Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fore Thought and Action After a Stroke

I'm realizing that my previous post is boggling most of you readers minds. How am I am to do what I do after a stroke. It takes a lot of fore thought and trial and error.

I have always been able to set priorities before acting. This stems from years of experience as a life flight nurse. I know you've all heard of the ABCs...airway, breathing, circulation in any first aid course. I tend to function like that after decades of following ABC steps. Critical first and everything else next. I call in my front seat/back seat method of prioritizing. Paying the electric bill before the power is cut off. Giving medicines in a timely fashion to prevent crises later on. Mopping up spills when they happen prevents falls later on. I personally dislike when others make their emergencies my emergencies. This takes a lot of fore thought to stop emergencies becoming emergencies.

A little fore thought before any action goes a long way in preventing a severe energy waste of do overs.

As in the case of my husband being on the floor my first concern was air because he didn't have his oxygen nasal cannula on. When he kept saying "no oxygen" it became a process of elimination before ever considering broken bones from the fall or trying to move him. It turns out that because the rails were up on the bed, the only way he could get out of the bed is over the foot rail. So rather than actually falling out of bed, he had done a slow slide intent on going over to the condenser. I didn't find this out until much, much later.

The way I balance him now is to brace my paralyzed side against him. With my spasticity in full force right now that side of my body is not going anywhere. This leaves my functioning side free to support, grab, reach, and lift or do whatever is necessary. I'll place what I need within easy grasp for my left hand before I try to do anything. It's not the perfect way to do it, or the safest, but it works for me. I get 'er done.

I fell a couple of days ago in my kitchen (the same day as my husband "fell"). I was turning around to leave the kitchen and I got my feet tangled up. BOOM! The Diet Coke I had in my hand went flying pouring its contents all over me, the floor, and down the hall. I did a quick body assessment ie, moved various moveable parts to check for damage. The main things that hurt were my functioning elbow and knee. This would be a major problem in me getting up but I'd have to grin and bear it.

My husband saw the can go flying and asked if I was okay. I yelled back yes. The last thing I needed after falling was him trying to get up and try to rescue me. We'd both be on the floor and no help coming. After I assessed the damage I sat there and looked around thinking of things to help me rise without hurting myself further. I scooted over to the stove. I could straighten out my braced foot and use the edge of the stove to pull my fat behind up. My knee and elbow screamed at me and I sat back down on the floor to rethink my options. I eventually figured it out and began mopping up the mess I'd made. The results were some really bad bruising and me guarding the injured parts for a few days.

I returned to my hubby with a forced smile on my face and got him up into his electric wheelchair. I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and propped on my knee and elbow for the next twenty minutes sitting at my computer. My hubby didn't know I'd fallen until after I got up to put the peas back in the freezer. That was because I did my loud old lady groan. Ya gotta love getting older. You make such interesting sounds when you move.

Since my stroke there are a lot of things I cannot do. I accept it for right now as a changeable fact in the future. Until that time, I'll do what I can with what I've got. Although I always tell others ...you never know what you are capable of unless there is something you have to do. Given the same set of circumstances, not that anyone would want my circumstances, they would surprise themselves at what they could accomplish.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sleepless Sleepiness and Other Irritants

Recently, I started waking with the "Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go right now!" It doesn't matter if I went before lying down. It doesn't matter if I've slept two hours or eight hours, the results are still the same. I barely or don't make it to the bathroom before warm liquid is running down my legs.

Now I do the fluid restriction before bed. I use the clock as I've mentioned in other posts, but to no avail.  At first I thought it might be a bladder infection, but the copious amount of fluids issuing from my body rejects that notion.

This morning was one of those times except I awoke at 1:30 in the morning after only four hours in bed. After putting on my AFO and shoes, rolling out of bed, and walking the twenty odd steps into the bathroom I found myself peeing into my brace and shoes. I didn't even get my panties down before catching the bulk of the flood into the toilet. This is down right irritating! No wonder I'm opting for full diapers again.

After I cleaned myself up and changed clothes I noticed the living room light on. My husband's hospital bed is in the living room. I went to investigate and found him on the floor in a heap, heaving trying to breathe without his oxygen on. As is my previous emergency training and my nature, I act first to remedy the situation and then panic afterwards. I got him to his feet. As he leaned doubled over the foot of the bed, I put his oxygen on. He kept shaking his head no. "No oxygen."

I thought he was saying that he didn't want it, but what he was trying to tell me was the
tube was kinked. I put the nasal cannula on him anyhow. Then we did the hand signal thing until I understood what the problem was.  Then I back tracked the line, found the kink and straightened it. I half carried him into bed. A miracle feat for a woman paralyzed or partially paralyzed on one side. I got him settled and he was still saying, "No oxygen."

I pulled the cannula away from his nose and I could feel it. I told him to look at my nose and focus on slowing down his breathing. "In and out" I started a cadence to slow down his gasping reflex. Then he realized, that he was getting oxygen. The panicked look left his eyes and  he drifted off to sleep again.

While I knew I should go back to sleep, I couldn't. The adrenaline let down effect had me by the throat and mind. It was like Friday when his oxygen machine alarm went off. I placed him on his rescue bottle of air and called the oxygen supply company. I don't know about other stroke survivors with aphasia issues but for me stress plays a major part in how bad I talk. When they answered the phone my voice was gone. Just trying to say my name was like pulling taffy. I had to take a couple of deep breaths just to do that. Luckily, the person who answered the phone knew about me and patiently waited for the words to come.

The what ifs that made me such a good storyteller played over and over in my mind. What if I didn't have this bladder problem and had slept all night. All of a sudden I was thankful for the mess. By the time I got settled down enough to sleep, there were other issues to be taken of...the rabbits, guinea pig, and chicken needed to be feed. The cats and dogs wanted to be fed, and let out and in. Medicines dosed out. For my hubby this means raising the head of the bed, handing him a water bottle and giving him one pill at a time (including finding the ones he drops in the folds of bed sheets), urinal or diaper change, and then lowering his head some, checking his legs for skin breaks, and making sure the humidifier on his oxygen condenser has enough water. By this time he's asleep again. The morphine does its job well.

Another hour monitoring his vital signs and I'm free for two hours. I guess I could do away with his vital checks, but old habits die hard. I toy with the idea of just drifting off to sleep but fear of not waking up in time for the next round of meds keeps me awake. I still head nod my way through the time praying he doesn't try to get up out of bed on his own again.

Don't tell me I should have had the rails up because I did. He scooted off the foot of the bed to try and get to his rescue oxygen and fix the problem with his line. The bad thing about being one handed is the bed rails. They are the type that have a knob that you have to pull out while you slide it down on both sides of the rails. One handed becomes a two part operation in increments to lower the rail to get him in his chair.

By 10AM I am able to once again lay my head on my pillow because my youngest daughter is here for a couple of hours before she has to go to work. Two hours of heavenly sleep for my sleepless sleepiness. Unconsciousness disturbed by the "Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta go right now!" So it all begins again.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This Just in~ Choclate is Good for You

I was browsing my e-mails and ran across this from my great <cough> Stroke Association. In Stroke Smart this month was an article, "Chocolate: Go Ahead and Indulge." Well Doh! I already knew that, but it's nice to have permission. Having a degree in naturopathic medicine aside.

The article talks about flavanols which reduce your blood pressure and the antioxidant qualities of the cocoa bean. It can even reduce the bad cholesterol. It says dark chocolate is the best. For years I spent a great amount of money on dark chocolate. My chocolate of choice is Ghiradelli's because it is between 60% to 86% cocoa. But watch the sugar and fat content on what you pick. Those two things will do more harm than good for your body.

My main reason was the endorphin kick I get from chocolate. Yeah I'm heavily dependent on it to offset the constant pain due to my fibromyalgia. Chocolate helps boosts the effects of my husband's morphine too for when there is break through pain. It's a comfort food with the benefit of being actually good for you too. I used to keep Peanut M&Ms at my desk for those times I'd get stumped while writing. Yes, I was an insulin dependent diabetic, but I'd limit my intake to six of my creative cycle enhancements...a bad thirty point rise on my glucometer for thirty minutes, but worth it.

I was spending a tremendous amount of money on those little packages of instant hot cocoa mix in the grocery stores until I got smart and started blending my own.
2 cups nonfat dry milk
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup Splenda sugar substitute
1 cup nondairy fat free sugar free creamer (if you can find it)
A pinch of salt

I triple the recipe and place it in a gallon glass jar. 1/4 cup of cocoa mix to 3/4 cups of boiling water.  If you are not watching your sugar or fat try Ghiradelli's Dutch Processed Cocoa. The cocoa powder is less but OMG delicious. There isn't a day when the weather is cooler that I don't have a cup of cocoa or Earl Grey Tea in my hand. This comes out a lot cheaper. I usually make a jug of powdered cocoa each season when most of the ingredients are cheaper around Halloween.

Thought I'd pass this along. Honestly there is not much I take that the Great <cough> Stroke Association or Stroke Smart magazine worth mentioning but found this interesting. Mostly the emails are deleted because it is begging for donations. Like I really have enough money to tithe and donate to them post stroke. They would do better asking for funds from non strokees.

Have a great Christmas y'all

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tick, Tock Time Runs a Marathon

Ever notice when you walk away from something for a bit and the time flies by without a second glance? It runs by like some super fast marathon.

What did I actually accomplish this month. I mean tomorrow is Christmas Eve already and I haven't posted since the 4th. Now looking back absolutely nothing! Well almost nothing. No it doesn't seem like Christmas either. The 70+ temperatures do nothing to enhance it. Even with the lights and decorations up, the Grim Reaper is overshadowing all the merriment sucking it dry.

Have I done anything towards my stroke recovery. Nope just trying to do too many things at once. It's become a dull routine now. I haven't recovered a lick. In fact, I've regressed back into diapers and barely able to walk...more on that in a bit.  It's more to do with having so much to do than actual regression. I've had my own version of locked in syndrome with my husband so ill.  I have no desire or money to go or do anything except play games on the computer. Yes that does help build my mind up some but not the rest of me.

At this point I'm not achieving much in a recovery sense, but just am. The things I'm trying, I'm failing miserably at...like spinning all this nice wool from Buddy. I just can't hold the tension right one handed on the wheel. I tried using the hand held spindle and wound up with a tangled mess. I did achieve some measure of success with knitting one handed. It is s-o-o-o slow tucking one needle up under my bum arm but at least I've got that and I am knitting just what...I dunno. I'm still practicing stitches. Casting on is a real headache.

The spasticity is back in the arm again so it is frozen in a 90 degree angle but it makes a good prop for carrying things since it doesn't relax now, but I can straighten out my fingers but not my thumb. The wrist is a lost cause.  It won't budge to even allow any kind of bracing. You ever feel like the more you try to get ahead the farther you fall behind? Yep, you got it. I'm there. Botox again in January. But at this point I'm wondering whether I can justify the expense. It's $6,500 (before insurance) per cycle 3 to 4 times a year. I'm just not seeing the improvement I expected after 18 months almost of injections, but there is the pain relief factor too.

Bad news on the ankle inversion/drop foot front. After an additional three months, a new orthodic, debreidments and doctor appointments, the pressure sore has come back in full force rupturing from the inside out this weekend.Talk about a painful event. All that new skin and callous just blew outwards leaving the biggest cavity to date. Just what I needed to usher in the holiday. I snapped a rivet holding one of my straps this weekend so I'm hobbling around for two reasons. Come my husband's death, I'll have to have a full ankle fusion and the tendons cut. There is now no other option.

Meanwhile the reasons to be upright on my feet grow exponentially as my husband's health slowly declines. I'm administering meds every four hours, changing diapers about that often, and bedding twice a day. The good news is that there is now a hospital bed in my living room. It definitely makes things easier just in smaller size alone and having the ability of raising, rolling it around, etc. It's a good thing I was formerly a nurse. The only fifference is that hospice can spell me. It makes for long weekends though when mostly it is just the two of us. I refuse to ruin everyone else's weekend. My hubby is no longer allowed to be up on his feet unsupported. He has taken some really bad falls in the past couple weeks and I'm surprised he didn't break something.

The good news is every morning he opens his eyes and smiles at me. Then he breaks into his version of the old Rare Earth song, "I Just Want to Celebrate." He bobs his head, bounces in the bed, and sings about every third word.

I know this post is sort of down in the dumps, but I felt I needed to answer all the emails concerning us this way.

I also wanted to wish each of you a Merry Christmas. Here's to a better 2014 because 2013 was a roller coaster. Thanks for all your support.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Apology, Rant, Retrospect, and Goals for 2014

I've been pretty scares from the blogging world for the past two months in writing, reading, and responding to all of your blog posts, and I apologize for that.

Life has really gotten the better of me. Part of me wants to bury my had in the sand, but that's against my nature. But the though is nice and tempting.

I tend to lead by example. That's my approach to life and ministering, but it's hard.

Financially, we are at a place where I never wanted to be again...borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. The cushion we had in case of emergencies and unforeseen necessities, is gone. Prolonged illnesses can do that- husband's terminal disease and my stroke. Come in January 2014, we will be in debt again with no way of circumventing it. So much for my debt free life style. SIGH! I did enjoy it.

Now for the rant #1. My quest for Social Security Disability is over. According to the I'm not disabled right!
Administration I am able to work. Meanwhile, others who milk the system continue to be approve. It's down right irritating when pastoring a flock and leading others to salvation is considered a hobby. My book sales are down and I'm currently unable to write and publish anything new to boost sales...another dying career with my stroke, but

Rant #2. On a blog I follow there is a pastor's wife going through the same situation with her strokee husband. Helpful to know I'm not alone in my misery. She mentioned that the way people view hardships suffered by pastors and their families as leasing by example. I bristled at that. Go figure, it was an opposite view point against my nature. Yes, it's true I lead by example but I live in the world just like anyone else! Just because I'm a woman of God, doesn't mean we are better than the rest of you. We are not exempt from adverse feelings the same pressures you face when situations arrive. We just cover them with prayer and faith, but it doesn't change the facts.

Now this is going to sound totally crazy after the last part. In retrospect over what has been accomplished since 2012 and 2013. I've been blessed.

Given all the bad stuff over the past two years...my hubby being moved to hospice care, my stroke, and financial woes. I have excelled in other ways for personal triumphs.Yes, all the bad stuff happened, but with each hit I've managed to keep my head above water. I've met new friends online, continue to get support from a handful of regular friends and family. Not financial but in other ways. Actually, it could be financial because without them I would have to pay someone to do it otherwise.

Looking ahead to 2014...
  •  I can expect more of the same. Doesn't that sound inviting? I'm more at peace with burying the love of my life. I can now say with certainty that life will continue.
  • My stroke recovery will happen when I least expect it. I no longer expect 100% but the more the better. Yes, I've finally learned patience.
  • I will be having surgery on my affected ankle to release the contracted Achilles tendon. I have no choice if I want to improve the paralysis of the muscles involved with the inverted foot.
  •  I plan to breed my rabbits and build another out building (larger) to house the increase. I will be selling the excess meat rabbits. 
  • I plan on getting a trio of breeding Angora rabbits. No one is doing that in a twelve county area.
  • I plan on ministering more and possibly getting officially back into service full time.
  • My youngest daughter and son are moving in permanently after my husband dies. I'm under no illusions that I can live by myself. My caregiver instinct will not allow it.
  • I will wait on the Lord.
  • Try and write more. Small projects (quick cash) while continuing to work on "Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad."
So that's the look ahead.

Keep writing and loving the Lord
 Nothing is impossible with determination