Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: How Do You Spell Relief?

How do I spell relief? B-O-T-O-X. It's been two weeks since my series of injections and it's finally working. Now, for those of you that don't know, my post stroke spasticity is pretty severe. It doesn't come and go in episodes, it's a constant battle. When the Botox wears off between a couple of weeks to a month prior to the next scheduled injections, I'm in pain. Read 8 of 10 on a 10 scale. As an example, tense your upper arm muscle as tight as you can. Now imagine a Charlie horse cramp in those muscles while it's already tight. That's what I go through nonstop until the next set of injections kick in. The cramp will last about two hours, stop for about an hour, and start again.The last part of December to the middle of January was spent like this. A heck of a way to ring in the new year. Because of a billing error, I was also unable to get my dry needling also. It was a grin and bear it situation. I don't want a repeat of that situation ever.

The Botox has kicked in none to soon. It February already. Potatoes, green peas, cabbages, and carrots need to be planted. We've expanded our garden this year. I've also built an elevated raised bed from pallets for another crop of strawberries. It's only a 3x3x3 planting area, but I'll be able to tend it just fine. It's only 27- 30 plants. I should get a few pints of jam out of it. I do love strawberry jam. Other fruits and vegetables I can lean over and harvest but the strawberries would be crushed before I got them in the basket. Also, other fruits and vegetable ripen at the bottom first, then ripen up the plant, but strawberries will always be at ground level for the entire harvest. A 3x6x3 planter is in the works for my herbs. The 1x3x3 pallet planters just couldn't hold enough plants and water for my herbs last year, but it was a good attempt by Mel.

We've spent the winter months harvesting angora rabbit wool. Never got a chance to spin it into yarn though. I also haven't made my urinary pads either. We've lost two chicken to predators this winter. So one of the hens that survived the attack is sitting on some eggs for us. She has an injured foot. A bite went through her foot and abscessed before we found her. She's got a comfortable spot inside by the wood stove until she heals, and can rejoin the remaining hens and rooster. So we've given her a job of sitting on some eggs to hatch out replacement birds. She's sitting on four eggs. As of this week, her leg is still tucked firmly against her body and she uses her wing as a crutch when she's out of her milk crate.

The cookbook is coming along very slowly. It's not so much the recipes but the pictures that is taking so long. I have to make the dish first. Then there is the staging of the dish to make it look beautiful and delicious. I still haven't decided on the title. But I'm still at it.

Mel is finding out just how difficult self publishing can be. Writing a book is the easy part. At least for her. All the folks she thought would jump at her dog training book, haven't. I've tried explaining to her that $8.99 is too high for a 42 page book, but she isn't listening. She's working on her social media presence like twitter and instagram, but she's sort of lost. Meanwhile, I haven't been on twitter since my stroke almost five year ago, but every week I'm gaining twenty-five new followers. Go figure. My books have become a stumbled upon and buy item, because I haven't promoted them a lick. That's okay though, the royalty monies peter in. With no new books published, I've become a has been author. That's okay too. It's just living post stroke for me. It's just not worth the frustration to really put in the work it will take. Trying to regain other things back and adapting things I really need to do take the forefront, and these cause enough frustration. Writing has always been a need to do luxury item for me. Needs before wants. Maybe one day again.

Well that's it for now. Remember...
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: It's All About Me! Well, Sort of

But I love you too!
My only New Years resolution of sorts that I made was to focus on me more than others in 2017. If you really knew me, you'd realize what a challenge this is for me. In all my 60 years of life, I've put others before me to the point where I literally drove myself constantly into the ground. Do I sound selfish? It's not totally going to be a meme year though. The homestead is a huge undertaking and that's where my main focus will be, but there are other goals I'd like to explore and do that I've put on a back burner for far too long putting out everyone else's fires. Everyone else needs to take responsibility and just deal with it.

Sounds strange coming from a professed minister, right? Not entirely so. A huge part of my meme year involves others and their well being including my own. What I've wanted and been guided, by the Lord, is to reach more disabled folks and show them an alternative to just existing. I've been shown that this is my ministry field now. While I've continued writing this blog, I've done very little else. This will change in 2017.

I'm starting with a subcategory of our Cockeyed Homestead YouTube channel with a series of videos on homesteading and being disabled. I'll probably start a whole new channel. How does "The Single-Handed Homesteader" strike you? No, I'm not leaving the Cockeyed Homestead and will still do videos for that channel, but this will go more in depth of my faith, philosophy, how-tos, to give those disabled folks out there both a kick in the pants, and hope that they can also have their dreams, or at least some of them. They ain't dead yet no matter how much they want to be. This was a goal I set for me almost three years ago. It's time for me to get cracking on it. For many over at my stroke recovery blog, it's been a long awaited promise fulfilled. No, it won't be as originally intended with me by my lonesome. Homesteading is hard enough without disabilities, and with the move to north Georgia, I'm no longer alone.

I hear you. "But Jo, that's not selfish!" True, in part. I don't think I've got a totally selfish bone in my body. It is my commitment service to the Lord that guided me to this. Why else would He have allowed me these challenges to overcome? Especially with Him knowing me so well. (grinning) It nourishes my soul and blesses me abundantly so in my mind it is selfish. It's all about me. My growth. My faith. My resilience. My philosophy towards adversities. I'll just carry viewers along on the journey. If it touches one other soul and brightens their life, all the work put into it will be worth it. But then again, it's all about me.

The second part is to get involved on the local level.  I know you've all heard this before. I researched stroke support groups. While being a leader and unique in life is admirable, it can get lonely at the top. I used to say even a minister needs a minister from time to time. Yes, I have my Heavenly Father, but it doesn't hurt to have a good support system here on Earth too. After repeatedly calling the local stroke support group and not getting a call back, I'm going to present myself in person at the local hospital, which sponsors the group. I'm not leaving until I have talked to someone who knows what is going on. Yes, I can be stubborn that way and I'm tired of feeling alone here when I know I'm not.

So that's the plan. Work continues on the cookbook and life continues on the homestead living post stroke.

Nothing is impossible!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Retrying Old Things

Download your copy here
A little known fact about me is that I'm a multi published author. Even on this stroke writing blog. It's been so long since I've put up a snippet, story, or new book.  Before my strokes took away my ability to read and write, I was writing a survivalist series of books, in part about urban homesteading. The first book in the series was self published, as were the rest of the planned series. Well, I had a personal SHTF situation quite literally with my strokes and my husband's care being shifted over to hospice.  It has been a long, slow  recovery process for me. In fact I'm still in it. I've fought tooth and nail, clawing my way back to get to this point.

I've been asked by several of our YouTube subscribers to write a cookbook. I am presently going through my database of recipes, some of which we've videoed on our channel to compile it with fresh pictures. It is slow going, plus I'm typing one handed. My brain just doesn't work as well as it once did.  I haven't done much writing except for blogs in five years, but it's been good practice. Since cookbooks are basically lists, I almost feel almost confident enough to handle this type of writing now. I dunno how long that will take. I've never written a cookbook before. In the downloadable ebooks, I'll put links to the videos that correspond to the recipes. At least those uploaded prior to the publishing date. The rest may appear at a later date with no links, of course. You just have to search our channel under the "Cookin'" playlist. Today, there are 22 recipes there already and growing, but not in written form. (Hm, an asterisk on the page that YouTube deleted one or more videos. I'll have to figure out which ones and why.) Ya gotta love technology. Anyhow, there will be a web address listed in the paperback version.

How long is the cookbook? How many recipes? I dunno. I haven't thought that far ahead. Heck, this may be several books. I just haven't figured out the divisions yet. I've got thousands of them in my head, on my computer, and written on cards and pieces of paper in my stash from decades of cooking professionally and at home. When can you get a copy? I dunno that either. I've got to figure our the answers to the previous questions first. There are a lot of angles in publishing especially self publishing. What my angle? Why should someone buy the book when the video is free? Of course, there will be some recipes I won't tape too. The videos are a bonus added feature.

Then there is the housekeeping side of self publishing too like the cover art, any other art, the dividers, the divisions, who am I gearing sales for (marketing plan). Included in the marketing plan is public appearances, pre-sales, and book signings which means the pre-purchasing of paperbacks to sign. It also involves care of the homestead while away doing these events. A whole lot of juggling and planning and I'm not the master juggler anymore. I'm I really able to do this again? Do I really want to? We honestly need the cash injection to keep operating. If neither of us are working off the homestead.  Our feed and seed bill alone is $100 a month during late fall and winter, and we're small time right now. We can't grow in self sufficiency and/or profitability without it. Every little bit helps.

Who knows, I may start writing the above mentioned series again with more of a homesteading focus. At least, I'm going to try even if it takes a couple of years to write one. You got to understand. In my previous life BS, before strokes, I was writing, editing, and publishing four to ten books a year between nonfiction and fiction. Taking a couple of years to write one book is a harsh reality check for me. But these days, I'm living post stroke and trying to get on with my life.

Order it here
For Mel, she's on that newbie stage of writing of eat, sleep, dream writing fiction after her do training book hit the market. She's even has characters talking to her. She probably wouldn't eat if I didn't put a hot plate of food in front of her and make her stop writing once a day. I remember those days well. I sort of envy her. If we were both in that mental phase of writing, we'd starve to death. (grinning) All's I gotta say to her is spring is coming and enjoy it while it lasts.

As always...
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Sanity Restored

After y'all endured last week's melt down, I'm relieved to report that this to passed. Thank you for all the advice and support. I needed to blow off steam and it helped. Through a lot of prayer and meditation, this week I'm back to my old self. Relieved? I know I am. There are still difficult choices to be made, but I'm now back on stable ground mentally, if not physically.

First, I actually got six hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was just one night, but it helped immensely. Sleep deprivation is a powerful ailment, and plays havoc on both the body and the mind.

While the nocturnal Charlie horses continue, I start searching for other possible causes besides heart, neuro, and diet. I took a good look at my shoes. I missed my appointment to get my new, insurance covered shoes. Life just got too hectic and it slipped my mind. The specialty insole in my left shoe has a worn spot at the heel. This could be a major factor. Given the Botox has been wearing lean and my stance has changed, it could make all the difference in the world in over stressed muscles and tendons. I had taken a look at my activities and realized that every time I filled the kindling buckets with small branches, I could count on the Charlie horses occurring during the night. Picking up sticks and branches on level ground not so much, but there's only about a ten-foot surrounding the house that's fairly level everything else slopes either up or down. Even a slight slope causes me to shift my body weight more on my unaffected side to maintain my balance as I bend and lift. Poor body alignment. I'm sure any PT would agree. It only makes sense. I now carry a Grab-It with me for this activity.

I've made an appointment with my PCP for a new prescription for the shoes to be followed closely by Hanger, my orthodics company. Sadly and happily, I'll meet my deducible and max out of pocket yearly expense between neurology and cardiology by February again this year. So my shoes will be covered 100% once again. My Medicare doesn't kick in until July.

My heart affecting my stamina and breathing is another issue. I find I'm easily winded. The alternative of a triple valve replacement. It's looming closer and closer as much as I hate to admit it. I also dislike having to admit that I'm fearful of undergoing anesthesia again. After my heart stopping twice the last time, can you blame me? Of course, they'll purposely be stopping my heart to do this, but it's the whole restarting of the heart that is my issue. I have restarted hearts in ditches of mud and muck in the past, but it wasn't my heart. Does that sound stupid?

Having blown a gasket last week was cathartic for me last week. Where I was lost in a fog of hurt (both emotional and physical) everything was blurred, this week I can see clearer to decisions I made under distress were the right ones so my internal compass was still intact. It carried me through just as it always has. The issues of selling my house, and making my child and grandchildren homeless are still here. My Botox wearing off leaving me spastic and in chronic and severe pain is still occurring and will be until next month. My injection series is on the 27th and a week until it kicks in enough to make a difference. Hopefully, my insurance approves the increase to stop the Botox wearing off before the next series. I'm still living post stroke waiting on recovery.  Because of the stress of the situation that is my fault, my Fibromyalgia is still in flare mode. I'm going to HAVE to go back on my Cymbalta again at least until the flare lightens up. It sure won't hurt the depression either. I still can;t sleep lying flat or on my side, but the bruising has lessened and the scabs are disappearing. The area is still very tender. Even the shower spray hitting it will take my breath, but not as bad as last week. This week my coping skills are not barely hanging on by slipping fingernails. They are actually working and I'm able to function. Two songs ran through my soul this week and I realized THIS was for me...
 Big difference from last week, huh? I'm not saying that I won't fall into despair or succumb to the pity pot again. Of course, I will. I'm human, but...

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: I Hate My Life!

I don't get on the pity pot often but I've been hogging it this week. Actually it's been closer to two weeks now. I've been on a kick-myself-while-I'm-down, life altering, decision-making-damn-the-consequences, and what-about-me mode. I've even acted upon it! For me, it's only about time. I've been shoved into a corner and held there. This time God hasn't put me in a box. I know the difference.

This is why. No, you readers have rarely seen me like this. No matter what life has thrown at me, I've rolled with the punches until now...I quit. This is way more pleasant a blog for today than the one I previously wrote and I deleted. The gist of that one was my family, finances, and my life. This one is too. But not as scathing or bitter. But, I realized today that the problem is me because I've allowed it to happen. I've literally given until I hurt myself and I'm angry.
My T-shirt for 2017

I've always been the dependable one no matter what. Well, that stops now. I've given until there is nothing left to give of my heart, body, soul, and money. It's time for me to show my selfish  side.

I officially listed my Golden Isles house on the market. This also means I'm making my youngest daughter and three youngest grandchildren homeless when it does sell. I've agonized over this decision for months now. I'm in danger of losing the house to foreclosure with no options left.It's a long story, which only a small part appears in these blogs. I honestly can't afford to keep paying for two residences on my limited income. For 2016, I've dug myself into debt greater than I've ever allowed myself to be in trying to help everyone and myself. There is no easy fix for me and it now rolls downhill to where others will be inconvenienced too.

At the end of the year, things were so financially over extended that I couldn't even afford a roll of toilet paper. I had to borrow a couple of rolls to even give a crap.  Yes, my marginally sick sense of humor still survives. Our cell phone service was even suspended for nonpayment. During that time, everybody and their brother was trying to reach me. My father went into the hospital and is now on hospice services due to failing kidneys and multiple pin strokes throughout his brain. My oldest daughter was also in the hospital, I still don't know why, and she almost died. She's in Alaska and uses FaceBook. Daughter #4 had issues with depositing the house payment into my bank and she couldn't reach daughter #2 who is on the acct. I rarely FaceBook anymore because it's all attached to my old email account that I can't even access anymore. When my phone service was cut back on after the first of the year (I paid my bill), I had 22 voicemails waiting on me. The last ones that I heard first, were down right nasty from my family (children, grandchildren, and siblings). I honestly wanted to turn off my phone service again!

God forbid, Jo is out of contact for a couple of weeks by phone. My internet and Skype still worked, but nobody tried emailing me. I couldn't afford any of my medications other than my heart meds but still I was inconveniencing others which I've never done. When when I did contact everyone, I wasn't dropping everything and running to the rescue. Daughter #4 no longer had the house payment again ( She's paid once since August, I've paid until December) to deposit because an emergency came up with the grandbabies. (their income is $200 less a month than mine) Even when I explained I couldn't even drive out of my driveway because of being bogged down up to my axle in clay mud, and then snow and ice. It wasn't good enough. It's my fault for moving here. Well, I've had enough. I quit.

I'm dealing with being stuck in our hallow with all of this going on 6 hours away. This is an hour after talking to my youngest daughter, my step mother and my little sister. I'm tending to the outdoor animals and I slip and fall on the ice hitting my head on the rabbit cages on the way down. I'm seeing stars, but I know that if I don't get up immediately, I won't be able to get up on my own. Once I stood up (so much fun on ice, rabbit muck, and muddy patches made by my fall), it's only in the teens temperature wise, and me in a multiple layered top covered by a sweatshirt over jeans. Yes, my jeans got soaked through. I gashed open the top of my head on the corner of the metal roofing on the rabbit cage. Talk about insult to injury! I climbed up the four steps into the trailer by crooking my arm into the handrail. No, I haven't even had the funds to modify the access into the trailer. The extra money I did have went to cover the bills. I came in, told Mel I hadn't tended to the angoras and a few of the outside rabbits yet. She's have to do them. I sat at my desk and wrote that other blog pieces until my head stopped spinning.

Later, I was finding it difficult to draw a breath. Yep, a nasty bruise had formed on my left side rib area. As if I needed further proof I'd had a bad the fall, there was blood mixed with my urine staining my pad. Yep I did a number on myself. I pick up a couple of pieces of firewood from the porch. Time to feed the wood stove. I drop the wood sort of where it should be and fed the stove. Mel brings it from the wood shed to the porch and we share the duties of keeping it burning. One day I'll have to video this chore with my single functioning hand. I'm heading towards my desk beside the wood stove and decided to make myself a cup of hot chocolate before I sit down. Everything I need is handy too. I just pour the hot water into my cup, a quick stir, and try to replace the lid onto the canner on top of the wood stove. I didn't notice my bad foot placement and boom! I land on my butt narrowly missing the wood stove, but not missing my desktop CPU on the way down. I was thanking God for small miracles, when the stinging started after getting my fat hinny off the floor. Yep, I'd scrapped the skin off the bruise on my side. My tank top was actually sticking to my side. Yah! More exposed nerve endings! No, I didn't go to the hospital, I knew what was wrong would correct itself with time and it has. Besides even with Mel's 4x4 truck, there's still a 1/4 mile, 200 ft incline, twisting mass of clay mud, snow and ice to get up to the main road. It could do it if necessary,but it wasn't.
That cinched it, my pity party was on full force. Compound all of this my heart valves and triple A acting up with additional reason for not being able to breathe laying down flat, and my nocturnal charlie horses. You can see why I'm not a happy camper. I'm sleeping in stints of a couple hours at a time sitting up on the couch since the 3rd of January. Our dog, Bennie Dufus, I purchased for Mel's dog training videos, was hit by a car and killed just before Christmas. Mel's special needs cat, Devon Angel, developed pneumonia and has been at death's door since New Years Day. I started on a head cold which always makes you feel great, doesn't it? My Botox worn off and my dry needling went to private pay because of a billing error (no cash for private pay). My arm has drawn up and is totally locked in spasticity as is my leg. Mel's seasonal depression kicked in full force with the holidays too. Plus she has started writing novels. I'm so jealous! This is also why I've been on the pity pot unable to rise up off it. Can you blame me?  You want to run screaming from the room yet? Of course, being in my golden years with fibromyalgia and post stroke, I don't bounce back after a fall. I feel worse the next day. Or in this case, a week and a half later. So is it any wonder that I'm saying "Stop the World I'm Getting Off,""I Quit!" and "What About Me!"?

Not really?
I called my youngest daughter after I spoke with my mortgage company and my real estate agent. I also told her about my injuries. I'm supposed to be the understanding mother and just keep on going through hardships while paying the mortgage and utilities forever, right? I should do it because I love my child and my grandchildren. I don't want to see them all homeless, do I? I heard it all. Yes, guilt pulled at my heart strings. Remember, my decision. I quit and I've had enough! Don't think for a minute that this is an easy decision. It isn't. My daughter ended our conversation with she'd be out of contact because her phone is being shut off for nonpayment and she was going to be busy trying to find a new place to stay with YOUR grandchildren. The final twist of the knife, while I ended the call with "I love you."

To top it off, even if I could afford to drive home if I had the $60 (round trip gas money). My body won't let me. I had a hard time Wednesday driving to my mortgage bank's local branch office with some paperwork for the sale of the house and delay foreclosure in 90 to possibly longer days. Sure, I'd like to see my Daddy before he died. He's my Daddy. But then again, haven't I been living in the same town putting out all the fires for decades while the rest of the family got on with living their lives? I have no guilt when it comes to my father or everyone else.  I've given my all and then some.

Nothing is as final as quitting even though nothing is impossible.