Life After Home School and the Move

 

Life after home school

Tomorrow is Daniel’s very first day of kindergarten. To me he still looks like this:

How can I send this sweet Bama boy to kindergarten??

But, believe it or not, the Dan Man is 5, and he is extremely excited about going to school with his brothers. They will all be at the same school together. I had planned it differently, but at the last minute Daniel was awarded a scholarship, so that worked out beautifully.

It’s hard to even focus on how much is happening. Our heads are still spinning. In June, we trekked across the U.S. of A. In July, we hurriedly unpacked. (So now I need to go back and re-organize everything.) Then we headed off to one vacation after another. We did Disney. We saw friends. We went to Destin. We visited family.

I feel as though all along, our life keeps improving more and more. Happy things keep happening to us, and I’ve been so much in recovery from the dismal beginning of 2016 that it’s taken me awhile for this new thing to set in to my head.

I’m not stressed anymore! Wait. I don’t have to make lesson plans? Nope.

I don’t have to do any teacher training? Nope.

I don’t have to even feed everyone lunch? Nope.

I can be at my parents’ house in two hours? Yep!

The big boys are already in school, and they LIKE it??  Yes!!!

They actually like their new school a LOT!!!

I keep thinking about those Christian song lyrics, “He set my feet upon a rock.” Of course, that is also in the Bible, but it’s so much easier to pop in my head when it’s set to music. In my head that’s me. I was sinking in my misery, and I have been lifted and set upon a rock. Amen. Amen. Amen.

I think we’re on the verge of loving it here. I made my schedule for tomorrow, and it doesn’t sound hard! I didn’t even have to color-code it!! 

Praise the Lord, y’all! I have found relief!!! Now we just need to make a friend or two, and we’ll be all set.

We aren’t off to a great start on the makin’ friends bit. First off, we’ve lived here over a month and we’ve been out of town for most of that.

Secondly, we have a son whose Southern accent impersonation is down right hilarious. I only hope the locals will think so, instead of feeling like they’re being made fun of. I haven’t heard him do it in public though, so we should be good. (Ask Joshua to talk Southern next time you see it. You will laugh!!)

Then there was the doctor’s office incident. Alan took all four boys to the doc on a Saturday by himself. (I was out of town again.) We just needed to get school and sports forms filled out. Moving is such a pain when it comes to health care!!! (That’s another reason our company should let us live places a little longer.)

Well, they were all there for HOURS, but everyone was well behaved, thankfully. But right at the end, the doctors refused to sign the sports forms for ALL the boys! Can you believe that!!??  And it was because of my heart problem! Ugh.  Way to go, Me!

Alan tried to convince them that the boys do not have it, and even I am fine. I could play sports even. (Not well, but I could do it.) He failed to convince Doc #1, so he asked to get a second opinion from one of the other docs there that day.

Doc #2 also denied us. We all have to go to a cardiologist before they will be cleared to play sports. Doctors totally freak out about the v-tach thing, but I’m telling you mine is benign. It’s monomorphic, non-sustained. I’m good.

So today we’re sitting in Sunday School, and Alan whispers, “That doctor that wouldn’t sign the boys’ sports physicals is right over there.” Yep. Doc #1 is in our Sunday School class.

No way.

Yes way.

We chatted with him after class. He didn’t budge any on the issue, but hopefully we are all on good terms. I’m sure he’s a very good doctor. It was just a little embarrassing.

Oh, yeah, that’s us. We’re just making friends all over the place.

life after home school

Won’t you be our friend??

I am seriously, for real, truly going to take a “1st day of Kindergarten” picture for Dan tomorrow. And a “3rd day” pic for J and C! I don’t know why I’ve had so much trouble remembering.

Have your kids/grandkids started back to school yet? Share with me in the comments!

My Chronic Pain Battle Part III: The Cat Came Back the Very Next Day

Chronic Pain Battle Part III

Ah youth. Where did you go, youth??

My Battle with Chronic Pain Part III: The Pain Returns

It reminds me of that song: “The cat came back the very next day; it just couldn’t stay away.”

Life was going well, and I was on cloud NINE, being finished with my very first year of home schooling! Wahoo! Summer! I made big plans.

But why wouldn’t I? I was young and healthy. I should be able to handle a cross-country flight and a few short road trips. Right? And don’t give me the, “You just need to be more active,” talk because I was being active. The problem was all the sitting and riding!

It started with the plane, it worsened with each car trip, and I took several.

When I first arrived in Florida, Alan called me from home, “I made you a doctor’s appointment.”

“Why?” I asked. I hate doctor’s appointments, and I had been doing so well.

“For your back!”

“My back is better. I’m good, Alan, I don’t need a doctor.”

“Ehhh, I think you do. Let’s keep the appointment, and you’ll probably be glad you have it by the time you get home.”

Heh? Did my husband just do a little soothsaying? Was he saying that he knew I’d be back to hurting by the time I got home?

I shrugged it off. I enjoyed my vacation. He joined us. We took even more car trips in the South.

chronic pain part III

fun in the sun

And Alan was right. I was happy to go to the doctor by the time I got home. What is it with airplane and car rides??? I don’t think this is normal.

The doc was a super friendly chap. He offered me a shot for my shoulders to loosen them up. I declined. I’ll never forget seeing my mom get a shot for a similar shoulder problem. It hurt much worse before it felt better. No thanks. My shoulders are more stiff than they are painful, so I’m not that desperate yet.

The Physical Therapy Phase

He sent me to physical therapy for my hip.

I tend to lean towards my left when I sit to keep the pressure off my bad hip. That hip hurts bad when it flares up.

“Why are you sitting like that?” the physical therapist, Ryan, asked me.

I’m so dumb. I went straight into defensive mode instead of patient-being-helped-by-a-doctor mode.

“What? Like how?” I asked trying to straighten my posture.

“All cocked to one side.”
“I don’t know.” Yes, yes I do know. Why didn’t I just admit my hip hurt? That’s what I was there for, geesh.

Doctors are always asking me questions that are probably super obvious, but I haven’t thought about it. So two days later, bam! I always figure out the answer to their questions. And that is why I am so thankful for physical therapy.

Yes, they made me do stretches, exercises, taught me how to squat properly, etc., etc. But the biggest thing was that I finally began to learn what I had begun to truly want to know:  What is wrong with me????

Ryan would work on an area, and I noticed that he knew the exact name for every single thing he worked on.

“That hurts bad. What is that?” I’d ask him.

“That’s a muscle.”

“What muscle is it?”
“That’s your tensor fasciae latae muscle. It’s a compensatory muscle.”

I learned that the tensor fasciae latae, and several other muscles become inflamed when the more essential core muscles are weak, but I also learned that those muscles tighten down when they are protecting something that’s injured underneath.

“Yow! What is that?” I have more angry muscles, tendons, and bursa than I had ever realized.

“That’s your iliotibial band. You’d be better off if I don’t work on that. You need to roll it at home with a rolling pin.”

He was right. He did work on it right before Christmas break, and every where he touched it there were little bitty bruises for a couple of weeks.

Physical therapy was fantastic. My favorite part, besides just being so happy to get out of my house, was the ice therapy at the end. They laid ice over my achy shoulder muscles and that evil iliotibial band, which is a tendon that runs down the right side of the thigh.

I was able to learn so much from my physical therapist because he was actually able to see me enough times to know the real deal about what was going on. The doctors, on the other hand, only have that one visit to go off, in which I answer all their questions wrong but realize what I should have said days later.

And then I finally had a lumbar MRI and a shoulder MRI. The verdict was in: not a single thing wrong with my spine. Ryan was right.

And the shoulder: tendonitis and torn muscles.

I asked to see a rheumatologist. I did this because I had done some research and came across a disease that sounded so much like me. Yep. I’m guilty. Self-diagnosis.

Enter the Rheumatology Phase

Now you want to talk about life-changing self-evaluation questions. My rheumatologist asks questions that I simply go blank on.

“How long does it hurt in the morning?”

Ummmm I never thought about it that way. Some days it does not ever go away. Some days I don’t hurt at all..

So I said, “I don’t know. Once I get going, I’m okay.”

I hated not knowing, and why have I never noticed? Then he asked me which is worse, morning or night?

I have no idea!

So I’m making a chart. It’s enlightening. Every day really is different.

So let me tell you what I think I might have (but of course I’m not a rheumatologist):

Psoriatic Arthritis: This disease is hallmarked by joint inflammation, which I have yet to be able to prove, except for tendonitis. Tendonitis is also part of PsA, though. So is nail psoriasis. You can read more about it here. (rheumatology.org link)

Was I right? We still aren’t sure, but we’re working on figuring it out. I could be dead wrong.

In fact, I had a rheumatology appointment this week. I do like my rheumatologist. He wasn’t convinced of the PsA. My blood work did not help me any, as it was free of any inflammatory markers. The day they did the blood work I felt pretty good. But he has ordered a hip MRI.

 

What is the deal with all the torn muscles, tendonitis, and bursitis (in both hips) if it isn’t psoriatic arthritis? That IT band syndrome that I have in my legs is called “runner’s knee”. Only I’m not running anymore, haven’t run since JD was born.

Over Christmas, I figured I’d get rid of all of this. I would just rest.

“Rest will fix it all,” I assured my parents, as I spent the entire vacation, practically, laying in bed. I literally could not sit down. The pain was even radiating into my pelvis bone, when I was lying in bed.

chronic pain battle part III

I love this photo by Janet. I literally woke up, rolled off my ice packs, posed for this picture, and went back to my ice packs.

My internet research assured me that rest is the way to fix tendonitis or bursitis.

Of course, that didn’t work. I finally went to urgent care and got a steroid shot.

The nurse practitioner assured me, “This will help, temporarily, but if you’ve had bursitis for three years, a steroid shot is not going to take care of it.”

 

It did help enough to get me through that plane ride, but returning to a wet California did not help. By Wednesday, I developed a terrible limp. It was so hard to walk.

And guess what, by Friday I could walk completely fine again. In fact, on Thursday and Friday, the sun came out and I felt down right wonderful. I was so excited.

Maybe this flare up is coming to an end, and I am excited about that, but I’m desperate to get to the bottom of it. Now the whole family is telling me I can’t go on the cross country road trip in the spring because I never know whether I will wake up completely incapacitated or not.

I have a doc appointment on Monday. We’re going to address my anxiety level, my heart,  and the renewal of my physical therapy referral.

This is getting personal. Rest didn’t work. Maybe exercise and nutrition will. It’s time to put this Humpty Dumpty back together again, and I mean business.

I do want you to know that while I was stressing out about this earlier this week, I am doing much better both physically and emotionally now. Even if I never find out “what’s wrong.” it will be okay.

“He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.”   (from the Hymn Day By Day, my favorite hymn)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

In case you missed it:

Part I: My Battle with Chronic Pain

PartII: My Battle with Chronic Pain

 

 

 

Can Open, Worms Everywhere: The Back Pain, The Stress, and The Home Schooling

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Such an anti-climactic couple of days around here.

Do any of you have chronic back pain? I sure do. Upper back, lower back. It goes down the side of my right leg. It pops up in my wrist. I’m always hurting, some days worse than others. When I want to pretend like I feel fine, I pop an Advil 800 and head out into the world. When I want to sleep, I take Tylenol PM.

I lay on hot packs. I rub on Panaway essential oil. I have a stash of back massagers, tens units, back braces, lumbar pillows, anything you’d buy to help with your back, I’ve got a few of them.

No one wants to read about other people’s medical problems, so I try not to write about it too much.

Today was the day I got my MRI report back. I was all excited and nervous about this.

Surely I didn’t research every sort of problem that could cause back pain. Surely I wasn’t afraid that I had cancer. Surely I didn’t imagine suitable replacement wives for my husband. Haha! No, no…. of course I am not that insane.

I just have a wild imagination. I’ve never been a worrier, but I admit I went a little overboard on this one. The thing is that I so badly wanted to know what caused my pain. I figured if I knew the cause, maybe I could fix it.

So when the doctor’s office, which I can never ever get an appointment with, actually called ME to schedule an appointment right away to discuss my MRI results in depth, I thought, “Oh! This is it. There was something on the MRI. We’re getting somewhere,” but those thoughts sort of led to, “I hope I’m not dying, or what if I need surgery?”

Therefore, it felt incredibly anti-climactic but also exciting to find out that the MRI suggests that I am fine. They didn’t let me read the actual report, but she said the only thing on there was tendonitis in my shoulder. 

Pretty funny, as I thought the shoulder MRI was a waste of effort. My shoulder itself is fine. It’s the back muscles around it that bother me.

I’m so happy and relieved to know that basically I am okay. Only, I’m not “okay.” I’m all tired, sleepy, lethargic, and achy.

So the next thing they wanted to discuss was depression……

Am I depressed? I don’t think I’m depressed. I have such a blessed life, I have no reason for sadness.

Okay, well, here’s the thing. I’m not depressed in the sense of being sad or lonely or such. However, the quality of life factor became greatly reduced the day I began to home school my boys.

It’s sad that something I wanted to do so badly turned out to be such a mixed bag of blessings and curses.

I love being with my family. I enjoy knowing what they are learning and seeing them succeed.

The thing is that I am not a school teacher. I don’t enjoy teaching, testing, or researching fun things to do. Plus, it hurts. My back hurts too badly to haul them out to field trips very often. It takes me days to recover from that.

Home schooling has been the single most humbling event of my life. I have leaned on my faith in the heavenly Father hard to simply get through my days. I wake up with a sense of dread over having to manage the course of the day for five separate people, while also feeding them all and wishing for a tidy house or time to do anything that I actually enjoy.

When the boys were in school, I relished that time between 8 and 2:30 to lavish love on my pre-schoolers and live at a slower pace. Then we’d pick them up at 3, we’d all head to the park, and we’d do homework and play in the evening. It worked for us.

I am so glad that I tried the home schooling thing. This was one of those jobs I looked at with high ideals and rose-colored glasses. I romanticized it in my mind, but in the end it is not for me.

Many women love it, and they should continue to home school. I should not.

The stress of managing a job I’m not cut out for is making my entire body hurt. Did you know that’s possible? It is. The aching body is making me less capable to take care of my family and my responsibilities.

I believe that the Lord puts inside of each of us a “soul thing”, a thing that we can do, enjoy doing, and bless others with. I have several soul things. I love being a mom, just a mom. Writing is my therapy, and singing is a little extra fun on the side. Those are my soul things. Oh! And when my back cooperates, I can cook like no tomorrow.

Next year, my children will be taught by someone who enjoys it, and I am going to get back to living a life that fits.

We all have a different mold we are created to fill. I’m done trying to fit into anyone else’s mold. I’m ready to get back to being a happier mom, and that will bless my boys and others as well.

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“You won’t ever be able to keep up with unrealistic. Unrealistic demands lead to undercurrents of failure. So don’t allow the unrealistic demands of others to march freely into your life.”    Lisa Terkeurst, The Best Yes, page 161

“And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.”    (Phil. 1:9-10, emphasis added)