Monday, July 30, 2007

Days of Lilies

Probably not many of you know this, but the daylily is my favorite flower. I love the big, showy blossoms and all of the long, skinny leaves that fan out around them. I love that they come in tons of different sizes and colors which bloom for various weeks throughout the summer. I love that they're perennial, since perennials are the only thing that I plant in my garden! Most of all, I love that they're so hardy that they'll continue to bloom even when I fail to water them, which I usually do. The only thing I don't like about daylilies is that each blossom only stays open for one day!

So a few weeks ago I noticed that a few of my favorite daylilies were getting down to their last blossoms of the year, so I pulled out the camera to capture their last fleeting moments of beauty. Actually, I also needed to record the layout of the garden in full bloom in preparation for a major garden overhaul project next spring. Chad is clamoring to get the flowers moved away from the new(er) siding so that bugs aren't as likely to be burrowing into our home (when we took off the old siding a couple of years ago it was completely infested with carpenter ants, so I guess he's not just being paranoid). Thanks to my pictures, I'll know exactly where too look for each flower next spring even if it has yet to pop through the ground. Although my garden certainly leaves much to be desired, I still wanted to share my flower pictures with everyone! Happy daylily days! :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

James & Beth Goodbye, Numero Dos

Last night we attended the final send off for our friends James and Beth before they move away from Lawrence tomorrow. Guatemala City, here they come! It was a great going away fiesta complete with lots of food, friends and piñata bashing! It was such a big deal, our friends Matt and Erika came all the way from Hong Kong to attend (okay, maybe they moved from Hong Kong back to the states last weekend and were already traveling through the area visiting friends and family, but it was still cool having them there).

As you probably guessed, there are about 40 more pictures where these came from! Piñatas make for exciting photography, so enjoy!

We'll miss Beth and James so much, but we're hopeful that after a couple of years in Central America they will come back and settle down in Lawrence again. Until then, thank goodness for easy communication through the Internets! :)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Walking and Talking

I promise I won't bore you with the details of every training walk in preparation for my 3-Day adventure this fall (for that kind of detail you'll have to check out my 3-Day Journal), but I have to at least share the joy of my first "long" weekend walk this morning. My dear friends Amber, Beth and Kristin got up before the crack of dawn today to meet me at 6 a.m. for a 5 mile walk! It was so wonderful to have company, and I appreciate them so much! Thanks friends!!

The other good news is that while my tailbone is still sore from the injection on Thursday, my back pain was fairly minimal during our trek. I felt good enough to walk the dogs when I got home, so that's a good sign! Hopefully there's more pain relief in my future! :)

Friday, July 27, 2007


Yesterday I had my second injection of steroids (insert "juicing" joke here, as my husband always does) for my ongoing back problems. The first injection two weeks ago went very smoothly, and although it was uncomfortable, it wasn't ridiculously painful. Yesterday, however, was a slightly different story. This time the doctor decided--based on the fact that my stabbing pain while standing/walking had gotten so much better but my rear/leg pain while sitting really hadn't--to do a caudal steroid injection instead of an epidural steroid injection. It's much like the injection into the epidural space but instead goes into an opening right near the tailbone called the sacral hiatus. This type of injection is supposed to be better for radiculopathy (nerve pain that that radiates down the rear into the legs), which is often referred to as sciatica. It darn well better work, because it did NOT feel good at all!! Nurse Courtney (who, ironically enough, is married to a guy I went to high school with, whose sister was in my class--what a small world it is) told me there would be a lot more "pressure" with this injection, which I guess is code for it's going to hurt like crap!

If you're interested, I found kind of a cool website that shows you step by step how an epidural or a caudal steroid injection is done, along with a bunch of other spinal procedures. The description of how it's done is slightly different than how my doctor does them, because Dr. N. doesn't use the fluoroscope or contrast solution, but you get the general idea.

Because of the injection site pain (which went away in 2-3 days last time), today was pretty miserable since I had to sit all day long. My tailbone hurts!!! Right now I'm resting comfortably in bed on a heating pad, so I'm a much happier camper than I was earlier while at work. Like the last injection, I'll have to wait a couple of days before the steroid starts doing its job, which isn't a big deal since I won't have to be sitting much during the weekend. Hooray for weekends! Hopefully by Monday the steroid will start taking effect and I'll start sitting more comfortably. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

James & Beth Goodbye, Numero Uno

Last night we attended the last official meeting of our Journey Group (what our church calls our small groups) before the departure of our dear friends James and Beth. We are so very sad they are leaving us!!! Beth has taken a job at a school in Guatemala City so that they can fulfill their dream of living in a foreign country while they're still young and unencumbered by mortgages and/or children. We're bummed because our Journey Group won't ever be quite the same without them, but we're incredibly thankful that they were able to be a part of it for the last couple of years!

We can't really overstate how much fun and laughter these friends have brought to our group and to our lives. There aren't many couples we know who are collectively more hilarious! James is a very witty and slightly goofy character who is always entertaining with his off-the-wall antics. He's a talented artist who will be doing some freelance graphic design work while they're in Central America, and he also happens to be a big fan of felines and The Simpsons (random bits of knowledge, I know). The most amazing thing about Beth is that she has had more interesting hobbies and jobs in her teenage years and young adult life than most people have had in an entire lifetime! She's been a champion high school debater, an oldies radio station disc jockey (who went by the name of Bobbi Socks, no less), a marathon runner, a stand-up comic, an aspiring motivational speaker, and most recently, an elementary school psychologist. Beth keeps us entertained with great stories (often about her childhood) and much like myself, she certainly has the gift of gab! Her stories and off the cuff comments have brought us to tears on multiple occasions, last night being no exception (although for the life of me I can't remember now what she said to make Chad was laugh so hard he was crying)!

So last night our group got together to enjoy the company of our complete clan one last time before a much bigger James and Beth "Farewell Fiesta" on Saturday evening. We enjoyed loads of food and a variety of drinks at Jake and Amber's always welcoming residence, with a few games of Bocce Ball and some old yearbooks for some stellar entertainment (Jake and Amber just had their 10th HS reunion last weekend, which is what prompted us to break out the yearbooks, in case you were wondering). We had so much fun just hanging out and reminiscing about how each couple was recruited to become part of this particular Journey Group at some point in the last 2-3 years. We are all so thankful to have found each other. Never has any bible study/fellowship group had so much fun!

Since last night was a very special occasion, I of course brought my camera along to capture some going away pictures. Unfortunately, my camera has been freaking out as of late and not consistently letting me take pictures with a flash (as evidenced by the not-so-good cat pictures from the other day). Last night the flash was completely dysfunctional and I got nothing but a bunch of blurry pictures of our friends. :( Thankfully, Beth is also a woman after my own heart when it comes to picture taking, so she definitely picked up the slack and took some great pictures of the evening! Hooray Beth!

Thanks for being so much fun, our wonderful southbound friends! We'll miss you!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Creepy Crawlies

I really wanted to name this post My Husband's Next Nightmare to cleverly follow yesterday's post, but it actually happened prior to yesterday's topic, and Chad assured me that it wasn't actually a nightmare, just ridiculously disgusting. Regardless, I thought it was a funny enough story to be blogworthy.

Let me start the story by saying that there is a gas station about 2 blocks from our house that we normally refer to as the Inconvenience Store. This started many years ago when we first moved to the neighborhood and the place never seemed to be open when we needed a soda or gas. Their hours were never posted and their open/closed times were never consistent. Sometimes you'd go there at like 5 p.m. on a Saturday and the doors would be locked for no apparent reason. In recent years, they've posted their hours on the door, which has forced them to be a little more reliable, but out of habit we still call the place the Inconvenience Store. That's really not entirely relevant to the story, but I thought it was some interesting background none the less.

So on Saturday, Chad was getting ready to mow the lawn and decided that prior to doing so he needed a fountain soda (it's important to note that we do actually have tons of canned soda in the house, but my dear husband sometimes prefers a 32 ouncer out of the fountain). He went to the Inconvience Store and got his fountain Coke, sucking it down and leaving it on the counter when he was finished. As I was cleaning up the kitchen later in the morning, I opened the cup to dump the ice out before throwing it away, and when I took off the lid there were like 15 ANTS crawling around the inside. It was then I remembered that several weeks ago, Chad came home from the Inconvenience Store and told me that he had noticed a few ants on the counter top when he'd gone in for a soda. Of course he'd told the person working there about it, but clearly they hadn't remedied the problem.

Right after I discovered the ants, Chad happened to walk back into the kitchen, and he immediately noticed the strange look on my face. When he asked me what was wrong, I said, "Do you remember the problem the Inconvenience Store was having a few weeks ago?" He immediately knew what I was talking about and reluctantly took the cup from my hands and reopened the lid. When he saw those creepy crawlies I thought for a second he was going to throw up, so I reminded him that Bear Grylls has eaten way, way grosser things on the recent episodes of Man vs. Wild we've been watching (which, by the way, I've become completely hooked on--it's an amazing show!).

After Chad recovered from the initial disgust of having drank a soda full of ants, he marched straight back to the Inconvenience Store to inform them of the problem. When he showed the clerk the ants, in all seriousness the guy responded with "Oh sorry, do you want a refill?" Chad very adamantly said "NO I don't want a refill!" The guy offered a bottled soda instead, but Chad insisted that he wanted nothing else from the store--he simply wanted them to shut the soda fountain down so no one else had to eat ants!

Our theory (based on what people who've worked with fountain pop machines have told us) is that when the Inconvenience Store staff unhooked the empty syrup container from the machine they left the tube dangling, so those ants that were on the counter a few weeks ago climbed their way into the tube looking for the sugary substance. They eventually reattached the ant filled tube when the other syrup ran out, and since Chad was probably the first person to get a soda that day (since most people aren't drinking soda at 9 a.m.) all the ants in the tube probably shot out into his cup. At least we hope no other people ended up with a mouthful of creepy crawlies!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Husband's Worst Nightmare

If you know my husband, you probably know that he's not a big fan of heights. In case you were wondering, he's also not a big fan of small enclosed spaces. I had to laugh yesterday when he sent me a link to this article about a bunch of people who were trapped in the St. Louis Arch after a power outage. Along with the link was this message:

"Reason 10,232 that I avoid these type of situations. Can you imagine being trapped for 3 hours in an elevator at the top of the Arch?"

I have to admit, even though I don't have a problem with heights or clausterphobia, I'm with Chad on this one. Three hours without light, AC or water in a small enclosed space with over 250 people? I can't imagine many experiences more horrible than that!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Crazy Cats and a Crazy Camera

Yesterday I finally went to my mom's in Topeka to meet the two crazy cats who've been keeping her up at night. Okay, maybe not all night, but they've been waking her up way too early in the morning by pouncing and playing on the bed where she's trying to sleep!

Despite their behavioral issues, and despite the fact that I'm not a cat person, I really enjoyed meeting Kingston and Patches, evidenced by the fact that I took a ridiculous number of pictures. I'm seriously out of control with that camera, but they were both so cute I just couldn't help it. I wanted to make sure I captured their personalities digitally since there are people in my family who haven't yet had the chance to meet them!

Kingston is a beautiful boy who was very outgoing and playful, although he seemed a little nervous about the neighbor cat who was banging on the patio door and meowing at him. He loves flying through the air jumping after his "birdie on a stick" toy. He's a bit of a stinker when it comes to dominating his adopted sister, who is extremely shy and generally hides under the furniture until coaxed out. She eventually worked up enough courage to come out and mingle during my visit, although she wasn't keen on me petting her at all. Sudden movements and strange people don't make her happy! She did seem to enjoy playing with a length of knotted rope for a while though. I guess she likes the bird on a stick too, but when Kingston is playing with it she doesn't interfere! She is a beautiful cat with very unique markings, and hopefully she'll eventually come out of her shell!

Those of you who are cat fanciers might be interested in all of the pictures and video from yesterday's visit, but beware--I went a little crazy with the camera!

Friday, July 20, 2007

News of the Weird...Lawrence Style

Even those of you who don't live here probably know that Lawrence is generally a pretty quiet town when it comes serious crime. That's why it was a pretty big deal on Monday when I drove past the Yellow Sub on campus and saw tons of camera crews and satellite trucks from all the KC television stations. Apparently, a body had been found in the recently closed building early that morning. There had been a "closing party" at the restaurant the night before, at which time some vandalism had occurred to the soon to be demolished building. The body was discovered the next morning and the police and news reporters were all over the scene, but the cause of death hadn't been reported. Since Lawrence only has about 2 murders a year (compare that to Topeka's 10 or so), just the possibility that there was foul play involved was a huge deal.

Anyway, yesterday the police finally released the cause of death, which was reported in this morning's paper. The man had apparently been at the closing party earlier in the night and then left, returning to the premises sometime after 2:30 a.m. and crawling back into the building through the broken front window. He gashed his femoral artery on the shattered class and bled to death before anyone found him. How horrible is that? It's so tragic, especially because he was within 200 yards of several residences where he could have gone for help. He was apparently impaired enough by the alcohol, pot and cocaine in his system that he either didn't realize he needed immediate medical attention or wasn't able to get to it quickly enough. So very sad and so very bizarre. That's about as weird as news gets here in Lawrence!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bad, Bad, Bad

The other day I was listening to Yahoo Music at work (actually I had videos playing behind other programs, but I was just listening and not actually watching them), and a video started that caught my attention. Some British dude was introducing George Michael at some new arena, so I popped up my video player to catch a peak at this superstar from the 80s. I watched the first few minutes of this:

Is it me, or was that a bad song with bad vocals and bad dancing? The only interesting thing about the performance was the special effects show happening behind him. I mean seriously, what are all those women screaming about, and how do they know the words to that song--is it actually popular in the U.K.? Did they not get the memo that Mr. Michael is not exactly playing for our team? I think it might be a little late for dear George to join the Village People. Yikes--on so many levels!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Pins For Pets

For all you bowlers out there, if you'd like to get some extra rolling in this week, I have the perfect opportunity for you! From July 15-22, Royal Crest Lanes here in Lawrence is hosting a special fundraiser for the Lawrence Humane Society. You can bowl 3 games any day or night this week for only $10, and half of your bowling fee will be donated back to the shelter! How great is that? In addition, the attached restaurant (Wayne & Larry's) will also donate 15% of your food and beverage sales during that same time period to the shelter, provided you bring along a special coupon which you can pick up at the shelter (I can probably snag you a copy too if you need one).

The shelter is super short on funds this year because a) they're undertaking a big expansion and b) the city just cut their funding for this fiscal year by $16,000, apparently as part of "across the board" cuts to outside agencies (the shelter is a private non-profit that gets funding by the city to serve as the one and only city pound as well). While LHS is usually short on cash, this year they are especially short, which is why they're having a few additional fundraisers such as this one.

So get out there and roll, people! Hopefully I'll see you there! :)

Monday, July 16, 2007

The 97's Experience

Finally this evening I have time to talk about the major musical event of my summer! As I'm sure you all know, on July 11 my "most favoritest" band in the world played in KC, so I was able to see them live for the first time since December of 2004. Making it an even more fun evening was the fact that we got to see old friends from high school and bring some other friends along to enjoy their first 97's show ever!

It was a truly terrific show for so many reasons. The boys from Dallas sounded great and played almost all of my favorite songs (except for Niteclub) and then some. The weather was absolutely perfect (like in the low 70s) and the venue was really nice. There were plenty of clean port-a-potties (at least early in the evening) and no lines for food and drinks, along with a nicely mulched and nicely sloped area for viewing the stage. The acoustics were generally good, aside from one brief moment when the band came unplugged. It was actually kind of funny, because the crowd momentarily went ballistic, startling the band who apparently didn't realize what had happened. After the song was over, Murray (the bass player) commented that they must have been rockin' out so hard they'd blown out the speakers or something. He was obviously kidding, but I thought it was kind of funny.

Anyway, I wasn't able to stand quite as close to the stage as I would have liked, as my ailing back wasn't up to going down front during the opening act just to get good position for the 97's. We managed to get a decent spot just to the left of the stage and outside of the "VIP" area, which was perfect for me because there was a railing to lean on for support. I certainly couldn't have stood there completely unsupported the entire time, because the guys played for almost two hours! It was awesome! Of course you're probably thinking that I would've declared it awesome no matter what they sounded like--but it wasn't just me. There was a great review the next day in the KC Star weekly entertainment section, and the next morning our friend Beth sent us this "review" via email as well:

"WOW!!! We all LOVED the Old 97's!!! They were so energetic!! I wish there were more lead singer/guitar players who had hips like jelly and legs like rubber! He was so fun to watch! But I was also very distracted by the face-melting guitar abilities of the guitar player. Not to mention the singing greatness and fun lyrics. This is one of the first concerts where you could actually hear and understand the words.

I am blown away, and we need more CDs before we leave! How fun! Thanks for inviting us to the show!"

I can't tell you how happy it made me that my friends enjoyed the show as well! I've been singing the 97's praises for so many years now, and it often felt like that praise was falling on deaf ears. Finally, my thoughts and feelings have been validated! Thanks Beth! :)

Beth was definitely right about Ken's guitar abilities. He's apparently been practicing a lot on their hiatus from touring. He was rockin' OUT! Chad and I both noticed how great he sounded and how many new riffs he'd incorporated into our favorite songs. Speaking of the songs, I was a little surprised at how many songs they played from their 5th (6th if you count Early Tracks) and most pop heavy album, Satellite Rides. I'm pretty sure they played 9 of the 13 tracks on that disc, which I thought was a ton. I could have done without a couple to make room for Niteclub, Melt Show, The Other Shoe, or something else of the older variety, but overall I even thoroughly enjoyed those songs from my least favorite album!

Since I'm obviously a picture-a-holic, I certainly would have loved to have been closer to the stage so I could have snapped some better photos and video. As it was, I could only get some fuzzy pictures of the whole band without a flash (it embarrasses Chad too much when I use one), and some pretty far away grainy video. Regardless of the quality, you're welcome to check out some clips and pictures on our Picasa page! Maybe you'll be inspired to go see them next time they come around! :)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Week Away From Training Day

I'm actually dying to talk about the Old 97s, but I just haven't quite had the time to sit down and write the details of the whole evening. That's actually a good thing, because it means that this weekend I wasn't flat on my back in bed most of the time! After my injection on Thursday, Friday was slightly better (although it was hard to tell for sure because I took painkillers), and then Saturday I woke up feeling tons better! It was crazy! It was the first day I could actually walk without hunching or limping, and it was so wonderful. I actually went to Target in the morning and the shelter in the afternoon. I took out some small dogs (Chad made me promise not to take out anyone bigger than Celtic) and took lots of pictures. This morning I actually sat through church and equip (Sunday School) with no ice pack or TENS unit, so I'm definitely making progress. I'm just amazed that it happened so fast!

Tonight I went with Chad to walk the dogs for the first time since the 4th, and my back felt just fine. I feel like my spinal health is at least back to where it was prior to my disc aggravation, so now I'm a little more confident about starting my 3-Day training, which is scheduled to begin in a week! I'm ready to walk!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Potential Turning Point

This afternoon I finally had my much anticipated and awaited epidural steroid injection, and I'm very hopeful that today is a turning point in the treatment of my back issues! We saw a highly recommended anesthesiologist in town, and he was super informative and encouraging. Not only did he explain the whole process thoroughly and answer all of our questions, but he was also very confident about the procedure being exactly what I need to solve my nerve inflammation problem! I'd read that only about 50% of people are helped by epidural injections, but Dr. N. said that his experience has been that about 75% of his patients do a series of 2 or 3 injections and then never have problems again. We're praying that I fall into that 75 percent! :)

For those of you who were a little freaked out by the idea of me having a needle stuck in my spine, the injection itself was really rather uneventful, in case you were wondering. I guess there's only about a 2-4 mm space where the needle can go, which means that they obviously have to be super careful, but they have some special kind of syringe which makes it possible for him to be that accurate. He numbed the skin on my back, then stuck me with a needle full of Novocaine to numb the whole area, then filled the epidural space with a syringe full of saline to open up the area so that the steroid could flow freely, then stuck me with the syringe full of the steroid. The only uncomfortable part was when they actually shoot the steroid in--the nurse told me it would happen, but you feel this painful pressure down your leg that kind of makes it feel like your leg's going to explode. It didn't last too terribly long though, so it really wasn't that bad at all!

The steroid they use is time-released drug which is supposed to peak at 2 weeks, at which time you come back for a second epidural unless you're already 95% better. Apparently there are a handful of people who have a complete recovery after only one injection, but most people need 2 to 3, or sometimes even 4 or 5. The steroid takes a couple days to start working, but in 2-4 days I should start noticing an improvement, and then I can go back to any normal activities that I feel up to doing! I'm definitely ready to be active again!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, RIIIIIIIIIICK!

Today is my good friend Vikkie's birthday, so I just have to give a shout out to her on the old blog this evening. She is turning a mere 26 today--still such a baby! Vikkie's blog was one of the inspirations for starting my own, although my mundane stories could never be quite as entertaining as hers--she's one of the best storytellers you'll ever meet (sometime you should really have her tell you about the time she got pooped on). After an evening with Vikkie, your stomach will usually hurt from laughing so hard--she's always loads of fun! I should also mention that I love her dearly because she was my only friend who was up for the challenge of doing the 3-Day with me this year, so we'll soon be taking our very own walking tour of beautiful San Diego!

I should probably also explain that Vikkie and her husband Brett, along with Chad and I, like to call each other Rick all the time. It's kind of a long story, but it stems from our favorite recurring character on Saturday Night Live. Maybe it isn't as funny to everyone else, but we were all watching it together one night and it just stuck with us. You can check it out here to see what I'm talking about!

Happy Birthday, Vikkie! You rock!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Clay in Congress

This just struck me really funny. I was looking at some of the headlines on Google News yesterday morning and came across this article:

In case you missed it, the headline doesn't exactly go with the picture! The funnier thing is, this morning the Google headlines still had that picture associated with that article! Does Clay Aiken really have something to do with Congress, or need to work on their editing just a tad?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Brother!

Today is a very important day because it's the b-day of my one and only brother! Happy birthday, Eric! I know I tend to talk about my brother a lot, but that's only because I'm super proud of him. He's an ultra-smart, ultra-talented, ultra-funny and ultra-fun guy, and I love him very much!

If you've read my blog before there's probably not a lot I can tell you about my bro that you don't already know. He's my only sibling, which I think makes me more attached to him than some sisters might be to their brothers. As a child I followed him and his friends around and always wanted to be doing what they were doing, so needless to say I made a lot of forts, played with lots of Star Wars action figures, and pushed around a lot of Hot Wheels! I thought he was pretty awesome then, and I think he's pretty awesome now!

Eric is exactly two years and one month older than I am, which meant that for a very short time when we were about 11 and 13, I was almost as tall as he was (girls hit that growth spurt sooner than boys, you know). A few times people asked us if we were twins, and while I took that as a compliment, it nearly sent my brother through the roof. However, I now know exactly how he felt, because several times in the last few years when people have met my brother they've asked which one of us is older, which is certainly not a compliment to me! He looks way too good for his age!

Since Eric lives in Los Angeles, we don't get to see each other very often, so I'm really looking forward to our upcoming trip to our dad's house in Ohio where we can spend a long weekend hanging out together. We have tons of fun when we're together and he always makes me laugh. I'm so excited to see him!

Happy Birthday, Big Brother! I hope you have a wonderful day!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Missing In Action

A few of you may have noticed that I haven't blogged very much in the last few days. I guess you could say I've kind of been missing in action. Probably a more accurate description would be M.A.A.--missing any action. For the last 5 days I've spent the majority of my time laying in bed with the laptop. I've had a lot of time of my hands, but for a number of reasons I couldn't bring myself to write about the physically and emotionally painful reason I've been laying here. Tomorrow I'm going to try heading back to the real world, so I supposed it's time I shared the story of what has sidelined me the last several days. It's a long story, so those of you in for the long haul might want to go get some caffeine at this point! :)

As most of you know, for the last couple of years I've been fighting a bulging disc in my lower back, which has caused me nerve pain in my back, rear, legs and feet
(commonly referred to as sciatica), primarily when sitting. This is rather unfortunate since my job involves a lot of time in a chair. From time to time I've blogged about the condition, mostly to chronicle the ridiculous number of treatment options I've attempted trying to get some relief from the pain. For those of you keeping score at home, the list includes traditional chiropractic, ice packs, months of complete inactivity, a heel lift, nerve stimulation, an inversion table, physical therapy, large quantities of ibuprofen, massage therapy, homeopathic muscle relaxers, muscle stimulation, traction therapy, heating pads, acupuncture, auricular therapy, two different homeopathic anti-inflammatories, and Active Release Technique from a different chiropractor along with core strengthening and stretching. While this last treatment did improve my muscle spasms and range of motion, there was no noticeable improvement in the nerve pain. Apparently the bulging disc has been pushing on those nerves for so long the inflammation just wouldn't go away, so my chiropractor recommended that I get an epidural steroid injection, which is what my regular doctor recommended over six months ago. At the end of June, I finally took that step and scheduled the epidural for July 12, which was the soonest the anesthesiologist could get me in.

So here's where this week's story begins. Ironically, the morning of July 4, just over a week before my scheduled epidural, I had just walked the dogs and was doing my regular exercises on our Weider CrossBow in the basement. After doing some inner/outer thigh work, I sat down on the bench in the "butterfly stretch" like I would on any other day. I heard no strange popping noises and felt no unusual pain, but when I went to stand up I realized there was a big problem. I couldn't stand or take a step without feeling like someone was stabbing me in the left side of my lower back. Not only was it terribly painful, but it was terribly scary as well. I'd never felt pain like it before and was scared to move for fear of feeling it again.

I spent much of the day laying down with an icepack or my TENS unit (nerve stimulator). Walking was extremely painful, so it was definitely slow going when I tried to go anywhere! Thursday morning, I joined Chad for Grandma's return trip to Salina, with the hope that a chiropractic adjustment from Chad's dad would improve the problem. Unfortunately, the problem seemed to be a little bigger than one adjustment could fix, and upon our arrival home I wasn't really feeling any better.
Chad called my doctor, who prescribed Lortab for the pain (which is acetaminophen with Hydrocodone) as well as a muscle relaxer, to help the spasms that are happening in response to the pain. Up to this point I'd been very reluctant to try narcotics for my back problem, but Thursday night I was so thankful for the prescription I cried tears of joy after two days of crying tears of sorrow!

On Friday morning Chad took me to see my doctor, and she also prescribed Prednisone to try and combat some of the inflammation that is causing the pain. The Prednisone was supposed to make me hyper and irritable, but aside from not sleeping much, I don't think the side effects have been bad at all. The Lortab has definitely eased my discomfort, but I can't take the full dosage because it makes me sick to my stomach and really lightheaded. That's probably a good thing from the standpoint of avoiding dependence issues!

So the doctor's thought is that either the disc which was already bulging just bulged out farther or ruptured altogether, but it doesn't really matter which is the case, because really the treatment is the same for both: lots of rest, ice, Prednisone, and ultimately the epidural, which will shoot cortisone directly into my spine. I'm doing lots of laying around, alternating ice packs and heating pads, and things have improved immensely since Wednesday. Those first couple of days were very depressing and felt very hopeless, but today I'm starting to feel like someday I'll be back to normal again!

Both my chiropractor and my doctor had high hopes that the epidural would help my pain prior to this episode, because at that time what was causing me the most pain was the nerves going down my rear and legs while I was sitting. The epidural was supposed to calm that nerve inflammation. Now, the bulk of my pain is to the left of the disc on the way to my hip, which might be either from a severe bulge, or in the case of a ruptured disc, from a piece of the disc actually sitting on that nerve. Sometimes the disc will rupture and just leak out the gelatinous material inside, which pushes on the nerves for a while but then dissipates. Sometimes when it ruptures there is a piece of the harder outside of the disc that lands on a nerve. If the epidural doesn't help at all, then it's likely that this is what has happened, but they will do another MRI in that case to be sure. If that is the problem, there really isn't any other option except surgery, since they obviously have to get that piece of the disc off the nerve. Anyway, we won't really know until about a week after the epidural if it actually works or not, which is a real bummer because I don't want to have to wait that long!

So I guess that's the whole scoop. Each day there is definite improvement, so hopefully by tomorrow I'll be able to go back to work at least part of the day. Honestly, I'm not worried as much about work as about the other activities in my future that are looking questionable at this point. I'm already missing two softball games today and one tomorrow, and while there's only one more game I'll miss this season, I honestly don't know if it's feasible for me to play in the fall season that starts in early August. I just can't really tell if the problem is actually improving or just getting covered up by all the medication. While I'm also saddened that I won't be able to jump around and dance at Wednesday's Old 97s concert (although I still anticipate going), my biggest concern is the Breast Cancer 3-Day. While I will obviously do everything in my power to participate, I'm slightly nervous about starting training in a couple of weeks. Thankfully, walking is a very low impact activity, but walking over 450 miles in 16 weeks will obviously take it's toll. Your prayers for a quick recovery are definitely appreciated!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fourth Festivities

In keeping with our family tradition, this 4th of July holiday was marked by a visit from Chad's grandmother Margie from Salina. Chad had a meeting in Smolan on Monday night, so it worked out perfectly for him to stay the night with Grandma and bring her back to Lawrence the next day. She and Chad played cards in the afternoon, and on Tuesday night we took her out to the softball fields to watch Chad's double header. Both games were very exciting battles against the best team in their league, and the second game even went into extra innings.

On Wednesday we were able to sleep in a little, which was a great way to start a vacation day. Chad and Grandma played some more cards, and then early in the afternoon Mom and Cliff came over from Topeka to do some holiday hanging as well. We were forced into the basement for a little while because of the tornado sirens, so we watched a little TV before coming back upstairs to watch the rain. Mom brought her famous squash blossoms, which she fried up to perfection for a decadent appetizer in the early evening. Later Chad grilled us turkey brats, served with his famous homemade mustard. We followed up dinner with some angel food cake topped with strawberries and whipped cream.

Mom and Cliff had to head home after dinner, since Mom had to commute to Emporia early in the morning. Grandma and Chad and I, along with Celtic and Hope, crawled into the car and headed over to Baldwin City, a tiny town about 30 minutes away. Our friends had suggested this was a good place to watch fireworks for Grandma, since we could pull right up into the parking lot of the high school where the display is launched, and Grandma wouldn't have to do any walking at all. Even though we got there just minutes before the show started, it was really the perfect location for us. We sat our chairs right outside the car so Grandma only had to take about two steps before sitting down to enjoy the show! Not only that, but the show was less than 100 yards from us, which meant the fireworks were almost directly overhead. It was a little bit loud, especially for Hope, who chose to stay in the car (I stayed there with her to offer some comfort), but it was really awesome for the rest of us to be that close! Since Baldwin is such a small town, it wasn't an especially long show, which I thought was actually kind of nice since I think fireworks tend to get kind of monotonous. This was the perfect length and the perfect distance. Grandma said it was the best fireworks show she'd ever seen! I can't believe I forgot to bring the camera!

Thursday morning we drove Grandma back to Salina and stopped briefly to visit Chad's parents while were there. While it was a really quick visit with Grandma, we had a really nice time and were very thankful that we were able to continue our 4th of July tradition!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Rainy Race Results

On Saturday night, my dear husband ran in the Summer Sizzler, a 5K race at Johnson County Community College. He had only run one other 5K in his adult life, which was last summer at the Race for the Cure in Kansas City. For that race, he ran regularly for a few weeks beforehand, but he didn't do any serious training. This time he trained for about 7 weeks, running 3 times a week and doing lots of longer runs (5 and 6 miles) and also some speed work. His goal was to run the 3.1 miles in under 7 minutes per mile. Saturday night, all of his hard work finally paid off!

For a while we weren't really sure if the race would be held at all, because after almost 3 days of solid rain, it rained all morning and afternoon on Saturday as well. Late in the afternoon, the thunderstorms started to break up a little, and although we hit a few sprinkles on the way to KC, the rain had stopped by the time we arrived. There was a bit of a strong wind, but we couldn't complain because the temperature was unseasonably cool. I actually needed a jacket by the time the sun went down!

The race started right at dusk, so pictures were a little difficult, but I managed to get a shot of Chad at the beginning and right before the finish line. His official time: 21:25. He finished 23rd overall out of 127 people and 5th in his age division out of 16 people. Most importantly, he reached his goal of running under 7 minute miles, averaging about a 6:53 mile! It was very exciting and I was a very proud wife! Check out the complete set of pictures if you're interested!