Monday, February 24, 2014

Thank You, Amazon.........

Andy turns 50 this year, and because I want it to be really, really special, I have already started thinking about gifts.  I have a few ideas, but always looking for new ideas, I pulled up the Amazon website and searched for "gifts for men."  My personal favorite suggested gift is
Not that there's anything wrong with a man wearing pink monster slippers with hearts all over them..........I just don't think I actually know any men who would wear them.  To be fair, they would indeed be "special" and they certainly weren't something I would have thought of on my own, but I'm just not seeing it.......

However,
I am rather tempted by the flying screaming monkey idea, but only if I got one for me as well, which then makes it less appropriate for a birthday gift and more of an anniversary sort of gift, don't you think?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Still Moving Forward!

I'm still having bad days here and there, but I'm still improving and the physical therapist was mostly pleased yesterday.  She has curbed my new oh-my-gosh-I-can-move mania with an order to rest every other day (probably because I was getting more and more sore), but I'm hoping that "resting" is a bit more of an open concept than it has been in the last 7 months--like "not in bed."  We'll see.  Yesterday was a bad day again, but only in the afternoon.  In the morning, I had my appointment, ran to the post office, and found this
at a charity shop.  Normally, I'm not a huge basket person, but our house has this
and after a few years of it being a death-camp for house plants, I have given up and switched to silk.  The problem is that the lovely top edges of the cupboards, which give it such a nice look, stick up above the top of the cupboards by about 3 inches, so swags just slip down into invisibility.  I tried propping them up on empty shoe boxes, pinning them, and bending them into odd shapes, but nothing worked.  Finally one day I saw some silk greenery at a second-hand store in a small basket, and have been stalking thrift shops ever since.  And being larger than most, this one is REALLY going to spruce things up.  And I'll even use the step ladder (or at least a chair) to put it up instead of hopping up on the counter.  I may be making more progress than I realized.............

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Valentine's Day!

For Valentine's Day every year, Andy and I make each other gifts.  We set "themes" for certain things every year, because 40 years of trying to come up with gifts for each other 4 times a year would be daunting, to say the least.  So, for our wedding anniversary, we always exchange perfume and cologne--a different scent for each other every year.  For Christmas, we always have a price limit and a theme of some sort.  And for Valentine's Day, we lovingly hand-make each other gifts, and the other one promises to ignore all the swearing and foul language that went in to the making OF the gift.  This is an important caveat as so often gifts for Andy involve collars and buttonholes, and I never did get the wooden box Andy was making for me last year because while he was trying to get it "just right," the box blew apart.  We hadn't ever talked about that as a factor because if a sewing or knitting project blows up, we've probably got bigger problems than whether or not a gift is late--like my sewing room suddenly being in the next county or on top of the neighbor's house. 

And in a true sign of compatibility, today is Valentine's Day and neither of us is even CLOSE to having a finished gift to present to the other.  If one was always on time and the other late, this would be a problem, but as that has hardly ever been the case on either side, it works out perfectly.  Sometime within the next 365 days, we'll each get an unexpected Valentine's gift, so we just celebrate TWICE.  What's more romantic than that?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

You know.............

I try not to think badly of the things in our house, but when I have just finished folding laundry and there are three socks left without mates, it's hard to view the washing machine as anything but a serial killer of socks.

If You Don't Snooze, You Lose....

Two days in a row completely out of bed now, though my bedtime might be creeping up just a bit each night.  Yesterday I was out and about some, meeting my Great Decisions group in the afternoon and rummaging through some charity shops for a cheap but not too icky desk for the back bedroom, and just did a short walk at night to limber up the muscles without pushing them too hard.

Today I got up, maybe just a little less enthusiastically than the previous two mornings but still feeling good, and took the cats to the vet for their annual check up and shots.  Since I've been hauling Theo around so much, I had bought a bigger carrier for him, so this was their first joint visit, and I can assure you that hauling around 35 pounds of cats is a lot of work no matter WHAT has been going on with one's back.  The room has pheromone mist for the cats, but they could really use a martini dispenser for the humans--or at least free chocolate.

After their ordeal, I brought the cats back home, grabbed some lunch, and headed to the pool for some pool walking.  I am pretty sure I got my hour in--I was there close to two hours, but had to catch up with so many friends that there were lots of stops and rest periods--and my back doesn't feel it at all.  Everything else, however, is a bit tired, and I had almost convinced myself on the way home that laying down for a bit because everything BUT my back was tired was a very different thing than doing it because my back needed it.  When I got home, however,
I found my spot already taken by two traumatized kitties.  I wouldn't look even half as cute lying there, and they have had a much tougher day than I have, so maybe I can make it three days in a row after all.......

Monday, February 10, 2014

Normal Life: Day One

I am still not willing to say there was really anything good about 7 weeks of bronchitis, but I will concede that it gave me my first day totally free of any back pain in years.  By Christmas day, the sharp, grabbing pains that are the biggest danger to me had been gone for a few weeks, and the constant aching on days it snowed had finally stopped.  But there was a chronic ache in the small of my back that never stopped or let up, and I thought I might just have to live with.  It was still the farthest I'd gotten, but it was always there.  But after the first week or so of bronchitis, it had finally let up.  And, while the bronchitis was completely and utterly miserable, my back didn't lose ground or stiffen up, which my therapist was quite pleased to see. I was pleased too, and would have been pretty giddy about the ache going away if I hadn't still been sick and stuck mostly in bed anyway.  It's wonderful to make progress, but if you still don't feel well, it's harder to appreciate how big of a difference it will be.

Last Saturday we drove to a funeral that was about an hour and 20 minutes away.  I could tell the exact point where my back had reached its threshold, and the next day I was back in bed, but more due to the bronchitis getting worse from the adventure than my back.  It was sore, but it was the first time I had pushed it too hard without being completely debilitated the next day.  I won't be trying it again for a while because pain is the most dangerous thing for my recovery right now, but even less-bad is progress.

Last Monday, I woke up pain free and able to breathe normally again.  I can't even TELL you how great that felt........right until I burned the daylights out of my hands.  And this is a very fragile recovery, because by Thursday the pain in my hands had wound my back up again to the point of misery, and I had to use the meds to stop it.  So I know there is still a long, long, LONG way to go, but until this little glimpse, it was entirely possible that I would never, ever be pain free again.  I thought I had come to terms with that, and I was even reasonably okay with the chronic ache once the snow-related pain eased up on me because the possibility that THAT was going to be with me the rest of my life was dreadful.  It turns out there are lots of things about pain I didn't know.  An intense pain that will let up if one lays still is much less overwhelming than a less intense ache that just doesn't let up.  Some pain is more dangerous than other types.  Pain that doesn't move is probably a structural issue.  And pain changes your life.

Today, for the first time in probably 2 1/2 years, I woke up, got dressed, and made the bed:
It shocked Calisto so much, she had to jump up and explore this new phenomenon.  I remake it every time I wash the sheets, but I didn't bother to make it in the mornings because even on my best days, I've had to rest at some point.  If I make it until evening, this will be my first day completely out of bed in years.  I find that astounding.  As a child, when I got in trouble I had to sit in the big green chair because sitting still was never my strong suit, and sending me to my room only resulted in jumping on the bed.  I have always gotten edgy being cooped up or having to sit still for too long, but this has so dominated my life that it has just become "normal" to need rest, and I have grown so used to this that if I got to do something fun or active but still needed to rest to recover, it was a really good day.  If I got to go do something with friends and it meant spending the entire next day in bed because I hurt, it was still terrific because there have been FAR more times when I couldn't go to things because I hurt too much.  So, I am hoping that I am restarting my life today.

Saturday my hands had finally stopped hurting enough for me to wear loose gloves and I was able to go for a walk.  It was cold and raining and I came back soaked, but it was wonderful because it was the farthest I had been able to walk in quite a while, and Boise gets such a bad inversion that in the 7 weeks of bronchitis, I could barely breathe at all outside--much less walk.  Today, however,
is BEAUTIFUL.  We have sun, the sky is clear, and I have been out walking for an hour and 15 minutes.  My back might have held up for more, but my boots were rubbing on my heels and I wanted to stop before the blisters broke.  I walked down to our library, which I used to do quite a bit but has been well out of my capability for a long time.  Even better--I "let go of the edge."  Because it has so often hurt, my walks have usually been laps around the subdivision so I wasn't far away if it hurt.  We have two loops--one just around the houses, and a slightly longer one that takes in the school.  I did start out with the larger loop because it will probably be a good idea for some time yet to do a "check," but to get to the library and back is 3.2 miles.  With or without pain, and I didn't have my phone.  I hadn't intended to do so, but the last 6 months of therapy have been partly about getting both my muscles and my brain to stop expecting pain--which would have been a lot easier if there hadn't been so much pain involved IN the therapy and in my attempts to walk during this period.  But it was so pretty and it felt so good and while I know it would  have been safer to start with a shorter distance, I wanted to keep going and that is what I would do in a life not dominated by pain.  So I did, and it felt wonderful.  The entire walk might even have been 3.5 miles total, which is a distance I would have considered decent exercise even before the back problems, so it was a real walk and not a concession to my back.  And now I am NOT laying down to rest.  Admittedly, my hands are still REALLY painful and woke me up at 2:00 AM and it was only a pain reliever and valium that let me get back to sleep, so I still am limited on things I can do for the rest of the day by that, but I'll find something and it will NOT be in our bedroom or lying down.....I hope!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Move Over Lassie

Yesterday when I was out shoveling snow, my little side-kick, Theo, had been out with me, supervising from a safe (and dry) position.  I am not sure what exactly I did wrong, but the next thing I knew, he had gone running in to get Andy and bring him outside.  Lassie's got nothing over my cat, except perhaps that I wasn't down a wall and hadn't fallen or even so much as slipped.  Today I was clearing off the landing that is part-way up our staircase,
 and I'll admit, I did start to climb onto it as I normally do in order to clean it thoroughly, but this
stopped me.  I wish I had been fast enough with the camera to catch the truly horrified look on his face, but he is correct.  While I think my back could have done it, climbing onto something without being able to put any pressure on one's hands probably is pretty idiotic, so
 I chose an alternative method and Theo agreed to not run off and tell Andy.

As a younger sibling, I am MORE than used to tattle-tales, but this is my first ever tattle-tale with a tail.  Tattle-tail?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Yes!

After almost 7 weeks, I have been able to breathe normally for 5 whole days.

My back doesn't hurt today.

With the help of an Aleve, my hands stopped hurting enough for me to be able to shovel snow today.

I can't believe I'm actually happy about that...............

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Progress?

If I could, I'd be crossing my fingers that the bronchitis is finally gone.  However, on Monday when I was making pasta for lunch, I picked up the pot of pasta by the plastic pot handles, expecting them to be cool.  They weren't, so in a reflex move, I dropped the pot back onto the stove, and the hot water sloshed out of the pot and all over my hands, which burned both sides of both hands in one fell swoop--and temporarily shorted out the lighter on the stove.  I am considering taking up residence in a plastic bubble..........

The Look

Anyone who thinks cats can't learn things hasn't lived with one. It took Theo maybe a month into his diet to figure out that I can...