Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pain, Pain, Go Away...'ll be back another day.

I feel an apology is in order even before I start my latest rant.  I've whined plenty about this broken ankle. But after almost eight weeks of agony, how much pain is one wimpy woman expected to take?   Menopause, with its associated hot flashes and "mood swings" (aka psychotic breaks), was enough to deal with, or so I thought. Then in the midst of that came the tumble down the stairs that gave me my first-ever broken bones. 

Six weeks post surgery and I was starting to feel I might actually walk again.  Or at least limp from place to place.  Today I decided I might be pushing myself too hard in my desperation to get back to my normal life (not sure why I'm in a hurry--I rather enjoy sitting in front of the tv all day "incapacitated").  My ankle ached after my morning exercises, so I thought I'd go soak it.  In the pool.  While laying on a float.  Yeah, that's my kind of therapy.

I had (possibly foolishly) been trying to walk without assistance. Because every muscle, ligament and tendon in my ankle and foot was crying out to me to stop the insanity, I decided to break from the stoicism and actually use one crutch as I worked my way to the bathroom to change into my swimsuit.  Mission accomplished, I set my crutch against the sink while I brushed my teeth.  How this happened I'll never understand, but the crutch slipped and slammed into one--and only one--spot:  my extremely sore and swollen ankle.  Pardon my language, but it hurt like a son-of-a-mother.  I actually cried like a baby.  My dear, sweet husband came to my rescue and helped me back to my seat (yes, after eight weeks of living there, the prime spot in front of the tv is now and forever mine). 

Certain my bone was protruding from my flesh, I was actually afraid to look at the damage.  Mark convinced me that, as much as I was in pain, there was really no way an aluminum crutch could have seriously re-injured my ankle unless someone had bashed me with it.   So I iced my ankle for a while, cried a little longer out of the frustration of it all, then headed outside for some real physical therapy in the form of a nice, relaxing dip in the pool. 

Please, dear Lord, save me from myself before it's too late.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Get Well Card made for me by Dianna

My sister, Dianna, (who is totally responsible for my current crafting obsession!), made this adorable card to boost my sagging spirits (does everything have to sag???)

Her very talented daughter, Kayla, drew the chair and ottoman -- I couldn't believe they weren't die cuts!  I love the magazine and glasses (captured my daily routine perfectly!), and of course she placed the cell phone within easy reach (my ankle is broken, not my vocal cords!)  And to round it out, the cast on my leg and expression on my face perfectly reflect the past several weeks.

Thank you, Dianna and Kayla!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My New Best Friend

Okay, she's my physical therapist.  I wasn't expecting to like her.  I was told physical therapists were torturers.  I imagined Sayid from Lost when he was "employed" by the Republican Guard.  Let the fun begin.

To be honest, I felt sick at the very prospect of going to therapy.  After seven weeks, my ankle still hurts. And it's swollen.  Between the loss of muscle in my calf and the swelling everywhere below, I look like I'm being held up on my left side by a 4x4 fence post.

Was I ready to have some sadist get his/her kicks at my expense?  Not a chance. Yet in the back of my mind, I'm not ready to give up the dream of some day walking again.  On my own two feet.  Suck it up, Vanessa.

I'm home again, thank God.  My foot is elevated and covered in ice.  Before I left for my appointment today, I scooted up the stairs on my butt, hopped around to find my clothes, balanced on my right foot while I dried my hair, then cinched up my big black boot and walked to the car on two crutches.  By the time I got home little more than an hour later, I was walking on one crutch and taking the stairs on my feet.  Hallelujah, sweet freedom!  Back to my own bed at night and my craft room during the day.  Thank you, Julie. And you helped me accomplish this with only minimal torture.

Crap.  I guess that means it's back to cooking and cleaning again, too.  On second thought, I might have overdone it today.  Maybe I should slow down this recovery just a bit.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Wow.  What a ride.

After my initial disappointment and much contemplation (during a sleepless night brought on by emotional exhaustion), I've changed my opinion of last night's Lost series finale.

IT WAS BRILLIANT.  Sure, I still don't know exactly what it all meant.  But I'm convinced anyone who watched it won't quickly forget.  Do you think there is one viewer who isn't discussing it today, or at least searching online to read other viewers' interpretations and opinions?  Anyone who ever cared even slightly about the series is thinking and/or talking about it today.  And missing it already. Now that's great television.

The pieces of the last six years weren't all neatly packaged and wrapped up with a pretty bow like I had desperately hoped.  Admittedly, the final scenario was the equivalent of a pretty package.  But all wrapped up neatly?  Not quite.

As I watched the highly-anticipated conclusion last night, fully expecting most of the loose ends to be tied up and to walk away with a full understanding, I'll admit I was disappointed even as I sat bawling at the beauty of THE END.  I wanted to know the significance of all the very-detailed events of the past six seasons.  Much as has been the case over the years, it all flew right over my head.

I could spend months analyzing the meaning of the show, the meaning of life in general, and whether the journey is as important as the destination. But right now, all I want to know is what the writers and creators were thinking. After all, if I simply wanted to ponder the meaning of life I wouldn't waste time watching tv.

So to the producers of this wonderful, exhilarating experience, I have one simple request. Please, please, PLEASE give us one more look into your brilliant creative brains. Replay that heartwarming, tearjerking final episode with your famous commentary to explain to us mere mortals just what you had in mind.

But most of all, thank you for six wonderful, thought-provoking years of pure entertainment.


Yes, I still am.

But I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Simple Thank You Card for A Daughter Who's Simply Sweet

The card itself isn't anything special, but I think the story behind it is.

My daughter was feeling lonely.  She lives seven hours from her hometown, and her husband of only eight months is serving in Iraq.  My husband and I thought it would be nice to visit her with our granddaughters (who live with us) during their spring break.

When we arrived at our daughter's house after a long drive, we were totally surprised to learn that she had made reservations for her dad and me to have dinner at one of her favorite restaurants (her treat), while she had a girls' movie night with her nieces.  Always one to appreciate what others have done for her, she wanted to show us her gratitude for helping her out over the years.  (Of course we've only done what parents are supposed to do, but who could turn down such a wonderful gesture?) And she knew we really needed a romantic night out.  It was such a sweet, thoughtful thing for her to do, so I wanted to make a card to show how much it meant to us.

Fast forward five weeks, and the card finally made its way to her.  In my defense, I started it the day after we returned home.  I also broke my ankle that evening, so the card sat unfinished for several weeks until I could finally hobble to my craft room and make a streamlined version of what I had originally planned. (It's amazing how little one can do when crutches are required.)

As for details of the card, there isn't much to tell since I had to keep it pretty simple.  I was limited to the paper and embellishments that were within easy reach. The flowers were from a bargain bin at Michaels, with a gem glued to the center.  I used an EK Success border punch on the front, and added a phrase and its corresponding shadow from the Cricut Stamping cartridge.  I can't remember the brand of paper, but it was double-sided cardstock I purchased a while back at Costco.

True to her sweet, appreciative ways, my daughter promptly called me upon receipt of the card, and raved about how beautiful it was and how talented I am.  Didn't I tell you she's a sweetheart?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Life's Little Ironies

As I continue through the healing process, unable to do much more than dent the sofa cushion, I've had time to ponder many things.  Today, it was the ironies of my current situation.

A few months ago I packed up all  my "thin clothes" along with my expectations that I would ever lose any weight.  Since my accident I've lost 10 pounds. But now I can't climb to the upper closet shelves to retrieve the boxes of previously-outgrown clothing (yeah, I was still clinging to the hope that someday I'd wear them again).  Besides, except for medical appointments I haven't been outside the house in six weeks.  Most days I don't even bother getting dressed.

Before I broke my ankle,  I couldn't find enough hours in the day to work on my scrapbooks or try any of the other creative things I wanted to do.  Now  I can't clean house (let's pretend I ever did), cook dinner, do laundry, or any of the other chores that took up all my time.  Plenty of free time now, but no way can I navigate my craftroom on crutches or even sit upright long enough to create anything other than a swollen leg.

The weather's warm and the pool is open. Most summer days I won't allow myself the luxury of lounging poolside when there are so many other things that need to be done. Now that I can't do anything but lounge around, the doctor has banned me from the pool and ordered me to wear my fancy knee-high (sun-blocking) boot all day. 

My husband has expressed his willingness to serve as my personal slave, to bring me anything I need or to do anything I ask. But now he's so busy taking care of the mundane tasks I usually do (not to mention his real job) that he has very little time to rest at the end of the day.  I might be selfish, but even I can't ask him to give that up just so I can feel like Queen for a Day.

And as mentioned above, I've inexplicably lost 10 pounds.  Prior to my tumble down the stairs, I worked out like a mad woman several times a week in a desperate attempt to lose the weight that was standing between me and total happiness.  It was somewhat of an obsession. It took up what little time was left after all the previously mentioned chores.  And as much as I was clinging to the hope of being thin again, those fat cells were clinging to my body with just as much determination.  Then within a few weeks of my injury I realized I was losing weight.  Go figure.  I'm unable to do anything more strenuous than hobble to the bathroom a few times a day, and I've accomplished what months and months of exercise couldn't do. 

Okay, it's not all bad.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mood Swings and Meltdowns

I can usually handle a lot.  Okay,  maybe not.  But play along.

At the moment, by the grace of God, I'm calm.  I haven't thrown anything or yelled at anybody.  All day.  Well, I slept until noon, but it's all been good since then.  And the kids are home.

What, pray tell, happens to the female body at menopause???  Or more precisely, the brain?  There are moments when dropping a potato chip on the floor can cause me to fly into an uncontrollable rage (and I don't just mean when it's the last chip in the house).  Other times, someone can knock an entire cheesecake to the floor through sheer carelessness, and my attitude is "Whatever, I didn't need the calories anyway."  (Yeah, that one's still hypothetical.  But you get the idea.)

Please, dear God, stop the hormonal fluctuations.  I promise I'll do good things.

What Can Twenty Dollars Buy?

My youngest granddaughter had hinted for days that she had a special Mother's Day gift for me.  She loves to make things--pretty pictures, cards, even the occasional popsicle puppet (I promise to elaborate some day).  I expected something along those lines.

Yesterday, as I lounged on the multi-purpose space I've occupied for the past 5 weeks (yes, I'm wearing a hole in the sofa cushion), I heard Avery come into the room wishing me a happy Mother's Day, and commenting on the "fancy wrapping" on  my gift (this is a common statement in my family since it seems to be hereditary to "wrap" gifts in whatever bag the merchant put them in.  I'm glad we taught her well).  I prepared myself to exclaim at the beauty of whatever gift awaited in the plastic shopping bag. 

The twinkle in her eyes was telling.  I knew this was a very special gift.  It made no difference what was inside the "fancy wrap".  But first, there was an adorable, handmade card to "oooh" and "ahhh" over.  She showed me all the details she had carefully crafted.  After sufficient time had been spent admiring the card, I gingerly opened the bag to reveal my gift:  a specialty cookbook with a variety of one-dish recipes.

To be quite honest, I wasn't sure what to make of this gift.  I wasn't always a good cook, and for many years it provided a good bit of humor for our family.  But miraculously, over the past several years I realized I really could cook--sometimes even well.  Did Avery think otherwise?  Or perhaps, having heard my husband and me remark on how my cooking had improved over time, she thought a new cookbook would be the perfect gift for a talented chef.

No matter. My husband then told me the story of the purchase of the book.  Avery had come home from school asking her grandfather for twenty dollars.  The school was holding a book fair, and she had found the perfect gift for Nana.  As she told him what she had in mind, he explained that maybe she could find something a little less expensive, especially since we have implemented a new rule that the kids must do chores to earn money to purchase gifts. 

A few days later, as she was getting ready to leave for school, Avery reached into the cabinet where she keeps her money and pulled out a twenty.  "I'm going to buy that book for Nana today", she told her grandfather.  Once again, he tried to convince her that she didn't need to spend so much to make me happy.  But she had already made up her mind. For whatever reason (and it no longer seems important), the cookbook was the perfect gift, and one she had chosen especially for her Nana. 

Who knew that only twenty dollars could buy such a priceless gift.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Girl Needs Her Mom

Technically, I haven't been a "girl" in a long time.  But I'm as lost without my mother as any young girl would be.  It's only been three years since she died unexpectedly, and I still can't wrap my mind around the thought that I'll never see her again.  At least not in this life. Today I wish with every fiber of my being that I could pick up the phone and call her.  I'm ashamed to say I didn't make enough of those calls when I had the chance.  I'm sure Mama forgave me.  I'm not sure I'll ever forgive myself.

The relationship between a mother and daughter is often complicated and frustrating, but almost always comforting and filled with love. Well, eventually.

I wish I could spend Mother's Day with my mom.  But even if she were still alive, I probably wouldn't.  She lived a six-hour drive from me. (And let's face it--life gets in the way of what we really want to do.)  If you think about it, I'm only a heartbeat away from her. (My last heartbeat, of course.) As much as I miss her, I think I'll stick around a little longer.  I like to believe my kids need me as much as I need her.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama!

Friday, May 7, 2010


After I broke my ankle, I never stopped to think of all the ways my life would be impacted.  Good news--I've lost about ten pounds.  (How, you ask?  Who the heck knows.  But some things are gifts and we shouldn't question.)  But on the downside, everything is falling apart.  My life, my house, my body.

I was old and withered already.  Well, I was slightly plump, so the withering wasn't quite so noticeable.  Ten pounds lighter and everything sags.  I thought losing weight would erase the jowls I was sporting below my face.  Nope.  Without the fatty underlayer, they just hang a little lower.  Likewise, my boobs.

Yesterday I decided my surgical incisions were healed enough that I could safely take a bath without encasing my leg in a garbage bag.  (Yeah, it was just as pretty a sight as you are imagining.)  With a clear view of both my legs in a side-by-side comparison, I realized what just one month of inactivity can do to muscles. 

For the past few years, in a desperate, futile attempt to regain my youthful, (almost) thin body, I've been working out regularly.  I dropped a few pounds (eventually) and although I was still mostly a short, wide ball of flab, I was rocking some well-toned calves.  But now my left leg looks as if it is attached to the body of someone who has been bedridden for twenty years.  And since my right leg has been doing all the work, it has become even more muscular.  Now I know how those women who test a new product on only one side of their faces must feel.

And no, as a kindness to anyone who might read this, I will not post a photo.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

He'll Always Be My Daddy

Today would have been my daddy's 79th birthday.  He was only 53 the last time I saw him, only a couple of years older than I am right now.  And I still  miss him terribly.  He had cancer, most likely beginning in his lungs, but undiagnosed until his brain was affected.  He fought with everything he had for over two years, but cancer beat him in the end.

My daddy was the funniest man in the world.  At least to me. He could tell a joke like nobody I had ever known.  We kids would laugh hysterically and ask him to tell it again.  Even though I can no longer remember all the punch lines, I can still hear him delivering them.  And I smile.

Daddy wasn't perfect (is anybody?), but he loved us and we knew it.  Life dealt him a few blows along the way, but he always came through for us as best he could.  We didn't have much money, but when we needed something he found a way to provide.  Sure, life wasn't without a great many disappointments, but Daddy did his best to shelter us from all that he could.

My grandmother, Daddy's mother, died unexpectedly in 1982.  He took it hard.  He always looked after his mama and was living with her at the time of her death.  When he started losing weight shortly afterward, we assumed it was depression.  But it became obvious after a few months that there was more going on.  My normally thin father was becoming gaunt. 

Eventually, my father was hospitalized, but the only diagnosis we were given was "anorexia".  No cause was given, and at the time I didn't realize there was a difference between his diagnosis and the more well-known "anorexia nervosa".  I thought it was a silly diagnosis for a slender, middle-aged man.  In hindsight, I have no idea why more testing wasn't done to determine the cause of his weight loss.  He continued to get sicker, thinner and more dehydrated.  Several times he was hospitalized, and his condition would naturally improve after receiving intravenous nutrition, so it seemed to confirm to the doctors that his illness was due to depression over his mother's death.

Finally in the spring of 1983, my sister insisted he be evaluated at the large hospital where she worked, rather than the smaller neighborhood hospital which had so far failed to diagnose my father's underlying illness.  I was planning to be married on March 18, 1983, and was so hoping he would be well and home in time to walk me down the aisle. But shortly after being admitted, he had a heart attack and lapsed into a coma.  The doctors insisted he wouldn't recover and advised us to remove him from life support.  But we weren't ready to give up on him just yet.  And sure enough, after a few days he regained consciousness and we had our daddy back.

My fiance and I decided to go ahead with our wedding a few days later, and my brother would stand in for my father and walk me down the aisle.  Before heading to our honeymoon, we visited Daddy at his hospital bed.  I was so optimistic!  Daddy was alive and now I had another wonderful man in my life.

My happiness was short-lived.  A few days after returning from our honeymoon, I received the call that devastated me--it was cancer.  Treatment was possible, but unlikely to be successful long-term.  But Daddy wasn't ready to leave his family behind. He would fight with everything he had.  He was sure he could beat this ugly disease.

As painful as the treatments were for him, and as painful as it was to watch his decline, I am so grateful for the time we had.  Daddy got to meet my baby daughter (although she was scared to death of his bald head!), and he started attending  church for the first time in his adult life.  Eventually, he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, and that gave us all a sense of peace regarding the uncertain future.  And when on December 23, 1984, it was obvious he could fight no more, we were finally ready to release him back into the arms of his heavenly Father and into the peaceful existence that had eluded him during his short time here on earth.
Happy Birthday to the most handsome man in uniform!

Monday, May 3, 2010

If I had a time machine...

...and could go back four weeks, maybe I could afford to retire to the Caribbean!  (Well, only if I could see what was ahead and make a few changes, but let's pretend...)

Each day my mailbox holds another disappointment in the form of a medical bill or Explanation of [no] Benefits.  I'm starting to think that my upside-down journey down the stairs could be the last trip I take for a while.  A few more unreimbursed medical expenses and this adventure will rival the cost of my daughter's wedding.  (At least that was money well-spent.)

What if, instead of spending all this money for the pleasure of lounging on my sofa/throne and barking orders at my (poor, overworked) husband for 2 months, I could make a downpayment on a beachside house in St. Croix?  Heck, an oceanview tent would be better than this.

Maybe I'm complaining too much.  After all, I didn't come out of this empty-handed.  At my last doctor visit, I was given this fine piece of footwear to wear this spring:

It's open-toed, too.  Just right for the season.  But I'm curious (and somewhat afraid to know)-- exactly how much would it have cost me to get a matching pair?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cricut Expression Giveaway on Everyday Cricut blog!

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