Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

I want to take a moment to thank all of the soldiers and veterans who have served and protected this country.
Thank you to my Pappy, uncle, and several great-uncles who served.
Thank you to those who are currently stationed and are unable to celebrate this holiday with their families.
Thank you to those who lost their lives serving, leaving their families to continue without them.
Thank you to those who have served and made it home to be able to celebrate with their families.
And not to forget, thank you to the families of our military. You have made a great sacrifice as well.

Happy Memorial Day

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Surgery at 16

I figured it was time to give a little more backstory on me. Today, I am going to tell you about my back surgery.

I remember it started in February 2000. I was only 15. I was bending over to pick something up when my mom noticed a hump in my back. She was worried so she took me to the doctor, who sent me to get X-rays done. I had severe scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. My spine curved one way, then another, like a backwards S.
The doctor told me and my parents that I would need surgery right away to correct it for 2 reasons. 1) I was almost too old for the surgery as it was. 2) My scoliosis was so severe that if I did not have the surgery, I wouldn't live to see the age of 40. You see, with the way my spine was curving, it was forcing the sides of my rib cage forward, pushing the ends into me. My ribs were already in my lungs and they were on their way to puncturing my heart. Scary thought, huh? My parents looked at me and said that I was getting the surgery. The date was set for July.

Starting in June, I went to the blood center every Friday for 4 weeks where they drew a pint of blood to save and use for my surgery. The best blood is your own blood.

July 11, 2000, 7am. I was wheeled into surgery. I still remember getting wheeled into the operating room where they put me to sleep. I was told they would "wake me up" a few times during the procedure to test my reflexes and make sure I was not paralyzed. The tests went great.
During the procedure, they cut 6 of my ribs and used pieces of the ribs to fuse the upper half of my spine together. They also added two metal rods to force it straight. They did not fuse the lower half because the doctor said that would have been too much a shock to my system and would cause me to be paralyzed. Everything appeared to have gone well. Textbook. I went from 5'4" to 5'7". They took me to ICU for the day. I was on morphine for 3 days.

When I woke up. I had trouble moving my arms. I was told that was because of the anesthesia and would be ok. My right arm came back the next day. My left arm did not. From the shoulder down I could not feel it or move it. That is a very scary thing to wake up to. I remember one time trying to move my arm and getting it stuck above my head on the bed. I kept calling for a nurse to help when another patient heard me and went to get a nurse for me. I felt very vulnerable then.

After the surgery, I was strapped to a bed to make sure I did not move. They would flip me every few hours by adding another stretcher on top of me, picking me up, and flipping me. Like a sandwich. This went on for a few days until they were able to make a back brace for me to wear. Once I had the back brace, I was able to sleep in a regular hospital bed, and get up to move. I was in the hospital for about a week.

The doctor who did my operation, one of the best in the world, was very concerned about the paralysis. I could only feel pressure on my arm; no pain or temperature and no movement. He did several tests on me to make sure it wasn't going to get worse, and hopefully find out the cause. I believe the final conclusion was a "transient weakening of the muscle". What he told us was that he believes my arms were kept above my head for too long, cutting off the blood supply, and causing an event similar to a spinal stroke to happen which caused the paralysis.

A few months later, I started to regain movement. At first it was just a flicker of the thumb. We celebrated. Then I could move a few of my fingers and my wrist. I still could not feel pain or temperature though.
About 2 years later, he had another surgeon perform a tendon transfer on my hand to try to give me more grip strength. It's still a debate if it worked. I can't help but wonder if I would have regained full mobility of my hand if I had not had that 2nd surgery. As of now, I have about 85% mobility where it is likely to stay.
I still cannot feel temperature, though I am able to tell if it is hot or cold based on the pressure it causes. Pain sensations recently started coming back. I get some funny looks from people when they hear me tell a friend that I felt pain in my left arm, and we are excited. Their response is usually "That's a good thing??"

At this point, the paralysis does not do much to slow me down. Every once and awhile I will need help with something, but it doesn't affect me to ask for help. I can carry things, take care of A, run my house, everything I need to do just fine. All it took was a little adapting.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mother's Day recap

I thoroughly enjoyed my Mother's Day.
The day started at 9 am when ExH dropped off Rit (I get Rit all day on Mother's Day). Rit was asleep so ExH took him back to his bedroom. As usual, Rit woke up immediately. ExH gave me my child support check and left. I tried for over 2 hours to get Rit to go back to sleep. He was a pain during that time, but he eventually gave in after lunch.
After 2 hours, Spartan and I woke him up and we went over to my parents' house. Mom enjoyed her gift (a computer game) and they took Rit back to their room for a moment. I wasn't allowed to follow. A few minutes later, Rit is walking out, carefully holding a vase with two roses in it, trying very hard not to drop it. It was such a cute sight. He was so proud when he was able to hand it off to me too. I am very appreciative that my parents want to make sure Rit has something to give me on Mother's Day each year. Last year it was a vase with a single rose. I wonder if next year will be 3 roses?

I am thinking of getting a simple card for Rit to write/draw/scribble in to give to ExH for Father's Day next month. He will have Rit all day that day.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

I hope everyone had a happy Mother's Day. I spent mine with Rit so it was wonderful.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Perception

I was given a new perception on something over the last few weeks. I have seen, from an outsider’s point of view, what I did to ExH during the last year of our marriage. I admit, I am not proud of what I did. At the time, I rationalized it to myself every way I could. But the real reason was, I did what I did because I didn’t trust him. There are times I doubt I ever truly trusted him. I am not sure how I loved him without trusting him, but I did.
I have been told that it made sense because he had an affair. This started long before the affair. I believe the affair was just a symptom of everything wrong in our marriage, not the cause. I found it a lot easier to forgive them when I realized that.
I have looked back at my marriage and I realize a lot of places where I screwed up. I’m glad I can see them. I can learn from them and become a better person, and a better partner should I find myself in another relationship. Are we not taught to learn from our mistakes and failures? To look at them as learning experiences? An interesting musing considering today is one year since the divorce was final.

 What scares me the most though is that I am seeing these exact same actions in another person. It is like I am seeing myself 3, 4 years ago. I can only hope that their path does not parallel mine.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A chance......to refinance?

Earlier this week, I made a call to my mortgage company regarding a payment to my home insurance company. After we got everything straightened out (whew!), the agent asked me if I was interested in looking into refinancing. I thought about it for all of 2 seconds, and said “Sure!” so she transferred me.
I have been really hesitant to refinance because of the additional closing costs associated with a refinance, costs I really couldn’t afford. However, it couldn’t hurt to ask some questions.

I was transferred to Erich, who was incredibly helpful. To make a long conversation short, I qualified for a streamline refinance, which means that they do not need to do a credit check or re-assessment on the house to refinance my mortgage. Also, they would roll up the closing costs into the mortgage so I would not need to pay any of it out of pocket. On top of all of that, the new interest rate would be almost a full 2% lower than my current rate, which would drop my payments by almost $200 a month. Excited does not begin to cover it. HOWEVER (yea, there always is one…) I have an escrow shortage of $1600. Yikes! Can that be rolled up into the mortgage too? No. I need to come up with that out of pocket. BUT… Erich told me that 1) I will have approximately two to three more payments before the refinance would go through. Which means that $1600 will go down to about $1300 - $1400, and 2) the first payment after the refinance wouldn’t be due for approximately 30 days so I can use that payment I would skip towards that shortage. I pay $1100 a month right now for my mortgage, home insurance, premium insurance, and taxes. That means, I need to come up with $300 out of pocket. In truth, I can do that.
An extra benefit to this refinance is that I will be able to get ExH off of the mortgage and the title to the house. It will help his credit score, and give me a little relief to have one less tie to him.  

I have signed the paperwork and sent it back. Now, I am in waiting mode. I am really hoping this all works out so. A lower mortgage will allow me to continue fixing up the house. Which means…..more posts!