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Saturday, March 31, 2012

This

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* Does not really hurt.

* Is a little sore.

* Causes me to drop food down the front of my shirt.

* Invites the "what happened" question from friends and strangers alike.

* Was super fast and easy.

* Itches like the devil.

There are worse things. Round 2 coming in early May.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Under the knife

I wanted to blog tonight because bright and early tomorrow morning I'll be going under the knife to have the first of two surgeries for carpal tunnel syndrome. So I figure it might be a few days before I can comfortably type again.

It's really more like a procedure than a surgery. I'll be awake for the whole thing. They'll just numb my wrist and hand with a local anesthetic. I'm really hoping I get to be laying down for it. I don't mind being awake (I don't think), but I don't really want to watch.

I was supposed have this surgery done 8 years ago, but I canceled it. Robbie was only a year old then and still required plenty of lifting and maneuvering. So I opted out and have just dealt with it for the past 8 years and 3 months. My hands stopped hurting from the carpal tunnel syndrome about 6 years ago. Now they are just in a constant state of numbness.

Lately though, I've been getting these electric shock kind of feelings shooting across my palms when I try to grab something. And my grip is getting worse. More than one dropped plate of food can attest to that. (Now there's a weight loss idea!)

My first thought was to give chiropractic treatments a try. The chiropractor was working with me using this Graston technique to try to relieve the pressure off my carpal tunnel nerves. Think big heavy butter knives brushing across the forearms and wrists. It felt really good. Then after the first treatment, it felt like my arm bones were made of jello. The second treatment didn't really have much effect at all.

In the meantime, I talked to a doctor friend of mine who does EMG nerve testing as part of his practice. So I made an appointment to have him give me the EMG to see just how bad my carpal tunnel problem is. I told him about the Graston technique. He was familiar with it and said it can be effective for some people.

That was before he hooked me up and shocked my nerves, only to find out they weren't as shocked as they should have been. Bob told me that he's never seen a worse EMG. What? I can't help it that I'm an overachiever. According to Dr. Bob, the only solution for successfully treating my carpal tunnel is surgery. So he referred me to the same surgeon who was supposed to my surgery 8 years ago.

Which brings me to tomorrow. I'm envisioning a quick slice and snip and sew-'er-up and I'll be on my way. I plan to lay low for 24 hours, keep a steady supply of ibuprofen and Tylenol flowing, and play "Mommy's legs are broken: The carpal tunnel version." 

I really wanted to have both hands done at the same time. Get it over with and all that. The surgeon said they don't recommend it and moved on. So when I was left with the physician assistant to schedule the surgery, I asked her about it. "Is it really so unheard of to do both hands at a time? I think I'd really like to do it that way."

To which the PA responded, "Well, how do you feel about someone else wiping your butt?"

Ahhh...got it. One hand at a time, will be fine, thank you.

So the first one is tomorrow morning. Then in about 3 weeks, I'll have the second one done. In the meantime, I might have to find a talk to text program so I can keep up with the blog and Facebook. Or maybe I'll have one of my kids take dictation.

But one thing is for sure. I'll be wiping my own butt.

Peeves not pooches

Last week I was drawing a blogging blank, so I asked for suggestions on the 4th Frog Facebook page. A friend suggested I blog about my pet peeves. So Theresa, this post is for you.

Honestly, I had to think a minute about my pet peeves. I'm not even sure if these qualify. What differentiates a pet peeve from something that just bugs you? Are they one and the same? Either way, here is what stands on my last nerve with size 13 work boots:
  1. Intelligent, educated people using ghetto language. For instance, a bright 15-year-old girl I know will write on her Facebook page: Qurl, which I think translates to "Girl." So why not just write the obvious?
  2. Arrogant chefs on Food Network's Chopped. Why are they always young and male?
  3. A chalkboard or dry erase board that is almost, but not totally, erased. One little half-inch stray mark left on the board somewhere drives me bananas -- so much so that I've been known to get up and erase it.
  4. Compulsive channel flippers. Pick a show and watch it. Even during the commercials. 
  5. Serial interrupters. Let people finish a sentence or two, will you? 
That's not too bad is it? How about you? What are your pet peeves?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Body love (or at least like)

My friend Ellie posed a question on her blog today and specifically tagged me on Facebook to answer it. I thought it was something worth asking here too.

The question:

Will you name three things you like about your body?
A "no" answer is not acceptable. 
 
And for you smart alecks, a simple "yes" is not acceptable either. Consider it more of a directive than a question -- YOU (yes, I'm talking to you, the person reading this right now) -- name 3 things you like about your body. Ellie's rules -- "I don't mean three internal things or behaviors, I'm talking the physical.  The parts we beat ourselves up over."
 
Honestly, I came up with two right away. 
 
1. My calves -- Does that sound weird? My calves are strong and curvy. They come to a nice inward slope at my ankle. People have told me more than once that my legs (read: calves) look nice is a skirt. 
 
2. My hair -- I love the natural color. Dark brown. I loved the blue too, but I've moved on. It's thick and generally doesn't give me too much grief. Even the silver that's showing up more often doesn't bother me too much. 

The third thing I like about my body is proving to be elusive.

My boobs? Nope. Lopsided. 

My hands? Bitten fingernails and unreliable grip.

My feet? Not since I walked across fresh, searing hot asphalt with no shoes on when I was 8.

Mike always says he likes my butt. I don't really ever look at it, so I can't say yes to that. 

My stomach? Way too much of it to love, though I will give a nod of appreciation to its willingness to stretch itself to carry nearly 30 pounds of baby over the years. 

Maybe my smile. I can't think of what it looks like right now. Annie suggested my eyes. I used to like them when I could consider them blue. Now they're more greenish, depending on what I'm wearing. 

I think I have it.

3. My nose -- It's cute and smallish. When I see it on my kids faces, I always smile. Yes. I think I can definitely say I like my nose. 

So it took a while, but I did get my 3 things I like about my body. What are yours?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

If money were no object

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I would...
  1. Get a pedicure every week.
  2. Get a manicure every other week.
  3. Hire a personal chef to make dinner 5 nights a week.
  4. Take a family vacation somewhere amazing once a year.
  5. Tip 50% of the total bill when we eat out.
  6. Work out with a personal trainer twice a week.
  7. Make anonymous donations of cash to people who inspire me.
  8. Be more generous to the organizations we already support.
  9. Have fresh flower arrangements delivered to my house weekly.
  10. Buy my parents two new cars.
  11. Become a professional volunteer.
  12. Still make my kids get jobs when they are in high school.
If money were no object, what would you do?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fun is in the eye of the beholder

Robbie's class is walking in the St. Patrick's Day parade today. It's a school tradition -- every year the entire 2nd grade wears matching green t-shirts and heads downtown to be part of the parade.

I had planned to walk with them. This is one of those field trips where lots of parents are encouraged to join in. A short 1 mile-ish walk. A chance to scan the spectators and see people I know. Sunshine and smiley, laughing 2nd graders. Sounds like a recipe for fun in my book.

Apparently, Robbie has been reading a different book.

In his mind, walking in the parade means people staring at him (and "staring is NOT nice, Mom"). The parade means scary clowns and loud noises.

I tried to reason with him that people were looking at him when he was in the talent show (that's a topic for another post) and he didn't mind. He didn't get the connection. I tried to tell him that he'd be with his class and his friends and there would be lots of laughs and such fun. No dice. There wasn't much I could argue about the noise -- they are scheduled to be lined up just behind a high school marching band.

So, after lots of worry on his part and failed persuasion on mine, we told him he doesn't have to walk in the parade. I sent him to school in his green t-shirt in case maybe he gets caught up in the excitement of his classmates, but I'm pretty sure he won't.

Now I'm second-guessing myself a little. Maybe we should have made him do it. Forced him to toughen up and face his fears. But, I know my kid. He would be nervous and teary all morning. I'm not afraid to fight the battles, but this one just didn't seem worth it.

So, when his class boards the bus for their great green adventure, I'll be there to pick up Robbie and take him to the Lego exhibit at the Children's Museum. Something that definitely reads "fun" in his book.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dear future Colts players:

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It's been a rough week here in Indianapolis. Our quarterback and our team parted ways. It happened with the kind of class and dignity our city showed during the Super Bowl played here last month. Most of us knew it would happen, but that didn't make it any easier to watch.

Then today, several more of our boys -- ok, men -- got their marching orders. I'm not talking 2nd and 3rd string no-names. I'm talking men whose names we proudly wore on jerseys week after week. Men who made big plays. Men who made the Indianapolis Colts so easy to love, even when they posted a 2-14 record.

We love these men -- Gary Brackett, Joseph Addai, Melvin Bullitt, Dallas Clark -- not just for what they did on the field, but more for what they brought to our community. They are caring, giving individuals who make us proud to be Colts fans. 

But we are fans of the TEAM, not just of the individual players, so to those of you getting ready to join the ranks of the Indianapolis Colts, we say "Welcome." Before you sign on the dotted line, there are some things you should know about this city and our team:
  1. We don't do big egos here. If you've got the goods, be proud. But don't be arrogant. The "I" in this city is for Indianapolis, not for some football player who behaves as though he's a gift to our team.
  2. We don't do illegal here. We're not accustomed to opening our newspapers and turning on our television to news about members of our football team being in legal trouble for drugs, domestic abuse, illegal gambling, drinking and driving or whatever. Oh, we're not perfect and there have been a few incidents in the past (Mr. McAfee), but our players are generally good citizens and we like it that way.
  3. Indianapolis is your home and its people will be your new family. So spend time with us. Join us at restaurants and in the mall and on the little league fields with your kids. We're not starstruck. We'll probably strike up a conversation, but we know how to be polite enough to let you have your space, too.
  4. Be polite back to us. Jeff Saturday has held a door open for me...twice. Good manners endear you to the fans and make your mamas proud.
  5. Let us know what you're passionate about -- and I hope at least one of you will be passionate about the elderly -- and let us know how we can support your efforts there. Those guys who are leaving have left behind some pretty big holes to fill in that regard. We want to see you do good -- inside and outside of Lucas Oil Stadium.
  6. Know we've got your back. We know this is a rebuilding year. Probably several of them. But we'll stand behind you, as long as you give it your all and stay focused on the game, not the limelight.
So there you go. Not too hard, right? Welcome to Indianapolis. We're glad you're here.

Signed,
The 4th Frog
A Colts Fan

Sunday, March 4, 2012

CPAP, seriously

In my last post, I shared some comical truths about using a CPAP machine to treat sleep apnea. I also shared a ridiculously unflattering photo of myself (though, I do admit the jammies were cute), which should prove clearly that sleep apnea can cause a person to lose some brain cells.

But, I do want to circle back and talk briefly about why treatment for sleep apnea is so important. Make no mistake -- I hate using a CPAP machine. There are some times when I put off going to bed just because I don't want to put that $#*@&# mask on. However, I'm caught in a hate-love quandry: I hate the machine but I love breathing. So, for that, I go to bed looking like Mrs. Snufalufagus.

Besides keeping me breathing -- here are the other things CPAP therapy can do for a person:
  1. Reduce the strain of oxygen deprivation on your heart. Those momentary pauses without oxygen cause your blood pressure to go up, which is hard on your heart.
  2. Make you more feel more rested...because you are. That's what happens when you're not waking up 79 times (+/-) an hour.
  3. Make you more alert in your waking hours. Even on the nights I don't get as many hours of sleep as I should, I feel so much more alert, more mentally with it than I did when I would "sleep" more hours without the CPAP machine.
  4. Possibly (hopefully) help fight the battle of the bulge. Maybe it's just me, but when I'm tired, I eat more during the day, especially sugary stuff that might give me a surge of energy. And losing weight, if you are overweight, almost always improves sleep apnea. So said the doc.
  5. Reduce acid reflux. The pulmonologist explained to me that when you inhale hard several times, gasping for air (which is what happens those 79 times an hour), it loosens the grip of the sphincter muscle at the bottom of the esophagus. That allows stomach acids to make their way back up which is no fun and over the long-term can lead to a pre-cancerous condition called Barrett's esophagus. 
  6. Improve your marriage because your spouse won't be so crabby at you for snoring all night long. And you won't be so crabby at everyone around you because you won't be so flipping tired. Seriously, the doctor said they see symptoms of depression improve in people who start CPAP therapy for sleep apnea.
I wear contact lenses that you can sleep in. One thing I've noticed since starting to use the CPAP machine is that my eyes seem much more "gummy" in the morning. I have to wonder if that's because I'm spending more time in deeper REM-stage sleep. I may have to start taking my contact lenses out when I go to bed, but at least I'll be awake enough in the morning to put them back in.

So, my public service announcement of the night is this: If you think you might have sleep apnea -- if you never feel rested, if you snore so much that you bother others or even wake yourself up (guilty), if you wake up with a sore throat or a swollen uvula (that hanging thing at the back of your throat) -- talk to your doctor about having a sleep study done. If nothing else, consider it a chance to get a night to yourself. You can read about my sleep study, complete with crazy wired up pictures, here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The truth about using a CPAP machine

You might remember that shortly before the New Year, I had a sleep study done. The results came back and declared that I have severe sleep apnea. Well, let me clarify, "severe" sleep apnea is defined as more than 30 awakenings, or "arousals" as they are called, in one hour. On the night of my test, I averaged 79 arousals..in one hour. That's "how-am-I-not-dead-yet-severe sleep apnea."

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So, I've been using a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure -- or in other words, "let's force air down your throat all night long so you keep breathing." This is not my first experience with CPAP. I used a machine several years ago and then got out of the habit. But it is my first time blogging about it. And there are a few things I'd like to share.

This is me, wearing my favorite polka dot jammies, with my CPAP mask on (I think all these years of oxygen deprivation have caused me to lose any sense of dignity.):



And here are some truths about using a CPAP machine:
  1. The use of a CPAP machine may stop nocturnal arousals of the oxygen-depriving kind, but it very likely will stop any other kind of arousals that take place in the bedroom. Seriously, I don't think this is going to be a look you'll see at Frederick's of Hollywood anytime soon. 
  2. While the crazy-looking mask might be a turn-off to your spouse, it also helps keep the kids from climbing in your bed at night because the look of you with the mask on in a dark room is way worse than any bad dreams they might have had.
  3. If those same children decide they want to dress up as an elephant, fighter pilot or vacuum cleaner for Halloween, you're all set. 
  4. The first time you try to get up to pee and are so sleepy that you forget you've got the mask attached to your face and also attached to the unit on your nightstand is not something you'll be interested in repeating.
  5. If your spouse complained about your snoring before you got the CPAP machine and then complains about the minor noise the machine itself makes, I'm pretty sure the judge will go easy on you at the sentencing hearing. 
  6. If you wore a headgear to bed when you were younger and hated it, you might feel the same way about the CPAP mask.
  7. The days of jumping up, throwing on some clothes and heading out the door without a shower are pretty much gone because the straps for the mask create some wicked bedhead. Unless of course you long ago lost your sense of dignity (see above) and you don't really care about leaving home with your hair all jacked up.
  8. You will still feel like crap in the morning if you don't go to bed until 2am, even if those 4 hours of sleep you're getting is oxygen rich. This thing is a machine, not a miracle worker.