Sunday, November 18, 2012

Surviving Tooth and Nail

Surviving a stroke and trying to adapt to changes is like surviving tooth and nail...literally.

My teeth and nails have become adaption tools in my attempt to do normal things. Can't close a bag of chips and clip them with one of those clippy things one handed...teeth come in very handy. Have to rip open mail one handed...fingernails work great.

Yes, since I've come to terms with my stroke I'm finding all sorts of alternate uses of what I do have replacing what I don't. While I figured out how to open a can with a standard can opener, I haven't figured out how to open cans with pull top lids yet without buying a special tool. There's just some things I'm going have to sit down and figuret out.

Last night I even accomplished dinner preparations and cooking. It wasn't anything fancy like I used to prepare, but it was a start. The menu was baked chicken breast basted with butter, not the fake stuff but real butter, baked potatoes, and broccoli, cauliflower, carrots in a cheese sauce. I even managed buttermilk biscuits, although they were the frozen variety.

It was one of those Dolly Parton chicken breast so one was more than enough meat. Cutting the vegetables was a bit tricky without an adaptive cutting board, but my Rocker T knife, sort of like the a Ulu knife, that my son-in-law's remade handled and husband's knife sharpening skills made short work of the project, sort of. It only took me an hour to cut the two cups of vegetables needed for dinner. I hate to admit it, but the cheese sauce was from a can. Lord, I hope my old culinary instructors don't read this!

Baked potatoes are easy right? Nope. My fingernails came in handy while washing them. You know you're supposed to pierce them to cook them faster, right? Well I pushed a regular knife through the center and it got stuck. I ended up grabbing the handle of the knife with my teeth and my good hand pulling the potato off the knife. Dangerous, huh? I managed though. I put the chicken and potatoes in the oven and baked it all together.

I basted the chicken with my turkey baster and burned the joint closest the the wrist of my thumb when I touched the top of the oven. Well, no gain. My Aloe Vera plant is in a pot on my kitchen window sill for just such occasions. A quick pinch, with you guessed it- my fingernails, a firm squeeze, and prying my affected fingers open to hold it while holding the snipped piece of plant with my teeth, and rubbed it on the burn. Now I could have called for help, but I was testing new ground in self-sufficiency.

About thirty minutes before it was done, I popped the biscuits on the baking sheet. This was after I pulled the pull strip on the bag of the frozen biscuits open with my teeth, and placed them in the oven. This was the first time I've cooked a meal without help since I've been home. I've fixed other meals but always with my husband's able hands helping me. I definitely feel proud of my accomplishment.

Meanwhile, I've been steadily working on my newest nonfiction, Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad. It's coming along slowly, but I'm still working on it. In this case, it's like pulling teeth and nails to keep the progress going. I've been in such a funk that writing humor consistently is difficult. I'm still journaling memories as they come to me. Some of the dreams I'm having are just too strange to believe. It's got to be the drugs. I may have to rethink the humor angle, but it's still a work in progress. I really don't know at this point what the final outcome will be, but I'm writing.

Occupational therapy at the hospital continues on my shoulder. I now have a nifty shoulder pulley and weights at home to work the shoulder muscles. I think I'm going to have to convert my spared bedroom into a gym before I get everything back again. Between the Ortho stuff, splints and braces, air cycle, and my treadmill/stair's taking over the space where my pool table should be. Now, I've got it pushed back in a corner totally unplayable. Moving it into my old office space took three of my burly son-in-laws and my daughters. It took the same amount of effort to shove it into the corner. 

Painful, but I'm doing it,but I'm still working towards recovery. So long as the tone in my bicep, yep it's back after two months post Botox, will allow. In therapy when the therapist stretches my arm and shoulder it like, "Pain in the bicep,"and "That's the shoulder" with every movement. I think I must have said it the last couple stretches with tears running down my face, but I've got 45% movement in my shoulder now. That's the good news.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


  1. Happy to hear you're making such good progress. That Rocker knife looks like an amazing tool! And how wonderful that you've continued writing through it all.
    My prayers are with you {{{hugs}}}

    1. Deniz, The rocker T is an excellent tool. The other knives seemed ackward in my hand. It's mainly getting over fear and taking the next step.

  2. I will never forget the night I stopped cooking one food at a time and eating out of the pot and got all the foods on a dinner plate. I use a nail brush mounted on suction cups to clean vegetables like potatoes. You can find it in rehab catalogues like As I got better at cooking I eventually found myself enjoying it. Listening to a favorite CD enhances my cooking experience.

    1. Rebecca, thank you for your support. Actually I found rolling them around in a pot of water fairly enjoyable and easy to do. Thank for the patterson addy.

      I was a executive chef and culinary instructor. With the stroke, it's a whole new challenge. At least my sister decided to do Thanksgiving this year at her house. I wasn't up to cooking for 50 people this year...maybe next year.


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