Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stroke Recovery: Botox soon

O happy day. Botox is on the way!

Thanks so much, dear friends, for the prayers and good thoughts. God’s answer was even better than getting a call to fill in on another patient’s cancelled appointment, which was what I had hoped for.

Instead, one of Dr. B’s physician assistants called and rescheduled my May appointment to April 9, just 13 days away and on target for the botox to occur on schedule. And, on top of that, in another huge serving of happy, she went ahead and scheduled appointments for the June follow up to the April 9 treatment and a July appointment for the third of my four yearly botox treatments.

She also told me to call her if I ever run into delays on my botox appointments again. She said the schedulers have no leeway, but she can sometimes tweak here and there to keep me on track with the treatments.

I went back and read the post that included my whining about the botox delay. It was at the end of a post here. I had forgotten that I expressed my desire for a guilt-free appointment. 

But God doesn’t forget. Thank you, God.

Whoo hoo! I am doing a happy dance in my head. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This and that

Happy Late Birthday, Katie! I am so thankful for Katie, a loving, creative, gracious daughter-in-law and a blessing to our family.

As usual, I am a day behind. I can be early or I can be late, but being right on time evidently requires more discipline than I have been able to acquire. But her father-in-law and I caught up with her today and inflicted our long distance rendition of the Happy Birthday song with appropriate alterations for our tardiness.

And she gave me the delightful gift of a detailed report about our two Louisiana grandchildren. That’s Katie, always giving. 

*   *   *   *   *

A guilty pleasure. I confess. I am extremely susceptible to the temptation that a Chick-fil-A original chicken sandwich offers. Yesterday we were on the road shopping and taking care of some banking an hour from home.

It was way past lunch time when Husband Walter casually dangled temptation. Notice that I am already trying to shift responsibility.

“Want to go to Chick-fil-A?” he tossed out.

“Sure!” I responded without a blink and with no pause to consider sodium content and other circumstances of my dietary life.

I had not checked sodium content on that particular fast-food chain’s chicken sandwich. But I knew very well that all fast food sandwiches are off the charts for sodium. I blissfully made my lemming-like way into the establishment anyway. I admonished the strident voice of my internal sodium bookkeeper to shut up and buzz off.

Second thoughts invariably followed my consumption. My attempts to rationalize succumbing to temptation were feeble. On the unlikely chance that the tasty (i.e. salty), breaded (more salt) filet on a bun (even more salt) was a low-sodium creation in disguise, I looked up the nutritional info online.

Sodium 1,390 mg, 110 mg short of my DAILY recommended intake! And the calories, fat and sugar? Well, I am not even going there.

And I totally enjoyed every bite.

*   *   *   *   *

Really rockin’. Hubby and I made a foray to the Dedeaux Clan’s showroom yesterday. The Mississippi Gulf Coast family produces solid wood, made-to-last furniture, much of it with a rustic charm. Rocking chairs of various styles are among their specialties.

After we browsed and took a few measurements, we departed to our van. Hubby acknowledged my plea to stop as we were heading out of the parking lot. I wanted to take a photo of their giant rocking chair on display, touted as the world’s largest.

(Photo by Walter Skupien)

He canceled my plan to snap a picture, though. Instead he had me posing by the Dedeaux rocker. I haven’t confirmed if it is indeed the world's largest, but I can confirm that it is a really huge rocking chair.

*   *   *   *   *

Whine. I need my botox. My week started with the regular visit to my neurologist Dr. B. The office visit usually precedes botox injections several weeks later. The treatment temporarily relaxes the tone that curls my fingers into a tight fist and keeps my elbow bent. After meeting with Dr. B, I stopped by the check-out window to pick up paperwork and my appointment card for the botox.

I expected an appointment for the shots to be around April 7, three months from the last treatment. And I was ready for the injections. I had delayed the December 2013 treatment until early January so that it would coincide with my readmittance to rehab therapy.

The combination of the month’s delay and the unusually cold weather has intensified the tone to an uncomfortable degree far beyond anything I have experienced since Dr. B had initiated the treatments. But my jaw dropped when I saw May 8 on my appointment card. NOOOOOOOOOOO!

He was already booked solid for April. May 8 was the earliest slot available. Maybe I brought upon myself the consequences of his packed schedule. 

I have been singing his praises ever since I started going to him. And I have recommended him to several folks whose stroke or brain injury has left them with effects similar to those I have from my hemorrhagic stroke. 

Now I can only hope someone cancels and I get the call to come in early for the injections. Of course, I would want their cancellation to be for some happy reason like maybe a sudden total healing or winning the lottery and going on a fabulously equipped and staffed neuro rehab cruise to exotic ports. 

I want that botox as early as possible. But I want it guilt free!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Georgia grandboys

Nate, left, and Luke pose for Baboo in front of their Taekwondo school. (Photo by Walter Skupien)

I count watching grandkids engaged in their sports and arts instruction as prime entertainment. I had been hearing about our Georgia grandsons’ martial arts lessons for awile. 

I was pleased with the opportunity to be on hand for their Saturday Taekwondo session during a February trip to Georgia.


Taekwondo is a Korean martial art. It combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and exercise (Wikipedia). I was impressed with the stretching, introduction to meditation techniques and exercises to develop core strength that I saw. 

Some of the exercises were the same ones I do at home as part of my stroke therapy. In addition to building strength, the session included exercises for speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina.

 Jumping rope  (Photo by Walter Skupien)

I especially liked the emphasis on courtesy and respect. From what I observed the instructors modeled that behavior and required that the students extend courtesy and respect to fellow students, instructors and parents.

These boys are growing up so fast. I am thankful for Walt and Sarah’s attention to all facets of their physical, intellectual and spiritual development while giving them freedom to make and learn from mistakes and consequences of immature judgment.

Our oldest grandchildren, Luke, right, 11, and Nate, 9  (Photo by Walter Skupien)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

This and that

What is it?
Alien in my window

I noticed the apparition above while I was sitting on the sofa, strapped into a Dynasplint for my left elbow, a 75-minute daily chore to combat permanent shortening of muscle and nerves affected by my stroke. 

Since I am not supposed to walk around while in the splint, I had plenty of time to enjoy experimenting with different settings to snap a photo from where I sat.

Can you identify the bizarre visitor on my windowsill? The answer is at the end of today's post.

*   *   *   *   *

How old is old?
Ronni Bennett’s post today on her blog Time Goes By, click here, addresses “At What Age Is Someone Old?”

As usual her post is thought provoking, as are the comments. Many folks, it seems, consider “old” as any age beyond their own accumulation of years. I can remember at 14 or 15 thinking of my mother as old, not as in elderly but definitely not young.

But at a family reunion several years ago, someone had photos of the reunion when I was in my mid-teens. One snapshot was of my mother and me outside, carrying our “reunion” foods. At 42 she looked like a sister, and not a much older sister either. Wish I had a copy of that snapshot now.
I mentally passed an aging milestone on my 45th birthday. I was driving when I suddenly felt a pebble in my mouth. It was no pebble. It was the top of a front bottom tooth that had fallen off.

Ever since, I have just been thankful on each birthday, including my recent 67th, when no other body parts have fallen off.

Old, yes. Stroke survivor with major limitations, yes. Still enjoying life, definitely.

*   *   *   *   *

Happy birthdays
Charlie, the birthday girl
Participation in celebration of our Georgia grandchildren’s birthdays is often an impromptu affair long after the official celebration. But parents, birthday grandchild and siblings all seem to accept the informal, low-key affairs executed by their grandfather Baboo with the help of their mom.

 Get ready!

And we all appreciate the extra opportunity to eat cake and ice cream and sing “Happy Birthday.”

Get set!

Charlie, a January birthday girl, was the honoree during our February visit to Georgia.  She and Baboo returned from a Saturday afternoon trip to the store with a “cookies and cream” ice cream cake. Yes, we enjoyed!


*   *   *   *   *

Answer to “What is it?”
It is a seed pod of an amaryllis with the two dried blooms still attached. The blooms were deep red. The bulb and everything I needed for planting  was a much enjoyed Christmas gift from our Georgia tribe. I hope the seeds will be viable and a source of more of those red blooms.

An April 2010 amaryllis

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What I’m reading lately: Once Upon a Summer

In Once Upon a Summer, the first in Janette Oke’s Seasons of the Heart series, Joshua Jones had lost his parents before he was old enough to retain memories of them. Since his infancy, he had been raised and loved by his Aunt Lou, Grandpa, and Uncle Charlie at his Grandpa’s farm.

Their guidance had imbued him with a strong sense of right and wrong and personal responsibility.

Josh recognizes that although his family is not the standard mother, father and children, his is a close-knit, loving family in which every individual works hard with good humor and values each other.  But an overheard conversation plunges a horrified Josh into fear that his beloved Aunt Lou will be expected to marry soon.

Josh’s eventful summer is marked with his strategies to thwart the matchmaking efforts of the adult men in his family and his struggle with questions of loss, love, faith and change. Josh tells his own story of summer, revealing in his boy’s voice his journey toward young manhood.

I enjoyed several of this author’s books of inspirational fiction several decades ago. Even though this was a free Kindle book, the author did not disappoint with this easy-to-read tale.  I don’t know how long it will be offered free, but it was still free on at 8:45 p.m. Central Daylight Savings Time March 9, 2014.

A personal digression: Josh’s perceptions and actions made me recall how much my late mother loved teaching children of Josh’s age. She said her third graders, especially the boys, experienced dramatic changes.

She noted that the planes of their faces became more pronounced. They lost that “little boy” look. And like Josh, her students were beginning to question things formerly accepted without question and to ponder life, even if they did not always have the vocabulary to articulate what was stirring in their thoughts.

She considered it a pivotal season of life, ripe for teachers to make a difference.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Stroke recovery: The crab challenge

Crabby décor at a local eatery

While waiting for Husband Walter to pay for our breakfast at McElroy’s Seafood Restaurant, I noticed the crab decorations on a wall adjacent to the restrooms.

That represented a modest but savored accomplishment for me--paying attention to more than one thing at a time without falling over. 

Keeping my balance in that busy area usually keeps me focused on people moving around me, and I stay ready to recover if someone bumps or brushes me.
This time, though, the crabs also caught my attention. Shaped like the tasty blue crabs that inhabit our coastal waters, one was orange and one was blue. 

The real crustacean is not totally blue. The blue is mostly on its five pair of legs--the large claws in front, the three pair of regular legs, and one pair of swimming paddles in the back.  

The blue crab was next to the men's room. The orange crab was by the women's. I briefly considered then dismissed the thought that there was a significance in placement related to gender. Or maybe the colors portrayed cooked and uncooked blue crabs. 

And that brought me back around to the possibility of positioning based on gender: Could the orange, cooked crab be a saltwater version of "your goose is cooked"?  Might the uncooked crab by the men’s room fall under the category of "half-baked"?

Nahhh. I decided it was merely a marketing decision by the producers of crabby décor. By the time I braked my runaway train of thought, Hubby had completed his transaction and was ready to go. He unwrapped the Andes chocolate mint he had just added to the total and popped the treat into my mouth.

Yum! Still upright and enjoying chocolate. A great beginning to the day.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Preschool Mardi Gras

Grandson Walker DePlank, swashbuckling pirate captain

Our Louisiana grandchildren and parents are busy celebrating Mardi Gras season.

Daughter-in-law Katie sent photos she took of three-year-old Walker’s entry in his preschool’s Mardi Gras parade Friday. Walker was Captain Walker DePlank, complete with sailing ship, spyglass, buccaneer attire, and a potentially lethal pun for his name.

Ahoy, matey!

Walker’s parents turned the kids’ little red wagon into a pirate ship. Katie made the sail. She called to alert me that photos were on the way. She also praised our son Jeremy’s shipbuilding prowess. She knew I would be an appreciative audience for both bits of information.

Capt Walker DePlank and his dad

Jeremy was especially pleased with the moniker he chose for his little pirate.

Walker was one happy pirate.

I was happy, too. I’m addicted to puns . . . and grandkids.

Happy Mardi Gras tomorrow!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Signs of spring

A birthday bouquet whispers “Spring.”

Temperatures here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast continue to vacillate between spring and winter. Indoors, though, I am enjoying cut flowers, blooms growing, and seeds sprouting.

White amaryllis

An amaryllis bulb, one of two our Georgia tribe gave me for Christmas has bloomed—two blooms on Monday, a third on Wednesday and a fourth on the same stalk Saturday. It is my first pure white, a happy addition to the solid reds, reds with white streaks and white with red streaks that my late mother and aunt passed along to me through the years.

We also have seeds sprouting inside, thanks to Husband Walter. He rigged up a couple shop lights and an easy way to raise them higher as seedlings grow. He also planted some of the seeds that I had ordered earlier online.

Hubby dishes dirt.

My part was labeling little paper cups so we could identify the different veggie plants at transplanting time. I already had the cups. A relative has had success with them; plus they were less expensive than peat pots. 

Future okra plants

We are still learning. And one thing I have learned is that seedlings are like pets. You can’t just up and leave home without making provisions for them. Ours were sprouting and unfurling those first little leaves. 

The baby plants were bright green, sturdy and straight. That was the night before we took off on a jaunt to visit our Georgia grands and their parents.

We left them on our porch where they would be protected and receive at least some sunlight. When we returned five days later, they were a bit leggy and not as happy looking. If we choose to start our own seeds in the future, we will need to fine tune the scheduling of our travels.
 Baby tomato plants