Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Hear What You're Saying...

I got a new T-shirt. You know me. I wear what I feel.

This one says, "I hear what you're saying. I just don't care."

Yeah, it's been that kind of week for me. All week long I've been  snowed under with unsolicited advice.
You ought to do this or that.
Maybe you ought to think about it more carefully.
Let me do that for you.
You really shouldn't be doing that. 
To repeat just a few. It's not that I don't care, but if I actually followed what they says, I wouldn't have made the gains I've made over the past three years. It's not that I don't appreciate the concern, but don't block my way. If I don't try, how will I know what I can do or cannot do.

Yeah, sometimes I may bite off more than I can chew. Like purchasing five angora rabbits of varying ages in two months time. The grooming of these rabbits take time and energy. If timing had been better, I really would have liked the purchase spread over four or five months time, but when the rabbit you are looking for comes available you have to jump on it. Not that I hadn't planned on a six- hole rabbitry, I did. But there is something to be said for having the time to get to know each rabbit. To train them properly and building trust takes time.

But all that being said, I do have the rabbits I wanted. Granted the fast purchase wasn't without some added expense like the cages and where to put them. On the homestead they would have been in the barn rather than a bedroom, but it works. I had planned on putting new carpeting in the house anyhow. I won't be breeding them until Fall when it's cooler. It will also coincide with the females blowing (shedding) their coat  before they give birth. Angoras can handle cold better than heat. Isn't that true for most of us? Seeing how they are indoor animals than outdoor animals gives them more of an edge.

Yes, it is taking time to get to know them all while not creating jealousy among the first rabbits. It's a juggle like raising children.

Dubu is my self black German/French angora. He's such a handsome boy but very jumpy and a bit skiddish. It will take some added care to bring out a calmer rabbit that I'm sure is in him. At four months old, he is the same size as my two-year olds (Buddy and Clover) and he's still growing. He still sticks his long tongue out.

Clover is my brown and black tort. She is still stand offish but a total joy to cuddle. I could even hold her upside down and she trusts me not to drop her. She is destined to be Dubu's mate. They should breed gorgeous babies with fabulous wool.

Snowball, my BEW (blue eyed white) at five weeks old, is showing signs of being a great wooler and is destined to be Buddy's mate. With both of them having the Vienna gene (BEW characteristic), they have a greater percentage of producing more BEW offspring. Characteristically, she's a cuddler. She loves being handled like Buddy. They will be the backbone of my BEW rabbitry. Right now she's so tiny that snuggling with her is no problwm at all.

Kieran, at 3 months old, is the adventuresome trouble maker of the two brothers. This brown French angora is curious and bold. He's not afraid of much except Lil Bit, the cat. But even so, he will stand on his hind haunches to stare and twitches his nose at her until she comes close, and then he scampers away. Not that Lil Bit would hurt any of Momma's babies.

Colm, the grey French angora, is by far the most mellow bunny I've ever seen. He's a lover not a fighter, but if this trend continues will depend on how puberty affects him. He'll lay quietly on your lap and snuggle in for a nap. So long as he has his brother Kieran is in sight he feels safe. Separating them into side by side cages should alleviate and separation anxiety of the two brothers. At least that's what I'm hoping.

And lastly, Buddy will always be my favorite. My first angora mixed bunny. Loving to a fault and is constantly asking for kisses and ear rubs. Obedient, most of the time, getting in and out of the cage on command. Will search me out if he doesn't hear or see me. My #1 rabbit.

Yes, I could have been more cautious and waited for different rabbits, but I'm happy with the ones I have. I could have waited until all the cages were built and my new homestead before buying them. I could have done a lot of things, but didn't.

My homestead plans are still in motion. Many think I'm foolish, but I see it as a step in the right
direction. More land needs upkeep, but with the plans including a barn, outdoor cook house, and fenced pastures for managed grazing for goats and sheep, if I am careful in the long run, it will sustain itself and me for the rest of my life. Yes, it would have been easier to do if I had not had my stroke and if my husband was still alive and healthy. But nothing worth having is ever easy.

The off-the-grid home makes dollars and cents. Having a tiny house makes perfect sense to and for me. Who really needs all the stuff? More to dust. More to clean. More labor intensive. I've never been a happy homemaker. I love to cook, but how much can one person eat? I'd rather be tending to the animals and garden. Puttering around is what I do best especially with the short attention span I have since my stroke. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. I'll be kept busy, that's for sure but that's when I excel. It will all get done.

In searching for an easier way to wash wool that would be easier on me, a fellow Golden Isles Fiber Artist suggested the ancient method of fermented suint. The dirty wool is soaked in water for a week. Manure, dirt, and the natural lanolin in the wool form a soapy mixture which cleans the wool over time. All that is needed is maybe one washing and rinsing to have cleaned wool. Yes, it stinks to high heaven until it dries but it sure beats temperature variations felting the wool and making it unusable for spinning. When dealing with a whole fleece, that's a whole lot of washing the standard way of 3 or 4 washes each pound.

So for this week, I'm taking the attitude of I hear what you're saying. I just don't care.
That's it for this Wednesday.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Botox Again and the Benefit of a Teamwork Approach

Had my usual round of Botox injections last week. Still at 400CCs of the poison for my spasticity. My hopes of doing away with them entirely with dry needling is still a distant hope. There's just too much high tone in the muscles to do without it totally yet.

In talking with most of the stroke survivors I know, they complain that their neurologists or therapists are useless. Offering little or no help at all. I'm happy to say that I cannot relate to this.

 Part is due to, I believe, is God's blessing and part in my attitude of looking at care/recovery providers as employees. If you have a medical provider that is not on the same page as you are in your recovery, why are you paying them. Yes, even if you are on Medicare or State Assistance, you are still paying them with your tax dollars. Now if you are in a small town, you may not have a choice, but where I am there are four or five of each specialty to choose from. Even if there only two, there is the lesser of two evils in a choice. Keep searching for a health care provider who thinks that it is possible to recover. That's what you really want, isn't it? I know I do.

I've often sung the praises of my neurology and therapy teams here on this blog. They believe like I do that nothing is impossible. They show they care about me and listen to what I have to say. This is important. It's called teamwork. Everyone is on the same page to get Jo to recover as much as possible. So what if my brain is telling the muscles to move in the wrong way. How do we fix it? How do we make it behave like it should? What can each one of us do to have a successful outcome? When I'm with my doctors or therapists (in this case) THIS is what we are talking about. When one of us hears something new, we bounce possibilities around. This is what I expect from my health care team and will accept nothing less, and why should I? Get on the same page or get out. Isn't this the way it should be?

This time around we had a change up. I asked both my therapist and my neurologist if the other could be present at my Botox session. Even though doctors get reports on their patients in therapy, it's not always the same as seeing it. My doctor was curious about dry needling because she hadn't heard of it before I started talking to her about it the beginning of this year. My therapist had never seen EMG driven needles for Botox before. So both were curious.

Shameless plug
My therapist is also supposed to make marketing calls on doctors to boost referrals for his company also. I understand the marketing aspects companies can demand and have often discussed this with my therapists not to mention achievable goals or progress for patients for insurance companies to keep patients on the roster. It pays to think outside the box when dealing with paperwork. It can cause them to pull most caregivers' hair out.

For me, being able to hold and carry things with my affected arm is a positive achieved goal, even though it is still not voluntarily mobile. For me, it's a huge achievement. To have limited control to do that is a giant leap forward and I can do it at will now almost all the time.

So my therapist marked the time of my appointment as a marketing call, but I benefited from it greatly. My therapist was able to discuss what he was doing with me and goals that he'd like to work on in the coming months. My doctor bounced ideas off him in order to hit the right spots with the Botox to make it possible.

While previously the main concentration of spasticity in my arm was in my upper bicep and pectoral muscles, the dynamics have changed with the dry needling. It is now the lower bicep and forearm that is the most spastic. The upper bicep and pectoral muscles have shut down in spastic movement. So guess where most of the injections took place. You got it.

Now, I know I'm extremely fortunate to get the meeting of the minds for my benefit. It all comes from the approach and being able to look at a problem from outside the normal. I make a point of surrounding myself with the outside-the-box thinking folks. Not so far out of left field to be truly strange, just a little avant garde. So who won? All of us. The neurologist learned first hand how to help her patients. The therapist was able to get a new referral source and learned more about patients having Botox. And lastly me, everyone is on the same page as far as goals and procedures for my benefit. It's a team effort.

If your doctor or other medical personnel are not working for you, find ways to work in your benefit. If you can't, replace them. Don't you deserve the best possible outcome? Can I get a "HELL Yeah!"? It may not happen overnight. For me, it took six months worth of schedule juggling to make it happen. But I think it was worth it. All you have to do is ask.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

World View: My Rose Colored Glasses

I've been accused of looking at the world through rose colored glasses. Often, it's a derogatory statement from those who do not understand me. If that's what it called to be an optimist instead of a pessimist. I'm guilty as charged.

But that's not saying I'm naive to what's going on around me. It's just a choice I make. I have the know how to look at the big picture and the microscopic when dealing with this world and what it dishes out. I can talk the negative side all day long about heart ache and strife I've been through and am going through. I've been through a lot of SHTF (S**t Hits The Fan) situations in my life. When most people hear even part of my history, they shake their head in wonder that I'm not bitter and miserable. I tend to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best in most things. I've learned to adapt.

Quite often the rose colored glasses get broken. They refuse to let me see things as rosy. These moments I call being on the pity pot, as in self pity. Honestly, who could blame me for staying there? But that's not how I choose to live. It's no fun being there and living like that. Fear, pain, misery, and self doubt are all pitfalls to a happy, productive life.

Sure, I have a heart that's slowly dying and had strokes, but it could be worse. That brings me to my current dilemma. Mind you, I'm not on the pity pot. I'm just telling it like it is.

This week I received an ADL Questionnaire for Social Security Disability AGAIN. I need my rose colored glasses off for this and it's depressing. I can't write it out on the form for two reasons: I can't write legibly and there isn't enough room on two or three lines to explain. It would take pages to explain how limiting my heart is, what the strokes took from me and the fatigue, and how much the pain of my fibromyalgia and spasticity limits me. It would be a book by the time I finished if I include everything. But from what I understand, that's what is needed to qualify for disability. I had someone in an aid referral position tell me to dumb myself down. But I'm honest and there's the trouble. As I see it, I have two choices with filling out these forms: 1) Wait for one of my children, or 2) Type and print it out. I'm leaning towards the latter because my kids don't need to read all of this. It would shock them too bad. How much is too much information? All of this because I'm two years too young for Social Security and my pension!

I am able to do a lot mainly because I'm too pig headed to give up. Take bathing, a pre-stroke  shower took fifteen minutes.  Actually, I was able to shower, put my make-up on, and dress in fifteen minutes before my stroke. Now it takes me forty-five minutes, but I do it. I don't want to smell to high heaven or get some skin disease from uncleanliness. It's forty-five minutes getting into the shower, washing, and getting out. It's another twenty minutes to put clothes on because the exertion races my heart and I have to slow it down to stop the chest pains. If my right arm needs to be scrubbed, I have to ask my children to do it when they come over.

In cooking a supposed 30-minute meal takes me two hours to do, but I do it. I mean I got to eat, don't I? Most times, it's easier to go out and get it. I still have got three pounds of chicken breasts in my freezer that I bought before my husband died. I've got a pantry full of food but even using the can opener or boiling a pot of water is too much trouble when peanut butter or cheese slapped between two slices of bread is all the energy I can muster. That's with a night's sleep and a nap.

How bad is the fatigue and pain? A prime example even if yucky...I went to the bathroom a few days ago, and was too exhausted to reach around and wipe my butt. I even dozed off on the commode for a brief couple of seconds. And, my leg was so spastic that even rising to get off  was a feat done with gritted teeth. I was begging and pleading for the spasm to let up a little bit so I wouldn't fall. Still waiting for the Botox to kick in. I sure don't want raccoon eyes again.

This month, actually two months now, I've been going through mountains of papers in my effort to minimize what I have. I had nice neat little growing piles on my 11 !/2 ft desk. Up bounds the cat. She skids seeing the stacks but couldn't stop. Papers everywhere on the desk, the floor, and I even found a few where they flew into the closet. I bent over and picked them all up and stacked them again. This was after I had a screaming meme fit at the cat. So two hours later, I sink into my chair with my back yelling at me for the effort. The other cat comes in and does the same thing! UGH! The papers are still scattered after two days. I have a paper littered carpet.

Sure I keep rabbits and garden, but it's way different than what it should be. Just the snap, crackle, and pop factor of older stressed bones and muscles makes me want to stay in bed most mornings, if my bed wasn't painful to be in. I replaced my husband with animals. That was my choice or I wouldn't bother to get out of bed every morning. Caring for others keeps me going. Sure, I could have gotten a goldfish, but I know what motivates me. A goldfish wouldn't do not after being my husband's caregiver..

How do you explain all of this to anybody else???? This is some examples of my daily life activities and how it's been affected by my medical conditions. I'll take my rose colored glasses view of the world any day. Do you blame me? It's not because I don't realize what is going on in the world. Believe me, I know. But it's so much nicer with a rosy, positive outlook.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: It Has a Name! Agraphia

For years now as an author, I've gotten stuck in writing my stories. I just thought it was writers block. But it has another name which I didn't learn until recently.

Now for years, I have talked about my inability to read stories and I choked it up to dyslexia. Yes, having a dyslexic disorder since my last stroke just masked what was going on in my brain. But, it was more involved than that. If only I had a dollar for every time I said, "Wait a minute. Let me see if I can figure out what I wrote." I'd be stinking rich right now.

It was John, at the Stroke Tattler, who mentioned this word when we were discussing future article topics. I, of course, started researching the topic for my own benefit as I do for all possible topics. There it is unquenchable search for knowledge. As I read through all the internet definitions listed for this word, I started recognizing it in me.

I ended up asking my speech therapist and neurologist about it, and could that possibly be part of my problem. They both confirmed the possibility as being part of my aphasia. It actually has a name. It's called agraphia/ dysgraphia. The strange thing about my problem is that I can type and it's almost unnoticeable. This is partially because of the red squiggly lines that appear under problem words. I've mentioned this many times as an inability to spell or form sentences. It was just easier to blame it on writing with my left hand. But I was writing legibly before my second stroke as apparent in my hand written grocery lists. The inability to read my own writing didn't happen until my second stroke.

How can I pinpoint the time frame? By thinking back prior to my second stroke, I was writing a nonfiction book. But suddenly, I could no longer piece the words together. It gives a whole new meaning to writers block. While I thought the second stroke only damaged the previously damaged area because no new impairments were evident, I was wrong.

When I compared my handwritten grocery lists before my second stroke to those afterwards, there is a huge difference. Sometimes it pays to not clean out your purse. Not only did it show the dyslexia in the form of backwards written letters (d for b and transposition errors in numbers), but there were gaps in words spelt where letters should have gone and words I couldn't even read. Big changes. These changes were reinforced when dealing with all the companies like insurance forms, pension plans etc upon my husband's death. I didn't dare attempt filling them in myself. I knew I had a more severe problem than I originally thought just going through my handwritten notes I'd written down during telephone conversations with these entities the week after my husband's death read a month later.

Now, it all makes sense. It's an added benefit to writing this blog. Anyhow it works for me. Now I can actually put a name to it to get to help with it. Thanks John.

Nothing is impossible.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Road Trip Results

I've been helping Mel in Cornelia, GA with her homesteading endeavors for about a year now. A slew of emails back and forth, comments on her YouTube channel, and phone calls. She calls her channel, "One Woman & Two Acres." She moved from Orlando, FL to a purchased site unseen two acres and a crumbling down double wide trailer in the north Georgia mountains about two years ago. She knew what she wanted and went for it.

The difference between us is I actually have a decade or more experience and she did before the jump to full fledged homesteading. I've watch her stumble and tumble her way towards a more self sufficient lifestyle. Since I was going to be up in her neck of the woods picking up my new angora, I decided to give her a lesson in butchering a chicken. She decided to video tape it for her channel because she thought it would be a hoot. She's a lot like me and a kindred spirit. She wanted someone who knew how to butcher chickens too stand by while she did it. Me, I've butchered more than my fair share over the years. Want to see the results? There are even cameos of me and my #2 daughter in here. Watch...


Butchering the rooster might have been a bust but look at what I did come home with.
Dubu, who I showed you earlier. He's five pounds already at four months and will be about ten pounds  when fully grown. He has started blowing (releasing) his baby coat. All I have to do is run my hand across his body and can get a handful of wool. I spent Sunday with a slicker brush and pulled about 2 ozs in fifteen minutes! Still a couple of more passes with the brush to go over the next week to get all the wool off of him. I never work on my bunnies for more than fifteen minutes at a time.  They get so restless.

But that's not all I found. We found this sweetie!

Yes, it's a blue eyed white baby angora, and I do mean baby, bunny. It's 5 weeks old. My daughter promptly named her "Snowball." No, the name isn't Gaelic, but it describes her to a "T." I haven't sexed it yet so I don't know if I have a buck or a doe. Right now, it's about half a pound, but that will fast over the next couple of weeks. It'll be about seven pounds when fully grown. As dense as it's fur is now, it'll be a grand wool producer no matter what the sex. As my daughter said, "It's so stinking cute, you can't say no to bringing it home." I didn't either.

I'd call the trip a success! With Melody, I laughed until my sides hurt and it felt good! I'm alive and excited to be alive. The drive was killer though on my back. It will take a few days more to work out all the kinks. I had forgotten how steep the Georgia mountains could be off the interstate after spending so much time on the coast. I've had enough of driving the straight up and downs to last me a few months, but by then there'll be snow up there and cold. I'll plan my next trip up there after it thaws out. 

I sure didn't miss the Atlanta traffic! Geez Louise! Four lanes of weaving in and out between cars is the stuff of my nightmares for a while to come. I've lost my edge (and nerve) for big city driving. The D.C. Beltway has nothing on Atlanta traffic and it wasn't even rush hour! The traffic snarls and construction made the bypass we were on took an hour longer than it should have. It kinda made me want to get out of the car and kiss the ground after surviving it. I probably would have if it wasn't so hard to get down there and up again.

So that's the results of my road trip. Fun, fun, fun, nail biting panic, fun, fun, fun!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survivall: Voodoo Medicine

Voodoo medicine is a term coined by my old occupational therapist as any treatment not sanctioned by the powers that currently be. Alternative medicine such as herb use, yoga, meditation, and even dry needling fall into this category. They are alternatives to the normal operating procedures of western medicine. They are often discounted by modern medical types, but the facts is that it was practiced and worked prior to modern medicine. Modern medicine had to start somewhere.

I was a medical professional, but did not discount anything but embraced it. I studied far eastern schools of thought because of my upbringing in a Japanese-American household. The fact was it worked when I couldn't visit the modern day medical types. It broadened my horizons as it were to see outside the box of strictly modern medicine for treating what ails you.

While I was in college studying modern nursing techniques, I was also studying German lithographs of herbs. In childbirth, I used Lamaze (focused breathing as in meditation) instead of the ever more popular drugs which crossed the placental barrier to my waiting to be born children. Later, I went on to to be degreed in holistic practices also herbatology and aromatherapy. I've practiced yoga (not the exercise) for decades. When herbs became an over the counter quick fix in this society, I was the one cautioning the wide spread uses of St John's Wort screaming about the side effects to anyone that would listen to name just one.

Don't get me wrong. I still believe in modern medicine, but only modern medicine...nope. I consider it a personal triumph when I convert or broaden the mind of a modern medicine professional. Because the fact is, it works. It still does even after centuries of use.

When I first heard of dry needling as a treatment for post stroke spasticity, I reserved judgement and kept an open mind. Luckily for me, my neurologist and her nurse practioner were willing to try anything that would help. At that point, Botox was only working marginally well for my spasticity. The drugs therapy was only lip gloss covering a cold sore even at the maximum allowable doses. All I wanted was relief and they wanted to help me get the best possible outcome. Even though it was considered voodoo medicine and a throw off of acupuncture/trigger point injections, we were all willing to try. As a result, my neurologist now has a new alternative therapy to offer her patients and she does.

To me, it doesn't pay to be narrow minded.  But too broad of a mind without knowledge is a dangerous thing. The FDA allows herbs and minerals beyond everyday vitamins to be sold without much guidance to be sold as dietary supplements in this country. In other words, anybody can buy and take them. But there are reasons you need prescriptions for certain herbs in various countries. They are considered medicine. All medicines have side effects and contraindications even herbal supplements. For example, do you know which chemicals are water soluble or fat soluble? That fat soluble chemicals can build up in your body to toxic levels? That a single herb/plant/root/seed can have up to 300 chemical compounds in it? Scary when you think about it, isn't it? That's why I say without knowledge, this can be a very dangerous thing. SO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH TOO.

It's funny how one thing can work for one and not the other, but while we are all homo sapiens as a species, we are not all the same. The term alternative medicine is just a way of saying..not what is considered as modern medicine. Each is unique, but the same. Granted modern medicine has a lot going for it, but being the only choice for what ails you, not hardly.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

On the Road Again

Well Friday afternoon will be my first long road trip since my stroke. I'm a little bit nervous. My daughter asked if she could drive the first part. My driving one handed makes her nervous. I'll gladly let her drive as far as Dublin. I'll drive the rest of the way through Atlanta and to our destination of Cornelia, GA. All told, it's about 5 and 3/4 of a hours worth one way to the north Georgia mountains.

Weekend before last, I picked up two French angora rabbits from a lady that was getting out of the rabbit business. She just groomed and bred them. She gave away their wool. They were a gray and a brown angoras who I named "Colm" and "Kieran." "Colm" is Gaelic for dove for the gray one. "Kieran" means brown warrior in Gaelic. They are eight weeks old.

Catching the theme for my rabbitry yet? Since the acreage is called Murphey Meadows or Murphey Madness. It's definitely a southern Irish thing or Gaelic. Even though I'm Japanese and only Irish in my widowhood. Sure and Begorrah! Ye'll be seeing leprechauns and fairies next  in the green fields.

I had not planned all these colorful angoras when I first planned my rabbitry, but I figured why not. Blue eyed white French angoras are few and far between. I've seen two advertised for sale in California, and two on the east coast in Pennsylvania over the past few months. Those would be v-e-r-y long road trips and I'm not up to that yet. Not that I doubt my driving skills, but have you noticed how many idiots are driving these days?!

Back to this weekend...we'll be driving up to Cornelia to meet face-to-face with an YouTube homesteader I subscribe to. I'm going to show her how to butcher chickens. She hatched out a bunch of roosters and they've been pecking her ankles. My rule is they get one warning. After that it's the next stage of life for them. If they draw blood with the first peck it's an automatic death sentence. I don't know if you've ever been pecked by a chicken before, but take my word for hurts!

the one on the left
While I'm in that neck of the woods, I'm going to pick up the mate for Clover. He's a self  Black German/French mixed angora. His name will be Dubu, Gaelic for black or dark one. He's the one on the left sticking out his tongue while the photo was being taken. The other one is more cantankerous. The breeder said his father does the same thing when his picture is being taken. To me, his funny personality quirk will fit right in with me. He'll be almost four months old when I get to pick him up. He and Clover should make some pretty babies next year. Canton is only about a hour away so I'll hit it on the way home.

We originally planned this trip for the weekend of the 19th, but my grandson's homecoming game and dance are on that Saturday. So we bumped up the trip by a week. So if you're in north Georgia and see a silver Toyota van headed towards you...Quick! Get off the side walk! No, only kidding. I drive way better than that.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: I Can Do That, I Think

So as you read a couple Wednesdays ago, my rabbitry is growing by hops and bounds. The pending new addition of three rabbits got me thinking of building my own rabbit cages. Good rabbit cages are $65 and up. Especially for the larger 36x30 cages I wanted.I know because I bought one. The idea of buying three at one time was a huge expense even though it will last years. I might want to live in a tiny house, but my rabbits need room to be healthy.

As you well know, one of my favorite hangouts for instant how-tos is YouTube. I found a couple of great videos on how to make cages. I can do that! I thought. It wasn't rocket science only a cage to house my rabbits.I watched them a few times although it seemed simple enough. There are so many things I can't do since my strokes, I love finding things I can do well.

So I walked into my local Tractor Supply, looked for the wire I would need, and bought a new pair of wire cutting dykes. My old pair had pitted cutting edges after decades of use. It was about time. My tools work hard for me and while I take care of them sometimes they just become too old. I bought two rolls of 1"x2"x24"x25' wire and one roll of 1/2"x1/2"x30"x25' wire. The that's enough 1/2x1/2 wire to do 8 cage floors, but I have other ideas for the remaining wire.I only plan to build four cages. Why get 24 inch width instead of 18", because the remaining 6" will make the litter pan shelf. Wow, my brain actually works when given time to think. "Wait, why four cages?" For the babies to grow up in. I could be adding more later depending on the litter sizes. The best part was for four cages my cost was $75.

Why would I need a 36x30x18 cage for just a rabbit when a smaller one would work? We are talking about rabbits that are about ten pounds when fully grown.  I believe in treating all animals as humanely as possible in their captivity. I'm comparing it to a life as a prisoner in a cell. That's how I view my rabbits. Even if they are loved and cared for.  So I let them out to run around and be rabbits as much as possible. But, they would be a tripping hazard for me to let them out all of the time.

I came home with my rolls of wire and new dykes. Then I decided to make this a teaching experience out of it. Remember, I teach by hands on examples. This could be a learning experiment for a couple of my grandkids and my neighbor's son. I did have to make four of them. I already had the "J" clips and three sets of "J" clip pliers in a drawer in my hutch. By making them with three others would be an enjoyable past time for them also. Plus, it would be faster than making them one at a time. A couple hours tops. Then they could go with me to pick up the new Jr French Angoras. Junior angoras are between 8 weeks and 6 months old. We'd make a day of it. Possibly stopping for some ice cream on the way. I can do that because I'm the grandma. My girls have come to expect it now and have stopped trying to argue the point with me.

But my reasoning was not all together so simple. I had an ulterior motive also. If I got into trouble, I had extra hands to help me. I tend to run into trouble a lot with all the things I attempt to do daily post stroke because I'm always pushing my limits and trying new things. I challenge myself with my never say die attitude. Of course, some things are beyond my reach right now. But everyday, I try. Granted, my efforts have been more "safe" than it normally is because of being alone in my house now. I rarely push past the "safe" limits unless there is someone else to help like one of my teenage grandsons. Good thing they actually like coming over here. Now that I'm older, I'm not too quick to get in over my head. Although, at times, I would need an umpire to determine what's safe.

By daily not accepting my limitations as static, I can do many of the things most people don't believe a stroke survivor can do. Daily caregiving for a dying spouse being #1. All the other things like adaptive gardening, livestock care, and a host of other things I do on a daily basis following a close second. The first attempt almost always leads to a negative outcome. Think of a toddler taking his tentative first steps. He will probably fall quite a few times before he gets the rhythm down. If he stopped after the first twenty times, he will never walk, but toddlers don't. That's how I view accomplishing anything after my strokes.

You never fail until you stop trying. Albert Einstein said it first and I repeat it daily. But then again, I'm only human. I get frustrated with the trying. When frustration sets in nothing gets accomplished unlike anger. When you get angry enough you don't give up until you master it. But frustration is just the opposite.

When I get totally consumed with frustration of attempting to do, I stop trying. Not forever, just a day or two before I try again. There's not a day that goes by that I don't have to step away from something I try to do because of the frustration factor. Eventually I will learn or relearn how to do what I want to do. Some might say I'm just too stubborn and I'll agree with that. I rarely settle for I can't. Not if I really want to do something. Believe me that there are tons of things that fall into the category of really don't want to do. They aren't absolutely  necessary things. I would like to crochet again, but it hasn't become a really want to do thing like my knitting or my spinning yarn, or I would have taken the time to learn an alternate way to do it.

I actually put myself in the position of having to spin when I got my first angora rabbit. Sure, Buddy is a great companion and fun to have around, but any rabbit would be. He's an angora which doubles the care issues. He produces fur/wool for spinning every 3-4 months. If I don't remove it, he'll eat it and get sick or even die.  I really wanted to spin again. I started slowly with one rabbit (the toddler's first hesitant steps) to now having a rabbitry of soon to be six long haired bunnies (toddler learns to run). I thought 'I can do that, I think' in the beginning after my strokes. I've accomplished it with time  and built up enough confidence in my proving I can. I can operate a rabbitry post strokes without a doubt in my mind. I know I can. I've actually got almost two years of practicing 'I think I can' under my belt to take this humongous step forward. I'm fulfilling a pre-stroke dream too.

Don't give up your dreams of what your life could have become just because of a stroke. You can still do anything you want to do...except walk a tight rope. Well, maybe you could do that too, if you really wanted to. Just keep trying because...

Nothing is impossible.