Happy Halloween

grindstone

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  There is very little commercialism, compared to other United States holidays. Actually, Halloween is celebrated with out the banks, government, and post office shutting down. Creativity is more valued than a plastic mass produced mask.  Yet, if all you have is plastic, anything goes. People still have fun.  I remember the town I lived in last year had several family friendly front yard giveaways. One was just a simple folding table set up with coffee and hot chocolate, free to warm anyone passing by.  Another was an elaborate feast, with veggies made to look like body parts and rice crispy treats cut out in holiday shapes. There also was the family that lived down the street from me that had a front yard barbeque while passing out candy.  What an enjoyable way to celebrate the sharing of sugar.  Sit on the front porch with twinkling orange lights, jack-o-lanterns lighting up the side walk, just put your feet up, sip your beer, and watch the parade of costumed creatures stroll by.  My neighbor with two dogs even put costumes on the doggies to greet their guests. More sharing and good feelings than Thanksgiving, less pressure and stress than Christmas, and if you don’t want to participate you just turn your light off.  No one makes a big deal and feels sorry that you can’t afford fruitcake.  If I was in charge of all the holidays, Halloween would be tops. After Halloween would be Thanksgiving, followed by a second Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. No one should have to work on Holidays, except those who volunteer.  I have involuntarily worked too many Holidays and weekends in my life.  I am fortunate now, that I won’t have to work any Holidays for the rest of this year.

The health insurance I worked overtime, weekends, and holidays for was not going to pay my medical bills. Second try, the emergency state health insurance said they would pay my bills.  I got the news today that all the paperwork I filled out was for naught. No one is going to pay my bills. I am supposed to stay calm to keep my blood pressure low, that has not been happening often. My credit has officially tanked, or will be soon.  Everything I worked the last few years for is slipping away or has already sank. Tomorrow is November 1st and I can’t wait to restart all the fun again. A Lesson was learned the hard way again. The next time I go back to work, it is for myself.

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Dreading the Morning Alarm

taken by my son, the bird lover

It was so good to sleep in for a change.  Granted my sleep schedule has been greatly disrupted since I was first in the hospital in March.  I could not sleep for a week, out of fear of dying.  I also could not get comfortable in the hospital bed.  Now it is nice and cozy under the comforter. However, I still get the racing, bulging heart feeling.  Sometimes, it is shortness of breath or my head ringing that keep me awake.  My neurologist suggested I get a deep neck massage every night. Too bad he did not write that on a prescription pad and send it to my insurance for approval.  I would love to wake up refreshed and ready to start the day. Most days I wake up only to send my son off to school. I promptly head back to dreamland to catch up.  I don’t want to wait for my eternal rest.

Today was a quiet day at home.  I fell asleep reading, in the middle of the day.  I don’t know if I will ever make it through this book, at the rate I am going.  I chalk it up to the brain damage left by my stroke, or caused by my meds.  I constantly have a feeling in my brain that does not clear up.

Like I always say, or someone did, tomorrow is another day.  I need to take more pictures. Make a new to-do list. Finish my never ending paperwork.  I need to take the time to enjoy Halloween. It is my favorite holiday.

Fast Friday

tree near blue mountain, ny

Everyone knows how time goes by faster as you get older.  Today, I must of aged 10 years. I don’t know how the day slipped away so fast. I had a long drive for an appointment. I took my camera, I saw a really cool cobblestone library. I made a mental note to stop on the way home to take pictures and study it closer. I drove right past on the way home. I realized it, before reaching the edge of town. I could of turned the car around. I kept driving, too tired to even cheat and take the picture out the car window. I also drove past a very large piece of granite. I love rocks. Other people had previously stopped and showed their love with colorful graffiti. I drove on passing two deer grazing on the grass that grows next to the road. Two more dear sprinted across the road in front of me. Cars could not wait to pass me. I continued on at my pace. I wanted to be fast, but I was too tired to hit a deer. I made it home. I have nothing accomplished today and it is too late to do over.

Lack of Sleep, More Therapy, Exhaustion

mamma and baby birch

I have not been this tired in a long time. Well, I have, but not all day long.  I found out my occupational therapy was finally approved by my insurance. Hot Dog. I missed my morning nap to take my son for a few immunizations, going against my grain. The school nurse can not harass me for the rest of the year. I saw his new (only one month) school sneakers up close as he was sitting on the exam table, waiting for the doctor to come in. They are already garbage, cracked around the front.  Not even real leather means “quality” anymore.  He has three choices now.  He can wear the new snow boots all day,  like Napoleon Dynamite.  He can wear the cheap canvas slip on sneaks, bought on clearance to play in. Most likely he is going to wear the new garbage tomorrow. He is oblivious, as I was.

I fell asleep reading another book from the library, not because it is boring.  I am just that tired.  Tina Fey is so talented and smart, I am enjoying her book Bossypants.  I will finish it tomorrow.  My warm comforter is now my best friend.

Tiny Part of My History

This post started as a reply to a comment, since it was getting so long I decided to write as my daily post. It gets tough to come up with topics, especially if I don’t know which way I want my blog to go.

old school-when you walked barefoot seven miles in a blizzard

About the picture of the cook stove in yesterday’s blog…..I wish that was my stove, but it was in a Museum…..it was blocked off, so I could not even get close to open the doors.  I have looked at them online, but I don’t even have a place to put one now…..I have moved in with my mother, temporarily, while my house is going through foreclosure. I am just starting to be able to maneuver a vacuum.  I mostly get my own breakfast and lunch, and I can cook now that I take steps without my cane, freeing my right hand  to carry stuff.  When my son is done with his school year, next summer, I plan on getting an apartment for a few years.  Meanwhile, I hope my left arm recovers enough so I can do almost anything.  I need to do this, even if it means learning new adaptive measures.

During March 2011 I was  on a mini-vacation, in North Carolina ,when I had my stroke.  I was sleeping at the hotel in Chapel Hill, I woke up in the middle of the night with what I call an anxiety or panic attack. I woke up my boyfriend and told him I thought I was dying.  I could not calm down. Once he had me calmer, I noticed my left arm was a little bit numb.  I thought I must have been sleeping on it, I always sleep on one side or another.  I got up and walked to the bathroom, at that time I was walking normal.  I decided to take a bath, so I would be ready for early the next morning, we were to take off to visit Myrtle Beach.  When I tried to get out of the tub I noticed it seemed harder to move.  I really did not think anything was wrong at this point, I thought I was tired. We had walked all over the previous day, and I spent the rest of the day working out in the hotel gym, swimming, and in the hot tub. I got dressed. While walking to go back to sleep my knee kept giving out.  I also noticed my arm felt number, even though I could still move it. This worried me only slightly, but never had I suspected a stroke.  I also thought it could not be a heart attack, since I had no pain.  I had read that heart attacks are different in women, I told my boyfriend something was wrong with me.  He called 911 right away, he was what I thought overly cautious.  By the time the paramedics came, I was convinced something was wrong, my arm was still numb, and my knee kept giving out. They insisted on taking me out on a stretcher, I thought I could walk down to the ambulance.  That was how clueless I was at the time.  Once they took my blood pressure, and said it was 280, I knew something was seriously wrong. I don’t remember what the bottom number was.  I still did not think it was a stroke until I could not move my left arm or leg at all. The paralysis arrived about the same time as I arrived to the hospital.

I felt very fortunate that the closest hospital was Duke University.  They had teams of doctors, some experts, some learning. They took a CAT scan right away, my brain was not bleeding at all.  The next day, they did a MRI. My main arteries where not clogged.  I had an ischemic stoke, not caused by a clot or bleed.  After more tests, they concluded that it was caused by a combination of high blood pressure, high triglycerides and something else I can’t remember now.  It caused one small capillary in my brain to collapse, or shut off.  The one, smaller than a pea size, part of my brain that died controlled the nerves and muscles in my left side.  They said some of the area around the “event” as they call it can recover, some parts eventually “rewire”, and a part is dead and not coming back.  Every stroke is different, every person recovers different, so they gave no predictions of what my final outcome will be.

I was in the hospital for a week, and most of the time that first day, I did not realize I could have died. When I talked to my employer, I actually said I don’t know when I am coming back, the doctors would not give me a return date.  In my mind, at the time, it would be a week or two.  The nurse finally spelled it out for me.  I would not be going back anytime soon, and it would be a long hard road just to get close to normal.

The original purpose of this post was to answer a reader’s comment.  I decided to use it as a post, and hopefully a warning to everyone that reads it, take your health seriously.  I was not on any meds at the time this happened.  I knew my blood pressure ran high.  My previous doctor said it was nothing they could not handle when it was in the 130-140 range.  I should have been put on meds then.  I had taken my pressure myself and got readings in the 180’s.  The doctor should have listened to me.  I finally changed my insurance at work, and called a new doctor.  Ironically, my first appointment with the new doctor was the week after my stroke.  Sadly, it was because it had to be booked so far in advance.  If you don’t think healthcare in the USA sucks, you are naive. Too little too late, too bad so sad for me. I won’t even go into my health insurance horror stories.  I have had to fight with the few doctors (that accepted my insurance and new patients) available since then to get my appointments sooner.  I still think waiting a few weeks is too long, but is better than waiting over a month like the doctor I never made it too. Everyone should believe in themselves, make the appointments, even if you have to argue with office staff. Take your meds, change your lifestyle, only if you want to live.

More points I think only a survivor can get across is the symptoms can vary slightly from one article you read to the next.  Some articles or campaigns make it sound like you have to have all the symptoms. You do not have them all.  I never had a headache, not even a slight one.  My stroke could have been deadly or more serious if I had not arrived at the hospital in time to drastically bring my blood pressure down. I did not feel that severely sick.  I also did not smoke or drink, which increases the chances of having a stroke.

To answer the question about what meds I am on now.

baby aspirin- this is good for anyone that can stomach it
Lopressor- metroprolol  50 mg twice a day
Amlodipine besylate 10 mg
Hydrochlorothiazide 25 mg
Niaspan
Lipitor currently….depending on insurance I was on Crestor (allergic to it)or Simvastatin, they also have other statins they change around depending on your health insurance (that just does not sit right with me)

Why is Everything Printed So Small ?

cook stove

I finally made it to the library tonight.  I ordered Blogging for Dummies, so watch for my blog to improve, after I get my hands on that.  Meanwhile, I rediscovered an old fave author, Edward Abbey.  I started to read Down The River, and I can’t get over how small the print is.  Come on, nobody has eyesight that good.  I used to, and it is still close to 20/20.  I have the same problem reading the phone number on credit cards, and the worst is the IMEI on the cell phone.  If I had the money, to gamble on the fashion stock market (something I would never do,even if there actually is one), I would put it all on monocles to make a big comeback.

I love retro design, mostly mid-century modern, art deco, and kitsch.  I also like to mix those together and toss something useful in as well, like a wood fired cook stove.  I wonder if heat resistant paint comes in turquoise.  Another experiment I can not afford would be to use heat resistant adhesive to attach rocks, to said cook stove, to make it look more built in.  It might be easier to hire an expert to build a masonry oven.  That would feel toasty right now.  I can’t wait for my monocles to pay off, so I am buying a powerball ticket tomorrow.

Don’t worry, if  I win, I will still read books from the library and struggle with this blog.

Working on my Creative Therapy

work in progress

This is my throw pillow I started to crochet at work (on breaks).  Since my stroke it takes me hours to complete a row instead of minutes.  I can not move my left fingers to control the tension, like I used to.  I chose these colors since I had the lavender and black left over from another project.  I bought the brighter purple to liven it up.  I decided on a throw pillow, since I was doing it at work and an afghan would get too big to store in my desk drawer.  I say eat your heart out Missoni. I started this way before Target tried to keep Missoni fashions in stock.  I have actually been making crocheted afghans since I was a kid in 4-H.  I used to relax, and crochet away, multitasking with phone conversations or television/movie viewing.  It now is frustrating, and takes full concentration.  I won’t give it up, until it becomes as easy as before.

Seriously Sunday

garden gate

What did I accomplish today? Nothing, another day of contemplating instead of doing.  I can not even get it together for a decent blog post. Please, all I ask is for one ray of sunshine per day. I need to stop making excuses.  I don’t need sun to shine down on me. I need a ray of sunshine that comes from within. If I can’t understand where it comes from, at least let it shine outwards without a spark.

Can I be Cold and Creative?

into the cracks and crevices

No, today it was raining, or gray, and a good 10 degrees colder than expected.  I am wearing two pair of socks, because I could not find my fuzzy winter socks.  I did get an idea of what to dress up for on Halloween night.  I saw a commercial on TV today, for a fleece jumpsuit (think beyond snuggy crazy infomercial).  I can’t remember the exact name, but it had the word “lazy” in it.  It comes in bright pink with a hood.  I am going to sew two ears on the hood, and maybe a long pink tail.  I am going to be a fat, crippled, pink panther!  I thought my only options were going to be a hunchback, or wizard so I would have to turn my cane into a staff.

No, really, I am going to buy something named “lazy” that is pink.  I already own pink fuzzy socks.  After Halloween, I can keep it in my car in case of a blizzard.  I will be warm after I zip it on, and hard to miss by the snowplow.  If only the pajama jeans were on sale too.  I could get used to the ultra casual attire. The voices in my head are saying to be that person that goes out in public with the men’s pajama pants (already guilty), the fleece jumpsuit (when it is too cold for jammies), or sporting the pajama jeans on special occasions.  I could be the crazy old lady with the pizza stains and fuzzy slippers hobbling around a town near you.  Beep (friendly, not blast) your horn as you pass by.