Monday, July 16, 2012

Things I Take For Granted: Bending

I stretched across the tub, the smell of Soft Scrub burning my nose as I scritch-scrubed the bottom of the bath. Cyra gurgled and cooed from her bouncy chair in the living room.

“Almost done, sweetie,” I called as she banged her hands against a tiny piano plinking out a cacophony of notes.

I leaned on the edge of the bathtub and gave one last swipe of the sponge. As I stood and straightened my back out, I heard and felt my lower back pop. For a split second, I thought it was just the typical crack of the joints but as I fell back down I realized just how very wrong I was.

Stabbing, shooting pain arched down my legs as I tried to stand again. I pushed myself up using first the edge of the tub, then the toilet seat and finally the sink. I tried straightening again and more spears of pain lanced down my legs.

I groaned holding onto the sink while Cyra started to fuss and cry from the other room.

“Hold on Peanut,” I clenched my teeth to keep from screaming.

Grabbing the doorframe, the counters and walls, I made it into the living room and collapsed to my knees next to Cyra. She giggled, thinking I was playing with her. I tried to lift her from her play chair but nearly dropped her as my back shuddered.

“I’ve dealt with worse pain,” I told myself. “Labor. Labor hurt more than this.” I pushed myself up. “Blood clots in my lungs hurt more than this.” I stood, rolling my spine, easing upright.

I managed a smile at Cyra. “Nothing else comes to mind.”

She giggled and I gritted my teeth as I bent and lifted her from her chair. I managed to shamble into her bedroom, change her diaper and set her down with some toys all while sweating and holding back a plethora of curses.

By the time Scott go home I was more than ready to have my spine surgically removed and robotic one grafted in its place. Scott got me to the doctor and after an insane amount of simple questions, I was told the trouble was most likely my sciatic nerve and there was nothing they could do for it except pain relief.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked my doctor. “Nothing?”

“No,” he said, “This will just heal on its own. Eventually.”

And it did. But it took nearly six weeks of daily pain for it to do so.

Every now and then over the past nine years, my lower back tells me in no uncertain terms that it is pissed off beyond reason at me. I could be doing dishes, sweeping the floor, working on a craft project, standing still and then a small pop from my lower back shoots spasms of pain down my legs and I am hunched over gasping for breath because of it. 

A little over two weeks ago, as I was cleaning the living room, my back exacted revenge for some small insult (I think I was vacuuming too vigorously) and wham. I was benched. For what ever reason though, this time, it was slightly different and instead of a week of inconvenient pain followed by a few weeks of taking it easy, I struggled for two weeks without any sign of improvement. I couldn’t sit at the computer. I could lie on the couch. It hurt less when I was up and moving, so I walked around a lot. Paced really.

I felt okay enough to spend the 4th of July downtown with the girls, but a fall on the sidewalk on the way back to the car (stupid uneven concrete) had me in bed for most of the following day. I finally had enough on Friday when I couldn’t even sit to pee without crying and I took myself off to the doctor.

This time around, probably because I went to the ER since my doctor closes early on Fridays, I got the good stuff. While I was waiting to be taken for x-rays, the nurse brought in a shot to help with the pain. I pushed up my sleeve and she just smiled and shook her head.

“Do you want to lie down for this,” she smiled “or just bend over?”

“In my butt?” I frowned at her and covered my tush with my hands.

She nodded and smiled, her head cocked sympathetically. “I’m afraid so.”

Oh it might have stung going in, but Holy Moly did I start to feel better almost immediately.

The x-rays came back clear – no break or fracture - just some minor arthritis. Since nerve damage can’t be seen on a normal x-ray they handed me a stack of prescriptions and sent me out to door with a recommendation to follow-up with an orthopedic doctor in a few weeks if the symptoms don’t lessen.

After three days following a medicine regiment of steroids, muscle relaxers and mega-ibuprofen, I feel much better and best of all I can bend! Ignore for a moment that everything is fuzzy, wonky and slightly tilted. And I am nauseous. Ignore for a moment that as a general rule I really don’t like taking medicine. Ignore for a moment that I wouldn’t trust myself behind the wheel of a car. Or on a bike. Or walking down stairs.

Ignore all that and I am left with the oft taken for granted ability to bend. Freely and without hesitation. And that my friends, makes all the difference.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Photos

On the 4th of July, I took the girls on an official tour of Flagler College.

The front entrance to the school. This leads into the Rotunda.

The west bell tower. Back in the hotel days it served as a water tower.

Detail of a decorative fountain do-dad on the outside of school.

Detail of the shells surrounding the front entrance. Flagler built the hotel with three themes: Spanish, Nautical and Lions.

I actually learned something new on the tour - the fountain in the center courtyard serves which serves as a working sundial and also represents the twelve seasons and signs of the zodiac (which I knew) ALSO was designed to resemble the hilt of a sword - which is the part I never knew.

The dome of the Rotunda.

One of the 8 women painted around the Rotunda - each represents a different thing. Four represent the four stages of Spanish exploration and four represent the elements. This one is Water.

More women (I think the same women) surround the ceiling in the dining hall. Each represents the four seasons. This is Winter.

One of the many Tiffany stained glass windows in the dining hall.

Fall on the left and Summer on the right.

In the Flagler Room which houses furniture and art original to the hotel. No flash photography so the pictures in here didn't turn out as well.

Two of the evil cherubs on the ceiling in the Flagler room. The room was originally the Ladies Lounge and is very feminine with all the Tiffany blue on the ceiling, crystal chandeliers and demonic cherubs that watch your every movement.

The fireplace in the Flagler room.

Detail of the clock.
 The last two photos are lamps that flank the entrance to the dining hall. I never gave them much thought when I was going there, but they really are beautiful in an extravagantly creepy sort of way.

It occurs to me that I didn't take many...any "traditional" photos: looking into the Rotunda or the dining hall, things like that. Maybe I'll add some more later.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Independence Day in Photos

I've been trying to write about my Independence Day activities all day long and really, I'm struggling. Not because it was boring or excessively magical but...oh this funk that I am in. Curse it all! So I'll just give a brief photo essay.

I wanted to beat the traffic and get a good parking spot, so the girls and I headed down town around 1pm.

I brought the girls on an actual tour of Flagler. Both of them want to go here and I am encouraging that whole-heartedly. I love the idea of my girls going to my Alma mater as well as something local. Here's a snapshot of the front entrance. I've got more photos to come on Friday.

After the tour we headed over to the playground for a bit before headed back to the Plaza to catch a concert. Big band sounds with tons of patriotic music. Listening to Cyra sing along to Proud to Be An American made me tear up just a bit.
It was nice to lay back on our picnic blanket and stare up into the sky. So very relaxing and peaceful despite all of the hustle and bustle going on around the Plaza.
Then around seven we decided to find a place to nosh! The main roads were quite crowded and our favorite pizza place had a line out the door so we wandered the back streets until we stumbled upon a tiny little British pub, The Prince of Wales.

We stood in the street looking over the menu for a minute before we decided to head in.

"You know, this seems a bit...dodgy." I said to Ashleigh.

"What do you mean?"

"Eating at a British pub on the Fourth of July?" I replied. "Isn't that a bit, you know, wrong?"

Ashleigh giggled a bit.

"Well," I continued, "If I had been around back then, I probably would have been a loyalist. I like tea too much and I don't like to rock the boat."

The dessert menu. Guess which one we ordered?

I'd never had it before and I giggled the whole way through eating it. Cyra wasn't to partial to it but Ashleigh devoured her share!

After dinner, uncomfortably full, we headed over the lawn of the Fort to find a place to sit. The crowd was...more than I expected but not too bad all things considered.

Out of all the photos I took of the fireworks, this one came out the best and it is by far my favorite. You can clearly see the outline of the Fort as well as the nearly full moon peeking out from behind one of the towers. A beautiful finale.

I won't go into details about the drive home. It is sufficient enough to say that the fireworks were over at 10, we got to car about 10:15 and we pulled into the driveway just about midnight.