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Thursday, August 11, 2011, 2:13 AM
How to overcome physical pain without really trying.
As a stay-at-home mom, I use that phrase all too often. In fact, when your child is a super-genius, he/she may often be bored to tears because there is nothing to stimulate their ability to absorb information. It can be equally frustrating for a child when a parent has limited mobility.
As I write this story, I am struggling to see through the medically induced drowsiness that is my current state of mind.
In fact, as a result of my injury, when I tell my kids they are "getting on my nerves", it's not just in the metaphorical sense. I actually experience physical pain.
Ever since the day of my injury I have known that there were things I would never be able to do again. Simple tasks were challenging, although you wouldn't know it by looking at me.
When my children got to a certain age, I could no longer pick them up for fear of exacerbating the nerves in my back.
At the time of my injury, I had gone back to school to finish my Bachelor's in Music. I was working as an independent contractor for the local newspaper and carrying a full load at school.
One day, while I was getting out of the shower, I felt an excruciating pain down my legs and had to be helped out of the shower onto the floor. After calling my professors to tell them I would not be in class, my husband took me to his Chiropractor, to get a spinal adjustment.
The chiropractor hooked me up to a machine that sends electric shock waves through the affected area of the back that was causing the most trouble and went to work on my spinal alignment. He explained how the nerves get inflamed in order to protect the spine from further damage.
According to the Mayo Clinic,
The condition, known as Sciatica, refers to pain that radiates throughout the path of the sciatic nerve and its branches — from the back down to the buttocks and legs. It is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the spinal cord to the buttocks and hips and down the back of each leg.
Sciatica is a symptom, not a disorder. The pain of sciatica indicates another problem involving the nerve, such as a herniated disk. The pain of acute sciatica — which may be quite uncomfortable — usually goes away on its own within a couple of months.
"A couple of months?, I thought. Well, there goes my 3.6 GPA"
From that moment on, my life was never the same. There have been few days since then, that I can recall having no pain. At first it was clear, I needed pain management. The chiropractor gave me tips on how to numb the pain using ice packs and taking hot showers to calm the nerves.
I have tried to avoid pain medications, and at times I was tempted to give in. The pain was so intense, I couldn't get up from the floor. I spent a lot of time on my back, just trying to get comfortable. I was unable to sleep and eventually went to see my nurse practitioner for a prescription.
Take one every four to six hours as needed for pain.
The instructions on the bottle were clear, but I found myself taking another after only three hours, especially that first day. Eventually the pain began to recede but it has never completely subsided.
I have only recently come to accept that unless I elect to have surgery to correct the problem, there are just some things I am no longer capable of doing and eventually the pain does all but subside. It takes time and patience and a little Faith. In fact, prayer has been a huge help in accepting my situation.
I still have days where I can't function without the pain medication, but those are few and far between, so long as I don't do anything too physically demanding, like building a patio cover, which has precipitated my latest setback.
I am also happy to advocate for chiropractic care in place of pain medication if at all possible, since the chiropractor my husband referred me to is very good at getting me back to my normal, if somewhat altered, routine.
My thanks to Dr. Thomas Soapes
More information on Sciatica*
The pain can vary widely, from a mild ache to a sharp, burning sensation or excruciating discomfort. Sometimes it may feel like a jolt or electric shock. It may be worse when you cough or sneeze, and prolonged sitting can aggravate symptoms. Usually only one lower extremity is affected.
Sciatica symptoms include:
- Pain. It's especially likely to occur along a path from your low back to your buttock and the back of your thigh and calf.
- Numbness or muscle weakness along the nerve pathway in your leg or foot. In some cases, you may have pain in one part of your leg and numbness in another.
- Tingling or a pins-and-needles feeling, often in your toes or part of your foot.
- A loss of bladder or bowel control. This is a sign of cauda equina syndrome, a rare but serious condition that requires emergency care. If you experience either of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately.
When to see a doctor
Mild sciatica usually goes away given time and patience. Call your doctor if self-care measures fail to ease your symptoms or if your pain lasts longer than a week, is severe or becomes progressively worse. Get immediate medical care if:
- You experience sudden, severe pain in your low back or leg and numbness or muscle weakness in your leg
- The pain follows a violent injury, such as a traffic accident
- You have trouble controlling your bowels or bladder
*Courtesy of the Mayo Clinic
Thursday, July 28, 2011, 4:17 PM
After attending several training sessions together for Pre-cana instruction, my husband seems to be losing perspective. Every time he shows a little aprehension, I ask him if he's ready to give up. What he doesn't realize is that if it weren't for the Healthy Marriages program, I would have already done that. But men and women are different.
We learned that at a recent seminar given by Bill and Pam Farrell, through the Better Marriages initiative. It was titled, appropriately: Men are Like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti
Although getting us there was a huge task, especially on date night, we laughed and enjoyed ourselves for probably the first time in a month. I think we realized we weren't the only ones, and that there's a reason we have been mis-communicating. We also realized how differently men and women think. Since attending this seminar, we have a better appreciation for each other, and I think we're able to laugh at our differences rather than argue about them as a result. While I realize that knowing that will hardly solve all the problems in our marriage, it does help us to put things in perspective.
Below is a preview of the book and what it's all about:
How did you come up with the title "Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti"? from Bill & Pam Farrel on Vimeo.
click here to order "Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti"
Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 11:00 PM
When our second child was just a few months old, we went out for ice cream after having a yard sale on a hot summer day.
In Las Vegas, you have to be especially careful when going out on a Saturday night. We were living in Henderson and the ice cream shop was just a few blocks away. Since we were a long way from the Las Vegas Strip, however, I didn't give it a second thought. In fact, I was relieved to be getting out of the house for a while.
We enjoyed our ice cream and watched our oldest son play while the baby had a much needed nap.
On our way home, we were stopped at a red light and when the light changed, I noticed a black SUV speeding in the other direction. I watched as the driver hit the brakes and put his vehicle in reverse. We were about 1/4 mile away from our house. He then proceeded to turn around and head in our direction. I was frightened by this so I told my husband to pull over and let the man pass. By this time, the man driving the SUV had caught the attention of several other vehicles that were going in the same direction as we were. Not knowing what he was about to do, they all stopped, allowing him the freedom to head directly toward us. At this point I put my hand on my husband's shoulder and said: "babe, pull over, please, just let him pass..."
Realizing that we had two small children in the vehicle, my husband complied, and I thought the man would simply speed right by us and we'd be on our way. That's when he pulled along side us and pulled out a gun and pointed it in our direction.
I don't remember much of what happened after that, but I know that we ended up driving up the Boulder HWY,speeding through traffic lights and heading toward the nearest police station as the 911 operator had instructed me to do.
The man was never charged with anything since aiming and pointing is a misdemeanor in Nevada.
I was traumatized by the whole event and became somewhat of a recluse for a while after that, but I will never forget how thankful I was that we were all unharmed. My life could have been destroyed that day if not for the Grace of God.
Jesus has carried me through so many things and I am so humbled by his Love and Grace.
Every day, I thank Him for giving us the Blessing of another child not long after that incident and praise His name for all the wonderful things in life that so many of us take for granted.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 10:00 PM
I'm happy to announce I will begin a new chapter in my life very soon as the new music director of the choir for the saturday evening mass at my church. At the same time, I am humbled by the fact that I have found a way to use my gifts as I have never done before. I am also humbled to have so much support from those around me in my new endeavor. So, at this moment, I would simply like to thank those people who have encouraged me to pursue my dreams. However little it may seem, it was during those times when I was lowest that my friends gave me encouraging words and lifted me up in prayer. I am so blessed to have a circle of friends who, by their faith, have brought me to this moment in my life.
For the longest time, I have felt like something was missing from my life. I had taken time away from my career to be a wife and mother. Unfortunately, I had very little time for my church community While I feel that my focus is still on my huband and children, I now have more freedom to give my time and talents to my parish as the children grow.
I haven't been able to participate in ministry since my first child was born. He is seven now and is becoming more independent. My four year old and three year old are now comfortable enough with their grandma that I am able to commit more time to my music.
That being said, I am so thankful to those of you who have supported me through the difficult times in my life. I feel more confident than ever in my faith and am so thankful to those of you that have helped me to arrive at this moment in time. I praise God for you and the kind words you have all given me. Thanks to you all, I will continue in faith as I begin this new chapter.
Monday, July 25, 2011, 7:16 PM
How do we know what God has planned for us if we don't answer the call to service?
For weeks now, our parish has been having trouble finding a new music minister for the saturday evening mass. So the choir I sing in has been doing double duty until someone comes forward to take the reigns. I remember a time when the priest and deacon had asked if I would fill in for that precise service several years ago. At the time, I was unable to commit to the task because of my work situation, but I have always wondered if it was truly where I was supposed to be.
So, what is discernment? How do we know where God can use our talents best. When do we know we've become so wrapped up in our own lives, that God's will no longer applies? The fact is that we allow life to get in the way of God's will for us more often than not. For whatever reason, be it financial, professional or personal, when we are called to serve God's people, we either answer the call or we don't. I know it was not an opportune time several years ago because I lacked the confidence and free time to fully commit my time and talents to my parish. And while I still lack the amount of free time I would need to commit to the endeavor, I feel God calling me to be the one since no-one else has volunteered. I know, it sounds as if I am unhappy about my decision. I am still filled with fear of the unknown, but I am confident in God. After all, He most certainly knows what He is doing. Furthermore, I have been trying to convince my fellow choir members that I most certainly know what I am doing, so how can I possibly deny the call to serve Him a second time.
Saturday, July 23, 2011, 1:41 AM
Ok, so it's not exactly what you expected. But, when you are looking for inspiration, do you ever find yourself surfing the web, clicking link after link from one social networking site to another, trying to find some senseless way to occupy your time? More often than not, I find myself on Facebook, searching for that one friend's status that catches my fancy that I feel inclined to respond to.
Well, I wondered today what I was really looking for. I mean, it is nothing more than a distraction, yet it has become a daily habit. I found it more difficult to post in my journal everyday on Beliefnet, but when it came to Facebook, I was on it every single day, except when I was out of town and that was back in June.
Come to think of it, when I lived in Nevada, I turned to the internet to discuss Catholicism on a site that, unfortunately, lost all of my profile information and therefore, lost my confidence. But, for a few weeks there I was corresponding with fellow Catholics with whom I shared similar interests. I even found another stay-at-home parent with whom I could share experiences with.
When the site suddenly lost my information, I no longer felt secure online and aside from my personal e-mail, I no longer corresponded with others online. I missed the MySpace craze altogether, in fact. Although, I might have done that out of shear exhaustion. After all, a new mom needs her rest.
So, my question is this, with all the extra activities, be it facebook, angry birds, or any other media-based activities. Where does a Catholic find Inspiration? Well, Beliefnet.com is a great source of inspiration, and you can even chose your religious/spiritual affiliation, if any. Click on the word Inspiration to get to Beliefnet's inspiration section.
Furthermore, how does one break the cycle of social media addiction? Lifehack.org has some great tips on how to get back to living your life instead of managing it online.
Thursday, July 21, 2011, 10:57 PM
Today, I read a story about a mom who had a disagreement with her mother, and it reminded me of a time when I was upset with my mother. I was pregnant with our third child and the argument affected me so much that my husband cut off all communication with her until after the baby was born.
At the time, it was necessary, but in retrospect, it was a time in my life when I needed my mother the most. I know now, that if I had understood how upset she was over my sibling's situation, I would have known that it had nothing to do with me. She was in a state of shock over what had happened and she needed me to be there for her and support her in any way that I could. However, because the situation affected me personally, I could not see that fact. It was too upsetting for me.
I learned an important lesson during that time in my life. No matter how angry we are with each other, we still need each other's love and support. We were unable to speak to each other without disagreeing about that one thing that now seems so unimportant. It wasn't until my daughter was born that I understood how she must have felt, and forgave her for not being able to see things my way. The one thing I never expected was her forgiveness in return.
In Sirach 28:2-7, our duty as God's children is laid out for us:
Forgive your neighbor's injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.
And indeed, when Peter asked Jesus the question "how often must I forgive?", his response is found in Matthew 18:21-22,
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That one is a favorite of mine, because it reminds me that no sin is bigger than God. Be Blessed Today.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 6:53 PM
I recently saw a report on the Today Show about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and wondered if I might have the condition. So, I did a little research to try to find out.
The good news is it's probably a side effect from taking my antidepressant. The bad news is that insomnia is the side effect I'm experiencing. Granted, I always take an afternoon nap when my 3-year old does. However, if she resists naptime, then I'm more tired at night and, therefore, more likely to sleep soundly, at least until the early morning hours. Here's what I found in my research.
Chronic fatigue syndrome has eight official symptoms, plus the central symptom that gives the condition its name:
- Loss of memory or concentration
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck or armpits
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Pain that moves from one joint to another without swelling or redness
- Headache of a new type, pattern or severity
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after physical or mental exercise.
When to see a doctor
- Fatigue can be a symptom of many illnesses, such as infections or psychological disorders. In general, see your doctor if you have persistent or excessive fatigue.
Some of these symptoms are similar to those experienced in patients with depression, which is why I thought I might have the condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, scientists have not pinpointed the exact cause of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so the conditions are similar in that respect. It's unclear why depression occurs, but I know that my insomnia is a side effect of the medication I'm taking to counter it, and NOT Chronic Fatigue.
What are the risk factors I should look for to determine if I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Some of the factors that have been studied include:
- Viral infections. Because some people develop chronic fatigue syndrome after having a viral infection, researchers wondered if some viruses might trigger the disorder. These include Epstein-Barr, human herpesvirus 6 and mouse leukemia viruses. No conclusive link has yet been found.
- Immune system problems. The immune systems of people who have chronic fatigue syndrome appear to be impaired slightly, but it's unclear if this impairment is enough to actually cause the disorder.
- Hormonal imbalances. People who have chronic fatigue syndrome also sometimes experience abnormal blood levels of hormones produced in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland or adrenal glands. But the significance of these abnormalities is still unknown.
*syptoms and risk factors from Mayo Clinic
In my research, I also discovered a link between Pain and depression, which I was unaware of. So, if you knew that depression can cause pain, and pain can cause depression, then you knew more about my condition than I did before I saw the story on the Today show. Lesson learned.
Here's what I found linking pain and depression, courtesy of Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. for the Mayo Clinic
- In many people, depression causes unexplained physical symptoms such as back pain or headaches. Sometimes this kind of pain is the first or the only sign of depression.
- Pain and the problems it causes can wear you down over time, and may begin to affect your mood.
- Chronic pain causes a number of problems that can lead to depression, such as trouble sleeping and stress.
- Disabling pain can cause low self-esteem due to work, legal or financial issues.
- Depression doesn't just occur with pain resulting from an injury. It's also common in people who have pain linked to a health condition such as diabetes or migraines.
For more information on Pain and Depression, and how to get treatment, go to:
www.mayoclinic.com, where you can take a Depression self-assessment, and find out more answers to your questions.
Also, for more information on how to get treatment and other helpful resources, please refer to my blog post entitled: Finding Myself Again: A Lifelong Struggle with Depression.
To determine if you are experiencing side effects from an antidepressant, go to:www.depression.emedtv.com
Monday, July 18, 2011, 2:18 AM
Several months ago, a good friend of mine asked for help with a sermon on John the Baptist. This led to an interesting discussion about John's role in the revelation of Jesus Christ. In the book of John, Chapter 1, Vs. 29-40
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”
32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples. 36 And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”
37 The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour). "
*NKJV courtesy of BibleGateway.com
Here, we see that it was revealed to John that Jesus was the son of man. However, I felt inclined to talk about the following passage: Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
39 He said to them, “Come and see.”
In this passage, it is revealed to John's disciples. We know that they believed that John was a prophet, but in the reading, John proclaims that one is coming who is greater than him.
Also, I think it shows that God revealed Jesus to each individual, as He called each of them to follow Jesus. It is the same for us...He calls us all in our own time because He knows when we are ready to receive Him...This is why Paul spoke, in Corinthians, about how we only see and understand very little of God,
"At present, we see indistincly, as in a mirror...but then face to face...then I shall know fully, as I am fully known."(1st Cor. 13:12)
*NAB courtesy Usccb.org
What we see here is the beginning of what is now referred to as the "New church" because it was totally exclusive of the Jewish tradition, that is, the belief in the Son of Man, (i.e. the Messiah) did not require one to be of the Jewish Faith. John the Baptist was preaching to any and all who would listen. The reason that the Messiah was neccessary was because the Jewish tradition had become so exclusive. I think it's important to point out that John was a prophet, and therefore had knowledge which God had given him because it would fulfill the prophesy from Isaiah, otherwise, those who were supposed to believe might not have believed. If John hadn't pointed out the fact that Jesus was the Lamb of God, then who would've known that the "Messiah" had come?
We see examples of this revelation throughout the New Testament when Jesus calls each of the disciples as well.
Saturday, July 16, 2011, 9:10 PM
In the summertime, it is easy to complain about the heat, as stifling temperatures and an unexpected outage of the air conditioning in our church has proven in recent days. It is much easier to see the Love of God all around, with the blooming flowers, though they may be struggling to produce a fruitful array, and green pastures, especially in those areas blessed with rain. It is easy to overlook these things in our busy lives, but we must take a moment and remember that God created all things, the flowers and trees, the grass and shrubs. Even the weeds. In the readings for this sunday, we hear the parable of the Sower, in which the enemy comes and sows the weeds amongst the good seed.
Mt 13:24-30, 36-43 courtesy of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”...
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
This reading reminds us that if we are to reap the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are to bear rich fruit and not cause others to sin. We must also remember to thank God for the simple things that give us joy. If we do not, we miss out on simple joys and can easily be wrapped up in things that really don't matter in the end.
God Bless and Have a Holy and Wonderful Sunday!