Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: This is NOT the life I Ordered!

Anybody that knows me knows I wear some snazzy T-shirts that express what I'm feeling. As you can judge from the title of this blog what I'm feeling today. Yep, I'm on the pity pot today. Or partially. I'm not to the point of throwing things around in frustration, but I'm close.

Last night, I roasted an eggplant, Vidalia onion, and half a tomato to go along with my fried breaded okra. Yep, all exception the onion were from my garden picked earlier in the day. The intention was to scoop out the eggplant and tomato, mix it with the onion and top it with some shredded mozzarella cheese which I had made the day before. I was going to sprinkle it with some fresh oregano, basil, and rosemary which I had harvested just for the purpose before I placed it under the broiler. My mouth was watering just thinking about it while harvesting.

While the vegetables were in the oven, I cleaned and breaded the okra. I poured the oil into my cast iron skillet to heat and the timer went off on the oven. It takes me four times as long when I have to cut up vegetables now. I donned my oven mitt to get the sheet pan out of the oven. I was carrying it back to the cutting board when I tromped on one of the cats' tail. I lost my balance. The sheet pan tilted and all my pretty vegetables slid onto the floor.

I grabbed some paper towels and started to get it up when I noticed the smoke rolling out of my skillet.  When my vegetables hit the floor, the tomato went everywhere in a hot, wet mess of well roasted vegetable (or is it a fruit). I stepped over the mess and turned the heat off. A good thing the oil had been new or it would have made everything taste like burnt yuck. As the oil cooled, I cleaned up the ruined vegetables.

I contemplated roasting some more eggplant, onion and tomato, but decided against it. It was already going on 9PM. I fried the okra and had that for dinner. That's the good thing about being alone. I decide what and when to eat. My husband was always a meat, veg, and bread type of man. Even when he only ate tablespoons of food, he stuck to it. No way would he been satisfied with just fried okra for dinner even though it was one of his favorites.

So today, I'm keeping it simple. I'm doing Asoba noodles. You Americans will recognize it if I used the word :Ramen" noodles. The difference is I add extra yummies to mine like green onions, fish, shredded carrots, and spinach. I cooked the vegetables and make my own soup base. Sometimes, I'll substitute Kale or seaweed if I have it on hand. I change up the meat to chicken, beef, or tofu (if I made any). The little packet goes into a drawer for when I make a big pot of chicken soup because of the sodium level being so high. It's a bowl of soup that is a meal.

I've been eating all sorts of things since my husband died. For the first week, it was seafood. He had an allergy to all seafood. The next week was vegetarian. The week after was Indian. Since I've had my fill of these, it's whatever strikes my fancy or my energy level. I can cook once and it'll feed me for a couple of days. I only eat one full meal a day now. I know, I know, it ain't healthy. But yet, I usually eat a good meal with all healthy stuff. The rest of the time I nibble and snack. It might be popcorn and nuts, or fresh veges, it might be cereal, or fresh peaches and low fat cottage cheese.

It's just too much trouble cutting up meats and veges for one person twice a day. When I cut up broccoli, cauliflower, celery, or carrots, I always cut double the amount for snacking later or for the next meal. Sure it would be easier to buy nuke meals, but I've had my fill of them in the past year and a half probably forever would be too soon to eat another one. I just love to cook or I did when I could move and use two hands. I pick my battles to ease fruastrating myself as much as possible.

That's like all the forms I've been confronted by these last couple weeks. Life insurance and my husband's retirement plan especially. They were several pages of fill in the blank. I already have difficulty reading with my stroke, but writing legibly...forget it. I wish my old typewriter worked. I have to wait to fill out these forms when one of my daughters or grandchildren come over. I can't draw a straight line to save my life and numbers fuggedaboudit! I have a hard enough time reading phone numbers and addresses that I've written. Don't get me wrong. I know practice makes perfect, but I just do not have the dexterity in my multiple injured, but healed left hand. But that's what I'm left with because my right hand was affected by my stroke.

Would I like a little cheese with my whine. No, thank you. I warned you in the beginning that this was my moment on the pity pot. Getting out of the shower today, I (of course) got my panties and shorts in a wad on my affected side. I didn't have my husband to run to for help. I just had to deal with it. Twenty minutes later, success. I was finally able to leave the bathroom fully clothed. Totally exhausted from the effort. If I hadn't gotten so dirty and sweaty in the garden this morning, I wouldn't have had to get a shower in the first place. Now, gone up in smoke are the plans to make a new bunny cage for the new Angora bunny baby I'm getting at the end of next month. It's much cheaper to build the cages than to buy them. I just don't have the energy to spare. A good thing I made my soup base before I took a shower.

On days like the past twenty-fours have been, I have to keep reminding myself that life without challenges would be boring. I could stand a little boredom right now. Nah, not really. I would get in so much trouble if I was bored. A WHOLE LOT MORE than I get into now.  I should be content but I'm not. I want more. I think I'll work on the sweater I started to knit. That's the ticket. How much trouble can I get into knitting? But you know as a Murphey, there's always Murphy's Law.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My Rabbitry is Growing

French angora bunny
Well I have been searching Craigslist, Hoobly, and Raverly for additional BEW (blue eyed white) angoras. Preferable French angoras because it takes two hands to deal with the fluffy ears on English angoras. Giant angoras, while great wool producers, are just too heavy at 11-15 lbs each to handle one-handed.

English Angora bunny
Well, it's been difficult. Most people with BEW French angoras live a minimum of 5-16 hours away from me. I'm not against a road trip, but I haven't driven that far on my own yet so I'm a little bit cautious about doing it. Most people around here (100 miles radius) only have English angoras. But I do plan a trip to Canton later next month to pick up Clover's mate. (about 5 hrs away) I'm kidnapping one of my children for this first long trip. I'll also be popping in to see some friends.

Well, the luck of the Irish struck. On craigslist, I noticed an ad for angora rabbits. It was under PETS. In talking to the seller one is a BEW French angora! She has six more for sale also in varying colors. Depending on my ability to build some cages, I may get three of them. I'm still finding out information on the rabbits. The best part is that the seller is only 35 miles from here and the rabbits are $20 a piece. What a deal for me! So I'll be set I think as far as the rabbitry goes.

Now I just have to buy my land in November, have my tiny house and barn built to house them all. Ya gotta love when a plan comes together. Good thing until then, I've got this huge house to keep us all in comfort. I'm going to have to buy bigger containers for the fodder system with all these rabbits. I thinking maybe seed flat trays. Those heavy duty ones. They are cheap enough and if they don't work out I can always use them for the garden.

Speaking of the garden. I won't be replanting  them until after the move. I'll start fresh again in the Spring with even more gutters and elevated raised beds on the property. God is good all the time.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Stroke Survival Sunday:Support Groups

My support group
If you've had a stroke or brain injury, try and find a local support group with other stroke survivors and/or traumatic brain injury survivors. I think you'll be glad you did.

After my stroke I delayed in going to a survivors group because I really don't do well in crowds since my stroke. I figured it would just be too much input and overload all my circuits. Finally, I broke down and went. What could it hurt to go to one meeting? I never had to attend another one if I didn't like it. Plus, my speech therapist was one of the leaders of the group so it wouldn't be as if I didn't know anyone.

We were a fine pair walking into the conference room. Me, on a cane with one arm drawn up to my chest and halting speech, and my deaf husband at my side. We entered the room and found a spot to sit. A pad of paper was passed around to sign in on which my husband filled in.

As the meeting was called to order, I looked up to the co-leader. I knew her. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my mind recollection gears chugged. Finally, it hit me. We went to high school together. Then after an introduction, the speaker was a nurse from the health department. I knew her also from high school and we attend the same church. I turned and saw the physical therapist from the service I used after I came home. I was real comfortable now. It was beginning to feel like old home week. The other stroke survivors I didn't know from Adam, but that was soon amended as we went around the room with introductions. My memory of new names and faces had gone out with the dish water since my stroke so it would take a while to remember a name with a face...but they had the same problem too so I didn't feel so bad.

I met people who had battled this stroke recovery thing for years and some who had been post stroke for a decade or more. I didn't feel so out of place like I do in church among "normal" people. Some of the people were worse off than me and some were getting along fine or sort of. Are you ever really fine again after a stroke? It seems like there is always something different about you. Anyhow, I was made comfortable at the meeting and decided to attend more. I felt a sense of camaraderie with these folks.

This was a group I could help and be helped by. That's always a plus in any group function. Getting involved and being useful. I attended two more meetings before  my husband started his down hill slide. It would be another two years before I attended another one. But the leader of the group corresponded by emails and phone calls. My suggestion of visiting new stroke patients while they were in the hospital is now a big part of the group and membership has grown. A stroke exercise group is forming and a few other things are in the works. So even though I was physically absent, I was still a part of the group.

It sort of worked full circle for me when I started dry needling. My speech therapist and support group leader is the spouse of my therapist doing the needling. Small world, huh? No, just a small to mid sized town. Although, I did not hear about dry needling from her but my occupation therapist. My stroke group even sent flowers after my husband died.

A good support group is like a shot in the arm of "I can do it." Being around others in the same boat as you are helps you focus away from yourself. If you were like me especially, where I didn't have much contact with the outside world at the time. It made me feel accepted when all I could see was my limitations. It opened me up to possibilities through helping others. Having a self central focus is not a good thing after a stroke. Nothing makes you feel more abnormal.

Outside the group activities is a definite perk of a support group. For us, there is a clay class which boosts your creativity. I haven't been to one yet, but I do plan to go to at least one to see what it's all about.

We had an outing on a shrimp boat excursion tour. We were comfortable and away from danger in an enclosed glass room while the shrimpers fished. We were even treated to a low country boil. So what if I couldn't use my fork or knife properly, neither could anybody else. I do have to admit that eating a low country boil with only one working hand was definitely a challenge and a tad bit messier than usual. But the point was, I was out of the house. I was in good company. and lastly, I had a blast!

So if you have not looked into a stroke support group other than online, I would suggest you check it out. It's a whole different set of realities joining in person with other stroke survivors. That's not to knock the strong stroke tribes we have online, but you are still cooped up within your four walls. Get out and smell the fresh air. Be a part of life instead of sitting on the curb. Take a step out of your comfort zone to engage others in a safe environment of it being people like you, a stroke survivor. Nobody will understand what you are really going through like another survivor.

Not sure where to look for a group? Try a local hospital. Try the Council on Aging. Ask your local health department. Check the rehab centers, or neurologist's offices. Even try your local Chamber of Commerce. Good luck. Now stop sitting there watching the world pass you by. Join in and get involved with life again. You've been alone far to long.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What I'd Like to Say to Debt Collectors But Don't

This is to the debt collectors out there who will never read this. This is just something I have to vent about.

Needless to say, I've had more than my share of debt collection calls since my husband fell ill in 2003. That was when my husband had two heart attacks and stroke within six months and I became primarily a home bound caregiver except for part-time work. I pray you never are blessed with my circumstances and have debt collectors call you.
 May you...
  • Never have to spend years watching as your loved take an agonizing breath after another with you wondering if this was it and they die.
  • Never have to spend one moment watching a loved one waste away to become someone you don't recognize and suppress a shudder when you see their body.
  • Never have to have to make the decision between pain relief or continuing to breath for a loved one.
  • Never have to watch your loved one struggle with not being able to do anything but lie in a bed for months knowing they'll never get up again.
  • Never have to spend years caring for your loved one whose heart rate keeps falling or rising to the point where to heart stops because it is beating so fast that blood isn't being distributed, no matter what everyone tries, with you wondering if this was their time.
  • Never have repeatedly kiss your loved one goodbye because they are going through a procedure that they doctors have told you has a greater than 90% likelihood of killing them.
  • Spend precious minutes on the phone with a debt collector, like you, while medication for your loved one is due, or trying to feed them, or bedpans and urinals have to emptied and you are so bone tired that you want to doze off while talking to them.
  • Never have to listen someone, who is trained in strong arm debt collecting, berate and belittle that your credit will be ruined when you it already is or threatening to sue you. Stand in line.
  • Never have to stay awake for weeks watching as your loved one stops breathing and wondering if they will take another breath.
  • Never have to decide between food in your mouth or something your loved one has to have because there isn't enough cash in your account for both
  • Have a job that understands that you are doing the best you can with a dying loved one to care for too for years.
  • Have a job that pays  enough for someone to come in and pay them, while you are away and leaves enough afterwards to pay all your bills.
  • Never have to work your day job and spend the remaining off time caring for your loved one nonstop for years where you consider your on-the-job time as vacation.
  • Never have to answer a debt collector call and step out of the room to talk to them while your loved one is alone and takes their last breath.
Signed, The Debtor

After typing all this, I do understand that debt collectors (second party companies who pay pennies on the dollar for the debt) have a job to do. They are also being paid by commission. I apologize for being a deadbeat debtor. It's not like I had the money and refused to pay. It still isn't the case. I'd pay each one off to stop the threatening letters and harassing phone calls. By the way, the last bullet is true. Not that I think that my husband would have realized that I wasn't holding his hand at the time. At least I hope.

I have been truly blessed by having survived the past ten years even with the ups and downs. I had a chance to share with him and say to him all that I needed to  I know many that do not have this opportunity. This is due to the fact that I had my strokes and could not work

Yes, I have sacrificed to do this. Yes, there are too many bill collectors. My husband's total care cost since 2003 tallied up to $2,934,957. To say that total would be financially devastating to anyone besides Bill Gate, is an understatement. That was after private insurance (Medicare 2007 too). Before insurance, this figure was a 80% - 95% higher figure.This is not counting the funeral or hospice services. I'd spent my entire retirement nest egg, savings accounts, and then some. Would I change a dollar of it if I could...nope! Money comes and goes, but a life and time spent with my beloved...priceless.

Have a terrific day.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Down But Not Out

Tis the season it seems that stroke survivors get fed up with their lot in life and just how frustrating living post stroke can be. I've heard this from several stroke survivors in the past few months. They are not alone. I'm there too from time to time. You get tired of just the struggling and adjustment you have to make to do anything. Does this ring a bell for you?

You want to scream at the world how unfair it is that you have to go through everything this way and it MIGHT change over DECADES. No, guarantees, but maybe there is some hope left after adapting your life after it has been turned upside down by a stroke or brain injury. Every passing year that hope grows smaller and smaller until not a glimmer at the end of the tunnel can be seen. That is the reality of stroke recovery after the 30 days to 6 months mark has passed.

But even with the hope still alive, the frustration of adapting and/or not being able to do everything like you used to pre-stroke, frustration and your moments and the pity pot can lengthen into despair, depression, and just get you down. It's like that old commercial, "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!"  The sheer reality of "forever" hits you hard. It can incapacitate you just as much as your disabilities have.

I'm speaking from personal and my clerical profession standpoint here. Get help. Two years ago, I wrote about the grief process as it pertains to stroke. In fact, I did a weekly series on Sundays about for a month or so.This year, I'm dealing with the grief process in a double whammy dose. Don't believe for an instant because I know what the process is and can recognize it that I'm immune. I'm not. The betrayal of my body (my stroke and my heart) plus the death of my husband.

The thing about the grief process is that it never truly ends. The frustration and sense of loss will pop back up when you least expect it. Items have gone flying across the room in my sheer frustration at times for my not being able to use both of my hands. My sarcasm can drool off my tongue towards a person said something unkind or without thought. Even if they are only repeating what I said about myself. At times, it can send me into an internal rage. I rarely do external rages anymore. Who do they think they are? Can't they see I'm angry/frustrated/in pain? (you choose one) How would like to have THEIR brain damaged permanently and have to struggle like I do? Sound familiar? Yep, I've been there to. I'd be a zillionaire of I had a dollar for every time I've thought, "Geez people! How thoughtless can you be? And, I'm the one with the damages brain!" over the past three years. Actually for me, it's been more like 29 years since my accident left me a bionic woman or physically impaired.

When confronted with cold, hard facts like forever, you have two very basic options: to do or don't. Extend it farther is to be miserable and make everyone around you feel and experience your pain, or to put your big boy or girl panties on and decide that whatever it is IS NOT GOING TO BEAT YOU. Only you can make that choice for yourself.

I looked at my stroke as I have every other time I've been at death's door or faced with some impossible choice. This is not going to beat me down. I choose to look at every second of life as an opportunity not to be wasted. That's not saying I don't have my poor pitiful me moments, because I do quite often. I CHOOSE how I continue to live my life on my terms. I always say I'm a Christian by choice and grace. I've been exposed to many different types of religion in my past even atheism. I've even studied quite a few is researching a choice. I believe in doing research in all things before making my choice. Forewarned is ore armed so to speak.

Talking about or even venting is helpful and/or useless but a necessary evil. Don't be ashamed of doing it. But by the same token, don't let those feelings consume you. It's like fish. Fresh caught smells great and tastes wonderful. But let it sit around for a few days, weeks, months or, God forbid YEARS, and no one will be pleased or will very likely be repulsed by it.

I know you've heard the term, "Everything in moderation" and "To everything there is a season." It's about balance. I hear you literal types out there saying, "Yah, balance is my problem since my stroke! I don't have it and the vertigo is killer!" But I'm talking figuratively. It's a ying and yang type of thing. Good with the bad. What you can't do anymore and the things you can if you try. Keeping an open mind is critical. Look for possibilities instead of sinking in the quicksand of what was.

So as my title of this blog says, "I'm down but not out." I may be facing a mountain of struggles right now (and it may last a while), but I won't fail unless I give up. In the grand scheme of things, it's only a speed bump. Retrospective vision is a wonderful thing. In order to see what will come, you have to be open and willing to act on possibilities of what's to come. Yes, I may still but paralyzed and/or suffering with spasticity from my stroke for decades to come, but there is always the hope and possibility...maybe not. Everything changes over time. When I contemplate where I was in this journey 3 years ago, compared to where I am today...I'm better. No, I truly haven't regained all that much, but I'm thankful I can move my index finger and thumb although it's only butterfly kisses of movement in my affected hand. I'm also thankful my husband is not here suffering like he was.

Life is not lived in a vacuum. Everything happens for the good, okay, or the bad, or devastatingly horrible...but where there is survival there is adjustments, adaptation, and faith that tomorrow will be a new day and a new beginning. If it seems like you are spinning your wheels like a truck embedded in mud up until its are not looking hard enough. Take a big breath in and just observe what is happening around you. You can sit on the sidelines and watch or you join in. The choice is yours to make.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Rest of the Story

As I blogged on Sunday, I've had some major plans and changes in the works. Now if it seems like this is just a grief stricken, lonely, older woman looking for ways to fill the void in her life, you're partially right.

The plans I talked about have been on the planning board for 12 years in various creations. So it's not exactly a new plan.

Switching from raising just meat rabbits to angora rabbits came about two years ago when I learned how to knit again and later to spin yarn one-handed. I'm forever grateful to Linda at Raverly for that accomplishment. To date I've spun over a pound of Angora yarn. I got Babs/Buddy almost two years ago to experiment with. Yes, I can care very well for the long furred version of these rabbits even one-handed. So when the new rescued bunny presented itself, I had no qualms about getting her.

The tiny house idea was born out of my having too much space and stuff around me in this rambling 2,000 ft house. It just made sense to me. I'm just one person. After going through and downsizing my father in law for his move from a three bedroom duplex into assisted living, I realized that my children would have to go through the same thing when my husband and I passed. My strokes just emphasized the need.

Results of 30 minutes
We, as a society, just have too much stuff. I'm no different.  I'm divesting myself of most of it. Notice I didn't say all of it. I'm a minister not a monk. If I haven't used, opened, read, or worn it in three years, I must not have wanted/needed it so bad. At least that's my new rationale.

My girls and I started the process this past weekend. One room at a time. This weekend was my bedroom. What a nightmare. This was the beginning. The first thirty minutes. Most were my husband's clothes. By hour three, we had ten bags total to donate. It wasn't just clothes and shoes. Even my prized Ferragamo high heeled shoes (5 pairs) went into the bags. Like I'd ever wear them again between a torn Achilles tendon and my strokes. (sniff sniff) All sorts of things went into these bags like blow driers (I only had three of them), a portable whirlpool bath, electric razors, jewelry, silk plants and baskets, etc and that was just one room and one huge walk in closet. There's still four closets and two bedrooms to go through not to mention the rest of the house.

Oh, before I forget. In rummaging through the drawers and pockets, we found about $70. I treated myself to dinner but more on that later.

Yes, I could have a spectacular yard sale and rake in cash at $0.50 an item but it only takes time and the will to do which I have neither. Yes, right this minute I could sure use the cash, but I just want it gone. I want this door on this old life closed firmly. Not that I won't be giving it all away, but I definitely have too much stuff.

I've also been doing some fun stuff too.

My next youngest sister by a week (adopted) and my younger biological sister reinvented a slumber party. It was our first one in 29 years. At that time, four of us sisters were pregnant at the same time between just found out she was expecting to ready to pop. Back then, we all grouped up at my place because I had a two-story Victorian with six bedrooms. We ordered Dominoes pizzas and ate each slice sprinkled with hot sauce. Now, we all have grandchildren.

Anyhow, we met at my adopted sister's house out in the boonies. Her ten acre property ensures privacy and quiet. We ate, laughed until tears rolled down our faces, and behaved like a bunch of teenagers, but instead of talking about out futures we talked about the past. We've done some crazy things over the years. Because of various medicines we all are on (hey, we ain't Spring chickens anymore!) we fell asleep about 2AM. They also helped me out with some new makeup and perfume. Ya gotta love sisters. There's something so girly about a new lipstick and perfume.

The next morning we ate more pizza with hot sauce for breakfast and went out to her firing range for shooting practice. It had been more than a year since I'd been shooting. I thought I was really rusty because my marksmanship was way off. I couldn't hit anything I was aiming at. Then I had my sister's son spot for me on a paper target. The sight was way off. Once I corrected it, I hit the mark every time. Whew!

I actually went out to a restaurant, sat down, ordered, waited on it to
be brought to me, and ate! It's almost been two years since I've done that. I thought it might feel strange to do it by my lonesome, but I was fine. Granted there wasn't my beloved to talk to about what to eat or while I waited. This was the only sad part of the occasion.

I've looked at the loss of my husband as I do about life in general. Stuff just happens. I've got a choice to either stew over it and be miserable until it consumes me, or I can get busy adjusting to my new life.
I choose to be happy.
I choose for my life to glorify God. I can't do that moping around.
I choose to be proactive and to move forward. Life abhors a vacuum. 

My strokes may make me take two steps back for every forward step, but I've learned to take bigger steps forward any way that I can so the two steps backwards is more like one step back, or maybe even half a step back. So what if I fall down. I only fail when I quit trying.

Nothing is impossible. Only you can make what is possible happen.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Finally! They Are Doing Something for Me

...well sort of. I opened up my email a little while ago and found a message from the National Stroke Association about their newest campaign, Come Back Strong.

I was surprised honestly. Up until now, the emails were basically about worthless type campaigns (to me) about how to prevent strokes or to ask for donations. If they back this campaign as heavily as they did their F.A.S.T. campaign, survivors like me might actually get some support. This campaign is geared for stroke survivors and their caregivers. That being said, I might still believe in Santa Claus too. But if their plans ring true, it can't hurt.

After my strokes, I got the usual 50 million hand outs from the National Stroke Association (NSA) on the prevention and being able to distinguish the signs of having a stroke. Which is sort of closing the hen house door after a fox has gotten in. If I had printed out the emails I got from the NSA about donating money, I would have killed a tree for the paper and wasted quite a dew ink cartridges to boot. I kept saying to myself and emails to them...what are you actually doing for the survivors? Their answer was... more public awareness meant more money for research.

Strokes and the stroke recovery process is expensive, and it goes on for years. I tallied up what I've spent in co-pays/my share for doctors, therapists, braces, specialty supplies and medicines (so I don't have another stroke and relieve the pain and/or spasticity issues caused by my strokes) since my first stroke...
This isn't the reason for this
That's not including my insurance premiums over the past three years that continually rise. That's over $6,000 a year just in surviving my stroke. It averaged out to a third of my yearly income just in recovering. For me, that's almost a year's worth of mortgage payments. How many "normal" people can afford that? Especially with no end in sight. Just imagine what you could do with that kind of money. Me, I've used it to regain what I have now to be sort of normal, and live my life post strokes. Other survivors still fighting to regain abilities are spending about that much if they do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. So I'm not alone in this perceived money pit.

I hope that this campaign helps many. I hope that there's some ground breaking information and treatment found for us survivors. I hope it will make a difference. I hope that effective protocols can be established for new stroke patients so that they don't have to go through what we have. I hope for a lot of things. But, the reality is that it probably won't make a drop in a bucket of difference. I could be pleasantly surprised. I can hope, can't I?


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Making Plans and Changes

Remember I said I was waiting on God to open the window, He has. The past couple of weeks have been busy for me. First there was the funeral and all the *fun* stuff that goes with it, and then there was all the paperwork involved with changing everything over. This included getting a 90-day loan from my bank to cover the next 40 days worth of utilities until I am flush with cash again.

Now that the end of the tunnel is in sight, I can move forward with confidence. I started searching for another property to move on to. I think I may have found one. In searching back, I found that it has been on the market for several months. So I might just get it for a good price. There's wiggle room in the price.  It's only five acres instead of ten that I was initially looking for, but for the is fenced, cleared and a pond has already been dug which saves quite a few bucks. I will have to pay to put at least two wells on the property and possible a septic tank. I still haven't decided about the latter. It's about fifteen minutes from my #2 daughter's house too. Instead of an hour away.

The farm will be called Murphey's Madness. First of all because most people think I'm insane for still holding onto this dream after my stroke. I'll be a single handed homesteader in more ways than one. I've only got the use of one hand and I'll be an older, single lady doing 99% of the work. No I won't be building most of the buildings like the house or the barn, but the lean to field houses for the chickens, sheep, and goats I will be. My neighbor/contractor is ready to start work on my tiny house and barn as soon as I close on the property. I'm thinking by the end of October.

Name this bunny
I got a call about another bunny which needed rescuing this week, so I have a new Angora bunny. She's not white with blue eyes, but she's a sweetheart. The owner had her in an outside pen. Sand gnats were swarming around her so bad she barely opened her eyes. She had three bad gashes along her neck where she had tried (and succeeded) get through the wire between cages. Yes, she's a girl. I'm sure this time.

The owner could no longer take care of her. I brought her home and gave her a bath. Just to make sure that those cuts were the only ones and to double check the pest situation. She'll be in quarantine for two weeks just to be on the safe side. She is white on the tip of her nose and mouth, and has white fur socks on two paws.I was really surprised that she wasn't a black bunny, but an agouti tort. Under her long black fur near the skin is  chestnut brown fur. I didn't realize it until I bathed her.  

Now what do I call her?? I've been calling her Baby, but she isn't really. She's two years old according to the vet.  A name that bunny contest is in order, so put your suggestions in comments.

Now All I need is a female blue eyed white French angora or three and my rabbitry will be set. Maybe a self black Angora buck just for this new bunny too.

Other things in the works...
I'm still doing the dry needling for my spasticity. It's still working. I'm back to pain-free status. Yippee!!

I'm going through all the closets and dressers. If I haven't worn it in a couple of years, it is going to Faithworks. It's sort of like a Goodwill, but they don't charge people so it's strictly a church based charity. I've made a list of what my children want as far as art work, china, furniture and stuff that I won't have room for in my new place. My grandchildren have been my work horses. All they've asked for is some of my cookies and extra hugs which I've gladly supplied them with.

I've been pricing video cameras. While I won't be buying a GoPro4, that I really, really want, I will be purchasing one in the near future. I'm still window shopping.

I have plans to do a homesteading/self sufficiency video site on YouTube. What will make my channel different than the hundreds of other homesteading sites on there? The fact that I am disabled and doing it. I'll also do videos on adapted homesteading because of my stroke.

Most of what I hear from other strokees is how they can't do this or that anymore. They bemoan it to whoever will listen. I tend to take the high road and say, "Watch me. If I can do it, you possibly can do it too." Not that I expect all strokees to take the attitude to my extreme. Remember, I'm Abby Normal with brain damage. But that being said, sometimes I want to scream at some survivors and tell them to get off their pity pots. This is a gentler way to do it. Yes, I will post successes and failures. So don't be surprised if you hear "Rattzle Frazzle" a lot.

To go along with the new video site, I'll also be blogging on a new site too. By doing both I believe I'll capture both the literal learners and the visual learners. It will help me both ways and it will be a win-win situation. As with this blog, it will be tell it like it is.This blog will still continue. While sales are dwindling, I still have hopes of writing for profit once again. But until that happens, I'll just keep plugging away.

Heck, at the very least, maybe some sponsor would like an honest review of their product. I rarely turn down free stuff that I can use. That's going to be the real challenge...stuff I can use.

So those are my initial plans and upcoming changes. I plan to live for me by my own hand. It's time for some Jo time. Murphey's Madness here I come.

Don't forget the name this bunny in comments and I'll leave you with this inspiration.

Nothing is impossible!
Have a great week!

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?