Monday, October 24, 2011

Daily Progress

Monday, October 24, 2011: My girl and I returned last night from a few days vacation down where the days are sunny & bright and the evenings are star-filled and cool. Loved it. Every second. Not only did I feel that warm air on my face (yes, our good weather is waning by the minute here), but I had my heart warmed, as well. Time spent with family will do that for you.

From the first moment I saw my cute Mom, standing to greet us, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for her daily progress. She doesn't see the day-to-day miracles - like doing her own laundry and fixing her own peanut-butter toast breakfast -but the rest of us are cheering like crazy! I am so encouraged by her strength. It isn't gigantic - it fluctuates almost hourly - but it is there. She's using her funky walker and carrying things from room to room on its little seat. She was discouraged about getting it at first - thinks it's what all the old people have to use! - but I told her that I see that little black, wheeled walker as an "injury aid", not an old-person aid. It's helping her gain confidence and balance while she recovers from her injuries. She showers herself, combs her hair into its signature spikes, and dresses cute. She came to eat pizza at Chelsea's one night and watched the little kids splash and play in the condo pool another day. Our Mumsy is coming back!

We had a good, long talk about some of the things that happened in the hospital that she doesn't remember. I hope I was able to explain some of the hard parts and questionable parts that didn't (and still don't) make complete sense. None of it was clear cut. It was simply emotional, and that is never easy.

Last week, I saw Dr. Bradley for a follow-up. I told him (among a bunch of other things) that I had an earache. When he checked my right ear, he said it was "full of junk." Under the microscope, he discovered that my eardrum had a dime-sized scab on it. He dug it out (owie!) and found a bunch of dried skin underneath, irritating it and causing a bit of infection. Of course, radiation is to blame for all that skin. Remember how itchy and dry my ear was? Where else could it go, but down into the ear canal. And at one point, after my last surgery, when Dean was coughing his guts out with his pneumonia, I wore earplugs to bed every night, which probably accounts for the scab. So, I'm glad to have that cleaned out. Janessa helps put drops in every day, which I hate - I can't stand the sound or feeling of "water" in my ears. It freaks me out every time. But, hopefully it will heal quickly and I'll be done with that. There's always something new to make me say, "hmm, really? I needed to worry about that, too?" Day to day, I'm handling it. Mom and I are tougher than we look...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Necks...and Cars

Wednesday, October 12, 2011: I've realized lately that I notice and study necks. While I'm watching TV or talking to people, I look at their necks. I guess it's because the neck I see most and have a personal connection with is slightly say the least. I see those girls with their gorgeous "swan" necks--long and slender--and I wonder if they've ever even thought about that thing between their ears and their shoulders. They may worry about a few creases and wrinkles or that double chin, but if they're like I used to be, they never give it a second thought. It's just there. I look at pictures of myself (pre-March 2011) and see my smooth white neck (and the double chin) and get a little sad. Right now, I fit in quite nicely with the whole Halloween decor, even without the staples. I hide my neck a lot, whether with my (slowly growing) hair or the collars on my shirts or my collection of pretty scarves. I look at earrings now and think, the smaller, the better, just to keep attention away from my neck. But, honestly, don't worry--I know that someday "the spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame..." (Alma 11:43) I think about my sweet mother-in-law, Janice, who suffered with crippling arthritis in her hands and feet, and how she must feel now, in heaven, where she can walk without pain and her fingers are straight and long and beautiful. Someday, I will have a long, slender neck without scars or stiffness and it will be in its "perfect form." I know this is true. I can live with the scars. "There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with." (Harry Crews) Yep, all done.

Good news - my "Goldie" car is back! Yesterday, Dean and I went to the body shop and picked her up. She has a shiny new bumper and tail light AND a new battery which makes the old ignition problems obsolete. She starts up like a champ now! I've been taking this good, reliable car for granted, too, and realized yesterday that I really am blessed. No more black truck. Dean was sad to give it back, but it served its purpose for two (gulp!) weeks and now we're back to our normal transportation. I'm so glad! We can put that whole mishap behind us at last.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Kneading out the kinks

Monday, October 10, 2011: It's Monday morning and I've been going full-steam-ahead for hours now. Usually, I go sans makeup and smooth hair to take Ness to school, but when I need to be "in town" for a while, it requires the whole sha-bang of getting ready before we can head out the door. I dropped her off at the usual time and place (but, since we should be getting our car back sometime today, it may be the last morning for a "truck" drive!) and then swung around the back streets to hit the grocery store and use the two coupons that expire tomorrow--one was for bottled water at $2.99/24-ct. case, and the other was for three cans of Chunky Campbell's Soup for $0.99 each. I love soup in the fall/winter, and this was a good deal. Of course, I couldn't pass up the GIGANTIC marshmallows (have you seen them?!!) for $1.00 a bag (I think we'll have indoor S'Mores for FHE tonight) and the maple bar donut for breakfast, but still felt like the stop was worth my while. As I headed to the post office and the bank, I realized it was Columbus Day and neither one would be open! Drat! Those little chores will have to wait until tomorrow morning.

I pulled into the IHC parking lot, a half hour before my physical therapy appointment. I had a library book to pass the time, but decided to get my blood tested (the INR--whatever that stands for--to check how thin/thick my blood is while I'm taking the Coumadin). I have a "standing order", which makes me feel a little bit like an invalid or someone chronically sick. Hmm, I guess cancer could fit into that last category. But, still, I don't like it and can't wait until this little phase is over. I didn't have to wait long in the lobby. A quick finger poke and drop of blood is all it takes. The monitor blinked back, "3.1", while the phlebotomist said, "Oh, it's a little high." I assured her that it has gone "down" since last Monday, when it was "3.6". I'm hoping my dosage will be changed again to 2.5mg EVERY day...or maybe, "you can stop taking it altogether" would be nice, too. We'll see what the doc says in the next day or two.

Then, I walked over to the PT building and checked in. I have to fill out a "pain" chart every time I go. Today, I'm feeling mild pain in my left shoulder and neck, mostly because it's morning and I've slept on that left side. The receptionist asks if I'm going to pay my co-pay today, and I tell her I need to check with my insurance company. Surely, I should be done with co-pays if I've met my out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles for the year? I want to be done. It could mean the difference between continuing to go for PT or not...

I like Dr. Dayton. He's kind of a nerdy guy, but nice. First thing, he wraps a warm (sigh) towel around my neck and lets me lie on the table for about five minutes. It feels heavenly. Then, he takes the wrap and pillow away and holds my heavy head in his hands and starts to massage. He turns my neck, he kneads the knots in my scars, he stretches the tight muscles until they feel better. I do some exercises, too, with both a PVC-pipe bar and a stretchy cord. Even those feel good. Then, he measures my range of motion and compares it to last week. Granted, I haven't been faithful about the home exercises--I probably only did them halfway--but the measurements are still better this week. I've gone from a 100 (no idea how or what that number is) in the motion of raising my left arm above my head to a 136. That sounds good to me! Both measurements of turning my head left and right have also improved, so I'd say progress is being made and recorded. I leave, feeling that I've spent a good hour away from home.

I'm a little concerned about my jaw. It clicks and pops a lot, and yesterday, as I tried to sing in church, my jaw was terribly tight. It not only hurts, but it doesn't make for a very pleasing sound. I'll ask Dr. Dayton about it on Thursday. Maybe he can knead those kinks away, too...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Wednesday, October 5, 2011: My momma got to go home to her own house Monday afternoon! I called her yesterday to see how her day went and she said it was "scary". After a month of being in the hospital and having people around to bring her meds and meals and help her with every little thing, she was scared to do things on her own. She tried to take a shower, but didn't have the strength to turn on the water. Poor Mumsy! I know today was better, because a home health nurse was coming to help this morning. I'm sure as they come and encourage her to move and get stronger, she will feel less frightened. It is scary. I know.

I got my hair cut yesterday. I think it's the first real cut since March! That's terrible! I think having a stylist who now knows my story (and who won't get freaked out by the scars and the missing hair in back) will be a blessing. My bangs are short today. I wish they were a little longer. But, give them a week (or less) and they'll be okay again.

My car went to the repair shop on Monday, and yesterday they called to tell me the "damage report". Everything checked out, except for the obvious damage to the bumper and the tail light. But, I was also informed that the battery was nearly dead. I asked if he thought that was why I've had issues lately with the ignition and the car not starting right away, and he said it could be the cause. Then, he told me that they had had to "jump" the battery a few times already. In my dizzy, "September-mode" thinking, I could imagine my poor car, virtually "dead", and the "paramedic" repair guys having to shock it back to life with the paddles! CLEAR!! Zap! Oh, sorry, that's not so funny, but I did have to chuckle at the visual. My poor little Taurus. Today, the insurance guy called to tell me that the bumper repair would take until at least MONDAY! Good grief! We're already going on 8 days since this little accident occurred. So, looks like we'll have the rental truck for a few more days, which is fine, as long as we don't have to travel far distances.

Dr. Beckstead's office also called this morning (lately I'm either at the doctor's office or on the phone) to tell me that I can reduce my Coumadin dosage on Mon/Wed/Fri to 2.5mg (which is half a pill). The other days of the week, I'll take the whole pill. That tells me that my 3.6 blood test showed him that my blood was getting too thin and we're cutting back. Yay! Hopefully the next report will show him that I can be taken off completely.

It's rainy today...and cold. I hate to think that summer is really gone. I'm trying to ignore my cold feet, but it's not working so well. Time to pull out my woolly socks, I guess.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Something Better

Tuesday, October 4, 2011: October started just the way I wanted it to--I was in a sunny place where I could watch 4 year-olds playing soccer and snuggle with a baby and share sweet potato fries dipped in Ranch dressing with a blue-eyed munchkin and hug my fragile-but-getting-stronger Momma, among other sweet blessings. It was also a time to hear the Prophet and feel goosebumps from the Spirit. I know there is a God and He loves me. Look at all He has given me and my family! It is amazing.

Today I'm counting blessings again: We have a beautiful new garage door. Our car is at the repair shop. I don't have to give myself shots any more. I'm getting my hair cut and styled, finally. It rained this morning and Fall is in the air. I'm putting up new decor for the season, primarily pumpkins and colorful leaves. I'm going to chorus tonight--I've missed singing. I've started Physical Therapy for my neck and shoulders. My first session was yesterday morning and it already feels wonderful. Dean's cough is slowly getting better. Mumsy was able to go home yesterday and sleep in her own bed last night. She is healing.

I'm back to finding the "good news" in every day life. Whew. Feeling better...