Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Stroke Survival: Looking at Blessings

(I'm out of town again. This is becoming a bad habit )

You know, I was thinking this week how blessed I am because of my strokes. You may think I'm crazy or more crazier than usual. I am the queen of Abby Normal, remember? But honestly, I am blessed because of my stroke. No, I don't always feel that way but for the most part I am. Yeah, like the rest of you survivors, I've had some devastating setbacks, and woulda, coulda, shoulda haves. But I'm not kicking myself with regrets. Are you? Are you living in the past? Are you looking at your new, useless parts of your body saying if only I could get it back?

Why are you wasting time?  

And, I don't want to hear you say that you can't do anything or about it. Because although I speak aphasic plainly in this blog, I'll scream bull patties when I hear that. It's ranks right up there with physicians saying, "Your recovery is the best it's ever going to be." It's a cop out. You've just quit trying, if you ever did. (me being all about tough love and kicking you in the hinny)

I used to say if writers/would be authors truly wanted to write they would. Now, I'm applying the same attitude to doing in spite of a stroke. If you really wanted to do something you would. Even regular people have their wishes. You are extraordinary because of your stroke. You have become super human being since your stroke. Don't believe me? Using me as an example, what I couldn't do just four short years ago after my stroke...

  1. Speak
  2. Walk
  3. Use my arm at all
  4. Move my leg with moderate control
  5. No control of my foot drop
  6. Limited control of  my bladder and bowel functions
  7. Chronic fatigue so bad I could only manage four hours awake
  8. Out of control Psuedobulbar Affect
  9. Vision in one eye (left) partially blocked by free floating blood
  10. Couldn't hope to ever drive again
  11. Could maybe make myself a sandwich to eat or a nuke and eat meal
  12. Falling or stumbling several times a day
 Today... Major differences! Not without hard work and long hours to perfect by not quitting.
  1. I still struggles with word finding, but to most I speak well.
  2. I can walk and even sometimes without my cane
  3. Raise my arm enough and have control to hold things like opening a jar of pickles. Can carry up to 5 lbs in a tote bag (think groceries when hooked on my almost constantly spastic wrist). 
  4. Raise my leg and place it within 6" of where I want it to be. I still lose all control when knee reflex is taken.
  5. I can dorsiflex and on a low spasticity day can even evert on command the foot.
  6. I have moderate control over bowel and bladder. Exception is diarrhea and heavy diuretic days. Even for normal folks this is a challenge. I can count on one hand how many accidents I have in a week.
  7. Chronic fatigue is still an issue but I'm more active than four years ago.
  8. The PBA is still an ongoing problem. I do find yoga deep breathing and focusing tends to reduce the affect without the use of medication.
  9. The vision is clearing as time shrinks and break apart the blood into smaller and smaller pieces. Those with floaters will understand what I mean. 
  10. I drive my automatic vehicle with little adaptive equipment. (a steering knob) I even make the trip home, almost 7 hrs of driving in heavy traffic and multiple direction changes.
  11. I cook almost everything I used to cook. The prep work takes longer to do.
  12. I may fall once a month or so. A lot of the time I can catch myself before I fall.
Now in addition to all of that, I've even picked up a few old leisure and have to do things. I'm planning and expanding towards future horizons.
  1. I plant, grow, weed, water, harvest and process my own fruits and vegetables. Just like I used to do with some adaptions like raised and elevated raised beds, plus longer handles on hand tools. This first year is experimenting and fresh eating on new soil/composting/organic with the expansion into 85% of dietary needs in 4 years.
  2. I have relearned to knit with one hand with large needles or looms.
  3. I have relearned how to spin wool into yarn.
  4. I raise, groom, and care for angora rabbits. In the past three years, the operation has grown from 1 rabbit to 11. In the coming two years, the operation will be expanded to 20 and for profit.
  5. I raise, butcher, and process chickens and meat rabbits for freezer meats. We will also have dairy goats for milk, cheeses, and meat. So far this year, 25 lbs of meat was butchered and processed by me alone. With the goal of 300 lbs of meat passing by this one handed person a year within the next three years.  Not to mention raw pork products turned into bacon and ham, and all dog and cat food.
  6. I do a handicapable YouTube channel that shows others (handicapped or not) on homesteading. Currently I'm featured in at least one video a week.
This is just the beginning. More plans are in the works. I'm continuing in experimenting and gaining confidence. Adaption, will power, and the Grace of God is essential.

Nobody gets it right the first time, or even the second. Unless it's a fluke. You only fail if you give up. Are you a quitter?

I'll admit to not being upbeat 100% of the time. I get frustrated too. It's more like 85% upbeat and 15% down trodden. All these creative juices on how to adapt things to the way I can do them as I am now takes its toll. All of these did not happen overnight. It took days, weeks, or months to make it look easy and make me feel like I've accomplished a goal. The first attempts are never pretty. It takes a lot of editing/adapting/tweaking to make it pretty. I'll admit to putting off a task when it gets too frustrating to tackle another day. But I don't let it become a UFO (UnFinished Object). It's just put aside until I have a lower frustrating time. I give myself permission to let others do for me.
Example: I let Mel open all the cans for me with her manual can opener for about a month. She didn't mind and it made her feel useful while I did all the cooking. Until, I got tired of waiting for her and bought a Tornado can opener. I use it out of necessity. She uses it because she has fun with it. And, she didn't see the need for this gadget before I bought one. It also made nonsharp edges so she could up cycle them in her workshop.
Yes, before my stroke, people just looked at what I did as ordinary. Now after my stroke, people look at what I do as extraordinary. I'm super human in all that I do because I didn't give up. I chose to forget about what was...the past and past achievements. I chose to embrace my new limitations and achieve in spite of them. As a stroke survivor, wouldn't you like to join my in feeling this way? Only you can make the choice for you. It's all about your attitude. Today is a new day. Start it fresh.
Say it with me...
Nothing is impossible.


  1. You are and always will be one of the champions due to your attitude, Jo. {{{{hugs}}}}

  2. Hi Jo - your attitude shines through ... and just getting on with it, the more you can do, the more you will be able to do ... the graphic "Don't Quit" - is a good one ...

    Brilliant - and now it's a new day here .. nothing is impossible - get on and do it ... cheers Hilary

  3. And looking back on all those accomplishments has got to make your heart do a happy-dance. Nothing like progress to make us feel hope in this new, tough life. Nice work!


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