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After squeezing more than 20 updates into Stroke Update 17 over the past couple of weeks, I think maybe this update deserves its own separate Stroke Update post.
What an excellent day this is shaping up to be! First of all, I’m hardly coughing at all, and I’m finally almost back to full strength, after fighting a horrible cold that made me feel sick and tired for the past 2 weeks.
This morning, I’ve been walking around, inside the house, without any walker, ever since I woke up.
Plus, this morning, my wife held my gait belt for safety while, for the second time since last December, I walked outside without any walker, up the street 4 driveways and back, then down the street 1 driveway and back, without any pain at all. Then I walked down the slanted apron of my own driveway and back up the driveway to my house. Then I grabbed my walker and walked around the block twice (66x and 67x, total), at 100 steps per minute. I never slowed down, and I never had any soreness or pain of any kind, despite the fact that I still haven’t had any acetaminophen for the past several days! It’s already hot and extremely humid, like someone left the shower turned on, with the bathroom-door shut. If it’s nicer later on, maybe I’ll walk around the block again this evening.
Update, Saturday, 6:02 PM: Tonight, my wife held my gait belt again, as I walked 3 driveways up the street, and then back home, without any walker.
On the phone, I had a great talk with my dear friend, Melissa, who’s the grandmother/”mom” of my little baby friend, Mr. Peanut.
Then, I walked my third lap around the block today (68x, total), at 100 steps per minute. On the way, I talked with neighbors, Don and Diane, who always really encourage me. This latest lap puts me 2 laps ahead of going around the block twice each day for the past 33 days. My right hip hurt a little bit during the whole lap — probably because I’ve been walking everywhere indoors without a walker for the past couple of days, straight, and now my body is starting to slowly get used to that, instead of being used to using a walker. If that’s true, then that’s fine with me!
Update, Saturday, 7:10 PM: What a nice surprise — after supper, Mike called to ask if I wanted to walk around the block with him and two of his three dogs. Of course, I jumped at the chance, and went around for the 4th time today (The first time I’ve ever gone 4x in one day, 69x, total, in 33 days), at whatever speed the little dogs were willing to go.
Like I said this morning, what an excellent day!
Update, Sunday, March 15, 8:13 AM: Another dark and brooding day, oppresively humid, with thunderstorms on their way. So, before 8:00 AM, I walked around the block twice (70x and 71x, total), at 104 steps per minute, to make sure that I get at least 2 laps done today. I figure that when I find myself waiting for the metronome, in order to keep stepping at each beat, it’s time to speed up my metronome a little bit, so that it keeps challenging me. That’s why I walked at 104 steps per minute, this morning, instead of 100 steps per minute. Yes, I know it’s only a slight difference, but I can feel it. 😉
Update, Sunday, 4:54 PM: Just as I suspected, this is a dark and stormy day. Lots of rain, both heavy and light, lots of naps, and lots of keeping the dogs calm, while waiting for local tornado warnings to expire.
This morning, my wife took me to Walmart. It was the very first time that we had ever driven anywhere while leaving my walker at home, in our garage. In the middle of a light rain, with her holding my gait belt for safely, I walked up the parking lot’s slope and into Walmart, grabbed a shopping cart, and zoomed around the store while we got a few groceries. Then we waited a few minutes, for an incredibly heavy rain to slow down, and then I pushed our cart out to our car and climbed into the car, my normal, fast, put-one-foot-in-first way, instead of the slow, back-into-the-seat way that I had learned to use when I was in the rehab hospital.
I know it’s all going to come back to me, eventually. 😉
Update, Monday, April 16, 8:38 AM: I’m probably 90-something percent well now, after being pretty sick for the past 2 weeks or more. After a whole day of rain and storms yesterday, today is down in the 50s, windy and cloudy. If it’s that cold down here in the far south, I can imagine how cold it must be for those of you who still live up in the north. So, while I wait a little while, for it to warm up a little, before I go around the block this morning, I’ll tell you a couple of things that I’ve been forgetting to tell you for awhile.
First of all, my regular readers know that I learned how to tie my shoes many, many years ago, back in kindergarten. Well, even though I taught myself how to tie my shoes like everyone else does, more than six years ago, I still didn’t “get it,” and have been tying my shoes the way that I first learned how, ever since. But, when I was in the rehab hospital, and had to relearn how to tie my shoes all over again, I suddenly “got it,” and began tying my shoes the same way that everyone else does. I’ve been doing it that way every day, ever since. Go figure. My kindergarten teacher would be so proud of me!
My last occupational therapy appointment, last week, was an evaluation time, to take tests and measure how those sessions had improved my strength and dexterity over time. One thing I noticed at that time was that, even though they were much improved, I still didn’t have maximum flexibility in my left arm or wrist. My left arm didn’t straighten all the way, and my left wrist wouldn’t bend backwards as far as it should. For example, straighten your left arm. Now bend it a little, so that your hand moves about 4 inches. That’s as far as my left arm would straighten, even if I tried to force it to be straighter by putting weight on it. The arm muscles were too tight. So, for the past several nights, I slept with my left arm extended as far as it would stretch, with my left elbow under my pillow, to keep it warm all night. And a few days ago, I noticed that I could fully straighten my left arm again! I’ve also been working on stretching my left wrist backwards, to try to get it to go further. I don’t think it has, yet, but my efforts explain why I woke up this morning with a sore left wrist.
Update, Monday, 9:42 AM: Cold, windy, sunny, and still in the 50s. I walked once around the block (72x, total) alone, with my walker, at 104 steps per minute, pausing only to pick up and move, or kick away, many small branches that had blown on the sidewalk, trying to block my walker. Unfortunately, the near-constant wind kept me nearly constantly having to tilt my head, to point my hat into the wind, to keep it from blowing away. The fact that I had forgotten to blow my nose before I started my tour meant that I had to breathe through my open mouth the whole time. I was glad to get home and to wait for it to hopefully get warmer and calmer before I try again.
Update, Monday, 6:32 PM: It was relatively cold and very windy all day, so I watched TV, walked everywhere inside the house without any walker, and took naps until supper time. Afterward, I finally made my way around the block (73x, total), alone, with my walker, at 104 steps per minute. A neighbor pulled into their driveway and asked me if i “had a hip replacement or something.” I guess that’s better than people being able to tell that I had a stroke. The wind was so gusty that I had to repeatedly tilt my head at some pretty weird awkward angles, to point my hat into the wind, and keep it from blowing away.
Update, Monday, 7:38 PM: At dusk, I put on my gait belt, and my wife held it, while I walked, without a walker, up the street 5 driveways and back home.
Update, Tuesday, April 17, 9:39 AM: I woke up early, like always, but it was in the 50s outside, so I had breakfast, took my meds, got ready, and waited. Awhile later, the weather web site told me that the temperature had actually dropped two more degrees. It stayed at that lower temperature for the next 90 minutes. Finally, I got tired of waiting, and went outside. It was cold, but sunny, with only a slight breeze that allowed me to feel the heat from the sun on my dark clothing. I walked around the block two more times (74x and 75x, total), with my walker, at 104 steps per minute. When I got home, I was pretty hot, so I took off my sweatshirt. Other than being hot, I feel pretty good today, like I’m probably pretty close to being back to full strength — I only coughed once during my entire walk, about halfway through my first lap.
Update, Tuesday, 6:19 PM: Even though I felt pretty strong today, I ended up taking 3 or 4 naps during the day, probably because I didn’t sleep well last night, thinking about trying to figure out what’s wrong with my rider mower that is preventing it from starting. This evening, it was warm and sunny, without any wind, so I walked around the block with my walker for the third time today (76x, total in 36 days), at 104 steps per minute. Now I feel pretty warm, but OK.
Update, Monday, 7:23 PM: Tonight, with my wife holding my gait belt, for safety, I walked without my walker again. This time, I went all the way up the block, way past the 5th driveway, all the way to the corner of the block, and back.
Update, Wednesday, April 18, 9:14 AM: This morning, when I took my blood glucose, it was a dangerous 50. As you may recall, anything in the 70s or below can cause all kinds of problems, up to, and including death. As far as I know, 50 is the lowest mine has ever been. So, with my walker (for safety), I walked to the kitchen and had a small drink of orange juice. Then I had breakfast, got ready for the day, and watched TV, while I waited for the sunny, still outside to warm up into the 60s. After that, I uneventfully walked two times around the block (77x and 78x, total), at 104 steps per minute, never stopping or slowing down until I was finished, all while my sweetheart was still asleep.
Update, Wednesday, 12:14 PM: Man, I’m really, really hot, in more ways than one. My little 2 H.P. shop vac is practically useless. I just spent most of another 2 hours, without any walker the whole time, pushing my rider mower out of the garage and into the driveway, then blowing all of the sand, leaves, seeds, dirt, cobwebs, and other junk out of it. Last December before I had my stroke, while trying to figure out why the engine had died in the middle of cutting my lawn, I had removed the plastic cover that normally keeps all of that junk out of the mower deck, which ended up allowing everything to collect inside of it for the past several months. This morning, I put on my work gloves, thinking that they would help me manually remove handfuls of junk from inside the mower deck. Instead, they only repeatedly got stuck on metal edges, cotter pins, swiches, wires, pulleys, and other things that were hiding among the junk. It was frustrating, but I guess it was better than if my skin had gotten stuck on those things.
Just like the other day, I had to manually break each leaf into small pieces before my shop vac had enough power to blow them away. Even leaves and dirt that were sitting on the driveway were stuck to it, and wouldn’t blow away until I manually dislodged them with my foot or gloved hand. Twice, I had to crouch down on my knees, to get low enough to reach everything for a few minutes. The first time, it was really difficult to stand up again afterward. It felt like the act of crouching for a few minutes had squeezed all of the blood out of my knees. The second time I had to do it, I could barely stand back up, even while holding on to the rider mower. My knees had almost zero strength left. I almost gave up, but I took my time, waited for my knees to get more blood in them, and slowly got back up to my shaky feet.
The good news is that I finally finished removing another half-gallon or so of everything that doesn’t belong on or in my rider mower, and I pushed the mower back into my garage. Now, my wife noticed that I’m still breathing heavy, and sweat is rolling into my eyes, but it’s been a few minutes, so my legs have gone back to feeling normal, and I’m done working on the rider mower for today.
Update, Wednesday, 6:53 PM: Tonight, while my wife held my gait belt for safety, I successfully walked around, in the grass, in our fenced-in yard, for several minutes. Our dogs were interested in something near our front fence, so my wife and I investigated. We found a sealed zip-lock bag. Inside of it, we could see a small, burned glass pipe, a small package of “Snoop Dog” cigarette papers, and a cigarette lighter. Without opening it, I carried it to our outside trash can. Then, I called the police. Awhile later, a lone police officer drove up, asked me what’s going on, then quickly dug into our trash can, retrieved the drug paraphernalia, and drove away with it. It’s sad to think that someone in our neighborhood is using drugs, and was willing, for some reason, to drop their drug stuff over our fence, into our yard.
After the police officer left, I zoomed around the block two more times (79x and 80x, total, in 37 days), alone, with my walker, at 104 steps per minute. That means that I did 4 laps again, today. No problems.
Update, Wednesday, 10:01 PM: I don’t remember if I’ve said this before or not, so I’m writing it now to make sure that it gets documented for posterity: For the past several days, except for when I was too weak or it was dark in the morning, or late at night, I’ve tried to do all of my walking inside the house alone, without any walker, both with and without shoes on. That’s very slowly becoming a little easier and feeling more natural to do.
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