Sunday, June 3, 2007

Living with Spina Bifida

When I was little, mom tells me that she would see me limping and call my attention to it- of course, I would tell her I wasn't limping, I was doing my kid thing and had no point of reference. Later on at 16, I had what the diet Dr. termed 'bursitis' in my left hip while I was made to take those infernal amphetamines for weight loss (another story for another time- not a good one) and also placed me on Bute, a very powerful anti-inflamatory.

It wasn't until I was working for the City of Kingsport and injured my back that we x-rayed the lower spine and found Spina Bifida Occulta- a non-fused vertabrae- that actually posed no problem at the time, but as I have aged I now have some serious problems with it.

Well, actually, in looking back, the SBO did cause problems as a child- constipation, urinary tract infections, legs falling asleep, one leg shorter than the other, etc. All the usual symptoms one finds in researching SBO. I guess no one put two and two together, even with pediatric x-rays not catching it .

Right now, at age 50, with a weight problem, menopause, heart issues due to the amphetamines, spinal degeneration in the lumbar and cervical areas, and the actual vertabrae itself, each day presents a new challenge. The Dr. put me on neutrontin, which is a good nerve med, but it makes me 'stoopid'. I tend to only take it as I really need it, which is less than 2x a week.

I also learned to put my hips back in line with my spine several years ago by self manipulation- laying on my back, flexing my ankles and feet to place pressure on my spine similar to a sort of soft traction and leaning into it so the pelvis and spine would 'pop!' and the pain would go away for a day. My husband helps me get my upper back in line and I generally stay in less pain than I would have otherwise.

The big issue is that I farm like this. And I have learned my limitations. When we had a small house fire here in 2000, I was coming out of a big healing crisis and the smoke caused me to have pleurisy, so my health was set back a few years. This last summer of 2006 was the first summer that I can remember for a long time that I was not knocked down in the middle of the day so I had to sleep for several hours when the ozone and heat index go up.

The key for me has been to focus on what I can do, rather than what I cannot do.

When I was no longer able to carry a 50 lb. bag of feed over my shoulder, we had several options: my daughter helps me as she also has goats, we also purchased a cart to move bags around and even though I can still 'buck' hay into the truck and unload it from the truck, it has become very difficult for me to carry it place to place, hence the flow and construction of the new shed for hay storage. We set up 'self waterers' in all the goat areas and use big round bales of hay 75% of the time, rather than square bales. The tractor has been a God-send so that we can get a lot of tasks done quickly on our own. All in all, working smarter, not harder.

Still, there are big challenges- keeping goat numbers down is the biggest one. We have a farm worker that comes in a couple of times a week to help with up keep and such, plus construction and removal. When the new shed is up and running fully, the water line piped in so the sink works, I'll be able to milk by machine rather than bending over to milk by hand in a very tiring position.

Coming through some recent family drama has also put me ahead of my physical challenges by helping me to see who is real- and who is not. And having the understanding that it was never mine to begin with, even though as a child I had no control over it. There is one major relationship that I want to have healed more than anything else though....

Life is good. Working through my sore back and left side several times a day helps me be thankful for all that I have because so many have so much less than I do- and I am not speaking of money or wealth. One can be wealthy and have lots of friends and still have no life. I have a life that means something, not just to me, but also I've recently found out a lot of other folks think so too.

I guess I am doing something right.


Peggy said...

I am amazed at how much you can do! Its hard feeding, milking, mucking stalls and pens, etc when you don't have any health problems. Next time I start to complain I will remember all you do.

Rosie said...

Hey Betsy...I'm back!

Read the strawberry piece. Heh.

I'm hoping the new shed is going to take some of the strain off for you. I'm sure you've been keeping it in mind while doing the redesign.

Beacon will be gone this Sat...if he lives that long. Am going to have to do a mass sell off after kidding of goats who won't stay in the fence. Will tell you all about it on the phone. Damn Yankee neighbors. They freakin' put CORN out for the squirrels. Bastards.