MRI - I Need a Steroid Shot - S,P,I,N,E - Can You Say "Herniated Disc"? - Updated

O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace!-2 Nephi 9:8 
Farewell, Appomattox Ward

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

Well, it has come to an end. My stay in the Appomattox has come to an end. As per usual, the work has picked up and is looking up. Elder Young is staying here. I have mixed thoughts. 

One, my biggest worry is the cortisone, or steroid shot. Honestly, I am not too concerned about getting the shot. I pretty much have had enough of the back pain. I understand that when you age your back tends to hurt, but seeing as I am in the prime years of my life (before everything starts declining), it is a major problem. It has been a minor headache just to get anything done for it. That is why I have had enough. 

To get a shot or live with pain? That is the question.

With transfers, I have no clue where I am going. I am hoping to be in the Richmond Stake, or Zones, because my appointment is in Richmond. However, I am not sure it will be that easy. For all I know, I could go west to Waynesboro Stake, which I might. If I go north, I have strings to pull, but I seriously do not think I will be going north any time soon. Either way, now that the medical officer knows that I am being transferred, there is a movement for me that wherever I go, I have a ride set up to take me.

My other thoughts are more directed on the area. I tried really hard to do my best. I also had times when I hit depression and stress. Maybe it is a good thing that I am leaving, though there is so much more that could be done. I still believe Dinwiddie should be tracted and there are new subdivisions. There is a great amount of potential. There are certain less actives that have potential. This area was almost a dead zone, but now there is a great amount of potential. It took long enough, but now my work is done. I would have loved to have stayed for Thanksgiving and Christmas, honestly. There are many good members in this ward. It is a bit heartbreaking. However, my work is finished here.

(A couple things. When people found out I was leaving, some people thought I was going home. I get that a lot at times. One sister missionary after a meeting this past transfer asked me if I will be going home the next transfer. I got that back in Woodbridge. I laugh and take it by stride. Another thing is with the shot. The medical officer asked how I reacted with needles, which I honestly told her the only time I will ever push away is if I have been knocked out and wake up to stabbing by a needle. Like when I had a tooth removed, possibly my wisdom teeth. It may seem irrational. Let's say, if you wake up and what you are afraid of is on you, like a spider, you are not going to be, "Oh, a spider. How nice," and simply brush it off. No, you are going to flip out and kill the spider, smashing it into tiny little bits. LUCKILY, though, I will be awake and on Valium. So, there is no flipping out in the future. Plus, I will get a blessing before hand and I will memorize a few scriptures.
(Update, he took Valium and was knocked out completely before the procedure but he was awake during the procedure.  While waiting for his ride he was able to call his mother and talk to her reassuring her that everything went well.))

Monday happened. Not much to say about Monday other than we cleaned. 

Tuesday, we took care of our missionary business and visited with our, permanently stuck here, member. She is managing, and actually went to church not this Sunday, but the one prior. She has been trying to get to the bishops' storehouse ( a Bishop's storehouse is a place where commodities for the poor and needy are kept. If possible, the person receiving help can offer to work there in return. The LDS idea of welfare is to help people feel good about themselves and get back to a self-sufficient way of living.) and try to do her duty (spending some time helping others or stocking shelves for others who are equally less fortunate). We visited her a couple times before some friends of her's came and took her to Pennsylvania. (She went to the church and so I believe God blessed her with a little vacation.) 

We had our house inspected and we passed. The car passed also, despite some things that needed to be taken care of. We had lunch and we tried to see some people. Then, we had dinner where I overate. Since that, my stomach has been on edge and I have to be careful about overeating. That will make Thanksgiving interesting.

Wednesday, it rained. For October, I have yet to wear a long sleeve. It is getting chilly though. It rained that day very hard. We had lunch at our returning to health returning to church member's house. By the time I got inside, I was drenched. It was a great time. I went up to St. Francis and got my MRI. It was in a little trailer, which I thought was odd. I was trying so hard not to fall asleep. The 15 or 20 minutes passed relatively quickly. I was quite still. I did not get results then and there. 

Then I had dinner and we contacted a referral. We received this referral from an unlikely source. There is a nice man in our ward who is not all there mentally. So, this referral was not all there mentally as well. She wants to be baptized, she likes Mormons (even defended us), and is willing to accept and do anything. We had to slow her down a bit and take her through the process. It is great that she is committed and willing to be baptized (and fits D&C 20:37), but we have to hold off from baptizing her. There is the question of accountability and we know of one issue that could be a small interference. Plus, there are steps she has to complete. She came to church yesterday (though she probably fell asleep during a couple of meetings). She is a really nice lady.

Thursday, we had district meeting. We checked up on our permanently stuck (or temporarily) less active member. Then, we cleaned the church with some members. That was exhausting. My back was sore and I was tired. I had dinner with the recent convert and returning member couple. It was a great little dinner and much appreciated after that work. It was his birthday this past week, which we said happy birthday. On Friday, we stopped by his house again for dinner and it was a really excellent time. They were sharing stories and talking. 

Also that day, we tried to contact more referrals. One of them is another new investigator. She has good potential and she has a date for baptism. Hopefully, we can continue contact with her.

I got my results, after calling the doctor twice, because I mixed up phone numbers. The doctor was reading me the results using medical jargon. I laughed to myself, because my entire thought while he was saying all these medical terms was, "And I took physiology, not anatomy." (I am pretty sure I  would not be able to understand it either way.) So, my L-5 and S-1 disc is the herniated disc (it is one disc that separates the L-5 and S-1 of the spine). Which explains a lot, even some pain that I had discounted for whatever reason. (Okay son, the L-5 and S-1, got it.)

Saturday, we tried more people. We went out with the elders' quorum president to help with his hometeaching. We did help our returning to health returning member with moving his bed back upstairs. (Son, as I read this I hope when you say we, you meant you were directing the effort and not lifting with your BACK!!!) Meanwhile, the first new investigator of which I talked about called three times, by the third time crying, because nobody was picking up the phone and she was trying to reach us. I did not hear the phone and neither did my companion. Of course, it never helps when the phone is on silent. I never understood why my companion puts the phone on silent; vibrate is a lot better and you still might not hear it. 

Sunday, I said my good byes to people and took pictures. There are more good byes to be made, even to our neighbor who told me to say good bye. I had dinner at the family before mentioned with Dad's bestest friend, or the recent convert of which I was here to see baptized. It was the usual thing and as always, a lot of fun.

Well, off to new adventures!

All is well!


Elder S. Todd

Colonial Heights to Appomattox

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

Yes, I am in the Tappahannock Branch with Elder Henstrom. My address is (address blocked) which is a member's home. So, it is safe to deliver packages here. We live in the basement and as soon as you step in, you enter into the kitchen, living room, and bedroom. It is a quaint place and I quite enjoy it. Plus, the members that we live with are extremely nice. It is a nice area and we have to cover a lot of ground. The branch, and most of its members, is determined to become a ward; in fact, the branch president knows how much increase is needed to reach a certain number, wherein it will become possible for them to be a ward. I met the members and a few of the less actives already, so there is much positive things in this area. In a strange coincidence, it has been a year (October to October) since my trainer, Elder Meibos, left me and I joined Elder Longman as a companion. Where did Elder Meibos go last October? Here in Tappahannock; thus, the strange coincidence.

No, I did not lift the bed. I use "we" a lot, because that is my mode of thinking now. I think of "we" more than "I" or my companion. Elder Young made sure, along with the members, that I did not lift anything and that I was comfortable. I have been telling people here that I have a bad back and had/have a herniated disc. I make sure I lift nothing too heavy. Right now, I am trying to rebuild my strength, because I lost a lot of it from not exercising and resting because of this back. Elder Henstrom understood that I could not lift anything and has been helpful. I have expanded his understanding that I am pretty much grounded from doing much (raking leaves, lifting, snow shoveling, etc.) that involves my back. He said that he will stop volunteering me for things (which he was doing, but he did not fully understand at the time). Thanks to the people of whom you have been communicating with, I have received a back brace, which fits and is helping.

Elder Henstrom is a nice elder, who is quite helpful. We get along quite well. He was a big reader back at home and we have similar interests. He and I are working hard. Oh and, yes, he does like Avatar. (Sorry, asking them whether or not they like Avatar: The Last Airbender has become tradition for me.) I have been blessed with companionship study again. I enjoy it even more now.

Monday, I said the last of my goodbyes. I said goodbye to the assistant ward mission leader and the people of whom you have been communicating with. 

Tuesday, the morning of, Elder Young had an appointment, which did not take long. Then, when we got home, I packed. I did not pack much until that morning. I had not been feeling up to, but it made my back feel sore. I was hurting that day (I could not take anything several days prior to the shot). I went to transfer meeting where I was told who I was with and where I was going. After the meeting, we headed back to Tappahannock where, along the way, we stopped by a CVS, so I could get my prescription needed for the cortisone shot. (I did not do it beforehand, because I had to go through the series of approvals. It was not until Monday that everything was set in stone. It was necessary approvals.) We arrived to our car and saw some people on the way back. It was a long way back, but well worth it. I met some of the people who we are working with, including a recent convert. Once we arrived to our apartment, I unpacked slowly and met the members upstairs. 

Wednesday, we went out with this one person. This person is into WWE along with his family; he has come up with his own things if he became a wrestler. Elder Henstrom told me about it and we told him not to jump on my back ever. We saw one person with him before he had to go back home. After that, we tried to contact potentials with success. Some of them are new investigators, whom we are working with now. We have a nice little pool of investigators. That night, we went to Mutual (Youth activities for 12 - 18 years of age.. Most of the branch goes there on Wednesday, so I met a lot of the members, including the branch president. (They are very competitive, especially in volleyball.)

Thursday., the day of which I received my cortisone shot. The missionary medical doctor, of whom talked to Mom, had told me to take one pill two hours before the procedure. One was enough. The senior couple, who willingly and thankfully rearranged their schedule, took me and I was asleep before we even got out of the driveway. Now, I deviate briefly to explain something else interesting. I met the senior couple before back in Appomattox for when the recent convert of Appomattox, of whom I was there to see baptized, was baptized, their son came and baptized her (for he was the way that she was introduced to the gospel). They came down at that time. So, I met them before. We arrive and I miraculously awake enough to walk from the main entrance of the hospital to where we actually needed to be. I arrive and they tell me, "Oh, our equipment was down yesterday. We had to cancel all morning appointments, which we called. Would you like to still have your shot today? The doctor will be coming in soon." After saying yes, I soon found myself on a stretcher, slowly awaking more. They check my vitals and I am sure that was when my anxiety started to kick in. Every time they decided to put that one thing that checks your finger's pulse and oxygen and what not (without pricking), I asked what it was and what it was going to do. I do not like doctors and still do not. After lying there a while, a nurse asked me why I looked so distressed. I requested my scriptures, which she retrieved from Elder Henstrom. Then, she said I looked a lot more happier. I feel asleep again. But each time, I think the medicine was wearing off. It was about eleven thirty when they did the shot. They gave two stress balls to grasp onto, which I grasped onto them like an octopus with its prey. My heart rate increased, my breathing was anxious. Which caused me to shake a bit. So, when it was all done and I talked to Mom, my voice was shaky, because I was trying to calm myself down. The rest of the day I rested. I did nothing as per instructed.

Friday, we went out with the WWE fanatic and was able to meet more people and contact more people. That night, the branch had their Fall Festival and I met more members. I also got to judge chili again. Thankfully, we did not get to take home. I was actually thankful, because I remember last year when we did, we ate nothing, but chili for an entire month (a bit of a exaggeration, but still true). 

Saturday, he worked on the progress record while I did family history. I have been trying to add information in before I try to find people. I find some good things, some sad things, but I love it. It is a giant puzzle. We tried to see more people, but we had little luck. Sunday, we had church and meetings. It was quite positive. We helped a member with their hometeaching. Then, we had dinner with the members upstairs and their family. Then, we studied.

I am quite enjoying it here. It is great. I will try to add a bit more detail; I am still trying to sort out everything and try to come up with descriptions. I am doing all that I can about taking pictures and calling ahead.

All is well! And my back is feeling A LOT BETTER! I can actually use my left leg without it taking forever.


Elder S. Todd