August/Summer recap

Hello!

You know, I keep thinking that things will slow down and I’ll get back to my snail’s-pace-life pretty soon, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I think this is just my life now. Or maybe it’s just the pace of summer and things will naturally slow down once it gets cold. Whatever happened to those hazy crazy lazy dayz of summer? I don’t feel like I got very many of those lazy days and I’m just a tad bit resentful about it. I’d like to speak to a manager about this, please.

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Life has not been all bad, not at all, it’s just that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of downtime anymore.  I didn’t even read much this summer and my hand-lettering has suffered as well – it just seemed like there wasn’t a lot of time to sit and just BE. I hate it that the two things I love most to do, I just couldn’t seem to make time to do them. I was pretty intentional about spending a few hours in the pool at least once a week – just floating and listening to the birds was restorative and meditative in a way that I couldn’t find anywhere else – if it isn’t raining, I plan on spending my Labor Day floating for a few hours and soaking up that last little bit of summer. 

My Dad is doing well with his chemo – his last chemo appointment is in a week and then we’ll see where we are with that. His cancer is shrinking, so that’s good, but the chemo just wipes him out and he feels really weak most of the time. Hopefully he’ll get to stop the chemo and that will help him feel better.

School has started again around here (tangent: why do we have to start school in August?? It’s still so freakishly hot!! Can we not push it back until after Labor Day?)  – my youngest is a freshman in high school and my middle is a freshman in college. We moved my second baby bird out of the nest to her school an hour away (pro tip: bring a dolly or a platform cart for move-in day – parking will be scarce and it will be hot and you will all be cranky – make things as easy as possible for yourselves!!).

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Final hug before driving away. 

After a rough start with a poorly-matched dorm roommate (she just got a new roommate this week – thankfully), my daughter is getting used to the rhythm of dorm life and college classes. My oldest is working for my husband and living on his own – which he loves – so we are down to one kid at home. The groceries in the house last considerably longer now!! 🙂

One thing I did well in August was to figure out how to stop being so tired all the darn time. I’ve added some supplements and stopped using my snooze button. I try to get up when the first alarm goes off and I don’t hit snooze – turns out, hitting the snooze button makes you more tired than if you just get up when that first alarm rings. As a life-long snoozer, I am amazed at how different my mornings are now! I’m taking a B-Complex supplement, an adrenal supplement, an iron supplement, a 5htp supplement, and just eating better in general. I walk or do yoga when I can and I will say I am noticing a difference. I also in the last couple of days have started using breathe-right strips and wow! I’m sleeping so much better at night. I’m not exactly energetic, but at least I don’t feel so completely exhausted all the time now, which is a nice change.

That’s my wrap up of August and generally the summer. I have an idea for a posting schedule for the fall, but I’m not going to make any promises (been there, broke that).  I think my Autumn Intention is going to be to fit in the things I love to do: blogging, reading, and hand-lettering and if I have to pencil them in to my schedule to make it happen, so be it. I got a nice new planner and it’s just begging to be filled up with fun activities!

So what about you? How was your August? Do you have anything you want to make happen this fall?

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Very Best Self: Week 2

Really? Y’all are going to make me do this all by myself? Nobody wants to be their very best selves right along with me??

Fine.

pout

Anyway, so this was not a great week for being my Very Best Self apparently. I only got up early ONCE last week because hey, guess what! I can’t go to bed at 11 pm and expect myself to get up at 5:30 am. Not happening. So I’m going to have to reverse engineer this thing and go to bed by 10 pm at the latest. Setting an alarm at 9 pm would probably help too – that would give me plenty of time to wash my face, brush my teeth, set the coffee, and make my lunch for the next day.

Guess what time I went to bed last night? 11 pm! So, not off to a great start this week already, but that’s okay. Mondays are hard.

That’s really all I have to report. How is everyone else doing? Oh that’s right…NO ONE ELSE IS PARTICIPATING. It’s okay though. No, really, I’m fine.

TOTALLY FINE. 

sneer

 

 

Know the signs of stroke. But also know the signs that might not be a stroke, but are probably (definitely) a stroke.

Well.

These last 2 weeks have been stressful and exhausting and frustrating, to say the least.

Early in the morning on June 2, I got a call from my mom saying that she thought my 79 year old Dad had a stroke. He had fallen that morning while working outside and was dizzy and having trouble walking. I took the news very well – I was very calm and dignified and stoic. (That is a total lie – I lost it and started crying hysterically. My husband had to take over things like dialing the phone and driving because I was FREAKING OUT.) We drove to my mom’s house, picked her up, then drove to the hospital where the ambulance had just delivered my dad to the ER.

The EMT who arrived at my parents’ house first, checked for signs of a stroke – had my Dad raise both arms (he did), had him answer basic questions (he passed, all without slurred speech), had him do basic fine motor skills test (he was able to count to 4 while touching his thumb to the tips of all four fingers on the same hand)…they determined that he probably had not had a stroke, he was most likely dehydrated.

At the hospital, they did labs and took his blood pressure and monitored his heart – all came back good (well his blood pressure was a little high, but not alarmingly so). They gave him 3 bags of fluids and he seemed to improve. I think he was still feeling a little dizzy, but he didn’t say so then. They agreed he was probably just dehydrated, and Dad said he was feeling better, so they sent him home with orders to follow up with his primary care physician. WHEW! Okay, cool. We can deal with dehydration. No problem!

But later that day, he wasn’t really any better. And the next day he was much, much worse.

Turns out, he’d had dizzy spells and fallen twice before in the previous week, but those  were minor compared to Saturday’s spell.

At that point we knew we weren’t dealing with just dehydration.

Fast forward 10 days later and we finally get an MRI which confirmed that he had 3 mini strokes and one larger one caused by a clogged blood vessel in the pons area of the brain.

So all those dizzy spells he was having were actually strokes. It played out like this: he would get dizzy, fall, have trouble walking for a bit, then it would all clear up and he would be fine. That last one though, he got really dizzy, passed out and fell, and then he stayed dizzy for quite a while. His speech didn’t get very slurry until later that Saturday night and into the next day. It was almost like a slow progressing stroke, if that’s such a thing.

His face never drooped on one side, he never lost complete feeling on one side of his body (his left hand and leg are just a little weaker than his right), he didn’t have a severe headache, he had no loss of vision in one eye, he was never confused…I mean those are the symptoms, right?

I take a CPR/First Aid course every year for work and those are the signs we’re told to look for. My dad didn’t really have any of the obvious signs but you would think that a hospital ER would know to look for this, right? Not necessarily:

Another alarming finding from the study was that across all ethnic and age groups on average, if you use an ER of a nonteaching hospital—that is, a hospital that is not connected to a medical college—you face rather high odds of having a stroke missed: 45%. And, worse, if you are in a low-volume ER—meaning one that doesn’t see very many patients compared with other hospitals—the odds of being misdiagnosed increase to 57%! The take-home message here is that, if at all possible, use a busy university hospital when you need to get to an ER.

(Source: David E. Newman-Toker, MD PhD, associate professor, department of neurology, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore. His study appeared in the journal Diagnosis.Date: June 30, 2014 Publication: Bottom Line Health)

The hospital we went to is in a very small town – it is definitely not a university teaching hospital and it is very low-volume.

So here’s the symptom that should have tipped us off: he got dizzy for a few minutes.

Um, what?

That’s right. Plain ol’ Dizziness. Out of the blue, unexplained dizziness was the only sign of the first mini stroke. He had been outside, looking up at something, and he got dizzy and fell. The dizziness went away after a few minutes, so he didn’t really think much of it, in fact, he didn’t even tell my mom about it until a week later, when he got dizzy and fell the second time. The next day though, when the dizziness came back again, it didn’t go away for several days.

That’s not to say that every time you get dizzy, it means you are having a stroke. But if it comes on suddenly and out of the blue (not as in if you were laying on the couch for 3 hours then stood up suddenly – that’s different) and you are at risk for a stroke, then call 911 and tell them to take you to the nearest university teaching hospital (if that’s a possibility).

My dad spent a couple of days in the hospital and is now on blood pressure medication, a blood thinner, a statin for cholesterol, and an aspirin, and will start physical therapy this week to help improve the weakness on his left side, his walking, and his speech. He has a good chance to make a full recovery if he does what he is supposed to –  I think he will because it really scared him. And the rest of us too.

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My Dad.