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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  • The perfect gift for cervical spondylosis

    Three years later with this little blog and four years later with sticking to traction altogether and my neck is still attached to my head and my hands and arms still move! Truly time to celebrate……what do you get for a fourth anniversary for traction…..it seems like there’s a good joke there that is currently escaping me!

    It’s just a brief stopping point to remember where I’ve been and where I’m going with this thing around my neck and my ten pounds of water. Who knew such a simple, silly contraption could save me from not being able to use my hands….I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. I’d wake up every morning with my arms completely numb, so heavy and hurting like crazy, gratefully I rarely wake up now with some tingling in the hands and immediately know it’s a sign to put in some more time in traction. I was told my neck was that of an 80-year-old person, only thing was, I wasn’t 80! I’ve listened to music, read, prayed and complained here but the time has passed and I’m still hanging. Happy Anniversary, here’s a toast to traction……100 year old neck here I come!

    Tram courage, Traction courage

    Traction has given me courage…….who knew…….Recently I was in a tram going up the side of a snow-covered mountain in the “last frontier” state of Alaska as I chatted with an older gentleman attempting to distract me when I realized I wasn’t afraid. I had a peace about me, it wasn’t new, I’ve felt it before, just not in the air…I’m not a big fan of heights. He seemed to sense this in me and chatted all the way, looking at me with his kind eyes and weathered face, almost saying, just keep looking at me and you won’t notice what is going on around you. Before I knew it we were tethering to the dock at our destination. The ride was fast and worth it. Beautiful snow-covered vistas, one after the other. A few years ago I would have never made the attempt, I probably would have never considered it.

    Today when I was sitting in traction I realized it was one of my better days…the traction was easy, without much thought I had hooked myself up and was looking out at my pretty view….since I’ve moved I sit next to a window and I’m looking out near the treetops…it’s a sunny day and maybe the sun reminded me of Alaska…..although, Alaska isn’t known for its sun shine the views were filled with blue cloudless skies over the snowy mountain tops matching my color blue sky view today.

    Traction has been a journey, to still be at it……and to still have the condition that leads to doing it…….for that not to change, for that to be my unforeseeable situation….it gives you courage over time…..you deal, you have pain, you feel ‘not good’ a lot of the time…..you struggle to find a place to be content and happy and when you find it you have survived. You have strength you didn’t have because you had to find it….you had to change, you had to make it better in a way that you could.

    Traction, again,……I owe you.

    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.

    May be

    Oh my, the time is flying, in this month of May as I’ve completed my traction routine I haven’t felt much like typing. My fingers have been stiff and tired and let’s not talk about the neck. I just wanted to write some words for this month as I’ve not missed a month of writing since we started this experiment a couple of years back.
    I look forward to June and nimble fingers, a girl can AND should dream……

    There should be a Super Bowl for this!

    As I sit in traction today listening to all the Super Bowl coverage I’m thinking about how many of the NFL players may have ever been in traction. It’s bad enough with all the scary talk about concussions, what their brains are like down the road, I don’t think they need damaged spinal columns too, no one does. But for a profession that shows their love for one by hitting each other in the head with their helmets it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t end up having traction troubles or plenty of other issues.

    We as a population make such a big deal out of stuff, it leaves me wondering why all the fuss? Halloween is now practically a National Holiday, I think more adults now dress in costume to celebrate than children, when you drive down the street the morning of St. Patrick’s Day it doesn’t take long before you see folks showing up to the local O’Brien’s bar, no matter what day of the week it falls, no wonder in the middle of winter we go crazy for the Super Bowl. Are we really that bored to go overboard for everything?

    How dare I diss such a big day in the sports world, a day where if you’ve never watched a game in your life you are invited to a television party. So I’ve been thinking, if I connect with other folks also doing traction we could have regional matches, who sits up the straightest, for the longest, looks the best in the gizmo, best attitude, that might be tough to judge, but give me some time. Once we get competition categories, we go regional, then the nationals are only a few years a way! Could you imagine what the trophy would look like for a cervical traction competition?! The height of it, we’d have to celebrate height since we are all shrinking! It would have to be light in weight or none of the recipients could carry it out of the ceremony. In fact I think it should be a sit down ceremony. Just wait, gives us another five years and we will be on the airwaves, singing the National Anthem, all strapped in, waiting for the opening whistle to start the annual Traction Games. Us traction folks work hard, we have the potential to become professionals at pain and fortitude. I dare any competition to challenge our dedication, our drive for success is intense, only thing, after a big play, you won’t see any of the competitors hit another in the head for fun.

    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!