My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Friday, April 29, 2011

here's what $11,000 buys you:

My follow up with the Pain Specialist was today. I wouldn't blog about it other than the fact that I've seen so many doctors for so many different things that if I don't record it somewhere, I'll lose track.

So far in this story we've discovered:
spinal stenosis
degenerative disc disease
bulging discs
nerve damage from my knees to my feet on both legs
piriformis syndrome

and since this process began we have added:
high blood pressure (which I didn't have before - or rather it had been under control)

And after padding my Pain Specialist's pockets to the tune of $11,000 here's the verdict:
none of those things above is the primary cause of pain. or the only cause of pain. or a treatable source of pain. Essentially... the two different types of injections serve to not only treat but also help diagnose... so if the bulging discs were the cause of the pain, one kind of injection would have given me some relief. If the things that are joint/skeletal related (like the osteoarthritis) the other kind of injection would have helped. The neurologist determined there is nerve damage causing weakness in my legs but BELOW the knee. Nothing stemming from the spine is causing the weakness in my thighs.

Which means we have to start looking at/ruling out diseases and disorders that cause musculo-skeletal pain. They're starting with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (and something else I forget)... which they do with blood work. And then they sort of wind their way back to things like fibromyalgia. As it was described to me... they don't know if I'm exhausted because of the pain or in pain because I'm exhausted. Although, I'll submit that while I've never quite been a bundle of energy, I wasn't this fatigued until the pain started. I do have some other diagnosis that can fall under the fibro umbrella - interstitial cystitis and migraines, for two - and family history.

$11,000 and they still don't quite know how to make me stop hurting, however, we all agree that no more injections for me EV-UH.

They prescribed cymbalta which has newly been approved by the FDA to treat chronic back pain. We're going to start weaning off neurontin as we figure out if I can tolerate cymbalta. I'm adamant about not taking any medication that is not absolutely necessary, not taking narcotics or anything that causes dependence and nothing that causes weight gain.

He.he. I'm a bit of a pain to the Pain Doctor. Whatever. For $11,000 he can do a little pharmaceutical research.

My blood pressure was 162/99 and my pulse was 119. I decided it was probably best not to do any shopping today. *sadface* I am going to find something amazing for myself on amazon and treat myself to a little double the pleasure shopping trip - I get the thrill of shopping when I order it and the thrill of having a package to open up when it is delivered.

And now...after getting up at pre-4am and making a hour long round trip drive to civilization... and then having about half my blood volume drawn out by the friendly local phlebotomist... I'm wiped out. Gonna take a disco nap so I'm ready and able to have dinner with the Gant Girls tonight.

It's STILL my birthday!

Fairy Tale Friday

For a girl like me who still believes in fairy tales... this has been the perfect way to start my birthday.

I'm 43 today... and not ashamed to admit it. I don't quite understand the whole thing of women hiding their ages... every added year makes me more confident and comfortable with who I am. I look to my Steel Magnolias - my grandmother and her sister Bette - who, although in their 80's - are still poised and beautiful and very much enjoying a lasting quality of life. I think the key to a happy life is embracing every stage for the rewards it brings. If the reflection in the mirror changes, it's just proof of the wonderful things that have been added to my life along the way.

I have truly been giddy at watching the Royal Wedding. The pomp and circumstance... the pageantry... the attention to details... the romance... it's all simply delightful. I set my alarm for 4am but was actually awake slightly before then. Since I'm off work today if I need a little nap, I'll be able to take one but I doubt it will be necessary.

My big birthday plans are to go down to the tag office and settle up my tag renewal... I have an appointment with the Pain Clinic early this afternoon and will probably run a few errands while I'm down in "civilization". I'm having dinner with the Gant Girls this evening... and in between I'll just do my best to enjoy the day. I'm heading out for a breakfast treat of bacon biscuit and gravy in just a few minutes (want to wait until the school traffic dies down).

Here are my random observations of the wedding:
I love the hats. Love them. I so wish that I had the occasion to wear hats more often. Perhaps now that I'm getting older I'll make that my signature... hats.
I wondered about the folks who arrived an hour or more before the ceremony... with an hour long ceremony weren't their bladders just bursting by the end of the service? Especially pregnant Posh Spice...
I cried a little bit when I saw William and Harry together riding to the church... it reminded me of my two oldest boys... and made me a little sad that Diana couldn't be there.
I love how confident Kate is... she did her own makeup. Personally... I thought the blush was a little heavy but I'll bet you that starts a new trend toward heavier blush.
I loved her sister Pippa's dress. I think it's a cool trend having the maid of honor in white.
I wish they had married before William lost so much hair. I'm just sayin'...
Was it just me or did those carriages seem to bounce around quite a bit?
How adorable were the little bridesmaids and pages?
I had a hard time deciding which broadcast to watch since just about every channel short of ESPN was showing the wedding. I flipped around quite a bit. CNN did a lot of popups which helped.
If Queen Elizabeth lives to the same age her mother did... she'll be Queen for another 16 years... which puts Charles at 78 before he starts his reign... which means, theoretically, Prince William could be King in about 25 years or so... not that I want to kill off the royals or anything but I hope that I'm around to see William's coronation... and I pray that he and Kate are still as in love and sweet together as they were today.
It's pretty amazing if you think about it... how well Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth conduct themselves considering their advanced ages.
I noticed that QE wasn't singing along when they sang "God Save the Queen". I guess it would be weird to sing that about yourself.
I'm going to stay put until we see the appearance on the balcony ... and then I'll head out for my errands.
I'm drinking "English Toffee Almond" coffee creamer in my coffee today.
I wish there was somewhere nearby where I could go out for a proper British tea today. The little tea place in Clarkesville has closed down.
Anyone want to place a bet on how long it is before they announce a Royal pregnancy?

Anyways... I'm so glad that I took the day off. Birthdays SHOULD be indulgent...
Hope you all have a fabulous, fairy tale kind of day! love and hugs!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

thankful thursday

I came across this verse yesterday during my Bible study...

"when he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from the storehouses." Jeremiah 51:16

I can't really wrap my mind around devastation like what happened yesterday in the Southeast. A sweet church friend had a facebook status that one of her family members lost everything. I haven't even heard a count yet about how many lives were lost... certainly thousands of lives were changed forever, in an instant.

I felt a lot of anxiety last night watching the Weather Channel... watching such huge storms roll through knowing that they were causing destruction. I didn't fear so much for our safety because honestly, whatever will be, will be. I've already been through a time of great material loss and our lives are only better for it.

As I was praying yesterday and sort of whining before the Lord about my back pain - which was off the charts yesterday - I had a vision of my life in an eternal sense. In other words... if you believe you have eternal life three months suffering or even 30 years suffering has a much smaller impact. And if that suffering is meant to shape your character, meant to develop who you will be for eternity... and even more than that... if that suffering shapes the lives of OTHERS for eternity... it's not such a desperate ordeal. It's... well, it's a blessing.

So while I look at the pictures of devastation, pain and suffering for those who live in my corner of the world... I have to wonder what great eternal value is being achieved. And to take that a step further... if we believe in eternal life and we see Heaven as a place of no more sorrow and no more pain... should we really feel sorry for those who lose their lives? I mean... we grieve for our loss of relationship and fellowship with them but if you had a friend who was dirt poor and they won the lottery, would you be sad that they had to leave their shack behind and move into a great mansion?

Of course... for loved ones who die without knowing the Lord... it's different. One hundred and fifty four people is the latest death toll. How many of them have traded in a shack for a mansion?

I had a great mail call yesterday... sweet card from my grandmother... another sweet card from my Aunt Ginger where she explained how she prays... sweet letter from my niece Jamie where she writes in her (very neat) kindergarten handwriting, "Dear Aunt Heather, sorry you are not feeling so good. And we are sad about that. Love Jamie and Mama". Precious! And another card from a high school friend, Alisa... and a card from my penpal Deb. How much do I love snail mail? I am going to put together a scrapbook of my cards and letters. They are so precious to me and give such great encouragement. Whenever you take a letter out of the mailbox you know that someone thought enough of you to put pen to paper and stamp on envelope.

My day off tomorrow has many things on the agenda... I have to renew my car tag and find out why the tag we paid for via mail hasn't shown up, even though the check has cleared. I have the follow up appointment with the pain clinic which is sure to bring aggravation. But I will also be sure to thank God for taking me to another year of life and I feel, even more strongly now, that He has given me life, THIS life for a purpose and I pray that I have the wisdom to use every circumstance of my life for His glory.

Today I'm thankful that the storms passed by my nest... I'm thankful for the peace of the early morning... I'm thankful for another year... and I'm thankful that this is my Friday!

Have a great day, y'all... love and hugs...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

whatever wednesday

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The early morning local news stations are all lit up with warnings about how bad our weather is going to be this evening. You MUST run out and buy a weather radio, dig a storm cellar, prepare for certain devastation. I mean... it's not like a hurricane... it's a random spring storm and it will hit where it hits... nothing you can do to avoid it. If it's your time... it's your time. I'm not saying run out and become a storm chaser but really... isn't this overdoing it a bit?

I am battling unbelievable fatigue this week. I am literally falling asleep in my nest at 7pm... been asleep super early every night... and just feel so terribly drained. Last week when my regular doctor did blood work my white blood cells were elevated but she felt that was from the steroid shots. I suspect that has something to do with it...

Funny story... back in the early Darby days, we had a Battle Royale over the fact that I don't use an ironing board. I iron on the floor... yep... the floor... sometimes on a towel, sometimes just on the carpet. I've always done it. Consider it lazy, if you will... it's just what I do. I never could figure out why it mattered to him but he was highly perturbed about it... I mean, sleeping in another room, refusing to speak to me, making it out like I had betrayed him in the worst way because I ironed MY OWN CLOTHES on the floor. It was re-donk-u-lous. So... here I am in my own little palace and I have my trusty old iron stationed on the floor near the plug I use for it... and our stray kid who was staying at Heather's Home for Unwed Fathers last weekend says, "why is the iron on the floor?" and I said, "because that's where I iron" and he said... "well no wonder your back hurts"...

Two more days until my birthday and the big celebration over across the pond. I'm so excited!!

My oldest baby is in Washington DC today, I think.

My middle baby and his bride sent me three cards.... Easter, Birthday and Mother's Day... so sweet.

I'm surprised that there's no silver bullet to solve the problem of high gas prices... there's no shortage... there is policy problem where we don't drill and use our own natural resources, even though safe drilling options exist... there is a problem with oil speculators falsely inflating the cost of oil based on fears of unrest in the middle East... there is a reserve that could be released into the market that would increase supply... but again our Campaigner in Chief is distancing himself instead of acting on behalf of our country. Hope. Change. Whatever.

There was a soundbite about how we should invest in alternate energy strategies. Good plan. I'll rush right out and buy an electric car with all that spare cash I have. I don't care WHO runs against him... they could run Donald Trump or Donald Duck... I would vote for them. He doesn't have a clue about how to handle the economy or defense or ... anything!

It's whiny Wednesday but I'm more weary than whiny... maybe I should call it "windy Wednesday" since we're under a wind advisory and the sky, apparently, is falling. Two more days to work this week... meeting with the boss's boss today to learn new sales strategies.... that should be fun. He's a sweet, Christian man so I enjoy him. My sales have been lacking this year but... I mean... I've been out so much... and when I'm working I'm usually in so much pain that it's hard to do anything effectively. But... I'll stick with it and keep doing my best. So I guess we'll call this Windy Whiny Weary Working Wednesday... or something equally corny.

Hope you have a great day... love and hugs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#hashtag Tuesday

Lately I've had a "fat-itude"... just not caring what I eat and the impact on my body. Part of it is the steroids... part of it is the neurontin... part of it is a sense of giving up and giving in. I can't go and do like I want... but I can sit in my nest and eat. That's a dangerous perspective. I'm going to have to change my thinking... get back to clean eating and counting calories, even if I'm not counting points. #offthewagon

I think it's awesome that Obama's solution to the gas crisis is for people to "stop driving gas guzzling SUVs"... what about Jane Q. Public, like me... who drives an extremely economical Nissan Sentra, which gets awesome gas mileage... but still costs about three hours salary to fill up?... and what about the impact on food prices, especially if you live in remote areas like I do? #worstpresidentever

I don't know much about economics... but I do know that I work in an industry that is regulated and can't make too much in profits... and if the insurance industry can be regulated, can't the oil industry? I guess if you don't have to pay to fill your own gas tank... and if you don't have to worry about buying your own groceries... then you don't get too concerned about these things. #MissingGeorgeBush

Don't you love hash tags? You know... like what you use in twitter... which gives everything a quick summary simply by putting that little # in front of it. This is how people on twitter group together "tweets" about the same subject. #randominformation

I'm so crazy about the Royal Wedding that I actually downloaded the press release about it and read through ninety six pages of information about seating charts, itinerary, biographies of people involved, etc. I still think back to that 13 year old girl who was mesmerized by the thought that a 20 year old Lady Diana could become a Princess... sitting on my parents couch in the cool of the early morning and dreaming of being transported into a life of privilege.... #livingoutafairytale

Ultimately, Di's story ended up being too good to be true... she kissed a Prince and he turned into a frog... he was in love with someone else and treated Diana horribly. I always think about the initial engagement interview when they were asked if they were in love and she answered with a shy, dreamy eyed, "yes" and he tacked on "whatever "in love" means".... reminds me of my prince not-so-charming's constant accusation to me that I "didn't know what love is"... when the truth is... I know more about love than he ever will. I know that true love is unconditional... #narcissism

Just watching Wills and Kate... they do seem to be in love, don't they? #happilyeverafter?

I got a fabulous birthday gift in the mail yesterday from Purple Michael... everything in the package was Martha Stewart perfect... from the lovely wrapping with a big calligraphy H on it... to the embossed stamp on the card... to the beautiful gift of coasters with some of my favorite pics of my kids, me and Michael. I know he put so much time and effort into it and I could feel the love... knowing how much I mean to him - and how much he means to me. He is such a blessing to me. #mywhiteknight

It's Tuesday... three more work days for me this week... I took an advil migraine liqui-gel thingy yesterday and not only did it wipe out my headache - it kept the back pain away for most of the day. I didn't start hurting until after 2pm, instead of my usual 10am or so. I'll definitely be discussing with the pain clinic about a similar medication... a long acting ibuprofen of sorts. And changing the neurontin to something that doesn't cause weight gain or increase my appetite. Enough already. #hatemypainclinic

I didn't mention this - I don't think - but the neurologist thinks there is damage to my piriformis muscle.... it's known as "wallet syndrome" because it's usually aggravated by men sitting on their wallets. That's the location of the worst and most constant pain. #paininmytukas

Ok... so that's all the hashed up news that's unfit to type... Hope you have a wonderful, awesome, incredible kind of Tuesday! Love and hugs! #theend

Sunday, April 24, 2011

reasons to love Monday

So many reasons to love Monday this week that I hardly know where to start...

There's a Royal Wedding this week... the kind that happens about once a generation... and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm probably more excited about it than Kate Middleton's mom. Ok. Maybe not more than HER... but I'm still really excited.

And they were nice enough to hold their wedding on my birthday! What a thrill!

And I'm taking the day off... so it's a four day work week!

I spent yesterday watching all kind of random programming about Royal Weddings in the past. Made me sad again for the loss of Princess Diana...

Our stray kid went home yesterday with his mother. They are both determined to make peace and I think with prayer... and patience... they will make it. I could tell yesterday that they had both softened their positions... which is truly an answered prayer.

It was a good weekend. Even having extra kids in the house... or maybe because we had extra kids in the house. It wasn't that long ago that I prayed for Austin to have one Godly friend. This weekend he never even asked to spend time with the kids who are a bad influence on him... and there were a couple extra nice, respectful and respectable kids hanging around.

I'm so proud of how loyal he was to his friend when he was in trouble. They had such a painful falling out... barely a month ago... and yet, when this guy needed Austin, Austin didn't hold a grudge. No matter what other shortcomings he may have, Austin is a very forgiving person and loyal to a fault.

I've had a migraine for the past two days. This worries me some because of the tachycardia and high blood pressure readings last week. She mentioned things to look for that would signal a problem if they occurred in conjunction with the tach. I will call the doctor but... this is the same doctor who remembers you for the five minutes she's in front of you and provides no help at all when she's not.

Yesterday at walmart my bp was 138/96 and my pulse was 97... but I was at walmart picking up stuff that I had left there the day before which HIGHLY aggravated me because the cashier was trying to rush me through to help the person behind me - she was already ringing up their stuff before I had even put my debit card back in my purse... and when I said "is that everything?" and started to spin the little carousel, she stopped it and said, "that's all"... and then I got home and realized I had left four items behind totaling about $12. Money is too tight for me to give Walmart $12. Fortunately, they keep a list at the customer service counter of things that are left behind. Unfortunately, they didn't even have the decency to apologize for my inconvenience ... and it was... terribly inconvenient. They were out of one of the items so I got the closest thing they had to it... it was the exact same price but it required (for inventory's sake) that the customer service girl do a return of the original item and she made sure I knew how inconvenient that was for her. *eyeroll*

At any rate... the headache has been rather unpleasant but because of it, I slept quite a bit yesterday and I'm sure that helped. I'll stop and pick up some more ibuprofen on the way to work - I was out yesterday and felt too icky to get in the car and drive somewhere - I think that will knock it out.

But it's Monday... and I have a car that runs and a job to go to and a birthday this week (did I mention that already? oh well) and a day off on my birthday and it's going to be a good week weather wise, with temps in the low eighties... and ... yeah... I can manage to love Monday this week. I hope you can too!

resurrection and reconciliation

Some call it Easter. Some call it Resurrection Sunday. Some consider it just another day.
For me... yes, I think about the crucifixion today... but I think about the crucifixion more than once a year. I'm a believer... and I see the crucifixion as being a crucial part of the hope that I have. How could I sustain my faith if I only considered the story of the cross once a year?
It's an important day, a Holy day but... we need to carry it with us all year long.
The tomb is empty... even now. It's about more than resurrection... it's about reconciliation... the fact that my sin doesn't separate me from my God. It's about believing that there is hope, despite my failures and shortcomings... I can be reconciled to my Maker.

I'm praying for reconciliation for this young man living with us. We had the opportunity to talk for quite a long time yesterday while Austin was still sleeping. If Austin is around, it is impossible to have a serious conversation because it's like talking to two of the three stooges... noogies and wedgies and wet willies... hard to make a point... and it's harder for me to be candid about the circumstances that surrounded my decisions 25 years ago. And this kid needs to talk... needs to process the reality that is happening in his life... needs guidance...

I watched two episodes of 16 and pregnant last night... and it occurred to me that the greatest difficulty in these crisis pregnancies comes from external factors. It's in the failure of families to accept the situation... the constant application of guilt and discouragement that the family heaps on these young people. It's the lack of empathy... the lack of forgiveness... it's piling on more responsibility instead of being supportive. I think the sentence of losing your childhood, having to assume the staggering responsibility of parenting, the physical discomfort, the emotions, the fear... I think this is punishment enough... it's a life sentence.

To me... it's a time for reconciliation. Time to reassure these kids that they will survive this. Time to model mercy and compassion. The mature adults in these situations need to keep things in perspective. The sin has already been committed... the punishment has already been handed out, a lifetime sentence... it's time for healing... piling guilt on top of guilt will not make this baby disappear or make the pregnancy less of a makes it worse.

I talked for a long time yesterday with our young man about things like allowing his mother to process this situation in her own way... allowing her to say the things she needs to say to get it off of her chest... keeping his anger under control... being contrite... but when he talked to his mother yesterday it didn't go well. I only heard his side of the conversation but I could tell that he was hearing a description of the punishment that awaits him at home... psychological exams... calling the police to report him as a runaway (which he isn't... he WANTS to go home)... additional financial responsibility of having to pay rent and other household expenses. It breaks my heart for them both. He needs his mom. He needs reassurance. He needs reconciliation.

When Robert and I got married we initially moved in with his mother because she lived by herself and my parents had a full house already. I was working full time and Robert was going to school full time. His mother's perspective of how things should work was that we were to take on 2/3 of the household bills since we made up 2/3 of the household. I was 17, pregnant, very sick and working full time.... only to turn over most of my paycheck to someone who should have been supportive. There was no compassion. I was also given a list of chores that I was supposed to complete every day. She didn't work. Robert didn't work. I worked an hour away... it was a completely ridiculous situation. We didn't stay there long. We found it much easier to live in the crowded confines of my parents' home where we only had to pay a small amount... and honestly, from that point on, we never reconciled with her. We spent time with her on occasion but we were never close. She is alone, even now, instead of enjoying a relationship with her only son and three amazing grandsons.

You reach a point as a parent that you realize that you no longer control your child. You have to accept them as an independent entity... and you have to put in play the concept that "you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar". If your relationship with your child becomes one of constantly handing out guilt and punishment... eventually... they will stop coming around.

I wasn't crazy about the idea of Cody and Marquee getting married so young BUT I knew that they were going to get married with or without my approval. I could either accept the situation and preserve a relationship with them... or I could let this be the thing that separates me from my child and future grandchildren.

I never place demands on my grown kids. I set no expectations on how often they are supposed to call me or write me or come see me. When they come around, I purposely never pass out guilt about what they have or haven't done. I try to make a big deal about everything they do for me. I love them. I enjoy my time with them. I seek to foster a relationship that makes them want to be around me.

I just believe that as Christians we are called to be Christ-like. When we fail Him, when we sin, although we have to live out the consequences of the choices we make, all we have to do to restore our relationship with Him is to ask for forgiveness. He doesn't continue to remind us of our failures and how we have disappointed Him... it is forgiven and forgotten and we are reconciled to Him.

As parents that HAS to be our model... forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration... because the most successful people in the world are not those who never fail, the most successful people are those who have the confidence that IF they fail, there will be someone to catch them when they fall.

Unconditional love... being able to separate the problem from the child... as parents, as Christian parents, how can we give our children anything less? There's a verse I must have memorized as a child because I remember the King James Version of it... "provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" Ephesians 6:4. IF WE, as parents, don't model unconditional love for our kids, how will they ever have hope of understanding the unconditional love that God offers?

I'm watching a History channel documentary on crucifixion. It breaks my heart. I can barely stand to watch. Man of sorrows... carrying the weight of everything I ever did wrong... and yet, every time I wrong Him again, He welcomes me back into His loving presence. I don't spend the kind of time with Him that I should and yet He is always glad to see me. He blesses me beyond what I deserve and He loves me beyond what I can comprehend. Let me take that example of love and share it with those that He has put in my path. Lord, bring about reconciliation in our lives today... let us, as parents, bring mercy into the lives of our kids.

Love and hugs...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

finding mercy

Mercy. That's been the recurring theme of my life: a need for mercy. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made but this flesh gets me into a lot of trouble. I have made... over the course of my life... a lot of really bad decisions. Yet I have always found mercy from my Maker, family and friends.

So yesterday when I found out that two young kids were in need of mercy, how could I do anything but give it? A good friend of Austin's got his girlfriend pregnant. The boy's mother was livid. She said a lot of things out of her hurt and disappointment that angered the boy... the boy retaliated with a predictable emotional response and their relationship was splintered. She told her son to leave... and he asked if he could stay with us.

Here I am in the midst of a medical crisis... ongoing financial struggle... unable to get my own teenager to cooperate... and I am put right in the middle of a bad 16 and Pregnant episode. Thank God I am fearfully and wonderfully made so that there's not a fiber of my being that shies away from drama. Yes, God uses drama queens like me to jump in with our soliloquies and posturing and emotional responses.

I could paraphrase a verse in the Bible and say, "in this world you will have drama, but take heart because I have overcome that drama"...

Yet... the mama of this teenage boy is my friend. There is this code between mothers... especially single mothers... we stick together... we have each other's back... and I know, because I live with a teenager (and have since 1999, thank you!) that they sometimes take a statement like, "you can't conduct yourself in that manner and live in my house" as "being kicked out". Shape up or ship out means SHAPE UP... .

And I know... having been a teenager who dropped a baby bomb on my family.... that although it breaks a parent's heart for what you will lose by getting on the parenting train too soon... they love their baby and will therefore love their baby's baby (sometimes better than they love you! *laugh*) I also know that the younger the parent, the greater the need for family involvement. Baby mama has a very shaky familial foundation... she is estranged from her mother and has spent most of the past year basically homeless, dependent on the mercy of others. Baby daddy is estranged from his father... I don't think they've spoken in several months. They already dealing with half of a parenting team between them... they don't need to burn bridges to the only real, consistent, Christian parent they have...

This also, once again, proves my theory that teenagers who don't have a family have a tendency to create their own.

At any rate... crisis pregnancy... mother and son estranged... young man with nowhere to go... and me right there in the middle of things. I sought counsel from two of our pastors (my brother and our youth pastor). Both gave me valuable advice and both agreed that I needed to speak with the boy's mother... I tried during the work day but wasn't able to connect with her. The last thing I wanted to do was upset her... but I couldn't let these kids worry about homelessness on top of everything else.

I told the young man he could stay with us on a temporary basis but that my goal was to reunite him with his mother and, failing that, we would need to find a more suitable situation for him.

Finally... late in the day... I was able to speak with his mother. I expressed to her that I was by no means taking sides but felt like I could not, in good conscience, let this child be homeless. I told her my story of having Ryan and how much I needed my parents then (and even now they help to guide my boys) and that I felt I could positively influence the young man based on my past history. She was (fortunately) relieved that he was with us... appreciative of my involvement (because us single moms so desperately need reinforcement) and hopeful that they could work everything out. She loves her kid... she's disappointed... but she still loves him.

Sometimes we just need a timeout... to go to our separate corners of the ring... get a little refreshment... have someone wipe the sweat off of our brow... hear a word of encouragement... and then we are able to get back in the fight.

It's a hard road ahead for everyone. I thank God that I am uniquely gifted to deal with a crisis pregnancy. I thank God that there is enough mercy in our church family and in our community to be able to help these kids pick up the pieces and make a way for their child. There are a lot of options... a lot of decisions to be made and there is simply no easy path for them to take. But I know that the same God who took my bad decision and turned it into a beautiful, smart, productive citizen... will also show mercy to this child.

God has a way of taking what the enemy intended for our harm and using it for our good. I'm believing that for this situation.

Happy Saturday, y'all...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

what's good about Good Friday?

One week until the Royal wedding and one week until my birthday! I still love birthdays... no matter how many I have, they're all still awesome. No birthday could ever top my bed and breakfast weekend with Purple Michael... my parents got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers... Michael made me the most amazing carrot cake with cream cheese icing... with too much icing which we ate until we went into sugar comas... we had a beautiful picnic lunch together... fabulous breakfast in our spacious suite... just a really awesome time of loving, laughing, singing and making memories together...

Speaking of fabulous memories... show of hands: how many of you watched every minute of Charles and Diana's wedding back in 1981? I was 13. It was July which meant it was hot... even at night. We would have had the attic fan running which made a horribly loud noise but sucked in the cool night air... I was encouraged by the fact that Charles was the oldest... which meant there was hope for me with Andrew or Edward. Obviously... my Princess Plan didn't pan out.

And... how many of you got up in the wee hours to watch Diana's funeral? I was babysitting Brock... my friend Scott's son... who was 11... and dozing on my couch while I sat on the floor in the middle of the living room in front of the tv... you know, that position you assume when you are focused on the tv and nothing else? That was me... a sobbing, brokenhearted mess... 29 years old and feeling like my very own princess had died. And I'm not even British... although I am White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant, so I guess I qualify. Brock woke up and asked, "did you know her?" No. Of course not. "then why are you so upset?"

It's hard to explain. Why did I care about that first wedding? Was it the fairy tale aspect? Why did I care about the funeral? And this wedding? Why does it matter? I don't know... but maybe it's a sign that i still believe in happily ever after... maybe it's some sad fascination with royalty since we don't really have that here...

Are you watching American Idol? My favorites are... Lauren, James, Scotty...

Yesterday I crashed and burned in a big way. I was asleep before 8pm. If you can imagine having someone stick needles into your muscles and then have you contract those muscles. Small needles... he kept telling me how much smaller these needles were than the ones used to draw blood... somehow that didn't make it hurt less. It wore me out but fortunately... I didn't wake up in pain today. I was afraid that I would.

I went to sleep and then Austin woke me up around 9:30 to tell me that a friend of his was in trouble... could he come here if he needed a place to stay? What do you think I said?

Well... before I answer that... I'll tell you that God had placed this child and his mother so heavily on my heart yesterday morning that before I started pleaded for mercy with my tests, I was praying very specific and unusual things for this family and... I had no idea why. No idea. I even told God that I had no idea what was going on but that He knew the need. I really, honestly, completely at that moment thought the burden I had for them was because Austin and I have struggled so much lately.

When I heard what the crisis was... I answered, "yes, of course he can stay with us". I saw nearly every hour on the clock after that and prayed for this child and his situation every time I woke up.

Look... I know this may have all been completely coincidental. I choose to believe that it was purely intentional. I believe God works that way... even though He could do anything He wants in any situation He wants without any of us having anything to do with it... He tells us that the prayers of a righteous person are powerful. Obviously, for reasons I don't entirely understand, He hears our prayers and answers them. How could God need my help? I mean, He already knows the need... He already loves these people... He will do what He will do... but for some reason, intercession makes a difference. And so I will continue to pray.

I believe that it was prayer that helped me accept what I was told yesterday. (and I just realized I was sitting indian style again which I am not supposed to do). When this started three months ago, I thought I had a kidney infection, I'd get an antibiotic and be fine. Then I thought... I've got a kidney stone... it will pass and I'll be fine. Then I thought... I've got some problems with my back but I was fine before, this will heal and I'll be fine. Then... the longer it went on I thought... I'll end up needing surgery and it will be a struggle but I'll be fine. Now... to know that a surgical fix isn't available... that the degenerative issues are just that... to know that I'll have to depend on pain management and lifestyle changes to adapt to a back that will never be as good as new again... and... I was fine.

I drove home thinking, "I should be more emotional than I am"... especially considering the pain of driving after all the poking and prodding and shocking my legs had gone through... and I wasn't emotional. I kept repeating to myself what the neurologist had said... the things he told me to try... the physical therapist that specializes in the specific problems I have -a physical therapist that is a 45 minute drive away, that he wants me to see three times a week for an indefinite time period with gas nearing $4 a gallon, meaning I would miss work, spend a fortune in gas... and then the suggestion that I not sit at a desk 8 hours a day. I mean... honestly... basically what I heard was that the pain isn't going to go away because what I need to do to make it better is beyond my ability to do. I couldn't wrap my mind around it.

And today is Good Friday... so as I began to think about how this day is a memorial day of sorts, to remember a good man who suffered beyond what our minds can comprehend to accomplish something that couldn't have been accomplished without His willingness to submit Himself to God's will... and i thought about how I grieve for what He suffered but how glad I am that He did because of the ultimate outcome and it brought my situation into focus...

Does He watch me suffer and grieve for what I'm going through but... knowing that what it's going to accomplish in my life and through my life is worth the price I pay? Didn't He say to take up our crosses and follow Him? Is this my cross? Isn't my heart so much more tender to the suffering of others because of this? And isn't my faith growing stronger by the day? And haven't I seen answered prayers continually... down to minute details that I ask for that He answers?

Last week I prayed, "Lord make me able to put food on the table..." and my daddy came and bought groceries.

Yesterday I prayed, "Lord let me find compassion for my limitations today at work" and I had a pleasant conversation with the boss before I left... a rare moment of having his undivided attention, which let me express my concern about the process and the pain... and let him express his concern and compassion for the situation.

And when I got home and had some time alone and could have really fallen apart... there were seven cards in my mailbox yesterday. Seven.

Next Friday I'll celebrate my birthday by going back to the pain clinic to find out what the long term plan will be, now that we know what looks to be the full extent of the problem. And I will start walking this weekend, now that I'm cleared to do that. And I will start yoga. And I will refocus my weight loss efforts because that's so important. And I will wake up every day and be grateful for everything that I am able to do and I will not grieve what I am not able to do... because this situation doesn't close doors for me so much as it opens doors... the path looks different from what I expected at this stage of the journey but that doesn't make it the wrong path... actually, it feel more right than it's ever felt before.

It really is a GOOD Friday. Love and hugs, y'all.

the results are in....

I'm home from the neurologist. Home. Waiting for meds to kick in to relieve me from the pain of those two tests.
Here's what he found... there IS nerve damage to both of my legs below the knees... which is COMPLETELY UNRELATED to my back problems. I have compressed nerves from sitting "criss cross applesauce" all the time.
There is a problem with the muscles in my hips... completely unrelated to the back problems.
My bulging discs, osteoarthritis, etc... are not going to be resolved by surgery ... which is a relief in one aspect because, who wants back surgery, right? But discouraging in that ... there's nothing they can really do for it.
I'm supposed to lose weight, do yoga and walk, not sit cross legged and basically learn to live with things. This is ... according to the neurologist... the way it's going to be.
So... in short... we added two new diagnosis without resolving any of the others.
In addition to adding tachycardia to the list this week.... which also reared it's head today... go figure... send electrical shocks through my legs... stick a dozen needles in my leg muscles... and my heart goes haywire.
Because of the nerve damage in my lower legs, he took twice as long as he said it would take... trying to map out the nerves and try to figure out where the dead spots are. He kept apologizing... sweet man... saying he just wanted to find where the nerve stopped working.
Anyways... he'll send his findings back to the pain doctor. He told me to follow up with him as planned - on my birthday - and he'll help me draw up a long term plan for dealing with the back problems... which will be with me the rest of my life.
That's it for now... gonna just try to chill out.

thankful Thursday perspective....

There are days that the world just seems mad.

I just saw a new story about a $ 600k statue of a fairy riding a toad that was supposed to go into a military installation outside Washington DC.

I may not be an economic genius or anything... but one thing I know about balancing a budget is that when you can't pay the power bill, you don't buy new decor for the house... because without power, nobody will see it.

That principle should apply on a larger scale as well, right? I mean... if you're in debt to such a degree that it exceeds the entire earnings of everyone alive... (ok, that may be an exaggeration but not by much)... you can't afford $600k fairy statues for... milatary bases.

Maybe that's a way of making up for the whole "don't ask- don't tell" thing?

I don't know.

I'm slightly grumpy this morning.

I woke up to the delightful sound of a thunderstorm outside... grateful that I slept with my window open...

But man... I have such a sinus headache...

And today I have that whole nerve conduction test which... I've successfully freaked myself out about by reading everything I can find on google about it.

Everything says, "causes some discomfort to the patient" and variations on that theme.

See... cause... how it has to work is... I go to work, I leave and have the test done, I go back to work.

Therefore it must not impair my ability to do so.

I'm just anxious. The longer this process continues, the more weary and wary I become.
I cried at two different doctor appointments on Monday. I feel like such an idiot when I do that... it's like they immediately relegate you to "emotional female" status and completely ignore everything you have to say.

Of course... at some point... these doctors need to realize that they have some skin in the game and their reluctance/inability to fix this problem is greatly impacting my life.

Told you I was a little grumpy.

Austin is doing things he shouldn't do. I'll leave it at that. He is definitely impacting my stress level and taking terrible advantage of my inability to "jerk a knot in his head"... which is what he needs.

Honestly... I'm at the point of crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head and letting the lights be turned off and letting the sheriffs department come and throw us out... it's hurt so bad for so long... I'm working so hard just to stay where I am and watching my kid stumble through life like it's one big party with no tomorrow.

Yesterday on the way to work I suddenly realized a convoy of emergency vehicles coming up behind me. I pulled off the road... (this is what you do in the country on two lane roads)... this process continued two more times... I believe every emergency vehicle in the county was headed to this... whatever it was... then I came upon it... a truck had veered off the road and crashed into a house. As I drove by I witnessed someone collapsing on the lawn... not sure if they were involved in the accident or shocked by the carnage or what... I still don't know exactly what happened but I was pretty sure I was guaranteed to have a better day than those folks.

And ultimately... sometimes that's the best we can do in the way of gratitude is to realize that no matter how dark the night, no matter how violent the storm... if we pull the covers back from over our heads long enough... we'll realize that there's always someone who's going through something worse. Sometimes that person is us, at a previous time in our lives... and it's a matter of validating our own growth by saying, "you know... this ain't fun but it ain't near as bad as ...." fill in the blank. I can't help but believe that God allows us to go through different things at different times as a way of exercising our ability to deal. I also think He allows us to bear witness to the suffering of others both to help carry their burdens but also to give us perspective on how "not so bad" our light and momentary troubles really are, know what I mean?

So that's what I'm thankful for this week... perspective. May God always allow me to see the needs of others above/beyond/instead of/in addition to... whatever He allows in my life... and may whatever He allows in my life make me better at everything He calls me to do.

Love and hugs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

whiny wednesday

Yesterday I read a verse that really struck my heart... it's in Jeremiah chapter 12... and it's only the last half of the verse that made me do the Scooby "baroooo?"... or like my granddog Sammy when you say, "wanna go play with the girls?" and he cocks his head to the side so he can hear better. (the girls are my parents dogs next door)... I just saw myself all over this verse and so I wrote it on my hand to remember it. This morning when I was all bleary eyed and thinking about what to blog about... I remembered... Here's the part of the verse that stopped me in my tracks;

you are always on their lips but far from their hearts. (verse 2)

Ouch. Don't let that be me. That was my very first reaction. I want to do more than talk a good game. I want to live it. I want my heart to be transformed to be His and only His. I've struggled with it. I've grown weary at times in my journey and decided to wander off on little trails and paths that were not the ones He had chosen for me. I even boldly said to a gentleman friend, "if you want to love me, you have to go through Him to get to my heart"... and then I lived out a reality that was completely different.

That's the problem with being articulate. You know how to say the right thing... but you're no better than anyone else at living the right way.

Yesterday was a struggle. My pulse is still racing. I'm dizzy. It scares me ... even though my mom said she has suffered through the same thing... I haven't. It's new for me. Fortunately they did a baseline EKG on me during my regular check up last Summer so they knew at the doctors office that a pulse over 125 wasn't normal for me. I have to have my regular doctor check my pulse and blood pressure again tomorrow. In the meantime... I'm just trying to live as normal as possible.

Oddly... but not really... I had two very sweet saints email me yesterday to see how I was doing. You know, the kind of people who tell you they will pray for you and actually do it. The kind of people who say, "how are you?" and listen to your answer. It's not a rhetorical statement with them. They really want to know. And for me.... there was reassurance in knowing that He is burdening people to pray for me... rallying the troops.

I try to be that person... I try to make sure that when I say, "I'm praying for you"... it's not just a platitude... that it's my real attitude. Nothing beats suffering for teaching you to pray without ceasing. There were moments yesterday when I was so dizzy and in so much pain that I was praying that I wouldn't pass out... forget just being able to work... I was trying to just be able to sit up and function. I couldn't leave work because I wouldn't have been able to drive. And... although I will admit to being a big ole drama queen... the last thing I want or need is one of those expensive taxis... you know the kind with the flashing red lights? I want to be in control.

That's the real problem with this whole thing for me. I have such a huge need for independence... mostly because there's never been anyone in my life that I could really trust to be there for me. There are lots of awesome people in my life, don't get me wrong... but they are busy... too busy to take on my load. I just want to be able to do everything for myself. But yesterday... when I got home from work... I crawled into my bed and other than an hour or so of quickly catching up my online games while reclined all the way back... I stayed in bed until this morning. I fixed a quick pb & banana sandwich for dinner because I was too unsteady to cook... there's no way I would have called anyone and said, "hey, can you drop everything and come feed me?" Nothing brings me to tears faster than not being able to take care of myself. It's pathetic.

But yesterday was awesome for Austin. The older boys from church got together to hunt each other with paint ball guns. Austin has wanted to do this for as long as I can remember. He begged for a paint ball gun when he was little but... I mean, this is the kid who is missing the "that might not be a good idea" part of his brain... so the last thing I wanted to do was give him a weapon of mass destruction. I always promised him he could have one when he turned 13. But... at 13 I was married to Michael and he was strictly anti-gun ... and so I had to break that promise. Since then there hasn't been time or money or opportunity for such... but yesterday... he got to live out his dream. He was on a cloud when he got home last night. It's such a simple thing but it was such a blessing to me that he got to do that... and that there was a sweet Christian boy willing to bring him home.

In other news...
I have an inability to see a video of a tornado on tv without saying, "auntie em! auntie em!" It's fortunate that nobody can hear me because it sounds like I'm not concerned with the people who are going thru those tornadic tragedies... It's a reflex...
I am looking for a good pair of black ballet flats. I found some really cute sketchers black casual flats that would go with most of my summer dresses for work. I'm probably going to buy online so I don't have to drive into civilization to get them. SO... if anyone was looking for a birthday present idea for me... gift certificates... LOL!
When I grow up I want to be an air traffic controller so I can sleep on the job.
Just kidding... there are lots of jobs where you can sleep... mine is not one of them.
I think the world needs more sequins... I love the costumes on dancing with the stars and I think I'd sell more if I was wearing sequins. I think we'd all be happier if we were in sequins.
And a hat. I wish I had lived in the time period when everyone wore hats. I just feel more complete with a hat.
I haven't sent out any cards in the past few days... been too out of sorts... I'm planning to get some out today. Oh... I did send one birthday card... other than that... I'm falling down on the job.
Austin is already up.
Ok... I think that's it.
I hope you have a blessed day... and that God is not only on your lips, but also in your heart.
Love and hugs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

He gets me

How do you view the Bible? For you... is it the inspired Word of God or just a nice collection of parables? Because... it occurred to me yesterday that even if I didn't believe in God, I would still be moved by the crucifixion story.

I think there is little doubt that crucifixions actually happened in that time period... and to have an ancient text report the crucifixion of a man for no greater crime than blasphemy... that has to tug at your heart no matter what you think of Jesus.

If we celebrate st. Patricks Day with such enthusiasm and gusto... a holiday based on a "fable"... a story that has been handed down throughout history... about a martyr.

Wouldn't you consider Jesus of Nazareth a martyr? Or at least a tragic story?

I'm fascinated by stories of mass tragedy... the sinking of the Titanic... the Hindenburg... the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory... not that I enjoy suffering of others (schadenfreude)... but being an empath, I am moved by such stories. I am fascinated by the Kennedy family because of their unbelievable successes and equally unbelievable tragedies.

I realized yesterday that even if I didn't believe that Jesus was the son of God, the story of his death would fascinate me. Even if He hadn't come back to life. Even if He was just a good man who lived and did some amazing things and taught some amazing lessons...and then was falsely accused, unjustly put to death... I would still want to know more about His story.

But in my heart, I believe He was so much more. I believe He lives to intercede for me... I believe that every wrong I've done was piled on the guilt and shame He carried on the cross and because of that, I can obtain forgiveness. I believe He was God... is God... and that makes the tragedy of the crucifixion more than just another historical fascination for me... it makes it one of a few stories on which I base my faith.

I'm not going to talk about what's going on with me physically right now. Ultimately... what matters most in this moment in time for me is not so much the symptoms that I'm living with but how i use this time of trial to further the Kingdom of God. He was a suffering saviour and I am His. My suffering helps me identify more with His suffering. What matters most is the story of the cross... whether you see it as fact or fable... and paying respect to a man who lived and died... I believe, so that I could live life more abundantly. I am a follower of Christ. I am not ashamed to admit it.

So every time I feel pain... I know He did too and He understands.
Every time I don't get what I think I deserve... neither did He.
When life is unfair... He knows what I'm going through.
When people say things about me that aren't true... He also was falsely accused.
When the road is too rocky and I grow weary... so did He.
When people turn their back on me because they are tired of hearing about my suffering... He knows how that feels.

I'm close to my friend Jen in California... and Jess way up north... and Sarah in Louisiana... and many of you... because we have been through similar circumstances. They get what it's like to be a single mom... to worry about money... to feel lonely and afraid... to wonder if child support will come before the power or water is turned off... they are my sister friends because they have been through what I'm going through. And when I am afraid, I turn to them... and vice versa.

And Jesus, my Jesus... He knows too.
I hope He's as real to you as He is to me... and I hope you are able to believe what I believe because that hope carries me through anything and everything I ever face. But even if you don't see him as messiah, respect the life He lived...

Happy Holy Week, Happy Passover... God bless...
love and hugs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

my doctor appointments...

What a day.

i went into the office prepared to do a little work, go to the neuro, then go back to the office. By the time I got to the office I knew that sitting was simply NOT an option. Then I called my regular doctor and spoke with the nurse about what my blood pressure has been doing...she gave me an early afternoon appointment. SO... i knew by the time I left the neurologist and got back to work, it would be time to leave again. i did what I could do at work... in a whole half hour... and then left for the day.
The neurologist was nice. he sent a medical student in first to do the whole work up which actually helped... I was more at ease with her and she was very thorough... and so when he came in to do his exam, she was able to help me articulate things and she pointed out things to him that she had noticed, etc.
His take is that there is definitely a nerve related issue... he believes it's injury related and not any type of neuro-muscular disease (which frankly, I had never considered)... he doesn't believe my muscle weakness has anything to do with the neurontin... he ordered an EMG and nerve conductor test for Thursday.
He warned me that the type of things he would have done to treat this situation conservatively have already been done. he also warned that if it was going to get better without medical intervention, it would have already. In other words... it is looking more likely that surgery is going to be the only way to fix this.
He doesn't think there has been permanent nerve damage done... but he does believe that there are nerves that are being compromised...

So there was that. He was nice. I didn't walk out of there feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof but I did feel like I was heard and validated. The bad news... my blood pressure was still high. No worries... doctors appointment scheduled for this afternoon, I knew we'd get that whole situation under control. i went home and rested for a little while...

When I got to my regular doctors office... they called me back and did the whole vital assessment. My pulse was racing... the nurse freaked out... she got me into a room quickly and started an EKG. It was all trauma -scary - none of this "let me get you a gown"... it was "take off your shirt.." and she ran to get the EKG machine... she said, "I don't want to upset you but it's possible that we may need to call an ambulance"... LIKE that would do anything other than upset me? Seriously? My blood pressure was still high but not AS high as it had been the past few times it had been checked. The doctor came in ... less freaked out than the nurse... and said that although I was in tachycardia (I had to look it up)... that my heart rhythm was normal, just too fast. She asked how long it had been that way (I can't remember... didn't know it was, really) and asked a lot of questions about my pain level (very high today) and stress level (hello, Austin, pain, etc, etc) and started talking about what to watch for and whether or not I needed to go to the hospital. Surreal. I was fighting to stay calm but... my life flashed before my eyes... and i don't mean in that "I'm about to die" sort of way, I mean in the sense of my responsibilities and the number of hours available for this paycheck and just the logistics of me being out of commission... it was too much.

SooOooo... the plan for now... they did blood work to check for things like thyroid issues (which can cause your heart to race) and I am supposed to go back on thursday for a recheck. I'm back on blood pressure meds... and once we're a few more days past the steroid injections, and once we've had the follow up with the neurologist on thursday... she wants to put me on a 24 hour heart monitor. In the meantime I'm supposed to avoid stress... report any chest pains or periods of dizziness... and just sort of be on notice that everything is not quite right. Which, in itself makes my blood pressure a little high and makes my heart race a little bit.

I'm settled in for the evening... totally chill... will have an early bedtime... and plan to work the whole day tomorrow. I will be well, strong, able, pain free... and if I'm not... i'll just FAKE IT!

reasons to love monday...

It's been a long weekend. I'm fortunate to have had a long weekend because I would have been in no condition to sit at my desk over the past three days. I'm not sure I'm able to today but... I will go and do what I can do.

I'll only be at the office a little while this morning and then I'll have to leave and head down to the neurosurgeon's office in Gainesville. No staff meeting this morning (since we had two last week)... so I'll get to work at 8:30 and have to leave around 9 or 9:15 to go to the bank (since I missed payday on Friday) and then to the doctor.

It takes right at thirty minutes to travel from Demorest (where I work) to Gainesville. Most of the specialists I see are in Gainesville. There is a hospital and several doctors in Demorest but... the better doctors are in Gainesville and the better hospital is in Gainesville.

I haven't left the house since friday other than a brief trip out yesterday afternoon with Austin and my car was not running right. it wouldn't accelerate... and it scared me to death. I pray it was just a fluke and there's not anything wrong with it. It's almost paid for.

Some times I just want to look up to Heaven and cry, "ENOUGH!" I know that God promises not to give us more than we can handle but sometimes i think He trusts me too much. I'm joking.

When I had the first injection, there was a moment when the doctor hit a nerve and I cried out to him... he said that meant what he was doing was working. I doubted him then... and I doubt him even more now. that one nerve is the biggest source of pain for me... and yesterday it wouldn't let up. it hurt so bad that I couldn't catch my breath... who knows what kind of trauma they put that little nerve through when I was knocked out.

I have a feeling that when I talk to this neurosurgeon today that I'm going to just dissolve into tears... i'm so frustrated with this process. And... I also have to call my regular doctor today about the blood pressure situation... I imagine I'll have to go in and see them for them to prescribe anything for me and I don't want to get back on this medication roller coaster... but untreated high blood pressure is no good.

I'm weepy already today just thinking about it.

Soooo... time to change the tone of this entry and work on my Reasons To Love Monday...
1. I had a three day weekend...
2. Only 11 days until my birthday AND that means...
3. Only 11 days until the royal wedding AND... on top of that
4. I just got an email that showed there are only 11 days until my tax refund hits my bank account. (although it won't be much, it's a little something)
5. I've met my deductible so I shouldn't have much out of pocket today at the neurosurgeon's office.
6. Since I have the doctor appointment today, I won't be sitting at my desk for a full 8 hours today which should help with the pain
7. we're still enjoying a really beautiful spring here in the north Georgia mountains
8. we're expecting low 80 degrees temp and low humidity today - good hair weather
9. lots of good, healthy choices in my fridge for us to eat, I don't have to make a grocery run this week!
10. dancing with the stars is on tonight! I am so enjoying this season...
11. No storms predicted for us today... we've had some crazy weather in the southeast lately, deadly storms... but not for today.
12. Good coffee...
13. Holy week... Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. This week I'm going to work harder at seeing the bigger picture, rejoicing in the risen Saviour and I'm going to work on keeping my focus on His suffering than on my own.

Hope you find a few reasons to love monday this week!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

how much do you weigh?

It's a cool morning here in the mountains... I slept with my window open and had to climb under about thirty pounds of covers to get warm in the middle of the night... even after I closed the window. Good sleeping weather but I'm still not sleeping good... I saw every hour on the clock last night and feel like I was hit by a truck... still. Glad to have one more day to rest before I get back on the merry-go-round again.

I haven't seen any improvement from the injections yet. Still experiencing all the same pains as before. Having swelling and the other unpleasant side effects again...

The nest is feathered nicely, though. My dad took Austin on a grocery trip with him yesterday and filled my fridge with all my normal healthy yummy stuff... and brought me back some gorgeous yellow tulips. It's amazing how well they did... Austin knows what brands and types of food I usually buy so that helped. I have enough groceries to easily see us through the week without having to stop off at the store or having to eat out. This is a huge help... I've been putting together groceries in bits, one bag at a time over the past month because I just can't handle a huge trip.

The gentleman I mentioned yesterday, a former Sunday School teacher and just all around awesome servant of God had already passed away by the time I mentioned him. His funeral is today. He used to say that the Bible was a book about baseball because it started with "in the big inning"... he was just one small example of the many people who helped make me who I am today. Knowing that all these random threads woven together make a life... I can't help but be grateful for the random threads that are at work in my son's life right now... there is no way to live your life without making an impact on others (good or bad) or being impacted by others. I think if we were truly able to see the eternal impact of our lives, we would be nicer, more thoughtful, less selfish, etc.

I think we sort of get into routines and ruts and feel like our lives are meaningless. Yet, it seems like every day that I have someone to mention either for some act of kindness or some way they impacted my life. I don't know about you, but I want to be invested in the lives of others in the same way that others invest in my life. I want to be a thread... woven into that great tapestry. we aren't alone on this planet... even if we want to be. And even an extroverted-anti social hermit of a person like me has the opportunity to bless and be blessed.

You carry weight in this world... it's up to you to determine if that's like an anchor tied to the ankle of a drowning person... or if you're a huge bundle of helium balloons lifting someone up and above their circumstances.

Gonna sign off now and try to catch a few more winks... love and hugs...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

my treasures...and my prayers...

It was a dark and stormy night but the storm has passed and I can see the first hint of daylight starting to peek through.

I was supposed to keep a pain diary yesterday but I left the paper in my brother's truck.

God bless my sweet brother. He has such a heart for ministry, I am so glad he answered the call and has spent his life doing what he's good at. Jim is a soft-spoken introvert. He's the kind of person who sits back, observes a situation and then makes one very astute comment on the subject that settles it. I'm an extrovert so the whole process of assessing a situation is done out loud so that the whole world can participate in my thought process. I think we have remained close throughout our lives because that introvert/extrovert combination serves us well... and because we learned in childhood how to communicate. I always joke with my sister-in-law Angie that he learned how to deal with girls by growing up with a Drama Queen of a sister.

There are a lot of wonderful people in my life who minister to me in several ways... but when you escalate the need to the extent of what I needed yesterday... someone to sit and wait for several hours... and then drive my extremely nauseous and dizzy self home ... and mercy, me, I had not realized how curvy the road between Gainesville and Cleveland is! Well, it was a big sacrifice for him.

I don't have to keep a pain diary to remember the pain... I will never forget this. Again, they said it would take a couple of days... but last night it was impossible to get comfortable. When you see people who get addicted to pain meds due to chronic pain, I can see how that could happen. I have not been on any narcotic pain meds since the end of January when it was determined that my pain was not related to a kidney stone. I've just been able to do the nerve block at night ... but it doesn't relieve the constant pressure. The nerve block doesn't do a thing for the muscle spasms... the muscle relaxers help some... but again, only at night.

But I believe that God is a compassionate God and I still believe that this pain is transforming me into the person He destined me to be. Let's just call them "growing pains".

I caught Austin doing something he should NOT do yesterday. He had the sense to be contrite and quiet and not rage at me... but it hurt my heart to see the depth of the grip that the enemy has on his life. Remember earlier in the week when i talked about recognizing your enemy... and the fact that we battle not against flesh and blood? Yes, there are people who serve to do the work of the enemy and seek to draw us into the path that they have chosen which is not God-serving. God has told us that what is not for Him is against Him. But the sin... the desire to do that which pulls us away from the grip of God... that is the real enemy. That's what we have to battle.

My enemies - pain, physical limitation, financial pressures, etc etc... they are what I battle daily. My child's enemies are even bigger, as I suspect is the case for most teenagers. If the enemy can get these kids in his grip and in his service during a time when their whole lives are before them... he could change the very course of their life and leave them in a position where it is difficult to find the road back... and therefore impact their children and their children's children and so forth. I want my descendants to know the Lord and to have the hope that I have. I have a legacy of faith that I want to pass on to the generations that come after me. That's a big responsibility.

All of this makes me even more grateful that 1/4 of his school day is spent in a Christian environment. After our "storm" passed and my confrontation with him ended... I found a folded up piece of paper on the ground that had this verse typed on it: If possible, live at peace with all men, as much as it depends on you. Romans 12:18

And ... if possible... live at peace with your crazy mama who is weary... and battling her own enemies... and doesn't have enough strength to take on yours too. but I will... because what affects my child affects me. Please stand with me on this, believers... there is spiritual warfare going on in my home and I KNOW that we have the authority to overcome.

I have a dear friend who is in the kind of transition I faced when I moved here... needing a place to live for her and her three kids... needing a job... there is a lot of uncertainty for her. Please keep her in your prayers.

the weather in the southeast has been violent over the past day. many people lost their homes and their lives. Many are facing difficult conditions and interruptions in their lives. I'm grateful that the storm that raged outside didn't breach my little compound here. My nest is still safe and sound.

My steel magnolia (my grandmother) may have had a minor heart attack last week. I think my dad is going up to see her today. She lives in Hayesville, North Carolina which is just over the mountain from us... about 45 minutes. It's more of a hike for Pop since he lives below Atlanta. If I were able to sit up for any length of time, I'd go with him.

I have a friend who lost her father last week to a long, agonizing battle with Alzheimers. I know she's glad that he is healed and whole and has his mind restored in Heaven... but I know she misses him here on earth.

Ironically, I also got word that a man who was my 5th grade sunday school teacher is in that final battle himself. His wife pampered me like I was her own little girl when I was little - she's the one who took me to get my ears pierced when I was 9 at the little Merle Norman store at the Riverdale Plaza. One time when i was really young... maybe 6 or so... she took me home with her after church and bought me a new dress to wear to a reception of some sort they had to attend. I don't remember a lot of details but I do know that this couple was very instrumental in my young life and i know they showed me a lot of kindness. Having just witnessed via facebook my friend's journey with her father's final days, I am even more aware of just how hard this can be.

I guess the point of this entry is that we are all standing in the need of prayer or ministry in some way or another. I once heard a sermon that said you are always in one of three places: either about to enter a crisis, in the middle of a crisis or just getting out of a crisis. In all three circumstances you need to be fit for battle with whatever your enemy is. Even if you're not a believer in Christ, you can understand what it means to gather your resources and make sure that you have what you need to get you through... whether it's making sure you have financial resources for any crisis... or building relationships so that you have emotional support... or making sure you have good insurance, one way or another you're putting together an arsenal.

Maybe I'm lazy... it's easier for me to hope in Christ than to try to gather my own weapons of warfare. My arsenal is the group of people that God has placed in my life to minister to me through encouragement, prayer, support, financial blessings, acts of service, being my family and friends and just loving me. Knowing that I matter to people, knowing there are a couple dozen people who start their day by reading my blog is what drives me to live a better life.

My treasures in Heaven are the relationships I've built and nurtured and the people I've prayed for and ministered to and loved. Oddly, those are my treasures here on earth too.

Let me know if there is someway I can pray for you... let me know if I can make you one of my treasures or be one of yours! Happy Saturday, y'all! Sending lots of love and hugs to you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

today was no fun at all

Today's injections were not at all what I was expecting. Once again... my confidence in this pain clinic is low because these two injections were completely different... and I was completely unprepared.

For the first injection they just gave me a shot of a demerol / vistaril combo and I was only slightly altered during the procedure. Completely able to communicate, in and out of the pain clinic in a little over an hourl

Today... I was on IV sedation (think: propafol) and instead of one little puncture, I have six. I was completely knocked out but not in that good way where you're awake in one place and then awake in another... i had a sensation of dying, of going over and being in a completely different realm. I wanted to communicate and couldn't. They moved me out of the procedure room quickly, long before I was awake but I was vaguely aware of being told to hold my head up... and someone moving me from a wheelchair to the recliners in recovery. I have been horribly dizzy ever since... riding home i was so sick to my stomach that I have to give it the "drunk treatment" (you know... stay as still as possible and as cool as possible)

Every time I've had my blood pressure taken in the past two months, it has been high. The past three times when I've been at the pain clinic, it's been at least 155/95... the nurse said that pain could be causing it to be higher and told me to follow up with my regular doctor. then... the odd thing... after the procedure when she took it, it was still just as high (in other words, when I was highly medicated). I asked if it stayed high during the procedure (they kept oxygen and a bp cuff and a pulse monitor on me during the procedure) and she said that it had stayed high... even when I was unconscious. This has me really concerned.

BUT... I have this weekend to rest and I will. there is a searing pain in my lower back, some of the same muscle weakness that I struggled with before... I have a significant headache, which I attribute to the blood pressure issue and the fact that I didn't have coffee today. Honestly... I just don't feel well.

So that's the story... happy weekend, y'all.

freaky friday. not really.

I'm suffering from a serious lack of creativity today. Maybe it's because I stayed up too late... nearly midnight... maybe it's because I can't have coffee this morning... nothing to eat or drink until after my procedure... maybe I'm slightly anxious about going under the .. uh.. needle again. Or maybe I'm just burned out. I mean, surely you know that I'm not always chatty, right?

I'm actually... to be perfectly honest... apprehensive about today. Not fearful, really. I have a very clear perspective that God is completely in control of what is happening and that ... if God is allowing it in my life, there is a real, clear, definite purpose for this situation. The apprehension comes from the limitations that I know I will deal with in the next day or two. It's almost worse since my experience last time was unpleasant.

So why do another injection? The treatment plan that the pain clinic lined up for me was to try two different types of injections... one was an epidural injection into the spinal canal, the second was into the joints of the spine. I won't bore you with all the medical mumbo jumbo, mainly because I'm not one hundred percent clear on it all... but according to Dr. Google, doing the two different types of injections and observing what, if any, relief they provide helps doctors make a more definite diagnosis and also helps understand which condition is causing pain. To recap... my diagnosis includes;
  • osteoarthritis
  • degenerative disc disease
  • bulging discs
  • spondylolisthesis, possibly "unstable'
  • spinal stenosis
I think that's all... they can all be painful... and they can all exist without causing pain. The big mystery (to me) is what caused the pain to start back in January because ALL of these things are progressive. What was the tipping point? And why, with all the various and assundry things we've tried, why hasn't the pain ever stopped? Not one day. It changes (as I described in a previous entry) but there is always some pain somewhere from my ribs down to my toes... sometimes it's just a mild nagging aggravation. Sometimes it takes my breath away.

At any rate... today I'll jump thru another hoop in the diagnostic/treatment process. On Monday I'll see the neurosurgeon and see what hoops he has for me to jump through. I'm discouraged and weary but by no means defeated and honestly... for the most part... it's just something I've learned to live with. I have moments of frustration when I can't get comfortable or when i need to do something that I can't do without pain and I get aggravated with my limitations... but I laughed yesterday as I was leaving work at the thought of how God created me in a way that is PERFECT for these circumstances. I'm a person who is not terribly "results" driven. I'm perfectly content with mediocrity. I've never been an overachiever. I don't need to be on the go all the time... as a matter of fact... I love spending time in my nest. I love people but am not terribly sociable. So... if anyone was going to deal with a months long bout with back pain that restricted their outside activity, I'm perfect for it.

No doubt about it. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I'm continuing my quest to memorize the 139th Psalm. Today I start working on the 8th verse. Here's what I know so far (this is typed from memory) (most of it, anyways, I had to peek)

You have searched me Lord and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise.
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down.
You are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in behind and before. You have laid your hand upon me.
such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
where can I go from your spirit?
where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I got down to the depths, you are there.

That is thru verse 8.

So anyways... that's my story today. It's time to wake the sleeping boy and send him off to school... then grab a shower so I can at least start the weekend with clean hair. I may end up with "third day hair' by the end of the weekend, but that's ok. Stubby doesn't mind.

Hope you have a great friday! Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

thankful thursday...

it's thursday.... which is really my friday this week because i'm off tomorrow to let them turn me into a living voodoo doll again... although i'm not expecting much in the way of results

my one remaining shift key is sticking. forgive the lack of capitalization.

i have to be at work early this morning because we have a second staff meeting this week. oy. it's an extra half hour on the paycheck so... hard to complain. we won't have a staff meeting next monday which... is good, in a way... i have to be at the neurosurgeon's office at 10.

i got home from work yesterday and the water was cut off. they've changed the billing cycle. i used to pay that bill out of the second paycheck each month... now it has to be there by the ninth of the month. i forgot. that was a fifty dollar mistake. and so it goes, i'm afraid.

we have ants. go figure.

i forgot to eat dinner last night.

i haven't had much of an appetite this week. i'm sure the steroids will change that. i'm purposely not stocking much food in the house so i can't munch over the weekend. i've got meals... but not snacks. austin hates it but... if he has a snack attack he can always walk to the store.

the catalyst christian learning center has their banquet tonight. anything that involves sitting... especially after work when i've already sat for 8+ hours... it's just not happening for me right now. austin was sooo responsible about it... he called his uncle bubba and asked if he could get a ride with him. bubba is on the board of directors for catalyst so, of course, he has to go. i love the influence that catalyst has on austin. if you're looking for a non-profit to donate money to... check them out. it's a great ministry.

spiritually i've been sort of focusing on two different concepts:
1. identifying the enemy and focusing on overcoming it
2. being faithful to God, in the context of faithfulness in relationships

What got me thinking about the enemy was that passage in psalms 18 that i read earlier in the week. Part of the passage... verses sixteen thru nineteen in particular... read them, please...

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

and then I put it in context with this passage... which made me think about the fact that my enemy is not a "who" so much as a "what"... this verse is in ephesians 6

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

So what are my enemies? Pain. fear. frustration. physical limitation. discouragement. defeat. financial issues. obesity (I mean, if we're keeping it real here). estrangement from loved ones. laziness. isolation. exhaustion. and so on and so forth. i could probably name a hundred more and still be missing some of my "enemies"... and the truth is... i'm fighting battles that God has already won on my behalf. i'm allowing myself to be brought into submission by things that have no power over me as a child of GOD. We know that in this world we will have trouble... but we can take heart because He has overcome the world. It's the going thru... the personal growth... the building of our testimony and sharpening of our spirit that we achieve by these daily opportunities to exercise our faith.

AND then... as far as faithfulness... I haven't dug up a lot of scripture about it (yet) just sort of meditating on the concept of being faithful as we humanly understand the word. our relationship with Christ is modeled in the bible as being like a marriage. most of us understand the expectations of a marital relationship and marital fidelity. i said "most of us" because... well, you know as well as I know that there are a lot of people who struggle with honoring those vows but even those who don't honor them, understand the rules. what are those expectations? putting the other person first above everything else in your life... not loving someone else... taking time to connect with that person... staying in touch with that person... letting them know where you're going and what you're doing... asking for their input when you make decisions... does any of this sound familiar? I'll share more with you as I meditate on it some more...

Anyways... it's thankful thursday and I am thankful for so many things...
1. water
2. victory over my enemies
3. strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow
4. christian music and the way the lyrics speak to my heart
5. spiritual growth
6. a God who is faithful to me, even though i'm not faithful to him in the way i should be
7. austin showing maturity in making arrangements for tonight.
8. a three day weekend
9. a legacy of faith on both sides of my family
10. friends who pray for me
11. the beauty of the springtime here in the mountains
12. fox news
13. american idol - really enjoyed it last night
14. my cozy nest

Hope wherever you are, whatever you're doing today that you find strength for your journey and hope for tomorrow. love and hugs!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

I thought about this song this morning while I was savoring the warm thoughts and happy things that have happened in my life over the past few days. There are so many awesome people in my life... some here in my actual geographical community... and many, many more in my online community. I'm blessed.

My daddy reminded me last week that the "treasures" we store up in Heaven are not financial... our treasures are the relationships we build here on earth. Which is a good thing... because i seem to have no financial skills... but I do have an ability to "accumulate" people. Not that every single relationship in my life is perfect and without struggle or conflict... but I do put a high value on relationships. I can face an empty bank account with a shrug of my shoulders... but I will grieve over any lost friendship or kinship.

I'm still working on my snail mail communication plan... sent out a few more cards yesterday. I bought Easter cards right after Valentines day and then realized how late Easter is this year... I've been holding on to those cards all this time and was so excited to finally be able to send them out. AND... I got a card in the mail yesterday from my friend Amy-from when I lived in Woodstock - that was a crazy year, for sure, and Amy always helped me find the humor in those circumstances. Amy is the one who stocked my kitchen when I moved up here... her mother had passed away a few months before then and she had every bit of her mom's kitchen packed up in her garage and had no idea what to do with it... then I left michael and had NOTHING so she generously offered me her mom's things. She's moving to Denver soon... so i'll be able to add another stop on my dream blog-reader tour of the US, should I ever be able to do that... Amy's card was awesome and it left me feeling all warm and fuzzy...

Then i had a facebook chat with my friend Tay... also warm and fuzzy... and then a little exchange with my cousin Donald who I haven't seen in... probably 30 years... also happy... and then a friend from way back in my Tara Baptist days, Debbie, is in the hospital having a baby after nearly 20 years of infertility. Can you imagine waiting that long for something you desire? I'm so happy for her.

I live in an awesome place... after spending most of my life as Suburban Sally, it's great to be a country girl. I may not have all the tricks down... I mean, I don't grow things in the dirt or drive a big old truck (Like my friend Alisa) and I don't have goats (yet) like my friends Alisa and Cyndi... and all the roads to my house are paved... but I get the benefits of small town life in a part of the world where people come to vacation and I think that's really cool. They know me here... I belong... and that makes me feel connected and protected.

I think about the things that I feared when I was contemplating leaving Michael. I endured so much heartache and frustration because the devil i knew was better (I thought) than the devil I didn't know... but truly... God had such a wonderful plan for me... and He brought so many wonderful people into my life, in part because of that unhappy circumstance... that I can't help but wonder what wonders He is going to bring into my life through these difficult times that I'm dealing with now... and truly... He does minister to me daily. I'm not depressed and discouraged, even though there are some uncertain times ahead... will they be able to fix me so that the pain stops? is this what i'm going to live with for the rest of my life? will i have to have surgery? what happens if I'm unable to work (did you just hear that aflac duck quacking?) what happens if the loss of feeling in my legs gets worse? ...

All I know is this... MY neighborhood is filled with amazing, loving, caring, awesome people... both here in Hooterville and all around the world... and I know that these light and momentary troubles are helping me build relationships with people... helping me store up treasures... and for that, i thank God. I am grateful for every single circumstance that makes me need Him more, that softens my heart to the suffering of others, that reminds me how very not alone I am... because i know that on my own, left to my own personality and character traits, apart from Him, I am not the kind of person you'd want to be friends with... i'm catty and sarcastic and selfish... but with Him... I'm worthy of being one of the people in your neighborhood... in your neighborhood... i'm in your neighborhood...

love and hugs and wishes for a wonderful Wednesday!