December 28, 2016

Fatigue is a Deal Breaker

The fatigue I felt the first year after my stroke was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  I repeatedly felt a crushing fatigue I couldn't push through.  Using a timer to force myself to rest was annoying because the timer would go off at the worst time.  I tried to rest by watching TV, but that turned me into a zombie who couldn't stop clicking the remote because nothing good was on at the moment.  I tried reading and going on the Internet, but got so absorbed in these activities that I ended up being more tired.  When I did not rest I could barely hold my head up after dinner.

I found two strategies that work for me.  (1) Lying on top of the bedspread with a towel under my shoes and a small blanket covering me doesn't feel like I'm going back to bed.  I can lie down for fifteen minutes without having to get undressed.  (2) When I listen to a CD I can stop after a few tracks and come back to it later.  Instead of staring at the clock and resenting having to rest I enjoy the music.  Even seven years after my stroke I make sure to get enough rest when I have an outing planned for the day.  I don't want to start wishing I could go home a few minutes after I arrive.  A stroke survivor I met resents having to rest but I think preventing fatigue lets me do more rather than less.

December 23, 2016

Walking in the Dark

My love of being outside at night began when my mother decided I was old enough to sit on the front porch on cool summer evenings.  I loved watching the street lights sparkling through leaves on the trees and being a part of quiet conversations.  So when my brother suggested we see the Christmas lights at the Brookfield Zoo I was eager to go.
I did well while it was still dusk (photo on left).  When the sun went down (photo below) I had trouble seeing where vertical was.  My stroke hit the pons which is the bridge to the cerebellum where balance is controlled.  My cerebellum gets so little information from my inner ears that I need visual input to tell if I am vertical.  
As it got darker I started guessing by watching the dark outlines of people walking in front of me.  This made me lurch from side to side to correct the poor guesses I made.  This rocking motion wore me out and brought my walking to a halt.  Walking for years down well lit streets did not prepare me for the balance challenge that real darkness creates.

I am going to restrict myself to night time activities that require sitting --- like watching people skate.  I got to see children smile when their parents kept them from falling.  I got to watch funny interactions among dating couples who had unequal skating skills.  I got to look at Chicago's beautiful Michigan Avenue.  I got to breathe the crisp night air and appreciate my warm coat, mittens, and scarf.  I got to enjoy a fun evening with my brother.  I learned the hard way that walking requires problem solving as well as mobility.

December 16, 2016

Organizing My Purse is a Vital Shopping Strategy

Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury line up every 50 to 100 years.  This rare celestial event will happen before I go digging through my purse one-handed.  Organizing my purse eliminates frustration when I go shopping.  Every woman organizes her purse differently so this is not a
how-to post.  The examples are intended to help stroke survivors realize that a purse does not have to be a buzz kill.  Holiday shopping is supposed to be FUN.

My car key has its own compartment.  The green wrist coil makes it easy to retrieve quickly.  My house key is attached to a straight flexible coil that hooks on my purse.  I pull on this coil to make my house key slip out of its pocket.  I do not want to be an easy target because I am digging through my purse looking for a key.  

I can handle credit cards quickly because I keep them in a zippered compartment that holds ONLY a credit card, driver's license, ATM card, and library card.  While sitting in my car I get out the card I need and place it vertically so it stands out from the other cards that are horizontal.  Cards go back in this zippered compartment in a flash.  Less frequently used cards like my health insurance card are in another compartment.  I do not want to hear the people behind me in line moan because I am struggling with my credit cards.

December 4, 2016

Keeping My Christmas Spirit

This is a photo of the artificial Christmas tree I have put up every year since my stroke.  After I fell on my patio last October I looked for ways to reduce my risk for falling.  Denial finally faded so I could allow myself to picture what would have happened if I had broken my hip. 

I had already made myself safer by keeping furniture sliders under the lounge chair next to this window so I can move it out of my way.  This allowed me to place a folding chair next to the tree so I could sit down when decorating the bottom of the tree.  However, decorating this six foot tree is tiring.  I know fatigue is one of my triggers for falling so I ordered a small table top tree.

I am happy  the figures of the magi and shepherd visiting the Christ child create a Christmas tableau in front of the tree.  I made these figures years ago when my hobby was needlecraft.  I also love the tiny Christmas tree balls.  I am always amazed by how happy small things make me.

I have held onto the decorations for my big tree so I still have options if I change my mind - probably denial still at work.