Saturday, April 25, 2009

We're home, safe and sound

So glad to be home, but had such a good time on the trip! We tried to make it home last night, but by the time we got to Nashville, my body was needing a break from car travel. We ended up staying in Nashville.

For fun, we went to the OpryLand Hotel and walked around, had dinner and a snack. That hotel is AMAZING!! Definitely a must-see for anyone visiting Nashville, even if you don't stay actually at the hotel. You can valet your car for only $3 more than self-park and enjoy. The place is just enormous. I was so impressed I was able to walk through all the areas without having problems. Here is a photo we took with my iPhone - it was late at night, so no light coming through the glass ceiling, but you get an idea - click on the photo to make it larger.

This was ONE area of the hotel - full of gorgeous, real plants, waterfalls. So romantic!! Here is some info I just found - the Opryland Hotel Indoor Garden and Conservatory (click on the link for more info):

Relax among the serene beauty of three nationally acclaimed indoor gardens: The Conservatory, The Cascades, and The Delta. The Conservatory covers two acres and is devoted solely to tropical plants. The Cascades also covers two acres and features waterfalls cascading into a 12,500 square-foot indoor lake. The Delta covers 4.5 acres and features restaurants, shops and a fountain that sends out jets of water 85 feet into the air. A breathtaking river runs through it with passenger-carrying boats. Admission: Free.

Just those 3 areas cover 8.5 acres!! I told you it was a huge place! Look at the floor plan!! (Click it to make it larger.)

We got up this morning and of course, had to eat at Maggiano's Little Italy near downtown Nashville again before leaving town. We had the waitress take a photo of us, again with my iPhone, so not the best quality.

I had the Gnocchi with Tomato Vodka sauce and Andy had the Lobster Fettucine, AGAIN. We find something we like and don't stray! lol We definitely plan on making more trips to Nashville - so much to do, and only 3-4 hours away (depending on how much we have to stop for me! lol)

It is official - I am a NEW woman with my spinal cord stimulator!! This trip was just amazing - over 20 total hours of car driving, going up a mountain, walking around 5 Costco's, some Sam's club (large stores), other miscellaneous stores, walking for blocks in downtown Nashville, dancing at the WildHorse Saloon, staying in different beds, not having my "chair" - where I normally rest and get myself back up to speed when I'm really hurting..........none of that mattered. We did stop frequently to "walk me" as the guys like to refer to it, and that does help my muscles not spasm, but it has been over 3 years since I've been able to do even a portion of the things we did on this trip and not die later. I didn't have one night where I was dying of pain, which was truly not only amazing and a blessing, but an answered prayer.

Prior to January 5th, 2009 and the implant of my SCS (spinal cord stimulator - to treat my permanent S1 nerve damage), I could go 20 - 45 minutes TOPS before I would need to recline, lay down, rest in some capacity (which has included laying down on floors of stores, back of the van, etc.) When my nerves were done, they were D O N E - stick a fork in them, DONE. The nerve flares would be unbearable. Not anymore. If I start to get twinges........I just whip out my remote control, put the paddle on my hip over the implanted pulse generator (IPG) and turn myself either up, down, to another program, etc. and wait for the lovely, comforting "buzzing" to block those pain signals. The best way to describe how it feels is this - if you have ever sat in a massage chair, perhaps at a salon or in a store, instead of sitting on one of those, I AM the massage chair. My legs, from hips to toes, are buzzing, massaging.........that is the sensation I feel. One of these days, I will get a proper post on here with details and photos!

OH, and shock of the night - Andy and I unpacked. Yes, you read that right - I helped unpack!!! I didn't have to hit the chair and try to recover. Anyhoo.........we get unpacked, rest for a bit and Ryan talks us in to going to a movie. Unfortunately, the movie we wanted to see was sold out, so we came back home. Andy decides to go out and mow the lawn, practically in the dark. He gets done, I go outside to help filter the grass out of the pool water and in the water he goes. He stands there with just his feet wet for a few minutes, and trust me, it's COLD. I had already put ONE foot in the water and that was ENOUGH. Minutes later, he dives in. Andy went swimming at 9PM in the cold pool water!!!!! Unbelievable. He just couldn't take it any longer, I guess. lol He felt so refreshed, and I'm sure he'll be swimming tomorrow in the sunlight and warmer water. Crazy guy!!

Ahhhhhhhh, glad to be home and see the boys (and "girls"/dogs), and for Andy - his pool. And I have to give props to the boys - the house was clean, laundry done, kitchen sink empty - amazing!! The "girls" were crazy excited to see us. The boys? Well, Ryan was! lol Holt didn't even come down stairs forever. They are just all grown up and don't need us anymore........sniff sniff.

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina - We lived!

Oh my goodness - Andy found this brochure in the lobby of our hotel and we headed up to Grandfather Moutain, several hours north of Marion, NC. It took quite a while, on curvy, North Carolina roads, but we got there. And then we drove and drove, practically at a 90 degree angle, up this mountain. I was actually doing OK with my height issues UNTIL I realized - hey, how were we going to get down? Could they call in a helicopter and take me down? lol It was BAD - so high up. Andy says we were 1 mile up, but I don't wanna be 10 feet up! lol (Officially 5946 feet in elevation.)

It doesn't help that I don't feel 1/2 of my feet, because those balance issues are not fun when the wind is severely blowing everyone over, even the ones who are FINE with their balance. And also lucky me, I couldn't make it up the stairs to the crazy Swinging Bridge Andy ventured up to experience. Here are some photos (that I took safely inside the car so I wouldn't blow off the side of the mountain! lol)

~~~Just a note - you can click on most pictures I post and they will get BIGGER, usually lots bigger.

That's Andy up there - I took a distance shot so you can see the bridge.

Here's the crazy guy again.

Here are the steps I was THRILLED to not be able to ascend. They are building a new gift center with an elevator so this can be handicap accessible in the future (ACK!), so I'll have to find some other excuse if he ever wants to go back! lol I have NO plans to get on the Swinging Bridge! (And yes, that person you see up there has gray hair and is probably 35 years older than me and I DON'T CARE! lmbo)

Here is the photo I took while Andy held on to me so I wouldn't blow down the side of the mountain. YIKES! Those roads way down there are where normal people are supposed to be! Overall, I got major brownie points for doing something "nature-related", so it's all good. I really wanted to go take the Ghost Trolley in Asheville, NC, but they only offer it on Saturday nights and we won't be here. Andy going on that would be an even-steven for me being scared out of my mind on the top of a mountain. A night-time ghost trolley ride would not be HIS idea of the best outing! But it sounds really cool! (Mom and I went on a Hollywood, CA Ghost Tour once when I was very pregnant with Ryan and it was really neat.)

OK, OK, here's my admission that I've gone blonde again. I've just gotten SO gray and my color was looking good for maybe 2 weeks and then I would have major grey roots. So I went blonde again, but this time I am a deeper, richer, more golden blonde. (Last time, I seemed to be lighter and more washed out - 7, 8 years ago!) This photo was taken at the restaurant we ate at after leaving the mountain. We took the Blue Ridge Parkway (which Andy, the history buff, told me was a WPA project during the depression era.....). It was winding but not scary, thank goodness. This restaurant is really obviously out of the way, on the side of a mountain and attached to a tacky hotel, but the food was excellent!

And something else - do you see that I have on a LONG-sleeved shirt and Andy has on a short-sleeved shirt? What is with that??? I have been freezing for months, really. Hands, feet, arms, almost all over. Just cold all the time. I'm thinking it is from the spinal cord stimulator - with it's buzzing, it is like having the cold chills, goose bumps on your skin? I have no idea really. Could be the nerve damage which then leads to muscle atrophy which then leads to less blood in the extremities? Whatever it is, Andy is enjoying it for a change. I, as you ALL know, usually love it COLD, the colder the better. Now I live in velour sweat pants, long socks and slippers 100% of the time at home. All the time. Even when it is 75 outside. If I take the slippers and socks off, my toes nearly freeze. Every time I touch Andy, he is so warm...........I just cuddle up against him all the time. (He likes that too! lol). I sit in the car with the heated seats on and my side of the air is sometimes warmer than his side (used to not be able to live without dual heat and air, so I could set my side to 61 and he could set his to 78).

Anyhoo, I have an interesting story to tell. 2 nights ago, we ate at this same restaurant with a business associate of Andy's and his wife. We had a great time, BUT, as we were leaving the restaurant, this entire table starting staring at me like I had something really wrong with me. I was wondering if something horrible was wrong, like something hanging out of my nose or something? Food down my shirt? lol Andy also thought "What the heck?" It was very obvious.

So we get outside, and this well-dressed lady (not some obvious crazy person) runs out and grabs me. She says "Honey, I just had to run out here and tell you that you look just like a young Cybill Shepherd. Has anyone ever told you that?" We laughed and said "No, no one has." And she went on, "Well, we used to live in Memphis (where Cybill is from) and she was all the rage. And hon, you look JUST like a young Cybill!! We (the table of friends) just couldn't believe it. And I just HAD to run out and tell you!!" So that explained all the staring! lol With us living near Memphis, that is a cool coincidence.

Another photo of Andy at the restaurant, called the.........................wait for it...

..............................Mountain View Restaurant!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Marriage - is your marriage a blessing?

One on one time is so important in marriage. In today's busy lives, more and more couples lose sight of the importance of making your spouse feel special. Kids, work......sometimes it is overwhelming.

Andy and I made a pact long ago to make our marriage a priority, to do all we could to role model for our boys, what a loving, close marriage looks like. Someday they will be men, leading their own families and we hope they do that with the integrity and honor that their father has led our family. Spending time alone with Andy goes a long way to keeping us close.

On our 10th anniversary, Andy surprised me with the renewing of our wedding vows, complete with a second honeymoon to Hearst Castle in California. That was so special to me, and we have tried to continue to have surprises and do special things for one another. Here is a website I made years ago with a few photos of our "2nd" wedding:

The Surprise Renewal of Our Vows

Interestingly, Andy and I both grew up with fathers whose careers forced them to travel week in and week out. Thankfully, Andy's job has only the occasional travel, and anytime can, I accompany him. With the boys 20 and 16, we now have the freedom to take a few days here and there. We truly are one of the closest couples we know. So many of our friends actually look forward to their spouses going on trips - getting a break. Sometimes, that is nice, but in general, it might be a sign that something is amiss.

Almost every year, we find a marriage retreat of some sort to attend. Such a boost, like a booster shot, to our relationship. I highly recommend couples find one to go to at least every couple years or so. Keep that spark alive!!

A few months ago, I ran across a ministry that emails a "Generous Tip of the Day" and it has been a real blessing to me. This one is for wives:

A Generous Wife

Here's my special guy for the last 22 years!

Who is yours? And what do you do to keep things special?

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Monday, April 20, 2009

Knoxville, TN adventures.......

Who watches "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" with Guy Fieri on The Food Network Channel? We do!!!! And every time we leave the house on a trip, we check his website (You can look HERE)to see if there is a diner anywhere near where we are going. Unfortunately, the restaurants are listed by episode, not by location. Now, if you have a spare $54.95 (where is that shocked-eyes icon?) , you can purchase the season 1 and 2 book - click HERE, and the destinations ARE by region.

In searching for anything on our route, the nearest restaurant was a place called Pizza Palace in Knoxville, and we headed straight there for dinner. All we knew from the website was the address. The online menu would not pull up on my iPhone, but we were curious. After taking a few wrong exits due to highway construction, we finally found it. This is what we were looking for:

And this is the actual restaurant:

Pizza Palace
Except, it isn't a regular restaurant, it's a DRIVE-IN!!

Look at that old-timey order phone and menu! After hours driving, we were expecting to go in a nice restaurant, stretch our legs. Well, we did get out and use their restrooms which were clean, but on the outside of the building like in old gas stations or something. Ha!

So Andy ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza and I ordered their "secret recipe" spaghetti. Check this out:

How, I ask you, are you supposed to eat that in the car?? For those that know me, you know that grace and coordination are NOT my middle name, so I covered up in double paper towels from chin to lap (of course the packing extraordinaire Andy brought some along) and did my best. The food WAS very good, but so much is left over. (I have been very systematically shrinking my stomach and can only eat small portions - Yahoo!). I have several meals left, and our new hotel DOES have a mini-fridge!

After dinner, we went to a local Walgreen's to get me out and let me stretch my legs (gotta stretch every couple of hours due to my nerve and back issues) and then off we went to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Smoky Mountain as we headed to Marion, NC. I love the tunnels through the mountains, as well. Andy is such a fabulous driver that I rarely get carsick. (And he's a trooper - I'm not able to drive much, so he has that duty each trip. But he says, as long as I'm my chatty, happy self, he's happy to oblige.)

We rolled in to our hotel around 9:30 pm (forgot we had a time change!!) and Andy surprised me with the room. We have a beautiful extra-large room with a couch, larger TV and mini-kitchen. This will be very comfortable considering I will be "stranded" here for the 3 days he has his business meetings. This is how I physically "regroup" from all the traveling. By the time Thursday rolls around, I will be rested up and ready for some more car travel. Not sure what else we have on the agenda for the trip - kind of winging it, based on how I'm doing, how the boys are doing back home and such. The boys declined to come with us. Both are working and enjoy time away from Mom and Dad every once in a while. The dogs miss us more than the boys do!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

On the road again.........

Howdy from Marion, North Carolina! Andy had a business trip and I tagged along. We are making a little vacation out of it, and so far having a great time! We left Sunday afternoon and made it Nashville (4 hours away) around dinner time. Andy used Priceline to get us a great deal on a hotel near downtown Nashville, the Mariott near Vanderbilt University. I don't know if we've every used before (you put in the area you would like to stay and the price you want to pay, but you don't know in the end what hotel or what price you will get), but this was a NICE hotel!! And for less than half the price of normal fees!!

We decided to eat at Maggianos Little Italy and Oh My Goodness - is that place AMAZING!!!!

First, the actual restaurant was so quaint, very beautiful, high ceiling, gorgeous molding. I ordered the

Gnocchi, Tomato Vodka Sauce
Ricotta pasta simmered in a delicately balanced sauce prepared with our classic pomodoro cream and finished with vodka and roasted garlic.

It was to die for!! Andy cannot stand the taste of Gnocchi - thinks it tastes like raw pasta. lol More for me! Lucky me, I found a picture online of the Maggiano dish I enjoyed -

Now, I know your mouth has to be watering........OOoohhh, I want to go back and get some more!!! Our hotel didn't have a mini-fridge, so I wasn't able to take the leftovers.

Andy ordered one of the specialities, the Lobster Fettucine. He had visited a Maggianos in Chicago on a previous business trip and was so excited we found another one. He loved this dish! Also found a photo online -

Lobster Fettuccine

Lobster, Italian Sausage, peas and artichokes tossed in a white wine cream sauce, topped with house cheese and lightly baked to a golden brown.

One of these days, we will either 1.) remember to take our camera in with us or 2.) get a new smaller camera that will accompany us for our new blog photos!! lol.

Seriously, if you have never eaten at a Maggianos Little Italy, go to their website right now (click HERE) and see if there is one near you. They are a chain, but you would never know it. They are famous for the Southern Italian cuisine and their huge portions. We both ordered the 1/2 portions and were STUFFED. For our Dallas family, guess what???? There is one very near you!!! Here is the address:

205 NorthPark Center, Dallas, TX, 75225
Mon-Thurs 11AM-10PM
Fri-Sat, 11AM-11PM
Sun 11:30AM- 9PM CST
Phone: 214-360-0707

Papa, time to treat Granny to a special dinner - you won't be disappointed! Or, wait until we come visit and we will be HAPPY to take you there! Yumm!!! Oh, or better yet, they offer carryout and delivery! What holiday is coming up..........Mother's Day!!

OK, so after dinner I was still feeling really good and we decided to go downtown to see some honky tonks and saloons. Of course you have to do that in Nashville!! We walked Broadway Street for a while, and then we used my iPhone (lovely invention!!) to find the WildHorse Saloon. Off we went and had so much fun. We even danced!!! Yes, I danced!!! Granted, it was a slow dance, but I was thrilled. (Have I mentioned before how much I love my spinal cord stimulator???????) The band they had that night didn't play very much "true" country, so no opportunity to two-step. We were gonna try, had they offered a suitable song. Here is a photo I took while we were there:

We finally made it back to the fabulous hotel and had a great night's sleep. Got up and off this morning around 11am. Took our time looking around Nashville, and we had one primary goal for the trip - find more photo albums to help finish my out-of-control photo project we started last week. We quickly realized we had NOT purchased enough new albums and I kid you not, we looked at no less than 5 Costco's looking for more. We were thrilled to find more at the Costco in Franklin, TN, south of Nashville.

My iPhone is so neat - I can type in Costco and it will pull up any around me. Then give directions if I want. It has been invaluable to us and well worth the investment! Next time we go to Nashville, we will plan ahead more and take a tour of the stars homes - that would be fun to see where stars like Carrie Underwood live, for example.

Our day in Nashville was packed with fun!!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Update on Andy and the braces

He had his "mini-consultation" and the plan was decided. He will get Invisalign braces (the clear and invisable kind) on the top teeth and regular braces on the lower teeth. Total treatment time should be around 18 months or less. The orthodontist will reposition the bottom teeth "lower", and get the one tooth on the uppers in a better position. He will have the Invisalign on top because of the veneers he currently has. Regular braces would not work.

Impressions of his teeth were taken at this visit, and the Invisalign aligners (which are changed every 2 weeks) will be ready in a month. I can't tell if he's excited, lol, but I know he's glad to have the decision made and to get the process started.

Have a great day!'

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Resiliency - Why do some have more than others?

Have you ever wondered why some people can bounce back from adversity so much easier than others can? What is the secret? Which of our personality traits are associated with resilience? I found a great Resiliency Quiz that helps us understand.

Take this quiz and see how you rank on resiliency - Click Here.

It just takes a moment - only 9 questions.

Are you a resilient person? Do you know others who are? Or who are not?

I guess it's resiliency that has helped me accept my limitations and not let the physical disabilities and chronic pain get me down. I keep hoping for more to be discovered or developed to help with damaged nerves. Already, the St. Jude/ANS Eon Mini spinal cord stimulator was implanted in my spine. That was a huge answered prayer. I had to be willing to go out on a limb and have more surgery, after everything else. But I just BELIEVED. I believed so strongly that it would work did!!

Wouldn't a world full of resilient people would be something amazing to see?

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The positives of nerve damage and numbness....

Even though I have permanent S1 nerve damage, causing all kinds of problems, one new one has been urinary numbness and those complications. I also have numbness to the lateral (outside) of my hips to toes as shown in the previous link. The good news is it appears I have passed a kidney stone without feeling it after it hit the bladder!

Let me explain: I had the tell-tale pain in my mid-back, left side, just like in the past with my other 3 kidney stones. I was not happy at the onset of this pain, knowing what I was about to go through. After about a week, the pain disappeared, and I assumed the stone was now in my bladder. I then was hesitantly waiting to pass it on out through the urethra, and that is NOT fun. However, I never felt anything, never noticed when it passed.

For those of you who have ever passed a kidney stone, you know how HUGE this is!!! In September last year, I had to be catheterized at the ER one night, and I did not feel the nurse start nor finish the catheterization. That was scary but also welcome relief for me not to have to feel that and suffer. I do still have complete control of my bladder functions, but have noticeable numbness and some other issues. The urologist has me on a low level antibiotic for now, and is going to look at some more of my medical records. In just the last few months, I have had many tests already ran, including ultrasounds and CT scans.

Along with being originally caused by the nerve disease, my urologist strongly suspects the problem is exacerbated by my spinal cord stimulator (SCS). The SCS is a device that is implanted in my body that sends electrical signals in my spinal canal and blocks the pain signals coming off my legs from getting to my brain. It is common, he said, to have it also affect the bodily functions. He thinks that my bladder is not emptying entirely, or is having inefficient spasms due to being partially numb. While this is not so great, he said I do NOT have to get rid of my SCS. Hallelujah!!!! We will just work around this somehow, and I'm sure I have some tests coming up in my future.

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tears roll when I see this photo............

The. Perfect. Comeback.

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Photo Organizing Project

Whose bright idea was this anyway?? Hmmmmm.. We'd all like to know that answer. lol We were really good with putting photos in albums up until we moved to Iowa in 2000. We then were doing a lot of traveling, both for pleasure and the boys sports tournaments (baseball, soccer and golf) plus moving several houses in several states and we got a little lax. From that point forward, we had many loose photos in various boxes.

I noticed recently that some of our albums, the albums themselves, weren't in the best of shape from all the moves, and on some of the really old ones, the glue from the pages was either not working OR keeping the photos from being removed with ruining them. I have wanted to get new albums and get all the photos organized for many years now. (Hmm, guess I'm the one with the bright idea!) We started this project 2 days ago, thinking we'd knock this out in a few hours.

Well, did not happen that way! First, we couldn't decide if we wanted to put things chronologically, or by child/relative. And did we want to take all the photos out of all albums and make one big pile, or keep everything where it was and compile as we went? I can tell you it wasn't MY idea to pull all photos out and put them in a pile, but, what's done is done. lol

The state of the photos was actually overwhelming and we pretty much ignored it for much of Sunday. We had photos EVERYWHERE. On both breakfast and kitchen tables, the kitchen bar area, in boxes, on the tops of the couches, on the piano .........I'm not kidding. It was a photo disaster. But I got a second wind around 11pm and decided to divide our dining room table up into years and get started. I'm excited to say that I only have one small pile of photos I can't decide what year they were taken. (Darn it, why didn't we write the date on the back of all photos? lol)

To inspire me to continue tomorrow, I thought I'd take a photo now at this current state. Anybody want to come help?

We are still missing some photos, some larger school photos, both in 8 X 10 and 5 X 7 that we can't locate. Since we've looked everywhere else, we're betting they are in the attic. Ugh. And who knows what box. Ah, well, Andy will probably dig around there next weekend.

Here are a couple of the new albums we found at Costco. Much larger than our old ones, and nice slots for the photos. No more glue! We hope we purchased enough of them!

We hope to have this finished before anyone comes to visit!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Sunday, April 12, 2009

PnM Memories - Shopping Trip To Chicago

I have an online group of friends that I met in a parenting forum in 1996. 1996!!!! Friends and family have often heard me reference my "PnM friends". We have posted daily since then, watching as our friends had babies, and now some us, our kids graduating high school and beyond. We finally decided to have a get-together in 2001 and those that could make it traveled to Gurnee, IL, outside of Chicago. One girl came as far as Montana. Others were from Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, and more. After becoming best friends for years, it was no neat to finally meet some buddies in real life. Andy joked that I finally "proved" these people existed. lol Sadly, not everyone has kept up with the group, and some have come and returned. Our wonderful friend, Kelly, has graciously hosted out site for years and years now. Thank you Kelly!!

We didn't all know each other, as some ladies primarily posted in the working parents forum, for example, so I do not know everyone in the pictures. I am hoping some one can help me out!

2001 Shopping Trip to Gurnee Mills Mall in Gurnee, IL (outside of Chicago)
Lunch at the Rain Forest Cafe

Seated clockwise: Esther, Gail, Lucy/Cathy, Someone's Husband, Tina Miz, Lisa, Cheri and Suzanne.

From Left to Right: Suzanne and child (I'm almost positive her name was Susan), Shannon and her kids, Esther, Lucy/Cathy and child, Tina Miz and son, Gail, Cheri and her boys in front, Lisa.

And one more:

From Left to Right: Esther, Cheri, Lisa and Gail from Montana.

I personally have moved 4 times and lived in 3 states since we met up. It is awesome to have such good friends, unrelated to location.

You can click on these photos to see them larger. No dates on the photos, darn it. If you have any ideas, you can be my first to comment on a blog with your suggestions, votes of confidence, names of people in order, etc.

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Friday, April 10, 2009

Guess what adult here is getting braces again?

Long, long ago, in a land where dentists paraded as orthodontists, Andy was given lower braces. In preparation for the placement, a lower front tooth was removed (Why???? No one knows.) As a result of this unnecessary move (so says his dentist today), his lower teeth all shifted strangely. The midline is completely off, and all the teeth ended up higher than normal as they scooted to fill in the space left from the missing tooth. Through the years, he noticed he had indentations on the back of his front teeth and that his lower teeth were wearing severely. Strangely, no dentist ever told him the risks of not correcting this.

Because of suffering what is known as Tetracycline stain from an antibiotic given as a young child, his teeth turned a dark gray color. After graduation from college, the first thing he did was get upper porcelain veneers, which dramatically improved his appearance. A mouth full of gray teeth just wasn't what he thought future employers would be impressed with, let alone the hot women in Dallas! lol

Last year during a surgery, one of his veneers chipped, thanks to the hastily placed intubation tube. 'The quick-fix for the chipped veneer didn't last 24 hours, so he recently went to a highly recommended dentist, Dr. Eleanore Gill, to get the veneers replaced. Andy is so impressed with this dentist, and can't say enough about her. She is renowned in our area as being THE dentist to do porcelain veneers. After examining his teeth, she was alarmed at the condition of his bottom teeth, noticing they were wearing down to the pulp. She explained that although this was causing no pain or discomfort at this time, someday soon, the nerves would be exposed and root canals or caps would have to be done. Root canals are not an option for our family. Check this link or this link and many more if you search Google.

So, the first orthodontist he consulted (who is also the one Holt goes to) wanted to do the Cadillac of treatments. Upper and lower braces, putting all teeth back in the perfect position, which would recreate the "hole" in the lower front where the missing tooth used to be. After 2 years of braces, Andy would then need a dental implant if he didn't want to go through life missing one of his front teeth! (Dental implants can have the same dangers as root canals, see above.) And finally, after the full braces and dental implant procedure, he would finally get his veneers. Total treatment cost? Around $12,000!!!!!!!! Insurance would pay very very little. Andy told me he just couldn't see spending that much when he has no pain or discomfort. It's not my mouth, so I defer to him as to what he would like to do.

He then sought another orthodontic opinion. This doctor suggested using upper braces only, pulling the front teeth out slightly, preventing the lower teeth from rubbing on the inside of the upper teeth. This process would take about 1 year, and only have upper braces. No dental implant. Then veneers.

With his 2 opinions, Andy went back for another consultation with Dr. Gill and discussed these options. She agreed that the Cadillac treatment was overkill but thought that the second option would give him too much of an overbite to be effective. She had an idea, called the first orthodontist and discussed a third option. The orthodontist agreed and Andy will go back in for a mini-consult soon. It looks like they will do braces on the bottom teeth to push them lower since they are currently too high compared to all the other bottom teeth. Also, he may do braces on the top teeth to fix one tooth that is "out of whack" as Andy says. lol Then, veneers after all this is done. Cost unknown at this point. Fortunately, Andy's insurance does have an orthodontic option that will cover the first $1200 of orthodontic treatment.

So very soon, this handsome guy will being even more dashing!

So there you have it, the latest on Andy!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Dogs Have Been Playing

I guess Sweety is feeling pretty good lately, as both she and Sage are tussling and playing multiple times a day. When she is hurting, she gets under the ottoman and stays there, as Sage cannot reach her. It is so fun watching them play. Sweety, almost 7, is a purebred Pekingese and Sage, 4, is a Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix we found at the local humane shelter. We were thrilled to rescue her. Here is a photo of her as a puppy:

This is Holt with her, still at the shelter while we were deciding if she was the one. She was a lover dog then and still is today.

At our former home, we had a gate to keep her off the porch. When we went outside, she would stand like this, blocking our exit, and begging to be petted. Can you see how fluffy her undercoat is? She was as soft as a bunny then and still is today. So odd to have a larger dog we so fluffy soft. Here are a few pictures from recent days:

In this photo, Sweety was "winning" the contest and Sage jumped up on the ottoman for protection. lol Sweety is definitely the dominant one of the two, even though she's by far the smallest.

This photo is so funny. You really have to look at it to figure out what her body is doing. And her tongue? What is she doing? lol She loves to get like this when we pretend to wrestle.

This is how Sage plays with her - she gently puts her mouth on her neck and Sweety will paw at her. When Sage lets go, Sweety goes crazy trying to get Sage to "bite" her again.

This photo cracked me up!! They were playing and when I sat down to take a photo, Sweety jumped up to stare at me. Look at those eyes!! lol Sage is like "What, where did you go?"

And finally, Sage is trying so hard to get Sweety to start playing again. Her arms are up and she's pawing Sweety in the air.

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The boys went golfing today in the beautiful weather

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day. Holt had the day off, and Ryan got off early, so they were thrilled to be able to go golfing. I was lucky and got a chance to get photos of their new golf items before they left. Ryan got the Taylormade Burner driver and Holt got the Nike Sumo driver. Both boys also bought new bags and new shoes. Here are some photos:

Guess who has the orange bag? Can you tell by the size of the shoes? lol

And here is a photo of the boys as they were leaving:


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Guess who got new glasses?

This family member is very near sighted, but really has put off getting glasses with bifocals because, well, he's too young! But anytime he needed to read, he had to put the paper right up under his nose, and that wasn't becoming either, now was it? So he finally bit the bullet and not only got new glasses but also the Progressive lenses, giving him the best of both worlds - the ability to see near and far, BUT no bifocal line on the lens. Yahoo! Here are the before and after photos:



Luckily, the progressive lenses are not giving him any problems, no motion sickness, no woozy feeling. I guess it does that to some people. So now he is excited to realize he can read the paper where it is - he doesn't have to pull it up to his nose. lol And if these lenses could solve his color-blind issues, we'd be fixed up for good. He's glad I'm done taking photos and he can get back to his "business". lol


Friday, April 3, 2009

Ryan's excited....

He just came home from work with the news that he's going to be running the forklifts now. He did this previously in other jobs, but this current one had him hired on a "temp to hire" and didn't allow the "temps" to run the heavy equipment. This made for a bit of a boring job, packing boxes, unpacking boxes, etc. Now he'll be on the move with new and different things to do. He and Andy work at the same company right now, and I think they like seeing each other during the day. Andy actually travels and works between 2 facilities, and on days when he is not at Ryan's, Ryan will come home a little worried, wondering if Dad is sick, took off work? It's cute.

Ryan is our child who never wants to be alone. Even though he's 20, he likes his family around. The other night, he was looking all over for everyone. He walked outside and saw me sitting by the pool with the dogs (after all the fun I poke at Andy! lol) and he said "There you are!!!!!" really exasperated. He didn't need anything.........just wanted to know where we were after he saw the cars in the driveway. Andy was in the garage working out - yes, I said working out!!! Woo Hoo!!!

A few weeks ago, Andy got this unit put together. We've had it for a few years and it's made 2 moves with us. But the guys haven't always used it. Or should I say, really never ever used it? lol Now, Andy and Ryan both are out there at least every other day and they are looking good. Holt won't even discuss it, but he might sneak out there when no one is home. No telling with him. lol And I'm not allowed to go near it - no lifting over 5 -10 lbs for the rest of forever. But that's OK - I'm fine with the restrictions that have given me my life back!

Of course, he had to pet the girls when he walked in. Here's Sage, the lovey dog.

Sorry that photo is a bit blurry. Holt is working 2 to 10 today, so we won't see him until late tonight. I'm proud of my hard-working boys!! Andy should be home shortly, so off to the weekend we go! I'm going to take it a little easier this weekend. I really overdid it last weekend and was sore and recovering all week. lol But I'm a whole new girl with this SCS - spinal cord stimulator. Thank you God!!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Have you ever had a friend that made you cry.......

Chronic Pain

I haven't gone in to my pain issues yet on this blog (I have permanent nerve damage), but I have an online support group, just 17 of us who talk online and understand each others pain. When no one else in the world really does, or would even have the ability to, these 17 wonderful friends not only lift each other up, but let us vent when we are down, share a pity party with us, celebrate with us when things go great, give us ideas when we are seeking.... so many things. But most of all, sometimes they just listen. When we are tired of burdening our family and friends, when no one else would be able to handle hearing it any more. Invaluable to the lonely life of a CP'er (that stands for Chronic Pain person).

I have such a friend - his name is Steve. This is what he wrote:

"I've been quietly studying nerve pain and it's relationship to other
types of pain like musculoskeletal pain, migraine pain, abdominal type
pain, etc. I don't usually get involved in threads that discuss nerve
pain, but that doesn't man I don't read and try to understand them.
Most of the pain I've experienced has not been nerve pain. I've had
excruciating musculoskeletal and abdominal pain. During the worst
moments of my gall stone attacks and bowel obstructions I literally
wanted to pass out, or die, whichever came first. So, of course, I
would never minimize any kind of pain one suffers. However, I am
coming to the conclusion that protracted nerve pain might be the most
debilitating kind of pain one can experience.

I've read threads, like the recent one here "Drug Tested Again..."
where Cheri and Pepper are exchanging posts on nerve pain, and I am
aghast at how this pain is being described. Cheri wrote "... nerve
pain is best described as a horrible burning, searing pain. As if
someone has a hot poker and holding it in my leg. ...frequent
electric shocks/lightening strikes shoot through my hips, legs and out
my feet... ...I would catch my breath and live in fear of
more... ...But this burning nerve pain, as if a fire were
raging........just pure burning. Like that nerve was being roasted
over a fire..." This was enough. I didn't need to read any more.

I have experienced moments of nerve pain. I have experienced sharp
bone pain after operations that involved breaking or removing portions
of live bone, and in those experiences I could say the pain was almost
exactly like what Cheri explained. But this pain was passing, and I
knew that. I knew that in a relatively short time it would go away.
I most certainly did not have to fear experiencing it long term. When
I fell on my wrist last year and bent my hand backwards over my
forearm and broke it I felt that sharp bone pain again. But I knew it
wouldn't last for a long time. Never once did I have to consider this
pain as something that would continue. I didn't develop a fear of
it. And I know what it feels like to develop a fear of pain. When I
went 5 years with gall stone attacks I learned to fear the next
attack. That was terrible. The fear of it returning was even more
depressing than the actual pain. But it never felt like I was in
flames or anything else even remotely similar to Cheri's description.

Those of you that suffer with this kind of pain, I want you to know
that I am so sorry. As much as my knee and migraine and shoulder pain
cause me to suffer, these kinds of pain are on a far different level.
I won't say they are less painful, but they are of a whole different
quality. And that's something I never want to experience long term.
Over time as I've absorbed these descriptions of nerve pain I have
developed a very strong respect for those of you suffering from it
daily. To be able to come to this board and share your suffering and
trials after enduring the nerve pain for so long is a real tribute to
your strength and tenacity. But for the grace of God go I.

You are all very special to me. Those with nerve pain as well as
those of you suffering from other types of pain, maybe closer to what
I suffer from. Because of our continuing pain we share struggles and
hardships that others can't even hope to understand. Neither can they
appreciate the bond we share because of what we have in common. I
appreciate all of you and I am in awe of your ability to continue on
in spite of it all. Those of you that write about being at the end of
your rope, with little hope that life will get any better - you are so
much stronger than you know. To suffer for so long and still be
hanging in there, coming to a board like this one to get help and
support others - this is a testament to your spirit of endurance. I
can't even imagine a better group of people, a more considerate and
understanding group of people - in my humble opinion you are the best
of the best. We tend to think of ourselves as something other than
normal, people that have been robbed of the joys and pleasures of life
that goes with a "1" or a "0" on the pain scale day in and day out. I
think of you as superhuman, miraculous survivors that humanity is very
fortunate to have living in their midst.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Did you think I was kidding?

Couldn't find hubby the other night, so first thing I did was go outside. There he was:

I think the pool and the sound of the waterfalls just mesmerizes him. Certainly is calming. Here are some more photos of the pool at night with the mood lighting turned on.

And this by far my favorite color, although it looks more purple in person.

The waterfalls on that back wall also have their own mood lighting, but it doesn't synchronize with the pool. This picture it looks like they are matching the blue/purple. So pretty.

If you are family or friends and haven't visited, get on down here!!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark

Guess who got a new haircut!

Yes, Sweety did. She is pure-bred Pekingese with a rare coloring - black with white on her breast and a white stripe under tail. She looks like a skunk if you see her from behind. lol Pekingese are normally very long-haired dogs, hair to the floor, but after we adopted her, we learned that the Pekingese is one of THE top shedding dogs of all time. Swiffering every day gives us enough hair to make a birds nest. lol

We let her grow it out in the winter for warmth, but in the summer, we go shorter. Because she has basically no nose, lol, this breed has a lot of trouble regulating their temperature. And being black, she soaks up a LOT of sun when she is outside. We have to watch to make sure she does not get overheated. Dogs with proper noses can regulate their temps much easier.

I think this was my favorite haircut on her - kept the "lion" look going on in the front, but shorter in the back. We are struggling to find a decent dog groomer over here.

This "faked" her out - she thought she had "all that" going on hair-wise, but really not. lol

Wasn't she cute as a puppy? Maybe only a "cute" a momma could love?

This shows her "skunk" tail. Holt was so little! We got her in 2003.

She was supposed to be a lap dog, but that didn't work out so well. She has quite a high opinion of herself, and acts more like a cat. Reading up on Pekingese, it explains her personality to a "t". These dogs were royalty in their early years, and Sweety still remembers that. lol

Being a pedigree dog, we were worried about any health problems, and so far, she only has luxating patellas, which can be painful. If it snows and she is out in it, her leg can "freeze" up and we have to go get her and rub it until the patella (knee cap) moves back in place. She may need surgery down the road, but we keep it under control by not letting her jump on any furniture (up or down), and keeping her off stairs. This protects her back and her knees.

But I was just happy to get another female in the house. As you can see, prior to the dogs, I was it. THE only female. Lots of testosterone around here. Now both our dogs are girls and I'm happy!

Have a great day!

Cheri Share/Bookmark