Monday, June 27, 2016

Getting Kicked Out

I briefly mentioned this on my stroke blog last week, but here are more details I wrote up today. Enjoy!

I'm 4 years, 8 months out from my initial 2 strokes (6 strokes over 1 month -Stroke of Grace by Jennifer Saake ). I started in a wheel chair (well, STARTED totally bed bound for the first couple weeks) and even at a year was barely walking independently with a cane and my left shoulder was still painfully subluxed, taped up, and my arm unusable. The pool has been THE BEST form of physical therapy. When I started at about 10 months, I wore a flotation belt and clung to the wall. Now I can do full jumping jacks (both legs, right arm FULLY involved, left arm at about 90% participation in the exercise, I would say) out in open water with no life belt! (If I try to do a jumping jack on land, my feet get about 3 inches apart, so the water makes a HUGE difference! I still use a cane or walker outside my home, so land is more challenging than water.) 


I don't have the stamina to typically swim a full lap in the pool, but with time I've re-trained enough arm function to keep me afloat and capable of my own variant of swimming. On Friday I was doing long step walking, some jumping and stretches in the therapy lane of the pool and swam about 1/3 of the length of that lane. Another patient apparently asked me to move from that lane as it was for therapy only (I'm quite hearing impaired since the strokes, so I only nodded as I thought she was making a comment about how there were 3 of us in there doing therapy at the same time) so an actual therapist (I have never met him, so he doesn't know my story) actually asked me to move out of the therapy lane! Guy's, I GOT KICKED OUT OF THE THERAPY LANE IN THE POOL BECAUSE i LOOK TOO ABLE BODIED NOW AND WAS MISTAKEN FOR "NORMAL"!!! 


As soon as I explained my situation, the therapist and other patients were all very supportive and totally let me stay, but I was just amazed at how far I've come!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Not Impossible Afterall


Our 13-year-old has worn glasses for years. Last year her eye exam got WACKY results and the doctor, one of two optometrists in town, called me in, told me my child was emotionally disturbed, the results she was giving them had his entire staff convinced she was legally blind but he wasn't buying that because the kinds of answers she was giving were an "impossible" combination, and that she was outright lying to us and there was nothing he could do for her. Between my strokes and the intensive genetic workup (nothing found, but the workup involved many hours, nearly a dozen different doctors, 3 states, and a year and a half of stress!) she was undergoing, I figured there honestly might be an emotional element to her issues, so stuck with our previous prescription and let things ride. 



This week we went to a simple opthamologist (a step DOWN in medical training!) at our local WalMart and he got the same type of test result. When he started to tell me, I inwardly groaned, preparing for the lecture again. Instead, he gave me the bizarre results and immediately explained how rare her combination of answers were but that he though he knew what was medically going on with her eyes. He did a whole 3 more hours of unplanned work with her (for the single price of the original exam!) and by 6 last night we finally had a working prescription that corrects her eyesight to nearly 20/40 vision (yes, not 20/20, but she has apparently never been corrected to a perfect 20/20)! This will be HUGE for her! Now praying the glasses will actually preform as expected when they come in early July.


She's giddy to have a doctor who actually worked with her eyes to find a solution and I'm so relieved to both find her the needed help and not be told she is impossible again! Thank you Walmart Reno - Damonte Ranch Pkwy!



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Saake Summer 2016


I haven't abandoned this blog. Life has just kept happening!


Let me hit the highlights.


In September, 2015, I had my second hysterectomy (finished up everything left behind seven years before, cleaned out new endometriosis growth, took my appendix). Is it ever wonderful to be rid of all that pain. I was so bloated and miserable!

Swollen much? My pre-surgery tummy!

The same month I made a decision, after 3 prior less determined attempts, that I was going to cut all wheat from my diet. (I'm happy to report that I'm still what-free, now migraine-free, down 20 stubborn pounds from my post-op appointment weight (when swelling was already greatly diminished!), and generally feeling much healthier.)

Earlier this spring, 2016.
This year, our 10-year-old earned best behavior in his entire class (measured in "Falcon Feathers" collected throughout the year). The school took him and a few other class winners to a day of mini-golf. Today is his very last day of 4th grade already! He will have a week with grandparents, a vacation Bible school (VBS) week, and a week away at church camp this summer. I'm excited to have several weeks to spend with him myself before school starts again in early August.


Our 13-year old won a generous cash prize (enough to pay her tuition to a special math and science camp she wanted to attend in July) by taking first place locally, then second at state, in an essay contest on patriotism and freedom. The week before math camp, she will be taking a trip (her first time ever to fly as an airplane passenger, though she has been in the co-pilot seat, typically in control of the flight stick, of private planes since she was 8-years-old) to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend airplane camp! She won that trip due to a second winning easy through her flying club. She plans to have enough flight hours to earn her pilot's license next year when she is old enough to qualify. She finishes up her year of free voice lessons (from the talent show she won last year) this month and is already begging to take up horseback riding, as she finally got her first taste of the sport this past weekend. She plans to dissect a frog, a fish, several other small animals, and teach her little brother to dissect a worm, over her summer break. She will also spend a week helping direct crafts in my mom's church's VBS.


Our 16-year-old just finished his Junior year of high school. He is spending nearly 9 week living 5 hours from home, interning at Stanford University in a medical office. He left Tuesday morning. We hope to take a weekend trip over to visit him over the summer. He is going to be so changed, so grown up, after a summer of full-time working, research, and managing his own laundry, budget and meals! He may take a evening college course or two as well, while he is over there. For several months we were thinking he might skip Senior year and start college this fall, so I'm thrilled to know he will be moving back home for another high school year at the end of July! When he gets back to Reno, we should finally have time in his week home before the start of the new school year, to get him to DMV to get his driver's license!


Rick started a new job with Nobel Studios in February. He also serves as family logistics implementation and taxi driver! If anyone deserves to earn a trip (or a  new car, or lawn service for the year, or a personal chef who actually knows how to cook...), it is this amazing, dedicated guy! Satan wanted to destroy our marriage through my strokes. I'm so thankful God won!!! I am blessed beyond words to be married to this man.


I am still doing water therapy at least twice a week (sometimes 3 times) and riding an exercise bike, gifted to me by a couple at Sunday School, several non-pool days. I've made myself very sore with a couple of 11 or 17-mile mornings, but I typically average 7-9 miles, 2-4 times per week. Tuesdays are my dedicated writing days. Thursdays have been Bible study mornings, then lunch with the girls, so I get home about the time my kids get off school. (I'm taking the summer off to be home with my kids another day per week, though.) So each week has just one week day for fitting in doctors and dentists and errands and chores. It is a full and busy rhythm, but I am so thankful to be at the stage of stroke recovery where I no longer juggle a dozen or more medical appointments each week! Considering that I "should" be dead or lying in a nursing home, that I get to lead this life is beyond amazing!

My rose garden this morning.

The past couple of weeks I haven't been riding my bike much at all, managing only 3-5 miles when I do. I've missed some water therapy too. In fact, I'm not really even managing to keep up with laundry and dishes and writing and meals well, as my stroke nerve pain as well as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) seems to be in a bit of a flair. For example, I took an amazing week-long trip to the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference in March (total God provision, read about it here) and did amazingly well physically, both there and upon return, but the weekend trip I just took for Memorial Day is hitting me harder than that whole week! My doctor is assisting me in the last 20-30 pounds I need to loose to get back to my pre-stroke range and I really don't think this medication plays nicely with CFS, but I'm willing to pay the price as I know my weight-loss treatment is short term.

From our Memorial Day weekend. 37 of us gathered at Lake Tahoe to celebrate Rick's aunt and her best friend, for their 70th birthdays!
Other recent exciting happenings around here are that our van decided to commit suicide (throw a piston rod, and we had already decided at last major repair it wouldn't be cost effective to repair another catastrophic issue in that 18-year-old vehicle) on our way home from our Tahoe weekend. Thankfully, when we lost power to both both steering then breaks, Rick was behind the wheel (and handled the emergency SO WELL, I must add!), not our student driver! Thankfully we were already off the freeway and close to home, so Rick managed to limp the poor thing into our cul-de-sac, smoke billowing (too bad it didn't catch fire and take car of disposing itself!) and fluids hemorrhaging, where it died, never to start again. Always wanting to be a mom of many kids, a minivan was always my "dream car." I guess that life chapter is now over. We are now car (or small SUV, something that easily accommodates my walker or wheelchair, along with 3 kids) shopping.


And last, but not least, I wanted to share that as excited as our daughter was to learn to ride horses, I confirmed a new passion this weekend as well. I have wanted to take paining lessons since before I had kids. Water color, I thought. On Sunday I had a chance to try acrylic paining on canvas (one of those sip and paint party places). I felt like a whole new world opened up to me, a brand new area of my heart came alive! To say I loved the experience would be an understatement. I'm not skilled, but the feeling of swiping vivid color across clean, white canvas, just wow! Took me by surprise in the intensity of emotion!!! I'm officially hooked. When and where can I sign up for lessons?



Our daughter's dedication to me on the back of her own painting. :)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

PRAYER NEED (and maybe you can be our solution too)

We are having major challenges finding summer housing (affordable would be helpful, but at this point we need ANY options) for our very quite, kind, mature 16-year-old son this summer, near the Stanford University (Palo Alto, California) campus where he will be interning for the months of June and July. Because he is under the age of 18, every option we have explored thus far (on campus housing, typical rental/room share arrangement, etc.) has been a dead end. I'm thinking a host family might be our best option but we have no further leads. Does anyone know anyone who might know someone who might be able to help???

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Yes, I'm Alive

Family and writing updates at I'm Dizzy!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 and 2016 Word

I introduced my word of the year for 2016, marriage, over on my stroke blog, in a post titled Divorce last night. In recap of my 2015 word, Sing, I thought it would do me good to write an overview post of 2015.

I wasn't real sure what impact of Sing would look like, but I originally chose it based on this quote:

"Hope is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark." - Unknown

I think 2015 was, indeed, a year of cautious hope emerging, as characterized by steps like posting a public resume to "put myself back out there" to be contacted for public speaking and such.


My own voice is still not strong nor on key, but is certainly improved enough over the past year that I often find myself singing around the house now, when no one else is around.  Our daughter took grand prize in a local talent show this past year and won a free year of weekly music lessons as a result!

2014 contest. I couldn't find her picture from 2015 where she won.
My hair has grown a LOT, but this was also the year, mid-year, when I decided that in addition to headcovering for spiritual reasons, I would also adopt the purely personal/cultural choice of no longer wearing my hair loose in public, saving it for my husband's viewing. Nothing to do with my faith, just a personal gift from me to him, so this as as "down" as you see it now:


In thinking through skills gained this past year, it is such slow progress now that I rarely see day-to-day changes, but one big-picture change that has happened since last year is that this was the first year I was able to wrap Christmas gifts since the strokes! Singing indeed!!! Thanks to my husband's wisdom, I did not accept a single Christmas party invitation this year and did not put up a traditional tree (this little "wall tree" is 3 feet high, flat the back side, hangs from a single hook, and took well under 5 minutes to totally set up. Because it was such a low-stress, low-energy December, and with the slow gains added over the past year, I was able to work on a couple of presents each day, over the course of several weeks, and even though I don't have enough fine motor dexterity to type with both hands, I was able to wrap each of these presents, all by myself!


With my kids' help, I also manged to make 3 double batches of my great-grandmother's cranberry bread (one of the double batches was both wheat-free and egg-free and turned out very dense, so one of the skills I need to work on for 2016 is better taste and texture in allergy-safe cooking) that I used to make as Christmas gifts every year before the strokes. We also made a quadruple batch of chocolate peanut-butter balls. (I know that this could be adapted to be top 8 allergy safe by using a different nut or seed butter, but surprisingly actual peanut butter works with the unique needs of our family!) Turn a strokie, a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old loose in a kitchen, add late night hours (we started early in the evening but it took hour so was very late when we ended!), and it was a recipe for MESS and hilarity!!! But we managed. We did it! :D


I'm call Christmas 2015 my "cranberry Christmas." Not only did I make cranberry bread again (see it pictured on the cooling rack to the left), but my gifts seemed to carry a beautiful color theme - a cranberry-colored tea kettle from my in-laws, a set of three bakeware stones from my kids and a large Pampered Chef stoneware that was cranberry glazed from my hubby. :) (My parents got me a pair of earrings and 2 sweatshirts that aren't pictured because they aren't this color.) :)


Kendra, I thought you would enjoy seeing my butterfly corners. :)


Edited to add: (I forgot to mention that a large part of 2015 revolved around tummy pain, surgeries and recovery. Glad to leave that behind in last year!

I also went #WheatFree this past fall and have lost nearly 20 pounds since mid September. Now to see if I can loose 20 more and KEEP it off this year!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Give Away

Don't miss the give away for the book You're Chronically Ill...So Now What? by Shelly Benoit Hendricks (of RenewedDaily) over on my chronic illness blog (you must comment THERE to be entered) - http://givenmeathorn.blogspot.com/2015/12/book-give-away.html