Friday, December 27, 2013

End of the year (155.4)

This morning as I weighed myself, and I realized I pretty much ended up the year where I started.  Jan. 1, 2013, I weighed 157.2. Today I weighed 155.4.  My low for the year was 148.4 on April 4.  I hit the upper 140's in March, bounced around 149-151 through mid June, then slowly gained a few pounds and have been bouncing around 155 since October.

I am so much more comfortable in my skin and clothes in the 148 range.  It's crazy how much difference 7 pounds makes.  In the old TOPS days, we'd say 1 pound is 4 sticks of butter. So I guess if you think of 7 pounds as 28 sticks of butter, then yeah, 7 pounds can make a big difference.  At around 148, size 8s are comfy.  At 155, size 8s are iffy and I'm really more a size 10 (new Levi's I bought are 10s, they fit well, not tight, but not loose).  Medium tops fit at either weight, but definitely more comfy at a lower weight.

And while the scale is the same, I'm afraid my body mass is not.  I haven't run or exercised significantly since the half marathon in February.  I have no muscle tone.  My legs used to look pretty good, and now they don't.  I have old woman knees.  I hate it.

So what to do about it? 

My new workplace (which I still love) is having a fitness challenge starting in January.  Normally I hate these types of things, but I'm not going to NOT participate, being the new kid.  So I will and I will make it worthwhile.  We will be judged on weight, body fat %, and activity points.  We get a point for exercising for 20 or more minutes (we can earn one point per day, basically--we don't get more points if we exercise over 20 minutes).  I really don't care if I win.  I'm not competitive against anyone but myself.

I am toying with the idea of doing what Vickie did when she first started losing weight--if she was watching TV, she was on the treadmill.  TV isn't my issue--it's books.  I got a new Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas (LOVE!) but I am a book junkie and books are my TV.  I lay around way too much at night, and end up snacking when I shouldn't be, and vegging out and escaping.  Basically, my body is slowly turning to mush every night. 

It will be simple to read on the TM--the Paperwhite has a built in light and a touch screen, so I don't have to find a button to turn the page, just touch the screen anywhere. But will it be easy to get home, put on yoga pants and a sports bra instead of PJs, take care of kids and housework for two hours and then get on the TM?  Easy just ain't getting it done. I'm going to have to work.

I can feel my age creeping up on me, the less active I am.  And seeing my aunts and mom and grandmother all together on Christmas Eve just emphasized what I'm going to look like in 5, 20, 40 years, if I don't start and continue to work my muscles and keep my weight in line.
 
2013 was a crazy year.  When have I (or any of us) NOT had a crazy year?  The last half of the year especially has been intense.  I'm praying 2014 is somewhat calmer, but I'm sure it will have it's share of worries, stresses, and pain.  And I want to be ready for it, mentally and physically.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Before and after X-rays

Here's the pic of X-rays from yesterday.

The upper curve went from 56 to 20 degrees, which is a success. Spines
never get completely straight in this surgery. Even though there are
no rods in the lumbar spine, it straightened out some too.

She can go back to school Jan 2, after break. She's still on lortab,
about 2 pills a day (1/2 5mg tablet, with 1 reg strength Tylenol, 4
times a day). She's bored at home and misses her friends. There are
only so many craft projects a girl can do. But she's almost half way
through and Christmas will be fun so she'll make it.

Even though we have issues with insurance, we wouldn't have gone
anywhere else. Dr Bridwell is one of the top surgeons in this field.
Everything I read about this surgery said the number one factor for
success is the skill of the surgeon. There was immense comfort in
being 100% confident in her surgeon and the hospital.

These are amazing, aren't they?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 2 (155.8)

First week was great. Love the people here. It's a slow time of year
so not a lot going on. Thursday is new student orientation and it
will be busy. I'm in charge of the online bookstore so I will have
some real work soon.

I worked at the Office (I'll refer to my part time job as Mark's
assistant as the Office) last Friday (off work at school at 2:30) and
last night. Not too crazy yet. I really think it's going to be fine.

Mark is struggling with the adjustment some but it's mostly the idea
of me not being there, not the work so much, that's the issue.
Although he is working more hours, but he needed to be there more
anyway.

He and Sophie are in St Louis now for her follow up appointment with the nurse.

I have to file an appeal with the freaking insurance company because,
despite the website saying the hospital is in-network, providers
outside Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio are out-of-network. Nowhere can I
find this listed in the member info. It's a big fat mess and makes me
mad. I did everything I was supposed to--that the insurance company
instructs you to do to see if a provider is in-network--and now I have
to jump through hoops to file the appeal and pray that if it doesn't
get approved, the hospital will not charge us the tens of thousands of
dollars that insurance calls "above the customary allowance."

One more thing to deal with. Perfect time of year for it too. Not.

Ok so rant over. Lots of presents still to buy. Planning to do it all
online, except for stocking stuffers. Cannot believe we have only a
week left.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

New Normal (154.8)

Tomorrow I start my new job.  I was looking at my schedule for next week and realized (again) it's been 8 years since I've worked a 40 hour week.  I'm more than a little intimidated by the idea.

And it's not just the time at work.  It's all the things I did during the day when I was self employed that I now have to do after work hours, like opening our mail, paying bills, making appointments for haircuts or the doctor, calling the insurance company when there have been issues (I still have to deal with our insurance claiming the Children's Hospital is out of network), talking to my mom or friends, talking with my husband, sitting in front of my SAD light (this one worries me--I have to get up 30-45 min early, and early mornings & me don't go together, yet).  The smart thing to do would be to go to bed early, get up early, do the household bills & computer stuff while using my SAD light (like I am now).

It's going to be an intense new normal for a while.

But then I remind myself that millions of women work 40 hours a week and manage to someone get everything else done.  They may be frazzled, crazy, out of control women some days, and I know I will be too, but they manage. 

I've spent the last few days getting my house ready for the New Normal. I cleaned out our kitchen closet, which housed the kids craft projects and school supplies--4 shelves of stuff that has accumulated over the past several years since the last time I cleaned it out.  I filled 4 big garbage bags and put everything in bins (as opposed to cardboard boxes or shopping bags); now we can get to what we need easily and all the junk is gone.

That allowed me space to move my scrapbook supplies--of which there is a ridiculous abundance--to the top shelf and off my desk in the front room.  I mourned the incomplete albums and photos I haven't done anything with while I relocated them.  I have no idea when I'll get pictures sorted and put in albums.  Someday.... (code for never).  And now I have a desk ready to take care of all the household stuff at home instead of at work.  It took me all day Friday and was totally worth it.

I keep telling myself, the busier and more active I am, the busier and more active I'll be.  An object in motion stays in motion. I have no idea when I'll fit in exercise.  I haven't fit it in for months.  Now when will I do it? 

Just like with Sophie's surgery, the anticipation is probably way worse than the reality will be.  So many unknowns, and I don't do well with unknowns.

Sophie is doing incredibly well.  Everyday is better.  She can get in & out of bed and in & out of the car without hurting herself.  She can do everything herself except pick things up off the floor (she uses her feet a lot and tries, though).  She met with her homebound teacher twice last week.  Since the first several rough days at home, it has been fairly smooth and easy.

Thursday's follow up visit to St Louis was cancelled.  We were 20 minutes out of town when the nurse called & said the sleet and ice had already started and we should probably turn around.  I wanted to just go ahead and risk it, but my wise husband told me to turn around.  Glad he did.  Getting there probably would have been fine, but coming home would have meant driving through a wintry mix the entire way. 

So Tuesday, Mark is taking Sophie to the appointment.  This does not sit well, but I have no choice.  Can't very well ask for a day off on my second day of a new job.  I will make a list of questions, prep him on how to get to the office, and let it go.  It will be fine.

It's all going to be fine.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

A week after surgery

Sophie is doing incredibly well. Beyond my hopes. It's remarkable.
Everyday has been a big leap forward.

She's basically completely self sufficient now, with the exception of
tasks that involve bending over, which aren't a lot, and carrying or
lifting anything over 10 pounds. She still has pain and is taking
Meds, but can go for longer periods without them. She even went to
the craft store yesterday with Mark to get supplies to keep her busy.
Remarkable.

I've been ok food wise, but haven't left the house since we got home.
I've read three books and watched Christmas movies with the family.
It's been necessary to do a lot of nothing, to recoup from the
hospital.

Out friends have brought us dinner every other day. It's been a life
saver. Mark has been cleaning the kitchen and spending time with both
kids, totally engaged. Which is good since I've been mostly checked
out.

I didn't gain any weight the week of the surgery. Weighed 154.4
yesterday. I ate a lot of starchy comfort food at the hospital but
never dessert and not between meals.

I'm teaching Sunday school in the morning and will get back to normal
chorea tomorrow. I'm not officially working this coming week, but will
need to go into the office a few hours. Mom will stay with Sophie
while I'm gone.

New job starts in a little over a week. I'm nervous. Not thinking
about it much yet. Trying not to worry and just deal with today.

I'm so incredibly thankful it has gone so well. We go to St. Louis
Thursday to see the surgeons nurse for a follow up and X-rays.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sophie this morning with flowers

Her friends sent flowers. She looks really good for having had surgery
less than a week ago.

First day home.

It was a rough transition yesterday from hospital to home. Getting in
and out of the car was brutal (we took my Mom's Dodge crossover car,
since it has a 3rd row--seat pretty high and I didn't bring a stool to
help her get in). I brought a twin sized foam mattress pad and folded
it lengthwise to put under her in the car. At least that worked. But
getting in and out hurt her horribly. We were supposed to stop 3 times
and let her walk. We stopped once because the wind was cold and
strong. Once was too much. It hurt her worse than if she'd just sat
for 3 hours and got out at home, even if that would have made her
extra stiff.

Finding the right place to sit when we got home was impossible. She
has to be straight up and down or lying flat or on her side. We tried
sitting and lying on the couch--firm cushions on bottom but soft back,
and even with pillow behind her it didn't work. I didn't think of
using our rocking chair until this morning.

Her bed is fine and even though it's high off the floor (step stool I
have is too high), she figured out how to scoot without hurting too
much. She slept all night -- lots of pain Meds still.

She's been on and is still on sennakot S and miralax. Still
waiting..... I know it's something to be careful of. We may have to
use a suppository soon.

We borrowed a bed side toilet from my grandma. Also a very smart thing.

This morning I figured out how to use our rocking chair, by wrapping a
section of the foam mattress pad around the back cushion. It's the
correct up-right angle and has arms. And put it in front of our side
table by the couch, which keeps the chair from moving. She can get up
and down by herself.

She can lie in our bed and watch tv. She can't lie on the couch yet.
Still too sore and muscles dodgy to adjust on it easily.

Reading is hard because of the pain Meds making her eyes not focus
well so no reading yet. She's already bored and it's only day 1 at
home. But it's only day 1. She'll keep healing and be able to do more
soon.

Luke went to school today. So it's just been Sophie and me. We've done
ok today.

I'm tired and haven't even taken a shower. Very fried and feeling the
stress let down, semi-depressed. Worried how things will work when I
start the new job Dec 9. Praying she's mostly ok by then.

Friend is bringing dinner tonight and another friend bringing dinner
tomorrow. Our friends set up a meal train and are bringing dinner
every other day for 2 weeks. My mom went grocery shopping for us last
night.

That's about all I can write for now. Happy thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

St Louis Tuesday

We're going home this afternoon! She still needs a sponge bath and
hair washed and a few other things, so a few more hours.

She's doing amazingly well. The pain doc said she's the best patient
she's seen in a long time, as far as how quickly she's recovered and
her general attitude.

Busy so have to go. But great news today.

Monday, November 25, 2013

St Louis Monday

Progress already today. 


Sophie sat up again and stood for the first time for the surgeon at 6 am. She later sat in a chair for 30 min. 


She walked with her PT's help to and from her door. 


She ate French toast for breakfast, her first food since last Wednesday. 


Her drains are out (she had 3 to drain away excess blood), catheter is out, dressings removed, no more IV bags--she's now completely unattached to anything.  


It is still very painful to move. The pain team has been tweaking her Meds and they have a schedule that will hopefully manage it well enough (can't take all the pain away). 


She has a lot of work ahead of her but she's doing amazingly well. Ever the trooper. 


Doubt that we leave tomorrow. My guess is Wednesday at the earliest. Depends on her ability to walk on her own and her bowel movements. 


I slept at the House last night. Rough evening with my mom. Her behaviors are frequently examples of those I hate in myself, and having her here is a learning experience for me on how not to behave. 


She chose to stay at the House with Luke this morning, which was a great idea because we needed a break from each other (although she would never admit she needs a break from anything, or needs anything at all--one of the things that I'm tired of, her martyr attitude). They are riding the shuttle to hospital late this afternoon. 


Sophie will be standing and walking today. Lots of work and it will probably be a tough day. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

St Louis Sunday

Still in ICU but expect to move this afternoon. All her numbers look
good. She sat up this morning with help from PT and nurse. It was very
painful but she did great. We're waiting for orders so she can start
clear liquids. She's only had ice chips and water and is asking for
food, which is a good sign but has to go slow.

I was the only one in the room when she sat up. I was stoic and
contained, because she doesn't need me freaking out, but after she
fell asleep I had a little breakdown. There's a reason I don't cry
when the crisis is happening. When I start it's hard to stop.

BIL got in last night at 1:30 am. Good he's here. She's been awake
talking with us for the last hour+. She's off the dilaudid (which was
the pain med in her button) and has a 12 hour pain pill and a 3 hour
pain pill, as well as a muscle relaxer. I think the change in Meds is
helping her stay awake.

Here's a pic. She looks so good! It's a relief to see her like this.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

St Louis Saturday

Everything's still ok. Her blood pressure dropped last night. They
gave her Meds to bring it up. Weaning her off them now. When her
pressure is stable the PT will have her stand up. We can't move out of
ICU until pressure is stable. They said BP dropping is normal for her
type of surgery.

We do get to be with her all the time, ever since she was in recovery
after surgery. Even Luke can see her in ICU. She has her own ICU room
which is awesome.

Mark stayed in ICU last night. He did sleep some. He'll nap today.
Mom, Luke, and I went back to the House and we were all in bed before
9:30. I took a Xanax and slept until 7 am. Feeling good.

My brother in law is flying in tonight from Colorado to visit. It's a
surprise but welcome. He's good with Luke. It will be good for
Mark--they are very close. Jeff and Mark and Luke will stay at the
House tonight, and mom and I will sleep at the hospital. We plan to
trade off every night.

I know it's going to be rough when they start moving her. So some
difficult times ahead. I'll update as often as I can.

Friday, November 22, 2013

St. Louis Friday

Surgery started at 9 am. We got to the hospital at 5:45. It feels like
1 pm already. Loooong day ahead of us.

Sophie hasn't eaten since Wednesday night. She was ok yesterday until
the late afternoon when her energy crashed and the dressing on the
picc line started itching and burning (sensitive skin--prob just
adhesive irritating it, wasn't blistering or anything). I gave her
Benadryl and Tylenol, she slept a few hours, woke up for a couple
hours and watched tv, then went back to sleep around 9. She slept all
night till 5 am. We kept her well hydrated yesterday. So it went
pretty well, considering.

The place we're staying is called Haven House. I think it's an old
nursing home that's been converted to a hotel-like place for families
of hospital patients. The rooms are huge with private baths. They
serve breakfast and dinner, there are several family rooms with couch
and a tv, a gymnasium. Each wing has its own washer/dryer, full
kitchen, and family room. It's clean and homey.

Our pastor drove over this morning. He left at 3 am and was here to
see Sophie at 6:30 am. Totally unexpected and a huge blessing to us
all.

We have a private waiting room on the surgery floor. The hospital
really does a great job taking care of families and siblings. My mom
and I took Luke to the play room on the lower level. We could even
leave him here, like a day care, if we needed to. He's paying the Wii
right now.

There's a Ronald McDonald family room at the hospital where you can
shower, wash clothes, has snacks and drinks for no charge. Each
patient floor has all that too, but this is smaller and a little
nicer. The lady there said their showers have hotter water than the
hospital's showers. :)

Sophie will be in surgery until 2 or 3 pm. Then the ICU all night,
then moved to the floor on Saturday. She'll have drains in her back
and a bladder catheter until Monday. The surgeon's nurse said she'll
probably go home Tuesday.

So that's everything so far. I'll post more when I can. Thank you for
all the prayers.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

St Louis Thursday

We just arrived. Sophie's getting the picc line put in now. She is
such a champ. She watched when they put the IV in (IV delivers a
relaxation med while the doc puts in the central line).

So far so good.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Family pic for Christmas card (155.0)

Here are this year's pictures for our Christmas cards, which are already printed. I have address labels ready, and while Sophie is home recovering I'll be stuffing, licking, labeling, stamping and have them ready to mail 12/2. Yay me for being ahead of the game!

The card is one of the long photo cards, and here's the 2nd pic:

I didn't add these, but here are the kids individual pics:






Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update (155.0)

Counting down to surgery. We go to St Louis Monday to see the surgeon and anesthesia team (day trip). Then all of us go on 11/21 to have the picc line put in. We'll stay the night and then her surgery is at 6 am on 11/22.

We are taking Luke and my mom with us. They'll probably stay through Sat or Sun. I don't want him missing too much school or going too stir crazy. Sophie will probably get to go home 11/26 or 11/27.

My mom being with us so much is causing me some anxiety. She hovers, she has OCD (like I do, so I get it, but she doesn't really understand that she has it and doesn't even attempt to reign it in), she is probably one of the most negative people I know. She drives Mark nuts. The fact is, though, I need her. I need her help with Luke. I'll need her help with Sophie when I start the new job. I'm going to have to take lots of deep breaths, repeat the serenity prayer constantly, be very patient, and figure out how to help Mark deal with her (of course, he's a big boy and is going to have to figure it out for himself, too).

Sophie's spine continues to move a lot. Her ribs on the right side are getting closer to her hip bone. When she lays on her left side, she can feel her rib close to her hip. She's having more pain/tension in her back. I am so so so thankful we are getting this done now.

I'm hanging in there, but I am feeling the late fall funk (using my SAD light but it only does so much). I have had a lot of intrusive thoughts in the past month; I think stress stirs them up. I met with my psych nurse practitioner on Monday to see if a medication change would help. The meds she thought would help these OCD thoughts (zoloft and luvox) are ssri's and cause weight gain. Luvox has other crazy side effects, like magnifying the affect of caffeine, and I am so not giving up coffee. And I'm not taking another SSRI that causes weight gain. Anyway, I'm keeping my meds the way they are and just trying to deal.

Re: insurance. My new job's insurance doesn't kick in until 30 days after my start date, on Jan 9. That was going to mean either we have health insurance exchange coverage for 9 days (assuming we could even get signed up for it) or we go without insurance for 9 days (which is really not an option). BUT. I got a letter yesterday from the state health insurance plan that they are extending coverage until the end of January. This is a HUGE load off my mind. I don't have to worry about struggling with healthcare.gov or struggling to cancel on Jan. 9 and hoping they'd refund 21 days of not using the insurance.

Re: new job. Anxious and still feels completely weird that I'm going to be working somewhere else. I don't know my schedule yet other than the first week. It's not an 8-5 Mon-Fri job. I'll have to work a night or two and some Saturday's from 9-1. Until I'm trained, I'll be working when my manager or the other FA is working so I can shadow them. Primary issue with the night time work is that I'll probably have to give up my Monday OA meeting or Thursday choir. I can't have more than two late nights a week. But who knows. Weeks I work on Saturdays, my manager said I won't have to work an 8 pm night. If I can get a 7 pm night on Monday or Thursday, I can still go to OA/choir, and just be 15 min late. We'll see.

We are putting up Christmas decorations this weekend, since Sophie wouldn't be able to help after her surgery. That should be fun. And the house will be cheery when we get home from the hospital. We obviously aren't going anywhere for Thanksgiving. We always are with Mark's family, and this year it's in Indianapolis (sister in law and niece in law live there). It's disappointing we'll miss everyone, but that's life. My friend Amy is going to bring us dinner, which is awesome. She's in OA too and knows what I can eat.

My food is still not great. No binge-foods but still way too much processed, convenience foods. I've screwed up my taste buds, I think, and I've definitely gotten in the lazy habit of not cooking. This isn't a great time to be making major changes, so I'm working on making small ones. I haven't carved out time to exercise either. When the heck I'm going to fit that in after I start the new job, I have no flipping idea.

Anyway, I'm ok, not fabulous, but not in a pit. I'll post after Sophie's surgery to let you know how she's doing. Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts for her. They mean a lot!

Monday, November 04, 2013

I got the job (154.2)

They called me late Friday afternoon. I accepted this afternoon. It's been bittersweet, and it wasn't until we talked with the owner of our office that I knew for sure I was taking it, because we know that I'll still be able to support Mark (paperwork) in my off hours (yes, a lot of work for me, but it will be worth it and frankly is our only option at this point).

My start date is Dec. 9. They were willing to wait for me until after Sophie's surgery.

I'm swamped at work and don't have time for more details. I'll post more soon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Second interview (155.4)

I had a great interview yesterday for a position as a financial aid analyst for a private college in town. It went really, really well. I like the woman who would be my manager a lot. Her boss, the regional director, conducted the interview, alongside possible-future-boss.

She called me this afternoon and asked if I could meet the campus president tomorrow (Friday) at 3:30. He's over this and one other campus, so he's not here all the time, and they are squeezing in the interview when he's here for tomorrow's graduation (they are on quarters).

We also discussed a start date. I explained about Sophie's surgery at the end of yesterday's interview--how I wouldn't be able to start until mid December and they needed to know about that so they could factor it into their decision making process. They both said it wasn't an issue.

So, they are serious.

I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm totally freaked out.

I'm worried about Mark and how this will affect him. I'm worried about how it will impact the kids, since I will be working more hours and will have to travel for training several times in the first few months, and my schedule will not be flexible like it has been the past 8 years.

I know, I know, I know it is the best thing for our family.

AND, I mean, duh, I haven't even gotten the job yet! So I'm borrowing worries. But it feels like I will be getting an offer by next week. All this stuff is rolling around in my head, like my stuff always does.

We'll see. If you're the praying kind, please say one for me. I know God will work out the details. I have to trust Him.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Surgery and job search (155.4)

Life is still overwhelming. Some days I keep it together. Some days I don't. I should say, some MOMENTS. I'm often living a moment at a time lately.

Sophie's surgery is scheduled for 11/22. We met with the doctor again on Monday 10/14. Based on the measurement he takes of her hump when she bends over, it had gotten worse in between our visits, which was 2 weeks. The Feb 28, 2014 date wasn't okay with him. Even though children's hospital's schedule was booked through 2013, they moved things around and got her in. This is good news--we want to get it done so her spine doesn't get worse and he can keep the rod from going to far into her lumbar spine(he plans to put in the rod from T3 to T12 or L1). And at least I know the our insurance will cover everything through the end of this year.

I am looking for a job. Even though it's far, far from ideal, and even though we know it will hurt our perception with clients and make work really challenging for Mark, it's a reality that we have to face--we need more reliable income and we need employer sponsored health insurance. Health care reform still isn't affordable, which we'd been pinning our hopes on. The 80/20 plan will be $1300/month. That's about $500 less than we pay now, but still way more than we can afford to continue to pay indefinitely.

I have put in my resume with 8 different companies. I've had one phone interview, with a follow up face to face interview tomorrow. It's not very promising out there.

The last few months have been ridiculously challenging financially. So there's that additional burden. And Mark's back procedure has worn off (this is degenarative disc disease, facet pain--no amount of PT can help this issue), so his pain is back in force. Today we learned his procedure that was scheduled tomorrow has been postponed because insurance has to review it further. I called the insurance company; nothing we can do to speed it up. He's in serious pain and his pain meds aren't touching it. He's at work, but I can't imagine how hard it is for him right now.

Seriously, I don't know how much more either of us can bear. I am praying. I see God's hand helping us and guiding us (like Sophie's date being moved up, and finding a place to stay in St Louis that won't cost an arm and a leg for the week we're there). But there is SO MUCH, and SO LITTLE I can do. It's hard to just let it all go and trust it will be okay, when things seem so far from okay.

It really sucks to have to be going through all this. I am not eating well. I'm not exercising. I am not eating binge foods and I don't snack during the day, but I am eating before bed and I am eating too much on the weekends. I am not working my program like I need to. I'm slowly gaining weight. More suckage.

I am talking with my sponsor. And I also had a girl ask me to be her sponsor at last night's meeting (I was stepped up to sponsor a few weeks ago). So I sure do have a reason to start working rather than coasting.

It could be much worse. I am not in the depths, just very overwhelmed and scared and anxious.

It has to get better soon.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Checking in (153.6)

I'm ok. Just haven't written because I haven't had it in me. Sorry for
the silence, and thanks, Vickie, for checking on me.

Feeling very overwhelmed lately. Surgery, insurance, work, finances.
More than I can write about now. But it will all be okay. I'll write
more next week.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Surgeon today and play pic

In St Louis right now. Meeting with surgeon this morning. Just had
X-rays done on a machine that is low radiation and takes back and side
at the same time. There are only 5 machines in the country. Pretty
cool.

Sophie's play was this weekend. It was wonderful. The best they've
done. She looked beautiful. And so grown up.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What brings you joy? (153.8)

Seems I just have to have a massive brain dump of information on here, and I lighten up considerably. Or else I usually only want to write when I'm in the depths. Probably also because the sun is shining and my hormones aren't being as mean to me today as they were yesterday, I felt much better this morning.


I have been thinking about a question my sponsor asked me last week.

What brings you joy?

I sat like a deer in headlights when she asked. I racked my brain---what do I DO that brings me joy?

Shouldn't I list things like...

Working in my garden (which I do not have)

Painting beautiful landscapes (which I cannot do)

Volunteering to feed the homeless (which I have done several times in my life, but not regularly)

Sailing, hang gliding, mountain climbing, ocean swimming (none of which I can do because I live nowhere near mountains or oceans or cliffs)

...and on and on, the more romantic and etheral, the better. Right?


When we talked, I was having a really off day. SAD was starting and I felt just plain flat. I said things like my family, reading, watching movies, running. But I felt an utter lack at not being able to instantly rattle off a list of JOYtivities.

So after thinking about it for almost a week, I'm writing about them now.

What I came up with...

Spending quality time with my family (although the quality of our time together lately has not been joy-inducing; we need to work on that)

Running and running races (um, so, why aren't I running?!)--guilt, not joy around this one right now, but there's hope in acknowledging that yes, running brings me joy and if I want joy, I need to go running!

Reading. Love love love to read. Joy vicariously through the lives of fictional characters.

Watching movies together as a family (more so at the theater. we watch a lot of movies together at home, and sometimes there's joy, and sometimes it's boring and I read while they watch a movie)

Watching Say Yes to the Dress with Sophie. This has become a weekend favorite for us.

Shopping with Sophie for clothes (which we did yesterday at a consignment shop, and it was great fun for both of us)

Snuggling with my boy. Luke means "light" and that child is a ray of light every time I get near his sweet little self.

Listening to Luke read to me.

Connecting with my husband on a level of friendship and awareness that I only share with him. I'm not talking about sex (although, thankfully, there's still joy there). I'm talking about the fact that he knows me better than anyone else on the planet. Knows me better than I know myself somedays. When I stop and appreciate the relationship that we have--regardless of all the usual issues that are inherent in a 20 year relationship--I am filled with joy. He adores me. I know he adores me. What more can a girl ask for?

I know I can come up with more, and I probably will. But that's all I have time for today.

One thing obviously missing here.... FOOD. A year ago, I'd have listed eating ice cream. And baking cookies. And Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and Christmas chocolate pie. And chocolate.

While it's almost a food, I don't feel bad about adding coffee to the list. Coffee brings me joy, every single morning.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yes, it's that time of year again (154.2)

I hate this time of year.

Monday and today were cloudy and rainy. The days are much shorter. SAD has descended swiftly and in force.

It's like a switch gets flipped in my brain, and viola! the joy is sucked from my body and soul. My body feels like I've been moved to a planet with an extra dose of gravity. I'm fragile, on the edge of tears or anger or verge of collapsing in a heap of uselessness.

Hormones are also playing a part right now, so I've got a double whammy to deal with.

I write this sitting in front of my SAD light, later in the day than I should be in front of it, but I couldn't get moving this morning to get ready for work and got here late, and my light is at work because it's where I'm more likely to use it regularly. It's very hard to dedicate 30 minutes in the morning at home to just sitting still when mornings are so busy and I usually sleep as long as possible. Ideally I'd have two lights (one for home on mornings like this), but they are $300 so right now, it's one light and it's at work.

A note on sleep: I stopped taking sleep meds about a month ago. For whatever reason, I found that I can get to sleep and mostly stay asleep on my own now. That was not the case previously. I did have many, many sleepless nights before I started taking xanax and later trazedone to sleep. I talked about it being an issue every time I met with my nurse practitioner who prescribes my meds. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful I am sleeping okay and not drugged in the morning.

I read a Bible verse this morning in a devotional that offers some comfort:
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name;
you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames
will not set you ablaze" (Isaiah 43:1-2).

It doesn't say "when you pass through the mud," but I can extrapolate to that metaphor and take comfort in what God is telling me through Isaiah.

I am also eating more, which happens when I feel like this. And still not running. I know I can and will turn things around soon. Mark has been unavailable to help with the house or kids for the last month because of a big church project, which wraps up this Saturday. He and I are going to work out a schedule so I can take more time for me (and he for himself), starting next week.

I already feel better just writing all this out and having sat in front of my light for 40 minutes.


Regarding Sophie & the chiropractor:
She had a neurological exam by the functional neurologist chiropractor (Dr. Shaun) last Friday. Neuro exam involves such things as closing your eyes & touching your nose with your pinkies, closing your eyes & reaching out your arms in front of you & lifting your knees high, resisting push/pull on your legs and arms, flopping your hands back and forth over & over on your lap. Sophie had trouble with them all.

The doctor found that she has significant right side weakness. I watched as she couldn't keep her balance during the knee lifts, had trouble finding her nose with her pinkies, had trouble keeping a steady rythm with her hands, couldn't resist push/pull with much strength. He thinks she has left brain damage in her cortex and cerabellum.

He asked if she'd had head trauma in the last year. No, I said, but she was in a car wreck in April 2011. The impact was on the front passenger side, she was in the drivers side back seat. Her head would have been thrown to the left. A light bulb went off for the doctor and for us, realizing that the accident did more than give her a chest contusion (bruise that was found on a CT scan in the ER after the wreck).

He said the wreck could have also caused trauma in the myofacial tissue in her spine, which could have exacerbated the scoliosis to progress so quickly. The doctors we've talked to have all been shocked or disbelieving it moved from nothing (or next to nothing) at her 2012 checkup to a 50 degree S curve in a little over a year. The theory that the accident accelerated (or caused) the scoliosis helps explain the rapidity of the movement. He asked for a copy of the CT scan from the ER, so he could look at her spine and see where it was then. I gave it to them Monday, so we'll see what they find.

They are using cold laser treatment on her to strengthen the neurons, and she is responding very well. I watched it happen. The doctor put the laser on her abdomen and head, and she was able to resist his push/pull on her legs. She could feel her strength improve, too. He is confident we can retrain her neurons to reconnect.

Lest anyone think they are taking me for a ride to make money off of us--because insurance will only pay for her adjustments and nothing else--the wife part of the team (Dr. Amber) is picking up the cost of her husband's treatments. She knows we aren't in a position to pay them right now, and she doesn't care. She just wants to help Sophie get better. (This makes me tear up everytime I think of it. While it might be surprising, when I put it in context for what WE do for our clients--which is put them first, regardless of whether or how much money we make--it isn't surprising at all. There are still decent, generous people in this world.)

Amber is also discounting Sophie's orthopedic inserts from $500 to $200. They scanned her feet at Friday's appointment, and her arches are collapsed. She has no arch in her right foot, and only a little arch in her left. Amber also put a lift in Sophie's left shoe to get her body weight to shift to the right, because the scoliosis is throwing her hips off balance. Amber weighed her on two scales, and Sophie is carrying 8-10 pounds more on her left side.

They are not telling me to cancel our surgeon appointment. They think (hope) it's possible to reverse her scoliosis enough that we can avoid surgery, but they are not arrogant enough to know they can. We are moving forward with everything surgery wise, simply hoping that even if she has to have surgery, her spine will be in as good as shape as we can possibly make it. Best case scenario is the xrays the surgeon and chiropractors will take will show improvement. Worst case, she doesn't improve by the time of the surgery, or it gets worse, and we still have surgery. Either way, she's going to be okay.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sophie update & how I'm doing (153.2)

Update on Sophie:
We see the surgeon in St Louis on 9/30. His name is Keith Bridwell. Based on his website and case studies, I feel really good about his abilities.

This case study looks simliar to Sophie's spine. Case Study

We saw a chiropractor Monday. She was referred to me by a guy in our office who had mild scoliosis as a child, which didn't require surgery. He's been seeing her for almost 20 years. She helps keep his body in line, because he has pain when he gets out of whack.

I called her last week to make an appointment, mostly because I can't stand to do nothing while we wait for the surgery. And also because I believe Sophie needs more than just surgery. She needs comprehensive care for her whole body. She's been out of whack for at least a year. And the time to get her straightened out is while she's young and healthy.

I asked to talk to the doctor to explain Sophie's condition and see if it was worth the time to see her. She talked to me for 20 minutes. I emailed her a pic of Sophie's xray. She talked with her husband (who is also a chiropractor) about Sophie over the weekend. They formulated a plan of care before we had our first appointment. (Cynical part of me realizes they will make a lot of money off of her so of course they formulated a plan, but the mom in me is just thankful these doctors spent time figuring out how they could help her.)

The chiropractor isn't meant to keep her from having surgery. The treatments will help her spine and muscles around her spine become more flexible and pliable. She worked on a young girl recently who had to have surgery. They were able to make some improvements, but not enough to avoid surgery. I expect we'll see the same with Sophie. At the very least, hopefully we can keep it from getting worse.

The doc has no idea if we can reverse anything. Her lumbar curve (lower back) isn't as nasty as the thorasic curve (upper back). If we can make her lumbar spine supple and make any possible correction, then possibly the doctor can fuse her lumbar spine at a higher point, which will allow her more movement. His website specifically addresses his approach to staying as high as possible on the lumbar spine.

We are seeing her for adjustments (and xrays and possible laser treatment--I have no idea yet what that involves) and her husband for neurological treatment (again, still don't fully understand what that involves; we meet with him Thursday) and for shoe inserts. He has a scanner & can do custom (thin) inserts.

Vickie, you'll be happy about the shoe inserts! Sophie's arches and ankles fall in pretty significantly. I have known for a while she needs something done for her feet. Even after the surgery is done, we will need to make sure her feet/knees/hips stay in alignment. I'm thankful the doctors are providing a comprehensive approach.

It's going to be intensive treatment. Three appointments this week--2 adjustments & 1 visit with neuro/foot doc. I'm sure we'll be doing 2-3 appts a week for a while. I checked our insurance benefits yesterday and I'm pretty sure I figured out it covers shoe inserts and there was nothing excluding chiropractors, although there might be a limit on number of visits (like there is for PT, which I know from Mark's treatments) but I didn't find anything.

I'm not freaking out as badly as I was, since we have an appointment with the surgeon and we are seeing the chiropractors. I don't feel quite so helpless now.

But my emotions are raw, raw, raw. When it rains, it pours. We continue to have financial concerns, Mark has a new physical issue that he needs to go see a doctor for (and could be significant but we won't know till he gets checked out), and my mom, bless her heart, feels about as helpless as I do and she's not handling things well, and when I talk to her it makes me a little crazy. I feel like if one more thing goes wrong, I'll lose it.

But I know I can't. I don't have the option to lose it.

I continue to be abstinent and avoid my poison foods. I am going to meetings, talking to my sponsor, praying and reading. At least I'm not going through all this being 50 pounds overweight and disgusted with myself every time I put food in my mouth.

I'm very thankful I found OA last year (11 months of abstinence as of last week). I finally finished my 30 questions (steps 1 - 3) and will be working on step 4 soon.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Surgery (152.6)

Sophie has to have surgery to correct her scoliosis.

I knew it was going to be bad news when the doctor spoke in soft, slow tones. He spoke directly to Sophie most of the appointment, which I appreciated since it's her body. I think it showed a lot of respect for her. When he finally said "surgery," I gave out a little gasp, said "surgery?" and started to tear up. Sophie sat stoically the entire time, nodding her head and speaking affirmations that she understood. I took my cue from her, and held it together instead of collapsing into sobbing.

Doctor's summary was this: she has a 50% curve in her upper spine and lower spine, so it's an S curve, which I already knew from seeing the xray at her pediatrician's office. They took new xrays at the Ortho appt, so he could more accurately measure. He explained that at 10%, they monitor. At 20-30%, they usually brace. 40% always goes to 50%. 50% always goes to 70%. He refers maybe one patient a year for surgery; so some years, he refers no one. The more severe it gets, it can interfere with her heart and lungs.

She has progressed to 50% in a year, or less. We don't have a definite time frame, obviously, since we haven't been looking at her back. But it wasn't bad enough at her last physical to warrant any concern; and her doctor has always performed a back check at her annual check ups.

The ortho doc said there was nothing we could have done to prevent this. It was going to happen, regardless of whether we'd caught it earlier and braced her. Whether that's true or not or if he said it just to comfort me, who knows. Either way, this is where we are.

After the appointment, Sophie said she somehow knew she was going to need surgery. She said whatever she has, she always gets the worst of it. This child has already been through so much, with vertigo since she was 2 1/2, and repeated strep throat infections in 2nd grade. She's had two MRI's and surgery to remove her tonsils. She missed over 30 days of school in Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade. She was diagnosed at the end of 1st grade with ADHD, and the first drug we tried made her hallucinate after being on it a week; hallucinations are obviously rare. (She's been on a non-stimulant med since then, and it works great for her.)

Her biggest concern is getting behind in school. She finally feels like she got caught up in 4th & 5th grade. She was in honors classes last year and is again this year in 6th grade. I told her we and the school would do everything to make sure she doesn't get behind.

She doesn't want to be left in the dark; doesn't want to be treated like a child. She wants all the information we have, and wants nothing hid from her. She asked if she'd be in pain. She asked how soon she'd be able to walk after surgery. I told her she'd have pain but the hospital will treat it with medicine. I don't know how long she'll be in bed afterward, but we'll find out from the surgeon, who we will be making an appointment with next week. Hopefully we will see him soon so we can get questions answered. She'll be seeing a surgeon in St Louis at Barnes Jewish Hospital, which is where her neurologist was so we are somewhat familiar with the campus. The surgeon is one of the top in his field.

Yesterday afternoon and last night were surreal. I felt like I was outside of myself. Mark took the news very hard. He was practically catatonic for 15 minutes, unable to speak and trying to hold back tears. We went in the bedroom for those 15 minutes. I didn't want Sophie to see him like that. We have to be strong for her.

I called my mom & sister and told them. Sophie and I called my mom together. Mom & step dad are praying for her.

I know that God has something special planned for Sophie. He doesn't let hardships like this go to waste. She is a remarkable person already, at age 12.

I'm very conscious of not letting Luke go by the wayside. When my cousin Eve had brain cancer when she was 16, and died within 6 months of the diagnosis, her parents basically excluded her brothers--one older, one younger--from most of the process. I don't know the details, but I know that the younger brother was especially messed up by it. Obviously losing a sister when you're a young boy is devastating, and his parents did the best they could. But it's a lesson to me on making sure Luke isn't pushed aside during all of this.

The doctor said it can't wait until next summer, so she will miss school. He suggests doing the surgery over Christmas break, and if she recovers well, it's possible she'd miss no school. But we have to be practical from an insurance standpoint. She's on Indiana's high risk insurance, which ends on 12/31 because the state is moving to the national health care program. I think it would be financially irresponsible to have major surgery a week before our insurance plans ends. I can't imagine the nightmares that would cause.

We will all be on national healthcare in January. Healthcare reform has a maximum out of pocket of $12,700. If we can wait until January, then our deductible will be met right away, which I think means we will have zero out of pocket expenses--including prescriptions--for the rest of 2014. There are tons of questions around that, though, because the details of plans aren't out yet. They will be on October 1.

I am praying the surgeon says she can wait until January, that she doesn't have to have surgery sooner than that. I need the time to process all this and prepare, as well as figure out the financial impact.

I was not expecting surgery. I knew it was severe, as I can see it in her back and shoulders, and I saw the xray at the ped's office. But I never imagined we'd go straight to surgery in a short amount of time. It still feels unreal.

We took the films home so we can take them to St Louis. Here's her xray:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mental health morning (152.0)

I took this morning off. I told my husband as he was making his breakfast shake--and I was feeling bitchy & irritated at every move he made--that I needed to go into work late.

I have been feeling overwhelmed by all the things I need to do and all the places I need to go, and it makes me off balance to feel so buried. I have also been hormonal (and there's a full moon, which I swear affects my moods) the past three days. So in order to avoid my killing someone, I came into work today at noon.

What I did:

Luke got on the bus at 7:20 (Sophie's is at 7:00), and at 7:30 I was mowing the yard. I didn't have time to get to it this weekend, and it had been 2 weeks since it had been cut. It was a "pile" that was under my skin every time I left the house or came home or looked out a window.

I don't mind mowing. I like the feeling of accomplishment and seeing results of my labor right away. It takes 45-60 minutes with a push mower, depending on whether I mow vertically or horizontally. Today was a 60 minute day. I saw two cicada's molting, and let me tell you, that was disgusting. There are dozens of shells all over our trees. Totally grosses me out. I hate those things--hate the way their garish sounds drown out everything else outside, and I obviously hate the way they look. Blech. Other than those monsters and the spider webs I walked through multiple times, it felt good to get it done.

Then I stripped the sheets and duvet off of our bed & set them to washing.

Then I put on my running clothes and went for a run/walk. YAY! It felt soooo good. I left at 9:15, listening to Mumford & Sons and thinking it's going to be a hot one. I started runnning right away because I've missed it so much. I ended up doing intervals and walking more than running. My running pace was often in the 10:30-11:00s and my walking pace was in 14:30-15:00, so my speed wasn't horrible. It was hot and humid, and the sun was strong, and my lungs weren't real happy with the thick air, and my heart is out of condition--despite all that, it was a great run. A reminder of WHY I love running in the first place. I hope I can build on it to keep moving forward.

I got home a little before 10, and I did more laundry and vacuumed and dusted. Then I got ready for work at 11:15, at work by noon.

It wasn't a lot of time off, less than 4 hours, and I didn't get everything done I'd like to, but it was enough for me to feel like I have a jump on things now.

I still need to finish my laundry and finish making the bed, and grill 3 pounds of chicken & beef tonight, and give Luke a bath (and check his hair for lice--2nd treatment was Sunday and he still had those damn things in his hair), and get the kids and myself fed, help the kids with homework if they need it, and be at church choir by 7.

I look at that list and think, is it any wonder I feel overwhelmed? Which is justification to start taking better care of myself, mentally & physically.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No pie for me (152.6)

Saturday night our church had a dinner/concert that I was in part responsible for coordinating. We have a small endowment called Christianity and the Arts, and the event was a fundraiser. In the past couple of years, the endowment has paid for Bach concerts that our choir director, who is also the choral director/professor at the private university in town and is very accomplished and talented, has put together. They are well attended and unique to our area.

This was the most ambitious and succcessful fundraiser we've had. 77 people attended. It was catered and, by all accounts, the food was outstanding (I helped wait on tables, so didn't eat). The musical performances were goose-bump worthy.

The event started at 6. I got there at 4 to help finish setting up. Part of the set up was cutting the 14 pies the caterer made.

There were 8 different kinds of pies, including unique pies (lemon buttermilk & butterscotch) and my old favorite, chocolate. I cut pies for about 20 minutes. I got pie on my fingers. I served pie to the table I was assigned to wait on when it was time for dessert.

I had zero desire--absolutely no temptaiont--to eat a piece of pie.

They looked lovely. Everyone was oohing and ahhing over them. I let fond memories fill my head, of eating chocolate pie when I was a kid that my grandmother made especially for me. For grandma and me, chocolate pie=love.

And then I let in memories of eating half a pie or more at one time; of sneaking a 3rd and then 4th piece, hoping no one would notice. Then feeling sick and helpless and berating myself for eating so much. Those memories kept me from eating pie Saturday.

More than anything, though, it's the OA program and abstinence that kept the desire for pie away.

I may not have perfectly clean abstinence right now. But I have perfectly clean abstinence when it comes to dessert. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Minutia of my life at the moment (152.8)

It has been a long time since I've posted.

The biggest reason is I haven't had time, or haven't made the time.

I also feel like I don't have much to say. I could rattle on about the minutia of my life--and there's nothing wrong with that and I enjoy reading other people's minutia so I guess I shouldn't let that stop me--but part of me is tired of the of the minutia and the last thing I want to do right now is rehash it here. But since I haven't shared in so long, here's some minutia (apparently I love that word today).

I am doing mostly okay. We are all healthy and life is pretty normal. There have been many, many times in recent years where I couldn't say that. Normal is a wonderful thing that you don't often appreciate until you have too much "NOT normal."

Kids are back in school. Sophie has adjusted to 6th grade middle school (new school, 6-8 grade). She rides the bus home from school now and stays by herself for a couple of hours. She likes it so far. She's in honors classes, so when homework starts this week, I'm sure it will be a lot. She will get a netbook on August 29, and almost all of the homework and resources will be accesible through a website called MyBigCampus. Should be interesting.

She is also in a play (You're a Good Man Charlie Brown) and has rehearsals Friday, Saturday, and Sunday until the show starts the last weekend of September (she's off Labor Day weekend). I was worried about it being too much for her, but she said rehearsals give her energy because she has fun and she soaks up the positive energy of the cast and directors. We are blessed she has found her niche. She feels like she belongs to the theater family and has many friends there.

Luke is in 2nd grade and likes his teacher. One of his best friends is in his class. He also gets to go to the high ability class (it's one period a day with a different teacher who has all the high ability classes), which he loves because they study science and unique ideas that he doesn't get in his regular class. His reading skills have skyrocketed this summer, which has been really cool.

He isn't on his ADHD meds right now, though. We took him off for the summer, which his doctor agreed was okay. Time off lets the brain reset, just like it does when I go off of my depression meds, and it also let him gain some weight (he'd lost around 5 pounds over the school year, which was a lot on his lean lanky body).

When he stopped taking it, he was at 15 mg (we titrated him up from 5 then to 10 then to 15, over several months last year). We started him back at 15 mg, 3 weeks before school started. The doctor didn't say we should titrate up again, but clearly we should have (and are now), because 15 mg put him in a depressed lathargic state. I gave him 2 weeks to adjust, and at the end of 2 weeks he was still sad and quiet while the med was in his system (by 4 or 5 pm each day, it's worn off and he's back to himself). I can't get a refill on the 5 mg capsule until the end of this week; it's a controlled substance and you can't fill them less than 30 days apart. I explained to his teacher. He'll be distracted and fidgety in class, probably, but he'll be fine.

Luke is also in gymnastics, which he takes on Mondays at 4 pm. He's only been going a few weeks but loves it so far. He used to go a couple years ago, but he got tired of it so we stopped, but now he wants to go again. He has fun and it's great exercise for our non-sports boy.

Mark's back is okay but not great. The last procedure he had didn't work as well as the first one did last year. He is finding that when we work out the knots in his glutes and hamstrings, the pain is much better. Basically he has pain from more than one source, and the daily pain often comes from sitting and his muscles knotting up. It's great to have a solution that works for him most of the time.

I am kinda "meh." I am still not running or exercising, and am in a constant state of "shoulds" around it. I seriously don't know what my problem is. I am in the extreme "body at rest" mode. I have precious little time, but what time I do have is usually spent being lazy with a book or TV. Not where I want to be, but obviously my desire to change is not yet greater than my desire to stay the same.

My food is "meh." I'm still abstinent and not eating binge foods. Almost 11 months with no dessert-type foods, which is what my binge list consists of. That has made a huge difference in my life. I do still eat for comfort, though, which I'm not okay with and need to do OA work on. What that means for me now is, I will eat meals when I'm feeling out sorts or sad or whatever, and I will eat too much food and too much food with carbs. I am not carb free--but dessert/binge food free. I don't binge uncontrollably. I don't eat in the middle of the night. But I am not eating as cleanly as I need to be. This disease is still a disease and I fight it everyday. It's just not as easy as it was in the beginning.

We have had a lot of people die lately. There were five people in a two week period that we knew. We went to two funerals. Now our close friend's dad--who we are also close to and is a client--has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and has a week or so to live. The funerals didn't get to me too badly, other than it being a lot at one time. But our friend's dad, who is 66, has been rough.

That's all I have time for today. Thanks for keeping up with me!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Sophie has scoliosis (151.8)

Sophie had her back to school physical last Friday.  They discovered she has scoliosis. It's in her upper back, looks like it's probably a C curve.

It runs in Mark's family. Our niece, Kelly (who got married last year in Colorado) had scoliosis and had to have surgery in her late teens. It was very serious and I remember how concerned my brother in law was about her. (She looks perfect now, so the surgery obviously worked.) And our nephew, Corey, had something wrong with his spine (not sure it was scoliosis, probably was) and had to have a rod put in his spine to keep it straight. Mark's aunt (his mom's sister) had it so bad that her hips were very crooked. She had to have all her skirts altered so they would hang in a straight line (I remember his cousins talking about this after she died and they were going through her clothes).

I am a wreck.

I feel guilty because it's very pronounced and it's hard for me to accept that I didn't catch it earlier.  I have noticed a slight bump on her back before, but it's never been pronounced and I didn't think anything of it. So now, of course, I feel like I should have thought something of it and am beating my head against a wall at my stupidity.  

Her hair is very long, almost to her waist, and she almost always wears it down.  And she's 12--it's not like I inspect her body on a regular basis like I did when she was little.  She doesn't have any physical side affects yet, no pain or anything.  I can rationalize all these reasons for why I missed it, but I still feel tied up in knots with guilt.

I am filled with fear.  This isn't reversible, to my knowledge and from what I've briefly read online.  It can get worse. Corrective measures include wearing a brace, surgery, maybe some physical therapy.  She'll need regular x-rays to watch the progression. 

This is the child who has had "something wrong with her" since she was 2 1/2.  She already feels limited by her vertigo and migraines, and has emotional scars from all she missed out on because of her extended vertigo spells and from what she misses out on now.  She has almost no arch in her feet and her feet/heels are very narrow; she has problems finding shoes that fit and any time she runs (like on the playground), she feels like she looks weird and her friends have commented on it.

After it was pointed out to me, now it's all I can see when I look at her back. Her right shoulder blade is noticably humped. Her right shoulder is slightly higher than the other. This is such a tough age when it comes to insecurity around physical appearance, and I'm worried about if this will make it worse.

I don't know how to handle all this. She goes to see her doctor next Tuesday. I had her physical done at the Walmart clinic for $30 because her insurance doesn't pay for well care visits. There will be follow ups and specialists involved, which she has already suffered through most of her life because of her vertigo.

I don't know how to help her feel okay about all this because *I* don't feel okay about it. I am terrified I will handle it wrong and really screw her up.

I'm praying. I'm talking to my sponsor today. I don't want to read too much online because I'm afraid I'll read horror stories and make myself more afraid.

I need to talk to my therapist. I have no idea where the money for that is going to come from.

I am a big ball of worry and fear.

She isn't limited physically by it, at least anymore than she was limited before and at least not yet. She isn't obsessing about how she looks, which I hope is a good sign.

It's probably going to be a long road. I have to get it right. And this will all happen during a time when I'm already afraid I won't be a good enough parent during her teen years.

I know that, ultimately, everything will be okay. She's still a beautiful, talented, kind, compassionate, funny, and loving girl, and above all, I don't want this scoliosis to damage any of that. I feel a heavy burden to make sure of it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Shining some light on what's going on with me (152.2)

I haven't written anything meaningful about myself for quite a while. There are a lot of excuses I could list, but if I'm being honest the real reason is that I don't feel good about my food.  And that's what this post is going to be--an attempt to honestly write about what's going on with me. 

It's not pretty, and it's a rehash of where I've been before. But when I finally write about these things is when I usually turn a corner.  So here goes.

I'm still not eating desserts or anything else on my trigger food/binge list.  And I'm still not eating between meals during the day. 

But the quality of my food is very poor; I am in the rut of convenience foods.  And I am eating too much at night, which has always been the hardest thing for me to change.  

I am not eating in the middle of the night, thank goodness, but I have been eating before bed when I'm not hungry and just want the feel of food in my body.

I am also not running or doing any other kind of exercise.

I am also not working my steps in OA, although I still go to meetings every week and talk to my sponsor regularly. 

I've gained a couple of pounds.  Instead of hovering around 150, I now hover around 152.  It's not a lot, but it's a warning sign.

I have always been a starter, not a finisher.  I'm sure you know what I mean when I say that.  I get half way through something, and peter out before I'm finished, which results in unfinished "clutter" in my life.

I'm in a LIFE plateau, not a weight plateau--my desire to change equals my desire to stay the same.

The past few months have been hard on us financially, and frankly the fear and worry around that takes up a lot of space in my head. 

I tend to shut down and isolate when I am filled with worry.  That includes not blogging or reading other blogs.

I also go back and forth between worry and giving the worry away to God.  Unfortunately I take back the worry all the time, so I spend a lot of energy giving it away and then taking it back again.

And I look at all the things I think I am doing wrong, instead of looking at what I am doing right, and become discouraged and disappointed.

What is crystal clear is that when my food isn't what it needs to be, nothing else is either.

One OA saying goes like this: Abstinence is the number one priority in my life.  Anything I put before it I will lose anyway. 

Sloppy abstinence, which is what I call what I'm doing now, means sloppy life.

Summer and lack of routine is always hard for me.  I know this.  This summer has been really hard because the kids have not been in one consistent camp, but have been in many different ones.  My mom has helped watch them a lot so we could save money (it would have cost $2500 to keep them both in camps all summer).  My mom watching them is a whole other layer of crazy in my life.  I have learned a lesson, though, and next summer I have to figure something else out.

School starts on August 14.  I am not saying it will all magically get better then--there will always be something.  I am saying that the routine and normalcy of school will help all of us.

I am in a valley.  I feel like I've hit the bottom of the valley and am ready to climb out. 

I am not in a pit of despair by any means.  Which is a good thing--my low is a higher low than it has been in the past.  I am not flailing and hopeless. I am aware that I have changes to make, and I know what to do and where to get help.  I will start doing it again.

And the first thing I have to do is go back to step one:  I am powerless over food and my life has become unmanageable. And then on to step two: I believe a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. 

I feel better after writing all this and shining some light on it.  Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Progress or Procrastination devotional (150.6)

I loved this devotional today & thought I'd share.



Progress or Procrastination?

July 22, 2013

Progress or Procrastination?

Lisa Allen

"If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done!" Ecclesiastes 11:4 (LB)

Unhealthy habits had crept their way into my life. At first it was only occasionally, but then it became easier to stay home rather than head to the gym. I turned a blind eye to how much sugar I was eating. And dinner from a drive-through became more convenient when I was in a rush.

After a few months in this downward spiral, I knew it was time to reintroduce healthy habits. But then the excuses started: I know I should work out, but this just isn't a good time for me ... I have two trips coming up and then there's that birthday dinner for my friend this weekend. And everyone knows that Mondays are the best day to start a good habit!

This pattern of thinking gives me permission to eat unhealthy foods and put off exercise. Somehow I justify that I will ultimately be more successful if all the conditions are perfect for me to improve my health. Perhaps it's my selfish nature that screams, "I want what I want when I want it." The truth is, if I know I should take steps toward healthier choices, then my response should simply be to ask myself, "What can I do today?" and then do it. I don't have to have a plan for a month or even a week ... only today.

As I've observed this pattern of procrastination within myself, I find when faced with a desire and necessity to make a change for the better, sometimes I wait until I can do it perfectly before I'm willing to begin. Scripture tells us though "If you wait for perfect conditions, you'll never get anything done!" (Ecclesiastes 11:4).

I don't know about you, but I struggle with feeling that perfection is unreachable, so I push my goals to the back burner.

We wait to start consistent quiet times until we feel like getting up earlier. We wait to clean our house until there is a convenient weekend. We wait to join a small group until our schedules open up. We wait to begin a healthier lifestyle until the holidays are over.

Taking that first step is the hardest and yet most important step. Even a baby step toward a goal is better than staying in place. Aiming for progress rather than perfection can be quite freeing. So, I can't run a marathon. But I can lace up my sneakers and go for a walk. And while my home isn't in spotless, I can wipe down the counters and put away the piles of laundry around my living room. Yes, there are still dishes in the sink, but I have to start somewhere, right?

God is teaching me that I can make progress in the midst of less-than-perfect circumstances. While I still want to do things with excellence, a friend once told me I need to be willing to "take a B instead of an A+" on some things in life, and that helps bring perspective when excuses start to rise up. Plus, I'm learning to overcome my tendency for excuses by telling myself imperfect action is better than perfect procrastination.

There may never be a perfect time to get organized, eat less sugar, and workout more. However, we have to begin somewhere. The perfect place to start is where we are today.

Father, You know me so well, and I confess to You I've been avoiding obedience by waiting for things to be easier, better and more convenient. I recognize this as disobedience and ask You to forgive me. Give me the strength to focus today on this area of obedience. Let me know that You are providing all I need to take this step today and tomorrow, as I continue this journey with You. Amen.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gasland (151.6)

I don't like "soap box" updates, but I feel I need to share this today because it's taking up too much space in my brain and I need to purge it. If you don't read anymore, I understand. This isn't a happy, feel good update.


I watched Gasland 2 last night. It's a documentary about fracking. Natural gas is being sold to us as the solution to energy dependency. The oil companies and government say the process of extracting natural gas from shale oil deposits is safe. They say burning natural gas is better for the planet than coal or oil. They say it's going to be more affordable in the future as oil becomes more scarce. According to the documentary, we are being fed a pack of lies.

This is a relatively new industry. Most of us know nothing about it, other than what we're told by BP & other oil companies on TV commercials and by our government (as in the President's 2nd inaugural address, which praised natural gas as our energy savior).

I am sick this morning thinking about how devastating widespread fracking will be for the people living among the fracking wells and for the planet as a whole. People living among shale oil plains already have suffered health problems from the neurotoxins released into the air & water. A whole town in Pennsylvania has had no water for years because their entire aquifer is poisoned. The water that comes out of their faucets can be lit on fire because of the methane in the water.

Why is this allowed to happen? Because the natural gas industry is exempt from the clean water act. They don't have to report the chemicals they put in water to extract the gas. They take no responsibility, and no one, not even the EPA, can make them. (Several years ago the EPA had done research proving chemicals used in fracking were in drinking water, and they were trying to clean up the mess. But after the President was reelected, the EPA was made to toe the policy line and essentially became impotent. Soon after, the EPA director, who was making headway in doing her job and exposing the significant environmental risks, resigned.)

I would say that everyone should educate themselves so people can "say no" to natural gas, but people living on the shale plains have said no for years, and it makes no difference. Part of me wishes I'd never seen the damn documentary. Part of me feels it's my responsibility to share it with everyone I know, so that maybe, maybe, if enough people are aware of the dangers, fracking can be stopped. But mostly I feel disgusted and helpless and scared that we are witnessing the beginning of another Dust Bowl, but on a much grander scale--the greatest ecological disaster the world has ever seen.   *** Still busy. Totally fried. Taking tomorrow off work.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Busy (150.8)

I am ridiculously busy, at work and at home.  Every weekend in July has some activity, and August is filling up too. 

I am trying to keep it together, take it one day at a time, and not be overwhelmed by what I need to do.  But it's hard. 

So I'm not posting much today.  I just wanted to check in. 

I'm still going to my OA meetings on Monday night.  I'm still abstinent.  Last night I got my 9 month chip.  I cannot believe it's been 9 months already.

In the midst of all the chaos of my life, I'm thankful I am not eating my way through it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Painting of Sophie and Mumford & Sons 2nd chance

Mark painted this for Sophie for her birthday.  He finished it last weekend, so a little late.  Paint is acrylic (which isn't ideal for this b/c the paint is hard to blend, but he's not practiced in oils yet).  It's apparently very hard to capture a face correctly.  He nailed it.  Her eyes, shape of her face, her mouth.  I am so proud of him. 


Mumford & Sons is coming to Indianapolis on Labor Day!!!  As you'll recall, the concert in Bonner Springs was postponed.  It was rescheduled to the end of September, on a date we have another obligation.  I got a refund from Ticketmaster.  The same day they announced the rescheduled dates, they announced a new tour, which includes the stop in Indy. 

Same set up for tickets as last time--you sign up & they invite you to buy tickets (no idea what the qualifications are for being invited, but I'm confident I will since I'm a member of their fan club with the same email I registered for tickets with). You get to buy tickets before they go on sale to the general public.  Indy's outdoor concert venue is fabulous.  We've been there a lot.  And we can stay with my sister in law.  We plan to make a weekend out of it.  Win-win all around! 

Caught up in the urgent (151.4)

When Steven Covey was the organizational guru of the 90s, I had a Franklin Planner & read his 7 Habits book. I learned about his 4 quadrants—important & urgent, important & not urgent, not important & urgent, not urgent & not important. Here’s a great illustration of the activities in each quadrant:



I haven’t had a Franklin Planner since I got a smartphone and Outlook (probably 7 years or so? Maybe longer). And I haven’t been to a time management class for well over a decade.

I don’t need a class. I know what to do. I know, but I don’t apply.

Sounds similar to eating and exercise, when those things are not going well.

Operating from the “important & not urgent” category is obviously the place I need to be working from on a regular basis. Planning, prevention, relationship building, new opportunities, learning, developing.

Lately, and for a long time really, I haven’t been in the quadrant enough. I am so often prisoner of the Tyranny of the Urgent. And, more often than not, in the not important & not urgent corner—where nothing of importance happens.

I believe there are benefits in the lower right quadrant—of course I have to have pleasant activities in my life. I need downtime to recharge.

Time wasters, though, like Facebook or mindless TV aren’t nourishing activities. I have cut back Facebook perusing to almost nothing. I often just get mad & upset when I read people’s political views or their Rainbow Bright lives (which I’ve talked about before). I have been reading more than watching TV lately, but even reading is a mindless escape for me.

I also spend too much mindless time reading articles on Yahoo Finance or reading non work stuff (like blogs or book reviews or whatever else isn't appropriate) while at work (and yes, I write my posts at work. It's an important and not urgent issue that I won't do at home, so I spend an hour a week writing, I'm fine with that). I can argue that the Finance articles are important for my job, but really I’m just killing time because I don’t want to spend time in the important & not urgent category.

So, WHY don’t I want to spend time there? That’s a good question. Part of it, I think, is that I lack confidence to be proactive with our practice. Mark is the financial advisor; I’m his support.

However, he spends almost all of his time in the urgent quadrants.

Part of that is out of his control—he can’t dictate when clients call in or when he gets an email he has to respond to with in depth info.

Part of it is that he’s made that way or that he has operated in the urgent for so long, and he gets a reward from it. (My theory is that he subconsciously like the adrenaline rush that he gets from always being in a hurry; he rarely gives himself enough time to get ready in the morning, so it’s rush rush rush. Which drives me bonkers. I’ve quit nagging him, for the most part. It makes no difference.)

Part of it is that his plate is so full—with work and church obligations (he’s an elder at church and on two key committees that have big stuff going on this summer, and he’s dropped everything else he can drop)—that he just can’t get ahead.

Part of it is that his time at work is limited because of his back. He is limited on how long he can sit, and isn’t really spending enough time at work.

Whatever the reason, he spends little time planning. I have little interaction with him during the day because he’s in the Urgent all day long.

I told him yesterday that we need to start meeting every day for 15 minutes or so, to plan our approach of what we need to do for our clients in the next two months (which includes major investment reallocations that take a lot of time).

Clearly, it is up to me to drive the bus on the planning side.

We have worked together for over 8 years. We do well because we complement each other—we have different skills and talents, and together we make a great team.

I have not been keeping up my end of the team, though. I haven’t been using my strengths like we need me to.

Why?

Because I am insecure, not confident in my abilities, afraid I’ll do work and get shot down because it’s not the direction Mark wants to take (this has happened several times over the years, and it rocks my confidence & ticks me off), and because I’m often paralyzed by fear.

Fear of financial failure, fear of me failing, fear of making mistakes, fear of my efforts being pointless and a total waste of time.

I’m writing about this so I can start making changes. I read this stuff and think “This is such bullshit. You’re smart, talented, have good ideas, are capable of SO MUCH MORE than you give yourself credit. Get off your ass and get to work.”

Like Alice in Wonderland sings, “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.”

I have no business putting MY issues of non-action on my husband's lack of planning activities.  That's a martyr attitude, and an excuse.

Time to get rid of that thinking. Time to quit giving myself advice. Time to just freaking do it.

One more thing--all this work stuff is exacerbated by the feeling of being out of control this summer. The days are packed, the weekends are packed, my children are growing at the speed of light, and it’s killing me.  I live in the future way too much—what do I have to do this week, next week, a month from now?  It all makes me feel so powerless, which makes me want to control everything.  I am reading some self-help stuff (my OA books and a book by Wayne Dyer about creating your own reality) and I do stop several times a day for positive affirmations and short meditations.  So I feel like I’m making a wee bit of progress.  I have moments of peace and release.  I just need more of them strung together, until my entire day is peace & release. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quote from Mother Teresa (151.2)

I love this. A friend posted it on Facebook and I wanted to share.

These are the few ways we can practice humility:

To speak as little as possible of one's self.

To mind one's own business.

Not to want to manage other people's affairs.

To accept contradictions cheerfully.

To pass over the mistakes of others.

To accept insults and injuries.

To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.

To be kind and gentle even under provocation.

Never to stand on one's dignity.

To choose always the hardest.”

― Mother Teresa

This list of ways to practice humility are most of what I have struggled with.  I'm better on several of them, not so much on others.  I have a long way to go to reach true humility.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hair cut pic

Post for today is below.

Concert cancelled, Sophie away at camp, hair cut (151.0)

We were supposed to go to Kansas City today to see my favorite band of all time, Mumford & Sons, in concert.  The concert was cancelled, along with several others, because their bass player had a blood clot removed from his brain last Tuesday.  Thankfully he's OK and is recovering, but obviously he isn't recovered enough to perform. 

Strangely, it has worked out for the best for us.  Last week we got a lot of calls from clients because accounts were down in May and they aren't used to seeing downturns on their statements (for the past year anyway).  The market continues to be volatile & we need to be in the office right now.  Plus Mark is getting another back procedure Wednesday & will be out the rest of the week.  So for us, it's turned into a good thing.

BUT.  I don't do well when plans change.  It takes me a while to adjust. I'm getting better at adjusting more quickly (more below), but I am disappointed, of course. I don't know if we'll be able to go to the rescheduled concert.  I'm returning our tickets because I'd rather do it now than risk not being able to return them later if we can't go.  But I got over the disappointment rather quickly, saw the bigger picture and the benefits of not going.

I didn't sulk.  I didn't get angry. I looked at the benefits of the cancellation instead of my disappointment.

I am learning to live without expectations.  "Expectations are premeditated resentments." (First heard this in an OA meeting.)  I don't need resentments taking up space in my life, so I work to not have expectations.  Not from people or events. I've always approached vacations with no expectations--it's much easier to roll with what comes than to have concrete plans that blow up, as they often do when you travel.  I'm applying that approach to daily life.  It helps.

***

Sophie left for a week of sleep away camp yesterday.  She went last year for the first time.  It's the same camp this year, and she went with a friend from school who also went last year.  Sophie was really excited to go. 

We drove up with her friend's parents, about 2 1/2 hour drive.  Her friend Mary cried when we got there; she has a hard time spending time away from her home, even at one-night sleepovers with her friends.  Sophie is fairly independent, has spent many nights away from home and never had a problem.  She didn't cry; she hugged me a lot (Mark & Luke stayed home) and was a little sad, but handled it well.  The kids stay very busy at camp and are exhausted at bed time, so the emotions quickly dissipate after we leave and there's no time to be homesick (which is what they told us when we picked them up last year). She comes home Friday.

It's harder for us than it is for her, I'm sure.  Luke was a mess last year when she left.  He was never an only child, like Sophie was for 4.5 years before Luke was born, and he doesn't like it when she's gone.  He is tender hearted & sensitive, and the kids spend a lot of time together.  I will miss her terribly.

Her being gone makes me ponder what it will be like in 7 years when she leaves for college. I've watched how Vickie has handled her kids leaving home, and I can only hope I handle it half as well as she has.

***

I got 4 inches cut off my hair on Saturday.  I've worn it long for a couple of years now, and prior to that it was never long.  I've worn it in a bob for 20 years.  I love it long, but it's a nice change to go back to a short bob.  Mark loves it this shorter length, because it's how I wore it when we first met.  Luke doesn't like it--he doesn't do well with change and wanted me to keep it long.  I have been wearing it up so much and only styled it once or twice a week, that I decided it was time for a change.  I'll post a pic in another post from my phone.