My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Just Another Day in Paradise

This was going to be a facebook status update but I realized I had more to say than could (or should) fit in a short paragraph.
I'm missing work again today. Days like today - weeks like this week - make me wonder if I'll ever work again. After leaving work in tears on Tuesday because of pain... I've gotten up every morning since with the hope of being able to go in to the office and every time I've realized within a few minutes that it just ain't happening and if I forced it to happen, I would end up back in that same place of discouraging disappointment.
I'm having a lot of pain... searing pain in the dead center of my spine and in my left hip... I've got muscle spasms that won't let go... I have no feeling in my left leg except for tingling in my foot... my shoulders hurt (which is a new one) and my right foot has the same tingling minus the numbness in the leg (which is weird because the nerve damage is worse on the right side than the left). I've got the heating pad set to sizzle and can just barely feel the warmth.
I'm having a lot of anxiety. It's frightening to not be able to function. It's embarrassing to have to admit that you can't do what you should be able to do at the (relatively) young age of not-yet 45. I'm not depressed but I am discouraged. I want to be more than what I am right now. I make people uncomfortable when I am candid about how bad things are and people make me uncomfortable when they are understanding. I haven't quite figured out how to process pity. And I'm not even sure pity is the right word.
I get so annoyed with people who complain nonstop and I try to not be that person but I'm also afraid of being considered lazy or selfish or a slacker and I feel like I have to validate and explain what I'm going through but it just comes across as whiny.
I'm envious of people with their full time jobs and their income and their ability to actually go out to a restaurant and eat and their vacations to anywhere because I just can't.
And it's Holy Week which makes me think of Christ's sacrifice and His suffering and I feel so ashamed to be absorbed in my own pain without acknowledging His. Or the many, many other people who are going through so much worse than me. I feel unworthy.
And that's it. That's the story.
In other news... I just checked my emails from last week and there was an invitation to hear Tim Tebow speak at the church we were slightly affiliated with while we were in Jacksonville. Not that I would have driven that far or had the money or resources to make that happen and I'm sure that it was a crowded crazy house but ... man! I missed seeing Timmy!
Pop brought home Wendy's for dinner last night and I wasn't hungry for fries and a cheeseburger but that Frosty was EXACTLY what I wanted.
I had strawberry poptarts for breakfast and that was exactly what I wanted too.
I need to do a sugar detox because I believe a clean diet would go a long way in improving things but I only want carbs. Holy cycle of unhealthy habits, Batman!
And ... well, that's about all I have to say today.
Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Things I Could Blog About

Remember when I used to work full time as a single mom of a teenager and still found time to blog every day?
Me too.
And although there's much more free time in my schedule, there's not that much to blog about.
Unless you're interested in the adventures of the fur babies - who I find constantly entertaining...
Or the adventures of my mom as she enjoys retirement...
Or the progress of Uncle Charles who is recovering from esophageal cancer. And he is recovering. Slowly.
Or Cody's new job which he ended up not accepting because his current employer made him a better offer that included health, dental and vision insurance, his own truck, some autonomy where he doesn't have to depend on his dad to wake  up so that he could go to work and a raise. He got everything he wanted without having to change jobs, that's pretty awesome for a still 22 year old.
Or the voyeuristic fascination I have with my former classmates who are all living large, exciting lives and who must not mind me watching since they keep posting. Such as Beth's handbag which is being launched in London in April. Because if I talked about "launching my handbag" it would involve slamming on my brakes and having the insulated lunch tote that I've been using for a purse go flying into the floorboard, spilling the contents all over the place, not black tie and cocktails and high fashion.
Or I could get you up to date on the Jodi Arias trial, even though I'm so bored with this latest witness, the Domestic Violence Expert, that I opted for the Big Bang Theory reruns instead. Travis Alexander is a combination of one long term relationship I had + one marriage that I had and I can understand being demoralized by this behavior (if it truly happened and I do believe, based on evidence in court such as text messages, that he was at least a little bit of a cad.) but I still don't understand the "he had it coming" defense. "He ran into my knife... he ran into my knife 29 times" (to paraphrase the musical Chicago).
Or the fact that I cried watching 19 Kids and Counting last night and not just because they were hinting that they might adopt. Oh. The. Humanity. Hopefully they wouldn't pass a home study. I cried over the producer having her baby in China and them taking that baby away from the mother for three days. That's insane. Human rights violation in my book.
Or the fact that I'm addicted to a snark website that is dedicated to poking fun of a mommy blogger gone crazy. So cray-cray that I don't dare mention the site here for fear that she'd come after me.
Or the fact that these two amazing little stampers that I ordered for my nieces came in the mail last week and I'm excited about surprising them with them when I'm in the mountains next week. I have to get ink pads to go with them but having a little stamp with their name on it is too stinkin' cute!
Or the fact that I have just about the best co-workers in the world and the most supportive employer that I could have dreamed of - who understand and encourage me without making me feel like a slacker for not being able to work more than an average of one day a week. I believe that those who extend compassion will receive it themselves and those who don't will one day wish they had. I am beyond blessed.
And the fact that I'm realizing that the pain is not getting better. I went into the office yesterday in pain and had a freaking meltdown over the fact that we were going out to lunch - so great is the pain of sitting in a restaurant chair and the extra steps involved that I had to own up to the fact that I was faking it. And by "it" I mean faking the ability to function because I really just wasn't able yesterday. Or today.
Or I could blog about the fact that I keep waking up in the morning thinking that it will be all better and it isn't and I'd be lying if I said it's not discouraging. It really is discouraging. Today I'm trying  a new combination of muscle relaxers and nerve block and mild pain reliever. I won't be able to drive but hopefully it won't knock me out cold and will allow me some cognitive function.
I could blog about how amazing my Castleville village is. If I could make a living playing computer games, I'd be a Rockefeller. I'm killin' it.
I could blog about the One Pot Spaghetti we made last night off of Pinterest. It's always bothered me to make spaghetti and end up with two dirty pans and a strainer. With this recipe you cook the meat (but we had some already cooked ground beef conveniently tucked away in the freezer, we just had to let it thaw) and add the sauce and two cups of chicken broth and a little water. Once it boils you add the noodles in the same pan and just let it all cook together. Brilliant!
And then I was telling Cody about it (since he does the cooking at their house) and he said, "yeah, just like hamburger helper". Oh yeah. That's right.
So I haven't really blogged much because there just isn't much to blog about.
What's new with you?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday By The Numbers

Is it Friday already? And me without a single blog entry since Monday... FOUR days? What a shame! I'll try to give some updates to my week but honestly... there's not much to blog about.

My Uncle is still in ICU. Mama spent the day up there yesterday and it was draining for her... and for me, home taking care of seven (yes, seven!) animals. I love our fur babies but I was having miserable muscle spasms and every time I had to get up to let them in or out it was excruciating. Of course, relative to what my relatives are dealing with... my pain is minor.

My pain IS limiting my activities. The current plan is for me to work 12 hours a week. Twelve. It's hard for me to engage in what's going on in the office - especially on a week like this one where there was widespread hail damage in our area and a spike in claims filing and I'm just barely there. But unfortunately, for now, that's all I can stand and to be honest, the pain is so bad during that time that I've started having anxiety before work just knowing that it's going to hurt.

Truth be told, there's not a whole lot of anything I do unless I absolutely have to because of pain. I went nine days in between doing my laundry this time because I couldn't push myself to lift the basket and carry it the ten feet to the laundry room - which is in MY ROOM - so it's not like I was hauling it to the laundrymat. Of course, since I spend most of my time in my pjs, there's not much laundry.

I used to love making it to "third day hair" because it meant that I had relaxed for a day. Today I'm on fifth day hair. FIVE DAYS. And it's not pretty.

I had a peanut butter sandwich for dinner last night because I was in too much pain to cook or go to the store to pick something up. Mom was in pain and exhausted from being at the hospital so she just ate leftovers. Pop played golf and ate leftovers. Me - heating the leftovers was too much but I slapped some peanut butter on bread and ate about half of it and fed the rest to the dog because it hurt too bad to eat. It took my tramadol too long to kick in for me to feel like doing anything. And then I just wanted to sleep because I had only slept about three hours the night before. And then I couldn't sleep because it hurt too bad so I read until I fell asleep.

There's news on the Cody job front but I can't share it yet. I told Cody I had intentionally NOT blogged for four days because I didn't want to slip up and share something that wasn't for public info yet. I haven't heard from Austin in over a week. Ryan called two days ago to complain about his insurance agent in Pennsylvania.  It really irritates me when people who work for the same company as me don't do their job well or don't explain things properly to their customers who then contact me and want me to try to interpret what they're being told. I'm fairly good at it but mostly I just want to call their agent and school them on being a better agent. Like the way I am... twelve hours a week.

We don't have coffee today and I don't want to make any because we only have Chock Full of Butts Nuts and there's not much I can do to improve the flavor. I need me a good, strong, cup of Cafe Bustelo, too strong to see through and so thick you have to stir it with a knife. Instead I'll settle for Dunkin Donuts with hazelnut flavoring. It's a drive thru (Starbucks isn't) and it's cheap. About two dollars for a large. And I can get a bagel or something. You know, because carbs are good for you.

The book I ordered from Amazon for one cent came in the mail yesterday. It's about a girl who briefly was in our gifted class in school, entitled "A Beautiful Child." I have already finished it. My eyes are not focusing well so it was hard but it was impossible to put down. I pretty much either finish a book in one day or never finish it. This particular girl, then known as Sharon, was a cute girl who was in our gifted class for about one quarter. The only thing that made her stick out in my mind was that once when we were debating the death penalty, she was challenged by one of the folks on the pro-death penalty side with "how would you feel if your mother was murdered?" and she screamed back, "my mother WAS murdered!" and ran out of the room. It was 1983, we were in tenth grade and everybody was dramatic but this was over the top.

As it turns out... Sharon (not her real name) was living with a man who kidnapped her when she was a young child after killing her mother... he molested her throughout her life, moving her from school to school so she couldn't develop any close bonds... he ended up murdering her when she was 21 and then killed her son five years later. Tragic. It makes me wish that I was less wrapped up in myself and my little group of friends when I crossed paths with her so that I could have somehow changed the trajectory of her life, knowing that there was probably nothing I could do.

I promised my friend Mary that I'd send her the book when I finish it but considering I've been driving around with Whitney's baby gift in my front seat of my car for a month, I'd say the odds of it getting there any time soon are slim to none. Who knows? I could have a burst of productivity and go to the post office tomorrow.

Anyways... down to just ten minutes until time to start getting ready for work. Only working four hours. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. Then I'm off for three days. I'll be back here next Tuesday with fifth day hair again before I get ready for work. Or maybe before then if there's something blogworthy. Pretty much lately it's been nothing exciting to write about.

Hope your life is much, much more exciting and that you have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend. Love and hugs, y'all.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Celebrate Monday!

The head cold has become a chest cold and it's making it hard to breathe, much less talk. I was a little hoarse last week and very nasal and hard to understand. Today my voice is raspy but I feel much better. Still got head congestion but that part is better.

I. must. get. out. of. this. house. I'm going to work, no matter what. I need the hours and I need to interact with 3-dimensional people. Not that I don't love those of you who live in my computer. You're the wind beneath my wings, I promise.

I am hoping that I can consume enough warm liquids to loosen the goop out of my chest and be able to speak clearly and loud enough by the time I go into work.

My back is more of a sharp, hot pain in the bullseye of the bulging discs, not the muscle spasms I usually wake up to. This is good. Crazy as it sounds, I'll take one hot spot over a whole cramping mass. My legs and feet have feeling in them today, which is awesome. So. Monday, I think I can handle you this week, by the Grace of God.

Monday has come like a Wedding Crasher, an uninvited visitor to our week. We can't get rid of her so we  might as well embrace her, make her feel welcome just long enough to be polite and then send her on her way. I know it's hard but we have to find... Reasons to Love Monday.

1. The creeping green crud has made me feel icky all through my respiratory system but at least my head doesn't hurt any more and I don't have the constant nasal drip. I don't know if I'm better but I'm at least better able to tolerate things.

2. I'm not the least bit interested in March Madness this year. Usually I'm working on my bracket and so forth. This year, notsomuch. Kentucky isn't playing and they're my favorite college basketball team so... I just don't care.

3. I can't wait to get to the office. I know I probably have fifty new emails and a couple dozen things I have to do, even if I can't find the voice to answer the phone. I love my job. I love the folks I work with and I'm happy to go and see them and do what little I can to help our agency be successful.

4. My socks match my pajama pants. Small victory, I know. But I'm wearing One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish Dr. Seuss pajamas and the socks came from the clearance bin at the Rite Aid. For them to randomly end up matching and for me to just randomly grab that pair out of the sock drawer makes me super happy. I'm easy that way.

5. Coffee=good. Even though Pop bought Chock Full of Butts, I mean Nuts, I managed to doctor it into something warm and good. Although, granted, I can't really taste things still.

6. A good friend who has had a deep desire to be a husband and father got married last weekend. I have prayed this prayer for him for almost ten years, knowing that this was the desire of his heart. He and I have had several late night phone calls, emails and texts where his heart was just so broken, wondering if this would ever happen and I can't even begin to tell you how full my heart is, knowing that his prayers have been answered. Now I'm praying for babies... here's a video I'm sharing (without permission) with him singing the most perfect song...

If you want to see photos of the wedding, you can check out what the photographer posted on her website (and who doesn't like looking at wedding photos?)

7. My parents just celebrated their 47th anniversary over the weekend. They went out for dinner with my Aunt Ginger and Uncle Carl and Cody and Marquee. I was invited but passed... sitting for a long time at a restaurant is one of those things that really, really causes pain. They brought me back an awesome pizza (they went to Carrabas) that was enough for my dinner Saturday night, my lunch Sunday and lunch for Pop on Sunday.

8. Leftovers! Me and my mom put together corned beef & cabbage yesterday and it was soooo, sooo good! And there are leftovers! Can't wait.

9. Speaking of answered prayers... my friend Whitney in Jacksonville, the one friend I had there, the person who cared enough about me to visit me during visiting hours at the nut house because my only other visitor was going to be my mother-in-law and Whitney was afraid that she would try to talk me into going back to Michael (she didn't)... Whitney had a baby girl last Sunday. She ended up with an emergency c-section due to the baby's heart rate deceleration but baby Scarlett was born healthy and perfect at 6lbs, 15 oz! Mama and baby are doing well.

10. I love my perch, my nest, my window on the world. I can't travel and be in the places I want to be... whether it's celebrating the wedding of a friend... the birth of a new baby... my parents' anniversary... but I am blessed to be able to see what's going on in the life of my friends and loved ones. If my back problems existed in a Heather who lived fifty years ago, she would be a very lonely lady. I'm so blessed to live during the "information age" where I can continue to participate in the world in a way that doesn't cause pain.

My Uncle continues to be in ICU but I think the plan is for him to be able to go to a regular room today. My Aunt ended up in ICU herself by passing out... she's having issues with her blood sugar and blood pressure. When she is released from the hospital she's going to need to go home instead of staying with her husband and I know that's going to be hard on them. It's so often that caretakers end up being sick because their focus is on someone else. Would you continue to pray for them?

Here's to a great start to a wonderful week! Happy Monday, y'all!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sorority of Suffering and Other Good Things About Pain

By this time two years ago, I had a pretty good idea that the back pain I started having that January was not a short-term problem. At that time, I began to accept this new "lot in life" and that has helped a lot over the last month while my ability to function has decreased. 

I'm on new meds to help the pain but the new meds have lots of unpleasant side effects that bring their own bag of troubles to the party. Then you have to sort of sort out in your mind if the side effects are side effects or symptoms. I am determined not to call the doctor to ask because he'll want me to come in again and see him this month and I just really can't afford it. 

And of course, getting whacked upside the head with a head cold was NOT on my bucket list. I don't know if there are any studies to back this up but I'm convinced that people who struggle with chronic pain are more greatly impacted by colds and flu. It's almost like you use up all your tolerance on the day to day junk and have no ability to deal with anything else. Let me tell you, I've been in full on misery for the past two-three days. Pop, Marquee and Cody have all dealt with this as well and Pop and Marquee seem to be on the upswing of it so maybe it is just a brief deal. 

I just have to hope it doesn't settle in my lungs. I'm constantly coughing up green slime, even when I'm "well" due to the granulomatic thing-a-ma-jig. Once my lungs become involved we're up for a bout of bronchitis and ain't nobody got time for that!

Add to that this sunburn like pain from over-exposure to the heating pad... just another one of those "to be expected" deterioration of sensitivity issues that I knew would happen sometime but am still frustrated when it happens. Without the heating pad I get horrible muscle spasms... there's so much numbness from my waist down that I don't feel the heat as warmly as it really is. I stayed off of it for the past two days and just relied on muscle relaxers and rest but all the red streaks on my back have faded to burgundy/brownish streaks - just like a sunburn turns to a little tan after a few days for me - so I'm using it again, carefully, on low. 

 Even at the risk of being labeled, "Wendy Whiner", I know that there is a Sorority of Silent Suffering out there... people who hurt in a way that nobody else quite understands or believes... and I want my Sisterhood to be able to find a way to keep moving forward even when it seems impossible. I feel like transparency is the only way to connect with others who feel the kind of pain I do... and I want people to be encouraged to speak up and say, "this really stinks" or whatever expletive serves your purpose best. The point of this blog entry was to talk about the ways that I'm grateful for the pain. because I think everything in life brings both good and bad and if we're so short sighted that we only see the bad, we'll miss out on life's greatest blessings and lessons. That's what I want to see and what I want to share with you. 

1. I was never a world traveler. I'm used to being a couch potato and a homebody so I don't really grieve not being able to roam the wide world. I'm not missing out.

2. When I feel like I'm missing out, all I have to do is log onto travel websites or travel blogs or watch Rick Steves on PBS or the Travel Channel. How blessed I am to have a window on the world!

3 People, some people anyways, DO get it. There are a lot of really concerned compassionate people in my life like my little aunt who said she wished she could take the pain from me for a few hours so I could have a break from it.

4. I do get a break from it... for a few hours every night... when the meds kick in at full force and I fall asleep. I eventually wake up with cramps and muscle spasms and crazy pain but there are a few blissful hours where I can escape. 

5. Pain has humbled me. It has helped me to understand people on a different level. It has made me understand that some of the people who come across as bitter and mean are really just people who are suffering in some way. I have learned that people don't have to be in a wheelchair or hospital bed to be legitimately uncomfortable. 

6. Pain has shown me who my real friends are. Once I lost the ability to be mobile and spontaneous, I really narrowed my world significantly. There are precious few people who want to just hang out with a couch potato, especially if that means they have to commute either up to the mountains or down to the 'burbs. It's not that I don't still love the folks who can't meet me where I am and it's not that I think they stopped loving me... I just understand more about their level of commitment to me and I appreciate the ones who come to me more than words can say. Like Stasha who would drop in unexpectedly and just curl up on my bed and chat... and Gina who drove all the way to Helen to spend a day with me..and a couple of other folks who hung out with me in the mountain house...  those visits are divine appointments to me.

7. I've learned to let go of the guilt. At first I would agree to do things, hoping against hope that I could manage and then when I couldn't and had to back out or not show up, I felt so guilty. There was a time that I felt guilty about not being able to work full time. I've felt guilty about not being there for my kids as much as I wanted. I've felt guilty for not being able to help much around the house and the burden I've placed on others but you know what? Apart from criminal or immoral activities, guilt is a burden we choose to pick up on our own. Nobody can give it to you unless you agree to accept it. I choose not to accept it. I am who I am, not by my own choice but by fate and all I can do is all I can do. 

8. I waste a lot less money due to pain. I used to eat out a lot, spend a lot of money doing stuff and buying stuff, especially groceries that would go to waste because I ended up not feeling like cooking. I don't go to movies or concerts or amusement parks or museums or malls.... if it involves walking, I'm probably not doing it unless absolutely necessary. 

9. I go to the Rite Aid a lot and am a gold member of their membership club which means I get 20% off everything in the store. This helps a lot. I'm also able to use a drug discount card which saves me a good bit off my meds. I'm in there so much that I catch a lot of things when they get marked down which explains the huge stuffed frog and huge stuffed gorilla that I have on my bed now. 

10. I have learned what an amazing family I have. From unbelievable financial assistance to things like that sweet comment my aunt made about taking my pain... I feel wrapped in a cocoon, like there is a safety net below my high wire act, like I am safe and secure and cared for, no matter what happens to me. Cody and Marquee and Mom will come in my room and hang out with me. Pop picks up my favorite things at the grocery store. Mom scoops the cat poop. I have not just one but two comfy, cozy places to live and I am never lonely. 

I could probably write another ten and maybe I will later. This is long enough! I just want to encourage you, if you're feeling like nobody *gets you*, like you're alone on the planet, like your burden is just too heavy, stop and look around for the good things. Even if you can only list one - you're still breathing - then start there and work your way up to more and more good things. Keep your focus on the happy. 

The latest update on my Uncle is that he is doing great. He may be moved out of ICU as early as Monday. He is a little confused - probably because of the meds - but he is definitely improving. Continue to keep Uncle Charles and Aunt Linda in your prayers. 

Have a great weekend, y'all! Love and hugs!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Feeding Time At the Zoo

My Uncle made it through ten hours of surgery yesterday and is expected to remain in ICU for the next few days. The surgery was complicated, there is infection and he is still in need of much prayer. My Aunt (his wife) has also not been well and this hospital stay creates a hardship for her, so if you would include her in your prayers.

And for my mom who, like me, really struggles with pain and fatigue, to spend an extended time in the hospital like she did yesterday was truly an act of will.

Fortunately Cody ended up having a shorter work day than expected so I didn't have to go pick up Marquee from school which meant that I was able to take pain meds after work as usual and it was a much easier day than I had expected. I had Doggie Daycare Duty but the furbabies were cooperative and even ate for me - crazy as it may seem - these dogs won't eat unless my mom is home. It's like they go on mini-hunger strikes when she isn't around. And Oscar, the rotten little dachshund, is normally fed by hand. But we managed yesterday....

I put Oscar's bowl on the stool that he and Stubby use to climb up on my bed and he went right to it and ate most of it.... and then we both started worrying that Lily the Greedy Big Girl was going to go after it. She's a sweetheart unless food is involved and she'd chew your arm off if you got in between her and something she wants to eat.

Then I moved his bowl to the arm of my recliner... and had Little Trouble Kitty on the left and Hungry Oscar on the right.

Good times.

I was a little stuffy after work yesterday but today I'm a full fledged snot factory and sleeping under a draft where Trouble is trying to tunnel out to the bird's nest on the window unit didn't help much. It's hard core misery. Relatively speaking. 

All of it is relative, isn't it? Anyways... it's Thursday and we're tucked in the nest today...

Happy Thursday, y'all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Prayers, Please

My mama is #6 of seven kids. There were four boys in a row and then three girls born within 3 years of each other. Mama is close to her sisters. Small houses make for close families and that little house in Cohutta without indoor plumbing... and later on that house on Merry Lane that still wasn't big enough for all of 'em... at Camp Orr, the Boy Scout Camp where my grandfather was caretaker was small, but at least we had the amenities to spread out and enjoy... and later on at the farm in Hogansville which was more gigantic garden with a single wide trailer than it was a farm... and then the other assorted little houses they all grew up in and lived in as adults, even, well, they fostered close relationships.  

At any rate... you can imagine... with seven kids in her family... our extended family is large. I think I counted around a hundred after the last reunion (that may be an exaggeration but there's still a lot). We don't see each other as often as we'd like and when we all get together it's chaos. Not chaos in that crazy big Greek family way (we're mostly Baptists with a sprinkling of Presbyterians and Catholics - get it? sprinkling? No?) Anyways... we're not big drinkers so there's never that alcohol induced dysfunction - our dysfunction is purely organic and our chaos is not hard partying but just a lot of different conversations branching out in a lot of different ways between a lot of people. 

And then there's this... one happy little Christmas with my ever nimble Steel Magnolia (who, although she is my dad's mom, has always been a part of mom's extended family gatherings, too, whenever possible) she is perched on the edge of the couch in my tragically mallard duck/hunter green themed great room... and there's my dad and then, enjoying the 3-D Holiday Experience is my Uncle Charles, husband to my Aunt Linda, mama's younger sister, the youngest of the seven.

And tomorrow... Uncle Charles is having a very long and serious operation to remove a gnarly cancer that had the audacity to grow in his esophagus and we, all nearly hundred of us in the extended Pennington clan truly covet your prayers for him tomorrow. Pray that God would anoint each member of the medical staff that comes in contact with him, that every precaution will be taken, that there will be no errors, that everyone who crosses his path will be wrought with compassion for him, that the surgery - which is expected to last ten hours - results in the best possible outcome, an outcome that would be miraculous, even. Pray for these Pennington sisters who sit together for those long hours tomorrow, that they will not feel tired or anxious or sore from sitting. Pray that they will feel strengthened and than instead of a time of fear, that it will be a time of homecoming, reunion and rejoicing. Pray that their joy is greater than what would make sense for the circumstances - peace that passes understanding. Pray for their comfort and safety as they come and go. Pray for Linda and Charles' kids and grandkids, that their burdens will be lifted, that they will feel peace from the beginning of the day, not just at the end. Pray for a swift and complete recovery and for a good, blessed, amazing, miraculous outcome. Would you agree with me on these things? 

My role in this is minor. I am no longer the able bodied person who has the ability to even entertain such an extended hospital visit. I'm working just a very few hours a week and it's just not possible to risk missing any of those hours to wait at the hospital or to miss any work due to the kind of rebound pain that I would have from sitting with the sisters all day. My job is to make sure the fur-babies are taken care of since mom won't be home to tend to them... and my job is to pick up Marquee from school if Cody isn't home from work in time. And although I know these are minor, minor chores in the grand scheme of things but if I could ask for your prayers as I will have to hold off on taking any pain medicine until I have Marquee home safe and sound at 6:30pm or so. My work days have been so incredibly painful lately that I'm in tears most days until I can get in my cozy pjs and get some pain meds on board... this will mean delaying that relief for about four extra hours. 

Thank you in advance for your concern and prayers for Uncle Charles. I'll let you know when I know something. 

And since we have covered this heavy, serious topic, can we discuss the tacky hunter green carpet in that picture? The carpet that I picked out? I should probably enlist the assistance of someone with better taste than me to handle the interior design on my space at the mountain house to avoid such cringe-worthy photos in the future. 

Time to settle in and hopefully be asleep before midnight. Love and hugs, y'all. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ouch! Reasons to Love Monday

It's a creepy dark Monday and I have no idea what time it really is. Days of sitting on the nest and time change has me all turned around. I'm hungry. I'm in ridiculous pain, all over pain, this is a fibro kind of pain more than arthritis because it hurts in every part of my body. Trouble the cat is being a rotten little monster, throwing anything and everything he can down on the floor. It's not a good day, at least not so far but it's my job to turn things around... to take this ugly, dark, frog of a day and turn it into Prince Charming. Or some other similar metaphor.

Here goes.

1. I've solved the sequester problem. Several of them, actually. Instead of paying the White House calligrapher 100k a year, give those Obama girls a big pack of sharpies and put them to work. Instead of cutting back on tuition payments for veterans, cut back on the salaries of those do-nothing politicians. The soldiers did their job, they deserve their benefits. There hasn't been any progress coming from Capital Hill, they don't deserve to get paid. Instead of passing out Obama phones to everyone on assistance, give them an orange juice can and a string and tell them to get busy. I could go on but I won't. You get the point.

2. My hands ache. It's going to rain. That's not a reason to love Monday other than explaining the pain, at least in part.

3. I made coffee this morning. It's so thick you have to stir it with a knife. It's hopefully the kick in the pants I need to get me moving today.

4. I don't go to work until 10am. The goal is to get through four hours and if I'm still functioning, make it longer. Going in an hour late will make it feel like the whole "spring forward" thing never happened.

5. Crazy Britney is back. She was keeping it together pretty well for awhile, what with the Daddy and Fiancee both serving as Conservators but it looks like someone is off her meds again and although it makes me sad for her and it's completely wrong to be amused by someone else's dysfunction... I have to admit that I get a chuckle out of seeing her at her sons' soccer games wearing nothing but a sundress and fuzzy boots. And nothing else. Because who forgets their underwear? Crazy people, that's who. And no matter how bonkers riding the Pain Train makes me feel, I promise that I have never forgotten my underwear. So... I'm not the craziest person on the planet.

6. Have I mentioned that my hands ache? Mercy. That's not a reason to love Monday, I just can't think of anything else. OH... here's one... turns out that Austin is working, at least periodically, doing construction work with his friend. I want him to learn a few marketable skills. I want him to be able to make a living. He's young and it's a perfect time in his life to learn what hard work feels like. Hopefully that will convince him to use the college money available to him so that he can work smart instead of hard.

7. Speaking of hard work, it was a rare morning where I get to see both of my older boys before they leave for work. Ryan made a pit stop here (next door) on his way from PA to FL. He's got a job in Naples, FL this week and hopes to be headed home in time for his girlfriend's birthday on Friday. Cody's working out his two week notice with his dad's company and they were actually leaving on time for once in a blue moon. Cody is leaving on great terms... the boss at the old company told him if things didn't work out, he was always welcome back. Leave those bridges in tact. That's the way it should be.

Marquee, Cody and Ryan before dinner last night...

Time is getting away from me... the world has come to wake here so I can't have consecutive thoughts. I like to stretch it to ten Reasons to Love Monday but I've run out of time. Hope you all have a great day...

Love and hugs y'all.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Few Random Things

I am coughing up more green slime than usual today. Have barely left the house in the past week. Not sure how that happened. Pop is sick but it's more a head cold than anything involving the previous mentioned green slime. Had a chat with the Pharmacist about what meds I could take with my thirty-eleven diagnosis. Mucinex it is.

I slept until 9am today. I have no idea what time I went to sleep but it wasn't much past midnight. I am sleeping like a teenager but I promise you, I don't look like one.

I bought hair color today. It was on sale, 2 for $6 at Rite Aid. You have to start with clean hair but hair that hasn't been shampooed in the past 24 hours. I'm stuck on that first instruction because my idea of clean hair involves hair that HAS been shampooed in the past 24 hours. Once I get past that conundrum, I'll give it a shot. I just want to color a little gray out of the way. Not that anyone notices much or cares at all, except me. It's ok to look good just for me, though. I also bought foundation because I've been scraping the sides of the container for about two months.

My oldest is heading to Florida for a job. He is supposed to sleep here (well, next door) tonight. I have a surprise for him, just a little something I picked up on

I'm not pushing or anything BUT.... I do find some awesome prices on there (and some ridiculous prices, just like in 3-D stores) and if you order through me, I get $20. I just have to send you an e-mail invitation so let me know if you want one. I could entertain myself quite a bit with $20. It takes a couple of weeks to get things so if it's something you  need quite fast, this is not the site for you. For me, it's much, much easier to shop this way.

Last week I bought stampers for Sarabeth and Jamie with their names on them for their Easter surprise. I always try to find things with Sarabeth's name because it's hard to find but such a beautiful name. My parents always intended to name the next girl after me Sarah Elizabeth after my great-grandmother. Well... after me there were three boys. And then I had three boys. And my brother Michael had two boys. So Sarabeth was the next girl born in to our family after me - after 34 years. And her middle name is Leah after her mama's grandma.

Jamie's name is sweet too. They didn't find out what they were having when they were pregnant with her with the intention of naming her James and calling her Jamie whether boy or girl. So her name is Amanda James. After her Aunt Mimi and her Pop and Daddy. Names should mean something. I kinda missed that memo since I was such a young mom.

I've been watching C-Span3 all weekend and have seen some interesting lectures. There was one on Harriet Tubman. One on John C. Fremont. One on eugenics in the early 20th century. Good stuff for history buffs. Wish that channel was on all the time although I find today that most of what's on is stuff I've already seen. You know you're a couch potato when you've seen everything there is to see on C-Span3. Otherwise I watch a lot of HGTV and a lot of episodes of The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother.

I'm working 4 hours a day next week instead of five. Worked out kind of good with the time change because I'm going in at 10 instead of 9. So for my body clock it should feel like the same time. This will help. I hope I'll be back to normal soon instead of on that slow decline that was predicted. Mom begins her retirement. It will be nice to have quiet mornings before work without Oscar the needy dachshund glued to my side. Not that I don't love Oscar.

Mucinex kicking in. Ready for breakfast. Or brunch. Happy Sunday. Love and hugs, y'all.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Financial Freedom

I met my kids' dad in August of 1985, right before the start of my senior year of high school. He was in a drug and alcohol rehab program but was close to being released and doing very, very well. He had such great hopes for the future and was incredibly ambitious and capable.  I was lonely, missing my big brother who had been my constant companion for my entire life and had just left for college, ironically the same college where he and my sister-in-law work now. I was in need of a partner in crime and he was a willing partner.

I graduated high school early, finishing in February. I started work 8 days later and got married in April. Ryan came along in November. You do the math. I can tell you this much: sending out wedding thank you notes, graduation invitations and graduation thank yous, baby announcement and thank yous all in the same year has funded the USPS from then up until now. And stamps at the time were around 13 cents, I think.

At any rate and the point of this little venture back in time is that since that time, since August of 1985, the kids' dad has had a financial impact on our family in one way or another. At first it was our mutual expenditures of dating and so forth. Then it was marriage, baby, moving out on our own, struggling, buying a house, struggling and well, you get the picture. We split in May of 2000 and fortunately, by that time I had transitioned from stay at home make a dime in every way possible mom to a full time working mom. Irony here again in that the girl who helped me find a job was the same girl the kids' dad lives with now, an old family friend from way back. (And she's a great girl. His last one was too. He's got good taste.)

It took two years to wrap up the divorce proceedings and obtain a court order for child support. In the twelve years of single-momhood I never got all I was supposed to get. He went to jail for non-payment once. When he got out he was homeless and my parents took him in. Later on I took him in. My kids were sneaking him in the house after I went to bed anyways. After that my parents took him in another time and... I don't know... the years run together. Ultimately, I worked myself to death, working more than one job most of the time. The kids and I lived as cheaply as we could and I tried to give them as "normal" a life as possible. When we got child support it was great, when we didn't we made a way somehow.

By the time that Austin graduated last year the amount his dad was in arrears was in the tens of thousands. Our life would have been different with that money. My credit would certainly be better. My 401k might be fatter. I might have made a few less bad choices (second marriage, for example) and depended on family and friends less. At the kids' request, I never took him back to court to get any of the back child support. A little financial gain at the expense of their good will was an equation I wasn't willing to live with.

When Cody's chosen career of massage therapy didn't pan out he went to work with his dad. It's everything I hoped for my kids: learn a trade and be able to be financially independent. It carried the bonus of quality time with his dad that he had been missing for the past ten years (and more) of his life. The only problem was that his dad doesn't always keep consistent working hours. He's great at what he does and works for a company that is tolerant of his work habits and if not for the fact that Cody couldn't work when his dad didn't work, we wouldn't have cared a bit.

You see... my parents own the house next door to their house here in Riverdale. Cody and Marquee live there. They live, for the most part, rent free, with just the responsibility of utilities and taxes and insurance. Only... when Cody didn't work a full 40 hour week it was hard for him to keep up with his end of the deal and it impacted my parents financially because somebody had to take up the slack.

So here we are... closing in on 28 years of our family being impacted by what my kids' dad did or didn't do and... to be honest, I have carried a lot of guilt about this. I wouldn't change a thing about who my kids are because they all three are just incredibly amazing people and I know that they are uniquely designed based on both parents.

Partly due to a lack of work and partly due to a lack of his dad's working, Cody's not been able to work much lately. Cody's good at what he does. I'm sure that came from his dad, both in nature and in nurture. All three of my boys are mechanically inclined and good at fixing stuff. That didn't come from me. All three have above average intelligence. That DID come from me. It's a good combination. Cody finally had enough and went out and found himself another job. He found out last week but I couldn't talk about it until now. I'd be proud of him moving up in his life either way. But the fact that this marks the first time in sooooo many years that I don't have to worry about what their dad does makes it incredibly sweet.

Ryan got a new car last week and then ended up getting a raise that will pay most of the cost of the new car. Cody got a new job last week that will provide health care and benefits and a steady working schedule. Austin will get there soon. He's making a way for himself right now, whether by working or by networking, I'm not really sure. The point is that all three are grown and mostly independent and for me, at this point in my life where I'm barely able to take care of myself, this is a huge blessing. I'm so proud.

I've cut back my working hours for at least the next week. I can't get past this spell. Any time I stand up or sit at a ninety degree angle I lose feeling in both legs. Even in my usually most comfy position I'm unusually uncomfortable lately. Looks like my kids are getting in position to be able to take care of me in my old age!

Hope you're having a great weekend. Love and hugs, y'all.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Second Act

Oh what a beautiful morning. Not really. It's clear and cold. I had a rough night, barely sleeping three hours, if that. I don't think that I mentioned that the night before, when we were in the midst of a really blustery night, cold water and wind blew through a hole in the window beside the window a/c unit... a hole that Trouble Kitty had created while trying to tunnel out to get to a birds nest. I can't prove it... but from that point on I was certain that I saw a ferret, a raccoon, an eagle, a unicorn and maybe the Tooth Fairy come through that hole in the window. 

The way it works with chronic pain is that once you get into a cycle of not sleeping it becomes cumulative. You hurt bad so you don't sleep. Not sleeping makes the pain worse. Having more pain makes it harder to sleep... and so on. I've had about 5 or 6 days where I'm not getting the kind of sleep I should and it - plus the pain - are making me feel like something that the unicorn dragged in. Or maybe the cat. *delusional*

Can you stand another cat picture? I love the way Little Trouble Kitty sits beside me like a little person. When he's like this he would prefer to have control of both of my hands... this time he settled for just one. If there was ever a cat who felt loved and cherished, it's my Little Trouble. As well he should. He's gotten more affectionate with other people. He'll let Mawmaw hold him. He always reaches up his front paws for Cody to pick him up. Last night he jumped up in Marquee's lap to get a cuddle, which was new. He'd always go to Marquee and make himself available for petting but he hasn't ever really committed to being held. I don't know that I've ever had a cat that wanted so much human affection. 

I went to work yesterday for about 3 and a half hours. I'm just so grateful to work at a place that appreciates anything I can do, even if it isn't much... and to be told that I'm the one who knows what I'm able to do each day and I have to be the one to decide what I can do. There was no, "are you leaving already?". There was no guilt. There was - and always has been - complete support and encouragement and I am so grateful for how God has moved me into a place that can accommodate and appreciate what I have left to offer. It's really amazing to me to be in an environment where the needs and talents of each employee are met and utilized in a way that benefits the team AND the person... instead of building a box of twinkies - identical employees with identical responsibilities and schedules... and it's amazing to see how that impacts the morale of the office in a positive way. You know, I started working the week after I graduated high school (27 years ago) and this is the first time I've worked somewhere where there is no bitterness toward "the man" - whether it's a boss or an owner or whatever. There's no backbiting or sniping or cutting down the employer or complaining or commiserating and I really believe that is because everyone enjoys the same kind of flexibility that I've been offered. If you feel like your needs are being met and your concerns are being heard, you have nothing to complain about. If you know that you're appreciated there's no insecurity and if there's no insecurity, there's no competition or jealousy or bitterness toward anyone. You're free to work as a team because you don't have to worry about whether or not you get credit for your efforts. What benefits one, benefits all.  Or, maybe it's just because I'm only there half the time and don't have time for those kind of office politics. Whatever the reason, it's refreshing and it's what keeps me going in a time where it would otherwise be easy to just give up. 

But mercy... for someone who has been sitting in the same little nest everyday... there sure is a lot going on in my little orbit. Ryan's buying a new car.  Cody's making some major life decisions, sort of at a crossroads and I'm so glad to be close enough for him to keep me in the loop. My sweet friend Whitney in Jacksonville is approaching her due date and ready to deliver her first baby at any moment. My Uncle Charles is having surgery for esophageal cancer next week - and we would appreciate your prayers as this is a very involved and risky procedure. Grandma's cardiologist has suggested that she start using a walker - which, she has never really acknowledged needing a cane - she won't call it a cane, she calls it her "walking stick" so I'm thinking she's not going to want to be hampered with a walker. Ever the lovely lady, my Steel Magnolia. (although I'd be happy with something to steady me about right now!) Mama is right at retirement, tomorrow is the last day. Mama and daddy are going to their homeowners association meeting for the mountain house on Saturday and will finally, after 7 months of owning the house, get to meet their neighbors. Marquee is in her next-to-the-last semester of college before she gets her dual degree in English and... Philosophy, I think. (she has the worst mother-in-law ever, I can't remember anything.) Lots of people I love are going through lots of major things. It's enough to keep a good prayer warrior on their knees, if only I could get back up from that position.

You know. I would never have imagined being mostly shut-in at 44 years old. Never. I may have been chubby most of my adult life but I was always really, really engaged in the world around me. It never slowed me down. I lived a really fascinating, exciting life. I may not have traveled the world but I've got stories... I've done some crazy fun things. There were times that I felt spread so thin and so, so exhausted. Now that I'm here... in this geographical place and in this physical place... I can see how blessed I am to have had the amazing first act... and although intermission is leading me into a second act that I never would have guessed/wanted... I can see now how all of those connections through that fast paced, action packed first act were designed to carry me through the rest of the show. I love my window on the world and I can't say it enough, I love my life, despite the pain. Or maybe I appreciate it more because of the pain. At any rate...

Happy Thursday, y'all. Hope you're able to feel the sense of "rightness" in your world that I feel in mine. Love and hugs. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wednesday Update *yawn*

Sciatica is the special of the day. I've been battling a loss of feeling in my left leg for a few days now. It's a numb kind of pain, if that makes sense. There is a sharp pain at the base of my spine - the kind you would withdraw from if you could, you know, like when you stub your toe or touch the tip of a needle, your reflex is to move away. When you can't move away and your body wants to, it makes your heart beat faster and you get a little lightheaded and it's hard to take a deep breath. Then, from that place, following a line down my left leg is that numb pain. There are muscle spasms in that same hip, I think from trying to pull away from the pain. That's my life right now.

At any rate... I was scheduled to work from 9 to 2 this morning and even after a nice warm soak in the tub... I know I'm not going to be able to handle even my abbreviated schedule today. We already have sort of a contingency plan in place for days that I can work some but not all of the time that I'm scheduled so... I called... and I'm going to come in during the lunch hours and work about three hours. It's not much but it's more than I've done over the past four days.

I'm disappointed in myself and embarrassed, even though I know it's beyond my control. I want to cry but if I start, I'll end up with a headache so I'm just being pragmatic and non-emotional about things. I am determined to celebrate ability and not mourn disability. I will do what I can do for as long as I can. I haven't left the house since last Friday so if nothing else, I need to get out of the house for a bit.

Some of you guys are in the path of that big ole snowstorm. I have extreme snow envy. I don't want the misery of power outage or getting stuck on the road or anything but I do want to look out on a snowy scene just once this year. And... it's not likely. We'll be near 70 degrees this weekend.

Yesterday was my scheduled day off (how do you take time off when you never work? that's my life.) so I made a big crockpot full of beef stew and some homemade rolls. Neither was REALLY that time consuming   but by the time I peeled and chopped and stirred and got things going, I was pretty miserable. It was totally worth it, though, sooooo good! Cody and Marquee came over and ate with us.

My mom's firm last day of work is Friday. I say "firm" because she's been trying to quit for the past year. She'll miss her kids but her vision is not great and she has a hard time seeing when it's still dark out. It's hard to walk out in traffic in the dark when you can't see well. Time change (this weekend?) means that it will be darker longer in the morning and that makes it really rough on her. She's got lots of plans of packing up this house to get ready for the move to the mountains... and cooking... and whatever else she wants to do. Pop will retire at the end of this year.

My oldest is getting a new car, his first NEW car ever. It's a 2013 Chevy Cruze. It's really surreal when two of your kids are driving newer cars than you. I'm not jealous... I'm just really, really proud of how hard they work. And I am still amazed at how these two babies of mine grew to be independent, functioning, contributors to society. And this gives me hope that the third baby will, too, in his own time.

Anyways... that's about all... I'm just going to watch tv and play online until time to go.  Happy Wednesday, y'all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Trouble's Reasons to Love Monday

So much for keeping a daily record of aches and pains to get a better idea of triggers. I made myself stick out five hours at work on Friday and I limped home (after stopping to pick up take out Mexican) and have pretty much been stuck in the same position ever since. My left leg is weak. I don't know how else to describe it. When I walk that leg feels heavy. I can't put much weight on it but there's no real specific point of pain. It all just hurts bad. My left side - above my hip - is Crampy stuff. So I've really just sort of sat here all weekend except for refilling my drink and going to the bathroom and an occasional trip to open the door for the animals. There is some *stronger than usual* pressure at my lower spine, this is the point of the bulging discs, not the point of the osteoarthritis, so this has less to do with weather than my usual point of discomfort.

I'm scheduled to work later today. Hopefully a few hours on the heating pad this morning will get me mobile. Unlike the result from the rest of the weekend. I can handle the pain. I'm used to it. The lack of mobility is a bummer. I was no help at all this weekend at home and I usually either cook a meal or take a turn at the dishes or SOMETHING. I've been just so unable to move this weekend.

So since MY LIFE is super boring, let me show you a few pictures of the Fabulous life of Little Trouble Kitty. Here are Trouble's Reasons to Love Monday:

1. Mommy got out of bed and left a warm spot where Stubbs and I could snuggle and have our first nap of the day. Thanks, Mommy.

2. Two words: PINK. SNUGGIE. Two more words: HEATING. PAD. It's kitty cat nirvana!

3. What is this junk she has on tv? Give me that remote. Hoping for a Cats 101 marathon on Animal Planet. Reason to Love Monday #3 Mommy's remote control.

4. Oh yeah! Once she starts styling her fur, it's almost time for her to hit the road! Reason to Love Monday #4 - we just might get a little time away from  mommy today.

5. Time to debunk that old theory that curiosity killed the cat. I'm inclined to believe that curiosity made things more interesting for the cat. That whole "killing" business is just one of those old wives tales. What's mom got in her pill bottles? Reason to Love Monday #5 -
my rock star, mountain goat climbing ability makes it impossible to hide anything from me.

6. Time to check up on the Boy Next Door. Has his daddy picked him up for work yet? Has Sammy's grandma come to pick Sammy's mommy up for school? Is Mawmaw still playing in traffic? Is there anything out there to get those crazy dogs stirred up? Reason to Love Monday #6 - my porthole on the outside world.

7.  Eh. Whatever. Time for another nap. Reason to Love Monday #7 - my awesome little nest. Mommy's not the only one with one.

Hope you all, both humans and fur-babies, find your own Reasons to Love Monday!