Thursday, February 26, 2015

I'm About to Bust With Joy!

So I went for my dry needling today and the therapist said he was starting with my leg. The therapist hit all the major spots causing my inverted foot to "shut down" the trigger point. I have to admit it did sting a bit because of the sheer size of my calf muscles and I let out a gasp or two before my controlled breathing took effect.

He took a measurement of the inverted foot of 32 before he started and a reading of 13 degrees of inversion after hitting about a dozen spots with the needle. To me, this was amazing. I joked with him about him turning me into a masochist because I kept asking him to do it again because I'm seeing and feeling results. Heck, I'm even paying him to do it to me. I know sounds kinky, doesn't it? You should hear the sounds coming from the room as I instruct him to the spot with the needle...
  • "A little bit deeper."
  • "You're just missing it."
  • "You're getting warmer, warmer, that's it. It's on fire now."
  • "That's it. You're almost there."
  • And then, the painful sigh and a catch in my breath when he hits it.
Now that really sounds risque. I can only imagine what the people hearing me are thinking. But this kind of feedback helps both of us in hitting the exact trigger point of the spasm.

Anyhow to do my leg, he placed a wedge with the flat side against my buttocks and my legs sort of traveled down the incline. That way he could manipulate the leg to get all around it. I also can't see what he's doing. Not that it matters much. He talks me through it. I did warn him about the hyperactive reflex response that my chiropractor found. I'm glad I did because he hit one spot and I just missed kicking his ear.

He then moved up to the arm for stretching and needling. I did notice that he is getting less response now that the Botox is truly gone, but can still manage supination of the wrist with the elbow straight. It just takes more work to get it in that position.

As he needled on my bicep I noticed my foot drifting into its old inverted pattern. I was willing it to stop and go back to almost straight again. Most times it is a bust. I only think it can move but it doesn't. I always visualize to action I want it to be in even when it's passive movement on my part. I thought my foot moved into an upright position. I could have been imagining it though since I couldn't see it.

The therapist stopped poking me to get another needle. I asked him to look at my foot and sure enough the foot moved from inverted to straight. "It moved!" Then there was a flood of questions. Had this ever occurred before? Could he video tape it? etc.

This was the first time since my stroke I was able to move my foot out of the inverted position without physically repositioning it. He asked me to do it again for the camera and of course, the foot wouldn't comply. Twice was the limit, but we both expect it to occur more with practice and more needling. I'm begging for more at this point. I'll endure however many needles it takes for this kind of progress.

Now I'm shouting it from the rooftops! Post stroke spasticity? Try dry needling!

Thursday's Tumbles and Stumbles: Computer Woes

As the title suggests this week's major stumble was my computer. My hard drive crashed. ARGH!!! Now I have other computers in my house. Four to be exact, but the one that crashed had most of my novels in progress on it.

Now normally, I'll back up my hard drive religiously, but of late, "normally" doesn't belong in my vocabulary. Unfortunately my pictures, book covers, most of my knitting patterns (40 patterns), Kindle for the PC with all the downloads (52 e-books), and works in progress (12 books and stories) were not on my back up. It has sickened me for the past three days. This included 45K words of my Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad and my Illusion of Tranquility novelette that I was using for example in Compuserve's Books and Writers Forum. I have a printed version of all my other books just not that one. Why they weren't backed up, I have no idea. Double ARGH!

I did manage to get my computer up and running again, but my keyboard suddenly developed a "Nah, I don't wanna type that letter anymore" syndrome for ten keys. So I undid the screws intent on taking it apart to clean the inside. Have you ever tried prying two pieces of plastic apart with only one working hand? I gave up after fighting with it for three hours and grabbed my antiquated keyboard from the turn of the century. This sucker is ancient by computer  keyboard standards and it's three and a half of my hand widths across, but it does have a USB connector.

I have misplaced my Microsoft Word program disks. It had all the bells and whistles to it including Publisher. I've only switched desks four times and computers once since I've seen it last four years ago. I'll find that eventually. But I'm really not writing anymore these days so there is no hurry. There's probably five programs I have to find the CD/DVDs for. I had a blast just trying to remember all my bookmarked internet sites. I still haven't visited half the sites to rebookmark them.

My computer had been sluggish for days. Probably a virus or other nasty that Norton didn't catch. I even used the power eraser to find it to no avail, but it did behave better. I finished streaming a movie and hit the back button to reload the previous page and my screen went nuts. It powered itself down. After dinner, I tried to reboot my computer and got the ominous blue screen telling me the hard drive had crashed. I've spent days recovering what I have so far. This is as bad as moving to me AND I HATE MOVING!

The good news is that I haven't been sitting much. But then again, it hasn't been by choice. The computer tells me it needs this or that and I'm off to fetch it. And, I thought the demands of a dying husband had me running. Stroke recovery is a breeze right now in comparison of recovering three years of lost data.

Until next Thursday when you get a new dose of my Tumbles and stumbles...CYA later! Bet you'll make sure your computer is backed up right after this, won't ya.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Redefining Disability Project: Post # 18
When you see this picture, you know it's Tuesday and time to answer another question.

18. Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities?

Yeah, I have...
  • I get to vote by absentee ballet, or the earlier than election day. I have been permanently excused from jury duty because the chairs cause me back pain. Not to mention I used to be a police officer and know 90% of the attorneys in town. 
  • We get audited by the IRS and State Tax people because of my medical deductions almost every two years and, get a bright, shiny star for my efforts in keeping my receipts and documentation.  
  • I have a nifty, blue placard that I can hang from my rear view mirror that let's me park close to the entrances of places. 
  • That placard even allowed me to get a specialized/vanity license plate on my car too. At no extra cost to me. All because of my and my husband's disability.
  • I'm allowed more time to do things in general. In fact I get tired of people telling me to take my time.
 Imagine that! Yes, I'm trying to be funny. Most disabled folks have the same thing.
All kidding aside...
  • I have strangers offer to get or carry things for me. Actually the baggers in the  stores don't count in this instance.
  • People hold the door open for me most places I go. This is both a courtesy and a royal pain because most of the time I have my cane hooked on my arm and am using the door to balance myself as I go through.
  • I've had strangers ask if I wanted to go ahead of them at the checkout line.
But then again, this is the south with more genteel folk too. Even when my disability was invisible to
their eyes, I got this sort of treatment too. But I have watched customer service geared people tend to be more helpful and understanding when I ask for help now that I'm visibly disabled.

I'll be the first one to admit, as a transplanted northerner, that things are different than I'm used to. It truly is a slowly pace, manner, and language here. But I love it and claim it as my own except when I travel north of the old Mason-Dixon line. You'd figure with as many snow-birds and transplants would dilute the standard south, but you'd be wrong especially with the aged population like me. The young whippersnappers may mimic their northern counterparts too much. But I digress.

Preferential treatment may come my way because of my disability or my advancing age. Is there much difference between the way you treat the disabled or any person you view in respect...not that all disabled people are respectful. Some are down right cantankerous. I rarely am.

I don't mean to preach here. Well, maybe I do because I'm a minister, but I've always believed in treating people like you want to be treated. If the roles were reversed, I would still offer to help others. In fact, I still do when I'm able. I also believe that life runs in concentric circles. What goes around comes around. If I ignore someone in need, there may be a time that I need something and am ignored.

A prime example, my husband's hospice services. I've had my ups and downs with this service since I started on this journey a year ago with my husband. I know most of the employees. I've married them, counseled them, and just been there for them for the past.

Well last weekend a group of employees volunteered to come to my home, and clean up and reorganize it for us. I had tears in my eyes when my husband's aide locked herself in the main bathroom with a pressure washer and blasted all the tile work clean. This was something that needed to be done. How the employees, who understood my husband's condition, used only Borax, vinegar, and dish soap to clean with so he didn't have any adverse affects. How I was watched and asked where would be the easiest places for me to reach and what was the hardest things for me to do. I was treated with respect. Not just because my husband was a client and dying, but because they honestly wanted to help.

We were not singled out for preferential treatment because I was disabled. Yes, my husband was their client, but I found out from my sister and my daughter that they do this all the time because they care. All they have to know is that there was a need. After a year of being in and out of my house, there was a definite need. This truly is a company which stands behind their slogan of "Enriching Lives."

Do I believe I'm entitled to preferential treatment? Nope. To me, I'm still capable of giving so much and will continue until I draw my last breath. Does that sound like a contradiction to what I said about what goes around comes around. Nope, but it is nice when it happens. I expect nothing and get everything, but I always remain hopeful.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: The New Therapist and Dry Needling

I'll bet y'all were wondering about how the new dry needling therapy was going. I haven't done an update since I've started it.

There was no doubt in my mind that my Botox was winding down prior to these treatments. My bicep, pectoral, and radial muscles were cramping and my range of motion was no longer gaining neutral positioning during stretching. That's with my OT at the hospital rehab doing all the work. The spasticity was returning.

My new therapist is a short and muscular sort of man with a cheery disposition. He has a Scottish brogue in his speech with a slight southern accent. Quite charming actually. I can understand why he and my speech therapist married. They share understanding, compassion, a genuine willingness to help others, great sense of humor, and a thirst for knowledge traits. They both are not afraid to tr ew things if it works even if he is NDT trained. People after my own heart. He is also the clinical director of his facility. Anyhow, I like him.

We spent a lengthy amount of time talking about the procedure and the science. Most of it was about documenting the journey, would I mind? Mind, me mind, don't make me laugh. If this works, I'll be shouting it from every rooftop and flooding the internet. He told me that there wasn't much information or documentation about how dry needling works for spasticity for post stroke patients.

I knew that from my own research. He was realistic about the outcome of the procedure and asked if I would mind being video taped for documentation. Eventually, he would get together with other practitioners and publish the results.

I went into this with an open mind with the hope for success tempered with possible failure as voodoo medicine as my old therapist called it. I rarely shot all hope in the foot or sabotage possible success. I am, after all, the hopeful realist. I am honest enough to reserve all judgement until after all the facts are in...that's one of the reasons for the delay in this posting.

He video taped me before he did anything for a baseline. I told him if he really wanted  baseline, we should have waited for two more weeks when the Botox was almost all the way out of my system. But he said this would work, and then he took me back into the treatment room. He mentioned me changing into a gown, but I pulled off my sweatshirt and showed him my tank top. I came prepared. Too many previous therapy sessions in the past.

My arm is more or less locked in a 45 degree angle due to the spasticity. It can be relaxed to almost straight at the elbow with enough gradual stretching. Unfortunately, it does not last more than thirty minutes and then the spasticity draws it up again.

He went to get his "bag of tricks" as he called his tote with needles and alcohol swabs. I've had acupuncture before so I knew what the needles looked and felt like going into the skin. I've also had EMGs before so I'm well aware of what those bigger needles and the fire they cause when they hits a spastic trigger point. And, I do mean fire up and down from the point of impact.

I've often said that a line of open communication was the key to getting positive gains. I also believe in getting every cent's worth of every dollar I spend. I explained this to him before we started. He almost seemed relieved, but he talked to me throughout the treatment anyhow. "Is it too much?" "Can you handle a bit more?" became a mantra of sorts in that Scottish brogue of his.

I felt him go through a vein and bounce the needle off a few bones a couple of times.That's how this differs from acupuncture for those that say this is just a glorified acupuncture. It's more like an EMG except once the needle hits the spot, it is manipulated in and out into the trigger point a few times. I can feel the muscle spasm immediately relax. Instant gratification as it is.

He did a couple of trigger points and then stretch the muscles. Each time he stopped needling and stretched, he got more and more of a response. It was fascinating to watch as if it weren't my body at all. But personally, I was amazed at the amount of movement he was obtaining. I left that first appointment in a state of shock.

The effects lasted until my next appointment a day and a half later. I walked into the rehab office with my arm fully out stretched at the elbow along my body. In fact, I've added tricep building exercises to my daily exercises to combat my arm falling without control.

So we started again. He asked about any after affects to the dry needling. I had a couple of small bruises from where he went through a vein, a little bit of nausea, and the painful muscles were relieved by a couple of bags of frozen corn. I found eating something helped the nausea. So now I eat before treatments and no more nausea. Also, drinking 16 ozs of water also helps eliminate the spasticity causing agents after the treatment.

This time he hit my steel traps (trapezius muscles) in my shoulders to allow the shoulder to move more freely. Mine are always tight because that's where my stress centers. He also focused on my wrist and hand.

Again I watched amazed as he moved my wrist to more than neutral, which hasn't happened since the spasticity set in (over two years ago) and my finger straighten with my arm outstretched. My other OT could only manage the fingers outstretched with the elbow bent. I'm loving the results! I'm finally feeling optimistic and excited about therapy again.

This was all great and good, but would it last? Only time would tell. This second treatment was on a Friday and my next treatment was on Tuesday. By Monday, I could only get 90 degrees of supination in my wrist instead of being able to lay it flat against my desk palm up. By Tuesday morning, only 45 degrees of rotation. Okay, it was only the first heavy duty focus on the wrist and hand. It could take several treatments or at least that's what I read.

I greeted my therapist with a, "do it again!"

I now leave his rehab place with a smile on my face. I'm getting the response that I'd hoped for. Am I at the point of shouting it from the rooftops yet? Not quite yet. Now when I get long lasting results, you better believe it. We are both optimistic while keeping our feet firmly on the ground. As for now, I've found a spasticity and pain relief method that works in between Botox. But another stroke survivor and friend has decided to forgo his Botox at least for one series. I'll keep you posted on the results.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday's Tumbles and Stumbles:Oops!

Some of you may have noticed I missed my Redefining Disability Project blog on Tuesday. Well, OOPS! Life happens.

I had a rough, exhausting weekend. It started with a double dose of Lactulose (laxative) for my hubby and a HUGE mess to clean up. I do mean HUGE! The sh!t hit the fan and went everywhere. It took me two days to recover from the exertion alone. Well, that's not entirely true. There was a grocery store run and taking the laundry to the drop off laundry service and bringing it back into the house (30 lbs with the extra blankets) added to it, but it was an extremely full weekend.

I had a passing thought of answering the disability question, but it flew out the window with my husband yelling "help" every half hour. Trying to put words together in complete sentences would have been charging up a steep hill with your car out of gas. It just wasn't happening. Even this blog almost didn't happen, but I sit here typing 10 WPM with 20mg of Baclofen, 16 mg of Zanaflex, 120 mg of Cymbalta, and 5 mg of Valium in my system.

For a late Wednesday night, I don't even know that this is coherent or not so pardon me, I'm going to bed. No wait, one more dose of morphine for my beloved, empty his urinals, get him a Coke and a bottle of water, and put in his eye drops for his Pink Eye he's developed, AND THEN go to sleep. I at least got the misspellings corrected.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Referred Pain

We've all been referred, right? Your PCP (primary care physician) refers you to a specialist for whatever ails ya. If you need a plumber, you ask a friend or neighbor who would they refer.

But what if it's your body pain telling you, "I hurt here." Is that where you are really hurt? Nope, not at all. There's this contradiction where the body is concerned called referred pain. So you can't believe everything you feel. Sometimes
you have to be a detective and search for what is really happening in your body. It's not always cause and result. You can hurt in some of the craziest places that have nothing to do with what is actually causing the problem.

For example when I had my heart attack, I never once felt like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. Late one summer afternoon, I had just gotten off work as the executive chef at the local Marriott. They were opening a brand new hotel and it was opening the next day. So as you can imagine, I was extremely busy with last minute details. I started sweating profusely and was exhausted. It was only 100 degrees F. outside and I had gone in at 5AM, 10 hours ago. I was huffing, puffing, and almost gasping for any cool breeze as I got home. My head was pounding so I knew my blood pressure was up. For me, heat and stress will do that.

I plopped down in a chair to just take a load off. I put my hand up to my jaw and rubbed it. Oh great, just what I need my TMJ acting up and we open tomorrow. The pain worsened over the next couple of minutes until it felt like I'd been socked in the jaw by George Foreman. I noticed my breathing hadn't eased up any since being seated in air conditioning.

Alarm bells went off in my brain. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew something bad was happening to my body. A memory buried in my brain what this was a symptom of, but all I could remember was it was an emergency. I called to my husband and asked if he wanted to go with me to pick up our youngest daughter from school. He agreed. The hospital was only two blocks from the school. Although I didn't feel ill, I knew for safety sake I should have someone that could drive with me. My husband couldn't legally drive on the controlled pain medication he was on, but I figured that a couple of blocks wouldn't matter.

I walked into the ER and gave them my name. When they asked what was wrong the answer that eluded me became crystal clear...heart attack. Pain in the neck and jaw are referred pain indicators for a heart attack. I collapsed after uttering the words.

So why is this important to know about referred pain? Just because you have pain in one place, say your hip, it doesn't mean you have an orthopedic problem. You could have a lower back spasm, kidney infection, bladder infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, or it could be your hip.

When I had my first stroke, I misdiagnosed myself. Dizziness, couldn't put words together correctly, confusion, disorientation, sluggish motor skills all spelled low blood sugar caused by not eating or too much insulin. The first thing I did was take my blood sugar. Yep I was right. My blood sugar was 40 (80-112 is normal). I knew I shouldn't try to cook in that state so I called Pizza Hut to have a pie delivered. Meanwhile, I'd taken my vital signs...just to be safe. My blood pressure was high 180/96, but it had run much higher before. My pulse rate was a little fast at 95, but again, no real cause for alarm. My breathing was steady. I didn't hurt anywhere. It had to be my diabetes so I ate some sugar wafers and drank some juice.

Forty-five minutes later, the pizza arrives and I'm chowing down. I waited for the carbohydrates to metabolize into sugar, about an hour and took my blood sugar again. It was 92. But why was I still having trouble thinking clearly and moving? I tried to talk to my husband but he couldn't understand me, but then, he's deaf too. I picked up my cell phone and called my daughter who lived two streets over.

I didn't think to look in the mirror for facial droop, or know that my speech was so slurred that even my daughter couldn't understand anything I said but help. The rest of the story you know. If I had known that strokes could cause a bottoming out of blood sugars would I have done things differently, probably not. Even the nurses that took care of me in the stroke unit didn't know that either. We simply were taught to look for elevated blood sugars as a possible symptom of a stroke. The neurologist at the rehab facility told us.

Why am I quoting symptoms on a blog about referred pain? If you haven't guessed by now, referred pain is also a symptom.
It's like that old MD joke...
"It hurts when I do this" and the doc answers back, "Well, don't do that."

Doctors are diagnosticians. They take all the information you can give them and make a judgement call (best guess). So if you have a pain in your shoulder, they are going to check to see if there's anything wrong with your shoulder. But, they may also run an EKG to make sure it's not a heart problem. They may run extensive blood tests to check for infections and/or unbalanced chemicals in your liver. They may even order an ultrasound of your gall bladder. Yep, referred pain could mean all sorts of things or nothing at all.
For someone like me who listens to their body and tries to find out what it means, this can be nerve wrecking. I am not a hypochondriac. But I believe your body is trying to tell you what it needs. When you crave certain foods or feel pain in a certain spot, it's talking to you. When I start cramping in my abdomen or legs, I know my potassium is low because of my Lasix so I'll eat a potassium rich food like a baked potato. If it stops the cramping then I'll know I'm right. If it doesn't, then it's something else. Now if my body is craving ten pounds of chocolate...well that's a different story.

It doesn't hurt to check with your doctor when you have pain. Granted I have Fibromyalgia, so any amount of pain really smarts. But I'determine what is causing my pain and where it comes from. Plus, I'm medically trained. I research all pain, I have to find the cause.It's almost an obsession. Sometimes it's nothing, but on many occasions it's something. Never assume the pain you're feeling is directly from that area. It could be referred pain.

Nothing is impossible with determination.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday's Tumbles and Stumbles: I Wish I Was A WEEBLE!

As we age in the Murphey Saga household, the more we go into age regression. When my kids were young they had these toys called Weebles.
Weebles wooble, but they don't fall down.

Wikipedia describes the reason they don't fall down is a weighted bottom. I have a very weighty bottom and I still fall down. I haven't this week, fallen down that is. I've been stumbling and tripping over imaginary tufts of carpet. Before y'all start worrying, it's because I got new shoes and the soles are thicker. I just have to adjust raising my foot a 1/4 inch higher with each step.

But talking about regression, how about toileting...

Or eating...

How much difference is there between this 
and this?
I mean besides the flavoring.

Young at heart and dependent in body. The more we age --the more we regress. My father had the right idea when he started counting backwards at 50. Now, he's in a stroller and a crib again (wheelchair and bed rails) as he calls them.Life goes full circle. Enjoy it while you can.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Redefining Disability Project: Post #17

Time again to answer another question.

Have you experienced discrimination because of disabilities?
This is a big issue for me as an advocate. All I can say is some have tried, but I won't allow it. It's like a bully picking on someone smaller, it raises my hackles. I've never been one to stand back and watch discrimination occur for any reason.

Christina and Jenn today
When my daughter Christina, #2 daughter, entered school for the first time, I asked the teacher to talk to the class about her braces. She has Rheumatoid Arthritis. From the time she was 18 months old, she wore these braces to keep the swelling from disfiguring her permanently. While she could wear her hip, knees, and arm braces while away from school, she had to wear a brace specifically designed for her to write and color with because she couldn't hold a pencil or crayons.

By being proactive and explaining to everyone about her disability and the what the cool, metal brace did, no classmate singled her out. She excelled and conquered.

Jennifer, #4 daughter, took my stance. She's learned by example. She always called herself special and unique embracing it as her own. She made others envious that they couldn't be like her. In fact if she changed her hairstyle, within a week several other girls came to school wearing the exact same hairstyle.

Both of my girls were special needs kids. Christina with her JRA and Jenn with her TBI (traumatic brain injury survivor). Initially, I paved the road for their campaigns of anti-discrimination towards the disabled. Now they continue it just like their momma.

You can try to discriminate against me for my disability, but watch out for the fight to come. If it ain't right, I'll be its champion. God gave me a voice and writing ability to make sure it doesn't happen. The message is clear. Stand up and correct those that believe in discrimination. If you can't speak or write take someone with you that can, but use some common sense. If it is dangerous for you to do it, don't.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: The Latest Trend to Wear It

For the past half a decade the hottest trend has been wearable technology. The latest in headsets, hat mountable video recorders, bluetooth ear pieces, surveillance eye name it and somebody has probably made it. It's the stuff of sci-fi fans imaginings from decades past come to life.

Even televisions and radios have miniaturized into wristwatches like Dick Tracy of years gone by. Maybe it's just me being an old fart, but I remember a life before all these technological wonders. I look at all these advances as a World Expo come to pass and wonder what the future will hold. It's dreams come true for many and the demand for such products is increasing.

As little as thirty years ago, wearable computers meant this...
It got a little better with laptops. Although it still was cumbersome because you had to put on the harness and then position your laptop.

With the advent of wearable computers it looks like this...

Yes, I'm an old fart and fairly stuck in my ways. While I can be an innovator, those times of being first in line have long ago departed with advancing age. I kind of image myself as my grandmother who had her old, tube type radio and her reaction to...
floor model

a transistor radio with all this miniaturization of technology.

Although I keep abreast of the new technology and what is available out there, it still is shades of science fiction to me. I take the attitude; "It's interesting but I'm not going to run out and buy it." 

While I'll admit it's great, I also understand the built in obsolesce in today's technology. Within six months or less a newer, more advanced product will be on the market. Why do I need it right now? Convince me and I'll buy it. But be warned, I'm a tough sell. 

For example, I've been wanting a Microsoft Surface computer for a while now to replace my desktop and laptop. Before I could seriously convince myself to buy one, SurfacePro 2 came out. Now there's another version soon to hit the market.

If it ain't broken beyond repair, don't replace it. Is my going strategy. If I have to have it. I'll get it, but otherwise I'll pass.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thursday's Tumbles and Stumbles: Oops I Did It Again

Yep, you read the title right. I fell down hard again. This time it was inside. Here lately I seem to be falling quite a bit. Mainly because I'm distracted. There's just too much to do that I'm taking shortcuts I shouldn't. I won't be the poster child for not falling anytime soon.

I hate falling with a passion because it means me having to pick myself up. This seems to be getting harder with each passing day. Not that it was a piece of cake before, but it was a matter of minutes instead of thirty to get myself upright.

What I hate worse is falling and my hubby seeing me do it. This was one such occasion. Between my dining room and family room is where e the large boxes my husband's hospice supplies come in. The boxes are big and wide enough that my bunnies can't jump over them when having their free open space romp. It works as a barricade. All I have to do  for an opening. There is also a one brick width step on the other side. Usually I can negotiate it with no problem even with my hot pink grocery basket in my functioning hand.

That was the case this time. I had shopped at my food stores off the family room and was making my way back to the kitchen. Through the gap in the boxes ran the cord to my vacuum cleaner. It had been a clean the animal cages day so I'd vacuumed up stray hay and pellets.ways leave the vacuum plugged in because all my plugs are usually behind heavy furniture. My vacuum has a 25-ft cord so it reaches that area of the house and the living room.

I'll bet you can guess what happened next. I managed the step fine. But the first step into the dining room my affected foot caught the cord. No, I didn't fall here. It was while I tried to disengage  my foot from the cord that I lost my balance. The shopping basket hit the floor as if I had set it down there. I tumbles backwards into the case of pull-ups.  My functioning elbow brushing against the opening and then landing hard as I did.

There I lay sprawled on top of the box when I hear, "OMG, are you all right?"
Yep I had fallen in plain sight of my hubby. I couldn't answer him because the table blocked my line of sight to him, but yelled anyhow, "Yes!"

He takes off his oxygen and struggles to his feet intent on "helping" me. He's holding onto chairs and anything else that he could grab for support while making his way to me.

Finally, he gets to where he can see me. "Go put your oxygen back on! You can't help me."
"Yes, I can," he is gasping for air at this point and turning light blue.
"You can't lift me up nor can you even give me a supporting arm. Now get your oxygen on," I yell.
"I can offer support," he said while the color deepens to a gray. He is hovering above.
Downward facing dog in yoga
I struggle to a to an AFO flat on the floor, butt in the air, attempting to drag my functioning leg into position stance. Meanwhile I'm turning my head and looking up at him, "Honey, please go get back on your oxygen. I got this."
Because I'm looking upwards vertigo sets in and I lower myself into a seated position. "Please, you are worrying and you are going to have a panic attack. At least get the portable O2." I roll myself over into the A-frame stance and stand.
"See I told you I had this. Now let's get you back to bed and on O2," said with more bravado than I felt.

His lips are almost black at this point. His eyes bore the wild-eyed look of panic. I got him in bed and put the nasal cannula on him and told him to take some deep breathes. I put the pulse-ox monitor and his finger as I settled him back. Oxygen saturation 73 and a pulse rate of 116. Not good, but his darkened color was draining down some. I grabbed his morphine and his Ativan hoping to head off a really bad panic attack. The liquid morphine would be in his system in five minutes where the Ativan could take 20-30 minutes.

"You're bleeding!"
"OMG! Your arm is already turning black!"
It was just a cardboard paper cut about two inches long, the bruising was another matter. It stretch over the elbow and down halfway of my forearm. Yeah, this was gonna smart in the morning. "I'll get cleaned up after you're settled."

Thirty minutes later, he is drifting off the sleep. His face was his normal ashen color and his vitals had settled to his normal. Major panic attack averted. I toddle off the the bathroom to clean my wounds...a cardboard cut on my functioning elbow and rug rash on my knee.

The next morning and for three days afterwards I felt the effects of this fall. I reminisce fondly of a time when I could fall and keep on playing instead of feeling like I'd been run over by a Mack truck. Ah, such is the life of a post-stroke survivor and a older one at that.

Until next week...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Redefining Disability Project~ Post #16

Today we have a two-fer because they are so closely related.

What are the biggest challenges that you face in regard to disability?
What do you think are the biggest challenges that your family members face in regard to disability?

We are a two person household with only me being the only one capable of doing everything or anything, I'll answer both of these at once. My biggest challenge is dealing with my husband, and just doing what needs to be done and accepting what doesn't get done.

For over a decade, my husband has slowly been winding down on what he can do. It left me to fill in where he couldn't. Up until last year, he could walk outside, get the paper and the mail. Now he can barely walk to the door. Ten steps from where he lays. Because of all his medications and the tumors in his body he is easily confused and instructing him to do anything is like talking to a two-year old in a grown man's body.

The male ego is easily crushed so I include him in most tasks even if it is only discussion. I'll ask him to open jars that I've popped the seal on. He'll cut out coupons for groceries for me. We'll discuss the bills before I pay them. We'll talk about meals even though  I've got it planned. I'll bring him my grocery list so he thinks he's budgeting even though I've done it already while making the list.

In my mind the male ego is like egg shells. Strong enough to hold the egg's contents, but can't be stepped on without exploding its contents all over the place. Similar to a man dealing with a woman going through severe PMS. One wrong step and there are explosive consequences. So I basically weigh in on all sides before doing anything. It's quite a stressful way to live, but I manage.

Able to do before my stroke
On the other hand, I have my limits because of my disabilities to deal with also. There are some things I positively can't do like clapping my hands with both hands. I'm having to adapt with almost everything I do. But there are limits to how much adaptation is necessary for a successful outcome and there are varying degrees of success. For example, I used to be able to decorate a cake or cupcakes almost in my sleep, and they would be picture perfect every time. Now, I do good if I manage to slap the frosting on where it needs to be. No matter how much care I take with the job, it will look like a child did it. I just don't have the dexterity in my left hand. I never will because of gross injuries to it in my past. I have to accept this and grudgingly do. Cake pops are me settling and achieving success.

There are many examples of this in daily life post stroke. Adaption is never as good as the original ability to do. It can be close but never perfect. While not a "A" type personality, there are areas where my drive for perfection can take over. Cooking and writing are two of these areas.

It irritates me to no end that I can't lift a pan or pot without two hands. I always have to downsize what I've planned to lift it with one hand. Every day I'm thankful that we are empty nesters instead of having small children who need to be fed, bathed and well, just about everything done for them. Yes, I do most of this for my husband, but he isn't thrashing around and fighting me while I do it. Or at least not usually. But I digress.

I cook now in small quantities for one and a quarter people or maybe a large serving for one person. So I can make things that take the now required multiple steps to prepare. I can chop the tablespoons of vegetables. For example, one large onion will make four recipes or meals for us. I can chop one half cooked chicken, a tablespoon of celery and onions for chicken salad and it will make four sandwiches...two meals for us. A two- pound roast equals  three meals and sandwiches. You get the idea.

With writing, my frustration level blows the top off the meter. Even writing this blog takes three hours just to get the words on the screen and another two in an attempt to get it legibly edited. Trying to write like I used to do is almost impossible right now. This blog is my adaption. It helps make it possible for me to write again one day. Or at least, that's what I telling myself. Yes, my typing and writing have improved over the years, but no where near good enough to attempt the simplest of stories let alone a novel.

Even with all of this, one of my goals for the year is to restart writing my nonfiction, Don't Get Your Panties in a Wad. I hear you out there,
"You're a glutton for punishment, aren't you?"
"With all you got on your plate?"
"Why stress yourself and add to your frustration?"
"Cut yourself so slack. Just chill more a while more and it will get easier."
Nope to all of the above. I'm a writer. Writers write. The frustration I feel in writing is only half as much as my overwhelming desire to write. It is almost an undeniable urge to write that only another author understands. It's almost causes physical pain not to do it. The call will be answered.

In the mean time, the challenges are met or accepted when not met. I've always taken the bull by the horns and handled it.To reiterate a slogan from the seventies, I'm gonna keep on truckin'.

What do you find is the most challenging things in your life and how do you conquer them?

Until next Tuesday, I'm outta here for the Redefining Disabilities Project.