This year, I’m thankful for…
It goes without saying that my husband is always the most important thing in my life, and I am thankful for him every day. The two items listed below have special significance to me this year, and because of that, I am highlighting them as my special Thanksgiving gifts.
For the past ten years, I’ve had chronic pain in my lower back due to degenerative discs. A couple years ago, I had surgery on a herniated disc that was causing severe sciatica down my right leg. Immediately afterwards, I felt pretty great; better than I’d felt in a long time. However, this past summer, I re-herniated the same disc, causing pain down my left leg. Knowing how quickly things went South the last time this had happened, I had zero hope that I could avoid another surgery.
Upon beginning physical therapy in September (which I considered futile based on the fact that last time I worsened with PT rather than improved), my physical therapist gave me a book titled “Treat Your Own Back“. I was skeptical, but I was desperate to try anything to avoid surgery and reduce the pain in my leg. I began following the steps outlined in the book, and I was shocked to feel some improvement within two days! I continued the book’s exercises, paired them with my physical therapist’s exercises, and I lessened my pain every week.
Just this month, I “graduated” from physical therapy, and to my amazement (as well as my doctor’s and my physical therapist’s), I avoided surgery by a landslide. I didn’t think this outcome was possible, and because of the book and my saavy physical therapist, I finally had the tools to treat my lower back pain, as well as prevent and correct any future injuries. Now, I feel even better than I had after my surgery in 2013. I thought it worth including a photo linking directly to the book, because it helped me immensely; and if any of you have lower back pain, it’s a must-read.
My Years with Gracie
This October, my bunny (and first pet) passed away. When we brought her home from a pet store almost 10 years ago, she was a fearful baby bunny who resisted a few months before warming to us. She had two bunny companions whom she loved and outlived. Haas was larger, a trouble-maker and bully, and she (yes, Haas was a “she”) demanded our attention 24/7. However, Gracie was extremely well-behaved, and she refused to be pushed around by Haas. This often created tension between them, but they were no doubt a bonded pair of six years. After Haas passed away from a stomach blockage, Gracie searched for her for days, and it broke our hearts. A couple weeks later, we introduced her to “Little Man” Gus, with whom she formed an immediate bond. She loved him like her own little baby, and he was positive that she was his mother. They were inseparable for over two years. After their first year together, however, Gracie suffered a severe illness. It was a miracle that she survived it, but once she was well, she could no longer use her back legs. Gus loved her just the same and played happily by her side until he came down with a similar illness that took his life a year later.
Soon after Gus was gone, Gracie also lost use of her front legs. We moved her to a permanent location on our couch, atop a small foam mattress and towels. She had to be hand-fed, drink water through a syringe, receive pain medication, and undergo daily diaper changes and weekly baths. Sometimes she suffered seizures, and Mark and I questioned whether we were doing her more harm than good. But Gracie’s ever-happy disposition, her healthy appetite, and her numerous kisses told us every day that she was happy to be with us and receive our affections and care. She was with us for another year (the first part of which I doubted I’d ever adjust to the routine of caring for her in this fragile state), and we were thankful to spend that time with such a sweet and grateful little soul.
When we had to put Gracie to sleep last month, our comfort came from the knowledge that she had lived a long and happy life with us, and that she would no longer experience pain and be imprisoned in her own little body. Gracie was amazing and unique in so many ways, and we were fortunate to have had her. She was patient and sweet, and she was content to take a back seat to Haas and Gus who sucked up our attention because they were prone to naughtiness. She was also appreciative—she loved affection, and she would sit at our feet for hours just to receive pettings. Mark and I know that she was truly special, and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever encounter another quite like her. Our lives have been forever touched by this little bunny, and thankfully, we will never be the same.
Thank you for reading, and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.