Thankfulness, Prioritized.

Ali brought home a thankfulness list from church last Wednesday night and proudly presented it to me, asking me to read it in its entirety.

I suppose she thought I would be relieved and happy to come in fifth on her list of thanksgivings, and I suppose I am. It’s not like I’ve gotten to be a stellar Mom lately. And, at least I didn’t come in last, behind “other, other, other, iPad, Minecraft” like her beloved godmother Amanda did.

But my favorite, by far, was my mom’s spot on the list.

She came in second place. She is pretty awesome and all and she totally deserves at least second.

But she came in second – right behind “Grandmama’s Laszanya.”


Should you be such a good cook that your food is better than you are?

It can’t be a bad thing.

A Brief (or not) Summary of the Week.

Disclaimer: Don’t expect this to be too amusing. Muscle relaxers make minds mushy. Narcotic pain pills make minds even mushier. And I can’t make tragedy humorous unless I have at least a day or two away from it, and I only got one day away from it and I didn’t sit around writing. But more on that later. This is just an update for those who have wondered how it’s going. I miss really writing, but alas – muscle relaxers and narcotics. So all that to say, you get what you get.

Last Sunday – As I had promised to put myself on a seven day bed rest as much as possible, I slept and laid around all day. Hurting. A lot.

That evening, Chris insisted that getting out would make me feel better (I hadn’t left the house in 48 hours), so he took me on a sunset ride. I couldn’t use my DSLR camera, but at least I could take pictures with my phone.


Only…I realized when Chris posted the picture below of me taking that picture that I broke one of the two rules I was given – don’t lift anything more than 3 pounds and don’t lift anything above your head.


Oops. I blame my husband.

Monday – I had hoped that I had been sandbagging when I said that I wasn’t going to blog for a week, and that I’d get all kinds of writing done while I was resting.


It hurt to type, it hurt to write, it hurt to hold my phone…and hurting hurt because I don’t like not doing anything.

But, I went to physical therapy, then went to complete the process of buying a new car (more about that soon), then came home and gladly fell into the arms of my prescription drugs and had a comatose rest of day.

Tuesday – More physical therapy followed by more drugs and more non-movingness. Yeah. Like, how exciting is my life right now.

Wednesday – I had no choice. This was the day I had been dreading all week, as I lay in bed trying to find my comfortable spot. Ali had a spelling bee that morning, and I had agreed to be a guest lecturer at a class at my alma mater, UAB, about social media later that afternoon. I was to be out most of the day, it was raining, it was exactly three weeks since the accident, which also happened on a rainy Wednesday when we were going to a school event.

The children and I both experienced PTSD. Nobody really wanted to leave the house, but we had been studying for that spelling bee since school started – you can’t just flush that kind of spellinvestment.

So we weaved our way through the many car wrecks all over town and made it to the spelling bee miraculously unscathed, albeit a little stressed, where Ali had to confront her already-existing-before-the-wreck weather fears as the spelling bee faced the window where the rain was pouring and the lightning was flashing. At the biggest thunderclap she turned around and yelled “Hey Mommy can I come sit with you?”, but she settled back down and adored rocking out spelling, placing first in her age group and 4th overall (meaning that she was spelling against 8th graders and discovered that she has her mother’s competitive genes.)


We went home for a short time where I took narcotics and muscle relaxers and a very short nap, all of which are fantastic preparations for guest lecturing at the college level.

And I survived.

But not without ending the day with the worst pain yet.

Thursday –  But Wednesday was not worse than Thursday. Pain got to all-time high, including pulsing down my arms for at least an hour every time I accidentally raised one hand over my head.

It’s really hard to not raise an arm over your head. Hair in your face? Too bad. Want to switch a floor lamp on? Nope. Wash your hair? That’s gonna hurt.

Plus my dysautonomia was quite severe, giving me the gift of blacking out and feeling exhausted due to having laid around for 5 days. Activity is vital to my life, and car wrecks ruin that. I was not happy.

I Whine-Texted everyone I knew. And continued to whine-text the ones who didn’t try to cheer me up or tell me it could have been worse. (If you want to be the future recipient of whine-texts, I’m applying for backup candidates.)

Then I ended the day by not falling asleep until 3am from the pain.

Friday – Fridays are apparently my marathon health days. The Friday before I spent 10 hours trying to get answers, and this Friday ended up being a seven hour journey. I started the day at physical therapy, and my PT agreed that my worsening pain after a week of near-constant rest definitely qualified as a trip back to the doctor and another ask for an MRI.

I dropped my kids at my parent’s, took a meandering route to attempt to find a doctor that was working and could see me, and ended up seeing the rudest, angriest, most awful doctor I’ve ever experienced.

(And I’ve experienced a few.)

BUT. He ordered an MRI. Very angrily. Because apparently, according to him, Obamacare has made it nearly impossible to order an MRI without all types of insurance denying it, which is why I couldn’t have one the week before – I just hadn’t had enough good, quality, long-term, debilitating pain yet to deserve to know what was causing it.

I drove straight to the MRI clinic, where they told me my insurance had not yet approved it.

I sat in the waiting room, picturing Malia Obama in the back of a dusty unused bedroom at the White House, looking at me through a crystal ball, analyzing my length of time in pain, and deciding my fate.

Finally, Malia approved my MRI. And they took me back to that tiny Star Trek Coffin, slid me in the tube, and provided me 15 minutes of an Introvert’s Techno Rave Dance Party – without the dancing.

That evening, my regular doctor called me with the results. The MRI showed that I have muscle spasms, pressure on my spinal cord fluid, two bulging discs in my neck, and one tear/rupture in a disc in my neck. It explained my pain, but there wasn’t really a way to easily fix it. No surgery – just more physical therapy…and perhaps a lot of time.

In one of the kindest acts anyone has ever offered me, he prescribed me steroids.


I took two that night despite the fact that I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t sleep. I FELT HUMAN.

I watched TV with Chris, comfortably and in focus, and slept fine.


…But I was so mad that it had taken someone almost a month to offer them to me.

Saturday – Saturday was the most awesome day that ever did exist.


I felt energetic, I wasn’t in pain, and I felt like a normal human being.


I even dared pick up my camera for the first time in a week and a half.




I took a one mile walk around Aldridge Gardens.



Then went on a 4.7 mile hike at Oak Mountain State Park with my friend Kristin and her daughter Taylor.


(Because they’d never been and she asked me for directions and I couldn’t let her get lost with her precious daughter.)


(But I made Kristin carry my camera backpack. Because I’m high-maintenance like that.)



My steroid, Decadron, was my Saturday Superhero. And, as my friend Renee’s doctor-husband pointed out, Decadron even sounds like the most fierce of superhero robots that there ever was.


I went to bed Saturday night blissfully happy for having lived, for having gotten my heart rate up and helped my dysautonomia, and with hope for a brighter future of pain-free normalcy.

Sunday – Chris, being the enabling husband he is, suggested I skip church and go on another walk while I was feeling good. But, I felt like I should be a decent deacon’s wife and go to church for the first time in weeks.

But oh. I should have listened to my husband. Chairs in Sunday School and pews in Church are not made for neck support. Or for propping up one’s legs to take the pressure off of one’s neck.

I did not make it through Church. My neck and shoulder pain was back and it was angry at me. And Decadron had failed me.

I mourned deeply for Decadron only giving me 36 glorious hours and wondered if taking, say, ten Decadron, would bring me back my happiness.

(I’m never going to become a narcotics junkie, but Decadron? If it consistently gave me days like Saturday, I’d totally be strung out.)

So that’s where I am. Not exactly knowing when I’ll be out of intense and pretty constant pain, going to physical therapy three times a week, taking so many pills that Ali’s eyes widen in judgment, and still trying to homeschool my kids, be an accountant, provide my children with food and basic interaction, and not go crazy.

Don’t get hit head-on in a car accident, kids. It’s not much fun.

On Labor, Collision, and Candy.

This won’t make a bit of sense without first reading Part One and Part Two of this soap opera.

And then there was Friday.

I knew it would be a whirlwind day, what with both of the children having doctor’s appointments in the morning and me having one that afternoon. So Ali and I hurried through her school, and then I took the kids to see their Pediatrician to get all of their various aches and bumps from the wreck thoroughly examined. She made sure Ali didn’t have any signs of concussion from her window impact, and tickled the children to hiccups during all of the sore muscle checks. Ultimately, it is just going to take time for them to heal.

Their necks have been the slowest to recover, as they are still sore when turned over a week later. But thankfully, children tend to be more elastic than adults.

As we were leaving their doctor, I got a text from my neighbor Renee (remember? The one that was supposed to go into labor any minute and I was her on-call first responder?)

She was pretty sure she might be in labor, and was at Target down the street. We sped to Target and met her at the internal Starbucks. She had called the nurse, who told her to “wait and see.”

Every pregnant lady’s favorite phrase.

I asked her if she wanted to go on a walk with us. Do lunges. Find a trampoline. Go skydiving. ANYTHING to turn “wait and see” into “come on in.”

She, however, was in the middle of an insane maternity nesting obsession and turned all of my ideas down. She was appalled that Target did not carry spray paint because she needed it to finish her FALL CRAFT and her FALL CRAFT must be completed before the baby came so where did I think the closest place was that she could get spray paint for her FALL CRAFT?!

(Emphasis not mine. She might have screamed “Fall Craft” by the end of the rant.)

Um. Renee. You’re most likely in the early stages of labor. I think you can forget about the fall craft.


So I sent her on her way to Hobby Lobby where she would most likely be the cause of an intercom call saying “Clean-Up on the Spray Paint aisle – Bring a mop and the Wet Vac – we’ve got amniotic fluid!”

But I figured it probably wouldn’t be the first time – most likely many labor imminent mothers frantically buy all the things from that store. I mean they probably even have an intercom code for it.

“Code Spawn on the Spray Paint Aisle!”


“We’ve got a Mother Puddle in Paint Products!”

and then followed up with,

“Call 911 and order a Gestation Taxi!”

While I gleefully imagined the pandemonium that Renee was creating at Hobby Lobby, I drove Ali and Noah out to Chris’ office (we’ve discovered that they’re shockingly self-entertained in an empty office that they assume is their personal workspace) so that I could go to my doctor’s appointment in peace and be unencumbered for any impending Hobby Lobby –> Hospital deliveries.

I anxiously awaited an emergency text as my doctor checked out all of my aches and lumps, especially the ones surfacing after my ER visit. Then we discussed what I’d need to do to get all my parts back in working order. After careful experimentation and discovering that my neck probably wouldn’t get better on its own and, more disturbingly, a particular leg muscle injury would 100% prevent me from running without severe pain and hurting myself worse (which is crucial to keeping my Dysautonomia under control), that plan turned into three visits a week to my Physical Therapist for the foreseeable future.

I left my doctor and checked in with Chris, who had just left work with kids in tow. We agreed to meet at home, transfer to one vehicle, and go get some dinner.

After we detoured to the sunset, of course.


But alas. While we were on our way to dinner, Renee texted me again.

“I think this may be happening.”

“Okay. Do you want us to get our dinner to go?”

“Might be a good idea.”

We arrived at Moe’s, but Moe’s is one of those places that is great if there’s no line but worse than the DMV if there is a line. So after giving it five minutes and no one moving forward, I decided we should leave.

Renee’s husband was home from work, so my preassigned task in that scenario was to spend the night at their house with her two kids, Jonas and Loulie, and also my kids. (Incidentally, this is a different neighbor than the one that I may or may not have killed her chicken, in case you’re wondering why she would trust me with her children.) Chris dropped me off at Renee’s house, then went home to pack me and the kids a bag (or 20 because he’s an overpacker), and then to take the kids to dinner attempt number two.

I ate Pizza at their house, while Renee’s husband and I analytically studied her for certain and uncertain signs of real labor – which I am sure was wholly appreciated by the one about to pass a child from her body.

It finally became apparent that she was definitely in enough pain to go the hospital, and I, being the insensitive friend I am, cheered at her condition.

I slept fitfully that night, checking my phone for updates and hoping I wouldn’t have any especially freakish sleepwalking escapades in their house. The new baby made his appearance a little after midnight, so I cheered again about not being wrong regarding the state of her labor.

The next morning, Ali practiced her babysitting skills, and adored every minute of it.


Jonas would only eat if Ali fed him, as he decided that she is the best human being on the planet,


and his big sister might agree.


But we couldn’t just play all day.

These were serious times.

And I needed to prepare Jonas for what was to come.

I explained to him that his seemingly unfairly short days of being the baby were over.


He was now…a Middle Child.


Then I explained to him what being a middle child entailed, and his hair stood on end.


Loulie, however, was thrilled to hear that her status remained unchanged.


We stayed at their house until about noon on Saturday, when we passed the baton to a nanny.

At which time Chris immediately got to work finishing up our decorations for our annual Trunk and Treat. And rainproofing it, because storms for Halloween night were guaranteed.

I took the opportunity to take a muscle relaxer and lay in bed for a couple of hours – I hadn’t been home since Friday morning and, being the responsible human being that I attempt to emulate, I had not taken any pain pills or muscle relaxers while in charge of other people’s children.

So I relished my medicated and immobile short afternoon.

And then it was time to go give candy to thousands of eager children. Because Halloween doesn’t brake for wrecks.


Our theme this year was dictated by a certain young man who had superhero aspirations,


And his sister, who didn’t mind joining that plan,


And his parents, who were way too busy with things like pneumonia and wrecks and ER visits and everything else that October brought to properly plan costumes, and were satisfied to simply be “Bam” and “Pow.”


…The irony of which did not escape the notice of those who knew what our week had included.

Epilogue: I’m still attending physical therapy and will be for a while, Jonas is adapting to being the middle child but asks for Ali when he doesn’t get what he wants, and most importantly, Renee did indeed finish her Fall Craft RIGHT before leaving for the hospital.