Jan 21, 2013

Goodbye Lower Back Pain!

I know my blog is all about posting ways to give secondhand treasures a second chance at life, but I figure this post is about how I was able to eliminate lower back pain and give my body a second chance!  First of all, I must say that I am not a health professional and this is only a story of what worked for me.  It may or may not help you,  but it might give you more ideas to share with your healthcare professional when discussing your own lower back pain.  Warning:  This is a long post.  If your back can't handle sitting for long periods of time, or you don't want to read my story (no hard feelings!)  I'll sum it up in one word...Iliopsoas...google it!  But, if you're game, here's my story...

For years I had suffered with lower back pain.  It was always there, some days worse than others, but nonetheless, always there.  It was a constant deep nagging that never went away.  I tried to figure out what was causing it.  This past summer, after going on a 20 mile, four day hike and sleeping on the hard ground with, surprisingly, no back pain, I thought the culprit might be my bed.

Being a naturally thrifty person, I wasn't sure if I want to put a large chunk of money into a Sleep Number bed.  So I tried to stiffen my side of the bed by placing a thin sheet of masonite between some of the upper layers of my pillow top mattress.  It firmed up the bed, but I didn't see any real results.

I thought another cause might have been carrying and giving birth to eight children over a span of twenty five years.  Maybe my back was just tired, and if that was the case, what was I to do?

And then there was the recent work that we've been doing on a piece of property that we purchased.  There are no shortage of rocks on the property and we have used them for many projects.  Of course, these rocks don't pick themselves up, and rock gathering is mainly my job.  And, just to clarify, its my job because I'm fond of the rocks and like to use them in landscaping.  My husband has plenty of other heavy lifting jobs to do on the property!  

So maybe I've spent too much time in this position...

...and placing too many rocks along seasonal creek beds, yes, they continue all the way to that blue barrel in the distance...

...to finally enjoy this...  
(Disclaimer:  The whole family built the bridge, not just me!  You can see the full post here.)

And, there are many other rock projects on the property...trust me!

It was out on the property one day that caused the high point of my back pain.  I was at one end of a heavy roll of road felt trying to lift it into place when it really tweaked my back.  I instantly had to drop my end (sorry to my husband.)  I tried to shrug off the spike in pain and went back to work on the tractor.  By the end of the day, I could barely move.  It was all I could do to climb off the tractor and up into the dump truck.  I could no longer sit up and had to lay across the seat on the way home...with tears streaming down my face.  It hurt so bad.  Once home, I needed help getting out of my work clothes and into bed.  I placed a heating pad on my back which I thought would help...wrong choice BTW, and just laid there trying not to move.

The next day my husband suggested that I go see the chiropractor.  The last time I went to see him, he was having me come in 3x a week, 2 for adjustments and one for massage therapy.  Now, I loved the massage therapy, but all the appointments added up to about $700 a month.  I didn't see any real improvement and, with no insurance, couldn't afford to keep going.  I was a little lacking in faith that he could do anything, but I was also in a lot of pain and felt it couldn't hurt.  So, I limped my way to the car and braved the 15 minute drive across town.  When I reached his office, the waiting room was eerily quiet.  The receptionist greeted us with, "Oh, I've trying to get a hold of you all day and none of your numbers are working.  The doctor was sick and went home early.  I'm sorry."  Sorry, was not want I wanted to hear.  I was so disappointed!  Come to find out, she was looking at someone else's chart when calling, hence the wrong numbers!  She did offer a glimmer of hope, though.  There was another chiropractor close by that would sometimes take my doctor's patients.  She gave him a call and he said to come right over.  I was relieved that he could see me, and that he was only a block away!

Once there, he did some resistance testing on me and diagnosed right away that the Iliopsoas muscle group was inflamed.  This muscle group runs from  the lower vertebrae to the top of the femur (see the picture below).  Now I had taken Anatomy and Physiology in college, but I don't recall ever hearing of this muscle group.  And, BTW, the "p" is silent.

 He iced it, did an ultrasound treatment on it and then sent me away with instructions to ice it for 20 minutes each hour, rest it, and take Ibuprofen.  My husband bought me an ice pack that looks similar to this...

I followed the doctor's instructions and by the fourth day I was feeling much better.  Since then I have researched the Iliopsoas and found various stretches to keep the muscles from shortening again.  Apparently, the muscles shorten when we sit for extended periods of time, or when we stoop over a lot, lifting heavy things....hmmm, maybe rocks!  When the muscle group becomes inflamed, the surrounding muscles overcompensate.  Eventually, this causes things to get tweaked out alignment, thus causing back pain.  I have also set a goal to strengthen my core muscles.  My new favorite is the plank. And, I don't mean the kind of planking that my crazy boys do!  I do my planks in the privacy of my home...and without laying on top of a group of people!

To sum it all up, I am a very spiritual person and believe that things happen for a reason.  I have been searching for a way to eliminate my back pain for years.  It was only when the pain became so severe (and I had lifted those rolls of road felt many times before without injury) that I was prompted to seek medical attention.  I don't think it was chance that led my doctor to go home early (seriously, he's the model of good health so it must have been bad), or the receptionist to call the wrong numbers, or that I was directed to a doctor that could diagnose the problem in one short visit, considering I still have no health insurance!  I truly believe in miracles and that's what this was to me.  I'm not saying that it's the answer for everyone, but if this information could help even one person, I would be thrilled!  Good luck and be strong!

I like to link to these great parties!

Jan 2, 2013

Collapsible Dollhouse

I thought I would share something that took a good chunk of my time prior to Christmas.  My granddaughter wanted a dollhouse for Christmas.  They live about 900 miles away and don't have enough room in the car to bring home a full-sized doll house, so after spotting this great idea I decided to make something similar.  Instead of using three-ringed binders for the structure, I went with thrifted double album covers.  I got them for 10¢ each.

I needed four double album covers for the project, and a couple of single covers as well.  The first thing I did was to place white duct tape down the outside and inside spine of each double cover, making sure to fold the tape over the top edges.  I then placed two covers together and taped along the top and right edges.  I left the bottom edge untaped for the time being.  I did this with all four covers so that, when finished, they were all connected together and would create four rooms when standing up and open (see one of the following pictures.) 

The next step (which is an addition to the original idea) was to add a floor to each room.  I did this by taking apart the single covers, cutting them down slightly, and taping them to the bottom of each double cover.  I taped them along the top edge (of the floor) to the front and the back.  After taping, I folded the floor up and closed the cover to make sure it was going to fit okay.  If the fit was okay, I finished taping around the rest of the floor edges.  I did the same to each "room" of the doll house.

When I was all finished taping, it looked like this with all the edges covered with duct tape.

The next step was to decide on what scrapbooking paper I was going to use for the walls and floors of each room.  I adhered them all with mod podge, letting each room dry before moving onto the next.

The finished doll house folds like this when its not being played with.

Before I go further, I thought I would mention that I entertained the idea of cutting 12 x 12 squares of masonite for the doll house, which would make it pretty sturdy.  I opted for the album covers because they were recycled and lightweight.  But, they do warp a little when applying mod podge to them.  So do what you want with that little bit of information!

Anyway, now for an overall tour of the house before I get into more of the furniture details.

The bathroom and bedroom.

The bedroom and living room.

The living room and kitchen.

The kitchen and bathroom.

The bathroom started with these thrifted pieces...a tub-shaped soap dish, a small ceramic dish, and a candle holder.  I didn't have to do anything to the tub.  I spray painted the candle holder white and glued the dish on top to create the sink.  I used E-6000 for all of the furniture gluing.

I used a vintage crocheted pot holder for a rug.  All of the images were found on the internet, resized, printed, cut, and mod podged into place.

The family room was created from an old wooden box, two candle holders, and an acrylic dessert cup. (I didn't end up using the wooden piece...probably because I couldn't find it at the time!)  The lamp was easy.  All I had to do was turn the dessert cup upside down and glue it to the top of the candle stick.  The ottoman was just a matter of gathering a circle of scrap leather around some batting and gluing in place.  The couches were a bit trickier.  I removed the hinges, ran the front edge of the lid through the table saw to barely cut of the front edge.  I had to run the base of the box through the table saw to make it the same height as the lid, then cut off the front edge and put a new bottom on it.  Once they were the same size, I glued some decorative wood pieces to the bottom for feet.  I completed them by making little cushions and pillows.

The drapes, plasma tv, fireplace, basket, and plants are all images from internet.

The bedroom began with a wire napkin holder, picture frame, and air freshener.  I sprayed the bed pieces white.  I then drilled holes through the wooden frame and wired it to the head of the bed.  (I actually turned the napkin holder upside down.)  I removed the board of the picture frame, drilled small holes spaced alternately, then covered it with batting and green fabric.  I then pushed white brads through the fabric and holes and secured them to the back.  This created a tufted look for the headboard.

I removed the air freshener liquid from the lamp, made a mattress, pillows, and cover for the bed, and mod podged some coordinating paper to a cute little trunk.  I pulled a thrifted doily from my stash to use as a rug.  Once again, the images were from the internet.

The kitchen was a lot of fun.  The furniture was pretty easy.  It consisted of four wooden salt and pepper shakers (two not shown), a pedestal candle base, and a ceramic trivet.  I glued the trivet to the candle base to create the table.  If you're worried about it breaking, you could use a cute lid from a metal canister instead.  I cut the tops off of the shakers.  Originally, I was going to make a padded cover for them, but went super simple by gluing a canning lid to the top of each and adding a scalloped paper medallion to the top with mod podge.

The fun part was finding all the cute images to glue to the walls.  Another thrifted doily makes a cute rug.

An aerial view of the kitchen gives you an idea of how the house stands when its open.

This project did take quite a bit of time (especially waiting for the mod podge to dry) but it was fun.  Everything but the canning lids, scrapbook paper, duct tape, and air freshener lamp was thrifted.
And, the best part is that my granddaughter loved it!

I like to link to these great parties!

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UPDATE 11/4/13:  I just received the latest issue of Romantic Country magazine which I'm happy to say includes the following article!!