Friday, September 18, 2009

Healthy (Ha!), Wealthy and Wise

Thought it was about time to do another update. So... I'd love to cry in my beer but I signed a contract with the pain folks that excludes beer for the foreseeable future. I'd cry into a bowl of pudding but I'm vegan. I guess I need to put on my happy face and keep going.

Had my pain clinic appointment and was terrified as I was under the impression that I'd be getting my spinal injection. Nope I got two hours of talking instead. And a whole new treatment plan.

Turns out my back is trashed - to put in mildly. MRIs are wonderful things. If I ever need to take a friendly witness into court I'm bringing an MRI machine. No kidding. Tell someone you have pain and they give you that, 20 pounds overweight housewife... bored? Needs attention? look. Show them a seriously icky MRI and you're as legit as Snoop Dogg's claim of being OG.

According to my doc I must have had a very full childhood replete with sledding accidents, falls from horses, bike wrecks, car wrecks, tubing mishaps. To that I said, " Heck, Ya!" And he replied, " And now you're paying for it." I guess it doesn't take a CSI expert to piece together a misspent youth :-)

The skinny - L5S1: desiccated disc (hard and flat, not wet and puffy), retrolisthesis (posterior facing herniated disc), broad based posterior disc bulge, left paracentral annular tear, degenerative disc disease, compression on the left S1 root

All that explains the type of pain and numbness I'm feeling so we are postponing any fiddling with the tailbone and SI joint for the next six months and are focusing on the new list of issues. Apparently my degenerative bone disease is the least of my problems. Ditto for the broken, unattached, goofy tailbone.

I am getting a root nerve block on Wednesday and am officially being prescribed buckets of narcotics. I've been taking - for the most part - Advil and the occasional Vicodan and the doc says that is why my world is getting pretty small. He thinks taking an appropriate mix of pain meds and being able to hike, volunteer, attend church etc. is a lot better than stoically not being able to leave the house but being "drug-free" I have mixed feelings about this.

I'm also in a registry and have agreed to all sorts of crazy things which are part of a "pain program" for example, they can call me at anytime and I have 24 hours to come to the clinic and have my pills counted. If it's 15 days since refill I better have half left. Also, (and I thought this was only in the Stepford Wives movie) to "better help their patients" all the toilets in the clinic are rigged with a drug testing apparatus so whenever you pee you are providing a sample. Weird. I don't know how people abuse prescriptions - this process has been very intense. Did you know whenever I get a refill it takes 24 hours because they run a police search on all state pharmacies to make sure I haven't filled any other prescriptions? Crazy!

So that's healthy in a nutshell. I'm a little freaked out, but I'm managing. I have a lot of years left (36 isn't very old) and my back needs to carry me through them. I hate to ponder how it's going to be when I'm 70.

Wealthy: We're about 50 days into our budget and it's going smashingly. I ran a little over in groceries so I borrowed from hair care and clothes - all "legal" moves in our plan. We've become a magnet for money. I wonder if we always were and just never knew it. There is a pretty constant flow of rebates, overcharges, sales, refunds etc. and they are adding up big time. We hope to have our car paid off by mid-October and then we'll get to work on the Visa bill. We are still living on 38% of our income which is super-awesome. Next month we'll have to pay our mortgage again which should bring down our debt payment a bit. Still, our drafted budget for next month shows us paying 40% to debts and living on the other 60% which is still impressive (to me at least) and is a far cry from the 110% we were living on three months ago.

Wise: Nope. Not wise at all. Although, with my new position at Gauche Alchemy I have been writing a lot more consistently and I love to be using my skills again. So it's not a total wash.

I bet all my crafting readers are bored stiff right now. Sorry, but you guys are the target for most of my post and this one is for my near and dear. Just so it's not a total waste *grin* Here are some Halloween tags I've been working on featuring my beloved Retro Cowgirls set from Bombshell Stamps:



And this is a LO I did for SassyGirlScraps last week:



And last but not least, Welcome Willows, thanks for popping by :-)

31 comments:

chksngr said...

so...can I say....you are tremendously brave...budget and back in the same time period...I wouldn't be able to stand more than one at a time....I'm so PROUD to know you!!!! Its an inspriation!

Elizabeth said...

I am glad you are finally getting competent care -- I'm kinda surprised that no one has ever done an MRI before, if only to keep track of the degeneration. May they be able to use that data to your benefit!

My feelings about narcotics mostly come down to quality of life issues. Is there a mental impairment that offsets the value of the physical relief? Also, how big is the risk of addiction, with the quality of life problems that brings?

Elizabeth said...

Bah, the point of the narcotics comment: I know some people see "drug free" as a moral thing (not sure if you do or don't), but I prefer to see drugs as a tool. Which makes the relevant question only this: of all the tools you have available to you, is this a good tool for this job?

GlitteryKatie said...

WOW this is REAL progress - how wonderful!
YAY Nicole!!
Anyway by the time you are 70 you can build yourself a new spine out of bling and sequins!!

Nicole Maki said...

Hey E -

Not a moral thing per se, I just live really clean and hate to add the chemicals to my system. Plus, if I can do without out the meds, I try to.

The doctors explained that when you are in the sort of pain I am in, addiction is much less an issue as it isn't giving you a buzz or anything - you just feel a little less sore.

As far as tools - we've exhausted everything available to us but meds, injections and back surgery. Since I'm not at all on board with surgery we're trying the other two.

Miss you tons. Must fly out for a visit.

Kathi said...

You continually astound me. In the face of continual pain and scary medical results, you still maintain an upbeat attitude AND a great sense of humor. Plus you homeschool 3 boys, cook most of your meals, and still create awesome projects.

chknngr is right. You're an inspiration.

I'm so glad you're getting good health care.

If you needed pharmaceuticals to maintain your heartbeat, you'd have no qualms about taking them. In your case, pain meds are really no different. If they allow you to function and improve the quality of your life (and by extension your family's), take them.

Though if you take them, you won't be able to take Dr. Kathi's advice and soak in a martini or margarita bath.

Shawnna Samples said...

Hugs to you my friend
You have been dealt a crappy hand but the GRACE in which you carry yourself is AMAZING

<3
Shawnna

Thomisia said...

Hoping for you to achieve some pain relief.

Cute projects and the tags are adorable!

Blessings, Janine said...

Great job with your budgeting. I hope now that there is a clearer understanding of what is going on, the professionals help you address your pain better.

As usual, your work is so cool and different,....it's always great to see creations Made by Nicole!

angie gutshall said...

love the layout of your dog.

Heather said...

Love the tags and LO. Those stamps are really cool. I hope you get some pain relief. And great work on the budget! That's awesome.

Carmen said...

From one crafter at least, I wasn't bored at all. Interesting read coming from another back sufferer (scheuermann's disease). Not on a level with you by the sound of it but having the same dilemma about pain meds. Been surviving so far on rub in creams but that didn't touch the last bad couple of days and it's getting worse since I had my last bubba. Don't want to go on painkillers because of the addictive stuff that's been in the news plus my Mum as on a cocktail of drugs towards the end and I'm more than slightly suspiscious about links with cancer/mixing medications/ side effects etc. She had no choice - she had so much wrong with her towards the end she could only trust what the doctors gave her. I don't even want to start down that road...

On a lighter note, wicked halloween tags ;) I see what you mean about that set being very useable!

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

If they are the right meds, it is better to be on them and active, than off them and stuck. At least emotionally, and for me. You don't want to know what it took for me to make NaNo meetings that first year. Egad.

I'm so glad you found someplace to help you...and I am cracking up about the Snoop Dogg comment. Just so ya know...

grrlpup said...

By the time we're in our 70s, there will be 30 more years of research, and the aging of the population means a lot of interest in chronic and degenerative problems, right? So who knows what kind of regenerative and gene therapy stuff will be there to help us regain and keep our health. Maybe 30 years will even be long enough for prices to come down!

I had no idea prescriptions were so tightly controlled. Maybe it's state-by-state or a lot of doctors are less conscientious than yours.

Thank you for the report, it's always great to hear what's going on!

Julie said...

feel better, great work on those tags!!

CathyR said...

You are such an inspiration. I don't know how you keep such a positive attitude with all you are dealing with right now.

As far as the pain meds go, I agree with Elizabeth and Kathi about it being a quality of life issue. If it were me, I'd go with the pain meds and the ability to have a more active life.

I'm glad your budget is working so well for you. Paying off your car is a big deal. I know how good it feels to write that last car payment check.

Bombshell Stamps said...

Brave and inspiring Nicole ;) So happy to hear you're feeling some progress. oooh, and writing! I can't wait to read your Day of the Dead article!

tiffguam said...

I heart your scrap page :) I love reading posts like these!!! Feels like I know you IRL :)

twinkles11 said...

LOVE your tags for halloween that skeleton is so kewl! feel better.

Rebecca In MI said...

I can certainly relate to the Healthy (HA!) part, not so much to the Wealthy (I'm not finding money but appear to be losing!) I had back surgery a few years ago, from a fragmented (the fragment as big as a fingernail, I was told) disc landing against my spine. The surgery was an asap one and I've never regretted it. I have other chronic problems and my back care is a daily thing for me.

I LOVED the Halloween bookmarks! I think I'll make a few for my daughter, thanks for the inspiration!

Sassy Pam said...

Nicole you are an amazing woman with a whole lot (of inspiration & strength) to share with all of us. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be in your position & pain. {{{HUGS}}}

PS. As always love your work, those tags are awesome!

jamie said...

YOU are a hoot!!!

i read it ALL, i tell ya...all of it...

you are really under it in the health department...
an inspiration in the wealth department...
i think you are wise, love to read your writing. witty to say the least.
and artistically there is always inspiration to be found here.
thanks for the smile!

MaryC said...

I feel a little ashamed of myself, being the whiner I am. I complain if my arm falls asleep. You suck it up when you back is screaming at you.
I am thinking about your budget thing. Not because of debt but we could get a layoff at any time. Perhaps we should rein in spending as a precaution.
AND, I am loving all your creations and am never bored by you, ever.
Hugs,
MaryC

*~Annette~* said...

My mom has the degenerative bone disease too... causes her a lot of pain. :-(

The layouts/tags... as as ALWAYS... stunning. I love your color combos!!

Nathalie said...

Wow Nicole!!! I had no idea you were going thru all this! I hope you find a comfortable solution! I really like your Halloween tags!

Laura O'Donnell said...

so sorry to hear about your back, and the crazy journey you are headed on.

love the projects. glad you are happy at gauche alchemy. if anyone can sell BOCs, its you!

Barb P said...

Good luck to you with the new pain program. I have some back issues too, so I know how limiting that pain can be.

Loving those Halloween tags!!!!!

LisaNRoxy said...

Oh Nicole - I am so glad you have a plan. What a nightmare - you poor thing. I cannot imagine the pain you life with. Know you are consistently in my thoughts and prayers. Sounds like you have found a great support system and health plan. Way to go on the budget girl - that is impressive!! Last, but not least - I adore your tags! That skelly stamp is TDF. Great job. Stay strong girl!

Lisa Andrews said...

Hope you get the care you need!

Love your Halloween tags - that skeleton is adorable!

Jennifer said...

I've been thinking about you! Thanks for this update and YES INDEED you are among the bravest I know! Don't know if I could 'do it'. As for the pudding...there is a GREAT Vegan Pudding made of Silken Tofu! I really is WONDERFUL! :)

Joyce said...

Hey Girl, at least we know you're honest!!LOL Happy happies.