Saturday, August 27, 2016

How to help a stroke victim during recovery

On August 21 I suffered a mild stroke.  I had had TIA (trans ischemic attacks) back in March, but this time it didn't resolve and 911 was called.

Having now gone through and continuing recovery, here are some tips to help a stroke victim during recovery (this took me 8 hours to type):

Things to know from stroke recovery on the inside

  1. We understand you, but our left and right brain aren’t in sync.  We haven’t become stupid, but please speak more slowly.
  2. Our eyes see you, but although both are looking at you, they are sending information at different times.  We may only actually be looking at you with­­ one eye.
  3. The affected arm has drift. I can only describe drift as the unnatural sway away from the body.  It is wobbly, unstable and uncoordinated even when nearly recovered.  We will have to sign our name and it will be total scrawl to chicken scratch, especially if the affected side was the dominant side, 
  4. Reading is difficult.  It is hard to focus when the right and left sides of the brain are trying to get in sync.
  5. Visually following the cursor may be difficult or impossible on the computer.
  6. Typing is very frustrating.  Don’t expect text responses.  It is better to call.  In fact it is somewhat inconsiderate to attempt a text conversation. 
  7. Our energy is very low.  Being in the hospital has taken a lot out of us, but we want to be back to normal as soon as possible.
  8. Depending on the severity of the stroke, support may be required.  Mine was mild but some support was required including meal preparation, errands, shopping, doctor appointments, and prescription pickups. Prepared meals are appreciated (but not too complicated).  Finger food is lovely.
  9. If we think we can do something without help, let us.
  10. Open containers for us.  We are often too uncoordinated resulting in lots of spills, breakage and swearing.
  11. Medicines are hard to swallow when they have no coating because half of the mouth is numb and not swallowing well.  Give us plenty of liquid to get it down, and preferably not water but something slicker (juice).
  12. Bathing:  a soft soap is easier to control than a bar soap.

I hope this helps

Saturday, August 13, 2016


It has been nearly 2 years since my failed attempt to go to England.  I may never fully know all the reasons why God didn't allow me to enter the country, but believe it or not, I am grateful.

There are two things about the event that I have recently come to realize:

1.  That God took me to the "promised land" but like Moses would not let me enter.  I could only look at it (and even then only in brief glimpses through the cloud breaks).

2.  More importantly, I have problems with dehydration.  I sweat buckets and buckets and become dehydrated very quickly no matter how much fluid I have.  Today I shampooed the carpet at a friend's house, and it took me about 3 hours, and in that three hours I totally soaked through my shirt and pretty much all of my clothing including my shoes, and I went through 64 oz of Gatorade.  That's the only thing that saved me from going into brain failure, I swear.  I over-heat when I am sweating like that and without inputing electrolytes, my brain starts to misfire.  I get shaky.  Recovery time takes a lot longer.

Some will scream that 64 oz is a massive amount of sugar intake, but the body needs sugar too, especially when you are working out hard like that (running both types of vacuums, moving furniture, etc.).  I was working by myself, so there was a lot of  craziness, and I don't like to muck about.  Just get in there and get it done.

Water just doesn't do the trick for that kind of sweating.  Sweat contains salt, and to lose that much salt from your system is dangerous without replacing it.  I would not be in as good a way at the moment had I not taken in such large amounts of Gatorade.

When I was preparing for the cross-country the week before Oct. 18, 2014, I took the bike out every day fully loaded for 25-35 miles.  On the days I had Gatorade, I did fine.  On the days I didn't, I struggled to the point of wanting to give up.  The energy just wasn't there.

When I am sweating profusely from physical exertion over a few to several hours, I am at risk for dehydration.  I didn't know this about myself in 2014, but I know it now.  Perhaps the Lord was holding me back for my own health.  He took me as far as needed in England, and he took me as far as he wanted on my bike journey in America.  Granted, the latter wasn't very far.

When I rode my bike 40 miles from West Hollywood to Long Beach in May 2014, I got down there and was severely dehydrated.  One leg had cramped up and was unable to pedal.  I had water and Gatorade on the bike but because I had been concerned where I could stop for bathroom breaks, I didn't avail myself of them too much.  I got to Long Beach and had completely soaked my shirt (I had a spare with me.)  I couldn't even pee for hours even as I began to flood my system with water and lemonade and anything to cool me down.

Perhaps in time I would have developed a way to read my body's need for fluid better and to deal with the sweat, but apparently God wanted me to rest instead.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Triggers:  I have them.  I'm not certain how many I have but one that keeps coming to the surface is the trigger of "You're a bloody idiot."  These are not words that other people speak to me.  These are words I speak to myself.  Last night was a prime example, and I snapped (and quickly apologized!) over something very minor, because I felt as if my intelligence and life skills were being questioned.  All over a can of compressed air.

We have a cat here that likes to escape the grandma's house, and so we chase him away from the door with a spray of compressed air.  And that's fine... when the can is working, which is doesn't always for me.  So I said, "this can isn't working," and I was firmly told there was nothing wrong with it and then was asked if I knew how to use it... and then my trigger erupted.  Because I'm not stupid and of course I know how to use it.  I'm not an idiot!  The can was tested by other person and of course worked just fine, but by then I'd lost my temper and was really pissed off.  I use those cans all the time to break up cat fights, and I went home to sulk and stew in my own distemper.

I don't know why it bothers me so much, but I just feel demeaned, even though the person wasn't all all calling me stupid, although my ability to operate a simple compressed air can had been called into question.  The point is, that being made to feel stupid is a trigger for me to erupt into anger.  I'm sure it's rooted way back my childhood. Things that were obvious to other kids in school were not obvious to me, especially in math.

Math is one of the infuriating things that can drive me to anger very quickly.  Simple math is all I'm good for and even then I use a calculator.  And what use was all that frustrating higher math for anyhow in my daily life?  Absolutely nothing.  All that stress, all the tears, all frustration...and I knew even then that it was a useless thing for me.  Math is one of those things in life that can trigger feelings of being stupid and useless faster than anything else.  So I generally avoid it.  Balance my checkbook?  Never.  I only write one check per month (rent), and I can instantly access my account at any time to know how much I have.  Thank you, internet.

At least I am aware of this trigger, but I am sure it will manifest for the rest of my life.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

20 months later

It's been 20 months since I came to San Gabriel on the heels of life-altering events.  And what has happened?

1.  I've taken up oil painting again.

2.  I've bought myself a new camera and am taking lots of pictures again.  That used to be one of my joys when I was out walking my dog was to take lots of pictures of flowers.

3.  I've started making jewelry although it's limited to earrings and some charm bracelets.

4.  I'm writing my 4th novel based on the BBC series, SHERLOCK.   There have been some SHERLOCK ficlets and short stories as well.

5.  I have two parakeets.  One my neighbor found outside, and we caught it, and the other was bought as a companion for it.  Male and Female.

6.  I am not making cookies, and I don't miss it one bit.

A conversation with an old friend tonight, however, has thrown my emotions into a bit of a turmoil.  Why?  Because he was giving me an unprompted Joel Osteen-ish pep talk, and I have little tolerance for Osteen whom I consider a wolf in sheep's clothing.

But my emotions did go into a bit of a turmoil because I couldn't explain just through messages (we were using Facebook Messenger) that I didn't feel a sense of future.  Hardly the thing you would say to someone you hadn't really spoken to for 3-4 years (that's another story).  He said, "You have to think big!"  Now where that came from I don't know.  But here's my issue:

I am crushed. I am ground down.  I have thought big all my life.  Big dreams, pursued, crushed.  Pursued, crushed.  Pursued, crushed.  Shattered.  I have no more dreams to dream, no more goals to pursue.  I just live day to day, enjoying the day and doing my thing.  I don't look to the future.  I don't have plans.  I don't aspire for anything.  It's not depression.  It's reality.  My priorities shifted greatly when I came to San Gabriel with the only things I owned being on my bike.   What fills the apartment is not mine except for a few things I have acquired since arriving to make my life livable or slightly more personal.  Some books and DVDs, some clothing.  A new computer and printer.  I am in survival mode, but I have everything I need.,

I have a few dishes in a Victorian china pattern.  Recently I saw a bunch of it for sale on Ebay from one seller, and as much as I wanted to buy it, part of me is saying, "What for?  It's china that you will never use.  It's just stuff."  And part of that reasoning is that I don't see a future of anything really.  

Now part of the reason I don't see a future is that I feel the imminent return of the Lord for His Church.  The rapture.  World events are moving the chess pieces into place at a rapid rate.

But aside from all that, the thing is, I am content here.  I have all the time in the world to explore my creative side.  Not much is required of me.  How long will it last?  I don't know, but when it's over, I'll just get back on the bike again and go.  I have no sense of permanence anyhow.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Vocabulary shortcomings

As a writier I've always thought I had a fairly well-rounded vocabulary.  Certainly there are many words I don't know, but SHERLOCK has forced me to be a bit of a wordsmith lately as I hunt down the meanings of words like meretricious, fatuous, alienist, recalcitrant, intransigent and many others.

Recently I purchased the book, The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, and although I enjoyed the book, I didn't enjoy the fact that my vocabulary took a bit of beating.  I have suddenly become so hyper-sensitive to words I don't know that when I come across one, I will stop immediately to look up its definition and write it down.  King's book produced several pages of my handwritten definitions. Perhaps these words are common to some people, but they weren't to me.  I grew a bit despondent over my alarming inability to immediately know these words that were popping off the page like a proverbial sore thumb.

I began to think my vocabulary was in serious trouble and so I set out to correct the issue by ordering four books that were supposed to improve me.  They are:

The Words You Should Know by David Olsen - 1200 essential words every educated person should be able to use and define.

More Words you Should Know by Michelle Bevilacqua - 1500 more words every educated person should be able to use and define

Word Smart (The Princeton Review) by Adam Robinson and the staff of the Princeton Review - Building an Educated Vocabulary

Pocket Posh Word Power:120 Words To Make You Sound Intelligent - by Wordnik.

Of these four, the first two were far too basic for me, but I do recommend that all parents should start their kids on them no later than the first year of middle school, and that these words should be known by the time they leave middle school.  The third book, Word Smart, should be started in high school.  All three books are geared towards college/university entrance exams, SATs and GREs.

The last book purely is erudite fluff, full of words you will never need but which can pepper a conversation with the best ivy league clerisy or the hoity-toity art crowd.  Even then, you likely will not have heard of 90% of them nor ever have a real need to use any of them.

I am working my way through digesting Pocket Posh, but it will take some time to assimilate those words into my written vocabulary.  I have already assimilated one, however, and solved a word mystery from the most recent Sherlock episode, "The Abominable Bride."  I had no idea what the line "Viennese alienist" meant, but I do now.  It was a reference to Sigmund Freud.  It is words like that which can make me feel like a complete moron.

I will soon be ordering the book, 500 Foreign Words and Phrases You Should Know to Sound Smart : Terms to Demonstrate Your Savoir Faire, Chutzpah, and Bravado by Linda Archer and Peter Archer.  I am remarkably lacking in that area.  

I will also soon start reading the The Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King, which is a sequel to the aforementioned book, and hopefully I will be writing down fewer words this time, but she may surprise me. Perhaps my vocabulary beating will be a little less severe the second time around, however.

King, by the way, has a Twitter account for her character, Mary Russell.  It is @mary_russell, and she will answer you as the character.  Mary Russell becomes the young apprentice to the retired Sherlock Holmes during WWI in the The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and in subsequent books marries and builds a life with him as his partner in solving mysteries.