The F Word
After being diligent about getting a flu shot in the early fall each year, Influenza A outwitted me by showing up early, bringing with it great misery. A nasty sinus infection (something I've had a lot of since moving to Texas, the allergen capital of the United States) took me to an urgent care Friday evening. I received a steroid injection and prescription for antibiotics, which I took over the weekend. But by Monday morning, I was feeling different indeed, overwhelmed by fatigue and body aches. Off I went to my primary care practice. While waiting for the flu test results, I actually fell asleep on the exam table!
Tamiflu is supposed to help you recover more quickly, but that remains to be seen. Although I'm doing less coughing and blowing, I ache all over in ways I've never experienced. Last night, I sank gratefully into a hot bath, hoping to soak away the pain, which has been unaffected by doses of Tylenol and Advil. It helped a bit and I was able to sleep soundly. I do have periods of time when I have a bit of energy, but it doesn't last long and soon I'm back on the couch.
I've had to defer work on a freelance writing project because it takes too much energy.
Andy has had to take over getting our four-year-old grandson off to school in the morning. Usually he comes to us in his PJs at 7:15, but I didn't want to expose him to the flu, so Andy goes there instead, fixing him breakfast, getting him dressed for another day at The Primrose School, and returning him home after school until a parent arrives.
I'm sure this will all eventually go away and I can return to normal, but I may still have days of feeling lousy ahead. My advice? Get your flu shot as soon as possible.
A Happy Anniversary
In a few days, it will have been a year since a complex, life-changing spine surgery. It was not an easy decision--in fact, it took three visits to the surgeon over 18 months for me to give the green light. Here's where I was before the procedure: unable to stand up straight, hunched over the grocery cart, in pain emptying the dishwasher and could not stand for more than 20 minutes without my back screaming at me. I was always looking for a place to sit down and taking handfuls of Advil just to get through the day.
An x-ray showed a 27 degree curve in my lumbar spine, plus considerable arthritis, disk degeneration, misaligned vertebrae, and a pinched sciatic nerve. I was a good candidate for the procedure and waiting might have worsened my plight, so on September 18, I checked into the Medical City Brain and Spine Hospital. After nine hours in the OR, I emerged with incisions in my back, front and side ( a 360 degree operation), to remove arthritic bone, install cages and screws and fuse several vertebrae.
I remember nothing about the four-day hospital stay thanks to serious doses of happy medicine. My first memory was being taken to PowerBack, a rehab facility, for the next 19 days. PT and OT twice a day helped to build strength and taught me how to safely get into bed, shower, etc. The fatigue after such a major insult to my body was absolutely crushing. After coming home, a walker helped me ambulate, then a cane. Soon I was walking on my own, getting PT at home and then outpatient physical therapy. Andy took over dealing with the grandkids before and after school, grocery shopping, laundry and meals. The rest of the family pitched in, too. I couldn't have pulled it off without their help, as well as encouragement from friends. After about eight weeks, I was ready to resume taking care of grandchildren and doing most everything I used to do, although I still needed frequent rest.
Where am I today? Able to stand straight, shop for groceries, and prepare meals without pain. I won't lie. There have been a few downsides. Because of the fusions, I no longer have the flexibility to tie my shoes, so I've opted for clogs and sandals. Sometimes, I find myself searching for words (most likely a side effect of the anesthesia). But overall, I feel great. So, Happy Anniversary to me and thanks to Dr. Belanger for giving me a healthier future!
A Mountain Getaway
As a special treat for me, Hannah and I jetted off to beautiful Park City, Utah for Labor Day weekend. Leaving everyday concerns and Texas heat behind, we landed in Salt Lake City, which sits in a basin ringed by mountains. We took a quick tour through downtown to see Temple Square, home of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). Although the area is mostly walled off, you could glimpse the beautiful gardens and spectacular Tabernacle. Many other LDS buildings surround this area, giving you an idea of the magnitude of this religious body.
Then it was a 25-minute drive east through the gorgeous mountains to Park City, a popular resort and home to the Sundance Film Festival. It's a slice of paradise, with a sloping Main Street dotted with upscale shops, art galleries and restaurants. The small but expensive hillside homes in town are primarily rentals for skiers. We staved off hunger with an ice cream cone and enjoyed watching the crowds of people, kids and dogs. After checking into our hotel and resting for a bit, we were back on Main Street for dinner at Purple Sage.
First thing Sunday, we breakfasted at Harvest, a trendy spot featuring healthy foods. We went for a drive to find the venue for that evening's concert and rode a chair lift up one of the mountains to get a panoramic view of the city, ski runs and the surrounding peaks. Tall pines and aspen trees sporting a few of their early fall Kodak-yellow leaves lined the way, reminding me of our time in Denver. At the top, we rotated around and headed down, affording another perspective. Main Street was jammed with Silly Sunday fair-goers, so we opted to get out of town and have brunch at the Waldorf-Astoria in the Canyon Resort area. Who knew the venerable NYC hotel had a branch in Park City?
After a break at the hotel, we took the shuttle to City Park to enjoy an outdoor concert featuring two musicians from the TV show Nashville: Charles Esten and Chris Carmack. While waiting for showtime, we scarfed down lobster rolls hawked at a pop-up stand. The sun was bright on our faces for the first half of the concert, but when it set behind the mountain, it became quite chilly. Hannah and I had seen the cast of Nashville perform in other concerts and love their music, a blend of country and rock covers. At the end, we stood near the stage to watch them lead the crowd in singing A Life That's Good (title of my blog).
Our all-too-short weekend came to an end as the alarm sounded early so that we could make our flight back to Dallas. Many thanks to my generous daughter for a wonderful time and great memories of a beautiful spot.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.