Monday, June 22, 2009

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

I ran into a friend recently who said she'd been reading my blog and I thought "not very often"! I don't know why I haven't been writing consistently. My brother said something the other day when I was saying how I don't know how people have so much time to be on facebook about a blog being the same deal. I guess that would be true of blogs used for journalistic purposes, but mine is basically a creative outlet to post my diary on-line and it rarely gets two entries a week, let alone an hour!

But I do love to write and I am trying to dismiss that artists' theory that you wait for the feeling or muse or spirit or whatever to move you. I think good writers have a fair amount of discipline and I best get myself trained in some routine tactics that produce more print!

I'm on summer mode and the weather in Chicago is finally cooperating with the season, so I'm trying to settle into a new routine. But, alas, routine is not my strong point. To quote Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" - "I'm more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kinda girl, moment-to-moment." That might work for a California call girl, but isn't doing much for this suburban mother and part-time employee!

I think I spent most of my life feeling pretty good about my ability to adapt, adjust, and bascially go with the flow. I forgot who it was who first said "Americans are good at war, because they're good at chaos and war is chaos." Chaos never used to phase me - it was the scheduled life that threw me for a loop. I would go around advertising my flexibility, "Call me Gumby!" But mostly it became an excuse for being unprepared or lukewarm about certain commitments. Don't get me wrong - I love flexible people and still try to be one. I'm just really learning to appreciate the value and benefits of a disciplined life.

People who are physically fit don't meander to the gym occasionally. Folks who plan ahead aren't at Walmart or Food-for-Less five times a week because the second they get home they see what else they were out of or started thinking about what to have for dinner around 5:30 pm. So I'm taking a stab at discipline during the least routine part of my year. Ask me how it's going once in awhile so I remember to write, will ya?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pain in the Neck

In April I finally got a new doctor because I had a pain in my neck and shoulders so severe I literally could not move. I was working and it was almost time to leave so I took a bathroom break and while I was walking back to my cubicle I felt shooting pains down the middle of my back. I drove home cautiously (for a change) because I couldn't really turn my head to check the blind spot. I took some motrin, prayed and went to bed hoping for the best.

Sleeping was tough, and when I woke up the next morning I decided to see a doctor. The problem was, mine is dead. The wonderful man who had been Dan's doctor basically his whole life and mine since we moved to Elk Grove, passed away suddenly almost three years ago. I apparently have been pretty healthy during those three years, because besides one trip to the clinic for strep, I had no need to see a doctor.

So I decided to see his replacement....until I found out he isn't in on Thursdays.

So back to the clinic, where the very gracious NP told me I was not within her realm of expertise and referred me to the new guy. The new guy looked me up and down and asked "How'd you get injured?" I replied "Um, it's not really an injury." Him: "You weren't playing a sport?" Me: "Not so much." Him: "Did you suddenly move or turn funny?" Me: "Um...nope." Him: "It just appeared all of a sudden?" Me: "Yeah." He put me on a steriod, prescribed some vicadin for the pain and gave me a referral for a physical therapist.

The first thing the physical therapist had me do was bend my head every which way. Which went something along the lines of "Okay, now bend your head as far back as you can" and me going "I am bending it back as far as I can", which fetched the reply "Oh."

She said the knot and tension in my shoulder was not the result of one recent pinched nerve, but the accumulation of something more significant over many years, because it felt like a big, solid rock beneath my skin. I was oddly encouraged, because that was sort of validating.

Over the course of four weeks, I learned many new exercises, had 6 ultrasounds on my neck and shoulder and as many manual massages & heat treatments. The rock sunk deeper and the pain lessened and the mobility increased. I made significant progress. I continued to do the exercises at home. I was put on a lower dosage muscle relaxant and stopped taking the pain pills.

We decided we couldn't really justify further treatment to the insurance company and I went on my merry way.

Then it came back. The first time on the day of the twin's birthday party. I took Motrin. Then Tylenol. Then Aspirin. Then I waited a little while and had a couple of Margaritas. It finally felt a little better. The next day I was fine. A week later I had my follow up with the new doctor. He asked how I was doing and I said other than having gained 5 pounds since the original visit, I was good. Then I told him about the one day it came back. He raised his eyebrows about the Margaritas on top of six pills, but I assured him I spaced it out. Eventually we agreed the worst was behind me, I would keep doing my exercises and again, I was sent on my merry way.

The next day I woke up and could barely move. I attended a luncheon with a friend and smiled through gritted teeth. Later I went on a Double Date with Dan and some of our best friends. We had dinner and saw the Beatles Tribute 1964 at the Rosemont Theatre (which was pretty fantastic except I still couldn't move). I took Motrin and then Tylenol and then more Motrin and had a glass of red wine. It did not get better. The next day, I was marginally more functional. I took the vicadin and slept most of the day. I called the doctor in the morning. The doctor who saw me three days earlier and heard me say "I'm fine." He didn't really want to see me again. He said to finish the prescriptions and call if it got worse.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at work the following day, still really stiff and in pain. Over lunch I spent some time praying and read the church newsletter which had a prayer request from a family who has a disabled son who is almost 22 and cannot care for himself at all. They have to do everything for him physically, mentally and emotionally. They have another son who is autistic, but he's doing pretty well and they just really wanted some time once in awhile for a respite and more energy.

I left my pity party and went back to the prayer and over the counter meds routine and am feeling remarkably better so far.

I've been reading this book "The Gospel According to Job" which takes you through the whole book one or two verses at a time and gives some insight on the faith of the guy who suffered more than any other human being I'm aware of. It's very humbling when all I have is a pain in my neck.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fast Forward

The twins will be 10 on Thursday. That's double digits. My babies are in double digits. They look a little taller this week than the week before. Not tall. But taller.

My son has one good friend who is two years older, so some of his friends come to play ball at our house too and all of a sudden I have a flock of 6th grade girls on my front lawn almost every day after school. They wear bras and laugh a lot. I remember these girls being 7 or 8, just a day or two ago. One of them was in the Brownie Troop I led. Another rode the bus with Caitlin on the first day of kindergarten. They were so small, the bus seemed like the Titanic in comparison.

Now they have legs up to my son's shoulders.

I am not prepared for this.

I kind of just got used to writing 2009 on my checks (yes, I occasionally still write checks) and the year is literally almost half over. Four of my nieces and nephews drive. One of them is married with two kids of her own. Our first babysitter just turned 21.

Life is going really, really fast.

I blink and five months have passed. I wake up in the morning and a year's gone by. I looked in a store security mirror the other day and thought I was looking pretty good for my age. Then I realized it was Caitlin I was looking at. She's twelve.

I've been getting up earlier the past couple of weeks, to exercise and pray before anyone else is up. It's something I've been meaning to do for about six years now. It has somehow made the day a little longer - a little more manageable. It hasn't slowed time any, but it's made me slow down. And I appreciate the opportunities in the fleeting minutes more.

Start the day focusing on the One who started the day.