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.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Prepping the Harvest for Long Term Storage

I've posted about our homestead garden, gardening, and adaptive gardening quite a bit. I've even talked about preserving the harvest by canning, freezing, and dehydrating.  Today, I want to discuss how I prepare the harvest to do all of that living post stroke.

Picking the harvest is the easy part. Last week I harvested four pounds of oregano from my plants. That's a whole lot of oregano destined to be dehydrated. I lay each stem of the rinsed herb on a window screen. Add another window screen on top. I have raised them away from animals by placing the screens on top of four inverted trash cans. I'll let them dry out in the yard for a day or two. I mean I had four pounds. It was way too much for my two electric dehydrators. When one screen was full I grabbed another one and continued until all the oregano was accounted for. I criss- crossed the placement of the screens so there was good ventilation for the herbs. Now, I placed the herb stem and all on the screen. It took eight screens in all for four full screens of oregano.

Once dry, the real fun began. I had to remove the stems. I tend to leave my leaves whole and chop or grind them as needed. I sat at the breakfast room table with the table covered in parchment paper. I placed the thick end of the oregano stem between my teeth and pulled the leaves against their grain to remove them. After doing a few stems, I'd stop and gather the leaves and put them in several containers in succession. It took me the better part of the day to do this. Before I give the oregano a final "haircut" before the first freeze, I'll be doing this several times. This year I expect a six-eight pound harvest of oregano. Not to mention basil, sage, peppermint, spearmint, chamomile, tarragon, dill, thyme, rosemary, and thyme. For smaller batches, I can dehydrate them in my dehydrators.

Now, I've started harvesting my English peas. There is nothing better on hot afternoons than sitting on the porch swing shelling peas and beans, and watching the gardens grow. But, shelling peas one-handed took some thought on how to do it.

Luckily, Mother Nature put a zipper in them. I picked loose a string at the vine end of the pea pod. I picked it loose enough to be able to pinch it between my index finger and thumb to pull it. Holding it against the bowl with my little finger I pulled the string down as far as my reach would allow and reposition my little finger and continue until the "string" came loose off the end of the pea pod. Using my thumb, I ran down the inside of the pod dislodging the peas. I got quicker as time went on and the three pounds of peas I picked were done. They'll probably be another three pound harvest tomorrow again and again until the peas are done in about three weeks.

But that's not all that's being harvested. I've got to cut the kale, spinach, and lettuces before they bolt with
the heat. Carrots and potatoes will have to be dug up. I've got a discarded kiddie pool for washing the greens the first time outdoors before carrying them to the processing table. They'll get washed twice more at least to remove all the dirt from them.

For the carrots and potatoes, remember that glass washer I found at Goodwill way back when for $2? It works wonderfully for scrubbing long, rounded vegetables one-handed. It works great for my cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, and Japanese eggplants too. Thinking outside the box makes work smarter not harder. A mandolin and my Vidala Onion slap chopper always gets a huge workout at harvest time. They save so much time processing vegetables for the freezer or canner.

In the next couple weeks as the peas die out, they'll be green beans. I'm hoping for 120 lbs of them. I just pulled the last two jars of green beans out of the long term storage building canned two years ago. So I'm looking forward to these. The idea of going to the grocery store and buying green beans makes me cringe. By succession planting these over the course of the spring and summer, I should have plenty. I don't mind processing these at all. Snap the stem ends and snap them into pieces. I use my first three fingers to snap them. Of course, I could bring them inside to cut them too. But I miss my free ranging chicken TV viewing. They are much more fun to watch than regular television and n curse words needed.

There you go. That's my one-handed preparing vegetables for canning and freezing. Yes, it would be easier and faster with two hands, but I adapt to what I got. And, I get 'er done.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday Stroke Survival: Post Stroke and Techology

No, this post is not about changing technology in prevention nor treatments for dealing with post stroke issues. But that would be a good post also. It's about my post stroke brain function after my strokes. You know how I always say, "Don't compare what you could do (prestroke) to your reality now? I'm gonna break that rule to make a point. I really missed by old brain at times like this. Before I killed bazillion brain cells with my strokes.

Prior to my first stroke in 2012, I was a very mechanical and technology minded individual. Learning how to use the newest version of a program was never an issue. I'd run circles around any computer program or device within fifteen minutes of loading it. I'd have a basic working knowledge. And then, I'd read the manual to find more bells and whistles that I didn't find in "playing" with it. I'd make programs sing and stretch the boundaries of its limits to make it do what I wanted it to do including changing the programming. Yes, I was a computer programmer once upon a time.

All of that came to a screeching halt with my first stroke. This is one area with adapting and changes, I've had real
trouble with. It's all due to the killed off brain cells and cognitive function of my brain with aphasia. Something gets lost between knowledge, understanding and function. Now I despise newer versions, or total format changes where I have to start from scratch to know how to operate these systems and devices. Most times, I now have to ask for help just to do the basic things. It's maddening, irritating, frustrating, and it hurts what little pride I have left.

First, was bought by EA Games. EA Games deleted a bunch of games which I used for cognitive recovery and reinforcement citing changes in technology made these games were being either reworked (new programming) and ultra High Definition technologies or they were gone forever. My husband and I used the yearly membership dues as part of our wedding anniversary present to each other for also 16 years. Since his death, I continued with the membership because of the cognitive therapy. Well, my membership is due for renewal next week and I've decided to stop it. All the new bells and whistles are too distracting when I'm trying to focus. They can keep the ultra high definition and new programming.

Now Blogger is changing formats again. They've added several bells and whistles over the years but not a total
revamp. Even with the changes, you had an option to go to the "Classic" blogger set up. Recently, they release the "New and Improved" Blogger. The difference is its a convert or leave and there is a deadline.  So now, I've switched over. I honestly dislike the new format. While it has cleaner lines and less junky looking, there are so many hoops to jump through simply adding a picture. You know me and pictures. It's a gotta have it thing. I guess in the long run it will get easier. The idea of learning a new blogging software, but that would be just as maddening. I've been with Blogger since the 1990s.

I use labels to catalog my blogs for SEO. I used to be able to type it and the categories (100+ in here) I've used in the past would scroll down so I could just click on the appropriate category. Now, there is a check box. I have to scroll up and down the list and check the word. This takes a lot of time. You just can't type the word either. It doesn't show up under labels. You have to add a label, scroll down and find it, and check it to add it to my saved labels. The scheduler is about the same. Now, I used to open up the "preview" option which opened up in a new screen. This allowed me two screens to edit my post with. It now longer allows this. I'm having to switch screens, previous page arrow twice before I can edit. Oh, I have to switch it back to draft mode when I edit. It gets very confusing to know where I am and remember what and where the edit needs to be. This new Blogger is not old, brain damaged folks friendly.

Everything I used to know where it was and how to do things has moved or changed so I have to stop and figure out how to do it. Or, it has been deleted from the program. The only thing that hasn't changed is my blog looks the same. The CSS hasn't changed, but I have no access to the hmtl anymore. Some if I want to do a special format for a section, I can't. Or, maybe they are not using html based program at all. I dunno.

Thanks for reading my rant on living post stroke rant. Have any suggestions?

Nothing is impossible.
It just seems that way sometimes.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Rioting in the Street Here?!!

Protests spread to Gainesville - Now Habersham
It wasn't exactly here, but one town over from us. The police were called. They arrived in appropriate riot gear ready to handle the unruly protesters.

The scene was horrific as they confronted the 20 odd head of rioters.
Ten were arrested for...
The arrests include two charges of misdemeanor obstruction, three charges of disorderly conduct, one reckless driving and one pedestrian crossing outside of a crosswalk.  

A 19-year-old man allegedly “acted in a violent and tumultuous manner” toward a Gainesville Police officer “by joining a group of protesters running toward the officer, yelling, ‘He’s by himself. Let’s get him,’” Booth wrote in an email. The officer, Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, was speaking with The Times after much of the crowd had dispersed when the group came toward him. His helmet was flipped off his head and firecrackers were soon thrown in the street.

A 23-year-old man was arrested after being told multiple times to stop running, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A 33-year-old man was allegedly throwing stuff and being disorderly during a protest, while another 20-year-old man was accused of running from officers and throwing items in the roadway, according to the Sheriff’s Office. (Gainesville Times 6/2/20)

The rest went to McDonald's for a soda or went home.

I'm not making light of the violence nor the initial injustice which caused the current upsurge sweeping the country at large. Even small rural towns are affected too.  For all the arrests made last night, the charges are misdemeanors. Considering what most of us have gone through and still going through because of the lock downs and the Corona virus can't we just get along?

Or as my momma used to say, "Opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one. Out of respect for other,s try to cover yours by turning the other cheek."