Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: First Canning Session in the New Place

 I had my first order delivered from Walmart Marketplace this week. It's a perk that being back in the big city that I'm finding rather enjoyable. Except several out of stock items were missing and a substitution was made leading to the canning session. My granddaughter is really into Japanese cooking and wanted to learn how to make Pork Tonkatsu so I ordered a whole boneless pork loin. I'd teach her how to break down the loin to make the chops since she thought it would be a good skill set to learn. Well between the time I placed the order and their shopper went to get it, they ran out. GRRR! No Pork Tonkatsu lesson for her. this month 

The other GRRR! moment was had was when they substituted 10lbs of regular green cabbage for Napa Cabbage. I had my heart set on fermenting some kimchee. They are NOT the same thing! What was I to do with 10lbs of green cabbage?! I could have sent it back and got a refund but that would mean waiting until my daughter to get home from work and going to the store. I guess I could have just canned the cabbage plain into jars (yuck! water logged cabbage), but I ran across a YouTube channel that showed how to can coleslaw in a vinegar base pickling it. It is the heyday of summer right now. Quick coleslaw would be excellent. I always say life is about adapting, don't I?

Well, you know my love of YouTube since my stroke. I had never thought to do that before, but there was the recipe from a 1966 Ball Recipe Canning book.  A quick check with other current safe canning websites and with a tweak or two brought the recipe up to today's preserving safe canning standards and you know me I had to adjust the flavor profile a bit to suit us.

The fact that my son-in-law finally got my window air conditioner unit installed this week, God love him, was an added perk for me. It was a warm (90s), humid week in Savannah without it. I'd forgotten how uncomfortable summers could be here after six years away. Plus, being in the city with all the roadways absorbing and releasing the heat of the day. It wasn't cooler at night. Canning in my mother-in-law apartment would have been unbearable without it.

I set about shredding the cabbage. Thank God for my mandolin! Still, quite a bit of chopping was done with my old cleaver. I had four huge heads of cabbages. My cleaver has seen quite a few dozen years service and can still be sharpened to a razor's edge. It makes short work of vegetables and meat alike. I could have just used this to shred all the cabbage but I tend to vary my thicknesses with each slice. Consistency is the key when canning so my mandolin was used. Luckily, they (Walmart) had my order of onions, carrots, vinegars, and spices too. So I set to work. It took me the better part of two and a half days to cut all that cabbage. I ended up with 44 cups of shredded cabbage! I put a couple of large Vidalia onions and a pound of carrots through the mandolin as well. 

I divided all the vegetables between five mounded 7 qt. hospital basins courtesy of my stays at Emory and the NEGRMC, I has prepared the pickling solution while I salted the vegetables. I ended up making five times the recipe for the liquid to have enough. I packed it all into the jars and water bath canned it. I ended up with four dozen pint jars of coleslaw! I think that's a year's worth of fish fries and BBQs, don't you? Now all that is left is to make the pulled pork soft tacos for dinner and clean up. Good thing too 'cause I'm pooped!

An update on Lilbit and her transition to the new place. It took the better part of two weeks for her to acclimate herself to the new home. Now, she's walking around with confidence and her tail is high, She's slowly getting used to seeing through the pet gate across the door leading to the main house. It's a bit disconcerting to her knowing the dog can see through the gate and whines at her. She'll walk over to the gate and touch noses with him to check that he's okay before she continues on her way. 
She thinks it's a grand game when he comes in searching for her, but she's on the back of the recliner watching him go round and round. He never looks up. The only time he barks at her is in frustration like if she's under the bed and he can't get to her. He's too big to fit under there. She gets so lonesome at times. She'd found the spot with the best acoustics, in the small bathroom hallway, to yowl to get my attention no matter where I am in the house. Sometimes she'll just walk up to meowing. She's back into Mommy mode, where Momma has to be in line of site to her every couple of minutes or she'll have to come find me, this now includes the big house. She enjoys exploring it when the dog is in his cage in the mornings. She's three steps behind me unless she smells something interesting. When she loses me, she'll call out. I'll answer her back until she finds me again.

The landscaper friend of my son-in-law came over and cleared out the beds and area where the garden will go. It looks great. Now I see and plan where things are going to grow better. I'll be able to now widen the garden to 40' instead of 30' and still have a 4' border around it.  That will give me three more 50' rows to plant  now corn can be added into the growing plan for next spring. There's a 4' wide growing bed. that's now empty except for a kumquat tree/bush. I can't decide whether to whether to espalier fruit trees along the fence or plant blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries there. I've got until the fall to decide because that neighbor will be replacing the wood fence this summer. What I'll be able to get done will depend on when the kids find another house to buy. I figure with the housing market opening up again, it'll at least take about six months or so. Until then, it's produce what I can and preserve what I harvest. Now to arrange for delivery of that tree service "waste" to set up the garden. I'll still do the market garden setup for optimizing the space I have. Even without selling the produce it still makes sense and cents.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Elevated Raised Bed Construction Begins

 The dismantling of the deck began this week several weeks prior to when it was suppose to. Now keep in mind, I never asked my son in law for elevated raised beds, he saw this video...

and he decided on his own to build them for me out of the pressure treated wood from the deck boards and braced. When I asked him how the limber was pressure treated, he looed at me confused. I then explained that heat pressure treated boards could be used without worry about leeching chemicals. He told me that he just thought to cut up the pool liner to protect the soil. I thought about it. He's really a smart kid.   

I showed him this. It's what we did om the homestead.
He liked that idea also. He decided that where the pool and deck was, he put in the elevated raised beds. His reasoning, to make it easier on me and recycle what he was demolishing. See, I'm already rubbing off on the kids in a good way.😋

It will be  closer to Fall before they are all completed, but that's okay. I can have ;omg growing dedicated spaces for like onions, garlic, and leeks which can take 9 months to grow before harvesting. Meanwhile, I cab use the on ground garden for kale, collards, carrots and other cool-ish weather crops. I may be able to plant my Spring veggies such as cabbages, Napa, and peas in. I don't know yet. First projected frost date isn't until Nov 1st with the first projected hard freeze date until around Thanksgiving. I've given up trying to second guess Mother Nature. I'm going to plant and pray. At least until I can get a high tunnel built.

I interview my new cardiology team later this month. My daughter has heard some great things about them so we'll see. In August I meet, the neurology team I was referred to by my past neuro team, My daughter again has heard laurels about them, but not my individual doctor. That's okay, I've found it easy to switch doctors within the group. My round of Botox will be late by three months, and I'll physically pay the price for that, but I'll grin and bear it like I usually do. In north GA, I had a hard time finding a PCP to play ring leader for my circle of preforming specialist, not so much here. I had n appointment with my daughter's for next week. All that's left is choosing an endocrinologist. It would not be so bad if I didn't have a long list of specialists in this field that I will not choose because I had experience with them due to my husband's rare endocrine diagnosis that eventually killed him. Remember, he was one of 600 cases, documented world wide.

Well, that's my update for this week. How's your week going?

Nothing is impossible

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Settling Into My New Place

 My mother-in-law apartment is huge! Sleeping in my old bed wasn't bad as I thought it would be. It took some adjusting though. I mention to daughter #3 on the phone, the night before I moved in, that it was difficult to get out of so she raised the whole bed on blocks and added another box spring to the mix. Well standing beside the bed the top of the mattress came to my waist! She meant well. Her husband, as tired as he was, lifted the bed and while she knocked the blocks off the  legs. That made the bed better. It only took a little hop to get on the bed. He ended up removing the extra box spring too undoing all of daughter #3's "helpfulness." The new box spring and mattress was higher than my own. So it's a bit higher than my old set. Still lower than ideal but I can live with it.

All my things are about me and fit the space perfectly. I do have to get some shelving units for the canning stuff. I still haven't decided which spare room I'll make into the larder. but for now it's all stacked neatly into one corner of my dining room. Actually, I could convert that whole corner into a larder. There's several empty boo shelves in here that could easily work to that end. I could fashion curtains to block the light.

I've even found a gardening spot for vegetables and space for the herbs that I brought with me! The whole back of the property is   overgrown badly. The herbs that I brought with me will be planted in the flower beds along the front walk. There's a 30'x50' (that's 10- 50' rows) on my side of the side yard that will be perfect for vegetables, I'll implement the Ruth Stout method and just cover the area with cardboard and thick layers of hay all that gras wi;; become a compost to feed the vegetables. It might be late in the season for planting, but hey this is Savannah, you can garden ten months out of a year here. It won't get cold here until December or January. But, I've had it trying to second guess Mother Nature. I can remember dressing my ids in tank tops and shorts on Christmas Eve. I still may get some home grown goodness yet. There's a double gate by the trash can so unloading it all will be a breeze.

I'll have to talk to daughter #3's husband first because he'll have to do all the heavy lifting of the compost bags and hay bales. I can spread it all out myself. I do not have a garden cart here, I'm going to miss it.  I'll need more cardboard boxes too. So many little things are needed, but that's my one handed life. The beautiful parts of using the side yard is it out my door and hang a right, and then there it is. It's a short walk to the outside shed too. What's in there is a mystery but I do know the grandmother was an avid gardener.

She'd be so angry about the way the landscaping has not been kept up, but at 92, it might not matter to her now. I'll have to price a landscaper to see about all the over grown hedges and stuff. There's no way daughter #3's husband or my daughter can do it all with their work schedules. They aren't really green thumb type folks. I sure can't. There's a ton of knee high pine trees and brambles out there.

I spoke to the son-in-law, and his plan was to demolish the back swimming pool and deck area during the summer months. He also sees the need of producing our own food. He has been a city dweller all his life so he'll need some guidance. There is plenty of roof line for water harvesting for the garden beds. Currently it's all running into the sewer. What a waste! Even if we have to move from this property, the "improvements can move with them onto the new property.

He mentioned leaving the Oleander in place as a privacy screen, I said cut it down. Oleander, while beautiful, is poisonous to humans and critters. We could plant blueberry bushes along the back fence instead. We'd have the privacy restored and enjoy the berries for years to come. And come to find out, his grandmother planted an herb garden. It's very badly neglected. But, I was able to salvage a few od the herbs.

I found a tree company that will deliver wood chips by the dump truck load for free! So starting a compost pile and garden beds will be cheaper. Now if I can the county composting site, I'll be in hog heaven and my gardens building will be complete minus some minerals. Now, if I can just get my fifteen year old granddaughter excited about the prospects of gardening...I don't believe that will happen though. Although, she admitted a desire to learn alternative uses of herbs and preserving the harvest. So that's a start. 

I've cooked two meals this week. The leftover meats from the shoulder pork roast will become shredded. BBQ sandwiches later in the month. The leftover beef pot roast will become roast beef hash to serve over rive. I'm still having to adjust serving size because now I'm cooking for 4 instead of 2. I founds our old dump cart that I had loaded with jars had made the trip to Savannah with me. It will eventually have to be returned to Mel. But in the meantime, it will help me set up this garden.

I found out from my podiatrist. two days before I left the mountains that I have three more stress fractures in my AFO clad foot. So I'm back to swapping out AFOs and shoes again. The swelling in the foot becomes too bad for me to wear my shoe very long or stand more than a dew hours at a time without elevating it and getting off it. SIGH! There's nothing wrong with the AFO. It's my bones that are the problem. They just aren't back to normal yet. All the chemo and radiation has done a number on my bone density. Even with a 1200 mg calcium plus D3 taken daily and the Vitamin D3 (50,000 unit capsules) taken weekly, it will take months to recover normal density back. In the meantime, small bones like in my feet will break. Right now, my bone density loos like the bottom right in my smaller bones and right upper in my major bones which is why I'm getting the stress fractures, but I gotta walk. God is still working on my patience issues. SIGH!

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Love it When a Plan Comes Together...Sort Of

It wouldn't be me, if Murphy's Law didn't kick in, right? For most of the day on Friday, our neighbor at the top of the drive pilled clay/sand from the upper most part of our property to fill in and grade the driveway adjacent to his property. By the time he was finished, any car or truck could drive down to our property with ease. Only to have a flood of rain wash away most of his hard work Friday night!

I was talking to daughter #3 on the phone when it started. We had a slew of last minute changes. Including a one way truck rental in North Georgia to Savannah. Who was coming also changed and it ended up being daughter #3 and her husband who took an emergency family day off so daughter #3 wouldn't have to make the drive by herself. He just came off a twenty-four hour shift at work Saturday AM. They, U-Haul, didn't have a hand truck nor a truck with a ramp unless I wanted to rent a Keri arrived around two, and then began the loading of the U-Haul truck. I ended up renting a 10' truck. Everything fit just fine with room to spare. But a few things were left behind like my bedside commode and my wheelchair. Both can be easily replaced since they were purchased under my old health insurance and not Medicare 9 years ago. I knew I should have been with them as they packed from the barn, but foot pain kept me from being there and Mel just forgot. In a couple of weeks I'll be back there again and I'll pick them up or just order new ones here. It's really nice when you reach your maximum out of pocket medical expense for the year and you see all those $0.00 on amount owed. God love my beloved husband because he's still taking care of me from beyond the grave.

They made short work of loading the totes and boxes from the barn workshop first. Then, he backed the U-Haul beside the front porch. I'd spent the morning with a shovel and push broom removing chicken poop from along the gates, and sliding totes into another staging area. I loaded the wheel cart full of boxes and pulled it to the front to be loaded into the truck. Altogether, it took four trips with canning equipment and stuff to go into the truck. By three o'clock, we were done and on the road. Climbing into daughter #3's SUV was a hiccup adventure. Me being 5' squat and paralyzed right side and all. It was just lie climbing into Mel's old truck.

All the worries of open gas stations and whether or not we'd find one had been prayed away so we had no issues. It's really sad when you think about it, The truck was 3/4 full of my stuff and it wasn't jam packed. It's ALL I had to show for belongings. It was reminiscent of my early married life when moving from one place to another. I had indeed come full circle. In that case, I didn't have much stuff because of money shortages, and now because I don't want it. 

So for now, I'm home at daughter #3's home in Savannah. Not pictured is the three car garage off to the left of the picture. It's a big old rambling 5bed/3 bath house. It'll take some time to get adjusted to it. They have moved me into the mother-in-law apartment so I have my own full kitchen and the whole shebang so privacy isn't an issue, all I have to do is closed the door.. So begins the next new chapter in this saga. It'll give me time to scare up additional stuff like a Bistro dining set, a loveseat, and some odds n ends for my own place. 

For now, I'm getting my feet wet figuring out where to put the year + pantry before I get busy working on food/essentials stores. Once a prepper/ homesteader/ from scratch chef, always a pepper/ homesteader/from scratch chef. I brought 48 cases of jars and food stuff with me from north Georgia, so it's a start. I still need to plan a trip to NC Amish country for stores and more jars and a quick visit with my girlfriends (from youtube) up there too. Maybe later this summer or early fall... until then, If I decide to move into a separate apartment whatever I put up can be split. I'll be hitting the local markets and buying in bulk. I may not be living on a homestead anymore, but old ways die hard.

Nothing is impossible. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Ready, Set, Butterflies

 Next Sunday I'll be posting from Savannah, GA. EEK! Yippee!

The boxes I could pack are pack in the staging area in the living room. I switched to plastic totes instead of boxes. I was easier to pack my clothes and kitchen stuff in them. Everything I own fit neatly in 5 of them. I do have another 5 extra large totes in the barn/workshop that also need to go on the truck also. They never made it into the house. If it wasn't for the lift chair, bath chair, bedside commode, chest of drawers, rollator, and wheelchair being so bulky, we could have gotten away with  a cargo van to move me back to the coast. Even when you fold up the things that can be, they still only shrink down so far. I've packed and staged everything to go I can do and the rest is up to them when they come.

I'm actually getting butterflies of excitement about the move. Seeing family again has been an unfulfilled dream for the past three years. Between health and car issues, a trip back home to see everyone hasn't been possible. I spoke to my father and his wife last week. All of us got excited by the prospect of me being an hour away instead of six hours away. Plans were made that when daughter #3 had two days off in a row that I'd go to Daddy's house for those two days. 

My stepmother now has heart issues similar to mine and she's still the primary care taker of my invalid father.  She's got almost 20 years on me too which makes life more difficult for her. Worse comes to worse, I'll at least be able to make up some freezer meals for them. Possibly some meals in a jar to help her out some. Similar to what I made up on the homestead. I've become well versed on them. Much better than regular frozen TV dinners. Those are heavy in fat and salt, and neither of my heart impaired folks need that. I may even wash a load of clothes or two. I'll leave the folding for her two handed self. I can't do much, but I can at least do that to try and give her a break.

Sleeping on a queen sized bed again will be a novelty. The fact that it is my old bedroom set will be bittersweet. It was my mother's before me. I really liked sleeping on the twin sized bed. I didn't instinctively reach over to feel my husband's side of the bed because there wasn't one. But it's been almost seven years since my beloved left me, surely I won't pick that habit back up, will I?  If it becomes a problem, daughter #3 also has a twin size bed they can change it to. So it remains to be seen. 

Poor Lil Bit won't know what to do with so much space on the bed. She's so used to curling up in the hollows around me on the twin to sleep at night. Once I get settled at night, she stakes her claim on a hollow by placing her paws on whatever extremity is handy, and then gets comfortable to sleep. And, at daughter #3's house she won't have to share the bed during the day with Kassity. I'm thinking she's gonna miss that dog because they've had a friendship brewing since she got here as a pup. Maybe, daughter #3's pit bull puppy, Jay, (6 months old) and her can become friends. Daughter #3 inherited him from daughter #2, when her new apartment didn't allow pets.

While the other household cats (Dervish & Patches) chose to teach dogs by hissing and scratching Kassity to teach her how to behave around cats. Lil Bit chose a different tact. She chose to touch noses and light sniffs were okay. Rough-housing with her was not. She'd jump up on the table and box the eager nose with her claws. Not hard enough to draw blood, but to say stop that. Since she was the only cat to make friends with her, Kassity learned. They check on each other when sick or hurt. They'll even leave portions of their "goodies" for each other. That's as close as they have gotten in friendship between a cat and a dog. 

Will Lil Bit be happy without Dervish or any other cat around? Dervish is the Queen cat around here. Lil Bit is either tolerated or harassed by her. Lil Bit doesn't know from one minute to the next what Dervish will do. To be the only cat in the house? I dunno how she'll  like it. It will be a first time for her. She's always been the baby in a multi-cat/multi-animal household. But I think she'll do fine with me there.

So the countdown is almost over. Five days and a wake up and I close the door on another chapter in my life, but the saga continues.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Making Lemonade with my Affected Hand

You know the old sating that when life gives you a bunch of lemons make lemonade, right? I've learned quite a few coping skills since my strokes left me with half a functioning body. When using a cane to walk in my functioning hand, it leaves my spastic, nonfunctioning arm an hand to carry packages and such. I put it to work.

This post is inspired by Rebecca Dutton over at the Home After A Stroke blog. She blogged about how she escapes frustration by making her affected side do.

For example, I had to carry my new brace and new shoe in a bag for an adjustment. I guess I could have shoved both under my affected arm, but I found a drawstring bag works better. I hook the strings on my index and middle fingers to carry it. The contracture of my middle finger is locked into a hooked position. Yes, it's aggravating to get loose, but I managed quite well until that point. This works for when I have multiple small items I have to carry too. I have various sizes of drawstring and tote bags to assist me. The tote bags just hooks on my spastic arm. The spasticity is constant in the arm so it is locked into a 45° or greater angle. A perfect large hook to hang things on.

With the spasticity, my hand us locked into an inverted 90° or greater angle. I have found I can slide my hand into pitchers and crockpot inserts to help me wash them. My shoulder can move, thanks to the Botox injections, to reposition them.

Years ago, I came up with a joke about my arms. My left functioning arm said to my right, nonfunctioning arm, "Why am I having to do all the work? Just what are you doing?" My right nonfunctioing arm responds, "Oh, nothing. I'm just hanging around."

Well, that's not true anymore. I make my nonfunctioning side help the unaffected side. I recently bought a meat package of beef, chicken, and pork, 55lbs total weight. Among these was a  9lb boneless pork loin. Now, a 9lb pork loin of this size roasted for a family of six would be just about right, but there are only two of us here. I decided it would make excellent pork chops for numerous meals. This pork loin had never been frozen and chilled meat is slippery to cut especially one handed. I pit the slab of meat on the cutting board and lifted my affected, glove covered fist on top of the slab. I used my shoulder muscle to put downward pressure on the meat to hold it in place while I cut off 1/2' thick pork chops off the loin. I wear a Latex glove with the finger pulled inside the glove over my fist. The length allows for coverage of my forearm so I can use this too on large portions of meat. I wrapped two in a package for a meal. I ended up with nine meals of pork chops and a 1/2lb package of pieces for another recipe. I did the same with the 8.5lb beef roast for yummy steaks and stew meat. I made short work of the 10lb chub of the 80/20 ground beef chopping it into 1lb sections using the same method. One 55lb haul from the butcher shop provided us with a couple months of meals either in the freezer or canned in my pressure canner for quick easy meals and the cost was $110 or $2 a lb.

These are adaptive life skills. I reduce frustration. I switch I CAN'T with I CAN! What's the other old saying? Use it or lose it! Or, from a stroke survival perspective, learn how to make do.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Aging and Moving Post Stroke

 It's official I've gained another week because my daughter's work scheduled changed, but on the 30th of May, I'll start a new chapter in my life in Savannah. The truck is reserved and the countdown begins. 

How many chances do you get to start new chapters in your life? Every time I think I'm on the final chapter, I turn the page and surprise, there's more to the saga! I've never lived with one of my children before. I mean me moving into their house. It's always been the other way around. It seems strange but somehow right. It's what I taught my children their whole life, family takes care of family. This is going to be a major learning curve for all of us (even if it's short term). It's no longer Momma's house, Momma's rules.

The prospects are exciting and terrifying at the same time especially living post stroke. Or, maybe, it's just that I'm getting older and rattling against another new adventure.  But everyone believes this move is for the best.

For now I've started separating kitchen lob-lollies, I've been through the pantry and food stores to split everything, and am packing away winter clothing for the move. I'll probably continue packing my clothes keeping only a couple outfits out as moving day get closer. Not that I have that many clothes. I recently bought two pairs of jeans to replace two that weren't decent enough to wear anymore. They were size 18W (I now wear a size 14) is besides the fact. They were ripped, stained and holey. They weren't even usable for quilting. Now, that's bad! I need to replace my tube socks. They are threadbare in spots, getting holey, and the elastic band is shot, but I'll wait for this purchase. So I'm attempting to pack myself. It's harder than it was six years ago. I'm thinking age has a lot to do with it.

As I fill a box (18" square), I move it to a staging area between the sofa and the bookcase in the living room. They aren't heavy because I'm still under a 25lb weight lifting restriction. I find they are easier to lift if I pack them on the bed and pick them up to carry from that height. Having an AFO and the same shoes is a definite plus! (HURRAY!!!) I'm not killing myself in packing. I'm averaging two boxes a day. As far as marking them goes, a Sharpie has become my best friend. A single capital  letter adorns the boxes; B= bedroom, K= kitchen, X=bathroom, C=Craft/sewing, and S= Storage. The majority of boxes are bedroom because they are clothes, bedding, and such. Ten boxes and a back pack in total so far. 

One box is devoted to Lil Bit. When we went to town for my foot doctor appointment, I had Mel stop by the Dollar General for her new feeding dishes, cat food, litter, and litter box. Everything fit in the box perfectly. I also put Patches' remembrance paw print disk the vet made in it. I marked the box with a "B" because she'll have the entire setup in my bedroom until she gets around to making friends with my daughter's puppy. That reminds me to ask daughter #3 if she still has a baby gate for my bedroom door. It will allow the animals to sniff one another at will. Lil Bit's preferred method of making friends with new critters. From there, she'll train the puppy to be polite as only cat claws or rapid slaps can do. Dogs usually learn to respect cats within one or two contacts unless they are totally stupid.

So slowly, but surely it's all coming together. Next, I'll tackle the stuff in the barn. Now, that will be the real challenge! I'll definitely wait until this storm front passes before I start.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

It's a Go and Sooner Than I thought!

I told Mel my moving day was 43-6 months away. That's what I thought. WRONG!! Moving day is three weeks away! YIKES!

I waited and waited for daughter #3 to call me back until I finally texted her. She said her husband, God love him, said he could be free in 3 weeks. She checked her schedule and found she had the same three-day opening. So I'll be moving to Savannah in three weeks. They've got it all figured out.

The plan is the bring both girls and one significant other, plus them five adults. It's kind of overkill for the little amount of stuff I have. What I have won't even fill a 12' "Grandma's Attic" U-Haul. I've kept my "stuff" fairly simple and minimal with my move here. 

Now, I don't even have the critters and their stuff except for Lil Bit. Even she doesn't have much. At 18, she's my constant companion. I will have to pick up a litter box for her either way. She'll need new a new food and water dishes. As for a bed, she sleeps with me on her piece of fleece. She's got her brush and collar. That's all she needs or wants. So long as she can see and touch her "Mama," she's happy.

I'll be staying with them for a month. They only have a six-bedroom house with only one child at home so there is plenty of room. It will allow me to save my money and start a new month fresh in the apartment. It's still up in the air as to whether I'll stay with them permanently. We all will know after a month. Who knows, we all might like this new living arrangement. Lord knows, they won't have to cook anymore unless they want to.

Now for the packing up. Oy Vey! That's going to be the challenge. I'll be taking what I brought and bought for cooking and preserving. Mel neither needs or wants to can, process meats, nor grains so all of that will go with me too. Of course my Ulus and cutting boards, and air fryer. I've come to depend on that luxury cooking item. My mandolin and nonelectric food processor goes with me to because she's like I was pre-stroke, have knife will travel. I brought or bought them here to help one-handed me do what I needed to do, after all. Separating the kitchen will be the biggest chore besides the barn/ workshop.

I'm digging up some of the naturalized, perennial herbs (oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, peppermint) from the garden, and planting them in pots to take with me. It's a shame I can't take more. They'll grow perfectly well on a window sill. But until we get the raised beds up at the facility, or I see what space I have for a garden at daughter #3's yard, it would be a waste. Sigh!

I'm planning on taking one of two video cameras. Who knows I mat start making videos of a senior living, post stroke how tos. It my make life a little easier for new strokees our there. Rebecca Dutton over at Home After a Stroke of showing pictures of how she does things.  She describes the process in words with the pictures. But depending on the aphasia a strokee has, that may not be enough. A video of the action allows them to start and stop a video at will. I may not be an OT like Rebecca but I've gotten pretty good at figuring out how to get things done over the past nine years. Or, start another cooking preserving channel. Or, just video personal events. It'll be nice to have one of the two we have.

The major headache with moving so quick is that I'll have to interview doctors again, but daughter #3 has lived and worked in the medical field there for ten years. She's already started the leg work since she knows most of them. She knows who is the best and worse which is a plus. I have botox, neurologist visits, cardiologist visits and tests, and endocrinologist visits and tests scheduled that have to be changed ASAP and rescheduled with the new doctors. Remember, I have -ologist-itis. Getting it all done in three weeks seems impossible, but I'll get it done, somehow. ARGH!

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Raring to Go, But I'm in Stand-by Mode

I got a call from daughter #4, she's coming for a visit in June before they move to California. I'm happy to have her back on this side of the pond. I can't lie about that. But California??!! I guess you gotta go where the jobs are, but it's across the country. Her hubby got transferred to a NASA contract for the next few years. 

I'm excited to see her and my grandsons again.  I've missed them terribly and the three boys have grown so much! She sent me a picture of them. I can hardly believe my eyes.

I'm still waiting for daughter #3 to send me some paperwork on the senior independent living facility. If it's soon. my daughter and son-in-law can help me move to Savannah. I can't call her until after 3 PM. She's on her way to work as I type. Being the weekend, her weekend to work, she won't be able to mail it until Monday or Tuesday. If I can't move in June, I'll have to wait for a time when daughter #3 and her husband can come up to get me.

So I'm in stand-by mode as far as when exactly I'm moving. My granddaughter will be a big heap. Actually both of her girls are no slouches. They love their Grandmama and are excited about me moving back They are are already fighting about who will take Grandmama shopping first. Both are shop-oh-lics, God save me. Grandmama will only be 15 minutes away!

Meanwhile daughter #2 is busy working and living the life of a single woman for the first time ever. The empty nest syndrome hit her hard when her youngest son graduate from high school and left for technical school last summer. No graduation. No fan fare. They just mailed him his diploma. Darn, COVID. This Grandmama is pretty darn, proud of him. Heck, both of them!

Daughter #1 is MIA. She moved back to the lower 48 and has rarely been heard from since in 2020.

Today is my birthday! ~ Happy birthday to me.~ Daughter #2 texted me happy birthday on the 15th. It's been an ongoing gag between us since one year she actually thought it was my birthday and called. That was more than a dozen years ago now. Ever notice the older you get the faster the years whiz by? Good! It's not only me then. Whew! Whoever thought I'd live this long? I sure didn't and living post stroke hasn't made it easier.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Living in the north GA mountains like we do, I've learned a few things about the weather. You can't predict it, but you can try.

When I came here, Mel had this hard, fast rule of never planting anything in the ground until May 1st and nothing is planted by Halloween. I've fudged on that with potatoes, onions, garlic, and leeks as fall plantings in November (heavily mulched in). and as early as March, but these crops can take a little colder weather before springing back to life or going dormant for the winter. For the most part, I follow her rule. She's got a couple of years on me garden wise in this climate.

So last week when the temperatures soared into the 80s with consistent lows in the 60s, I waited to plant my heat loving crops like eggplant, tomatoes, and okra knowing the temperature was sure to drop again. Sure enough, it did, but this should be the last time unless the Polar Vortex gets absolutely nasty again. I don't think it will but you know what they saw about ASSUME.

Still we were tempted to air out the house on the days we could. We opened the outer doors leaving the screen doors closed. Our free ranging chicken decided to free range through the pet doors and venture inside. They have developed a taste for cat and dog kibble. No sooner did we chase one set out the back door another set would be entering through the front. Chinese fire drill anyone?

A week and a half ago, Mel caught a flu bug. We'd already been though the COVID so we knew it wasn't that. But still she was feverish, coughing and huddled under a throw which a subscriber sent us one Christmas. She didn't eat for three days. I pushed clear fluid on her augmented with bone broths, and my white clover jelly made into a tea. She had almost every pillow in the house propping up her back so she could sleep, but she slept sporadically and fitfully. She's on the mends now. Her fevers have broken for good. Me, whatever it was, I didn't get it Thank God for Kimchi and it's probotic and immuno-boosting powers! It's a good thing we laid in groceries before she got sick.

I've got my 6-month check in with my PCP this week. I imagine his office has been going nuts with all the updates from my other doctors. Lord knows, he shouldn't have to order any blood work. My left arm is still badly bruised and painful from my endarterectomy earlier this month. He'll just check that I'm still breathing and renew my prescriptions for my allergy meds.

That's it for this week. How's it been for you?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: An Advance Directive Gray Area to Think About and News


I'm happy to report that my endarterectomy went off without a glitch.  Of course I went over again my advance directives with my DPOA/HC before my surgery. Even though her copy of the living will spelled it out clearly, there was one additional item that needed to be discussed. If I had a devastating right sided stroke impairing my functional left side of my body and I survived.

This is a fray area in most advanced directives. They are mainly concerned with when and if I wanting artificial means of sustaining my life and care. Not if I continued to live (off ventilator) as a possible right sided stroke can do.

It honestly never crossed my mind because all my strokes to date (7) have been left sided strokes. I just figured a right sided stroke would kill me. An eleventh hour revelation caused me to formulate a plan for this occurrence. It was quite literally an eleventh hour because it was hurried text messages at 7 AM before my 1 PM surgery time. I figured my #2 daughter could show it as proof of my wishes in lieu of a notarized document. Not entirely legal, but it was better than nothing.

A few things happened when I went under the knife and afterwards. The day after surgery, the six attempted IV sticks before surgery made their presence known in glowing colors. It looks worse now that the bruising has spread with healing and now stretches around the elbow. I felt better after the successful endarterectomy. The draining stamina was nonexistent. The ET the anesthesiologist used had rubbed a section of my esophagus so it feels like there is an obstruction there and I'm stull hoarse. Yes, I was sore from the incision which is just below and follows my jaw line from my ear lobe to my mid neck (8" long). My neck will be  a road map of scars by the time they all heal between thyroid surgeries, T-CAR, and endarterectomy. Lastly, my #2 daughter called her sisters letting them know my wishes if this occurred.  That got my two younger daughters thinking. 

I actually feel great! Sure the incision site is sore and it slightly limits my necks range of motion, but that's to be expected. It's amazing what restored blood flow to half my brain does. No more headaches and more relaxed muscles in my neck. My brain is operating with less cobwebs now, which is always a good thing.

The night before last (Friday), I received a phone call from daughter #4, and surprise, surprise, daughter #3 was conferenced in.  It has been years since I have actually TALKED with them. I was almost in tears. Sure we Facebook, email, and text each other, but actually call to chat, not so much. Since daughter #2's call, they had been looking for options for me to move closer to family in the event I need to sooner than a waiting list would allow.

As expected, my children argued my choice of nursing home placement for now a mute issue. They wanted me to live with one of them. I refused outright. If I were to have a right sided stroke, I'd be total care. Both of them had jobs outside the home and short of them quitting work, they couldn't care for me without severe hardship.

Daughter #3, had another very interesting proposition for me. A year ago, she started working for a progression complex called Harmony at Savannah. They offer independent, assisted living, and memory care units. It's brand new and looking for applicants. It opened the week the COVID lock downs began in the country so it's filling up very slowly. My daughter is the assistant director of nursing there. As an employee, corporate offers a discount rate which is locked in for life for family members. With the discount, I'll well be within my means. I'll have family around (daughter, her husband and my two granddaughters) and only be an hour away from more family (father, sisters and brothers, etc.). As already stated I don't need or have much. I definitely wanted a private kitchen and bath. Everything else is optional. They have emergency call lights and pendant alerts even for independent residents as part of their services. They have transport available for shopping, doctor appointments, and excursions. They have a fairly decent activities schedule. So I can be as active as I like. All utilities are included including cable television and internet. So that will save me money. The advantage of being in town (city) options like delivery services for pharmacy, food, and groceries are available. There are hospitals available and I'll have choices available again.

Last week I talked about self sufficient living in senior care. I talked about this option too with my daughter. She laughed at me and told me they planted fruit trees in the memory care garden area just last week. They were talking about accessible gardening areas for the rest of the open areas around the facilities. The more we talked the more excited both of us got. Being within the city limits I doubt chickens would be allowed, but maybe a quail hutches could be done. It may not be a homestead, but it will be enough for me to piddle around. To get my preserving hat on, I'll have to go to the farmers/flea market, but that's do able also. Where there's a will, there's a way. It's not today or next week, but the option is there when I want it.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Self Sufficient in a Senior Living Situation?

 I couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I was giving up living on my homestead.  That loaded my comment section and email with concerned and disbelief that I would give up this lifestyle for good.

Can I continue my self sufficient ways in a senior living situation? I'm sure gonna try. First of all, I'm moving home and back to the only place I've really had roots. I know people and I have family there. Since I moved to north Georgia, I haven't seen any of them except when I went home. I miss them and vehicle and health issues have kept me from making the trip south for a few years now.  You long time readers know, I'm all about family, so it's been heart breaking for me. The few sporadic phone calls just don't work.

Second, I might be giving up my chickens here, but two of my sisters and one daughter built their own self sufficient homestead now. So if I miss the goats, chickens, rabbits and gardening I can always visit them. So you see, I'm really not giving up much except for the nonstop daily care of it all. If the temperature is below freezing or raining, I don't have to go out in it.

As far as food preservation, my canners and dehydrators are coming with me. My allergies are just too wicked to give up organically grown foods. I'll still grind my own flour and make my own bread each week. Believe me, they'll have to pry my cold, dead hands off my spoons and knives.  I'll continue to put up as much of my own food as possible like I've done for most of my life. I'm just using more gadgets to get it done now. I love cooking!

I'll be carrying about 500 various sized canning jars with me when I move. I figure 1 each of 3-gallon buckets of organic wheat, sugar, cracked corm and a blender to process it all with goes into a box for the move. That'll leave Mel with a little over fifty pounds of each got her use. When I need more, I'll hit one of my siblings or a child up for a road trip to get more.

I'll still make my menus up for 6-12 months at a time in advance. I've got farming friends that can supply me with fresh fruits and vegetables too so I won't have to depend solely on my family. I also know where there are u-pick fields and that I can glean in a pinch. Not that my family would really mind since I'm supplying free labor come butchering days, planting, weeding, and harvesting/preserving help too. My family is still doing the split lifestyle of working outside the home and homesteading too.

Granted, I'll be living in an apartment with a lot of other seniors but I'm not locked in. My time is mine. No more chopping and staking firewood to fend off winter chills. No picking up trash cans full of kindling nor sorting through junk mail to start a fire either. This is a definite perk. No frozen pipes or water shortages (I'll still keep 5-gallon water jugs handy). I'll keep my Coleman propane camp stove and oven. You never know when it might come in handy. There's nothing wrong with buying in season and being prepared even living in a senior community.

Where will I put it all? Those apartments aren't huge, but they do have a good sized food panty and closets. I don't have much need for closets. I've got one heavy winter coat and three dresses that need to be hung. All the rest of my clothes fit in mu four-drawer dresser. But I will have to do something about furniture again. But I don't need much... a twin sized bed, a table and a couple of chairs, maybe a love seat for company. A good second-hand or thrift store can deliver it. It doesn't have to be's just me. I figure $200 should get me all I need. Worse comes to worse, I'll hit my relatives up for some of the things I gave to them seven years ago. It took half of a Grandma's Attic sized U-Haul (12' box truck) to move me up here, and with all the things I mentioned, It'll take that to move me back. 

worked hard not to accumulate more stuff. What I bought made my life easier like a mandolin, a manual food processor, and an air fryer. Yes, they will all be coming with me too because I'll still be large batch cooking and processing food. Can anyone make a small pot of homemade soup? Me neither.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Garden Planting Delayed on Account of Doctors

Just when I resolved to change the way I post... 
You know the saying, "If you want to know God is in control, make a plan?"

This week the weather was wonderful! We decided to plant the spring garden.  That was the plan until I had my new base line ultrasound on my carotid arteries. I had a T-CAR procedure done on the right one back in January and it took forever to get my stamina back (over a month). But I did and we got busy with life again. So I went to my vascular surgeon's office for the scan.

Since I had no problem with the left side, I wasn't worried at all that the right side wouldn't have just as good of an outcome. Mel had gripped almost the whole way there (30 miles) about how doctors just milk your insurance with one test after another. How if they wanted to do more for me just to say no. I agreed with her. I'd pretty much had been put through the wringer for the last two and a half years with this or that treatment, complications, or surgeries.

I saw the PA right after the scan was complete, PA is supposed to stand for physician's assistant, but my husband said it stood for piss ant after a run in with an extremely arrogant one. Anyhow, she gave me the bad news. It seems like the procedure caused a dissection of the inner wall of my carotid artery. I was bleeding in the space between the inner and outer wall and it was closing off the artery leading to my brain on the right side, she judged by the pressure numbers. Another CTA and surgery was needed immediately to correct it or if it ruptured, it could cause a massive stroke or cause me to bleed out that either would kill me. So instead of saying no, I agreed. The OOPS Factor comes into play.

So the procedure to fix the problem caused a similar problem below the stent. Go figure. I always say, "I've got the luck of the Irish (by marriage) if Murphy's Law Didn't weigh in so heavily. And, I should know because I'm a Murphey." It's so true. So I won't be planting next week but having surgery instead with all its restrictions afterwards again. It will also mean another night in the hospital. If you remember, I wasn't too please with the NEGA Regional Medical System the last time I was there. 

I guess the garden will be up to Mel again this year. Lord help us!

Nothing is impossible.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Smiling in the Face of Adversity

 A few years ago I participated in a book collaboration on adversity. In going over and reviewing 2020s posts, I realized my blog had gotten away from smiling in the face of adversity.  Every other post was whinny. It was full of complaints rather than solutions. It was whinny to the point of petulance which was against what I was blogging for.

I apologize for that. I let circumstances rule my life rather than focusing on the big picture. That's about to change starting now. I'm getting back to "normalcy" again.

Have I recovered as much as I lost with my strokes? Yes, and no. With each subsequent stroke I spend an inordinate amount of time relearning and getting back to where I was before. Being able to talk and do as close to what I was doing prior to the newest stroke. I'm thankful that it's not losing new stuff. It's only relearning the ability to do rather than recovering new stuff. But, recovery is recovery.

Now, that I'm getting Botox again for the time being, I'm refocusing on balance so I can make it down the 45° inclines and declines in our homestead property. Will this ability serve me when I move into a senior apartment later on? Who knows? There are always situations that may arise where this will come in handy. 

Remember, no skill or ability is ever wasted. I'm still waiting for another possible Baclofen pump placement. Having good balance and posture is always a good thing. My focus will be getting as much ability back (contractures allowing). Even going so far as to recover enough that I can have surgery to reduce the contractures. That's a workable goal.

Making sure my specialty equipment is in good working order is also paramount. It deserves due diligence on my part. An AFO that is causing problem just breeds more issues. The same goes with ill-fitting or worn shoes. After pulling my wheelchair and roll-a-tor from storage in the barn when I broke my foot again, I found dry rot on all the tires. They had to be replaced. This could have been cheaper and easier if I had just paid them some attention while put up with petroleum jelly. My cane  tip had worn through with the metal scratching the floor, before I replaced it. How much support would it had of been if I really needed it? The same went to my bath chair and bedside commode. Rats had set up housekeeping inside the commode bucket! So I'm turning over a new leaf and giving these things monthly checks. Things do wear out with use, but decay from neglect stops now.

I'm putting on my smiling face in spite of adversity again. Enough sitting on the pity pot. I'm thinking of renting mine out if anyone is interested. Out of sight, out of mind. I'm back to being proactive and smiling through it.

Nothing is impossible!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: It Works!

 When I walked into my Hanger appointment carrying my new AFO, the tech visibly girded her loin expecting a slew of complaints. She was pleasantly surprised to learn it was unnecessary. I told her the problem and she was relieved greatly.

My little nit picking problems were addressed and fixed and I was out of the office wearing my new AFO and a smile on my face in under an hour unlike previous appointments that last 2 or 3 hours. It only took them six years to produce a working AFO for me. 

I'm up to wearing this new AFO for six hours off and on so far with no issues other than my foot swelling. It swells in part because of the stress fracture that refuses to heal and my heart issues. Neither cause has anything to do with the brace itself.

Mt Emey Comfort walking shoe
I'm loving my new shoes too. Especially since I can now wear two of them again. The knobby soles allow me to walk without slipping and sliding even on inclines while the new AFO  straightens my foot with less than a 10° inversion. I feel more confident walking. I'm once again walking without watching my feet with every step. It's amazing how comfortable they are. I'm more sure footed. Of course, the bad habits of watching my feet and walking hunched over are two habits I'll have to work on to break again.

I opted for elastic laces to replace the cloth ones. I actually the chore of tying my shoes every time they have to be loosened or come untied got old fast. The left shoe (unaffected foot)is looser than the right so kicking the shoe off with it being tied was easy. It's only 1 1/2 sizes too big for my foot and twice the wide of my foot in order to fit my AFO clad foot on my right affected side. But you can't order two different sized shoes at a time. I wish. Some sacrifices have to be made walking post stroke. Now both shoes can be slipped on and off with ease and I don't have to bother with any shoe tying. I'm just that glad to be away from Velcro shoes.

At $129 a pop it's a good thing they only come in one color because I'd go into debt buying them out of pocket buying multiple pairs of this shoe. They are that comfortable and utilitarian for my lifestyle. It feels so good to walk and feel secure and not be in pain while doing it! I even did my post stroke version of an Irish jig after I got every thing in place again.

I'm back to collecting eggs and starting plants for the garden. Next month is planting season for our 1/2 acre garden and orchard and now I'm chomping at the bit to get at it again. It's hard not to get too excited and over doing. I'm still taking it slow getting the breaking in of the new shoes and AFO. I'm still trouble shooting and watching for new pressure sores. Blisters are bad enough. I want to nip them in the buds before they get worse and lay me up again.

While I'm in a holding pattern for moving, I still got to eat, right? The plan is to split whatever is put up between the two of us when I move. I'm still set on moving into a senior housing in south Georgia. It will be nice living in a community again although I'll miss the fresh eggs and chickens... well sort of miss the chickens. 😂

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: My Leg Post Stroke

 My whirlwind of doctor visits has came to an end last week. Now, I'm just waiting on tomorrow to get into Hanger to get my newest AFO fixed. I had my botox injections last week and they are starting to kick in. Woohoo!  It's so nice to be able to move my shoulder without the muscles contracting to the point of pain. Even my ankle is looser so there is less pain where the pressure sore was forming again on my right side of my foot from wearing AFO #3. It was the usual place that has been erupting and healing for nine years. The initial pressure sore was the size of a thumb nail (a nickel). With each eruption, the area gets larger and it's now the size bigger than a half dollar on my size 6 foot. I've officially lost count of how many I've had in the same area over the years.

I've always thought of my calves and feet as one of my best features. Not anymore. My right, affected, calf has shrunk with atrophy and has definite, deep indentions where the three straps have worn into the tissue after nine years of wearing AFOs. I have developed a nail fungus on my big toes so they are thick and grayish now. The AFO strap to control my toes with the spasticity has warped my toes. They are twisted with a definite lean to the right to combat my inversion. I have developed calluses where before I had none. I grimace when applying lotion each night. I hate taking my AFO and sock off at the podiatrist's office and at therapy. It's bad enough I have to see the price I pay to walk living post stroke. It hurts my pride. I know pride is one of the seven deadly sins, but still, but I'm still female. I might never have been a raging beauty, but I had shapely calves and feet. Well, I still do on my left leg. I guess I should be thankful.

This is a disturbing fact that other stroke survivors don't talk about. Or at least, I haven't read or heard about it. Is it just me? I'm beginning to wonder. Maybe others are so grateful about being able to walk post stroke that they are not concerned about it. I'd take a picture and show you, but I'm sickened enough by the state my leg is in. I don't want to sicken y'all too. I've been praying for God to take this heartbreaking burden from me.

It's official. I've put my name on two waiting lists for senior living apartments back home in south Georgia. It's looking like six months to a year until my name reaches the top. After speaking with a counselor, I'm still too independently able not require assisted living facility yet. 

After getting the county ambulance bill for helping me get up off the floor the when I was released from the hospital after my T-CAR procedure, I decided to check on the pendant assistance services (medical alert). They are actually pretty reasonable ($19-$36 a month). It sure beats the $400 bill for the ambulance for one fall. I want to wait a month or two to see how much therapy can restore my balance first before adding another bill into the mix.

Getting older and being disabled is so-o-o much fun! Yes, that was facetious remark. Every day I search for things to be thankful for and most times... I succeed. But you couldn't tell it from this post.

Nothing is impossible.