Life’s Bumps

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If nothing else, I can say that, so far, 2015 has been anything but boring for my husband and me. Where do I begin?

Two days before Christmas, my husband tripped on a heavy box, and he caught himself before he fell, but he must have twisted something pretty bad. At first, he was just sore, but by the end of a week’s time, he could barely walk. We spent the 30th going to doctors and the orthopedic urgent care clinic to get x-rays. Luckily, he had no broken bones.

Despite all the medication he received, including pain and muscle relaxers, the next day his leg locked up on him when he sat down in a kitchen chair. He couldn’t move, and he was howling in pain. After spending time on the phone with our doctor, taking more pain meds, and waiting a while, he still couldn’t move, and he was in excruciating pain. I had to call 911.

I will digress here to say that while the Barrow Emergency guys who came to get my husband were awesome, I was quite unnerved that during my first phone call, the dispatcher could not hear me. I could hear him, but after yelling into the phone, I realized we had a bad connection. On my second call, he could hear me, but another emergency call interfered with my call, and I couldn’t hear him because I could hear another voice – in another call – loud and clear. What the? Fortunately, that passed, and I was able to talk and hear clearly. But I wondered how I would feel if I had been calling because an intruder was in my house? Geez.

So, we spent the afternoon of New Year’s Eve in the ER of Athens Regional Hospital. The experience was not good for my husband, who was hoping for the doctor to find out what was causing the pain. Instead, he had a doctor who didn’t actually visit him until she was ready to send him home, and her bedside manner was lacking greatly. He told me she said that pain wasn’t a reason to admit someone to the hospital (he wasn’t dying, that is), and he needed to go home and deal with it.

Since I was in the cafeteria getting my boys some food, I wasn’t privy to that conversation, but I was surprised they were sending him home in so much pain too, especially after our doctor said he would probably need an MRI. Apparently they don’t do that in the ER. Instead, they gave him stronger pain medication and muscle relaxers, and he was able to walk again, though stooped over and limping.

To make matters more complicated, we had to switch health insurance this year, and that kicked in at midnight on January 1st. We could no longer see the doctor we have been seeing for years, but we felt that maybe the change would be good. So far, it has. We can get our new insurance – Kaiser Permanente – on the telephone so much faster than we could ever get Blue Cross Blue Shield on the phone.

We’ve been impressed so far with the Kaiser facilities and doctors. We got an appointment for my husband right away, and the doctor ordered him an MRI. He had that on Friday, and we’re awaiting the results. We also met our children’s new pediatrician, and I’m doubly impressed that I can actually e-mail him questions!

To add to all these changes and my husband’s pain that won’t go away, we also found out that the school he teaches at will be absorbed by another university. We are uncertain what the future holds for his job, and that stress is worse than the pain. The day after this announcement, my youngest son had a stomach bug, so I was dealing with a lot of throw up too. What a fun week!

But life goes on, and there are some good things that have happened. For example, my son recovered quickly from his bad stomach bug, and no one else in the family caught it. My eldest son has been taking full advantage of the robotics set that several family members pitched in to buy him for Christmas, and he’s been building robots and learning programming all by himself – that kid never ceases to amaze me. I have finally taken time off from freelance projects that kept me way too busy all last fall and before the holidays, and I feel more relaxed despite the problems we are having.

To say I’m worried about my husband is an understatement. He’s in a lot of pain, but I am hopeful that whatever it is, it will heal. I am hopeful that he will at least still have a job by next year when the merger is more complete. If not, we will adapt and change as necessary even though our prospects feel rather bleak right now.

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Since writing this column, we’ve had good news and bad news. The good news is that my husband’s job should be secure for the foreseeable future. The bad news is that his back is pretty damaged, and we will be seeing a neurosurgeon. I have also dealt with a bacteria infection of my own, though thankfully I’m feeling a little better. My spirits are okay, though, since I know this is just life’s bumps. I’m grateful that all of it should pass.

I will be writing some homeschool updates soon.  Meanwhile, I hope you are well.

Life’s Unexpected Twists and Turns

Note: This column was published in the Barrow Journal on July 3, 2013.

We weren’t planning to make any trips this summer, but life threw us a curveball recently when my mother-in-law got into a very bad car accident. Thankfully she’s okay, but my in-laws needed a little help and a lot of cheering up, so one morning we decided we needed to come to Chicago, and the next morning we left for our all-day journey to the Windy City.

I’m still waiting for the day when my husband will decide we’re too old to make the trip in one day, but I realize that day will probably never come. We had such a short time to get ready that we decided to take not only our dogs, which we always take, but our cat too. Yes, you can call us crazy. Besides not wanting to inconvenience anyone, she’s a sociable cat who hates being left alone. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as she sleeps contentedly beside me in Chicago.

Our boys travel like angels and only whine if they get too hungry, so we do our best to avoid that. We let them watch DVDs on the drive up, but one movie and a few shows doesn’t pass a 15 hour drive quickly enough. We were all exhausted and ready for bed when we arrived.

Luckily my husband works from home, so he was able to bring his office with him. He’s been busy dealing with work matters as well as helping his parents with insurance matters, purchasing a car and doctor’s appointments.

My poor father-in-law was given another blow tonight when his water boiler broke and spilled water all over the basement floor. As the darkness covers the sky, two neighbors and my husband are helping him try to solve that problem. Sometimes when it rains it pours.

Though my boys may be too little to fully understand what’s happening – for them it’s all adventure – I’m glad they’re here as we act out some of the family values we’re trying to teach them. It’s our job to help each other when we’re able to. Families need to stick together.

It’s something I value very much about my Polish in-laws and extended family. When push comes to shove, they all stick together. It doesn’t mean everyone always gets along perfectly, but no one ever shuts anyone else out.

While we can’t exactly call this a vacation, we decided we would have some fun too. Since we live in rural Barrow County, it’s a big treat for me to be here awhile with the grocery stores, fruit market and other amenities within a five-minute drive.

In fact, I can’t get used to it, and while shopping with my mother-in-law, I rushed her through it because we forgot a cooler and “oh the ice cream is going to melt on the way home!” When I remembered that we were five minutes from home, I understood the strange look I got for that!

There are two parks within walking distance to my in-laws house, and I’m not sure who enjoys walking to them more – me or my boys. There’s also a wonderful library a few blocks away, and it’s almost enough to make me want to move to the city. But don’t worry — it won’t take long for me to miss our large yard, garden and sparse traffic.

On Saturday we visited the Chicago Botanical Garden, and we spent a long time in their butterfly habitat, which seemed like a perfect conclusion to our experience of raising butterflies. We also had a mission to find the carnivorous plants, which is my six-year-old’s latest interest and quickly becoming his next project. He told me he wants to grow them at home, so stay tuned for our adventures with that!

We will go to at least one museum while we’re here and visit with family, but we’ll be happy to return to Georgia, our friends, summer camps, and lazy summer afternoons where we’ll be too far away from anything to bother with the shopping or other errands.

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FYI We are home now!