Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Weather, Tornados, and The Three Little Pigs

I'll bet the weird title made you click on it thinking, What in the world is going on now? If you think about what these things have in common, you'd think of strong winds. You'd be partially right. Or, I could be spouting a lot of hot air in a windy, winding, wordy sort of way. Keep reading.

In the past several weeks, Mother Nature has been in PMS mode. April showers begins May flowers, but it's only February. Surrounding counties as well as ours have been under daily flash flood warnings.  I'm not worried yet. Our creek is 600 ft below us. Now if that threatens to flood us, we better have an ark!

This has been the strangest winter on record. One it's in almost 70 degrees with torrential rains, and the next day brought eight inches of snow! Followed by the next day with 60 degree temps and rain with flash flood warnings. We haven't had two days of sunshine in a row in two months. On the days the sun does appear, we've been hit with wind gusts in excess of 50 miles an hour!

I'll bet you  are wondering what this weather report has to do with post stroke recovery or living post stroke. I dunno, I'm just writing. Let's see where it takes us. There has to be intersecting lines somewhere, right? Not really I know where I'm going. Doh! You know me better.

Having a stroke is a big blow to everyone including you. Your family is affected just as much as you in different ways except one. All concerned and you. want you to recover as much as possible fast. If they are as close knitted group like mine, they rejoice with your successes, be cheer leading from the side lines, and knock you over with kindness for a time. My terminally ill husband was a prime example of the latter. He literally shortened his already short life expectancy in the first six months trying to help me or do for me. Not because I asked him to, just the opposite, but that was the way he was. It worried him to no end when he could no longer be my loving husband and a total patient sliding into home.

The second thing that comes to mind is the chaos factor and effect. From the beginning, your whole world has been through a tornado and what's worse, you are trying to decipher what happened with a brain that is damaged and in shock. What worked doesn't and you can't understand why. You are praying it's just a nightmare you'll awaken from, but you don't.

A roll of the dice and you could be one of the lucky ones and recover all in that golden 30 days...unlikely, but it does happen. Another roll of the dice and you reach the 100% recovery goal in six months. I say, it's a roll of the dice because that's what it is. Ir isn't how hard you work at recovery or most of us would have 100% recovery. I know I would have. I spent every waking moment visualizing and exercising my affected side while strengthening my functioning side. I willed my arm, elbow, wrist, and fingers to move. I had minimal success within the first six months. Bur in the end, the high tone that I fought since day 1 after my first stroke and escalated into rigid spasticity won out. Well, that's not true, I'm still fighting it by any means possible.

I've faced many such tornadoes of chaos before and after my first stroke. I wish I could say sifting through the rubble of my old life doesn't get easier with repetition. At times, I feel like the three little pigs against the wolf. Except there's no third pig with a house of brick. Or, I never reach that level of a completed brick house before it blows my house down mid construction.

I stay in the reconstruction zone and it can drive me nuts! Having to live post stroke is an everlasting do over for me, or it seems to be. It is for me, when another stroke or health issues sets me back to almost square one like my urinary control issues I'm going through now. But I'm fighting my way back to my new old normalcy... to get back to using regular menstrual pads just in case. It's a viscous cycle of do overs, I'm going through or blows.

But still, I'm still fighting the big blows that come down the pike because...
 I'm too mean to die. Too stubborn to give up. And most important, I'm in God's Hands!

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: You Ever Hear the Saying...

When it rains, it pours? Well, that's how it's been around here for a while now both figuratively and literally.

Remember last week I planned for us to go out for a pizza? I made plans to do it sooner rather than later. Last Monday, I had an appointment with my new vascular surgeon. The CTA of my carotids showed my left carotid artery is greater than 95% blocked while my right was only 70% blocked. He showed my the CTA and I couldn't even see a pin hole of contrast in two parts. The left side needed to be cleared yesterday according the surgeon or I was at major risk a massive stroke. Wouldn't you know it would be on my left side where I've had all my other strokes too. The exception would not be a blood clots, but plaque.

When I recited what I'd been through this summer he nixed the idea of an open roto-rooter approach in favor of the newish TCAR. It's like a heart cath with stent placement. It is done as an outpatient procedure (about 4 hrs in and out) An external tube with a filter shunts the blood from my carotid to my femoral arteries. No plaque or blood clot could pass through the filter so the likelihood of having a stroke from this procedure is minimal. I told him I needed two weeks to do my own research (pros and cons) and pray about it. He agreed and set me up a consult for two weeks hence. I don't take anyone's word on what's best for me. You shouldn't either.

My neurologist cleared me to drive again February 1st. Yippee. As of this appointment I let Mel drive because she had some shopping to do in the "big" city. We were having such a good day talking about future plans like the chicken and quail farm, and just things in general. It was a bright, sunny day. The high was almost 70 that day! A true rarity for months of 2 days of sun maybe and the rest of the time freezing rain and snow flurries. We decided, since we were out and about anyhow, we'd do the pizza night thing on this particular Monday instead of waiting for Valentines Day. Even though I might call her "honey," I'm just as apt to call her "youngen." She ain't my sweetie. It's a southern thing.

As we turned off the main four lane into our town, I heard it and so did Mel. The dreaded thinking in the engine. Mel drove maybe a thousand feet before she could pull off the road. Mel checked the oil. It was about half a quart low, so she put that in. As she started the car, the thunking continued. My van was throwing a rod. We drove the van directly to the auto shop (less than 1/4 mile away). By the time we got there and opened the hood, oil poured from every crack and crevice around the motor. We didn't need the mechanic to tell us the engine was blown.

A neighbor (from 1/4 mile away) came to pick us up and carried us home. Mel hadn't replaced her truck that I had totaled in an accident in May. She was being picky, but understandably so. The days of backyard mechanics are over unless you have a pre-1980s vehicle. The cost of replacing the engine was more than my 18 year old vehicle was worth. Although I did love my Toyota Sienna van. I'll miss her. So now that I can drive again, I have nothing to drive for the time being.

Once home, we two, sexagenarian widows sat down and cried. After I cooked dinner, we discussed our situation. We had to have a vehicle. were out miles from town. I called Enterprise Car Rental, because they'll pick you up and they were the only car rental place in three counties. I rented it for a week because I didn't know how long it would take for Mel to get another vehicle SUV or truck, We had to have 4 wheel drive around here. As tight as it's been financially lately around here, I had no choice. They would pick Mel up the next day and she would start looking for a vehicle.

I've been telling Mel for years to give those things too big to handle to God and trust Him to sort it all out. Well, that night she did just that just as I did after the shock wore off. The next morning I reminded her of God's promise. She confessed what she'd done. I told her, "Let God work and don't worry the problem is being fixed." 

She stopped and called about every suitable vehicle with a "for sale" sign on it. None were in our price range. Then she hit the two dealerships and then every (3) buy-here-pay-here dealerships. The main problem even with a buy-here-pay-here dealerships, Mel hasn't held a job for three years. Nobody would sell her a car. Then she found a friend that she thought had gone out of business, hadn't. She went to see him. He had just moved it. He had two possibilities that he could sell her a Chevy Blazer and a Jeep. He flat told her she didn't want the Jeep. But she test drove both and decided on the Chevy. They discussed terms and shook hands on it. Yes, this is a small town where a handshake still means something.

So Wednesday, after only renting a truck for a day, she returned the vehicle to Enterprise. But there was a problem. Because of the short turn around, the week's worth of rental fees and deposit couldn't be refunded to her for two days. All her belief in "letting God work" went out the window went out the window and she panicked. She called me hysterically, she didn't have the money for the Chevy without some of that money. I talked to her calmly and eventually she took a breath. My words were beginning to sink in. I told her to call her friend.

Long story short, she had enough money in her wallet. She came home beaming with her prize.

"See, I told you let God work," I told her. "In the end, everything fell into place, didn't it?"

She responded, "Ya after my near heart attack and stroke."

"Be careful of the words coming out of your mouth. You could be me, and still not have a vehicle. Anyhow, whose fault was your near heart attack and stroke?

She looked down at her shoe. "Mine."

"Cause I tried to be an Indian giver with God"

"Repeat after me, Thank you, Jesus!"
                        She actually said it four times and I responded "Amen!"

So even though it was raining cats and dogs outside, a little bit of Son-shine poured in.

After all of that, the weather again kept Mel from driving anywhere. High winds, torrential rains, and 8" of snow fell within a couple of hours followed by 60 degree temperatures. Can you say thick mud? 

Nothing is impossible. 

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival:My Get Up and Go, Got Up and Went

There's a small ton of stuff I could be doing: there's fiber to spin, a slew of new knitting patterns to make, preserves and frozen vegetables to can, soups to make, seeds to start, and even new animals to tend, but with these gray, rainy days of winter my get up and go has got up and went away. I lack the motivation to do any of it. Blah!!

I've got the winter doldrums bad. It doesn't help that living post stroke makes it doubly difficult to move around outside without slipping in clay mud. I do the bare minimum. We haven't gotten any snow this year, just flurries that melts when it touches the ground. It's been a wet, rainy winter. I can't even go into the bunny/chicken hoop house without doing the slippery-sliding dance for balance. Even the moments of joyful bunny Eskimo kisses and their antics only bring a short lived smile to my face. We've got to replace the tarp covering. But that takes more energy than either us have.


It's time to find something fun to do! Something we haven't done in a while. Hmm, er, hmm. Do you see the smoke coming from my ears as the wheel in my brain turn? Money has been tight for months while saving to replace Mel's truck. She's against buying one on credit so options are limited. Even going out for a pizza has been put on the back burner, but I may spurge this month and do just that. We both need a break. A glass of wine for Mel and her cat, and a large pizza that we can eat on for a couple of days sure sounds good. Plus, it's a meal I didn't have to cook or clean up after.

Maybe for Valentine's Day (neither one of us have a sweetie to spoil us) or there about. I wish there was something decent to watch at the movie theater. Most of what I see advertised or previews are junk that hold no interest for either of us. Then there is the expense of the theater. I can remember paying a quarter to get into the movies. Now it's $10-$15 a person. That's outrageous! No wonder why people pay for Netflix, HBO, and the like, but the downside is you don't leave home or interact with other people. We need to break the rut we are in and do something different. We need to get out and away from the homestead. Spend a couple hours and not at doctors, nor have to dos to recharge our batteries so we can tackle all our have to dos.

Okay, pizza it is. I think we'll forego the patio dining like we usually do. Thirty degrees is a bit chilly for that. It's amazing how with a little typing and sorting through thoughts a solution is found.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Getting my Life Back or Back in the Swing Again

We've been so busy with general busyness around the homestead, I'm being slack with writing my Sunday posts. I also write two posts a week for my other blog as well as a Saturday homesteading email. I'm falling behind here. Mainly because of lack of topics to write about that's new. To make matters worse, I haven't been to my stroke support group in six months! Be it illness, hospitalizations, and radioactive quarantine, I just haven't gone and I miss everyone terribly.

I've mostly been a hermit for over half a year. But, that's about to change. It's February already. I'm as healthy as I'm going to be. I'm able to drive again after months of not being able to. I'm getting my life back or getting back into the swing of life again.

It all starts tomorrow afternoon with my stroke support meeting. Yesterday, I made my dill shrimp salad filling and my curried chicken salad sandwich fillings. I made my sugar-free, gluten-free cookies and brownies. Last night, I chopped the vegetables. I made my low fat ranch and honey-mustard dressings for dipping or spreading. Today, I'm baking the breads and gluten free crackers or at least, set the doughs to rise so far. I do a multigrain and white breads. Now, all I have to do for tomorrow is make the sandwiches.

I'll pack it all up in Valentine type containers and go to the meeting. I keep a gallon of sugar-free tea (concentrate) and unsweet tea in the refrigerator. I use 1 cup of concentrate per gallon of water for tea. So I just add water and ice, and drinks are set.

I purchase bottles of water that I keep in the back of my van. Water and ice are provided by the hospital. A bag of plastic cutlery, napkins, cups, and appropriate table covering are kept in a reusable shopping bag and always at the ready to grab and go. I'm an old hand at doing this type of thing. Can't you tell?

It still irks me that it takes so long to get these things accomplished. My stamina is better, but no where near what it was a year ago. But the point is, I'm taking steps to get my old life back. I love to cook for others. The fact that I usually grow and make my own food is an important point to me. I know how it was grown (organically and/or chemical-free if possible). I know how it was prepared. With specialty diets, like for cardiac and stroke patients, how the food is prepared is equally as important as taste. Just because it's a specialty diet doesn't mean it can't taste good.

For good measure, I'll carry copies of recipes I make for others in the group. Just in case they want them. They may not go as far as I do sprouting the grains and grinding them before I make the yummies, but Bob's Red Mill at the store can be substituted for these ingredients. So they don't have to grow their own or go to the extremes I do. I do the same thing for the recipes I post on my other blog each Wednesday.

On  the 17th is our local chapter of the Homestead Ladies group meeting. Yes, I plan to attend this too. But luckily, February is a short month and no doctor appointments. Woohoo! I'm honestly tired of doctors and hospital after last year.  Having not to see my doctors for three to six months is a blessing! I still need to set up my PT schedule again, but I have been enjoying the at home time.

Well, I'll try to do better here. Any suggestions of topics?

Nothing is impossible.