Well, I certainly had my share of pictures to choose from in addressing this week’s theme. In the end, I looked back at the year 1999 when it seemed like the boys were everywhere they weren’t supposed to be,
like playing in the potty. One minute Drew and Porter were fine, sitting on the floor eating dog food, and the next moment I heard a lot of flushing from the kitchen bathroom. Drew discovered the toilet first, then summoned Porter, who was reluctant to leave his snack. Once he and Blue Bunny ambled over, they agreed that the combination of swirly water and my hysterics were fine entertainment.
A couple of years later when we had our septic tank pumped, the Pickles (they have a monopoly on all the septic tank work around here) were amused to find not only the usual sludge, but also an assortment of Legos, dominoes and marbles in the tank. They also removed several pieces of heavy paper. I bet that if that hot Danny Messer from CSY:NY had been here to analyze those shards under the mass spec, he would have identified them as Finn’s missing baseball cards.
I like to take pictures that will remind me when I’m a grandmother (assuming the sex talk has been successful) that raising children was hard and messy. Here’s one of Porter.
I told Porter not to run down the driveway but toddlers ignore you– it’s to prepare you for when they are teenagers. His nose took ages to heal, but Blue Bunny was with him every moment.
I thought the bracelets added an especially stylish touch.
Thanks to all of you for your kind wishes about my back. As I told Finn earlier, I really shouldn’t complain. Anyone with this amount of hardware in her body ought to be hurting a lot more than I do, and I have far more good days than bad.
The MRI didn’t give us a clear diagnosis but I’ve been to physical therapy where Jon, who saw me through rehab after my 2004 surgery, attacked my problem with enthusiasm. He began by shoving his hand under my scapula and forcing me to turn my neck 270 degrees to the right,and followed that move with other contortions.
The session was quite successful in that it was so painful that I left feeling like maybe I didn’t hurt so bad after all, because Jon certainly proved that I could hurt much worse.
Additionally, it’s a sunny afternoon, we have about 24 hours before tornadoes come through, and I have a decent stock of Tanqueray, tonic and limes. I believe I’ll pull out an unbroken wedding glass and toast the rest of my body for hanging in there.
Join in with your Flashback Friday OOPS picture(s)! Instructions are here!
Today I wanted to write about our recent adventures in Costa Rica or post pictures of the anatomically correct chalk drawings Drew and Porter decorated our driveway with recently.
Instead I’m writing about pain– physical pain– as it’s had me in its jaws for the better part of three weeks.
Longtime readers know that I’ve had two spine surgeries, one for scoliosis and a second to address complications caused by the first. My spine is fused with a combination of rods, hooks and screws. Here’s a diagram of a spine.
The spine is divided into the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions, and each vertebra within a region is given a number. The green line shows where I am fused, from the fourth thoracic to the fourth lumbar vertebra. Those of us in the know call this T4 to L4. The red area shows the vertebrae and discs that are not fused: L4-5 and L5-S1. Because these two discs handle all the movement of my upper torso, while the spine is designed to spread all the pressure evenly across the back, my bottom two vertebrae are in bad shape and are the source of most of my back pain.
During the last thirty years, back pain has been a fact of life for me. It’s been worse at times and better at times, but it always lurks nearby. I’ve used back braces, pain patches, physical therapists, chiropractors, medications, a muscle stimulator and gin and tonics in my fight against pain. I visited my trusty brace man to fashion a brace to support my belly during my pregnancies and relieve the pressure on my spine, but I still had to take painkillers during pregnancy to make it through some days.
Generally I’m a rockstar at handling lower back pain. If your lower back felt the way mine feels on a normal day, you’d be shooting tequila and hollering for your mama.
Sometimes, however, there’s pain that no medicine can touch, and that’s what I’ve been fighting most recently.
It originated near the blue dot on the top diagram, which, coincidentally, is right by the top hook under my right shoulder.
This upper back pain is a new kind of pain for me, and I haven’t been managing it well. It radiates up into my neck, down my shoulder, and makes my arm and fingers numb. The muscles on the left side of my lower back are burning, perhaps because they are compensating for the fact that I’m trying to move my right side as little as possible.
I hurt when I stand and when I sit, but I hurt the most lying down. I’m beginning to dread night time.
Pain affects me physically, but it also gets inside my head. I’ve been yelling at the boys. Around 5:30, when it’s really throbbing, I feel like I’m seeing my family through a haze, and I fear that I’m losing my grasp on reality. I tell Porter to sweep up his cookie crumbs, but impatiently, because I think I’ve already told him once.
“Yes, ma’am,” Porter says, and he sweeps and then goes outside to write “Porter is cool” in Morse code on the driveway.
I ask Drew if he’s finished his homework.
“You already asked me that,” he says. I don’t remember.
Dinner is agonizingly slow, but no one else seems to notice.
“Finn, eat or don’t eat, but let’s get this over with,” I hiss.
“Honey, I’ll deal with the kitchen. You go lie down,” Bill says.
It’s a kind offer, and he means well, but it doesn’t help. Alone in our room, I cry. I’m frustrated. I’ve had a shot in my back and I’m scheduled for an MRI. My doctor has prescribed a different type of pain pill, but I still can’t sleep. I wonder if my boys will remember me as a bedridden mom, alternately weeping and shouting orders.
As the hours stretch on and everyone sleeps but me, my pity party is in full swing. I cry over the years I’ve spent recuperating from surgeries and liver disease. I sob about the things I can’t do, like turning cartwheels and somersaults. When I get good and worked up, I weep about my big feet, my small breasts and the paint peeling in the bathroom.
I know this season will pass. Tonight I’ll try not to scream and be impatient with the boys; to keep my hurt hidden until they’re tucked in.
I’ll try to remember what my mom told me: “My feet might be big, but they sure do hold me up.”
To be honest, I never was that good at cartwheels, either.
Three years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Get Me Out Of Here!
The theme for this week’s Flashback Friday is OOPS! Feel free to join in– we’re having a marvelous time digging through old photos and blogging about the past. Instructions are here.
Every spring my thoughts turn to gin and tonic. The drinks are even lovelier served in these glasses, which Aunt Lulu gave me for a wedding present over fifteen years ago. She bought them at a store in Nashville and I have looked everywhere for others to add to the collection.
They make the gin smoother, the ice colder, the tonic fizzier, and the lime looks gorgeous against the colors of the glasses. The indentations make them easy to carry around.
Miraculously, although the boys have been unloading the dishes from the dishwasher for years now, and I have only one everyday dinner plate left from those wedding days, all four of these have managed to survive unmolested.
Do you have a favorite wedding survival story?
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Bavarian Apple Torte With Prejudicial Ingredient
I got a magic set for Christmas in 1977. I adored it, and I practiced making a red furry ball disappear into a yellow cup until I was ready to present my act to the family. It was a huge hit, too. No one could guess where the ball had gone. Years later my mom pointed out that no one was watching the actual tricks; they were watching to see when my mustache would fall off.
When I first found this picture I laughed at the mustache, too. Then I looked more closely and saw several items that I took for granted back then, but which have since attained special meaning.
My mom brought the two black cocktail tables back from Korea. The tops are a swirly design constructed of Korean coins. When we were small Aunt Su and I would turn the tables on their sides and pretend they were a space ship. Today those same tables are in my house, and my boys are just as fascinated by the foreign coins as I was.
You can see a tiny picture on the bookshelf above my hand. It’s a picture of me and my sisters. My mom was always dressing us up in pastel dresses and putting ribbons in our hair and taking us to get our pictures made.
As the years go by I’ll be wearing a dress in one picture, and Su will wear it in one taken a couple of years later, and Lulu would wear it yet again. Riding to Olan Mills studio without getting wrinkled was a nuisance at the time. Once we ran out of gas on the way back and my sisters and I cried in the back seat of the pea-green Chrysler while my mom flagged down a good Samaritan.
Today my sisters and I have these pictures displayed prominently in our homes, a reminder of our shared past and the solidarity we’ve built over the years, especially since my mom passed away.
My parents were so fancy that they didn’t keep their gin and bourbon in the bottles they came in. Instead, they poured the alcohol into lovely crystal decanters that were lined up on the shelves of the bar. Each decanter wore a silver label like a necklace: GIN, SCOTCH, VODKA and BOURBON. You can see them on the shelves above the chair.
The chair in the background has been recovered many times, most recently in a cream chenille with tan spots. If I’d done it it would have turned out Elvis-jungle-room wild. My mom chose the fabric, though, so it’s tasteful.
The Monday night before my mom went to the hospital to have her cancer surgery, I took Drew and Porter to her house and we hung out with Mom and Lulu, who had flown into town. Mom always sat in that chair, and she did so that night. We talked and watched the twins play. Although the doctor had drained a lot of fluid from her abdomen the previous Friday, by Monday night she was swollen again and sat sideways in the chair, obviously uncomfortable, yet happy to be surrounded by her family.
I’ve always believed that she knew she wasn’t going to make it out of the hospital.
It’s odd how you can peer into your past and see clues to your future. A picture. Silver tags, once cherished, now stolen. A chair. You have to live those moments to understand the clues and their meaning. There’s no magic set to help you skip the process of living the tragic parts. Fortunately, you must live the happy moments as well.
That Monday night was a little bit of both.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: The Wrong Approach