Five on Friday

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I figured that I should start today off with a little update from yesterday’s post. My appointment with the physiatrist went as well as could be expected. She was a wonderful physician with a great bedside manner, and that’s always comforting with you’re inevitably receiving bad news. It turns out that she has been intending to send me straight to a surgeon since she first saw all my notes. It was obvious that she had looked over my past medical history in detail before the walked into the room. It’s so nice when you don’t have to retell your story for the umpteenth time. She just needed to perform and document some provocation tests, which I passed (or failed?) with flying colors. Apparently I’m about as perfect of a candidate as you could find for this surgery.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers yesterday – I think they worked in some way or another because usually it takes about 8 weeks to get an appointment with the surgeon but he had one available next Wednesday. Instead of waiting two months, I’ll only be waiting 6 days. 

Just because I’ve been referred to the surgeon doesn’t guarantee that he will accept my case. In the end, the surgeon is responsible for determining if a patient is an appropriate candidate for a procedure. Any responsible surgeon takes that seriously, because they bear the fault if something goes wrong. That said, because my case seems to be straightforward and I’m relatively low risk for complications (especially compared to the more senior population that he’s probably used to operating on…) I suspect that he will have no problem taking on my case. Assuming that’s the case, he’ll present my options. There are three different manufacturers of the rods that are used to fuse the sacroiliac joint, so I’ll have to pick my hardware. Fun, right? This is the point where I appreciate my background in health care, because I can really understand what physicians are telling me and I know what questions to ask. 

So am I still scared? Yes, but not as much as before. Having more of an answer and a clear-cut direction puts me a bit more at ease. Plus, I found out that I’ll only have to stay off my leg for one week, not six weeks like I was originally anticipating! 

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Enough about me, let’s get on to some Blogger Love….

All the Joys - Blogger Love

7 Ways to Manage Anxiety by the new wifestyle – Chelsea has some great advice for anyone who has ever struggled with anxiety. I’m a pharmacist, so I understand anxiety and mental illness from a provider and a patient perspective. Being a pharmacist, I’m a nerd and I love drugs, but sadly we don’t have a medicinal cure for everything. Some people can manage their mental illness without medication, while other people require medication(s) to balance the chemicals in their brain and allow them to lead a “normal” life (if anyone actually knows that “normal” is, please let me know). Despite a person’s choice or need to use medication, there are a lot of non-drug therapy options that can and SHOULD be utilized to help control your symptoms. Chelsea’s list is AMAZING and she has some great ideas, some of which I’ve used in the past and some of which I should probably use more often! I would actually add one more to her list to make it “8 ways to manage anxiety” and the 8th way would be animal therapy. Seriously, even if you can’t own a pet, just interacting with animals can be SO beneficial to human health and healing (and that’s a fact, people!). I always loved seeing therapy dogs around the hospital when I was working – I swear they did just as much good for the staff as they did for the patients!

Dear Fashion Industry by Chicken Scratch – Val said what I have been saying for years….the fashion industry needs to bring back flared jeans! Actually, she made the point that the fashion industry apparently is bringing back flared jeans. Hallelujah! If you’re a super model, or you happen to be one of those people blessed with a “stick” figure, skinny jeans are awesome. They look fabulous on you. For the rest of us….not so much. I’ve been trying to not wear pants for the past 5+ years because of the skinny jeans trend, but honestly I’m not always a huge skirt / dress kind of girl. I have hips, and a really big butt, and they don’t tend to fit into skinny pants. Even if they do fit into a stretchy pair, they don’t look too good. I’m also tired of looking at other girls with hips and butts trying to squeeze into skinny pants. Enough is enough. Thank goodness the flares are coming back!

Sharing Pregnancy on the Internet by Sage – This is such a difficult topic, and one I’ve wrestled with a bit myself, even though I’ve never been pregnant. Cassie mentioned about how Meagan handles sharing her kids on her blog – and I also think Meagan does a great job. Meagan refers to her kids by their first initial, and blurs or crops their faces out of pictures for their privacy. It seems like the perfect solution to balance acknowledging the existence of your kids but also maintaining their privacy. BUT – Meagan started blogging well after her pregnancies. That’s such a huge milestone event, and I think every blogger is tempted to share it on their blogs. How far do you go? Do you share their name? Their newborn pictures? No pictures? Do you talk about it at all? I think about it terms of “what would I have wanted?” kind of situation. My parents have plenty of embarrassing pictures and stories about me that they didn’t share on the internet because the internet wasn’t really around when I was that young. Don’t my future offspring deserve that privilege as well? Then again – I know I’m going to be so proud of them that I might just not be able to resist sharing a few pictures here and there! Continue reading Five on Friday

Fear

I’m scared. I’m scared of the unknown. I’m scared of change, and I’m scared of things staying the same. 

Today, just a few hours after this post is published, I’ll be sitting in a doctor’s office. A new doctor – one of many who I’ve seen for my back / hip / leg pain. 

My problem started in December 2005. I was a freshman in college, and a member of the Butler University women’s golf team. December is the off-season for us, but we worked out together as a team several times a week. It happened during an evening workout session. I remember the football team was working out too. We were doing walking lunges down the hallway of Hinkle Fieldhouse. Lunges where we held a weight with both hands and twisted in the opposite direction of the leg that was going forward. I remember everything about that moment. The smells, the sounds, and of course….the feeling. The feeling of something being wrong. It wasn’t some acute moment where I fell to the ground, screaming in pain, not able to move. Part of my left leg just felt….numb. Tingly. Not right. I could still walk, and at first I really wasn’t in pain at all. 

I don’t remember how long it was until I first started feeling the pain. A day or two maybe. At first it was mainly just below my knee. Sometimes it went all the way down to my ankle. Keeping me knee bent made it worse. I had trouble sitting unless I could constantly shift my leg and stretch it out. Plane rides were agony unless I could get an aisle seat and stretch that leg out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people on airplanes trip over my leg stuck out in the aisle….or how many times it’s been run over by the drink cart. Walking down hills when I was playing golf was the worst. Every step down the hill would result in a sharp acute pain that felt like someone was digging a knife into the side of my knee. 

I stopped playing golf my junior year. I stopped cold turkey. It was my life and my identity, and then….it wasn’t. I didn’t quit just because of my leg pain. There was a coach change, and our new coach wasn’t understanding of the fact that my academics had to come first. I was on an academic scholarship, not an athletic scholarship, so my grades absolutely had to be my first priority. I was having a difficult time balancing everything, and something had to give. That “something” was golf. 

By that time, my pain had changed. It was no longer just bellow my knee and down to my ankle. It was also in my lower back, by hip, and down the outer side of my left leg. By that time I had already seen several physicians and been given a variety of diagnoses. The theories involving my knee being the primary source of the pain no longer made any sense. The source of the pain was obviously higher up. The first physician who identified my back as the issue was in Chicago. The pattern of my pain was classic sciatica. By that time I had received X-rays and multiple MRIs on my knee, all showing that it was perfectly healthy. The physician in Chicago was the first to send me for an MRI of my back. He was certain that it would show a bulging, or herniated, disc in my back. It’s a weird feeling to hope for something to be wrong with a scan or a test, but when you don’t have answers, finding an answer is all you really want. Turns out, my discs are just fine. A couple years later I had a repeat MRI and a test to check my nerve function – again, everything was okay. 

I lost hope for a while. I lost hope that I would ever know what was wrong, and without knowing what was wrong I wouldn’t be able to find a solution and ever feel better. After we got married, my husband became frustrated with my limitations. Our dog has back problems and needs to be carried up and down the stairs of our third floor apartment, which is something I am unable to do. I struggle to carry groceries up the stairs, so he has to do a lot of the grocery shopping. He convinced me to go see a DO who specialized in osteopathic manipulative medicine. He got a recommendation from a friend who is a DO, and it turns out the guy he recommended is literally the guy who wrote the textbook on the subject. He quickly diagnosed me with sacroilliac (SI) joint dysfunction. I was skeptical at first – after all, I had received many diagnoses before which has all turned out to be incorrect. But when I went home and started researching the condition….it was the first thing that had ever made complete sense. My symptoms all fit the condition perfectly. For the first time, I had a bit of hope. I started seeing the DO every week or two, but it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be an easy case. I was grateful to be pain free after my sessions, but it only lasted a few days at most. We couldn’t get the adjustments to stay.

In June last year I drove out to Buffalo, NY at the urging of my family to have a consultation with a neurosurgeon. After more MRIs confirming that my back is still perfectly normal, I was again given the diagnosis of SI joint dysfunction, and presented with my options. The first step was to find someone in Indianapolis who performed SI joint injections to confirm the diagnosis. The “gold standard” for diagnosis is to inject lidocaine into the joint so that it is numbed, and see if the pain is mostly or completely relieved. If it is, then it indicates that the joint is the source of the problem. I waited until my annual physical to get the referral from my family physician – someone who I trust immensely. The injection confirmed the diagnosis – I felt great for a couple of hours. Then the lidocaine wore off. I was also injected with a corticosteroid to help reduce the inflammation in the joint. For some people, a few injections of the corticosteroid is apparently enough to fix their problems. The injections are done a month apart. After three of the injections, it was clear that I wasn’t getting any long-term benefit from them. Because the injections need to be guided by fluoroscopy, which involves radiation, it’s not advised to have the procedure done on a continuous basis. That meant I was on to the next step – a referral to physical therapy and a physiatrist. 

For the last month I’ve been in physical therapy. There’s no doubt that I’ve gained strength and flexibility. Some days, my pain is different. The pan down my leg isn’t as bad, but the pain in my lower back / hip is worse. Apparently, that’s a good thing. I’ve always struggled with delayed pain. I can walk a while and feel okay. If I really walk a lot, then I will start to feel it immediately, but for the most part I don’t feel the majority of the pain until several hours later. It’s easy to push myself too hard, because things don’t hurt while I’m doing them. That’s been the biggest problem with physical therapy. My therapist was impressed by my progress after our first session that she ramped things up quite a bit, which felt fine at the time, but I was almost unable to walk for the next couple of days. We’ve had to be cognizant of my limitations since then. 

Today is my appointment with the physiatrist. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so scared of an appointment with a physician – at least, not since I was a kid and terrified of needles. I know I shouldn’t be scared. She comes highly recommended, and by all accounts is incredibly thorough. I’ll be in good hands. I’m scared of the outcome of this appointment. The purpose of this appointment is to evaluate me for surgery. Right now I see a few potential outcomes, none of which sounds particularly appealing:
a) I’m referred to the surgeon right away
b) I’m sent for more physical therapy with a re-evaluation in the future
c) I’m not a candidate for surgery, and I need to rely on physical therapy 

You would think that option c is the best, but I fear that I’m going to need physical therapy for the rest of my life, and while I don’t mind doing physical therapy in the short term, I don’t want to be there twice a week for my entire life (plus all the exercises that I have to do at home twice a day can become time consuming…). Option b just means more waiting….and I’m ready to get on with my life. So why isn’t option a what I’m looking for? It’s surgery. I know it’s a relatively safe and minimally invasive surgery, but I’ve worked in health care and I know every possible thing that could go wrong. In this case, my knowledge is a detriment, not an advantage. 

Part of me feels like I should be excited because I actually have a chance at complete recovery, of being able to live a normal life again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for that because I know a lot of people in chronic pain don’t have the option of a permanent solution. This appointment is probably going to be a good step for me, but I still fear the unknown, fear the process that will result in change, and fear that things will stay the same. 

Until later, Ashlen

Book Review: The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Synopsis

Don Tillman is a professor of genetics at a university in Australia. He is brilliant, but socially inept. It quickly becomes clear that he is on the autism spectrum, but despite researching the condition for a lecture, he does not recognize the symptoms in himself. He gave up on the prospect of marrying years before, but the story begins with his realization that he should find a suitable match for himself and avoid disastrous dates by creating a questionnaire for single women. His intention is to screen out all unsuitable matches and find a wife who is perfect for him. Don dubs this “The Wife Project.” While the wife project is initially unsuccessful, his friend and colleague, Gene, convinces him to go on dates to get practice and improve his social skills. Shortly, a girl by the name of Rosie walks into his office, and into his life. Despite a disastrous start to their first date, and Don’s quick conclusion that Rosie is an incompatible match for him, Rosie  sticks around and Don learns that she would like to learn the identity of her biologic father. Thus begins “The Father Project” and a friendship between Don and Rosie. Throughout the project, Don must ask himself why he is helping Rosie for no logical reason, if he is capable of changing, and if he is capable of feeling the emotion of love.  Continue reading Book Review: The Rosie Project

How We Save Money and Get Cash Back

How to Save Money

Saving money and getting cash back are two of my favorite concepts in the world. Since we’ve been a single-income household, I’ve become even more aware of ways that we can maximize our cash back and increase our savings. 

Shop Online

My father recently sent me this article that talks about methods that stores use to get you to buy more. By shopping online I avoid the navigation roadblocks, the comforting scents and sounds (which are probably the reason I always over-shop at Fresh Market), and the “touch factor.” If an item is sold in multiple locations, I can shop around for the best price.

Stores with Free ShippingFree Shipping

If you end up paying more for an item online than you would pay for it in the store because of shipping, then it defeats the point of shopping online to save money. A lot of stores give you free shipping if spend a minimum amount of money, but a select few offer free shipping no matter how much money you spend.  Continue reading How We Save Money and Get Cash Back

Five on Friday

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Youth Lesson: Dealing with Difficult People by Kelly at Southern Komfort – Kelly and her husband may have created this lesson for her youth students, but they put together an awesome message for people of all ages. Go read it and give it some thought…it’s well worth your time!

Explaining Bloggers on Instagram to Non-Bloggers on Instagram by The Daily Tay – As usual, Taylor has me laughing. She tells the truth about how we bloggers are downright crazy. If you blog, go read this and treat yourself to a smile. 

How Anxiety is Affecting My Marriage by Chelsea at The New Wifestyle – This post is candid. The title of this post gives you a pretty good idea of what it’s all about. Talking about anxiety, and how that anxiety affects relationships can be tough, so major kudos to Chelsea for being so brave and opening up. How many of us can relate to Chelsea’s struggles? (hand raised)

My Favorite Blogging Resources by Anne at Love the Here and Now and Christine at The So-Called Homemaker – I don’t think a week goes by where I don’t learn at least one thing from Anne’s tutorials. Ridiculous. Go read this one, you won’t regret it. 

All the Joys - Blogger Love

Continue reading Five on Friday

A Little House Update

I haven’t done a post exclusively about our house in a while, although I have tried to put a few pictures in my Five on Friday posts. But….it’s time to give the house some more attention in the form of a “Frequently Asked Questions” post. 

“When are you closing?”

We’re asked this by just about everyone we come across. Sometimes we’re asked five times or more in a day. The answer has changed quite a bit. “Hopefully before the end of the year!” to “Probably the end of February” to “March 10th” to “April 6th!” We’re hoping April 6th is our final answer, and it is currently penciled in as our close date. 

“What’s the hold up?”

In one word: weather. We expect January to be rotten, but February was colder and snowier than anticipated so we couldn’t get a lot of exterior work done. The masonry, exterior paint, and concrete (driveway, sidewalk, stairs, and patio) were all dependent on the temperature. The stone and paint are now finished, and we were told that we might be getting our driveway poured on Thursday. Dave went out to check on the progress this evening and found out that the concrete was all being poured TODAY. Yay!

DrivewayDriveway 2 Continue reading A Little House Update

Indianapolis: Best Restaurants

I’m linking up with Amanda for “Tell Me About Your Town.” Here’s the thing: we live in the suburbs on the north side of Indianapolis. While we don’t live in Indianapolis proper, it is still kind of “our town” and I did live in the city for about 7 years so I know parts of the city pretty well. There are great restaurants all over Indianapolis, but I tend to divide it up into three general locations: 1) downtown 2) Broad Ripple and 3) the north side. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Broad Ripple since I graduated from college, and I know it has changed quite a bit since then, so I’m going to focus on downtown and the north side of town. 

Amanda Moments

Continue reading Indianapolis: Best Restaurants

Five on Friday

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Let’s start with my favorite part of Friday – Blogger Love!

Spring Book List by Sage the Blog – You write about books, and I will come read your post. Blog posts and Goodreads are where I get almost all my book recommendations. I love hearing what bloggers have read and are planning on reading!

A Darker Side – The Last Three Books I Read by Rebecca Chapman – I hadn’t read any of the books Rebecca reviews. Honestly, I didn’t even know John Green wrote a book before “The Fault in Our Stars.” So now I’ve added “Finding Alaska” to my reading list.

Create a Custom Icon for your Blog on your Phone by Love the Here and Now – Anne did it again…another brilliant idea with a tutorial. Check it out. 

The Golden Vlog Series hosted by Life with Mrs. G and the Artist and co-hosted by Wear Flowers in My Hair, Butcher’s Niche and Elizabeth Loves – Not only do I enjoy following the gals who host / co-host this brilliant monthly link-up, but a lot of my other favorite bloggers have been participating as well! Make sure you check out the vlogs at Amanda Moments, The Rambling Llama, and Love the Here and Now. This month was all about favorite books, TV shows, and movies, which was an awesome topic but it had some super difficult questions! 

All the Joys - Blogger Love
 
 
P.S. – thanks to Anne for hosting this while Meagan is on vacation! Who’s jealous of Meagan’s tropical vacation right now? (I’m raising my hand here)

Continue reading Five on Friday

Golden Vlog – March 2015

I am really excited to be participating in my very first Golden Vlog link-up! I’ve really enjoyed watching everyone else’s in the past, so I finally took the plunge and did one myself. I decided to use my cell phone and not some of my husband’s high-tech equipment, mainly because I can never figure out how to work his equipment. I was actually pretty impressed with the quality video and sound on my iPhone 6, so I think I might just keep using it in the future. That said, video editing is not my forte! A big thanks to my husband who sat down last night and made this vlog all pretty, nice, and a little more professional. 

Continue reading Golden Vlog – March 2015

Book Review: Me Before You

Jojo Moyes is becoming one of my favorite authors. I reviewed “The Girl You Left Behind” not that long ago and now I’m reviewing “Me Before You” (which I keep wanting to call “You Before Me”). Both books are very different, but both very good, which makes Moyes’ an incredibly versatile author. I’ve got “One Plus One” out from the library as well, but I’ll probably be reading a couple other books first. 

Me Before YouSynopsis

Louisa Clark has lived in the same small town her entire life. At 27, she is still living at home with her parents and has been dating the same man for six years (with no sign of a marriage proposal in sight). She is forced to look for a new job when the cafe she worked at closes its doors. After a few failed job attempts, she gets an interview for a position as a caretaker for a young man, Will Traynor, who is quadriplegic after an accident. Despite her lack of qualifications, she is hired for the job.

Before the accident, Will was a successful businessman in London who traveled the globe and lived for adventure. As a quadriplegic, he constantly depends on others for his care. The loss of his former life makes him bitter, miserable, and without a desire to live. At first his demeanor makes Louisa miserable, but she is determined to keep the job in order to help support her family. Eventually Louisa is able to do something that no previous caretakers had been able to do: break down Will’s barriers, make him smile, and make him laugh. As the two develop a quirky friendship full of witty banter, Louisa becomes determined to show Will that his life isn’t over.  Continue reading Book Review: Me Before You