Thursday, December 31, 2009

What a year it's been !!!

Gee, this year has past so fast, in spite of all the events that took place concerning my life. About this time last year I was preparing for a few life-changing events. You know that expression, "Want to hear God laugh, make plans"? Well, God really got a huge belly laugh out of me this year.

Final plans were being made for my major back surgery that was to take place the second week of January. Nothing would go wrong, even though it would be an intensive surgery. A couple of days in the hospital and a few weeks to recover and I would be in the pink once again. (Do you hear the Heavenly chuckles, yet?!)

Checked into a very small hospital in Austin and after five hours of surgery I awoke to a Morphine pump and pain that managed to still find me. Groggily, I listened as the nurse wanted me to get out of bed and walk. When I said I didn't feel so well, that was the last I said before I passed out and quick hands stopped my fall to the floor. Waking to find my husband next to me, he explained that the nurse thought that I could wait a bit before "we" tried the walking again. I closed my eyes and dreaded the next go. Every two hours I walked the halls with assistance and encouragement. By the next day the pain was so great that I begged them not to make me get up and still they insisted. Being the "good patient", I got and the halls were walked.

When it was time to go home, I thought that I had really died and been sentenced to Hell without relief from pain. On the way home, I begged my husband to just pull the car over. Once stopped, I pleaded with him to leave me on the side of the road and drive away, because I couldn't stand the pain any more. I was on pain pills, which didn't even touch the surface of the pain. If it had been me in his shoes, I don't know how I would have handled someone I loved begging me to leave them behind. He stayed calm and said, "We'll make it home, some how."

I prayed and tried to situate myself in a better position in the car. Literally, a calmness came over me and I relaxed. I do believe that my mom wrapped me in her Heavenly arms and comforted me, because my pain was somewhat lessened. We drove mid-way from Austin and stopped for a bathroom break. I was using a walker, strapped into a back brace, weak and on medicine which clouded my ability to function. So my husband went into the ladies' room with me and we managed to take care of business. The rest of the trip home was accomplished and finally pulling into the driveway home never looked so good.Getting into bed brought immense relief. My pain was lessened when I was horizontal and consequently, my husband could smile and function.

For the next three weeks, he made and brought all my meals to my bed, as getting up felt like stepping into a bear trap. (No, I have never stepped in a bear trap, but that is the best description of the level of pain I felt.) Whenever I had to get up he would stand by the bed and I would will myself to become vertical and endure the most horrendous pain I had ever experienced. I began eating and drinking less, so bathroom trips weren't needed as much. There are not words to describe the state of pain that I suffered.

During this time, my doctor was trying to figure out where all the pain was coming from, as it was worse than before my surgery. Trust in my doctor didn't fail, as he was working on this problem and we kept in communication with each other. Finally, early February it was agreed upon that a further surgery would be the answer.

New hospital, more tests and another surgery on my back. For days after this surgery, I would wake to find my doctor sitting by my bedside each morning to check on me.

In patient Physical Therapy was needed in order to build up my strength and give me back my mobility. Riding in an ambulance to the Rehab Hospital was a lot safer and less painful than our car, so that was used. When I arrived at the Rehab center I learned that life skills can be lost when someone has no strength or mobility. Wonderfully caring people helped me learn to take care of myself, with everything from bathroom skills, eating, walking and everything I used to take for granted. Ten days of intensive rehab and I was on my way home once more. Pain medicine was my friend for awhile, until I tried to stop it too suddenly. That too was a lesson for me.

So, that was a small chapter of my 2009 journey. Two surgeries and Rehab in Austin, with lessons in humility (having someone help with toilet needs was very humbling), self-strength and determination. I do know that my family and friends were my cheerleaders throughout that extraordinary ordeal and without them I doubt my success. Phone calls from home were welcome, even when I didn't have the strength to hold up the cell phone. Comfort quilts were used to bundle up my shivering body in rehab. Words of encouragement and love made me keep going, even when I wanted to quit. Promises made to friends not to give up strengthened my resolve to achieve my goals.

Each time I attended my post-operative doctor's visits, I was fueled by the looks of amazement on the faces of the people in the office. "You look so much better than last time we saw you." Amazingly, pain can cause a person's whole being to change and once that pain is under control, the person's true self shines through for all to see.

I did remind the doctor the real reason that I had the surgery. On my visit this last summer I showed him a picture of my motivation and what made it all worthwhile, "I had the surgery so that I could walk and hold my grandchild."

Some things in this life are worth going through the darkness and pain. Would I do it again to be able to love on my grandchid? You betcha.

Happy New Year and may you all have health and happiness this year and each one to come.

Your favorite Ferret.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flexible Traditions: One way to take the crazy out of holidays

When we went out for Chinese dinner on Christmas Eve with our "kids" we decided that we would make this a new tradition for our family. Absolutely delicious food, remarkable service, and relaxed atmosphere all made sure that we want to repeat this experience again. When we go out to eat, our requirements are pretty simple: Lots of yummy food and service that makes us feel like someone cares about our dining experience. We so got more than we bargained for when we went out that evening. Walmut chicken is now my new favorite Chinese dish. Windy, cold weather was beaten back with hot tea and the warmth of our dining companions. Mid-way through dinner, our littlest member of our family woke up in time to flirt with all the ladies and play musical laps with us all. Great dinner and happy moments.

After dinner we took a stoll through a new, huge store in the area. Makes me feel old when I go into those super stores and become overwhelmed by the selections of everything. Dozens of varieties in any department from meat to canned goods. When did we get to the point that we requred so many different types of anything? Yes, I am impressed but still wonder where it will end? Furniture in a grocery store? Yep, they had rooms of furniture for sale. In fact we even registered to win a room of furniture (with the promise that we would give the furniture to our "kids" if we win it. Maybe I can get up off that couch, 'cause I have a hard time with the one they rescued from the curb.)

We have traditions in our family, but I have found that one must stay flexible when your family has grown to include more branches. When you start with a family of three and now there are seven more members, "going with the flow" will help to lessen the tension. Being the understanding one isn't always easy, but it sure does make less problems in the end. After all, I got what I really wanted for the holidays: Being with my loved ones who are healthy, great parents, employed full-time and enjoy each other's company.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Your favorite Ferret.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Road less Taken

Today on the History Channel there was a program entitled, "Woodstock: Then and Now." This got me to thinking about choices I have made and the effect of those choices. Picture this, it was the summer of 1969 and the world was changing dramatically for everyone. I had just graduated from high school and I was headed off to college, although where I really wanted to be was at Woodstock. I literally made a choice to go off to college, rather than Woodstock.

My mom helped me move from Victoria to Kansas City, Missouri. (That move changed my life, which will be a blog or two on its own, sometime.)

On the trip, my mom and I stayed at "hole in the wall" motor courts. Fancy motels didn't fit into our meager budget. On July 20, 1969 we sat in a rather dingy room and watched the landing on the moon. Who would have thought that exactly ten years later, I would be walking down the aisle to be joined in marriage to my husband? Looking back in time, is always interesting, when you see how the threads of your life are woven to form the tapestry that represent you.

Fast forward to the time when I told our daughter that I had really wanted to go to Woodstock, but choose to go to college instead. Her response cracked me up, "I'm really glad that you didn't go to Woodstock, 'cause you would have been one of those naked girls running around in the film." How did she know?

Acquiring my college degrees proved to be beneficial to my career, but I do still wonder what turns my life would have taken had I gone to Woodstock.

Reminders of the past: Triumphs of life

I wanted to post a pic of my hand scar and my reminder of a life well-spent, my little Sweet Potato. Told my daughter to take a picture of my hand holding my heart, my GRANDson. He's my life's prize that I value so much. When I look at my hand, that my mom fought to keep, cradling him, my heart is warmed by the legacy given to me by her. Cradling an infant is easier when you have two hands. Thanks, Mom, for this priceless gift.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cold: Nature's Own Calliope

Before I take you too far along on this journey, I want to explain what a calliope is. The musical instrument receives its energy from steam; with the loudness of the sounds uncontrollable. There can be sounds that are sweet enough to eat and the next moment the notes screech until the fillings rattle in your back teeth. Can't really ignore a calliope, any more than you can ignore the effects that cold brings with its icy fingers and frigid breath.

As a girl starting out in northern Ohio, I learned many things about cold early in my life. On snowy days, I could look out of my bedroom window and watch the automobiles charge up the hill nearby. Tires would spin out clouds of fluffy white, while digging for a grip on the slippery road beneath the crunchy whiteness. Sometimes, the car would back down and take another run up the hill. Through the frosted window I could see gloved fingers gripping the wheel, mouth held in a straight determined line, and stretched out neck serving as a figurehead encouraging the vessel to conquer the challenging slope ahead. When the car would make it to the top, as many eventually did, I could almost hear the sigh of relief from the driver. During the winter, the same scenario was repeated quite often; sometimes the crisp, cold, crunchy snow was the victor and drivers became pedestrians trudging up the hill, defeated heads hung on the way to the bus stop above.

When it was cold outside, getting prepared was quite a feat for all involved. Mom would gather all the winter layers and I was adorned from the bottom layer up to the tasseled hat at the end. Tights were stretched and seams straightened as toes found their new snug homes. Socks were pulled up and then the feet felt warm and secure. Snow pants, which had elastic at the end of the legs to keep them pulled down, were put over the tights and the bands adjusted under my feet. (You really don't want to put them on under the socks, because those darn elastic bands can really chaff your feet.) Next came the undershirt, the regular shirt and then the sweaters. Cumbersome, thick snow pants and snow jacket were zipped,buttoned and snapped; all the while making sure that the mittens' string was threaded through the sleeves first. Snaps secured the black snow boots. Tassel hat pulled tightly over ears and tied. Scarf wrapped around the neck and secured. By this time my little body was sweating and I was anxious to go outside to play. If you've ever seen "A Christmas Story" and saw the little boy in the snowsuit; yep, that's pretty much me.

Walking a lot like a Sumo wrestler or the Tire guy, I would go out, grab my sled and crunch up the hills nearby. When you are all bundled up for the cold, everything sounds so different; kind of like being under water. Your ears are protected by so many layers of cloth, and your mouth is covered by your scarf; so you are not only deaf, but mute. It's okay, because everyone else is, also.

We would play outside when it was so cold, that our cheeks would actually become "burned" by the cold. Since our cheeks were the only thing that was exposed, it makes sense that many of my childhood photos in the winter show me as a kid with "sunburned" cheeks. Vaseline applied nightly couldn't keep up with the situation of dry, overexposed skin.

To first walk on snow that had a pristine, fresh ice layer on top was a tactile delight. Crunching through that first layer and sinking down into the softness beneath is like biting into a chocolate covered ice cream cone. Unexpectedly different sensations in each layer. Crunch then aaaaah.

After being in the cold, we would come in with fresh wood for the fireplace. It seemed that the colder the wood, the louder it protested being used as fuel. Snow and ice would drip upon the ashes creating a sizzling sonata as the sap fried inside until the log would pop. Warming myself near the fireplace was exciting. Logs shifted as they burned, almost adjusting themselves so that they could be warmed evenly. By the time I had thawed enough to undress, my mom would have made the hot chocolate for me. My last battle against the cold, would be a warm bath, fuzzy socks and flannel jammies.

Cuddling up with a good book and a fantastic mom at the end of my snow day was truly the best music anyone could feel and treasure forever.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Scars: Life's Memories Markers

Recently, I was at a new doctor's office and he touched my left hand and questioned me about a rather large scar that I have worn for almost all of my life. When I explained how I got that scar and what it represented to me, I gained more appreciation for the love and care I have received all of my life. My hand's scar wasn't the first one I received and it sure wouldn't be the last in my long active life. Funny thing is that each scar helps me remember my adventures and keeps those memories fresh for me.

I will start with the first scar that I was born with and before it healed, it caused many people immense amount of pain. My stomach was covered with an angry, blistered, birth mark that required radiation treatment and boric acid poured on for the first three weeks of my life. Even though I was a newborn, it took my mom and my Godmother to hold me down for those excruciating treatments. Being a mom now, I can only imagine the heartbreak that those two women endured for my benefit.

My left hand scar occurred when I was a toddler. Back in the days there were only glass milk jugs and during the confusion of unloading the car of the bottles, I got hold of one. The burden proved to be more than I could carry and I hit the bottom of the bottle on the outside step. I actually remember watching the blood spurt up onto the pink siding of the house. I don't remember the pain, just a lot of people rushing around and taking me to the doctor's office for help. Later, I learned that the doctor tried to talk my mom in letting him amputate my hand, because he said that I would never have control over it again. You see, back then, if you severed arteries and ligaments, the chances of complete recovery were slim to none. My mom wanted as full of a life for me as possible, so she refused the amputation and hospitalization. She watched the doctor retrieve the ligaments with a long hook and stitch up the arteries and everything else under local anesthesia. We went home that night and she laid next to me to make sure that my hand was kept on the ice bag and perfectly still all night long. Bless my mom's heart, I know that she carried guilt for years that I slipped out of her sight and found the glass danger that caused so much damage. My scar healed and my hand is completely useful. Thanks, Mom for believing you knew what I needed and going against the doctor's advice. Quite amazing for the early fifties, because most people were intimidated by professional men.

I will not go into such great details about all of my scars, but they each carry part of what makes me who I am.

There is a c-section scar which was made to save a premature baby girl, who has now given me the most precious grandson.

Knee surgery scars help me walk better.

Of all the most recently acquired scars that I treasure are the ones I got this year from back surgery. Because of the surgery I can walk longer and with less pain, but what I take away from those scars are the memories of the care that I received from my husband. You see, my husband passes out at the site of bodily injuries to the ones he loves...I mean literally passes out. When I came home from the hospital and my stomach and back had surgery wounds that needed daily dressings, we knew that he was the one who had to take care of them. We laid everything out and then he knelt down behind me. I questioned him why he was on his knees by the bed and he explained, "If I should faint, while I am doing this, I don't want to fall so far down and get hurt." At first I thought he was joking and then I realized that he was serious. So each day, he would help me shower and we would lay the new salve, gauze, tape, etc. out and he would pat me dry and minister to my needs.

All of my scars mean more about love than any card Hallmark could ever print for love never ending. People have helped me heal from physical pain and all the pain that only they could see. I will be eternally grateful for all the care and love my healing process has received from my friends and family.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More memory treasures

I remember back when I was small watching my brother spend hours with his comic book collection. Glancing over his shoulder, I queried, "How do you know which pictures you look at next?" To my young eye, there were a bunch of boxes and colorful drawings in each and I didn't understand what order I was to direct my eyes.

Being who he was, he huffed,"When you know how to read, you follow the words."

I was now determined to learn to read, so that I could enjoy his comic books. My mom assisted me in this quest, by reading to me everyday and supplying me with those precious Golden Books. One of my favorite books was "Nurse Nancy" because it came with its own small supply of band aides in the back. I also loved "Little Black Sambo", "Pokey Little Puppy" and "Cinderella."

At the time she worked in the stockroom of Woolworth. For those younger than me, let me just say that Woolworth was like a Walmart, only cooler. There was a lunch counter, anything you might need for the house and best of all a toy department that was like a little girl's dream come true.

My mom got to see all the newest toys, before they even made it downstairs. Everything from the upstairs stockroom was moved by way of the conveyor belt. I can still see those rollers and the thick, black rubber mat that slide around them. Sometimes, I even got to push the big red button to make it start moving. It would sort of jump and then the rollers moved the belt in its never ending journey.

On rare occasions I got to go with my mom to her work (now I wonder if it was a necessity or just because she wanted to take me.) I was a social kid and all the people who worked there seemed to enjoy the time I spent with them. At break time we would eat at the lunch counter and I remember the paper straws in the coke glasses and watching the lunch lady make up the toast for the sandwiches. Funny how that same meal tasted better there than at home.

I was happy hanging out with my mom and didn't fully appreciate the hard labor involved with lifting of the heavy cardboard cartons and standing all day long on the cement floor price marking the merchandise. Back then everything had its own price tag, because there wasn't such a thing as bar codes and scanners to read them.

When I was six, hula-hoops were a huge craze and the manager of the store had me demonstrate them in front of the store. I was able to keep quite a few going at one time and for years afterward, my mom would tell that story with pride in her voice. Each time she told the story throughout the years, the number of hula-hoops I spun grew but I never corrected her.

When I first started this writing it was going to be about my love for reading, but somehow it morphed into something else. I know that my love for reading is entwined with my love for my mom, because she encourage my exploring worlds through words. No wonder that I spent most of my teaching years sharing that love of the written word with my students.

I have a tee-shirt that has a funny picture on the front of a lady sitting by a huge stack of books and the words, "There is no such thing as too many books." I totally agree with that, with one caveat, when you are moving there are TOO MANY DARN BOOKS to carry.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Becoming "Enriched", while being "Poor"

Yesterday, I was reading the "blurb" by Diane Boyette about one of the reasons that VISD didn't dismiss classes early was that some children needed to be fed. She went on to say that they wouldn't eat any meals during the weekend. This started me to thinking about my own childhood.

During my early childhood I collected many great memories of playing outside, having friends, a warm house in the winter (Ohio does get very cold), plenty of food (even though some of it wasn't to my liking), and clean clothes. What I didn't have was a father for the first seven years. My dad left right after I was born and my mom moved with her two small children back home to help take care of her elderly parents and live in their three bedroom house with us. She worked long hours and my grandparents kept us until they passed away by the time I was four. Needing help with childcare, she paid a young girl to live with us and fill in when my mom's work hours would have left us alone, otherwise. Someone was there with us during the summer, whether it was an aunt, neighbor, or other responsible adult, because my mom was on her own to provide for her two children. I don't remember not having as much as other kids, but I know that we didn't. My mom made sure that she spent time with us reading, baking cookies, taking walks, visiting relatives, going to the zoo and other activities that enriched our lives. I now realize what sacrifices she made to make sure that we were well taken care of and I appreciate the extraordinary strength that she had to maintain a household on her own.

After the age of seven, my life changed with the addition of my step-father. We were uprooted from everything we knew and brought to south Texas. Talk about a culture shock. I had never seen any cockroachers, let alone ones large enough to carry a small child (you know those huge suckers that give you the willies when you come across them coming up your drain.) In the summertime I got heat rash so bad under my arms that I would try to sleep with my arms above my head, so the hot air from the fan would help to cool those spots. Hurricane Carla was the final blow to my introduction to the wonderful world of Texas. I was so ready to pack it in and leave, but when you're a kid, you're pretty much stuck.

In school things were strange, also. We would be lined up outside and as a teacher would walk along the row with her yellow pencil she would check our hair. (Found out later that this was for lice--which thank goodness I never got.)

If a student didn't use the word, "Ma'am" in the answer to a teacher, a sharp rap of a ruler on the knuckles taught you what was required. Up north, "Yeah" wasn't thought to be bad manners; it was just said. I learned, "Yes, Ma'am, Yes, Sir," very quickly.

Our income was greatly reduced throughout the years, because of many factors which were out of my control. I took my lunch to school (school lunches were too expensive for us) or I went home for lunch. In elementary, we were even allowed to walk home for lunch. Surprisingly, we made it home, ate and returned to school on time and unmolested. I remember that it was kind of shameful if you had to go home for lunch and couldn't afford to eat cafeteria food. But you did what you had to do considering the family's situation.

My mother sewed many of my clothes and that was for economic reasons, also. I didn't mind, so much, until one time when we were told to wear our Sunday's Best and a boy sneered at me, "So this is your Sunday's Best?" I am sure that my face was as red as the pretty corduroy dress that my mom had toiled so hard with. I told him it was and turned away, so I couldn't see him snicker to his friends. Kids can be so cruel. I never told my mom; in fact I even fibbed when I told her that everyone like my dress.

My shoes were bought at Payless, because you could get two pairs for five dollars or less. Payless wasn't a place that other kids' shoes came from, so my shoes were different and I stood out as a kid that couldn't afford the "norm." Knowing now as an adult the situation my family was in, I am grateful that I even had shoes. My mom wouldn't buy any shoes for herself, but she made sure that my growing feet were taken care of.

As I got older, the "wants" changed to records. All my friends had extensive collections and record players to boot. I remember my mom telling me that you could listen to the radio and all the records would be there. Finally, I had an album and I treasured it dearly. Before I graduated from high school, I believe I owned four albums, and an inexpensive record player by my bed. I would put the record on and I knew exactly which song was which band and I would carefully line up the needle with the blank band right before the song. My record player's arm always had coins taped to the top, because it would skip without the extra weight.

Some of my friends had fancy homes, cars and great clothes. I got along with my close group of friends and we would stay over at each other homes, no matter if there were enough beds for sleepovers or not. Life seem simpler then, and I guess it was. If a friend didn't have much, the others in the group just accepted that fact. Want to go to the movies? Don't have much money? Toss all the money together and guess what, everyone gets to go. Of course, movies were cheaper then, along with everything else.

I was taken care of by my mom, even though she didn't have a lot of money. We learned to play Canasta, board games, travel on a tight budget, and read. Library books were free and opened up worlds that invited me to explore.

I am grateful that my life was enriched by people and not things. I pray that I have done that for my family, also, given them the treasures of my heart and mind.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The price you have to pay to be "cheap"

A week ago I lost a close friend. My friend had let nasty visitors in to my home and the consquences for that action caused the demise of our relationship. All connections have been severed and I can't see any future with this friend. Like yesterday's garbage, this friend was once valued and now I am bothered by the amount of trust that I have lost by friend's actions. So, like many before me, I have decided to move on.

This brings me to my decision to research and reach out to find a most trustworthy friend. Checking online ads for a week, I found a new possibility for a worthy replacement. Convincing my husband to join me on my quest didn't take much energy, because he wanted to keep his own work friend to himself and not share with me. (Work friends are best kept to the actual employee, by the way.)

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, as were the afternoon naps. My alarm went off at eleven in the evening and after a quick shower, my husband and I armed ourselves for our quest. Bottled water, book, jackets and wheelchair were packed into our chilly car. Driving by the deserted establishments in town, through the blinking caution lights, and checking out the full parking lots at the bars, brought us to the conclusion that age had crept up on us. This side of Victoria was foreign to us. We were amazed that there were people lined up in the chilly air outside of Best Buy waiting to start their shopping experience. "What silly people," we both chuckled.

Pulling into the Wal-Mart parking lot, the excitement started to build within both of us. We had scoped out the internet map and had heard all of the rumors of how the bargains were being handled. The doorgreeter didn't know where or how to get the "ticket" needed for the high priced bargains, although he asked and we received about three different answers. We didn't have anything to fear, as we were first in line and knew that we were in like flint. (You know that expression, "When you make plans, God laughs"? Well, there was a real chuckle-fest going on in Heaven this morning about us.) Waiting up front, from before midnight until three, got us chased from the front. We continued casually walking around the store until we spotted the Magic balloons.

What are Magic balloons, you might ask? Well, they are large balloons printed with the waiting line you need for your desired product. Finally the two men anchor them where the lines are to start. My husband pushed me around the store and we tracked the two men who seemed not to have a system where anything was going (actually they were following their map, which was different than the online version.) We were leading the parade around the store and people kept dropping out of line when the balloon had the letter they were waiting to see. Yellow ropes kept people in the line and in order.

Finally, our special friend's letter appeared and we found ourselves twentith in line, rather than first. So for the next endless waiting hours we stood (well, I sat) and listened to everyone around us talking to friends on the phone or in person. I understand having a friend with you during a quest, but who calls others after two in the morning? Those early morning calls mean that there are emergencies, to me. Around us though, we heard who was drunk, who wouldn't come to hold a spot in line, who shouldn't "mess" with someone again, and who didn't know how to communicate without peppering their converstaion with vulgar, nasy words. Throughout this whole ordeal, my husband remained very patient. He would take strolls around the store to keep his legs circulating and his mind away for the low-life humanity who was in line with us. It was hot, stuffy and tiring waiting for the machine of consumerism's wheels to turn.

At last, the tickets were passed out by an employee. I felt a little like Charlie at the Chocolate Factory and the ticket in my hand actually glowed like Charlie's glorious gold ticket. Then the Wal-Mart employee came through with the scan bars for the purchase. By the time that the line started to move, I didn't know how the scanner could read the sweat-soaked slips of paper, so I smoothed out the slips and waited.

Right before we reached the checkout, I witnessed the final proof of how low some people can go. The woman in front of us offered to sell her bar scan for forty dollars more than the scan bar was worth. Luckily, the young lady, who was interested in acquiring a lap-top, stiffened her backbone and told her, "No, thank you." The woman, with the prized ticket, got out of line. She probably found someone in the back of the line willing to give her forty dollars more than the bar scan.

Finally, it was our turn to pay and we were handed my new best friend. She is slim, black and very efficient. We have had stricter protection installed, so she can't invite any worms or Trojans to visit my home. Thanks to her, I can now leave my husband's work friends alone and I don't have to share my friend with other people at the library or coffee house. I love my friend and she makes my world so much more easier to access.

Would I go through another sleepless night and wait in line with obnoxious people again? Well, not to buy anything, but you know I still have sleepless nights and obnoxious people to endure. After all, what are the holidays with relatives without sleepless nights (sofa couches, lumpy guest beds,etc.) and obnoxious people? (I don't need to give you examples, we all can fill in this catergory.)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Victoria Advocate executes another poster

Well, we could all feel it in the wind....The Victoria Advocate executed another intelligent poster--RUKIDDINGME is gone as of today. RUKIDDINGME challenged Hellcat on her immature blog and the Advocate's credibility and the Advocate closed done the poster RUKIDDINGME without any warning. Look at the comment history of this poster and there aren't hateful comments or lies. Guess the guidelines are skewed in the favor of the paper. We should all take a moment of silence in honor of one of the last intelligent posters on the Advocate website. RUKIDDINGME will be missed. Oh, well, the Advocate gets what it wants--"yesmen" who don't use spell check or punctuation.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Little J has gone "Down, Down, Down, in a ring of fire."

This weekend started off slowly and quietly, until I began to read the Advocate on line and discovered that FINALLY a certain poster has been banned--BIG J is nowhere to be found. So to use one of my favorite song, "down, down, down in a ring of fire" the little letter is gone from the site.


To celebrate this fact, I suggest that readers all go to the Town Hall meeting with a name tag decorated with miniature ropes and soccer balls. You know he was afraid of being hanged by soccer Moms, so it would be only appropriate to acknowlege him in this fashion. If you really want to finish off the look, you could also wear a big western hat and serape (much like Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti westerns.) A sign or two with the slogan, "High 'Em High" would not be out of place.

There are still some posters on the Advocate who are a plague on the intellectual, so the fight against this "brain drain" isn't over by any means. But as I sign off, the song has changed to, "Another one bites the dust, uh, uh." Funny how the soundtrack to my life always comes up with a ditty or two for the occassion.

Monday, October 5, 2009

And another one bites the dust...

Well, I was enjoying the intelligent posts from Innocent on the Advocate website and now that poster is no more. I see that little j has his way again, because this poster called a spade a spade...little j a poser and nothing but a bag of hot air.

Bye, Bye, Innocent. Your stay wasn't long, but you got some good comments out there. If you don't sign off or log off, you can still post on the comment site, but it won't show on the topic. Another poster who was banned figured that out. It just take figuring out in a limited amount of space how to state your ideas.

I want to bet that I won't be long on the site, but I will try to stay as long as possible and take along any ideas you all want to throw out there.

You know where to find me.

Here's to the truth and all of us ferrets!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Where logic isn't welcome--The Victoria Advocate

I try to post logically on the Advocate and my comments are zapped as soon as I finish typing. It's almost like they have little j there at the delete button to delete my comment, before anyone can read it. Wow, pretty soon, I can feel it in the air, I too will be banned. For sometime now I haven't commented about/to little j and my comments "stick" and when I challenge him I get zapped.

Logic seems to be the key factor here. If I steer clear of logic and commenting about/to little j I am safe, I suppose. It's just so darn difficult to leave that alone, though. I really try, but gosh darn it, my fingers get the better of me and off they go. Thank goodness there are posters here who understand the frustrations I feel.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

When medicine becomes your enemy.

After two major back surgeries in a span of three weeks I was in excruciating pain that only "heavy duty" medicine could push down to a level that I could endure. With this medicine I experienced side effects that caused me to rethink whether pain would be better than what I was left feeling.

First of all the depression hit me and with it the feeling that even holding my cell phone took too much effort. I have always loved to talk on the phone, but my family and friends would call and I honestly couldn't hold my tiny phone to my ear longer than a minute or two. Switching to the speaker part proved to be frustrating as well, since the person on the other end couldn't hear me. This isolation from the outside world fueled my depression and I sank even lower.

My physical therapy taxed what little strength I had and after the sessions I would escape in a nap. My world consisted of showering, physical therapy twice a day, meals (which I was too tired to eat) and precious naps. Sleep became an escape from my arduous life of pain and weakness. Everyone kept encouraging me to push through the weakness and depression and being the good soldier that I am, I did not stop. Honestly, I was basically on "auto-pilot" and did what I was told to do with a smile on my face. Someone once had told me that when I found myself in situations that seem to be overwhelming to just keep breathing and keep on keeping on. And so I kept on keeping on.

Towards the end of my stay in physical rehab I was hit with a new problem that most people won't even discuss because of the embarrassment of the topic. I lost all bladder control. I was sure that something had gone terribly wrong with my surgery. A stop at the doctor's office on the way home confirmed through an x-ray that the surgery wasn't the culprit for this new hurdle.

My husband went to the store and bought me adult diapers and I began to realize that now I was crippled (had to use a walker), in pain, incontinent, and on top of everything else, depressed. Just a few short weeks earlier I had been so hopeful and now I was wondering if this would be me for the rest of my life. Not a very pretty picture. Can't do anything without pain and peeing my pants without even knowing when it would happen.

My handwriting vanished and was replaced by a scrawl that even I couldn't read and my thinking skills became like someone whose head is filled with jello. Television shows couldn't entertain me, books didn't make sense any more (I have always been an avid reader), talking to friends took too much energy, food tasted horrible (which is WAY NOT me), and depression had gathered a dense curtain across my mind's eye where NO ONE was welcome.

One day after watching the clock to make sure that I knew when I could have my next medication dose I decided that I couldn't become a sad shadow of my former self. So, instead of taking my medication, I didn't. What difference would it make? I wasn't going anywhere and my husband would be home to make lunch soon enough. Not only didn't I take that dose, but the evening time came and I went without the medicine to cut the pain. I refused to give up who I was to the medication that was stealing my life.

Everything went okay for the first skipped dose and by the time the next scheduled time arrive I was feeling more hopeful about regaining my essence. However, here's the clincher, by the third scheduled time I wasn't feeling too good. I thought maybe I had come down with the flu. I was throwing up, shaking with chills and ached as if I had been snowplowed onto a bed of nails. My skin crawled and I begged my husband to take me to the ER. After talking to me (he didn't know I had stopped my pain medicine) he told me that he could do anything at home that I would receive at the ER. I didn't have the flu; in fact I was going through drug withdrawal.

When I think about the forty-eight hours of that drug withdrawal, I remember watching the clock and timing my throwing up to see if I could go longer than twenty minutes in between times (took a long time to do that.) Couldn't keep anything down, but I kept trying with chipped ice and sometimes just holding the wet, cold glass next to my mouth made me feel better. I was hot, then I was cold, I couldn't really sleep, but when I could doze I had horrible dreams and I remember begging my husband to give me a pill. He said that I shouldn't start up and we called the doctor who prescribed something for the nausea and a different pain pill that wouldn't cause such drastic effect when stopped. I then understood why drug-addicted people keep on their drugs, because deciding to quit HURTS so very much. Without support of family and friends, I believe that I might still be bed-ridden on that drug that stole my life.

Now, I don't take any strong pain medication and the best part of all, my bladder control returned to its previous state of function. At first, I thought maybe it was because I was dehydrated, but after a week of having bladder control without the pain medication, I realized that the medication was screwing up the signals from my bladder to my brain. Leftover adult diapers are in my bathroom closet as a gentle reminder of the journey that I not only survived, but where I rescued my life from a dark,deep and isolated place.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Where this year has brought me.

This week I visited my surgeon for a follow-up visit and discussed some options with him. I sat there and listened and it finally hit me that this time last year I was anxious for the surgery that would enable me to live my life without so many limitations. I had never had such intensive surgery before, so I didn't really have a clue about how much pain and how long the recovery would take. Sure I had researched the surgery and the doctor had explained everything in great detail, but the experiences I had after surgery were few more painful and stressful than I had ever imagined.

Before my surgery, my back pain had gotten so terrible that I basically couldn't walk more than ten minutes and I would have to sit down with my back curved and my head tucked between my knees. My family was very supportive by pushing me in my wheelchair during vacations and shopping trips. Looking at the world from the wheelchair and depending on someone all the time took a large emotional toll on me. My family never complained, but I didn't feel like a contributing member of our family. The surgery wouldn't take place until I had been on bone strengthening medicine for six-months, so that pushed the surgery to January of this year.

It would take pages to describe the exact surgery that took place in January, so let me just state that I now have more hardware in me than some Lowe's stores. Because of a previous surgery, the "anchors" couldn't be connected to enough stable vertebrae to keep everything in place, so another surgery was done in February to rework some "anchors" into my hip. That second surgery gave me more hope and dropped the pain from "having my leg step into a bear trap" to a level of about a two. Ten days in a physical rehab facility got me on my feet again. I started over with ALL functions from self-care to literally learning how to walk, again.

My husband came up every weekend and stayed to encourage me at the rehab center and when I got home, he was there to make sure that I had everything that I needed to get stronger (both physically and emotionally.) You see when a person has been living with constant pain, it becomes a very desperate situation and depressing for the person. I didn't start having hope until I realized that my pain was lessening as my strength and endurance was increasing. My daughter came to stay with us to encourage me as I healed and she was comforting in her "new role" of the caretaker. Friends brought me food and sweet cards, as well as gifts from the heart. I felt bolstered by the love and concern so freely given to me during this time.

Within two weeks of being home I traded the walker for a cane for stability and then no extra support was needed. Physical therapy three times a week for eight weeks and exercises helped to get my strength back and the pain medicine's dosage lowered. I had to wear a huge back brace and a bone stimulator twenty-four hours a day until this week (eight months.)

Now, I have pain that doesn't stop me from living and enjoying my hobbies, my family and friends. Walking isn't measured in twenty-feet or ten minutes increments. I park way far away in parking lots and shop until I run out of money (which usually happens quickly these days.)

I will have another cat-scan in February to make sure all the hardware is staying where it is suppose to and then we decide if we want to remove some of the screws. If everything is where is suppose to be, I have already decided that I really don't want to remover anything. I don't set off metal detectors and my old bones are kind of slow growing, so they need the extra support.

If I could clone my doctor I would and I would make sure that if ANYONE needed a smart, kind, caring doctor, they would have my doctor. He listens to his patients, he doesn't hurry when you asks for explanations, and he acknowledges the part the patient plays in the recovery process. He is a rare young man and I am so blessed to have him as my surgeon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where is my mom when I really need her?

When I started my life I had a great teacher, my mom. Throughout my life, my mom taught me many things, sometimes without even either one of us aware of the process. She taught me what it is to be a giving, caring mother. Unfortunately, I wasn't really paying close attention to when she was a mother-in-law to my husband. Sure, I was present, but I was too busy trying to keep both of them happy to realize that my mom had been given the task of trying not to interfer, judge and sometimes strangle my husband.

I dearly love my husband, in spite of his shortcomings. The Husband store was out of the "perfect" husband and so I got what was on the shelf that day. Lucky for me, the Wife store was also out of "perfect" wives, so my husband chose me. When my mother would point out the lack of some "talent" I would take the defensive stand and tension between the two of us would set in. Don't get me wrong, my mother grew to dearly love my husband, even while she still pointed out how our life could be easier/better/nicer (pick one) if only my husband would...(you get it, right?)

Now my role has changed, my mom is gone and I am now the dreaded MOTHER-In-LAW. Being a mom wasn't all that difficult for me, actually. But when you add those last two words (In Law) it's then that I find myself on a slippery slope. My daughter has been married for a couple of years, so I thought being the MIL would get easier; boy was I wrong. Now, add a grandchild into the mix and bammo I get another role, Grandmother!

Keeping the proper distance is difficult, as I usually speak my mind and being a MIL and Grandmother causes me to bite my tongue very often. Whenever I find myself wanting to make a "suggestion for your own good" I actually think I hear my mom laughing from Heaven. I didn't realize how much control she had, because looking back on our lives, I would imagine that Mom could have really said MUCH more than she did.

Thanks, Mom for being there and not saying ALL that you could have. My failures and successes in life have both taught me so much. Being a MIL and grandmother will push the limits of my patience, love and control.

Isn't life great. I wouldn't trade my new responsibilities for all the tea in China.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where have the good posters gone?

"Where are the good posters?" I asked myself as I was reading the Victoria Advocate. I was shocked, because another "poster" bit the dust, so to speak. The posters who are intelligent and don't nit-pick are dropping like flies. I guess that C.J. Castillo gets a bonus for ever poster she bans on the paper's website. Pretty soon all that will be left are angry, tunnel-visioned, bigots who rage at causes. Gone are the posters who could agree to disagree without name-calling and blaming each other for all the world's woes.

If anyone who hasn't completed the third grade successfully and anger is the main emotion, feel free to comment on the Advocate's website, as that is what the paper is looking for. It would be especially helpful to your postings if you can wag your finger (or AK-47) in an avatar, as the editors seem to really like that image. What ever you do though, don't disagree with two posters (that would be BJ and Kenneth) on the web-site, because if you do, you too will be banned from posting.