it's come a long way...

Hippocrates Ladder
To encourage myself through this long recovery, I thought I'd do a little research on the history of scoliosis treatment. After sifting through many articles and startling images on the web, I am very thankful that I was born in America in 1982, and had surgery in 2010. Here is a brief synopsis of what my treatment may have looked like if I wasn't blessed to be born when I was:
  • As early as 3500-1800 BC: Ancient Hindu religious literature shows scoliosis "treatment" accomplished by the pressing down on the feet and pulling up on the chin.
  • Around 400 BC Hippocrates describes two different methods of "treating" scoliosis. One is spinal manipulation and traction. The other is a method called succusion. This is done by strapping a patient to a ladder, pulling them into the air, and then dropping them! He thought that scoliosis resulted from a dislocation of the spine,much like a dislocated shoulder, and all that needed to be done was put the dislocated spine back in the correct place. He describes further treatment as "It is also safe for a person to sit upon the hump while extension is being made, and raising himself to let himself fall down again upon the patient." He also goes on to suggest "putting one foot on the hump or using a long wooden lever" but he has no method for keeping the spine in place. So basically the options were being strung up on a ladder upside-down, being stepped on, or being squashed by someone falling on you. None of these sound appealing to me!
  •  Hippocrates Scoliosis Traction Machine  
  • 33 (?) BC, Jesus is described healing a woman who has been "bent over and could not straighten up at all." Luke 13:10-17. Of all the 'treatments' I found, this would be the only one I'd like to try!
Pare's Brace
  • During the Renaissance Ambroise Pare is the first doctor to treat scoliosis with a brace. He was also the first person to realize that when a person has finished growing, bracing does nothing to treat scoliosis. His brace is actually a metal corset forged by an armorer, and looks pretty uncomfortable! 

  • By the 1800's  Lewis Sayre begins popularizing the use of the plaster jacket, another way of bracing scoliosis. This photo to the left shows how they would string the patient up and twist them and pull them into a "straight" spine, after which they would plaster the patient holding them in the corrected position. 
1910 Brace made to look like a corset
  • Also during the 1800's, surgeons began attempting correcting scoliosis through surgery. They would only cut muscles and tendons to shorten them and pull the crooked spine straight. (Yikes.) After the invention of radiology in 1895, the x-ray became an integral part of trying to treat scoliosis. 
  • 1911 Fred Albee performs the first fusion surgery. He is the first person to use bone grafting techniques.
  • 1920 Wreden presents the first surgical scoliosis treatment that uses metal implants to stabilize the spine.
  • 1951 Lange uses Gerhard Kuntscher nails to stabilize the corrected spine. Yes. I said NAILS. If I had had surgery back in the 50's here is what my experience would have entailed:
  1. Preoperative time spent in the hospital in traction
  2. Preoperative casting, a full body cast meant to train the muscles for how they would be post-op.
  3. Non-Instrumented fusion. I.E. no rods or screws to hold the spine straight through the healing post-op.
  4. 2 weeks of bedrest for wound healing.
  5. Full body plaster traction cast for 6-12 MONTHS, most often in the hospital.
Understandably, those months laying flat and immobile left the patient extremely weak. The patient would have to learn how to walk again and wear a 24 hour brace even after surgery. They were very concerned with keeping the spine immobile while healing, and post-op patients were not allowed to do any form of exercise. Sadly, many patients would go back to their pre-op curves because the early fusion technique was not strong enough to hold the spine straight.
  • 1962 Paul R. Harrington develops and introduces the Harrington rod system. This was a major advancement for scoliosis surgery. The rods enabled the spine to remain straight while the fusion between the vertebrae solidified. His rods used hooks to hold on to the spine, as screws were not developed and used until 1990.
It's amazing how far the technology has come even in the last 10 years. I'm grateful for a surgeon who is continually participating in studies focused on learning new techniques. We've had several conversations about how they are always trying to find ways to make this surgery and recovery better and shorter. I was only in the hospital for 4 days compared to the 6 months to a year that I would have faced back in the 50's. I also benefited from cutting edge technology, instrumentation, and techniques. 

While there is no perfect solution for treating scoliosis, I am glad we have come so far!

8 weeks post-op...

Amazing. I am 8 weeks post-op today! I am relieved to say it was just like everyone told me it would be. They all said the first 2 months would be hell, and then you get a huge drop in your pain levels and really begin to see major progress around 6-8 weeks. There are people who have a much harder and longer time in the beginning stages, and I am so thankful I was not one of them.

I went out to dinner last night with my husband for the first time in 8 weeks. It was only the 4th time I've gotten in a car in the last 2 months, and I was thrilled to go! I actually didn't feel too bad, even though I did have some residual nerve pain in my left leg, and my stamina is not completely back (I was wiped out by the time we got home, and we were only gone around 4 hours). I am also having to re-learn how to get in and out of the car, I am not used to my 5 feet 10 inches yet, and couldn't seem to get into the car without hitting my head every time. It's also a challenge because I don't bend like I used to. Next time you get into your car, try to get in without bending your back at all, twisting, or hitting your head. Not the easiest thing! I'm sure I'll get the hang of it the more I'm able to leave the house. Like I said, this was only my 4th time!
Almost as great as going out was putting on real clothes! I put on actual pants, did my hair, and put on makeup. It's been so long since I have worn anything besides pj's, picking out an outfit to wear was like going shopping in a store where everything is brand-new! I am looking forward to getting out of the house more and more, though I will be restricting my outings to a few hours at a time, and try to do things that involve either sitting on cushy chairs or walking around.

I am walking almost every day for around 45 minutes, and am walking as far as I could walk pre-op. I'm amazed I can do that already. It also makes me realize how much pain I was living with pre-op. I think I'll be able to walk further and longer pretty soon than I ever could have before I had this surgery. What a blessing!

We finally decided to bite the bullet and hire some help to clean our house. It is frustrating not being able to do those simple things, especially when it is costing us money to have someone else do it. But I have to remember I will get to a point where I will be able to do a lot of those household chores again. And the ones I won't be able to do, well, I couldn't do them pre-op either (ie. cleaning the shower has been impossible for about 2 years. If I tried to do even the most superficial cleaning, I would be flat on my back for a whole day afterward, so that was Drew's job, along with vacuuming, and mopping.) I will admit, I am loving having the help! My house is so clean, and I don't have to lay here and see the dust bunnies holding a convention under the coffee table anymore.

Click the photo to see it larger
Overall, I am doing very well and learning how to live with my new body. Some things are still frustrating, and other things have gotten easier (like putting on my shoes and socks!). My swelling is gone, and you can really see a difference in my back. As you can see in this photo, my shoulder-blades are clearly defined now at 8 weeks post-op. My swelling was so severe before it distorted my scar and you could hardly see my shoulder blades. Looking at where I was pre-op and where I am now, I am just blown away. This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it was well worth it.

walk this way...

Today marks the beginning of my 7th week of recovery! I just went back and read some of my posts from just a few weeks ago, and I am amazed at how far I've come in such a short amount of time. This last week is probably the best week I've had so far. Since switching down from oxycodone to hydrocodone, I have felt less sick and miserable than any week before. I still have significant pain, but the pain comes and goes a lot more now, and there are larger chunks of time where I have almost no pain at all (that is, while on hydrocodone). Sleeping is still hard, and I think this is mostly due to the way my muscles become stiff after laying in one position for hours at a time.

I am walking more and more as the days go forward, and I can really see the benefits that come from this simple form of exercise. I am not doing any other physical therapy yet. Most people who have this surgery begin physical therapy at 3 or 6 months post-op. So until my surgeon gives me the green light to do anything more, I am focused on increasing my walking speed and distance each week.

Walking is an amazing form of exercise, and it is an essential part of the healing process for post-op scoliosis patients. Immediately following surgery, usually the next day, you are up walking down the hallways in the hospital. And everyday after, you are encouraged to walk further and faster. Here are just a few of the things it does for a post-op patient:

  • Walking promotes the flow of oxygen throughout your body, and helps maintain a normal breathing pattern
  • It strengthens muscles all over your body
  • It helps improve gastrointestinal and urinary tract function (which is vital while taking so many drugs that cause constipation--and is why I suffered so much when I couldn't walk when I had my spinal headache)
  • Walking improves blood flow, and speeds wound healing
And it follows that if you do not walk much post-op, you are going to have increased constipation, gas pain, weakness, and less power to fight infections. Without walking you are also at a much higher risk to have a blood clot, which can be deadly.

Walking is not just for post-op patients! Study after study has shown how walking briskly for 20-30 minutes a day can lower cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, lessen anxiety, reduce risk of diabetes, manage your weight, and help you stay strong and fit. Some studies are also discovering how it may help prevent certain types of cancer! It is a "low-impact" form of exercise, which means it is gentle on your joints (unlike running or jogging) and it does no damage while strengthening your body. 

There are some amazing studies on how walking helps people who are struggling with depression and anxiety. I know personally, I feel much better after walking, not just physically, but emotionally. A huge part of my recovery is keeping a positive attitude. I have a long road ahead of me, and it can become discouraging when I think about how much I'm missing out on, how I am unable to drive a car yet, or even go to the grocery store. Not getting a lot of deep sleep and being perpetually uncomfortable or in pain can be very depressing. And taking heavy pain killers can also lead to depression as well. Walking, which encourages the production of endorphins, is a natural mood booster which fights all those depression causing side effects! An interesting side note: studies have also found that people with pets, and in particular dogs, heal faster after surgery, and are less likely to be depressed. (Some other benefits of being a pet owner are: having fewer allergies, being less likely to have heart attacks, and less Alzheimer's symptoms.) Dogs, like walking, help boost the production of endorphins naturally just by being cute and fuzzy and giving you attention. And it follows since dogs love to take walks, dog owners will be walking more, which helps fight depression. I'd say that's a win-win situation!

I have really enjoyed getting out of the house this last week and taking short walks around the neighborhood. I am also very blessed to have sweet friends who take time to come and walk with me. Talk about a mood booster! I always feel encouraged after a visit from a friend, and right now the combination of walking and fellowship is very therapeutic! Here is a photo from this past Saturday. I am walking with a dear friend's daughter and she is "helping" me walk Charlie.
I do not take for granted the ability to walk, or the benefits that come with it. Once you've almost lost something, or lost something temporarily, you see it with new eyes. Next time you take a walk, even if it's to your car, think about how many people walk with pain, or with a walker, or who are unable to walk at all. It might give you an appreciation of how important that simple action really is.

many counselors...

Plans fail for lack of counsel, 
   but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Where do you go when you are trying to make a big decision? To your friends? To family members? Self-help books, or maybe an article in a magazine? A person on T.V. who seems to have it all together? Looking back over last year, I found that I had several different "counselors" who helped me as I mulled over whether or not I should have the surgery. It was not an easy or quick decision by any means. I remember sitting with a dear friend outside of Starbucks in early summer, and the words tumbled out of my mouth...."I think I may need surgery again"....I had been quietly worrying about it to myself for a few months, but the problem was so huge and frustrating that I couldn't bring myself to talk to anyone about it for a while. But after spending that time over a hot coffee, I realized the importance of sharing my struggle and saw how it eased my burden to have others know what I was thinking.
It took me almost a year to accept what was happening to my spine, and that I needed to do something drastic about it. I wonder if it would have taken me longer if I didn't have the help and wisdom of many friends, family and fellow scoliosis sufferers to guide me. I think I prayed more about having that surgery than any decision I have made in my life so far. The permanence of the screws and rods, as well as the high risks associated with the actual procedure were prominent in my mind. I also considered the affect going through a 4th surgery would have on my 3 year old marriage. It was a lot to think about.

Hindsight is 20/20, so with that advantage I look over the last year and see how my "many counselors" helped me come to my decision.

1. I went to my close friends. I am blessed with a group of women who not only love me, but love the Lord. We spent countless hours going over the pros and cons of my surgery. I listened closely to advice and perspectives that were different than mine, because I knew they had my best interests at heart. Not one of them gave a quick and ready answer, and that to me shows their wisdom. This was not a black and white problem, and whatever decision I came to would have large and far reaching consequences. They all recognized that, and prayed for me as I wrestled with it week after week.

2. I went to my family. My husband and I prayed over this question together for months. We also fought, laughed and cried about it. It is true when you are married that "two become one" and whatever I choose to do with my life affects his as well. It was hard to imagine putting myself through this suffering, knowing that it would cause him suffering (although not physical, suffering from stress, fear, lack of sleep...the list could go on and on). His perspective was different from my friends, because he was so close to me. What they could see clearly from the outside, he could see clearly from the inside. If I dismissed his concerns, it would have been foolish, as his concerns are my concerns.
     I also spent many hours discussing the surgery with my Mom, Dad and siblings. They are like the middle ground between my husband and my friends. If they had raised any red flags, it would have been foolish not to listen.

3. I went to people who had walked in my shoes. I sought out as many women with scoliosis that I could. I asked them question after question, from every possible angle. Many times I went to them with questions or concerns that had been raised by my husband or my girlfriends. Recognizing their experience as invaluable, I eagerly listened to the good, bad, ugly, and scary. I was careful to expose myself to not only good results, but the results of those who did not have everything go the way they wanted. To ignore the possibility that my surgery could cause me more pain, or worse, would be foolish and possibly dangerous.

4. I went on my knees. I prayed for wisdom, and that God would make my path straight. I sought counsel in His Word, and from His Holy Spirit. I believed Him when He said: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight." (Prov. 3:5-6) I brought up this promise to Him in prayer over and over, and He eventually gave me peace while paving the way for me to have the surgery. I knew there was not a "right" or "wrong" answer to my question, but a "good" and "better." I wanted to make the best choice I could, and I had the advantage of knowing He wants what's best for me too.

I am thankful to have had the counselors that I did. I see how each of them were pivotal in coming to a wise choice. And as I move forward with my life, I am comforted to know that I have them to help me with whatever future decisions I have to make.

Happy Birthday Charlie!

I am taking a break today from blogging about my recovery to talk a little about a certain dog that is turning 13 sometime this month. Charlie has been my constant companion through every single surgery, and we couldn't ask for a more loving, sweet, intelligent, or loyal dog.

We adopted Charlie in September of 2007 from the SPCA of Central Florida. He was 9 years old. I walked by his kennel and he stuck his little face through the fence and my heart melted right then! We weren't looking for a "senior" dog but when he just jumped into my arms I KNEW I had to take him home. I can not even put into words the joy he has brought me through these last very rough years with all my spinal surgeries. He makes me smile every day.

I have a real heart for taking care of the creatures in our world, and I wasn't even aware of the amount of dogs and cats and other animals that are being overbred in "puppy mills" all over this country.

Do a little research and please educate yourselves on this! A dog just like Charlie is put to sleep every day at the Orange County Animal Services here in Orlando. By the end of this year 12,000 or more will be put to sleep. And that is just here in Orlando. According to the Humane Society of the United States, every 8 seconds a dog or cat is put down, adding up to between 6 and 8 MILLION animals are killed every year in our country.

We have such a consumeristic attitude towards animals. We breed them, and then throw them away when we don't want them/can't take care of them. That large number killed in Orange County alone could be drastically reduced if people would simply spay or neuter their animals and STOP supporting Puppy Stores that sell puppy mill pets.

If you can, make a donation to your local no-kill shelter, or even better, go there and take one of those other "Charlies" home! 

Don't feel ready to take on a dog or cat that may have some issues to work through because they have been mistreated or abandoned? Most shelters have puppies and kittens that need homes just as much as the older dogs and cats. Because many people fail to neuter or spay their animals, it is very common for stray animals to show up pregnant or with entire litters of puppies or kittens. Another option is to adopt from a shelter that takes dogs directly from their owners (like the SPCA here in Orlando) who are able to give a detailed background on the dog (or other animal), like whether they are good with children, chase cats, or are shy. That way you know a lot more about the dog or cat you're bringing into your home.

Think you can't find the kind of dog you're looking for at the pound or in a shelter? Charlie is a "malte-poo" a "designer" mix between a maltese and a poodle. If we had bought him as a puppy from a store or even a breeder, he would have cost well over $500 bucks. We got him for around $50 bucks (because he was a "senior" dog). Think shelter dogs have little to give, or are too hard to retrain? Check out this video by a band called OK Go filmed entirely with shelter dogs!

Here are a few places to look for your next "fur" baby:
+Your Local ASPCA Shelter (
+Petsmart Adoption Events
+Your Local Animal Services (ie. the pound)

And those are just a few options! There are countless local Rescue groups that specialize in specific breeds. Here is one that focuses on just Golden Retrievers, and here is another that focuses on small dogs.

Okay, I'm getting off my soapbox now! Happy Birthday Charlie, we love you!

successfully quitting...

Today marks my 6 week anniversary! I can't believe I really have gotten so far with so few complications. Thanks again for all the encouragement and prayers. I know I'm blessed to have so much support.

I am very happy to say that my pain really seems to be going down quickly over the last week. I still have significant pain in my left shoulder, and where my rib hump used to be, as well as both legs. However, that pain is coming and going, and I never seem to hurt all over at the same time anymore. The pain seems to take turns visiting those different areas throughout the day, and to me that is a huge improvement from constant pain, everywhere.

I have learned from my other surgeries the importance of keeping track of how much medicine I'm taking, and have developed a game plan for getting off the pain killers. It worked with the last 3 operations, and it seems to be working well with this surgery as well. One of my biggest fears has been that I would get hooked to the heavy painkillers, especially since I have been on them after each of my surgeries for months at a time. I do have one thing that helps me every time: SIDE EFFECTS. If there is a possible side effect from a drug, I am sure to get it. The worst one for me is the stomach discomfort/constipation (I know eww, gross! Sorry if that's too much information!). So, while the pain meds help reduce my pain, they usually give me pain in my stomach that is almost as bad as my pain from the surgery.

Anyway, here is how I have gotten drug free before:
1. I keep a detailed list of what I'm taking, including any supplements, gas relief pills, and even allergy medications. This is helpful for two reasons. One, the drugs cause me to forget things all the time. If I didn't write down when and how much I took, I could easily over-medicate out of simple forgetfulness. Two, I know exactly when to take my next dose. I usually set an alarm so that I don't take it too soon, or go too long without my pill, which can lead to letting the pain get out of control. In the first few weeks when I had trouble eating, we also kept track of what I ate, when I went to the bathroom, and when I threw up. (Again, sorry if that's too much information! All that stuff really matters though post-op, especially when you're trying to get your body on the right track!)
2. I also keep track of my pills by setting out the day's worth of medicine in a weekly pill organizer. This has saved me a lot of time, and kept me from over/under medicating especially when my head was so foggy from the drugs. Once a day I put my all my pills into the organizer, by following what I actually took (according to what is written in my notebook) the day before. (Fun fact: I needed TWO 7 day pill organizers for the first 3 weeks post-op to keep track of my 14 different doses each day!)
3. As my pain decreases as I recover, I try to push my doses further and further apart. In other words, if my prescription says "take every 2 to 4 hours," I set my alarm for 2 hours, and when it goes off, I try to wait for another 30 minutes before I actually take it. If I'm able to push it back successfully for somewhere between day or two or up to a week (depending on how much pain I'm in), I then push it back another 30 minutes and so on. It really helps having that mental goal, because if I don't have something to work for in mind, I may keep taking more medicine than I need, for a longer amount of time than necessary. I don't try to go for more than 30 minutes at a time, because if I get ahead of myself, my pain could get out of control and set the process back. However, I have found that at night, if I sleep through a dose (ie, don't wake up when the alarm goes off) two nights in a row, that usually means I can jump ahead to however long I was able to sleep. Like when I started sleeping through my alarm that woke me up at 1 a.m. to take my dose every 4 hours. I went from taking my oxycodone every 4 hours, to every 6 hours because I was able to sleep 6 hours without needing a pain pill.
4. Once I get the dose as far apart as possible, I then try cutting the pill in half. For example, over the last week I was successful in pushing my oxycodone dose to 1 every 6 hours. So, a few days ago I started cutting them in half. I didn't seem to have increased pain after taking the smaller dose, which meant I was ready to take the half dose instead of the full one. NOTE: Always check with your doctor before cutting ANY pills in half. Not every pill is made the same way, and you can really get sick if you take something incorrectly. 
5. After taking a half dose for somewhere between a week and a few days, I call my doctor and ask for a different drug altogether. I usually ask for whatever is the next level down as far as strength. I again set a goal of maybe a week or two at that dose level, and then start cutting them in half, and so on.

This method really seems to work for me, and I get minimal withdrawal symptoms. I wanted to get off the oxy as soon as I could, especially since it made my stomach hurt pretty much all day, every day (even when taken at the lowest dose, every 6 hours). So, I'm excited to say I'm off oxycodone at 6 weeks post-op! I am now taking hydrocodone, 1 every 6 hours. Hydrocodone is not nearly as strong as oxycodone, and it doesn't seem to bother my stomach quite as much. I'm giving myself a week or two at this level of hydrocodone, and then I'll start cutting them in half. I am relieved to have gotten off the oxycodone already, and am looking forward to when I can get off the pain killers altogether! But like I said, I don't push myself too hard. I remind myself frequently that my body has gone through a total rearrangement, and it is going to take a long time before the pain is gone completely. For now I am happy with not having horrible stomach pain on top of the back pain, and with the knowledge I'm on my way to being drug free. =)

in praise of...

I have been wanting to write this since my surgery, but decided to wait until my head was a little less foggy so I could make sure I didn't leave out anything. I'm currently taking my oxycodone every 6 hours, and although it still makes me a bit loopy, I can feel a big difference from when I was taking it every 2-4 hours.

I have been amazed during this recovery by the way my friends and family have taken so much of their time to help and support me. I am so thankful for each person God has brought into my life that has encouraged me, prayed for me, and helped me with even simple things like just spending an hour or two with me to cheer me up. Among these wonderful people, my Mom stands out as someone who deserves some extra thanks and praise, and that's what I'd like to do right now.

My Mom is a teacher, and works very hard at her job, and yet she gave up the last week of her much deserved Christmas break to come down and be by my side in the hospital. She helped me keep track of my pain med schedule, which is no small task in the first two weeks of recovery. She helped me dress, eat, shower and get to and from the bathroom. And when I say helped me eat, I mean spoon feed me my meals, because I was too weak to even feed myself for the first week and a half! She encouraged me when I was so tired and frustrated with my constant pain and discomfort. She pushed me to eat when I could barely keep down a few bites of banana, which kept me from loosing too much weight (which usually happens after this surgery). She got up every 2 hours each night for 2 weeks, to help me take my pain medicine, which meant she only got 2 hours of sleep at a time. She changed my bandages, and kept track of any questions we had for the doctor. She changed my sheets when I got sick on them, and kept the laundry and dishes going. She helped me figure out the balance between the pain meds and how much fiber to eat to help my stomach pain. She made multiple trips to the grocery store and pharmacy. And this last part may be one of the best things she could do to help me: she never complained, or made me feel as though I was too much work. It is so helpful to have someone taking care of you who doesn't make you feel like you are a burden. She made all of this seem like it was easy, and no big deal, when in fact I know it was exhausting.

I know that Drew and I would not have been able to handle the first week by ourselves, especially with the spinal headache! My Mom was with me constantly, which allowed Drew to relax a little more, and get back to work the first week of January which is always a busy week. She worked tirelessly, and cheerfully. I am so blessed to have a Mom who is willing and able to help me through the most difficult times in my life.

The older I get, the more I realize how I have been blessed with my Mom. The more I know of the world, and how so many go through life either without mothers or with mothers who do not take care of them with love or concern, the more I appreciate her. She gives over and above what is asked, and so unselfishly. I hope that someday I can give that selflessly.

I see that she is truly a reflection of the woman described in Proverbs 31:10-31, for she "is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family...She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks...and her lamp does not go out at night...She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, "but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

I am not just appreciative of how she has cared for me through this surgery, and the 3 that preceded it. I am also eternally thankful for how she raised and taught me from the time I was born. To quote another Scripture, she trained me from the start in the way I should go, and I have not strayed from it as an adult. Her mission to teach me about the One Who created me and loves me, was evident in every part of my upbringing, and I am so thankful for it. Even though I fought against it many times as a child, and even resented it at points as a teenager, I now see the wisdom in her teachings and disciplines. I hope that if I am ever blessed to be a mother, I will be able to emulate her faithfulness, love, and care. 

So, thank you Mom for the help you gave me, and the love you have shown me all 28 years of my life.
I love you.