Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Settling Into My New Place

 My mother-in-law apartment is huge! Sleeping in my old bed wasn't bad as I thought it would be. It took some adjusting though. I mention to daughter #3 on the phone, the night before I moved in, that it was difficult to get out of so she raised the whole bed on blocks and added another box spring to the mix. Well standing beside the bed the top of the mattress came to my waist! She meant well. Her husband, as tired as he was, lifted the bed and while she knocked the blocks off the  legs. That made the bed better. It only took a little hop to get on the bed. He ended up removing the extra box spring too undoing all of daughter #3's "helpfulness." The new box spring and mattress was higher than my own. So it's a bit higher than my old set. Still lower than ideal but I can live with it.

All my things are about me and fit the space perfectly. I do have to get some shelving units for the canning stuff. I still haven't decided which spare room I'll make into the larder. but for now it's all stacked neatly into one corner of my dining room. Actually, I could convert that whole corner into a larder. There's several empty boo shelves in here that could easily work to that end. I could fashion curtains to block the light.

I've even found a gardening spot for vegetables and space for the herbs that I brought with me! The whole back of the property is   overgrown badly. The herbs that I brought with me will be planted in the flower beds along the front walk. There's a 30'x50' (that's 10- 50' rows) on my side of the side yard that will be perfect for vegetables, I'll implement the Ruth Stout method and just cover the area with cardboard and thick layers of hay all that gras wi;; become a compost to feed the vegetables. It might be late in the season for planting, but hey this is Savannah, you can garden ten months out of a year here. It won't get cold here until December or January. But, I've had it trying to second guess Mother Nature. I can remember dressing my ids in tank tops and shorts on Christmas Eve. I still may get some home grown goodness yet. There's a double gate by the trash can so unloading it all will be a breeze.

I'll have to talk to daughter #3's husband first because he'll have to do all the heavy lifting of the compost bags and hay bales. I can spread it all out myself. I do not have a garden cart here, I'm going to miss it.  I'll need more cardboard boxes too. So many little things are needed, but that's my one handed life. The beautiful parts of using the side yard is it out my door and hang a right, and then there it is. It's a short walk to the outside shed too. What's in there is a mystery but I do know the grandmother was an avid gardener.

She'd be so angry about the way the landscaping has not been kept up, but at 92, it might not matter to her now. I'll have to price a landscaper to see about all the over grown hedges and stuff. There's no way daughter #3's husband or my daughter can do it all with their work schedules. They aren't really green thumb type folks. I sure can't. There's a ton of knee high pine trees and brambles out there.

I spoke to the son-in-law, and his plan was to demolish the back swimming pool and deck area during the summer months. He also sees the need of producing our own food. He has been a city dweller all his life so he'll need some guidance. There is plenty of roof line for water harvesting for the garden beds. Currently it's all running into the sewer. What a waste! Even if we have to move from this property, the "improvements can move with them onto the new property.

He mentioned leaving the Oleander in place as a privacy screen, I said cut it down. Oleander, while beautiful, is poisonous to humans and critters. We could plant blueberry bushes along the back fence instead. We'd have the privacy restored and enjoy the berries for years to come. And come to find out, his grandmother planted an herb garden. It's very badly neglected. But, I was able to salvage a few od the herbs.

I found a tree company that will deliver wood chips by the dump truck load for free! So starting a compost pile and garden beds will be cheaper. Now if I can the county composting site, I'll be in hog heaven and my gardens building will be complete minus some minerals. Now, if I can just get my fifteen year old granddaughter excited about the prospects of gardening...I don't believe that will happen though. Although, she admitted a desire to learn alternative uses of herbs and preserving the harvest. So that's a start. 

I've cooked two meals this week. The leftover meats from the shoulder pork roast will become shredded. BBQ sandwiches later in the month. The leftover beef pot roast will become roast beef hash to serve over rive. I'm still having to adjust serving size because now I'm cooking for 4 instead of 2. I founds our old dump cart that I had loaded with jars had made the trip to Savannah with me. It will eventually have to be returned to Mel. But in the meantime, it will help me set up this garden.

I found out from my podiatrist. two days before I left the mountains that I have three more stress fractures in my AFO clad foot. So I'm back to swapping out AFOs and shoes again. The swelling in the foot becomes too bad for me to wear my shoe very long or stand more than a dew hours at a time without elevating it and getting off it. SIGH! There's nothing wrong with the AFO. It's my bones that are the problem. They just aren't back to normal yet. All the chemo and radiation has done a number on my bone density. Even with a 1200 mg calcium plus D3 taken daily and the Vitamin D3 (50,000 unit capsules) taken weekly, it will take months to recover normal density back. In the meantime, small bones like in my feet will break. Right now, my bone density loos like the bottom right in my smaller bones and right upper in my major bones which is why I'm getting the stress fractures, but I gotta walk. God is still working on my patience issues. SIGH!

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Love it When a Plan Comes Together...Sort Of

It wouldn't be me, if Murphy's Law didn't kick in, right? For most of the day on Friday, our neighbor at the top of the drive pilled clay/sand from the upper most part of our property to fill in and grade the driveway adjacent to his property. By the time he was finished, any car or truck could drive down to our property with ease. Only to have a flood of rain wash away most of his hard work Friday night!

I was talking to daughter #3 on the phone when it started. We had a slew of last minute changes. Including a one way truck rental in North Georgia to Savannah. Who was coming also changed and it ended up being daughter #3 and her husband who took an emergency family day off so daughter #3 wouldn't have to make the drive by herself. He just came off a twenty-four hour shift at work Saturday AM. They, U-Haul, didn't have a hand truck nor a truck with a ramp unless I wanted to rent a Keri arrived around two, and then began the loading of the U-Haul truck. I ended up renting a 10' truck. Everything fit just fine with room to spare. But a few things were left behind like my bedside commode and my wheelchair. Both can be easily replaced since they were purchased under my old health insurance and not Medicare 9 years ago. I knew I should have been with them as they packed from the barn, but foot pain kept me from being there and Mel just forgot. In a couple of weeks I'll be back there again and I'll pick them up or just order new ones here. It's really nice when you reach your maximum out of pocket medical expense for the year and you see all those $0.00 on amount owed. God love my beloved husband because he's still taking care of me from beyond the grave.

They made short work of loading the totes and boxes from the barn workshop first. Then, he backed the U-Haul beside the front porch. I'd spent the morning with a shovel and push broom removing chicken poop from along the gates, and sliding totes into another staging area. I loaded the wheel cart full of boxes and pulled it to the front to be loaded into the truck. Altogether, it took four trips with canning equipment and stuff to go into the truck. By three o'clock, we were done and on the road. Climbing into daughter #3's SUV was a hiccup adventure. Me being 5' squat and paralyzed right side and all. It was just lie climbing into Mel's old truck.

All the worries of open gas stations and whether or not we'd find one had been prayed away so we had no issues. It's really sad when you think about it, The truck was 3/4 full of my stuff and it wasn't jam packed. It's ALL I had to show for belongings. It was reminiscent of my early married life when moving from one place to another. I had indeed come full circle. In that case, I didn't have much stuff because of money shortages, and now because I don't want it. 

So for now, I'm home at daughter #3's home in Savannah. Not pictured is the three car garage off to the left of the picture. It's a big old rambling 5bed/3 bath house. It'll take some time to get adjusted to it. They have moved me into the mother-in-law apartment so I have my own full kitchen and the whole shebang so privacy isn't an issue, all I have to do is closed the door.. So begins the next new chapter in this saga. It'll give me time to scare up additional stuff like a Bistro dining set, a loveseat, and some odds n ends for my own place. 

For now, I'm getting my feet wet figuring out where to put the year + pantry before I get busy working on food/essentials stores. Once a prepper/ homesteader/ from scratch chef, always a pepper/ homesteader/from scratch chef. I brought 48 cases of jars and food stuff with me from north Georgia, so it's a start. I still need to plan a trip to NC Amish country for stores and more jars and a quick visit with my girlfriends (from youtube) up there too. Maybe later this summer or early fall... until then, If I decide to move into a separate apartment whatever I put up can be split. I'll be hitting the local markets and buying in bulk. I may not be living on a homestead anymore, but old ways die hard.

Nothing is impossible. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Ready, Set, Butterflies

 Next Sunday I'll be posting from Savannah, GA. EEK! Yippee!

The boxes I could pack are pack in the staging area in the living room. I switched to plastic totes instead of boxes. I was easier to pack my clothes and kitchen stuff in them. Everything I own fit neatly in 5 of them. I do have another 5 extra large totes in the barn/workshop that also need to go on the truck also. They never made it into the house. If it wasn't for the lift chair, bath chair, bedside commode, chest of drawers, rollator, and wheelchair being so bulky, we could have gotten away with  a cargo van to move me back to the coast. Even when you fold up the things that can be, they still only shrink down so far. I've packed and staged everything to go I can do and the rest is up to them when they come.

I'm actually getting butterflies of excitement about the move. Seeing family again has been an unfulfilled dream for the past three years. Between health and car issues, a trip back home to see everyone hasn't been possible. I spoke to my father and his wife last week. All of us got excited by the prospect of me being an hour away instead of six hours away. Plans were made that when daughter #3 had two days off in a row that I'd go to Daddy's house for those two days. 

My stepmother now has heart issues similar to mine and she's still the primary care taker of my invalid father.  She's got almost 20 years on me too which makes life more difficult for her. Worse comes to worse, I'll at least be able to make up some freezer meals for them. Possibly some meals in a jar to help her out some. Similar to what I made up on the homestead. I've become well versed on them. Much better than regular frozen TV dinners. Those are heavy in fat and salt, and neither of my heart impaired folks need that. I may even wash a load of clothes or two. I'll leave the folding for her two handed self. I can't do much, but I can at least do that to try and give her a break.

Sleeping on a queen sized bed again will be a novelty. The fact that it is my old bedroom set will be bittersweet. It was my mother's before me. I really liked sleeping on the twin sized bed. I didn't instinctively reach over to feel my husband's side of the bed because there wasn't one. But it's been almost seven years since my beloved left me, surely I won't pick that habit back up, will I?  If it becomes a problem, daughter #3 also has a twin size bed they can change it to. So it remains to be seen. 

Poor Lil Bit won't know what to do with so much space on the bed. She's so used to curling up in the hollows around me on the twin to sleep at night. Once I get settled at night, she stakes her claim on a hollow by placing her paws on whatever extremity is handy, and then gets comfortable to sleep. And, at daughter #3's house she won't have to share the bed during the day with Kassity. I'm thinking she's gonna miss that dog because they've had a friendship brewing since she got here as a pup. Maybe, daughter #3's pit bull puppy, Jay, (6 months old) and her can become friends. Daughter #3 inherited him from daughter #2, when her new apartment didn't allow pets.

While the other household cats (Dervish & Patches) chose to teach dogs by hissing and scratching Kassity to teach her how to behave around cats. Lil Bit chose a different tact. She chose to touch noses and light sniffs were okay. Rough-housing with her was not. She'd jump up on the table and box the eager nose with her claws. Not hard enough to draw blood, but to say stop that. Since she was the only cat to make friends with her, Kassity learned. They check on each other when sick or hurt. They'll even leave portions of their "goodies" for each other. That's as close as they have gotten in friendship between a cat and a dog. 

Will Lil Bit be happy without Dervish or any other cat around? Dervish is the Queen cat around here. Lil Bit is either tolerated or harassed by her. Lil Bit doesn't know from one minute to the next what Dervish will do. To be the only cat in the house? I dunno how she'll  like it. It will be a first time for her. She's always been the baby in a multi-cat/multi-animal household. But I think she'll do fine with me there.

So the countdown is almost over. Five days and a wake up and I close the door on another chapter in my life, but the saga continues.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Making Lemonade with my Affected Hand

You know the old sating that when life gives you a bunch of lemons make lemonade, right? I've learned quite a few coping skills since my strokes left me with half a functioning body. When using a cane to walk in my functioning hand, it leaves my spastic, nonfunctioning arm an hand to carry packages and such. I put it to work.

This post is inspired by Rebecca Dutton over at the Home After A Stroke blog. She blogged about how she escapes frustration by making her affected side do.

For example, I had to carry my new brace and new shoe in a bag for an adjustment. I guess I could have shoved both under my affected arm, but I found a drawstring bag works better. I hook the strings on my index and middle fingers to carry it. The contracture of my middle finger is locked into a hooked position. Yes, it's aggravating to get loose, but I managed quite well until that point. This works for when I have multiple small items I have to carry too. I have various sizes of drawstring and tote bags to assist me. The tote bags just hooks on my spastic arm. The spasticity is constant in the arm so it is locked into a 45° or greater angle. A perfect large hook to hang things on.

With the spasticity, my hand us locked into an inverted 90° or greater angle. I have found I can slide my hand into pitchers and crockpot inserts to help me wash them. My shoulder can move, thanks to the Botox injections, to reposition them.

Years ago, I came up with a joke about my arms. My left functioning arm said to my right, nonfunctioning arm, "Why am I having to do all the work? Just what are you doing?" My right nonfunctioing arm responds, "Oh, nothing. I'm just hanging around."

Well, that's not true anymore. I make my nonfunctioning side help the unaffected side. I recently bought a meat package of beef, chicken, and pork, 55lbs total weight. Among these was a  9lb boneless pork loin. Now, a 9lb pork loin of this size roasted for a family of six would be just about right, but there are only two of us here. I decided it would make excellent pork chops for numerous meals. This pork loin had never been frozen and chilled meat is slippery to cut especially one handed. I pit the slab of meat on the cutting board and lifted my affected, glove covered fist on top of the slab. I used my shoulder muscle to put downward pressure on the meat to hold it in place while I cut off 1/2' thick pork chops off the loin. I wear a Latex glove with the finger pulled inside the glove over my fist. The length allows for coverage of my forearm so I can use this too on large portions of meat. I wrapped two in a package for a meal. I ended up with nine meals of pork chops and a 1/2lb package of pieces for another recipe. I did the same with the 8.5lb beef roast for yummy steaks and stew meat. I made short work of the 10lb chub of the 80/20 ground beef chopping it into 1lb sections using the same method. One 55lb haul from the butcher shop provided us with a couple months of meals either in the freezer or canned in my pressure canner for quick easy meals and the cost was $110 or $2 a lb.

These are adaptive life skills. I reduce frustration. I switch I CAN'T with I CAN! What's the other old saying? Use it or lose it! Or, from a stroke survival perspective, learn how to make do.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Aging and Moving Post Stroke

 It's official I've gained another week because my daughter's work scheduled changed, but on the 30th of May, I'll start a new chapter in my life in Savannah. The truck is reserved and the countdown begins. 

How many chances do you get to start new chapters in your life? Every time I think I'm on the final chapter, I turn the page and surprise, there's more to the saga! I've never lived with one of my children before. I mean me moving into their house. It's always been the other way around. It seems strange but somehow right. It's what I taught my children their whole life, family takes care of family. This is going to be a major learning curve for all of us (even if it's short term). It's no longer Momma's house, Momma's rules.

The prospects are exciting and terrifying at the same time especially living post stroke. Or, maybe, it's just that I'm getting older and rattling against another new adventure.  But everyone believes this move is for the best.

For now I've started separating kitchen lob-lollies, I've been through the pantry and food stores to split everything, and am packing away winter clothing for the move. I'll probably continue packing my clothes keeping only a couple outfits out as moving day get closer. Not that I have that many clothes. I recently bought two pairs of jeans to replace two that weren't decent enough to wear anymore. They were size 18W (I now wear a size 14) is besides the fact. They were ripped, stained and holey. They weren't even usable for quilting. Now, that's bad! I need to replace my tube socks. They are threadbare in spots, getting holey, and the elastic band is shot, but I'll wait for this purchase. So I'm attempting to pack myself. It's harder than it was six years ago. I'm thinking age has a lot to do with it.

As I fill a box (18" square), I move it to a staging area between the sofa and the bookcase in the living room. They aren't heavy because I'm still under a 25lb weight lifting restriction. I find they are easier to lift if I pack them on the bed and pick them up to carry from that height. Having an AFO and the same shoes is a definite plus! (HURRAY!!!) I'm not killing myself in packing. I'm averaging two boxes a day. As far as marking them goes, a Sharpie has become my best friend. A single capital  letter adorns the boxes; B= bedroom, K= kitchen, X=bathroom, C=Craft/sewing, and S= Storage. The majority of boxes are bedroom because they are clothes, bedding, and such. Ten boxes and a back pack in total so far. 

One box is devoted to Lil Bit. When we went to town for my foot doctor appointment, I had Mel stop by the Dollar General for her new feeding dishes, cat food, litter, and litter box. Everything fit in the box perfectly. I also put Patches' remembrance paw print disk the vet made in it. I marked the box with a "B" because she'll have the entire setup in my bedroom until she gets around to making friends with my daughter's puppy. That reminds me to ask daughter #3 if she still has a baby gate for my bedroom door. It will allow the animals to sniff one another at will. Lil Bit's preferred method of making friends with new critters. From there, she'll train the puppy to be polite as only cat claws or rapid slaps can do. Dogs usually learn to respect cats within one or two contacts unless they are totally stupid.

So slowly, but surely it's all coming together. Next, I'll tackle the stuff in the barn. Now, that will be the real challenge! I'll definitely wait until this storm front passes before I start.

Nothing is impossible.