Sunday, September 17, 2017

When Life Goes Sideways

I'm posting this on all three blogs to save time. I've not posted anything on them for a few months. This serves as an explanation, not an excuse. 

Here we are at the end of September and I can't figure out where the summer went. I was doing rather well at finishing my novel, Hidden in the Mist. In fact, I'm probably less than 2000 words away. It was the 9th of July. The story was going well. I was working on the study/den/dining room to get it repainted and reorganized. I felt pretty good. There were plans to sell books. Things looked . . . bright. The road seemed smooth and straight. 

That's when things always go wrong. Somewhere, in the dark I hit something. 

Actually, in the wee hours of Sunday morning at 3 a.m. I woke up screaming and had to call Mike to come get me and take me to the hospital. My whole left arm was in excruciating pain and felt as if it were on fire. It was also paralyzed. I'm left-handed. I couldn't hold my phone, dial it, or pick up anything. Every move sent me into screams. 

I went to St. Vincent's ER (Primary care is at that hospital) and they did x-rays, gave me a shot of morphine and a steroid, a script for valium, and orders to go to physical therapy. I have a pinched nerve. I went home. 

At 5 a.m. Monday morning I was back at a second ER. This time I decided to use the hospital (Deaconess) where my records were for all my ailments. After CT scan and a couple of shots of something they sent me home with Loratabs and ordered to go see PT. Monday I went to urgent care at the orthopedic urgent care and the doctor said I could shoot myself. Yeah. Scheduled me to go to PT a few days later. 

It would be two weeks before I could see a PT doc but they could do physical therapy before that. I went to my primary care doc on Tuesday and she prescribed steroids, Gabapentin and Skelaxin. Let me just say that at this point, not a single medication had any impact. The narcotics took the edge off to stop me screaming. The Gabapentin made me a zombie who felt pain and I stopped it but it took three days to get my mind back. I had acupuncture the second week and believe it or not, 50% of my pain disappeared in 2 hrs and I could actually hold my fork! Brushing my hair and wiping my butt was still beyond me. 

I won't go into the rest of the last two months. Suffice it to say I alternated between screaming in pain and writhing with gritted teeth and sobbing. Eventually, after a fainting spell in my RA doctor's office, I was sent to a neurologist who did an MRI and found I have a compressed spinal cord. She immediately sent me to a neurosurgeon. Turns out I have a ruptured disc. I have to have surgery sometime in the next couple of weeks to repair it and to fuse some discs. I hope.

And that is how life has gone sideways. 

I was unable to type for three weeks and still have problems after typing for very long. The pain in my arm is bearable but only just. It still feels like it is on fire on the bottom side of my forearm, side of my hand and third and fourth fingers. I'm very clumsy and that is frustrating because I've always been very dexterous. 

Now it is as if my hand belongs to someone else. Thankfully, as a lefty living in a righty world, I'm a bit ambidextrous and I've been able to do a lot of things with my right hand. I'll never be able to write with it and I can't remember to do some of the other tasks with it but it has been easier to let the right hand pull extra duty. As a result, the right hand is a bit more functional. Probably a good thing since the doctor said he couldn't promise my left hand would return to full function with no pain. Apparently, when a nerve is pinched this long (07/09 thru 09/17) it might not recover. 

There's always a silver lining, isn't there?  I'm hopeful because God is good and I've got stuff to do. 

As a side note, during all of this, my son Mike fell off the delivery truck at work (about 4 feet) and broke his right arm and injured his shoulder. So the one person who helps me the most is also incapacitated. 

See, I told you there was a silver lining. 

And that's the way it is as of today, Sunday, September 17, 2017. 

If you pray, put us on your list. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

An Update from the Ledge

Whew! What a crazy few weeks it has been and this one isn't over.

I was awake at 5:30 this morning after about 5 and a half hours sleep. I just woke up and I realized after a couple of stretches that I wasn't in any major pain. I lay there a few minutes and figured I'd go back to sleep but my left brain kicked in and told me this might not happen again. I decided to get up.

So, I did.

I made coffee, made breakfast, ate, dressed and got the garbage out of the house. I'll get it to the street soon. Now it is 7:12 a.m. and I'm feeling pretty good. Seriously. And I'm tremendously thankful for that.

It looks like a beautiful day out but I know it will probably be very warm. I thought about cutting the yard but we've had some showers this week and my weed trimmer is on the fritz. It needs a new part and the stores don't carry it. I can replace it myself because it is the line cover but you'd think they'd carry something like that. Duh.

For weeks now I've been having problems with sleep and pain. My sleep has been insane and I finally made a decision two weeks ago to go with my body. Sometimes that's all you can do because you're sort of being held hostage by it, particularly in cases of inflammatory diseases. They're assassins.

Anyway, my sleep pattern seemed to go haywire and I found myself unable to sleep till 3 a.m. On top of that, I was having some pain problems. I really was hurting. The weather conspired to take me down as well, and it did a pretty good job of it. I simply couldn't get up in the mornings at a decent hour.

The other odd thing was that I'd be in pain most of the morning and sleepy but by 3 p.m. I felt really good. Of course, I'd attempted to go to bed before midnight for a while but finally, I realized it wasn't happening so, I just decided to go to bed when I got sleepy. In the small hours of the morning between 2 & 3 a.m. I went to bed.

I set my clock for 9 hrs later so I didn't sleep all day. And it worked for the most part, although I rarely got 9 hours sleep, more like 5-6 hours. Still, I was so tired that I spent most mornings dozing in a chair. Nothing was getting done. Thankfully, my friend Sue, and her daughter/my ex-daughter-in-law, Becca came on different days and helped me with housework. Just because a marriage doesn't work doesn't mean people can't remain friends. These ladies are lifesavers to me. I love them both.

Also, I stopped fighting the clock two weeks ago and started going with it, allowing myself to sleep when I felt the need and trying to do what I could around the house. I gave up a normal schedule and was reminded that when I was young, before children, I often sat up that late writing or reading.

This week, I noticed that my hours were shifting back and I was now able to get into bed before midnight and yesterday was my best day yet. I was tired until afternoon. Then, my energy boost kicked in and I actually painted some in the den. I felt really good. I took it easy last night, watched t.v. and read and went to bed. This morning I woke up on my own, virtually no pain, and I have some energy.

So, I'm about to go and tackle the painting again. I have some mild back pain and my right hand is a bit painful. Since I'm predominately left handed this won't be too bad a problem.

I also got some writing done over the period. Not on what I wanted to write but still on one of my stories. Several thousand words at least and I'm happy about that.

My vacation plans fell thru several times. I planned to go to my aunts in Atlanta, drive to our hometown for a visit, then drive down to see my sister in Florida. I planned it to give me the shortest driving times possible. I simply was so messed up sleep wise and had so much pain I couldn't do it. Then the car battery went and I had to replace the tires. So, twice I canceled my trip: one for pain, the other mechanical. I was going to go this week but I don't think I'm going to make it. I have to pick up Sarah on the 22nd of next month and my sister Phyllis is going with me. We planned to visit our niece in Texas on that trip. If I'd been able to go earlier, as planned, I'd have had the finances to do it but the battery and tires cost me quite a bit.

Now, I've got to get going before this energy wanes. I hope I've learned my lesson and will start letting my body direct me better.

I ordered more books so if you'd like to buy one direct from me, it is $10. You can pay thru PayPal and I'll mail it to you. Or you can purchase it thru Amazon or CreateSpace.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dark of Night, Short of Sleep

So, it's late. Yeah, really late. I haven't gone to bed yet. I'm not sleepy. In fact, I haven't been able to sleep since Sarah left. I don't know why since I usually fell into bed after I got her down. I've been sleeping late to compensate for the late hours I'm keeping. Oddly enough, I have less pain after 3 in the afternoon than I do at any other time and sleeping seems to make it worse. 

I have no idea.

Anyway, it's late and I was washing my face and staring into the mirror a moment ago and I had this revelation. I always said I would not be one of those lonely women who talk to themselves and who can't live without the television on when they're in the house. I'm not making fun of them. Really. There is something inherently sad about that kind of life. It is as if when they lost their spouse, they were unable to survive the silence. 

The really odd thing is that after Jerry died I spent six months in my house with no lights on and no sound. Seriously, I did. I came in from work at just after 5 and as it was the dead of winter it was far gone into the dark. I turned on a light only as necessary. I undressed in the dark. I showered in the dark. I dressed in the dark. If I got on the computer, and I lived on the computer for over a year playing Farm Town with people who kept me sane, the only light in the house was the computer screen until bedtime. 

So, back to my revelation. I was talking to the face in the mirror. I had just turned off the television. I realized that suddenly I've become "that" person. Maybe have been all along because I talk a lot to myself. Sometimes I'm talking to God but sometimes it's me. Maybe it's the human need to hear the sound of another voice. I spent 35 years listening to Jerry. But I've got to tell you, I'd rather hear his voice than my own. 

And on the heels of that, I had a second revelation. 

What difference does it make what time I go to bed? Who cares? Why do I feel like I must sleep? I don't feel better after I sleep. I feel worse. They tout sleep as the very thing patients with autoimmune diseases need. Poor sleep is supposed to be the culprit that worsens those diseases. Sleep only causes me intense pain and I'm never refreshed by it. So why should I go to bed early? Why not stay up as long as I want and sleep when I must. I was always a night owl anyway but had to conform to a husband and children and a world that operated on a different schedule. Now, I have none of those restrictions. I'm that woman. The one who talks to herself, who wants sound in the house, and who can't sleep.

These days the sound is a cd of ocean sounds. I sleep with it on because of the ringing in my ears caused by anti-inflammatory meds but it stays on all day. Sometimes I turn it off but most of the time I don't. I hear it softly on the opposite end of the house. I like the sound because I am reminded of home. Sometimes I turn on a YouTube video of nature sounds. My favorite ones have water sounds but there is one that is night sounds exactly like what I used to hear as a child in the summer sleeping with windows opened. There are crickets and cicadas, and other chirping things and it's just this distinctive sound of a warm, southern, summer night. I think I'm going to get it on a cd so I can listen to it at night. 

I'm going to go to bed now. Writing the post seems to have triggered something. I'm suddenly very tired and I think I'll sleep. I'll probably feel like hell in the morning. The devil will wake me with his flaming poker and pour hot liquid acid in my veins. I'll wake up on fire, swollen, and in my own personal agony. I'll roll out bed praying and hoping I can walk.  It is getting harder.