Sunday, December 27, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: 2020 Wrap Up and What's to Come

Oops I missed posting last week.
I hope everyone had a good Christmas holiday.  It's that time of year again for reviewing the past year and figuring out what's the plan for 2021.

In 2020 review...

I finished my cancer treatments with a clean bill of health!!!

Last year really flew by with only a couple events of any real, personal interesting points.  I got infected by COVID-19 way back in February and I didn't realize it until much later. The end of January, Mel got sick with a fairly high fever, horrendous cough, and moderate difficulty breathing. With no medical insurance, she fought me on going to the hospital, but I finally (after 3 days) won the argument. The doctor at first, thought it might  the flu, but ruled it out fairly quickly. They wanted to admit her, but she refused. They didn't know what her problem medically was. I brought her home and treated her the best I could homeopathically with herbs and immuno-boosters I grow here. I warned her that if her fever went above 103°F and if she did not respond to me she was going right back to the hospital. It didn't happen. Eventually, her fever broke and she got better except for a cough and loss of stamina which lasted for months.  As an after effect she now becomes short of breath and has a heart condition.

The first part of February, it was my turn. Even though I'd wash my hands and wore a mas while treating her, I got sick though not as bad. I felt like I was going to cough up pieces of lung tissue at any moment (I didn't), had a medium grade fever (100°- 101°), and was shorter of breathe. It lasted about two weeks. I had lost my sense of taste and smell  (I still moderately suffer with this). I did touch bases with my PCP, but didn't go in. His instructions were the standard- control the fever, push fluids, and rest. If it got any worse to go to the ER. So that's what I did. 

We didn't hear about COVID until March with the rest of the country. We figured that's what we had been fighting. An antibody test shoes I had it. We were luckier than others with this virus. It was no worse than a very bad cold or brush with the flu.

I had a T-car procedure done on my left cardioid artery. Uneventful, but now have to do the right one done Jan 5th 2021.

I started Botox again for my post stroke(s) spasticity. With Emory in and out of locked down mode for nonessential surgeries, it was looking like summer of 2021  before I could have another baclofen pump implanted. So far, my body's response to doing Botox again has been good.

After the first series of 400 units, I was almost able to straighten my arm to full extension and raise it above my head. Which is way better than the 6" I'm able to move it without the injections. I could shave my underarm with ease!  The gain gradually reduced over time and by Thanksgiving the pain of my entrapped shoulder and bicep returned but I was scheduled for more Botox the first week in December. So it was manageable and short lived. I'm in physical therapy again.

I got another AFO and new shoes. The AFO still needs work. I've formed new pressure sores above my ankle and at the first metatarsal (at the base of my big toe). Oi Vey! So far though, no reoccurrence of the pressure sore in the spot that has plagued me for eight years. I guess I should count my blessings. This is the first time my shoes didn't need alterations of build ups and rockers added.

That's been my year besides falls. When I entered PT again they estimated my falls by how many I had in the past couple weeks... 48 falls a year! That sounds like a lot, but thinking back, it's a little on the high side. I remember about 30... not counting falls that I averted by catching myself before I actually hit the floor or ground. Is that a lot? It seems fairly standard to me after back surgeries and strokes in the odd 30 years or so.

What's coming up on 2021...
  • The right sided T-Car procedure of my carotid artery is slated on the 5th of January.
  • We've got our new garden area ready for seed potatoes in February. The 5th tier of the garden is almost completely revamped for vegetables. The seeds have been ordered. So we should get a good harvest.
  • We staked out where our tiny houses will be built and leveled it. We've set the foundation piers. Now we've just got to save for the rest of the lumber before building can commence.
  • My 9-month post cancer ultrasound (the week before Christmas) of my thyroid area showed another mass. Just when everyone thought it was gone, surprise! So everything else is up in the air again! But for now, I'm still alive and fighting. So much for a normal year. Sigh!

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Tumbles and Stumbles Again

 I took a bad stumble and fall this week. Five AM, and I'm walking through the kitchen to get a soda so I can take my morning meds. From the dim light from my bedroom, I thought I could do it safe enough. I'd done it several times before with no incident. What I didn't know was Mel had moved the box fan by the trashcan. It was safely tucked away behind the trashcan awaiting to be cleaned of the season's dust and dirt. What I didn't see was the loop of power cord in my path. I wobbled on it for a couple seconds, and then I went down hard on my back side.

Previous back surgeries and rods in my spine reverberated  up and down leaving a tingling sensation down both legs. I pulled a drawer out to aid me in rising back on my feet. I braced my AFO clad foot flat on the floor and pulled myself up with my functioning leg. Once I was halfway up, the functioning left leg crumpled. It wouldn't support my weight. The tingling now progressed to numbness. Boy, I really did it this time, I thought.

I waited a couple minutes and tried again with the same results. To compound things, I had to pee. I positioned the pad and let loose of my bladder. After the fourth attempt to rise met with failure, I was exhausted and surprisingly nauseous. I grabbed a mixing bowl and retched into it. Great, now I was lightheaded to boot.

We had corralled the puppies into a 8'x8' area with wire shelving. Of course, the runt figured out how to climb it and get out. She's so happy and proud of herself for doing this. She'll come to me with her tail wagging to beat the band. She has since showed one male and another female how to do this. But as an added twist, she'll climb back in the enclosure for nap time. The other two hasn't learned this yet.

So there I was in a heap on the floor feeling thoroughly sorry for myself and who should come visit me, but the runt. She's full of kisses and snuggles, and I can't help myself but to smile and laugh. There's just something about a puppy so glad to see you with joyful glee that you can't stay miserable.  After a few minutes, she went off to see what trouble she could get into.

I evaluated my situation. The bottom drawer that I had been using was way too low, but the next drawer up from my pots and pans drawer was too high. What I needed was an ice cooler or dining room chair. But either of those things were in reach. I could maybe crawl to the breakfast nook to grab a chair, but at this point I had been on the floor from my fall 4 hours before. I was exhausted, thirsty, and sleepy. I had in fact dozed off from time to time during this. I'd be awakened by one of the dogs begging to be fed, or the puppies (all three were loose now), or the cats. But I couldn't help anyone including myself.

Finally, I hollered, "Mel, I need help!"
"What's wrong?"
"I've fallen and can't get up!"

I hear her get out of bed. I'm holding one puppy who's snoozing on my lap. I handed it to her.
"Whatcha doing with her?"
"She got out and was cold."
"What have I told you repeatedly about using a chair to hike yourself up," came Mel's voice from the dining room as she put the sleeping puppy down by her siblings.
I was too exhausted  to try to explain how hard I fell, about my numb legs exacerbated by Charlie horse cramps when I tried to move them. I just let her go on.
"Never mind, I'll get you one. Geez!"
She plopped the chair next to me. 

Did I mention that the fire in the wood stove had gone out while I was sitting on the floor? Or that I was only in my nightgown? It must have been 50 something degrees on the floor. I had pulled dishtowels from a drawer to throw over my shoulders for warmth for hours as I struggled to get up. It sure didn't help me moving my legs. Or, that my nightgown was soaked to the waist with urine? Now, you know.
But, I struggled to get to my feet by placing my upper body onto the chair and dragged my feet into position. I was wobbly and my legs didn't want to support me. But, I used the chair as support as I crossed the expanse of the kitchen. I was borderline dehydrated. It had been 18 hours since I'd eaten last. All of this contributed to my wobbly feeling. I held onto furniture as I made my way to a hot shower. I was a frozen mess and needed to thaw out.

Before you think Mel is a cold heart witch let me explain something to you. Mel and I have an understanding. She doesn't jump in to help me and do things for me by my request. She would have jumped in if I had asked her to.

I felt a little bit better after a long, hot shower. My knees were scraped and bruised after my repeated attempts to get up. There were also numerous puppy claw scratches. After my shower, I went to the kitchen for my soda and I took my morning medicines even though it was time to take my afternoon doses. I grabbed a couple handfuls of peanut butter stuffed pretzels bites. I went through the afternoon in a hangover phase as is usual after a fall for me. I know my body will hurt worse tomorrow. Mel had the wood stove belching out warm air and all was right with the world again. Sort of.

I cleaned up the puppy messes, fed the dogs and cats, and cooked dinner. Well not exactly cooked dinner, it's was reheating leftovers. We watch a couple shows on Netflix and I got another hot shower. My body still aches, my head is throbbing, but I had to stay up for my 11PM meds. Maybe another hot shower will help. After that, I crawled into bed. Tomorrow is another day in the life of living post stroke.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: I'm Back!

 Well, sort of. I'm still using the HP streaming "computer" with a 256 gig SD card to download all the updates and move files over to it so it's workable. Even with the black Friday sales, I couldn't buy a new or refurbished computer with the property tax due too. But, the SD card was less than $40 so I can start blogging again.

While I was down with computer woes, Kassity had her puppies November 1st. She had ten! Seven girls and three boys. Within an hour of being born we lost one boy and a girl leaving eight. All eight have gotten huge over the last five weeks. They now weigh about five pounds a piece. They have taken over the living, dining, kitchen. and breakfast nook. Both bedrooms have boards to prevent their access to them. They are constantly underfoot climbing our legs for attention. Kassity has weaned them early. She wanted her freedom from them. Now, they each have a small stuffed animal to play with. They look so cute carrying them around the open area. One minute they are cuddling with them and the next, the pups are shaking them trying to "kill" them.

Walking post stroke has been precarious. It's hard carrying the fabric tote with five splits (6"x 8"x 18" about 8-10lbs each) of firewood normally, but with four to eight puppies swarming the feet, it gets even more problematic. I use extra care when walking around them. I make sure I can hold onto something otherwise I'd trip and fall, or step on one of them.

The puppies are fascinated with my AFO. And no, I got my new one but it doesn't fit right either. My new shoes are on back order until the 15th. The Hanger folks refuse to adjust the AFO much without the new shoes. Frustrated, I lashed out at her. "All I want is to walk without pain! Is that too much to ask for? Can you do that or not?" In rare form I asked, "If the foot was amputated below the knee then could you build me a foot that worked right? I doubt it." I never had so much problems with Hanger in my old hometown as with this one. I've had a once a month, or every three months standing appointments with them over the last three years. We're driving 60 miles round trip with each appointment to boot. My frustration load has tipped and the end is not in sight. 

I hate this going around and around for months and only fixing the problem in small amounts. It's like going to get new glasses and you are looking at the eyechart with that machine flipping lenses, and they ask better or worse? Once I answered neither. The optician said I had to pick one. But I had answered truthfully the first time. That's about how I feel about Hanger now. I can't even go to the Hanger back home because the tech I had all the same problems with her not listening to me for two years is now head of that clinic! GRRRRRRRRR!

I talked with one of my neurology PAs last week when I had my Botox appointment and told her about my frustration with Hanger. She asked me whether I had tried Alliance Orthotics? I honestly never heard of them before. Have any of y'all? Do they listen to you? Can they really fix/build an AFO that works as advertised without causing pain and pressure sores??

Is walking without fear of falling with a spastic foot and ankle an impossibility for an AFO? If so, tell me. I'll make an appointment with another orthopedic surgeon tomorrow to schedule an amputation. I'm so tired of dealing with this! I mean I've been fitted for 6 AFOs (with the possibility of a 7th) in the past 8 years! All I want to do is WALK WITHOUT PAIN!! <stepping off the rant box>

The Botox worked fabulously! I was fantastic to be able to lift my arm above my head again., The return of the trapped shoulder pain and strong muscle spasms didn't really return until Thanksgiving. My appointment for the last set of the year was on Friday. There was an additional 100 units for use in trouble spots making this dose 400 units versus 300 units. It was fantastic to lift my arm above my head again. It's been since June of last year since I've been able to do that. I did manage to straighten my elbow to 170 degrees. the last 10 degrees of straightening the elbow to full extension was hampered by a new contracted spot in the bicep. The wrist recovered a 5 degree rotation and extension. That's movement than I've gotten in four years in therapy. The extension capabilities gradually wore off as Thanksgiving approached and the Botox wore off. I was locked in again by the next set of injections.  The neurologist did say he if he could get approval for 1,000 units (he can't) it would fix me up royally. I looked at him in shock, "Really?" "Just about," and he nodded.

The three years off from Botox did reset its results almost fully. While I was hoping for the four or five months lasting power, I knew that my spasticity has gotten so much worse that it was a pipe dream. For now, I'll take what I can get even though I'm giving the doctor permission to inject poison into me. Emory is still on partial lockdown again with the new resurgence of a new strain of mutated strain of COVID-19. While the option of having the new Baclofen pump placement in Athens is available. 

I just hate breaking in new doctors into the mix. My "ologistitis" is getting to the tilt point with the addition of an Otolaryngologist (for my silent acid reflux), a gastroenterologist (for my silent acid reflux), and a vascular specialist in 2020. Okay, a specialist is not technically an ologist but he has a specific field of study and treatment so to me it counts as one. They join my cardiologist, pulmonologist, immunologist, neurologist, oncologist, and my endocrinologist.

I think y'all are all caught up again. I'll be continuing physical therapy again next week when the Botox kicks in fully again. If only my body would allow movement without Botox...a girl can dream, can't she?

Nothing is impossible.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survivor: Computer Woe and Gone for a bit

Well, I went and did it again. I fried the motherboard of my laptop. First it was my previous laptop when my drink spilled onto it. Now with the cheap model I got to replace it died. When I took it to the shop the diagnosis was a fried motherboard. This time it wasn't my fault. It happened while I was asleep.

As a habit every Sunday before going to bed, I run the antivirus program. It shuts down my computer after it finishes. Monday, I turned the power on except my 'puter wouldn't come on. I've had other computers over the years do this and it was a simple fix of replacing the power switch. Not this time. My tech wizard said my motherboard was fried.

So I'm out of commission due to technical difficulties. I might find another cheap one at a pawn shop. I'll start shopping for a new computer after the first.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: The Wait is On

Or, should I say continuing. It seems I'm constantly waiting on something these days.

Monday, we got in the car to go to my vascular surgeon's appointment and it wouldn't start. It wouldn't have been so bad if the doctor didn't have an 24-hour in advance cancellation policy./ A missed appointment  cost me $50 and it wasn't my fault. The appointment was for a six-month scan of my right carotid artery.

It wouldn't have been so bad but we got slammed with storms from Bertha and Cristobal, and then Laura. The access road, really another driveway, washed out. Even with 4-wheel, drive it's near impossible to make it up the hill from our place to the main road. It has rained almost daily here and with each storm the drive gets worse. The owner of the land the access cuts through is hard pressed to repair it without a storm washing away his repair work.
Where I have trouble getting up the hill is the trouble spot I'm talking about. It actually looks pretty good in the video compared to now. There's no clay left on the broken pavement and the potholes I talk about have been repeatedly been filled in with broken cinder blocks and large rocks. Those bits and pieces are exposed and new bigger potholes have emerged as the water finds new ways to get down the road.

The tow truck drivers that have come to our assistance in the past have just refused to even try and that was when the drive wasn't that bad. Now, they look at us as if we're insane. "You want me to go where with my tow truck?! Uh, NO." So just how were we supposed to get our vehicle to the shop to get it fixed? We are both transplants here and didn't know anybody to call.

Mel and GEICO were working furiously to find someone. It took two days. but an angel of the last towing service in a three county area, said he'd try. He got halfway down and had to stop. He manage to get his flat bed tow truck back to level ground before he called with the bad news.

Mel's frustration turned to desperation and tears as she talked with him. Then, he said, "Wait a minute. Let me call you right back."

The dogs went nuts and tore up the driveway. Not only our two but the "community dogs" too in hot pursuit. Around the bend in our driveway came a big, burly, bear of a man. He hollered over the commotion of the six large dogs, Big and burly, but soft spoken and polite. "You were right. Passed that downhill bit it was smooth."

I called to the dogs to let him pass. Mel met him at our huge car park/turn around area by the barn.  Of course the Blazer wasn't there, it was back behind the house where Mel had dropped off 100 lbs of chicken feed. "I checked with my boss if I could come down and see if I could help," he explained. "So what's it doing?" They walked around back. If it wasn't for the virus scare, Mel would have hugged his neck and kissed his cheek. He'd walked almost 1/4 mile to get to us carrying a hefty toolbox.

After a couple of attempts to start the vehicle there was a definite gas smell, and then the the engine kicked over in a roaring start. Mel looked flabbergasted. She thought he was thinking, "Dumb females. panicking for nothing. But, he wasn't. He recounted a story of how a friend of his had a similar problem with his car. The result was a tiny pinhole leak in his fuel line. His friend almost tore his engine apart looking for it. He advised Mel with trying to start the car. It would start eventually. When she had the money, take it to the only garage in town. They had a liquid which would show where the leak was, but it wouldn't be cheap.

Mel once again suppressed the urge to hug him, but thanked him profusely. Now, we're waiting on enough days in a row for the owner of that portion of the driveway fixed. But we have remains of another slow moving hurricane passing over us with no break in sight for another week at least. So we are waiting for that.

We were able to get groceries and make it to my Botox appointment. Now, I'm just waiting for the Botox to kick in.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

I Got My Newest AFO!

I picked up my new AFO this week. I wish I could say it's a joy to walk with, but I can't. I'm currently nursing THREE pressure sores on my right foot.

One is is in the usual spot on the outside edge of my foot. For the second time now, my podiatrist had to evacuate dried blood from the sealed wound. Think of cutting away a newly reformed callus with a scalpel, and then scraping away at a half dollar sized, 1/2" thick mass of congealed and hardened blood. That's what eight years of pressure sores (10th time) in the same spot will get you.  This is from my old articulating AFO.

The second one is from is at the large ball joint of my big toe. This is from the replacement for the above AFO as it tries to keep my foot from inverting while spastic. It's just a standard fluid filled blister, but it's at a stage 3 and quite painful.

The newest spot (only erupted twice) is just below my ankle bone. This is cause by my new-new AFO as it loses the battle against my spastic foot. It would be at my ankle bone if the foot wasn't inverted almost 45 degrees in the AFO. It is also a stage 3. This one is excruciatingly painful as you can imagine.

All have ruptured and are in various stages of healing with the four times a day applications of gels and wet and dry dressings. Am I going to the wound care branch of the hospital for treatments, nope. They can't do anything that I can't do myself. Nurse heal thyself. I've just had so many pressure sores over the past eight years on my foot, I'd live there. LOL I'm only laughing to stop from crying. Why can't I be normal when it comes to AFOs?! It's the down side of being the Queen of Abby Normal I guess. All I want is to be able to walk without pain. I don't think that's too much to ask. Don't  even mention the "W" word to me (wheelchair). I'll slap you silly.

Maybe the combination of Botox and this new AFO will stop the pressure sores. I'm hoping. The next month will tell the tale.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

RIP Patches

It took me a while to write this and still it hurts. We lost my beloved Patches this week to liver and kidney cancers that we didn't know she had. It wasn't until we took her to the vet for drastic weight loss that we found out the cause.

She was our youngest daughter's cat that we got from the Humane Society. When our daughter went to college and was gone for six months, this cat warmed up to me rather than than attacked me. She was a 6-month old feral kitten that chose Jennifer at the shelter. She jumped onto Jennifer's shoulder and dared her to look at any other. We renamed her Patches rather than Pockets because her tortoise shell coloring. Mel later dubbed her "Apache"
because she always remained aloof and ready to attack. Being feral, she only took to Jennifer and sometimes my husband.

When she realized that Jennifer wasn't coming home for a while, she changed her manner towards me in small increments. She started being my escort to and from the house. When I was out in the yard, she was with me. A healthy six feet at least, but she was there. Her aloofness continued somewhat until two weeks before dying. She was never one to be held or cuddled. Instead she would lay on top of you while you slept, or up against you. I never quite knew whether it was a show of affection, or an effort to stay warm with shared body heat.

But then again, when my husband was finally bed bound, she lay beside him except for about three hours a day to take care of her business outside and eat. Even the Hospice aides had to work around her to do his care. She just couldn't be budged away from him. Even after they took his body away, she laid on the spot where he lay until they took his hospital bed away. Even then, she laid on his pile of sheets grieving his passing.

Why did we wait so long to get her into the vet? Once she heard the word vet, she'd go into hiding and wouldn't come out until after 5 PM. Safe from going and she knew it. We also had car trouble with our only vehicle that lasted a week, but that's another long, cockeyed story. Finally, she came out of hiding when Mel returned from the grocery store (long after her appt time). She was lying on the walkway. Too weak to even meow. She was badly dehydrated and she hadn't eaten all in her hiding place.

Being after 5PM, Mel hurriedly called the vet. Could we catch her and bring her in on Saturday morning. That night, we tried to entice her to eat with a can of tuna (people food not cat food). As much as she wanted it, she couldn't eat or drink. Later, Patches went to the water bowl on her own. She was too weak to lift her head long, but I watched her lap up some water. As the weight of her head pulled her nose under water, she raise up enough to rest her head on the dg food dish to allow the water to drain from her nose and mouth area. After a few minutes rest, she'd dip her head towards the water dish again to repeat the process. She finally stopped and lay down beside the water dish. I didn't expect her to live through the night.

During the night, Patches did something strange. She lay next to me. Crawl about six inches and lay her head on my available body part, stay there for a few minutes, and then move on. From the top of my head and back again. I thought it was Patches touching my body warding off evil because she would be able to protect and escort me anymore. Mel said, because she couldn't see that well that she was using my body as a reference point. It could be that both of us are right. We'll never know for sure.

airplaned ears
Saturday morning, I put Patches by the water bowl. She was still there when I returned from changing my clothes. I picked her up. Her ears airplaned because I was loving on her and she detested being cuddled. I gently put her in the carrier. She tried to scratch me and I made a shushing noise and put her in. She hated that carrier since she was in it for six hours on the move up here. She resigned herself to be carried in it. I had made a nice comfortable bed in it for her.

At the vet's office, the aide put the cat onto the scale...5.5! She'd lost half her body weight. Patches regular weight for the past five years has been around 10 lbs. She wasn't fat just a big, short haired cat. In her younger years, she weighed in at 15 lbs of muscles and bones, not fat. But, age has some strange ways. That and her lifestyle here with of plenty of tree to climb, rats and rabbits to catch, and two acres or more to roam of hilly terrain made her more svelte. Unlike her human counterparts.😸

After finding that her liver and kidneys had palpable masses, and the blood work, there was no question about it. Her kidneys and liver functions had shutdown. She was dying quite painfully of starving to death as the rest of her body caught up with her liver and kidneys. Tears coursed down my face as I denied a hospital admit to run IV fluids to bolster her up. There was simply no treatment for a cat this age. At 18 years old, I had to let her go. I rubbed her head as they gave her the injections and in a few short minutes,  she was gone.

RIP Patches. You had a life full of taking care of others. You deserve it. While you're up there, tell your "Daddy" I miss him too.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Silent Reflux

When I asked my surgeon why I was still having a hoarse voice and pressure where my enlarge thyroid was, he was stumped. The hoarseness was one of my symptoms of my thyroid cancer. The pressure he chocked up to scar tissue. For the hoarseness, he decided that a visit to an ENT (ears, nose, and throat doctor). It turns out that the hoarseness and pressure were cause by silent acid reflux.

By placing a camera through my nose and down to my trachea, the damage done by my stomach acid was evident. There were burns on my vocal cords. Unlike the GERD (heartburn type) that my internist pulled me off Plavix for leading to my stroke, this type of acid reflux had some strange symptoms like acne, persistent cough, sensation of post nasal drip, and trouble swallowing. The exact same complaints I told my PCP about stating my allergy meds weren't working.

A simple prescription of Pepcid rather than Prilosec actually fixed all these complaints. My allergy meds are working fine again. Plavix and Prilosec are contraindicated.  Pepcid over the counter is easy to come by, but the prescription product is in short supply. Monthly I'm having to call around to different pharmacies to get my 60 pills for my prescription. Over the counter, I can get the same thing but at the dosage the prescription is equaled to 120 tablets a month at a cost of $84 which my insurance won't cover. I pay $10 with my insurance.

Why the shortage of the prescription version? I had to go online to find out. It all has to do with Zantac being pulled from the market last year. All those patients plus new patients were switched to Pepcid. But you'd think after a year, the company would have figured out the production increase by now, wouldn't you? Well, they haven't. So I go through the list of the five pharmacies within a 20 mile radius of me each month praying somebody's got it. For the last three months I've been lucky and found it so far.

The fact is all of my symptoms of post nasal drip, acne, hoarseness, increased trouble swallowing, and that nagging cough disappeared within two weeks on this medicine. It was like a miracle cure for something I never knew I had wrong with me. But it fixed all the little things. Unlike the GERD I suffered with a dozen years ago, heartburn isn't one of the symptoms. In fact, the symptom that I had in common with the two was my inability to sleep on my back. With the GERD lying on my back brought on heartburn, while with the silent reflux, it brought on shortness of breath. I literally could not draw a full breath. This too has disappeared while taking this new medicine.

I can't tell you how relieved I am in spite of the difficulties in filling this prescription. Now if only the drug manufacturer would get it in gear so I won't have to go on a scavenger hunt each month for it, I'd be one happy camper.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Picking Figs and Cherries

This week I've had a song stuck in my head as I harvested the cherries and figs. Can anyone guess that song?

It's just one of those jingles from my childhood television watching. But as I picked the cherries and figs, it went round and round my head. Each time I picked one and dropped it in my five gallon bucket it made a plopping sound, and after a while, the juices made a slight fizzing sound.  

Mel thought I was crazy when I chopped the main trunks of these trees at four foot tall as they grew, but there was a rhyme to my reasoning.  I knew that when we would eventually espalier the trees or let them be, they'd be easy to harvest. The heavy fruit covered branches would almost sweep the ground. With careful pruning each winter, the new growth, where the fruit would grow, could be simple to harvest. "Ah! What a relief it is!"
Granted these trees were only planted three years ago so the harvests are small. I really didn't expect anything more than a couple jars of jam and some fresh eating until year five. Just like with the peaches, these trees flowered up beautifully in the spring. The bees were happy. They are still buzzing around the late bloomers. And just like the peaches, the fruits are about half the size they should be. It's been a crazy weather year for us with the winter chill and frosts not leaving us until mid June. Now, I've picked a five gallon bucket of each fruit this week! We are blessed!

By planning, I adjusted the height of these fruit trees around my limitations. Knowing my vertigo issues helped me do this planning. In caring (pruning/fertilizing) for these trees everything is no higher than my height. The same goes for harvesting. We will probably spend most of this winter espalier these trees. AKA, digging post holes and running wire to twist and tie the branches to before spring. I'd planned for posts every six feet and four strands of wire like we did four our raspberries, blackberries, and grapes. 

Yes, the end yield of harvestable fruit is reduced, but in actuality one tree would yield enough for us for several years in one regular tree left to it own devices. But I'll be able to harvest each fruit as it becomes ripe with no loss of unreachable fruits. By planting two of each kind of fruit provides better than average pollination (even with self fertile trees) and a better harvest. When insects or diseases strike at a tree, it will be much easier to handle too. If netting is needed to prevent birds from taking more than their fair share of fruit, It's much easier to throw netting over a 5' tree than a 20' tree even without disabilities. 
An expected bountiful harvest two years ahead of schedule was a welcome blessing with the cherries and fig trees producing this year. It may not be a fabulous harvest that it will be in a few years, but for us we are thankful. I'll end up with two more 5-gallon buckets full at least before I call an end to the harvest for putting the fruits by, but there will be several more weeks of fresh eating before the season is done.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Action/Reaction

With the virus still active in places and being in the high risk category, I've put off the idea of having the baclofen replaced. It's still simmering on a back burner. It would have been off the stove entirely if it hadn't worked so well.  I've got to do something about the pain the spasticity is causing.

Sitting around and waiting has never been an option for me when there's another action I can take. I've decided to take another round of Botox. It's scheduled for September 11th. It's been three years since I've voluntarily injected the poison into my body. While I'm looking forward to it/not looking forward to it, it is some relief to the immobility and pain. At this point 45 days out of 90 is better than nothing because three muscle relaxers aren't touching it.

In talking to the nurse yesterday, I'll be back to the 300 units for injections into my muscles. Since there has been a break in the cycle of injections, we discussed whether my body would reset back to square one was possible. It is entirely possible that the lower unit dose will hold for the entire 90 days between injection cycles for pain control and improved mobility with PT like it did 7 years ago. Here's hoping.

Others have told me that they don't understand my pain with my spasticity. They have spastic muscles also, but it does not cause them pain while mine seems off the charts. While the contracted muscles causes a tightening sensation, it's not what technically causes my pain levels to shoot me into space. So, I have been evaluating where exactly the pain is and what causes the pain to increase so much. I have discovered there are several sources.

Although I consciously try to minimize the actions that intensifies the pain that only accounts for less than 50%.
  1. Movement of the affected arm or leg while episodes of increased tightness is present. While the tightness or high tone is always present, sometimes are worse than others.
  2. Cramping of already tight muscles. Not just rhythmic waves of cramping (tolerable) but the sharp, "Charlie horse" cramping that accompanies a movement the spastic muscle does not like (weight bearing, leg in full extension, or moving it an inch this way or that) . Once started, the Charlie horse cramp takes on a life of its own. It demands the arm or leg be held in a certain spot or the cramp increases in intensity. This cycle can last two hours, takes a break, and then starts up again.
  3. Incident muscles and joints trapped between two spastic muscle groups. My trapezius, shoulder, and neck instantly come to mind. I recovered my shoulder muscles range of motion early after my first stroke. In spite of injuries, I still have that range of motion.  But its range of motion is limited by spastic bicep and pectoral muscles. So it wants and needs to move but can't. 
  4. Psuedo involuntary movements of spastic muscles like with coughs and sneezes cause additional contractions of these muscles and cause pain. Even the simple acts of of blowing your nose or clearing your throat takes the contraction affecting these muscles.
Then there's my list of 'try not to do. that cause pain. Things like hitting a chair with my affected arm's funny bone, which is decidedly unfunny, causes a rippling effect into spastic muscles. The dead weight of carrying a spastic limb also causes its own level of pain. I try, when seated at the table, to keep my elbow supported on the table. The brunt of the weight of my arm is no longer carried by my shoulder. But with movement, like taking a drink, my arm will slip from it's perch causing a jarring pain in my shoulder and bicep. While walking when the spasticity isn't too bad, I can hook my thumb into the waistband of my pants to relax or help support the weight of my arm. All bets are off when the spasticity is very bad and my arm is drawn up into my chest. All six or seven lbs of dead weight rely on my shoulder to carry it. Don't think that's not too bad? Try carrying a half a gallon of milk around all the time and you'll see what I mean.
So it's back to Botox for me again. One step forward and two back. Sigh! It's like my mama used to say, "There will always be an again."

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

The Danger of Being Labeled Noncompliant

You hear quite a bit about noncompliant behavior on the news in regards to the demonstrations going on in the country right now. But I'm talking about being noncompliant in your health care decisions. Especially when it comes living post stroke. Maybe, you were one of the lucky ones who recovered 100% or very close to all of your sensation and/or function after your stroke, this isn't directed towards you, but at the other 85% who weren't as blessed like me.

It's been 8 years since my first stroke left me paralyzed on my right side. Now, whatever I did recover has been nullified by post stroke spasticity and contractures.. That's despite being compliant and doing my rehab exercises religiously twice a day to the best of my abilities. My body just worked against me.

What do I mean by noncompliant?


[ non-kuh m-plahy-uh ns ]
failure or refusal to comply, as with a law, regulation, or term of a contract.

When I was discharged from the TCU (technical care unit) after my stroke, I was given written exercises to do at home once or twice daily. This was an implied contract. I did and still do them to the best of my ability. I was told why I needed to do them towards my recovering from the limitations of my stroke. I could stop them when recovery was made. Have I recovered yet? No, so I still do them even after eight years.
Now being human, we expect a reward for doing something good, right? We expect
to keep strengthening muscle and memory until the movement is there again. So you don't recover what was lost in the optimum 30 days or even the golden 60 days, you switch gears to the long run. You are no longer running a short sprint race, but a much long distance run. A 10K or 20K? Nobody knows for sure. But you keep at it because one day something may click just right in your brain and function will be restored.  It's a lottery, a chance, a hope, or a dream goal to strive for. And, you are still compliant with the first contract upon discharge 8 years ago.
What's the sense in keeping on doing it, if I can't recover what is lost? Only you can decide when all hope of recovery is lost. If you join the noncompliant group you may still recover, but then you'll be at a loss because muscle mass has been depleted. There are cases of recovery twenty years after a stroke.
What happens when you give up and refuse to be compliant? The physical therapist makes a note in your chart that you are noncompliant. How important is this little note? It will follow you the rest of your days. 
Don't believe me? Think back to your high school 
grades. If you knew then that the "D" you got in history would show up every time someone asked for a transcript, even in your 50s and played a part whether you got a job or promotion, you would have tried harder, wouldn't you try to get at least a "C"?  Sounds silly? It happened to me. It didn't matter a hill of beans that there was issues with the instructor. In trying to explain why, only emphasized my inability to work with others.
Anytime in the future when you need services, it will pop up. Your insurance company also receives a copy of this note and decides not to pay for future treatments. Every doctor that gets a copy of your rehab notes will see it and decide you shouldn't be their patient. Having that little "noncompliant" note can have a huge impact.
Think that a label can't hurt? One doctor dropped my husband from his services and worse yet, labeled him as a drug seeker. Now, my husband's current doctors looked at the label and laughed, and knew it wasn't true. But when looking for another doctor to replace him was next to near impossible.  The label hurt our search. I ended up calling in a favor to get him seen by a new specialist. After listening to his side of the story, this doctor kept him as a patient. We battled this label with every new doctor for ten years before my husband died. A note of "noncompliance" may not be as extreme as this case, but they follow you for decades.
Just a word of warning. Try your best and keep trying. You never know who is watching. You may be tired of trying, angry at a broken system, or involved with current situations that cause you to reach the point of giving up. I understand. I'm there too. But I won't always be here. Things tomorrow may change.

Nothing is impossible.
Just a word of warning.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Balance and Picking Peaches

Yesterday was my #3 daughter's 36th birthday and today is the 32nd anniversary of my mother's death. So it's kind of a bittersweet kind of day.

Since my first stroke I get some rather intense vertigo looking up. It's better than when I first had my stroke. Then, I couldn't look up or down without getting thrown off balance even a six-inch deviation of looking away from midline brought on the intense tilt-a-wheel sensation along with nausea.

I retrained my middle ear and brain connection by doing head rolls (looking at all points of the clock face) while seated. I actually used a clock on the wall initially positioned six inches above my line of sight. Initially, just that slight movement brought on the dizziness, but I kept at it by doing this exercise several times a day. When it didn't feel like I would fall out of my chair, I moved the clock position to correspond to my height standing and worked the exercise again. While seated, I expanded the exercises by moving the clock six inched below my midline. Whenever I could do the exercises without setting off my vertigo, I'd move the clock another 6-12 inches.

It's taken quite a few years to get where I do not get that sensation at all while looking down. I do get some when I have been looking down for a while and suddenly looking to midline. But it's only a matter of closing my eyes for a few seconds to realign my sight. Unfortunately, I've not have the same success with looking up. My maximum of looking straight up is a foot. Any distance greater than that the vertigo returns in full force.

Here's my dilemma and possible solutions. The peaches are ripe on one of three peach trees. They have to be harvested which means I have to look up and pick them. The peaches that hang within eye level or lower are no problem, but that's less than a quarter of them. All the rest are above my one foot line of vision. Now even I won't climb a ladder without support. If it requires a ladder, I'll have Mel pick them, or let the squirrels and birds have  them.

If I had two functioning hands, I could grab a branch and pull it lower to harvest, but I don't.  If I didn't get so dizzy when I looked up to the point of falling, it would not be an issue but I do. The idea of falling under a peach tree, feet from anything to assist me standing up is not ideal. Especially when the mechanism of the fall is disorientating vertigo. The mulch under the tree is damp to several inches of slick chipped leaves and wood, rotten fruit, and ants galore. A combination sure to make up an unstable foot placement for rising.  Will this stop me? Y'all know me better than that.

I sat on the porch swing and pondered the situation.  I've read about this homesteader who thought no fruit is ready until it falls from the tree. He put several thick layers of mulch under his trees to cushion the fruit, somewhat, when it fell. He just picked up whatever fell from the trees. That's all fine and dandy if you wanting only fresh eating or have planted harder fruit like apple, oranges, or rambutans. But fruits like figs, berries, and peaches are delicate fruit. They'll bruise badly if allowed to drop.

It doesn't work if you want to preserve the harvest unless you have a whole orchards of single fruit trees. It will take 2 to 3 peaches skinned, and cut into slices to fill a pint jar, and a canner load (water bath) is 8 jars. Most small homesteads have less than 20 fruit trees total. Plus if you wait until the fruit falls from the tree, it's too soft to can or freeze, it's overripe by those standards. My grandfather had twelve living children. He planted a cherry tree in honor of their births. At maturity, these trees produced more cherries than a family of FOURTEEN could eat in a year.

So back to my problem. I could take a big stick with a hook on the end to pick the fruit. This way I could stand at a distance making it within my one foot height restriction. I still might try this. Have you every tried controlling a long stick with one hand? The farther the stick is away from the body the harder it is to control. Let alone with a single hand. Plus, the fruit would hit the ground causing an unusable bruising spot that would have to be cut out while processing.

From there, my thoughts traveled to a more elaborate method. If I could somehow weight the stick, thereby hooking the branch, the weight could drop the fruit down where I could pick it without having to look up. I just have to figure out what to use for a weight. Maybe I could tuck the stick under my affected arm and slowly push it through as the branch lowers. But then, I'll end up with the peaches in my face.

I know I'll figure out something to get some of the peaches harvested for the pantry. They aren't particularly sweet nor large, but they are definitely peachy this year. But they are ours and the first time more abundant than the squirrels and birds can eat. They'd make some excellent jam. I can still go down the road to E.D. Grier's orchard and buy a half bushel of gorgeous peaches for slicing and canning.

Any of y'all have any ideas of how I can pick my peaches? I still have cherries to pick in a few weeks and apples to follow.

Nothing is impossible. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Help to Keep Walking on MY Feet

As y'all know I'm waiting on yet another approval for a new AFO. These braces are just too expensive ($1500) to pay out of pocket for one.  Don't we all have a bag of money just lying around collecting dust. I don't know anyone on Social Security Disability that could afford it. So I call, and sit and wait.

Actually, I don't just sit around. I'm "working and walking" here. I've got critters and a garden to tend, and a harvest to process so we can eat. It just makes economic sense and cents. A $3.00 packet of seeds produces enough green beans to feed us for year. I don't know how groceries prices are in your neck of the woods, but you just can't buy that many pounds of fresh, cans or bags of frozen green beans for $3.00 these days even on sales. I'm talking about 208 servings worth of this one vegetable for us two widow folk on this homestead for a year's worth. That's not counting the beans that go into soups, stews, etc. Alright, I spent $9 on three packets of seeds, but even at that, you'd be hard pressed to do it.

The chickens provided us compost to feed the plants and their egg shells provided the calcium so the tomatoes and squashes do not get bottom rot on them. Heck, the chickens even scratched it all into the soil two inches deep for me. They more than pay for their keep. They feed us with eggs and meat. There's even enough eggs to sell to get some pennies in our pockets. Plus, they offers us their daily chicken "tv" show from dawn to dusk for our entertainment. We love to watch the Silkie, the smallest hen and is the lowest in the hen's pecking order, bosses the rooster around the yard. Now that the rooster has all the girls (16 hens) to look after, he doesn't have the time to attack me. Meanwhile, he's loving all the attention. They're like all those girls fawning and fainting over Elvis Presley... in my day. "Elvis, oh, Elvis!" Yes, I was one of those girls too.

Mel swears that all the dinosaur sounds for the  Jurassic Park movie was made by chickens. After ten years of raising chickens, I can believe that. But they are one of the critters I care for, feed, water and gather their eggs each day. So I'm up and doing. The quail aren't as entertaining.

While waiting on Medicare to making a decision, I'm changing my AFO between AFO #1, #2, and #3 about every three hours just so I can keep walking and doing. Before the sun comes up, I'm making bread and breakfast. Sun up, I'm in the garden weeding, watering, tending, and harvesting the crops trying to beat the heat of the day. I'm tending to the cats, dogs, and chickens. Lastly, I'm preserving the harvest for the rest of the day. There's harvest that goes into the dehydrators, processed for canning and freezing, and making our main meal of the day.

While processing the vegetables, I've got my AFO off while I'm seated on a stool. I've got my affected leg and foot propped up n the counter. Not very lady-like or sanitary, but it works. It's not higher than my heart, but it's the best I can do for an hour or two. The brace gets (now I'm starting over with AFO#1 again. The main difficulty is that my foot starts hurting after 30 minutes, and I have to stop and change braces. By the time dinner is fixed, all my braces hurt my foot. I'll plop myself into a chair uttering a small, "ouch" with every step along the way. Changing braces only gets me five minutes of wear now. I make it up the two steps from the back porch into the house after our television time (2 1/2 hours) Currently, we are watching "Arrow" and the new season of "The Protector" having finally watched the last "Supernatural." I pull my shoe off and loosen my AFO as I sit in front of my computer to blog, watch YouTube, and answer emails. At this point I'm willing my foot not to hurt until I take my bedtime medication...not that it relieves the pain, but I can finally take the brace off and go to bed. It's the only way my foot stops hurting.

But it's not off to a peaceful slumber yet, I pry the AFO off my foot. My foot is now red and swollen. I pull off my sock and survey the damage the day has wrought on my foot, ankle, and calf. I grab my lotion and massage all the really red pressure points of all the AFOs. I'll continue this until the circulation is restored and the redness dims to a rosy pink. I'll give the unaffected leg a cursory rubdown because the diabetic neuropathy is raging with redness and the customary pins and needles. I know if I don't do this, I'll be rudely awakened with leg cramps within a few hours. My foot needs at least four hours of no pressure to stop hurting. How do I know this? It was trials and errors at various time lengths between bathroom trips. Six to eight hours of heart lower than my foot and no AFO is the rare occurrence but it's the best with my schedule and bladder.

It's been a month already. I've been calling Hanger every two days to check on progress of which there is none. Can I do less while waiting? Yes, but I'd be thoroughly bored and stir crazy like last year. I also can't afford to slow down and eat this winter neither. HELP! What else can I do? I can't ask Mel to take over my job too. Her to-do list is as long as mine.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Taking a Stroke Break

Imagine my surprise when Vergie at the top of our driveway called that she had a package for me. It was my power supply for my computer! It arrived Friday instead of Monday as promised.

This summer is proving to be more hectic with the garden and orchard than I thought it would be. A meager green peas harvest aside, the rest of the garden is proving to be kicking my hinny with its care, harvesting, preserving, and the heat.

Yes, the Georgia heat of summer is upon us finally. It only took until June 24th into break the 80s. Since then, the garden has exploded with growth both good and bad. So I'm taking a break from writing about strokes. There's no news anyhow. I'm still in a holding pattern for my new AFO and stuck changing out my current AFOs during the day to get anything accomplished. Even with that by 7PM, I'm done and all my AFOs hurt my foot.

I've harvested almost three bushels (120 lbs) of green beans already! I met my quota, and then some for a year's worth of green beans canned (104 jars), and froze a lot for later combination canning like for vegetable soups, French fried, and pot pies, etc. The rest of the green beans I'll pick is for fresh eating and seed until the first heavy frost kills the plants.

The next major harvest will be tomatoes, corn, and squashes. The tomatoes I'll wash, core, cut any bad spots, placed in 2-gallon bags, and frozen until this winter. The squashes will be washed, bagged, and frozen until we want to use them. I rarely can summer squashes because they are mostly water and become mush. I plan to can zucchini bread. It's baked in canning jars and sealed. It'll stay fresh this way on the shelf for a year or more. I've got two cases of wide mouth canning jars set aside for this purpose. They will join the two cases of jars full of banana bread I canned earlier in the spring. It's mighty handy when we want something sweet for breakfast or something sweet anytime.  All I have to do is pop a lid and serve it. I also use zucchini for my relish recipe (6 pint jars) instead of cucumbers.

I'll be canning/dry storing potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and other items. I'll be fermenting
kimchi and sauerkraut. I'll be or am dehydrating and freezing peppers and herbs (40 lbs so far). I'll be mixing my spice blends. Picking and processing cherries, peaches, and figs for later enjoyment into jams, jellies, butters, whole fruit, and pie fillings. The list goes on and on. That's only the spring/summer harvests with the fall harvest of apples, cabbages, daikon radishes, ginger, turmeric, seed stock, dent corn to go before the frost. The kicker is that I don't have the stamina of two years ago. But slowly, I'm getting it done. One step at a time. I'm just hating the fact that I'm slowing down and only part can be blamed on my AFO woes.

I've planted another six cucumber plants this week. The previous three drowned. I need the cucumbers to pickle into dills and bread and butter pickles (12 jars of each). Of course, I'll need to pull up some garlic and onions, and let them cure for a week before I can start pickling. I'm just praying I have enough cucumbers before the first frost kills off the vines. But I'll also need grape leaves and fresh dill. So it's imperative to pick these and can my pickles before the frost.

I'll also have to wait until some of my celery to bolt so I can use the seeds and still have some to plant for next year. Home canning with your own produce is a hurry up and wait game. It all depends on Mother Nature.

The second one I completed
One good thing came about from my computer being down for almost two weeks. I built up the dexterity in my left hand some what. I downloaded an aps for a paint by numbers. I had to use the pen/stylus that came with my phone to "paint" the pictures. It's a far cry from painting or drawing free hand like I used to, but it was a way to exercise fine motor skills with my damaged left hand. Being it was on my phone I could only zoom the picture so big so some of it was pretty difficult and took a lot of focused concentration. It surprised me how much it took and it was actually challenges me enough to hold my attention. I've decided to at least one a day for the rest of the year. Who know where this will lead.

Nothing is impossible.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

$Sunday Stroke Survival: New Way of Blogging ARGH!

Short and sweet this week. I'"e made no secret o# my current situation and my difficultly, hence distain, for new ways of doing things.

Last week the community dog, Frankie, chewed through my power supply cor for my computer,, new shoes, my AFO strap, and the box holding my landscape pins all within an hour of being left alone.

After a week wait of it "not in stock on Amazon, I was  able to order it. This blog is coming to you via my phone. YUCK!

The new power supply cord should be here on Monday

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival:I Just Figured It Out, DOH!

For years, since my first stroke in 2012, I've found it hard to explain my right foot's response to touch. Whenever I or some else touches my right (affected) foot up to just above the knee something goes haywire with the response to the sensation. Unless the foot is in full spasticity mode (weight bearing), it moves away from, or behaves badly in extreme movements (think violent bouncing ball type motion) until it ultimately goes into a clonus tremor. That's with a light touch, because with a firm touch it goes into solidly spastic mode and won't move at all. My response was cockeyed. Other than that, I couldn't figure out how to describe it effectively with my aphasia.

I finally figured it out. It's called a hypersensitive response to light touching. I didn't realize that hypersensitivity could happen post stroke. I only knew of feeling nothing and have feeling was possible. Chock it up to something else up they never taught me in nursing school or find anywhere else. Just like a sudden drop in blood sugar was a sign of a stroke. Or, at least it was for me Ms Abby Normal.

Reinforcing a new relearned word.
By writing about it, it helps me reinforcing the relearned word into my memory. It's one of the "tricks" I used with my youngest daughter after her TBI. Say it three times, write a sentence about it, and use it in a sentence. Her last thing to reinforce it was to use it properly for a week three times, this could be verbally or in writing. Sometime in the next month, I'd ask her for the word giving no clues. So I do the same thing for myself when dealing with my aphasia too. Makes sense, right?
(I decided to emphasize tools that helped  me conquer my limitations due to my stroke. So from now on, it will appear like this)

Getting back to my hypersensitivity. Now, I can talk about my limitations, or responses to what's happening using correct words rather than cockeyed, goes nuts, or goes wonky. Although those words describes what's happening. I wonder if I used hypersensitive with my chiropractor eight years ago, would he have tested my knee reflex differently? Would he have rolled backed up a bit on his stool so he wouldn't have been kicked in face? Hmm, I wonder!😘I wuv u Mr. Dr. Crowley! His wife is a chiropractor in the office too. This is the way I distinguished between them.

A lot can be said for having the proper word for a symptom or expression. The other words I used in place of hypersensitive although they meant a similar thing, didn't quite mean the same thing. They weren't descriptive enough in the above case. This was especially true because the person in question was used to me being medically trained. Even though he was told that I suffered with aphasia from my stroke, the words I used, goes nuts, didn't prepare him for what was about to happen. He didn't understand aphasia-speech or thought he did.

So now I own "hypersensitive" again and can use it properly. I own it until another stroke knocks it out of me again. In the future, doctors testing my reflexes are warned. Therapist also! I feel better that I've regained a correct, more descriptive word. With one word at a time, I beat my aphasia back another notch.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Great News for a Change!

I hope y'all celebrated the 4th of July and your independence yesterday. I know I did.
I've been doing the Snoopy dance of happiness this week.  Here's the reason why...

1)The latest scan of my thyroid cancer say it's GONE. The chemo kicked it's hinny right out of my body again.

2)I went to my Vascular surgeon for another scan of my right carotid artery. The report was the artery is less than 70% blocked so no surgery is required. He doesn't need to see me again for a year.

3) I saw my cardiologist for the results of my echocardiogram. My numbers looked so good that he doesn't need to see me again for 6 months! I've seen my cardiologist every 3 months for the past 5 years. He told me whatever I was doing to keep it up.

4) I saw my PCP this week also. It's been a whirlwind of appointments this week. I was in his office just two months ago for my six month check up, but my insurance company requested a physical be done now.  So we chatted/griped about insurance and big pharma. LOL He went through the motions again for a "physical." He said what he always does which I love, "Call me if you need me."

I still need to see my neurologist in two weeks for my standard six month check up. Now that the quarantine has been lifted I need an order for PT again. I also want to schedule Botox again. I desperately need some relief from the spasticity even if it's only 45 days out of 90. It's a stop gap measure until I figure out what else there is. Atlanta is still too hot with COVID-19 to even consider getting another baclofen pump. Not that I've decided to get another one.

I see the endocrinologist it late August about my gone again thyroid and my hypoglyclemia. My A1C on Monday was 4.2. I'm eating 6 times a day already. Maybe she can tell me why my stroke caused my pancreas to go from dead to kick into hyperdrive. No other doctor including my old endocrinologist knew the answer. Maybe, just maybe. I guess I should be thankful for not giving myself two to three shots of insulin a day like before my first stroke in 2012.

So y'all joined me in the Snoopy dance of happiness, won't you?

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: The Eyes Have It

It's been it's a week of vision woes for me. Mel's service cat, Whirling Dervish, has had a lifetime of sinus troubles and allergies. Her lion type infected sneezes has been the cause of my last two sinus infections. She loves to share so much!

Unfortunately, she doesn't get better after she shares it like with a cold. Our lower cabinets, walls, and laptop screens are covered in what Mel calls 'Derv's snot art.' We are constantly cleaning it off.

The weather hasn't cooperated one bit this year was a very rainy spring. Hello leaf mold which sets both off. It's a regular symphony of congested sneezes. As luck would have it last week, One of Derv's sneezes caught ne in the face. As usual I washed up with soap and warm water, and didn't think anymore about it until two days later.

I awoke to a swollen and caked shut right eye, After carefully dousing the eye with warm water, I managed to clear the eye enough to open my eye. There at the corner of the eye was pus. Then came the treatment phase. Three to four times a day I applied warm compresses to the eye. Next came the expressing the infection by running two fingers from the outside corner of each lid towards the nose. Each time, I repeated this maneuver until I couldn't express any more pus out of it. Each day the pressure on my eyeball lessened. After three days, the swelling, soreness, and I couldn't express anymore pus out of the lids. I deemed myself cured  and went outside to garden...not that I wasn't gardening with this going on.

In the garden, it was a buzz with various pollinators and mosquitoes flying about. I was intent on picking chicken greens. To other non-homesteading folks, it's called weeding. As I gathered the greens the pollinators buzzed all around me. One flew under the brim of my straw hat and came close to my left eye, I swatted it away with my gloved hand and continued pulling the greens. I was rushing to fill the 5-gallon bucket because I had an echocardiogram appointment. I fed the chickens their greens and Mel was rushing me to come on.  I went into house, washed my hands, and threw some water on my face. Grabbing a paper towel, I wiped my face dry as I headed out the door.

As we drove to the cardiologist's office I noticed a painful stinging sensation by my eye. I pulled down the mirror on the visor and took a look at the spot. The lower lid was red and swollen. Although it was painful to the touch, it itched something crazy. I had no idea what had bitten or stung me. The one thing I knew for certain was it wasn't a bee sting. I'm deathly allergic to those and my breathing wasn't compromised within 15 minutes as usual.

When we got home, my eye was almost swollen shut. I applied ice to my eye to reduce the swelling. A small blister had formed at the bite/sting area. During the night it had ruptured leaving a tiny ulcer about 1/16th of inch below the lashes. I spent the next couple days applying ice to reduce the swelling. The ulcer didn't close and kept oozing. I put pressure on either side of the ulcer and could see a tiny white speck in the center of opening. I took a Q-tip soaked with hydrogen peroxide and scraped the ulcer to remove it. Getting hydrogen peroxide in your eye is a whole lot less painful than alcohol.

By removing that speck of pus/venom/whatever it was, healing started within hours. The swelling and redness lessened as did the itchy feel. Within days, the ulcer healed over and I was finally able to see clearly out of my left eye again. So this past week...the eyes had it. Hopefully next week will be better.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: My AFO AGAIN!!!!

Okay, I got my new AFO. I did the swap out of time 1 hour a day, 3 hours a day, and 6 hours a day so my leg and foot become used to the new alignment. After that, it's twelve hours of wear, but I never made it that far. Somewhere around the 8 hour mark I noticed how swollen my foot was. Taking my shoe and sock of I noticed how ugly and red my ankle was. You guessed it, another pressure sore formed just under my ankle bone.

I took the AFO and threw it across the room. This was a huge mistake because I had neither of my old AFOs within reach. I had to call Mel to retrieve one out of my closet before I could tend to the wound. Yes, in just 8 hours the sore had formed and actually partially ruptured. Needless to say, Mel threw the chuck steaks and Vidalia onions on the grill, and made the salad to go along with it. I was down for the count.

I called Hanger the next morning for an appointment on May 5th. As usual, it's mid June! So I'm back to switching AFOs again between the three I have. The oldest one causes stress fractures, a pressure sore on the bottom right side of my foot. The new/old one causes a pressure sore at the base of big toe and puts way too much pressure on the bone spur at the pinky toe. Both of these older braces do not hold my foot straight anymore. My foot rotates inward about 78 degrees inside the AFO which makes walking precarious. Now this newest one puts a pressure sore at my ankle. I've spent the past month juggling three AFOs

I had half jokingly said to my old orthotic specialist, it would be easier to amputate the foot and fit an artificial foot than it is to get a good fitting AFO. During the COVID-19 break in service, my regular specialist was transferred to another branch. So I had to break in a new one. I asked if I didn't like this new one could I get another one and was told yes. My old specialist and I butted heads once too often towards the end over which was more important (her) proper alignment and (me) comfort (no pain nor pressure sores) and the ability to do. So the prospect of a new specialist didn't break my heart one bit. An AFO, no matter if it gave me a proper alignment or not, didn't work if I spent more time off my feet and facing yet another pressure sore. The first thing I asked the new specialist was what was more important. She agreed with me. Okay, that's a step in the right direction.

The fact is I'm combating worsening spasticity. While not technically a diabetic anymore, I'm still dealing with diabetic neuropathy and poor circulation in both feet. I'm actually doing battle (or Hanger and my PCP is for me) with Medicare and my BCBS because I need to be fitted with a NEW AFO in less than a year. This makes my sixth in 8 years.  Am I wrong to feel like this is getting ridiculous??!!

The good news is that Medicare will pay for a new pair of shoes to go with my new AFO. The new specialist versus the billing person found the loophole that was used every other time I'd ordered shoes that they used. Repeated calluses and pressure sores qualifies me under both Medicare and my BCBS. Darn billing person cost me $120 out of pocket buying my own shoes last month. I should charge her. Did I mention they had a new billing person too? GRRR! But then again, I'll have two pairs of shoes if the rockers stay the same.

Whooosa! If you haven't seen Bad Boys 2 this will be lost on you. Suffice to say, breathe, this too shall pass. I don't know when I'll be casted for the new AFO. So until then, I'll be juggling between my three AFOs while I continue to plant and harvest my garden, tend the critters, go through treatments, and just carry on with life.

Nothing is impossible.