Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dry Needling and Updates

So starting last week I began going to my dry needling sessions again. It's two weeks until my next Botox series of injections. I took approximately a month off from dry needling because of my husband's impending death. So this past Monday I went in for my second dry needling session. Between the Botox wearing thin ( the spasticity is back), my fibromyalgia flaring up, the anniversary of my mother dying, and just general stress of my husband dying, the funeral and just living post stroke has really taken a toll on my body. I'm hurting everywhere. I imagine stress has been a major contributing factor.

The down side of dry needling is that when you take a month off, as for me, the positive effects wear off. The deadened trigger points come alive again. But you have to remember that I have severe spasticity too. I'm not blessed with episodes that only last an evening, but the kind that lasts for days unless something intervenes to stop the process like dry needling. I don't even want to imagine what it would be like without the three muscle relaxers I'm on.

With all the events happening in the past couple of weeks, I was back to taking my full doses of muscle relaxers again until I was free to do the dry needling again. I was even taking pain medicine over the last week just to manage four hours of sleep.

Anyhow, back to Monday's session. Like most stroke survivors, I'm on a blood thinner. It's been downgraded from Coumadin to Plavix. Yeah, that's progress for me and my high platelet count. I'm just warning you because the picture I'm going to show you of my lower bicep, inner elbow, and inner forearm looks bad. It actually doesn't hurt much at all.

6 hrs after needling
All those red dots and bruises are needle insertion spots. Yes, my arm was so tight it took over thirty insertions with the needles in this area to stop the cramping, restore full extension of my arm, and stop the associated pain. That's not including the insertions into my upper bicep, deltoids, trapezius, or lower down my forearm and thumb, or my leg. I had over two hours of fun just to stop the pain and restore some movement. It was well over 100 spots by the time my therapist was through. But I finally got some needed relief. Each insertion gave me a little bit more relief each time. So it was well worth it.

I'm still a firm believer of this type of therapy.Dry needling has brought me relief when I should be in agony right now. Now for a shocker...I moved my thumb and index finger on command yesterday. It wasn't much but it's a start.

This week I spent two hours on the phone with Social Security this week trying to reapply for disability. The major change is that I'm now attempting to get spousal benefits. The interviewer said that I should get an accept/deny/ or request for more information letter about it in THREE months. I'd like them to try and live like I will have to for three months without income. He then followed up with it could possibly take A YEAR or so to be decided. Ya gotta love the bureaucracy at work.

It's a good thing the life insurance and our pre-planning will kick in within 45 days or I'd really be in trouble. With my book sales in a steady decline and no new titles to offer, I'd really be stuck. I believe in being prepared as much as possible.I just have to be patient. Ugh! There's that word again...patient.

As far as my grief process goes, it's been strange. I'm actually more relieved by my husband's death than miserable. But maybe it's the lull before the storm. I'm not in denial because I know the love of my life is beyond my reach. I miss him. There's moments in my day when it will hit me that I can't get a arm rub of encouragement from him and it hurts. But it's not as devastating as I thought it would be. I doubt my love for him because of the lack of this, but then I'll shove that aside because he was my soul mate. Maybe because I saw him in so much pain and wasted before he died that I'm thankful he isn't here like that. He was so sick for over a decade. Now if he had been the man he'd been the man I'd married, I would be honestly grieving. Without a shadow of doubt in my mind. Maybe this is God's Grace to me.

I had my son in law rip out the wood wheelchair ramp this week. It was a hazard with me hanging ten on it every time it rained. We've had almost daily thunderstorms since Spring. I had been avoiding the ramp like the plague since the last time I fell. As he pulled up on the edge where it was attached to the cement, out poured a sea of red and black carpenter ants. It was even worse when he finally
pulled the ramp all the way off and exposed the nest full of eggs. All the ants were scurrying around. Each one grabbing an egg to carry. I spent the next three hours with a can of ant spray and doing the one legged squash-the-ant dance. I still didn't kill them all. This would not have been possible if my beloved was still alive. The chemicals in the spray would have irritated his breathing. It probably didn't do me any good either. I had a nagging headache for two days afterwards. Yeah Jo, poison the ants and poison yourself too.

That leads me to question, why is it that an amputee can hop one one leg, but me as a stroke survivor can't? Try as I might, I can't hop on one leg without losing my balance. How about it other strokees, can you or am I just Abby Normal again? Maybe I'm just to old to do it. Nah, that can't be it.

How has your week been?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

In Mourning...

The funeral is done and over with and now begins the mourning process until the healing comes to pass. Like I've said many times before, there was no sense in mourning my husband while he was alive. Now I mourn. Wednesday was the first day of the rest of my life as the window turned into a door that opened wide showing new possibilities.

I actually held myself together pretty well for the sake of my children and grandchildren. That was true until I saw my little sister walk up to me before the graveside service. She is my only blood link to my mother and I was a little, lost child searching for her mother's hug of comfort. She hugged me tight as I broke into gut wrenching sobs. I was totally spent afterwards. I sat like a cast away doll in front of the coffin while the minister performed the service. Silent tear rolling down my cheek. I fully expect to to have many such melt downs in the future.

The minister, our  retired pastor, drove five hours to be present and had a five hour drive back home afterwards. God Bless him for his service orientated heart. It was one of the requests my husband had made before he died. Our church has seen two other ministers come and go since this pastor retired, but he was the one my husband felt closest to and called friend.

After the funeral my old neighborhood, where my father still lives, prepared a feast. Smoked pork butts, mountains of potato salad, and other goodies. I didn't partake of the pork because of my allergies, but honestly I didn't think I could swallow a morsel with the huge lump I had in my throat. It did look yummy though. My sister in law and her husband said their goodbyes and made their way home to Pennsylvania, and our youngest daughter and family left for their Texas home. In a couple of weeks, they will be transferred yet again to Alabama. The third time in a year, but at least they'll be closer.

I'm worried about one of our cats, Patches. She is mourning our loss hard. Before my husband's death she was joined at the hip to him. We had to physically move her to do anything with him. Except to grab a few bites of foods and to do her business outside, she never left his side. It was during one of her nature calls sessions that he passed away. Then there were strangers in and out of the house (hospice and funeral home transport) so she didn't come back in. By the time she did, we had stripped the bed. She still hopped up on it and curled up on it. The next day during one of her nature calls, the guy came to take all the equipment out of my house. She came in and curled up in the dirty sheets refusing to budge. I did manage to remove the dirty sheets to wash them.

Now she just lays on his pillow in a chair. She is still eating and occasionally going outside, but when inside, she's on that pillow. I would take it away to wash it, but I don't have the heart to do it. I guess we are all mourning in our separate ways.

Wednesday was my first whole day with nobody here except the animals. By the way, our Guinea pig, Bella, died a few hours before my husband so there is one less animal to care for. I decided I wasn't going to sit around moping in the house. I went to my Brain Re-connect meeting. Later I went to my knitting group. Both I haven't been able to attend because of my husband. I was pretty well exhausted after I got home, I fixed myself some fish and chips with a green salad with lots of mushrooms. My husband was allergic to seafood and hated mushrooms. I enjoyed every bite. It was also the first time I cooked since my husband's death.

Thursday was a laid back day. I wrote this blog, watched some television, and started making myself a new sweater out of some merino/angora wool I've spun for this winter. I should have been going through the closets and removing all my husband's thing, but I'm not quite ready for that.  I also started going through my library. One of the girls in my knitting group offered to take them to the library for me. I thought it was a fine suggestion for all my books especially my signed and first editions. What they can't use they'll sell.

Friday, I did battle with Social Security. Remember, they said I wasn't disabled. The only way I could draw my husband's check, which is greater, is if I am ruled disabled for survivor's benefits. I still don't know the outcome. It will take two weeks to get certified copies of the death certificate, which I think is outrageous! Another 45 days for the insurance to pay out so I'm just twiddling my thumb stuck once again in limbo.

Meanwhile, I'm searching for property for my new homestead. I've got a line on a 31-acre piece of property and another 10-acre property in the area I want. I've got my contractor on standby just waiting on funds. I wish I didn't sell my property last year. I'm figuring the BIG move will take place in February 2016. I expect this house to sell very quickly. I'm in a very good neighborhood with a good school just up the road. Not many houses are for sale in this neighborhood. For an older, established subdivision, the property values are climbing instead of declining.

So for now it's READY, SET, WAIT!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I'm Free!!!

The past couple of days has been surreal. The phone calls, the people, the internet blew up, but besides all of that for me personally, I've been set free. I still can't wrap my brain cells around it yet.

Some say I'm in shock or denial, you know, a grief stage, but that's not it. I have prepared and even had multiple dry runs of grief over the last twelve years. I've got the rest of my life to work the grief process out. There hasn't been a day that I have focused solely on me in a very long time. This weekend I ate when I wanted, slept when I wanted, and was only forced with anything when I force myself. Like the picture I broke free of my chains.

Sounds kind of cold and heartless, doesn't it? But today was a prime example. I went to church services for the first time in three years. I didn't have to worry about who was going to sit with my husband so I could go. I didn't have to worry about anyone's drug schedule. I didn't have to be concerned with if the service ran over. It's been ten years since I've been able to do that.

It dawned on me today as I changed into my slacks and blouse without the continuous sound of the oxygen condenser. In fact, the medical supply company pulled all of it out of my house the day after my hubby died.(My request) I've got a living room back and unable to move any of the furniture back in there. The plan is to use it as a staging area for things I plan to eliminate from my house. A keep, sell, donate room. But I digress...

The thought struck me that with my hubby out of the house I could actually use chemicals to clean with. Whoa! I haven't used anything other than baking soda or dish soap to clean with in years! I can actually use chlorine bleach again!

Along those same lines, but more personal...I can wear perfume, scented deodorants, makeup (not that I wore much to begin with) again. I would have this morning, but I threw all mine away four years ago when my husband could not tolerate it. I can actually cook again. I mean in my crock pot or some long cooking recipes again.

I actually went shopping after church today. I went to two stores before I found something appropriate to wear. I didn't think that stretch shorts and tank tops would be a good thing to wear to my husband's viewing or funeral even though the heat index is over 100 degrees F most days. Most of my pre-stroke clothes are too complicated to get into. They have zippers and a multitude of snaps, hooks, and buttons. Now while with effort, I can do all of these things I prefer not to. I get too exhausted by dressing to do anything else. Remember the twelve spoons of energy I have for a day. The point was, I didn't have to hurry which drains my energy faster. Made even better by the fact the total bill was under $15.00 for two dresses!

So tomorrow I meet with my husband's sister before the viewing. She and her husband are flying in from Pittsburgh by way of Canada. Long story. His other brother and sisters can't make it. Attend the viewing from 6-8PM. Join my children and friends at Murphy's Tavern for my husband's "wake."Murphy's Tavern has been in this town for decades. Long before I became a Murphey, but I thought it was appropriate.Of course, my being a recovering alcoholic for the last thirty plus years, I'll be toasting with Coke while the others will have a shots of good, old Irish whiskey.

On Tuesday, I'll meet with my old pastor who is coming in from north Georgia to do the grave side service. It's Murphy's Law striking again that the sanctuary of the church is undergoing a total renovation. There are also thunderstorms predicted. I talked with the funeral home today to make sure they'll put up a big enough tent. The timing of my husband's death made it too late to be in Saturday's paper and this small town news paper doesn't print a Sunday edition so it will be in Monday morning's paper. Again, it's Murphy's Law. But the thunderstorm will be a blessing. It will hide my tears. I really don't care if anyone else attends.

I'm looking for the door to close before I can start anew. A new chapter in the book that is my life. Of course, I still have to deal with Social Security, my husband's pension plan, and the insurance company, but all of that can wait until Wednesday. The sun will continue to rise and set without my beloved. All I have to do is breathe in and out until the window God will open for me becomes a new door to my future.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Until We Meet Again

My beloved has gone on before me. He drew his last breath as I watched. His fight to remain on the Earthly plain is over. There is no more pain. No more struggling for each ounce of oxygen. He is with our Heavenly Father, his grandparents and parents whom he loved and was truly loved by.

A part of me wants to yell Hallelujah and be filled with joy. But my selfish side fights useless tears of grief from a heart torn out of my chest.

Yes, I'm the wife of an angel now. All there is left to do is heal until I can smile again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Craving Being Alone

This week has been really rough not only because my husband is actively dying. I'm SURROUNDED!

I've rarely had any alone time with just me and my husband. A revolving door has replaced my front door and the line of people trying to get in to be of help is growing larger by the hour. You've got to remember I'm basically a self sufficient person used to getting it done. I should be grateful.

Even saying that, I'm not opposed to help when needed. BUT STILL... family has been staying and feels I should not be left alone with my husband. They don't want me to be alone in case he dies as if I'd drop off the deep end when he dies and I can't handle it. They are hovering. A really morbid picture of buzzards circling the dying pops into my mind as I type this. But that is UNKIND. I know they are really doing it out of love and concern. They are also grieving.

My two fairly local (within 100 mile radius) daughters are taking shifts so I never am more than a couple hours alone with my beloved. Someone else is always here. I'm just complaining, I know I should be grateful for their attentiveness. I guess I've got to complain about something because this is a helpless situation and nobody can really do anything and they feel helpless too.

My beloved has been in a coma since yesterday. He speaks aloud in his state. I hear him talking to his mother. I am comforted by this because she is waiting for him. The death rattle type breathing and for the last twelve hours, the smell of death fills my nostrils. All I want to do is curl up on the bed with him as we did in happier times.

What is he waiting on? Nobody at hospice can understand, but my daughters and I know. He's waiting on his baby girl. She'll be home with our newest grandson in about three hours. I expect him to pass on quietly after that.