March 28, 2011

Margins, Tumbleweeds and Chainsaws

     The biggest news in my life right now is that I can drive!!  I could probably write an entire blog simply on that glorious freedom but nope other fun insights to share today.
    I didn't hear this story directly but I need to credit Jay Wright with its origins (props to you~Jay)  We've all seen westerns with tumbleweeds blowing through the town usually implying drought or the bad guys are on their way.  Well here is what I didn't know.  Tumbleweeds actually start out as green bushes growing about 3 - 4 feet high and some varieties actually have flowers.  OK here's a fun fact they actually originated in Mongolia ~  so much for that cowboy image now!  Anyway they have very very shallow roots which are so weak that when the plant dries it actually breaks away from its roots and "tumble" about wherever the wind takes it.  So onto the story as it relates to me.
     How rooted are you?  You can take this in many many contexts.  Are you rooted in spiritually?  Do you have a supportive community?  Are you a soloist and not only onstage?  We were not designed to flourish independently.  In order to thrive we have to be rooted.  And to even think about surviving the rough times we need to be deeply deeply rooted.  The tumbleweeds dry out because their roots don't go deep enough to get enough water for their survival.  They wind up not only disengaging from their roots but they don't even get to control where they are going.  There are so many ways that plays out in our lives today.  Politically do you just agree with whatever is the popular "thought of the day" is a good example.  I am not suggesting you need to be campaigning or door thumping but are you rooted in what you believe.  Do you vote for your party regardless of the candidate or are you willing to vote your some other way if your conscience prompts you?  (Wow guess I have politics on the mind and didn't realize it).  Having teenagers I am so aware of how public opinions so greatly influences their lives.  Without sounding way too uptight or up righteous but when I can't let Meg watch a show that is on at 8pm due to sexual content I think there's a problem with that.  I remember not being the only kid who wasn't allowed to watch The Bunkers because my parents never knew what was going to be said.  And if a show did have questionable content it was usually on after what was considered the family hour.  Tumbleweeds.  We need to be able to dig in and form deep roots on what we believe our convictions are.  Are you feeding those convictions through community?  While I believe it is important to listen to and understand various and opposing views I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves and our beliefs to do all we can to further understand and develop them.  The best way to do this is to be connected.  Don't be out on the fringe with a group rather get in there...get your hands dirty.  Those connections those roots are going to be what will sustain you through the dry times. 
I definitely learned that over the last 5 weeks.  If it wasn't for the community of New Grace I am not sure how I would have gotten through.  They have carried me and nourished me in ways I didn't realize I needed.  When we rely on others not only are we blessed but we allow them to be blessed by sharing whatever gift it is you needed.  It makes me think of that 70's song.... Lean on me.  Please dear friends don't be a Tumbleweed I want you to grow like those beautiful trees you see along a river. 
     Now at the same time that I want you growing within a community I want you to take a moment and look at your life.... are there any margins?  HUH?? Margins... you know those things on the outside of notebook paper where we weren't allowed to write in during school.  The empty parts of the page.  do you have any in your life?  Or is your life jam packed with activities?  Now this is definitely a bit of the pot calling the kettle black and I openly ashamedly admit that.  I am a stay at home mom so usually my day is pretty open... however.  Before school and after school never mind the weekends PACKED!  That's with just 2 kids at home.  Last year when Em was still at home there were many times I was literally in 2 places at once it seemed.  And I don't think my kids are any more active than most.  And because I was a SAHM I was the one volunteering at school (at one time in 2 different counties) or wherever the was.  The busy activities of the kids well half of them are church related so that can't be too much right?  Our BETA group had homework a week ago and we had to create a margin in our daily life.  Admittedly my life currently has  A LOT OF MARGINS in it.  But this made me realize how in the past a margin was needed and we didn't even see it.  Em loves singing and being in choirs were a incredible part of her high school experience.  However around Christmas senior year it was time to leave one.  Obviously we knew this would open up her schedule but both of us were surprised how less stressful our lives were with that one decision.  It doesn't need to be hours of time but try to find a few minutes of margin time in your week :0)

    Okay CHAINSAWS LOL.  I just absolutely love the chain saw we bought this past Christmas.  I have been (OK was until last month) truly having fun cutting down trees in our yard.  There was this one tree that has to go so my citrus trees can move on in. (FYI we don't have a large property at all but that hasn't stopped me from changing the landscape) So back to this tree.  Obviously we are 5/6 weeks behind on yard work and gardening.  I have a list of things that need to be done and frankly they have to be done in order.  So before I can proceed down the list this tree had to come down.  Usually I am the one wielding the chainsaw and they boys are pulling on the ropes and such.  It really hurt to not be a part of the process this weekend and simply take pictures.  The tree is down however it did drop in our neighbors and thank heavens he's safe but Michael had a close miss as it dropped.  What can I say except... Never send a man to do a woman's job is all I can say !  
MaryEllen, Becca and Patrick get ready!



Well it is down.. not in our yard but down


March 20, 2011

Tulips and Hyacinths! Yeah not really

     Spring is finally here.  I am so excited I just love Spring and Easter is my favorite holiday.  As you could have guessed from the title or my choice of pictures... Tulips and Hyacinths are my most favorite Spring Flowers.  You usually can't grow them here because our Winter doesn't get cold enough for a long enough period of time.  However yours truly refuses to give up and every year I will buy those leftover flowers after Easter that need a little love *usually 25 cents or so LOL* plant them and enjoy them for a few weeks.  I never pull up their bulbs in the hopes that maybe just maybe next year they'll come back.  Well Florida had a doozy of a winter and not only did I have a Hyacinth in the back yard but I have the makings of 3 Tulips popping their long leaves through the dirt in the front.  Also an Easter Lily has decided to join in the fun ~~ Woo hoo.  I didn't get to enjoy the Deep Blue Hyacinth for long as it bloomed just before my 3 week detour :0(
     OK the real reason I started off all springy is my heart is just broken today.  We only got to have Emily home for about 60 hours and the trip back was honestly just not an option.  I went with Michael to bring her home Wednesday/Thursday.  We didn't do much of anything Wednesday but drive to just outside of Pensacola ~ Exit 56 and spent the night.  The hotel had a really late checkout ~ noon.  So we milked that.  Shopped a little at Target and the Dollar Tree picking some fun things up for Em's room.  Then we hung out at Buffalo's Wild Wings for over 90 minutes waiting on her flight to land.  Picked her up, loaded the car.  Got something to eat and drove home.  Mind you that I did none of the driving.  OMG exhausted doesn't even come close to how I felt Friday.  And Saturday.  And the better part of Sunday as well.
     Not driving Emily back just feels so wrong.  I know it is great the she and Michael got to have that time together but!  That's all... BUT.  That's my thing.  That's my time with her.  The 2 days flew by so fast I didn't have any time to talk with her.  I didn't even get to look at the papers she brought home.  I just didn't :0(  We really tried to cram a lot in here at home.  We had a wonderful dinner Friday night with Pat and Jane McSweeney.  They brought over a Corned Beef Dinner with the works so we could have a belated SPD.  We truly laughed until 11pm when Jane finally mentioned she had to go to work the next morning.  Saturday we dragged ourselves out of the house around noon to do some b'day shopping for Meg. She wanted a new Bible and I believe especially at her age that's a very personal thing and wanted her to have exactly what she wanted.  Then we went out for an early b'day lunch... Mellow Mushroom (Meg's favorite).  After a quick stop at the Library we headed home and I was so tired Michael took the girls out shopping for their Easter Dresses.  (Translation:  He was at Chili's and the girls shopped)  Dinner was provided by a couple from church.... If you have never had Grasshopper Pie you need to get yourself some soon!!.  We watched 2 movies... I crashed.

     It was 1030 before I was actually ready to move.  We just made it to The Pig for bfast....sooo good.  We had a blast, Patrick providing entertainment as usual over the silliest things which when written out just lose their humor.  Back home the car was packed in 10 minutes and Michael, Emily and Patrick were gone.  They dropped Patrick at a friend's so he could spend the night and go to DA tomorrow.  So 12noon it is just Meg and I.  She's fighting a cold and a bit draggy so we just watched a movie.  We went to Beta (Thanks Leona for driving) came home and played games. 
OK bad mom confession.... I had a blast with MaryEllen we played games for over 2 hours. No TV on.  No music blaring just us laughing having fun and I loved it.  It really wasn't where I wanted to be.  I wanted to be in Mobile giving Emily one last hug.  I don't know that I'll be able to drive back in April for her Opera as I originally planned.  I'm pretty sure I will but for the first time ever I can't make that promise.  AND IT IS KILLING ME!!!  I have always been the one she can depend on.  Even during our turbulent period back when she turned 14 it was me who was at everything.  UGGHH I swear I can just feel the stress of this building in my body.  In fact earlier while Meg and I were watching You Again (Good Movie) I kept thinking oh they'll be in Tallahassee soon and they'll call.  As time went on and they didn't call I felt my chest get tight....WHAT AM I Doing to MYSELF?  Am I really this stupid?  Harsh reality is .....Yes I am. 

March 17, 2011

3/17 and random throughts

 Happy St Patrick's Day!!!

     I love SPD.  We aren't really even Irish but I just love it. (You'd think with our kids having been name Emily Rose, Michael Patrick and MaryEllen Grace we were Irish through and through... sorry NOT)  I think I got into the day when I was teaching Pre-School when we lived in VA Beach. 
****Cute story warning feel free to skip****
 I loved exploring various cultures with my class each month.  So when March rolled around my creative juices were flowing.  There was a small foot bridge that separated our school from a park.  Every day I had my kids stomp across the bridge making sure the Leprechaun living there would be awake on 3/17.  Why there was a leprechaun under there~ thank heavens they didn't ask LOL.  Finally the day approached and we were ready to find the leprechaun and his magical pot of gold.  In preparation we painted baby jars green b/c  you have to store your gold in something Green.  Well while we wre gone don't you know the leprechaun visited our class and left magical while powder in our treasure jars with a note.  All we had to do was add milk to the jars, shake it and we'd have a special treat.   The white powder turned into Pistachio Pudding!!  Of course I continued this with my own kids.  We added making traps for the leprechauns and I wish I had pictures of some of the things they'd come up with.  I think they were just as disappointed there was no Leprechaun as they were with no Santa!
***back to the blog***
    Usually by now I would have baked 2 dozen loaves of Irish Soda Bread.  Dyed various foods green and planned a wonderful menu.  So I'll admit it feels a bit weird not having done any of that.  Granted most of that has to do with my limited mobility but still.  Also not being home for the holiday is the real reason behind most of the non-happenings.  Though all is not lost as Friday the entire brood will be joined by the wonderful McSweeney's for a full Gaelic St Patrick's day celebration (maybe I should warn the neighbors) 
     Anyway I am sitting in a hotel room watching TV killing time  until tomorrow when we get Emily. But I have to tell you it was one on the nicest rides.  I really enjoy the drive to Mobile.  Which is basically I-10 for all but 1 hour of it.  We saw a family of deers feeding on the side of the road.  And spring has definitely sprung on all the farms we passed.  I don't recall being that aware of so many calves before.  Yes we were speeding by at 75 mph but they were so sweet just the same.  And then the landscape.  I really wish I was able to take pictures of some of the trees.  There is one tree in the middle of this meadow and it is dry white with its branches forming these beautiful upward reaching arms.  Unfortunately speeding by doesn't enable photo ops.  I think one time I'll make this drive without a time crunch so I can just stop at will.  You know that day would wind up being rainy or overcast or there would be no great landscapes that I notice...
    So we are spending the night in Pensacola, just over an hour from Mobile.  It is 1am CST, 10 pm Alaska time and the kids are getting ready to head to the airport for their return.  Emily just called and said it would be easier to meet us at school than the airport~I'm a bit bummed as I was going to make signs to wave at her, maybe she figured that out LOL.  Truthfully with the walker that will be easier but definitely less fun. So until tomorrow

March 16, 2011

It's here!!

   When asked what I do for a living I usually answer that I am a professional Mom.  It's funny to see people think about this for a second or so.  I just like the sound of it and well throwing people off, LOL.  So you can imagine how incredibly excited I have been for today to arrive.  I guess I should clue you in as to why.
     Emily is a freshman at the University of Mobile studying Opera and Ministry. (I know they go together so well).  Finding a way to fully experience all that Mobile had to offer in both of these areas has been a bit of a juggling act but Em's figured out a way.  So we weren't surprised when she said she wanted to be a part of the school's spring break mission trip program.  In the fall they offer a weekend trip and she had a blast in Nashville.  The goal of these programs is to make them accessible to all students so they really keep the costs as low as possible.  I just love how they opened up the spring trip.  As with most trips there are a limited number of spots available.  So the morning of registration they tweeted where the sign ups were.  Can't you just imagine cars circling the campus awaiting this tweet!  When she got there they asked her if she'd like to join the team to Alaska there were 2 spots left!! Like she might say no???
     Emily and the other 4 students left last Thursday for their week in Anchorage.  Unfortunately they lose 2 days just to travel as it takes almost 20 hours with connections and layovers to get there.   She has she been keeping us updated as she can... having forgotten more than once that we are 4 hours ahead of her :0(  Well she arrives in Mobile tomorrow at 4pm.  That is we hope.  Two  of her connections are only 20/30 minutes apart.  We had tried flying her home but the tickets were bought at a group rate and the fee to change Em's was just ridiculous.
   So Michael and I will head to Mobile tonight (about 6 hours or so)  Relax tomorrow get Em from the airport, stop at school quick and then head back to Florida.  I can't tell you how excited I am to see her, she left mid January to return to school so it has been 2 months.
  So I do apologize for this being one of those MOMMY BRAGS blogs but I am just sooo excited.  For those who think I may be pushing it I did absolutelu nothing today after not getting out of bed til 11 (did have a rough night).  SO I am well rested and we plan to make stops along the way!!
 WOO HOO we're going to get EM!!





Tuesday Tuesday

     Why aren't there any songs about Tuesday?  Probably because it is jut one of those days we just have to get to.  That's at least how I feel about this Tuesday. 
    My day started off with an episode of Harry's Law ~love this new show.  Then I started attacking the chore of cleaning my house. Not that my crew didn't do anything for the near 3 weeks I was sidelined but well you get it.  So I have figured out working in my kitchen is easiest as it is galley style so I don't have to rely on my walker as much.  However I do have to be careful spinning around.  I did figure out that for some reason I support my right leg with my right arm but as both are on my weak side not the best action to take and definitely glad no one was around to see the disastorous results LOL. Also be sure to put the correct lid on the container that is holding your lunch before you carry it sideways to the table.... Treasure and Mutiny enjoyed BBQ beans for lunch today. And can someone explain to me how nearly all of my rectangle lids hve disappeared????  Or better yet why my chinese restaurant changed containers and I have lids and bottoms just slightly different sizes (cause of my lunch mess)
     The remainder of my day.... therapy.  I had both physical and speech today.  I used to like Trent today he showed his true colors..I was so wiped after my session but it was good.  I think he is coming around to siding with me on being allowed to drive by the time I go to my GP in less than 2 weeks!!!!  Speech therapy was mostly focused on how to respond to the stressful situations that really effect my stuttering.
     Now I planned my therapies so that I would finsh up after dh got off of work so he could pick me up.  My therapies are on Fleming Island where just about everyone but us lives, which I also thought would be more convenient for the people I was needing rides from.  Today was the first day dh picked me up.  Now realize what went into this planning...both therapies in one day back to back.  While there are multiple PT's there is only one ST so finding appointments back to back and having those appts end as close to 3 pm was a bit of the challenge but the scheduler actually moved someone around for me to have the appointments.  What was his first comment to me? Not how did things go but can you move them up I waited 20 minutes!!!  UGGHHH deep breath sometimes the big picture has to be explained.
Off to bed

March 15, 2011

There were no cheerleaders :0(

     Do you ever over estimate what you can do?  Or think how hard can that be?? Only to be way off base!  That was my Sunday.  We planned on going to church coming home for lunch then Michael would drive the kids to Youth Quake Rehearsal and when that was done drop Meg at church for play rehearsal come home to get me and we'd all go to Beta.  SOOOO not what happened.  Having been out of the loop for 3 weeks I didn't know that there was a parenting seminar starting after church.  Em and I attended it this summer and I knew Michael would appreciate it.  (Science and Christianity and such).  Lunch was included so I thought well this just made our day easier we'll all head to YQL from here, Michael and I will just hang out at Panera's for the 2 hours and come back.  That doesn't sound very hard or taxing, now does it.  Unfortunately lunch was subs...still having trouble with bread and proteins and salad sooo yeah no.  We left church at 1 dropped the kids off a little before 2.  Headed to Panera but side tracked to Jason's deli where I picked apart a sandwhich and had a great soup.  We just hung out, got ready for the Beta class that night then got the kids.  Back to church (now it is 440)  Beta starts at 5 but by the time we park and I drag myself in it's almost time.  Dinner is included (not really hungry but our leader was so excited to see us and had our plates ready)  Again couldn't really eat much of it but made a showing.  Beta runs til 7pm.  So if you've kept up with this..... We left the house a little after 10 and we got home...close to 8!!  I could barely walk in the door I was so tired.  I did feel bad that Michael had to go back and get Patrick from Youth.
    SO Monday was the first day I've really been on my own.  I knew not to plan to overdo things.  Didn't matter I was so wiped from Sunday there wasn't a chance of much happening anyway.  I did figure out a few things on my own.... I always have a water bottle for whatever I want to drink..... I made lunch then put it in a tupperware container and tossed that onto the table....You really shouldn't eat out of the fridge just b/c you don't want to think about how in the world am I going to get this to the table (yeah made a rule of no more doing that LOL)
     Despite being tired I was determined to do something.....why not wash!  So I got the first load going and thought I'll get another load together.  I love throws on my couch and I KNOW they haven't been washed in 3+ weeks so got those together (did you know you can hang 8 of them on a walker and still maneuver it...9 just won't do).  We have a washer with a digital timer and I was basing my afternoon nap on when the first load was done and I could get the second load in.  I promise you I swear the washer ran an extra spin on purpose!!! Like I've mentioned previously I am pretty good at balancing which was helpful as my walker won't fit in the laundry room with both washer and dryer doors opened.  So ok first load transfered...second load in (love my washer as 8 throws fit!)  Nap time.....which meant Sherlock Holmes and Robert Downey Jr!! Sweet Dreams!!  Then I realized something just didn't seem right.  There were no cheerleaders!!  Just last week when I folded laundry or hung up a shirt I received accolades.....where were they today?????  IT just wasn't the same without the pep talks :0(
    I completely misfigured everything and wound up laying down a mere 30/40 minutes before michael came home... ie no nap.  I think I have discovered a new state of consciousness or lack there of.  I have noticed when I really get into sleep mode.  I mean really...your body's relaxed, the temp is just right, you have the pillows placed perfectly... into sleep mode. AND THEN you don't get to sleep??? I know we have all experienced this.  I believe our brains never fully give up.  No I'm serious.  I believe that our brains think if they just hold onto this notion of a nap that eventually it will convince the rest of our bodies to follow suit!  Don't you agree?  Now I know part of this is my constant companion CFS... or for those of you who haven't been formally introduced... Chronic Fatigue Syndrom.  But this is different.  All I could think about today was those days as kids when we'd fall asleep out back on the porch.  Or during breaks at SUNY Geneseo when everyone would study on blankets out on the Tundra and crash.  Those completely restful peaceful moments.... ohhh how I want to sleep like that.
   Well I never got my nap but i did finish a puzzle and had a wonderful dinner of BBQ Beans and Mac N Cheese.... I did eat a little of the BBQ Brisket tonight woo hoo.

    I still think my day would have been even better if I had a nap and Laundry Cheerleaders :0)

March 13, 2011

Saturday I almost forgot....it has been 3 weeks exactly

    
     We've all heard about situations whether real or in movies where someone has lost a limb yet experiences phantom pain.  I can truly relate to that in my own way.  There was a time or two Saturday when everything just seemed "normal".  As if my world hadn't been redefined by a walker or stutter.  Of course reality came crashing through but those moments felt almost ethereal.  We were watching Wild Wild West, a family fave despite its horrible reviews, and I wanted a drink.  Without thinking I started to move to get up as I would have and well my body didn't respond as it would've 3 weeks ago.  I'll admit it ruined the rest of my night.
     But let me back up and share my glorious day.  It started off really nice.  Michae,l Meg and I had b'fast at the Pig (Patrick was in Orlando at a Film/TV Conference for school).  From there we went to a Church Bazaar where I got a wardrobe for Em's room for only $5! It needs a ton of work but what a deal!  MaryEllen's friend was coming over~ it was going to be a great day.  Michael dropped me home and went back with the van to pick up the furniture.  While he was gone a salesman came to the door.  Now getting up to the door isn't my quickest move LOL.  He said I told him 2 weeks ago to come back...... um no I was in the hospital 2 weeks ago sorry.  He left and I went back into the other room and sat down.  His partner then came to the door....Ma'am your husband told us to come back.  I'm thinking no Michael would never think to buy one of those frozen meal plans (Schwann's excepted of course)  So I say no thank you...but of course not as elegantly as I'd like and stuttered almost every word :0(.  Now my screen door was open so I called out to him as I really didn't want to get up again for something I wasn't interested in.  Walking away he says/yells that lady's retarded she doesn't know what we're saying!! OH NO HE DIDN'T!!!!!  If I could have ran outside I would have...I got to the door as they were getting ready to pull out of the driveway and like one of those crazy people you hear about yelling at kids to stay off their lawns I start yelling at them.  I heard what you said and asked what company are you with....here's the intelligence of what I was dealing with...the answer given was a different steak company known in the area.  Their panel truck not only has the name on the front but a huge picture with the company's name on the side!!! The co-hort now is making rude gestures out the window as they drive away.  At first I felt so justified and confident then it all came crashing in on me.  He really thought I was retarded!  I know I was dealing with a sub-human but those words really really stung.  I needed to take control back so found the website and sent an email as there was no phone number posted.  This didn't do it.  It truly rocked my world.  Shortly after Michael came home with the furniture and the girls.  Thank heavens Kalla was with Meg as I think I would have just broke down and cried but didn't want to embarrass her. 
The diagnosis from my speech therapists is aphasia.  Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. (Borrowed from a Speech Therapy website).  What this means for me at least is very often I can't find the word that I want.  While my brain chooses a word getting it to come out is a whole other story.  Also another part of my problem is that I am used to talking at my Long Island rate of speed.  An easy way to understand this is that my brain is processing at 50 mph while my speech is hovering around 30 (if I'm lucky).  Frustrating.... you can't imagine.  Then add my newly acquired stuttering to this and then your throat gets dry and well one just seems to amplify the other and next thing you know I can barely get out a sentence.  If I am tired it all just falls apart completely.  Stress also affects this as well.  Being out and about amongst strangers I'd prefer not to talk at all. 
     Well our day did progress and I felt a bit better.  We dropped the girls at the movies (Rango ~ha ha I saw it first) went shopping, stopped in at Chili's and rented movies.  Dinner was brought by friend ~ turkey a real treat for my family as I only make this at Thanksgiving.  I worked in the garage a bit sorting through donated books for a project I was helping with...and it happened again, forgot my limitations and nearly fell (thank heavens no one saw that graceful moment). 
     I guess Saturday was just the first day of a reality that I have to accept even though it won't be for long.

March 12, 2011

5 Guys, 2 Therapists, a Lizard and Eclairs.

     Sounds like the beginning of a joke huh..but no this was my Friday.  This was the first day I was on my own, well for a little while.  My dear friend Karen came over around 12noon to pick me up for my appointments.  Of course we HAD to go to lunch first.  It was a bit discouraging to have to rule out a couple of favorite places due to my swallowing issues but of course we found somewhere to eat.  If you have a 5 Guys Hamburger place near you and haven't tried it all I can ask is WHY???  Their burgers are moist flavorful and your topping choices are numerously wonderful.  While it did take me quite a while to eat my small cheeseburger I did however finish!  Unfortunately I was late to my appointment but they were so understanding. I'm fortunate that I am getting my rehab through an outpatient satellite of Brooks, the plus being that my therapy notes will be accessible to my new therapist.  The other plus is that I have PT and Speech in the same building.  And Thank heavens for small things but I only have one co-pay even though I am receiving 2 sessions....it all adds up.  I like my 2 new therapists and after just my first meeting with my Speech Therapist she and I found another swallowing strategy :0)
Well a day with Karen wouldn't be complete with copious amounts of laughing and Friday was no different.  We topped our day off by seeing the new Johnny Depp movie Rango.  First off you have to understand that well Karen and I have a bit of history enjoying children's movies.  Going way back to the first Veggie-Tale full feature.  Karen was the children's minister at Grace Episcopal and blessed my kids along with countless others for many years. She has an incredibly contagious personality and I just love her to death (as my kids would say).  Back in November she joined MaryEllen and I to see the Disney movie Tangled.  Well we had way too much fun.  To be honest Meg said we embarrassed her.  Karen and I went back with another friend and saw it again.  While there we saw a preview for Rango and have been planning to see it since.  So last night Karen, myself and our latest recruit Jenn, went to see Rango.  Short note here: we were not the only childless adults in the theatre!  Rango was a hoot!!  The animation was of course incredible and it seems every time I see a movie they've accomplished some new incredible feat!! I am not sure that I would take a bunch of young kids to the movie as it does have a bit of adult humor in it as well as a few curse words.  We laughed so hard (no Meg to embarrass this time) and too many times to count.  Our next planned movie is Mars needs Moms. We will give fair notice to any who know us as to avoid potential humiliation.
So this sounds like a pretty great first day but it gets better.  I arrive home at 630 and discover that Deborah has delivered one of her amazing dinners.  She made us South West Chicken Salad and Eclair Cake!! 

Yeah for Friday!

March 10, 2011

Home Day 1 a retrospect

    So you look at your world a little different when you mobility has been effected.  We had to make a few minor adjustments but generally all is well at the house.  One of the major concerns was the puppies.  Now we've had dogs for most of our married life.  Currently we have 2 Mutiny, an 8yr old dachshund mix we rescued and Treasure an 8 month old Bulldog-Hound dog mix~ who is a true mess.  As expected Mutiny is terrified of the walker and Treasure well she hasn't figured it out yet but seems to think it is a toy of some sort.  Treasure is a bit crazy and quite hyper.  How are we going to get her to understand that Mom is not only unable to play like I used to but that she can't jump on me which I was training her to stop before this all happened...gotta love the puppies.

     I came home on Ash Wednesday.  I thought attending service would be a smart way to ease into going out and such.  Why didn't anyone stop me.  Probably because I was quite adamant about it. hmm. My reasoning was that the crowd at church would be lighter than on a Sunday as well as a shorter service.  Makes sense right! How clueless I can be sometimes.  Of course it had to rain last night.  Thankfully there is a side door barely 10 feet from a drop off point so minimal walking there.  We arrived early so I could get settled in and such.  Then the reality of seeing everyone was so overwhelming.  Feeling their love and prayers was just incredible.  That was great while I was sitting down.  However I had to go for the ashes and I felt all the eyes on me.  Watching every step I took behind my walker (yes this is my perception) uggh it was horrible.  I felt so awkward and then wanted to leave but of course there was no way to do that inconspicuously.  Communion was no better as I had trouble balancing to receive communion which was really stupid as I have truly pretty much mastered that skill before I left~balancing that is.  It was great to be out of the house and be with my family but not the smartest thing I have done.  I had Michael leave after communion so he could have the van waiting outside for a quick get away(well my version of quick anyway).  By now it was pouring and well let's just say getting into the van was not one of my most graceful moments.
     Sleeping alone for almost 3 weeks in a specialized hospital bed then coming home to our 10+year beat up mattress...let's just say we both have to get used to sharing a bed again.  Plus the puppies need their space..
I can't say I was surprised that MaryEllen stayed home today, I was actually kind of expecting it.  I was glad to have her here and not be by myself the first day.  Simple things have to be rethought.  Like how do you walk and carry a drink if both of your hands have to be on your walker??? While I can manage in the kitchen due to its' tininess how do I bring a plate of food to the table??? Are you sensing a theme here...I can eat what I want when I want.  OK not really but you know what I'm saying right.  If you're a mom you'll get this...I'm used to a parade following me to the bathroom but now when the dogs give up b/c it is taking too long to get there and well that's just not encouraging.  Treasure attempted to scoot past me once...she won't be doing that again.  I'm not sure who was more scared me or her.  I did make it outside today.  MaryEllen and I went to the mailbox~which is across the street.  OK how do I carry mail back?  I'm thinking I need a basket on the front of my walker.  Remember the kind little girls used to have on their bikes.  They were white "wicker" plastic and usually had 3 flowers on them>> yeah not happening.  I just think that I need to get rid of this walker ASAP.  That solves all the problems.
OK here's another thing you take for granted....Bathing.  All I am going to say is this.  Shower chairs ~not so much fun.
So I'm headed into bed...hopefully the walker won't bump into the bed and wake Michael.
Tomorrow starts Therapy, at least 2 of them.  I have Physical and Speech back to back in the same facility, a satellite of Brooks... OOOO wonder if I'll see any 5's around the place LOL
Then it is off to see Rango with Karen...soooooooo excited.

Home 36 hours

Home!

Yes it is official I am currently relaxing at home!!
I'm not even sure what to comment on.

   Now it was a great morning.  I got to sleep in which is in my book a major highlight.  We had one last meeting at 1030 and then we flew the coop.  I thought you would get a kick out of this....When we came back from our meeting there was a card on top of my luggage. A get well card signed by ALL the nurses on my floor (just in case I wanted to write any of their names on that survey LOL)

     So to celebrate my homecoming we went out for lunch and it was a treat....Maggiano's!  We just love that restaurant in fact that was where we announced to the kids we were going to London last year.  Well there a couple of things that are my favorite there including their bread..served warm and crunchy >>>couldn't eat it. Another favorite is the Zucchini appetizer.  Thin slices of zucchini coated in panko crumbs gently fried and served with a lemon aioli>>>barely finished one piece.  Thankfully our lunch was angel hair with sausage in the pomodoro sauce>>by now I had been eating or trying to eat for a while so while i did truly enjoy what I ate I was tired and barely ate half (i know there is a healthy upside to this). 
Today was a beautiful day in Jacksonville.  Maggiano's has a patio but we chose to eat by the window.  Okay first real world mini panic attack.  Hubby dropped me off outside of Maggiano's and parked the car.  The restaurant has 2 doors.  One is a revolving door the other a very ornate heavy door that opens in.  There was no one around to help ~ how was this going to work??? Well I just plugged on and THANK YOU GOD there was a hostess inside who saw me and helped.  I'll admit I am very self-conscious of how I look and sound which of course just makes my speech more labored.  Back to the patio.  Where our Maggiano's is located there's a little park with ponds and walkways.  There were kids feeding the ducks...how this one mom kept all 3 preschool aged boys out of the water I don't know but am impressed.  There were these beautiful brown birds flying around whose name escape me.  They're a bit larger than a blue jay but definitely smaller than crows.  Well next thing I know these birds are on the fencing surrounding Maggiano's patio, mind you people were eating outside.  Then they were on an empty table.  Finally they were right behind these 2 guys eating lunch.  You know they were just hoping that someone would drop something and they didn't care if it was accidentally or on purpose.  While I had a bit of fun imagining their conversation at the same I was freaked that these birds were so close to the people eating.  AND if you are going to eat in public please remember that other people can see you sucking on those stalks of Broccolini with lemon and garlic that you have picked up with your fingers>>>HINT it is truly not pretty!!!

WHOO HOO I AM HOME

March 9, 2011

The Reality of It All

***Last night (Tuesday) apparently I crashed for over 12 hours and this blog never got finished or posted.  I am going to post it as is b/c there's so much happening today I want to start a new one later***

     So I am taking a new approach to today's blog.  I usually write about the previous day or if I have the energy at the end of the night I'll write about that day.  Seeing as how today is my last full day of rehab I thought I would try to write throughout the day when I had breaks.  We'll see how it goes.  Currently I am awaiting my first session which is speech at 8:30 so I have a few moments to reflect on yesterday

Oh no they didn't
     Monday I had a full schedule including an hour class on how to prepare to drive again which was 45 minutes too long.  Another class I had was on the process/transition of leaving therapy.  It had 6 components.  Now I will admit to being late as the previous session ran over so I got there just about 10 minutes into it.  They were telling us about check-out..which feels like a hotel..and how they'd like you to leave around 11:00.  What the process would be that day and how your meds and equipment needs were being arranged.  Now remember this was a 30 minute class.  The presenter was done with all of this information within 15 minutes and spent the better part of the remaining 15 minutes explaining how to fill out the survey we would receive in about 2 weeks after our release.  She went on to explain that maybe your goals weren't completely met during your stay at Brooks but that shouldn't be reflected on the survey as Brooks is only a part of your recovery.  Boiled down it was pretty much indirect instructions on how to properly score Brooks on this independent survey.  Now I understand how feedback and such is important but really?  However we are not done.  It was as if some invisible check mark now floated above my head that I attended the class as everyone from dietary to nurses to cleaning staff and beyond that I came in contact with afterwards mentioned the survey ~ some even hinting how I could mention them by name if I felt they deserved to be. I just was so taken aback by this unified commitment to scoring well on a survey.  Oh well I guess the pressure to score them well on a survey is better than being expected to tip everyone.

Greatest Snack Ever
     My nurses keep saying I am one of their easier, more independent patients and often they'll just come and hang out.  Simply due to my schedule I do know my evening nurses better than the 2 other shifts.  Cat and Dalin and just so sweet and have been incredibly encouraging (OK I was planning to mention them on the survey) along the way.  Last night after telling them how tired I was of the food and jello and such they said they were going to come up with a new snack for me.  Now some of you may know that after I had my first baby I switched my occupation from Auditor (not IRS) to Pre-School teacher.  Which I desperately miss ~ I'll admit.  I taught K5 at the YMCA in VA Beach.  Now afternoon snacks (after naps) were the most fun.  Once or twice a week depending on my lesson plan we would have a cooking class of some sort..silly things like painting with food or edible cars.  Anyway, when I wasn't being a culinary instructor there was one snack that was always the favorite....peanut butter with graham crackers and apple juice.  Don't you know that is what Dalin brought me last night!! First off I hadn't had peanut butter since my incarceration  hospitalization never mind something as crunchy and tasty as graham crackers.  I'll admit I wanted to glob the peanut butter on but I didn't, really I didn't! I was too worried about swallowing issues...there were none :0)  Now I ask you...knowing we are all beyond Nap and Snacks....when was the last time you had graham crackers, peanut butter and apple juice?  If you want to be transported back to those early days of after school snacks just treat yourself to this...I won't tell (maybe).

*******Back to today**********
     Blogging between sessions really hasn't worked out like I thought it would.  It feels as if they are loading on sessions and each session is pushing me to the max.
Speech therapy was actually filled with exercises today that I feel will shed enlightenment into your life.  So here's what we are doing...you need to lay down flat (no pillow).  Lift your head 30 times with your shoulders staying down so you can look at your toes...this needs to be nice and smooth.  The next exercise is in the same position.  This time you are going to hold your head up for 30 seconds..remember shoulders stay down.  I know what you're thinking..oh how easy...yeah do each in sets of 5.

Ok you I told you above about the survey ~ well I realize they have been using subliminal messaging.  I noticed today that next to the door as you leave the Gym at eye level ~ wheelchair eye level that is ~ a laminated flyer with a 5 and happy smiles and the phrase our goal is 5.  Until the survey class yesterday I thought this meant meeting the goal of attending all 5 days of P/T.  I now see it for what it really is...SCORE US 5.

So it feels as if the therapists have reveals their true sadistic side today.  For fun my PT had me tackle the stairs.  Mind you I have no stairs in my life so why we did this I don't know.  I have never sweated so much so quickly!  Went up and down the 12 steps 4 times!!! Cha and she ended with taking real steps not putting two feet on one step....I am still wiped as I haven't had my nap today :-(

Lunch was a new adventure as I got to have a salad..Swallowing still being an issue that is evident here yet.  While I can eat small amounts of salad I have to drink after every bite.  But hey it is new so I am sooo happy. 

My equipment has arrived.  So I am now the proud owner of a walker and a tub chair made by Rubbermaid of all companies.

Don't forget what number do they want me to score?
Last night in rehab

March 7, 2011

Sunday is a day of rest

     Sunday, the day we spend with family, relax, usually have a nice dinner and just chill.  What do you think this is 1954 or something get a grip.  Not in our worls,  (if the stars align that is) we are out of the house by 8:15 heading to church. Unless Miss M or The Son have to work 2 services that day we are heading home by 10:30.  At 12 we are getting them ready to meet their ride to YQL rehearsal (thank God for Jamal as rehearsal is 45 minutes away) which means packing 3 lunches usually of Pizza Rolls snacks and drinks.  We have to leave around 3 to be in Ponte Vedre to pick them up from YQL at 4 so that Miss M can be at church for rehearsal at 4:30 (never make that on time).  BETA for all starts at 5:30, thankfully with dinner.  That ends at 7:00 so 3 of us head home only to have 1 of us head back to pick up The Son who stayed behind for youth which ends around 8:30.  There is that small window in there from when the kids leave with Jamal until we have to leave to get them but really Sunday a day of rest....I don't think so. 
     Consiering how laid back my Saturday was here at Rehab I was expecting Sunday to be the same...can you guess where I'm going with this.  9:00 AM I had to be on the first floor (I'm on the 3rd) for 45 minutes of recreational therapy.  Ok I have soo much to pick apart on this one.  First off recreational, recreational really!! The main goal behind this therapy is endurance, standing for a period of time playing a game.  We were to play a modified version of 301.  The idea being to throw bingo chips onto a dart board in the middle of the table and deduct your sore from 301.  What is almost as boring as watching paint dry? 6 stroke patients playing 301 with varied vocal abilities.  I was gracefully saved from this by a surprise visit from my sweet friend Cassie.  Back to that in a minute.  I need to address the fact that they wanted us to be recreationally motivated at 9AM.  I'll tell you what motivates me at 9AM my pillow!! Anyone who barely knows me knows that I am NOT a morning person.  Recreation Therapy at 9PM sign me up! 301 not so motivating...I'll play Texas Hold 'Em while standing..I'll gladly throw my chips instead of pushing them.  Ok I think I am onto something here.  Poker as Therapy.  This could work! No seriously, it could work.  The dexterity required to shuffle and deal...right there serious fine motor skills required.  Holding those cards close.. upper arm and elbow flexibility.  Never mind all of the cognitive skills required to keep track of your cards and those on the river.  And the chips... oh let's not forget the chips.  Stacking and unstacking.  Pushing and pulling.  For ultimate therapeutic benefits you could stand or for those teeth clenching rounds pace!....Oh wait snacking would involve those with swallowing issues...though soft foods at poker doesn't seem encouraging but hey you can't have it all at once now can you. 
    Well as I mentioned I was surprised by an early morning..God Bless her, visit from Cassie.  She actually was on call here at Brooks for the weekend.  It was so nice to see her (and to be resuced from therapy).  Visiting with Cassie was recreational and definitely therapy :0)  What totally caught me by surprise was how her visit hit me.  While in Orange Park Medical Center I had visitors daily.  While no one looks their best in a hospital gown lying in a bed I was ok with that.  BUT.  I had a mild melt down when I saw Cassie.  There was a realization to my conidition that hadn't hit me before.  THIS IS MY LIFE!  Somehow the first time having a friend seeing me shuffle behind a walker hit me mucher harder than I had expected.***  Poor Cassie was so sweet and understanding as well as being extremely supportive.  Reality, there it was standing right in front of me.  With the arrival of reality came of course its cohort stress.  Trying to figure out all of the things that have to be rearranged, adjusted, rescheduled and so-on.  Well sweet Cassie gifted me with a mug that had the  perfect encouragement.... Don't worry about tomrrow God is already there.  Now convincing myself and embracing that truth isn't easy but this sweet reminder will most definitely help.
Realilty, man it is coming hard and fast.  Leaving the walls of therapy, that self-centered world, is almost here.  Even now it is almost paralyzing to think of the impact this has in my world.  Simple activities that I took for granted aren't going to be so simple, at least for a while.  Going to have to ponder on this for a while.....

So any backers for Lady Bren's Texas Hold 'Em and Rehab?
3 days and counting
***point of clairfication Brooks Rehab is well over 45 minutes from where I live as opposed to OPMC being 5-10 minutes away

March 5, 2011

Panera, M&M's and shower chairs

     So here it is Saturday evening at Brooks Rehab.  Due to it's high standard you do have Therapy sessions on Saturday just not as intense, so instead of 3 hours you get 1.5.  And thank the Lord these sessions do not start at 8:00 in the morning.  Not that they let you sleep much, but there wasn't anyone coming in at 5:45 today to dress me for early therapy.  So I got to chill this morning while awaiting therapy and my family coming.  I've been feeling pretty guilty as last night I missed Miss M in Youth Quake Live's March show.  You are supposed to be able to view it online but I couldn't :0(  Hope the pictures post soon.  Then today Son's ROTC had state.  I haven't talked to him yet but I believe they placed and are going to Nationals!!
So Hubby and Miss M showed up around 2:00 with Panera and a Route44 unsweet light ice peach tea from Sonic.  Two of my favorites.  I am supposed to watch the caffeine but boy did I need that tea!  Hubby brought my favorite soup from Panera ~ Broccoli Cheddar.   I am still on a soft mechanical diet but figured soup is soup so we're good to go.  And of course Panera serves their soup with a piece of sourdough bread~ definitely not on my approved foods list.  Had a great visit with the two of them.  We played Risk for almost 2 hours and they accompanied me to OT where we discovered there's a rec room here.  While I worked my butt off the two of them enjoyed a couple games of air hockey.  I learned how to get in and out of a car...the mini van will definitely be easier than the Malibu.  I also learned how to get in and out of a shower.  Now I bet you don't even think about that little activity every day do you?? No, don't lie, you don't.  You just take it for granted that you can get in and out of your shower/tub no questions asked.  Well kiddos I'm here to impress on you how easy you have it :0)  Now the shower stall here has about a 6 inch clearance, thank heavens the one at home isn't that high.  Also I was in sneakers and there was no hold bar.(Please note and acknowledge my submitted excuses, Thank you)  Yesterday we started working on my lifting the left leg onto a 3" block and that is while I'm holding onto the parallel bars and my PT is helping so you can imagine how stressful the 6" lift was..mind you Hubby and Miss M never broke stride with their game until they were done, so glad my therapy and minor panic moments didn't interfere.  So next we tried the tub....I will be using the kids' bathroom tub for the next few weeks as what a breeze that was.  From wheelchair to shower chair..zing!

    Hubby and Miss M left at 445 as she had Wildlyfe tonight.(if you were in Jr high wouldn't you want to go to something called wildlyfe...oh they have it so rough)  That was perfect timing as I was wiped and also hungry for my soup.  Up til now I have pretty much only had hospital food.  I have to admit it hasn't all been that bad.  I am just really getting bored with variations of the same theme....chicken salad or chopped chicken in a sauce with pasta of some sort. I do have soup for lunch and Brooks can make a soup let me tell you.  What I didn't even think about until today is that their soups are thin soups.  Sure they are very flavorful and filled with veggies and such but thin just the same.  Panera's Broccoli Cheddar soup---Not thin.  And they don't cook the  veggies until they are limp, there's still a bit of bite to them.  Well it took me over an hour to finish my bowl of soup and I am very very disappointed to announce that no amount of soaking the Panera Sourdough Baguette made it easy for me to swallow...I'd appreciate a moment of sorrowful pity please.

When I was in college the Boynton characters were huge...do you remember them?  I think they're big in nursery sets now.  Anyway back in the day they were everywhere on mugs, stationary, cards and such.  In fact I still have my mug with the birds sitting on music lines and I buy the Boynton Busy Mom's Calendar every year.  Moving along, There was one pin that I really loved.  It had a hippo who looked downtrodden with the saying "if wearer is found depressed administer chocolate immediately".  I loved this so much that I used it on my senior recital posters with this twist:  If recitalist is found nervous please administer chocolate immediately.  Instead of bouquets of flowers I received chocolate.  So needless to say I am definitely in chocolate withdrawals here.  Last night I asked Michael to bring me up some M&M's.  Are you ready..... unless I let them melt in my mouth I have trouble swallowing them!! Really M&M's.  I mean hey I am swallowing pills..OK they are very small.  But we're talking M&M's.  Then my nurse came in and was truly unhappy to find that I had these little treasures of love.  She said (and you know you just can't make these things up) you really need to be careful you could choke on one. REALLY.!!! So I had to promise to eat no more than a handful over an hour period :0( ~~ define handful hee hee.

So in addition to my body turning on me two of my faithfuls....Paenra and M&M's have fled as well....
Maybe I can get chocolate IVs


3.5 days and counting

It took rehab to prove my intelligence LOL

The word mensa means table.  In the Mensa organization the principle idea is intelligence is in every walk of life and is a great equalizer leaning towards round table discussions. 
While in college one of my poli sci professors had us take a intelligence test and a few of us scored high enough and became members of Mensa.  Now while I was in college I'll admit academics weren't my main interest.  I graduated with a degree in Vocal Performance (Opera) with a minors in Political Science and Business.  However my main interest was student government/student activities.  Outside of being President over the Residence Hall Organizations and serving on Parents' Day commitees and other similar activities many of my classmates would have been surprised at my IQ.  Therefore I am sure that my friends today would be even more troubled grasping that my IQ in 1985 was measured at 144.  However I am very proud to announce that I can once again hold my head tall and say I have documentation that I am fairly intelligent.

I told you I have a team of therapists (giggling is not necessary) and one of them is a Neuropsychologist.  He performed tests which can help determine which part of the brain is/was impaired by a stroke.  I really found it interesting that simple skill tests such as repetition, story recounting, copying of pictures, totalling numbers in your head and such can clue the doctors into what type of injury your brain sustained.  So we sat down Friday evening to discuss my results and he said (verbatum) you scored higher than anyone I have ever tested!! Take that my lovely teenage children who believe their mom is clueless (though I do believe this is a requirement of all 13-19 yr olds).  I have to admit I really believe that through all of my struggles over the years with memory and retention that my addiction to sudoko and other such math games paid off.  In fact one of the tests I had to do was use a code to match shapes to numbers....who hasn't played that game before.  In that test, which was timed, I filled in all but 6 boxes which is one of the highest he's seen, and the tests I scored lowest on were in the high average range (big smile here)

Ok the flip reality of this is while I am writing this blog Miss M and I are Facebooking each other line by line the words to a Phineas and Ferb song.  If you don't know who they are you either 1) have no children or 2) live under a rock.  The show is about 2 step-brothers and their pet platypus who everyday during summer vacation build something incredible.  We have all of the episodes on DVR with a Do Not Delete check on them.  I admit it I really love cartoons and I'm pretty confident that this love of Disney is a gift from my Dad.  For example : My friend Karen and I have seen Tangled twice, we only took Miss M once.  She and I both are planning to see Rango as soon as I get of rehab.  (Karen if you should read this I apologize for outing you I just wasn't going down alone~XOXO)

So what does this all mean:
In my now documented deep wisdom I believe it is important to richly develop your mind through brain training games and CARTOONS!!!!!  

BTW:
Happy Platypus Day!!!
(click here)
4 days and counting

March 4, 2011

Rockin and Rollin

Well I am getting more mobile...kinda.  They have taken away my wheelchair and given me a walker.  Freedom yeah!! But here's the thing: I get so tired after a bit of walking is it really more freedom?  And how am I supposed to go downstairs and borrow a puzzle for my room if both my hands are on my walker...oh the tragedy of it all.  Honestly when they said they were taking the wheelchair away did I think YEAH one step closer to going home or YEAH my left leg is bearing some weight? NO~ my first thought and question was.....Can I now go to the bathroom by myself!!!!!!!!!!

Lunch was sooo weird today.  My Speech Therapist said she wanted to eat lunch with me to see how my swallowing was going.  What I didn't realize is that her idea of eating lunch with me and mine were polar opposites.  What happened is she sat so she could see the side of my face/throat and actually watched me eat.  She wasn't eating at all.  We discussed  bite sizes and swallowing techniques, which was all very helpful.  However I felt like a lab rat.  Every time I picked something up all I could picture in my mind was a group of lab techs with their white coats and clip boards hmmming and ohhing and taking notes:
  • Did you see her pick up that carrot, I wonder why she chose a carrot over the string bean?  
  • That piece of chicken took her 10.4 seconds to chew whereas the last was only 9.87 should we be worried? 
  • I'm not sure there was enough gravy on that bite.
She is really sweet but that was really weird.  How do you carry on a conversation when the person really doesn't want to talk with you but watch you eat?  Well hope my manners were up to par, though it is still weird eating right handed.

For those of you who really know me you are going to need to sit down before you continue reading.  I am serious SIT DOWN!  Hubby came to visit tonight and wound up crashing on my couch.  So what did I do to fill the time...Laundry.  And I have to tell you it is the first thing I have done is 2 weeks that has felt real which in turn felt good!  I know you are all falling over which is why I told you to sit down.  But you are going to love this.  I don't believe I am going to be able to do laundry at home for a while  (collective sigh please).  You see we have a front loader whose door opens to the left...into the doorway to the laundry room and this of course is right next to the dryer so transferring from one to another with a walker in this tight space is a logistical impossibility!! OH DARN...
Now I may be able to load the washer if someone puts the hamper high enough so I am not reaching to the ground to pull out the items.  I can however hang up and fold as that was my OT skill today.  OMG I discovered the coolest thing today.  I know why laundry can be so hum-drum.  We don't have personal cheer squads.  HUH?  Every time I buttoned a shirt or got something neatly on the hanger then onto the rack I got a "good-job" or "you're doing great" and when I finished, a true Woo-Hoo.  Imagine if you had a squad cheering you on while doing the Laundry??   This place is soo good for my self-esteem do I really want to leave Wednesday...CHA!!

I keep telling you that the world of Lady Bren rocks....Woo-Hoo   5 days and counting

March 3, 2011

Hump Day has a whole new meaning

So now, when I am sheltered from the outside world my laptop crashes.  I was able to get it back up but the Internet explorer is beyond revival....thank heavens for warranties and for us finally buying one.  So I can no longer lay in my air bed and spout words of brilliance at my leisure.  I am now connecting through the family lounge computer which I believe maybe running windows 98 and do I have to share....CHA!

So what to catch you up on these last two days.
I was hoping to impart some cute little factoid as to when we started calling Wednesday Hump-Day but after doing some serious research (OK that means 10 minutes on google, ask, wikki etc) no one seems to know.  But I can share this... the color for Wednesday is Green according to Thai solar calendar.  However here at Brooks Rehabilitation center Wednesday is not just the middle of the week with an end in sight.... oh no...Wednesday here is Suppository Day!!!!!!!!!
Now aren't you glad I shared that little piece of info. Seriously it is practice for all patients to participate in this happy experience. There is a reason for it but truly who cares we're talking suppositories!!  Thank You GOD  I sidelined that puppy.  But then I got to thinking oh no how am I going to escape this happiness next Wednesday??  Should I have Michael sneak in Ex-Lax brownies? Put Pepto-Bismal in a strawberry shake? 
Well I don't have to worry because I found out that my target release date is Wednesday.  That's right March 10th  Lady Bren is being paroled.  So in a way it is a sort of Hump Day.  I have been through the hard part and the rest is downhill. 
Downhill....have you seen those downhill racers at the Olympics?  Why is it assumed downhill is easy peasy?  Can't you just see me heading downhill with my walker and just tumbling head over heels...I sure can and there aren't any hills nearby for me to blame :0P
Now that my release date has been set my therapy goals are now more "survival" oriented.  How far can I walk with my walker... how to get in and out of the car.....how to clean house (no wait I don't do this so why waste time training)...as well as how to shower and dress.  I have to stop here and tell you how Hubby freaked over this one.  My Occupational Therapist is Dave.  It is Dave's job to get me comfortable with the small skill sets..cooking, laundry, and yes showering.  So when I told Hubby the plan for Friday is for me to learn how to shower and dress myself he was truly upset. He couldn't understand why MALE DAVE had to be the one to teach me how to shower and dress, don't they have female OT's for that.  Well I completely lost it!! He honestly thought Dave was going to help me IN the Shower and also completely DRESS AND UNDRESS.  Am I bad that I really took pleasure in his mild melt down hee hee hee.

I told my team of therapists... and we all knew one day it would take a team of therapists to help me..that I do not have to walk out of here on my own.  So the goal is for me to go home with a walker.  I will still have a lot of therapy ahead of me (again who is really surprised at this??) and I am just going to have to accept that while I have been blessed with recovering so quickly not everything will follow the same.  The biggest issue after walking is swallowing.  I am still on a soft mechanical diet. Think of the size of food you give a toddler starting to eat..so if I go out to lunch with any of you plan on cutting my soft food (happy happy joy joy) My left arm is getting stronger but still requires support.  I have worked the putty Dave gave me so much it is no longer vibrant yellow.  But I am able to bend my pointer and pinkie finger with tension (yeah they helped type today!) and today for the first time my middle finger touched my thumb and bore some tension while playing with clothespins.  I know you all want your own set of therapy clothespins..not happening kiddos.

Cane.  I can't believe I haven't told you about Cane.  Brooks' has 3 therapy dogs and the one on our floor is called Cane.  He was born during a Hurricane hence the name.  This dog has the best job in the world.  His entire goal in life is to make himself available for petting!! Seriously, he hangs out in the rehab room in his spot, which is practically in the middle of the floor.  He even has an employee ID tag.  He has got the old ladies wrapped around his finger... I saw one sneak him something today.  All you have to do is say "Cane come make a friend" and he is at your side.  He looks just like Pirate but a bit fuller~probably all those sneaked treats.  So I was wondering.  The Buddhist religion believes in rebirth. Rebirthing as an animal is a sign, for one usually evolves towards enlightenment. Therefore if one rebirths as an animal in their next life they are going in the wrong direction and need to learn lessons in the animal kingdom. Well with no disrespect towards anyone Buddhist, but if I rebirthed as a therapy dog in this hospital...I'm not complaining!!
Woo Hoo HumpDay = Release....count down with me only 6 days

March 1, 2011

Survival Day One

I have been trying to think how I should approach this whole rehab/therapy thing. It certainly isn't a mini vacation or a trip to a spa.  But then again I don't really have any true responsibilities while I am here. Let's face it I'm not even the primary parent for the moment which really is the weirdest thing.  Even during my last hospitalizations I was orchestrating everything family-wise from bedside.  Hubby has now entered the world of single parenting teenagers....maybe he should be blogging lol.
But really the point of rehab is for the patient to focus only on healing.  Whether it is a physical, emotional or even addictive recovery rehab the idea is for your world to truly revolve around you. For most of us, and I think especially moms, that thought process is just so foreign to our innate instinct it feels corrupt.  Sure we  all have a way of finding a momentary escape.  For some it is exercising, others escaping to a book, your favorite drink at Starbucks or even something as simple as always having your favorite shampoo despite the cost. So here you are now, rarely without warning, thrown into an environment where you expect everyone and everything to revolve around your goal being achieved.  I deeply believe it will take a few days to even fully accept that concept. 
I was just talking with the patient advocate and as she simply put it...All of these therapists, doctors, nurses and the rest of the staff including me have one basic connecting idea...get Bren home.  OF course this is a huge facility and there are other patients here however during my 3 hours of therapy everyday I am the sole focus of that specialist.  The dietitian reviews my meals daily to see if it meets my swallow standards and also will attend a weekly meeting with my therapists to work towards increasing my abilities.  My nurses and their assistants are also given directives as to how much to allow me to do for myself and when those responsibilities increase. 
As I was going through all of my evaluations today I was asked the same question to which I replied.... I will be home by March 16th.  Two of them said that they were never given such a clear directive and if I was willing to work harder than most I could probably achieve it.  So without even realizing it I had created my survival plan....it very simply put is to escape!!
FYI: March 16th isn't an arbitrary date.  Miss E comes home from her week mission trip to Anchorage on March 17th.  We have not seen her since she returned to school in January so we are truly excited to see her.  I will be at the airport to greet her~there is no other option.

I do have to tell you a main reason I can be so self-focused is due to my church family.   I am so undeservedly blessed by my family of New Grace Church.  We aren't a tiny church where everyone knows everyone but we are small in sense of community.  The complete enveloping of my family by our church family is nothing less than astonishing.  Between getting kids to school early or making sure they doesn't miss bible study to friends offering to do food shopping they have stepped into every corner of our lives.  And here I need to just lift up Alison H.  She has arranged our meals using the coolest website: http://www.takethemameal.com/ .  I remember organizing meals pre-internet, then through emails now it is a click of a button.  How great is technology but how even greater is Alison who found this and organized its use for my family!  I've included the link so those of you who do the same things in your community can take advantage of this great free resource.  To see it at work type in my last name with the following code 9650 and while there you can drool over the food my family is receiving!

So the total idea of coming here and being almost narcissistic is going to help my escape plan work...I mean my recovery program be successful.

Rehab Reality~It isn't pretty

All right boys and girls  fun and games are officially over (milkshakes too).  Rehab sucks and I have only been here 8 hours.  There was a big to do about getting me into Brooks Rehabilitation as opposed to a Rehab/Life Center or as we used to call them when I was growing up....nursing homes.
So we get here and I have my own room which is great after the week with Miss Theresa...more about her another time. However I realize that I will eat all my meals in my private room and come back from therapy to a private room ~ which at some times will be beneficial.  But then I start to learn the real reason rooms on the stroke floor are all private.....YOU NO LONGER HAVE ANY OTHER PRIVACY...nothing babe it is all gone.  You are not allowed to use the restroom alone in case you fall. Now I've always said I have not lived a perfect life but even in my worst days I never fell off a toilet!!!  The shower is a party affair~there is not so much as a hint of a curtain. Upon check in they have to examine your ENTIRE body for any signs of bed sores and such. So yes the one bit of privacy is you are alone in a room. 
Now when they put you into bed they put your wheelchair on the other side of the room.  (As if I am going sneak into it at night to organize races down the hall ~ been there done that SUFFOLK HALL @ SUNY GENESEO ROCKS) Are you starting to sense the total lack of control going on here?  Yes Yes Yes I can hear all of you worry warts and medical professionals (and I just realized~ man I have a lot of friends in the medical field) saying this is being done for your safety, they don't want you to fall and yada yada yo.....does it sound like that is what I am concerned about at this point!!NO. Remember I have no cognitive issues so all of Bren is in here even if she can't vocally get out yet.
So here's the deal...every time you have to use the restroom this is the protocol you have to follow
  1. Push your call button and wait for someone to answer and ask what you need.  So now at least 2 other people know what's happening (more if any are in the hallway near the nurses station. 
  2. They then call your nurse and her assistant.  And if they are in some one's room they hear this call.  So now at least 4 people know. 
  3. The nurse/na then comes to your room when they are done with their current patient (hope you weren't in a rush)
  4. You go through the protocol of properly getting out of bed and into the wheelchair....did I mention you have to wear a seat belt in the wheel chair at ALL TIME even the 6 foot ride to my private bathroom. 
  5. So now they have pushed you in helped you stand and wait for it.....
  6. they want to pull your pants down for you until you learn the proper way to do it.  Now I never truly considered myself extremely shy but in the throne room, as my Dad used to call it, yes.I am used to a parade of toddlers and dogs following me there but not in. And this crew~they won't even stand outside the door! The nurses in ICU, the ones changing my bedpan gave me more privacy and believe me I thought that was the lowest point of humiliation...not anymore.
  7. Once you finish you can't flush as it has to be examined and noted. 
  8. They pull up your pants help you into your chair, seat belt on,
  9. finagle you to the sink so you can wash your hands
  10. then out to your room over to your bed and finally
  11. you are back in bed.
 Did that whole routine 3 times................... I now have a bedside commode.  I figure if I could master one in the hospital when I shared a room and had people coming and going  I should be able to do so in my private room.  Oh, yeah, I still have to call someone to watch me use it.

Rehab it isn't pretty and we've only just begun
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