Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Happy New Year and a Look Back at 2017

Here's wishing all my readers a happy new year! I pray that 2017 wasn't too rough on you. If it was, then may the coming year truly bless you. Does it still seem as strange to you as it does to me writing 20XX? I still catch myself writing 19XX on the few checks I do write these days. After almost two decades into the new millennium! How sad is that? Maybe I'm regressing. Yeah that sounds better than old fart's disease.

2017 in retrospective...
This blog hit 350,000 page views in 2017. Relearning Something New was the most viewed blog with over 7,500 page views. For the life of me, I don't know why. It's pretty standard of most of my blogs.

2017 was a productive, but unproductive year for me. I made absolutely no forward progress in my stroke recovery. In fact, I regressed due to the increased amount of spasticity. I lost all mobility in my arm, wrist, and fingers and most of my shoulder range of motion. This was truly disheartening. To work so hard at regaining use after the strokes only to lose it all due to brain farts (brain miscommunication to the muscles or electrical misfiring of neurons in the brain).

I finally got frustrated enough, tired of waiting, and maxing out my Botox levels every three months, to stop Botox all together. Not that I was having any adverse reactions, but when you pay so much for something you expect it to work better. The fact was, at 500cc of Botox every three month wasn't improving my mobility. The longevity of the drug was only halfway working after 45 days out of the 90-day cycle in pain management.There HAD to be something else. I'd given it the old college try for 4 years with only limited results. My proactive self kicked in. The risk of dying during any surgery out weighed continuing like this. I consulted a neurosurgeon about permanently ending the cycle.

This in turn led me to Emory University. At my first appointment, the initial fellow hemmed and hawed. He started with the whole disease process line. I wasn't allowing that! I said, it's broke, fix me. He called in his superior. On the Ashworth scale my spasticity was rated 5 out of 5. It's more like cerebral palsy rather than post stroke spasticity, he explained. Doh! Tell me something I didn't know. In speaking to the stroke team over a couple of appointments and a bunch of tests, they feel confident they can restore my arm back to the lower spasticity gains that I had two years ago. That means a reduction in pain, mobility in my shoulder, elbow and I might even get my index finger and thumb back again. I'd worked too hard recovering that much and they see no reason for me not to continue recovering in spite of my spasticity. It was an angelic choir singing praises. The possibility of neurosurgery is still in the mix, but it will be later in 2018. I'm not sure what all this entails. I'll keep you posted. But at least, there is renewed hope of a solution rather than treading water waiting to drown.

In 2017, my Medicare kicked in finally five years post first stroke. This, in turn, opened a whole new can of worms with my other medical insurance because I'm a few years short of age 65. The Human Resources office at the college was trying to work this out. Finally, success!!! My medical insurance premiums dropped to a little over $100 a month (a $250 a month reduction). Sounds better, huh? The over payments for all these months will pay my bill for the first quarter of 2018. A good thing with the new year's deductions.

It seems that not only can my beloved cause policy changes at the college but I can too. My husband had three months worth of vacation time and 6 months worth of sick leave on the books when he was no longer able to work because of his illness. Talk about a headache for the college! They couldn't fire or replace him until the time was off the books. The policy is now changed. And now, the pre-65 clause in our medical insurance is history too. It pays to be pro-active and self advocating.

The absolute best thing about all of this is that I'm now within the university system for medical care. The university system picks up the tab that insurance doesn't cover. This is important because a new year means new deductibles are due for both Medicare and my private insurance. The almighty buck is important on a fixed income. I'm just thankful.

Here's praying that I no longer have difficulty in getting my diabetic, orthotic, specialty shoes in 2018. Lord knows, they put me through the wringer in 2017. But at least if I do have difficulty, I have a back up pair of shoes now. A new friend of mine, via YouTube, had a suggestion for me. A sample of the Purple seat cushion. She just ordered one. The sample is a 2"x 2" square of the product. Just the perfect size to go between my AFO and my foot to add extra cushioning when my foot attempts to develop a pressure sore. I still have days when I'm on my feet a lot. When walking sloping or uneven sidewalks at festivals and events, there's very few places I can sit and rest my foot. These are pressure sore danger times. Even with the padding Hanger put into my AFO, and two pair of thick socks and 4 x4 padding that I do, I just do too much. But then again, I'm trying to enjoy my life to the fullest living post stroke as much as possible. She emailed me that she ordered one for me after our conversation. Could it be that my foot pressure sores are history? I'll have to let you know.

The home and property on our homestead got some much needed upgrades too. A new rabbitry/barn/food storage building, a new and regraveled driveway, and plumbing and electrical work. A virgin quarter of an acre was cleared and terraced for our planned orchard, and a new deck complete with ramp access into the house was also built by outsourced labor. A new rabbitry and chicken hoop houses were built. All the gutters have grates on them so we can harvest the rain water. No more compost and baby trees growing in the gutters. So it's been a busy year on the homestead front. All thanks to the sale of my property in south Georgia. Sometimes, you just have to spend the big bucks to make life easier and more accessible. It was money well spent. At least now it's all done and we look forward to having many years of pleasure and profit from it all.

My children are still barely speaking to me after a year and a half of moving up here. Oh well. I had to do what I did to be happy and I am except in this one area. Life's too short to dwell on such things.

No new major accomplishments for 2017. I've just been honing what I have relearned and doing it better. Although I did make my first hard cheese to stretch my repertoire in cooking and preserving. I canned and put by more produce than I have in years past except when I was raising my children. I'm enjoying my end of 2017 by not having to go out shopping. I "shop" instead in my freezer or food storage building once a week. In fact, I'd never leave this homestead, other than pleasure, if it wasn't for doctor and therapy appointments. Yes, it's still physical not mental therapy sessions. I like it like this. I  don't miss the go, go lifestyle I had in the city.

2018, like the beginning of each year, holds the promise and expectations of starting things anew. Revamping our little vegetable and herb gardens into a adaptive gardener's heaven is definitely an open promise. The seeding of rabbit yummies in the orchard, and berries and grapes this year also is open to expectations. The first harvest of our own fruits to make wine is another...not that I drink it, but I love the process of making it. Mel loves wine so again we balance. I made four gallons worth in 2017. Clearing more trees for firewood and allowing much needed sunlight into growing areas is slated for 2018. Maybe even dairy goats (dwarf variety). If nothing else building an area for them. I refuse to buy livestock that don't have proper areas set up for them. It will give me a new challenge in 2019...yogurt, butter, cheese making.

Life is what you make it...
Nothing is impossible.

1 comment:

I love to hear from you! Agree, Disagree, matter. Even if it's to say you were here.