Stroke Survivor

Four years ago today, I had my first stroke. It was unrealized when I woke up that morning what the day would have in store for me. How my life and my families life would be changed.

It was a typical morning with the chaos of 5 children in the house. Four kiddos to get out the door for school and one who was suspended and got to hang out with us. I woke up with an extreme headache and it continued to progress.

It was a scary day full of hopelessness and fear. It was a day where I couldn’t formulate thoughts. It was a day where communication was difficult. I knew what I wanted to say and do with my body but it was not possible.

Now, four years later, I have a new normal. I am not the high heeled wearing gal. I am me. A bit more confident, much more aware of my body and it’s needs and what it is telling. I still don’t always listen but I am learning.

To this day, I am taking strides in my recovery. Still being a pro active survivor. It is easy to be the victim and admittedly, I at times wear that badge but it is harder to be a survivor.

If You Paint Your Name on the Tree, We Know it Was You

Having special needs children is a challenge. Having special needs children who have been foster care and adopted is another challenge. Having that as a combination can be quite interested at times. We often times have to find the patients that we don’t truly have inability to bite your tongue. Sometimes it is a day of perfection and sometimes the day of disasters. There are meltdowns. And please note I said meltdowns not tantrums. There is a difference.

We call our younger two, the alphabet kids, because of all their diagnosis’. There is ADHD, PTSD, RAD, ODD, OCD and toss that in with degrees of autism, plus the possibility of bi polarism, you have a hell of a cocktail. You have meds, counselors, caseworkers, Dr of Psychiatry and just a good ole pediatric doctor.

I love these two children with all my heart but I have to admit these our my two hardest. They still carry battle scars from their bio parents. In my sons case not understanding why he had to move foster homes, 11 times and why no one wanted him. When you hear him ask, why?, at the age of 15 it tears your heart and want to rave at the system and some foster parents. 

The Princess and the Teen both have food issues, they lie easily and often. They each have their own pecularities and individual issues. Some that are foreign to me but vividly real to them. Which can cause social issues and morality problems. Please understand they aren’t horrible children possessed by Satan. Even though at times we wonder. They are children with problems.

The Teen is belligerent and obnoxious at times but a lot of teen boys are that. He can be lazy until he wants something. The something this week is a new video game. When Dad is home he relatively obeys him. But when he isn’t this child baits me into anger…and he is good at it.  He has lost his phone and laptop due to his behaviour.

But tonight the star of this story is the Princess, who we are rethinking of nicknaming her Bandit, Raccoon or Sneaky Pete. She sees something shiny and she wants. She sees something she wants and she takes. After the taking comes the hiding. She has hidden a variety of things;food, makeup, art supplies, scisdors, forks, spoons, glue, tools, art paint, markers, highlighters, flashlights, batteries and the list goes on.

She is a cat burglar, you never see her take the things. We have to periodically (every third day) check her room and her normal hiding spots and the abnormal ones. She has slit her pillow and hid things inside and even her mattress. (Where did she learn this? Has she been watching too many prison documentaries.) 

As you hold the item that you found in her room, she looks at you innocently and says, “Boy, how did that get there?”

My mind works instantly with sarcasm but I so often force myself to hold back and not say what my mind is thinking. And of course she doesn’t know when she took, why she took it or what she was going to use it on or do with it.

Today, I took her with me to a hair appointment. I have been down six days with something but I couldn’t cancel the appointment again. I take Princess with me. She is being excellent as we go through the process of color, pedicure, waxing and haircut. She even tried on an outfit that I purchased for her. I rather had too, she put it on and left it on when I was processing. After 15 minutes, I thought it would be tacky to return the outfit.

In the middle of my waxing (face only, shame on you), my phone blows up. The Teen is messaging me, actually he is snitching me. My dear darling girl had got a hold of the yellow spray paint for the last two chairs. I asked if he was sure it was, he said yes.

I then contact the hubby. Yes it was her. How could he tell? She sprayed her name on a tree. Ummm, yep, that would be a dead give away. She also painted her play house and part of the neighbors white fence. Dad then checked inside the playhouse.

Davy Jone’s might have been jealous of all the Treasures in there. She had taken her stuffed animals out, a sleeping bag, blankets..those are normal things. Then there were a rake, shovel and hoe. There was lawn fertilizer, brake fluid, oil for lawnmower, power steering fluid and of course the missing can of yellow spray paint.

How did she get all those things without us knowing? We watch her closely, we really do. If you have read earlier blogs, you know she can wander so we watch and check on her often. We have no clue how or when she could have done it. We have the shed and play house in line of site of the kitchen. Admittedly, we don’t stand and stare at her all the time.

She showed me today her army sneak crawl (The was before the discovery). Is that it? We didn’t find hunting camouflage in the play house, so I don’t know. Dad did do a room check and did find his multi tool under her mattress. I don’t even want to know. Hopefully She wasn’t going to use it as a shiv.

She doesn’t understand the severity of what she has done and not just this incidence but the overall stealing and lies. At this time; she has no screen time, she has to go apologize to the neighbor (what a great way to meet your neighbors), and her play house is going away. She will be having extra chores to compensate for the loss. We will be padlocking the shed.

Someday we will laugh at this. That is what I keep telling myself. Sometimes I wish I could see what she is thinking and her thought process. But then I think I am better off not going down that rabbit hole.

My niece told me today that  we never have a dull moment. I laughed. Then I asked the Princess what the marks on her arm were. My niece wondered too.

Princess answered, “oh that is where I suck my arm when I am bored and watching tv.”

Yes just another day in paradise. No dull moments here.

Burpee lover….ummm

Week 3 of the Crossfit class is complete. Only three more weeks of this class left. It is one of the absolutely hardest thing I have ever done physically since my stroke. At times I just don’t want to go but I do it. 

I walk in each day with a mixture of fear and determination. Fear that I won’t be able to due the progressions or the WOD (work out of the day). But determined that I will do it and get through it. 

I thought I would be worried about how I’d look compared to other people. They come in with their own baggage and issues. I really focus on my workout and do not compare myself to others. I sometimes wish I didn’t have so many modifications but I am only competing against myself.

There is almost a spiritual rush I get when I am done. I most certainly say a prayer of thanks when I am done and that I am still breathing even if it is gasping and panting. Seriosly, I do thank God that I am  able to do this and making progress. I thank Him that my diabetes is improving, I thank Him that I have not quit. 

My family has been so awesome. Chyrelle, my niece, is the coach and she is amazing. She told me I could do this. Kerri, Josh, Amber, Jennifer have been voices of encouragement. My kids think this is pretty cool. And my hubby says he is proud of me.

Now I do have modifications so my burpees look different but I do them and I am a big fan of them like the majority of the folks. In fact this weeks challenge is to do 500 burpees by Saturday. I am at 215. 

Me and the attack bike are getting to be close pals. The rowing machine and I are not as close. I keep getting my shoes stuck in the shoe spot, I spend more time strapping and unstrapping my feet than I do rowing.

I am forcing myself to push my left arm. I can lift it over my head now. A lot of time I am doing the motions without the hand weight to give it muscle memory. When I do use the weights, left arm gets less weight and I often use my right hand to help the left.

The barbells are a work in progress. I am using a 5 lb barbell with no plates. Partly because the extra weight with my  uneven strength puts me off balance. But once again I am building muscle memory. 

My absolute favorite thing is the rings. I can do the ring pull forever..well not literally. I can stand back and lean backwards and pull myself up and go back down. On these I rock out on, I feel most comfortable there. Today I hung on the pull up bar. This was a challenge, as I had to make sure not to compensate for my left side. It felt that my shoulder would pop out of the socket.

Each time I go to the gym I challenge myself that I can do this. We encourage one snother. There is a sisterhood of the challenge class. Friendships being formed over our sweat and grunts. If you would have ever told me I’d be doing this, I would have laughed hysterically. 

I am not only doing Crossfit, not only making progress and seeing it, I love this sport. Will I ever be competitive…well who knows. I am no longer a victim of my strokes but a survivor. It is not going to stop me. Burpees might but not my strokes.

A Wedding Story

My son, Nicholas, requested I share my wedding story on this blog. As he is one of my children how could I not honor his request.

Ron and I met when we were both married to our first spouses. No We did not have a torrid affair. We were good friends but I had my marriage and he had his. We both attended the same business college and served on the student board. I was President and he was Vice President, so we were often on the same committees or in the same meetings. 

I did not find Ron to be to my taste. He was in a wheelchair with injuries from a fall. He wore polyester (polyester does melt when you burn it -but that is another story). He smoked and told corny jokes. He is no longer in a wheelchair, he now smokes e-cigs, does not wear polyester but the jokes remain.

Time and life happens in ways not planned. I ended up a divorced 27 year old. He became a divorced 39 year old. We had maintained our friendship and talked often. It came to a time where we were more than best friends. (I am skipping some portions of this tale for time reasons and for other stories.)

Ron didn’t really propose on bended knee. It just kind of happened. He did ask my sons Patrick and Nicholas permission to marry. Patrick was eight and Nicholas was six. Patrick had no issue but Nicholas have Ron a rather stern lecture on the dangers of smoking.

We decided to get married in Coure d’Alene, Idaho. You could get your license on the same day as you married. We decided on December 11, 1993. We packed our car the day before  we were to leave on a Thursday morning. So Wednesday night everything was placed in our car to leave. Thursday morning we wake up to our car broken into and no stereo system, a broken window and a few other things taken. So to Hermiston from the Tri-Cities we had to go.

At that time Ron was a car salesman at Harley Swain Subaru and that is where the car had been purchased from and they were willing to do a quick fix to get on the road.

So we leave later now on Friday morning with Patrick and Nicholas in tow. We arrive in Coure d’Alene and check into our hotel room. It is late so we eat and then go to our room. It has two double beds. The boys sleep with me and Ron gets a bed to myself. Perfect for a night before the wedding night. We turn on the television and watch the PBR (Professional Bull Riding) Finals.

In the morning we start our wedding prep. We were into our western stage and going to a lot of rodeos. Also it was the Garth Brooks era. I say all this to make you understand our attire. Ron wore jeans, boots and a loud flamboyant Garth shirt with a western belt and buckle. The boys were in matching mini Garth shirts, jeans stacked over their boots and rope belts threaded through the buckle with a bit hanging down. I, the bride, wore a burgundy broom skirt, a white lacy long sleeve shirt and a velvet brocade vest. My shoes were lace up granny boots. (We still have his shirt and my vest.)

Dressing complete we head to get our license and go get married. License was a breeze. Making the appointment wasn’t. We thought we could just show up and we’d get it done…nope we had to wait until 11:30. Ok I am nervous as all get out. But we have over two hours to wait. Ron decided that we would tour the city. 

I was getting cold feet, better yet they were ice cold. The more he drove around, the more nervous I got and I began to panic and told him that we could drive back home. Luckily, he ignored me. After touring the town and the lake and the town and lake, it was time.

We headed to the Hitchin’ Post for our 11:30 wedding. Nicholas was to hold the rings and Patrick would take pictures. We had brought a cassette player and a cassette of a Joe Diffie and Mary Chapin Carpenter song, “Too Much to Ask”. We began the wedding with someone with two first names, Billy Bob or Don Bob. 

I got all misty eyed and deeply moved. Patrick was snapping pictures left and right. Nicholas held the pillow just right. It wasn’t a long wedding, I think another couple was booked at 11:45.

After the nuptials we are famished and go to eat. We go to a rather decent restaraunt. I get a shrimp cocktail thinking it is fancy and the boys got ice cream. The hotel had given us a coupon book for the outlet mall, so we headed there. I got a free salt water pearl necklace. Then went to the toy store for the boys. 

The boys wanted to go see a movie, so we find a movie theater. We get to see the 3 Musketeers. The theater has these wonderful reclining chairs. I am looking forward to holding my new husbands hand during the movie. Instead I have a boy on each side of me.

We return to the hotel. I had bought a modest nightie, knowing the boys would be there. I am looking forward to cuddling with my husband in our bed at the hotel. The boys aren’t having that, they want to sleep with Mom. I put on my raggedy t-shirt and shorts and climb into bed with my children given my husband’s bed a wistful gaze. PBR is turned again and we doze off to sleep on our wedding night.

Thus begin our marriage….wait until you hear about the honeymoon.

P.S. Once we had the wedding pictures developed we found something interesting, Ron had no head or a partial face in the pictures. My son had done a wonderful job taking pictures of his 4’11” mom but not so great as getting his step dad into the pictures. The joke now is I can put anyone’s head into our wedding photos. 

Saturday Crossfit

This morning I woke up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning to go and workout. Now that sounds like a rather benign comment. But anyone who knows me realizes this alone a miracle. I am a sleep in on a Saturday gal.

Saturday is the one day I don’t work or have to get up and get Frick and Frack ready for school. 

Today I woke up, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, put on my workout clothes and grabbed a higher protein breakfast than usual. Then I drove to Maltese Crossfit for an hour workout.

Air bike, push-ups,  rings and fast walking.  These are a modified for my left stroke side. I was sweating and panting. My left arm was shaking. I loved it!!! I accomplished the workout. Was it perfect? Not at all. But it didn’t need to be.

Who would have thought my 51 (almost 52) year old lazy anti exercise lazy butt body would be doing this? If you have asked me 10 years ago, I would have laughed hilarious until tears were coming down my face. 

And after the strokes, I thought I was lucky to be even walking and able to move my arm much less being doing Crossfit. I am a reformed being. Today I even lifted my left arm over my head. This is a major accomplishment. 

When I am doing this, I am on a different zone. I am absorbed into what I am doing and thinking of how I am going to improve my reps, calories and timing.

It helps that my family believes in me and I have an awesome coach in Chyrelle. It helps that I also believe in me.

Crossfit-Day 3

I am sore tonight but extremely satisfied. I am doing this. I felt like carp today but I still went and I am glad I did.

Tonight was a night of family. My niece K, 2 of my great nieces, A and Coach Miller, and 1 great great niece and 2 great great nephews and the Princess. It is pretty cool to see the generations there. K and A’s workouts are A lot more advanced and they were kicking butt.

My workout was: 

Strength was hang snatches.

EMOMS:

 #1-7 hang snatches, 1 minute rowing. 30 sec burpees (modified for me)

 #2-10 s2oh dumbbells, 15 ring rows, 200 m run ( modified to 1 minute on bike for me)

#3-15 goblet squats, 1 minute plate hops, 30 second shuttle

Each 3 rounds.

I made it through…even though I didn’t do the rounds correctly. I did one of each round and then started over. I love the rings, rowing machine and air bike.

The 2 hand overhead is tough on the left side. Hang snatches, I am only using a bar at this point. I am hooked. My group is so supportive. Not to the point of babying me but encouraging me.

I feel sore but I am happy. If I can do this, anyone can.

Crossfit Day 2

Tonight kicked my butt. 

Let me backtrack a bit first. When I woke up this morning, Ron asked me how I felt. I replied that the only thing that didn’t hurt were my eyelashes. I was sore today but not in so much pain that I was collapsed on the floor in pain.

Now back to today. I went in and wrote down the strength workout and the WOD (workout of the day). Strength was dumbells and bar lift. WOD was jumpsteps, burpees and wall ball. My tainer who is my great-niece who is a great niece and a great coach, modified things to take into account my left side. Now this does not mean it is made easy for me. 

It amazes me of what I can do. Yes, I realize this is only the second day but people have already dropped from our class. Yesterday we had 14, today we had 9. And I was one of the ones that made it today. Plus I completed today.

This is challenging and tough but I enjoy that. I am not in competition with anyone else but me. I admit on the 4th round, I was ready to call it a day. I pushed through though. 

I was getting shakey legged on my left side foot tonight. It will learn to cooperate or else. This would make great physical therapy for stroke folks. Especially with the modifications. This is almost as hard at the rehab at Mercy Stroke Rehabilitation.

Tonight when I got home and took a bath. The water felt wonderful and was relaxing. The problem was when I got ready to get out, I couldn’t. My weaker side would not take my weight. I had to have Ron help me out of there. He did volunteer to brink me a pillow and blanket. What a guy?

Tonight I am feeling it all over. No pain, no gain, if you don’t feel it, it isn’t working.  

Crossfit Day 1

Hear ye, hear ye!!! I made it through day 1 of Crossfit at Maltese Crossfit taught by my beautiful niece Chyrelle. Tonight was like a family reunion there with 3 other family members there. 

I honestly thought I would fail tonight. I had visions of falling on my butt and not being able to get up. Ok, the getting up part was hard and I did look for a moment like a floundering turtle.  

No one laughed. We were all in our own zone of trying to breathe at the same time as doing all these new movements. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some who were not beginners. I didn’t have time to gaze about as my body was yelling at me for causing it to move in new unimaginable post stroke ways.

My drop foot doesn’t drop and stay flat so at times they may have thought I had more than water in my bottle. My hand did its clutching thing on the air bike but that was great, I didn’t fall off one time at all.

It is nice accomplishing something new…and tomorrow I get to do it all over again. Be still my soul. I am no longer just a stroke survivor, I am a Crossfit survivor. Or at least a day one survivor.

A New Start

When I was recovering from my strokes is when this blog was born. It has seen recovery, heartache, family growth, day to day life and moving across the country. Now a new chapter is beginning.

I am going to be starting cross fit. This is both exhilarating for me to do but also terrifying. I still do not have full function in my left arm and my lower left leg. So this should be interesting. I can list here all the things that I can’t do because of my body limitations but by doing so I admit defeat. I will have to modify. I may not end up looking in great form but I will be doing the best I can.

Part of me is proud of myself for going for this. But this is not the hardest thing I have ever done. Hard was the two strokes. Hard was learning to walk, learning how to use my hand for fine motor. Hard was figuring out how to get dressed. I remember the joy I had when I learned to put on my bra by myself and the first time I buttoned my jeans. So why does this make me nervous?

One- I hate to fail. Two- I hate to disappoint. Three- I am competitive. Four- I hate looking awkward. Fifth- I don’t like to sweat. Ok number five is me being a goof. I am going to have to “suck it up, butter cup” probably quite often. Quitting, stopping or making excuses is not an option. Have a hunch my prayer life got a bit more intense.

I told some of my kids about me doing this and they laughed and then they saw that I was serious. He who laughs last…

Tonight at the YAK (Young Adult Court), we had some major breakthroughs with trust and some great laughs. But toward the end of the social, we saw some changes come over them as we shared how much we love them. We talked with them about having a 30 minute gathering of sharing God’s word in some form. They got excited about it. We would let them formulate the ideas and we will implement them.

This excites me. This is a new way for them to not so much see church but for them to begin to see relationship and spirituality. To see the Living Christ and how He loves them. I love these kids and I admire them. They aren’t perfect…they are real. They are overcoming great odds and learning to make good choices.

The best part of Sunday night is when they give you a goodbye hug and I whisper, “you are loved”. Sometimes they think I am only talking about how I love them but I am also speaking of God’s love.

This may be what God is putting before us…a new way to be the Church.

I will keep you apprised on how much I have accomplished–with both the fitness plan and my YAK kids.

Find your passion, pray, listen and pursue.

Going Down

The phrase going down today has a double meaning. It’s going down in blood sugar and it’s going down in the physical type of falling. Both are quite interesting and quite challenging in their unique way.

Good news,good news!! Since being on The Whole30 diet my blood sugar’s have dropped. If you knew me proor to this diet,you know that’s miraculous. I have not been a great one to deal with blood sugars or frankly my diabetes. I have ranged normally in the the upper 200’s to lower 200’s. On this Whole30 diet I have a tendency to have lows. My blood sugars are great when they’re good being in the the 120 to 90 range. But now I struggle with huge drops or what we call lows. My numbers have dropped as low as 58. These lows leave you feeling disoriented and for me my vision constrains. I see little lights in front of my eyes.

So I am learning to live with controlling my sugars on a new diet. I just have to listen to my body closer. Speaking of my body (ok you weren’t but I had to find a segue). I have not yet had my way in but my belt loops keep moving and I have been able to fit into some of my clothes much better. I am finding that I don’t miss many of the foods that are not allowed. Yes, even bread and chocolate. Still trying at times to succumb my desire got a Starbucks white chocolate mocha single shot with whipped.

I find myself eating a healthy non cheese non McDonalds breakfast.We are saving a bunch not eating the easy out of mom’s everywhere–fast food and pizza delivery. My kids are sure that I am making them suffer. Why is it that I think the first words out of a child’s mouth after dada and mama is McDonalds? My kids and my beloved are probably suffering more than I am. Our house has become a no junk food zone. According to the Princess I am starving her from the good stuff. I am such a horrible mom…call Children’s Division. Oh wait, she has threatened me with that for making her starve because she didn’t want the apple, she wanted cheeze puffs.

Now to the other fall or make that plural falls. Sit back for this tale or I am going to say tails. We in our insanity have three dogs; our old man Ralph, who is one of the originals, Chrissy who is the Princesses’ pup is aour german shepherd/border collie mix and our

rescue dog and now we have Gizmo.

Gizmo is a labradoodle pup that people were rehoming. We got him at a bargain basement price. If you know me, I wont pay an arm or a leg for a dog with a pedigree but he cost as much as a rescue in this area. Gizmo was named Divot but he is truly a Gizmo. Eight month old slobbery goofball who forgets he is a monster. He loves attention and is a sweetie. Did I mention he is a big eight month old pup?

We have a run line from our back door out about 20 feet until we get a fence built. I usually let them out in a certain order; the old man, the little girl and then Gizmo. I was doing great today. Ralphie went out and in, Chrissy went out and last but not least Gizmo.

Gizmo is afraid to go down the stairs. Why? I have no clue. So you have to encourage him with the word “Go”. I was encouraging him with the door partially open and then this streak of fur rushes by me. Chrissy had snuck out by me. Now anyone who knows about border
collies knows they are quick little buggers. I assumed (you have heard about what it means to aaume) she was running to the dog run which is in the baxk corner….nope. She was doing laps around the yard with me frantically calling her.

Now a quick sidenote. I am not nimble nor graceful since my strokes. My version of what I would call running you all would call something else. It is a strange hobble wobble drag leg thing. A 90 year old man could feasibly outrun me.

I totter down the back patio stairs that has no stairs. Trying to chase herdown. The dog juked me so many times. Heading to the front yard sending me into a panic as Sunnyside is next to our house. Sunnyside is a four lane busy road and we already had lost our Minnie to that road.

As soon as I am heading toward the front she flies by me to the backyard. I attempt to pivot and end up on the ground. Next to me was a brick half wall we haven’t figured out wh is there. I know now why, it is a “Dawn getter upper”. While I am working my way up, I look up and the great big bumbling galoot has snapped the run line.

So now I am chasing two dogs frantically calling their names like a crazy lady.(Please no comments on that from the peanut gallery.) I am getting panicky. Gizmo goes by and I stepped on the dangling off of the run line. Next thing I am laying on the ground with the air knocked out of me.

Chrissy never slows down. Gizmo comes over to check on me and I am able to grab him and use him to help me up. Helps to have a friendly giant. Chrissy is on lap 200 of the yard. I am able to somehow drag Gizmo back into the house. Please your imagination to how that had to look.

Chrissy now sees her buddy is going into the house and she hesitates. I grab the doggie treat bag and shake it. She comes closer and then darts into the house. She is panting, I am panting and the other two dogs are looking back and forth at us.

As I hobble into the breakfast nook, I look down at my Converse Chucks and see in my foray, I found some special surprises that the Teen swore he had been picking up every day. I am just blessed that any other part of me was not surprised.

So now I am sore from my falls and my bllod sugar is low at 60. So the moral is there are benefits to white cocolate mochas and don’t fall for any dogs.