Monday, August 31, 2009

Cloudy with a chance of sunshine

So, here's the cloudy part:

I'm feeling a little spiritually downtrodden today. It's a cumulative effect, I think, of pain and stress.

Tomorrow is Ranger's next court date. Trying to psyche myself up for it. I'm calm and collected when I'm at the courthouse and such, but inside I'm just screaming and wanting to run around like a crazy woman, unloading all of the frustration and angst about this into the sky.

But no, the only indication that you'll get that I have something twisting inside is that my hair is also twisted, crazy, curly.

Then it'll be over. And the consequences will begin. I don't know that I fully fathom those yet. But I do know that I still believe in Ranger. He screwed up. Big time. But he wants the better life that I want. And as long as he steps up to that plate and does his part to make it work, then I'll still believe.

For awhile, that walking-on-eggshells feeling is going to be with me, though. I have to learn that he's not going to shake my foundation again. And he understands that, too, which is important.

And speaking of believing in people....I don't believe in dear Greg. I had a hunch. I followed it. And I found him lying to me again. Remember the asking for money thing? The last try was "I need a loan because if my phone gets cut off, I can't pick up shifts, and I'll stay homeless."

I sent nothing. So, I get this: "So, my phone is going to be off until the first. I miss you and can't wait to talk to you again!"

I tested those waters during the "outage." The phone wasn't out. I know how a phone on Sprint behaves when it's been cut off. He doesn't know I know this. So, he pretends it's out. He just thinks I'm worrying about him being homeless and out of touch, and he thinks it's a good idea to let me worry. And misses me? I don't think so.

So, I busted him. How did he react?

He made up a new lie.

I busted that one. What did he do?

He made up yet another lie.

I told him to cut the shit. I'd heard enough. I've supported him in all ways I can and will, and I get lied to. Repeatedly. I am not an idiot. I am not a fool. And I won't be treated like one.

Was there an apology? No. He stayed silent yesterday. This morning, I get a text:

"I threw my back out and couldn't walk for four days. So, I really need help now, if you could send me something...."

Really? I mean, WTF, dude?

I don't think that I'll hear from Greg anymore, as he's finding my pockets - and other parts of my pants - remain closed.

So, want to see the sunshine now?

I have a colleague in Ohio who is retiring. She's been a mover and shaker in our industry, and I really respect her. We've worked together in a national organization, and she recently sent her retirement announcement to that group's email list. I sent my congratulations to her and said I'd miss her, but asked that she please keep in touch.

She replied and said, "Of course I'll keep in touch with you! I consider you one of the best up and coming young professionals in our field."

Blink. Blink. Really?

How cool is that?

I can put the umbrella away for a few moments to warm my face in this ray of sunshine.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I hate pain medication

I had the injection yesterday. The office is wonderful. They give you the standard, fanny-exposing hospital gown, but with a robe to cover that fanny. I took a Xanax an hour and a half before the procedure. They recommend 30 minutes before, but it doesn't it me fast enough. I was also nauseous, so I had 1/2 a Phenergan.

I learned something. The woozieness from the medication disappears when you're face down on the table, with someone painting chilly Betadine (sp?) on your back.

I needed four shots, two on each side of the problem spot. My doctor comes in and works quickly. "A stick and a burn," he says.

I feel the stick. "There's the stick," he says.

I feel the burn. A big burn. "There's the burn," he says.

"Now a small stick. That's the needle going in." I feel that, too, all the way in.

Three more times.

I feel things being hooked to the needles. Tubing for the medication. "As the medication goes in," he says. "You'll feel a fullness in there. Some pressure."

I felt that. Like a balloon inflating in my bones. The pressure hurts, more than the stick-and-a-burn.

Four times, and it's done. He says it went well and will see me in my exam room in a moment.

The nurses clean me off and put big bandages over the small of my back. They tie the gown and help me up. "Are your feet numb?" No, they're fine.

We walk back to the exam room. We chat about how Daughter is friends with the son of one of the other doctors in the practice. A good kid.

My mom is in the exam room. She insisted on being in there, instead of Ranger. She can be very pushy, and thought it more appropriate she help me if I needed assistance getting dressed again.

I'm still sore. Is it my regular pain or from the injections? I can't be sure.

The doctor comes in, all smiles. "How are you feeling?"

"It's still a little sore, but that just might be the shots," I said.

His smile dimmed. "Well, there's numbing medicine in there right now. It'll last for a few hours. That should give you a good idea of how you'll feel when the anti-inflammatory kicks in. In about 4 days."

I thought about this. My pain was better, but not gone. So, I had a few more days before the real stuff kicked in. The pain wasn't yet over, and I was suspecting this wasn't going to work like I thought.

"Just don't push it for a few days, then we'll see how it works," he said.

"I might need to go to Denver on Monday," I said. "Is that driving safe?"

He nodded vigorously. "That's just fine. It would feel better if you left right now, before the numbing meds wear off," he laughed.

So, I left. The wooziness was returning. Ranger was in the waiting room, looking anxious and worried. He took my arm, whispering to me. "How are you? Are you okay?"

"It hurt," I said. He guided me to the car. Helped me inside so gently. He sat in the back seat behind me, as it was my Mom's car. On the way home, I filled him in on how it went. He was so worried about me.

He helped me settle into the recliner at home, with an ice pack. I started dozing off. My mom and sister left, so he helped me up the stairs to my room, where Daughter helped me to bed. I was asleep in no time. Ranger waited for another adult to get home, told them where I was and how I was doing, and went home to wait for me to call him later.

My oldest nephew's birthday was last night. They woke me for chili for dinner, which Daughter brought to me in bed. I made my way downstairs for ice cream sundaes and presents for him.

My mother let me sleep this morning and took Daughter to school. The pain is back, and I have a Xanax hangover. I slowly got ready for work, but had to make a stop at Wal-Mart on the way in. That did me in. The pain was terrible. I was exhausted. I went home.

I took the pain medicine that I hoped I wouldn't have to take again. I really hate that stuff.

But I'm in the waiting stage. Four days to see how this works. If the numbing medication was a "preview," then I don't hold much hope for this plan of action.

It's a discouraging day. I have one glimmer of light today. I get my car back. The last time I saw it was when it was crippled on the highway, having just saved us. I'll be so glad to have it back!

If I haven't said it before, I hate my rental car. I'm noticing as a toodle around town in it that I don't see anyone else driving a Hyundai Elantra. I think I know why!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pain, pain, go away....

I learned something last week. Xanax takes a long time to hit me, but when it does....WHAM! I'm out cold.

I had a few moments of nearly hyperventilating in the MRI, so I knew it hadn't really hit me yet. When I got home, I felt woozy, so I went to bed. Five hours later, my mother is standing over me, saying something about "Who is picking up Daughter from school?" I was so addled, I picked up my phone to text my answer to her!

She picked up Daughter from school.

My birthday was lovely. I got many books about things I love. I got movie bucks from Daughter, which means she wants to go with me to see "The Time Traveler's Wife." And I got Star Wars toys and a stuffed Yoda. How cool is that?

Monday, I traipsed off to get my MRI results and finally meet my doctor. He looks like he still needs to go out for recess, a juice box, and a nap on a towel. Wait....that doesn't sound half bad, anyhow.....

I had to wait an hour and a half. My back was absolutely killing me! But the computers were down and he couldn't get to the dictation from his PA. Finally, he showed me the MRI.

I actually have three discs that are degenerating. Yep, I'm officially a degenerate. They are the lowest three in your spine. The lowest is significantly gone. The one up from that is barely there and is the source of most of the pain. It has some bone-on-bone action. And the one above that still has good space to it, but also shows a small break in it.

So, the vertebrae and facet joints are banging against each other. The only surgery that can help that is one to fuse the vertebrae together. "But you're to young for me to want to do that," he said.

The child doctor said I was too young. That made me about giddy. Bless him.

So today I start facet joint injections. I take another Xanax (earlier this time), and they put me under an x-ray to guide the needle between the bones. A local anesthetic is involved. Thank God. I remember doing trigger point injections, which can't use an anesthetic. "Ouch" doesn't begin to cover it.

The injections are a combination of anti-inflammatory and pain medication. I'm nervous, but I'm very anxious for relief, too. If these don't help, or stop helping, then it's to the operating room for me.

Oh! And my boss approved a fancy new chair for me! My chair of two years started making holes in the carpet, so they traded it for one that wants to flip me over backwards. And not in a good way. So, I get a new chair with lovely lumbar support.

My, the things that make me happy these days.....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In two days....

....I'll be 41. August 22nd, 1968. All I can say is praise the Lord for birthday cake! I want to corner piece, with all the icing! I've earned it!

You hear me Son?? That piece is mine!

Another year, and what a year it's been. No recap. I don't know if I could actually take writing all that out, again.... Oh, by the way, the court date changed again. September 1st, now. THAT is driving me crazy.

So, I saw the orthopedic surgeon today. Or rather, his physician's assistant. He does the intake and initial evaluation. I'm in oodles of pain today, so it was probably a good day to see the reality of it.

Ranger went with me. He couldn't stand just waiting for me to call with the results. We go into the little exam room, where I have to change into shorts that have elastic instead of metal fasteners. Then, off to x-ray I go. Ranger stayed in the exam room while they led me to the x-ray and MRI area. This place runs like a well-oiled machine, I swear. I walk past the scheduling offices, the checkout offices, the other exam room "pods", and finally to the waiting area outside the x-ray room door.

And I sit. Uncomfortably. The door opens and a man says to a woman still inside, "Just sit here for a couple of minutes while I check the films."

Then, she makes her entrance. A big poof of ponytail tops a body draped in hospital gown and bathrobe, with men's tube socks stretching off her toes. She literally flounces into the chair. I mean, she is the definition of flounce.

"Hi!" she exclaims to me. "Are you getting pictures today, too?"

I nod. She throws herself across the empty chairs, tossing her head back. "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up!"

Dang, she's funny! I'm laughing at her performance. The scheduling office is, too.

"May I ask, who is your doctor?"

"Cliff," I said.

"Oh, I hear good things about him!" We chat about how much easier it is to have all the facilities you need in one place, then the door opens, and the man leads her back to her exam room. She waves at me from down the hall.

Soon, he's back and it's my turn. More "ben this way," and "bend that way." And not the fun kind of bending, either. Ugh. The pictures look good, so I'm back to the exam room.

The man pauses to pull up my x-rays on the room's computer. Then leaves. Ranger and I stare at the screen.

You can see it. Plain as day. Lovely-spaced vertebrae, then you get to the end of my spine. Or near it. The white cloudiness of my bones blends together, with sharp points protruding from the sides. Bone on bone, with bone spurs.


I mean, it's one thing to hurt. It's another to know why you hurt. It's yet another to see it so clearly, right in front of you.

It was a little much for Ranger. I looked at him and tears were welling up in his eyes. "Oh my God, baby," he said. He came to me and held me. "You must hurt so much. I don't want you to hurt like that."

I almost cried, too. He loves me so very much. His world is wrapped around me. All he wants is to make me happy and satisfied. All the problems he has right now, and I still know I'm lucky to have a love like this. He loves unselfishly. And lets me love as I want to, also. It's what I've always wanted and needed. The rest just needs to work out, too.

The PA finally arrived and put me through more bending. More questions. One thing I never get tired of is the look on people's faces when I say I have three kidneys. Cracks me the hell up. I know....I'm a sick puppy sometimes.

So, we have three possibilities. The pain is either from the disc itself (which is hard to treat), the joints there rubbing together, or damage to the nerve sacks. The need an MRI to see those details. In any case, I need physical therapy to strengthen my core for any treatment they do.

I have the MRI tomorrow morning. I see the doctor and get the results on Monday. And I start physical therapy on Monday.

Should be a fun start to the week....but maybe, just maybe, I'll get some answers and a course of treatment. I just hope they're on the ball with this. I don't need conservative treatment. I've had this for 16 years. Let's do something about it, fellas!

But on Saturday, I get cake. Eye on the prize, dear Diary!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another year older....

....doesn't mean another year brighter.

No, not me! My birthday is another week or so off.... No, it's Greg. He turned 30 last month.

I still hear from him somewhat regularly. It was daily, until the accident. I got pissed that day because he texted "What's up?" and I told him. His response? "That sucks. Can you send me $50?"

Not "Are you okay?" Not "What happened?" No. "Can you send me $50?"

Just a few short months ago, he was moving up in the world. A good job as a manager at a major chain restaurant in Houston. They were even paying for him to have a rental until he got a paycheck to buy his own car. And he walked out. Why? Because they didn't like a suggestion he made about staffing.

You've got a $975 a month apartment, plus utilities, no vehicle, and you walk out of the job that supports it. Brilliant. He almost got another good job, but he thought the training process was too long. So, he walked out of the training. Brilliant again.

I'm not sending him $50. And his lack of concern for me was quite telling.

He called about a month later. He'd bought a scratch-off ticket and won $500. That went to his $650 utility bill. But he was happy something good had happened and called me to tell me about it. That was nice.

A couple of weeks ago, he apologized for acting unconcerned about what I'm going through right now. He said he's just had so many of his own worries that he's been kind of a jerk. Okay, I can accept that. Until....

He finally couldn't make rent and got tossed from his apartment. Had to find a home for his dog and sell his other belongings of significance. He's had some friends come through with a couch to sleep on for a couple of weeks, but that will eventually run out. So, I get this text.

"Hey, would you send me $100 so I can stay in a hotel instead of on a couch?"


You've got nothing. Someone is offering a free couch to stay on. But you'd rather be in a hotel. (And wouldn't we all, might I add?)

And you want ME to finance it? Not hardly.

Now, please know that I wouldn't send him money anyhow. Enabling is an issue with Greg. You help him once, and he becomes dependent on it. When I was visiting in Lubbock once, I gave him a generous tip, but the next time I sat in his section, he complained that my tip was smaller. This situation just seems particularly numb-skulled.

Also, I added it up. He didn't make rent, but he had some of the money. He sold his stuff. AND he is working quite a lot. What happened to that money? Not that it's my business. But I have a feeling he spent too much on pot....and now he wants to live in a hotel.

I've spent a lot of time and energy worrying over Greg and his life. Way too much time, especially if his apparent concern for me goes as far as a dollar sign. So, dear Greg, you're now 30 years old. Time to set some grown-up priorities, bud.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


...what you have to blog about just isn't pretty. Finally, I'll catch myself over-thinking it and just say, "Spill it, Blogget." So, here I am. Spilling it.

Pain is a constant companion now. And an unwelcome one. I don't want to take pain meds because (1) I don't want to be an addict (and I seriously feel I could become one now), and (2) I just can't function that way. I went to the ER two weeks ago because of the pain in my back. I thought it might be kidney stones. Nope. The x-rays from the day of the accident show that my problem in my lower back is worse. The disc is almost gone. Bone spurs are rubbing bones spurs, on the adjacent vertebrae. So, it's time to do something real about it. I think ignoring it for 16 years has finally come to an end. I made an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon. August 20th seems a long way away, though, to cope with pain until then.

Ranger is a big help, but wishes he could do more. He wants to watch over me all the time. Keep me safe. Run interference with the insanity that is my household right now. He wants to be my refuge, my shelter. But he doesn't live with me, so we make do. He wishes he was there a lot, when I'm hurting. Daughter helps, too.

She went to band camp for a week. It's the longest time she's been away from home, without me nearby. The camp was just for her high school marching band. An intensive week of marching and fun, bringing the band together into a cohesive unit. It paid off, too. Their show looks great so far. They'll march at halftime at the Alamo Bowl in January. You can bet, I'll be there, too.

That week, she proved her independence. She's a young woman now. She stands her own ground and is her own person. When they got home, they gave the parents a preview of their show for this year. My God, she's so grown up now. I watched her, doing this astounding new thing she's learned, and I got tears in my eyes. I remember all the other astounding things she's learned - crawling, walking, taking toys apart, putting them together, feeding herself, dressing herself, climbing trees, her wonderful art. It goes on and on. But this is the first big thing she's learned that I didn't already know how to do! Whatta girl.

We spotted Drama Queen at the band performance. Apparently, her new boyfriend is in the band. (You remember...the one she said her mother was making her go out with. Like anyone bought that....) She walked past all 10 of our group (like you can miss us) with her nose in the air, not looking at us or acknowledging our presence at all. We did a lot for that kid, and here we are. She went to the fence in front of the bleachers, clinging to the chain link, and staring longingly into the field, as though waiting for her long lost love to come home from war.

Gag. Pardon me.

Thank God that's gone. Son has a new girl. She likes his car. Her daddy had one just like it when he was a teenager. So, he likes Son's car, too. She comes over to play video games. They watch a lot of movies. Ones Son used to turn his nose up at, but now....he's learning to like something new. Old movies. Fred Astaire. Cary Grant. Judy Garland. Gene Kelly. So far, I like this one.

Ranger had a court date on July 24th. Well, he was supposed to. Coincidentally, I had a conference in Denver on July 23rd, so we made plans to go over the mountains together. Two days before, his date was changed to August 24th. This pissed me off.

See, I don't switch gears on a plan very well. Especially for a trip with that particular purpose. I have to mentally prepare myself to see Ranger as the convicted felon in the courtroom. That hurts to even say. This is the man who loves me how people should love. Like no one ever has before. It's what I've wished for and dreamed of, and was starting to think was impossible.

Then, there we are. And I hate it. I just want to bolt and cry and rail at God and say why? for so many things. And I look at Ranger, and I wonder why, too. He doesn't know that I think that when he did this thing, he was willing to risk me, us, in the whole thing. He played with our future and lost. How lost is it?

So, I get braced for it and...there's no impact. It's delayed. I get pissy.

He went with me anyhow. We had some time alone together. We talk with each other about things no one else undertands. We listen to music and laugh and sing along. We explored Leadville and nearby ghost towns, too, which was fun.

Driving in the car was hard on me, though. Stupid rental car. Ranger can't drive it, so it was all me. I miss my car. Allegedly, it will be healed this Friday. I can't wait!

We ended up staying an extra night out in Glenwood Springs. I was just too tired and in pain to make it the rest of the way that night.

In all this, he's still my solace in a lot of ways. He's some of my pain and some of my solace. How weird is that? For two nights he got to do what he wanted to do, and what I needed. He curled up around me and soothed me to sleep. Through the pain and torment, he has a unique way of soothing me into the rest that eludes me otherwise.

So, here we are again. The good, bad, and ugly.