Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sunday Stroke Survival: Oh, the Aches and Pains

As some of you may have realized, I have a pretty high pain tolerance. Why is it as we age, your aches and pains grow and multiply? Why is getting out of bed during winter is twice as hard as doing the same thing in summer? Why does it twice as long to combat these aches and pains during winter? Yes, winter is once again upon us.

You'd figure once the winter solstice (Dec 21st)  has passed and the days are getting longer that you wouldn't feel so bad as much. But I don't. The weather outside is frightful. Cold, wet, rainy, sleety with snow mixed in,and windy. This is one time living down in the hollow is not advantageous. The winter will freeze any exposed body parts even here in north Georgia, and I thought it was bad in Michigan. I will say we have more moderate temperatures because we rarely experience below zero temps. Thank God!!!

Still, the cold has a way of creeping into my bones. Metal rods and screws in my back don't help the situation.  I took my temperature upon rising read 98.6 degrees, normal right? I threw off my comforter, and roll to rise up out of bed. My back screams at me while it does its snap, crackle, and pop routine.I'd slept too long in one position again. I donned my t-shirt, heavy flannel shirt, and a sweater. The overnight low was 36 degrees. Inside by my thermometer was 52 degrees with the fire in the wood stove burned out. I can feel the coolish air on the tip of my nose and my fingers. It doesn't take long for me fingers to freeze up and refuse to move. With the cold, my spasticity and arthritis kicks in hard. Neither one likes the cold.  I chug my morning pills down with our spring water knowing it'll be 20 minutes until it kicks in. Meanwhile, I'm hunched over.

I start up the wood stove, it takes a while to get the fire bricks to warm up enough to radiate heat. I take my temperature again...98 degrees. By now, after 4 splits of wood are blazing, I put the kettle on the stove. A quick trip to the wood pile on the porch, let's me know that the temperature outside is about 40-ish, but the wind blowing across the porch makes it seem much colder. I grab 6 splits of wood (about 30 lbs) into my tote and manhandle it up the two little steps into the house. The tote full of wood sits almost perfectly on my spastic, affected arm.

I make it through the door and pivot to close the door when a handle slips off my arm. CRASH! BANG! BOOM! All the logs sill out onto the floor. They scatter so bad that I cannot close the door. I take the other hadle off my arm and lay the totes flat on the floor. I hurriedly pick up the pieces of wood and then loop it back on my affected arm. Then comes the real challenge, a dead lift from the floor of 30 lbs with a back weight limit of 20 lbs. The medicine is still trying to kick in. I manage to do a hunched over, crab walk to the wood stove. Stooped over like I was, there was little difficulty loading two more pieces of wood into the fire box. Only a mild string of curses words emitted from my mouth as the hot, firebox door hit my affected arm as it closed.

The good news was I was finally able to straighten my back. I walked almost normally to the kitchen. I placed my arm under the cold water tap. I swear it gave out a sizzling sound as the water hit the now black, bubbling skin  where the door made contact. These are my winter battle scars. I have umpteen dozens of them by winter's end. Getting my forearm to the faucet is a sight better left to the imagination. Let's just say that a change of top garments is necessary after this feat. Because of the spasticity, pain accentuated spasticity, my arm drew up into my chest. But it was in the perfect position to spread the aloe vera leaf onto the burn.

The rocker soles on the bottom of my shoe almost causes a hyperextension of my knee when I walk on my affected side. It's an artificial patella which doesn't like it at all. So now my knee aches when I walk. The lateral ligaments also voice their complaints. "Okay. Okay." I sit in front of the computer.

Not five minutes go by and Nnyus, the dog, wakes up and talks to me about wanting to be fed. Now, Nnyus doesn't bark at me. A bark is yelling and she's too polite for that. She does this growling woo-wooo-woo sound repeatedly until, for my sanity, I get up and do what she wants. "Alright! I'm getting it." I'd reached my five minute tolerance of this noise. I bend down to grab their bowls. My back now that it's straightened all the kinks out of it, now protests bending.  I straighten up and carry the bowls to the end of the counter by the pantry. My back thanks me a bit too soon. I'm bending again to take the lids off the dog food bin, I pivot to fill the bowls, and straighten my back to carry the bowls to the pot of leftovers on the stove top. Their daily goodies are always our leftovers from the night before, in this case, it's beef stew. I run hot water from the top and pour it over the mixture. Nnyus likes hers soupy. Herbie not so much. I grab the bowls and bend to set them in place. "Come eat."

My back muscles yell at me, "Quit that!" To emphasize their point, they spasm hard. Now, I'm truly bent over unable to stand up straight. I hobble over to the wood stove. I'm in the perfect position to poke the fire and load some more wood into the firebox. That done, I hobble the five feet back to my chair and sit at my computer again. My back sighs with relief and relaxes. Now, I breathe a sigh of relief. The medicines are finally working full force, but with the full force working, I'm drowsy. I'm sitting not ten foot from the wood stove so I'm warm and comfortable.

Now's the time to get busy. There's angora does to blow out, chickens to feed, mulch to spread, and our daily meal to cook, but all I want to do is doze by the fire. My aches and pains have finally abated. My spasticity has other ideas. I'm jerked from my doze by a painful spasm. My hand is up under my chin with this one. I careful reposition my arm into a more comfortable 7 of 9 pain level. I place a small pillow under my elbow for support as I wait for the spasm to reduce in severity. A tear squeezes its way out of my tightly closed eye. It eventually stops so fifteen long minutes later. I put on my sling to support my arm and get busy with my day.

Nothing is impossible.


  1. That is really cold in your house! We keep ours in the low sixties, but the one time it dipped to sixty, I about froze.

    1. Alex that's a wee bit chilly. But once the wood stove gets chugging away we're a warmer 70+.


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