Number 12

  • It is hard for me to believe that December is here, 12/2013. Wow, from my perspective this year flew by. I am not sure I even blogged 12 times this year, but I did traction at least 12 times and then some, I thought of things to write about 12 times and didn’t write another 12 times. I had pain bad enough to offer it up for a worthy cause at least 12 times and I felt sorry for myself 12 times 12 too.
    I am still here though, and I’ve probably said or written that 12 times, but on days like today that is an accomplishment. I’ve not let self-pity win, I’ve found joy and remembered it often. I’ve read at least 12 articles on how to cope with chronic pain, strategies to help, but few ever do and none make it go away but 12 times 12 I’ve moved on and said, what the hell these are my cards. I was not born into poverty, or lost my family in a natural disaster or famine or war. Hopefully, I’ve said thank you at least 12 times. I’ve found reasons to be happy and reasons to be mad. but sad isn’t where I like to live.
    At the end of another 12 where I do live is pretty darn good, I overheard my great-niece tell my sister that she loves me, this from a two and a half-year old person, that felt great, worth a hundred reasons to move forward.
    I thank you for reading this and hanging with me, 12 times over and over, I owe you.

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  • Summer skiing

    As I was sitting in traction this morning pulling my neck with a ten pound bag of water I was watching a video on YouTube. If you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that I’ve done a lot of things to distract myself while I’m sitting there passing the time. My neck hurts today, my fingers are numb and when I finished traction my back wanted to punish me. As far as life goes I had a good weekend, as far as my spine is concerned just seeing a snow less ski slope invokes a feeling of cruel and unusual treatment. Although I enjoyed time with family and watching my niece graduate surrounded by the Green Mountains of Vermont I also knew what was ahead for the week, recuperation from the travel, i.e., many hours lying flat on my back.

    For me the ordinary things require a lot of me, I’m not feeling sorry for myself, it’s just the way it is. From walking across the room to pulling laundry out of the washer, any activity that requires standing, holding a pen or even the telephone these days for more than a few minutes leads to my arm feeling numb and painful. Things aren’t going in the right direction for me in terms of my cervical and spinal conditions, but I’m trying, I’m not giving up. I’ve written before about the importance of that, how in moments that seems like victory enough. I’m ready for things to get better for me physically but unless I experience a miracle they probably won’t. I’m losing ground and sometimes that feels frightening, sad and frustrating but after watching a video of others experiencing their own challenges, surviving to tell their stories, I feel better. We aren’t alone in this fight, that gives us courage, it gives us the freedom to tell the truth. I’ve said this before and it’s worth stating again, life stinks, more than stinks and pushing forward a second at a time is a freaking victory.

    Let’s do this thing people.

    Forcing Spring

    I feel cool. I’ve watched many a gardening show and dreamt of having the skill and know how to take care of a little patch of beauty. I’ve tried here and there and have had moments of glory but Mother Nature and her elements have not always been my friend. All of my gardening mishaps have led me to appreciating the first signs of Spring in potted tulips and hyacinths growing in gardening centers. Rarely have these beauties made it to my table if they were growing in my yard. They’ve either been snacks for chipmunks or killed by late frost. I’ve just not had a lot of luck with growing bulbs. I know, every other yard displays them, looks easy to accomplish, but if I want to see blooming early spring bulb plants I need to buy them at the garden store or walk to the neighbor’s house.

    But this year is a new year and I’m growing things indoors! Paperwhites adorn my desk and fill the room with a lovely fragrance that has me wondering where I am! I’m waiting any day now for the daffodils to pop. Who knew you could grow such beauty in the tiniest of spaces indoors? Here’s all I did: I placed the bulbs in a brown bag for a couple of days or maybe a week, at the first sign of root growth I set them in shallow wide container and surrounded them with a few pebbles or small decorative rocks. I then covered the rocks with water, I’ve consistently keep the water over the roots but have been careful not to ever completely cover the bulbs, add water as needed. Voila, then the most amazing third grade science project happens right in your tired winter home! Forcing bulbs indoors is easy and fun and if it works you look like a master gardener and if it doesn’t I’m not telling.

    Spring is coming, hope grows right before my eyes. Old dreary traction is surrounded by a lovely scent and pushing toward a new day.

    (Bonus, if you bought that bag of bulbs in the Fall and never got around to planting them here’s your answer, it will look like you planned it that way all along) Good Luck and a special thank you to Mary M. for her introduction of the idea into my life!

    A Cloudy Day at the Beach

    We’ve all experienced that day that we’ve looked forward to for months and it’s not quite what we imagined it would be. It may be the drizzle on the first day of our supposed sunny beach vacation or a stomach bug that keeps us from the party where we’d reconnect with old friends or some other disappointment that at the time seems so “unfair.” Then something rings our bell and we are reminded we live in an unfair world and if someone promised fairness, they lied. My pain has been bad lately and I’m a tired grump. I’m frustrated with thinking about a future without solutions to my spinal issues, where spinal transplants are still something out of the Jetsons and I’m left with a hand shake and “I wish you the best of luck” from yet another Neuro doc.

    How funny is it that some days when we remember that cloudy beach day and how unfair we thought it was, how unhappy it made us, how our concerns where nothing more than rooting for a good weather report, how weird is it in hindsight when those days feel so selfish, so silly, so not the point of anything. I get so stuck, so caught up in the one tiny moment that I forget to think about all the moments, in all the places, in all the world. If I had just really looked at that ocean on a rainy day I’d see what a little speck of water I am, and although I believe in the importance of my speck showing up, there are plenty of other specks out there with far worse going on than a disappointment that will all but be forgotten in a week or two. Sometimes I tend to focus so much on the rain I forget to take in the ocean. My pain is as real as the rain and on cloudy days I easily get caught up in the moment, but looking back or borrowing on tomorrow is a waste of time, today is it baby, rain or shine, today is all we have!

    Waiting and remembering

    As I’m sitting in traction today waiting for the last few minutes to pass I begin to think about how silly it is that I’m impatient with time passing slowly. December 7th, the date that should “live in infamy” has just passed for another year, this year marked 70 years. I heard it mentioned a couple of times on the news but certainly not in any conversations I had with others. I suppose in 70 years September 11th will quietly pass as well. Those that are still alive that lived thru it will never forget, but will future generations remember?

    Reading how men tapped on the steel of ships the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor causes my own embarrassment as I wait out a few minutes. Those heroes were among the first to die waiting in sunken ships for help that would arrive too late, or as in the case of the USS Arizona could never arrive. It is unimaginable to me to comprehend the fear and horror of being trapped alive. The sinking of the Arizona killed twenty-three sets of brothers.

    This life for unknown reasons will have moments filled with such agony for some and their families and for others, they will gratefully or otherwise never know of anything more inconvenient than a traffic jam. My thoughts and words feel very inadequate today as I remember those that died at Pearl Harbor. Courage, fear, faith, forgiveness, honor, respect, peace, hope……all these words are better understood when we remember.

    Today

    When you’ve experienced your own broken heart you easily recognize one in another. Today watching families revisit the sites where they lost their loved ones on September 11, 2001, you aren’t surprised how much their pain is still so close to the surface. Some pain is too big to fade, the best you can hope for is learning to live with it, to go on, not let it defeat you, yet respect it.

    Today for me is also a day where two precious souls in my life are being baptized. Reminding me of eternity, how life truly doesn’t end, perhaps not in the way we’d like but in a way we can never imagine on this earth. To fortitude, peace, love and courage, may we never forget what is lasting and let go of what gets in the way of our remembering that every single day.