Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Chicks No Longer

We haven't been real productive during our spring break.  Both my husband and I are lamenting heavily that we have to return to work next week.  We really do miss our retirement life and schedule.  Also, I think we were both really shocked at how tired we were and how much we needed a break.  Working everyday is taking a toil on us.  I only have about a month to go while he has two months to go.  We don't want to count the days, but are certainly tempted.

One thing is for sure:  we are not as young as we used to be.

Early in the week, I had an appointment with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor in Colorado Springs.  Last month, an MRI confirmed that I have stenosis in the neck.  This is what causes the severe shoulder pain and numbness in my left arm that I have suffered from so much in the past six months.  I already have been diagnosed with stenosis in the lower spine.  I have chronic problems with my sciatica which can cause me to suffer from numbness in my left leg and foot.

The doctor said I could go in for an injection in the lower back to relieve the inflammation, and I scheduled it for today.  I then chickened out.  I guess the whole idea of having to go to a surgery center for the injection, and prepare as if I were having surgery freaked me out.  I decided to go with chiropractic and massage for a while longer to see if that helps.

I've had a flare up of my hip problems since break began.  Most likely it is due to my leaning over from the waist and cutting back my lavender plants.  I had a massage yesterday, but didn't get much relief.  I have a chiropractic appointment on Monday.  Hopefully, this will give me some relief.

The doctor also prescribed a Saunders Cervical Home Trac for my neck problems.  Have any of you ever used this device?  If it gives me relief, I guess I am willing to give it a try.

The diagnosis of stenosis has set me back some because I have been suffering from its effects off and on for quite some time now.  I hate to be physically limited.  I also hate to take the anti-inflammatory pills because they are so hard on my stomach.  I do get relief from doing Pilates, so I will get back to doing that on a regular basis again.

In the meantime, this afternoon,  Jim and I went out and got started with our yard clean up.  I felt just fine while I worked.  I didn't have any pain at all.  Now, I am really suffering.

These photos were taken last year, but we did the exact same clean-up this year.  I got things done earlier this year.  I have not yet cut back the roses.  It is too early.   My daffodils are just beginning to bloom, and so far, the grape hyacinths have not yet bloomed.

I need to get rid of the lavender in the bed in the center of my front side yard.  (see photo below)  It is taking over the bed.  Lavender works better as a hedge.  I have a hedge of lavender between my yard and the house next door.  I am working on a hedge of it to line the backyard walk.

These are one of my favorite garden tools.  They are razor sharp and are just great for sniping back the lavender in the spring.  They also are really wonderful for harvesting lavender.

I also get frustrated with the grape hyacinths.  They also take over a flower bed.  I have dug them out, pulled them out, and then dug them out again.  I swear they are like gray hair.  You pull one out, and ten come back in the space you tried to pull out.  Do any of you also fight these little purple flowers from taking over a flower bed?


  1. So sorry your enjoyment of spring and spring break has been hampered by stenosis and other physical limitations. Your Bette Davis quote on the pillow says it all.

    Hope the Pilates give relief, and you will soon be enjoying your garden pain-free.

  2. I've never grown lavender or grape hyacinths. In Texas I was thankful for any flower I didn't have to pamper. Wonder if they grow well there?

    They grow a lot of lavender in Oregon.

  3. I agree .... aging sometimes stinks. I've noticed that although I still feel "like me," I know the difference when I start a task that once was easy and now it exhausts me quickly. I miss the physical energy and agility, but in the end, I like who I am now.

    Gee, why can't we just have it all???

  4. I have most of my flower beds cleaned out now. Rain this afternoon drove me inside...where I curled up on the sofa with a comforter and took a nap! I had planned to finish pulling the weeds between the flowerbed and the driveway, but one quarter of the way down the driveway I decided that maybe Round-up would work even's just too hard to do all that bending over!

    I understand about counting the days until the job ends. By the end of my month-long substituting gig I was soooo ready for it to be over. Maybe working isn't like riding a bike; it doesn't all come back to you.

    I hope you're feeling better soon. Warm sunny weather will help those aches.

  5. Can relate a bit. Had to play Patti the plumber yesterday and spent a lot of time underneath the toilet tank trying to stop a leak. Yuck. This morning, my back is killing me.
    Seems everything new we do gets our muscles and joints in a tizzie these days.
    I would also avoid the injections and if you can, find something else that works. Let us know how the device for your neck works. That is new to me.

  6. I'm sorry to hear about serious aches and pains. Frankly, working does kind of interfere with taking care of ourselves though, doesn't it? I finally stopped accepting substituting jobs because they just prevent me from following my own schedule.
    Grape hyacinths are pretty aggressive in my yard. I always keep a lavendar plant, but they do not last in VT very well so one has never lived long enough to be a problem.
    I'll enjoy, on our trip back north, watching springtime unfold in reverse. It will probably be a few weeks before we start to see the first blloming things in VT.

  7. Awww I'm so sorry to hear you are not feeling well. I don't blame you for chickening out on the injection. have you ever tried acupuncture? I have known a few people that like it and it does relieve their pain. Hope you feel better soon. Prayers on their way. Blessings, Joanne

  8. I hope you will take another longer break once you are finished with working again. I also have the same problem with my lower back when I leave forward from the waist for any length of time. The only thing that has worked for me is to stop doing it... :-)

  9. I've never had grape hyacinths in my garden. I don't think they would have taken over my flower bed though. I'm notorious for having a brown thumb. They would never have felt like thriving in my garden.

    I'm so very sorry you're having to endure such pain. You do have to be careful with those medications. My brother in law got an ulcer because he didn't know you were supposed to take them with food.

  10. I hope you can find some relief. I always tell myself I'm going to stretch before and after working in the garden. I bet it would help, but I rarely remember to do it!

  11. Forgot to say that my grape hyacinth and my lavender both died one year that was especially hard on perennials. Keep meaning to try both of them again. (Too bad you can't send me some of yours electronically!)

  12. I can so relate to what you're going through with the pain issues. I guess the blessing is that pain forces us to slow down and pay attention to our bodies. And it makes me more grateful for those parts that do their jobs without hurting. :-)

    Grape hyacinths won't die. I've finally rid my beds of them (they were here 19 years ago when we moved in), but they still come up where we dump our garden refuse.

    I love those little clippers!

  13. Oh, Sally -- I'm so sorry about your stenosis diagnosis. It sounds simply wretched and I hope you can find some relief that doesn't require a shot (in a surgical center -- that's scary.)

    I need to trim my lavender back before it really starts to come on. I didn't do it last fall.

    Hope you feel better. (You're right -- we aren't what we used to be!)

  14. We lament our getting older here too--trying to excercize more, eat healthy and really keep ourselves as fit as we can. Not always easy, though,, is it. I love that you are getting your garden ready now. I really need to work in our yard but time seems to slip away.

  15. i like grape hyanciths but I guess everything has it's place. I'm sorry to hear about your aches and pain and problems -- Bette Davis was right in that old age ain't for sissies...I love Pilates and acupuncture...think you made the right decision not to get the outpatient treatment...heard it didn't do so well for long, anyway...

  16. Yes, those grape hyacinths can be a nuisance, but with such a beautiful blue, they are forgiven. Wood hyacinths (Scilla) are even more invasive.
    I can relate to your pain. I have a lower back problem too, and arthritis in just about every place you can get it. I finally just dosed myself with high strength Naproxen to knock it back, and now maintian on a low dosage daily. It does not upset my stomach. I also have a whole set of physical therapy exercises that I have accumulated an one part after another went bad on me, and I do those almost daily. It helps.

  17. The yard is looking good. Interesting that the muscari don't invade our gardens here like they do in your area.

    I hope the chiropractor can afford you some relief. Have you considered acupuncture?

  18. Bodily discomfort used to be rare. Now, when I don't have it, I feel blessed!

    I've gotten a lot of relief recently from back pain since I bought a sit-stand device for my computer. Most of the day now I stand up. Then, when I want to sit, I lower it - both the monitor and the keyboard rise and descend. It's quite surprising, really, how much difference standing up makes.

  19. From one retired English teacher to another, greetings. Nice post.

  20. I had my first bout of stenosis in the neck in 1996 when I was in my 40s. What saved me was Physical Therapy.

    I had 8 wks. of physical therapy, and it made me feel much better. I was sent home with exercises to do, and I did them for a while, but after the pain was gone I started to slack off. Sure enough, the stenosis came back.

    After a second, and then a third episode, I incorporated those exercises -- mostly stretching -- into my daily routine, and I have been trouble free ever since.

    I had a consultation with a surgeon, and I had someone who wanted to stick some magic fluid in my spine. The surgeon wouldn't touch me (he said my symptoms weren't bad enough); and I declined the neck-poke. I relied on the PT, and I'm glad I did. For me, it was and continues to be the solution.

    Good luck with it!!!

  21. Sally, I was going to give you the same advise that I just read on the Sightings comment. I had severe back problems a few years ago and saw a gifted PT in Denver. I only had to see him 2x and my problem was solved. He gave me exercises to do at home (3 stretching exercises that take about 10 min total). At first I did them 2x a day and now once. If I start not doing them, my back becomes a bit stiff, and I start again immediately. If you are interested in getting the name of the PT I used, please E-mail me. I actually can't imagine going beck to work, though I sometimes miss teaching. However, I've turned my focus to the Grandchildren - much less structured than a "real" job. (Of course, no paycheck!)

  22. Thanks so much for your kind notes on my blog. I have been SO busy at school I have not had time to visit many blogs lately! I do hope your neck and back feel better soon. I am impressed with your gardening efforts!

  23. As I head for 61 this year I do so sympathise with your aches and pains. I've tried physio, exercise and acupuncture for my hip and knee and while it all helps nothing seems to cure. It's just crappy getting older and remembering how effortless everything was when we were young. I do take the anti-inflammatories though. They keep me sane.

  24. So sorry to hear of your back pain. My husband has arthritis in his back and I've seen how that can make him suffer. You certainly create beautiful gardens despite the physical pain. I hope the chiropractic work gives you relief

  25. O dear, sounds like you've been in the wars.
    Gentle exercise, gentle movement and the treatments you are receiving are the best medicine for such back pain.

    My grape hyacinth don't take over; they are so shortlived I allow them their spell in the sun. I find that mine die back quickly enough and other things come through and cover the rotting leaves until they've gone. They are such cheerful little harbingers of summer.

  26. I have stenosis and was suffering from numb fingers a couple of years ago. Once the diagnosis came in I started googling the term and found exercises to do. They have done wonders and I seldom have numbness now. I saw a spine dr and he said there was no need for any kind of surgery and to keep doing the exercises. Perhaps the same could work for you.

  27. Looking forward to spring clean up myself. Get better now and be well.... :)

  28. I can relate to this stenosis diagnosis, as I have constant battles with disc degeneration, sciatica, numbness, tingling and pain in my wrists as well as the sciatic pain down my legs.
    This ageing process isn't easy, is it? However I think you are doing a very good job of making the best of things and living life to the full.

    I love lavender too but it can get very straggly.
    I think secateurs are one of the most useful of garden tools!

    This must be a sad time of the year for you but I think that sunshine and flowers take some of the sting out of the pain.

    Your front patch of garden looks very welcoming.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May


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