Stroke Update 16 – Walkerless

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Early this morning, just before I woke up, I had an amazing dream.

In my dream, for some reason, I was in a big, busy college lobby, with my walker.

For a few minutes, I went into a nearby bathroom.

On my way out, I noticed that my walker was still standing near a table across the lobby, where I had left it, without thinking, a few minutes earlier!

I suddenly realized that I didn’t need it at all any more!

So I just started walking around, like it was nothing, which was a huge surprise, both to me, and to several friends who were there, who rejoiced with me, hugging me and laughing!

That’s the end of the dream. What follows really happened:

I woke up from the dream, all happy, without any acetaminiphen, and without any stiffness or soreness, despite all of yesterday‘s activities! Then, I stood up straight, and slowly, carefully walked up the hallway in our home, into the bathroom, and back down the hallway, without my walker, and without leaning on or touching ANYTHING, for the very first time since my stroke. A few minutes later, I started to carefully walk all over, inside the house, without my walker, and without leaning on or touching anything!

That part wasn’t a dream — it was real — and I did it all while my wife was still asleep!

After that, I got myself some breakfast, took my meds, got ready to start the day, and walked around the block, alone, with my walker, for the 21st time, total. I took my time, concentrating on technique, instead of speed, talked with a few neighbors for a few minutes apiece, and still got back home in about 25 minutes!

I suspect that dream I had was my brain’s way of telling me that it’s “getting its act together,” and before too long, something else really, really wonderful is going to happen!

More, 3:00 PM: Guess who’s been walking all around, inside the house, ALL DAY today?

I’ll give you a clue: It was the same guy who did his morning exercises, then walked across the street, with his walker, to walk through his neighbor, Don’s house, and see all of its renovation work, walking around the house without his walker, and told Don that one of his goals is to walk over there, without a walker, and shake his hand; then went to Walmart and pushed a shopping cart all around the store, while he and his wife shopped for this week’s groceries!

That’s right — I’m WALKING everywhere inside the house, now, without any walker!

I’m not the smoothest walker in the world, (from watching me, a stranger at Walmart thought that I had had knee surgery), but I figure it’s only going to get better with practice!

Then I called my dear friend, Melissa. She’s the mother of my autistic young friend, Josh, and the grandmother (and, for all intents and purposes, the mother) of my (now) 6-month-old baby friend, Mr. Peanut. For the past several months, she and I have had a running joke about Mr. Peanut. I kept telling her that he and I are having a contest, to see which of us can walk first. After hearing all about how she’s doing, I said, “Melissa, I have one thing to ask you: “Is Mr. Peanut walking yet?” She burst into laughter, and immediately asked, “You won the contest, didn’t you?” Between my sobs, I slowly choked out the words, “I… I… WON!”

A minute later, I could hear Mr. Peanut, fussing in the backround. Melissa said, “Oh, he’s crying because he wants a new diaper.” I replied, “No, he’s crying because I won the contest.”

All of the food in the refrigerator and cabinet; all of my medicine bottles; my wife, who likes to be hugged; my dogs, who want to be petted; sliding doors, the heavy pole, that I use for my exercises — no matter whether, it’s up, down, or sideways, EVERYTHING is so, so much easier to reach when you don’t have a walker blocking the way, between you and the thing that you’re trying to reach!

After several months, and hundreds and hundreds of hours of really hard work, I feel like the “bad-dream” fog that I’ve been living in is finally starting to clear, and I can finally see a little light at the end of the long, long, dark tunnel — I’m eventually going to get my life back!

More, 6:38 PM: After a nap, supper, and evening meds, I walked around the block again (22 times, total), by myself. Excellent friend and next-door neighbor, Mike, couldn’t go, because he had spent several hours, today, removing the many dollar weed roots from, and leveling the whole area of our front lawn, where he had removed the dead bushes and their roots, and then single-handedly installed four long rows of brand new sod there. Wow, what a guy! My right hip started aching about halfway around, and I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it, so I worked through the pain, and it faded away by the time I turned my last corner, on my way home.

Speaking of corners, I met a woman (and her big, muscle dog), who live in a house on the far corner, on the other side of the block. They were on their way home from their evening walk. She asked me what had happened, and was shocked to hear that I had had a stroke at my age. She had thought that I was only about 40 years old. No, I told her, I’m actually 62. That seemed to make her feel better, like she figured that, of course I’m old enough to have had a stroke. She was real nice, and her big, strong dog was very happy and friendly.

Now, my muscles are tired, from all of yesterday’s and today’s activities, including walking all around, inside of my house, all day. So I think I’m going to skip tonight’s home exercises, skip the acetaminophen (I haven’t had any all day today), and just go into the living room, with my walker backing up my very tired muscles (there’s certainly no shame in doing that), and watch TV, until my nighttime snack and bedtime.

Tomorrow’s another day!

More, Sunday, 7:32 AM: This morning, I woke up at 6:00, a little sore, but nothing I couldn’t handle. No acetaminophen.

I used my walker from 6:00 until 7:00, when the sun came up enough for me to see what I was doing. Then I stood up straight and started walking again, without leaning on or touching anything. I walked from the living room to the kitchen, at the east end of the house; stood still while I got my bowl of cereal and banana; walked back to the living room, with my bowl of cereal in my left hand, where I continued to hold it while I sat and ate. Then I walked back to the kitchen, to drop off my bowl, back to the living room, to watch early morning TV; down the hall, and through our bedroom at the west end of the house, and into our main bathroom, where I stood still again, while I found and took my morning meds; then I walked through our bedroom again, and over to the thermostat, to adjust it; then into our office, where I sat and typed this update — all without my walker, and without leaning on or touching anything!

This is the second day that I’m walking inside, without my walker!

It’s finally really happening!

More, Sunday, 10:32 AM: I just got back from walking around the block, again (23x, total), with my walker. Mike probably won’t be joinging me for several days — he has company from out of state. No real soreness, just a little discomfort (no acetaminophen, yesterday or today). The hard, flat surface, provided by wearing shoes, makes a big difference in my walking balance and technique, so I’m going to start wearing them inside, too. I remember that, back when I was in the rehab hospital, and my foot muscles couldn’t “help me,” it used to take several minutes to get each of my running shoes on, especially the split heels, which always folded under, inside of my shoe. Now, the same task takes about 10 seconds, with no problems at all.

On my walk, neighbor, Big Jim (a different guy than “Verizon Jim,”) jokingly said that he’s getting ready to do some lawn work, so I should go home, get ready, and go back to help him. “It won’t be long!”, I replied. On the way, I stopped to talk with elderly neighbors, Charles and Marie, who are in their late 80s, and out for their own walk. They’ve always been really sweet. When I got home, excellent friend and next-door neighbor, Mike, was still finishing up with the sod in my front yard. I jokingly told him that he deserves to order his favorite pizza, on us, and take the rest of the day off. What a great friend! What a great place to live!

More, Sunday, 7:30 PM: Well, I made it through the whole second day, until just now, without using my walker or touching/leaning on anything else indoors. I walked around the block again (24x, total), tonight, with my walker, and now my muscles are tired — not sore, just tired. No acetaminophen for the last two full days. I’m using my walker again, inside, for the rest of the evening, to help support my tired muslces, and to be safe.

More, Monday, March 26, 10:15 AM: This my third morning of being able to walk, inside, with no walker or other means of leaning or support. I woke up at 5:00 AM (easy to do, when you go to bed at 8:30 PM), and, using my walker in the dark, watched some TV, made and ate breakfast, then got dressed and waited a couple of hours, for it to get warmer and light outside. I called my old friend, Steve for awhile. As I’ve mentioned before, he and his wife were two of my older college students, back in the 90s, and, afterward, became my wife’s and my very dear friends. Then I went for a walk around the block again, alone, with my walker (25x, total), and came home, to walk wherever I wanted to go, inside, all by myself, without my walker, or any other physical means of support.

As for moral, psychological, and spiritual support, I count on you for that! Thanks!

More, Monday, 10:37 AM: I just finished doing my morning exercises. They really tire out my muscles — I used to end them by taking a nap — so I didn’t wait to feel myself losing my balance by trying to walk, alone, with what I knew were going to be tired muscles. Instead, while I was exersising, I used my walker, to get to each part of the house where I do each type of exercise. Now, I’ll wait to get my strength back, and then walk (without any help) to the kitchen, to start making my lunch.

More, Monday, 8:02 PM: All day, today, I used my walker, on and off, inside the house, whenever I felt like my muscles were tired or weak.

This afternoon, one of my very favorite people in the whole world, my cousin, Micki, called me. We spoke for over 30 minutes. Due to medical issues (but not a stroke), she’s recently had to go through some of the same rehab that I’m currently doing. She’s really, really special. What an incredible blessing it was, to have a long conversation with her!

Later this afternoon, my wife and I picked up close friend, Melissa, and her son/grandson, Mr. Peanut, at their house, and took them to Sam’s Club, to get some diapers, formula, and other baby supplies. I was in the front seat on the way there, but I switched to the back seat when we got there, so that I could stay in the car and watch Mr. Peanut, in his rear-facing car seat, while Melissa and my wife went into the store. Mr. Peanut is huge now. In the past few months, he’s quickly gone from being a newborn, to being a baby, to being almost a little boy. At only six months of age, he already weighs 20 pounds, has chubby cheeks, arms, and legs, and is wearing clothing that’s made for 18-month-old toddlers. He was asleep much of the time that they were in the store. But, when he woke up, he looked right at me, gave me a big smile, and immediately leaned forward, to try to get out of his car seat. Melissa says that she’s already caught him, one time, actually getting out of it. Today, when he couldn’t escape after a few tries, he fussed a little, in frustration. So, I undid his car seat straps, picked him up, and sat him on my right knee. He instantly stopped fussing, sat still, and silently looked out the car window, at all of the people and cars. What a good baby!

Back in his car seat, on the way home, he gripped my finger in his fingers and with his toes, depending on which one I was touching at the time, just like he’s done ever since the night that he was born. Plus, Melissa knew how to sing to him in Spanish, and how to tickle him, to make him grin and delightedly laugh out loud, which I had never heard him do before. It was great to see them both again!

Tonight, I had my supper, took my meds, and walked around the block by myself, again, with my walker (26x, total). I may use my walker in the house tonight, or I may not, depending on the feedback that I’ll get from my muscles and brain.

No hurry, no worries. My sense of urgency, to get up and onto my feet everywhere again, all the time, has been replaced by a sense of calm, eventual inevitability. Now I know it’s only a matter of work and time. 😉

More, Monday, 10:25 PM: Wow, look at the time! I just realized that I’ve been awake since 5:00 this morning, without taking ANY NAPS all day!!! I guess that’s what being busy and happy all day can do.

More, Tuesday, 9:52 PM: We live in such a nice neighborhood, with such great neighbors! Recently, excellent friend and next-door neighbor, Mike, surprised us by trimming the square-shaped bush that’s next to our garage, and by returning our large recycling and trash bins to the side of our house, after the city trucks had emptied them. Then, this morning, on my walk, alone, around the block (27x, total), the nice lady with the muscle dog, from far end of the other side of the block, who I had met recently, came driving by in her car, and pulled over, to greet and talk with me. Then, another neighbor, whose brother had a stroke a few years ago, at age 50, and who still can’t stand up, talked with me for awhile, and then said, “I’ll see you again, tonight, when you walk around the block, again!”

At 1:00 in the morning, last night, I woke up and was wide awake, so I went online, applied for, and was approved, for a second credit card, to give us an alternative, the next time we have trouble with our Sam’s Club credit card. It all started about 3 weeks ago, when I tried to order the flea drops that I had been ordering, every 6-12 months, for the past several years, from an online store in Australia. I tried several times, entering all of the order numbers and information, over and over, but, each time, my credit card was denied. So I finally called Synchrony Bank, the issuers of all of Sam’s Club credit cards. They told me that, being out of the country, even online, it was a “suspcious” purchase that had triggered their security alert, so they had put a “hold” on the account, our ONLY credit card, until they could confirm that it was a real purchase. Long story short, they didn’t have my home phone number on file. They didn’t have my cell phone number on file. And they couldn’t add either one to their file, until I proved that I was me. So they treated me like a criminal who was trying to defraud them, by buying the same flea drops for his dogs that he had bought for years, from the same online company. They extended the “hold” on the credit card, preventing us from making ANY credit card purchases for the next 10 days that it took them to snail mail me a paper letter, with a secret code number in it, so that I could “prove” that I was me. Why did it take them 10 days to snail mail a letter to us from Orlando, which is only a few hours away?

Never again. Our new credit card will arrive in 7-10 days, from a totally different bank.

For many years, we had two separate credit cards, from two different places, to ensure that we’d always have a “backup” card, in case we had any trouble with our main one, like we recently did. Unfortunately, after many years of servie, that other credit card company cancelled our account some time last year, telling us that we didn’t use it often enough. Se’re going to put an automatic monthly bill payment on our new card, to make sure that never happens again. That was my wife’s great idea.

I had a great phone call with my dear friend, who I’ve known since working with her, back when I worked in domestic violence. I’m not going to say her name, because this is pretty personal information. She has many medical issues, related to having been physically abused and strangled by her first husband, but she’s a real trooper and a hard worker. Her work, many years ago, resulted in the whole state of Florida finally changing the state law on strangling, to make it a felony. Before that, it had only been a misdemeanor, which came as a surprise to many state lawmakers!

Then, this morning, I took a shower, had some breakfast, took my meds, and got all dressed and ready to go around the block.

More, Tuesday, 6:26 PM: I just finished walking around the block again, alone, with my walker. That makes 28 times, total. I figure that, at more than 1200 steps per lap, I’ve already walked more than 33,600 steps around the block.

More, Wednesday, 9:19 AM: I just got back from walking around the block again (29x, total) alone, with my walker. Mike is out in our front yard, watering the new sod, which he’s been doing twice every day, to keep it alive and help it take root.

More, Wednesday, 4:48 PM: This morning, I had the most wonderful more-than-an-hour-long phone conversation with my cousin, LuAnne, who lives outside of Washington, D.C. Ever since we were kids, she and her twin sister, Micki, have been two of the greatest cheerleaders in my life. They’ve always encouraged and loved me, as if they can only see — or, mercifully, have only chosen to see — the good side of me. It really cheers me up to talk with either of them, and it’s always been a joyful, emotional delight to spend any time with either of them! Everyone needs a Micki and LuAnne in their life!

This afternoon, I had a nap, and then did my lap around the block, again (30x, total), alone, with my walker. One home had a car that was completely blocking the sidewalk, forcing me to detour all the way out to the street and back. I rang their front door bell, and politely told them that I had had a stroke, and was working to come back, but that the blocked sidewalk made quite an unsafe obstacle for me. They apologized, and moved the car.

More, Thursday, March 29, 12:48 PM: This morning, I had an two outpatient rehab appointmenzt, and a blood draw at the lab. Unfortunately, neither my wife nor I had remembered that it was supposed to be a fasting blood draw, requiring me to not eat anything for 8-12 hours beforehand. Not remembering, and in order to keep my blood-glucose level from dropping to a dangerous level, I ate breakfast this morning, a few hours before my lab appointment was scheduled, which made it impossible to do a fasting blood draw. The lab’s next available appointment is in two weeks, thw same day as my next doctor’s appointment, where he’s supposed to look at the results of my blood tests, which take a whole week to get him from the lab.

So, our only remaining option is to wake up really, super early tomorrow, go to the lab as a “walk-in” patient, and wait as long as takes for them to have time to squeeze me in, between their scheduled appointments. That’ll be tricky, since I have to keep my blood glucose as normal as possible, eating at specific times. I don’t really have the option to sit around, all day, waiting to get my blood drawn. But that’s my only choice.

In rehab today, I had my second-to-last occupational therapy appointment. Next week, she’ll test me out, on a number of tasks, so that she can show the insurance company that I made progress during my appointments. After that, physical therapy will continue, once a week, for several more weeks.

In physical therapy rehab today, without my walker or any other support, I walked more than 200 yards, walked up and down 4 flights of stairs, and then successfully did many other exercises, both with, and without being tethered to the resistance machine. My physical therapy worker and my wife both said that I did fantastic, and my wife also said that she’s really proud of me.

More, Thursday, 8:27 PM: Late this afternoon, I took a nap, then walked around the block, with my walker, and Mike and his dogs (31x, total). Then, after a 15-minute break at home, I walked a second lap around the block, (32x, total), alone, with my walker. For the first time, I listened to the free Metronome Beats software, that I had loaded onto my cell phone, and configured to 80 beats (steps) per minute, to help me walk at an even pace.

So, if you ever hear a high, then low pitched beeping sound repeating, 80 beats per minute, as a guy in a wide-brimmed hat goes by, on the sidewalk, with his walker — then that guy might be me! Be sure to stop me and we’ll talk for awhile!

Afterward, my Aunt Josie called me, from up north. She’s the mother of my wonderful cousins, Micki and LuAnne, and she and I had a long, delightful conversation (of course).

More, Friday, March 30, 9:25 AM: This morning, my wife and I woke up at the crack of way too early, got ready, and got into the blood lab, soon after they had first opened. We waited about an hour, until I realized that they were taking care of walk-ins who had arrived after I had. We discovered that, at one point, after the guy at the front desk had called us up to his desk, to answer some questions, he had then mistakenly taken my name off of the list of walk-ins, as though my blood test was all done! So, they took me in for my blood test next. Despite the fact that they had to poke me twice, and it was stingingly painful, I’m glad that’s it’s finally over and done with, at least for awhile. Sheesh.

When we got home, it was time to eat something, so I had my breakfast, took my morning meds, then walked around the block, alone, with my walker, again (33x, total), at the brisk pace of 80 beats (steps) per minute.

After that, I upgraded the blood-glucose spreadsheet that I had created, several days ago, to remind me if I’ve taken my AM and PM medicines each day, so that I won’t have to keep trying to remember whether I already did it or not. After that, I printed two copies of it, then quickly transferred all of the data for the past month to the two new printed sheets.

This afternoon, my wife and I send text messages to excellent friend-and-next-door-neighbor, Mike. He’s in the process of selling his wife’s motorcycle. First, my wife sent him a text, saying, “No matter what my husband says, please don’t sell him a motorcycle.” 😉

A couple of hours later, I sent him a text message, saying, “No matter what my wife says, I still think I could get around the block much faster if I had a motorcycle.” 😉

A couple of hours later, Mike replied, “Actually, I think you’d only make it to the END of the block faster.” 😉

More, Friday, March 30, 9:25 AM: Tonight, I walked around the block again, alone with my walker and metronome software (34x total).

More, Saturday, March 31, 9:47 AM: This morning, I woke up early (what’s new?), watched TV until 8:00 am, had breakfast, took and documented it (on my blood-glucose spreadsheet), checked the weather, then walked around the block, alone, with my walker, again, with two changes. This morning, I walked TWO blocks in a row (33x and 34x, total), in between the morning’s rain showers, and I sped up my metronome slightly, from 80 beats (steps) per minute, to 86 beats per minute. Doing that helped me bring my left foot forward a little bit faster than I have been, while still allowing me to keep an even pace, all the way around the block.

Now, I’m a little sweaty, but feeling strong.

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6 Responses to Stroke Update 16 – Walkerless

  1. Judith Rundell says:

    Amazing progress, and I’m so glad you understand the importance of not “furniture surfing,” while thinking you’re walking without aides. Reaching for furniture or walls is much more dangerous than just using a walker, but many people think it means they don’t need support if they can manage without the walker. Unlike you who are truly managing. Congrats. Keep up the good work.

  2. ComputerBob says:

    Thanks, dear friend, for that valuable information! And you’re right — I sure don’t want to work so hard, for so long, and then lose it all, due to an avoidable accident.

    Thanks so much! You’re the best, and your love and support are, and have always been, very important to me! 😉

  3. Linda says:

    Keep up the good work, nice talking with you yesterday. <3<3<3

  4. ComputerBob says:

    Yay! Nice talking with you, too! Thanks!

  5. Candy says:

    We never get sick of hearing from you, we love you! Stay off motorcycles and keep up all the good work :~)

  6. ComputerBob says:

    I’m still sick, but I’m getting lots of rest, and think I’m slowly getting better. Thanks so much, for your love and support! 😉

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