Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yard Sales, Gifting, Selling

I've caught the yard bug that's been going around forever. My #2 daughter and her friends have had it for decades. I went yard saling with them for the very first time a couple of weeks ago. We were looking for a playpen, stroller, and\car seat so daughter #4 didn't have to bring them on the plane with her. They charge for checked baggage these days.We found all what we were looking for plus a high chair for my littlest grandson. All for about $40.

I haven't truly caught the bug, but it was an interesting experience. Don't get me wrong, I've been to yard sales, estate sales, and auctions many times before, but have never searched for anything specific like we did that weekend. I've never gone to yard sales after yard sales, looking for signs etc. Mostly, my experience has been a rub across one and stop because something caught my eye. Auctions are a totally different animal entirely.

Last weekend I went to a yard sale down the street. I picked up two sets of almost new twin sized
mattresses and box springs for free, two rolls cage and garden wire (almost full 50' rolls) with posts ($5), and four repurposed garden seats made from old tires ($10). The rolls of wire alone are $17 a piece in the store.  One bed set went to me  and the other went to one of my grandsons. Then I found a sale that I couldn't pass up a bed frame with drawers and headboard for under $150.I know I planned on the Murphy/desk\bed, but things change. My daughter gave me a corner computer desk they didn't need. I figure the drawers will hold the bed's sheets and blankets. They are really deep drawers.

I purchased vinyl bags to encase  both the mattress and box springs in. I don't want someone else's creepy crawlies and with my allergies, it was a necessary thing to do. I bought a definitely feminine quilt in pinks, purples, and blues. I even found a counter height dining table and chairs in a light wood mosaic top while I was getting my bed for $129. The seats of the chairs are 24" so it's just a question of sliding my behind onto and off of them. Now I just have to find a floral loveseat and I'll be set. I think I scored big time.

I've never even hosted a yard sale although I helped a friend with hers many decades ago. That changed this past weekend. I (well, my daughters) hosted my very first yard sale. I had three of my daughters do the work and they split $300 between them. No too shoddy for four hours work. I've planned on four yard sales to divest all my unwantables. Yes, I have that much stuff to sell and it's a yard full. Everything that does not sell will be donated to Salvation Army, Faithworks, or Goodwill.

I bought an electric spinning wheel and it arrived yesterday. I was so excited! It is something I've wanted for years. I been busy combing out all of the sheep's wool I washed. Since I do short draws only now because of my stroke, it made sense. I still have my handmade wheel too, but spinning will go so much faster with this new wheel. I've been talking to the maker of this wheel for two years now. She was so excited that I was spinning again that she threw in the tote bag for the wheel and the natural wax for the wood protection for free. I always try to buy local when I can, and she lives in Braselton, GA. Well, not exactly local, but in Georgia. Each one of her wheels is custom made so each is made with love. I like that.

Everything is going out this week to various homes and will be finally out of mine. This will leave
my three bedrooms empty at last. It's been a longtime coming. The store room, game house (an actual separate building), the garage/attics will each be separate yard sales in the coming weeks. Then I'll finally be free of all this stuff that was more than I could handle. Most I haven't used or needed in years. My house will no longer be used by my children to store stuff either. They can keep track of their own stuff. It's my stuff; my way from now on. Four rooms of livable space between the living room/dining room, rabbitry/storeroom, kitchen, and bath will be so much easier for my children to go through when I pass, but until then it will be easier for me to manage. Not the 200 sq ft of space that I imagined, but 500. Still a lot smaller than 2000 sq ft. A 3/4 drop of used space. I still have a workable full sized kitchen for canning and cooking. A full sized (5x7) handicapped equipped bathroom, plus a full 12x12 storeroom and a 11x15 rabbitry/craftswoman.

Sort of like this
I've got plans for the game house too. Water damage has ruined the interior walls and carpeting. A neigh's tree fell on the storage closet of the game house and my metal garden shed a couple of years ago. The building will be gutted and left open one one side. It will become my barn for yard equipment, and the new chicken house. The metal shed is history. It was ancient when we bought our property 18 years ago. I'll also be storing my hay in there for the rabbits and chickens. I figure two layers will be enough eggs for me. If I have four, I can sell fresh eggs. Then remaining chickens will be fryers for my freezer. I'm planning on purchasing a dozen to start with. I'm also expanding my gardening efforts. I'll be adding two more elevated raised bed and twp standard 4x8 bed to the garden. The standard bed will grow corn, pole beans, and squash in the three sisters method of gardening. Corn will feed me and the chickens in the winter. The other standard bed will
be my new grass hay area for the rabbits.

Speaking of rabbits, I lost dear, sweet Clover this past weekend. Cause of death, I don't know. She didn't appear to be sick just kind of mopey. I gave all  the bunnies their evening snack and attention and went to bed. In the morning, she was dead. So I'm down one female angora.I'll miss the easiest rabbit to groom. The others are a handful. It leaves Dubu without a mate. I may sell him and go back to my original plan of raising only BEW (blue eyed whites) in my rabbitry. I still haven't decided. Dubu is such a big boy and he hasn't reached breeding age yet.

Well, that's my update. No Wednesday post next week because I'll be flying to California for the premiere. Have a terrific week. Now a blast from the past...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: The Effacy of Botox and the Autumnal Slump

Tis the season...for Botox semi failure. For two years in a row the autumn series of Botox only has limited effect. In talking to therapists and other stroke survivors who receive autumnal injections, they stated I'm not alone in this. Although there are no studies that document this effect, alas, it appears to be fairly common.

I'm left wondering why this is. Is it weather factors? It is chillier. For us down south it's a damp chilliness. The kind that seeps into your bones. Is the arthritis flares that make us perceive an ineffective results of the shots. It's a possibility. It could also be an age factor affecting the injections. But why only autumn? Why not other times of the year?

All I know is that this Botox series is a bust. The spasticity in my leg and arm have had little response to the Botox. So I can expect no improvement or recovery of the spastic muscles. It means no forward progress and I strongly dislike this. I always strive for progress, don't we all? While my arm no longer draws up into my chest like it did before the dry needling, the wrist is cocked at greater than  90 degrees. The best I've managed to straighten the wrist is 45 degrees. The hand is also in a light fist and the fingers will extend to 45 degrees, but it's a constant battle to fight the spasticity.

I should count my blessing though. While my muscles contort into these extreme positions it is only mildly uncomfortable now because of the dry needling once or twice a week. I do have to admit that skipping two weeks of therapy will cause the spasticity to get progressively worse. Three weeks between sessions my arm will slowly rise and lock into my chest. So dry needling has a hold over affect that is lengthening with treatments like I first read.

My dry needling buddy, who I've talked about before, has almost a two-month carry over effect between sessions now. He is now Botox free. I know I'll get there too. Considering how bad my spasticity is, I'm lucky to have any hold over effect at all. To have a two-week hold over is better than the 1-6 hour carry over that I had in the beginning. There are less and less active trigger points which causes problems which is excellent. For example, my bicep has almost no trigger points to hit so we are now working on the forearm, hand and deltoids. My traps are still a problem but getting better. They are no longer my steel traps, but more like lead (tough but malleable). Considering both of us have been in this study for post stroke spasticity for less than a year, we remain hopeful of ending this cycle permanently. I would honestly consider our response as positive results.

 By narrowing my view of what success is, I can maintain hope. Small strides or baby steps. When I look at the big picture, I could make myself seriously depressed. Small blessings focus has been my saving grace. Each blessing, no matter how small, is a stride forward. So in the autumnal slump of the Botox series the blessing of not being in the agonizing pain of full fledged spasticity is a greater blessing to focus on. Judging by last year, my winter series should have me on the track of positive, forward gains again. Three months to wait isn't long compared to the almost three years of no progress. I can take heart in that.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What's My Style and Where is it?

My current dilemma is picking a style of new furniture. I promised all my current furniture to other family members and have put them up for sale so I'm starting from scratch again. All my life what was chosen has had somebody else's input, functionality, and with budget in mind. Now, I'm left with trying to figure out what I want and what style. I'm ready to have what I want; how I want it. But I don't know what that is. I've gone SIX furniture stores and I'm lost.

I need a twin sized bed. It will be easier to fix and it's only just me. I'm 5' squat and so I don't need an extra long twin.I like a firm mattress and preferably a foam one. I'm tired of innerspring mattresses poking me or sagging. I gave away my twin beds that the girls used a decade ago for their children. An adjustable bed would be handy for getting out of bed in the morning, but oh, the price! Is it worth seventeen hundred bucks? If I do get an adjustable bed what kind of mattress and controls do I want? They don't make an adjustable mattress in just foam. Then, the decision on the frame and headboard. The one store I went to didn't have one in stock and the second choice was discontinued.

I decided that I wanted a counter sized dining room table with two to four chairs. The height of the stools/chairs are easier to rise and be seated on instead of regular chairs. No sliding to the front of the chair and rocking to get up. I'm kinda of partial to light finishes on woods. I've always had dark finishes because of the children. Everything was dark finishes so I comprised and got the dark legs with a light top. Murphy's Law...discontinued.

I found a smaller upright freezer. My huge, behemoth went on to it's next stage of life as my root cellar after the compressor died. It served me well for almost 35 years as a freezer so I'm not complaining. My root vegetables stay good for 6-9 months in it. How can I have a root cellar at sea level? I partially buried in and the rest of the exposed surface got an earth berm. That was six years ago and have made do with only the freezer attached to my refrigerator since. I've sorely missed having one. Fourteen cu.ft should do me nicely. My son-in-law shot a deer yesterday. So it won't be empty for long.

Sort of like this
I decided I only wanted a love seat and an arm chair in my living room instead of two sleeper sofas, a love seat and two chairs.  I might have the space for all of that, but that doesn't mean I have to filled the space with furniture. I won't be hosting my large family get togethers here anymore. I was looking for something a bit more feminine. Maybe a light floral with plenty of color. So a contrasting arm chair in a solid would be possible. Definitely not the heavy wear, child proof stuff, leather or imitation leather stuff, but a fabric. I tend to wear shorts year around and am tired of getting stuck to it or itch like crazy from it. Everything was browns, blacks, get the idea. The kicker in a purchase was the seat height and depth. Once again, I had to be able to get up without struggling. I love my gliding rocker dearly, and have rocked my babies and grandbabies in it.  Except now since my stroke, I have a real hard time getting up and down from it.  I couldn't find anything.

What's wrong with the attitude of "I want what I want when I want it?" You can never find it. In this gotta have it now society we live in, you'd figure somebody would have what I'm looking for. I even searched online...nada! Short of buying something I like the build of and reupholstering it, I'm out of luck. Reupholstering a new piece of furniture seems like a waste of money to me, how about you? I've even gone to yard sales, perused newspaper ads, craigs list, ebay, overstock, amazon, and facebook trying to find what I want. Talk about frustrating.

It's not like I have time or a ton of money to burn. I've got another week and a half to get this done or I'll be in an empty house...sans furniture. A mattress on the floor would work if I could get up from the floor. Yep the yard sales have done a wonderful job. I've only got a few dates when everyone can come in and carry their new possessions home.

Besides the flooring company is coming to rip up the wall to wall carpeting to install the wood floors in the house. I hate carpeting. Nothing amps up my allergies more. I don't want to have to move furniture around. After nearly 17 years in this place even vacuuming and shampooing doesn't get all the crap up. Give me an area rug I can hang outside and beat the tar out of it any day. Yes, they can be a trip and fall hazard but they make tape for that.

Yes, I'm downsizing. All the furniture I'm keeping and/or buying will fit very comfortably in my great room (14x28). Actually that's not such a bad idea, if all the bathrooms weren't on the other side of the house. Hmm, there's an idea. I could pit in a convertible twin size Murphy bed and desk in my old dining room.I mean it's will have more than enough room in it without the seats 12 dining table and hutch is gone.  I was planning to get one for my tiny house. It can be a work, sleep, eat,and  play set up in one piece of furniture. I can just close off half of my house except for a bathroom. Cheaper in heating and cooling. Less clutter. Easier to keep clean. I've even got the sheets from my husband's hospital bed for it. The more I think about it, I like it. Looks like I'm heading down to Jacksonville, FL to get one. It's an hour away, but worth it.

I decided to put in a dutch door between my store room and my rabbitry (the old family room). That way the bunnies can't get into my pantry. Actually, it's half of dutch doors. The top section of the door will be left off for ventilation. Hopefully, Buddy won't be able to jump over it. That's one high leaping bunny rabbit. Buddy can jump over a baby gate. I found one at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $40. It was in an old daycare.

So that's my week or couple of weeks. How's yours been?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Something Fishy

Omega-3 or fish oil has long been recommended to reduce blood cholesterol levels. I started on them when my body started seizing up (abdominal and leg cramps) with statins...all of them. It was later found that I could take Zetia, but that isn't a statin at all. So what was the answer to my high cholesterol levels---fish oil. I presently take Lovanza, which is prescription strength Omega 3, and four 100mg capsules of triple omega (over the counter) every day. Plus, I'm eating a Mediterranean/Almost Vegetarian  diet.

So for the cost of the prescription, the over the counter omega, and the dietary changes, has there been any change in my bad cholesterol numbers? Very little. Granted, I got closer to the magic 100 mg level on statins, but I felt like crapola. But remember my blog on alternative (Voodoo) medicine? Omega 3 is a dietary supplement according to the FDA. Hmm, it got me looking up what 4 mg of Fish oil was doing to my body. I might mention that I also eat fish three times a week also.
Fish oil is LIKELY SAFE for most people, including pregnant and breast-feeding women, when taken in low doses (3 grams or less per day). There are some safety concerns when fish oil is taken in high doses. Taking more than 3 grams per day might keep blood from clotting and can increase the chance of bleeding.

High doses of fish oil might also reduce the immune system’s activity, reducing the body’s ability to fight infection. This is a special concern for people taking medications to reduce their immune system’s activity (organ transplant patients, for example) and the elderly.

Only take high doses of fish oil while under medical supervision.

Fish oil can cause side effects including belching, bad breath, heartburn, nausea, loose stools, rash, and nosebleeds. Taking fish oil supplements with meals or freezing them can often decrease these side effects.

Consuming large amounts of fish oil from some DIETARY sources is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Some fish meats (especially shark, king mackerel, and farm-raised salmon) can be contaminated with mercury and other industrial and environmental chemicals, but fish oil supplements typically do not contain these contaminants.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Liver disease: Fish oil might increase the risk of bleeding in people with liver scarring due to liver disease.
Fish or seafood allergy: Some people who are allergic to seafood such as fish might also be allergic to fish oil supplements. There is no reliable information showing how likely people with seafood allergy are to have an allergic reaction to fish oil. Until more is known, advise patients allergic to seafood to avoid or use fish oil supplements cautiously.
Bipolar disorder: Taking fish oil might increase some of the symptoms of this condition.
Depression: Taking fish oil might increase some of the symptoms of this condition.
Diabetes: There is some concern that taking high doses of fish oil might make the control of blood sugar more difficult.
High blood pressure: Fish oil can lower blood pressure and might cause blood pressure to drop too low in people who are being treated with blood pressure-lowering medications.
HIV/AIDS and other conditions in which the immune system response is lowered: Higher doses of fish oil can lower the body’s immune system response. This could be a problem for people whose immune system is already weak.
An implanted defibrillator (a surgically placed device to prevent irregular heartbeat): Some, but not all, research suggests that fish oil might increase the risk of irregular heartbeat in patients with an implanted defibrillator. Stay on the safe side by avoiding fish oil supplements.
Familial adenomatous polyposis: There is some concern that fish oil might further increase the risk of getting cancer in people with this condition. (According to Web MD, NIH website)

Now some of this just sounds scary.Fish oil may sound harmless but looking at this list makes me wonder. While I don't have a lot that falls in the Special precautions or warnings, I do have a few like high blood pressure, a spongy liver leftover from my drinking days way past, diabetes (now in remission), and depression. It raises some flags with me.

Will I chance coming off the fish oils? No, not without some definite signs that it's worsening these conditions. The fear of another heart attack or stroke keeps me on the oil. Considering I've had both in the past, I sure don't want to repeat it caused by higher cholesterol. I may not survive a second heart attack or third stroke.

That's my two cents worth and with inflation...a dollar.

On a personal note, today would have been my husband's 67th birthday. A few days ago would have been our silver anniversary. A few more milestones hit in my first year of grief. "Happy anniversary and birthday, babe. I wish you were here."

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Happy Feet Just Can't Be Still

So far It's been an event filled October and November for me. I've been going with the flow, as it were and changes are in the works. I've been traveling too.

The biggest change is that I am NOT MOVING. Yes, I'm still divesting myself of worldly goods in an effort to live big with less. I will still be in this 2,000 sq ft house. I don't need 3/4 of the stuff I got. Maybe even 15/16th.

That being said there are some huge changes in the works. Mostly landscaping, as in cutting down trees to improve my solar capturing efforts. But then, it's mostly sunny here unless it's raining. I got to thinking about spending $50,000 on a new tiny house and property when I only owe a little over $40,000 on this house. I can whip this yard into shape with $10,000, than moving to a new location and then starting all over building up a new property. It just made more sense to me (after my daughter beat it into my head). Worse comes to worst, my next move will be into assisted living or a nursing home.

Full grown South Down sheep
I'm checking whether or not I can have a couple of miniature goats or sheep on the property. I mean they allow big dogs and are these are only 23" tall (smaller than some dogs). I still have my 4' to 8' fences around this property. It will just mean a bigger composting effort to manage the flies. But compost won't go to waste. I can even trade it with other gardeners for seeds, cuttings, or vegetables I don't grow.

Similar to this
So what will I do with all this unused space? Well, I'll put french doors in between my dining room and family room. This will become my rabbitry. It's already heated and air conditioned. I change their litter pans daily so there hasn't been a smell even with six rabbits. Most people don't even notice them until I draw attention to them. The family room is already their free, floor time romp room anyhow. But now it will be my rabbitry, grooming room, and spinning/ sewing room. The floor is tile over concrete already for easy clean up.

I'm destroying the wall between the kitchen and dining room. It's going to be tricky because it's a load bearing wall. But it will open up both spaces. A breakfast bar will be built so I won't need a dining table. Certainly, not one that seats 10 people like I have now. It's rarely used and gathers dust...more cleaning. I can finally do this to please me. I've only been talking about it for a dozen years, and I can finally do it. All I'm pulling up all the wall to wall carpet and putting in wood flooring. I'm also going to barter the largest spare room to a college student. It's a win-win situation. I won't be alone and I'll have someone who can change light bulbs and dust ceiling fans. They'll get free room and board.

I have to say, I'm pretty happy with these changes. I might actually get my van into my garage again too.

Other than that I've been traveling. First it was off to the Georgia mountains to pick up Dubu and help a friend. Then an unexpected perk from this blog. I flying off to California (all expenses paid) for a documentary premiere. Little, old me was invited to a movie premiere! It began two years ago when I posted about my PBA (PseudoBalbar Affect). As usual, I got the flurry of emails rather than comments. One lady and I chatted back and forth for about a month regarding this condition. While I couldn't help her at the time with what she wanted to do with a public awareness campaign, I could bounce ideas off her. And then, she was gone.

I didn't think about it again after she stopped emailing until I got her call. That's what I'm here for. So many people have passed through my life via email since I started blogging. She said that she'd be honored if I could attend and that I was instrumental to the project. Woah!

All my kids said they were proud of me. I was left scratching my head, "What did I do?" I only chatted with her. I tell it like it is and play cheerleader. It was no different than 1000 other such emails I get. My kids reminded me that it's what I always told them, "Be polite and helpful always because you have no idea who you are talking to."

For me, I was just being me like always. It was a nice perk though. I've never been to California before although I have seen the Pacific Ocean from the other side of the world. Hopefully the ground doesn't shake much, it'll be the same temperature as home, the paparazzi will held at bay, and I will have some fun.
Not her house but close

The next trip? No, grass growing under my feet. I'm planning a Christmas holiday in Alabama mountains. What's in the Alabama mountains? Well, my baby girl and my two youngest grandsons for one. She has invited me for Christmas with her family and extended family in her new log cabin. Another off the grid homestead, hers. She said it was in case I missed white Christmases. I didn't have the heart to tell her, I didn't miss it one bit. I only have dealt with the white, fluffy cold stuff for as long as I had to. My daughter in Alaska also invited me. My response was, "Uh, no, thank you. Maybe in the summer."

I'll leave you with this...

Aww, admit it. You were tapping your toes too.

Have a great week.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Warning, Will Robinson!

Past science fiction is now science fact. The title is from the old Science fiction show Lost in Space. I used to love that old robot. Now looking back, it's so corny! Robot don't resemble that robot at all. Especially where robotic devices to help stroke survivors are concerned.

There are "robotic" devices on the low end of the scale like the Bioness devices that can replace an AFO for foot drop after a stroke and the one to retrain the hand and wrist. To more elaborate robotic devices used in physical therapy departments for stroke survivors. Unfortunately, not mine. It is often stated that the more reps you do retrains the undamaged parts of your brain to take over for the damaged part. It's called by some fancy names like neuroplasticity or building new neuronal pathways. While I understand the process, to do the required number of reps will take years to recover. While the exact number of reps it takes is open to conjecture, let's just say an enormous of awake hours. But if they could be done while sleeping hours too, it would shorten the time if the damaged neurons would just stay quiets. Of course they won't. My clonus goes into overdrive with the Bioness AFO device.

Today, robotics are constantly being developed as hope for making the stroke survivor replicate what they've lost. There isn't a week that goes by that some new device whether used in therapy or in used in daily life would be a godsend to the stroke survivor. The problem with any new technology is the same everywhere cost and availability.

While my hospital therapy department may have the hoist lift on the treadmill, the robotic leg movement robot isn't cost effective. While the big cities my have an arm assist robotics, my medium city doesn't for the same reason. While the bottom robotic assisted technology (step aside, Ironman) in the bottom picture is still in research and nobody has got it.

If we all had unlimited funds to do what we wanted to, all of us would jump on the bandwagon of the robotic assist movement or go where it was available. Wouldn't we all wear something heavy or uncomfortable to make paralyzed or spastic muscles do what they should do? I know I would. The same thing goes for recovering faster from the deficits of my strokes.

Unfortunately, most robotic devices are rejected by most insurance carriers as experimental and just won't pay for it. I'm not sure what Medicare pays for or not because I ain't had to deal with those folks. But since the federal government is the biggest bureaucracy of them all, I imagine that they don't either.

So what's the answer? How do we get it? I don't have the answer unless we wait until it is as common place in use as toilet seats, but that can be a hundred year wait also. Demand that our stroke organizations put pressure on political powers that be? That doesn't work. Just ask Dean. Wait until more people are affected by stroke? There's way too many of us now in the queue. (1 or 2 out of 10 men) Revolt? Storm Washington like the 100 Man March? (What did that truly accomplish?)

I just don't have the answers, but...
Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

And Some Days, It Does Not Pay to Get Out of Bed

For every other Saturday, my children and I have been cleaning and going through stuff here.  This has been going on for over a month now. The personality conflicts and head butts have driven me nuts. But they are my children and grandchildren. They are trying to help old mom. But some days,  it doesn't pay to get out of bed.

There's a lot of stress involved on my part. I'm dealing with grief. I'm deciding what to pitch. What to donate. What to keep. What to yard sale. And, who wants what. Some of these are trips down memory lane that send me through the time machine twenty, thirty and forty years ago before I can decide. Other decisions are simple- if I haven't seen or worn it in five years- it goes. Some things I have to juggle back and forth between keep, sell, and pitch.

It didn't come as any big surprise that my oldest daughter could be difficult when asked to do something she deemed unimportant like cleaning my bathroom. I can't clean my tub. I won't say can't, but more like it would cause me too much hardship and pain to do it. It takes kneeling, or bending over in my tub to do it in an upside down fashion. Tubs get mighty slippery when using water and cleansers. Last time I tried, I pulled down the shower curtain on my head to avoid falling. I raised a nice goose egg on my forehead for my effort. I had to asked my oldest grandson to put the curtain back up. God love him. He's so special that he hung it back in place backwards. The pretty side (not waterproof) was on the inside. Anyhow, my daughter thought it was a menial task that wasn't as exciting as breaking down the spare bedroom so she took FIVE HOURS to clean it. It really took an hour, but all the complaining and griping filled the rest of the time. She does much better when it's just her and me. But this time her younger sisters were here too.

So I also had three of my grandchildren here. I thought one of the two that were not cutting the grass would help me empty my lower kitchen cabinets. Once again, getting into these takes squatting, sitting on the floor, or basically standing on my head to get anything out of them. I haven't opened them in over three years. I had gone out and gotten boxes just for this occasion. That didn't happen. My granddaughter and my #3 grandson saw a spider and that's all it took. They refused to even walk into my kitchen again. They comforted themselves by texting and FaceBooking themselves for the duration.

My #2 and #3 daughters tried to help me in the kitchen. But that pulled them away from what they were doing...breaking down the bedroom set in the spare bedroom. My #2 daughter mentioned the last time she cleaned my kitchen and how she was disappointed that I had let it get in such a state again. That was my limit for frustration. I told them both to go back to what they were doing.

Yes, the kitchen was messy and I knew it. The last time one of my children had even done anything to my kitchen was THREE YEARS AGO! I hadn't been doing anything in my kitchen except to cook meals, wash dishes I'd use, wipe down the counters, etc. I was only caring for my husband and doing everything I could do for a year and a half. Nah, that was nothing at all. I was sitting on my butt waiting for someone else to do it. Maybe my husband could have done what I couldn't. Yeah, right!

About that time, my #3 grandson came running into the kitchen, "Grandma, Grandma! Your water heater is leaking and your whole garage is flooded!" I sent my son-in-law out to check it out. Just what I needed, I thought. All those boxes in the garage are now soaked. It turned out not to be my water heater but a backed up drain to my washer machine, but I didn't know that at the time.

I went into my office and tears of frustration began welling up as I plopped into my chair. It really irritates me that I cry when I get over frustrated and mad because I really should yell and scream. It was frustration because of the limits my strokes have imposed on me. If I hadn't had my stroke I could do all of this myself. If I hadn't had my stroke I wouldn't be exhausted all the time. If my husband had not have gotten sick and died, I'd be happy wherever we were. If, if, if instead of the reality I'm faced with. Anything is better than reality when I get like this. Calgon take me away! Wait, my oldest is still cleaning my bathroom. So I sat at my desk reaching for tissues. Eventually they all went off to their respective homes. I was left walking around empty boxes that I had hoped to fill. My house is a minefield of fall hazards now. But I'll continue on one day at a time.

Finally, the spare bedroom is almost empty. This will be the staging area for the yard sale. I've got an air cycle, my NordicTrack, my neck traction device that was used twice before my husband couldn't help me any more and some really great items in there already.

I'm paying my youngest daughter's way home. Gas and miscellaneous expenses from Texas for her to help me full-time. Her husband is still waiting for his transfer to Alabama to come through. Ya gotta loved the Army. She'll be bringing my two youngest grandsons with her. She's already arranged for child care while she helps me. She's a whirlwind when she gets started. Her ADD/OCD behavior defaults from her traumatic brain injury works in her favor with tasks like this. Besides I win all the way around because I get to see her and my youngest grandchildren. Even though they were just here for my husband's death and funeral, we didn't spend much time together (not in the way we wanted to).

So soon all of this will be over. I'll be able to close on my property in November liked I'd planned. I feel like I've been standing still with a two-thousand square ft house sitting on my shoulders. But after this I'll be moving forward again. Worst comes to worst I'll buy a small RV and live in it until my house is finished so I can put this house on the market. It shouldn't take the painters and carpet people to do their jobs. The house down the street sold last week after being on the market a month. This is a very desirable neighborhood.

I've had some static from my older grandchildren about selling this house. It's the only place they've known as grandma and grandpa's place. I understand. I really do, but things change. Life is not stagnant. I've got to do what is best for me. They are mid to older teenagers now. One day when they have lived more of their lives, they will understand too. Whatever income I have left will have to see me through the rest of my life be it five years or thirty. All their dreams of coming back to live in this house may change too in twenty years. There are no guarantees. Do today what you can because you may not have a tomorrow. Take enjoyment and hug it close.

Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful for my children and grandchildren so I don't have to do this by myself. But sometimes, I'd rather stay in bed than deal with any of them.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Sunday Stroke Survival: Power Naps

I used to take power naps like Einstein. I rarely slept more than four hours a night unless I was sick or drugged and I did it for thirty years!! During the day, I'd close my eyes and instantly fall into a dreamless sleep for twenty minutes and awake totally refreshed ready to take on the world again. I would burn the midnight oil often until 3 or 4 in the morning and get up for work the next morning. And then, repeat the process as I wrote and held down TWO full time jobs for decades. These are the classic power naps.

Since my stroke, that life is a distant memory. Mainly the chronic fatigue I feel. I now sleep six to eight hours a night when my body allows it. Spasticity has a weird sense of timing. The pain can cause even a heavy a sleeper to awaken in pain. I need those six hours at a minimum to feel rested. But just getting out of bed is a tiring struggle and it's just the beginning. How I managed all those months of waking every two to four hours to give my husband his morphine had to be God's grace upon me that I could still function. I depend on a two hour nap during the day to make it to bedtime. It was explained to me that I was burning through my energy in the recovery process and spasticity. What it amounted to was for every action I accomplish during the first four to six hours after rising used every ounce of energy I accumulated during the night's rest.

Now I literally pass out/doze off in exhaustion. I'll be sitting at the keyboard ignoring all the warning signs of my energy level reaching empty, and suddenly wake up a couple of hours later. It doesn't matter if I'm lying down or not, I'll nod off. Needless to say I work my driving times or running around times in the first four hours or after nap time. So my day can start at 5AM and can continue up to 10AM at the latest. It will be after 2PM before I can function outside the house in the public again.

These aren't power naps any more, or are they? Sort of. There's no definitive answers after a stroke. It's always, it depends. Before my stroke, my gas tank was filled full after a twenty minute nap. But now, I'm running half empty upon awakening after two hours of napping. I'm good until probably 6PM. Then I'll doze off in half a hour  for every two that I'm awake increments until I get my behind up and crawl into bed at 10. I have to stay awake until 10 because of my night medicines.

As much as I hate to admit it, part of this new energy cycle cannot totally be blamed totally on my stroke and an abundance of muscle relaxers, but age.  A few years ago I wrote a blog post about 60 being the new 2 because that's how I felt like my life was like post stroke. I still do! I often say, "I'm not a Spring chicken anymore or even a Fall hen." I also say, "I'm a tough old bird." All of these are true. If I was a chicken, I'm so old that even pressure cooking me for the maximum amount of time...I'd still be tough to chew (think-shoe leather). The fact is, I'm slowing down because my body is older. But I can still run circles around some of you! (wicked grin) You know who you are.

So now if I have to, I equate power naps as energy naps. I can't do without them. They are a MUST DO. Where as before I might skip them, now it's an everyday necessity just to get through a day. Even the little doze off periods in the evening are a fact of my daily life. Just like most, I have a honey-do list except I'm the honey that must do. If I don't go to the grocery store, I'm scrounging for something to eat. If I don't service my car, it'll stop running.

 My scheduling has been thrown out of whack with road trips and house down-sizing marathons on weekends with my children. But I'm coping with extra naps/doze off periods when they are taking items to Goodwill and Faithworks. Even if I just take a supervisory role, it's mentally taxing.  Sometimes that's worst than hard physical labor. Just separating 17 years of living in this house/40+ years worth of things into donate, sell, and I want rooms of the house means multiple trips down memory lane. This makes everything take twice as long to accomplish. Partly it helps and hurts my grief at the same time, but I realize no matter what I do, it will be this way. Yes, I did say rooms! Since I basically only use three (four if you count one bathroom) rooms of my house out of ten, there's space. I can't believe I had three Christmas trees in my attic!

Big furniture is going out of the door on each session which frees up more space, but I've filled them with bunny cages (grin). They have a room all to themselves now. But as much as I enjoy my animals, they too take a toll on my energy levels. But I have to say, it's taken SIX rabbits to equal the amount of care for energy expenditure that my husband took on a daily basis. The rabbits are part of my healing process. I give them love and get love in return from them. I'm relishing the fact that all this STUFF is leaving my life. Down-sizing has been a catharsis for me even though it is exhausting. So many things on my plate has been tiring also, but soon it will be over with. I figure by November or December tops, it will be done except trying to sell everything. If I thought this house 2,000 sq ft house was too big for me when it was full, it will seem cavernous when emptied. Then I'll know it will be time to move on.

In the mean time, power naps will be my saving grace to get me to the end of each day.

Nothing is impossible.