Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Mailbox ~ Games People Can Play After a Stroke

All I can say is wow. My mailbox was on fire after I posted about the games I played and why. By a large margin one of the highest email responses for a single post with 78 emails in one week. This is a long answer so be warned.

That has to be a record of some kind. The general gist of most of the emails follow two basic trains of thoughts: 1) I never thought of that! and 2) How clever or smart. How do I find out more?

Thank you, thank you. Since I pay for membership every year for Pogo, why not use what I have at my disposal? Made sense to me. They do have free games on Pogo, but I've been a member for five years and don't know which games are free.

Lord knows, the what the average stroke recovery patient pays for in braces, splints, assorted orthotics and other adaptive equipment are big bucks. All of it is not covered by insurance. Not to mention the cost of physical, speech, and occupational therapies.

I'm all about squeezing pennies into a dime. I'm still in some financial bind without me bring home the extra bacon we need to live comfortably. I'm not working and still unknown when I'll be able to return to work. Social Security Disability is in the hands of the lawyers, but God knows when that will kick in...if ever.

I often say that of all the things I lost with the stroke, I miss my mind the most and it's true. I can learn to type one-handed (obviously), to use a calculator for math instead of doing it all in my head, cook one-handed, and a lot of other things eventually as the need arises. But what do you do when your brain cells cannot remember to spell or which punctuation is used when, or you cannot plan a day without backtracking all over the place, or sequence numbers in order or recognize them? I play games. I used to do it for the challenge and fun, but now I do it to relearn and challenge myself.

My family has always been into games. They teach children counting, addition, subtraction, and logic. So why wouldn't it work to help rebuild my mind? It does.

I first started with Tri Peaks Pyramid because it was forwards and backwards sequencing. Almost everyone knows playing cards, right? I played nothing else but this game for two months until I could play it without having to think of the order or have a cheat sheet of the order in front of me. My husband wrote it out on a 3x5 card. Is it really cheating, if you honestly cannot remember? Nope this isn't a test. It's relearning something you already knew.

My life revolves around words as a public speaker, as an author, as an editor, as a minister, and as a wife of a hearing impaired husband...spoken and written So I added QWERTY, a word game like Scrabble, to my list of games. My spelling ability increased over time. To reinforce my spelling and grammar I started to do what I always did, I blogged and started a book. As time, now nine months worth, passed I increased this blog from once a week to five to seven times a week and my other one to twice a month. It helped my writing go more smoothly. Does this mean I don't misspell words or use anything but simple grammar? No, I still have brain fart moments but it is getting better. You will have to figure out what works best for you.

I added other games as I noticed other areas which needed work. Now I've moved on to Bingo. More precisely Bingo Luau. The number recognition is now up to seventy-five numbers. I still get confused by my "dyslexic ADD" with multiple combinations such as 57 & 75 and the like. There is a handy chart up at the top for any number I might have missed plus they light up if they've been called when you put your cursor on them. I'm not playing to call Bingo, but I wouldn't mind if I did. Humans are such a competitive race. My main focus is to find the right numbers. As I said in my previous post, I have worked my way up to a medium speed caller and three cards.

That's basically how it works. Now for matching skills, it's Mahjong, I gave up trying to play Mahjong with regular tiles because my brain spent too much time trying to translate the tile faces. My brain would tell me, "Come on. You know this!"

It became very frustrating, but Pogo had a solution, Mahjong Safari. It uses animals instead of Chinese characters.

Yes, I'm writing a new book and eventually it will be finished, but it isn't bringing in income. The argument-But you have other books, I hear you asking. Yes, and since my stroke I haven't been marketing them as hard as I used to. I'm not doing public appearances or spending the time I should be to promote them. The royalties per quarter are less  than my house payment for a month. NO, I'm not on the pity pot again. My finances are my finances. They will work out over time.

Getting back to games. I realized my cognitive difficulties after I tried to resume my life after my stroke. I've always believed that nothing is impossible with hard work. I'm also too stubborn for my own good. Why should I spend dwindling funds on speech therapy when I could do most of it myself.

My aphasia was not as bad as some others. It was holey like Swiss cheese, but recovery from a stroke was creating new pathways past the damaged parts. I speak aloud and I am helped and corrected. Patience is always in the forefront with others I am talking to. I am not shushed or talked for. I'm luckier than most. I can see that now after time has gone by. The cognitive issues are slowly resolving, but faster than my physical ones.

One of the first issues I had was I was DOMINANTLY right handed. My left hand did not have much in the way of fine motor skills and was weaker than my right hand usually was. Now everything that needed doing had to be done left handed.

Eating and drinking was no problem because I've never had a problem stuffing my face. My weight problem proves it. Brushing my teeth and bathing, I'd rather use my right hand but my left works just fine. Writing was another story as was using the computer mouse and typing. These were new skills I had to learn.

Just like in business, it's location, location, location; after a stroke it's repeat, repeat, repeat to create new pathways for functioning. Just like for anything new you are learning its practice, practice, practice. Is my repeating things three times annoying you? I'll stop now.

I could have played solitaire with real cards but then I'd have to shuffle the deck. The computer was easier with a click of the mouse button. It also served to build the strength and dexterity in my left hand. Sometimes we forget just how weak our nondominant hand really is until we need it, but that's all changing now.

Most computers these days have a couple of solitaire games installed with Windows. Try these first. Nothing beats free or included with the price of the computer. For me, I'll keep trying to connect the pathways. Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.

Keep writing and loving the Lord.


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