Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Bonsai- Banzai!

When I first scrolled this topic to write about I immediately made the correlation between Bonsai and Banzai. Being half Japanese, I knew that Bonsai was the art of creating little trees that live for decades even centuries. The art of design teaches mind/eye coordination, imagery, patience, and even relaxation and  meditation states.

Yes, I know I should be talking about these little trees, but I'm not. So there! :oP I'll leave that to others.

Now this is where my mind gets quirky. No, it isn't because of the stroke. I was like this before as an author. The little nuances of twists and turns possible with a couple letters changed in a word and slight variation of the meanings. With this revelation, I found I may not have lost all my language skills also. Or not totally.

My mind immediately leaped to the Japanese word "Banzai!" You may remember hearing it in oldWWII movies before an pilot dove his little fighter plane into an American ship. A bold move of harakiri, or Kamakazi, or suicide bomber. Ooh! Two Japanese words! Seeing how this is the first language I spoke, there's hope for my mind yet. I even remembered how to spell them right too!

You probably thought the word meant "Here we go" or something like that. But it doesn't mean any such thing. It's became a battle cry but it could also be a toast at a wedding or christening too. Know what it means? If not you'll have to wait a minute while I shift to the third thought that jumped into my mind.

The third thought that popped into my mind was a movie. Can you guess it?

The movie was based on a comic book series. Buckaroo Banzai. Having it showing on my television didn't hurt either. Awe, the pictures gave it away, right?

Bet you are dying to figure out how I tie these three together.

Bonsai are long lived trees given immense care and attention.

Banzai means Long Life. So it could be used as a battle cry, wedding or christening toast.

Buckaroo Banazai, well that was just a movie, but the hero can't die so he should have a long life.

The moral of all this...Even after a stroke we can have long lives. It may not be what we thought or planned our lives to be, but we can still enjoy it.

As a side note, my maternal grandfather was an engineer that helped bring the Mitsubishi A6M into reality. Otherwise known as the Zero fighter plane. I happen to be very proud of that fact. And, you thought Mitsubishi only made cars. Geez! I also have a Toyota sewing machine circa 1935 that's still working. So much for the "Made in Japan" post war stickers.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival~ Lessons Learned

Here lately I've been thinking of a mini vacation. The fact that Dean just got back from Italy really started the thought. Darn you Dean!

But then I remember two years ago I blogged about needing a vacation to get away from it all. I was actually planning a writer's retreat of sorts. The gist was to tie up all the loose ends of various books I'd planned to publish shortly. Eat food someone else prepared, no having to worry about housekeeping, to be waited on hand and foot, giving no thought to time, or my husband's care, you know getting away from my regular routine. The kind of pampering everyone needs or wants to recharge their batteries.

Getting away from it all for the first time in ten years. I'd planned for a Memorial Day weekend.  I was planning several months in advance because as any caregiver knows, there are a million things to take of. Spontaneity flies out the window as a thing long forgotten.

Well I got what I asked for. I had a stroke. Now, I can think of several hundred other things that would be more fun and infinitely cheaper. But I got what I asked for. No housekeeping. No cooking. Time away from home. No caregiver duties. Half the time I had no idea whether it was day or night or even what day it was and didn't even care. Waited on hand and foot by others. Every need was taken care of by others.

So these days I'm careful what I wish for. Yes, I would like to go shopping just because and take my time instead of rushing, but my ongoing pressure sore issue makes that a problem. I'd love to go swimming or to the beach, but wiggling out of a wet swimsuit and changing into street clothes is too energy draining just thinking about it. I'd love to take a trip anywhere, but the hospital and I don't mean the falling down kind either. I need a break instead of jumping every time something crashes. I just need a break and I don't mean breaking bones.

The days of my husband wanting me to go out and remember that I'm still living or not on death watch are over. My kids have moved on with their lives as they should. Finally after almost forty year, it's not Momma to the rescue. I should be happy, but I'm not. If not happy then relieved, but I'm not. I am truly an empty nester. Yahoo! Huzzah! I trained them well.

This is not what I expected it to be like. I pictured being free to travel. To be able to do what I want, when I wanted to. Didn't I deserve it? Didn't I earn it? To be honest, I traveled more in the first forty years of my life than the past twenty and that's with kids in tow. I had more freedom with five kids than I do now. My hubby that I was supposed to grow old with is now dying earlier than anyone expected. I'm trapped in a half paralyzed body that just won't behave.

But life is like a roller coaster with dips, turns, and loop-de-loops. It makes the journey less boring and never dull. Every turn brings something new. Lessons learned through pain and trial bring a hard won victory. If it was easy, how boring would that be? Yes, the dips, turns, and loop-de-loops could be less drastic, but then would victory or the triumph somehow be less?

At times I jokingly say to someone, "Want to trade lives?" They shake their heads vehemently in the negative. They walk away being grateful that they don't have my life. But then again, my life isn't so bad. It could always be worse. I could be sitting on the pity pot nonstop and regretting what is gone. I could refuse to see how enriching each twist, dip, and turn away from the expected is. I could stop looking at the glass half full instead of empty...NAH! That just ain't me.

As "bad" as my life is on the roller coaster, there's another one just another one a little farther down the strip that has more plummets, is twice as tall, and has mega corkscrews. On second thought, I'm happy and content with my own coaster. I could be that guy white knuckled, eyes wide with fear, the g-force pulling his facial features out of the norm, and too terrified to scream. While breaking away from what you know is a wonderful thought, there is the unknown out there to be afraid of.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Erin Go Braugh Feast

Yep, it's St Patrick's Day again. And yes, I'm wearing my "Kiss me I'm Irish" t-shirt. Well I am, if only by marriage. I'll take hugs and kisses anytime. (grinning huge) It's supposed to get almost 80 degrees today.

My DH (darling hubby will be wearing his "Irish Eyes are Smiling"
t-shirt as soon as our favorite hospice aide gets here to bathe and dress him.

St Paddy's Day has always been a huge holiday for us and always celebrated even though St Patrick
was Italian, not Irish. Not celebrated with beer like most American do, but with Guinness. Although we are not opposed to a beer or two. None for me. I've been a recovered alcoholic for over 30 years. I've got a bottle of Guinness chilling for my hubby in the refrigerator. Beer for anyone else who shows up. As far as I know my kids will be headed up to Savannah for the festivities like last year. So it's just us.

Instead I lean towards an Irish feast. This year on the menu is lamb stew with Irish soda bread. The stew is already in the mini slo-cooker and the bread is ready to be mixed. Of course there will be my leprechaun cake pops for dessert. I made them yesterday. I'm keeping it simple this year.

And Jeremy, these are cake pops...

That's Green Velvet cake in the center. Think Red Velvet cake but you use green food coloring instead of red. They are just the right size to pop into your mouth in one to two bites. I don't use Candy Melts for the coating on these but cream cheese frosting. What self respecting Velvet cake doesn't have cream cheese frosting?

I only made six of the leprechauns before my hand grew too tired to make anymore so I finished the rest of my balls off with frosting and shamrocks. In case you were wondering, the leprechaun's hats were made of a dollop of royal icing and a dipped mini Reese's cups, my hubby's favorite candy.

It might be a simple fare but not without my personal touches.

So Erin Go Braugh everyone! Forever Ireland! Even if it's by marriage only.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival~ Social Media

Why as a stroke survivor or caregiver for a stroke survivor should you Tweet, pin, Facebook, or blog? For a few very good reasons
  • You don't stuff your feelings
  • You find out you are not alone
  • Get and share information
  • At least I don't have it as bad as the other guy
These are just a couple reasons. Nobody knows the challenges I go through on a daily basis as someone who's walked in my shoes. They might not have had as devastating, or easy of a time with their stroke but they know or can relate to some of them.

It is so easy to think, as a survivor or caregiver, and stuff all the negative feelings. Be warned, doing this only hurts you and those around you. By saying you are having a bad day acknowledges those feelings to anyone that will listen. I've had my share over the past year and a half. If I had stuffed those feelings, I'd be in sorry shape about now both as a stroke survivor and a caregiver. I'd be ready for the closest mental hospital and consider it a fun vacation! 
If I post "having a bad day" on facebook, or twitter, myspace, or any of the forums, or blogs that I write, I guarantee there will be at least ten emails or telephone calls from "friends" or family  that want to know what's wrong. That doesn't include comments. I put friends in parentheses because these are cyber friends. People I have never met in person who are closer to me than some my local face-to-face friends. You all know who you are.

Sometimes you don't want to feel Abby Normal. Like you are the only one who is going through this. It is so easy to believe you are. A good portion of my day is spent on the internet for that very reason. Isolation is killer when you are disabled or the primary caregiver for someone chronically ill. As a stroke survivor we are chronically ill. Although in various stages of recovery, we are still not the same as we used to be. You are going to vent about injustices, balk at the way your life has changed, and share progress you've made. Misery loves company doesn't it? Conversely, have you ever had good news that you wanted the whole world to know? This is it! It's not called the world wide web for nothing.

Have you ever wondered if someone has had an experience that you had? If you truly are Abby Normal? Yep, I have. The social media and websites in general are a wealth of information. If you've just had a stroke, that's probably where this is most helpful, and want to know how long am I going to be this way. You are tired of hearing the  "very stroke is different" cop out. There are survivors out there who have been where you are.  When is probably the most asked question and to be honest there is no correct answer. I wish there was. You are part of an elite club that gets 3 million new members a year worldwide...the strokees or stroke survivors. Congratulations! You could be part of the third who have a stroke and don't survive. Believe me when I say I don't always think that I'm so lucky to have survived. You are not alone in feeling that way.

As you find others like you, who are a survivors too, you share experiences conquests, joys, disappointments, and information about being a survivor. Others want to read about these experiences to feel they are not alone. As you age in your survival, you provide a feedback source for someone newer to the club than you are even if they never comment.

I reach caregivers and survivors alike because I wear both hats. There not a week that goes by when a certain someone, Barb, who emails me just to check up on me. She along with Dean, John, Amy, and a long list of fellow strokees that become in some ways closer than family. They know you are struggling and care enough to send words of encouragement or to realize that life is dishing out too much for me to handle again.

I blog about what is going on because I can. I answer all my own emails still. I can't afford a personal assistant on my writer's income. Well, I could but I'd lose that personal touch I value so much. As an author I write and every experience is grist for the writing mill. Not everyone would be comfortable with airing their personal life, but I look at it as a way to measure how far I've come.  I'm a public figure anyhow. To me this is just journaling my journey. Instead of writing in diaries as I did so many years ago, I do it here. No, not everything appears here because I do also have a private side too.

By reading and socializing with others, your life is put into perspective. Things can always be worse no matter how bad they are. I know, I know. This is not ideal, but somehow knowing that someone somewhere has it worse than you makes you feel better. As humans we are competitive creatures at best. You can look at someone else and "there but by the Grace of God go I." There will always be someone worse off than you. You could be me or I could be Sarah (no not you). She's a single mom has no arms and one leg. She also has three children under the age of ten. To me, that would so much worse off than me.

Yeah, it's a reality check or wake up call. My stroke wasn't as bad as Diane's husband. I can walk after a fashion. I haven't had body part amputated because of contractures (knocking my wooden head). I am able to speak more than a few words. I don't have to use a catheter and diapers full time. Yes, by comparison, I am very lucky. As a caregiver we face equal challenges with our respective husbands. The major difference is Diane is not paralyze on one side like I am. Reading my blog she gains a new perspective- as I do reading hers about her husband's stroke and his struggle to be normal. So in turn I'm luckier and worse off than them.

I noticed last month one of the ezines (internet magazines) I republish to jumped on the twitter and facebook bandwagon...finally. Though I do not tweet or hang out on twitter anymore, it is a fast way to get snippets out about stroke info available. My screen scrolls too fast for me to read and respond. Something is definitely wrong with the connection between my eyes and brain since my makes me dizzy and out of control, whereas before my stroke I almost lived there.  

My new love is youtube and pinterest. I can scroll at my speed. Although I've had a youtube channel for some time now, I never fully appreciated it's value until recently. Pinterest is also a new/old thing for me. Whether it's to find something that might help make life easier on me or to share something that helps and may help others. I post items that interest me or helps me write my books as reference. Pinterest is actually a pretty neat spot for visual interests. I learned to knit again using youtube. I can also grow my own food for my rabbits and chickens for less than a quarter of the monthly bill thanks to youtube. Reading too much really tires my brain these days so the 5-10 minute videos fit the bill.

So what does social media offer for the stroke survivor? You become mentally grounded. You are not alone. With networking, you get and share information. And finally, you really don't have it as bad as the other guy. Won't you join us? Blog, tweet, or facebook your stroke today. You and someone else may appreciate that you did. Too shy to put your footprint in the cyber world? Follow multiple blogs. You may not agree with everything being said nor even comment, but be enlightened. No one can do it for you.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival ~Read My Lips

 For me post stroke it was an imperative that I form words correctly even if the sound wasn't right. My husband is deaf and reads lips. It was going to be the only way we could communicate short of our own limited version of sign language.

With my stroke came aphasia. I had extreme difficulty forming and saying words. In fact I couldn't vocalize anything except for guttural sounds.

Now imagine you are having a stroke or had a stroke with a very droopy face trying to form the words, "I need help!" to a deaf spouse who reads lips. That was me almost two years ago. My mouth couldn't form the words right for him to understand. I had to call my daughters to get help. Even though my speech was badly slurred and staggered they knew something was wrong and came running to my aid.

I spent hours in my hospital bed, with the speech therapists, and a mirror forming letters before I came home. I practiced in front of that little mirror every chance I got. Granted mine was a unique situation. I had to make myself understood one way or other. In the hospital, there was one nurse who understood sign language which helped immensely. While I am well versed in signing, my husband never learned. I was thankful that I remembered how to sign for basic needs because my facial expressions were still in the relearning stage.

Still coming home and communicating with my lip reading husband wasn't easy. There was a lot of trials, errors, and repeating that went on the first month home. He had to learn my new mouth movements. Now after over eighteen months of being home, we've reached a happy medium of communicating. About 90% understandable speech.  I still have to repeat myself which gets aggravating, but at least we are working through my aphasia and his deafness.

Accents, the way people speak, the formation of words can look differently to a person who reads lips. It all depends on what you've been accustomed to. For my husband, I will test whoever is going to talk to him that day with twenty words, repeating them after me so my husband can get acclimated to the way they speak. After that it's up to them to pronounce their words so he can understand them. If he doesn't understand he will look to me and I will either a repeat or further make him understand. With the revolving door of aides and nurses with hospice, this is a challenge. I always try to be present when a new one comes in for the first couple visits. So if you think reading lips is easy, think again. By the same token when I am struggling with a word he will supply it.

For examples- Our #2 daughter barely opens her mouth when she talks. She doesn't mumble but her lips barely move. This is in part due to rheumatoid arthritis in her jaw. When she talks to him it's an extravagant speech and lip movement for her just so he can understand her. Our #3 daughter speaks in deafening tones which he catches every second word or so. I can't make her understand that it is the way her lips moves versus volume that he hears. Our #4 daughter speaks loud and fast, and is very animated.  Our #1 daughter speaks  slowly and clearly. He understands them perfectly. The 1st one because he is able to read her lips and the 4th one because of her animated speech fills in the gaps of what he doesn't catch. Interestingly enough in the picture- #2 and #3 daughters are on my left, and #1 and #4 daughters are on my right. They have all learned to get him to focus on their face when they are talking to him.

I remember my then six-month old grandson emulating me as I sat in my wheelchair in the hospital. Today he speaks loud and clear with a vocabulary of a 4-year old at 2 years old. Forming sounds with your lips is half the battle in communicating. Me, I speak well enough to make myself understood. There are lags in my sentences as I struggle to find words and think how to pronounce them, but not as much as a year ago. I'm healing and relearning to communicate each and every day. The aphasia is easing its grip on me as time passes and I realize how lucky I am. But if it had not been an imperative that I formed words for my lip reading husband who knows if I'd had recovered so fast. I'll take that blessing.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Down, But Not Out... Yet

It's been a insane since tossing out the old year and ringing in the new year. My personal net worth, for the first time in twenty plus years is single digits and change. I honestly don't remember  when the last time my bills were over due or threatened with being shut off, but I'm facing it now. To make it even worse, all my friends are in the same boat! Times are hard everywhere.

Remember I told you my husband's electric wheelchair broke in January? I still don't know where the money is going to come from to pay for the repairs. To top it all off, I've been calling the company that has it and I can't get through to anyone.

 Meanwhile, I've been pushing him through the house in a manual wheelchair. Well being one with one working hand it's more like a hand and belly push. Turning is a trip into la-la land...another downward spiral on the roller coaster I can't get off of.

Here we go into a corkscrew loop-de-loop. When my husband was put on hospice care back in October we used a different oxygen supplier than they used. When we asked them about it, they said no problem with keeping our regular supplier. We've used the same company for almost ten years now. Every January (this year in Feb), I settle the year end account with the supplier. It rarely goes over $100 for the whole year. This year was the same. I told the owner of the company, a friend of 30 years, that we've been getting error messages on our explanation of benefits for both Medicare and our BCBS about the oxygen charges. He checked with his bookkeeper again. I'm starting to get an a sense foreboding when I see his eyes as he exits her office. Medicare has the oxygen charges under review and he hasn't been paid since October.

Dollar signs are clicking before my eyes. I haven't been able to add all but single digits since my stroke without a calculator, but at $600 a month for a quarter of the year? It doesn't take an Einstein to calculate that's a whopping sum! He said not to panic because he could see it in my eyes. He told me that Medicare takes six months to a year to pay their part.

No wonder all the private practice doctors are now getting under the hospital's umbrella. One doctor told me, before he succumbed to the hospital, he had to take out a personal loan just to make his payroll on time. That's not right or fair. It's a horrible way to run a business.

I called hospice immediately when I arrived home. The nurse said she'd check into it. A week later and we are running low on bottled O2. I called again and found out that I'd have to switch to their oxygen supplier because Medicare and my insurance weren't going to pay my supplier. I would have to foot the bill since October. They should have told us that back IN OCTOBER!

Later that day, the hospice's contracted oxygen supplier came and brought half of the wrong stuff and their office is 45 minutes away. Grrrrrr!

My husband isn't a happy camper and neither am I. No conserving regulator which meant the large "E" size oxygen tanks, that you have to have a cart to move, would last three hours instead of six to eight hours. Forget about the little cylinders he can carry, an hour tops. My hubby isn't bed bound yet and we are trying to keep it that way for as long as possible. He still likes to get up out of bed and surf the net. I tend to encourage this.

The guy told me he wished they had told him. It would be two days before he could get me what my hubby needed. I did a semi-quick calculation of time to figure out hour many big "E" cylinders I would need for him. I figured three but told him five in case the power went out a couple times. I'm not taking any chances with my husband. Murphy's Law and all that. Being a Murphy, it always hits us. A simple phone call to me before he left the next town would have prepared him better for our needs. Grrrr! again and add a razzle frazzle too!

Of course all this came about after I laid out big bucks for my Botox injections. The rear latch on my van broke and I can't afford to fix it. That means all my groceries have to be wedged in the passenger and middle cub seats of my van. Have you ever tried putting one of those 24- packs of bottled water or getting it out like that? I did it today. I pulled it out and carried it up the ramp to my front door.

My case of water didn't have a nice cardboard box under it.
Well, I almost made it. Halfway up the ramp the plastic sleeve holding all those bottles in a tight package ripped. Ten minutes later, I'm putting the last bottle where it belongs inside the house and then bringing the rest of the groceries in. During all this, I hear my husband call from the office asking if I needed help. He doesn't have the strength to maneuver the wheelchair by himself. I yell, "No" at him, but then realized he couldn't hear me so I walked into the office and reassured him that everything was okay. I turn to retrieve the 24 bottles of water that have rolled down the ramp, under my car, and in the yard. Meanwhile I'm saying some unpastorly words under my breath about how the plastic barely opened at knife point but rips too easy going up a five-foot ramp.

After my nice hospice volunteer tried to hook up my washing machine, I found out the drain line was still clogged. This was after paying the plumber $600 to fix it. Well that's not all he fixed but it was a part of it. Needless to say, I'm put out. There isn't a window within twenty-five feet to put the drain hose outside. I guess it's back to the manual clothes washer for me. Sigh! After doing a couple loads I'll be exhausted but whoa, what a muscle builder and think of the money I'll save in electricity. What am I talking about. That section of the house is solar powered. Ratz!

My youngest daughter leaves with her beloved on the 20th for way out yonder. She has been helping me a lot being the only child who lived in town. She's been tending to a sick little boy. My grandson had the flu. Instead of getting better, he got worse. After a series of blood cultures, he has a staph infection in his lungs! No, not the MRSA type, thank goodness, but after a week of heavy duty antibiotics he's on the mend. We can't see them for another two weeks because my husband's immune system is compromised. Only a few precious hours left to spend with them before they are gone for six months to a year.

On the climbing higher side of the roller coaster, my hubby is still with me and the Botox worked in my arm. My arm can now fully extend again. Not the wrist and fingers but I'm counting my blessings. I can now sleep in four to six hour stints without pain because the muscle relaxers are working better. Yeah!

My hubby continues with 0-3 pain levels. Now, if I can get him to eat. He eats about half a cup of any food I put in front of him, but at least he's still interested and eating food. His heart and lungs still are problematic. His breathing is ragged with more fluid build up and his damaged heart keeps pumping although his feet and are constantly swollen, bluish black because of the poor circulation.  He's just been recertified for another six months of hospice care. His spirits are good. He's still planning his wake like a good Irishman should have and is now talking about being present for it.

There's probably fifty million details I've left out but I hit the high or low points. I remain prayerfully watchful. Like I said in the beginning, INSANE!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sunday Stroke Survival ~ Neuro What?

The first I heard about neuroplasticity was through a television commercial. Like most non strokees, I always looked for ways to utilize my brain to the utmost capacity. More than likely the same was true for you. I had no idea what neuroplasticity meant. I sort of assumed it meant some form of brain power training.


After my stroke, I heard the term again. Not from my rehab team, but from other stroke survivors. I still lived under the assumption that what you got back in the first six months was it and I needed to learn to live with the adjustments.

Boy, was I ever wrong!

You can teach an old dog new tricks or relearn forgotten ones. The brain is constantly developing and learning. Or in the case of stroke survivors...relearning. One of my guiding principles in life is that death is the absence of learning. As such, I made it a point to try one new thing each day. I still do even in spite of my stroke. Although the list is filled with things I used to do but haven't since my stroke because of physical limitations. It doesn't stop me from trying. I want my old life back and consider my stroke recovery my lull. It has enabled me to live outside the box with permission. Permission to think abby normal is a great thing.

My therapy exercises are still done, but I change them up with different things to challenge myself. I know me. And this is important that you know yourself. For me, I tend to get bored with doing the same thing over and over again. I thrive on challenges. Yes, it is sort of setting myself to fail, but it also gives me a chance to figure out a way to get the task accomplished. See I don't look at failure as not achieving, but a challenge to figure out how to accomplish a task.

It's using my brain power. Yes, I may try a dozen times and not succeed, but eventually I will figure out a way to get it done. After a stroke, you have to be determined to succeed.  No matter how small the achievement it should be celebrated. Celebrate it with whatever you like. For me, it's one of those blow things you get as a party favor. For the life of me I can't remember what they are called. I'll toot my own horn a bit.

It may seem egotistical, but hey, I deserve it. Go figure. I can use a word like egotistical and actually spell it right on the first go around but I can't remember the name of that blasted blow thing! Such is the way of stroke recovery.

A long time ago, I realized I didn't know it all. But that didn't mean I couldn't learn a lot of things. I was in fact practicing neuroplasticity. I was constantly reteaching this old dog new tricks. Now with my stroke, I'm slowly relearning what I once knew and trying new coping mechanisms to accomplish what my stroke impairs me from doing.

While pre-stroke I played with thinking outside the box, I now am constantly there because I can no longer use two working hands and two working feet. I use a spell/grammar checker in all things language orientated when before I abhorred it. Abhorred- another word that fell in the proper place. Now what is that blow thingie called? Think brain think. Ah, brain damage! You got to appreciate the irony of being able to instantly recall some data while losing others forever.

Thinking outside the box is a challenge. It exercises your brain. It stretches like silly putty what is impossible into something possible. There are a lot of gaps to work around in my brain. While I know it has redundant capacity for use, it does get frustrating some times. But does it stop me? No! I won't let it.

I was at my father's 80th birthday party recently and when you combine his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that's a lot of names to remember. My niece brought her brand new finance with her. He was told he'd be tested on who everyone is and what family they belonged to afterwards. Just to remind y'all... I have one biological sister and eight adopted siblings. Of my siblings, we are all grandparents now. That's a fair passel of people.

In the end we told the young man that we were joking. It's hard enough for us to remember who is who. I'm confused by my eight going on nine grandchildren, but I can always remember who belongs to whom because they act just like my daughters. This year's birthday was doubly sad with my father's rapid onset Alzheimer's and failing health. He could remember his children's names but didn't recognize them except for me.

If neuroplasticity is the way the brain stretches itself like constant relearning then Alzheimer's or dementia is the failure of neuroplasticity or antineuroplasticity. While I look forward with hope of recovery that can take place in the coming years, my father will regress farther into the antineuroplasticity.

The abilities of the brain to heal itself or not heal itself is a gray area of gray matter. It is a young science that constantly contradicts itself with the passage of time.  What is believed to be true today might be proven wrong tomorrow, but for today, I'm hoping that my brain can recover what it's lost with my strokes through the neuroplasticity models. At least it throws the door wide open  to try. Now what is the name of that blow thing?

Nothing is impossible with determination.