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.