Analyze this

Being who I am I love to analyze myself.  My analysis is mainly of who I am or what is occurring at the present time, near past, or close future.  If I do think of the distant past, it is mainly terrible memories – when something bad happened – with a few happy moments intertwined.

My older sister has moved in with my parents to be the caregiver of my mother since my mother is wheelchair bound.  Being around my sister, I start remembering the past more.  I am not recalling specific events but mainly feelings of the time.  I am putting together pieces that help me realize why I was so quiet, why I holed myself up in the room most of the time, why I did not seek my parents help for most of my issues.  I was seen as the good child who didn’t need help.  I probably could have used more direction in life.  However, I turned out alright.

The more the family unit of my mom, dad, sister, and I are together the more I feel the past.  It is amazing.  It is not sad or happy.  It is just awareness and my eyes are wide open.

Communication

Let me preface this post by saying the past few days I have been in a horrendous mood.  I think it was missing my normal bedtime Friday night and not drinking enough water both Friday and Saturday.

Today I woke and made the mental decision not to stay in that mood.  I enjoyed the morning with my son and cups of coffee.  Then I woke my husband up and enjoyed a real heart to heart conversation.

We both had things on our mind (not about each other) but stuff clogging up our brains that needed to be vented.  It was as very nice conversation in which we both listened and understood the other completely.  I am so very lucky to have someone I can communicate so openly with.  Of course, at times, we don’t have such nice communication.  However, it’s so nice to be able to start this Sunday with such openness.

After our discussion, I enjoyed some “fat burning” yoga.  It is an old DVD I have used for YEARS.  I did this video on Thursday and was not able to do much.  Today I had a much better flow and better flexibility.  I am wondering if this morning opened me up to be able to do more.

I hope you all have at least one person you can be completely honest with and be completely yourself around.  It is so nice to be able to release all that fills my brain at times.

 

Stop the Spinning Wheels

Today, I had the following thought and posted it on Facebook:

I would love to be part of/create a local body positivity/acceptance/embrace you/radical self love group. A group that doesn’t discuss weight or flabby arms. A group that would teach us to appreciate ourselves as much as we do others. A group that embraces where we are at right now. If someone wants to eat healthier (not DIEt) or exercise for strength and mental health (vs punishment/I consumed a piece of cake), we encourage each other. If you just want to eat macncheese, we will not judge and will like you just the same since it is the person that matters, not what we put in our mouth. We spend so much time calorie counting and obsessing over every bite, we miss out on the enjoyment of life.

I then added:

The same applies to being praised for being too busy or feeling low because you deem yourself as lazy. You are enough as is.

There are a few people who seem interested and I decided to start a group on Facebook.  But what should I call it, “An Encompassing Welcome” or “An Encompassing Breath” or who knows what?  I was very tuned into the word encompassing though.  Embrace, which is a great positivity movement, has the best, succinct name: Embrace.  Perfection.

I have this blog page that I have abandoned some time ago.  I no longer wish to write depressing blogs or talk about the stressors in life.  I also feel it unfair to blog about my son as he grows older and starts joining social media himself.

Therefore, I decided to twist this blog’s title into my new group:  Stop the Spinning Wheels.  My first post is below:

For years, I had a blog called Spinning Wheels: A Journey into the Autism Spectrum. I named it after an activity my son regularly did: spin wheels. However, the idiom of spinning wheels is to waste energy going nowhere. This group’s aim is to stop that spinning wheel – stop obsessing over the scale, calorie counting, being perfect, etc. This group is to encourage and teach each other that we all are fantastic as we are!

I am very excited about this new blog direction and FB group.  Hopefully, I will see wordpress sooner than later!

Post-workout Recovery

Despite my pride for finishing that hard-as-hell circuit training class on Monday, my body was not very happy with me.  When I decided to go back to working out and joined a gym after my surgery, I told my husband (and myself) that I would ease back into it.  That is what I had been doing with beginner’s Zumba and beginner’s Yoga, the exercise bike, and very little (due to lack of fitness) elliptical.  Monday’s workout was way too advanced.  It was not easing in but something I may hope to be able to do in a year’s time when I fully recover from ACDF.

Monday night I could already feel the pain beginning while trying to sleep.  By 4 am (my ‘wake-up and begin work’ time), literally every muscle in my body ached.  There were muscles that no matter how in shape I was I must never have worked out.  The most striking is whatever muscle is from the elbow to the wrist.  I have never exercised that muscle and I’m not sure I want to again!  My neck muscles, shoulder muscles, back muscles, stomach muscles, glutes, quads, inner thighs, calves all hurt like hell all day Tuesday.  I felt like crap and had to take a nap after work.  I still felt crummy when I woke up from the nap.

This morning my muscles tamed down a bit but definitely not enough to do any sort of exercise besides walking Roger to school and back.  Fortunately, I had a massage booked from a Groupon and that helped immensely.

Tomorrow I am going to attempt gentle yoga.  I know I can always go into child’s pose if need be.

* An aside:  I get an inspirational quote in my email daily.  Today’s rocked and I want to share it with everyone.
“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”
Mark Twain

Namaste

Misread

Last week, I signed up for an orientation class at the gym.  They have this large piece of equipment in the middle that is capable of numerous exercises but pretty difficult to decipher without training.  I received a confirmation email and kept it in my inbox.

This morning I look at the email again.  It states “Small Group Training”.  GULP.  Did I sign up for a circuit training class?!  I called the gym and explained that I am completely out of shape and, probably, unable to handle this type of class.  (Also, at 10 am tickets were going on sale for the Polyphonic Spree’s 17th Annual Extravaganza.  That was the time the class started).  The person who answered the phone reassured me that modifications would be given and to try it out.

Reluctantly, I went to the gym.  Thankfully, the first warm up the trainer put me and one other lady on was the treadmill.  I was able to walk and buy the concert tickets (Row C in the Middle Section!!!).  The following 40 minutes were treacherous.  I had ACDF surgery in July, so I had many modifications.  Even with the modifications, my body started dripping in sweat halfway through the class.  By the end of class, my legs were jelly.  We took a snapshot since this was the first class of its kind at the gym.

Tomorrow my body (especially my neck and back) will let me know if I can handle this class or if it’s too soon for me.  Either way, I am super proud of myself for not cancelling, not giving up half way through and not half-assing it.  I DID IT!

I’m back

I keep getting notifications on Facebook about how long it’s been since I’ve updated my page.  I update my page whenever I update my blog.  After much thought, I was contemplating stopping the blog altogether and posed that question on my page.  One individual said I should continue writing.  So, I decided to give it a go today and see where this takes me.

As I was setting up my computer to start this, my eight year old son comes up to sing me a song he had just written.  It included guitar solos.  After his private performance to me, he asked if I could take a video.  The song was over eight minutes long.  He is now in the process of writing a shorter song for me to video.  Earlier today, he was drawing evolutions of his own Pokémon.  He has so much creativity and motivation!  Of course, in my mind, I compared it to my lack of creativity and motivation.

The end of last week I decided to create a inspiration/vision board.  At first, my goal of the board was to promote weight loss/fitness and positivity.  As I added things, I realized other aspects of me I wanted to shine again:  being excited, being imaginative, remembering to give myself some breaks.  I had put it off for some time but had an opportunity to work on it when my husband took my son to the movies.  For about an hour and a half, I focused completely on the board (along with the background music of Hank von Hell’s solo album).  I was embarrassed to tell my husband what I was making because I knew he would find it silly. I found it kind of silly before I actually created it. The pic is cut-off in parts, but you get the gist:  vision board.

I’m off to listen to the new song and enjoy my day with my son.

 

Stress

Stress has been eating away at me this week.  I wrote a quick list of my stressors hoping it help with my stress level.  Yeah, no.

Currently, like many folks, a big stressor is financially-based.  We have had some health issues this year and even with medical and dental insurance we are spending oodles.  On top of that, we need a new fence.  The wrought iron fence that was here when we bought the house is incredibly rusted.  In some areas, you can push your finger through the rusted areas and disconnect the fence.  We have put down half the money and just waiting for our place in line.  A fence around an entire property that is not shared with neighbors is a huge expense.  Both of our neighbors are fence-less.  This morning our downstairs TV died and our dogs both getting a badly-needed grooming.  On top of that the pile of expenses add the amount it cost us to put my niece and her son up at a hotel for a week.  The money is all going out before it has a chance to come in.

My next stressor is my life schedule.  I love having a scheduled routine.  I love putting my plans down on calendars.  However, I do not like the back-to-back-to-back schedule that I will be facing in October (and probably through the end of the year).  Rob is having two procedures in October and, possibly, a third in December.  Besides the procedure dates, there will be post-op appointments.  In addition, I still have my post-op and x-ray appointments.  On top of that add Roger’s appointments at the orthodontist for an expander.  I just realized that we all need our flu shots too.  And, of course, we have Roger’s weekly OT, Swimming, Baseball, and Tutor.  He also has nightly homework that I need to help with.  I also signed up to be Room Mom Helper and trying to fit in volunteering at the school.  Finally, I have my full-time work schedule.  Just typing that all out stresses me out AND exhausts me!

My third stressor I listed under the category of FOOD.  Then, I decided to add a slash and put weight loss.  That reminds me that I am also trying to keep exercise and house cleaning in my schedule, as well as preparing dinner (Rob is usually the cook).  As my blog stated yesterday, food/eating has been a life-long stressor since I was called “tub of lard” in elementary school.  Kids are wonderful, eh?

My fourth stressor is work.  Work has been overwhelming lately.  I love my job and my colleagues.  I actually prefer when there are projects that are due.  However, returning a few weeks ago from my medical leave, I still have have back pain on and off.  My supervisor would understand my need for breaks still.  BUT I feel obligated to get the work done quickly and accurately.  That is just my thing.  I guess work is not the stressor but my expectation of myself at work.  This morning I woke with terrible pain between the shoulder blades.  This is an area that is known to flare up post-ACDF surgery.  I need to be kinder to myself re: work (and life).

I usually don’t unload as much as I did today.  My little sheet of paper lettered A-D with subheadings was just not doing the trick.  I am hoping getting this all out of me will release a teeny bit of the stress.  Re-reading this blog, I guess my only true stressor is my EXPECTATION of myself.

The Past Always Haunts You

I belong to a Health and Weight Loss Group for moms of children with autism.  Every week I post my weigh-in (as opposed to Weight Watchers where I have never lost weight).  This week I did not post my accountability weigh-in on Tuesday.  The scale said I had gained 3.5 pounds in one week.  I did not track my food properly and had Indian food for my husband’s birthday.  On Sunday, we had some alcohol, brie and crackers, pizza, veggies and hummus, as well as, Chocolate Overload cake.  I was embarrassed about my gain and was feeling pretty terrible about myself.  It’s so stupid to let the scale affect me that way, but it has for years.
Twenty five years ago I was anorexic and weighed, literally, half of my current weight.  I obsessed over food sometimes eating about 300 calories a day and exercising at least 2.5 hours a day.  That lasted for about a year.  As is pretty common with eating disorders, I then transitioned to bulimia for quite a number of years.  I ate a lot more in my binges, but probably retained the same amount of calories per day.  I still exercised a couple of hours each day.  My lowest weight was as a bulimic vs. anorexic.
I will never have a completely healthy relationship with food.  I think way too much about food every day.  I put way too much energy into my thoughts of food every day.  I either feel guilty about eating something I shouldn’t eat or eating too much or, on the flipside,  I’m too hungry from keeping within my calories.
If people are interested in my past eating disorder, please comment and I could expand on those very difficult years of my life.
They say the first step is admitting there is a problem.  I have admitted that for decades and the problem remains. It is not as bad as it was, but it is always there haunting my every thought.

Bip Zim Bop

Totally non-sensical title.  I didn’t want to put a title like: “Beyond Exhausted” for the umpteenth time or “Feeling the pain”.  But that is where I am at today.

When I went to bed last night, my back/body was in so much pain that I took Tylenol 3.  I have only a few left, so I must ration them!  I probably should have gone for the muscle relaxer since I awoke at the same pain level.  I am sure the pain is not helping my energy levels.  I am exhausted.  I have done my squats, arm exercises, and, currently, riding my bike.  I plan on jumping in the shower after this and am hoping that wakes me up some before Roger gets home from school.  I always need energy for that!

 

Fallen off

The past week or so I have fallen off the logging food/eating healthy cycle.  If I don’t log, it usually means I am eating things I’d rather not log!  Also, with the new work schedule and things popping up at Roger’s school, I have missed some of my exercise goals.  I know I cannot be perfect all the time but I know the exercise does help me mentally as well as give me more energy.  You may have realized I was not cycling as much due to the lack of blogging.  Again, I do realize that these posts do help my mind settle down a bit.

I know most people always start their diets back on a Monday.  I hate being that cliché but my husband’s 41st birthday is tomorrow.  That means a delicious dinner tonight.  Tomorrow, drinks and cake will be devoured.  Today and tomorrow I will log my exercise on MyFitnessPal but will go back to strictly logging my food on Monday, cliché and all.

One goal I have met is walking over 10,000 steps every day this week.  YAY for me!  Today I am not confident I will reach that goal since it’s pouring out but will try going up and down the stairs a bunch today.  I do have to clean up the house a bit anyhow.  That should help with my step goal.

Another goal I have been keeping is my squat challenge.  Today was 160 squats.  Tomorrow is the rest day.  I had been planning on resting my body on the squat rest days.  SO, I am not sure I will be on this bike tomorrow or back on it Monday.

Thanks for all the support!

New schedule

With my early morning wake-ups, I decided to ask my job if I could make a schedule change.  And, as always, I sent them my schedule for the following week on Friday.   The big change is starting work at 4 a.m.  I know to the bulk of you that sounds crazy.  However, after last’s week’s early risings, I was starting my work day between 3 and 4.  I am an early morning person and had much more focus and energy working early.  I did not have my afternoon slump at my desk either.

Today I worked from 4-6, got Roger ready for school and had some time together before school, and finished my work day at 11:40 am.  Again, nutso to some, but great for me.  I try to be in bed by 8:45 and get 6 hours of sleep (or more).  This weekend made me realize that over 7 hours is worse for me than only 4 hours of sleep!

I am now riding the bike post-work and, if I ever want to take any exercise classes, I won’t have to make up work time.  These hours will be great for the gym I joined that is opening in November.  By that time, most or all of my physical limitations from surgery should be lifted.

Of course, with upcoming doctor’s appointments and such, the work day will not always be done so early.  BUT I won’t have the worry of when I can make up my work hours or have time to spend one on one with Roger and Rob!

Back on the bike

The previous two days I skipped my stationary bike.  Friday I felt horrible and my legs and body were hurting.  I think I was progressing too far in my workout.  Saturday I had intended to be my full body Day of Rest.  Today I am back on the bike and will be back to the squats (I challenged myself to a 30 day squat challenge).

If I felt bad Friday, mentally I felt awful Saturday.  Uncharacteristically, I got 9 hours of sleep.  When I saw that I was amazed and thrilled.  The rest of me was not.  I was more tired than on days I get a few hours of sleep.  I could not wake up at all. I was in a constant haze. I drank copious amounts of coffee that did not help.  I was in a terrible mood too.  I was depressed, impatient, and very antagonistic.  Those with depression may understand this but when my husband asked me why I was depressed and there was literally no reason that I was depressed but just in that sinking feeling.   However, that answer never seems to be satisfactory.  It is odd I was so down.  I had a denied insurance claim from my surgery since the hospital used some out-of-network providers.  Supposedly that is common, but seeing a “YOU OWE $21,750” EOB a month ago was devastating.  Yesterday, the reprocessed bill was updated on the website and we owe nothing.  That should have put me in a stellar mood.

Well, today I am in a stellar mood on 4.5 hours of sleep.  I am on the bike, blogging, and enjoying the morning. I am super happy that we get to proceed with the new fence that was on hold due to the medical bill above.  Today I know life is good and that those little dips in mood can easily turn around in a day. My body and mind feel rested and ready for this week.

Falling

I get an email with an “inspirational” quote each day.  Today’s quote, by H.G. Wells, is “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today”.   I rated that 5 stars.  You can rate the quote each day as well.  I usually give 3 or 4’s, rarely 5’s, but definitely have given  1’s and 2’s.

I know he wasn’t speaking literally about falling.  However, this quote made me think of a college philosophy professor I had.  He spoke about a Laurie Anderson song’s lyrics,
“And you don’t always realize it, but you’re always falling.
With each step you fall forward slightly.
And then catch yourself from falling.
Over and over, you’re falling.
And then catching yourself from falling.
And this is how you can be walking and falling at the same time.”

I think back to this quite often.  He probably does not realize how that one itty bitty thought affected me all these years.  I cannot recall his name or I’d let him know!

Today, I also saw a FB post by a yoga teacher by whom I have taken a few classes.  It seems to tie in so well.  I’m going to have liberty with the it and not cut and paste verbatim:

There was a conversation about how, as we age, time seems to fly by. We can all relate to this I am sure. One moment it’s summer and the next you are hanging up Christmas stockings. One said ‘you know why that is right?’ He explained that when we are children we notice everything and as we age we just stop noticing. Everything flashes by because we miss the details. A child is completely enthralled by how a stapler works and the beauty of a color of a flower. Babies are enamored by the way their hand looks in front of their face or by someone’s smile. Toddlers genuinely became excited by how a ball bounces and are in awe of how blades of grass feel beneath their feet (except for sensory kiddos like my son). As we age these things lose their shine. We aren’t enamored any longer by the small things. We become occupied with our to do lists, the busyness of the day, and our phones . We forget to notice.

Just like, as a child learning to walk, they are aware that they are falling over and having to catch themselves with each step! (There’s my tie-in.)

Autism

Autism has been and remains an integral part of  my life.  I have an 8 year old son with autism who was diagnosed at 21 months and I myself was diagnosed years later with Asperger’s.

I have been watching Atypical and previously watched Parenthood which, obviously, both deal(t) with children on the autism spectrum.  Parenthood was interesting since the character Max was not too far from Roger’s age.  I recall one of the first episodes where Max would only wear his pirate costume to school.  That, plus seeing his other quirks, I immediately knew the character would be diagnosed with autism.  I have seen that rigidness in both Roger and myself.  The show gave a perspective of autism that many other shows/movies lacked at that time.  It was not a super power and it was not the all encompassing feature of the show.  It was one dynamic of a family, just like it is in real life.  Atypical which, clearly with that name, deals with a high schooler with autism.  It shows his quirks and difficulties dealing with change.  However, it also deals with normal teenage themes:  dating, work, and college.  It is almost a sneak peak of what may be to come.  

Yes, my son has autism and I have Asperger’s but that only defines one part of our personalities and does not completely define us as individuals.  It probably factored into some of our interests, our demeanor, our interactions, our relationships but it is not the be-all end-all.  Day-to-day I tend to forget about Roger’s autism and may get a little impatient with the difficulty he has listening, focusing, following directions, helping around the house, finishing homework, getting dressed while spinning in circles, etc.  I guess I need to slow down, maybe join in on the spin, and enjoy the dance together.

 

Validation

I will not declare that I will be posting daily into the future.  I have made blanket statements before and as the words leave my lips the blogs stop getting written.  However, today I am posting just to post.  I have no topic in mind, but am keeping with the consistency that while I ride my bike I will write on my blog.

Now is the time I hope for some amazing, random thought to pop into my head.  But, alas, my brain is empty and searching for interesting tidbits.  A couple of friends and I went to a psychic fair together yesterday.  One would think that could garner a full discussion.  However, what I was told in my tarot reading was everything I currently know to be true.  There were no insights, just validation.

Perhaps my validation is garnering new strength and confidence.  Today, I reached out to my supervisors for projects.  I usually review databases until they reach out to me for projects.  I know I am organized, intelligent, altruistic, and, at times, witty.  However, I do not lead life in a confident stride.  I wallow behind in an uncertain gait.  I am hoping hearing words of validation and speaking my own words of validation to myself will, perhaps, provide more strength, confidence, and new possibilities for myself and my family in the future.

Hysterectomy

I premised yesterday’s post by saying I have problems.  Well, here is another one of my problems.

Over five years ago, I had a full hysterectomy where they take out both the uterus and the ovaries.  Prior to having them out, I lost a significant amount of weight (25 pounds) and was very fit.  A lot happened prior and we ended up in the DFW area 6 months later.

Moving is a big stressor and having a son with autism and trying to locate services in a region that is not helpful is even more stressful.  In California, there were regional centers that got you in contact with specialists, set up and held copies of all evaluations, and helped pay when your insurance would no longer cover services.  Due to those factors as well as moving from part-time to full-time work, trying to hire a sitter for post-PPCD hours and around therapy hours, and everything else in between, the past four years I gained *GULP* over 40 pounds!

Of course, I was no longer going daily to the gym or eating as healthy as I was in California and no longer lived in a walkable city.  And, as in early years, therapy hours change, and you have to recreate your whole schedule at a drop of the hat.  The past year things have settled down.  I have lost 13.5 pounds ( the past four pounds due to surgery and not being able to swallow hardly anything weeks after).  Now, I am stagnant.

I am logging calories and points.  I am staying on the lower end and, once I was cleared, am adding exercise slowly.  Well, the past 6 weeks, I have stayed the same weight.  No fluctuations as people like to tell me happens daily.  I started weighing myself more frequently instead of weekly and each time it is the same exact weight on the scale.

Yesterday, a woman linked an article about full hysterectomies and how weight gain is significantly higher than those who have a partial or go through menopause naturally.  Today, I looked for articles about weight loss after a full hysterectomy.  All stated that it was SIGNIFICANTLY harder to lose weight after a full hysterectomy and needed SIGNIFICANTLY more effort.  Sounds lovely, eh?

 

Ant Bites!

Let me premise this by saying I have problems.

Thursday night, we went to the library for my son to meet his Reading Comprehension tutor.  I was discussing a test he had the previous week and then, OW!.  I walk a little further with her and feel an ouchie on my toe.  I see this black ant and I try to fling him off casually as we are walking and talking.  Eventually, Roger goes into a study room with her and I investigate my foot.  Two bites.  I didn’t know blank ants bit like this.  Rob appears about 10 minutes later and my foot is incredibly itchy.  Then I feel something on my other foot — another black ant (or the one I tried getting off my right foot).  By now, I feel itchy head to toe and feel like I am covered in ants.  I hate that feeling.  I could not wait to go home and take a bath.  After my bath, I put cortisone cream on my right foot and, once it penetrated, I put socks on.  My itchiness would not subside, so I took Benadyrl before bed.  The cortisone cream was doing NOTHING.

The next day I awoke with itchy foot and exhausted body.  By noon I had drank 4 cups of coffee and was still exhausted.  Then, I noticed my throat/windpipe seemed like it was narrowing and my voice became very hoarse.  I decided to call my insurance company’s nurse line to see if I should go to the doctor. After extensive questioning and my history of allergies and having experienced anaphylaxis previously, she said I had to go to the doctor.  Of course, both my physician’s office and allergist’s office close at 1 pm on Friday.  I had to go to RapidMed.  Thankfully, the wait was not too long.  I ended getting two steroid shots (one in each hip) and prescriptions for 1. more steroids 2. antihistamines 3. a pill for allergic reaction.  I had a 4th prescription for epipens but they are backordered at all Walgreens.  They have not had them for months.

Before bed I took my prescription antihistamine that did absolutely nothing for the itchiness, I applied more cortisone cream and was incredibly itchy for hours.  Finally, I fell asleep and woke up groggy and with the same itchiness.

Today, I started my steroid pack and took the pill for allergic reaction.  I am not sure which one is helping but the itchiness has subsided a bit.

Oh, and one last thing, on my internet searches, I found out that there are Black Fire Ants and their bites are just like the Red Fire Ants.

Loyalty

I do not have that much to write about today.  I, thankfully, slept 6.5 hours.  I worked.  I had coffee with “the girls”, as my husband puts it.  I picked Roger up from school and took him Pokémon hunting in the park.  I tested Roger’s spelling words for tomorrow’s test.  I made his lunch and breakfast for tomorrow.  I folded laundry and am now riding the stationary bike before taking him to his Reading Comprehension tutor.

The highlight of the day was receiving a set of easy stretches/joint exercises from my friend who recently became a yoga teacher.  The lowlight of the day is reading about a restaurant moving two doors down from an exact same type of restaurant that has existed in a now growing but previously stagnant shopping center.  Everyone is so excited and I got so riled up.  Why would they allow a pizzeria/Italian restaurant two doors down from a place that has been in that plaza for years?  Had anyone heard of loyalty?  A friend said it was because “because people only care about money and as a democrat that greed infuriates us”.  This restaurant that is moving in will, most definitely, ruin the other family-owned business.  How terrible!

Now, I feel like I need to order a pie everyday to show my support.  Would that be considered a highlight or lowlight?

Surgery Insomnia

I’ve always been a light sleeper which makes for a restless night when sleeping with someone else.  And when I complain about Roger waking between 5 and 6 every day despite the time he goes to bed, my mother reminds me that I did the same. “If you were up until 2 am, you still were up by 6.”

Since pregnancy my sleep has worsened.  I used to be a still sleeper – staying asleep on one side all night long.  With pregnancy, I could never get comfortable and my husband’s coming into bed late (the night owl) would wake me too. Once Roger was born, he slept terribly as an infant.  Through his toddler years he would only nap if in constant motion, which meant I had to walk him around in a baby carrier or stroller (if I sat or stopped walking he would immediately wake up) or drive him for an hour or so twice a day.  During ages 2-4, Roger would wake up extremely early in intervals (a week period of 3 am wake ups) and return to the normal 5 am.  And then, a month later, he’d do the 3 am wake ups again.  It was cyclical.  That did not mean he would go down for his one nap any earlier or, on good days, just skip that nap altogether.  Lucky me, his naps ended at 3 years old, as well. On rare occasions, Roger will still have his extremely early morning wake ups and be up for the day.

I wanted to give you a background of my sleep before delving into this “post-surgery insomnia”.  I realize that immediately following surgery, and the first couple of weeks after, sleep is going to be all messed up due to medications and pain.  I think I actually slept better those first few weeks getting the most sleep I have had in years.  However, the past two weeks or so I have had several days of early morning wake ups (being up for the day ranging from 1am to 4 am).

When I returned to work, the insomnia was not the worst thing since I could work instead of drowning in thoughts of “c’mon sleep” and trying techniques to fall back to sleep.  This morning I awoke at 2 and tried my version of counting sheep.  By 2:45 I decided, instead of lying there and doing nothing and being wide awake, I should just get up and start work and hope for a nap later.  BUT before I did that I googled various searches for post-surgery insomnia.  Most articles dealt with the immediate weeks following, but I found an orthopedic surgeon’s website that wrote about the matter:  “Surprisingly, there are no published studies on the frequency of sleep disturbance several weeks or months following joint replacement surgery. However, in one study of patients with broken bones, 41% of patients with shoulder fractures and 36% of patients with knee fractures had difficulty sleeping 3 months after the injury. Even a year later, 20% of patients still reported insomnia.”   I may not have had joint replacement, but I did have cervical disc replacement with a plate and screws.

My husband suggested I add more whimsy to my blog.  With my lack of sleep, I respond, “Well, tough titties”.

Surgery Files: My recovery at home

I was discharged on July 15th after two nights in the hospital.  (That tells you what a big surgery it is since they love to release you right after the recovery room!)  I remember very little of that day except that I stayed in bed the first 24 hours at home, in the dark, without the tv on, or reading books, or looking at my phone.  I could not handle any light.  When I wasn’t sleeping, I was crying over my horrible decision to have had this surgery.  For me the worst part was my throat – I could not swallow ANYTHING.  Everything hurt so much.  I had anxiety over taking medicine and staying hydrated. Drinking water hurt so terribly and I choked continually trying to eat or drink anything.  I started taking pills with applesauce which seemed to be the only substance I could “easily” intake.

On July 16th, I made it downstairs and took my first post-operative shower on my shower chair.  The whole ordeal exhausted me and put me in an utterly foul mood.  I was not very optimistic at this point.  Thankfully, Rob called my neurosurgeon’s office regarding my choking.  They prescribed prednisone and by the end of that pack, I was doing much better.  I was still choking on water but to a lesser degree.

By July 18th, I was turning a corner and not just sitting/lying in bed or sitting in the recliner.  I started walking around the house more.  On the 19th, I took my second shower and it, again, exhausted me.  I think I was overdoing the walking and started feeling not-so-great again on the 20th.

The days and weeks since surgery have had many ups and downs.  Today I am feeling pretty good, but yesterday was a really terrible day where I did not/could not leave the house.  I had to use the shower chair to get dressed after my bath.

Here’s hoping for continued good days and fewer of those bad days!

 

Surgery Files: Remainder of Hospital Stay

The remainder of my hospital stay is pretty fuzzy.  This post will be less story-like and, instead, be a list of what I can recall (since it will not form a complete story).

  • The inability to swallow anything without choking — I was put on a liquid diet.  Things like applesauce I could swallow best.  Drinking items like water were the hardest to get down without constant choking (even on one little sip).
  • Being taught to use the mechanism that tests lung capacity (googled it and found the name to be Spiro-Ball) and my lung capacity was awful.
  • Rob staying the first night in the hospital with me (I remember he did but cannot remember that night at all)
  • Realizing, after being constantly itchy, that I am allergic to morphine (instead of giving me an alternative medicine, they just gave me Benadryl and continued with the morphine drip)
  • Being told I needed to walk more but really doing the bare minimum
  • Not really being taught how to put my brace on and adjust it correctly (or at all for that matter)
  • Switching rooms and trying to reach my parents before their visit.  This ended up in my parents first going to the first room and then having to walk to the opposite side of the floor and my mom falling.
  • My mom refusing to immediately get an x-ray (which the staff probably would have gotten her into ASAP) and instead, after an hour or two, going to ER and being there til 1 in the morning.
  • The nighttime staff being non-attentive the second night when I needed to make my several trips to the bathroom
  • Still being allergic to morphine (so not using it as often as I needed) and given Benadryl.  FINALLLY, before being discharged after the second night in the hospital, they took off the morphine drip and gave me pills: Tylenol 3 and muscle relaxers.  Trying to swallow pills with water was a nightmare.
  • Telling the nurse how I was given the instructions to only take one Tylenol 3 every 8 hours and up to 3 times a day for the muscle relaxer after she told me to repeat the meds in 4 hours.  She could not believe that infrequency.

I do not remember the drive home (although I do remember waiting with the nurse for Rob to drive up).  I do not remember walking upstairs and lying down for the first time.  It is probably best not to remember those things too clearly for I am sure they hurt like hell.

Tomorrow I will try to post about my first week at home (or at least the first full day).

Surgery Files: Day of Surgery

I am going to explain what I remember about my surgery and recovery.  There are definitely really foggy areas, but bear with me.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30/6 am on Friday, July 13th.  The check-in was the normal process but instead of heading to the back where I have gone through some out-patient procedures, they brought us to the second floor.  I knew I would be spending a minimum of one night for this ACDF procedure (anterior cervical disc fusion) on two levels: C5-C6 and C6-C7.  In layman’s terms, they are taking out those two discs, replacing them, spacing them out as they should be (instead of rubbing on each other and the spinal cord) by putting a plate and screws.  In the process, they move your esophagus and vocal cords to the side.

The enjoyment of the surgery day began with the first nurse trying to put the IV in my right hand.  Once in, she said she lost the vein and was digging inside my hand with that large IV.  I could not hold back tears – so friggin’ painful.  The second nurse comes in and tries to put an IV on the side of my left hand/wrist area.  She sprays something to numb the area and, again, misses.  A third nurse, who looked utterly pissed off because she is probably always called in to do things correctly, quickly inserted the IV into the top of my left hand.  However, by the time the surgeon came in, I was still in tears over the first IV attempt still hurting. The normal paperwork was signed and questions asked and I was rolled back closer to 7:30 than 7 am .

I awoke in the recovery room unable to breathe.  That I do remember.  I was crying trying to breathe.  Rob relayed that rather than the 45 minutes we were told I would be back in recovery, I was there for roughly two hours.  He was not informed of what was occurring but just told the surgery went well and no drain was needed.  At some point, I passed out again and woke in my room.  I saw Rob quickly and, again, upon waking, I could not breathe.  They rushed Rob from the room, took an in-bed X-ray and wheeled me down to get an emergency CT scan.  Thankfully both came back “normal”.  I had to keep oxygen on at all times.  At that point I had not been able to drink anything but given grotesque swabs for my mouth.

Other things I recall from that day:  Carolyn bringing Roger with Get Well balloons to see me (she was so sweet to watch him while I was having surgery).  Rob being utterly sweet and kissing me in the bed.  My parents visit is utterly blurry.  The itchiness of the oxygen up my nose was horrible.  My inability to swallow without choking was horrendous and lasted about a week.  They told me they were putting steroids in my IV.  The nurses wanting me to get up and walk around after the breathing ordeals (yeah, no – to the bathroom and back was fine – and there were many walks to there since I pee a lot).  I remember trying to push the morphine button as often as possible while conscious.  That is about all I remember.

Tomorrow I hope to blog about the rest of my hospital stay.   Thanks for reading!

The Swing of Things

Right before the 3 day weekend, I start getting back into the swing of things.  Last night I was in SO MUCH PAIN.  I really could not believe that a simple desk job could affect my pain level so much.  Also, when I went to bed last night I was utterly freezing.  I turned the air off and asked Rob to get me an extra cover.  I will still freezing.  However, I woke up this morning feeling great.

The waves of pain/stiffness are coming more frequently today, so I have been getting up and walking much more than yesterday.  My job understands that I need to do this.  Yesterday, though, I was pretty glued to my seat pouring through emails.  Yes, people covered some of my work, but some items fell between the cracks which meant reviewing every bit of work.  Today my work pile is still large but manageable.

I am currently on my lunch break and using the stationary bike.  Luckily, the wordpress site is working and I no longer have to type a post out on my phone!  I vow to keep up the bike riding which means I shall keep up the blog!  Slowly, I plan on integrating yoga.  I found a video on youtube for yoga after back/fusion surgery and avoiding certain movements for your spine (cervical included).  I will try that first before attending a class.  BUT my motivation to do that is somewhat lacking.  BUT I should be proud of my ability to stick to one exercise since I have not been consistent since I don’t even know when!  Baby steps… or maybe I shall make a lame joke and say baby pedals!

First Day Back

Today is my first day back at work. How did my body reward me? By waking me up at 1:15ish and with the inability to fall back asleep.

I began my work day at 2 and worked til Roger woke up at 6 am. I pretty much was able to work 4 hours straight with little breaks to walk and stretch on the floor.

I have been on “break” since 6, making Roger’s breakfast, getting him ready for school, and walking him to school. I am now on my stationary bike with the intent of blogging. However, the damn WordPress site on my computer is not working. I can see my page but cannot log-in, go on my dashboard, make posts, etc. Alas, I have to type this thing out on my phone — not fun.

Well, thr one plus to my early hours is that I only have a couple hours left and then I can nap. Hopefully my body will obey!

Surgical sabbatical

Tomorrow I return to work.  My last day of work was July 12th.  I had grand ideas of blogging about my recovery from ACDF surgery.  Then, once the surgery was over, the brutal reality of how difficult of a recovery it was going to be sank in.  I may still blog about it one day in the near future.  However, today, I just wanted to dip my toe into the wordpress waters, scream a jaunty HELLO, and tell you that I will be, hopefully, updating more regularly in the future.  Thank you all for your love and support!

Breathe

Sometimes I get so busy or so involved with my son that I have to remind myself to actually take a breath.  I will need to stop what I am doing and take a conscious breath.  Do others actually need to do this as well?  I’m not talking about a mindfulness or meditation deep breath, but a literal simple breath.  It’s as if I have been holding my breath through the tasks and now need to breathe.

It has been happening more frequently.  Since it is near the end of the school year, there is a lot on my mind, lots of schedules to coordinate.  Add to that our upcoming vacation, my upcoming surgery and my mom’s chronic pain, I think my thinking makes me forget to breathe! It sounds so silly but by the time I take that breath, I really need it.

How many other things am I forgetting to do if I cannot remember to breathe?

New Rx

Today I woke in much better spirits.  I had  steady stream of tasks this morning during work.  That made the day move faster.  Secondly, I had an appointment with my psychiatrist.  I told her I had difficulty during the previous weekend as well as yesterday.  Weekends are always difficult for me.  I do better on the Monday – Friday schedule of life.  Due to my depressive waves and anxiety, she increased my Lexapro and is adding Wellbutrin.  She is hoping Wellbutrin will also help with my constant fatigue.  Fingers crossed.

Double-crushed

Previously I have written about how I was diagnosed with Double Crush Syndrome from the orthopedic surgeon who performed my ulnar nerve transposition surgery.  For those not aware, it means my nerves are compressed in more than one place.  I had severe compression on my left elbow but also have spinal cord compression which will be remedied (hopefully) with my ACDF surgery in July.  One of the key components is the inability to tell from which compression the pain (or numbness/tingling/weakness/other issues) is stemming from in the body.

Today, I have been having a lot of pain in my left arm.  I am thinking it is from my surgery.  The surgeon said it takes about a year to heal from the surgery.  I am 8/9 months post-op.  The nerves regenerate and fire off signals. I am not sure if I have been leaning on the place my nerve was moved to in my sleeping and/or waking/working hours.  All I know is this pain today is really annoying.  I tried some Aleve but it’s not alleviating that pain or the headache I have had today.  Unfortunately, with upcoming surgery and vacation, I have no additional time I can take off to rest.  For these type of issues, sedentary work may actually be the most painful!

I feel cruddy and totally anti-social.  I wish I could remain “hidden” all day.  But, alas, my son’s school has an art show I assured him I would attend.  Maybe it will lift my spirits.  He always has a tendency to make me feel happy/silly, even if just for a fleeting moment.  In the between time of work and art show, I am hoping to rest in bed by myself for a bit.  I am sure co-sleeping may be another culprit in my painful day(s)!

Anyhow, as you can plainly see, today is also a major complaining day. Hopefully, tomorrow I will be in a less whiny place.  And, perhaps, pigs will fly!

To write or not to write…

I have a little down time before we head to Roger’s afternoon activities.  I had to sign onto my laptop to pay a bill and figure I should blog.  I get reminders from Facebook that my Spinning Wheels page has not had a post in quite some time.  However, what is there to write about when everything seems to be at the same place it was the last time you wrote?

I am still trying to get everything in order for our trip to Denver and my surgery.  I am still trying to not fall down the depression/anxiety hole by meeting with my psychiatrist every couple of weeks.  I am still trying to make it through work and life everyday and be somewhat positive.  I am still letting little things interfere with my mood and perseverate about them.  I am still watching documentaries on Netflix (after finishing Love).  I am still functioning better during the week since life has less routine on the weekends.  That makes me concerned with summer that begins in 3 short weeks!

Now it’s your choice:  to read or not to read…

Hump Day

Every day, lately, has felt like “hump” day.  Every day I start with my usual tasks and by about 9:30 am usually exhausted and ready for the end of the day.  Today, at Texas’ version of the DMV, I was waiting at the window not a particularly long time and just felt my overwhelming exhaustion.  I felt like placing my head on the ledge and closing my eyes.  Multiple times, lately, I have had to put my head down on my desk for a few minutes to make it through each work day.  I am even putting my head down on the kitchen table, sometimes the kitchen counter, sometimes on the crossed arms on my lap.

Besides the exhaustion, I have been much more aware of my arm and leg pain.  It’s become a nuisance.  It’s not interfering much with my daily routine, but just a reminder.  I told Rob that over the next ten weeks I was going to cut back on chores/tasks that seem to increase pain.  I want to be well enough for vacation and to enjoy my pre-op summer time with Rob and Roger.