Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: The Eyes Have It

It's been it's a week of vision woes for me. Mel's service cat, Whirling Dervish, has had a lifetime of sinus troubles and allergies. Her lion type infected sneezes has been the cause of my last two sinus infections. She loves to share so much!

Unfortunately, she doesn't get better after she shares it like with a cold. Our lower cabinets, walls, and laptop screens are covered in what Mel calls 'Derv's snot art.' We are constantly cleaning it off.

The weather hasn't cooperated one bit this year was a very rainy spring. Hello leaf mold which sets both off. It's a regular symphony of congested sneezes. As luck would have it last week, One of Derv's sneezes caught ne in the face. As usual I washed up with soap and warm water, and didn't think anymore about it until two days later.

I awoke to a swollen and caked shut right eye, After carefully dousing the eye with warm water, I managed to clear the eye enough to open my eye. There at the corner of the eye was pus. Then came the treatment phase. Three to four times a day I applied warm compresses to the eye. Next came the expressing the infection by running two fingers from the outside corner of each lid towards the nose. Each time, I repeated this maneuver until I couldn't express any more pus out of it. Each day the pressure on my eyeball lessened. After three days, the swelling, soreness, and I couldn't express anymore pus out of the lids. I deemed myself cured  and went outside to garden...not that I wasn't gardening with this going on.

In the garden, it was a buzz with various pollinators and mosquitoes flying about. I was intent on picking chicken greens. To other non-homesteading folks, it's called weeding. As I gathered the greens the pollinators buzzed all around me. One flew under the brim of my straw hat and came close to my left eye, I swatted it away with my gloved hand and continued pulling the greens. I was rushing to fill the 5-gallon bucket because I had an echocardiogram appointment. I fed the chickens their greens and Mel was rushing me to come on.  I went into house, washed my hands, and threw some water on my face. Grabbing a paper towel, I wiped my face dry as I headed out the door.

As we drove to the cardiologist's office I noticed a painful stinging sensation by my eye. I pulled down the mirror on the visor and took a look at the spot. The lower lid was red and swollen. Although it was painful to the touch, it itched something crazy. I had no idea what had bitten or stung me. The one thing I knew for certain was it wasn't a bee sting. I'm deathly allergic to those and my breathing wasn't compromised within 15 minutes as usual.

When we got home, my eye was almost swollen shut. I applied ice to my eye to reduce the swelling. A small blister had formed at the bite/sting area. During the night it had ruptured leaving a tiny ulcer about 1/16th of inch below the lashes. I spent the next couple days applying ice to reduce the swelling. The ulcer didn't close and kept oozing. I put pressure on either side of the ulcer and could see a tiny white speck in the center of opening. I took a Q-tip soaked with hydrogen peroxide and scraped the ulcer to remove it. Getting hydrogen peroxide in your eye is a whole lot less painful than alcohol.

By removing that speck of pus/venom/whatever it was, healing started within hours. The swelling and redness lessened as did the itchy feel. Within days, the ulcer healed over and I was finally able to see clearly out of my left eye again. So this past week...the eyes had it. Hopefully next week will be better.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: My AFO AGAIN!!!!

Okay, I got my new AFO. I did the swap out of time 1 hour a day, 3 hours a day, and 6 hours a day so my leg and foot become used to the new alignment. After that, it's twelve hours of wear, but I never made it that far. Somewhere around the 8 hour mark I noticed how swollen my foot was. Taking my shoe and sock of I noticed how ugly and red my ankle was. You guessed it, another pressure sore formed just under my ankle bone.

I took the AFO and threw it across the room. This was a huge mistake because I had neither of my old AFOs within reach. I had to call Mel to retrieve one out of my closet before I could tend to the wound. Yes, in just 8 hours the sore had formed and actually partially ruptured. Needless to say, Mel threw the chuck steaks and Vidalia onions on the grill, and made the salad to go along with it. I was down for the count.

I called Hanger the next morning for an appointment on May 5th. As usual, it's mid June! So I'm back to switching AFOs again between the three I have. The oldest one causes stress fractures, a pressure sore on the bottom right side of my foot. The new/old one causes a pressure sore at the base of big toe and puts way too much pressure on the bone spur at the pinky toe. Both of these older braces do not hold my foot straight anymore. My foot rotates inward about 78 degrees inside the AFO which makes walking precarious. Now this newest one puts a pressure sore at my ankle. I've spent the past month juggling three AFOs

I had half jokingly said to my old orthotic specialist, it would be easier to amputate the foot and fit an artificial foot than it is to get a good fitting AFO. During the COVID-19 break in service, my regular specialist was transferred to another branch. So I had to break in a new one. I asked if I didn't like this new one could I get another one and was told yes. My old specialist and I butted heads once too often towards the end over which was more important (her) proper alignment and (me) comfort (no pain nor pressure sores) and the ability to do. So the prospect of a new specialist didn't break my heart one bit. An AFO, no matter if it gave me a proper alignment or not, didn't work if I spent more time off my feet and facing yet another pressure sore. The first thing I asked the new specialist was what was more important. She agreed with me. Okay, that's a step in the right direction.

The fact is I'm combating worsening spasticity. While not technically a diabetic anymore, I'm still dealing with diabetic neuropathy and poor circulation in both feet. I'm actually doing battle (or Hanger and my PCP is for me) with Medicare and my BCBS because I need to be fitted with a NEW AFO in less than a year. This makes my sixth in 8 years.  Am I wrong to feel like this is getting ridiculous??!!

The good news is that Medicare will pay for a new pair of shoes to go with my new AFO. The new specialist versus the billing person found the loophole that was used every other time I'd ordered shoes that they used. Repeated calluses and pressure sores qualifies me under both Medicare and my BCBS. Darn billing person cost me $120 out of pocket buying my own shoes last month. I should charge her. Did I mention they had a new billing person too? GRRR! But then again, I'll have two pairs of shoes if the rockers stay the same.

Whooosa! If you haven't seen Bad Boys 2 this will be lost on you. Suffice to say, breathe, this too shall pass. I don't know when I'll be casted for the new AFO. So until then, I'll be juggling between my three AFOs while I continue to plant and harvest my garden, tend the critters, go through treatments, and just carry on with life.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Prepping the Harvest for Long Term Storage

I've posted about our homestead garden, gardening, and adaptive gardening quite a bit. I've even talked about preserving the harvest by canning, freezing, and dehydrating.  Today, I want to discuss how I prepare the harvest to do all of that living post stroke.

Picking the harvest is the easy part. Last week I harvested four pounds of oregano from my plants. That's a whole lot of oregano destined to be dehydrated. I lay each stem of the rinsed herb on a window screen. Add another window screen on top. I have raised them away from animals by placing the screens on top of four inverted trash cans. I'll let them dry out in the yard for a day or two. I mean I had four pounds. It was way too much for my two electric dehydrators. When one screen was full I grabbed another one and continued until all the oregano was accounted for. I criss- crossed the placement of the screens so there was good ventilation for the herbs. Now, I placed the herb stem and all on the screen. It took eight screens in all for four full screens of oregano.

Once dry, the real fun began. I had to remove the stems. I tend to leave my leaves whole and chop or grind them as needed. I sat at the breakfast room table with the table covered in parchment paper. I placed the thick end of the oregano stem between my teeth and pulled the leaves against their grain to remove them. After doing a few stems, I'd stop and gather the leaves and put them in several containers in succession. It took me the better part of the day to do this. Before I give the oregano a final "haircut" before the first freeze, I'll be doing this several times. This year I expect a six-eight pound harvest of oregano. Not to mention basil, sage, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, tarragon, dill, thyme, rosemary, and thyme. For smaller batches, I can dehydrate them in my dehydrators.

Now, I've started harvesting my English peas. There is nothing better on hot afternoons than sitting on the porch swing shelling peas and beans, and watching the gardens grow. But, shelling peas one-handed took some thought on how to do it.

Luckily, Mother Nature put a zipper in them. I picked loose a string at the vine end of the pea pod. I picked it loose enough to be able to pinch it between my index finger and thumb to pull it. Holding it against the bowl with my little finger I pulled the string down as far as my reach would allow and reposition my little finger and continue until the "string" came loose off the end of the pea pod. Using my thumb, I ran down the inside of the pod dislodging the peas. I got quicker as time went on and the three pounds of peas I picked were done. They'll probably be another three pound harvest tomorrow again and again until the peas are done in about three weeks.

But that's not all that's being harvested. I've got to cut the kale, spinach, and lettuces before they bolt with
the heat. Carrots and potatoes will have to be dug up. I've got a discarded kiddie pool for washing the greens the first time outdoors before carrying them to the processing table. They'll get washed twice more at least to remove all the dirt from them.

For the carrots and potatoes, remember that glass washer I found at Goodwill way back when for $2? It works wonderfully for scrubbing long, rounded vegetables one-handed. It works great for my cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, and Japanese eggplants too. Thinking outside the box makes work smarter not harder. A mandolin and my Vidala Onion slap chopper always gets a huge workout at harvest time. They save so much time processing vegetables for the freezer or canner.

In the next couple weeks as the peas die out, they'll be green beans. I'm hoping for 120 lbs of them. I just pulled the last two jars of green beans out of the long term storage building canned two years ago. So I'm looking forward to these. The idea of going to the grocery store and buying green beans makes me cringe. By succession planting these over the course of the spring and summer, I should have plenty. I don't mind processing these at all. Snap the stem ends and snap them into pieces. I use my first three fingers to snap them. Of course, I could bring them inside to cut them too. But I miss my free ranging chicken TV viewing. They are much more fun to watch than regular television and n curse words needed.

There you go. That's my one-handed preparing vegetables for canning and freezing. Yes, it would be easier and faster with two hands, but I adapt to what I got. And, I get 'er done.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Post Stroke and Techology

No, this post is not about changing technology in prevention nor treatments for dealing with post stroke issues. But that would be a good post also. It's about my post stroke brain function after my strokes. You know how I always say, "Don't compare what you could do (prestroke) to your reality now? I'm gonna break that rule to make a point. I really missed by old brain at times like this. Before I killed bazillion brain cells with my strokes.

Prior to my first stroke in 2012, I was a very mechanical and technology minded individual. Learning how to use the newest version of a program was never an issue. I'd run circles around any computer program or device within fifteen minutes of loading it. I'd have a basic working knowledge. And then, I'd read the manual to find more bells and whistles that I didn't find in "playing" with it. I'd make programs sing and stretch the boundaries of its limits to make it do what I wanted it to do including changing the programming. Yes, I was a computer programmer once upon a time.

All of that came to a screeching halt with my first stroke. This is one area with adapting and changes, I've had real
trouble with. It's all due to the killed off brain cells and cognitive function of my brain with aphasia. Something gets lost between knowledge, understanding and function. Now I despise newer versions, or total format changes where I have to start from scratch to know how to operate these systems and devices. Most times, I now have to ask for help just to do the basic things. It's maddening, irritating, frustrating, and it hurts what little pride I have left.

First, was bought by EA Games. EA Games deleted a bunch of games which I used for cognitive recovery and reinforcement citing changes in technology made these games were being either reworked (new programming) and ultra High Definition technologies or they were gone forever. My husband and I used the yearly membership dues as part of our wedding anniversary present to each other for also 16 years. Since his death, I continued with the membership because of the cognitive therapy. Well, my membership is due for renewal next week and I've decided to stop it. All the new bells and whistles are too distracting when I'm trying to focus. They can keep the ultra high definition and new programming.

Now Blogger is changing formats again. They've added several bells and whistles over the years but not a total
revamp. Even with the changes, you had an option to go to the "Classic" blogger set up. Recently, they release the "New and Improved" Blogger. The difference is its a convert or leave and there is a deadline.  So now, I've switched over. I honestly dislike the new format. While it has cleaner lines and less junky looking, there are so many hoops to jump through simply adding a picture. You know me and pictures. It's a gotta have it thing. I guess in the long run it will get easier. The idea of learning a new blogging software, but that would be just as maddening. I've been with Blogger since the 1990s.

I use labels to catalog my blogs for SEO. I used to be able to type it and the categories (100+ in here) I've used in the past would scroll down so I could just click on the appropriate category. Now, there is a check box. I have to scroll up and down the list and check the word. This takes a lot of time. You just can't type the word either. It doesn't show up under labels. You have to add a label, scroll down and find it, and check it to add it to my saved labels. The scheduler is about the same. Now, I used to open up the "preview" option which opened up in a new screen. This allowed me two screens to edit my post with. It now longer allows this. I'm having to switch screens, previous page arrow twice before I can edit. Oh, I have to switch it back to draft mode when I edit. It gets very confusing to know where I am and remember what and where the edit needs to be. This new Blogger is not old, brain damaged folks friendly.

Everything I used to know where it was and how to do things has moved or changed so I have to stop and figure out how to do it. Or, it has been deleted from the program. The only thing that hasn't changed is my blog looks the same. The CSS hasn't changed, but I have no access to the hmtl anymore. Some if I want to do a special format for a section, I can't. Or, maybe they are not using html based program at all. I dunno.

Thanks for reading my rant on living post stroke rant. Have any suggestions?

Nothing is impossible.
It just seems that way sometimes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Rioting in the Street Here?!!

Protests spread to Gainesville - Now Habersham
It wasn't exactly here, but one town over from us. The police were called. They arrived in appropriate riot gear ready to handle the unruly protesters.

The scene was horrific as they confronted the 20 odd head of rioters.
Ten were arrested for...
The arrests include two charges of misdemeanor obstruction, three charges of disorderly conduct, one reckless driving and one pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk.  

A 19-year-old man allegedly “acted in a violent and tumultuous manner” toward a Gainesville Police officer “by joining a group of protesters running toward the officer, yelling, ‘He’s by himself. Let’s get him,’” Booth wrote in an email. The officer, Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, was speaking with The Times after much of the crowd had dispersed when the group came toward him. His helmet was flipped off his head and firecrackers were soon thrown in the street.

A 23-year-old man was arrested after being told multiple times to stop running, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A 33-year-old man was allegedly throwing stuff and being disorderly during a protest, while another 20-year-old man was accused of running from officers and throwing items in the roadway, according to the Sheriff’s Office. (Gainesville Times 6/2/20)

The rest went to McDonald's for a soda or went home.

I'm not making light of the violence nor the initial injustice which caused the current upsurge sweeping the country at large. Even small rural towns are affected too.  For all the arrests made last night, the charges are misdemeanors. Considering what most of us have gone through and still going through because of the lock downs and the Corona virus can't we just get along?

Or as my momma used to say, "Opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one. Out of respect for other,s try to cover yours by turning the other cheek."

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Finding Solace and Peace After a Stroke

After your stroke, where do you find peace and solace? Last week, I talked about gardening and the death of my much loved bunny. I know Diane over at Pink House on the Corner is mourning the ten year anniversary of her late husband's stroke and his subsequent death. Others like me, are uncelebrating their stroke anniversaries or deaths of loved ones even dumb animals.

I'm also combating cancer, again. I'm undergoing treatments again, but this time as a patient. We are slowly coming out of virus lock downs. I still haven't had my biannual haircut so my hair is aggravating me. I need to have it cut before it starts falling out. Not much is more devastating than finding huge clumps of hair on your pillow each morning. I usually avoid this by cutting my hair to 3" around my head before treatments start but I couldn't this time. It doesn't seem so bad when it happens. I know this is a psychological trick, but it helps me.
It all keeps piling up and on my huge line backer shoulders.
I could start spouting platitudes like 'God doesn't give us more than we can handle,' and 'That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger,' or better yet, 'This is the easiest cancer to cure.' Doh! I know this I've beaten it before and it came back!!

Everyone has a point when they need to fall back, regroup, and recharge so they can keep on surviving. You may not wanted to survive your stroke, but guess what, you did. You had to put on your big girl panties and deal.  You've had your fifteen minutes on the pity pot and didn't want to get off. I've been all these places too and right now, I have felt like Atlas carrying the world on my shoulders.  
No, please don't feed my pity pot monster.  
It's big enough!
I pulled myself off the pot already. I escaped into my usual place for solace and peace. Within me, as a Christian, I rely on the Holy Spirit and I lean on my Heavenly Father. I go into a trance like state while I physically do other things like pulling weeds, planting seeds, and watching nature. Being in turmoil is nothing new between my Father and me. It seems I'm always asking "why?" and "help me understand!" Eventually, the answers either come or don't come, but I feel better. I'm consoled and at peace again. In a way it's quite irritating. It's like demanding an answer from someone and getting so much warm fuzzies that I don't realize until much later that He didn't answer my demand. But that's okay, it's worth the consoling peace and sense of well being I feel. This works for me.

 Some others meditate, it's basically the same thing. You are centered afterwards. Others will pray and only pray. Others will let it all turn to anger. This is the dangerous type. They strike out at everyone within reach and 'scream' at the top of their lungs. If this releases them and they come away calmer, this isn't necessarily bad. But if it turns inward and festers it accomplishes nothing. I won't go into the self-destructive behaviors here, but others also do this. 

I've spent decades dealing and counseling folks. I'll escape as often as I need to. I learned how bad and self-destructive I can be to myself. I am and always will be a recovering alcoholic and heroin abuser. It's now been over half my life free of this abuse, but I'm still in recovery. Just like my living post stroke or recovering from grief. It never ends it will always be part of who you are. It's what you do with it that makes the difference. I choose life whatever that may entail. I put my big girl's panties and armor of God's Word on every day.

Where are you in this equation? Find your place for emotional solace and peace no matter what happens. Know how you reacts when the pressure mounts. Find your relief valve and run to it. Is your relief valve not working, be adventurous and find a new one. There isn't a one size fits all. You have to find what works for you.

Nothing is impossible. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday Stroke Surivival: Adaptive and Nonadaptive Gardening Post Stroke

Thia year we broke apart the pallet elevated raised bed planter boxes. They were honestly falling apart. Mel only put two screws on each side. We plan on moving them to a new location too.

My perennial herbs, such as oregano, sage, and thyme, will be thinned and transplanted. The oregano is one solid root mat and the six plants I planted three years ago is now about forty plants. While the four sage plants are still only four, they are 3' high and about that wide also. Everything is so cramped so transplanting them is a good thing. They'll be healthier and happy after the transplanting in the revamped pallet elevated raised beds.

We are trying something new in the garden this year...wicking pots.
Cockeyed Homestead ©All Rights Reserved

 These are 3-5 gallon buckets. This is Mel's experimental garden for this year, She is hoping to cut out weeding all together, Meanwhile, I hand weeded the rest of the garden for a neighbor to till under for us. I still haven't figured out a safe way for me to operate my tiller yet one-handed. With four motorized, sharp steel tines in motion, it sort of ups the ante safety wise. The weeds you see in the short video are wild violets, plantains, and strawberries. I pulled the rest.

The chickens and bunnies have enjoyed the fruits of my labor. They also make tasty additions to our nightly salads too. And to think, most people just toss them away into the trash or compost bin as weeds. Such a waste. Waste not, want not. It's free food.  But hand weeding a garden plot is precarious after a stroke. I pull or dig out the plants by the roots. Some weeds are deeply rooted and take some hard tugging to remove them. Enter my converted toy box on wheels. I love my DIY project! If my hinny is planted firmly, I won't throw my balance off. Of course, it means standing up and rolling it a bunch of times, but it's better than falling and I get the job done.

I adapted my rows for in ground vegetable planting along the Square Foot gardening method with companion planting and the Three Sisters gardening method. Only two rows are 26' long for tomatoes and the three sisters. All the rest are blocks no longer than 8' long and 4' wide. This way the garden is easier to tend and harvest. My walkway paths are 3'-4' wide. I grow vertically when I can. We pound T-posts into the ground and space them 4' to 6' apart along the rows. Then we attach wire fencing to the T-posts. The vegetables are supported and can climb up the fencing. It makes for better control over sprawling plants and easier harvesting for me. The less stooping or bending over is better for the fencing gives me a way to regain my balance easier so I don't fall.

So there you have it, my weeding and vegetable strategies for my adaptive and nonadaptive garden for living post stroke. It takes a lot of hard work for a weed free garden and make it adaptive so I can grow it, but the taste of a sun ripened tomato over the gassed grocery store tomato is worth it.

On a sadder note, a rabbit I'd had before my husband died went to join him in heaven two days ago. Buddy Baby will be sorely missed for the smiles she gave me for the last six years.

I'll never forget her antics of tossing things around because they weren't to her liking especially when I cleaned her cage and didn't put things back exactly where they should be. She had a way of communicating her needs to me by showing me what she wanted. The ways she found to be on my husband's hospital bed even in it's highest position just to be cuddled and snuggled by him. Or, just lay beside him while both of them napped. How she used to play hide and seek, peek-a-boo by throwing her flannel blanket over her head and peer out from an edge, and tag with me always brought giggles and smile no matter how down in the dumps or busy I was. She was my little buddy and now, will be forever. RIP Buddy Baby.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Living Post Stroke

In ten days it will be my 8th anniversary of my first stroke. This time of year I tend to evaluate my recovery that I've made. This is hampered my reoccurring strokes since my first one setting me back to almost square one with each new stroke. They effected the left side of basal ganglia part of my brain like the first one. I have to say it is old hat and quite frustrating.

But then again, I'm extremely thankful the new strokes didn't happen in another part of my brain like affecting my left. functioning side. I'd really be in trouble then, wouldn't I? I'd be up the creek with paddles, but no functioning arms to paddle with. Anyone who has suffered multiple strokes on both sides of the brain can attest to this.

In the last year of living post stroke, I've had a baclofen pump installed which worked beautifully. I was winning the war against the progressing, constant post stroke spasticity. This is before an infection caused it to be removed. I spoke to the neurosurgeon who did the placement last week via telemedicine. There was no way I was driving to Atlanta with it's over 4,000 active cases of COVID-19. I'm just saying. He asked if I was ready to have a new unit installed. I told him that again I was dealing with thyroid cancer. Can you still call it thyroid cancer if you no longer have a thyroid gland? I dunno. He was shocked but let me know when this virus thing was under control and my cancer was gone, that he would make himself available. That's good to know. I'm still n the fence about it. I mean dying and all, it has my thumb wavering between yea and nay.

So my post stroke recovery progress was hopeful, but ended up being nil.

Having said that, I made progress and gained confidence in trying new ways to adapt. I've taken over the full garden again. So I'm not only the one that prepares and preserves our food, but produces it as well.  My corn, green beans, and English peas are up and growing in the garden. I'm already cutting radish greens, lettuces, and spinach. I did miss my homegrown salads so much. I made it down and back up the twenty foot, 45 degree slope picking up kindling for our wood stove this winter without my cane. I only fell once, but I got up and continued. I've got my 5th new AFO fitted. I ended up buying my shoes for the first time since my stroke. GRRR! I only walk with a slight limp without all the rockers. Only slightly unbalancing, but not bad.

I've lost the battle with my post stroke spasticity and the pain is back for now. The war is still raging on. There has to be an answer out there.  One that won't cause major problems like dying. My neurologist told me they now have a neurosurgeon who can perform the same surgery with the pump in Athens. It's still 60 miles from home, but it only takes an hour to drive there instead of two to three hours to Atlanta. But I "love" my neurosurgeon at Emory. I don't have to make that decision for a few more months. Who knows, maybe it will be a mute point in the end. Time will tell.

I'll keep this short and semi-sweet this week. I'm back in full gardening mode.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Attitude is Everything!

Attitude is everything or effects you and everything around you. It's true. Think about it.
A negative attitude (I've had sporadic bouts with) ...
  • is the reason behind most fights.
  • is the start of a bad day.
  • is the reason you're tired all the time.
  • is the route towards depression.
  • is the reason you don't have any friends
  • is the reason ailments are worse than they are.
  • is the reason you don't heal as fast as others.
  • is the reason others shy away from you.
  • is the reason you are miserable.
  • and lastly, it's self perpetuating. 
 Conversely, a positive attitude (I try to maintain)...
  • is in peace keeper mode.
  • is finding the silver lining in every bad situation.
  • is energizing.
  • is combating depression one episode at a time.
  • is the reason you have friendships on multiple levels.
  • is remembering something can always be worse and being relieved that it isn't.
  • is a proven fact that it promotes faster healimg.
  • is the reason folks flock to be near you.
  • is the reason you are happy despite the circumstances.
  • and lastly, it's contagious.
Contagious is a bad thing considering most of us are wary of catching COVID-19. It doesn't have to be a negative. It can be a positive too as in this case.

You know the old saying, misery loves company? I know you've had to say or think it at least once in your life. I know I have too many times. There should always be a grace period of three days. Or, as my grandmother used to say, "Even dead fish stinks after three days." That's the longest a person should have to endure being around someone with a negative attitude or they'll run the risk of the negativity overwhelming them.

For the person with a negative attitude to three days of grace is important also, it becomes a habit. It's a way to justify them feeling lousy and not doing something about it. At first they use it to draw others to them. As the negativity continues, they drive others away. Then, this feeds the negative attitude.

While I'm a realist, I don't feed my negative attitude. I remain silent and not give it a voice. I look instead at a positive aspect in whatever is happening to cause the attitude. I did that in last week's post. I was feeling down, worried, and just plum tired of dealing with cancer again and living post stroke. It was beginning to overwhelm me to the point I couldn't function. I'd reached a point where I couldn't pray it away. For me, this is devastating. I had to turn it around. So turkey neck it was. I had a much better week because of it.

I could have stayed in that negative attitude until all of this was over, but I'd only be hurting myself. My roommate is in a constant state of depression and negativity. Every morning, the first thing out of her mouth after "Good morning" is a complaint. On really bad days, the it's a groan and a string of complaints. I have given up trying to cheer her up or put a positive spin on it. Instead I'll go outside to be greeted by happy critters for the first hour after she wakes up. I don't need the extra dose of negative attitude fighting my efforts to maintain my positive attitude. I'll come inside with some funny antic the critters did to break the cycle. I just choose not to go there.

That's the whole thing about your attitude. IT'S YOUR CHOICE. You choose each and every moment what attitude you portray. The only person you can change is you and nobody else. I choose my behavior to suit me. I used to say, "If you don't like the way I am, then YOU have a personal problem." It still rings true today because if I don't love me, I'm not happy. I change me because I feel the desire to change me not because you want me to. With Mel, I can't change her because she doesn't want to change. Again, it's a matter of choice. I can work around it and steer her (slightly) better attitude, or leave. I'm a peace loving sort so I change my behavior to coexist. Still, I'm hopeful that she will change. She's still a work in progress.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival:No Turkey Neck

Not me!I googled it.
Here I go again. I'm looking at the bright side of battling cancer.

One of the definite signs of aging is getting a turkey neck. Gravity is not your friend as you age. Everything sags. Your skin loosens as a result and the lower collagen starts to tell your age. Your boobs sag towards your belly button, your upper arms begin flapping, your bottom develops a flattened downward angle, and the skin on your jaw and neck forms puddles of loose skin.

I had noticed the former begin to show in my own mirror. My looks were changing. I doubt my own grandchildren would recognize me because I didn't recognize myself. I looked so old. When did that happen?

But getting back to my turkey neck, when I had my thyroid surgery a few months ago, my turkey neck disappeared! They had to cut out my previous scar out and it pull my neck skin tighter. Bonus of having cancer.

The surgery wasn't plastic surgery but the results were the same. My incision is just below the upper picture and right at the bottom picture cuts off. In effect I had plastic surgery without the insurance exclusion. Of course, unlike plastic surgery, there is a scar.

Thyroid cancer tends to metastasize to the lymphatic system, breast, lungs, and brain first. Well, with the lockdown most of us has suffered through, I need my hair cut anyhow. Wohoo, another breast reduction surgery and I'll lose weight without having to diet. Same thing with Chemo. I'll become svelte, exotic gypsy again. My hair will come back with even more thicker and wavy. Maybe, I'll even lose all of my leg and under arm hairs permanently. Wouldn't that be a joyous thing. No more struggling to shave them. Even more "plastic surgery" with removal of lymphatic nodes under my arms, neck, and jaw lines. I'll be one foxy looking chick after all this. Of course, I'll have new battle scars to show off too because it isn't plastic surgery.

I'm not being flippant. Maybe a little. I know this cancer is serious because it killed my mother. I took care of her and watched as she died. But I've already died once less than a year ago. I'm not afraid to die. Living with the aftermath of strokes has taught me surviving isn't all its cracked up to be. That's not to say, I want to die and won't fight to stay alive...I have and will continue to fight.

You know what they say, prepare for the worst and pray for the best. That's all I'm saying in this post. From previous experiences in battling this disease, I know a positive attitude and laughter is essential in winning the battle. Didn't my own husband live on another ten years after his prognosis of terminal/anytime? It's all about the way you want to live your life and how you want the memories to leave your loved ones. So many happy memories tips the balance in the sense of loss they will feel and grieve with smiles. He taught me that.

I lead by example because someone else showed me the way first through the years.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Law of Diminishing Return and Age

There's a direct correlation between the Law of Diminishing Marginal Return and your age. I found this out a few weeks ago. Oh, what a difference just two years makes as you grow older. To reinforce the matter, I just had another birthday yesterday. Whoppie! Hoop-de-do! Not really, but I won't go into it here.

As is usual for me, I was prepping the garden for planting. My original thought was to just till it all under. But on closer inspection, much to my dismay, I took a good look at some of the weeds in the garden. Some of the weeds propagated by sprouting new plants along the string of roots. To till these weeds would equal an explosion of the weeds in my garden. Think weeds on steroids. I had no choice but to weed it by hand carefully pulling whole roots of these obnoxious weeds.

Mel's thought was to put weed killer all over the area undoing my four years of labor and expense building this five times larger area of organic garden than she initially had. I just wasn't having that. I am so much healthier with less allergic reactions by eating chemical free.

Mel hates weeding so she decided to plant fresh eating vegetables is self wicking, 5-gallon buckets this year. She thinks it will be easier on her. Me, I'm planting the old fashion way of dense, companion planting in a cross between row planting and square foot gardening techniques. That's how I grew 100% of our needs in tomatoes, corn, herbs, garlic, and green beans that has lasted us 18 months in 2017 on less than 1/4 acre. So I have to pull some weeds. I'm out in the sunshine, communing with my Heavenly Father, doing what I always dreamed of doing. Our approaches to gardening are different, but that's okay.

Getting back to the subject at hand. The law of Diminishing Marginal Return states...
The law of diminishing marginal returns states that, at some point, adding an additional factor of production results in smaller increases in output. For example, a factory employs workers to manufacture its products, and, at some point, the company operates at an optimal level. With other production factors constant, adding additional workers beyond this optimal level will result in less efficient operations.

In the chart above at the beginning of this post, I use age as an additional factor that impacts production. On my urban homestead in my 40s, my garden grew to 1/2 and acre. Then, I hit 50, While I still produced the same but over a longer period to get it done, my family dynamics also changed due to marriages and grandchildren. By my mid 50s, I started having strokes impacting my production further. I went back to a 1/4 acre garden again which was fine as an empty nester. The strokes continued to occur, but my stubbornness wouldn't let me sway away from my goal of living the most organic, self sufficient lifestyle I could.

Now, I'm in my 60s for a few more years. In pulling the dandelions, plantains, wild violets, grasses, wild strawberries, and assorted other weeds from my garden which is much less than 1/4 acre, I'm hit with more diminishing return on a daily basis.

Monday, I pull four 5-gallon buckets plus a 3-gallon bucket of weeds. The 3-gallon bucket feeds the bunnies (2) and chickens (17). We do have 15 more chickens and 24 quail, but they are too young for the fresh greens.
Tuesday- my lower back and thighs are a bit worse for wear, I pull two 5-gallon buckets plus the 3-gallon bucket of weeds.
Wednesday- I pull a 3-gallon bucket and a 5-gallon bucket. I've gotten only a little over half the garden done.
Thursday- I pull a 3-gallon bucket. I had a doctor's appointment 36 miles away so the rest of my day is shot.
Friday- is today. I've managed the 3-gallon bucket already, but the rest of the day remains to be seen. I'm hoping that the rest of yesterday will enable me to pull more. At this rate, it will be summer before I get my garden weeded. 😒

Meanwhile, I've planted the corn, green peas, and green beans. It's been so gorgeous outside, I couldn't not be outside. It's not hard work. It poking a hole with a stick, dropping a seed in the hole, and using the stick to cover it up. No bending involved. I can plant four to eight seeds before I ever have to move my feet. I made mine out of a stick we had in the yard. I painted the depth on the pointed end in 1/2" measurements, and then vanished it to protect it. The numbers are big enough for me to see without bending over. I've got another one  with inch spacing. On the opposite end, I screwed a piece of 1x2 to tamp the seeds down. Need is the mother of invention. The stick can also double as a cane if I need extra balance or lean on to admire what I've accomplished.😄

I know the garden will eventually be planted. I'm too stubborn to allow anything less. We've got to have a fantastic harvest this year to make up for the dismal failures of last year. But the law of diminishing marginal return and age are working against me.

Nothing is impossible.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Just When You Think You Can Breathe

You are taught to breathe through pain in Lamaze class. You are taught how to breathe in Yoga class. You are taught to breath in anger management  or to combat panic attacks. I usually say, "Take a deep breath. This too will pass." Now again, I'm chanting it to myself.

Last week, I had my six-month cancer check up on my thyroid. I knew it was going to be bad before I even had the scan. I could feel it. I started having difficulty swallowing and breathing while lying.  If I pushed on my throat there was a lump where my thyroid gland should have been. The scan only proved it. The mass is the size of half my thyroid gland and it's grown that big in six months. Never a good sign. So it begins again.

It shatters my goal of staying away from hospitals in 2020. A needle biopsy was preformed and surgery scheduled,

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Adventures in Specialty Shoes

My shoes are different. They have to specially fitted and modified so I can't just run down to the shoe store if something happens to them to replace them.

At first, just after my first stroke, my AFO allowed me to wear regular shoes. But then, my Achilles tendon contracted within the first year. No amount of stretching will lengthen it now with the spasticity in my foot and ankle. To get around this, I'd need surgery, intensive therapy, plus a long recovery time. I know because I was desperate enough to get out of my AFO to consult an orthopedist. And again, a year ago. I just want to be able to walk again without pressure sores and pain. Is that too much to ask?

Going back to my shoes. My AFO is  built up at the heel to make allowances for my contracted Achilles tendon so the shoe must allow for it. It's also a full size up from my size and extra wide also. But the left shoe for my fully functioning foot, has rockers on the bottom to account for the height difference and a special insert that helps my foot seat right because I tore my Achilles tendon on that side years ago. Then, there was the stress fracture problem with my AFO.  Yes, I got a new  AFO which alleviated some of the problem, but not all of it. The shoe with a rocker on the right shoe fixed the problem. So, as you can see, regular shoes are out of the question.

Getting these shoes was no problem before Medicare. I was an insulin dependent diabetic so my BCBS paid for them.  Because my strokes and AFO required me to wear specialty shoes wasn't a covered expense. My doctors had no problem continued listing with a diagnosis of diabetes even though I was on no medication because my remission could be temporary like my heart issues. It was to Abby Normal for a stroke to kick start my Pancreas. They still say it but after 7 years of being insulin free and low-normal A1Cs, they won't argue the blessing. I'd gone from A1C readings without insulin of 15 (normal is 5-7) to consistent readings between 4-5 over a three month period. Yes, they tried me first on assorted drugs for over a year to no avail before switching to injections of insulin. I figured I'd be on the shots for life like my aunts and cousins until my stroke changed things.

Now, it's been seven years. I no longer have diabetes listed as one of my ailments. But Medicare and my Medicare supplements will cover my shoes, but only one pair a year. There in lies the problem. Wearing one pair of shoes 365/7/15 hours, they wear out. By the time I get a new pair, my old shoes are just barely working anymore.

Luna and Frankie at my feet
As if that were not an adventure enough, let me introduce you to my newest problems...Luna and Frankie. Luna and Frankie are the newest community dogs. They belong to Reynaldo who lives atop the 50' rise that borders one side of our property. Our two dogs become the community dogs on his property and at Sheba's place. These dogs are great friends. Together they protect our total 5 acres of land from predators. We love these dogs as if they were ours. In a way they are ours because they have free access into our home via the pet doors.

When it rains or is freezing outside, we end up with a canine slumber party. Think dog carpeting.The other community dogs spend the night by the wood stove. Nnyus and Kassity are our only dogs but we tolerate the other dogs because of the protection they offer. Frankie, Pit Bull, is the youngest at 12 weeks old. Luna is a 9-month old German Shepherd, Sheba, German Shepherd, is 16 years old, Nnyus, Pit Bull/Ridgeback, is 12 years old, and Kassity, Pit Bull/Great Dane, is now a year old. Nnyus and Sheba are teaching the young one how to protect the properties and dog manners.

Now, Mel and I are training the two youngest dogs people skills like not jumping on us and various other things. If they are in our house, they've got to learn to behave, right? They aren't allowed in their owners' houses unless injured. So, it's up to us to teach them indoor manners like leaving our cats alone, or not using the bathroom inside.

This is especially true with Frankie. Luna learns quick, but Frankie is a baby. Luna has chased down and killed two of our hens. And, Frankie has decided he wants to carry my scent with him home. He tried to carry one of my shoes up the hill but ended up dropping it before he got to the rise. They are so heavy with all the additions and he's relatively small yet. He did manage to carry off one of Mel's short Wellies, but I think Luna may have helped him with that two weeks ago. So it's not just mine. Today, they left and went up the hill for breakfast and came back down. When I got out of the shower I went to get dressed. I was missing a shoe! The little scamp had taken off with it again. It's not like I can put on any shoes either. I only have the one pair too.

I put on Mel's Wellies and went to search for my wayward shoe. It doesn't work well with my AFO because I can't do the lower straps of my AFO. So here I was walking very wobbly around the 1/4 acre of fairly flat land around the house. I looked everywhere to no avail. I called Reynaldo, but he wasn't home. I was stuck. Well I thought, I was about due for a new pair of shoes anyhow, I might as well get the ball rolling. I called my podiatrist to have her fax her notes on my foot care to my PCP, and then called my PCP to fax a prescription to Hanger Orthotics. Then, I called Hanger for an appointment. Yes, it is a long process. It will take about a month to get new shoes by the time it's all said and done. But that didn't fix my immediate problem.

Eventually, Reynaldo returned home. I heard him whistling. He's always whistling when he's outside. He searched his yard and found it! It is badly chewed with almost half of the Velcro closure straps and tongue chewed off. But I got my shoe back! I was so relieved. I was honestly trying to figure out how I was supposed to do what I needed to do for a month without shoes. From now on, my shoes will go on my dresser or on the back of the toilet. I don't need the new grey hairs.

Now for a scary podiatrist faxed her notes to my PCP, and then my PCP's office called me asking if there was a form that she could fill out  and get the doctor to sign to save time. I answered that I didn't know. Their office is two blocks from their office, instead of me being 36 miles away, for her to call them directly. Both of us have been trying to call Hanger for a week now. We've left messages and no return calls. Do you think they've closed down their office due to the virus? There are 54 cases of active Corona cases in that county. If so, now what? Wait another month and chance not having shoes to wear? Actually two months because it's a month's process after I place the order.

 Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Flipping the Wardrobe Time Again

I was beginning to think this day would not come until later, but the daytime highs are broaching 80 again. Thank goodness! I really knew it would happen, but the question was when. My sweaters, sweatshirts, and flannels will be packed away for another few months. It's shorts and t-shirt weather!!!!

I've transitioned back into wearing urinary incontinence pads full time again. I got fed up with having to get undressed from the waist down to change my pull up diapers. It took me months to reach this stage. I'm still not mostly in control like I was before the surgeries last year, but in control enough to pitch the diapers. I'll still have accidental floods. I can name two causes. One is running water. I don't care if I relieved myself five minutes prior, I'll stiIl flood the pad. The second one is partially my fault of not minding the time and my fluid intake very well.  The simple act of trying to stand will cause a flood upon gaining my feet and every step to the bathroom.

As most people who wear an AFO to stand and walk can attest to, having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate is a possible fail. When you are awakened by your bladder, you just can't jump out of bed and go. If it were that simple, I'd have no problem. But first you have to put on your AFO fastening the straps most times in the dark. I keep a nightlight on. Don your shoes, and then get up to go to the bathroom. If your bladder is really full, nine times out of ten, your bladder starts to release as soon as you are upright and gravity has its two cents to add. It takes really strong pelvic floor muscles to contain the urine. Unfortunately, mine were impaired by my strokes and surgeries. Having gravity's pull on the sphincter, is too great. I oft time do not make it to the toilet. I do manage enough control over the onslaught to get it from running down my legs.

That leads to another issue with colder weather. I can't wear flannel bottoms of my pajamas. The more that gets in my way between my bottom and the toilet is too much to deal with. So my legs are freezing by the time I finish the chore. Hello, warm weather! I can sleep in a XL t-shirt and panties. But even that, often my panties and t-shirt are soaked, and then I have to clean myself up too. After all this rigamarole, I'm wide awake and can't go back to sleep. It doesn't matter that I just went to sleep a couple hours before. I'll have to get up and do something for a couple hours before I can sleep again. Talk about a messed up sleep pattern.

So as I type this, I'm clad in my t-shirt and panties, and enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea. Good morning. The fact that it's two o'clock in the morning is besides the point. It's going to be a long day. Maybe, I'll catch a nap this afternoon...probably not. More than likely, I'll doze off while watching the two shows we watch after dinner. I guess I could be lazy and just put on a pull up diaper at night again. Nah, where's the adventure in that?

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Making Mud Pies

As much as I've complained about my difficulties moving around because of the mud, this week I was having fun making mud pies intentionally. With all the rain we've had, the garden area is staying high and almost dry with all of it. Not a single mud puddle in the whole area. The soil is that great for growing in. I actually made a layer of mud pies to plant in.   The garden is now halfway planted and additional summer crops (started indoors) will fill it up with yummy goodies for us. A year before I moved here, Mel made a video of her flooded garden. Boy, what a difference of time and labor wrought.

The same can be said living post stroke. Sometimes you have little choice to make mud pies where the heavy torrential rains (adversity) come. None of us like it very much, but our ideal choice is swept away in the flood. Still, the flooding can't last forever. It will gradually abate and the waters will drain away. That's just life in general, isn't it? It ebbs and flows between bad times and good ones.

Sometimes, you have to make mud pies and make a horrible situation better. At least you're having fun in the midst f it or you'd cry out in despair. I'm in that position now with my spasticity. I need to go to therapy for dry needling to reduce the escalating pain I'm feeling with a good stretch. The problem is our county is in lockdown mode with the COVID-19 virus (now in week 3). All nonessential appointments are canceled for the duration. I've tried the hot showers, I'm taking my medication, but I'm back in pain mode until at least the end of April...possibly longer. ARGH!

So, I'm trying distraction. Is it a distraction if it has to be done anyhow? I'm planting the garden and tending it closer
than I should be at this point in time. I'm plucking weeds for the bunny rabbits we have left. It's only a few ounces per day until they get through transitioning off the commercial, winter feed. But we only have two rabbits left, Buddy Baby and Cara, instead of the eleven this time last year. So I can go slow because of my pain levels. This time last year, I was schedule for a Baclofen pump placement to combat my spastcity. SIGH! You readers know how that turned out.

Everyone is facing hardships now. But they are short lived because the end is in sight. Everyone else will go back to their jobs even if they hate them with gusto. I will have to stand in line with others needing outpatient therapy waiting to be put back in the queue. It only took two months the last two times for this to happen. But, it's not like it will be never ending pain without the hope of a reprieve. Of course, there will be the lucky few that will have aged out of the need for therapy. I will get my appointment before those unlucky new atients behind me needing therapy. So I won't be stuck in the mud as long as they will be.

Still, I'm looking at several weeks like this with the painful spasms increasing until then. So until then, I'm making mud pies in the garden trying to keep my mind and body focused n other things. I'm still picking up kindling (twigs and branches) for the wood stove. There are still a few chilly days and nights ahead before the temperatures stabilizes warm constantly. Even so, kindling can be stored in the barn.workshop until its needed later. The cockeyed critters still need to be cared for and life goes on

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday Stroke Survival: Keep on Truckin'

This week begins the hurry up and wait portion of gardening. Seeds, and transplants are planted. Now, we just have to watch them grow.

This leads me to the topic of today's post. Keep on Truckin'. Yes, I'm dating myself. It was the time of convoys and everyone had a CB radio in their vehicle. Although this decal is still around today. But, it's more than that to me. To me it means no matter what just keep going.

Yes, we've had a stroke, or related to someone whose had a stroke. But right now I'm talking to the survivor. Yes, you may be disabled permanently. Yes, you can't do all you used to do. Now, wait a minute is that entirely true?

Many people bemoan the fact of what they can't do. I say you aren't trying hard enough. I'm not wheelchair bound because I fought my way out of it. Even if I were, it wouldn't entirely stop me from doing what I have and want to do. Can you guess I'm stubborn? Yes, that's true enough. I don't lay down and just take anything.

Many readers read my blog and say I'm inspiring. My progress, what I can do, and achievements are awesome. But the fact is, I'm handicapped by a half not working body too.I struggle against clonus tremors which may cause my leg to buckle. I have PBA, and cry when I should be laughing, burst out in anger for no reason, and laugh instead of cry (inappropriate emotions). I have constant spasticity to the point where it stops me from walking or have the ability to straighten my arm. I  have aphasia and have difficulty finding the correct words. At times, I still have difficulty uttering a single word. None of that has changed in the past seven years. I also get set back to square one with repeated strokes and have to fight my way back again. Each time, I regain a little less. All my strokes have been basal ganglian ischemic and self rectifying, small hemorrhagic in nature.

I don't say this for self pity. I'm just stating facts. It's what I face each and every day of living post stroke. Sure, I tell you the "rosy" side and what I've conquered this week. How I achieve certain things to do. Several other stroke survivor blogs that I read do the same thing. Why? Because we feel it might help someone else who may be facing the same thing.  We choose to inspire "CAN DO" attitudes.  All other stroke survivors have to do is try. Will you succeed the first time? Probably not. But keep on truckin' and keep trying. As a child, how many times did you try to tie your own shoes? How did it make you feel? The word is self empowered. It was something you could do for yourself and nobody had to do for you ever again. Well, not never again. A stroke has set you back some.

My shorts that I wore after my first stroke had a tie in the front of them. This was after I progressed back to them from men's boxers. I sat on the toilet trying to tie the ties. Finally, I figured it out. I proudly went out to show my husband. After his beaming praises and his generally cheerleading, he untied my shorts. "Now, do it again."

After I did it, I looked at him for praises. He did and untied it again. "Do again." After I retied the shorts a third time he asked, "You got it?" I nodded. He didn't do this to be mean. He knew that repetition was the key to learning and having it stick. Now, I can't tell you how many times I tried to tie my shorts and didn't have positive results, but I did figure out a way for me to tie my shorts with them on my body with one functioning hand. I still haven't forgotten. My point is this, I knew what I wanted to do and I didn't give up trying.

Some things I try and after I achieve the ability or relearn, I'll allow others to do it. When I first started writing this stroke blog, I mentioned that using hedge trimmers was impossible one handed. But, I hadn't tried to figure it out. Not to let anything daunt me, I figured it out. I can use hedge shears. It's clumsy and looks really weird watching me do it, but the point is I figured it out. But, I'll allow someone else do it for me. I can lift a 50# bale of hay or feed, but only if I have to. Mel and I moved two rounds of straw off her truck bed when we started the orchard because we had to and there was no one around to help. Each of these bales weighed 700#! Both of us were exhausted when we finished putting them where they needed to be. But we did it. After that fiasco, we settled for the more expensive 50# bales the next two years. They are more both of our speed. Lesson learned.  Some things are just fool hardy. This was an example of one. I'll do something once, if it's not necessary, just to prove I can or in this case, we can.

Now, I'll take some chances like operating power tools for the first time. For example, the chop saw. The thought of a one handed person operating one of these makes many persons' blood run cold. Unlike Dean, who does this fairly frequently (grin). I blame Dean and the picture of him in his workshop that he used to have on his blog for even giving me the idea. I use clamps for the hand I'm lacking. I've gone on to use my battery operated tool Ryobi set to build and repair things around the homestead to take the place of my nonfunctioning hand. Things like chain saws and weed whackers require a harness attachment. But, my point again is I can. It just takes some finagling to figure out how to do it. I can't let Mel have all the building fun and doing it safely.

If I didn't try, I never would do most of the things I used to do. Or, even want to do. Just because I'm disabled doesn't mean I'm worthless. I just figure out a way around obstacles and do it. Now there's some things I can't do with my left hand that I can do with my right. I'm definitely a right hand dominant individual with my creativity. I lack a lot of dexterity in my left hand for fine detail like drawing. I can barely write legibly with my left hand. It has to do with damage I've done to the hand over the decades. For example, my left thumb and wrist. It has been crushed, repeatedly fractured, cut to almost being severed so the resulting permanent damage and from the repairs has left it with only limited function. The rest of the hand has suffered similar abuse to where it is only half functioning. Does that stop me. No, it's a hindrance and inconvenience. It's my one functioning hand so I work around the problems to keep on truckin'.

Well, I've put off folding my laundry long enough. I really dislike folding laundry. I disliked it long before I had my strokes. UGH! It's sitting in the basket waiting on me. I better get to it and keep on truckin'.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Strke Survival: Living Post Stroke During a Pandemic

For the last several weeks, the world has been in utter chaos due to a microscopic organism. I've watched the news as the death toll rises (mainly in high population areas). It has filled the news cycles. Some of it is sensationalism, but the root cause is not without concern.

I was asked if living post stroke put me in a high risk category? Yes, and no. It depends on what was the cause of the stroke, or in my case strokes. If you have a history of cardiac problems like high blood pressure coupled with diabetes, or if your cardiac problems lead to breathing are in the high risk category. That pretty much covers all ischemic stroke survivors.

For me, I've got an autoimmune disorder having Fibromyalgia, and arthritis to compound my congenital low O2 capacity coupled with asthma (from being born prematurely), heart disease, stroke, and numerous other factors puts me firmly in the high risk category.  I know this so I plant my hinny at home during most of the winter and early spring months.

So having a tri-county lockdown is no real skin off my nose. I'm already in semi isolation mode. Even when I worked in the medical field, I used universal precautions before it was a thing that medical folks had to do. Frequent hand washing was a given. I didn't want to catch everyone else's cooties. If I did manage to catch a bug (viral or bacterial), I'd ultimately carry it home to my spouse and children making it triple whammy hard on me. I just said, "NO, I'm not going to do it." My spouse and children got their pneumovax and flu shots when due in December. The average length of active protection for the flu shot is 3-4 months only. In south GA and FL, we were in tank tops and shorts until almost Christmas each year. But for me, there was no protective shots. I'd have to take care of everyone else too. Yes, I had to sign a release wherever I worked in health care saying if there were an outbreak, I'd be sent home without pay until it was over.

I'm not mysophobic (fear of germs), but I am aware of germs and how easily they are transmitted.

So how do you cope when you are a stroke survivor?
  • Avoid contact with others. They may not know they are infected. They be showing no symptoms yet, but still be able to infect you. Maintain a six-foot distance. Use drive-thrus and pick up services. Many places allow you to call in an order for you to pick up when ready. 
  • Testing has shown that viruses can live on and be passed on inanimate objects if an infected coughs, sneezes, or transmits any bodily fluid on an catch it. Keep this in mind with you order anything for pick up. Wash all fruits and vegetables, bags and cartons brought int your house.  Somebody or many somebodies touched your groceries before you got it.
  • Remember, this includes all clothing worn in public. Make a habit of changing your clothing upon entering your house and putting them directly in the washing machine. Better yet, take a full shower. Line your hampers with a plastic trash bag. It saves you from washing/disinfecting the cloth liner or hamper every week. How many times have you been out in public and someone coughed or sneezed? 
  • As far as food goes, break out a cookbook or go online and find tasty recipes. I'm a huge fan of cook once eat many times. Find about 5-7 recipes that feed a crowd. Divide into meals and freeze or can the rest. I did this and have a month's worth of heat and eat meals. Remember, if you do get sick, having already prepared meals is a godsend. 
  • Have a contact person or persons you can call daily or every coupe of days. being alone isn't as bad if you can talk to someone. Quarantine or stay at home doesn't mean you can't go outside. Feel free to take a walk, but keep in mind the six-foot distance. It might be a good thing to carry disposable gloves with you. Remember, what I said about your clothes.
  • Wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your face. The most frequent virus and bacteria transmittal ports are from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • I say wash your hands, but I'm talking about any exposed skin from your hands up. If you are wearing long sleeves, washing your hands and wrists are fine, but if you are in short sleeves, it's up to your upper arms.
Most of your bill collectors are living with these precautions also. They don't want anybody's germs too. I received an email from car insurance company forgiving any late payments and not cancelling your insurance for nonpayment while all of this is going on. In fact, many companies have followed suit. Which in my humble opinion, is as it should be in human decency. More than likely, they'd be almost bankrupt if they cancelled everybody's services. Not to mention the bad press they'd receive. With so much of the country out of work until possibly Easter or longer, it only makes sense. But even so, this does not effect me, my checks are direct deposited and are government (State and Federal in nature) issued. I'm able to pay my bills (online) while so many do not have this luxury. I have the assurance that these checks will keep on coming. I won't lose anything like my job...I'm disabled retired.

In this time of panicked buying causing shortages, I had the foresight to buy "on sale" and with coupons to stock up on everything except for a few essentials. I brought in bulk what I could when I could. If that's not you, then you join the ranks of trying to get unavailable items or limited supply (rationing). I'm sorry for you. In a couple of weeks this time will be all over with. You can start fresh and prepare for next time and there will be an again, as my Momma used to say. For decades I prepared for hurricanes. I just got in the habit of stockpiling a month of more in advance just in case the SHTF scenarios. SHTF can be personal (only affecting you and yours) or global.

This is why I wrote, "Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper?" back in 2012. It is a how to prepare for short and long term SHTF scenarios like now. I even offered it for free to a number of individuals and groups. No, I'm not trying to sell you the book. I only use it as an example. For us, the SHTF back in May and my stores have carried us through since then. The garden failing last year, is the reason my cupboard is almost bare now. I'm semi concerned if this goes on or worsens over the next month. I'll continue to be concerned until the garden produces this year.

Y'all have a blessed and safe day!
Nothing is impossible.