Thursday, May 21, 2015

Former Teachers, Mr. and Mrs. Brown

My mom and I went to the store yesterday, and we ran into my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, while we were shopping. She recognized my mom right away, and said hello to us. I'm not sure if she would've recognized me without my mom, since it's been over 20 years since I was her student and I'm now an adult (and disabled), but I definitely recognized her, since I think she looks exactly the same! I remember her reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to my class. I wonder if she remembers the time she busted me for writing my Christmas list when I was supposed to be doing something else?! :)

I asked her about her husband, who was also one of my teachers. She said he was shopping with her and was elsewhere in store. Mr. Brown, who was my College Prep English teacher when I was a senior, was one of my favorite teachers ever, so I was tempted to hunt him down, but I didn't want to seem like a crazy stalker, so I refrained and just told Mrs. Brown to tell Mr. Brown that I'd said hello.

About 15 minutes later, I thought I caught a glimpse of Mr. Brown, so I backtracked and sure enough, it was him. We talked for about a little while, reminisced about the old days and caught up with what's been going on with the Browns. Mr. Brown taught at Windsor High School (the school I went to) for 32 years and retired from Windsor in 2005. Then he taught College Prep English part-time at another local high school, and did that for an additional eight years. He retired from that school in 2013, after he'd been teaching for a combined total of 40 years. Wow! Imagine all of the students that he's impacted over the past 40 years...the number must be in the thousands! (He taught all of my sisters and me, except for my youngest sister, so six of us had him.) Mr. Brown said that the students he taught his first year of teaching  are now 60 years old! (Mr. Brown is 67, so he must've been around 25 when he started teaching.)

When we were talking, Mr. Brown said that he'd actually just gotten a phone call while he was out shopping from the school he taught at part-time after he left Windsor. They offered him the same position teaching College Prep English part-time again, so he said that he's thinking about doing it. He really was/is such a fantastic teacher, so any future students he might have would be very lucky, indeed! 

It just made my day running into the Browns! I asked them if we could take a picture together, and they obliged me. Here I am with my former teachers:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Another Royal Baby

Where does the time go?! I feel like I was just writing about Prince George's arrival, but that was close to two years ago! Anyhow, I've been eagerly anticipating the arrival of William and Kate's new baby for the past several weeks, since I knew the baby was due mid-to-late April. They've been talking about the new baby on the news a lot for the past several weeks, and everyone's been speculating about when the baby would arrive, and if it would be another boy or perhaps a girl this time.

On Saturday morning, May 2, I heard that Duchess Kate was in labor and had gone to the hospital early that morning. She went to St. Mary's Hospital in London, and had her baby at 8:34 AM, roughly three hours after arriving. The baby weighed 8 lbs. 3 oz and was a little girl. Yay…just what I was hoping for! The Duke and Duchess emerged from the hospital a few hours later. Kate looked extremely beautiful in a pretty, yellow dress (she looked amazing, especially for giving birth just a few hours previously). They both looked so happy!

Lots of people called their babies "little prince" or "little princess" but there are very few people who can say it, and actually have it it really be true! Here are two of those select few, with their sweet princess:
I'd been expectantly waiting for the big name reveal ever since I heard that the baby had arrived. Everyone was speculating on what it would be. Some of the name contenders I heard tossed around were Alice, Victoria, Charlotte, Mary, Elizabeth, Alexandra, Frances and Diana. I'm not sure why, but I was thinking they might choose Victoria. It was just a pure guess, though, and I did absolutely no research, which would probably be why I was WRONG! Instead they went with Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
Named for: Queen Charlotte (wife of George III), Queen Elizabeth II (her great-grandmother), and Princess Diana (her grandmother)
Here is a little background on the name: Charlotte is the feminine version of Charles, the father of Prince William and is a version of Carole, the name of Kate's mother. Charlotte is also the middle name of Pippa Middleton, Kate's sister. Elizabeth is the name of the current Queen of England and Prince William's grandmother, and Diana is a beautiful tribute to the late Princess Diana, the baby's grandmother.

The name "Charlotte" has certainly made a resurgence in the past decade. 10-15 years ago I wouldn't have cared for the name, and would have thought it old-fashioned since its popularity had faded in the latter half of the 20th century. But it's been growing on me in recent years, and I actually like it so much now that it would probably make my top 10 list of favorite girl names. I also love the name Elizabeth, so I'm glad that the new princess has that as one of her names, as well as Diana. I know Diana seems to be unliked by some in the Royal family, but I always felt like she really cared about people. She was definitely the most humble and down-to-earth one of the Royal bunch! I'm so glad the new Princess carries the name of Diana, since she is the Princess' grandmother, after all!

Charlotte is fourth in line to the throne. That's a mighty big responsibility for a little lady that is not even a week old!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

My Nuts and Bolts

Two weeks ago I had a busy week, with two very looong doctor's appointments at the hospital. My mom and I were gone for 5 hours for the first appointment, and  hours for the second one, just two days later. (I was originally supposed to have a third appointment that week with the optometrist, too, but my mom and I knew that we would be pooped from the first two appointments, so we rescheduled the optometrist for the following Friday for our sanity's sake!) With the exception of these two appointments being long, both went really well.

I had to get some x-rays of my neck after the appointment with my physiatrist, which is a doctor of physical medicine. I spent an hour getting all of these x-rays done, and my neck was so sore afterwards from getting stretched and turned every which way so that it could be in the right position for each x-ray. (I can't hold my head up, especially when I have to sit up at a 90° angle, so one of the guys in the x-ray department had to stretch/hold my head in the right position.) I couldn't wait to get home!
I had to get my neck stabilized after my accident, so this is what I was left with: lots of little pins and screws inserted to hold things together to give me the best chance of having as much movement as possible. These diagrams should give you an idea of where the C2 vertebra is, which is where my neck was broken in my car accident. (It's right at the base of the skull, where the skull and spine meet.)
Then at my appointment on Thursday, I had a renal ultrasound on my kidneys to check for stones. I met with my urologist afterwards, and she said that everything looked good; no new stones, and the one that I'd had two months previously was no longer visible. I don't know if it passed, or what, but it wasn't there anymore. I won't complain! I met with a nephrologist (kidney specialist) after seeing my urologist, and he said that my kidneys looked great and were functioning well. Woo-hoo! I don't have to go back to these doctors until January 2016.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Long Live Earth Day

Today is April 22–Earth Day–so I thought I would make an Earth Day-inspired post. One of the things I look forward to each spring is seeing my flowering dogwood tree in full bloom. I got this little dogwood tree in fourth grade for Arbor Day (do they still give Arbor Day trees to school kids?). It was little more than a stick with some roots when I got it, but we planted it in the backyard, and 20 years later it's still alive! Dogwood trees are relatively small trees, unlike my sister Chandra's Arbor Day tree–a bald cypress–which is taller than our two-story house, even though it is several years "younger" than my dogwood tree. Bald cypress trees just grow a lot faster.

Here's my little dogwood tree. I think it's interesting that the dogwood's blossoms start out small and green, and then they get a little bigger and whiter every day until the tree is covered with big, white flowers. I should've had my mom take a picture of my tree when it first started budding this season, but I didn't. Here's a picture of the tree just a day or two before the picture below it:
Even though my dogwood is a relatively small tree, I think it looks deceptively small in the pictures (and almost like a bush)…SO, I'm including some pictures of my mom and sister in front of the tree, to give some perspective as to the tree's actual size:
I wish my dogwood tree were one of the pink ones. There are several of those in my neighborhood, and they are even more gorgeous than the white ones. Here's a picture from Google of one of the pink dogwoods:
Happy Earth Day! Be kind to her (the earth) and each other!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Itch You Can't Scratch

Spring is here and it's BEAUTIFUL in Missouri right now, but there is a lot of pollen flying around in the air. Those microscopic particles from the flowers and trees coat everything in a yellow film and make allergy sufferers miserable! I've never really had bad allergies or been especially sensitive to pollen, but I DO seem to be itching more lately. Spring = pollen = more itches, and saying that itches are a nuisance for someone who can't move is a major understatement!
Having an itch you can't scratch is actually pretty cruel. Pure torture! I distinctly remember lying in bed once when I was still able-bodied, thinking of poor Christopher Reeve and what it would be like to be unable to scratch an itch. I lay there with a fierce itch in my nose, and I held off scratching it until I thought I would go mad. When I couldn't take it any more, I scratched and scratched until I completely relieved myself of the itch. It is SO ironic thinking of that incident now! (This really did happen, by the way.)

There is really an art and technique to scratching an itch, and it's a lot more involved than you might think. If your nose itches, for example, you can't just have someone timidly scratch the end of your nose and have that satisfy your itch. The exact location they scratch matters, as well as HOW they scratch and the amount of pressure they use. All of this can be difficult to explain to someone, especially when you can't gesture or point to indicate how/what you want. For this reason, I ask very few people to help me scratch my itches (basically only my mom and my youngest sister, Chandra). I'm not sure what would be worse: the agony of the itch, or the frustration of trying to teach someone how to scratch the itch in a satisfying way. I choose to just suffer with the itch in order to spare myself–and others–the frustration and awkwardness of the whole thing! [I've found that making up code names/phrases for the particular areas of your face that itch frequently help give your caregivers a point of reference to know where to scratch.]
Thankfully, I only experience the sensation of itching on my face, eyes, scalp and ears, and not anywhere from the neck down. I'm not sure why I don't itch on the rest of my body since I DO feel other sensations below my neck. I won't complain, though, and neither will my caregivers. ; ) I can only take so much, after all! 
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