Thursday, July 31, 2008

7/31 Say hello to Charlie

Yep, Snickers is now Charlie. For some reason I found it hard to remember the name Snickers. So he is part of the Grandpa Gussie clan now. Grandpa Gussie's first name was Charles. So both dogs are named after my great grandfather. Sorry, Sarah, but Charlie fits the little critter. And he's getting used to his name quickly.

My boss is taking on call responsibilities for me from Friday night until Sunday morning, so I won't have to be on call for my birthday after all. That makes me happy.

Jane sent me a text message today saying they are leaving Wisconsin tomorrow morning. They've had a great time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

7/30 Another saint

I think it's Cindy. Someone (was it you, Cin?) left three ears of corn and several fresh tomatoes. Oh, and the corn was already cleaned. So guess what I had for dinner...yep, all of the corn and two of the tomatoes. I'm still smiling.

So thanks a MILLION!

My puppies and kitten have been so entertaining tonight. I've really enjoyed watching them.

My birthday is Saturday. I told Jan that I just might want to go to her house and swim with my puppies, then relax on the porch afterward. Quite a lot of excitement for such an old broad.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

7/29 From tears to laughter

It was the worst day since before my epidural. At work I was able to keep tears at bay because I was so incredibly busy. When it got really bad I went into the bathroom and made faces at the mirror. It helped me not take myself or my pain so seriously.

Rob called late in the day and I was able to confess to him how I really felt. I called Jan on the way home, and was able to be cool on the phone.

At home I immediately went to bed, and the tears flowed. Jill called shortly afterward and could tell I'd been crying. But I told her that I'd gone from tears to hysterical laughter because of my animals. They were just hilarious. The funniest thing was when Bozie tried to jump off the bed but couldn't because Snickers had her tail in his mouth. He wasn't biting hard because she wasn't meowing, but it was effective nonetheless. Gus just watched with me.

God it was funny. And I enjoyed trying to explain it all to Jill.

What wonderful kids I have--they call to check on me every few days, sometimes every day.

I'm feeling a little bit better. Have been in bed since I got home, plus I took a pain pill.

I'm so glad I have these animals. They are so fun to come home to.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

7/27 Saint Jan

Saint Jan came by again today and worked. First we went to Mass and then Tim, his Uncle Bill, Jan, and I went to lunch at Mike's in Liberty. I hadn't been there before and the food was really good. Am so glad we went.

Tim is putting a new roof on the garage before I buy the place. It leaks every time it rains, so they said they'd do it before I even moved in. (Honestly, it wasn't my idea.)

Saint Jan cleaned my horrible utility room and then the kitchen floor. I'm really grateful to her. Now I can contact a cleaning company to get an estimate on cleaning the place on an ongoing basis.

I'm really embarrassed about my inability to do much around the house, but even when Jan was here I had a really bad "attack" or whatever it is my spinal cord does to me.

Today was one of the worst days I've had in weeks and I'm damn pissed off about it. Not that it helps or anything, but makes me feel more powerful. :)

The dogs got into the litter box and ate poop. Thought that would make everyone sit up and take notice.

Friday, July 25, 2008

7/25 A BEAUTIFUL video--made me cry

Once upon a time, two friends, John and Ace, adopted a lion cub who was later named Christian. They played with the little guy, exercised him and loved him like family, but eventually, Christian grew up to be too large to care for and his keepers were forced to give the cub up and reintroduce him to the African wild. A year later, when John and Ace went to visit Christian in his natural habitat, they were warned he would no longer remember them, for now he was wild. Check out the moving reunion (and how hot the hairstyles were back in the '70s)!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

7/24 More of the same

Am so busy at work that I feel I'm spinning in circles.

Anyway, the neurosurgery place at Wash U called and said my appointment is on September 3 in St. Louis. I'll have to rearrange some stuff, but that's okay.

The weather is icky and so is my mood. Maybe it's because I feel like I'm running through mud today--lots of effort but not a lot accomplished.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

7/23 Puppies and doctors and stuff

Today Gus and Snickers are at the groomer's. They're getting a "face, feet, and butt" trim. So they'll still be nice and fuzzy and adorable.

Got a call from Wash U Medical Center in St. Louis to screen me for the neurosurgeon appointment. Now they'll give the info, plus the MRI results, to the doctor there and they'll call me back with an appointment. There are no choices about date and time. So I'll wait...

Also, we're setting up the next epidural. They'd told me I may need more than one. Unfortunately I was only pain free for one day and it started to get worse day by day.

So there it is... but tonight I'm having potatoes, sweet corn, tomatoes, and cucumber and onions. And yeah--it's going to be great.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

7/22 Givers (them) and Taker (me)

Jan gave me cucumbers and zucchini from her garden as well as some perfect tomatoes. Today she dropped off some green beans that I didn't know she was growing. Joe and Cindy had already given me some cabbage and last night gave me yummy tomatoes from their garden. One of them didn't even make it to the fridge. I ate two for lunch. Also they gave me some banana peppers that I added to a pasta dish yesterday--it already had Jan's zucchini in it. Omigod--I'm in the land of fresh vegetables and I'm in heaven.

On the way home from work I stopped to get some fresh sweet corn that Jan had told me about. Another omigod! I can't wait to eat again. That's how good the corn is.

Gave Joe and Cindy some too because I have a feeling I'm going to be getting more tomatoes.

I think my favorite meal is fresh tomatoes, fresh corn, and new potatoes with freshly made iced tea. I know I'll think of more, but right now that's my idea of the best meal ever.

Monday, July 21, 2008

7/21 Part time job

Just got hired to teach at Quincy University as an adjunct. Will be teaching Wednesday evenings beginning in August. This class is called Introduction to Professional Issues. It's an entry level class for people wanting to major in Human Services. I'm really excited about it. It's only two blocks from my house, and this would be a super retirement job to have on an ongoing basis.

In the meantime, dogs are doing well and I had so much fun swimming with them yesterday at Jan and Tim's. The little critters got so tired out they slept from 5:30 PM to 5:30 AM. I had to wake them up to get them to go outside to pee.

Guess the pups and I should swim every day, huh. Good for all of us.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

7/20 Givers

Yesterday my sister Jan cleaned my house. It was such a selfless act of love and touched me deeply.

Because of the pain I'd had, my whole sense of self changed. Instead of just not doing what I couldn't do (lift, vacuum, sweep), I didn't do anything.

While Jan cleaned, I organized. Her daughter and future son-in-law helped her carry items to my shed (built into the old garage).

My house is livable now. And I can invite people over instead of being afraid someone will stop by.

Jan is absolutely tremendous. What has someone done for you lately? Unexpectedly or planned, doesn't matter. Just tell us what someone has done for you. It will make us all smile.

Friday, July 18, 2008

7/18 Act quickly

Family, I'm falling in love with Snickers. You better act quickly if you want him. It won't take long for him to be totally mine.

Bozie loves both dogs and plays rough with them. But when she's tired of it, she climbs the gate and goes to the living room.

A drug rep took some nurse practitioners and nurses to Maya last night. I was invited to join them because some other nurses couldn't make it. It was the day after Jan's birthday, but Jane had arranged for her to get the birthday treatment anyway. Omigod this was fun. She seemed to enjoy it too. And to top it off, the fried ice cream was delicious.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

7/17 Lots of GREAT news

I took Gus outside at 6 AM as always and thought, "Something's different." And it was--I was totally pain free for the first time in almost four months. It felt weird at first.

After my shower, when I started moving around a lot more, little pains came back--but if my worst back pain was a 10, this is a 2 or so. Nothing that will stop me from doing anything.

I actually wanted to call in sick and clean my house. The house is the worst it's ever been in my life. So I'm anxious to rectify that, but the prospect of doing it all is daunting--therefore it's going to be one room at a time.

The TAB (talented arrogant bastard who did my procedure--no names) said it may last for hours, days, weeks or even months. But he was really negative about the ultimate success. Guess what? I wanted to slap him but didn't let him drag me down. He also acted like all my answers were wrong. "If I do this with your leg, it's supposed to hurt. But it hurts when I do this, and it's not supposed to." That kind of thing. I know he had to give a negative spin on the ultimate success so as to not get my hopes up, but still....

Anyway he's talented. And I feel really really good, and am incredibly grateful.

Thanks so much for all your support and love.

AND--I'm getting Gus's brother. Yep. He's the last one in the litter and they don't want to advertise and they just want to be done with puppies. So I said I'd take him if he was free. And he is. :) I get him today. Anyone in the family want to steal him?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

7/16 Happy birthday, Jan and other stuff

Hope you have a great birthday dinner tonight with Kris and Tim. Thanks to you and Jane for a delightful taxi service today.

The epidural went well. Other than two brief times when I experienced bad pain (he was trying to find the right place to inject the meds), the procedure was painless.

Right now, the paim is gone/minimal in the upper areas of my spine, but still hurts from my lower back down to my knees. I expect this to be gone in a day or two. The power of positive thinking. :)

Gus and Bozie were happy to see me. There's a chance I'm going to get Gus's brother as well. Will keep you informed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

7/15 Finally

Finally my internet is working again. I'm happy about that.

Today was so bad that I even cried a few times at work. This was probably the worst day I've experienced.

So tomorrow is coming none too soon. The epidural will be done around 12 which means I can work tomorrow morning for a few hours.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

7/13 More down than up

Today is the worst day I've had in a long time. Jane took me shopping for some things I needed, and while in the stores I kept experiencing attack after attack of extreme pain. Spent a lot of the time in tears and there was nothing I could do about it.

It's very discouraging.

Plus my internet isn't working except for two sites--my writing bb and I can post but can't go to my website and answer comments. This is freakin' weird.

Anyway--back to bed.

7/13 Life is good

We had a wonderful surprise birthday party for my sister Jan last night. Everyone showed up (but my brother and sister in law from near Chicago). She had inklings that something was going on, but truly was surprised.

The food was delicious and the presents were great. However the highlight of the evening were the fire balloons. Many people don't even know what they are, but we grew up with no money and lots of kids, so fire balloons were a fun and inexpensive thing to do on summer evenings--with adult supervision of course (snicker snicker).

It was a delightful evening. Gus and I both were tired at the end of it. Happy birthday (on the 16th), Jan. Hope your real birthday brings you as many smiles as the surprise one.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

7/12 Long time no post

Internet isn't working at home and I haven't had the energy to be on the phone forever trying to get it fixed. I'm at work trying to catch up, so will take the opportunity to post now--it's Saturday.

I misunderstood the doc. If it hurts, don't do it, means that if it hurts and I continue to do the activity then it may cause a muscle spasm which of course hurts like crazy. Activity won't cause further damage, so that's awesome news.

Have felt really bad the last several days except for yesterday. Pain was mild and was a welcome relief. Jan invited Gus and me to come swimming last night because I do need to start doing easy exercise. I swam with my puppy and did it very gently--using a noodle and not flailing my arms about. It felt superb, until afterward. Then the pain started and hasn't let up since. That saddens me because the swimming was fun.

Jan and Kris made a salad and zucchini fritters so they invited me to have dinner. It was delicious and much better than the PB&J sandwich I was going to have. Craig and Megan arrived last night to celebrate Jan's 60th this weekend. They aren't inviting us all over because it was a really long drive for just the weekend. Plus I really understand that they want their immediate family to spend the special time together.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

7/9 Doc appointment

Saw him at 6:30 AM.

Guess it's worse than I thought. A lot worse.

The stenosis and arthritis aren't pushing against nerves like I thought. They're pushing against my spinal cord. That's why my shoulder and neck hurt too. If it was lower on my spine, it would be pressing against individual nerves.

Recommended I see a neurosurgeon ASAP and also recommended I make an appointment at Barnes or somewhere else out of town so I can get a second opinion immediately regarding the necessity for surgery. Will talk to my private consultants about other doctors out of town. (Jan and Jane, get ready.) :)

Also, he said the main thing to remember is--"If it hurts, don't do it." Told him my house is a wreck because of that very reason. Originally I thought I could do stuff and just pain would result but no additional damage, but he said that's not true. I could hurt myself worse.

The good news? My systolic blood pressure is 110. I attribute it to my puppy.

I know there's more, but I need to get back to work. Love you all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

7/8 Don't read this either

I'm finding it so hard to tolerate this pain. Am happy I'm going to see my doctor in the morning.

Went to the grocery store after work and got caught in one aisle where I couldn't even walk. Managed to shake that off and called my sister-in-law Cindy so she could help me unload my groceries. Thanks, Cindy, you were a godsend. And chatting with you for a little while made the tears stop. I only let it get to me that badly when I'm alone. But I'm okay now (emotionally). I love you.

My animules are glad to see me. After writing this I'm going to take another pill and go to bed.

7/8 Don't read this

Don't read this if you're sick and tired of reading about my back. But...

Wish the epidural were today. I experienced my worst night ever last night. Had pretty bad pain all day which is not the norm. By the time I got home I was crying. And the hydrocodone didn't help. Finally called my sister who's my doctor's nurse and cried to her. She said, "I don't allow patients to call me at home." God that made me laugh, and of course that helped immensely.

Of course, she did give me comfort. That calmed me down. The pain didn't go away but I stopped crying. Being calm makes things a lot better. Thanks, Jan.

Oh, and the night before last we had a first--Gus slept all night without me having to take him outside. Last night it was three times, but I do see that a full night's sleep is now possible.

And when I got out of the shower, Bozie was watching the weather. She's such a smart cat.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

7/6 Best and Worst

This has been such a great weekend. I've been able to be with my family a lot which is so important to me. Last night, Kelly, Todd, and the boys came over, but I didn't hear them knocking.(Note to self: get a doorbell.) Luckily I went out in front to water the flowers and saw them sitting over at Joe's house. So Gus, Bozie and I went over.

I knew they'd come to meet Bozie, because they are definitely cat people. Bozie made quite a hit with everyone. She is such a cutie. And of course Gus got some great attention too.

The worst part is that this weekend my back has been worse than ever. This latest bad flare up started about two days before the MRI, and unless I take the pain meds it's really bad. With the medication, I can tolerate the pain, but can't do a lot more than that. All I want to do is sleep. Last night I forced myself to water the flowers (which was good because I got to see everyone).

I'm grateful the puppy and kitten have each other. Neither has to rely on me for their fun. I do love to play with them though. Here are some pics I took with my phone.

We didn't know if Gussie would like the water or not, but he followed Rocky (a miniature dachshund) right into the pond.

I finally have a picture of Gus and me. It looks like I'm choking him, but I promise I'm not. Just wanted him to look at the darn camera.

My sister Jane holding Gus. And a pic of a small evergreen on Jan's porch with bubbles on it. The kids were blowing lots of bubbles and some would stick on the plant. Loved it.

A very tired puppy.

Bozie loves TV. Here's she's watching Wimbledon.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

7/5 A wonderful Independence Day

Thanks, Jan and Tim, for such a great time. Most of the family and lots of friends turned out, and it made it a special day. Poor Gus doesn't remember how to walk because everyone kept holding him. :) That makes me happy.

I had a lot of fun. Can't wait to see the pictures.

When Gus and I got home I heard Bozie meowing, but couldn't find her. Started to get scared. Then I found her closed in the pantry. She was there the whole time. Luckily she didn't have an accident. A great kitty.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

7/3 TMI on MRI

I know this will be too much information, but am writing it anyway.

Had the MRI yesterday and both my sisters called me with the results. I have two things wrong.

One is on L4 and L5 I have moderate to severe narrowing of the central canal. My doc said no wonder I'm in pain.

On the S1 and T12 I have perineural cysts (also called Tarlov cysts). Apparently they don't cause pain unless they grow to a certain size, so I don't know if they are just incidental or what.

There's also some stuff about "facet osteoarthropathy." Here's some info: "Most people who have facet arthropathy will complain of low back pain that is worse with twisting or extension (bending backwards) of the lumbar spine. the facet joints become arthritic, they often develop bone spurs that can decrease the amount of space available for the nerve roots as they exit the spinal canal. This can be a contributing factor in the development of spinal stenosis, which does cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the buttocks and legs." Our father had arthritis of the spine, so it's no surprise that I have it.

Haven't spoken to my doc but he's sending me to a neurosurgeon, and also to the pain clinic for an epidural. I think I'll love the epidural. He does want me to have surgery, but of course I'm going to weigh my options. Luckily my sisters are wonderful and are great to have as consultants.

One sis said, "At least you know that you really have something." I laughed so loudly over the phone and replied, "I've always known I've had something. It's just you guys who think I'm a lazy slob." Laughed again. And so did she.

Yesterday and today were both big pain days, so I just took a pain pill. Will lie down soon and hope to begin snoring within moments.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

7/2 A little good news

My license arrived in the mail today. So I'm currently an LCSW in three states--Illinois, Wisconsin, and Mississippi. Of course I'll let the other two expire, but I'm so happy the IL one arrived. It will make my job easier.

Had the MRI this morning. Will find out the results in a few days or so.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

7/1 Stuff

Work flew by today. I had so many meetings that I didn't get my work done and had to bring a lot of items home.

The good news is that my eyes are fine. Saw the ophthalmologist this morning.

Also good news is that I got some pain meds from my doc and they are helping. Tomorrow morning I'm having an MRI, so we'll see what happens.