Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Retrying Old Things

Download your copy here
A little known fact about me is that I'm a multi published author. Even on this stroke writing blog. It's been so long since I've put up a snippet, story, or new book.  Before my strokes took away my ability to read and write, I was writing a survivalist series of books, in part about urban homesteading. The first book in the series was self published, as were the rest of the planned series. Well, I had a personal SHTF situation quite literally with my strokes and my husband's care being shifted over to hospice.  It has been a long, slow  recovery process for me. In fact I'm still in it. I've fought tooth and nail, clawing my way back to get to this point.

I've been asked by several of our YouTube subscribers to write a cookbook. I am presently going through my database of recipes, some of which we've videoed on our channel to compile it with fresh pictures. It is slow going, plus I'm typing one handed. My brain just doesn't work as well as it once did.  I haven't done much writing except for blogs in five years, but it's been good practice. Since cookbooks are basically lists, I almost feel almost confident enough to handle this type of writing now. I dunno how long that will take. I've never written a cookbook before. In the downloadable ebooks, I'll put links to the videos that correspond to the recipes. At least those uploaded prior to the publishing date. The rest may appear at a later date with no links, of course. You just have to search our channel under the "Cookin'" playlist. Today, there are 22 recipes there already and growing, but not in written form. (Hm, an asterisk on the page that YouTube deleted one or more videos. I'll have to figure out which ones and why.) Ya gotta love technology. Anyhow, there will be a web address listed in the paperback version.

How long is the cookbook? How many recipes? I dunno. I haven't thought that far ahead. Heck, this may be several books. I just haven't figured out the divisions yet. I've got thousands of them in my head, on my computer, and written on cards and pieces of paper in my stash from decades of cooking professionally and at home. When can you get a copy? I dunno that either. I've got to figure our the answers to the previous questions first. There are a lot of angles in publishing especially self publishing. What my angle? Why should someone buy the book when the video is free? Of course, there will be some recipes I won't tape too. The videos are a bonus added feature.

Then there is the housekeeping side of self publishing too like the cover art, any other art, the dividers, the divisions, who am I gearing sales for (marketing plan). Included in the marketing plan is public appearances, pre-sales, and book signings which means the pre-purchasing of paperbacks to sign. It also involves care of the homestead while away doing these events. A whole lot of juggling and planning and I'm not the master juggler anymore. I'm I really able to do this again? Do I really want to? We honestly need the cash injection to keep operating. If neither of us are working off the homestead.  Our feed and seed bill alone is $100 a month during late fall and winter, and we're small time right now. We can't grow in self sufficiency and/or profitability without it. Every little bit helps.

Who knows, I may start writing the above mentioned series again with more of a homesteading focus. At least, I'm going to try even if it takes a couple of years to write one. You got to understand. In my previous life BS, before strokes, I was writing, editing, and publishing four to ten books a year between nonfiction and fiction. Taking a couple of years to write one book is a harsh reality check for me. But these days, I'm living post stroke and trying to get on with my life.

Order it here
For Mel, she's on that newbie stage of writing of eat, sleep, dream writing fiction after her do training book hit the market. She's even has characters talking to her. She probably wouldn't eat if I didn't put a hot plate of food in front of her and make her stop writing once a day. I remember those days well. I sort of envy her. If we were both in that mental phase of writing, we'd starve to death. (grinning) All's I gotta say to her is spring is coming and enjoy it while it lasts.

As always...
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Sanity Restored

After y'all endured last week's melt down, I'm relieved to report that this to passed. Thank you for all the advice and support. I needed to blow off steam and it helped. Through a lot of prayer and meditation, this week I'm back to my old self. Relieved? I know I am. There are still difficult choices to be made, but I'm now back on stable ground mentally, if not physically.

First, I actually got six hours of uninterrupted sleep. It was just one night, but it helped immensely. Sleep deprivation is a powerful ailment, and plays havoc on both the body and the mind.

While the nocturnal Charlie horses continue, I start searching for other possible causes besides heart, neuro, and diet. I took a good look at my shoes. I missed my appointment to get my new, insurance covered shoes. Life just got too hectic and it slipped my mind. The specialty insole in my left shoe has a worn spot at the heel. This could be a major factor. Given the Botox has been wearing lean and my stance has changed, it could make all the difference in the world in over stressed muscles and tendons. I had taken a look at my activities and realized that every time I filled the kindling buckets with small branches, I could count on the Charlie horses occurring during the night. Picking up sticks and branches on level ground not so much, but there's only about a ten-foot surrounding the house that's fairly level everything else slopes either up or down. Even a slight slope causes me to shift my body weight more on my unaffected side to maintain my balance as I bend and lift. Poor body alignment. I'm sure any PT would agree. It only makes sense. I now carry a Grab-It with me for this activity.

I've made an appointment with my PCP for a new prescription for the shoes to be followed closely by Hanger, my orthodics company. Sadly and happily, I'll meet my deducible and max out of pocket yearly expense between neurology and cardiology by February again this year. So my shoes will be covered 100% once again. My Medicare doesn't kick in until July.

My heart affecting my stamina and breathing is another issue. I find I'm easily winded. The alternative of a triple valve replacement. It's looming closer and closer as much as I hate to admit it. I also dislike having to admit that I'm fearful of undergoing anesthesia again. After my heart stopping twice the last time, can you blame me? Of course, they'll purposely be stopping my heart to do this, but it's the whole restarting of the heart that is my issue. I have restarted hearts in ditches of mud and muck in the past, but it wasn't my heart. Does that sound stupid?

Having blown a gasket last week was cathartic for me last week. Where I was lost in a fog of hurt (both emotional and physical) everything was blurred, this week I can see clearer to decisions I made under distress were the right ones so my internal compass was still intact. It carried me through just as it always has. The issues of selling my house, and making my child and grandchildren homeless are still here. My Botox wearing off leaving me spastic and in chronic and severe pain is still occurring and will be until next month. My injection series is on the 27th and a week until it kicks in enough to make a difference. Hopefully, my insurance approves the increase to stop the Botox wearing off before the next series. I'm still living post stroke waiting on recovery.  Because of the stress of the situation that is my fault, my Fibromyalgia is still in flare mode. I'm going to HAVE to go back on my Cymbalta again at least until the flare lightens up. It sure won't hurt the depression either. I still can;t sleep lying flat or on my side, but the bruising has lessened and the scabs are disappearing. The area is still very tender. Even the shower spray hitting it will take my breath, but not as bad as last week. This week my coping skills are not barely hanging on by slipping fingernails. They are actually working and I'm able to function. Two songs ran through my soul this week and I realized THIS was for me...
 Big difference from last week, huh? I'm not saying that I won't fall into despair or succumb to the pity pot again. Of course, I will. I'm human, but...

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: I Hate My Life!

I don't get on the pity pot often but I've been hogging it this week. Actually it's been closer to two weeks now. I've been on a kick-myself-while-I'm-down, life altering, decision-making-damn-the-consequences, and what-about-me mode. I've even acted upon it! For me, it's only about time. I've been shoved into a corner and held there. This time God hasn't put me in a box. I know the difference.

This is why. No, you readers have rarely seen me like this. No matter what life has thrown at me, I've rolled with the punches until now...I quit. This is way more pleasant a blog for today than the one I previously wrote and I deleted. The gist of that one was my family, finances, and my life. This one is too. But not as scathing or bitter. But, I realized today that the problem is me because I've allowed it to happen. I've literally given until I hurt myself and I'm angry.
My T-shirt for 2017

I've always been the dependable one no matter what. Well, that stops now. I've given until there is nothing left to give of my heart, body, soul, and money. It's time for me to show my selfish  side.

I officially listed my Golden Isles house on the market. This also means I'm making my youngest daughter and three youngest grandchildren homeless when it does sell. I've agonized over this decision for months now. I'm in danger of losing the house to foreclosure with no options left.It's a long story, which only a small part appears in these blogs. I honestly can't afford to keep paying for two residences on my limited income. For 2016, I've dug myself into debt greater than I've ever allowed myself to be in trying to help everyone and myself. There is no easy fix for me and it now rolls downhill to where others will be inconvenienced too.

At the end of the year, things were so financially over extended that I couldn't even afford a roll of toilet paper. I had to borrow a couple of rolls to even give a crap.  Yes, my marginally sick sense of humor still survives. Our cell phone service was even suspended for nonpayment. During that time, everybody and their brother was trying to reach me. My father went into the hospital and is now on hospice services due to failing kidneys and multiple pin strokes throughout his brain. My oldest daughter was also in the hospital, I still don't know why, and she almost died. She's in Alaska and uses FaceBook. Daughter #4 had issues with depositing the house payment into my bank and she couldn't reach daughter #2 who is on the acct. I rarely FaceBook anymore because it's all attached to my old email account that I can't even access anymore. When my phone service was cut back on after the first of the year (I paid my bill), I had 22 voicemails waiting on me. The last ones that I heard first, were down right nasty from my family (children, grandchildren, and siblings). I honestly wanted to turn off my phone service again!

God forbid, Jo is out of contact for a couple of weeks by phone. My internet and Skype still worked, but nobody tried emailing me. I couldn't afford any of my medications other than my heart meds but still I was inconveniencing others which I've never done. When when I did contact everyone, I wasn't dropping everything and running to the rescue. Daughter #4 no longer had the house payment again ( She's paid once since August, I've paid until December) to deposit because an emergency came up with the grandbabies. (their income is $200 less a month than mine) Even when I explained I couldn't even drive out of my driveway because of being bogged down up to my axle in clay mud, and then snow and ice. It wasn't good enough. It's my fault for moving here. Well, I've had enough. I quit.

I'm dealing with being stuck in our hallow with all of this going on 6 hours away. This is an hour after talking to my youngest daughter, my step mother and my little sister. I'm tending to the outdoor animals and I slip and fall on the ice hitting my head on the rabbit cages on the way down. I'm seeing stars, but I know that if I don't get up immediately, I won't be able to get up on my own. Once I stood up (so much fun on ice, rabbit muck, and muddy patches made by my fall), it's only in the teens temperature wise, and me in a multiple layered top covered by a sweatshirt over jeans. Yes, my jeans got soaked through. I gashed open the top of my head on the corner of the metal roofing on the rabbit cage. Talk about insult to injury! I climbed up the four steps into the trailer by crooking my arm into the handrail. No, I haven't even had the funds to modify the access into the trailer. The extra money I did have went to cover the bills. I came in, told Mel I hadn't tended to the angoras and a few of the outside rabbits yet. She's have to do them. I sat at my desk and wrote that other blog pieces until my head stopped spinning.

Later, I was finding it difficult to draw a breath. Yep, a nasty bruise had formed on my left side rib area. As if I needed further proof I'd had a bad the fall, there was blood mixed with my urine staining my pad. Yep I did a number on myself. I pick up a couple of pieces of firewood from the porch. Time to feed the wood stove. I drop the wood sort of where it should be and fed the stove. Mel brings it from the wood shed to the porch and we share the duties of keeping it burning. One day I'll have to video this chore with my single functioning hand. I'm heading towards my desk beside the wood stove and decided to make myself a cup of hot chocolate before I sit down. Everything I need is handy too. I just pour the hot water into my cup, a quick stir, and try to replace the lid onto the canner on top of the wood stove. I didn't notice my bad foot placement and boom! I land on my butt narrowly missing the wood stove, but not missing my desktop CPU on the way down. I was thanking God for small miracles, when the stinging started after getting my fat hinny off the floor. Yep, I'd scrapped the skin off the bruise on my side. My tank top was actually sticking to my side. Yah! More exposed nerve endings! No, I didn't go to the hospital, I knew what was wrong would correct itself with time and it has. Besides even with Mel's 4x4 truck, there's still a 1/4 mile, 200 ft incline, twisting mass of clay mud, snow and ice to get up to the main road. It could do it if necessary,but it wasn't.
That cinched it, my pity party was on full force. Compound all of this my heart valves and triple A acting up with additional reason for not being able to breathe laying down flat, and my nocturnal charlie horses. You can see why I'm not a happy camper. I'm sleeping in stints of a couple hours at a time sitting up on the couch since the 3rd of January. Our dog, Bennie Dufus, I purchased for Mel's dog training videos, was hit by a car and killed just before Christmas. Mel's special needs cat, Devon Angel, developed pneumonia and has been at death's door since New Years Day. I started on a head cold which always makes you feel great, doesn't it? My Botox worn off and my dry needling went to private pay because of a billing error (no cash for private pay). My arm has drawn up and is totally locked in spasticity as is my leg. Mel's seasonal depression kicked in full force with the holidays too. Plus she has started writing novels. I'm so jealous! This is also why I've been on the pity pot unable to rise up off it. Can you blame me?  You want to run screaming from the room yet? Of course, being in my golden years with fibromyalgia and post stroke, I don't bounce back after a fall. I feel worse the next day. Or in this case, a week and a half later. So is it any wonder that I'm saying "Stop the World I'm Getting Off,""I Quit!" and "What About Me!"?

Not really?
I called my youngest daughter after I spoke with my mortgage company and my real estate agent. I also told her about my injuries. I'm supposed to be the understanding mother and just keep on going through hardships while paying the mortgage and utilities forever, right? I should do it because I love my child and my grandchildren. I don't want to see them all homeless, do I? I heard it all. Yes, guilt pulled at my heart strings. Remember, my decision. I quit and I've had enough! Don't think for a minute that this is an easy decision. It isn't. My daughter ended our conversation with she'd be out of contact because her phone is being shut off for nonpayment and she was going to be busy trying to find a new place to stay with YOUR grandchildren. The final twist of the knife, while I ended the call with "I love you."

To top it off, even if I could afford to drive home if I had the $60 (round trip gas money). My body won't let me. I had a hard time Wednesday driving to my mortgage bank's local branch office with some paperwork for the sale of the house and delay foreclosure in 90 to possibly longer days. Sure, I'd like to see my Daddy before he died. He's my Daddy. But then again, haven't I been living in the same town putting out all the fires for decades while the rest of the family got on with living their lives? I have no guilt when it comes to my father or everyone else.  I've given my all and then some.

Nothing is as final as quitting even though nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Winter Doldrums

As winter sets in here in our little hallow, I start reevaluating everything. Freezing temperatures, and snow and ice makes driving up the foothill precarious enough for us to not even try in Mel's 4-wheel drive truck. I mean in an emergency we'd chance it, but just to go to way, no how. You'd think I'd be stir crazy, but I'm not. There is plenty to keep my hands and mind occupied.

In case you don't know how much a cord of wood is
It isn't always so bad. Some days we've hit almost 50 before the sun goes down and with it the temperatures. We've burned through a cord of wood already and we haven't hit the really cold months of latter January and February yet. We'll probably go through at least four cords this winter. It's supposed to be a cold one. But even that being said. I prefer temperatures around the mid 60s or low 70s. My heart usually behaves better. Mel on the other hand, in her born and raised Orlando Fl body, prefers high 70s to low 80s. Growing up and living up north taught me to dress in layers to keep
warm and keep myself from being overheated at the same time.Yesterday, she finally pronounced it warm enough and I had stripped down to a tank top,

Today, I shed two layers (jacket and sweater) and was still working up a sweat loading a 1/4 cord of wood into the back of my van from the big wood shed to move onto the front porch. Mel would have just loaded it into unto several wheel barrow loads to make the trip, but being one handed, I have an issue with the wheel barrow. Chock it up to another tool that takes two functioning hands. At least I know that I can handle these splits of wood with little or no difficulty. These aren't the evenly split pieces of wood that you see bundled in the stores. They can weigh upwards of five to ten lbs two feet long a piece with plenty of splinters upon splinters in my arm, hand and fingers. Yes, I should be wearing work gloves, but they are a royal pain to get off and on.

Yes, I know I could use a wagon to pull the small load, but heck, I'd already taken care of the chickens, rabbits, household animals, made the bread/rolls, and set up dinner to cook on top of the wood stove BEFORE I went to get the wood. I had also gathered a 5-gallon bucket of kindling. Burning that little bit of gasoline was a lifesaver. That was until I got bogged down almost to the axle in the slick, clay mud. I grabbed the crepe myrtle branches Mel had cut down over the summer which lined out new makeshift driveway. It gave me enough traction to make it around front again. Another day on the homestead or Murphy's Law strikes again. I guess I could have played the disabled woman in distress card, but honestly, it never crossed my mind.

I'm considering totally coming off some of my medications. I'm beginning to wonder if I really need them all. I am always my own self advocate. I have to admit the Cymbalta helped my depression after my beloved's death. I'm definitely more active here than I was before. Yeah, my body aches, but look at what I'm putting it through. You'd think my fibromyalgia would flare up big time, but it hasn't enough to incapacitate me in almost two years. Considering my pain was so great before that I had even considered taking additional meds. I'm handling the pain better with more natural methods like cups of Earl Grey tea. Bergamot oil has been used for centuries for depression and nerve pain. I work through the pain. I do use reason and stop when I need to. Although I am taking more breaks than I used to ten years ago. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm getting older too. It may take an hour or two to gain control with meditation and a couple cups of Earl Grey tea, but do I really need prescription too? Meditation is also  my control over my PBA. I'm not really asking you and I will talk to my physician.

My muscle relaxers are the bane to my existence. I'm on Botox, Zanaflex, Baclofen and Valium. Plus dry needling and therapy.  None of them are working worth a hoot to stop my post stroke spasticity. When the Botox wears off that's it. My foot inverts and will develop sores unless I use care to prevent it. My wrist is solidly locked and contractures prevent it from releasing to neutral without some serious, constant manipulation. Surgery is even more not an option with a third heart valve and a triple A in the mix. I haven't taken Valium in over a year. The Zanaflex plays havoc with my heart. I have gradually tapered my dose down to 2 mgs per night instead of 16 because of this. And yeah, there was discussions with my cardiologist and neurologist. There are definitely advantages to not sleeping at a 45 degree angle, ingesting quantities of salt before bed to keep my heart rates above 40 and not feeling like a fish out of water gasping for breath every night since my aortic valve started crapping out last year.

What I've opting for instead of drugs. I'm embracing my spasticity. It is what it is. It's going to be part of my post stroke existence until the powers that be find a way to fix it. It's not a part time thing but a full time issue. Sometimes is worse than it's other. When it's bad, it's horrible and nothing makes it better. I would live the horrible times in a continuous, warm bath of epsom salts, rosemary, and thyme if I could, but that's not living. I'll cry and move on until the next time. Even when I'm in a Valium induced sleep, I'm still in pain. So I'll treat the pain with Tramadol when necessary. I'll pick and choose what I take and when. Hopefully, the increased Botox will have a longer carry over effect so there will be less breakthrough of severe spasticity between series. It's a shame when you have to pick which poison you put in your body.

So do you reevaluate decisions during the winter doldrums? What have you concluded?
Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday Stroke Survival: Gearing Up for 2017

Happy New Year! Can you believe we've made it to 2017 already? I can't. It seems like yesterday everything went boom. I was minding my own business and BOOM I had a stroke. BOOM AGAIN, I had another one. THEN a gigantic BOOM, I lost my beloved and moved. I honestly didn't think I'd live this long, but I have.

Just after Christmas, I make plans for the coming year. This year is no different. While most of the plans involve the new homestead, I have made some personal goals too. I don't call them resolutions, because nobody ever keeps their New Year's resolution, do they? But I set up goals I plan to meet during the year.

Goal #1- Keep making strides towards recovery of my arm and leg. Notice I don't say I will recover my arm and leg, but make strides towards that goal. If it happens, I'll be content and I won't discount it. The recovery of my arm has met with huge set backs over the last few years. First was a torn AC ligament in my shoulder. Second, when there was light at the end of the tunnel, was the torn rotator cuff. Complicating but issues is/was the spasticity. My leg responds well to the Botox and dry needling. I'll continue working on strengthening the weak muscles involving the inversion problem in my ankle, calf, and foot. I am still expecting a full recovery though.

Goal #2- Continue to lose weight for the ultimate goal of 120 lbs. It's more in line for my small five-foot frame. Not that I'm seriously dieting or anything. I'm just more active here. I lived a sedentary/more confining life watching my husband die. To date, I've lost 42 lbs so since Spring 2016. I'm more than halfway to my goal weight. I figure it will take another year or so of replacing fat with muscle again.

Goal #3- To get active with the local stroke survivor support group. I've been meaning to get to this since my move to northeast Georgia, but all the ins and outs of getting this new homestead going has kept me far too busy. That's not to say 2017 will be less busy here, but it will be more manageable although growing. They only meet every two months.

That's it. Nothing Earth shattering. Just keeping on, keeping on. I'm keeping my goals realistic and doable. I'm at an age that keeping goals doable is important. Being a stroke survivor, makes this paramount. We've had enough hard knocks to last us a lifetime. I guess God is succeeding in making me more patient. It's only taken almost five years to get to this point. LOL

So what are your doable goals for 2017?

Nothing is impossible.