Welcome Back

Oh, wait. That’s your line. I admit, it has been waaaay too long since I’ve been here. I’ve got tons of posts rolling around in my head that I should have put onto “paper” over the past few months and, Captain Obvious that I am, didn’t. Yeah. I’m here to say it is going to be a long haul, but I’m going to rectify this. You’ll probably be sick of hearing about things that already happened and are long over, but for my own mental health I’m going to do it. I hope someday these chronicles may find their way into a place where someone can say, “Oh! That’s what she was all about!”.

Well, I can hope, can’t I?

Surgery-Eve

Tomorrow is my surgery. I’m looking forward to it as I hope it is going to take care of the pain I’ve been having for quite some time. I guess my first real hurdle was getting the letter from the insurance company and having them go through all this almost-legal-speak to tell me, finally, near the very end of the letter, that they’d approved my procedure. Well… terrific! I was stunned at first reading it thinking they were writing to tell me that I wasn’t going to be approved, in which case I was prepared to be totally miserable. No way could we afford this on our own. It makes me very grateful I have been able to afford insurance – even though it is one of our major expenses, due to being self-employed.

For some reason I’ve just been feeling this urge to communicate. To write down thought and maybe make amends… I’m not drinking, but it in in the “drunk-dialing” variety of urges that is spurring me on. Do it and damn the consequences. At least until I read it later.

Some people probably get tired of hearing me say it, but I love my husband…so much. I know he worries and I’ve contributed to his worry with some of my irresponsibilitys with money and recklessness with which I’ve done some things in my life. I hope he can forgive me and knows that my pledge to do better is heartfelt.

When I met him I thought he was the most gorgeous guy. I mean, tall, dark and wonderful… my “dream guy” come to life. I couldn’t stop staring! Through the years that opinion has changed. Now now only is he beautiful to me on the outside, but I know what a warm, generous and loving man he is on the inside. I have truly been blessed to have this man in my life for over 30 years. Best thing of all? He loves me too! He leaves me without a shred of a doubt as to the depth and breadth of this love – every day. Who could ask for more?

…and what can I say about my kids? After upsetting my eldest by blogging about her I promised I would never do it again, but I just have to say that I love her as much as a mother can. She’s the first, the one who when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing had to endure a young mother’s ignorance. A premie, she was so close to not even being with me that I truly do treasure every day she is on this earth. I am so proud of the obstacles she has had to endure and the progress she is making to better her life. I don’t always say it right, but I’m working on that.

My eldest son. He can be tough but he has this soft gooey middle. Sometimes it is a toss-up who is the biggest softie of all the kids. I’ve seen him grow from innocence to rebelliousness to a man who any mother could be proud to call son. Although each of my children are independent souls, his was independent much earlier – flying out of the nest and forcing himself to make the best of it. It is to his character that he has friends – good friends – that he has had his whole life long, and now a loving wife who treasures him as much as we do.

Younger daughter. Although Hubs likes to refer to her as “Susan-junior” or “mini-me”, I prefer to refer to her as “Susan 2.0”. She is the new, improved version. The better ‘me’. Yes, and although she has a lot of traits similar to mine, she is still very much her own woman. She is beautiful and fiesty and takes no shit… but, as in the case of her siblings, she has a soft core, maybe softer than all the rest. One she protects fiercely and who takes things very hard when the world, or other people, do not live up to her expectations. It is hard to get in, but so worth it if you do.

Last, but far from least, is younger son. No longer a boy, but a man as well. Tall and broad shouldered and soft-hearted as they come. I see a lot of his father in him and that is something to be very proud of. He, too, shares his life with his loving wife and critters and he would do anything for any member of his family… siblings and parents included. I hope as the years go on he learns to love this farm life and not become jaded or hard from it. It has certainly changed my life… and brought me all the beautiful blessings that are my family, and yes, my critters too.

Oh, wow… this has turned rather sappy, hasn’t it? That wasn’t my intent. I know you are told to tell your loved ones that you love them every day. I try, as often as I can. I guess I’m just touching all my bases.

Oh… and all of you, my blog friends, have a special place in my heart as well. Some of you have become very good friends. We’ve never met in the “real” world, but I haven’t given up hope that may happen someday!

God Bless… see you on the other side of tomorrow.

Where Has This Year Gone?

I am stunned when I look at my blog and realize I have barely written here at all … and not since September?!?!?! That’s unheard of! I used to write daily! I can’t say it is because I’m over on Facebook, updating every day, because I’m not. I don’t know if it is because I don’t feel my life is interesting enough (like it was before?) or if I am just being lazy. Part of me regrets the lack of posting as it is a time capsule of sorts, letting us look back at where we were and what was going on at various points in our life. I am not one to make New Year’s Resolutions, but perhaps I should make a “pre-NR-resolution” that I really, really should post more often. Once more, for myself if nothing else.

A quick (or not-so-quick) update. The pain clinic didn’t help. They gave me an epideral which was to take effect within 3-14 days. It only served to spike my blood sugar to the moon, but did nothing for the pain. After the full two weeks went by I had another appointment which my Hubs went with and proceeded to piss of the pain clinic doc by telling him in his opinion surgery was the only option. I was okay with that, because we had a friend with lower back pain who had gone to the same doctor and he had put our friend through a series of six of those shots and none of them worked. He ended up having surgery and is doing better. At any rate, I wasn’t up for several more shots that hurt like a sumbitch and only messed up my blood sugar without any relief.

We were given referral to the neurosurgeon – the same one who did my last surgery. I always find it interesting how three different doctors can look at one set of MRI’s and see three different things. One doc said he could see some compression up in the C3 area (which, according to my research, would effect my eyes, face and head area – not my shoulder, arm and hand). The pain clinic doc kind of thought maybe there was a nerve being rubbed down around the base of my neck, but wasn’t sure. Finally, the surgeon pointed to another disc being herniated around C7-T1 and the next lower one, which… gee… would be effecting my shoulder, arm and hand! *gasp*

Seeing as I am in a job that is the busiest in the fall and early winter, and also seeing as I am the only person in my company who does what I do, I couldn’t take time off to be operated on. I was given pain pills and some pills to help with nerves (it is a brand name, but if I put it here I’ll get spam to the moon)… and I take them faithfully, although I haven’t been able to tell a whole lot of difference with or without them with the exception of a bit of dizziness when I first started them and if I am off of them, say, first thing in the morning, they do seem to take the ‘edge’ off a bit. He’d also given me some steroid to take, but once again nothing happened but a huge spike in blood sugars, so I stopped that one.

I am now scheduled for surgery January 19. I am counting the days. Seriously. Just last night I was wide awake at 1 a.m. with pain and got up and read for a couple of hours until the medication kicked in. I am so keeping my fingers and toes crossed this works. My past two surgeries (also herniated discs) have been relatively successful. The first was amazingly so… a day and night difference from before surgery and after. I mean, RIGHT after. The second one didn’t have as dramatic an outcome because I didn’t realize that I had been “babying” my arms and shoulders to the point that I wasn’t really moving them much and after surgery I still had quite a bit of pain and stiffness in my shoulders – what they call “frozen shoulder”. It is common in diabetics, something I didn’t know, and as a result I have been faithfully making an effort this time to keep my range of motion in my arms as much as I can so that won’t be an issue after surgery. Last time it ended me up in physical therapy for months before it finally worked loose enough to be considered “cured”.

As far as the rest of my life? Things are going well. Harvest wasn’t quite what we’d hoped. It was a beautiful healthy crop – amazingly so – up until July 17 when a wind-storm blew half the corn over and kicked our yields in the ass. That, and a huge amount of rain that came late in the season. It just took the wind right out of our sails. As farmers, though, we just cross our fingers, say a prayer, and do it all over again next year.

The kids are doing well.

Eldest son and his wife are looking to add to their family – I’m expecting a new grand-critter (puppy) the end of this week. They are very excited. I’ve seen pictures and the pup is adorable and I predict will be spoiled silly.

Younger daughter got a new job in August. In her degree field. She is treated well and can’t get used to having a “real” job – with paid vacation, weekends off, etc… coming off of many years of retail sales, she barely knows how to act! It is fairly close by and she is continuing to live with us while she gets her shit together. It has worked out well having her here as she has been a great help with my back. She even helped my hijack my work computer and brought it home and helped me set up my home office to be a work office as well. I’ve not been capable of sitting in a desk chair, so have a recliner set up as a ‘command’ center surrounded by computers, printers, etc. I’m liking this arrangement so well that I’ve made a plea to make it a permanent situation, but the verdict is still out on that. Will wait to see what transpires.

Younger son had a very successful race season, but is thinking of putting the racing aside this next year. He (and we) can’t really afford to foot the bill for this whole thing – it is expensive enough just to go watch all the races – but we’re hoping maybe some sponsors will throw some real money into the mix if they hear he is going to sit it out due to finances. In tough times, something has to go and as much as we hate to see him have to stop racing, he’s thinking even if he doesn’t get the sponsorship that it may just be a one-year break and if we have a decent crop next year… at a decent price… maybe he could get back into it. Time will tell.

So… that’s about it. I’ve really not kept up with all of you, unless you are on Facebook and I get to catch snippits of what is going on in your life. I will try to do some catching up in my reading… and hopefully, as I say, be a bit more consistant in my writing. Sorry to drag this out so long, but I’ve had a bit to catch up on. See you soon!

Counting Down…

Pain clinic appointment is on Wednesday afternoon. I’m counting down. First it was days, now it is hours. About ten years ago I had an experience with the Pain Clinic. I’d been having some pain again and was sent there. After taking an MRI the doctor told me they could see no obvious sources of my pain. I was dejected, thinking that was the end of it and I’d be sent home to deal with it as best as I could. I made the comment “I guess this pain is all in my head”. The doctor replied, “We don’t care if we can’t see anything, if you are having pain we will do our best to try and relieve it.”

They then proceeded to give me a shot of, although I’m not sure of the name, I figure was a steroid. He told me it wouldn’t hurt right away because of the anesthesia they apply at the time of the shot, but that the next day it would hurt as that anesthesia wore off… and, in a couple of days I would either have relief or no relief. When I asked how long the relief might last he told me it varied in everyone. Some people have it last for a day, some for a lifetime. Everyone is different.

It worked exactly like he said. As far as relief? It lasted for at least five years… so that’s not so bad! Now, if I can just get through the fall that will be a great help. Anything beyond that?
Gravy.

Fall

I was gently prodded by a blog-friend to update this space. I got to looking and couldn’t believe I’ve not been around here all summer. That’s crazy. I missed so many little (and big) things I should have blogged about, the least of which was my blogiversary in August!

I’ll try to give it to you in small doses…

I see when I left off in May I was in a size 6 and not expecting to get smaller. Well. I have lost a total of 75 lbs, recently got into a size 2, and am for the most part in the best shape of my life. With one exception. My back (neck) is a mess again. No, I didn’t hurt it running. It has just gradually gotten more painful through the summer and after trying to let the chiropractor do some gentle physical therapy type stuff on me, it has come down to an MRI on Wednesday and an appointment with the local pain clinic in a couple of weeks. I’m hoping I can make it until then seeing as I’ve gone back to work full time again (summer is really over) and it seems to be the most painful when I’m sitting… and, yes, working on the ‘puter. Will keep fingers crossed that they come up with a solution and I can put off my third back surgery, at least for awhile. (Oh, and before anyone says it… I DO EAT and I am not anorexic or bulemic and I’m not an exercise freak. It has just been slow and steady and watching not to eat too many ‘no-no’s)

Family is doing well:

Eldest daughter had a brief setback this summer, but after some changes in medication it appears she’s on the right track again. I worry so about her, and continually pray she finds peace and happiness.

Eldest son and his wife are still playing happy homemakers. Looking at fencing and a new puppy in their future.

Younger daughter ended up with her dream job after all… and only a short commute. Hasn’t been there long, but it is looking like it is going to be a great fit.

Youngest and his wife are just coming off of a pretty successful racing season. He had some big wins this year and ended up second in points at one of the tracks he races at. Now he and Hubs have to buckle down and get the grain harvest started.

I’ll try to come by a little more often… oh, and get by to see you all as well. Hopefully you’ve been better at this blogging thing than I have been!

Picking Up My Jaw Off the Floor

I didn’t (and still don’t) intend on this blog becoming a health and diet journal, but honestly people… I have to tell you this stuff or I’ll explode. Bear with me.

The last post? The update? Well, those jeans were a size 12. I analyzed the way they fit and wondered, “can I get into a size smaller?”… because, frankly, I could pull the waistband out at least an inch. First I asked my younger daughter who is my height and I know smaller than I am if I could try on a pair of her jeans. She let me and again, they fit. Size 12. Okay. Now I was feeling brave. I am fitting into “regular” jeans. Not “fat girl” jeans. I know you women understand that statement… Men, if you don’t understand, as a female friend.

So, feeling buoyed up by the whole thing I talked daughter into going shopping with me for jeans. At a real store. Not a “fat girl” store. Risking it, I took some size 10’s into the dressing room at daughter’s encouragement. I put them on and my daughter started laughing at me from the next room as the expletives came out of my mouth. I was stunned. I didn’t have to lay on the floor… and I could breath… AND I felt like I just might be able to go to another size smaller.

You heard me. I did. I put on a size 8. A size EIGHT. These are not baggie jeans. I did not have to lay down to put them on. I could still breathe. I could sit down without cutting off my circulation. I could move. Stunned is not the word for how I felt. I have gone from a size 18 “fat girl”… to size 8 “real girl” jeans.

Do you know how long it has been since I could get into a size EIGHT? Years. Years and years. Before my kids were born. AND… the most bizarre thing is, I haven’t even gotten to what the charts and the doctors call my “ideal” healthy weight. I may have lost all I need to off my butt and legs, but my gut and arms still need more, so am hoping that’s where the rest comes off. To that effect, I have started lifting weights for my arms and doing sit-ups for my gut.

I gave all my other jeans away. I don’t want to go back. I’m actually having fun looking at this “new” body. Now if I can just keep working on the inside so I don’t sabotage myself, I have a great chance of making it stick. In the past when I have even made a start on a weight loss program, it seems like as soon as I start getting some off and I may be drawing a little bit of attention, then I panic and bulk right back up again – throwing myself back into my protective cocoon. This time? I feel much more confident in myself. I feel there is going to be a lasting change because I did it the right way and for the right reasons.

I’m looking forward to the next phase… and, yeah, I’m kinda proud of myself. That sounds conceited and all braggy (is that even a word?)… but damnit, I deserve it. Let the cheering commence!

A Little Further On *UPDATED*

Here we are, a little further on. Actually has been only half a month. Better, huh? Oh, shaddup all you daily posters…

So, now as my Facebook buddies have noted, I am at a plateau. Ugh. I hate those. The walks have gotten to 5 miles a day (I actually went 6 today, but don’t know if I’ll sustain that… just trying to jump-start and get over the hump.) I am officially 25 lbs lighter than when I started. I have gone from a size 18 to a size 14 (and not the stretchy ones) jeans. I ordered a size smaller which are to come any day now just to tease myself and see how close I really was to getting into them, but they are more for an inspiration that actually fit, I’m thinking, at this point in time. I only have one pair of the 14 non-stretchy-real-jeans and I am wearing them sparingly. I do a little weight lifting, but not too much yet and have cut out mostly all of the diet soda, sweets, white foods, etc… and am trying to eat better and drinking tons of water. I even got registered for my first “official” run (in my case, walk). It is only a baby one – a 5K (a little over 3 miles) but there was no way I was going to be able to do the big one the same day that is a half-marathon. It is the first week in June and I’ll not be anywhere near that by then… plus? I’m not sure I really want to go for that kind of a goal. I’m not one to be needing to actually run anywhere and I don’t need to be adding to my already fussy back problems by getting knee or other joint problems. I ache enough from the walking thank-you-very-much. (Yes, I do have good shoes.) I go back to the doctor the third week in April and we’ll see what he thinks of my blood sugar numbers and my blood pressure numbers and I’m going to be keeping my fingers crossed that all this hard work has paid off and I get a pass on the insulin threat and the blood pressure medication suggestion.

So.

Now that I’ve bored you silly with all that health and wellness stuff… I can’t believe this weather! Yesterday was 80 degrees and beautiful. Today is to be as well, but windy (I can do without the wind). Unfortunately, work has picked up with the fields drying out and now I’m stuck in the office and can’t enjoy it as much as I’d like. I should be out doing something in my garden or walking outside instead of still on the treadmill. Guess it isn’t that warm at 4:30 a.m. when I’m walking anyway (and it is still dark), so the walking will stay inside for the time being. Still it would be fun to try it outside one of these days. Typical Iowa weather, it is going to change. Tomorrow. Temps dropping and a big rainstorm coming. Oh, well. I think we’ll all be ready for a break by then. Only bad thing is, son is supposed to start his official race season tomorrow night and it isn’t looking good… probably be rained out.

New developments in the family (again… still?). Now it appears as if daughter’s divorce is going through… after a brief month of “dating” and trying to see if they could work it out. Things blew up earlier this week so they called off the counseling session scheduled for tonight. I know this roller-coaster hasn’t been fun and I’m sure it has been even harder on her. Hope things level out now that a final decision has been made.

I think we’re all caught up now… again. Catch you in a bit.

*UPDATE* I can’t believe it!!! I ordered some new jeans in a smaller size and they came today. They FIT. I didn’t even have to lay on the bed to put them on! I am over the moon stunned. Seriously stunned. Whoo! That is 4 sizes, people. FOUR. YES!!! Okay, back to what you were doing…

What a Difference a Month Makes

A month. A whole month. I suck at blogging these days. So much for the “every day” thing. However, I must say I’ve done a few things right since I’ve not been blogging…

Around mid-January I decided I’d let my diabetes have free run long enough and I was going to try and reign it in again. Oh, I’d been taking my medicine, and hadn’t gone totally hog wild with the food, but fall and Christmas kicked my ass in the numbers. I wasn’t checking often because I knew the cookies and candy and rich foods I was eating was probably going to reflect badly … so, denial became my best friend. I forced myself onto the scale and at a (surprisingly NOT all-time high) weight of 205 I decided to take charge of this body and get my butt in gear. I don’t want this blog to become a diet / health blog, but I may refer to my milestones from time to time, just ’cause, yannow… it IS still my blog.

So I started watching what I ate. I started faithfully recording my blood sugar numbers daily. I started to move this couch potato body by walking. I started on January 15.

As of today, March 15, I have lost 20 pounds, 3 pant sizes, and am walking 2 miles a day… trying to work up to a 5K donut run taking place on April 10th. (That’s about 3 miles. Yeah, I had to ask too). I probably won’t actually be “running”, but hey… I’m glad just to be walking that far. Right now? I have another 30 pounds to go to reach my “ideal” weight by the powers that be. I have to go back to the doctor in April and after he threatened to put me on insulin if I didn’t get my numbers in shape, I’m hoping that my progress will be good enough by then to keep me off the insulin. A bonus would be if I could avoid blood pressure medicine (another possibility at the moment), and maybe even cut back on the medicines I’m already on. That may be asking for too much as I’ve been diabetic for about 20 years and the damage may be too far gone. I’m just thinking the better weight, better health, has got to help – in whatever way possible. I mean, it can’t hurt, can it?

So… that’s what I’ve been doing. I’m still hoping to get over to see you all more often and hoping to get here myself a little more regularly, but right now? I seem to be keeping kind of busy “offline”…

Happy Self-Love Day 2010

Thanks to Hilly for the graphic and the thought behind this.

The idea is to post something about yourself that you love and to open it up to comments as to what others love about you as well. To people who have known me for any time at all it should be apparent this is a difficult post. I have spent years trying to learn to love myself… any part of myself. I don’t accept compliments well, I don’t see myself as others do, and I have spent most of my life trying to block out the voices in my head that were put there from the first, oh, say, twenty years.

Since I have to pick one thing I’m going to go with…my sense of humor. I like that I can generally find something funny in most things in life. I admit it is a dark kind of humor (think “Dexter”) but I like to think it isn’t hurtful. I try to laugh WITH you, not AT you…

Having said that… whatcha got for me? Anything? C’mon. I can take it.

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug. *

It has now been one year. One year since Dad passed away, quietly, while the hospice women cleaned and cared for him. We were at home, at Mom’s, and getting ready to go to see him. Mom was still in bed when I got the call. I was able to tell her, hug her, hold her, and not cry. I still have not cried. A year and I have not shed a tear for my father.

He was a hard man in so many ways. I have tried to be in his shoes and look through his eyes often. He lost his first wife after a long battle with polio at a very young age and was left with a three-year-old daughter who was the spitting image of his dead bride. Who, though she didn’t know it growing up, was told later that she even had her mother’s mannerisms. Could this be the crisis that hardened his heart? That caused him to withdraw into alchohol and anger? To make him so over-protective that he made his home a prison for his daughter and his second wife?

The public man was a very different man. He was boisterous and bold. Laughing and joking. The life of the party. If you were in a restaurant with him, he was rarely at the table. You would find him in the kitchen, talking to the head chef, the manager, and flirting with all the waitresses.

He was proud of his Irish heritage and St. Patrick’s Day was “his” holiday. He was known for taking off work two days – one to celebrate, one to recouperate. He would go to the local Irish pub and spend the day drinking, joking, laughing, and pinching pretty girls on the backside. His dream was to one day go to the ‘homeland’ and see it all. He never made it… time and life got in the way.

I’m a middle-aged mom of four now. I have a grandchild, a bunch of grand-critters, and a man who has spent three decades with me. I have a life that now revolves around trips to see my mother. To visit, to help out with small chores that she can’t do on her own, to try and give her some company and support. I see the changes in her this year. In many ways she is stronger – not having to follow what rules my father dictated. She is lonely and misses him, I know, and I’m sure she has shed many a tear for him. Me? I still can’t.

I wonder sometimes if I am too harsh a judge. Too unforgiving. I hope he is at peace now. I hope someday to know that for sure. Guess that time will come soon enough. It sure seems to go by quicker all the time… I can’t believe it has really been a year.

Peace be with you, Dad.

*John Lithgow