Monday, October 29, 2012

Older and Wiser?

I just got home from the dentist and my next appointments will be with an oral surgeon.

I have needed a lot of repairs done and it is just keeps getting worse.   I have never had really great teeth, but issues with my face have aggravated the situation. I have some amount of drop in the left side of my face and altered sensation.  I had a bit of speech therapy early on to physically get my tongue moving better and work on moving my lips properly.  I tended to choke sometimes when swallowing and I was always biting my cheek to the point of bleeding.  My bite is now off  too and that mixed with some facial spasms have resulted in several cracked teeth and it looks like I am about to need a couple of them pulled along with some other major repairs.

Today I questioned the dentist about a spot that had been hurting on the gum at the back of my "good"side.

It looks like I have cut a somewhat undersized wisdom tooth in the past two weeks!  I am in my mid 50's and just cut a tooth! My almost two year old grandson and I have a lot in common this month.

Yup, it's true... after all this I am apparently a whole lot older and a little bit wiser.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Graduating from Therapy

Last Friday I had my final meeting at Easy Street, that fantastic hospital rehabilitation group that was overseeing my recovery. My Social Worker and my Dietitian were the only two therapists I have seen over the past year and I haven't seen either of them for the past 5 months. I have had a couple of phone-calls and many emails keeping in touch with my wonderful Social Worker.  She has kept me in the Easy Street Rehabilitation program while we have been sorting out all the issues related to the vocational rehabilitation program and my efforts to adjust to what is the new normal for my life.

Friday afternoon I went in for a last appointment with her before I was officially discharging from their program.  She assured me that she still wants emails letting her know how my life is going.

I have spent a lot of the time in Occupational Therapy learning to set realistic goals and hopefully these skills are now part of my everyday life!

Two years ago I wrote out a list of what I thought I needed to do before being discharged. My three daughters were all in university at the time and all taking about what courses need to be completed and what last assignments needed to be accomplished before they would graduate. I felt a need to make a "grad" list too. I planned to buy myself a particular piece of jewelry from a hospital fundraiser when I finished rehab, just like university graduates buy a Grad ring.  
I may not have completed all my self-appointed assignments before I was discharged, but I have confidence that I will eventually compete most of my self appointed tasks in some fashion or another. They won't be the first "late" assignments in my life.  (grin)

Some of these items may sound a bit silly, but for me they are all meaningful.

               Shop independently (done)
               Cook independently (done)
               Bake pretty cakes again (done)
               Read for fun and have it feel like fun  (done)
               Get my driver's license back (done)
               Make a photo book of the hospital garden
               Play a nice song on the guitar
               Take part in some kind of sport or athletic challenge
               Get the hang of Photoshop 
               Finish an afghan I started just before I got really sick
               Get a job

It is really kind of scary and exciting all at the same time to be officially out of the rehabilitation phase of recovery.  I know that this really is a new chapter for me.

 I still have a lot to work on ... but I am ready to be stepping out on my own.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oak Tree Trunk with Virginia Creeper Vine at the Lake
 Today is Thanksgiving in Canada and I have a lot to be thankful for. I would not being doing nearly as well as I am without the help and guidance of so many people. I have had so many experts, friends and family all support my efforts at getting my life back.  My life has been enriched by the many people I have encountered during this journey and I am glad to name as friends many of the stroke survivors and people struggling with other conditions that I have met along the way. What would life  be like without the  many kindly volunteers and compassionate caregivers and health-care professionals that give their time and kindness and prayers so selflessly?
There are still sad, depressed days but I am blessed to say that most days include joy and gratitude.

I have been so busy! --- I get myself so exhausted "doing" that I have no energy left to "write" about it. That, for me, is actually a good thing because it means I am out there leading my life.

We experienced several family crisis over the summer including one daughter with serious head and leg injuries after an 8 foot fall and another daughter tripped on a curb and we are now awaiting surgery to fix her still injured dominant hand. My youngest daughter had a pin from a previous injury removed from her ankle because of constant pain. It has not been an easy summer but I have been proud of my ability to be of some help during all these stressful events.

I have been taken part in some different counseling sessions, worked with a life coach, gone to exercise groups and worked on the idea of getting employed again. I volunteered for two weeks with The Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba and I worked hard to fix up a house that I rent out.  I went camping with Girl Guides this Fall and .. yes really.. I slept on the ground in my sleeping bag.

When you are in Physiotherapy or Occupational therapy they ask you what it is you want to be able to do, then they start on a few baby steps to try and take you in that direction. I have been slugging away at that list for a long time now, first with the therapists and then on my own, and I find my lists of wants for recovery keeps expanding. There are always higher mountains I want to climb!

Some of the items that I desperately wanted to do  are no longer of much interest to me once I achieve them. I originally was so sad about not shopping independently. Shopping is now doable for me but I find it is very stressful and tiring. The stores with all the people, and odd lighting and colors make me feel dizzy and ill. Driving home is harder than driving there and putting away groceries feels overwheming. Yes, I can now shop independently but it is no longer a pleasant experience for me. It is just exhausting so I try and farm the basic shopping off on the husband or my kids whenever possible now.

Driving on the other hard still seems like a miracle every time I get in the car. I tried for so long to get my license back and now I really treasure it and the freedom it brings.  I still have a few issues. It is not smart for me to drive after dark and I shouldn't try and drive anywhere when I am tired. I need to allow extra time and take a GPS device with me everywhere I go because I have a lot of issues with some kind of spatial memory. I have a few routes that are solid but if I get turned around by even a block  I am really lost. I am driving just fine along the street and with other traffic, but no idea how to get from point A to point B. Eventually I do get to where I want to be. The Trick, like so much in life, is to keep calm, reassess what your destination is and then just get moving again.

It is now time to go help my daughter get the turkey started.  Dinner tonight is for 10 people. We are taking it easy and making potatoes and stuffing from boxed kits because it doesn't have to be Grandmas Special Dressing anymore. That is not what matters. It is the people you share it with that count. It is recognizing the old memories and it is making brand new ones.

I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and a joy filled week.

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