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! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter 2015

A quick post about Easter. It was low key, but wonderful day. My sister Chandra had a three-day weekend off of work, so she came over on Saturday and Sunday and spent both of those days with Mom and me. That was so nice, since we only see her about once a week these days. I miss her! This weekend also happened to be our church's General Conference, too, so that is always amazing and inspirational.

For Easter dinner we just had a small crowd (Mom, me, Chandra and her boyfriend, Joe). We were planning to keep the menu small, but it kept growing and growing as "just one more thing" kept being added to it. Oh, well! (My sister's boyfriend is huge…think bodybuilder…and he eats massive quantities of food.) We had ham, roast beef, potatoes, pistachio salad, cranberry sauce, homemade Hawaiian sweet rolls, deviled eggs, peas and fresh veggies. For dessert we had dark chocolate salted caramel Oreo pie and coconut cake. (Our friend Linda brought over half of a coconut cake, and we gave her half of our pie.)

I really didn't eat that much for dinner. More than I usually would on a given night, but I tried to take it easy since I absolutely hate the feeling of being stuffed. There was definitely more than enough food for the four of us, and my mom gave the majority of the leftovers to Chan and Joe to take home with them. We just wanted it out of here!

Here are a few pictures of us, and of our food:
I'm so grateful for Easter, and for this special day to focus on Jesus Christ and His life. I'm grateful for my knowledge of the atonement and Jesus' resurrection. I'm grateful to live in a country where we are free to worship as we please. This is a luxury that others in some other countries aren't blessed with. Because of Him there are second chances and happy endings.
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