Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Well It's Wednesday Already~Writing Real Life

Well it's Wednesday instead of my new usual Sunday post. The days simply got away from me. Mainly I was down with pain. I finally got a call back from the orthopedist who is treating my shoulder. It wasn't conclusive, encouraging, or much of anything. It was a cop-out answer. Now, I'm due back in his office this Friday. The corticosteroid shot didn't work in fact it made the pain worse further limiting my mobility in my arm and shoulder. I can't bend forward to pick anything up because the pain jumps to fifteen on a ten scale. The only thing that temporarily relives the pain is light massage and Biofreeze. I try to limit my time in the sling because it impedes my progress in elbow stretches. I am limited to times my husband is awake for massage...there are long stretches in between times. My other option for relief and a bit more relief is getting into the shower and putting the water as hot as I can stand with the massage sprayer going. That at least alleviates  the pain long enough to get my over the shoulder boulder holder on. I really miss my masseuse who moved to Tampa. No, there is nothing humorous about it. It's just pain. Nothing stymies creative juices more than pain. In a previous blog I mentioned three main reasons people who don't write and what's holding them back, but for a writer not much holds them back, but for me this does!

On the book front...Don't get Your Panties in a Wad is officially at 16,000 words. Still disjointed in parts and in serious need of editing. But the words are flowing from my mind to the keyboard...not to mention the zillion back spaces and spell checks. It it easier to write real life than fiction for me. Not because I lack the imagination, but it is concrete and I started off as a nonfiction writer. I guess I'm a nonfiction writer that dabbles in fiction especially of late.

I'm actually farther along than what I expected to be. I feel I'm accomplishing something I did in my pre-stroke life which is satisfying although a s l o w process. Frustration has it's moments on the pity pot session, but that aside, it is a work in progress. Ready for another exceprt?

Don't get Your Panties in a Wad by J. L. Mefford (c) 2012 all rights reserved
"Realities and the Oops Factor"

 Excerpt begins

While I call my physical therapists terrorists even to their faces, I know they are only pushing me for my own good. Yes, I asked for this. I wanted to recover what I had lost with the stroke. In my previous experiences with therapy, I coined the phrase physical terrorists because of the torture they can put unyielding joints and muscles through. They work hard for you and often do not get much gratitude for the work they do. They are miracle workers. If I had any chance to return to a life I once knew these people would be responsible for it. Not to mention my positive attitude and hard work beside of them. Every day they taught me new exercises that I could do on my own and I could repeat in my room. My hamstring and peroneal nerve were where most the deficits were centered. This was compounded by previous back, knee and hip surgeries on the same side which the stroke affected. I hear many stroke survivors say they don't want to have joint replacement because of putting undue stress on their knee and hip.

 I did this in reverse. I empathized and encouraged every joint replacement in the place, I'd been there and done that twenty plus years earlier. By the way my replacements are old and worn out. Average life of replacement joints is fifteen years before it needs to be done again and I'm way overdue. I have put up with the joints slipping and sliding in and out of place for the last ten years because I was basically able to function still with minor modifications.

During the physical therapy part of this intensive rehab, I learned to walk using an AFO and walker. Although in the hospital for liability reasons I was not allowed mobility with these items unsupervised, I made good use of my wheelchair and foot power doing laps around the nurse's stations. I even went down to floor's dining room for most of my meals after the first week. Sadly, it wasn't until my last few days there was another stroke patient other than me...mostly joint replacement. I take that back. There was elderly woman who was noncompliant with the program and went to a nursing home. I had the therapists at the TCU unit wishing all their patients were as gung-ho as I was. But all this bravado came at a price of sheer and total exhaustion, and increased tone issues. I only missed one session of PT and speech therapy in the three weeks I was there. The spirit was willing but the body shut down with the increased dose of muscle tone relieving meds. It totally threw me for a loop and in bed.

I've been through physical therapy with some of the best in the business. I learned what not to do and what works. Times have changed. Technological advances with all their bells and whistles have been added, but the basics are still the basics. But each new therapist brings in new ideas even students teaching old timers of new techniques. What may not work for someone else may just work for you. If you have a problem with a therapist talk to them. Make your point of view count. You are paying their salary. Would you have an employee tell you its their way or the highway? Of course not. You are the boss. It is your body. It is your choice. If you don't understand make them explain it to you in a way you understand. If you have a conflict with one therapist, use your voice and demand another one. I personally interview mine like I would do with any employee. What are they doing and why? How will this help? What will be the outcome or hopefully be the outcome? What are their beliefs  about alternative forms of therapy? E-stem, computer generated responses, experimental treatments such as massage or herbs, or acupuncture? At least get a basic idea of their experience level. Ask questions and demand answers. Yes you might have a damaged brain because of your stroke, but your recovery depends on it. I believe in informed consent. I had one therapist ask me once if they were hired. Yes, they were and they were paid.

Did I mention I was an overachiever and stubborn? This bump in the road in my life wasn't going to beat me. I had survived cancer not once but three times. I had survived vehicle crashes where the doctors professed I'd never walk again. I survived the "oops factors" during surgery. Don't know what the "oops factor" is? It happens when the surgeon says "oops" during surgery when he cuts a nerve or artery he wasn't supposed to. Or in my mother's case...the surgeon who had been treating her for a thyroid goiter for six month operated and found a spreading cancer. She wasn't as lucky as I was. I survived my "oops factors." Doctors and surgeons, although they think they're God, are just human beings. For me this time was a doctor which pulled me off of Plavix to prescribe a medicine for an upper G.I. problem. My stent formed and released a clot into my brain, but I survived. Isn't it funny when you have multiple specialists treating various health conditions...there always a possibility of an "oops." The more that are in the mix the more complicated it gets and the more possible of the "oops factor."
End of excerpt

 While Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad is supposed be be a humorous look at stroke recovery there are certain passages like the above that must be stressed. So many people don't use their God given voice or feel the person working on them knows it all...they don't!

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


  1. Go, Jo, Go! The therapist are our employees and so are the doctors. I like you attitude.


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