Monday, September 30, 2013

It's Time Book Tour with Jeremy Hawkins

 Better late than never. I asked Jeremy Hawkins, otherwise known as Being Retro, how his art got started because that's what his books are about. Up until now it's been a celebrity whirlwind of interesting (famous & infamous) people he's had the pleasure of meeting. I wanted to know the beginning and he was gracious enough to oblige. So without further ado heres Jeremy taking over the Murphey Saga.

So taking a break from all the celebrity encounters I want to reflect on art some of you write, paint, sculptures and like myself design. Now these I have listed are only the threshold of the talent you posses, it was meant to give your talent to us. I have always asked myself where was your starting point, when do you know that is what you wanted to do. Turning it over to you and then I will share a little story about my “moment” and then I would like for you to think about the same.

I remember dabbling in drawing not really being all that good at, but I found myself sketching and making silly characters that would end up looking like a peacock. It wasn’t until high school while sitting in my English class where I found my “moment” and taking notice that I was going to be doing this for a long time. I had decided to use my desk as my mural with pencil in hand I started to draw, draw eagles in the trees. What started as a cartoon turned shape into what I thought was a more than I could have imagined. Now the problem is its English and I now caught the eye of the teacher Mrs. Brandt as she makes her way back to me. Not saying a word throughout the second half of the class to me, not angry nor upset.

Class is a bell away from getting out; I hear my name to stay after... you know I know this means some trouble. I hear the bell, I feel this it, busted. I walk up to her desk, she quickly moves us back to mine… still no words. I hear a few grunts to the tapping on the center of my masterpiece. A question “is this all your work to show for the class”; she smiles and shares the something I didn’t know. Before that another question “do you do this all the time” I responded no not usually on a desktop, I just was inspired.

I was really unaware that my English teacher was head of the art department and she found my work inspiring for what it was. I never have had anyone really ever tell me that they enjoyed my art, I was a closet artist I guess. We found ourselves smiling over this desk turned art mural; sadly it didn’t last as she points out a bottle cleaner and a cloth. Getting a Mr. Hawkins and the need to clean the surface came her life lesson from her and her experience. Never draw something beautiful you might want to keep and share someday with someone. As I begin to turn art into a mess to a clean surface, she explains that she could help bring the art of out the person. Also sharing that for the art it was a delight of expression and for the English I was to have a detention for a week.

As for the great news she made me serve it out in the art room showing me the vast joys that this room has to offer. I remember that being the day my “moment” hit bringing back to the start… the reason I am who I am. I am less of an artist more of a designer due to the love and introduction of the computers. So here is your part share your passion, please let me and us know how you got there, it doesn’t have to be long like mine. I am really more interested in thinking about your “moment”.

It's a four book series 40 pages each and it is the art/design from things I had designed over the years. It's a mish-mash of things that I had seen in my head... and some are future designs that will become shirts. Places I wanted to go artistically as you travel from where I was to where I am now. Is it great journey!  Titles came from the idea of time "12:34, 35, 36 and 37” seems that is when my best ideas came to me... day or night. It's funny I never considered myself a "writer" just a man who likes to paint a canvas if it be words or my art/design.

Giveaways: Some great prizes being given away please stop over at my main page “BEING RETRO” and look just below the header for the “It’s Time” Tour Giveaway link and enter today. **Actually, it's just above.**

Grab his books at:

Thank You, Jo for letting me play host and to all who took the “time” to read this… you are all the best.

Jeremy Hawkins
Being Retro

To Stalk Him:
Howling Wolf Records
Horror Blogger Alliance

***In addition to his books and art work, he has an online t-shirt company called Neato Shop that has some REALLY awesome t-shirts! He's a sci-fi and horror buff like me so is any wonder we connected? So stop on by his sites, buy his books, or just pop in and say "Hi, Jo sent me."

Have a great week all!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ It's Puppies in the Murphey Saga!

Since I'm off topic this month with the syndicated stroke recovery sites that republishes me anyhow, I'll get back in sync by November. A couple of them took a summer break leaving me to publish what topics I wanted without a tie in. So what to talk about today....hmmm...Oh, a bright spot in my future. Yeah that's it. I have new news.

I've wanted another dog for some time now. Not just any dog but a fairly large one, a German Shepherd. Plus I wanted a female to boot for the first one because they are easier to train. She in turn would help train the male when I got him. Females are smarter and quicker to learn from my experience.

Yes, I know they are big dogs when they grow up. Yes, I'm limited with my disabilities, but still I wanted one. In my younger years I trained AKC Shepherds for guard dogs, family pets, and show dogs. I did quite well at it and know there is no better family orientated dog breed that can protect the family. There's something about their size, their canine teeth, and their deep bark and menacing growl that make grown men pee their pants. Gee, I wonder why. (giggling) I'd planned to have at least two for protection of our acreage, if not four. It's a big piece of property.

Well, my stroke made me incapable of working at my previous jobs and it kind of put a serious cash flow crunch on us. Not to mention the delay in homesteading our acreage. The cost of one puppy with a great blood lines is between $450-$2,100. A big ouchie on an already tight budget. Not to mention the vet bills, registration fees, and food. I just couldn't financially see a way to swing it up until this week.

A friend of my daughter had a tan saddle shepherd who had puppies. She had been accidentally bred with a black shepherd. The result...18 puppies. I've never heard of such a huge litter before. There are more puppies than Sheba has teats to feed them. She has a rotation feeding schedule going on, but still the last two females born get the short end of the stick so they are not fairing well.

The owner is having to supplement feeding them with a bottle. Imagine only ten are shown in this picture. There are eight more waiting in the wings for the next shift. The pups are growing fast and actually roll their momma onto her back to nurse. She barely gets a break from nursing her litter to take care of her needs. The pups are just barely four weeks old.

The momma dog is exhausted. The owner is exhausted. And I'll reap the benefits. She is parting with the two runts for $100. What a deal! or Steal as the case may be for me. Although the pups aren't usually sold before eight to ten weeks, I'll take ownership of my pups in a week. Judging by their paws, ears, and tails the girls should weigh about 65 pounds when full grown. A little on the small side, but I don't intend on showing them or putting them in competitions. They will still be hefty enough to take on all threats to the family. Nobody will want to tangle with them.

They will have longer black hair like their papa. The girls have a very long, traceable pedigree. They are AKC registered already all except the names. I'll supply that when I transfer their registry. For official names, we are leaning towards Greta and Elsa Von Bach. We like to keep their names German and easy enough for the grandchildren to say.

Meanwhile, I purchased a few new signs to go around the fenced in property. It's me. You kind of figure I won't have signs that simply say "No Trespassing." Uh uh, that's not my style. If you've learned anything about me from reading my books or my blog that's for sure.

I've already got signs posted saying... 


This is the new one reads...
A full grown German Shepherd can sprint 35 miles an hour. Over the same distance a human triathlon runner may hit 23-30 miles per hour. You judge who can reach the fence first. While it will be a few months before my new girls will be any kind of threat other than an ankle biters, it doesn't hurt to be prepared. In training these dogs in the past, I know they can be also help/service dogs. With my husband being the way he is  and me post stroke, we can use all the help we can get. These girls have a lot of learning to do.

Now it's just a problem to get everyone else trained in a new language for commands. Humans are so much slower to train. Look at me, I'm barely house broken again. Still learning how to talk and a few other details.

The good thing is the girls won't have to try to understand how I speak now because they won't know any difference. In some ways our youngest grandson (18 months old) is blessed because he doesn't remember the way grandma or grandpa used to be. He only knows us as we are now compared to my teenage grandchildren. He still sits on my lap and does my facial exercises with me. Yeah, I still do those because it can't hurt. I live in fear that if I stop doing them the facial droop will come back. I know. Irrational, huh?

As far as my aphasia goes, I can relearn ten command words from my childhood easier than I can relearn being conversational in that language again. Or I can try. It is a goal. I love setting goals for myself. It gives me something to work towards. I haven't met too many of the goals I've set for myself within a given time frame, but over time, I'll get there.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I Know and I'm Sorry

Today I was supposed to be hosting Jeremy's It's Time book tour special. I'm sorry everyone. It's being put off to another day. My dog ate my homework. No, really my computer ate part of it with a nasty virus that hit last week. The blog part.

I didn't realize it until day before yesterday. After some frantic emails back and forth, Jeremy and I couldn't pick up all the pieces in time. BUT I promise to have Jeremy's special appearance here soon!

A family emergency took me away from my computer quite a bit yesterday so again I apologize. Oh, crisis averted or at least fixed for now. The ex-husband of one of my daughters showed up here and it got ugly, but he's safely back in the pokey once again. One of these days he's going to realize that it's not smart to mess with the momma. It's all about who and what you know. I'll have to elaborate on this another day.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ One Side Neglect- The Twist and Fatigue

Just after my stroke, I was made aware of one side neglect. This came about when wheeling myself from therapy back to my room and I pinned my arm between the wheelchair and the wall.

Now I am luckier than most. I lost sensation in just a few places.Yes, I can finally say this and mean it. My right side of my face still feels like there is Novocaine still injected in it, the outer portion of my thigh still has no feeling, and the bowel/bladder perception is still gone, but I am luckier than most who survive a stroke that have lost it all.

A PT assistant extricated my arm from its pinned position and placed it on my lap saying, "This is your baby and you've got to take care of it." The problem was not that I didn't know it was there because it hurt when I crunched it. I just couldn't move it out of the way. Plus the wheelchair wasn't balanced for one sided locomotion. I've since learned how to make it go where I want it to go. Yes, I will still run into things like door jambs with my affected side but that's more of a balance issue than not perceiving it's there.

I'm lucky because I don't have the standard one side neglect that most stroke survivors have. Mine is twisted. My neglected side is my functioning side. While my personal care of my affected side is top notch, my poor functioning side is hurting bad mainly because I can't reach all areas. My elbows are rough and Lord help me if I get an itch on that side.

With an itch, I become a bear in the woods looking for a tree...

Or a contortionist...

Or maybe the person creating a new dance move.

Now applying lotion to various spots on the right unaffected side of my body has the same challenges. Yeah, yeah, I've seen those lotion applicators in the adaptability stores but some spots you just aren't going to reach with those things.

It's trial and error, and an adventure in personal care at best. It's best left when I have abundant energy because the movements you have to make will zap all your energy stores. Personally, I have more pressing needs that have to be attended to like shopping for groceries, administering injections of pain killers into my hubby's dwindling muscle derriere, and cooking. You know, living life to it's fullest given limited energy stores.

Shaving, scratch the itch, toe nail clipping, lotion applications, and other necessary tasks are now delegated to others. I willingly will pay for others to do these things for me. Or on occasion, delegated to an unlucky family member. I may forgo the occasional shower for hitting all the pits with a washcloth, or have hairy pits and rough skin, or may just do without knowing I need extra energy for the trials of the day like doctor appointments. All the things I can't do without expending limited limited energy resources to spend them on thing I really want to do.

I choose how I spend my twelve spoons of energy a day. Haven't heard of the spoon theory of energy? There have been heated discussions over on Amy's blog about post stroke fatigue so I thought I'd share this.

Although Christine speaks about Lupus, it applies to post stroke energy levels. Watch this for an idea of what it's like living with post-stroke fatigue and choosing wisely...

(Standard youtube license)

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Are You as Exicited as I am??? Cassatorm- Taking the World by Storm

The real Alex!
I've been a huge fan of Alex J. Cavanaugh's series for years. Now comes the third book in the series hot off the presses tomorrow. Yes, I pre-ordered it and all giddy inside awaiting its arrival. Since Alex announced he was writing it and it was due for publication, I've gone back and reread the previous two books to refresh my mind of the characters. I'm expecting new excitements and twists with this new book. And knowing Alex's writing style, I won't be disappointed.

I had a chance to catch Alex in all the pre-pub flurry to ask him some questions

1) How would you feel if your books were optioned for film and was sliced and diced as World War Z?

I think I would go into hiding and take up serious drinking. Although it would be worse if the SyFy Channel got a hold of them!

2) What was your first prompt to write in the first place?

I wrote so I could read the stories I couldn’t find anywhere else.

3) You are such a multi-talented fellow, tell us about your music.

Music has always been a part of my life, but I didn’t pick up the guitar until a few years ago. Now I play in a Christian band and it’s just amazing.

 Thanks Alex for taking time to answer a nagging fan!

Now about this new book being launched

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Pre-release reviews 

“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse 

“…mesmerizing story of survival, personal sacrifice, tolerance, and compassion. It’s a rare jewel that successfully utilizes both character and plot to tell a story of such immense scope and intimate passion…” - Nancy S. Thompson, author of The Mistaken

"An exciting, nail-biting read which sweeps the reader off on adventures in another galaxy."
- Nicua Shamira, Terraverum

Where to find CassaStorm:
Amazon -

About the Author
Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

 Stalk the author here
Goodreads -

So what are you waiting for? Oh that's right, you can't purchase it until tomorrow. (grin) So get doing those finger exercises to click your mouse faster. I'll see you in the pages in a few days.

A Flood of Emails on Electronic Acupuncture

I got 32 email concerning my use of electronic acupuncture and naturopathic/alternative medicine. I gather there is an interest. I'll pick one and share.

Joyce wrote:
...I want to , need to learn more ways and better ways to deal with the spasticity.  Where can I learn more about the electronic acupuncture that you talked about.  Naturopathic medicine to deal with spasticity.  .??? I never want a repeat of this week and it is not over yet.  Help!  
I already sent an email back to Joyce and here is my response.

Hello Joyce,

Infections are always a bug-a-boo with all part of the body. Even if you don't know it's there. I tend to listen to what my body is telling me. For me, the first sign of infection is malaise because I've always been a do person. While I may not know the cause, I know something is brewing. I also have this weird sense of smell that can smell an infection on myself and others. I can usually pinpoint the location within 72 hours. That's one of the reasons I made an excellent trauma nurse. The body relatively screams at me what's wrong. I know, I'm Abby Normal. That's also why I started searching for naturopathic/alternative medicine schools.

I guess the first thing I should ask is does your husband have any electronic devices implanted in his body? Like a pacemaker or pain control units to his spine, if so he cannot use this device. The device is the ETPS 1000. It's a neurostimulator like e-stim, but it's placed on acupuncture points. It works by sending a pinpoint electrical charge into the nerve. Unlike general e-stim it doesn't have a large pad but a tip like a ball point pen.

This is the LINK to my particular model. There are many and they all do the same thing. Google ETPS and you'll see what I mean.Mine has control dials for the amount of charge (patient's tolerance) and polar settings to excite or sedate. I've actually used it for years. I have no idea what the going price is, but I paid $250. You will need a prescription from your neurologist. It is battery operated and can be done by yourself or to others. I just found it on Amazon for cheaper, so maybe it's approved in the US now. When I bought mine back in the 90's it had to be ordered from Canada.

I actually have a working knowledge of acupuncture so I know the spots, but it isn't necessary with the books you can buy. Has you or your husband had an EMG run? You hear higher static sound with tightly contracted muscle, this works on the same principle with high and low pitched tone. At the highest point you hit the nerve-muscle junction and the point of the causing the pain and spastic muscle. Although the book shows general points, you are on a search and destroy mission. Find the highest pitch (squeal) for the maximum benefit.

Just after my stroke, the muscles tightened unbearably. Trying to do the ROM exercises became a daily chore lasting precious minutes getting the joints relaxed enough to move especially in my wrist. I pulled out my acupuncture needles and inserted them into my forearm and the base of thumb and fingers too. After a few minutes I found the bunched muscles relaxing. Then I remembered this unit I bought for my husband for his pain control that sedated nerves. I tried it and it worked. I got more range of motion doing the exercises. It was me marrying modern and ancient philosophies like I usually do.

Now keep in mind that I am also on the maximum allowable oral Baclofen, Zanaflex, and Valium at night for muscle spasms. Or rather I only take the Valium at night because it will be the straw that breaks the camel's back and puts me to sleep. I am also on a Botox injection schedule of every 3-4 months...5-6 months had me in agony for a month to a month and a half. Because it is available for me. I do not forgo modern medicine but look for ways to augment it.

The two books I strongly recommend are Natural Health: Pain Management for the 21st Century and Natural Heath II: Health Maintenance for the 21st Century. Both are published by Accmed and written by Bruce R. Hocking. Even if you don't order the unit, they are invaluable for understanding massage points.

Hopes this helps your husband.


There's no perfect fix for spasticity. Doctors cannot even agree what causes it or why some stroke survivor get it and others don't.
You have to first define the mechanism of what is broke to fix it!
I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. While I do have a Ph.D, it's not in medicine. I'm just an ordinary stroke survivor looking for ways to combat what has happened to my body and try to make it better.

Does it relieve all my pain? No not 100%. Does it relieve all the spasticity? No, there is still some that you can see in the previous picture. The is no fix all. I just have found it helps me. 
I also treat the muscle spasms with an herbal blend of Rosemary, Red Thyme, Epsom salt, and Marjoram herb steep it into a very strong tea and soak in a bath tub. (steep time 30 minutes) These herbs and mineral have natural muscle relaxing qualities. I use a cup of each in a 2 quarts of boiled water.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Grief- Upturn and Acceptance

Today is the last segment on grief. It is the upturn and acceptance.  Acceptance is the ultimate goal in your recovery process. I will say this and I'll say it again. There is no cure for grief. It is forever, just not as painful given time. With time it will not feel like someone stabbing you with a knife and twisting it, but a sting like a mosquito. Painful, but not as painful as before.

I want to make something clear to my readers also. I write this as counseling to make you aware what is going on with you and that it's normal. While I use me as an example, I've moved forward and onward. Yes, I have relapses from time to time as do most folks recovering from a death or a stroke. Each relapse is shorter in time than the last time. That is to be expected. Read the above paragraph. It's a case of preacher heal thy self with God's help and pass the knowledge on.

Yes, I still revisit all the phases as time passes, but in acceptance you realize that there are some things that are. It is reality and facing your given situation. Yes, horrific things happen and it happened to you. Things that you may contemplate for your worse enemy but in actually never honestly wish it on another soul. There are consequences to every action you take in this life and acceptance for your circumstances is the key to recovery. Acceptance depends on your willingness to move on. This is what cards you have been dealt in this life. So what are you going to do about it? That is the one thing God does not control and He left for us to will. It is our choice how to live our lives.

How would you like to live your life? The choice is yours. Your present is what you make it. Would you rather lives in the stinking quagmire of guilt, denial, anger, and depression of memories of the past you and longing to have it back? The past is past and baring some time machine, we can't go back and change it. Or would you rather look to a brighter tomorrow where you strive to get better? The choice is ultimately yours.

For me, I end my usual stroke survival posts with "nothing is impossible with determination." I mean it. It's my way of looking to a brighter future and I hope to impart that message on to you. I always look to the light or brightness. Yes, there are a lot of dark times in my past and my future, but I will always walk towards the light. There is always a glimmer there in our souls just waiting for us to see it. You have to want to see it and walk towards it to reach acceptance.

Another thing I usually say on this blog is, "for right now." It's a quantifying statement of acceptance. Everything in this life is temporal. It's perception of what we are experiencing. The thing about perception is that it is constantly changing with circumstances and knowledge. My perception of life as a child is nothing like my perception as an adult, or an elder person.It does not mean I will not try to make it better. I am a mother and grandmother who will always try to kiss it and make it better.

Another reason for my quantifying statement is while I accept the way I am this minute, I refuse to give up hope for a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where I've learned new adaptable helps or recover some of what I've lost. Life is an ever evolving process. What is paramount today may not be tomorrow. When you reach a level of complacency, events will always step forward to disrupt it if you let it. When you've had the worse thing that you can imagine happen to you, be aware there may be even worse things in the future. But does that stop you from trying to live your life? No. So long as you are breathing, there is hope for a better tomorrow.

My prayers are heart felt for all of you that you reach a level of acceptance. Reach beyond it. Never be complacent with life as you know it. Be aware of changes that happen in your life have a purpose as a growth experience. And no, I want no one to have to go through these trials for a growth experience, but here we are. The question is, "What do you want your tomorrow to be?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th wasn't so bad after all...

I figured this morning I'd be in big trouble with my foot doctor for my renewed AFO rupture of my pressure sore. We had worked a month to get the new skin growth and get the wound to close- 3 debridments, wet/dry dressings, antibiotic in pills and creams to head off any infections, and 8 visits to his office.

Today was supposed to be just a 30-minute follow up that turned into a 2-hour appointment...not waiting but in actual time spent with doctors!

With facing a triple athrodesis surgery looming over my head, it hasn't been a very good week. Heck, I'm still sore from yesterday's Botox injections with 6" needles. I asked him almost pleading with him if he did this kind of surgery. He doesn't or at least hasn't done one in the last ten years. I really hate breaking in new doctors or refill in old doctors I hadn't seen in a while. Just too much stuff has gone downhill in my life in just 6 years medically. In my ortho's case, it's been that long.

I told my foot doctor about the various appointments I'd had between neurologist, brace maker, and orthopedist. He shook his head and asked, "Do you really want to go through all that?"
You can guess my response to him. As a preacher I know you shouldn't cuss, but I did.
He then told me as he saw it and broke it down for me...
  • The AFO is causing the pressure sore. That will continue to be a problem.
  • The AFO cannot have any further alteration.
  • My insurance would not pay for a new AFO but would pay for this surgery.

When I nodded my head, he responded with another cuss word that starts with bull----! He called in the three other doctors in the practice for a consult and second opinions too. They basically said the same thing after examining my foot and ankle. I was half scared and the other half almost sick with concern about what would happen next.

His solution...
  •  Call the brace maker and find out what ICD (diagnosis) codes were used for the original brace. He did right there and then.
  • He rattled off some additional diagnosis codes that might work. None of them had to do with my stroke.
  • He'll call me Monday whether the new codes circumvent the 5-year rule.
  • If I do need surgery he would recommend an Achilles tendon release. He would do it like he did my Achilles rupture on the other foot. I would be nonweight bearing for four weeks instead of two months and I would go into a less confining AFO after surgery. Total heal time is ten weeks instead of six months. When I mentioned that I couldn't use crutches this time, his response was a knee wheelie thingy or wheelchair.
  • He has an agreement with the company for a 30- day trial period. If the one he orders doesn't work he can order another one or build one himself. Yes, he's a certified brace maker as well.

When I explained to him that I just bought a $225 pair of diabetic shoes and had them altered with lifts and insoles. With the new AFO none of that would be necessary. He just patted me on the shoulder and said, "If this new AFO works like it's supposed to I'll replace your shoes free of charge. The main thing is to get you better."

When I asked him the cost if the insurance didn't pay. He said not to worry about it. He'd sell it to me at his price about $300 cheaper and take payments.

I could have cried. And people don't understand with all that is going on in this Murphey Saga why I feel blessed. Now is there any doubt?

I know it's supposed to be fun friday, but...

I know it's supposed to be Friday Fun, but found this more important. My strokee friend, Amy, posted this today and thought I would share...

Are Neurologists Respected?

Nope.  Dean found a great thread on a forum for student doctors.  The general consensus is that if you get a brain injury you’re screwed because as arrogant as neurologists are, they know absolutely nothing about recovering from an injury to the brain.  Neurologists, feel free to refute this.  The recent neurologist I saw is not included in this generalization – she’s cool.  If you get a brain injury, you BETTER have no qualms about alternative and Eastern Medicine.  There is LOADS of EVIDENCE (research) to support some Eastern treatments but this evidence is ignored by health care practitioners and insurance companies in the west.  I’m determined to change that.

The link takes you  a gold mine of information. Most of my readers know I have a degree in naturopathic medicine. I believe in alternative therapies strongly and/or in conjunction with modern medicine.  So forgive me if I step up on my soapbox here.

Once upon a time, up until the 1950's, 80% of all medicines were plant based in origin. These plants still exist, but big pharma found a way to make cheaper chemical based products cheaper. In fact big pharma, discounted all plant based drugs as substandard. Yes, varying methods of strength was hard to judge and and proper dosing.

I've educated my own therapists and neurologist in herbal and alternative medicine that has worked for me like acupuncture and mostly electronic acupuncture. My neurologist just yesterday was full of questions about the sedating abilities of electronic acupuncture when I showed her my device. My hour appointment lasted two hours with the demonstration. It's how I reduce spasticity and pain to a manageable level between Botox injections without pain medicine.

For me, that's a sign of a good neurologist. I strongly dislike closed minded doctors, or those with a god complex. She's not opposed to finding new ways to treat her patients. She even wrote out the ordering information.

For her base line I had not used my device for two days prior to the appointment so I was sure all the previous effects had worn off. I told her to try and open my hand and straighten my wrist. With no Botox left in my system the fist was clenched tight, thumb locked at better than 90 degrees in all joints and inside my closed fist, and the wrist was cocked at 90 degrees. She fought to do it.

I told her, "now watch." I used the device on a few points for positive energy and had it set for sedation. As you can see the hand and wrist relaxed noticeably. Then I told her that this is how I survive daily with my spasticity. At bad times, I'll do it every six hours. She grabbed her Botox book and compared the sites I hit with those for the injections. Interesting enough, they were the same. Yes, I still got my Botox injections.

Now for an update on the turmoil from yesterday. The neurologist didn't say "no" like I expected. She did say wait though for six months. She wants to try two more series of Botox first to see if it stops the inversion. I can do that. Today is the foot and ankle doctor treating my pressure sore. He's not going to be happy about the new rupturing of the healing sore. (Sigh) Life is a trade off.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday turmoil ~ Surgery as the Best Option?

So this week has seen a slew of doctor and brace maker visits with more today and tomorrow. Some have been for my DH (darling hubby) but most have been for me.

Physical therapy has stopped once again due to my spasticity. Considering my insurance allows for 75 visits a year, I've still got more appointments left for this year and it's September!

 Monday kicked off with my hubby's pain management appointment. No biggie that's a normal monthly thing. I was discharged from PT at my request the spasticity is back with a vengeance. Again no biggie have done this a couple of times this year already. The pinched nerve is handled by the home traction unit. The pain is only once a day so long as I don't over do it.

The leg that's another can of worms. I was making good progress on healing my pressure sore until Tuesday. All Hades broke loose literally. I had an appointment with my brace maker for more adjustments on my AFO (ankle, foot orthodic) that enables me to walk. I started having renewed pain and swelling in spite of the last adjustment and $225 shoe that they said would correct the problem.

You know me, Ms. Abby Normal. The spasticity is undoing all the good the orthodic is supposed to fix. When I took off my brace there was a blood stain on it. When I looked at my sock it was crusted with blood. In fact the sock was glued to my foot by it. The pressure sore which had been healing well ruptured again. A month's worth of debridements, wet/dry dressings, medicines etc down the drain. There is also no more adjustments that can be made to my AFO without damaging its structural support. A new one can't be molded for another 3 1/2 years unless I want to pay out of pocket for it.

Long story short, surgery is highly recommended to correct the inversion and alleviate the pressure. Which meant an added visit to my orthopedist for a consult for a triple arthodesis procedure. The procedure will permanently fix my ankle in a 90 degree angle with pins and screws. Seems kind of drastic doesn't it?

Lengthening the tendons nonsurgically isn't working. During high spasticity, there's nothing to be done. Today I'm having another round of Botox, but it will be a week before it takes effect.

While my house is newly renovated for wheelchair access, it's not a choice I'd like to make because of pressure sores. The down side is I could lose my foot. But neither my husband or myself could lift a wheelchair in and out of the car. I have to be mobile. It's better than a mile to the nearest grocery store or pharmacy. Customizing my van for roll in access is impossible. I'd have to buy a new one because of the weight distribution. I cannot afford one.

The surgery itself carries risks, but for me the risks triple. I'm facing the possibility of another stroke or death. The last time I under went general anesthesia surgery my heart stopped twice so a forty-five minute procedue lasted two and a half hours. The idea of another stroke just scares the heck out of me. Six weeks of nonweight bearing on the leg is a challenge but doable. Four months in a cast is also doable.

But if more pressure sores. No more AFO and I can kiss my cane goodbye. I could actually wear normal shoes again. No danger of falls, no balance issues causes by the built up shoes. I wouldn't face being wheelchair bound and its expense. Just imagine the savings.

I'll have to get permission from both my cardiologist and neurologist. Both have continually said no to any procedure including dental work for almost 18 months. I see the neurologist today. Wish me luck.

I hope y'all are having a better week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday Writerly Way~ Formatting Your Manuscript for Publication

I'm on hiatus from my blog but The Indelibles Indie Life is one of my commitments. I take commitments very seriously so here I am posting again....SURPRISE!

By the way I'm still on hiatus. My real life intrusions have lessened some. I'm feeling better, sleeping better, and my heart isn't thumping out of my chest as much. Thanks for your patience.

 If you haven't indie published your manuscript before, you need to scrutinize formatting instructions carefully. The difference between paperback and e-books formatting is night and day. The difference in types of e-reader formats is also mind boggling.

In printed publishing, typesetters is not a do-it-yourself task. Or not one task to take on with a cavalier attitude. It's a critical function of book production. Yes, Amazon's CreateSpace has an interior format you can follow and other self-publishing companies which makes it seem easy BUT WAIT.

Is not as simple as it may appear. You think you can just copy and paste your text chapter by chapter into the space provided this is easy, but there are all kinds of tweaks involved to present a professional looking copy even with a template. You have to compare what you wrote to the "book" version. Things you may have to tweak...
  • Font size
  • Type of font
  • Italics
  • Bold
  • Justified text. You don't want it to read like t      h       i      s at the end of the sentence.
  • Headers and footers. I had a 2" drop of a header in one of my books that looked normal on the screen when I ordered the preview copy I noticed the drop.
  • Chapter headings on a new page and spaced appropriately.
These are just a few things to look out for. It is always wise to order and pay for a preview copy before publishing. Then red pen the things you want to change in it.

Now e-formatting is a bug-a-boo at best. Even following the pages upon pages of instructions. Each e-reader has a different format, each need a creation of a metadata file for chapter headings so readers can search for individual chapters. It's a heck of a learning curve even with one e-reader format.

I cheat and use Smashwords, they do all that formatting stuff for me. I only have to learn one format, theirs. Well, I take that back. Since they have had problems with Amazon Kindle distribution, I publish with Amazon's Kindle myself so I learned two formats out of eight. I've honestly got better things to do with my time than learning all the writing, family, and living my life.

In indie publishing, you want your book to look as good as the mainstream publishers. Maybe even better, because of the typo they have. I've found multiple typos in mainstream published books because it's too expensive to change them all. Of course you can say the heck with all of that and hire someone to do the formatting for you. But as always, check their credentials. Your baby doesn't need a fly by night operation.

With Smashwords they have a list of formatters available for a price. I'd strongly recommend getting one of them if your manuscript has multiple pictures and graphics, or a cookbook. I learned from experience on this one. I self published Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper? and didn't utilize their services. Numerous kick outs by their meatgrinder which checks for errors in formatting and a month later, it was approved for distribution. That book only had six diagrams and photos in it.

Are you thinking of indie publishing? Have you indie published a book? What are your horror stories with formatting? Did you learn anything from this blog?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Grief- Depression

Welcome to stage three of my series on grief counseling. Today's topic is depression. Everyone gets depressed once in a while. If someone tells you they've never been depressed and they are over the age of ten...THEY ARE LYING.

That's like the couple that say they never argue. Someone is stuffing their feelings and they are not communicating to each other. They are in big trouble.

You've had a significant loss in your life and it has changed forever. If there is any more greater reason to be depressed, I can't think of one. Everyone gets blue when thinking of what they've lost.

Honestly, I still get in a blue mood on August 2nd and November 19th, the anniversaries of my mother's death and my son's. It's been 30 years for one and 27 for the other. These were traumatic losses for me and those dates will live forever in my brain until I die, maybe even after that. Like I've said, there is no cure for grief only coping mechanics.

You feel a lack of energy. You cry a lot. You get angered easily and inappropriately. Your blue. You may even think your life is over. You may even think of suicide to end this pain and you lack the will to go on. After all, everyone else would be better off without you putting yourself and them through this. Did I hit a raw nerve or strike a chord of truth with these statements?

First, realize that this is depression. It's a disease process. It's also a normal process when faced with a loss. It's part of the cycle of grief. What I mentioned earlier about getting blue is different than what I'm talking about here. That's old healing, but a remembrance honoring a past hurt and family in my life who have passed on. It doesn't fully impact my daily life to the exception of all else. That is the huge difference.
With the current loss, everything is fresh and in your face constantly. Every time you turn around you are repeatably confronted by the loss. Yes, I'm still there after a year since my stroke, but there is a new purpose in my life...moving past the loss. It went from constant to intermittent and I will always have bouts with it. There's not a day that goes by that I wished I had use of my arm and hand back (especially for typing), or could walk again, or speak normally, or return to my own, semi normal, old life. But it no longer consumes every waking minute or thought. I am stringing words that make sense and sentences. I am typing. Those are major milestones and should be looked at as such. They are proving to me that I am moving on with my life.

By moving on and getting on with your life depression lessens. At first you are going through the motions but with time, you are no longer an automaton. You find yourself taking an interest in the things that you are are healing. You are awaking after a deep slumber. You may do this with drug therapy and professional counseling or you may do it all on your own. Don't be ashamed of seeking help. You are taking steps to get better. Admitting you need help is a big step in the healing process. I, myself, am on an antidepressant. I originally, it was prescribed to deal with my fibromyalgia, but it has also helped with my depressive state after my stroke. No it doesn't account for my mostly cheery disposition that's natural.
  • Get together with friends and family for an outing. You may have to force yourself. You may be surprised that you enjoyed yourself. Don't feel guilty about this.
  • Go to church if this was your usual practice.
  • Find a new interest or hobby that you didn't do before. Even stop and notice how the trees move in the wind.
  • Fill your hours with busy work. Anything you can do without thinking. You are not suppressing your grief only sidelining it for a period of time. Be sure to set a time limit or you will be stuffing it.
  • What a comedy and laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine. I remember when my mother died. All of were heart broken because we held hope so tightly until the end. My sister brought up the memory of Mom where she held out a finger shaking it when you were young saying, "You no cry." It became a symbol that carried us through the tough days ahead. It caused us all to chuckle at the memory. It still does.
  • Baby steps. You won't heal over night. You will not heal tomorrow, but maybe in the months to come it will be there and take hold without you even noticing it.
Remember everything in life is about baby steps. You have to know how to balance the good and the bad. My children, now adults, say when I threaten them, "Yeah, but I can outrun you now." And I usually retort one of two things, "Yeah, but I can throw this cane like my old police baton and trip you." Or but when I do catch you, I'll be busier than a one legged woman in a butt kicking contest." I am a one functional leg woman after all.

I'll start you off. I dare you not to laugh or at least crack a smile at least one of these.

I saw that smile. Felt good didn't it? Right after my stroke I watched AFV for weeks on end to learn how to laugh again through my depression. Sometimes laughter is the only way to stop from crying.

Remember even your momma told you, "It's only a phase"? Depression is too. It's part of the grief cycle. If it gets too bad don't hesitate to get help. If you don't recognize it in yourself, listen to others around you. They see it. In the grand scheme of things this is a pit stop and it will get better although it might not seem like it.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday Stroke Survivor ~ Grief- Anger

For today it's part two of the grief series that deals with anger. You know that emotion where there's this devil on your shoulder poking you until it overrides the angel whispering in your ear.

After a stroke or a death of a loved one, your emotions are raw and exposed for all to see. But with strokes sometimes comes the added bonus of inappropriate responses like I suffer from. I can explode in anger or break down in hysterical tears, or laugh myself sick at the drop of the hat. That is understandable to all that know it is part of my injured brain being over stimulated, but with strangers that's another story. My medication goes a long way in suppressing these but all bets are off id I'm under stress like the one wedding I officiated at or with coping with my husband's recent downhill health turn.

Besides this with the grief of loss, you become angry at everything. The dog barks. The cat meows too loud. The kids drop a cotton ball on the floor. Someone whispers "boo." Or nothing at all. It can turn you into a screaming meme. It's all part of your grieving process. It's also one that will revisit you periodically in years to come. Grief doesn't end, but it does lessen over time. You learn to cope better the farther you get from the incident. You won't stop missing what was lost ever, but adapting to your new reality.

You are walking down the hall and the toe of your shoes hits the floor wrong. The cat runs
between your legs and causes you to fall. You end up hitting your arm or leg for not catching you. "Stupid! Useless things! Why did this happen to me." You lash out at the first available thing. You aren't really angry at that person or thing, it's just handily available. In the short term this can be tolerated with open communication lines, but the long term is a different story.

What you are actually angry at is the loss. The fact that your comfortable circumstances are forever changed and changed drastically. There's the crux of the matter and if you are honest with yourself.  You will see the truth in the matter. It hurts your ego. Your life is changed from comfort to uncertain. Your future is changed irrevocably. What you thought about yourself has changed.

People do not like change. People don't like adapting.  For both of these statements I'll add ...unless they have to. That is exactly what happened to you. You had to make a change not by choice of want to or need, but had to. It's easy to blame someone or something as the cause for this change. But ultimately it is only your resistance to change that causes anger.

So how do you break this cycle? What do you do with a child in the middle of a temper tantrum? Well, you examine the cause. Can you change what causes these outbursts? Absolutely! Granted you can't physically bring back what you lost. No one can. No matter how much we beg and plead our case. It happened. It's real.

Now some coping skills to deal with your anger issues during grief.
  • Take a minute to breathe and think before you act or in this case act out.
  • Examine to root of your anger and the real cause. Are you angry at yourself or something else.
  • Does the person you are directing your anger towards really deserve it. Part of your mind will say yes but to the extreme you want in to take it?
  • Realize that the anger you feel may be justified but gauge an appropriate response.
The fact is you are not a two-year old who can't express what they need. Well, I take that last statement back in aphasia affected stroke recovery patients because they can't not fully express their needs. With aphasia, the difficulty is with communicating your needs and expressing what you are angry about.

I find the more upset I get; the more problems I have expressing myself. It becomes a vicious cycle if I let it. Instead, I'll hold up a finger to pause what is going on. I'll follow it with my version of "Be right back." I'll walk away or take a couple  seconds to gain control of myself.  A prime example of breathe and take a moment. Just because I'm a minister and have in depth knowledge of this process doesn't mean I don't struggle with this. I do. I'm only human and not Divine. That being said, there are ways to communicate your needs without speaking even if your partner has to play twenty questions, or extreme facial expressions.

If your first impression is anger don't give in to the emotion. If you need to absolutely vent your rage, do so in a pillow. Those around you will greatly appreciate it. It also saves money for all the things you didn't break. A mad at the world attitude gains you nothing but is self-feeding and perpetuating.  Make all around you aware that it's not them but you before you vent to broach any misunderstandings.

Again face the root for your anger. It's how you are adjusting to change with all the frustrations it brings. Deal with the anger and vent if you really need to. Be cautious though of lapsing back into the guilt trip discussed last week. If you have lapses be the first to apologize to those around you. Even a dog will wag its tail in response. It's time to put your big boy panties and move on.

Don't expect knowledge to be an instance cure. There is none. Yes, you will relapse into this stage many times during the coming month and years to come. Accept it. Be forewarned that this might happen again and be on your guard. You know the warning signs better than anyone else.

So what are you really angry about? Isn't it all about you? Isn't it resisting or adapting to changes?