Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Running After a Stroke

Confession time: I haven't ran in decades at least in the physical sense. Not since I had rods put in my back, a hip replacement, and knee replacement done. Is it any wonder?

After all those surgeries plus an Achilles tendon ankle repair, I did a rapid walk rather than running. Since my strokes I've graduated from snail speed to tortoise speed in two years. I'm doing grand.

People holding doors for me or needing me for something always tell me to take my time or in a parking lot with cars stopping for me. I respond back one of several comebacks...
  • "This is as fast as I can go."
  • " I'm at top speed."
  • " Whoosh! Did you feel the wind as I passed ya?"
  • "Patience is a virtue. Learn some." (When they roll their eyes or beep their horn)
  •  "I've givin' her all she's got, Captain!" (In my best Mr. Scott impression from Star Trek)
But that doesn't mean I don't run because I'm always running. The energizer bunny has
nothing on me. I keep going and going...well, you know the rest.

I am running around like a chicken with its head cut off most days.
I am running a household.
I am running errands night and day.
I am running to keep ahead of an everyday growing set of complications.
I am running towards a brighter future.
I am running in circles most days.
I am running NYC marathons each and every day although not in the physical sense, but mentally juggling items and tasks.
I am running ahead of the insanity of my life. Oh, wait! It's already caught me.
I am constantly denying the urge of running away.
I am running into walls (obstacles) at every turn.
Best of all! I am running my own funny farm. Gentlemen in white coats, please take me away.

So the next time someone say, "Oh look, she can't run anymore because of her stroke."
Yes, I am running!
I'll leave you with this...
Standard YouTube License

And remember...
Nothing is impossible with determination.

Friday, September 19, 2014

At Long Last ~ My New AFO

After fighting the insurance company for a year, I finally have a new brace.  Yesterday, I picked up my new AFO. It's smaller and lighter than my old one. There's also no more lip at the top that always caught on things giving me a rather yucky blood blisters and bruises. It keeps good control of my ankle and foot which wants to invert.

The down side is that I have to get adjust to it. Or actually having the ankle straight. I've been in the old, inadequate one for two years making do. It will take about a week to stretch the muscles and tendons to how they should be. It is different to walk in and I have to retrain myself in walking with it in the proper position. It seems I've forgotten how. The middle strap was added to provide more support because my foot still wanted to roll.

Next up, I go back to the brace maker to adjust my Achilles tendon support. I have managed to stretch it out some so the built up heel can be lowered. to a new position. Yeah! It's finally stretching out to almost normal. The foot is held in check so there is no more pressure on the area that I was getting pressure sores.

Now I can order my new diabetic shoes! They are long over due.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Release~Stroke After Stroke: A Rower's Pilgrimage by Barbara Polan

One of our stroke tribe has written a new book! Stand up an take a bow Barbara (Barb) Polan. Welcome to to world of publishing, Barb. You're in good company. Can you tell that I'm excited for her?

  • Title: Stroke After Stroke: a rower's pilgrimage
  • File Size: 5062 KB
  • Print Length: 131 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00NDF3BH8
  • Price: $4.99
Available in Kindle version
Paperback coming soon
Amazon Description
Stroke After Stroke is the personal story of a recreational gig rower who survived a stroke at age 52, and of her relentless pursuit of recovering from the resulting hemiparesis (the loss of the use of her left side) even 5 years later, despite the medical establishment's stance that recovery for her has already ended.
Based on the blog she started 6 weeks post-stroke, the book chronicles how Barbara Polan has faced the losses concomitant with her injury, and the struggles of incorporating current recovery therapies into her attempts to resume her pre-stroke life. In the process, she re-shapes her new life into one that better suits her.

She has written the book she had hoped to read immediately after having a stroke.

Barbara has first-hand experience with the relentless repetition needed to establish new neural pathways that are needed to regain lost functions, and promotes investigation and optimism as necessary ingredients in any recovery. In addition, she offers helpful information and insight into the logistics and the emotional reality of survivors' altered lives, along with helping survivors understand that they are not alone.

This book will be appreciated by anyone whose life has been affected by stroke - survivors and their caregivers, family members and friends. 

This is her first published book. Let's wish her well and much success. Run. Don't walk and grab your copy today. She's already got 1 Five star review on this masterpiece.

Contact info to find out about Barb:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tales of Therapy~ What Are They Teaching Therapists in School???

As I have said before, I have a brand new OT. She only graduated August of 2013.

We were chatting while she was stretching out my fingers. It felt good to have them stretched out, but of so painful getting there. So I asked her the odds of getting my wrist and fingers to behave again.

She started out with that line we (stroke survivors) hate...every stroke is different. I do have a bit of a contracture of the tendons in my ring and middle ring at the large, middle knuckle. I almost snatched my hand away and strike her severely about the head and shoulder. Nah, I wouldn't hurt a fly unless it was aggravating me.

She started spouting out all the book knowledge she had absorbed about neurological and stroke rehab. I listened intently because I was curious and I wasn't going anywhere for at least another forty-five minutes. It was adult conversation other than talk about the dying process I get at home. Something I sorely lack and am hungry for plus it was about me in a round about way.

In a way it was helping me speech therapy wise without being in speech. We were conversing back and forth. I had to process data which was almost foreign to me having never studied anything but basic range of motion in school. When I didn't understand something, she broke it down to where I could.

In talking about stroke patients she mentioned that she had been taught that there was a two-year window for recovery. That after that period of time no new recovery takes place.
What?! Yeah, I was seeing red too.
I asked her what I was doing in therapy with her then because I'm past the two-year deadline.

She looked at me and realized what she had said. She hemmed hawed around and said, "But since, I've seen some pretty miraculous movement improvement in survivors in over two years post stroke."

"So why did they teach you that in school?" I asked.

"Probably because they needed a guideline, but they are wrong."

"Yeah, they are. Have they never hears of neuroplasticity? Have they never seen a survivor go past the two-year mark? There are tons of reports and studies that dispels that number." I laid my hand down on the towel. The fingers in a relaxed curl rather than a clenched fist even though I was upset.

"So I've heard from other patients."

"If I ever hear you say that to another stroke survivor, I'm going to paddle your butt. You are the authority they look to for hope and straight answers. It would be so easy for a survivor to give up trying for recovery. They need encouragement whether their stroke was yesterday or fifteen years past. You don't want to be the cause of someone giving up, do you?"

She nodded. "I can be encouraging."

"I know you will be. You're just new to all of this and you haven't gained enough experience, but it will come." I reached over and patted her on the shoulder. "Just remember, this grandma with a paddle waiting."

She helped me up from the work table. Across the room, I saw the man I had a run in with about men folk coming here to work not rubbed on. I nodded in his direction.

My OT chuckled, "After last time, she decided to work on him away from everyone else. He didn't learn his lesson and still running off at the mouth."

I shook my head and said a silent prayer of forgiveness for him. "Some people will never learn. Good, ol', southern boys are the worst at learning."

She cocked her head sideways at the Nu-Step machine, "Southern gals too."

"Yeah, I'm a transplant. In Georgia by choice. There are quite a few times when I'm delighted to say that."

"Me too! An hour earlier on Friday?"

"I'll be here with bells on. You make me hurt so good." I said with a laugh.

She walked me out of the therapy room. At the door, instead of walking through and holding the door for me, she pushed it from inside. "My next patient is here and I don't want her to see me. She's a good, ol' gal."

As I passed the seating area, I saw her. Hair fizzed and sprayed to the high heavens. I could just see the rebel flag tattoo on her arm under her rolled up, grungy t-shirt sleeve over cut-off jeans shorts. Enough make-up to put Tammy Faye Baker to shame. Her crass voice carried across the waiting room. Yes, no doubt about who the patient was.

I continued walking out the sliding doors and took a deep breath on non-White Shoulders perfumed air. The woman must have used half a bottle of the stuff.

Big C Bloghop ~The Boob Job

So I signed up for another anthology type blog hop. This one is about cancer and proceeds will help pay for another writer's cancer treatments. Yes, it's a worthy cause. Having battled the beast four times already and won, AND as a caregiver for a terminally ill, cancer ridden husband, now with hospice service, I know how expensive this is. After all, we've spent over a million dollars, out of pocket expense, on my husband's ten-year battle.

After facing this reality, how can I come up with something inspiring and uplifting to say about the Big C? You know I can. I usually do with this blog. The reason for the delay in posting is that there were/are too many stories to tell and weeding it down to one.

The Boob Job

Nothing strikes at a female's femininity more than breast cancer. Even a passing thought of this particular cancer strikes questions like future sex appeal, future partner relationship impacts, and even clothing options.

Now I have always had large breasts on a petite frame. My twins always greeted you before I did. I was an EE after five children on a size 2 frame. You can see it right? I opted for a breast reduction because of back problems and was very happy with my size C breasts until 1998. Think 10 pounds each side removed. Granted at over 50, gravity was doing it's natural thing. Hey, even at over 50, I ain't dead yet.

I found a lump during a shower. Now I've always had fibroids so it would have been so easy to pass it off as another one, But this one felt different. Having battled cancer twice already I checked in with my family physician. He ordered a mammogram. Sure enough, it came back questionable. Always, always listen to that tiny voice in your head.

I was scheduled for surgery the next week. A long few days of agonizing discussions ensured. I decided if it was cancer to let the doctor remove all that he could find while I was in surgery.I would deal with the aftermath later. The idea of waking up after anesthesia, being told it was cancer, and having another surgery scheduled was too much. I wanted it out and done. A brave move? Not hardly. To me, it was a chicken poop way of not facing my fears until it was over or at least this part. Radiation and chemo would follow but I'd deal with that later. One crisis at a time.

I awoke with both breast gone, as well as some lymph nodes under my right arm. How did I know this? The pain upon movement. The amount of packing and bandages gives you the impression that you still have squashed boobs after surgery if you look at just the bandages.

The realization that lymph nodes had been removed rang alarm klaxons in my head. This wasn't over. There was spread. So I began repeating my mantra in my head.
I'm too mean to die.
 I'm too stubborn to give up.
 I'm a fighter.
 I'm in God's hands.
I repeated it several hundred times before the surgeon came to give me the bad news. He couldn't believe my peacefulness upon receiving the news. He must of thought I was in shock because he repeated himself and shot a concerned look to my husband. But I told me that I understood everything he had said. The battle was just beginning.

My old oncologist came in. I'd given him a heads up prior to my surgery. We discussed options. I opted to go straight to chemo since the lymph nodes were involved. Let's fool the cancer that I'm dying so it will stop and die too. That's what chemo basically is. It kills the cancer cells, as well as healthy ones. This sounds like bravado, and in retrospect it was in part.

I knew I would lose my hair once again. I pulled out my silk scarves from a ziplock bag stuffed in my underwear drawer. There is nothing more girlie than donning pure silk on bare flesh. Just the thought gave me tingles of pleasure. Yes, I'd forgo the wigs once again.  I placed my large, gold hoop earrings on the dresser. Black eyeliner pencil to emphasize my eyes instead of a sick body. Gypsy fortune teller mode. I'd asked for the prescriptions for Phenagren and Immodium from my oncologist beforehand and they now sat at my bedside. I knew how the chemo would affect my body. Been there. Done that. Didn't want to be here again. But I was.

I'd grabbed a paperback and stuffed it in my purse. I was girded in my armor with my mantra on the tip of my tongue. Let the infusions of poisons begin. I was Don Quixote off to battle the beast, or King Richard the Lion Heart taking on Saladin in Jerusalem. My purse transformed into flail with sharp spikes and sturdy chain. I was ready for battling the beast. I would be victorious once again. Of this, I had no doubt because...
I'm too mean to die.
Too stubborn to give up.
I'm a fighter.
I'm in God's hands.