It’s not ALL thorns. Roses DO APPEAR!

After yesterday’s “spasticity” battle, I realized that I forgot to share some exciting news:  I GOT A JOB!

If you’ve read one of my older posts, Volunteering helps me concentrate on helping others!, you’ll know that I have been volunteering at a thrift store run by a great non-profit here in Arizona called Hospice of the Valley.

Volunteering gave me the “boost” I needed to step out of my self-imposed cage.  Without the pressure of having a paying position, I was able to “test the waters” back out in the world.

The store opened in May of 2013, 14 months after my stroke.  At that time, I still had a lot of trouble concentrating, holding conversations, and understanding instructions.  Working more than 4 hours a day was exhausting.  But I steadily improved. And I LOVED working again.

Today, I am ECSTATIC to announce:  I HAVE BEEN HIRED as a permanent cashier for the store!   I will be working 25 hours a week.  And I will be once again: BRINGING HOME A PAYCHECK!  singlewoohoo

Volunteering enabled me to slowly integrate myself back into the business world without the fear of being fired or let go because of my disabilities.

I start my employment (vs volunteer) hours next week!  I am excited to be an actual employee again, bringing home a check to help with the bills.  It will feel great to know that in this small way, my husband will be able to relax a little knowing he’s not the sole provider.

If you take anything away from reading this post (other than my obvious joy), please let it be this:  If you are not ready to get back into the working world, please consider volunteering.  I had never volunteered before, and I tell people that volunteering, for me, was just as important, or maybe more so, than my weekly visits to my speech therapist, my PT and my OT.

I was able to get out there without the fear that if I was having a bad day and couldn’t go in, I wouldn’t be fired or let anyone down.  They understood and there was no pressure.  On days when I “wasn’t up to par”, but still went in, they gave me jobs that met my abilities for the day.  There was always “something” I could do.

I have a new job because I stepped outside my comfort zone and gave it a try!

Will the spasticity ever end!?!???

It’s been awhile since my right foot/leg has claimed the attention of more than one family member.

But, tonight it certainly did!  Earlier today, I pulled a muscle in my back. Nothing major, just one of those “twisted wrong” moments.

So I got out a TENS unit I have.  With my husbands help, I got hooked up.

45 mins later, and ready for bed,  my back felt great.

But…. My right leg/foot DID NOT!

My husband went upstairs first and I followed. Soon, VERY soon, it became apparent that although my back felt better, the nervous system on my right side….. Was ticked off!

With the help (and extreme patience) of both my husband and oldest son, we spent 25 mins of extremely painful muscle spasms & muscle tightening of both my right foot & lower leg.

I am writing this in bed, after all has quieted, feeling as though my right leg has been driven over by a truck. 

And that’s taking the max oral dose of Baclofen! 

I really DON’T want to take anything stronger.  What’s the alternative?

What should I do??¿

Spasticity SUCKS!!!

I have been trying to avoid the “spasticity” blog. But…… Maybe, just maybe, all stroke survivors have to post this: SPASTICITY SUCKS!!!

I have been on Baclofen pills since my stroke. A pump is not an option.

I’m done feeling like a guinea pig! 

I am seriously looking into trying marijuana oil.

Any pros? Any con’s?

Not Just For Kids (Gadgets geared for kids that work for disabled)!

I got my Christmas present early this year, on Black Friday, a new tablet with a 10″ screen!  For some, this seems like a small TV.  But, for me, with my bad eyesight, it’s a way for me to enjoy technology.

But, I was extremely leery about using it because the tablet itself is very thin & slippery.  My grip is not the greatest, and I was constantly worried about dropping it.

So I went on the hunt for a case.  It had to be durable.  It had to be a bright color, so I could find it (our tables are black) easily.  And, it had to have a material that gave me “grip”.

I just happened to find a case geared for kids called the Samsung Galaxy Kids Shockproof case on Ebay!  I was a little apprehensive that the purple color I ordered might be “too bright”, but I ordered it anyway.  I figured I could always return it.

My case arrived about an hour ago.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!  The purple is not too bright, but bright enough to see it laying on the table.  The built-in handle/stand is easy to grip.  The overall material of the case is a heavy-duty foam with double foam at the corners.  Foam doesn’t really describe it, but believe me, its thick, it’s grippy, and it works. I can now carry my tablet using the handle. Plus, when I’m sitting, the case sides & back are thick enough to give me a great grip while play games, sending email, checking out FB etc.

Sorry if this sounds like a commercial.  But it’s so rare to order something online and have it actually turn out better than you’d hoped.

I sent the seller a note telling them they might want to consider adding something in the description and/or title saying this would work well for the disabled/arthritic adults, not just for kids.

tabletcase

It’s Holiday Time, So Beware of Auditory Overload!

I always loved the holiday’s.  The music, the lights, even the overcrowded stores.  There was just “something” about all of it that made the holiday’s, well, “The Holiday’s”.

But since my stroke, I deal with something that puts a damper on most festive occasions:  AUDITORY OVERLOAD!

Here is an article written awhile back that I think bears re-reading for all stroke patients & their caregivers:  http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aha/strokeconnection_2013summer/#/8.

Another piece of advice that I’ve used comes from the American Stroke Association:  http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/LifeAfterStroke/RegainingIndependence/CommunicationChallenges/Auditory-Overload_UCM_310080_Article.jsp

Not all stroke patients suffer from this.  Just like most people, whether having had a stroke or not, have dealt with these feelings.  Don’t let the holiday’s become a time where you want to hide away.  Follow the advice in these two articles and get out there and enjoy your family, friends, and this wonderful time of year!

snowhouse

 

Re-Learning the Art of Driving & Paying Attention!

Last post I let you all know I had passed my driver’s test.  We had taken my car down to VMI in Phoenix, to have the hand controls installed.  I had to wait a week for them to order the part for my car (my car is older 1999 and they usually have controls in stock for newer vehicles).

Last Friday morning  I went to VMI at 8:30.  I was “measured” to make sure the controls were in the correct position for me.  At 9:00, Jason, my instructor from Driving to Independence, showed up for the final “test”, driving my own vehicle.

All went well, and at 10:30 I found myself behind the wheel of my own vehicle!  It was, IS, a great feeling after having NOT driven for 2 1/2 years.

But I will tell you all this:  Driving again after taking such a long “break”, gives me the feeling of being 16 again!  I am ultra aware of EVERYTHING around me.  I come to a COMPLETE stop (you all know what I mean, lol) and even take that extra couple seconds before going ahead.  I’m finding I’m aware of peoples “mistakes” on the road and their carelessness.  I’m much more attuned to things now than just before my stroke.  Things that I had taken for granted or gotten lax doing (can you say “rolling stop”?).

And I will say this:  I WON’T be driving for any long periods of time for a while, if ever.  Having to maintain my concentration is exhausting!!!

drivingAgain

 

I PASSED!!!!!!!

Yesterday was a BUSY day for me & my family.  Up early to vote.  Then on to my final (hopefully) driver’s training class.  The plan was that if I passed, we would then go to pick up my new to me, little white Rav4.  Well………………………..

I am thrilled to report that yesterday, November 4, 2014, I passed my driver’s adaptive driving course and received the okay to have my “new to me” little Rav4 equipped with hand controls so I CAN DRIVE AGAIN!!!!!

So the rest of the day was filled with family juggling picking up the Rav4 (no hand controls yet, so I couldn’t drive), getting it registered and plated.  Then we hit up the adaptive driving place where they install the controls.

Everything all done!  Now, I just have to wait until Friday the 14th of November to pick up my car for that final “Okay drive” with my instructor!

AHHHHHH FREEDOM!!!!!

 

Adaptive Driving Evaluation Completed!

Today, I am happy to report that I went for my Adaptive Driving Evaluation.  It consisted of two hours of cognitive, visual, memory & reflex testing.  Also consisted of a 40 minute test which reminded me of Driver’s Training in HS.  I had to watch 100 3-6 second video clips and answer an Agree/Disagree question for each one.

After just over two hours of these tests, I was thrilled to find that my score was high enough to all me to go on to the initial driving evaluation with hand controls!

I GOT TO DRIVE for almost 40 minutes in a car that had been adapted with hand controls.  I was leery at first, but quickly started to feel more in control.

I did well enough, that they scheduled me for three more 1 hour “drives”.  If I am able to drive two appointments in a row, they will “pass” me.  Then I will get my certificate so I can file with the motor vehicle dept and have my car (to be determined) modified with the hand controls.  bunnydriver

Next week (Halloween), I have my second drive.  I am going to ask to try a different hand control set up.  I want to try a couple different types before making a final decision.

I am just so excited!!!!!!!!