Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Spasticity Won

 I spoke too soon last week when touting the laurels on my newest AFO. It worked as advertised. Finally! It needed some tweaking, but that wasn't unexpected. A nonslip pad needs to be placed on the heel, the bottom strap (across my toes) to hook tape half of the closure was too long, the and something about the top strap was causing shin pain. The shin pain is alleviated by loosening the strap just a hair. The nonslip pad on the heel enables me to walk to the bathroom without having to wear a shoe without slipping. For me, this is very important to keep me from peeing the bed. I flood the pad otherwise. Just putting on the AFO is pushing the limit. Nothing seriously wrong with this AFO. No undue pressure anywhere, my foot was almost straight, and I could walk without constantly watching my foot placement. In other words, it worked like it was supposed to unlike the other four AFOs they tried to fit me with.

The AFO worked so well that my PT mentioned starting balance training after I come back to therapy after the new series of Botox kicks in about the second week in March. To save rehab hours, we suspend treatments and stretches until then. The pain in between is only about a 5 or 6 so it's manageable. Unlike before when I hit 8 or 9 between sessions.

That lasted for almost a week. I felt confident enough to fill a 55-gallon trash can with kindling. Not only that, but I dragged the filled container up the ramp and into the back porch. Between my AFO woes and my T-CAR procedure, it had been over a month since I felt like I could do that. I got up one morning at 4 AM and had to pee very bad. I donned my AFO over my socks and headed to the bathroom ten steps away. I just barely made it. It took a minimal clean up. I noticed my AFO strap was kind of wonky. It still held me up, but it wasn't right. While seated on the toilet, I tried to correct it when I noticed the problem. The fuzzy side that was supposed to be fastened onto the plastic side of the AFO was still attached to the strap. I half-assed affixed it back into position and hobbled back to the bedroom where my old (#3) AFO was. I sat on my desk chair and tried to no avail attempt to fix my new AFO. 

I ended up telling and giving it to Mel to try with some Gorilla glue later. After she got the old adhesive off the piece of Velcro and the AFO, she was ready to try and fix it. EXCEPT her cat found that small piece of Velcro was something neat to play with while Mel scrubbed the adhesive off the AFO! When Mel returned to the table, it was gone! Her cat had gone outside. So much for a quick fix.

My Hanger rep had the foresight of scheduling a follow up appointment so I'll have to wait another two weeks before I can get it fixed. HARUMPH! I'm not a happy camper, but at least I won't have to wait a month and all my issues will be taken care of. I actually got to wear the same shoes for almost a week and I'll get it fixed in time to do my physical therapy again.  And, in this instance the spasticity won.

Nothing is impossible.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: I Got It!


Well, Hanger finally called!! My new AFO was waiting for me. I had the appointment on Monday. It's pretty and white for now. When I look at the two, I have my old one AFO #3, the old one is badly discolored, the straps are dirty and fraying, and it's badly in need of some new straps. I'm going to hold off on that until after the break-in period for this new one. 

"Please God, let this new AFO not cause new pressure sores nor break the bones in my foot. Let it work as its suppose to. Amen!"

I can actually wear two of the same shoes again. So far, I'm up to four hours wearing the new one, four hours with the old one, and then back again. No complaints as of yet. It took wearing the other new AFO for eight hours before it broke a bone in my foot so I'm crossing my fingers it won't happen again. Maybe, just maybe, Hanger in northeast Georgia may finally have built as AFO that doesn't cause me problems and let me get on with my life.

I currently am doing no therapy with my leg because of the mismatched shoes, a broken foot,  and my AFO issues. I'm hoping that will change and I'll be able to start on it. 

My balance is horrible! I'm having to use my cane outside again. In fact, it's my shadow again. I'm having to touch furniture to correct my balance issues inside and I'm having to look at my feet with every step. I'm hunched over like an old woman now with very poor posture. It's really killing my back. At my current rate of falls for my therapist, she calculated and extended it to... 48 falls a year! That's scary because these are actual falls that I'm unable to catch myself. These bad habits will have to be broken again once I feel more secure in walking again. I'm looking forward to that.

All of this remains to be seen. I'll give it until my birthday in April before I decide to go with the new orthotics place, if it doesn't work.

Nothing is impossible.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: Waiting and Waiting Again


I'm aggravated. I often joke how God let my stroke happen to teach me patience, but no matter how true that statement is, it's still a work in progress for me almost 9 years later. I'm still waiting on Hanger to get back to me with news on my AFO. I'm hobbling around in my ill fitted brace and a broken foot. I can't stand longer than thirty minutes without the swelling of my foot to be unbearably painful. I can only walk short distances (50 ft) because the articulating ankle and the huge (2") girth distance my leg and the brace causes my foot and leg to rotate within the brace aggravating my pressure sore on the bottom of my foot again. 

Luckily it's winter and it's basically our "down time" for the homestead. So I don't have to tend a garden, critters, nor orchard. This will change in two months. I've called and left message to no call backs or been told "No news yet." 

Meanwhile, my Botox is wearing down so my therapist is getting less extension and having to work harder to get it. Even with dry needling, there's less carryover effects. But this doom and gloom report will be over with come the second week in March when I get the new series of Botox injections (plus a week before it kicks in). The good news is that they haven't had to go up on the dose yet. I've still got some range of motion in my shoulder so my pain levels are manageable. I truly wish my Baclofen pump hadn't been removed and COVID had never happened to delay my getting a new one (as do a lot of folks).

Do I sound whiny or have I just been on the pity pot too long this week? I'm just tired of waiting. I've tried being patient, but now the little stuff is starting to aggravate me. I have succeeded in not sweating the little stuff. Knowing it's ALL little stuff in the grand scheme of things. Except for this week. I see myself slipping back to my old ways of thinking (back when I was an alcoholic and junkie). It's a dangerous time for me and my sobriety I know this but have not been able to snap myself out of it. Maybe, this coupling with Valentine's day compounds my inability to cope. You see, thirty years ago my beloved asked me to share his life with with him on this day has something to do with it too. I'm just in a fragile state right now.

So pray for me for the next couple weeks if you can. I've never asked this of anyone before even though I know they do. And, thank you in advance.

Nothing is impossible.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Paranoid Much?


Note- This post has nothing to do with strokes or living post stroke. It's my personal opinion. I am not making a political statement
I'm not a gloom and doom type of person. I guess you can figure out that about me if you've read a few of my posts. The news is filled with posts that would make anyone paranoid, right? Coupled with fake news, it's enough to make a sane person a little bit crazy or concerned at the very least. While I am concerned by recent events, I've moved myself into spectator mode. I don't spend my waking or sleeping moments swelling on it. I stand on my faith to do this. My "Daddy" in heaven has control over all in my life. He promised that I'd have a shelter, food, and clothes on my back. Through my decades on this earth, He hasn't failed me. It's a blanket coverage. So why should I be more than concerned about all the goings on outside my immediate realm? Things just have a way of working out in the long run.

My roommate, Mel, is not like that. She refers to folks like me as those who "drink the kool-aid," or have blinders on. Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and anything made in China are evil. She refuses to use them anymore. She just sits in front of her computer each day ( a HP running Windows) and scours the internet for like minded people who believes as she does. Isn't this type of behavior like "drinking the kool-aid" also?

I received a package from Amazon last week, a set of pans to make my air fryer more useful. She hit the roof. Then she read the box and the products were made in China! It sent her into outer space. I spent the better part of a hour half listening to how she was trying to make my stroke addled brain understand how wrong this was. How Amazon and China were huge devils bringing about Revelations. How China hates us so much that they not only sent a worldwide pandemic nut they are trying to poison us with their products too. 

It's not that I don't understand her, but really?! There's nothing wrong with my mind although I do get confused at times. Yes, I buy American when it's possible but honestly, they usually have Chinese made parts in them. There isn't electronics that doesn't have some bit or piece of them not made in some third world country or other. America hasn't been in production mode in a very long time.  It will take time to fall back into it. I really don't think it's even possible to do across the board anymore. Price point matters also especially in these economic times also. The dollar doesn't stretch as far as it once did. Now that I think about it, did it ever?  It seems the same complaint no matter which decade you are living through. I also believe in shopping locally as much as I can. I do not ask where individual components come from. I'm just not that obsessive about it. Maybe I'm wrong.

I pray about the welfare of others. I pray about major decisions I have to make in my sphere of influence. Within that sphere, I'll fight injustices after given all sides of the story as a logical choice. But I do hear all sides of a story not just one side or the other. Do I care about election fraud, stock market wrangling, and any one of a thousand issues being reported? Yes and no. I reserve the right to choose my battles. Let's face it honestly, how much influence do I have in the afore mentioned areas... not much. All that I can do is pray about it and hope that saner heads prevail. So that's what I do. After all, there's no greater powers than faith and hope.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sunday Stroke Survival: So I'm Hobbling Around the Homestead...

 in an ill fitting AFO, mismatched shoes, and a broken foot picking up kindling for the wood stove. I'm dragging the 55-gallon trashcan (1 of 3) behind me. No word yet on when I get the new one. I'm making my way towards one of six brush piles we make during the year. I know by the end of winter that four of these piles will be empty, all the leaves will have decomposed and fresh compost will be ready to fertilize the garden, before renewing another brush pile on top. When you live on two acres of heavily treed land, there's no shortage of twigs and branches (and even trees) that fall or are cut down during the year.

We have no shortage of various sized kindling to burn each winter. We strategically placed each pile no more than 10' from the house so they are easy to get to. We've placed firewood stations 5' from either the front or back doors of the house. Each will hold two cords of split firewood. We've rarely gone through four cords of firewood a winter. Kindling is any branch under two inches in diameter. I can easily snap up to 1 1/2" diameter branches under my affected arm. Up to 2" diameter branches by stomping on it with my unaffected foot. I can bench press 100 lbs with my unaffected foot and 40 lbs with my affected foot so long as I can hold onto something for balance.          ** Looks can be deceiving. This pile is 5' tall and 9-10' wide.

My method of picking up kindling is different than my able-bodied roommate. I'll break the twigs and branches into 1' sections before I put it in the can. Mel puts lengths up to 5' into the can to be broken up as she needs it. If I had use of both hands and both legs, I could get away with doing it too, but I don't. Plus, I don't end up with a lot of pieces that I can't break that has to be carried out for the saw to cut. I simply put these pieces over by the saw in a pile unto themselves. To me, it's less steps over all, but that's just me.

There's a method to our madness when it comes to these piles. 

  • By sorting fallen branches this way, the home place looks fairly kept up during the year.
  • By strategically placement of these piles, they are easy to get to.
  • There is good air flow between the branches so they dry quicker... even after a rain storm.
  • You can easily fill 55-gallon trashcans with kindling. A kind of one-stop-shopping.
  • We can easily pick and choose from a variety of sizes.
  • It's a year long compost pile in the making with addition of new branches after every storm.
  • Loads of fresh composted fertilizer each spring to replenish garden beds.
Yes, it far easier to grab twigs and branches from piles than walking the whole two acres and search for them each winter. I'm so glad I thought of this evolution after the first winter I was here. When Mel has the time to spare, she'll break out her electric chain saw and chop the 3" or larger branches into 18" lengths and this is our firewood for late spring and early fall burning. Any branches or small trees over 6" in diameter gets stacked towards next year's firewood needs into a fourth firewood rack. She'll whittle away at the longer branches bit by bit as she gets time.

I'm still trying to configure a harness to help hold the chainsaw steady for me to use one handed. Until then, a chop saw works well. I use multiple clamps to help stabilize the branches as I cut. One way or another things get done before we need to use them. 

Nothing is impossible.