Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Humanity

OBSERVATION: We have evolved to hunger for things and power for survival just as a zombie hungers for a juicy brain. Our weaknesses are just an evolution of our animalistic and base tendencies. Making our lives simpler does not remove them - just reduces their impact on other people. However, I take comfort that our humanity is also marked by compassion and empathy and makes being a human worthwhile -- even amidst all of the ugliness of the world. I have pride, I lust, I want (as opposed to need), but I also love, cry with friends, and care what happens to humans who have no impact on my life.

Monday, July 25, 2011

60 Awesome Portraits Of Gay Couples Just Married In New York State

Is this what makes the Far Right so threatened? Could these faces alight in pure joy truly make some Christians fear for their marriages and their souls? To deny this joy and fellowship to these couples should be a crime. Congratulations to all those beautiful couples in NY.

Images via AP

Thursday, June 30, 2011

UPDATE ON BACK:

Background

In November 2009, I started experiencing pain in the middle of my right buttock. It would start really late in the day, and I would just go to bed at that point and wake up fine the next morning. Over the next few weeks, the pain would start earlier in the evening until it would happen at work. I would take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever and feel some relief.

In December 2009 and January 2010, the pain began to curl down the back of my right thigh and my toes started tingling. Laying down, walking around, and taking an OTC would give me some relief. So would going to sleep. In January, I woke up and I was already in pain, and that is what prompted me to see my primary care physician (PCP).

My PCP said that I had the symptoms of sciatica and prescribed me neural medicine and a non-narcotic pain medicine. They didn't really help, so after a few weeks, he prescribed me some ibuprofen and submitted an authorization for me to get an x-ray and physical therapy. As some of you know, the physical therapy authorization did not go through. I had my x-ray in February 2010, but it did not show anything significant (you can't see nerves on an x-ray).

The ibuprofen helped, but if I would forget to take it, I was in a lot of pain. I went back to my PCP, and he decided to send me to an orthopedic specialist. The specialist also diagnosed my pain as sciatica and submitted an authorization for me to get physical therapy. I was finally approved and started in April.

For two months, physical therapy was nice but it didn't help. I still felt pain. The physical therapist said I needed more diagnostics, and the ortho specialist submitted an authorization for me to see a spinal specialist, a neurosurgeon.

After my visit to the spinal doc in early June, I got the authorization to get an MRI in mid-June. I got the results a little more than a week ago.

MRI Results

One centimeter posterior, central right-sided herniated disc at L5-S1 with nerve root impingement and spinal stenosis, which means that my disc is popping out pretty far, and my spinal cord and nerve roots are being compressed.


Spinal Specialist Recommendation

I had my appointment with the spinal specialist yesterday evening. He said essentially what I had been thinking since I found out I have a herniated disc. He said my weight loss and physical therapy might have been effective if I had a small to medium herniation (3 mm to 7 mm), but that the size of my herniation at 10 mm is severe, and there are not a lot of options available to me. His recommendation for me is to have surgery, but that it's not at an emergency level at the moment.

We spent the next half hour going over my MRI results, with him patiently explaining the different views and angles. In the images, I could see about have of the cavity meant for my spinal column was being taken up by my disc mass/fluid. He also talked about my nerves in very clear analogies. For example, he said that my left nerve root exited my spinal column in what could be called a four-lane highway. On the right side, it had been reduced to a dirt road.

We discussed another symptom that concerned him more than anything. Two weekends ago, while I was taking my boys to see Karate Kid, I was wearing high heels. When I was almost half way to the theater, my right ankle started turning out. It didn't hurt, but I couldn't walk well. It felt so uncomfortable, I stopped and bought some sandals. He tested me, and I have reduced reflexes in my right ankle, and I couldn't balance on my right root. If that gets worse, I will need emergency surgery.

We talked about my options.

Chiropractor

I asked him if going to a chiropractor would be an option. He said no quite emphatically. My nerve channel is so narrow, a chiropractic adjustment could cut it off completely. I was concerned that he just wanted me to have surgery, and he said that even if I don't have surgery, that I should not risk cutting off the nerve completely because I could lose all function in my leg. Not something I really wanted to hear, but it was his professional appraisal after all.

Epidural

He says I could get an epidural steroid injection for the pain, but with reservations because it might not work due to the size of my herniation. Apparently, the shot would only delay the inevitable.

Surgery

He said that my best option for a complete recovery would be surgery. I asked him how long the recovery time would be, and he said that I would probably have to take a month off of work.

Outcome

After discussing the options with the spinal specialist, I said that I needed to figure out how I could take a month off of work and figure out my finances. I have to pay 30% of my hospital costs out of pocket. That's a lot of cash. So his staff submitted an an authorization for me to receive the injection so I can at least have some relief from the pain while I figure out what I'm going to do.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happiness


A couple of people lately have commented on how lucky and how good my life is.  I don't disagree with them in sentiment.  I AM lucky and my life IS good, but it is simply a matter of outlook.  I choose to be happy with what I have, and put in hard work to have everything else.

1.   Job. I have a great job, but I work long hours and work my butt off to accomplish everything expected of me.  I am salaried, so even though I worked almost 8 hours overtime last week, I'm not getting any more money for it. It doesn't matter that I'm often the last one out of the office.   I don't care because I am proud of the quality of my work.  It shows, and THAT's why I continue to have this great job.

2.  Money. Great job aside, I still live paycheck to paycheck.  Some months are easier than others. I have hospital bills, student loans, loans I took out while I was in that hospital, car loan, insurance, rent, etc. etc.  I know the reasons WHY I live paycheck to paycheck, and I'm making every effort to get out of this hole I dug for myself.  I don't sit around saying my life is awful. When I'm not working for my employer, I'm doing my freelance graphic design.

3.  Fiance.  My fiance Jarrod is an amazing man.  Good relationships take work. I dated off and on for a few years after my divorce and had a lot of disappointing relationships. But Jarrod was worth the wait.  I am not perfect, but neither is he.  We accept our imperfections and think we are still perfect for each other.  Even when we have disagreements and the rare fight.  We never let it affect how we feel for each other.

4.  Children.  Children are HARD WORK. My boys are awesome.  But they don't wake up every day being the awesome kids I know they can be.  They have me, as their mother, making sure that they do what they need to do.  That means praise, but it also means consequences for wrong actions. It means sending them to bed early when warranted. It means being disappointed, but starting over and trying a new way. It means feeling guilty for not knowing exactly how to raise a child with special needs.   It means meetings at schools. It's not just breezing in the door after working a long day and having two perfect automatons who never need discipline.  And now I have three future step kids thrown in the mix.  We aren't the Brady bunch.  It takes work, constant reassurance, and many family meetings to make sure both sets of kids feel loved, appreciated, and attended to.  But it is WORTH EVERY SECOND!

5.  Happiness.  I am happy because I choose to be happy.  I smile when things make me glad.  I share those smiles with the people that I love.  I tell my friends and my family how much they mean to me.  I still have fears and insecurities. I still stay up late at night working on my budget or my freelance gigs to make sure my family and my kids don't go without.  I'm still working on my weight.  I'm deathly afraid that my back pain will return.  I still have a bleeding disorder. I still have thyroid disease.  But I don't let it get me down. I don't mope about it. I refuse to accept that life never gets better.

Life is gorgeous. Life is beautiful. Life is happiness. Choose to live that way no matter whatever obstacles are in your way.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Life is so good

DECLARATION: Life is so good. I have two gorgeous, intelligent boys, great friends and family, a wonderful boyfriend, a demanding career, and I'm finally getting fit and healthy. Happy Vanessa is totally tamping down fearful Vanessa's anxious waiting-for-the-axe-to-fall mentality.