I’m Back – and God is Good!

My blogging has taken a bad seat to pain and physical therapy. After two months I am back.

I no longer wobble when I walk.

I am so thankful that after several years of pain that just grew worse each year, I am free of pain. Seven years ago, I had my right knee replaced. I was supposed to have the left one replaced a year later, but I had such difficulty healing from the right knee that I did not do it. Apparently as my left knee got worse, my left leg began to bow, and I ended up with one leg shorter than the other.

Several times I went back to my surgeon who had replaced the right knee complaining that my knee still hurt. (Actually it was not the knee, but the area just below it.) Taking x-rays of my knee he would assure me that the knee replacement was fine. He finally sent me to the University of Iowa and they recommended a knee brace to make that knee stronger. The brace did nothing for the pain and my back began to be extremely painful also. Over the years pain and I became bosom buddies.

At 74 years of age, I began to despair and wondered if I really wanted to live to be “old” if this was going to be my life. The pain limited me from playing with my granddaughter, from taking walks with my husband and even standing in church for worship.

Thankfully I finally found a doctor that realized what was causing all the pain. My body had slowly tilted to the left and my spine, my pelvis, my hips, my shoulders – all my body was so far out of alignment that I even had a rib sticking out on the left side.

Off to physical therapy. The initial evaluation revealed my range of motion was extremely limited and my strength, especially on the left side, was very weak.

After two months of hard work – I am in alignment, I am free of pain.

The first time I took a long walk with my family and experienced no pain, I felt like pinching myself to see if I was really awake and not dreaming.

Lesson learned from all this. Speak up when your doctor does not seem to address your problem. I realize now that the surgeon who replaced my knee was only trained for knee problems. When the x-rays showed the knee replacement was okay, he just dismissed me and my pain. He never gave a thought that there might be other issues than the new knee. Other doctors told me I had arthritis and assumed that was the cause of the pain. An older woman complaining of back pain – easy to just say “arthritis” and prescribe a pain pill. Only when I insisted that something was wrong when a rib was sticking way out of place did anyone begin to say “Hey, let’s take a look at the whole patient and see what’s going on.”

it is up to me now if I continue to be free from pain. The exercises have to be an ongoing part of my life. Changes in my lifestyle were also made. No more sitting in a recliner with my feet up in the air putting pressure on my back. No more going barefoot less I start leaning to the left again. Small changes with big dividends. I can do this!

Being absent from blogging I have debated whether to return. I have asked myself if anyone really enjoys the blogs or if anyone is encouraged by anything I write. After prayer and reflection, I realize that I write because I love it. While I may never have hundreds of followers, if only one or two are blessed because of my blogs, I will continue.

Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down

I have not posted anything for almost three weeks (have you missed me?). In case anyone was wondering, here’s my story.

In 1971 Hasbro/Romper Room created small egg-shaped figures that “wobble” from side to side but return to an upright position. Their slogan for these toys was “Weebles Wobble but They Don’t Fall Down.” Inside each weeble is a small weight. When the toy is tipped to one side the weight will cause the toy to “wobble.” Gravity soon brings the toy back to an upright position.

For the past few years, I have experienced chronic pain throughout my body. At first, I just thought it was arthritis creeping up on me or perhaps damage done to my body from the many chemo and radiation treatments I had as a cancer patient almost 20 years ago.

Along with the pain, it has become more difficult for me to stand for any length of time and to walk any great distance. My husband and I have always been active, but this constant pain and difficulty walking was beginning to make me depressed. I began dreading growing old and living a limited lifestyle.

My clothes also did not seem to fit properly. My tops always hung to the left and anything with sleeves would find the left sleeve longer than the right. No matter how many times I tried to straighten my tops – they refused to remain straight and even.

Finally, my granddaughter told me “Grandma, you wobble when you walk.” I felt like those little weebles – bobbing from side to side as I tried to walk straight. On uneven ground or climbing stairs I even wondered if this “webble” would fall down.

At my last doctor’s visit, I pointed out to her that a rib on my left side was sticking way out. She gave a closer examination and determined that my left leg is shorter than my right and because of that my spine has slowly been tilting to the left. Thus, why my clothes do not fit properly and why I “wobble” when I walk.

Diagnosed with scoliosis, she sent me to their physical therapy department for further evaluation and treatment.

First order of business was to add an insert to my left shoe to begin to even out my legs. We have had to slowly raise the height of the left leg because my therapist said too much of an increase all at once would only make things worse.

My first few visits to PT were basically sitting, lying while they did adjustments to my pelvis, my spine, and my hips to try to bring me back into proper alignment. After four weeks of therapy, three times a week and more inserts in the left shoe, they have declared I am back in proper alignment.

I have four more weeks of PT where we are working on building strength into my muscles so that I can retain the proper position of my pelvis, spine and hips. My therapist told me I will need to continue these exercise three to four times a week for the rest of my life if I want my body to keep the right alignment. They can make adjustments to my spine, but it is the muscles that will hold that alignment.

While doing the physical therapy and learning to make other adjustments – such as losing my recliner for a more straight-back chair, using the right size pillows when I sleep, wearing shoes all the time (which I hate), adjusting my computer so that I am not looking up or down at the screen which is hard on the neck, I have been too busy to blog.

Honestly, I have thought about not returning to my blog and I have mixed feelings about it. But here’s goes my story of my absence – and I do hope some of my followers have missed me.

Laughter and Wisdom from the Queen

Since we just saw England celebrate the 70 years of the reign by Queen Elizabeth II, I thought I would share her comments for my Friday list of laughter and wisdom (even though i am a day late.)

  1. Grief is the price we pay for love.
  2. None of us can slow the passage of time; and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and his teachings.
  3. When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.
  4. If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am.
  5. It has been women who have breathed gentleness and care into the harsh progress of mankind.
  6. Children teach us all a lesson – just as the Christmas story does – that in the birth of a child, there is a new dawn with endless potential.
  7. We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.
  8. Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us have a monopoly on wisdom.
  9. Memories are our second chance at happiness.
  10. The world is not the most pleasant place. Eventually your parents leave you and nobody is going to go out of their way to protect you unconditionally. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe and sometimes, pardon my language, kick some ass.

Friday’s List for Wisdom and Laughter

  1. Pride always demands that “I’ be in the middle.
  2. Let us pray not for lighter burdens but for stronger backs.
  3. In God’s kingdom there are no undesirables.
  4. By loving the unlovable, you made me lovable….Augustine
  5. Married life: telling your husband something ten times only to have him say “You never told me that.”
  6. You are only as pretty as you treat people.
  7. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.
  8. One day you will wake up and there will be no more time to do the things you wanted to do. Do it now….Paul Coelho
  9. Don’t save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.
  10. Don’t worry that your children are never listening to you. Worry that they are always watching you….Robert Fulghum

I Asked for Two Years – I Now Have Nine Years

When I was 54 years old I was diagnosed with a very aggressive and advanced stage of breast cancer. My doctor said I had only a small chance of still being alive in ten years.

Ten years – that would put me into retirement age. At that time I planned to retire at age 62. So I figured if I could last ten years and retire at 62 that would give me two years to enjoy retirement with my husband.

For years I had worked a secular job which kept me busy with work Monday through Friday. My job was a very demanding job and often required overtime. When the weekend came I was really not free to enjoy time with my husband because he was a pastor. That meant that much of his weekend was involved with the church.

So I thought if I could just make it to those ten years, that would give me two years of retirement to enjoy more time with my husband.

That is what I asked for – “Lord, let me live to retire and give me two years to enjoy some quality and quantity time with my husband.”

As the time grew near for my 62nd birthday, I was thankful that I had made it eight years – but finances dictated that I needed to work until I was 65.

“Lord, let me live until I am 65 and give me two years of retirement with my husband.”

Well, obviously I made to 65. What is so wonderful is today I celebrate nine years of retirement. Nine years ago today I walked out of MidAmerican Energy Company for the last time. Still praying for those two years of retirement with my husband.

God has given me now nine years of retirement – and I am still going strong looking forward to many more years.

What I have been able to enjoy in those nine years.

Seeing my oldest daughter get her Master’s degree
Seeing my youngest daughter become an ordained minister in the Wesleyan Church
Being able to just “hang out” with my grandsons
Enjoying my “crazy” grandchildren – and seeing two of them happily married
Meeting my first great grandson – and looking forward to seeing the second one.
Getting to watch this youngest granddaughter grow up.

And all the trips we have been able to make:

All across the south loving the old oak trees and the Spanish moss.

Enjoying the beach and the carriage rides.

And out west to Wyoming and Montana following the Pony Express/Mormon Trail.

Being a history nut I have been able to visit many former presidents’ homes and I loved walking the grounds of Fort Laramie.

Seeing the names carved into the rock at Register Cliff.

But most of all, I am so grateful for all the quality and quantity time I have had with my husband, my bff, these past nine years.

Still my bff after nine years of “real” togetherness!

Thank you Lord for your blessings on me!

Let Us Not Forget

Eighty years ago today our nation was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

My parents’ generation sacrificed much in the next few years. My father was in the Navy and came back from the war with many difficult memories of death and danger.

My mother was left to take care of three children on her own.

President Franklin Roosevelt created the OPA (Office of Price Administration). This organization placed ceilings on prices of goods to prevent companies from taking advantage of the situation to raise prices on goods and also created rationing to limit consumption.

Ration books were issued to families restricting many things such as sugar and gasoline. I remember hearing stories of how people would trade their sugar rations for gasoline so they would be able to get to work.

Families were encouraged to raise their own vegetables to allow more food to be canned for the military. These “victory gardens” led to the government publishing guides on how to plant a garden and how to can the produce. Women’s clubs began with women sharing new recipes and ideas of how to create tasty food with less ingredients available.

No woman wanted to go out on the town without nylon hose. As the nylon was needed for parachute and other military needs, the hose became hard to find. (Like toilet paper in our Covid-19 situation).

When I see our generation facing a different type of crisis with Covid-19 – and the response we have made, I wonder how we compare to this “Greatest Generation.”

This past week one of the last of that generation died.

Bob Dole served in the Army and was injured in a German machine gun attack. He lost a kidney, he was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down. While he regained mobility, his arms never fully recovered. He lost the use of his right arm and his left arm was partially numb. He said he had to allow 50 extra minutes each morning to get dressed.

There are many stories of other men/women I could write about. But I’m sure you all know parents/grandparents of that “Greatest Generation” who lived through the Depression and World War II.

Sadly as my generation is gone, I wonder if anyone will remember and appreciate the sacrifice of that generation.

Let us not forget!

Where Did The Time Go?

Fifty-one years ago today I became a mother for the first time. That day will always be one of my favorite memories. As I held my little girl in my arms I whispered to her that we would be best friends. All the fun we would have – shopping, reading books, playing games, singing songs.

I thought then that I had all the time in the world with this little one. I was wrong. Too quickly she became a toddler getting into everything. Then a little girl off to school. Her first day of school she gave me a scare as she did not get off the bus at our street. We still laugh about that day, but at the moment I was one frightened mother.

Then a teenager. Although we often hear parents complaining about teenagers I found the years when my daughters were teenagers some of the happiest of my life.

Finally she was a young woman in love. Then came marriage – and later three beautiful children making me a grandmother. Time has passed too quickly and she is now a grandmother (which means I am a great-grandmother). How did that happen?

Fifty one years – looking back at 1970 – what a difference.

In 1970 prices were:

  • Hershey’s candy bar – $.15
  • gallon of milk – $1.15
  • dozen eggs – $.62
  • pound of coffee – $.91
  • loaf of bread – $.25
  • can of Coke – $.10
  • average movie ticket – $1.55
  • postage stamp – $.06
  • median cost of house – $26,600
  • average cost of car – $3,500

Of course, income was much less then also. Median wages was $8,734

The top 10 TV shows were:

  • Marcus Welby M.D.
  • The Flip Wilson Show
  • Here’s Lucy
  • Ironside
  • Gunsmoke
  • ABC Movie of the Week
  • Hawaii Five-o
  • Medical Center
  • Bonanza
  • The F.B.I.

How times have changed. We did not have cell phones. The first commercially available cellphone was developed by Motorola and went on sale in the U.S. in 1984. The phone was huge, cost $3,995.00 and was only good for about thirty minutes of use before you had to charge the battery again.

Old Cell Phone

Other technolgies we did not have in 1970:

  • MRI – 1977
  • e-mail – 1971
  • post-it note – 1974
  • Rubik’s Cube – 1974
  • first commercial barcode scan – 1974
  • Apple computer – 1976
  • Sony Walkman – 1979

Looking back over these fifty-one years, while life has changed in so many ways – not only in my family but in my country, one thing remains true.

I have not lost that magical feeling of being a mother. Although my daughter now lives hundreds of miles from me and I do not get to see her as much as I would like, when I hear her voice on the phone or get a text, my heart still smiles.

Happy birthday dear Rebekah!

I Have Hair!!!

Those who follow my blog know that I lost my hair 19 years ago after 16 treatments with three powerful chemo drugs following surgery for breast cancer. Although the doctor assured my hair would come back for years I did not. It was only a few years ago that we found out that one of the drugs I was given could cause permanent hair loss.

I was okay with that – I just wore a wig. No one ever knew it was a wig and were surprised when they found out.

Lately, however, I became tired of the wig. Old age I guess. I also was showing some hair growth – not much – very thin – but hair.

My two daughters encouraged me to take the wig off and see if my hair might grow back. They wondered if the wig might be preventing hair growth

I was scared – but I decided to take the plunge and do it.

My approach to difficulties of life has always been:

with a strong faith in God and a good sense of humor I can handle this.

So – I wrote a couple of blogs trying to make fun of my baldness.

Now – after about three months without the wig – I HAVE HAIR!!!!

It’s pretty thin – but it’s my hair!!!!

As it grew back it was a sloppy unkempt mess. I had to let it get some length before I could get it styled so for a few weeks I was so embarrased to go out in public – but I just remembered my prayer “Give me hair!” and was thankful that God was answering that prayer.

Finally a couple of weeks ago I was able to go to a beauty salon and get it styled. The stylist kept asking me if I wanted to use a curling iron or a blow dryer and how I wanted it styled. . Since it had been 19 years since I had any hair to comb or style, 19 years since I had been to a beauty salon, I put myself in her hands and trusted her to guide me through this.

So once again I have hair. It is not thick – it is not red – but it is my hair! I am getting used to the white/grey and actually beginning to like it.

I am so happy and grateful – I HAVE HAIR!!!

Mountain or Valley – He’s Still There!

Our pastor has been doing a series on Psalm 23 – taking one verse at a time. Today she spoke on one verse that has been such a blessing to me throughout the past almost 20 years. It is the verse that says:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou are with me.

That is the verse that came to my mind the day of my first visit to the oncologist following surgery for breast cancer. His first words to me were “The odds are not in your favor.” Immediately the above verse came to my mind.

I did not know if the Lord was assuring me I would walk through this valley to health and life on the other side or if I would walk through this valley into death.

What was comforting to me was the assurance that He was going to be with me through this time.

Looking back on my life as I near the last years of life I am so thankful to see all the times He has been there for me.

What comfort I find in knowing He will continue to walk with me through the rest of my life – both on the mountain times and the deep valley experiences life may bring.

At this point in my life I would say I’m mostly experiencing those “mountain” times. Last week my husband and I celebrated 37 years of marriage. What a blessing it is to be able to say that he is my bff and our love for one another is deeper and stronger than the day we married. We are blessed with good health for our age and we have a beautiful home to enjoy.

Yet I have been facing some “valley” moments these last few weeks. When I had surgery for cancer the surgeon apologized and said that he had done quite a bit of nerve damage as the lymph nodes were full of cancerous cells and he wanted to make sure he removed all the cancer. That plus the extensive radiation I had has left me with pain ever since. The damage done to my side has, with age, also led to a damaged rotator cuff. Surgeons now do not want to do surgery to repair the cuff because there has been so much nerve damage already done.

For whatever reason – old age I guess – the chronic pain that I have learned to live with has recently become much worse. It is especially difficult when I try to lay down and I have come to dread bedtime.

This morning my church family gathered around me and prayed for me. What an encouragement that was. One young man put some legs on his prayers and offered to come help me with my housework, even to vacuum my floors. My husband is able to help me and I refuse to just sit and give in – got to keep moving. But it was so kind of him to offer. That’s what real love is all about.

How blessed I am – how good to know not only that God is with me – but He has given me friends to love and support me.

Whatever situation dear reader you may be in – let me encourage you to lean on God. He is our Good Shepherd and His promises to be with us in “all” seasons I have found to be true.

Little Miss Vain

For those of you who follow my blog you know I recently stopped wearing a wig after 19 years post cancer and I am trying to get my hair to grow back.

Give Me Hair!!!

I have googled “hair loss” “hair growth” and read all kinds of articles and commercials on products that will help your hair grow thicker. It’s amazing the number of products and claims made to grow hair. If I tried every product on the market, it would cost a fortune.

It took some courage but I have been going out in public without my wig. Of course all my friends tell me I look fine with my thin hair. But what are they doing to do? Say “Barbara, you look terrible, put your wig back on?”

While I don’t have a lot of hair yet what I had was getting scraggly so I made an appointment at the local salon for a hair cut. I imagined my stylist laughing when I walked in and asked for a hair cut. “What hair?”

When the stylist asked me what I wanted – well why not ask for the best????

Realizing that beautiful – magnificent – ravishing might be too much to ask, I suggested just a “clean-up” of the scraggly ends.

Now I’m massaging my head every night (supposed to increase blood circulation to scalp) and using some essential oils. Also taking Biotin although most legitimate sources I read say there is no proof that this will really help.

With all the problems in our world – politics, Covid 19 and vaccines, the economy – I know I am a little vain focusing on my hair – or lack thereof.