My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, February 18, 2011

living within a new normal

I'm absolutely befuddled by the situation in Wisconsin. It's a microcosm of what's wrong in this country... states have made deals with unions and obligated themselves to pension plans that the budget just can't support. When the state goes in and says, "unlike the U.S. Government, we can't just print more money when we run out... we've got to renegotiate"... teachers walk off the job, legistlators walk off the job and refuse to make the tough decisions. I mean... I think it's time we face facts... this economy is the new normal. People are taxed to death. You can't work from a deficit forever. (trust me on this, I've lived it) I predict that what has happened in Wisconsin is just the beginning. All but 3 states are working from a deficit... something has got to give.

Yesterday I started off feeling pretty good. It only took my normal glam routine for the pain to set back in with a vengeance. There are two places in my spine that are causing problems... the osteoarthritis is affecting my upper back... the spondylolisthesis is impacting my lower back and it's the lower back where there is an inpingement of the nerves... yesterday my hip hurt worse than it has yet. The pain is not limited to one place... I can have one part completely fine... and then have numbness in my foot... or pain in my hip... or muscle spasms in my back. The longer the week drags on, the more time I work, the more the pain accumulates (for lack of a better word). It is so discouraging.

I had a conversation (via text) with someone yesterday about potential future relationships... I just feel (right now) like I could never enter into a relationship with someone knowing that I have this chronic condition and that I am going to always be restricted to some degree by pain. It's early in the process but I'm already seeing friends get frustrated with me because I don't feel like going anywhere. I have been isolated from family members... if I can't go to them, they don't come to me. And... at this point... I can't imagine driving any distance. I realized yesterday that RIDING with someone else driving is even more painful because I can't control the speed... the sharpness of turns... the abruptness of stops. When my upper back hurts, it's painful to steer the car but at least then I can control things.

Not trying to be Debbie Downer... just speaking with my usual candor about what I'm living with at the moment. I know that *eventually* we will figure out a treatment for these different issues that will help with the pain. But the realization that ... it's not like a broken bone that will heal... it's not a pulled muscle that will heal... it's not a kidney stone that will pass or an infection that will heal... my spine is not as good as new any more. And as I start thinking about things like... how will I manage to continue to work a desk job for the next 25 years with a spine that can't handle sitting for 8 hours a day? How long until things progress to the point that I CAN'T work? What happens then? It worries me.

I do know that God has a plan. I know that He saw what was happening to my back long before an xray did. I know that it's just a matter of getting from this time of "not knowing" over the bridge of faith to the life He has ordained for me. I'm gonna get there. I just can't help but wonder how, you know?

I've been trying to explain to Austin that his responsibilities are changing. I can't pick up the things that he lets fall to the ground any more. I can't clean up behind him. I can't wash and rewash the clean clothes that he doesn't put away that end up getting trampled on the floor. It's not fair to him... that he was born last and he has to put up with an older (but still young!) mom than what his brothers had. But... he's old enough to at least clean up behind himself. I don't need him to be my maid.... but I can't be his either. I really need one of those steam mop things to help ME be independent. Maybe for my birthday... I keep trying to tell him that things are different for now. Maybe for always. I need his help.

Have any of you faced a diagnosis that was life changing? What did you do? How did you handle the "what happens next" and "what if" questions? How did you retrain the people in your life to accept the difference? What do you do when life ends up taking a turn you didn't expect? When your baggage grows and your marketability declines and you know that you're getting older, getting weaker, not able to do what you once used to do? Is this all part of growing old gracefully? Is this just part of the process?

I'm just wondering...

I've been studying up on what foods can decrease inflammation and I'm going to try to build the next week's menu around those foods and see if it helps. I'm going to keep doing the exercises I learned in physical therapy... and do what I can and hang tough when it gets rough and just keep moving forward.

I'm not depressed. I'm just facing facts. My life story never has followed the path I thought it would take. So far, it's always worked out JUST FINE in spite of myself. God has been good to me, there is no reason to believe that this situation won't be a blessing in disguise... the rest, as they say, is still unwritten...


Greg Miller said...

Wondering what happens next huh? Well the first thing I can tell you is make sure youre invested in a good long term disability plan. As far as friends are concerned...If you want to keep them then keep your mouth shut. Or be prepared for them to never understand fully or accept it. If youre not in a wheel chair or disfigured so they'd notice then theyre oblivious to your plight. People dont care & dont want you to rain on their parade with your trivial problems like the inability to move. Not the answer you were looking for? Sorry. life's a bitch. The simple truth is your problems are yours. Most people dont want to be bothered. You're on your own kid. Now while this isnt a blanket statement rest assured it will happen to some extent. So when people arent as readily available as they once were you will find solace somewhere yet to be determined. And when youre ready for someone to whip that kid of yours into shape then my offer still stands. Peace.

slj said...

Sorry you're in such pain.
I would think that the women you know from church would be more open to helping someone during a time like this.
Do you think that sitting on one of those blow up rings might help?

The Brown Recluse (TBR) said...

Hopefully Greg isn't has hard nosed as he sounds. Real friends do care, and they won't feel you are raining on their parade because you have an illness you can't help. Most family members are the same way. Austin sounds like a normal teenager.

Don't give into to this so easily...don't be so accepting of the idea that you will never get any better. Give it a good fight, first. Physical therapy, home exercise, (and even surgery if it comes to that)have helped lots of folks. Get those abs can do this!

Attitude is VERY important. Start thinking a little more positively...which will probably make you feel better overall.

Heather said...

Greg is a pragmatist. He means well and I appreciate the reality he tries to interject. I'm not as down as I sound... pensive... tired... weary... it's gone on for so long with no relief. but I am by NO MEANS giving up. And... truly... my friends here have been supportive and loving and kind and concerned. Yet... I know they're tired of hearing about it... tired of letting it dictate what I do. I just haven't figured out yet how to keep going when I'm uncomfortable. I'll find my way. I always do.

mawmaw said...

You turn it over to God and thank him for what he has given you and know that He will get you through it. Let us know if we can do anything for you. Love ya

Greg Miller said...

To the brown recluse. I am very much as hard nosed as you may think. I'm angry & bitter on the outside & Heather knows the inside. Thats all that matters to me. We take our life experiences & thats what we have to base the opinions on that come from next time around. The thing is Heather knows what I've been through & who has left & who has stayed. The first list is much longer than the latter. Que sara.

I am not one to mince words or sugar coat on anyone's behalf. I'm not brutal about it but sometimes you need someone to tell it like they see it. I know while she may not agree she has the capacity to respect & weigh her own options. And that to me is one of the things that make her a beautiful soul. So I will continue to shock those who arent prepared. & I will continue to stand in the wings until called upon. But I will not temper to appease.
Now I've been called alot of things but pragmatist is a new one. And I could easily be called much worse. I consider myself an idealist more than a realist but given the circumstances either could be true.

Heather, I think about you every day. Am proud to call you friend. You know I will lend a hand when needed. Never be afraid to call on me. Quit being so damn easy on that boy of yours. He's crying out for discipline. He doesnt have to like you now but he will love & respect you later for the actions you take today. I know youre scared sometimes but we, as friends, sit on the sidelines waiting for a chance to get in the game. So, put me in coach. Peace & love to you.