Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Spasticity and Botox Again

My next series of Botox injections is May 1st. So is it any wonder the effectiveness of my Botox is wearing out. I hope upon hope with each series of injections that the effectiveness will carry through until the next appointment, but I'm literally sorely disappointed. The spasticity returns full force weeks before the next series is due. Not that the spasticity disappears with the Botox, but it brings the pain down to a dull roar and the tightness into manageable levels where some movement is possible.

Keep in mind that mine is not the average spasticity that quite a few post stroke survivors suffer with. It isn't sporadic episodes, but a constant bane to my existence of living post stroke. It is classified as severe spasticity. There no cure or treatment that works 100% for anybody. Heck, they (the researchers) are still trying to define it. It's that different in everyone stricken with it. So there isn't even a sure definition for it.

But from my standpoint, it's clear as crystal that the muscles tighten involuntarily, and then cramp. These cramps can last from several seconds to hours. Of course me, being Ms. Abby Normal and Ms. Overachiever, the cramping has to go on for hours around the clock. The only thing that saves me from nonstop agony and crying is my dry needling sessions. Unfortunately, I would have to have dry needling three times a week to keep the spasticity from worsening when my Botox wears off. I'd be in debt up to my eyeballs at $45 a session during these periods. I think even Bill Gates would have a problem with this kind of bill looking at the expenditure for the rest of his life. I'm not a spring chicken or even a fall hen any more, but still I have quite a few years left in me. I'd kind of like to live out my life as relatively pain free as possible without being drugged out of my gourd, wouldn't you?

I'd love to not have needles poked into me up to a hundred times a dry needling session also, but it's one of those love/hate relationships. It's where you tell the physical therapist to "hurt you good" so you aren't in continual pain from the spasticity. It's almost like a sadist/masochist relationship where no sexual pleasure is derived just pain relief.

My inside elbow after dry needling
I'd love not to look like a junkie (drug addict) from all the bruising that can be the results of dry needling too.  Within hours my arm will look like pictured. After 24 hours, all the nice black bruising is evident. Yes, I ask for it. Heck, I'm even paying for them to do it to me. How desperate is that? Like a junkie I have to have my dry needling fix to keep moving.

If there were one drug I could take to stop this cycle, you know I'd be the first in line for it.

But there isn't one. So I accept this treatment as a last resort. It's the only way I've found that works and keeps me moving. If it wasn't for the spasticity being so bad, I'd almost have full movement again. I can voluntarily straighten my elbow, open my right hand and straighten my fingers, with strong concentration, with the full Botox and dry needling. From week 2 after Botox to week 4, I can do this. It's slow going but I have voluntary movement on command. But I gradually lose function after that. As you can imagine, I work the Dickens out of my arm, and fingers during that time in the hopes of strengthening my weak muscles to combat the spasticity. For the past two years, I've been on this cycle of excitement, and then frustration. But still I'm fighting. It is tiring. Frustration does get the better of me, but I keep at it.

My inverted right foot and foot drop still makes walking difficult. After two years of dry needling I haven't progressed farther than one step without my AFO, but I'm still working at this too. I've noticed that the calf muscles have decreased in size over the past year. A loss of muscle mass is always concerning, but it can be gained back with time. My right calf is about half the size of my left. It's not because I don't work both calf muscles, I do. It's because of the AFO. Only half the support of my body is actually done by those muscles. But then again, I've always had very muscular thighs and calves from weight lifting in the past too. I may on occasion lift 50 lb bags of feed now, but it is a rarity rather than the norm these days. I've got a Mel for that.

I'm just going to have to work my right side more to build the muscles back up.You've heard of the One Hit Wonders? I'm a One Step Wonder. The ankle is weak and wobbles. My foot will actually bend and be locked into a greater than 70 degree angle of supination without the Botox and dry needling. Oh, and my toes? My big toe will point straight up and the rest of my toes will curl under. Try bearing weight like that! If it wasn't for my knee and hip being artificial already, I'd be worried about the continual strain they'd be under. Even so, my muscles holding these joints are strained with every step I take. Does this stop me from moving under my own power? Nope! I'm enjoying every moment I can on my own two feet. Every day I try standing and taking steps without my AFO. One day, I might just be surprised and take off.

Until then, it's Botox and dry needling.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Adaptive Gardening


Is there a sure indicator that spring is on the way, it's this holiday. So what does this mean? To gardeners and adaptive gardeners alike, it's time to get planting! I've organic gardened for the better part of half my life. Having to give up my over twenty year plot of gardening space was a true hardship about moving here. It meant starting from scratch again. But, starting over is not new to me. I had to rethink my gardening strategy after my stroke. I couldn't operate a tiller with one functioning hand. Turning the rich dirt with just a shovel was a ridiculous idea when looking at the size of my was 30x50. Sure, one shovel full at a time would have worked, but REALLY??! With one functioning hand and arm. Nah! I wasn't going to do it.

Milk crate garden with Lil Bit
I built raised beds out of pallets, raised growing areas with milk crates, and hung gutters at a more accessible height. Granted my harvest wasn't as great as just planting in the ground, but I was doing what I loved and needed to do. It wasn't easy, but it brought me joy to raise plants from seeds and produce harvestable produce to eat. With my allergies, it was a necessity. I suffer far less with organically grown food. When I started gardening organically, organic food were rarely in standard grocery stores. But I continue growing my own even though it is. I like knowing where my food comes from and what's in it. To me, it's just a healthy, both mental and physical, best option.

Here on the cockeyed homestead in NE Georgia, we also grow organically. This property was abandoned for seven years before Mel bought it. So the soil has healed and it is truly organic. Granted there are too many trees and most is heavily overgrown. She has done well over the past three years of cleaning what she could, but now it's time for bush hoggers and trees cutters, if we are going to open up more than a quarter acre space. Having the wood for the wood stove cut and ready for years to come doesn't hurt either.

Last year, I started with raised bed built low to the ground and growing in gutters. It was a dismal failure not because it doesn't work, but our darn blasted chickens wouldn't stay out of the garden. This year we are opting for elevated raised beds for herbs, lettuces, carrots, and strawberries. A YouTube creator that I watched just after my stroke shows how to make them. Watch below. It's not that hard to do and you have plenty of growing space in them.
YouTube standard license
What we did differently than these folks is that we filled the bottom 2/3rds with used straw from our hen house, leaves, etc, and are allowing it to compost down. So it's doing double duty. Yes, the inner ground will drop as it composts, but we'll have plenty of compost rich soil to raise the level again. By the way, we didn't use a nifty air compression staple gun, I wish. We screwed the pallets together for easier dismantling if we decided to move the beds. At one end, we wired the pallet, so if we decided to use the composted material elsewhere, we could. The beauty of doing it this way with the bed filled with compost, is that when the season is over, we can plant sweet and regular potatoes in them.

We also didn't zigzag the planting beds like shown in the video. We left them two pallets wide by one across with a four-foot walkway in between. This allows for weeds and grasses to grow for our chickens and rabbits. Everything is double or triple duty on this homestead. It has to be to be more productive and efficient. 

We did, or should I say Mel did, till the former garden.The soil is hard packed clay and needed a lot of organic material to make it soft enough to plant and grow healthy vegetables in. After two years of Mel working at it and adding organic amendments to it, it now has an abundance of worms in it. You can't turn a shovel full up without getting a few.

This will be for the taller plants like corn, sunflowers (we grow our own Black Oil Sunflower seeds for the angoras), peas, cucumbers, and pole beans. But all the low harvesting plants, like zucchini or yellow squashes and stuff, went in the elevated raised beds. This makes it very accessible for me and not so hard on everyone's back. Nobody is getting any younger. It's also less of a fall hazard for me. Yes, I may still have to bend over and stoop down, but not as often. We use the 5-ft fence around the garden for these tall plants to grow up and add support.

A word or two about tools you will need to for adaptive gardening. Garden hand pruners can be difficult to use if you have small hands. I found a smaller pair built for smaller hand widths at Gardeners Supply Company. My hand from the tip of my pinky finger to the tip of my thumb is only a six inch reach. My hand width is only 3 1/2 inches wide at the widest point so standard bypass pruners are too big for me to use one-handed. A good pair of pruners are worth their weight in gold in the garden. I also have another pair for butchering rabbits and chickens, and soon quail.

A standard watering can (2 gallons) is handy to have when working in elevated raised beds, but it weights over 16 lbs when full. I opt for a gallon milk jug or a 2-qt pitcher. Yes, I have to refill in more often, but watering plants with one hand trying to control that much weight is chancy at best for me.

Shovels, hoes, and rakes, even mops and brooms, can be hazardous and awkward when using them one handed in the best of times. Most often, IT IS NOT the best of times. First of all, I'm stuck with using these with my nondominant side. So using these items are always awkward for me. Plus, I'm short (5 ft squat). I found cutting off a foot to a foot and a half of the handle works well. Yes, the reach is shorter but my control of these things is better.

You can buy the adaptive gardening tools for beau coup buxes. But I'm a cheap skate. I'm already having to adapt a whole lot of things in my life because of my stroke. I'm choosy about what I buy to do what I want. That's not to say that I don't love my adaptive cutting board and Ulu knife because of the ease of use they provide me, I DO. But when you compare the use factor of these two items and their cost, and the amount of use a set of adaptive gardening tools, there's no contest. I do a whole lot more cooking and food prep work year around.

Gloves, I rarely use them. I find soap and water works just fine. I ranted about the waste of money by having to buy a pair of gloves when only one is used. But I have justified my cost of my favorite leather work gloves finally! Mel is right handed. So usually her right handed glove wears out faster than her left. She just swaps out her worn glove for my nonused right handed glove. How's that for an economically sound practice? Now I don't feel so wasteful in buying a pair of work gloves. But actually buying gloves to garden with? Nope. I just wash my hands more frequently. I do make a scrubbing bar of soap by adding a little sand to my regular soap recipe. It clean me up pretty well.

For when I want to move more dirt than my hand trowel will do. I found a trip to a second hand shop was the ticket. I found an old military shovel. A little rust remover (used motor oil in a filled sand pot) and some spritzes of WD-40 restored it almost to it's former glory. The handle makes control of this shovel a breeze. It even came with its old canvas cover. My cost was $5.35 plus a little labor. I use it when planting and removing plants from my raised beds, and harvesting potatoes.

$64.95 plus tax or more
Now my leg muscles strength have deteriorated with advancing age and strokes. I find it's easier the sit down more when gardening. Not to mention, the rack and pinion steering in my back, and arthritis setting in to my upper spine. I wanted a gardening stool to do the job but most were too costly or too low to the ground for me to rise easily. Again, my second hand store to the rescue. I found a heavy duty, double resin toy box. I just slapped some bolts, washers, nuts, and wheels (from discarded tricycles) on it and VOILA! A wheeled garden stool with storage. I did drill two large holes on in end and threaded a piece of old clothesline through it, so I could pull it along as I moved down
My solution
the rows. It's just the right height for me to rise and lower myself with ease. My cost total with adaption $10.00. Did I mention I'm a cheap skate? The seat of my "new" garden cart is wider that the purchasable one so it's more stable when lifting my wide hinny up and down. I can actually shuffle my body around it to get both sides of the garden rows without moving it unlike the other one.

Are you disabled or getting older and thinking about gardening. Maybe not as huge as mine that provides a year's worth of produce. What are you waiting for? Even growing one tomato plant in a pot will be ten (or more) less tomatoes you will have to buy in the store. I guarantee it will be the best tomato you have ever eaten. Nothing beats a tomato sandwich on a hot summer day. Especially if you make your own bread too with it. A little homemade mayonnaise, some salt and pepper, you have a meal fit for princes and princesses... which you are by the way through Christ.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Keeping the Faith 2

Part 2
Once again, I'm letting God have this blog.

I had a comment in here from Barb Polan that I felt that I should address here since I can relate to this one too. Can't all of us that haven't received THE promised healing from our strokes yet?
You left out this thought (which I have frequently): when other stroke survivors have a breakthrough and can now use their hands or begin to run, one frequent response is "Praise the Lord!" or "I owe it all to God." Now, tell me this - why did THEY receive such help from God, but I haven't? Yes, I'm a whining, selfish being, and I know life's not fair, but why not me?

No and yes, Barb. You are being whinny and selfish human being. <smiling> Just as I can be. Remember, what I said about being a petulant child?

I realized, while praying about this comment and my own thoughts, that healing has actually taken place. Am I as bad off as I was initially after my stroke? No, I am better as are you living post stroke. Was it a complete restoration of your body? Nope. Neither is mine. Am I expecting my healing to be total? Yes. Most definitely. I have faith and am expecting to be totally healed.


I knew you were waiting for this. There always is a but or butt head, isn't there?<smiling again>

Yes, I was healed (partially). I can walk enough to get around under my own power, though not with the ease I once did. I can talk enough to make myself understood, although the aphasia can get the better of me. I can use my arm to hold things and help my functioning side, with difficulty by using my shoulder muscles. I can drive a car and operate some machinery, although not like I did before. I can write with a pen, though not with the accuracy, neatness, or correct spelling I once did. ACTUALLY I DO NOTHING AS I ONCE DID. This is because I lost my dominant side. Do I say, "Praise the Lord," or "I owe it all to Jesus." or "Thank you, Jesus" for the extent of healing I have received already. Yep, I do.


I still do the most of what I need to do as do you. This is important and shouldn't be discounted. Sure, it would have been easier if I hadn't had a stroke, or a second one which set me back and took a couple more things away.  I still say, "Praise the Lord." Because I received a second partial healing from the second stroke. Yes, I still have difficulty reading and writing. Yes, I still have grammar and spelling issues...Thank God, for spell checker. I still write this blog almost weekly. All I can ever do is try and try again.

Funny and heart breaking tale here. I started writing the cookbook. I had it perfect. Pictures, format, and everything. I was even using a writing program that I had never used before. A wicked feat for me now because of the learning curve involved. I was so proud of myself because I had finished 20 recipes. I was writing again! Yipee! Wahoo!

The circuit breaker tripped and my computer lost power. ARGH! I forgot to save my work. Twenty recipes and six hours of work... gone! Saving was a separate step. ARGH! That's okay, it had an automatic save feature. I found this out when I powered up my computer again. Yippee! I'm saved literally. I clicked the box to recover my work. Another box appeared "Error! Data could not be recovered." ARGH!! I lost it all. I was back to square one. Will I not redo it because of this? Nope! I've started writing it again. I just save after every recipe. Lesson learned, but, it actually looks even better now that I've practiced more with the program.

How does this apply to us with total healing from our strokes?
Just because we believe, and are automatically saved through Jesus Christ, doesn't mean that we will automatically get everything we pray for. It may not happen in our lifetimes, but we have the promise of a new, whole, perfect bodies coming to us in the next. Who better to appreciate it that the imfirmed in this life?

I met a man at the grocery store a couple of weeks ago. Have I mentioned before that I hate Walmart, but it is a necessary evil? This man had been almost totally healed from two strokes. He was very impatient and gruff. He even followed me out to my car to get my wheelie cart. He was talking to me as we went. Me, riding and he, under his own steam. No cane, no AFO, no difficulty walking, and use of both arms. He had to have my cart because he couldn't shop at Wally World without one. Who am I to judge? He also did not offer to help me load my groceries into my vehicle. He just stood there griping about how long it was taking me and eventually sat on the cart. When I finished and grabbed my cane out of the cart, he whizzed off without a backwards look.

I hurled a "God continue to bless you!" at him. Now, honestly in my heart, I felt nothing of the sort. I was irritated beyond belief. Here was a man, in my opinion, who should be grateful and thankful about being able to do what he wanted after a stroke, but he couldn't see it. Here I was, by comparison, a minister who walked in faith and stood firmly on the Rock believing, and was still waiting for total healing. Why him and not me??!! Yeah, I know this feeling very well also. My child self cries out to my Father about injustice and the big WHY. Was I just being selfish and whinny? Yes!

As I asked for forgiveness of being so petty on my drive home, I was shown that the man did not had Christ in his heart and surely had no hope for the next life. He was lost. Rejoice in the healing of others. Even when they say, "God healed me." He is still all powerful. No, we haven't received total healing, Barb. It's not because we aren't faithful. We are! It's not because we are not deserving. We are! It's not because He doesn't love us enough. He does! God just knows we have the fight enough to suffer what was lost in this life and rest on the promise of a restored body in the next. You do not know the circumstances surrounding other's healing. Only God does because He sees the whole picture past, present, and future.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Exercise

Ugh! That's a dirty word, isn't it? Does anyone really like exercising? I mean besides an anorexic? Sure you enjoy the endorphins release, doesn't everyone like the high? But PT exercises are so boring after a stroke! It's the same thing over and over again.

You might have really pushed yourself just after your stroke. Maybe even for a month or two, but for five years! Honest. A show of hands. How many of you long term, living post stroke are still doing your PT exercises once or twice a day? Weren't you told to do them? I'll admit to not doing them every day. It's more like three times a week, but I also do other things to compensate for the exercises.

Exercising more ranks right up there with losing weight as a New Years resolution, but it's April. But that's besides the point. The range of motion exercises you were given right after your stroke is just as important today as it was when you first had your stroke.

Muscle memory
If you let these exercises slide your muscles will forget how to function. As I said last week, if God says I'm healed, it would be mighty sad if I have let my muscle tone decrease to the point where it didn't make a difference.

New Brain Pathways
By the same token, what if I didn't make my brain try to reroute around the damaged part to make my muscles work? It would always be a very sad day. They are still forming.

Okay, so I've told you why I continue to exercise my paralyzed side. Let me tell you some alternatives to the standard exercises.

Go outside! The same four walls close in on you. Roll or walk yourself out on the porch or driveway. Enjoy the sun and breeze hitting your face. Me, if I went out on the porch, I'd be shooing chickens away, but that's an exercise too. I move my affected arm by the shoulder and stretch my elbow as far as I can. But still this simple action exercises my elbow and shoulder.

I feed our rabbits and chicken twice a day. Their feed is kept in large outdoor trash cans. I will bend my knees, scoop the feed, and use my gluts to stand. Not quite deep knee bends, but it works my gluts and hamstrings. My right hamstring is partially paralyzed. It also works my lower back muscles. The garden is also my workout area. Not all my garden beds are elevated.

We've got me baby chicken on our homestead. I keep my balance and hold each one daily. In case you didn't know, chicks get pasty butts and have to be checked and cleaned or they could die. The brooder box, where they live, is 3x4. They are quick and don't like to be handled. Catching each one with only one hand is an effort of sheer will. They are just getting their wing feathers at a week old and trying to fly.

Speaking of gardening. There is a lot of lifting, bending, balancing, and negotiating in planting, caring, and harvesting a garden. You can get a pretty good work out doing this. I am constantly shifting my weight between legs, using both of my arms to carry flats of plants from the greenhouse to the garden. I may be lopsided when I lower the plants but they don't care. I'm tucking them into their forever home. Shoveling and raking manure is nobody's idea of a joyful task, but for an organic garden, it's essential. Every six months we are raking rabbit manure from under their outdoor hutches to put in the garden each spring. The rabbitry has a poo removal system that has us toting 5 gallon buckets of waste every month to the compost pile.

Currently, the five adult chickens are roosting on the front porch rail at night. There is a pile that has to be scrapped and moved to the compost bin every month. Then, there is the straw in the little chick brooder. They eat and poop a lot. This is swept into the wheel barrow for Mel to take to the compost heap also. This manure won't be used until the next spring. Our current wheel barrow takes two hands. This will change this month when I purchase a one handed job like pictured. I won't be left out on all the fun. It will only set me back $129.

Did I mention that I'm closing on my house on the 7th? Well, I am. My Brunswick house is sold. That's how I can afford it. Yippee! But I digress.

There is still a lot around the homestead to do. Plenty for Mel, our wwoofer and son to do. In the coming months trees will be felled, and cut into firewood. I'm not exempt from stacking it in the wood shed. I'll be gathering tinder, broken branches and sticks for next winter. The work never stops. All of it requires bending stretching and using my muscles until I'm spent with exhaustion, but that's a good thing. I'm getting a work out. I'm using my muscles.

So doing the exercises on those sheets by PT, oh so many years ago, is almost passe. Yes, I still have a folder with those exercises in it.  I'll pull it out every so often to check and see what I haven't done in another way. Why do I do it still? For the two reasons given above; muscle memory and new brain pathways.

Have you given up your exercises?

Isn't it time to start doing them again?

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Keeping the Faith

Forgive me for being overly Christian in this post. BUT I am a minister, after all. And, I'm living post stroke too.

I know many of you blame God, or ask God about your stroke? How could He let this happen to you??!!

 I hear you crying out. You've been hit with a whammy of a turmoil. How could God have let this happen to you? You were His child, weren't you? You were walking in faith, weren't you? You went to church every Sunday? Or every Sunday you could.  You prayed daily? You praised and thanked Him continually. You had no other God but the Father.

The fact is you may be blaming the wrong source. Yes, God may even let this happen to you. Look at Job in the Bible. God allowed him to be tested. To have his faith stretched to the limit. He lost everything in this world, but remained faithful and praised God. This is important. Nobody wants to go through what Job did. Honestly, would you except for the reward part? But, here we are faced with paralysis and a host of things that go along with it.

God, I hate my life the way it is now!

 I've been guilty of saying this in sheer frustration from time to time. But do I really? The answer is a big, fat NO. I may hate some parts of it like falling, and not being able to use my limbs the way God originally made me. But on a whole, I am content and at peace. God gifted me with  a creative mind to accomplish most of what I need to do. Sure, there are many things I wish to do, but can't right now. But given time, I might be able to figure it out. Nobody ever told you that this life would be easy. If they did; they were lying.

God, where is the healing You promised?

 Coming. Expect it, even though it might be 50 years in the waiting. It takes patience. Again, I direct you to Job. It wasn't a day worth of trials. It was months and years. Have you proven yourself faithful to the Father. I've been living post stroke for almost five years now. I'm still keeping faith with Him and expecting. In the meantime, I continue to live each day to the fullest. I do more by noon than most regular folks do in a day. I focus on the blessings instead of the turmoil. I praise Him for the beauty all around me. I even thank Him when I make it to the toilet in time instead of wetting myself. That's a HUGE blessing to me.

When God, When?

It's coming. This is the answer I get every time I ask. So I make applesauce and lemonade until it's time. I do what I can do. Try what I can't do. And, just keep on keepin' on. That's really all I can do. I still do my PT exercises so that when it does happen my muscles won't be wasted away. I figure out how to do things with my affected side to help me with my daily routine. Like coining the phrase, "Arm pit tight" when screwing on canning rings while canning our food. It would be a horrible slap in the face when, "God says, you're healed!" and I've let my muscles waste away to the point they won't work, wouldn't it? But I've accepted the fact that it is coming and am expecting it. Each day I try to stand and take a step without my AFO.

Why God did you let this happen to me?

Tough question. Yep, it sure is. Maybe, God wanted to change something in your life and you didn't listen. Maybe, God wanted you to step out in faith and you didn't listen. Maybe, God wanted you to be an example to others. I don't have the answer for you. You have to ask Him for your case. I know these were my answers. I was impatient like a petulant child. Always demanding and not waiting. He wanted me to have a broader focus in my ministry except for a traveling messenger. He wanted me to be humble and ask for help. He wanted me to continue leading by example. When I fulfill what He wanted I expect to be healed, or maybe not. God reserves the right to change His mind just like us. Will I be disappointed by not being healed fully? Yes and no. By living this life fully each day, I truly lack and want for little. I am content and at peace. Really that's all I need. He has shown me a rewarding life just as I am.

As always,
Nothing is impossible.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Have You Given Up?

I'm fast approaching the four and five-year mark of living post stroke. I have to say that the idea of giving up the hope of full or even partial recovery of my right arm and leg has crossed my mind. But still I hang on with my finger tips to that hope.

The difference between me giving up hope and others is that I'm not standing still waiting for full recovery. I'm living my life to the fullest while waiting. Sure, I may have moments, days, weeks, or rarely a month on the self pity pot, but I eventually snap out of it. What about you? Are you still on it? How boring! Don't you want better for yourself? I know I did in spite of having two strokes.

If you've read this blog very long, I know you've shaken you head in amazement about what I have done since my strokes. It honestly has taken some hard work and thinking outside the box creativity to get here. I'm still without us of my left arm partially. The shoulder works, Thank God! But from the bicep to the fingers, nothing except some serious spastic muscles. I truly believe if it wasn't for the spasticity, I would have regained full use back. I was well on the way before it set in full force leaving contractures in my wrist and fingers. My ankle is another story. I couldn't strengthen the Extensor Digitorum or Peronesus Longes (outside, lateral calf) muscles enough to control my ankle from inverting. See, I know which muscles are affected by my strokes and are causing the trouble. But I can voluntarily evert my foot and dorsiflex when the spasticity is not present. I still am working on these issues with exercises. But, I'm thankful for my AFO, it allows me to stand and walk.

My attitude has been my saving grace and my frustration point. It's no secret that I'm stubborn because of this I'm resilient and tenacious. It's also no secret that I'm a cheerleader. I'm always rooting for the underdog even if it's me. These traits have carried me through a lot over the decades. I used to say learn something new each day. Yeah, I'm a nerd. But, since I had a stroke I've added to that. Attempt to relearn or try an alternative of something you used to do each day. Nothing is easy the first time you try. Heck, it may be difficult the first twenty times you try, or even the 500th time you try. Who would have ever thought a video of me cooking or canning one handed would get 4,000 plus views, but it has. The same goes for a lot of videos we produce where I'm in it just doing.

There isn't much I need assistance with and that's the way I like it. Mel has learned to ask before jumping in. I really appreciate that. I could have been like many I see being rolled around in a wheelchair post stroke. Nah, not really. I would have fought my way out of it. See, my attitude is showing. Not to mention that it would have been impossible for me to get around my house with a wheelchair. Circumstances and sheer will got me up on my feet again. The same can be said for everything I can now do. I keep pushing my boundaries.

Nothing ventured is nothing gained. It's true. Are you satisfied with your life living post stroke? I sure wasn't. I had dreams and goals for the rest of my life before a stroke sideswiped me, didn't you? I know you did.I didn't have the luxury of time after my stroke. I had a terminally ill husband at home who needed me to function. I had to do to the best of my ability and fast. I spent a total of 30 days in the hospital and rehab unit. Then I went home to what awaited. I knew my children would help, but not for long. Within six months, I was doing almost all again. I was walking, talking, driving, cooking, and caring for my husband who was only slipping away, and able to less and less.  Did I feel hopeless or helpless? Truly yes! But I didn't have a choice.This was my saving grace plus my attitude.

Your stroke did not kill your brain, only parts of it. I know you still are thinking trapped inside that nonfunctioning parts of paralyzed body. I know I was and am. My mind is going ninety to a million miles an hour. I could spend hours, days, weeks, months, and yes, even years bemoaning my lot in life. But inside, I use all that brain power in thinking of things I can do and how I can do it. Yes, I will continue to fail at trying to use a manual can opener. But that doesn't mean I won't pull it out of the drawer and try it from time to time. There's got to be a way to use it. I just haven't thought of the correct way yet. When I do, you'll be the first to know.

Yeah, I'm hard headed, stubborn, and have an attitude. Beep, beep! Get outta my way! I might just run you down if you get in my way with the speed of my brain power. I ain't dead yet. That which does not kill me, makes me stronger. Want my attitude? What's stopping you?

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Chicken and Adaptive Gardening

As y'all might know for the better part of a month now, we've had an injured chicken in our house. Her leg was injured in a predator attack which killed three of our birds a few weeks ago. The trial of incorporating her back within her flock was a dismal failure. She was attacked by hens and rooster alike. We kind of figured this would happen because she's been away from the flock for so long and is still a one legged chicken. I fear she will never regain the use of her hurt leg even with the range of motion therapy I've been doing with her.

Since Broody is the only one of our hens to go broody (sit on eggs until they hatch), we've decided to let her live a little while longer. But we'll have to protect her from the rest of the flock also. The other concern we have is that she hasn't laid an egg since she's been injured. A nonlaying chicken won't go broody, I don't believe. But still we are giving her the benefit of the doubt. She may lay again. Being injured can stop egg production. So the plan is this. We'll give her another month or two. In the meantime, I'm building a small chicken tractor 2x6 out of PVC and chicken wire. I realize chicken wire is not much protection from predators, but it will be in a fenced garden area. The plan for such a small tractor is to put it between the rows in our garden. She'll be on bug patrol. The extra fertilizer leeching into our garden beds with each rain will be one less chore we'll have to do. Chickens weren't meant to live indoors with people full time. This tractor can easily be moved every day by me and my one handed self. Since the rows are four feet apart, there's plenty of room for me to tend the garden and the chicken tractor. It only weighs about 15 pounds.

If after two months she still hasn't laid an egg, she can be culled. Why wait so long? Well, we have four fertile eggs in the incubator due to hatch on the 9th. We needed to replace our hens. Now watch them all be roosters destined immediately for their next stage of life. These new chickens will need a grow out pen. I can cull a chicken any time. I, unlike Mel, have no problem doing the deed. It's part of homesteading and being self sufficient.

Seedlings after a freeze.
It's still too cold to plant or even start seeds yet. This morning I thawed twelve water bottles for the rabbits and cracked a 1/4" layer of ice off the 5 gallon buckets we have around the house of rain water for the cats, dogs, and chickens outside. It might break 60 degrees today. Yes, I know we can start seeds inside, but I hesitate.  I started seeds in the greenhouse last Easter and an arctic blast killed all my seedlings two weeks later. An overnight frost is one thing but this was three days of below freezing temperatures at night and the daytime temperatures may have been in the mid 40s was too much for the seedlings. I'll wait until mid April to start anything even indoors.

This year, I'm trying something new. I built a soil block maker. For years, I've sworn by my biodegradable toilet and paper towel core pots as a way to start seeds, but I saw this idea on YouTube where they used PVC pipe to make them. But I thought of a better way. Each month I refill my prescription of Lovaza for my cholesterol. It comes in either the big manufacture package as shown or, I imagine, the largest prescription bottle made. Since my pharmacist doesn't cap my prescription  in child proof caps, my request. I always used to hand my childproof lidded caps to my grandchildren to open. The inner lid  fits snugly into the inside of the bottle. I was saving my prescription bottles for MAP International, who recycles these bottles to third world countries, I simply cut the narrowed end off with an Xacto knife and drilled a hole in the other end for a long bolt. Now making a hundred or so soil blocks would be tedious beyond belief, I made four of them and held them together with duct tape. To press all four bolts down at the same time, I simply attached all four bolts through a piece of 1x4. Voila! I can make four blocks at a time. They are 2" around by 2" high. Much bigger than the cell seed starting trays shown above. So now I can make four at a time in one go.

I'm not the first one to make this
As far as operating my new toy one handed, I put a row of hot glue near the plunger end of the bottles and cut strips of burlap to wrap around them. That way I can hold the plunger down with my thumb and anchor the tubes with my little finger as I pull the contraption upwards to release the pots. I do plan on doing a video of this. Both the making of the soil block maker and using it. All it cost me, other than the original prescription, was $4.00 for four bolts and nuts. I had assorted washers in one of Mel's soup can holders in her shop. Duct tape, burlap, and hot glue gun and glue sticks, we had on hand also. What self respecting homesteader and/or crafter doesn't have these? I found bolts and nuts around the shop, but not all the same length that I needed. If I had had them, it would have been a free, totally recycle/repurpose project. So this soil block maker used up some of my chomping-a-the-bit waiting to plant time. But it was well worth it. I'll still recycle my toilet paper and paper towel cores, but for rabbit toys and fire starters. With only two people in a household, we don't go through paper products that fast. Plus, like many self reliant folks, we use cloth alternative more except for toilet paper.

Well, that's been my week. How has yours been?

As always,
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: How Do You Spell Relief?

How do I spell relief? B-O-T-O-X. It's been two weeks since my series of injections and it's finally working. Now, for those of you that don't know, my post stroke spasticity is pretty severe. It doesn't come and go in episodes, it's a constant battle. When the Botox wears off between a couple of weeks to a month prior to the next scheduled injections, I'm in pain. Read 8 of 10 on a 10 scale. As an example, tense your upper arm muscle as tight as you can. Now imagine a Charlie horse cramp in those muscles while it's already tight. That's what I go through nonstop until the next set of injections kick in. The cramp will last about two hours, stop for about an hour, and start again.The last part of December to the middle of January was spent like this. A heck of a way to ring in the new year. Because of a billing error, I was also unable to get my dry needling also. It was a grin and bear it situation. I don't want a repeat of that situation ever.

The Botox has kicked in none to soon. It February already. Potatoes, green peas, cabbages, and carrots need to be planted. We've expanded our garden this year. I've also built an elevated raised bed from pallets for another crop of strawberries. It's only a 3x3x3 planting area, but I'll be able to tend it just fine. It's only 27- 30 plants. I should get a few pints of jam out of it. I do love strawberry jam. Other fruits and vegetables I can lean over and harvest but the strawberries would be crushed before I got them in the basket. Also, other fruits and vegetable ripen at the bottom first, then ripen up the plant, but strawberries will always be at ground level for the entire harvest. A 3x6x3 planter is in the works for my herbs. The 1x3x3 pallet planters just couldn't hold enough plants and water for my herbs last year, but it was a good attempt by Mel.

We've spent the winter months harvesting angora rabbit wool. Never got a chance to spin it into yarn though. I also haven't made my urinary pads either. We've lost two chicken to predators this winter. So one of the hens that survived the attack is sitting on some eggs for us. She has an injured foot. A bite went through her foot and abscessed before we found her. She's got a comfortable spot inside by the wood stove until she heals, and can rejoin the remaining hens and rooster. So we've given her a job of sitting on some eggs to hatch out replacement birds. She's sitting on four eggs. As of this week, her leg is still tucked firmly against her body and she uses her wing as a crutch when she's out of her milk crate.

The cookbook is coming along very slowly. It's not so much the recipes but the pictures that is taking so long. I have to make the dish first. Then there is the staging of the dish to make it look beautiful and delicious. I still haven't decided on the title. But I'm still at it.

Mel is finding out just how difficult self publishing can be. Writing a book is the easy part. At least for her. All the folks she thought would jump at her dog training book, haven't. I've tried explaining to her that $8.99 is too high for a 42 page book, but she isn't listening. She's working on her social media presence like twitter and instagram, but she's sort of lost. Meanwhile, I haven't been on twitter since my stroke almost five year ago, but every week I'm gaining twenty-five new followers. Go figure. My books have become a stumbled upon and buy item, because I haven't promoted them a lick. That's okay though, the royalty monies peter in. With no new books published, I've become a has been author. That's okay too. It's just living post stroke for me. It's just not worth the frustration to really put in the work it will take. Trying to regain other things back and adapting things I really need to do take the forefront, and these cause enough frustration. Writing has always been a need to do luxury item for me. Needs before wants. Maybe one day again.

Well that's it for now. Remember...
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: It's All About Me! Well, Sort of

But I love you too!
My only New Years resolution of sorts that I made was to focus on me more than others in 2017. If you really knew me, you'd realize what a challenge this is for me. In all my 60 years of life, I've put others before me to the point where I literally drove myself constantly into the ground. Do I sound selfish? It's not totally going to be a meme year though. The homestead is a huge undertaking and that's where my main focus will be, but there are other goals I'd like to explore and do that I've put on a back burner for far too long putting out everyone else's fires. Everyone else needs to take responsibility and just deal with it.

Sounds strange coming from a professed minister, right? Not entirely so. A huge part of my meme year involves others and their well being including my own. What I've wanted and been guided, by the Lord, is to reach more disabled folks and show them an alternative to just existing. I've been shown that this is my ministry field now. While I've continued writing this blog, I've done very little else. This will change in 2017.

I'm starting with a subcategory of our Cockeyed Homestead YouTube channel with a series of videos on homesteading and being disabled. I'll probably start a whole new channel. How does "The Single-Handed Homesteader" strike you? No, I'm not leaving the Cockeyed Homestead and will still do videos for that channel, but this will go more in depth of my faith, philosophy, how-tos, to give those disabled folks out there both a kick in the pants, and hope that they can also have their dreams, or at least some of them. They ain't dead yet no matter how much they want to be. This was a goal I set for me almost three years ago. It's time for me to get cracking on it. For many over at my stroke recovery blog, it's been a long awaited promise fulfilled. No, it won't be as originally intended with me by my lonesome. Homesteading is hard enough without disabilities, and with the move to north Georgia, I'm no longer alone.

I hear you. "But Jo, that's not selfish!" True, in part. I don't think I've got a totally selfish bone in my body. It is my commitment service to the Lord that guided me to this. Why else would He have allowed me these challenges to overcome? Especially with Him knowing me so well. (grinning) It nourishes my soul and blesses me abundantly so in my mind it is selfish. It's all about me. My growth. My faith. My resilience. My philosophy towards adversities. I'll just carry viewers along on the journey. If it touches one other soul and brightens their life, all the work put into it will be worth it. But then again, it's all about me.

The second part is to get involved on the local level.  I know you've all heard this before. I researched stroke support groups. While being a leader and unique in life is admirable, it can get lonely at the top. I used to say even a minister needs a minister from time to time. Yes, I have my Heavenly Father, but it doesn't hurt to have a good support system here on Earth too. After repeatedly calling the local stroke support group and not getting a call back, I'm going to present myself in person at the local hospital, which sponsors the group. I'm not leaving until I have talked to someone who knows what is going on. Yes, I can be stubborn that way and I'm tired of feeling alone here when I know I'm not.

So that's the plan. Work continues on the cookbook and life continues on the homestead living post stroke.

Nothing is impossible!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Retrying Old Things

Download your copy here
A little known fact about me is that I'm a multi published author. Even on this stroke writing blog. It's been so long since I've put up a snippet, story, or new book.  Before my strokes took away my ability to read and write, I was writing a survivalist series of books, in part about urban homesteading. The first book in the series was self published, as were the rest of the planned series. Well, I had a personal SHTF situation quite literally with my strokes and my husband's care being shifted over to hospice.  It has been a long, slow  recovery process for me. In fact I'm still in it. I've fought tooth and nail, clawing my way back to get to this point.

I've been asked by several of our YouTube subscribers to write a cookbook. I am presently going through my database of recipes, some of which we've videoed on our channel to compile it with fresh pictures. It is slow going, plus I'm typing one handed. My brain just doesn't work as well as it once did.  I haven't done much writing except for blogs in five years, but it's been good practice. Since cookbooks are basically lists, I almost feel almost confident enough to handle this type of writing now. I dunno how long that will take. I've never written a cookbook before. In the downloadable ebooks, I'll put links to the videos that correspond to the recipes. At least those uploaded prior to the publishing date. The rest may appear at a later date with no links, of course. You just have to search our channel under the "Cookin'" playlist. Today, there are 22 recipes there already and growing, but not in written form. (Hm, an asterisk on the page that YouTube deleted one or more videos. I'll have to figure out which ones and why.) Ya gotta love technology. Anyhow, there will be a web address listed in the paperback version.

How long is the cookbook? How many recipes? I dunno. I haven't thought that far ahead. Heck, this may be several books. I just haven't figured out the divisions yet. I've got thousands of them in my head, on my computer, and written on cards and pieces of paper in my stash from decades of cooking professionally and at home. When can you get a copy? I dunno that either. I've got to figure our the answers to the previous questions first. There are a lot of angles in publishing especially self publishing. What my angle? Why should someone buy the book when the video is free? Of course, there will be some recipes I won't tape too. The videos are a bonus added feature.

Then there is the housekeeping side of self publishing too like the cover art, any other art, the dividers, the divisions, who am I gearing sales for (marketing plan). Included in the marketing plan is public appearances, pre-sales, and book signings which means the pre-purchasing of paperbacks to sign. It also involves care of the homestead while away doing these events. A whole lot of juggling and planning and I'm not the master juggler anymore. I'm I really able to do this again? Do I really want to? We honestly need the cash injection to keep operating. If neither of us are working off the homestead.  Our feed and seed bill alone is $100 a month during late fall and winter, and we're small time right now. We can't grow in self sufficiency and/or profitability without it. Every little bit helps.

Who knows, I may start writing the above mentioned series again with more of a homesteading focus. At least, I'm going to try even if it takes a couple of years to write one. You got to understand. In my previous life BS, before strokes, I was writing, editing, and publishing four to ten books a year between nonfiction and fiction. Taking a couple of years to write one book is a harsh reality check for me. But these days, I'm living post stroke and trying to get on with my life.

Order it here
For Mel, she's on that newbie stage of writing of eat, sleep, dream writing fiction after her do training book hit the market. She's even has characters talking to her. She probably wouldn't eat if I didn't put a hot plate of food in front of her and make her stop writing once a day. I remember those days well. I sort of envy her. If we were both in that mental phase of writing, we'd starve to death. (grinning) All's I gotta say to her is spring is coming and enjoy it while it lasts.

As always...
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Sanity Restored

After y'all endured last week's melt down, I'm relieved to report that this to passed. Thank you for all the advice and support. I needed to blow off steam and it helped. Through a lot of prayer and meditation, this week I'm back to my old self. Relieved? I know I am. There are still difficult choices to be made, but I'm now back on stable ground mentally, if not physically.

First, I actually got six hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was just one night, but it helped immensely. Sleep deprivation is a powerful ailment, and plays havoc on both the body and the mind.

While the nocturnal Charlie horses continue, I start searching for other possible causes besides heart, neuro, and diet. I took a good look at my shoes. I missed my appointment to get my new, insurance covered shoes. Life just got too hectic and it slipped my mind. The specialty insole in my left shoe has a worn spot at the heel. This could be a major factor. Given the Botox has been wearing lean and my stance has changed, it could make all the difference in the world in over stressed muscles and tendons. I had taken a look at my activities and realized that every time I filled the kindling buckets with small branches, I could count on the Charlie horses occurring during the night. Picking up sticks and branches on level ground not so much, but there's only about a ten-foot surrounding the house that's fairly level everything else slopes either up or down. Even a slight slope causes me to shift my body weight more on my unaffected side to maintain my balance as I bend and lift. Poor body alignment. I'm sure any PT would agree. It only makes sense. I now carry a Grab-It with me for this activity.

I've made an appointment with my PCP for a new prescription for the shoes to be followed closely by Hanger, my orthodics company. Sadly and happily, I'll meet my deducible and max out of pocket yearly expense between neurology and cardiology by February again this year. So my shoes will be covered 100% once again. My Medicare doesn't kick in until July.

My heart affecting my stamina and breathing is another issue. I find I'm easily winded. The alternative of a triple valve replacement. It's looming closer and closer as much as I hate to admit it. I also dislike having to admit that I'm fearful of undergoing anesthesia again. After my heart stopping twice the last time, can you blame me? Of course, they'll purposely be stopping my heart to do this, but it's the whole restarting of the heart that is my issue. I have restarted hearts in ditches of mud and muck in the past, but it wasn't my heart. Does that sound stupid?

Having blown a gasket last week was cathartic for me last week. Where I was lost in a fog of hurt (both emotional and physical) everything was blurred, this week I can see clearer to decisions I made under distress were the right ones so my internal compass was still intact. It carried me through just as it always has. The issues of selling my house, and making my child and grandchildren homeless are still here. My Botox wearing off leaving me spastic and in chronic and severe pain is still occurring and will be until next month. My injection series is on the 27th and a week until it kicks in enough to make a difference. Hopefully, my insurance approves the increase to stop the Botox wearing off before the next series. I'm still living post stroke waiting on recovery.  Because of the stress of the situation that is my fault, my Fibromyalgia is still in flare mode. I'm going to HAVE to go back on my Cymbalta again at least until the flare lightens up. It sure won't hurt the depression either. I still can;t sleep lying flat or on my side, but the bruising has lessened and the scabs are disappearing. The area is still very tender. Even the shower spray hitting it will take my breath, but not as bad as last week. This week my coping skills are not barely hanging on by slipping fingernails. They are actually working and I'm able to function. Two songs ran through my soul this week and I realized THIS was for me...
 Big difference from last week, huh? I'm not saying that I won't fall into despair or succumb to the pity pot again. Of course, I will. I'm human, but...

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: I Hate My Life!

I don't get on the pity pot often but I've been hogging it this week. Actually it's been closer to two weeks now. I've been on a kick-myself-while-I'm-down, life altering, decision-making-damn-the-consequences, and what-about-me mode. I've even acted upon it! For me, it's only about time. I've been shoved into a corner and held there. This time God hasn't put me in a box. I know the difference.

This is why. No, you readers have rarely seen me like this. No matter what life has thrown at me, I've rolled with the punches until now...I quit. This is way more pleasant a blog for today than the one I previously wrote and I deleted. The gist of that one was my family, finances, and my life. This one is too. But not as scathing or bitter. But, I realized today that the problem is me because I've allowed it to happen. I've literally given until I hurt myself and I'm angry.
My T-shirt for 2017

I've always been the dependable one no matter what. Well, that stops now. I've given until there is nothing left to give of my heart, body, soul, and money. It's time for me to show my selfish  side.

I officially listed my Golden Isles house on the market. This also means I'm making my youngest daughter and three youngest grandchildren homeless when it does sell. I've agonized over this decision for months now. I'm in danger of losing the house to foreclosure with no options left.It's a long story, which only a small part appears in these blogs. I honestly can't afford to keep paying for two residences on my limited income. For 2016, I've dug myself into debt greater than I've ever allowed myself to be in trying to help everyone and myself. There is no easy fix for me and it now rolls downhill to where others will be inconvenienced too.

At the end of the year, things were so financially over extended that I couldn't even afford a roll of toilet paper. I had to borrow a couple of rolls to even give a crap.  Yes, my marginally sick sense of humor still survives. Our cell phone service was even suspended for nonpayment. During that time, everybody and their brother was trying to reach me. My father went into the hospital and is now on hospice services due to failing kidneys and multiple pin strokes throughout his brain. My oldest daughter was also in the hospital, I still don't know why, and she almost died. She's in Alaska and uses FaceBook. Daughter #4 had issues with depositing the house payment into my bank and she couldn't reach daughter #2 who is on the acct. I rarely FaceBook anymore because it's all attached to my old email account that I can't even access anymore. When my phone service was cut back on after the first of the year (I paid my bill), I had 22 voicemails waiting on me. The last ones that I heard first, were down right nasty from my family (children, grandchildren, and siblings). I honestly wanted to turn off my phone service again!

God forbid, Jo is out of contact for a couple of weeks by phone. My internet and Skype still worked, but nobody tried emailing me. I couldn't afford any of my medications other than my heart meds but still I was inconveniencing others which I've never done. When when I did contact everyone, I wasn't dropping everything and running to the rescue. Daughter #4 no longer had the house payment again ( She's paid once since August, I've paid until December) to deposit because an emergency came up with the grandbabies. (their income is $200 less a month than mine) Even when I explained I couldn't even drive out of my driveway because of being bogged down up to my axle in clay mud, and then snow and ice. It wasn't good enough. It's my fault for moving here. Well, I've had enough. I quit.

I'm dealing with being stuck in our hallow with all of this going on 6 hours away. This is an hour after talking to my youngest daughter, my step mother and my little sister. I'm tending to the outdoor animals and I slip and fall on the ice hitting my head on the rabbit cages on the way down. I'm seeing stars, but I know that if I don't get up immediately, I won't be able to get up on my own. Once I stood up (so much fun on ice, rabbit muck, and muddy patches made by my fall), it's only in the teens temperature wise, and me in a multiple layered top covered by a sweatshirt over jeans. Yes, my jeans got soaked through. I gashed open the top of my head on the corner of the metal roofing on the rabbit cage. Talk about insult to injury! I climbed up the four steps into the trailer by crooking my arm into the handrail. No, I haven't even had the funds to modify the access into the trailer. The extra money I did have went to cover the bills. I came in, told Mel I hadn't tended to the angoras and a few of the outside rabbits yet. She's have to do them. I sat at my desk and wrote that other blog pieces until my head stopped spinning.

Later, I was finding it difficult to draw a breath. Yep, a nasty bruise had formed on my left side rib area. As if I needed further proof I'd had a bad the fall, there was blood mixed with my urine staining my pad. Yep I did a number on myself. I pick up a couple of pieces of firewood from the porch. Time to feed the wood stove. I drop the wood sort of where it should be and fed the stove. Mel brings it from the wood shed to the porch and we share the duties of keeping it burning. One day I'll have to video this chore with my single functioning hand. I'm heading towards my desk beside the wood stove and decided to make myself a cup of hot chocolate before I sit down. Everything I need is handy too. I just pour the hot water into my cup, a quick stir, and try to replace the lid onto the canner on top of the wood stove. I didn't notice my bad foot placement and boom! I land on my butt narrowly missing the wood stove, but not missing my desktop CPU on the way down. I was thanking God for small miracles, when the stinging started after getting my fat hinny off the floor. Yep, I'd scrapped the skin off the bruise on my side. My tank top was actually sticking to my side. Yah! More exposed nerve endings! No, I didn't go to the hospital, I knew what was wrong would correct itself with time and it has. Besides even with Mel's 4x4 truck, there's still a 1/4 mile, 200 ft incline, twisting mass of clay mud, snow and ice to get up to the main road. It could do it if necessary,but it wasn't.
That cinched it, my pity party was on full force. Compound all of this my heart valves and triple A acting up with additional reason for not being able to breathe laying down flat, and my nocturnal charlie horses. You can see why I'm not a happy camper. I'm sleeping in stints of a couple hours at a time sitting up on the couch since the 3rd of January. Our dog, Bennie Dufus, I purchased for Mel's dog training videos, was hit by a car and killed just before Christmas. Mel's special needs cat, Devon Angel, developed pneumonia and has been at death's door since New Years Day. I started on a head cold which always makes you feel great, doesn't it? My Botox worn off and my dry needling went to private pay because of a billing error (no cash for private pay). My arm has drawn up and is totally locked in spasticity as is my leg. Mel's seasonal depression kicked in full force with the holidays too. Plus she has started writing novels. I'm so jealous! This is also why I've been on the pity pot unable to rise up off it. Can you blame me?  You want to run screaming from the room yet? Of course, being in my golden years with fibromyalgia and post stroke, I don't bounce back after a fall. I feel worse the next day. Or in this case, a week and a half later. So is it any wonder that I'm saying "Stop the World I'm Getting Off,""I Quit!" and "What About Me!"?

Not really?
I called my youngest daughter after I spoke with my mortgage company and my real estate agent. I also told her about my injuries. I'm supposed to be the understanding mother and just keep on going through hardships while paying the mortgage and utilities forever, right? I should do it because I love my child and my grandchildren. I don't want to see them all homeless, do I? I heard it all. Yes, guilt pulled at my heart strings. Remember, my decision. I quit and I've had enough! Don't think for a minute that this is an easy decision. It isn't. My daughter ended our conversation with she'd be out of contact because her phone is being shut off for nonpayment and she was going to be busy trying to find a new place to stay with YOUR grandchildren. The final twist of the knife, while I ended the call with "I love you."

To top it off, even if I could afford to drive home if I had the $60 (round trip gas money). My body won't let me. I had a hard time Wednesday driving to my mortgage bank's local branch office with some paperwork for the sale of the house and delay foreclosure in 90 to possibly longer days. Sure, I'd like to see my Daddy before he died. He's my Daddy. But then again, haven't I been living in the same town putting out all the fires for decades while the rest of the family got on with living their lives? I have no guilt when it comes to my father or everyone else.  I've given my all and then some.

Nothing is as final as quitting even though nothing is impossible.