9 Months

Nine months ago today, I had my stroke. I don’t always remember the 24th of each month but today it struck me. I know I have a ways to go but I have made a lot of progress in those 9 months. This week I am waking before my alarm goes off and more alert than I have been. The only thing ms I can attribute that to are either: 1. my brain is making its way back to “normal” or 2. I put a fan on my bedside table to combat that hot flashes that have come back (I didn’t have them for months after the stroke but they have returned). I am going with option 1 because my brain does seem to be getting more with the program. My stamina through the day is stronger and I haven’t had a nap or felt exhausted until it’s time to go to bed.

Treadmill (aka “dreadmill”) is going well. I’m up to 20 minutes/1/2 mile at speed 1.5. I will hang at this pace for a little bit and let my body get used to it. Funny thing, last night I started on 1.0 for a few seconds before going up to 1.5 and it felt SO slow! I was just on speed 1.0 a couple of months ago!

I start back in PT/OT next Wednesday (3 weeks after Botox injections) and I’m looking forward to it. I went to this location (Frazier Rehab in Shelbyville) in the summer before being transferred to Frazier Rehab Neuro Rehab On Brownsboro Road. So I know pretty much what/who to expect. The last time I was at the Shelbyville location, I was in a wheelchair and had very little movement in my arm. I remember my PT walked with me around the therapy gym and I walked SO choppy. Can’t wait for them to see how far I’ve come!

Next Wednesday I also see Dr. Gormley for a follow up to my Botox injections. For my foot, as painful (PAINFUL!) as it was, it was totally worth it! For my arm, I can see a minor difference(Tony says he can see a bigger difference than I can) but I’m definitely less tight than I was. Botox is AHHH-mazing. If only Dr. G would have let me have the leftovers for my forehead!! (Believe me, I dropped some hints but he wasn’t picking them up!).

I registered my team for the Color Run on June 9th. My family and cousins and I are going to walk it. This is the third year I’ve registered for it but I missed last year because I was in the hospital. I’m looking forward to it and am comforted that it’s not a timed race. Lol. Tony and Taylor are doing the Derby Mini in April and I’ll be at the finish line. With doughnuts and a camera!

I’ve personally compared my recovery to that of a baby’s first years of growth. It takes them time to learn to walk and balance appropriately. They don’t come out of the womb running (thank God! Can you imagine how chaotic that would be?!). So I’m trying to cut myself some slack on where I think I should be versus where I am. Which is HARD for this type A personality. Really, really hard. But I know that God is in control, not me. And I credit him with all victories, big and small!

Happy Hump Day!!

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30 Questions for Self Discovery – 2

What do I need more of in my life?

Time…I don’t think there will be many to disagree. I want it all – all the time I can get with my family and friends. I want to see my babies (who are now adults) get married and have their own babies (way, way, WAY far down the road).

Hugs…I want to be hugged & loved by everyone. Unless you’re sick. Then you can just wave to me from afar. Really, really afar. A text hug maybe? Lol! But seriously, this is something that I’ve not been good at through the years. I sometimes get uncomfortable with physical touch so I try to avoid it. But I’m turning over a new leaf and welcoming it.

On the flip side, what do I need less of? Well, I’d like less snap judgments and attitude. Sometimes I want to scream “Can you just take a beat?!” when I hear people complaining about everything. But then again, I fall into that trap and I get complain-y. I try to reserve my whiny-ness for my husband and Jaime (lol!). I think that social media allows people to have a bigger “voice” than they really have. I guess hiding behind an online shield gives a sense of bravery. I don’t know – just my thoughts.

What do you think? What do you need more and less of in your life?

https://www.lavendaire.com/journaling-ideas/

Recovery is a Slow Beast

Twice now I’ve been told “Wow, you’re pretty far in your recovery”. Which I don’t quite understand because it feels like it’s taking forever. But I’m learning that stroke recovery is very S L O W. I like things to move quick, quick, quick. Efficiency, doing two things at once, and getting more done is my thing. So imagine this (virtual) slap in the face of slow, slow, slooooow just doing anything. It’s been incredibly frustrating but also incredibly humbling. I’m having to learn to go slower than I’ve ever gone in my whole life and learn new ways of doing things that I used to take for granted.

When I first met with Dr. Clancy, my acupuncturist and doctor of Chinese medicine in December 2017, he had me walk down the short hall of his office to get a feel for my walking pattern. He said “Wow! You’ve recovered really well so far.” Never having had acupuncture, I was already on the fence about this guy and all I could think was “Is he nuts? It’s been EIGHT months already!” (Turns out that I really like Dr. Clancy and find him to be really wonderful!)

But then I saw my oncologist, Dr. Joseph, this week (1/15/2018) and she said almost the same thing. So it’s got me thinking. I know the whole “this is a marathon, not a sprint” and all the other nuggets of positivity, but I don’t think I really grasped how true that saying is. And, pretty much every stroke in every person is different. One thing I learned from breast cancer is that every cancer in every body is going to look, act, and feel different. I could have the same cancer as another woman but so many factors affect how it reacts.

Likewise, there’s no hard and fast rule to stroke recovery. Each brain recovers at its own pace. How frustratingly, amazing is that? But, really, I just wish we knew how far into this “marathon” we were. Are we closer to mile 1 or mile 26? I mean, I think I’m around the halfway point but what do I know?

When I was in the hospital, my facial muscles were not the greatest. I drooled a LOT. In the middle of speaking I’d have drool oozing out of my mouth. So gross. But, then I noticed after I got home that I was only drooling if I laid on my right side or if I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing (which is so HARD for my ADD-riddled brain!). So I’ve tried to be really aware of my lips and practiced pulling them together throughout the day (think “duck face”). Dr. Joseph even said that if she didn’t know I’d had a stroke, she wouldn’t have been able to tell by speaking to me. I find that odd because all I notice is the way the right side of my lips droop if I’m not completely focused on keeping them straight. It’s gotten better but isn’t perfect, which is ok for now. Dr. Joseph suggested using my e-stim on my face to help build up those muscles so I have ordered some smaller pads because the ones I have are 2″ square.

Speaking of drool, funny story (sort of). I had my Botox injections last week and when I got the one in my foot, I was face down on my stomach (yay, gravity!). And of course, not paying attention to my mouth. So as I’m getting the injection, I’m drooling all over the little pillow on the table. Which I guess is better than the crying I wanted to do, because that joker HURT. Just to clarify: It wasn’t just an injection; this was more of a “We’re going to inject a little here and then angle the needle and inject a little there, and there and there.” Not pleasant and your sympathy is much appreciated (lol!).

Maybe my recovery is farther along because I’m on the treadmill (aka “dreadmill”!) at least 5 days a week, maybe it’s the arm pedal thing I bought, maybe it’s that my attitude is determined to beat this, maybe it’s the amazing support system I have, maybe it’s the recumbent bike, or FitMe, or CBD oil. Maybe it’s none of that but I think it’s all integral to my recovery success.

So, all in all, I’m grateful that I’m still recovering, even if it is at a slower pace than I want it to be. God has been with me every step of the way, and I don’t see him ditching this ride anytime soon. He has taught is teaching me to embrace a slower pace and I think I might just be liking it. Or at least not as opposed to it as I used to be!

Survivor, Real Life Edition

Today I celebrate 23 years of employment with the SAME company. I’m not allowed to say who my employer is on social media so that will remain under wraps. But let me say this: I love my employer and have been tremendously blessed to have made it this long. I joke that it’s a lot like Survivor – Outwit, Outlast, Outplay.

While with my company I have gotten married, gone through 2 pregnancies, births, toddlers, teens, now-adults, a house fire (not our fault), breast cancer, a stroke and every little moment in between.

I started and spent my first 3 years in customer service. And that was interesting to say the least. Then, I moved into the Sales Department as a Sales Support Consultant. After a few years my role sort of evolved into something different and it continues to evolve. For the last few years I’ve been a lead contact for our sales people in their use of Salesforce. I have loved it and learned so much.

I’ve worked from home for so long that I’m not sure what I’d do in an office. I’d do it if I had to but I know I’m much more productive without anyone around me and with me dressed like a bum. I started working from home the spring before Justin started Kindergarten. And he’s now a freshman in college. When I think about that I’m truly amazed! When the kids were growing up I had a rule: If mommy’s office door is closed, you better be profusely bleeding or not breathing before you open it. That cut out a lot of the potential frivolous interruptions!

But with the roll over of the new year I have stepped away from Salesforce responsibilities to make room for other projects. It’s a little scary to do something totally different but also a little exciting. I’m still reporting to the same manager, which is good because I really like him!

Speaking of managers, I’ve had great ones, some just ok ones and one truly awful one (he left the company so that worked itself out but I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to survive him! He’s the only manager I’ve had that made me WANT to look for a new job and start sending my resume out).

All in all, I have to say that I’ve had a good run at my company. I don’t plan on leaving (unless, of course, I win the lottery, which I never play) and I tell people that they’ll have to pry my laptop out of my cold dead hands. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with all levels of staff, from Administrative Assistants to high up managers. And I’ve learned from all of them.

After my stroke, I was worried that they’d just move on and not need me anymore. Thankfully, I’ve been reassured several times that this should not be a concern. When I’ve gone though PT and OT and they ask me where I work, and I’ve told them, they usually get this look on their face and say something like “Oh gosh, they’re the worst!” (Cue the cringe!). But this has given me the opportunity to share that as an employee, they have been nothing less than wonderful to me and my family. I’ve been given equipment to make it easier to work and the time I need to go to PT and doctor appointments.

I remember hearing a voicemail message that my manager’s manager left on Tony’s phone after my stroke. I had never spoken to her before but I was moved to tears listening to her kind, kind words.

I am truly blessed to work for such a great company! Here’s to 23 years served and at least several more in the future – or a winning mega lottery ticket! Lol!

30 Questions for Self Discovery

Oops! I wrote this weeks ago and forgot to post it. I’d claim “brain injury” but this is something I would do before the stroke.

So this is something I found on Pinterest. I mean, come on, is there anything better than Pinterest? There is SO MUCH information out there! My bFf Jaime and I have a bunch of secret boards and she added this pin to our Pimped Out Planner board 😂. Now I know myself and I know I won’t dare write these in my handwriting. I have TERRIBLE handwriting – it starts out nice but then I get lazy/tired/bored and it turns into something you can’t even read. So I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain a written log of my responses but I can type them out!

Anyway, one of my 2018 goals is to complete these 30 questions. I’ve printed out the questions (haven’t read them yet!) and I’m going to tackle one question with each post. So here we go!

https://lavendaire.com/journaling-ideas/

I’m So Excited and I Just Can’t Hide It!

You guys!!!’ First let me say that I try not to post too many blog posts in a week because I can’t imagine anyone is just sitting around mentally begging for me to share a blog post (lol!!). This week is going to be different because 1. I have some really cool news to share and 2. I have a post that I thought I had already released but found it sitting in my drafts (oops).

So last night I shared a post about my Botox injections that I had yesterday at UofL Hospital (go Cards!). I forgot to mention that going the UofL Hospital in the daytime is a MUCH different experience than going at midnight, which we had to when Taylor was taken there in the middle of the night a couple of years ago. No metal detectors this time. But apparently all gunshot victims are taken to University Hospital so I guess there are metal detectors in the ER entrance. But I digress (Ritalin has worn off by now!).

So I had the Botox injections yesterday and was told that peak effectiveness is at 2 weeks and it lasts 90 days. Dr. Gormley said he went on the lower end of dosing because he didn’t want to give me too much and end up with me being too loose and floppy.

So before today I would have to wear my athletic shoes to try to keep my toes from curling (which sometimes they would curl when I was wearing shoes, and THAT is uncomfortable! And I hate (HATE) wearing shoes all the time (I know, as a diabetic it’s wrong for me to NOT wear shoes but…I like the freedom. My toes just wanna be FREE!!). If I carry anything in my left hand, no matter how light, my right toes curl (which is interesting now that I’m doing acupuncture because Dr. Clancy says things on the left side drive actions on the right side). My big toe and second toe would have “dents” from being curled and I had to keep the toenails trimmed very short so they wouldn’t cut into me. And I constantly have bruises on the knuckle of my toes from being so curled up.

Anyway, I woke up this morning to straight toes! STRAIGHT toes! I walked several times from each end of the house to test this out and I’ve had no toe curling. And this is ONE day post Botox injections (sorry for using so many caps in this post – I’m just SO EXCITED and I want to make sure that’s conveyed!!!).

I’m simply amazed. And excited at the benefits that botulism (ick) is providing. I wish I’d tried it sooner. Maybe before my deductible and OOP reset on 1/1? Lol! Can’t wait to see what I’m like 2 weeks post injection!

November 2017 (I wish I had a pic of me wearing shoes with my toes curled so you could see what it looked like).

January 2018 – 1 day post Botox!!! Check out those straight, long toes! My husband (lovingly, I’m sure 😂😂😂) calls them “monkey toes” because I sometimes use them as fingers – picking stuff up off the floor, etc.

Botox!!

So today was the day I’d been waiting a month for…I had Botox injections today. Unfortunately, none in my forehead (believe me, I tried!)! Only in my right foot and right forearm.

I had to go to the basement of University of Louisville hospital, which is not where I normally see him in his office. I learned when I got there that I was their first Botox patient at that facility. It was a little strange because it was new for them and nothing was where it was supposed to be. But whatever, I was fine with the slight chaos.

He started by explaining where he would do the injections – forearm, lower leg and bottom of my foot. He warned me that the one in my foot would probably hurt most.

He started getting everything ready (Botox is stored in the refrigerator and has to be mixed between a few vials). And then I saw the needles. Now, I am not at all like my cousin, Rachel, who is terrified of needles. I mean, I’m diabetic, needles are part of my every day life. But these jokers were long – L O N G. Like at least 3″ but possibly longer. Dr. Gormley said the needles were thin like acupuncture needles. But dang, did they have to be so flipping long?!

So he’s mixing the stuff up and all I can see are the syringes with the enormous needles. I was channeling all the zen and calm from my acupuncture visits with Dr. Clancy and praying for my blood pressure to stay low.

And then it was time; Dr. Gormley was right. It wasn’t bad until he got to the bottom of my foot. He started in my forearm and they attached an e-stim to the needle. When they injected the Botox they would turn it on and stimulate the muscles so he’d know where to inject.

I know I had 4 injections in my arm. I lost count with them in my leg – there were severally the front and back of my lower leg. They got more painful the farther he went down my body. The one in my foot hurt the most. I was laying on my stomach (not the most comfortable when half your body doesn’t work correctly) and the injection went in about the center of my foot. Pic below for sympathy. It doesn’t look like much but the little dot right in the center (circled) is where it went (also, I don’t know if you can tell, but check out that smooth and soft foot courtesy of Heeltastic! Best stuff EVER!)

It takes 2 weeks for the Botox to kick in (peak) and then lasts for 90 days. At which point I’ll do it all over again. Assuming, of course, it works.

I should start back to physical and occupational therapy in 2 weeks also. I am still going to Frazier Rehab but will be switching from the Brownsboro Road Neuro Rehab location to Frazier Rehab at Jewish Hospital in Shelbyville. Brownsboro Road couldn’t fit me in their schedule and honestly, I was thinking about switching to Shelbyville for a few reasons. First, since I’m still not driving (5 more weeks of driving class through vocational rehab!) I’m at the mercy of others to get me places. My mom had been taking me (thank you, mama!) twice a week. And I think when I stated at Brownsboro’s Neuro Rehab, I really did NEED it. It was more than just PT and OT. But now that I’m farther along in my recovery, I think I’ll be fine with just PT and OT in Shelbyville. Plus, have I mentioned that our house is starting to look like a therapy gym? Between the treadmills (yes, plural! We have a “his” and “hers”; the old one on the main floor and new one in the basement workout room.), recumbent bike, bean bags, FitMi, CBD oil, TRX…it’s getting a little out of control. But all useful tools in my recovery!