a few graphic organizers. Then, I am going to the church and I am going to spend my morning teaching a real literacy program with kids. After lunch, I am going to spend some time interviewing the director of the adult program before I get back to the room to do some independent reading support with children and possibly to play some phonics board games where we practice letter sounds. I get to go to the pool after that before I go home. I don't know what dinner will be, I have to look in the deep parts of the freezer, lol, because Thursday is payday.
I need a break from this pain. It is a little quieter right now, but still there in the exact same places. I want it to quit and I am almost ready to scream!!
I'll try to behave--thanks for your patience. I need that now almost as much as I need relief.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I changed up my routines a lot yesterday. We went to the zoo in the early day and then to a "Haunted Hayrack Ride" after a church wiener roast/potluck in the evening. I sure scored with over 23.000 steps on my pedometer--no pool time though. I think I'll let some of the photos talk for themselves!!
Marissa really was a monkey here!!
The ducks, geese, swans, and the fish all clamor for the food patrons give them.
I'm not sure of the connection between the elephants and the dinosaur references and the big animal statues...I guess "big"is the real theme here. Miles is messing around with his sister. I begged the boys to let me get their photos. After a certain age, some kids don't like having their photo taken!! Others are regular "hams!"
The petting zoo was full of farm animals that included the very hungry goats who followed people in hopes of a bite of the zoo food and the llama who didn't want to be bothered.
It was too late in our season for many Australian animals besides the wallabies who seemed comfortable in our pleasant fall weather--it was 70ish. The others were in their winter housing, we saw the sweet lorakeets in the bird house later on. They are usually great fun, you can buy a container of their nectar and they will cover you to get a chance to enjoy this treat.
The aviary includes outdoor displays and indoor displays. Some of the big parrot type birds are sitting on limbs and perches--quite honestly their big beaks make me a bit nervous. My sons took the camera and had a lot of fun trying to get the "best" shots of these birds. I love the owl close-up that Miles took. (Marissa told him that nobody liked that kind of picture," hmmm?
The guys took a lot of photos of amphibians and reptiles--the more "yucky" animals to my daughter (and myself if I am telling the truth.) The funny thing is that after a few visits to the zoo, this is the first time we caught the tortoises in a non-mating activity.)
The sunlight got in the way of getting good photo of the zebras and the ostriches, which made me sad because I use this kind of photo for ABC books with my children at school. We did get a couple of the big cats--the bears were holed up in their homes and most of the other animals weren't out. We were guessing that they were in their winter quarters. the other animal I really wanted photos of was our new baby giraffe. However, zoo personnel seemed to be doing vetrinarian checks with the giraffes and their baby while we were there. It is such a sweet looking "little" guy!!
My final photo is of a creature from the Haunted Hayrack Ride. Most of the other photos I have are of church members and I will respect them enough not to put them on my blog--but check this guy out:
This guy climbed over the end of the hayrack where I was sitting and grabbed me and my friend sitting across from me. We giggled and giggled and giggled. It was good fun and I am so glad that we went. I must admit, having never been to a haunted house or the like, that I found out that this is a more family fun activity than one designed to "scare" you.
I sure enjoyed the day--we missed the lunch that went along with the zoo outing, so I had my own healthy fruit and sandwich. We took a salad and my "loaded with veggie" chili to the potluck which was quite a hit, even after it got spilled in my son's car. That is a mess that I hope I cleared up with a lot of elbow grease and air freshener!! I got a lot of walking in and just had fun.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Warning--This is not going to be the most pleasant, upbeat blog, so don't read any further if you don't feel like hearing some whining.
I am miserable today. Part of it is my fault because I have been working harder than I should have been. I am irritated with my body because I have some gift to share and it is trying to interfere. However, if I want a group of immigrant children to have a basket of books and some help reading them, I will get up to the third floor and take them with me.
Pain interferes with my life. It tries to change my plans. The aching in my back and my left hand wants me to leave things and get someone else to do things like vacuuming but who else is going to do it NOW? I don't want to wait because if I am doing something now, I can keep my body working--once I stop, it might not let me go again. Pain tries to convince me that I shouldn't do important things that need to be done. If a child needs new books in their baskets, I am going to ignore the paint hat doesn't want me bending, reaching, and/or lifting to get the job done. Children need me to help them read.
Pain changes my mood--who I am. I can start out as my typical, positive self and the screaming pain I get in my lower back can change my mood to grumpy, irritated, impatient. If I work hard to get past that, I can end up sad, blue, depressed. It escalates when I don't get enough sleep because the throbbing in my right hip is alternating with the aching in my lower back. That little duet can steal a night of sleep quite easily.
Pain is costly. It takes my time as well as our resources. I have a lot of appointments to fit into my already busy schedule. Physical therapy, doctors, tests, picking up prescriptions, time at the pharmacy... I have to get all of that done in the midst of my life. I have about six doctors who I see regularly over these issues. I hate to admit the amount I spend on medicine and patches. It is a small fortune.
BUT--pain makes me determined to fight it and go on with my life. I can do the things I was put here on the earth to do. I believe that I am a gifted teacher and I have skills that work well with children who need something special. I can do many things and do them well.
My body is a battleground due to pain. It drives me crazy a good deal of the time, but I win each and every battle in my own time. Pain is an undesirable nuisance. It shouldn't happen to anybody, but the most important part is to not let it win.
Quite honestly, I am sick of it. I'd like to wake up one morning with a full night of sleep and a body that doesn't need an extra hour to get moving. I would like to be able to get into the shower here without having help and I'e like to start my day with energy rather than having it all spent from fighting pain. I do okay for a few hours after I swallow my meds--but by 11 at the latest, I am looking for the thing to keep me going. I might choose to cream up my back with my specially compounded cream and if I don't have time for that, I grab my back brace. I take more meds around 1 and get to the end of my work day. I go to the pool as early as I can get in because the water soothes me for the time I am there... Then I get home and when it is bedtime, I recline in a chair because I cannot lie down. The war between what hurts the most gets started and I try to ice things or heat them and soothe my body so that I can get some rest--before the next day comes and the next war.
Anyway, I fight this the best that I can, but today, it is lousy. I am going to keep a promise to take my kids to the zoo and to the haunted hayrack ride with our church tonight. I don't know how I am going to do these things, but I will because:
PAIN makes me determined and accomplished above all.
That said, I am leaving to do just that.
Thanks for listening to me whine, if you have gotten this far.
Best wishes to you, my friends!!
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