Faithfully I’m taking my vitamins every day, the ones I read about in The Sugar Solution and the additional ones that Dr. Grayson told me to get. I’ve been taking them regularly for at least three months, and I can’t tell much of a change in my feet.
Dr. Grayson said it would take a while, but I wish now I had asked him to give me some kind of time frame for a reference point. I have noticed sometimes that one of my toes (actually a couple of them) hurt sometimes when I’m walking. I’ll take that as an encouraging sign.
I remember, before my neuropathy got to the point it is now, that walking was more painful. I used to tell my dad, “I don’t understand how my feet can be numb and hurt at the same time.”
I remember shopping in JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby with Chelsea and a friend and hobbling all around the store. I couldn’t get off my feet fast enough.
Now I find that I can walk, walk, walk, but I am beginning to experience some discomfort (although it’s not as bad as it was before my feet lost more and more feeling). That has to be good news, right? Maybe the nerves in my feet are regenerating. I’m at least hopeful that is the case.
I spent my whole morning being tired yesterday. Chelsea had a third of her stack of pancakes left from when she had breakfast at Generations the other day and she couldn’t finish them all, so I ate the rest (for the second day in a row). That meant the oatmeal I had fixed for breakfast could stay in the fridge until lunch time.
When Chelsea left for work, I went right back to bed and had a restful sleep. I don’t remember the last time I had a good nap like that. It was wonderful to catch up on some sleep, but I felt like a bum for not getting my morning treadmill done.
When I got home from my afternoon route, Chelsea messaged me and asked if I wanted to walk to Wal-Mart with her later. She said she could meet me at the end of our street. I agreed, but then she messaged Chuck later and said she would like for someone to pick her up a snack wrap from McDonald’s for dinner.
When she called, I was in the middle of fixing Chuck’s dinner, but I got on the phone and said, “I thought you and I were walking to Wal-Mart at 7:30.”
“Well, that’s what I had planned,” she said, “but I’m leaving a little early because I’m tired.”
We ended up walking to the Mexican restaurant, La Carreta, all the way uptown! Can you believe it? I can’t! I have discovered, however, that the last hill toward Main Street is much more grueling than the last hill to get back home.
I marvel, though, that I can do the hill while taking even breaths, without my side or my lungs hurting. It’s amazing to me. That never would have been the case before Trim Healthy Mama.
When I think back to the first year of our marriage and even when the kids were babies, I would sometimes be down at a week at a time, in bed, not being able to move without screaming out. I was strung out on Flexeril and Darvocet for days at a time.
I remember once having to call my mom and dad because my back hurt so bad that I couldn’t lift the kids out of their beds to take care of them. I spent most of that time on the floor in the living room. I was not able to get myself up off the floor, so I stayed there.
When I was 21 years old, it was discovered that I had a birth defect called spina bifida occulta. It turns out that a lot of people have this, but don’t know it until they happen to have X-rays for some reason or another, for instance, if they’re in a car wreck or something. The reason I found out was that I began experiencing back pain during the summer after my second year of college. I was working at Sonic at the time and had to hoist up fifty-pound bags of onions to make onion rings.
I went to the doctor who told me to lift with my legs and sleep with a piece of plywood under my mattress. I did as he said, but it wasn’t long until I was suffering with more back pain.
“We better get some X-rays,” Dr. Riley said. That’s when he explained to me that I had a gap between my sacrum and the last vertebra in my back. He said I was born that way, but he assured me that a lot of people are; they just don’t know it.
That is why, after I gave birth to Chelsea, I wasn’t overly concerned. They started telling me her spinal column hadn’t closed properly and that she had a birth defect. “Okay,” I thought. “So do I. That’s no biggie.” I didn’t know the extent of her birth defect. There are three forms of spina bifida: occulta (the most common one), meningocele, and myelomeningocele (the most severe type). Chelsea’s diagnosis was myelomeningocele.
Her type of spina bifida required immediate surgery to close up her back. My obstetrician told me she had a hole the size of a doorknob in her back. There are varying degrees of the lesions, both with size and location. Steve Largent of the New England Patriots had a son with spina bifida. He had been born with a lesion the size of a half-dollar, and the nerve damage he suffered was significantly less than Chelsea’s.
The blessing was that Chelsea’s lesion was between the first and fifth lumbar vertebrae. If it had been higher, the nerve damage would have been higher. The lower the lesion, the better the prognosis.
I was worried that her birth defect was my fault for two reasons. Was it because I had spina bifida that she was born this way? They said no, that with myelomeningocele, the spina bifida would have to come through both parents. I suspect Chuck has spina bifida occulta, too, because, although it may not always be the case, sometimes spina bifida occulta is accompanied with a tuft of hair on the lower back, and Chuck has that.
The second reason I worried that it may be my fault was that around Thanksgiving, after I had been pregnant for a few months already, I came down with a bad back, again. Because it was Thanksgiving, if I didn’t go back to work on Monday, I would not have been paid for the holiday.
I told Chuck I couldn’t take any Flexeril because I was pregnant, but he said, “You have to. You can’t miss on Monday or you’ll miss not just one day, but three days on your paycheck. You have to get your back better before Monday.”
After Chelsea was born I expressed my concerns to Dr. Riley, but he assured me that the Flexeril I took while pregnant had no bearing on her being born with spina bifida. He said that I would have had to take a whole bunch of it to have a detrimental effect on the baby.
I also found out that, by that point in my pregnancy, the birth defect was already present. The spinal column forms in the very first month. Chelsea already had spina bifida before I even knew I was pregnant. My taking Flexeril came after the fact.
While the kids were still babies, I tripped on a stump in Mom and Dad’s front lawn as we were walking to the car after a late game night. I caught myself and didn’t fall, but, after that incident, I wasn’t bothered by any more week-long episodes of severe back pain.
Mom was convinced that tripping on that stump “healed” my back. While I think that is unlikely, I can’t deny that God has certainly been merciful to me. X-rays may tell a different story, but I feel that I have been healed.
In any event, I’ve not been bedridden for a week at a time for years and years, where the slightest movement would cause me to scream out in pain, and look at me now. I walked seven miles in one day a couple of days ago!
The last time I missed any work was half a day back when Chelsea had her bowel surgery in January of 2014. The prayers of God’s saints pulled me through because I was really in fear for her life at that point. She was so desperately ill, and that third surgery was really scaring me. The morning of the surgery, though, I felt a peace settle over me that was indescribable.
Before that I hadn’t missed work for years. I took off for my mom’s funeral, of course, back in 2001.
Then, there was a time, after that, in the next few months or so, when I felt my chest become very tight while I was driving my route, like my whole torso was in a vice. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack, and I called my boss on the radio. She drove out in the country to finish my route for me, asking me if I thought I was okay to drive her van back to town.
As the bus pulled away, and Chelsea and Cameron looked at me out their bus windows, I really wondered if I were going to see them again. I wondered what the appropriate thing to do would be. Should I call Chuck? What if I was having a heart attack? What if I wouldn’t see him, again? Should I call him, just in case? Maybe I should have, but I didn’t.
It was determined at the doctor’s office that I had an episode of high blood pressure and I wasn’t allowed to drive the rest of the day, I think. I was only out a day, though, and then I was back to normal. Weird.
Then I took off part of a day when Dad passed away. I drove the afternoon he died, but I took off part of a day the next day to meet my siblings at the funeral home to make arrangements. Then I took off the day of his funeral, too–at least part of the day.
God has blessed me with good health, apart from moderate menstrual cramps, but that’s all behind me now.
Then, of course, I got this whole diabetes thing, but that is even controlled–at least for now. The worst part of the diabetes is my feet. If I could manage to get my feet back to normal that would be a big deal. I’m thinking the more I use them the better they’ll get, even if they get stiff and hard to walk on after I’ve been sitting for a while.
For now, I’m going to keep on keeping on, taking my vitamins and walking every chance I get. Knowing myself the way I do, it’s hard to believe I have hung with Trim Healthy Mama for as long as I have. I was contemplating this today as I walked around the walking track. After hitting a stall for the last several months, how can I keep going? The answer is simple: walking is not as hard now. Food combinations are easier to understand now. If I didn’t give up back when I had only lost twenty-five pounds and doing my treadmill every day was a major battle with self-discipline, of which I had very little, why would I give up now–now that exercise has become a habit, now that it doesn’t hurt so much to walk?
I will not give up. I will not say “die.” I will keep going. This is my new life, and I thank God for it every day.
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