Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Listen to What Your Body is Telling You

I've spent decades listening to what my body is telling me. It's not that hard. But the difficulty lies in deciphering what the root message is. When your body needs something, it tells you in cravings. It's unlike some of the weird sudden cravings you get during pregnancy.

I give in to my cravings food wise with moderation. Does that surprise you? I long ago learned to listen to my body and trust what it was saying to me. Namely, something is lacking in my diet that my body needs. Numerous blood tests will backup this suppositions.

For months now, I have been craving peanut butter. I mean, I was eating 4 pounds of the stuff every month. So I put on my investigator cap. Remember, that I'm a nerd that loves researching, and really don't have much else to do.  So what does peanut butter have in it that my body could want? Other than fat...
  • Protein. Peanut butter contains 7.02 grams (g) of protein per 2-tbsp serving. This counts toward the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for women of 46 g and 56 g for men, which varies by age and activity level.
  • Magnesium. With 57 milligrams (mg) of magnesium, each serving helps towards the RDA of 400–420 mg in men and 310–320 in women. Magnesium is essential for health, playing a role in over 300 chemical processes in the body.
  • Phosphorous. Each serving contains 107 mg of phosphorus, which is about 15.3 percent of the RDA of 700 mg for adults. Phosphorus helps the body to build healthy cells and bones and helps cells to produce energy.
  • Zinc. A serving of peanut butter provides 0.85 mg of zinc. This is 7.7 percent of the recommended daily intake of 11 mg for men, and 10.6 percent of the RDA of 8 mg for women. Zinc is necessary for immunity, protein synthesis, and DNA formation.
  • Niacin. Peanut butter contains 4.21 mg of niacin per serving, which makes a useful contribution towards a person's recommended intake of 14 to 16 mg. Niacin benefits digestion and nerve function and helps produce energy.
  • Vitamin B-6. With 0.17 g of vitamin B-6 per serving, peanut butter provides almost 14 percent of an adult's RDA of 1.3 mg. Vitamin B-6 plays a role in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body and may be necessary for heart and immune system health.
(copied from

I pulled a copies of my last two blood tests and compared results. Areas that was higher and lower were noted. Then, looking back with my calendar, I could pin point what was happening had happened in my life that could attribute to the changes.

The blood tests-My protein level was unchanged so it couldn't be that. But, as I did a side by side comparison the magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins (b-3 niacin and 6), and zinc were lower in the most recent blood test. They were still in the normal range, but at the lower end of the scale. Not enough to ring the alarm bells with the doctor, but my body knew.

I searched for a lower fat option. A lot of times my body will substitute a craving for the first available option that is easily recognizable. But this time, other than eating several different things, peanut butter was the answer. Now before looking on the internet or product label, I didn't know/remember all of this. I'm good, but not THAT good.

So what was happening in my life at the time, I was under stress and not sleeping well. Cancer has a way of doing that. My cardiologist stopped my Potassium and Magnesium supplements because they stopped my Lasix, diuretic. I started on two new medicines: one to raise my heart rate and blood pressure, and one to control the high blood pressure within my heart. I had cold like symptoms because of my allergies and the unseasonably strange weather. I also fought off a bladder and sinus infections. I had a thyroidectomy and took high doses of radiation. In other words, my life was up in the air, twisting around like crazy.

I take what my body tells me very seriously unless I'm craving chocolate cake or cookies. (grinning) I analyze my cravings to as you can tell. Just to be sure. I've been on a low sodium diet since 2002. But with my heart rates and blood pressure being so low, I now crave salty things like potato chips and salted peanuts. I let myself have them in moderation at bedtime when my blood pressure naturally falls.

My body is craving milk products and broccoli now. Why? My last bone scan showed I was starting to show signs of osteoporosis. But, the cravings started six months before my bone density scan.

So how do you listen to what your body is telling you? You've only got one body and it is your temple. You nurture it. It will tell you what it needs to give you the best possible outcome. You just have to do focused listening and analyze what it's telling you. Having had courses in nutrition, helps, but the internet is full of information about vitamins and minerals that your body needs to work properly. By listening to my body could I have circumvented my strokes and even my heart attacks...partially. A proper diet, exercise, and the right course of treatments would have helped. I was too busy at the time to really listen to what my body was trying to tell me. I also have a trunk full of family history pointing to predispositions for these. You might be able to beat the family history, but it's unlikely. But, forewarned is forearmed. My sister has escaped some of it until she turned sixty then the dam broke. Still that ain't bad. Better than me who started with cursed genetics at twenty-six.

Other ways your body is talking to you is aches and pains. If the next day you are feeling worse for wear, next time try a little less. At my age, a fall takes two days to recover from so I try not to fall. After a stroke, falling is not an if it will happen crap shoot, but when it happens. Because, you will fall no matter how careful you are. All's it takes is an invisible piece of lint on the floor or over reaching. The craziest things seem to work against you.

I do my utmost to prevent falls and mapping out in my head how to get back up again. How to get upright again on your own is very important. There always isn't a handy chair around you to help with this.

Is there one spot in your house or yard that trips you up constantly? There are several for me. My ramps outside my house is a big one for me, especially after rain or snow. I positions height friendly chairs close to where I usually land or use the grooved stairs. What's a   height friendly chair, ice chest, or anything? A sturdy (can bear your weight at any angle) item at abut elbow high. If I can get my functioning elbow on a surface, I can straighten my feet to rise by using the item for support, then my hand can lift me all the way to upright. See, prewarned is prearmed. For height differences in flooring, a piece of tape or a painted line works wonderfully. It physically denotes a change to cue me to raise my affected foot higher or hold something so I don't trip or throw myself off balance. But even with these precautions, it the little stupid things that cause falls. But I digress.

In short, try listening to your body. It's telling you what it needs to remain working in tip top shape.  It just takes practice.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sunday Strke Survival: Urinary Incontinence Retraining

No, I don't wear XL
So it begins again! Back in October, I talked about my routine of changing my diapers with the cooler weather. Well, here it is almost the end of January and I'm just so over it! The circus act of changing my diaper, undressing and dressing and all of it. It's time t retrain my bladder.It started when I found urinary pads abut the same price as my diapers were. On a fixed income, price for these incidentals is important. While I still had a bag of of diapers left, I was buying them by the case, I bought a bag these urinary pads. I always found them too expensive to buy them before I found the Seni brand at my local grocery store. They were the same price
of my usual Always maxi pads and my diapers. I decided to give them a try. I'd use my diapers at night and on trips out until I got farther into my retraining program.

I started with Elevator, Kegel, exercises to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles and watching the clock. I set the alarm on my phone for every hour. I've been at it a month now. It's still a hit or miss as far as making it to the bathroom in time, but the urinary pads absorbs urine quicker. With doing just the Kegel exercises, my pelvic floor is getting stronger, but with the lack of feeling in that area is still problematic. The 3-second warning that I have to urinate (tug around my navel) remains the same. I'm not sure how to fix this. For now, I'm ignoring it by using the clock.

Fluid intake monitoring is also part of retraining my bladder. I have to be careful with this because of my kidney problems and episodes of low blood pressures. Yes, the low blood pressure blessing still continues, but it's a double edged sword. Especially at night when it's normal for blood pressures to drop. For me, the drop is dangerously low (40s) even with the medication.

Each month, I'll add ten minutes to the timer as long as I don't have an accident. So that's the plan. Let the retraining begin. I'm thinking like this is a Olympic event rather than what it is...retraining my bladder function yet again. It's whatever I tell myself to get through this. With each new stroke I have setting me back some, the term relearning gets old fast. The do-over gets tiring, but I keep at it. Why? Because, I'm too mean to die, too stubborn to give up, but must most importantly my life is in God's hands. As such, I'll continue to live this life as fully as I can.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: What to Say to Rude Folks

I've been impaired, in one way or another for close to three decades. I've got "bionic" joints, have had my spine rebuilt, and now strokes. I only wish my "bionic" joints worked as well as they did for the Six Million/Billion Dollar Man (1973/2020 respectively), but all in all, they work almost as well as the original parts. At least I'm not in excruciating pain with them only a nagging ache when the weather turns.

In all those years, I've run into several rather rude, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior in others. There are the well meaning folk, nosy folk, helpful advice folk, snide folk, and the down right obnoxious folk. It takes all kinds to run this world, I guess. I do my best to ignore them, but sometimes, their comments just hit me the wrong way or I reached my limit four folks ago and I blast them. I've written about a few episodes here.

As a minister, I preach to turn the other cheek (rather than retaliation) and I know I should. But I'm only human. My cheeks get mighty sore. I think of Jesus and what he endured before the cross and try to emulate Him, but I fail. Repeatedly, I fail. Then instead of being forgiving,  I'll either seethe with anger over the incident, or kick myself for not turning the other cheek. Usually it's both when the anger dissipates.We are our own worse enemies. Nobody could beat us up better than ourselves. Sound familiar?

Still I can't stop my mouth. Almost never with a curse words, instead I usually use words that drip from my tongue like honey from a spoon. For those that know me well start looking for cover when they hear it. I learned long ago to use diplomatic words when confronting an enemy. I refuse to stoop to their level by using crude, harsh words. The nosy, and trying to be helpful folk out there will get your meaning rather quickly.

The outright rude and obnoxious folks won't. For them, I use a different tact. First, I ignore them. Some people won't be ignored or back down. Second, I confront them. "What in the devil is your deal?" With this one be prepared to listen to all the wrongs the world has done them. Don't try to fix his problems. Be aware that you are not the cause. Simply ask, "What exactly did I do to you to deserve this treatment?" By this time, he is flabbergasted and probably speechless. Simply thank him for his honesty and remind him that change begins with him. Be sure to add, "Have a blessed day" as you turn to leave.

Another tactic I have used is offering to trade places. I know how rough living is in the replacement part, cancer, a failing heart, and a partially paralyzed body is. Not many folks have been through the battles I have. I usually win this one. (grinning) Of course this means having to explain what he's trading for and him ready to listen. After this comparison, most will scuff imaginary dust from their pants and murmur, "No, thanks" before they walk away especially after last year.

Now dealing with bullies is another thing. I just refuse to engage. When confronted with a bully, I've dealt with more than my fair share where there was no out. Nine times out of ten, they will be screaming at the top of their lungs. Screaming back at him will do no good because he's not listening.  He makes himself a "bigger man" by making you feel or look smaller. Don't stoop to his level.

Brace yourself and keep calm even if you are scared out of your wits. By his behavior he will likely draw a crowd. That's what he'll love. In his mind, he is growing in stature and respect even though just the opposite is true. He may ball his fists at you, and then you've got him. Simply say in a calm voice, "That's assault." With a crowd (or a witness) around you, simply walk away if you can. Be ready for the grab or shove, because its coming. When it does, say "That's battery. How long do you want to stay in jail for?" Hopefully by now, someone has called the police.

Be aware that I use the pronoun for a male, but it can be a female. No one can take away your rights to be unless you give it to them. Remember that. You are a special and unique individual. These types of intrusions into your life disrupts your life only if you let it.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Stretching the Limits~ Oops!

A few weeks ago, I told you about stretching my limits picking up twigs and branches.  Well, I did it several times since then. I've now achieved the ten-foot mark from the top of the ravine at a 45 degree downward angle. I've actually done this several times this week. Of course, there were trees and undergrowth to assist me also.

I'm still testing my limits. I'm hoping to make it the whole 600+ feet down to the creek this year. Well, okay, it might be a two-year goal. I haven't found the right spot yet to do it safely without a three-foot or larger drop offs along my path. I'm thinking the more I test my limits, the more I can accomplish. I haven't been everywhere yet on this property yet.

our cockeyed homestead, CRAZY prop. lines
I do know on the western edge of the orchard(top left dog leg), there is a 20-foot drop off down, and then slopes to the creek. I can see the creek bed but not fool hardy enough to attempt it even on the yard tractor. A zip line with a swing or rappelling gear possibly. Nah, not at my age...maybe twenty years ago I'd try it, but then it was pre-strokes. Now, I'm too old and safety conscience.

That leaves the only possibility of my reaching the creek is the south to southeastern side. The left line is the ravine I'm talking about. Luckily, the property is heavily treed. Otherwise, I wouldn't even attempt it. So as you can see from the picture. This aerial shot the longest, semi straight line is the ravine I'm taking about. The creek runs from the bottom corner point up to the uppermost dog leg at the top of the screen and forms our property lines. Some CRAZY property lines, huh? But anyhow, you can actually see where I'm trying to go. It's almost an acre of land away from the house...all downhill.

I know your asking what the oops was about in the title. Well, on one particular slope I fell coming back up the slope. It was a choice of either a hard fall or semi controlled fall. I was about 6' from the top. I lost my balance enough that the small shrub I was grabbing couldn't hold my balance. I barely missed the holly bush by inches with my affected knee where I landed. I congratulated myself on such a controlled fall.

I hand and kneed it crawled up the slope about three feet to a tree. Then, I was able to stand up. It's a neat trick on a upward slope and an AFO clad foot. But I did it. No cuts nor bruises, only my pride was hurt. Of course, the rough treatment to my body caused my spasticity to worsen until the next day and my body hurt all over.

It's been about a week since this incident and I still haven't ventured down that far again. It's not fear because I'll do it again if the need or inclination hits. We've had a rainy wind storm this week, which has given me ample sticks and branches on fairly level ground to pick up. I'm actually working smarter instead of harder. They become a fall hazard when the last few leaves on the trees fall. Soon there will be snow and ice to make walking hazardous enough without wet leaves covering up sticks and branches too.

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy Birthday, Mom

Happy New Years Day, Everyone!

Did you stay up late and celebrate ringing the new year in?

At my age and lifestyle, NO.  

I've just celebrated the ringing of the new year snuggled in deep into my quilt. Six AM comes way too early to soar with my chickens and bunnies. There's bread to bake, animals to water and feed, and too much to do to stay up so late. At my age, I've just rung in too many years in party hopping and toasting in the new year at the stroke of midnight.

There was always another reason for staying up late on New Year's Eve and it had nothing to do with the actual new year's celebration. She was born 1/1/32. Ever since my sister and I grew up, and moved away from home, we had a friendly competition going...who would be the first to wish our mom happy birthday. Later with addition of seven brothers and sisters, the competition grew quite frenzied. Old Ma Bell worked overtime with the busy signals. This was prior to call waiting.

Being the oldest and wisest (er, um, cough cough), I started calling mom five minutes before midnight and chat with her before midnight. So I'd be the first to wish her happy birthday. The other kids got wise to this and started calling before midnight. But me being a smarty pants just extended the time back by five minutes each year. Before mom died, I was having to call mom an hour earlier.

So today is spent deep in memories of my life with with my mother. For most of my brothers and sisters had other mothers, but my little sister and I this was our only mother in spite of my father remarrying. My dad and step-mother have been married now longer than my parents were, but that doesn't matter to us. Mom was my mother for 30 years or just under half my life. I was extremely blessed to have her that long.

Happy Birthday, Mom! praying heavenward.
I'm probably not the first this year, but I'll betcha nobody else blogged about her today.
None of my siblings has a blog or personal website. So I beat y'all again!(grinning)