Thursday, January 21, 2016

State of the Laura

My mind is clear enough to write for the first time in almost a week thanks to me stopping my drug regime in anticipation of going back to work tomorrow.

Here's the skinny. Last Thursday morning I felt a twinge in my back that steadily got worse. All day Thursday I was in pain, but since I live with a certain level of pain and it wasn't that much worse than usual, I tried to ignore it and just get on with life. But Friday morning... I thought I was going to die. It hurt more than I had ever imagined back pain could hurt. I mean, I've had back pain for years, but it's been periods of intense but tolerable pain followed by dull aches followed by mostly nothing. But last Friday, it was intolerable. I was having back spasms, and every time one hit I couldn't prevent myself from crying. And sometimes crying out. It was that bad. I somehow worked through deadline but the instant I believed I was done with everything for that day's paper, I headed to the "urgent care" clinic.

Aside: I have had ovarian cysts burst. They are incredibly painful and the pain lasts for a couple of hours. The back spasms were at least as bad and only lasted a few minutes each... but they kept happening every ten or so minutes. The burst cysts would have weeks in between.

I was prescribed a couple of drugs, a narcotic pain killer and a muscle relaxant. I then proceeded to spend the weekend in drug-addled pain. Because the drugs didn't really work, but fogged my brain severely and put me to sleep. During that time, I learned about the deaths of two people I consider friends, and both of them hit me really hard. So I was still in pain and suffering from grief when Monday morning rolled around.

Hubby-Eric wasn't working Monday, so he took me back to the clinic where I was prescribed a different pain killer and a different muscle relaxant. Then hubby did the hard work of getting the prescriptions so I could just stay at home and try to heal. The new drugs worked, and I spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday out of it. Wednesday morning I felt better and decided I ought to try to go back to work on Thursday. My boss, the new publisher, informed me that if I was going to come back early I had to get it cleared with my doctor. I got an appointment for this morning.

After bawling me out about going to the clinic, my regular doctor told me I needed to finish the medicine and rest period (I thought my regular doctor didn't do same-day appointments. I have been taught otherwise). So I will be headed back to work tomorrow morning, instead of going back today. She also chided me about not getting my mammogram and decided to set up the appointment for me. *sigh* I'm not a good patient.

Today's mail brought a book from Amazon that I hadn't ordered... about how to deal with back pain. Since the primary chapters I've read so far agree with the advice of my doctor (stand up and move around frequently, stop slouching when sitting) I will try to work through it and see if it helps me in the long run. I got a text from my sister asking if I got the book, so that mystery was quickly solved.

I firmly believe that if I lose the weight I've gained back since moving out here, most of my medical issues will dissolve. Which means I've got to get serious about calorie counting again. Eric has promised to help me out.

I'm going to indulge in a little bit of sadness and grief now.

I didn't know Justin Manning for long. I met him online at theadiposetv's Twitch stream and chat, and met him in person at last year's Anglicon. He was an enthusiastic supporter of fandom and loved everything about life and fans. He was delighted to get to Anglicon and meet the Doctor Who: Legacy team and some other fans from the chat and stream. He volunteered at the convention, and put in a helping hand despite being weak from cancer treatments. He was impressive and, having seen photos of him from other friends on his Facebook page, I realize he was a great man who promoted friendship and fandom. I'll miss him.

On the other hand, I've known Jim Trull for as long as I've worked at the newspaper. He was one of the first friendly faces I got to know at certain meetings and such. I'm fairly certain I first met him while covering Noon Rotary, where he was a natural born greeter. He was always genuinely glad to see people and made you feel tall just to be around him. When I had to cover the groundwater meetings, I was delighted to see Jim there, because I felt like I had one ally in the room. I remember after the first groundwater meeting I covered, I went up to Jim and asked him some background questions about some of the discussion topics that I hadn't quite understood. He patiently explained the acronyms to me and, frankly, without him I feel like I would have been lost.

I didn't know Jim was the district manager of the local irrigation district until later, and then I realized just how important he was in the area. That he took the time to help a clueless cub reporter makes me adore him even more.

Jim passed away over the weekend, and when I learned the news I was in far more shock than when I heard about Justin's death. Justin had been fighting cancer. As far as I know, Jim was in good health. I saw him at the irrigation district meeting not so long ago. In fact, I want to share a little bit of his sense of humor.

One of the presenters at the meeting had a couple of photos of his crew laying pipe, and a machine that was binding the pipes together. It was pretty standard stuff. The photos were of the machine at the worksite, and one of the photos showed a worker and a case next to him that apparently contained part of his lunch: a bag of pretzels. The board members asked questions about the machine, and how much time it saved, and all that jazz. Jim looked up and asked in a serious deadpan voice, "And what do the pretzels do?" The engineer presenting had no idea what he was talking about. One of the board members sort of giggled and pointed out the bag on the photo... then they got back to business. A tiny moment of levity in an otherwise highly technical meeting.

Jim's daughter is also in Noon Rotary and I know her fairly well. His wife is the principal at one of the elementary schools, so I've run into her while working, as well. So my heart is breaking for them along with the general loss to the community. I think I've had enough time that I'm not going to break into tears while thinking about it at work, but I make no guarantees. Like I've said elsewhere, this year has truly started out horrible.