Optimism, Part II

(Part I is right here).

When I was bedridden for those long six weeks, many moods appeared. I was on a lot of pain medication. There was no surgery pain, although my back had about a seven inch wound from the surgery. It was very frightening to know my spinal cord had no protection from anything. It had no cage of vertebrae around the muscles, covering it up and held it like the upper spine did. I worried about everything hurting it. I wore a plastic shell whenever I left the bed to go to the bathroom or to eat. I’d go walk up and down the stairs just to move around a little. At first, I immediately tired and returned to bed. Sitting hurt like the devil from the bone and disk infection. That pain lasted for months. Eventually, the disk disintegrated.

The neurosurgeon took pictures during surgery. I heard he wrote a paper about my challenge. There was no data on someone recovering from this. I’m it. To this day, I’m eternally grateful to God for what health I’ve had since that year. I can still walk, it’s increasingly painful, so exercise is difficult.

Once the IV antibiotic therapy concluded, I could try to drive myself. The doctor wanted me to go back to work even for a couple hours a day because my depression was taking over, despite being on medication. The medication not only helped the depression, it helps with pain. Your perception of pain becomes different. I take meds to this day for both.

The Doctor had a specific Physical Therapist for me to see. She is a niece of my ex-husband. We hadn’t seen each other in nearly fifteen years, but it was incredible to meet her as an adult woman, a professional and a wife and mother. We have developed a wonderful friendship that is still strong to this day. It’s been a gift to become acquainted with all those nieces from so long ago. They are all strong, loving women with families. I missed them so much! Terri taught me how to live with this disability. I’ve lost a little more every five years. Some is because of aging, the whole surgery, and some laziness I’ll admit to. It’s hard to keep your drive at 100% for years and years. Sometimes, you just need a break. The Babe and I are embarking on a healthy living journey. It should help both of us. I still go to Terri whenever I need PT. She makes it something to look forward to. I’m so lucky to have her. Thanks, Terri, for helping me live my life these past twenty-five years.

As I was gradually getting back to trying to live a new normal for me, I had a blind date with the Babe. We hit it off and have been together ever since. He has cared for me and about me through healing from this event, other surgeries and cancer. For five years I still worked, but the pain caused from sitting at my computer daily was too much. It never occurred to me to go on disability. The Babe told me to go for it. I hesitated. I felt like a bum, but no, I wasn’t.

As the time passed, I developed a terrible curve in my spine. It’s had no support to this day, and I can definitely tell if I try to sew an outfit. One side of my body is lower, at least a couple inches. Hip, shoulder, waist, it’s such a challenge to sew for me. To this day, my ribs hurt and I may have costochondritis, which is an inflammation in the cartilage on the ribs.

It still causes me pain, twenty-five years later. Last year, because of nerve pain, I had a laminectomy on the problem area. I still have pain, it just won’t affect the nerve anymore. Are there still challenges? Absolutely. Life is still worth fighting for, even after all of this. Like Fox, I’m thinking about my mortality. We all need to face it someday. I’m so grateful for these twenty-five years. It’s taught me so much. Like as soon as you quit thinking of being single, you meet someone. And you’re never too old to pursue a dream, it’s never too late.

I wish the best to Michael J Fox. I will continue to follow him, not as a celebrity but more of a common friend. A friend that has inspired me through a lot of our thick and thin. There are thousands of people like me, and like you, who deal with these same issues. It’s hard to go on disability when you’re 48, and Medicare when you’re 50. Your ego takes a lot of hits. You feel worthless, but then, you learn to cope. You have no other choice. You can learn. Begin. Today.

Lucky Us!

Find things that make you smile. Find things that make you happy inside. Read about them, take photos of them. Find like-minded people. Do good for those around you. By volunteering to help others, I think it’s helped me think less of myself and the chronic pain I have. I pay for it the next day, but I expect it. It hurts less knowing I’ve helped someone else.

Thank you for reading today, and for each time you visit. I appreciate it sincerely. Be Safe. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Positive. Be Courageous. Be Grateful. See you tomorrow!

Marvelous Monday Morning

I’m actually starting this on Sunday just after posting my Sunday blog. Today (Monday) Mom starts her individual therapy for her back. I think she has eight sessions and we’re hoping she keeps using these mechanics and newly gained strength as she gets back out in her flower gardens this spring and summer. We talked to her doctor last fall (I spoke for my younger brothers and myself) about our seeing Mom as losing strength and tottering around, since her balance is impacted by her diminished vision and her hearing loss. Mom was not happy and felt picked on, but when I left, the doctor must have told her how lucky she was that we not only noticed her failing, but actually said something. Mom’s a very stubborn person and is hard to mention something that could be improved. And, as her ENT says, “All old people lie.” I like that statement, because they do! They all want to stay at home even when it becomes unsafe for them to do so. Many old folks turn the comment around, and point out things they don’t like that you do, and that makes it worse. At any rate, I hope she learns what she needs to so she can stay in her home for at least another year or so. Steps are dangerous at her age, and the bedrooms and bathroom are on the second story. Lots of opportunity for a disaster, especially adding in a cat who wanders all over the place. Yikes!

This is a special date for the Babe and me. On March 2, 1996, we met each other for our first date. The guy kept following me around and convincing me he wasn’t going anywhere. I folded like a cheap tent. Seriously, I did not have a great dating record. I picked people that weren’t right for me, and once I got over that, here comes this guy that tells the truth. He calls when he says he will. He wants to spend time with me. He thinks I’m wonderful. And I think he is. And he says, “I love you.” in the first week we’re together. I say, “Oh, no you don’t. You can’t. You won’t.” I just don’t want another disappointment. And here we are, married for 22 years this October. He’s not going anywhere. Neither am I. He’s my best friend and my greatest fan. I’m his, too. I told him it would be an honor to be his wife. It still is, Babe. So on this, our 24th anniversary of knowing each other, I say, “Thanks, Babe. For being who and what I always hoped for. I had been told it didn’t exist. But I found it in you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Love you.”

October 3, 1998 – we were 46 and 48, respectively. Babies! Photo courtesy of Janet Nichols.
Lucky us, to still have each other. This year, we’ll be 70 and 68, respectively. I’m his much younger wife.

The Babe is a man of his word. He vowed to turn my hair gray when we got married. Nearly twenty two years later, see what a good job he did! It’s been a wild ride, mostly due to health issues. Cancer (me), heart disease (him – over and over), a stroke (him), carotid artery surgery (him). From the beginning, we thought we’d be lucky if he lived twenty years – and he has beaten that number and we reap the benefits of it every day. We are grateful.

Enough mushy stuff, as my son Frankie would say. It’s pretty overcast this morning. We had a snow shower, but only in the back yard. There are piles of snowflakes there, but the front yard is bare. Go figure! This past weekend was Addison’s first Dance Competition, at the MAC in Council Bluffs. Waiting to hear how she did, but usually she’s high in the rankings. She has eight dances this year, so there are eight opportunities to shine.

It’s time to finish cutting out some fabric for my Poppy quilt. It’ll be good to have something new to hang on the freshly painted wall. Quilts will be my Art for the rest of the year. I want to concentrate on publishing my books, and quilting, not add any more to my plate. The Nebraska Writers Guild has created online training for Authors posting on social media. The concentration right now is on Pinterest. I need to make some time in the next couple months to learn this well, so it becomes second nature, kind of like Facebook is. So many pieces to create your marketing plan. It’s amazing.

Thank you so much for reading today, I appreciate it. I’ll be here tomorrow, I’d love to have you return. Have a beautiful Monday.

Friday Frolics

Here it is, late in the afternoon, and I’m again just starting to blog. It’s been a busy last 24 hours. Mom had PT today. Inspiration hits a writer at the oddest times. This morning, for instance, I was brushing my teeth, getting ready to leave the house to pick up Mom.

And an idea came to me about some brothers I need to add for my novel I’m rewriting. They will fit nicely into the theme of the story which is people can escape family “curses” if they learn there is another way to live. And some of these characters will escape, others will not. Some will not even realize they’re doomed. It mirrors life.

When the therapist came to the lobby for Mom, I pulled out my cell phone and typed as fast as I could. I couldn’t let this idea evaporate into thin air. It happens more than I’d like to admit, so noting it was a good call. I just finished embellishing the notes from this morning onto note cards, one for each of the characters in the novel. They all have their shortcomings. Some over come insurmountable odds to beat, heal, and grow. Some overcome nothing and blame the world for their ills.

And the Nebraska Writers Guild is making a push to get the authors’ books on Pinterest. Apparently the pins will stay fresh for an incredible number of days, while Facebook and Instagram do not. There is a member, Renie Loeffler Rutten, who offered to make board covers for pins for book covers and author blogs. I asked if she do one for me. I think it’s beautiful. Lovely. Here it is:

Look for my Author Blog Board on Pinterest. It will link you here to my website and blog.

I will let you know when any book covers are added. I am nowhere near to being finished with the kids books, but it will happen all at once, I believe. It’s such a neat thing, all of this free exposure for writers, readers, and other creative sorts. What a great time to begin writing!

It was another early to rise morning, and I think this will be it for me today. I am so grateful you visited today, and hope you’ll return tomorrow. You know I’ll be here. Thank you!