May 27th, 2015

(May 26th) So two weeks ago today, I went to the doctor because of the severe back pain I had been experiencing. An x-ray showed degenerative disks at L5. The doctor said that something aggravated it – causing the current pain – that usually degenerative disk pain is more gradual. I went home with a prescription for steroids, a muscle relaxer, pain meds and a physical therapy appointment for the next day.

The very next morning after the doctor’s appointment, Ron was out of town; so I had to manage all three dogs. I reached down to un-do the lock on Sky’s dog crate, and as I opened the crate door and scooped Sky up in my arms, all hell broke loose in my back. It literally almost drove me to my knees in pain. I was crying in pain as I managed to get all the dogs outside and then collapse in a chair.

I called both the doctor and physical therapy people, but they did not seem to feel that the new incident was significant. “Physical Therapy will help,” they both told me. I had to get Joey to drive me to PT since I could not drive myself. I learned quickly that the physical therapy only made my back hurt more. However, everyone kept telling me to stick with the PT – that it was a good thing. A few days passed, and the pain got worse and worse. I missed going to the 3rd Annual Lily’s Garden Shooting out Childhood Cancer event, and I missed going to Lily’s 8th grade graduation. The pain was so great that I knew there was no way I could endure either event.

The next morning Ron called the doctor and insisted that I get an MRI. They scheduled it for that day (Thursday, May 21st), and I was to come in to see the doctor the next morning.

Ron had to drive me to the MRI because I was in too much pain. As I walked out of the MRI room at the clinic in Brentwood, my phone was ringing. It was the doctor’s office saying that a couple of appointments had opened up and if I could go straight there from the MRI place, they could see me right then in their office in Nashville. Being naive, I assumed that appointments HAD opened up and we decided to go on into Nashville to see the doctor.

Unbeknownst to us, my orthopedic doctor in Nashville read the MRI as it was being done (Yea for technology), and his one goal was to get me into the office ASAP so I could be hospitalized and scheduled for surgery immediately. I had a “massively” herniated disk (L5, S1 – whatever that is), and surgery was needed immediately before long-term nerve damage occurred. The talk of imminent loss of bowel and bladder function – plus the extreme pain – had both Ron (Mr. surgery is seldom a good thing) and I agreeing to surgery.

So I was immediately admitted to the hospital (St. Thomas Midtown) and surgery was done the next day (May 22nd) around noon. I felt okay afterwards – spent an additional night in the hospital and went home on Saturday, May 23rd. The surgery was a laminectomy and discectomy. Everyone at the hospital was very good and kind to me.

The most painful part of recovery is nerve pain in the back of my right thigh. Serious pain – so painful I could hardly move from a sitting to a standing position or vice versa – and I could hardly walk. I made Ron get me a walker. I needed something steady and solid and unmoving that I could grasp with both hands to push myself into a standing position and to lower myself into a sitting position. Despite making me look terribly feeble, the walker was great. Now in addition to pain meds, I’m also taking neurontin and steroids. And the nerve pain is lessening, and hopefully it will lessen even more. I was able to walk more easily today.

(The next day, May 27th) I started the above post yesterday. About midway through it, Ron gave me my nighttime meds which included Percocet and Valium. I kept falling asleep mid sentence, and finally gave it up and went to bed.

This morning I’m feeling better still. The incision sites are still sore – and the nerve pain in my right thigh is still there – but much less sharp. When I took a brief walk outside first thing this morning, I could walk almost normally – although still quite slow.

(later still) I put away the walker because I now can move from standing to sitting and vice versa with only minimal pain. The walker was what I needed for about 2 1/2 days. I walked outside this evening with Cabbie for about 20 minutes. I used a walking stick for added stability – but with no pain. So I feel very encouraged.

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  • May 18th, 2015

    Today at our Monday morning women’s Bible study group, we made prayer beads. My friend, CL, and I brought all our supplies and taught everyone how to make them. Everyone ended up making a set to take home. It was interesting to me to see the color and bead combinations that other people chose. I realize that I too often put my creativity into a box of doing things a certain way. One woman got to the end of her prayer beads and realized that in one section, she had only strung 6 “week beads” instead of 7. I would have been dismayed at having to restring the beads, but I would have. Lord knows, I’ve re-strung probably more than a dozen sets of the ones I’ve already made because of small mistakes that I couldn’t let ride. However, the woman today said, “That’s okay. I’m not going to re-string it.” We laughed about how it could be like quilt-makers in years past would deliberately sew a mistake into a quilt since “Only God is perfect.” Still, that one section of 6 beads would have bothered me every time I looked at the prayer beads. I hope I can become more relaxed about things like that.

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  • May 16th, 2015

    Yesterday, I started going back through all my previous posts on this blog. I was looking for topics that I would want to write more about. The Median Sib turns 10 years old this year! I started it in September 2005. I thought I had written more introspective, thoughtful posts. There were a few. I had lots of posts about things that happened when I was teaching. I wrote about trips, visiting family, babysitting the grand girls, books I had read, quotes I liked, television shows I watched. I was into the “Thursday Thirteen,” and “Sunday Seven” type of memes which were really just ways to write about unimportant things. I started another Blogspot blog called “The Reading Teacher.” Apparently I deleted that entire blog because that domain is used by someone else now. I wrote lots of political posts, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I wrote a bunch of “junk” posts about various products that paid me to write about them. I once had dreams of making money from blogging, and I did make some money – but nothing at all significant. Certainly not enough to make the fake excitement about a product I didn’t care about worth the effort.

    There were 97 pages in the list of blog posts. 1,912 total posts (counting this one). For the most part, I just glanced at the post titles and realized that my titles were often unclear and indicated very little about the contents of the post. However, despite all the negatives, it was fun to re-read some of the posts. It helped me remember some small incidences that I’d forgotten. I remember being highly offended when Ron and other friends and family didn’t rush to read my blog each time I posted.

    I started this blog a year after I divorced Doug – and a year before Ron and I remarried. So the first posts were during some of my single years. It was also during a rather dark time in my life. I married Doug because of twisted thinking. I knew I didn’t love him, but he said he loved me enough to make up for that. I had loved Ron, and I had loved Robert – and those two relationships hadn’t worked out. So I figured I’d try something different. I learned that one person can’t love enough to make up for the lack of feelings in someone else. Doug was a really good man, and I treated him badly. I’m thankful that he has now found someone that can return his love – and I hope the two of them will remain together and happy. I thank God that Robert and I never got married – because I believe that relationship was similar to the relationship I had with Doug. Robert loved me in his own way – but not in the way I wanted to be loved. I don’t think I would’ve been happy married to him.

    But when I started The Median Sib, I was still reeling from the stress of ending my marriage to Doug. I felt like such a failure. I remember times when I’d hole up in my little apartment for an entire weekend – going inside when I got home from work on Friday afternoon and not emerging again until I left for work on Monday morning. Sleeping, watching TV, just sitting there. That was when Larisa and Joey did an “intervention.” They came to my apartment together, sat down and said we needed to talk. They were sweet – and concerned about my behavior – marrying Doug and then leaving him less than a year later – just generally depressed and senseless behavior. And I slowly worked my way through that depression. I remember when they came in and sat down and said they wanted to talk, I knew immediately what they were doing. I needed that wake-up call to realize that my depression was affecting more than just me. It also made me love and appreciate my two children even more – that they would risk confronting me about what I was doing. Good kids.

    In the back of my mind, I always thought that I had deeper writing in The Median Sib. However, after looking through all the posts last night and today, I see that, for the most part, it was shallow and superficial. Lots of meaningless cutesy stuff. It was more of a diary and general stream of consciousness writing than a thoughtful commentary. And . . . that’s okay. That’s where I was at the time.

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  • May 15th, 2015

    After so many years of being fixated on my weight, I’m working diligently to emphasize non-scale victories. Victories such as walking more – getting “all green” yesterday on my FitBit. Going to PT and my back pain being better. Wearing a size smaller clothing now than I did in December. Being able to go to the park and walk 3 or more miles without being too tired. Taking care of the dogs and the chickens. Keeping household chores such as laundry, making the bed, dishes reasonably done. Cooking most meals at home. Attending church and Bible study regularly.

    (A few hours later) I went to physical therapy today for my lower back pain. Yesterday, the physical therapy helped and I felt great. Today, I can hardly move. Just standing is so painful, I can hardly make myself to do. I can’t sit in my recliner – I have to recline it all the way back so I’m almost lying flat, and then it is bearable although still painful. I’m awaiting a phone call from the on-call doctor. I need some relief. PT was terrible. He had me do 30 bridges. When I did the first one, it HURT. Still, I guess I figured he knew what he was doing. So I soldiered on and did all thirty. I should’ve refused. Hindsight is 20/20. This is some pretty bad pain. I’m so tired of being sick or in pain. I will say it again – 2015 sucks! Just my own personal opinion.

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    May 14th, 2015

    I went to the doctor yesterday – finally – for my lower back pain. They took several x-rays and concluded that I have a degenerated disc – the lowest disc in my back. My tailbone, basically. Standing up, I’m fine. Sitting down, I’m in agony. The pain should have been gradual – so apparently there was some incident that brought on the sudden pain I’ve been having. I think it was probably lifting 50-lb chicken feed bags – but it could have easily been something else, too.

    So I got some meds, and I started physical therapy today. Physical therapy for lower back pain is quite different than the therapy I had after knee surgery a couple years ago. It was much more passive. Part of the time I was on the table, and the therapist manipulated my leg and/or arm to stretch the muscle that was hurting. Other times I stood up and had to stretch one way or the other.

    With the meds the doctor gave me along with the physical therapy, I’m feeling much better. I felt good enough that when I got home this afternoon, I went outside and walked and got “all green” on my Fitbit – something I hadn’t done since May 5th. So I am encouraged physically.

    Now that I’m getting the back pain under control, I need to get back to my clean eating and start losing weight again. I’d love to lose about 10 more pounds before we go on vacation the end of June. That’s do-able – especially if I can continue exercising and walking more.

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    May 13th, 2015

    I was just thinking about how 2015 has been a rather sucky year so far. In January, I got hit with a stomach bug. Then February a really bad flare-up of diverticulitis. When I say “really bad” – I mean between the pain and the effects of the antibiotics, I was out of circulation for several weeks. March brought a back ache that just wouldn’t go away, followed closely by another flare-up of diverticulitis. More antibiotics – but amazingly a very mild case. And now I’m dealing with lower back pain that has practically immobilized me.

    I got a FitBit for Christmas, and I’ve been so eager to maintain a strong walking program. It seems that each time I get back into the swing of walking regularly, some other physical ailment strikes and sidelines me for a week or two. One would think that with all the walking I’ve been doing, 2015 would be a healthier year for me instead of all these ailments.

    Thanks to the stomach bug and diverticulitis, I lost about 12 lbs initially – and I stalled there – up 3 lbs, down 3 lbs. I think I’m around 10 lbs less than when I started the year. I’m trying to maintain. It’s difficult when I’m forced to be fairly inactive. This morning I decided that I’d go workout and then walk and just ignore my back pain. My back pain decided to show me who’s boss. Driving the car was almost impossible because sitting is so painful. As I type these words, I’m in my recliner – almost completely reclined so the pressure is off my lower back. Earlier I pulled into the parking lot at the gym and realized that it would take a lot of effort and involve a lot of additional pain to get out of the car. I texted Marianne and cancelled my workout. I drove to Target and very gingerly got out of the car – literally holding on for dear life as I slowly straightened up to walk inside. As I was finishing up my shopping, I could feel my pain reliever cocktail (3 Advil, 2 Tylenol) taking effect. The pain was lessening, and I could walk fairly normally. A few weeks ago I was taking a more serious pain reliever cocktail (3 Advil, 2 Tylenol, an aspirin and an Aleve) but Meleah told me to stop that – it was too dangerous for my kidneys to process all that. That cocktail worked, though.

    I have a doctor’s appointment in a couple hours – I’ll probably lie in bed with a heating pad against my back until then.

    Then, as I think about how “rough” I’ve had it so far this year, I think of how blessed I am that diverticulitis and back pain are the only significant health issues I have. My friends Judy and Kelly are both battling breast cancer, there are children losing their lives to cancer every day, a train derailed in Pennsylvania last night killed at least 6 people. My physical problems pale in comparison. That doesn’t lessen the back pain but it puts it in perspective, at least.

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    May 6th, 2015

    “Grace” has been on my mind a lot lately. I was just thinking of the song:

    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
    Grace, grace, God’s grace,
    Grace that is greater than all our sin!

    What has made me think so much about God’s grace lately is reading the book The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts. What amazing grace that woman needed – and received – as she went through the horror of dying slowly from cancer.

    I have frequently wondered about the purpose of life over recent years. It seems so pointless at times. We live. We die. Why? Sure, there are relationships during life that make it really wonderful at times. Still, what’s the purpose? As I’ve been reading the Bible I’ve been looking for an answer to that question. I think of Kara Tippett’s life – having four children and a happy marriage and yet getting cancer and dying and leaving four young children with no mother. What’s the point? I see muslim terrorists beheading people, persecuting their own people for non-sins, and I wonder where is mercy and grace.

    I’m a worrier – and that’s not a good thing. I lie in bed sometimes and worry about things I did back in childhood, as a teenager and young adult. And then I think about how crazy that is. So I was immature and thoughtless and full of myself? What teenager/young adult or adult hasn’t been at one time or another? Yet, here I am – still mentally berating myself for stupid sins 10, 15, 25, 45 years later.

    And where does grace come into play? Is it possible to have peace with past sins – to not think of them and feel bad about them? It is interesting how, at the time, one can justify some pretty bad behavior.

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    May 4th, 2015

    A few months ago – near the first of the year, I was strolling through memory lane via old blog posts. Back in 2007, I wrote a post to my 1995 self and wrote that I “should” write a post to my 2017 self. That made me think about what I would want to write to myself at the end of this year – my December 2015 self. Here’s what I’d say:

    Hi Carol,

    You gave 65 years of your life to obsessing over your weight – feeling inferior, feeling sick, feeling ugly and sloppy. I’m really proud that finally in your 66th year of life, you got that negativity out of your life. It was a waste – and it wasn’t true. So what if you have some extra pounds. That doesn’t make you any less worthy of love and respect.

    I’m proud that you did the things that were important to you. You made time to be with Ron and to work on making your marriage stronger and happier. You spent as much time as possible with your children and grandchildren. You regularly spent time in prayer and devotional to God.

    And hey – you got a FitBit and started using it. I’m so happy that you finally got your physical fitness going in the right direction. Of course you started that in 2012 when you started working out with a trainer every week. It was supposed to be 3 times a week but probably averaged only 2 (maybe 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 with all the conflicts. And you’ve got some muscles as a result of all that weight work. Still, that wasn’t enough to break the destructive cycle of overeating and binging that has plagued you for so long. 2015 was the year you finally broke that cycle and are healthier for it. Keep up the good work! Love, your early 2015 self

    Now wouldn’t it be great if that were an accurate letter for the end of this year. What I’ve found is that I get discouraged too easily. In one of the books I read lately – I think it was Born To Crave – the author wrote that we have to learn to not let “feelings” determine our actions. When faced with temptations, we “count it as joy” to not give in to the temptation. Today, I didn’t count much joy when it came to temptations. I ate a bunch of graham crackers, and then I ate a couple slices of buttered sourdough bread. That was after eating a serving of casserole from Bible study along with a piece of fried chicken and mashed potatoes leftover fro last night’s birthday dinner for Lily. I didn’t eat any dinner tonight because I was so stuffed from my ridiculous lunch. Carbs are definitely my weakness.

    Tomorrow is another day – and, in general, I am doing much better in 2015. I haven’t lost any weight in the past couple months, but I’ve been fairly regular in getting in at least 10,000 steps – 4 or 5 times each week. Last week I went to a nearby park that has a 1-mile hiking trail, and I walked the loop 3 times each time I went there. I had intended going there and walking again today, but when I came home from Bible Study this morning, I crashed for some reason – just sat, ate, napped. Well, actually now that I write that, it’s not entirely true. I had promised Sophie and Lily that I’d make them more dried fruit. So I washed and sliced apples and put them in dehydrator – filled all nine trays with them, and that took awhile. I also emptied the dishwasher and refilled it, made the bed, did a load of laundry. SO I’m not a total loss when it comes to accomplishing things today – and I went to Bible study first thing.

    Tomorrow I workout with my trainer at 10:30. Afterwards, I WILL go walking at the park (got sunscreen in the car this time!) and I’ll plan out my food so I won’t binge. I can do this – or rather, God can help me do it.

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    April 29th, 2015

    FullSizeRender_2Last week I made a set of prayer beads for a good friend that was about to do the Walk to Emmaus. I called her and went over to her house to give the beads to her – explained how to use them and wished her well. I had hoped to do the Walk to Emmaus with her but found out when I was filling out the application that if you’re married, your spouse has to go also – men go one weekend, women go another. Ron wasn’t interested. So that was not in my future.

    FullSizeRender_1When I went to our Bible Study on Monday of this week, my friend, CL, brought the prayer beads and shared about how much they meant to her. At one point during her Walk to Emmaus, the topic of prayer was there, and she shared the beads and how to use them. Her small group was excited about them, and they ended up making a poster and sharing with the whole group. Now CL wants to make them for the women in her small group. I sent her the information on what to buy, and she is coming over to my house tomorrow morning, and we’ll make some together.

    I really enjoy making the beads. Better still, I’ve found them very helpful i providing structure to my prayers.

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    April 26th, 2015

    I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual study, reading and introspection over the past few months. I’ve gotten back into my project to read the Bible all the way through. Back almost two years ago I decided to do it. I started with the New Testament – and since I had read the four Gospels several times, I started with Acts. I finished Revelation and went back and read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Then I started the Old Testament. I really dragged it out – sometimes going months between readings – but finally got through to the Psalms – and now I’m in Proverbs. Mid-May two years ago is when I started, and I don’t foresee being able to finish by mid-May this year. So it will be a 2+ year project for me. I’m really learning a lot, though.

    In the coming months, I plan to write out my thoughts about this spiritual journey. I’ve been slowing down as I read the Bible in order to think about what I’ve read, consider how it applies to me, and to underline and make notes as I go. I admit that in some of the Old Testament books, I was rushing through some of it. So my plan is that once I finish the Old Testament, I will read the Bible through a second time.

    Recently I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways. I must’ve been at the point in life when I was ready to really absorb something like that. As I read, I underlined and starred a lot of things that I felt were important and significant for me. I thought about how I needed to write about what I had read in order to process it and for it to be more than “Oh, that’s a great book. I read it and liked it” and that would be it. There were too many meaty ideas that I needed to chew on and digest. I have so much spiritual growing to do. I also immediately got on Amazon and ordered several other Terkeurst books.

    I thought about starting a new blog to chronicle my thoughts, but then I thought, “Why not write them in The Median Sib?” I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore since I’ve added so little content in recent years. It’ll be interesting to see if any family and friends notice – and if they do, how long it will take.

    This past weekend I read Kara Tippett’s book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard. Kara Tippett was only 38 years old last month when she died of cancer. It started out as breast cancer but quickly metastasized throughout her body. She had four young children along with a dearly loved husband. Her book contained so much about grace – about God giving us the grace to get through life’s hard places. Her insights about beauty, grace, and love are profound. I want to re-read the book soon, write about it, and let more of it settle into a permanent place in my heart and mind.

    I felt similarly about Lysa Terkeurst’s book on saying yes to God. I read it and immediately gave it to my friend at church who leads our ladies Bible study group. I think it would be great as our next Bible study book. Then I promptly bought another copy because I wanted to read it again myself. Like Tippett’s book, I want to let more of it become a part of me.

    I am almost finished with another Terkeurst book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. That one really speaks to me since I’ve spent the past 55+ years feeling inferior and unworthy because of my weight. It’s rather sad when I look back at my life and realize the impact of those unworthy feelings. I’ve thought a lot lately about the origins of those feelings and how they helped to shape my life. So many of my wrong decisions were a direct result of those feelings. One thing that my recent reading has helped me understand better is the importance of not making quick decisions based on “feelings.” I have to replace those feelings with God’s truth – which is that I’m a treasured and loved child of God.

    Another thing I’ve done lately that has brought me some insight is using prayer beads. A friend of mine on Facebook posted some photos of prayer beads she had made. I thought they were beautiful, and so I started researching protestant prayer beads. I’d never heard of them before! I really liked the concept. Ritualistic prayers seem mostly useless to me. Prayer should be personal. It should be specific. However, prayer beads allow for personalizing – for specificity. They provide a framework for prayer, and they help me focus – but they don’t dictate the content of prayer. I ordered a set of beads and also a kit to make some myself. Then, being my usual obsessive self, I bought lots of beads, watched YouTube tutorials and I started making them myself. I really like some of the ones I’ve made. I ordered some small “holding crosses” made of olive wood from Bethlehem, Israel. They’re perfect for prayer beads because they feel so natural in my hands. I started out using metal crosses that I found in the jewelry section of JoAnn’s and Michael’s craft stores. However, I love the look and feel of these wooden holding crosses.

    I also researched and studied to find prayers to use with the prayer beads – some definite guidelines. I couldn’t find any I liked. Some listed specific prayers – and that didn’t feel right to me. I combined bits and pieces from a lot of different websites – and looked up Bible verses to go along with each part of the prayer bead circle. I feel it’s important to “pray God’s promises” – and those promises are found in the Bible. So I spent a lot of time finding verses that really spoke to the four parts of the prayer beads (praising, asking forgiveness, interceding, and thanking). Then I typed it up, revised it many times, and will probably revise it a few more times before I’m satisfied with it. I use the guide when I pray with the prayer beads. It’s all about providing a framework and helping with focusing. The other day I was walking at Crockett Park, and the beautiful scenery was so uplifting to me, I started mentally going through the prayer beads prayer. It was a meaningful way to spend my walking time.

    As I was writing about the prayer beads, it suddenly occurred to me that since I enjoy making them so much, maybe I could sell them on Etsy – along with the guide that I wrote. I’m going to look into that – Carol’s Prayer Beads. Or maybe it should Grace Prayer Beads since it is through prayer that we seek God’s grace.

    I am on a journey – a journey of spiritual grace – a journey of opening my heart and mind and delving into Jesus, the Bible, the writing of Christian authors, and seeking God’s will. A journey of discipline – of seeing self-discipline, based on God’s strength (definitely not my own!) – as a joy – as a sacrifice I gladly offer for the greater joy of being closer to God. There is so much to learn. Here I am at 65 years of age, and I’m finally doing something I should’ve done many years ago. With age comes wisdom – and maybe when I at last grow up, I’ll be wise.

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