Arthritis of the Spine and Believing In Yourself
Many of our readers are aware that I have been working, living, and volunteering for many months at a time in East Africa for a few years. It's been very hard work, but a labor of love, and a dream come true for me in spite of all of my OA challenges.
I was devastated a couple of months ago when my OA disease decided to again rear its ugly head with a vengeance! I guess that, for some inane reason, I had felt "protected" from having any more major flare-ups. After all, I've had nine joint replacement surgeries from the waist down - I didn't "deserve" any more OA problems. Of course, most of you are very aware that OA can be an "equal opportunity destroyer" - nobody has total immunity! This time, we discovered that I not only have advanced arthritis of my entire spine, but also degenerative disc disease in the low back.
There really isn't a "cure" at this time, and we're trying to control the pain. I agreed with my neurologist as well as my orthopedic specialist to be placed on 24 hour pain relievers (everything from a double-dose Fentanyl patch, and Oxycodone at night to Tramadol during the day). I was on most of this for a month and a half and thought I was functioning well. Last weekend I ran into a friend and we had a chat. The next day, I ran into another friend who introduced me to his wife and we had a chat. On the way home, it suddenly occurred to me that this was the same guy, but I'd never seen him with a hat on, and the two chats were almost exactly the same.
I was not only very embarrassed, but also scared to see vividly what too many meds were doing to me! I had a long talk with my neurologist, where I explained what had happened and asked his permission to be weaned off of all those drugs. I had decided that I'd rather live with pain and think straight! (My doctors finally all agreed).
When my back challenges became severe, I was afraid that I would not EVER be able to do anything again - and mainly that I would have to stop Patticakes, my custom baking and cooking business. For almost the first two months, I slept and read. Though I LOVE to read, I felt very unproductive and depressed. When my customers started calling me with orders for the holidays, I was afraid I'd have to refuse; however, I've discovered that I can limit myself to a morning shift of two hours in the kitchen, and then I need to rest and stay off my feet for the rest of the day. But the point is, I CAN DO IT! Remember...WATCH ME!!!
In my business, we make hors d'oeuvres, a variety of entrees, breads and rolls, cookies, and desserts, all packaged for the freezer. It's something I love to do (and my customers love the products). It's exciting to discover that, for now, I can continue my work on a limited basis - but I CAN do it! I now have also developed the "courage" to ask friends for help grocery shopping, as I'm not allowed to carry heavy things. My dentist is helping also: he suggested I try to get a rolling stool with an upholstered support in back like he uses. It's wonderful because it takes the pressure off of my low back!
It has been one of those very cold, windy and rainy weeks in my town. I'm one of those highly affected by those nasty grey days, so when I awakened today, the sky was a glorious blue and the sun was sparkling. Immediately, I had a surge of energy. I decided to do my own shopping for my projects - yes, I'm finally learning to take more short trips to the store with fewer items, so nothing is too heavy. I needed marshmallows for one of my cooking projects, and it seemed to take forever to find them. In Africa, we have few tiny shops with very limited merchandise - I'm constantly amazed at the "new-fangled" things that keep appearing in American stores (makes me sound 100 doesn't it)! When I was a kid, marshmallows came in kind of a box made of wax paper, and there was only one kind. Today, I was amazed at the choices! You can buy super-giant ones, and of course miniatures, some white and some colored. There are also some flavored ones. Then there were some that were in a variety of weird shapes. The ones that I thought the strangest are somewhat square shaped and flat, and I wasn't quite sure what you'd do with them. But, then I finally discovered my plain white marshmallows, paid for them and left (thinking all the time, "Gee, I really must get out more if a marshmallow display entertains me so...").
So, in spite of twinges of pain, I'm in a far better place now than two months ago. It was a gloriously clear sunny day - I wrapped more of my Patticakes products and had a very happy and productive day. I talked to several friends (without repeating my conversations..) I even developed a new soup that is awesome if I do say so myself! It's a fresh asparagus and shrimp bisque - Yum!
So WATCH ME is still my guide!
Have a happy Thanksgiving!