It’s all about me~ By Tracy

Tracy my co-host on The Padded Room posted this for our next show, hope you can join us, it will be at 1PM Texas time.

Our show this Thursday is a must ‘hear’! We will be talking with Ruby Cantu, co-host of The Padded Room.–unloc…

Ruby has suffered with severe Scoliosis for most of her life.
By Mayo Clinic staff


Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most
often during the growth spurt just before puberty. While scoliosis can be
caused by conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, the
cause of most scoliosis is unknown.


Most cases of scoliosis are mild, but severe scoliosis can be disabling.
An especially severe spinal curve can reduce the amount of space within
the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.

Children who have mild scoliosis are monitored closely, usually with
X-rays, to see if the curve is getting worse. In many cases, no
treatment is necessary. Some children will need to wear a brace to stop
the curve from worsening. Others may need surgery to straighten severe
cases of scoliosis. 


As shown in the next photos, our Ruby, needed surgeries.

Keith Zieber, our fabulous producer will be helping me, Tracy, interview Ruby!

Ruby is in the ‘hot seat’ and we hope to see you there!!

Thursday recap~


I woke up to my morning rituals, coffee, nets, news and such…I had one response for my book plea on freecycle and called the lady as she requested on her email. She asked what types of books I was wanting and I told her blood, guts, crime, murder, mystery, suspense, basically I will read anything….almost…so anyhoo she had tons of books and was setting books aside for other freecyclers besides myself…I sent boy # 1 (my favorite) to go and pick up the books…I was like a kid at xmas when boy # 1 returned and we went thru the bag of books…I got a couple of James Patterson books I haven’t read yet, from the Alex Cross series…they are the newer ones so now I need to hurry up and read the book I started last night so I can read those. I also got Patricia Cornwell…the Scarpetta series…I am behind on those so it’ll be fun to get back to reading her books. Other authors include Mary Higgins Clark, Koontz, Plain…and a few other books I’ve heard of but have never read those particular authors.

I also strapped myself into my back brace and decided to move things around again…I know I was going to have boy # 1 do it…and he would have gladly done it…but…I felt like doing it myself…cause there is that stubborn streak about me that just has to do things on my own….I may try to vacuum tomorrow…if I can get the vacuum plugged in….that should be a not so strenuous activity…and I also want to sweep…I’ll leave the mopping to the boys…I won’t stupidly take a chance of slipping and falling…the floor is not yet my friend.

I made one phone call to my auntie….she had surgery and I just had to call and check up on her…but as I feared I would…I woke her up…I hate calling people and either waking them up or interrupting something…I feel like I am intruding in one way or another….anyway she is doing okay and will call me back when she is less medicated and more awake.

Changed the linens on my bed and got a load of laundry done….and made burgers for the boys…it’s been a long and somewhat productive day…I am now properly medicated and propped up and wishing my pain away…but wishing won’t work….

☻Sunday Funday

Not fun but I’ll try to make it so. Today we head back to hell….aka Austin, this time it’ll be me and the 3 kiddos. I have an appointment tomorrow morning to remove stitches on my back and I’m sure xrays. I figured it would be better to break the trip down, get there, check in, go eat and then chillax some more. It’ll be good to bond with the boys, share a room like we used to do when we did more traveling.

I’ve been following doctor orders and have done very little but rest and relax. The pain level is still under control, aches and pains here and there, but having just undergone two major surgeries, it is to be expected.

We have our stuff packed, waiting on Boy # 1 aka the driver to get in gear, then we can load up and hit the road….the long, now very familiar, much despised road.

An update of sorts….

I came to hell AKA Austin, Texas on Wednesday, I did my pre admission and lab work then had to come back to the hospital and give them some of my blood. Then went out for dinner, then back to the hotel.

Ms. Laurie

Thursday was a long day of waiting around then on to my next Dr. visit…after that met up with the Fabulous Laurie Zieber  She Speaks to Inspire fame.

Ruby Cantu & Laurie Zieber

We enjoyed a little visit then went off to get some sleep…not very much sleep on either count.

Friday (EARLY) morning we heard our wake up call, which neither one of us wanted to listen to….but slowly we made it, took a few wrong turns, but got there in good time, didn’t have to wait to long, got escorted real quick.

I got into my surgical attire and then proceeded to get screwed. Not sure how many screws were used this time….

I woke up and felt pain relief on my back, but my belly is still swollen and tender.

And I just got out of bed, I didn’t take any steps, but it felt good to move.

I had many friends and family doing their prayerfull thing and I truly apprecitate every single person who has extended their heartfelt wishes for/to me.


Ruby Tuesday Part Dos~

I need/want/must have cheesecake~

I busied myself and made appointments and registrations and reservations and then I went back to sticking my head in the sand.


I had a sense of satisfaction that I could take a breather from the madness of being put on hold and transfered here and there….anyhoo all that changed with the shrill of the telephone…change in plans…the date for surgery has been moved up, so now I’m back to rescheduling all my other appointments, notifying my insurance company….blah, blad, blah…so now I have a headache and I still haven’t slept…nor have I had a chance to resume my reading of “The Lost Son”….but that’s about to change….I’ve left messages and will go curl up on the couch and read a bit.

Cheesecake sounds good.

Sometimes a bit (or a lot) of whining pays off….

Finally I am getting somewhere with all these damn phone calls made to the different players out there that are not working very efficiently. I will be getting a check for the last two months for my Long Term Disability YAY!!! Of course there won’t be any money left for anything fun, I have bills to pay. Oh and my babies are guaranteed food on the table for a while longer.

saving a tree branch~ I do my part, how about you?

Next thing I am tackling is getting my insurance carrier to reactivate my insurance cards, so that I can keep my appointment for Monday and surgery on Wednesday….of course this is another set of phone calls and emails. All this crap does not make for a sunny disposition….

Not so sunny here...

My coffee and shower are both out-of-the-way, I need to strip my bed and wash my linens, I can’t make my bed until I get boy # 1 to flip my mattress over….when I was well, back in the day….I could do this by myself…it’s the little things we take for granted…and yes I know there are people who never think about flipping their mattress…but I try to, after all I am laying there night after night in essentially the same spot, same with the seat cushions on my sofa, I need to get them all switched around.

Boy # 1~ Mattress flipper

And as I sit here typing away, I go back and forth on email, I just received an email showing that someone is actually working on my behalf and my benefits may be activated soon…yay….yes I  use my professional and polite skills of persuasion when asking for things. I’m better suited doing the asking via email, where I can pause and read before I hit send, I get really bitchy when I do this over the phone and that is counterproductive…so I’ll keep my fingers crossed…and check again after a while.

I am off to go and fix breakfast and chillax in front of the boob tube.

Happy Happy…Joy Joy

Shhh.....I am pretty.....crazy~

With today being a holiday I had not planned on doing the phone thing…well it didn’t quite work that way…my doctors office called, I have an appointment Monday to review my discogram and do my pre-op stuff. Surgery is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday….not much time to think about it…which works for me…I don’t want to have time to think about it…like really what is there to think about…I say let’s get on with it, get it over and done with. The promise of being “fixed” is what I have to look forward to…now if I stop to think about it then all I would end up doing is filling my head with what ifs….like what if they fuck me up more….what if they cut/hit/damage a nerve and I end up worse off than I already a real vegetable…see what happens when you start playing stupid what if games….insanity…and I suffer enough with insanity…so it’s a go as far as I am concerned…I just have to work out the logistics….like getting there and getting back.

Slice & Dice~

Spoke to my aunt and she would love to come and be here and help where she can, she is still recovering from her surgery….so of course the mental imagery went all over the place….a couple of old hag cripps trying to help each other…it’s funny but it’s not…but it is more funny than not.

Yesterday I also did something I had not done in like forever…at least since my high school years….I picked up the phone and called a friend…and talked for a good 2 or 3 hrs…then we did it again for another 4.5 hours….but it felt good to talk to someone, laugh at ourselves…next time we may laugh at others….but not in a mean way…well maybe…..

Finished reading everything I had started on….and still have not hit the fluff….but it is by my bed….

56 things~

The news today wasn’t good….but I guess I have made a decision….

…and this time I will be prepared…..I found this list of things to do while recovering from surgery….some sound fun…

I'm hanging....
I'm hanging....
  1. Download music (legally) from the Internet; fill up your ipod from itunes
  2. Randomly explore the internet; see what the rest of the world is searching for using Google Trends
  3. Play games that can be played by yourself. There’s an amazing variety of games now available – here’s a great list. Develops thinking skills, pattern recognition, etc.
  4. Read (or listen to) the classics: To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, The Old Man and the Sea , The Great Gatsby, The Call of the Wild, War and Peace. These books are almost always available from your library, and often on sale at the large book stores.
  5. Listen to books on CD. Sometimes it’s easier to listen to a book than to read, very relaxing.
  6. Have your kids read to you
  7. Play classic board games with your kids – Monopoly, Scrabble…
  8. Rent a season of a TV series that you had always wanted to see. Entourage is hilarious. Or rent an old series, like Cheers or The Dick Van Dyke Show.
  9. Download books from, e.g. from
  10. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoko puzzles or print up some kakuro, which are number versions of crossword puzzles
  11. Play the guitar (or learn to), or ask someone to play an instrument or sing for you.
  12. Watch old movies. This is great if you are feeling fuzzy from the pain medications – the classic old movies are slow-moving, so it’s easy to follow the plot
  13. On a budget? Rent movies from the library instead of from the video store – it’s usually a fraction of the price and you can keep the movie for a week.
  14. Enjoy Xbox or Nintendo, Gameboy, Sony PSP, or any handheld electronic games
  15. Some like the handheld game of Simon – it’s not too difficult, so good if the pain medications are affecting your concentration
  16. Read the entire Harry Potter series (no these books are not just for kids, the stories and characters are riveting!)
  17. If you prefer, read the original magical book series, The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis
  18. For the women – give yourself a manicure, a facial, look through magazines to find a new hair style you’d like to try
  19. Read the entire New York Times – that will take at least a half a day!
  20. Go sit out on your deck or porch for awhile each day and get some fresh air
  21. Get free therapy online and make friends with other people who are in similar situations on the Discussion Forum: “…finding this site and spending time here was a great help during recuperation – both in regard to having something to do but also for learning and understanding about our surgeries and recovery, and also being able to help and assist others here – that’s why I am still active here 7 months after surgery.”
  22. Start a Carepage – an online diary that allows you to chronicle your recovery and automatically notifies your network of friends and family each time you update it.
  23. E-mail a loved one who is having difficulty empathizing with your condition and invite him or her to view the Message Board so they can see what you and others in your condition have to go through
  24. Talk with others real time who are laid up in similar situations in an online Chat Room
  25. Read and comment on blogs that deal with recovery from surgery; or start your own blog!
  26. Connect with an old friend who you’ve lost touch with. Try sending him or her a card or letter via old fashioned mail.
  27. Learn to meditate and practice practice practice. Meditation is great for reducing stress and producing an overall feeling of calm and well being, all of which contributes to healing.
  28. Scrapbooking and putting all those old pictures in an album. Use … to create online photo albums of all your digital prints
  29. Plan ahead for your next vacation – research and plan it online.
  30. Become on expert on a specific subject – rent documentaries, read books, and use Google Scholar to do free online research on a certain subject. Ancient Greece? Bird watching? History of golf? Research and learn all about whatever interests you.
  31. Sort out pile of mail, bills, catalogues etc., that has been piling up on kitchen counter since before your surgery.
  32. Put your financials online with Quickbooks or a similar financial management program.
  33. Make some gifts the old fashioned way – knit or crochet a baby blanket for someone who’s expecting a baby soon, needlepoint something to decorate the baby’s nursery, or make advance holiday gifts.
  34. Learn the almost-lost art of lace making
  35. Learn to write left handed (or right handed, if you’re a lefty) to exercise a new part of your brain
  36. Inventory all the stuff you want to get rid of around the house and garage, and sell it on E-Bay
  37. Get started on that novel you’ve always wanted to write
  38. Make a Honey-do (or handyman) list for all those odd jobs that need to get done around the house
  39. Help build the online encyclopedia Wikipedia by editing or starting any topic where you have expertise
  40. Learn origami and create beautiful origami gift boxes or figures
  41. Learn calligraphy and make your handwritten notes gorgeous! This is especially valuable if you have horrible handwriting like mine…
  42. Create list of recipes that are easy to prepare that you can make once you’re up and around but still recovering. Here’s a list of spine-friendly recipes
  43. Every day write a short thank you (or love note) to the person who is caring for you and put it in the same place for them to find each day.
  44. Write thank you notes to everyone in the hospital who was helpful to you
  45. Pray in your own way.
  46. E-mail thank you notes to all the websites you found especially helpful (hint, hint!) … makes all the hard work worth it J
  47. Read online verses from the bible about healing and related topics
  48. Anytime you reach out to help someone else in need, you will feel better. Less lonely. Less depressed. Volunteer with an organization that allows you to call and talk to people who are lonely (such as people in nursing homes or people confined to their house).
  49. If you don’t yet have a cause that you’re passionate about, research one online (start here) and make a plan to start donating your time and energy to something you care about once you can get around
  50. Be an excellent host or hostess – send out invitations to your friends and family, schedule visits, greet your visitors enthusiastically even when you’re in pain, and encourage them to talk about themselves and their lives. It will go a long way to help take your mind off your situation, and will make it a pleasant visit all around.
  51. If you can’t walk much yet, have someone drive you to Wal-Mart or Target and ride one of the rascal scooters.
  52. Just walk walk walk. Try to gradually work up to 10,000 steps a day
  53. Wear a pedometer to encourage you to walk whenever possible
  54. Get comfortable shoes for walking that are easy to get on and off. Crocs are a favorite – they’re lightweight, slip on so you don’t have to bend over to get them on or off, and have some traction to help avoid slipping.
  55. Walk on a treadmill and set a progressive goal (e.g. go for 2 minutes longer each day) that is OK’d by your doctor. Chart your progress each day so you have a visual confirmation of how far you’ve come!
  56. Sign up for a water therapy – it’s very gentle on your back, as the water supports you while you exercise and prevents any jarring motion.

I don’t always answer the question…and why I don’t~

I grew up with a mother that never passed on answering the question of “How are you?” She would answer in detail……we are talking everything from bowel issues, menstrual, pms, you name it issues, real or imagined, In her case, mostly imagined, I used to cringe when anyone asked her, it got to the point that for me, if anyone asked, my response was a simple OK, I still do that. Partly out of habit and also because of feeling embarrassed at having a mother that fed off her so called ailments. I tried explaining to her that people weren’t looking for a list of her ailments…I could  tell….their eyes would glaze over….but she persisted in listing everything. For me…that made me acutely aware of that “greeting”…my belief was that a simple okay would have gone a long way…..later when it got to be that I was the one with the medical issues, I still could not bring myself to complain… this day I still have a hard time honestly answering that question…I know I was affected very much by that….it is why when I’ve had to be hospitalized I prefer to be left alone, no visits, I don’t want the attention out of pity or obligation. I’m sure I have developed my own set of personal issues over the whole situation……my first bout with surgery and a hospital stay I had to endure a mother that preferred to visit with strangers rather than tending to my needs, to the point that I had to ask that her presence be banned. I just could not stomach her being around in my time of need…..knowing that she would find a way to make it about herself… this day any genuine interest in me is met with apprehension….I don’t want pity…..okay I was going somewhere with this….lost my train of thought….nite

A chronicle of my first 2 back surgeries…

As a patient I was initially admitted for two days’ observation to ensure that I was in good general health. Which I was~ for the exception of a severe case of backne (back acne, I had acne on my face (facene) too but they weren’t messing with my face). On the third day, they proceeded with the operation, under full anesthesia. The (Harrington Rod) rod was fixed in position for the degree and place of the two curvatures along my spine, (caused by scoliosis) and fixed securely using a pair of hooks that linked it to the spine. The rod had ratchet ends that fitted through holes in the hooks, and the compression of the spine kept the whole thing in place. Those hooks looked pretty much like the presser foot of my sewing machine…..

Under anesthesia, I was stretched to straighten my spine, giving me an additional 3 inches of growth and the ratchet system held everything in its new position. The design of the rod also allowed for additional growth, because as the spine got longer, the ratchet allowed the rod to move in only one direction. Rods came in a variety of lengths, mine was 18 cm (if I recall correctly)….

The first stage of treatment took place in a specialized unit because I needed to be kept as immobile as possible. I spent weeks on a bed that allowed me to be either flat on my back, or flat on my front. Lying on a side was not allowed, nor was turning from front to back. The bed was designed to allow the nurses to roll me every four hours to prevent bed sores…..

At the end of those seemingly never ending weeks  my Dr. felt it was necessary, to put me into a plaster cast, covering the length of the spine, and up to my neck and down halfway over my butt. After the cast set, I was allowed to go home where I spent a further number of weeks on full bed rest, and told to operate “log roll” conditions. That meant being horizontal at all times — no sitting or standing, no more than one pillow, and only bending one leg at once, when lying on my back. At the end of the at home recovery, I was returned to the hospital to spend the next 10 days to 2 weeks learning to walk again. After I spent more time than anyone should ever have to in bed, I was weak from the weight of the plaster …my spine was a very different shape from before the operation, so balance was difficult. I felt that I was frequently falling over because I had spent years, leaning sideways before the operation. ….

After learning to walk again, I was fitted with a brace that had steel -reinforcing rods down the back. This had to be worn for 23 hours a day, and could be removed only for bathing. I wore this specific type of brace for less than a month and then transitioned to a newer more modern hard plastic like brace with Velcro strips to tighten it for added compression of the spine.  Termination of the brace wearing began with removal during sleep for a few months, but due to my stubborn nature and vehement statements of full recovery I soon abandoned it altogether…..

During the treatment, and up to losing the brace, I was forbidden to undergo any form of physical exercise, including swimming, not that it bothered me, I wasn’t a water baby nor interested in any type of exercise…soon my doctors realized that the treatment was quite a success, the restrictions began to be lifted, and the timescale for the whole process reduced. ….

I went on to lead a fairly active and carefree life up until the mid 90’s when I underwent a second round of surgery….this process was “less invasive” and with the untold advances in medical science I was assured a less restrictive recovery…the rod that gave me my “perfect posture” was to be removed as I had somewhat managed to break this stainless steel piece. Yay. Surgery was a success; recovery was extremely painful and difficult as I learned I was carrying my precious baby (A). I was terrified of the consequences despite the assurance of the doctor that I could safely take X amount of narcotics. I just couldn’t do it. I toughed it out med free with the only comfort being that once I had him I would feel relief from pain as I was determined to take any and all previously offered narcotics that would relieve me of pain. Which I did and of course the sad consequence of that was I have no recollection of caring for my baby for his first few days of life……..

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