i'm baaa--ack...

norah_s(Z5 NH)May 6, 2006

...sort of, in case anyone noticed I was gone...

Jeff, before you say a word, I hereby acknowledge that you were absolutely right and I am guilty as charged. I do tend to go into hibernation in winter.

But it's OVER! I got my waterfall running! The big apple tree framing the pond is in full, glorious bloom, as is the intensely fragrant "Maiden's Blush" lilac I planted in 2004.

Mary, Honey, so sorry I wasn't around to offer condolences on Sasha! I'm glad Gretchen is doing better now, poor dear. When I met them they seemed like two of the world's happiest dogs, devoted to their people and to each other. The orfes should be here Wed., Thurs., or Fri. The lady said she couldn't promise they would be sent on Monday, but that it should take just 2 days, and I'll get an email when they are shipped. Then I'll be sure and email you. It will be great to see you again.

Sandy, I hope you're still off the butts! Getting a solid spinal fusion is a long process. I'm heading into one of those this summer, I think, for the first time since I was 13. It will involve multiple cages, removing all or part of the current rod and inserting new rods with lots of screws. 2 lengthy operations, anterior and posterior approaches, re-angling my lumbar spine, and extending my fusion to the sacrum, for a total of 13 fused joints, T5-S1. Nope, I'm not looking forward to it, and yes, it's what I've been distracted by all winter. I have an excellent online support group for adult scoliosis issues, which has been taking most of my 'puter time.

Meanwhile I'm determined to get the pond done and in shape so I can lounge beside it while I recover. I have some cosmetic work to do on the waterfall, and when it's done I promise to post photos.


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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

Glad to see you back, Sharon!

Dang, that opertion series sounds like medeval torture! I sure hope you come through it OK!

You take care!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 4:25PM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

Thanks, Jeff.

Yeah, the surgery does sound gruesome, and I didn't even mention the spinal cord issues that may or may not be fixable. I see the doc on Monday to find out what he thinks, now that he has the MRI and CT myelogram.

Actually the stuff to be done is all stuff I get to sleep through. The first time around (age 13) was REALLY like medieval torture in that they stretched me on a rack while fully awake, in an attempt to straighten my spine. They didn't do it from hands and feet of course, but it was still pretty brutal. While stretched they built a cast around me that went right up under my chin and to the top of the head in back. Thank God they have much better techniques these days!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 5:46PM
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Good luck, thinking of you and hope you get well soon.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 6:13PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Hi Sharon! I wish you the very best - I hope you recover quickly and all goes well. Hopefully we can offer some entertainment here to help the days go by quickly.

Can't wait to see pics of the pond!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 9:34PM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

Thanks, ellekaye.


    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 9:35PM
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hello, sharon!!!! such courage!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 12:28AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

I'm sure the subject line was not a deliberate pun but even if it was I'll forgive you this time. I've found myself quite happy that no one recognised my back problems when I was younger. I suspect I would be in even worse shape than I am now. As it is, my back problems were put in their appropriate place at a Walgreen's cash register last week. I dropped my cane and the teenager behind the counter started around to pick it up. I said no thanks, I can use the exercise since I recently had back surgery. She said she had just recently gotten off of the walker from her back surgery and to my startlement pulled her shirt up to show me her scar. This thing started at her breastbone, curved around her ribcage and ended at her spine where it vanished under the back of her slacks. I swear the thing was at least 36 inches long (what I could see of it). Apparently her scoliosis was ignored by her foster mother and she had developed a 40 degree bend in her spine. It was caught when she had to see a doctor for something else so she got it done before getting out of the foster system and the surgery was done on Medicare. They removed a rib and fused 4 vertebrae. I can't say what flustered me the most. The scar was certainly a shock as was the $13,500 bill that medicare received from the hospital(My hospital bill was over $100,000). I didn't hear what if anything happens to the foster mother for ignoring the situation. So many questions have flitted through my mind since then. If any one sees me complain I hope they remind me about your surgeries and her scar. I am truly humbled. Sandy
P.S. I may lose the battle over smoking. :(

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 3:22AM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

Oh, no, Sandy. Please don't lose the battle. Only you can win it, and you are so worth it. And please don't be too humbled. It's never easy getting cut up, any way you slice it.

You're right that bill disparity is amazing. No doubt the surgeon and hospital took a loss on that young girl, but it's great that she got the care she needed. My surgery at age 13 cost my family and their insurance nothing! They had paid plenty over the years for my care, but by the time I had to have the surgery my dad had discovered the Shriners' hospital. Today as then kids can receive top-notch orthopedic and burn treatments for free thanks to the Shriners. Recently I've talked with other people in my area who had scoliosis surgery around the same time I did, and it's given me an increased appreciation for the "cutting edge" (sorry!) care I received in the '70s.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 11:21PM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

And thanks, everyone for the kind words. I do plan to take my laptop to bed during recovery, so you will all be close by.

The meeting with the doctor went well, and I hope to get the operations scheduled soon.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 11:32PM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

I so agree, Sandy. We can all so easily be humbled when we start to feel sorry for our situations by just looking around at how much worse so many others have it, and what great attitudes and high spirits many in terrible health and/or who undergo repeated, painful procedures have.

I had major reconstructive surgery on both of my feet in 2000 (four different procedures on each foot at once, 6 months apart), and can tell you that was no picnic, but I imagine what you went through with your back last summer and what Sharon is about to have done is even -- I'll try to be positive -- more of an opportunity for growth. :)

As for the smoking battle, I used to make fun of folks who talked about what a SERIOUS addiction it was until I REALLY TRIED to beat MINE... Here I am 6 years and 13 days later, still chewing the nicotine gum, BUT the last tobacco I smoked was Nov. 1, 2003 (after waffling back and forth quite a few times between May 1 2000 and Halloween 2003)...

However, the longterm effect of all my on-again, off-again affair with the nicotine-gum substitute was that when I FINALLY kicked the cigarettes for good, I found I was no longer able to wean off the gum (I had been completely nicotine-free for a year before 9/11, when, like Peter Jennings, I relapsed and began the cycle of a couple months of smoking followed by a couple months of gum... for the next two years).

Aside from the cost of the gum (which is less expensive if you buy store brand), the doctors say it's pretty safe to use and have NO PROBLEM with me chewing it longterm -- Even when I had a heart attack Feb. 21, they didn't have a problem with me having my nicotine gum in the hospital... Nicotine is chemically similar to caffeine -- it's all the OTHER STUFF in the tobacco smoke that kills ya... the TAR, the CARBON MONOXIDE, the HYDROGEN SULFIDE, the HYDROGEN CYANIDE and about A THOUSAND OTHER TOXIC CHEMICALS, or so they say.

So if you're fighting the smoking battle "solo," Sandy, perhaps you should give nicotine replacement a try... you may not save any money vs. what it costs to smoke, but you'll certainly save your health...

There's only ONE downside, for me, at least when I'm not in closed quarters... when I smell someone else's cigarette it often still smells GOOD to me... I was helping dig holes to plant tomatoes and peppers at the local Master Gardener vegetable garden this morning and the guy who's in charge of it this year smokes... He passed me at one point with a cigarette and I caught a whiff and it smelled good and I told him so -- and he asked if I wanted one... Not THAT foolish I said NO THANKS, I'll stick with the gum, lol.

Good luck to EVERYONE with your health issues!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 1:31AM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

Oh, dear, not only did I miss the forum all winter, I missed your hospitalization, Jeff.

How's the heart doing now?

That's interesting about nicotine itself being reasonably safe albeit addictive. But if it's the junk in smoke that's dangerous, I wonder what it is about smokeless tobacco that's bad. Don't habitual chewers and snuff-users get mouth cancer?


    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 6:27PM
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jeffahayes(8a Upstate SC)

Yes, they do, Sharon... because chewing the tobacco ALSO releases a lot of the same carcinogens that smoking it does, although not necessarily the same ones or the same way... but you've essentially got these carcinogenic chemicals pressed up against your cheek and gums for extended periods over many years.

Doctors have been saying Nicotine gum was safe longterm for years (patches and inhalers, too, if you don't like gum). In fact, after the first time I saw a doctor say this (On "Nightline"), I mentioned it to my pharmacist and he told me two of his longest-standing, most regular customers were a doctor and his wife who had used it to quit smoking.

A word of caution... If you use the gum, RESIST ANY TEMPTATION to smoke concurrently with the gum. When you first start chewing, being used to INHALING the smoke, you'll still crave the EXPERIENCE of smoking, even though you're getting your "nicotine fix" from the gum... If you do, not only could you overdose on nicotine (yes, that IS possible -- it's also possible with caffeine, by the way), but you'll WORSEN your addiction...

Secondly, make sure to read the instructions carefully... When I first began using the gum I didn't, and found myself with a bad case of hiccups a few times... If you're not used to it, chewing the gum like regular gum before most of the nicotine is released will release it too quickly and it has a "convulsive effect" on the nerves in your throat, causing BAD hiccups that last for only a few minutes, but are unlike any hiccups you've ever had, and no usual "hiccup cures" will get rid of them -- you just have to wait it out... These days, I seldom have that problem even if I chew it fast right away, because my body's so used to it.

The PROPER way to chew it is to chew the piece 15-20 times, then "park it" between your cheek and gums for a few minutes, then repeat for a while until the bulk of the nicotine is released. Then you can chew it like regular gum (and I really like the flavor of the regular gum -- I buy the Sam's Club brand).

One other thing... the INSTRUCTIONS also tell you not to eat or drink anything within 15 minutes before or after chewing the gum... Well frankly, THAT'S just RIDICULOUS, as most smokers are MOST LIKELY to need the "fix" right after eating, and many have something to drink all the time... I've NEVER followed that part of the instructions and never had a problem.

Good luck if you're trying to quit smoking!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2006 at 11:05PM
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norah_s(Z5 NH)

Not I, thank God. Scoliosis affects lung capacity, so the last thing I'd need is to pollute my lungs.

My MIL is always trying to quit. Next time she comes to visit she plans to try again. I think she's tried just about everything, but I'll mention the gum next time I talk to her.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2006 at 12:44AM
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