Friday, November 15, 2019

Present Day Life with My Rollator

Casting a long shadow
Almost three years after my rollator prep on the bridge, I can happily affirm that having a rollator offers giant-sized satisfaction for me! 

Hubby and I indulge in early morning or evening walks on our town’s paved Front Beach walking path, me with my rollator, Hubby with either his Nikon or my iPhone. 

He was behind me when he took the photo above. The rising sun created our combined giant-sized shadow.

Being outside and enjoying the breezes, views, walking path and sense of community with other beachgoers is priceless. My rollator is a huge factor in those experiences. 

A sunset walk at the beach (Photo by Hubby)


Having a rollator as a part of our family is not without mishaps, though. During a recent trip in the Smokies and Blue Ridge mountains, we stopped at a pullout in Virginia for Hubby to rearrange some items rattling around in the back of our van. 

He lifted my rollator out of the sliding side door, set it down a few feet from the van and set to work securing things inside. I stayed seated in the passenger seat, enjoying the vistas around me and the mill ponds 40 or so feet on the mountainside below.

What neither of us realized was the rollator was not locked. It was taking its own scenic tour down the adjacent slope, an extremely steep slope. 

I was oblivious; but as soon as he stepped out of the van, Hubby realized the racket he heard while he was in the van was the rollator’s escape. He alerted me that he was going to retrieve it. 

Soon he was back with the errant rollator, and we hit the road again. 

He had avoided going down that steep mountainside and found an easier descent down a gently sloping path past the millponds and the rushing stream that long ago powered a mill.

I am embarrassed to admit that I had stuffed the rollator basket with brochures and fact sheets I had collected at visitor centers and other sites but had never read. Most of his mountainside retrieval operation was gathering up that collection. 

It occurred to me that in addition to showing its age, my rollator has taken on a personality of its own. 

Maybe I need to give it a name the way old cars or trucks earn a name when they become part of the family, just like the first car of my childhood memories, a 1947 Chevrolet my parents dubbed “Old Betsy.”

I have yet to come up with a name that captures the rollator’s  character: usefulness spiced with a dash of mischief. 


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Monday, November 11, 2019

Testing

Retirement Daze and I have been missing in action. 

Testing now to see if retirementdaze.com is back online! 

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Rollator Prep: Part Three of Three

My final challenge in the neuro therapy bridge session was getting down the steps from bridge to street level. Rollators aren’t designed to navigate stairs.

No problem! I just got a good grip with my right hand for balance and expected to get the job done. Right?

WRONG!

Ashley had a different agenda: No hands and don’t look down at your feet. 

Terror attack!

My right hand kept just automatically kept reaching for that sturdy, reliable railing. And Ashley kept reminding me, “No holding on!” 

I finally hit upon a strategy that succeeded. I held my right hand up high. When I started to reach for the security of that banister, the movement reminded me that particular action was a no-no. 
Success!

My effort didn’t reduce my fear or improve the placement of my stroke-affected left foot. But by the smiles, it seems Ashley and Charlie appreciated my attempts. 


Or maybe they just found humor in my method for making that right hand comply with instructions.


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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Rollator Prep: Part Two of Three

Heading up.
Before my falls started in 2015, walking the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge was a weekly occurrence. A concrete barrier separating the traffic lanes from the “people” lane provided an ideal source of balance. 

I could touch it on the way up and hold on to a round railing on the way back down. Whoever was walking with me helped me navigate the distance from the concrete barrier to that railing on the “water-view” side for the trip back down.

A challenging uphill trek.

That day, though, my sense of safety with the rollator came from the fact that both Ashley and Charlie were holding my gait belt. I knew they would not let me fall.

Looking back it seemed the rollator lessons were a metaphor for my whole stroke experience. God’s hand was on me when the blood vessel broke in my brain and through challenges and joys ever since. I know He is with me now. 

Going down the bridge’s fairly steep incline was a lot scarier than going up. Scary but exhilarating. 
I knew I was in good hands.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Rollator Prep: Part One of Three

On a chilly November morning almost three years ago, Hubby and I met my Ocean Springs Neuro Rehab pros at the bridge that spans Biloxi Bay.

I was there for training to use a rollator safely and effectively. Hubby made sure I got to the bridge. He also fulfilled my request that he take photos. 

Physical therapist Ashley briefs me as tech Charlie puts a gait belt on me, a standard safety precaution during neuro rehab sessions. 
Can you tell I had used the snatch-and-grab method of dressing? But I did get there on time and was ready for the cold plus the potential for strong winds that often occur on that bridge.

Ashley straps my stroke-affected left hand to keep it on the rollator.
I had high expectations that the little four-wheeled rolling walker would give me a bit more independence and Hubby some relief from worrying about my falls that had started the year before.

The trial journey begins.


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Monday, October 14, 2019

Nature’s Artistry


Rainy-day Art (iPhone photos by Hubby)

A heavy rain in June did more than water our thirsty St. Augustine grass. It also turned a huge spider’s web into a sparkling jeweled creation.


View from the side

When I first spotted the huge spider it only had a small web. My online searching turned up a gazillion photos of spider species, and I finally found a photo that matched my gal. The big spider and web artist below is a female orb weaver.
Orb weaver and potential mate

The little brown spider in the upper corner is a male. One online article I found said the male would sometimes hang out in the web until the female had captured and consumed lots of prey. 

The objective: To make sure before they tie the knot that she has eaten enough and is robust enough to have lots of spider babies with his DNA.

Hmmmm. I sure am glad humans don’t use those same metrics for choosing a mate. Even though I had an embarrassingly voracious appetite in my younger days days, my weird metabolism kept me on the edge of looking anorexic, far from looking robust. 


That is NOT something I miss. And even though I do miss being able to consume whatever and however much I want to eat, Hubby and I are getting a better handle on creating satisfying and enjoyable diabetes-friendly meals. 

Mrs. Orb Weaver doesn't have that problem. She has grown bigger and is capturing larger prey. 
Golden-silk orb weaver and her prey. 



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Friday, October 11, 2019

Not Only the Printed Word

Although Ocean Springs Municipal Library is relatively small, it offers programs, special events and, of course, books for all ages and interests.

Hubby and I have fallen into a mid-morning routine of heading to the library, usually on a Tuesday. We rarely check out a book, but printed books are not the sole lure.

For both of us the library is a comfortable environment removed from our home where tasks large and small clamor for attention. 

Hubby works in an out-of-the way spot. 

Hubby works on a project that he is keeping quiet about. I assume it is a writing project. He won’t confirm or deny, but when we are heading home he usually shares whether he has made progress or was mired in frustration. 

Either way he is undaunted and I think pleased that the library offers nooks that make for mostly uninterrupted concentration.

I choose a spot not as secluded as Hubby’s. I savor the atmosphere that is quiet but humming with staff and with patrons from toddlers to elders, all engaged in mind-stretching activity.
A comfortable stretch for legs and mind

The toddlers are not always quiet, but it makes me smile that they are being led into the habit of including books and library in their lives.

Wee ones take an imaginary voyage on the very real King Beaver dugout canoe, one of the library’s temporary exhibits. 

A big “thank you” to Sue, the librarian who retrieved the dugout canoe photo above for me from the Friends of the Library site.

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Determination


Edible art
Our niece Lauren has started up a cookie-making business. She is a warrior at heart but an injury means soon she will officially leave the military work she loves.

Her injury was not life threatening. It was, however, life changing. She says little about the lingering pain and frustration.

For bulldog fans

Instead, her active “can do” nature has her charging ahead. She is considering options, experimenting with one of her ideas and learning--and earning--as she goes.


She has christened her new brainchild, “Sugar Mae Cookies.” She chose the name in honor of her late grandmothers. 

Her dad’s mother was Shirley Mae. Her mom’s mother was tagged with the nickname “Sugar” as a child. It stayed with her as an adult and morphed into “Grandma Sugar” thanks to Lauren and the other grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 


Now Lauren is turning out a steady stream of treats that are already finding fans. Her grandmothers would have been pleased with the name of her fledgling business. 

They would also have been proud of the palate-pleasing cookies and the variety of her artistic decorations that characterize this new enterprise.


To see more of Lauren's treats: Sugar Mae Cookies  

Way to go Lauren!

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Monday, September 23, 2019

Afternoon pick-me-up


Coffee break
My route to our window seats took me past the Keurig that was filling Hubby’s mug with a dose of afternoon energy.

The steam and aroma had me whipping out my iPhone and snapping a pix. Unfortunately, my photograph failed to capture that coffee aroma.

My choice, though, is hot tea. I absolutely cannot stand the coffee taste. Many years ago I tried to learn to like it, if for no other reason than coffee seemed to be an essential element to socializing between classes at college.

After a few attempts I gave up. My stomach simply rebelled even though the smell of coffee brewing is usually a happy, comforting scent to me. 

The taste buds and stomach continue to override the sense of smell, however. Just a cup of hot, hot tea for me, please! 

What’s your choice of a hot beverage? 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Breakfast on a bench

In the few months after we had moved into our new downsized home, I had already found one of my favorite spots--the window seat in a bump-out at the north side of our house. 
A favorite perch
Hubby sneaked around and captured me enjoying a casual breakfast of a toasted bagel and hot tea one November morning. 

I had already surrounded myself with my toys: laptop computer, binoculars for watching birds at the feeders, my birding field guide and a plush cartoon-character throw one of our grandsons had outgrown.

That was in 2016. I haven’t outgrown the throw, my toys or the hot tea. With a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, though, I no longer have that casual bagel breakfast. 
Cool November morn; hot, hot tea

And both Hubby and I are still enjoying those window seats, now my principal blogging location. 

The allure is good back support, room to elevate my legs comfortably, that handy window sill on which to park my mug of hot tea, and the restful view of the natural world when I give my eyes a break from the computer screen.  

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Input Requested

Since my Type 2 diabetes diagnosis a couple of years ago, I have attempted to control blood sugar levels with diet, exercise and no medication. 

If you are doing the same, I would appreciate any word on how you are doing and strategies you have developed.  

Here's the background:

For me, walking two miles or more daily usually translates to lower blood sugar readings the next day, but not always. 

With the help of Hubby, my cooperative chef and chief cheerleader, we are both mostly strict with diet. I count carbs. He counts calories. 

Consistent exercise and counting is not enough, however, to get a handle more specifically on what contributes to those less than stellar readings that occur too often. 

My former primary care physician kept a schedule of every six months doing that A1C test. She was okay with my diet and exercise regimen. Then she relocated. 

The new doc is emphatic that even with diet and exercise, I will have to go on medication eventually, anyway. I understand that. 

But she doesn’t want me to take my blood sugar daily because she doesn’t want me to “freak out.” Well that definitely freaked me out. 

I guess I do sound obsessive about the subject. No, make that I AM obsessive.

The routine of Hubby poking my finger and doing that simple blood sugar check every day and at different times of day has been revealing and helpful.

I see nothing wrong with trying to determine what more specifically I can tweak in exercise, eating and timing. Hopefully what I learn will help me pamper the remaining insulin-producing beta cells in my pancreas and keep them functioning a little longer. 

One of my challenges is finding an easy method for keeping a daily record of what specific foods and liquids I consume and when. We are out and about a lot.

I have tried carrying a small notepad; but whether at home or not, recording specifically when and what I eat seems to be an insurmountable task for me. 

I already carry my iPhone everywhere, and I have seen counting-carbs apps for iPhone advertised. It all looks intimidating, though, for this non-techie procrastinator. 

I am still exploring options. Experiences that have helped others, and word of any apps or strategies that worked or didn’t work will be appreciated.

Ideas anyone?

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Caution: Grandkid Post Ahead

Hubby and I are making plans for travel when the weather gets a bit cooler. 

Ironing out the specifics of our travel plans lately seems to revolve around the schedules of doctors, kids and grandkids.

Medical procedures and doctors’ appointments are a necessary fact of physical health at this stage of life. But the kid and grandkid element is a delightful addiction that boosts our mental and emotional health.

That said, cooler weather travel must include our annual trek to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for Grandparents Day at our Louisiana grands’ school.

Last year the visit to Walker’s classroom was typical. We met his teacher and classroom aide. We joined him in the word puzzles and other activities the teacher had planned for each student to complete with grandparents. 

Walker did a great job of involving both sets of grandparents in his activities. 
Nana, Baboo and Walker
We caught up with Granddaughter Molly Kate in the chapel where performances were planned featuring each of the upper grades plus the school band and choir. Among the fourth-grade numbers were Molly Kate and four other students in a Vegas-styled rendition of the Beatles’ “Love.” 

Our granddaughter on far right
The girls were “backup” singers and dancers to a male classmate’s solo. He nailed what I imagined a Vegas crooner would look like, prancing down the aisle to the stage in a flashy sport coat with the “backup babes” dancing in his wake.


MK doing what she loves
Their singing and dancing plus the performances of other student groups didn’t disappoint.

We definitely weren’t the only happy grandparents that day. It was an enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd. 

We closed that celebration with another tradition, the grands' choice for lunch at Chick-fil-A.

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Washer Woes and Toddler Adventures

Our washing machine has been comatose for more than a week. After a couple days of tinkering, Hubby was not sure whether resuscitation was possible or even desirable. 

The repairman wasn't available until after the weekend. So off Hubby went with about a week’s worth of laundry to the local washateria (“laundromat” for those who are under 70 and didn’t grow up in Mississippi).   

The current washer woes reminded me of another washing machine malfunction that had me scurrying to that same washateria almost 40 years ago with a load of cloth diapers.

Accompanying me was our youngest son, not yet a year old. He required a near constant parental eye on him as he was an avid and determined explorer of the look, touch, taste variety.

I walked in with son on one hip and the piled high laundry basket on the other.

In that long ago era, the establishment offered no air conditioning, just an exhaust fan in the ceiling. I could see through the vent to the sky above, and the sun on the slowly rotating fan blades made shadows on the floor. 

That exhaust fan didn’t help the heat and humidity much with nearly every washer and dryer in operation. I snared the only available washer left, stood my toddler by me and started loading the washer with an eye on my son.

But when I started putting quarters in the slidey thing, it wouldn’t slide in. My mom radar failed for the few moments I jiggled and pushed until it slid in and the washing machine started.

I turned to check on my little one. He was stretched out on the floor, the dirty floor, on his stomach, licking the shadows the exhaust fan made on the floor—on that extremely dirty, dirty floor. Did I mention it was filthy?

I cannot remember what I did next. I know I avoided my initial reaction, which was to throw up. And our son is still around with full use of his arms, legs and mental faculties, so there was no destructive mom meltdown. 

Knowing his character, I suspect that in our little experimenter’s mind it would have been impolite NOT to sample this new potential and fascinating treat. Yuck!

Update: Hubby made one more trip to that establishment before the repairman came out to give us an estimate. Price was good; part had to be ordered; it arrived in a few days.

We were shortly back in business. Hooray!

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Monday, September 2, 2019

Good Words

Sorrow looks back.
Worry looks around.
Faith looks up.

The words above are so true. I spent much of my younger years doing more of the first two lines. The third line is a succinct recipe for embracing the peace that passes all understanding. 

I borrowed the lines from Ginny Hartzler’s excellent August 6, 2019, post about service dogs in training. 

 Click here to see her post. Her blog is "Let Your Light Shine."


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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Blast from the Past

Bridge over Biloxi Bay
My sporadic attempts to relearn how to edit photos paid off recently in an unexpected way. I found a bunch of shots in my iPhoto program that Hubby had taken with his Nikon . . . in 2016!

A mild evening on a local fishing pier was perfect for me to get some walking in and for him to capture the night time view of the bridge over the bay.



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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My kind of soccer


That is Grandson Walker in black. (Photos by Son Jeremy) 
I don’t know much about soccer, but with a grandson and granddaughter involved, I am trying to learn.

Most previous experiences watching their games occurred in broiling weather conditions. On a June visit with our Baton Rouge family, Hubby and I encountered what is my new favorite way to enjoy the sport—indoor soccer.

The most important aspect was AIR CONDITIONING! 

But there’s more. Walls five or six feet high instead of lines on an outdoor field delineated the playing area. That kept the ball in play except when it went so high it exceeded the height of a net stretched behind and above the goal. 

Only a couple of times did I hear that whistle that is so prevalent in the outdoor games, once for the ball going over the net behind the goal and another for some kind of foul. 

As a result the total duration, including playing time plus stops in action for out-of-bounds balls or infractions, was shorter and flew by mostly uninterrupted. That was the second difference I appreciated.

Grandson Walker on defense
Number Three was the seating that was provided behind those walls around the field. From there we could easily see all the action (Translation: Even soccer-illiterate Nana could see that Grandson W on defense had newly honed skills and was making a difference for his team). 

 
Summer fun

Alas, the indoor version was a short, for-fun, season. Our next soccer experience, whether watching a Louisiana or a Mississippi grand, will once again involve excessive heat and humidity, transporting our lawn chairs across vast expanses to the appropriate field, and chugging water to stay hydrated. 

Regardless of the varying levels of comfort, the opportunity to attend our grandchildren's soccer games is a pleasure.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Stroll with me

My previous post featured images from a batch of Hubby’s photos circa 2016 that I recently discovered on my computer. 

His photos stirred up memories, and your visits and comments strengthened my urge to continue the stroll down memory lane.

I picture strolling as a pleasant walk, a carefree saunter. My walking experiences these days usually give me pleasure, but they are not totally carefree. 

Instead, keeping my stroke affected leg and foot lifting and landing when and where needed is not automatic. It requires concentration but is well worth the effort. 

A mental stroll is not without challenges either. But my memory bank is filled to the brim with precious memories of the help of God and the kindnesses of wonderful relatives, friends and strangers. And that includes those individuals I enjoy digital strolling with down their own memory lanes via their blogs. 

Here's to future strolls, both yours and mine. And may blessings surround you in bright times and not so bright times. 

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