My mother’s story

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I’m not sure if these will display…

You’ll have to click on each one for now, I’ll rescan as photos.

Some observations of my own.

I was loved!  I was born in October.

The expressions of the wedding photos – priceless.  Mom had that glow women get who are thrilled to being a mom to be; Jack, not so much like somebody had his gnarls in a vice.  The comments next to gramma opie (Good Luck) and mom (Help Me) and the fact that she was smoking during her pregnancy.

I’m hoping somewhere in the volumes of documents she left me it will be revealed the secret of who she was so madly in love with and who is my bio father!!


Spanky Challenge

The challenge: 12 Weeks, 40 horsemanship hours, 30 rides.

Week 1

Horsemanship Challenge
Horsemanship Riding
Date Week Day Days 40 Hours 30 Rides Notes
30-May Sheryl and I picked Spanky (Hank) up in Elgin and brought him home.
Tue May 31 1 1 1  1.75  1 Rescuing Autumn from being tied to the tree.  First ride, Hank is stiff and he rides western, while I ride English – we’re working on it.  Short ride with no reins, eyes closed.  Small spooks.  He is suspicious of the Parelli ball, so we’ll do some ground work.  He likes to be in your space, we’ll work on that too.
Wed Jun 1 2 2  2.5 hours  1  2nd ride. A little more awkward than yesterday as no one was holding Spanking at the mounting stump. We worked around it 10-15 minutes until he figured out what I was asking and I got my nerves under control. Foot in the stirrup, half way on and he walked off, then the saddle slid off from my weight. He stopped and looked at me, I got us straightened out, saddle off and back on. Finally mounted and we did better today. More loose rein and some no rein, hands out at a walk, some trotting. Erin came out and took him for a little ride, trimmed his feet. He got an apple, grooming and loved on. A good 2nd day overall.
Thu Jun 2 3 3  2.46  0  Ponies had a spa day.  Autumn stopped chasing Spanky and all 3 have been building a herd foundation today.  At together; Autumn won’t let him in the shelter yet, but she isn’t chasing him at all.
Fri Jun 3 4 4  2  0  Spa day for the horses
Sat Jun 4 5 5  0  0  Oncology appointment and errands all day.
Sun Jun 5 6 6  2  1  Short ride, Izzy bandages on leg, Brave needed meds.  Teaching a WWOOFer (guest) about horsemanship.
Mon Jun 6 7 7  0.45  1  Rode Flashy in the pasture and Sheryl rode Hank.  First time with a bridle here.  Used her Parelli bridle with the sweet iron bit.
Total Week 1 10.75 5  Nice end to week 1.

Tuesday May 31, 9:05 pm  It’s pouring rain tonight.  The boys are out in the pasture, Autumn is in the dry lot.  Spanky is smitten with her.  It’s pouring but they are healthy adult horses, a little water won’t harm them.  Thinking of our ride this afternoon, feeling grateful and looking forward to tomorrows ride.  Erin is coming out to trim so maybe just some ground work.  It will be a “horsemanship day” and some grooming.  I need to apply the oils again.  He has such a lovely, smooth trot and his canter ain’t half bad either!  sigh  I heard someone walking by the house tonight yell at someone else “Did you see Deveri’s new horse?  He’s gorgeous!”  Yes, he is.

Thursday June 2   The horses got a spa day today. Essential Oil treatment and massages. I let Autumn out to mow the yard and give her some extra hugs. They are all together in both pastures and it’s been very quiet. I’m adding Rose Hips to Pete’s diet after reading a number of articles on the health benefits. I have powdered, ground and whole. He snacked on 5 whole ones this morning and seemed to enjoy them. Here’s the article that I found interesting (and yes, I did see the cautions about sugar content and diarrhea on other articles so I am starting slow). Hank didn’t care to try them but I’ll add a tiny bit to his grain and watch for any health response.Charles Abraham will be here tomorrow for health check and spring shots; 2 of the foals are not feeling good. Izzy has tore up her right front leg pulling it through something and Brave is colicky. We’ve ramped up the DigestZen for him and treated a puncture on his shoulder but his coat is dull and he’s really cranky about touching his belly

Spanky aka Hank

Join me for a 12 week journey getting to know my new therapy partner. Inspired by the Northwoods Farms 2016 Horsemanship Challenge on facebook.

I entered that challenge on December 31, 2016 thinking I could use Pete as my partner, shortly to realize that with the shoulder injury he could safely carry 100 pounds. I switched to Autumn as a partner – groundwork only and it has been beneficial to both of us and our relationship. Yesterday I brought Hank home as my therapy partner and figure what better way to get to know him that to participate in a micro challenge of my own.

I will track my progress on that challenge here.

TED Talks and pearls

I love lazy Saturday mornings.  I haven’t had enough of them in the last several months so today I made it a point of having nothing scheduled until 1:00 pm.  I woke up being grateful which is an excellent way to start any day.  I am thankful for my landlords despite our recent rocky opposition.  I am grateful for my son.  For the furry creatures that call this home.  For this loving, wild, sweet Pit Bull who crawls under the covers 8 times a night only to crawl through and out the bottom because she’s too hot.  Clearly God thought I needed a dog in my life and here she is.  I woke up thankful for my job and for the feeling of peace having reached a recent conclusion in spite of throwing all that I possess at maintaining my status quo-i.e. avoiding change.  I am grateful and looking forward to the changes that are coming in the next 6 weeks.

I have been listening to Season 1 of Worst Cooks in America and alas, this morning was the final show of the season.  I looked for Season 2 and it’s not available via on demand view by Netflix, so I spent 1/2 an hour or so cruising around looking for my next series.  I have always admired the TED talks and listened to a few of them here and there, so when I came across this group fo 20+ minute segments I started at 1 (of course, age has brought order) and that was a nice talk regarding teaching our children about food and obesity around the world.  Let’s do that!

The next talk though spoke to my heart.  Dan Barber:  How I Fell In Love With A Fish.  I would encourage you to view it if you have a few minutes because it summarizes all that we struggle with.  There are two questions in the talk worth in-depth discussion and evaluation.

  1. How are we going to feed ourselves?
  2. How can we create conditions that enable every community to feed itself?

TED Talks

This reinforces my recent exploration into creating a hydroponic garden to feed myself and family.  Ironically, my biggest fear is abundance – I hate to waste food.  It occurred to me this morning that I can always donate the surplus to any number of homeless shelters, my church or a plethora of people I know.  Problem solved!

Yesterday I witnessed a lesson that sometimes you have to feel heartbreak and let go of something you love to make room for God to bless you with something better.  Something bigger than your wildest dreams.  Something he’s had in mind for you all the time.  There were tears and anger (how could I be so stupid?) and crushed spirits, then a glimmer of hope, an astonishment as blessings unfolded and finally euphoria that when you try you might just get more than what you need; you may be blessed with a tool to confirm that your on the right path.  I would tell you more, but it’s not my story to tell.  This was my story to witness, and to learn from and to share both the heartache and the joy.

There is a story about a little girl who loved a toy pearl necklace.  She wore it every day and slept with it and never let it go.  One night her daddy said “honey, give me the necklace” and she couldn’t.  Her daddy hugged her and told her he loved her and tucked her in and kissed her good night.  Every night for a long time her daddy said “honey, give me the necklace” and every night she clutched it tight and wouldn’t give it.  And he loved her and tucked her in and kissed her goodnight.  One night she said “Daddy, if you want the necklace you can have it” and she took it off and put it in his hand.  He hugged her and told her he loved her and kissed her goodnight.  Then he took a box out of his shirt, opened it and gave her a real pearl necklace and tucked her in.

Daddy, if you really want what I have you can have it.  I trust you.  I love you.  I am thankful.  I am blessed.

…and I may have to read The Art of Stillness

Completely Crazy

Update 3/29/16

I received information from a number of friends in December where Duke (fka Champ) was located and contacted the new owner.  On Christmas Eve they agreed to sell him back to me.  He came home late Thursday night March 24.  He was very sick.  The ultrasound yesterday revealed he had abscesses in his lungs, the largest of which was the size of a softball.

Duke passed away during the night. In a field, in the place he chose to stand, attended by his long time friend Miss D and the other horses on the property. The last thing he tasted was mouthfuls of fresh green spring grass and fresh cool water. He is healed, running and playing with the other mare who passed last fall. I’ll never have a first ride or a last ride with him. What we gave him though was love in his final days and stand where he wished.

Update:  12/7/15

I am heart broken but it is well with my soul.  The prior owner reneged on our agreement and sold Champ (aka Koda) out from under me to someone from Illinois last night for more money.  Sometimes God’s answer is No.  That leaves me to focus on the two wonderful horses I already own saving me much heartache and money rehabbing him.  I did manage a few photos Saturday morning before all of this unfolded.  I hope he has an amazing owner who will provide for all of his needs for the rest of his life.  It wasn’t time for me.

20151205_091055  20151205_093209 20151205_091247

Prior post:

I’m up early.  I always do that when I have something on my mind that’s gnawing at me.  Money, yes.  Faith, yes.  Taking a giant leap off of a moving vehicle and crashing to the ground?  Sure, why not.  Life is about those crazy chances you take that change the course of your life.

I have had a deep passion for old horses for a very long time.  One of my dreams is to have a retirement home for spent horses.  Those beauties who served people; gave their lives to families and who at an age where they can no longer race with the big dogs but aren’t’ without value, are disposed of, usually in the only way our society has available right now; the sale barn.

Enter “Koda”. a 22 year old, former show horse.  His current name doesn’t suit him and I haven’t been able to find out his previous name.  Arabian-something, maybe Tennessee Walker.  His pasterns are very low, almost walking on his heels and he has an odd gate.  He used to show with 9 and 11 year old little girls but I don’t know what sport.  His last owner had him with 2 other horses turned out in a pasture for the last 8 years with little interaction i.e. neglected.  They were provided food and water but little else.  He’s in bad shape.  Body score around 4, ribby, hips are protruding.  He needs worming, teeth floating, vaccines.  He’s dehydrated and pre-Cushing’s according to the vet.  We suspect his coat is developing oddly due to the malnutrition, we’ll see.  In other words $$$$$$  The current owner had the vet out yesterday for an evaluation, the prior owner gave them to her when she threatened to turn him in.  His ground manners need polishing, he’s a little high strung with the Arab in him, always on the look out and carries his head high, which is why she’s decided to take him to sale on Monday if I don’t take him.  She is asking him to turn left, turn right, move forward, back up, piaf and side pass all at the same time – and he’s doing it!  That makes for a rough ride for both of them!  He’s incredibly responsive to a very soft touch.  Since, he bounces his head when she rides, she’s using tie downs on him, he hates it… If he was in good health, I wonder if this would fix itself as he’s probably sore without much muscle on his skeleton and she’s a pretty big person.  She jumped on him bareback with a nylon halter within an hour of his arrival and he took it in stride.  He just lost the matriarch of the herd who went to sale when they were picked up due to her own poor health and he’s now separated from the only other companion he’s known for a decade; there have been too many changes in 3 weeks.  He hasn’t had time to settle in.

He has bright eyes, he is very aware of his surroundings, he wants to be a band leader.  He is also extremely smart.  Extremely smart.  I think he will give Autumn a run for her money.  He is very well trained and easily follows someone who knows how to lead.  I ran him through the Parelli games in about 30 minutes yesterday and he looked at me like what else you got?  He is very inquisitive and logical (for a horse).  He follows on a loose line, picks up his feet, you can touch him anywhere ears, mouth, tail, sheath.  He turns out with no drama-waiting until I stepped back to move off.  If he was in good health I think we could have a blast together.  He caught on right away to treats and mugged me twice, we talked about that and he responded by becoming much gentler about asking.

I looked at him and prayed.  Is this the beginning of my dream?  Welcome to Camp Wandu, a retirement home for horses.  A place where old horses come to live out their lives, regain their health and be horses until that time when they either expire among the herd members or are walked to the Rainbow Bridge by a caregiver?  Good ole boys who I could take visitors out on for occasional trail rides and teach them about the plight of horses, safety of working with and around them and most about the privilege of being around these amazing creatures whose goal in life is to “get along” with their herd.

It’s absolutely crazy to take him on right now financially.  God will provide; He always has.

Welcome to the family Duke.  I’m looking forward to sharing the years you have remaining with you.

Dream Job

If I were to change careers at this point what would I strive to do?

1. Travel Writer

2. Environmental Activist

3. Oceanographer

4. ?

5. ?

I want my next career path to be intentional.

This was prompted by an email I found printed.  I’m listening to the CD Throw Out Fifty Things and this seriously needs to go, then I read it and realized I emailed myself a copy in March 2009.  Here it is.  Emails are on the list too, but physical stuff is first.  I am going through the 3 2-drawer filing cabinets now so I can move them downstairs and eventually to Salvation Army.  Enjoy the read.

Drug dealing for fun and profit.
New Rich (NR)
Be a deal maker-
What on earth do you do when you no longer have to work as an excuse to be hyperactive and avoid the big questions?
Be terrified and hold onto your ass with both hands, apparently.
Definition:  Reality is merely an allusion.
The freedom multiplier:
If you can free your time and location your money is already worth 3-10 times as much.
Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of values you can control in your life.
What When Where Whom
Everything popular is wrong.
The importance of being Earnest.
Relative income is more important than absolute income.
Euphoria and Disphoria
Distress is bad-eustress is good.
Distress-harmful stimuli that make you weaker, less confident and less able.  Destructive criticism, abusive bosses and smashing your face on a curb are examples of this.
Eustress-roll models who push us to exceed our limits, physical training that removes our spare tires and risk that expand our sphere of comfortable action.  Stress that is helpful and the stimulus for growth.  People who avoid all criticism fail.  It’s destructive criticism in all forms.  There is no progress without eustress and the more eustress we can create or apply to our lives the sooner we can actualize our dreams.  The trick is telling the two apart.  The nr are equally aggressive is removing distress and finding eustress.
Many a false step was made by standing still.
Named must your fear be before banish it you can.  Yoda
The power of pessimism-defining the nightmare.
Action may not always bring happiness but there is no happiness without action.  Benjamin Disreali, former British prime minister
To do or not to do.  To try or not to try.
Dont Happy, Be Worry.
It’s just a phase.
Work through the case scenarios:
What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.
What do you want?
I have developed adult onset ADD – “Adventure Deficit Disorder”
Answer the following questions
Drawing a blank?
  1. What would you do day to day if you had 100 Million dollars in the bank?
  2. What would make you most excited to wake up in the morning to another day?
  1. Place to visit
  2. Thing to do before you die-memory of a lifetime
  3. One thing to do daily
  4. One thing to do weekly
  5. One thing you’ve always wanted to learn
  1. Great cook
  2. Make christmas dinner without help
  3. Speak Chinese
Avoid paralysis by analysis.
Tomorrow becomes never-no matter how small the task
Don’t attempt more than one comfort challenge at a time
    Learn to eye gaze – 2 days.    No speaking is permitted.  Gazing into the eyes of a partner for 3 minutes.  Until they break contact; focus on one eye and blink occasionally so they don’t think you are a freak.  Practice on people bigger or more confident than yourself and if they get defensive just say “sorry, I thought you were an old friend”.
One does not accumulate but eliminate.  It is not daily increase but daily decrease.  The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.
Being busy is a form of laziness.  Lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.  Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing and is far more unpleasant.  Being selective, doing less is the path of the productive.  Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.
Lack of time is actually a lack of priorities.
Speed Reading 200% in 10 minutes
1. 2 minutes-use a pen or finger to trace under each line as you read as fast as possible
2. 3 minutes-begin focusing on the 3rd word in from the first work in each line and the 3rd word from the end of the line
     move in from both sides further and further as it gets easier
3.  2 minutes-once comfortable indenting 3 or 4 words from both sides focus on taking only two snap shots aka fixation per line on the first and last indented words
4. 3 minutes-practice reading too fast for comprehension but with good technique from the above 3 techniques for 5 pages prior to continuing to read at a comfortable speed
To read 12000X faster than the top 1% of the population visit
Learn to be difficult when it counts.  Having a reputation for being assertive will help you receive preferential treatment without having to beg or fight for it every time.
Questions and Actions
  1. Get an assistant-even if you don’t need one
As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few.
The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods.  The man who tries methods, ignoring principles is sure to have trouble.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
I not only use all the brains that I have but those that I can borrow.  —
It is far better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains.  Thomas H Huxley, English Biologist aka Darwin’s Bulldog
Ask for the world
What would I need to do to [desired outcome]?
Under what circumstances [desired outcome]?
Have you ever made an exception [desired outcome]?
I’m sure you’ve made an exception before havn’t you? Why or Why not?
Put your employer on remote training wheels.
It’s too big a world to spend most of life in a cubicle.
Dont confuse the complex with the difficult.
Self imposed suffering that can be avoided.
There are two types of mistakes.
Mistakes of ambition-result of a decision to act.  To do something.  Made with incomplete information and is to be encouraged.
                –Fortune favors the bold–
Mistakes of sloth-to not do something.  Refuse to change a bad situation out of fear despite all the facts.  This is how learning experiences become terminal punishments.
The person who has more options, has more power.
What if you did a mini retirement?  Spend 3-6 months in a new location that you think you may want to live in.
Recurring-it’s a lifestyle.  3-4 mini retirements per year. (Did it.  year and a half between my last 2 jobs).
www. escapeartist. com
Outside Magazine hhtp: the urban travel guide
Become a travel writer:
Teach engrish:
www workingoverseas .com
language addicts
  1. Revisit ground zero-do nothing.  Consider attending a silence retreat for 3-7 days  Learn to slow down the static of the mind
  2. Make an anonymous donation to the service organization of your choice
Recommended reading-the fundamental 4:
  1. The Magic of Thinking Big, by David Scwartz
  2. How to Make Millions with Your Ideas, an Entrepreneurs Guide by Dan S Kennedy
  3. The e-myth revisited.  Why most small businesses don’t work and what to do about it by Michael E Gerber
  4. Vagabonding; An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long Time World Travel by Ralph (Rolf ?). Potts
  5. Reducing Emotional and Material Baggage, Walden by Henry David Thorogh
  6. Less Is More; The Art of Voluntary Poverty; edited by Goldie and Vandenbrook
  7. The Monk and The Riddle; the Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur by Randy Commisar (Deferred Life Plan)
  8. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch
  9. Muse Creation and Related Skills (Harvard) www School Cases
  10. This Business Has Legs by Peter Bieler (100 Million Dollar Merchandising Empire in 2
  11. Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson
  12. Getting Past No
  13. Bargaining for Advantage
  14. Response mag
  15. Jordan Whitney Greensheet:
  16. Small Giants by Bo Birlingham
  17. ****Negotiating World Travel and Preparing for Escape – (I can really do this)
  18. Transitions Abroad – (magazine)
Thanks (again) Tim for the inspiration.


It‘s been months since I’ve written. There is too much on my mind now to fit in Facebook, where most of my friends will read it. So I write here for myself and the 4 (less now probably) people who may stop by.
There has been a lot of drama out here including a conflict that has nearly destroyed the relationship with my room-mate and has seriously damaged the friendship I thought I had with her. On a separate issue, the landlord brought in another tenant with horses which caused a ton of stress between the two of us after she turned her three loose in the pasture where ours have been for 3 years without so much as knocking on the door to say they were there. My room-mate and the neighbor were told that we might be getting a new boarder, then she showed up and took over.  This following the drama with my father last year in which I was made out to be the money grabber even though I haven’t received $50,000 from him, but one family member has.  That’s irony isn’t it?  He never has and probably never will take care of his children (but we are grown now anyway). In spite of that I was willing to step in to take actions in his best interest.  I digress, he was deemed competent and returned to his rat hole where he was then truly robbed and abused.  I have not much more than pity for him and still some anger.  He only gives to people who cater to his whims and join him in his abusive co-dependent relationships.  Personally I believe he is high functioning Autistic/Aspergers but no one will every know.

I am currently on leave from work following a series of life threatening medical events.

April 17th or 18th

We moved a bunch of seasoned horse dirt and ash to an area by the house where I wanted to plant a garden. It was a normal, sunny Saturday afternoon. That evening I started having intense pain radiating down my left arm. I considered that I may be having a heart attack but I’ve had my heart checked periodically throughout life and the EKG readings have been normal so took an Advil and eventually it subsided. The same pain woke me up again later that night.

April 19th
I woke up with a blanket of rash from my left shoulder to my left wrist – looks a lot like poison ivy which I am very susceptible to so I started treating it with OTC topical meds, like I always do. The pain in my arm has subsided by now. I continue treating the rash and it continues to spread.

April 21st
I speak to the pharmacist about another topical treatment and she makes a face when I show her the rash and suggests I need a steroid. I went to an Instacare center where the doc looked at the rash, prescribed Progesterone (Prednosone – side effect of the brain issues, confusing to the ER staff since the 2 meds are not interchangeable) and sent me on my way. I spoke with 3 different people in the office about the intense sharp pains in my left arm including the doctor and it was dismissed. On the way out of the office I again had a conversation about the pain in my left arm, the receptionist was surprised that the Dr didn’t explore further about the cause and I went home.

Sunday April 26th
I was in the barn throwing hay out for the horses evening meal when I was suddenly hit with a feeling of vertigo making me feel as if I were going to black out. I fell (more like tipped over and the bale caught me) into the large round hay bale near where I was standing. Two of the other renters were in the area and they helped me steady myself until I was able to slide down to the floor leaning against it. I remember her asking if I was diabetic. Even though I was sitting, it felt as if the world was spinning around and I had to keep my eyes closed for 20+ minutes until it subsided. I had an alcoholic beverage earlier in the day and after talking with them we thought maybe it was an interaction with the prescription I was on. I went in the house, watched TV and went to bed.

I’m continuing on the Prednisone, the rash is responding and drying up, I was working full-time and there are no further issues until Thursday May (April) 30th.

Thursday April 20th (uh April 30th)
I work a split shift from home so my hours at this time are 7:30 am to 11:30 and 6pm to 10pm, but I’ve been picking up as much overtime as possible and working 60+ hour weeks for the last + months. I live in my chair at the desk 10-12 hours a day. On my evening shift break is 7:45 to 8:00 pm and on break I took the dog out for a walk. When I get back to the living room in the house I get hit by the freight train again. This time it takes me 3 ½ hours to recover. My room-mate is home and brings a chair, trash can to vomit in and several dish towels, wet cloths to help (at this point I should have called an ambulance I later learn). This episode is accompanied by violent vomiting, explosive gas and intense nausea. Even with my eyes closed it feels as if I’m on a Tilt-A-Whirl, previously my favorite amusement park ride. Now I have my own personal ride that I cannot stop.

At 9:00 or so, she checks in with me before going to bed. I’m still sitting in the kitchen chair and manage to get up under her supervision and stumble to the bathroom and back to the couch, she gets my comforter from the bedroom, puts it over me and goes to bed. Around 11:30 I wake up with a cat on my chest (Skylar) and the dog cemented to my side while the other cats are perched around me observing. I was able to propel myself from the couch to my bed without incident. I slept through the night as far as I know.

Friday May 1st
I heard her moving around when I got up and asked for a ride to the hospital. I NEVER want to experience that again and the 2nd was violently worse than the first and I want to know what is going on and what do I need to do to prevent another episode?

I would say here for all intents and purposes I appear to be functioning in a normal means. I am walking, talking, having cognitive conversations and making decisions for myself. From the surface it appears that nothing has changed. If you think it’s frustrating for you – switch places with me.

Vitals appear normal but “as a precaution” they are going to do a checkup. I’m connected to a heart monitor and sent down for a brain scan. They install an IV and luckily at that moment labs shows up and are able to take their samples from the same hole (less drilling for now). Some time passes. This cute doc comes in and sits next to the bed (that’s always a sign of bad news btw) and says the brain scan is showing a shadow on my cerebellum, they are checking me in for a CT scan to check it out. I said to him “to see if it’s a cancerous growth”, he nods and offers that they also want to eliminate stroke and emphasizes that he cannot confirm at this time if it was a stroke – that word was so far from the realm of possibilities I was considering that it was shocking to me.  At this point it’s been 5 or so hours since I’ve been in the hospital and I’m getting hungry since I usually eat shortly after waking up. I text Eric to call me on lunch – there is no need to worry him unnecessarily. I tell him to stay at work for his shift and come to the hospital at night.

He did and slept in the chair next to me all night.  Twice sliding off of it to the floor.  Love’s his mama and I think he was afraid I was packing my bags for the final journey.

May 1st to 3rd are spent listening to the sounds of the hospital, gazing out the window and napping.  I am check from tip to toe with the following results.  I still find it humorous that almost the first thing the neurologist says to me is “You’ve had 2 strokes”.  She was a rock star and the first doctor to shoot straight and give me direction for recovery.  I have to say with 1 exception every person I encountered at the hospital was aces.

The verdict:

  • Stroke 1 (small, Ischemic*) on right hemisphere of brain.
  • Stroke 2 (major, Ischemic) on left hemisphere of brain at the cerebellum
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Patent Foramen Ovale – a hole in my heart that I’ve lived with since my first breath
  • AIC of 6.6 – which means I have developed Type 1 Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea – on Friday night I stopped breathing 13 times, the norm is 5
  • Anemic – from a known issue that I’ve been battling for several years
  • Atrial Fibrillation – strong possibility, I had a heart rate monitor on for 30 days and we’re still waiting for the test results to be confirmed.
  • Stress from the conflict between my roommate and Eric and the stress of the disrespectful tenant with the new horses in addition to the silent health issues created a perfect storm.

I had 8 out the 10 indicators for stroke.  I have never smoked anything-ever and I’m not an alcoholic.  Those were the only 2 I didn’t have.  Word to the wise Eat Healthy and Exercise so you don’t have a stroke.

It has been 6 weeks and 2 days since I left the hospital.  In addition to the testing done there I’ve also had my annual physical stuff, am going to Diabetes classes, have additional testing scheduled and completed.

What most likely happened is my heart went into AFib, allowing enough blood to pool for long enough to create a blood clot.  When the heart beat normally again it shot the blood clots through the PFO into an artery up to my brain – resulting in the strokes.  The stress inflated an already high blood pressure.

The good news is I have confirmed that I do not have a brain tumor, weak heart or breast cancer.  I walked out of the hospital under my own power and am recovering my cognitive abilities.  I have learned that the brain in an adult does not recover dead cells, no new ones will grow.  It will take time for my brain to re-learn those skills that I have lost and the dead tissues will remain a shadow.  It’s kind of like someone taking a melon baller and removing a scoop of brain tissue.  There are things that are simply absent, and I don’t know that I don’t know until someone reminds me.

Oh, one of the side effects too is that I tire easily now.  I have set some personal goals for recovery and this week am up to walking 6,000 steps per day.  This one has been the most challenging level so far (I’ve been increasing 500 steps per day each week from the amount I was able to do right out of the hospital)

One nurse told me that people with PFO are more emotional than most and I can attest to that.  I am sitting here with a tear running down my cheek.  Eric called about an hour ago to tell me he passed out at a stop sign on the way to work and was woken up by a police man.  I sent him to a doctor and he isn’t answering his phone.  He’s all I have left and I’m not even with him and now his phone is going straight to voice mail.  Be still and know that I am God.

Random order in which these thoughts came to me while writing.

I have a brain injury.  To those of you, like me before, who have no idea what that’s like I have two suggestions to increase your understanding and hopefully your compassion.  Memory now is like looking through a stained glass window, there is an image of each little memory but those that are dreams, thoughts and actions are somewhat scrambled together and It’s not certain which is which at times, especially if I’m tired or stressed.  This observation came about following a brief conversation I just had with my roommate regarding a ride to the sleep study on Friday.  Until an event in April between her and my son Eric we had a strong healthy mutually respectful friendship.

A number of “friends” have inferred that my strokes must not have been too bad or must have been mini strokes (there is no such thing btw) and to them I provide the following for understanding.  Go to the paint store.  Place your head in the paint can shaker and turn it on.  Wait for the timer to go off, now try to function.  Basically on the 2nd stroke my head was in the shaker for 2.5 hours before I could open my eyes and balance against the walls enough to get to the bathroom.  It took another hour before I was able to walk without support enough to go to bed.

Word to the wise if anyone in your family ever says the world is spinning – CALL AN AMBULANCE, don’t go to bed and say “let me know if you need anything”.  What I need in this moment is for someone else to make a decision because I am not capable of logical thought, my focus is on breathing.


Face, Arms, Speech, Time

Face – Is one side of the face drooping, have your loved one smile.

Arms – Have your loved one hold both arms straight out in front of themselves and close their eyes.  Does one arm drop?

Speech – Ask them to speak a simple sentence or recite a tongue twister.  Did they stare at you blankly or look like they can’t make the words or is their speech is slurred?

Long term issues – my language and math skills are still drastically effected as you may be able to tell by the writing above.  I’m just freaking thankful I can write and function at all having the benefit of time and education on my side now.  If I don’t write something down, it may get lost in the shuffle, like reference to my chat with the roommate earlier.  Since I was reminded of our chat I vaguely remember we talked about her picking me up on Saturday from the sleep study but before the reminder I was remembering the earlier arrangements for her to take me to the hospital and me figuring out a ride home.  How can I help you understand what I need when there are still moments when I have to think in logical sequence to function?  I can’t tell you what I want if it’s a secret to me.  I’ve put that in bold for all the caregivers and medical patients, I hope it will lead to understanding and much more patience.  I know it’s confusing to you and you don’t know how to relate but if I am incapable of expressing myself it falls on you to offer compassion and patience.  Refrain from judgement and irritation because you don’t get an answer from me on YOUR time schedule, my slate has been wiped clean and I’m probably writing on it with fresh chalk.

The outlook?  30% of stroke patients have another one within 5 years.  So 70% don’t and go on to lead normal lives?  Since I’ve already had my 2 I’m looking to the sunny side.

Today 6/17 0800  Just got off the phone with Eric.  He passed out at a stop sign while driving and was woken up by a policeman.  I told him to go to the Instacare center and he’s not answering his phone.  Lord – I know you have him in your hands.  Keep him safe and anyone around him.  If he passes out again get him to the emergency room.  I am powerless from here.

The last time I saw Eric he said my personality had changed.  I think it scared him a little.  It has. No longer do I suffer fools.  How could it not change after an event of this magnitude?  I am less emotional than I was, I expect more out of others – to handle their own business, I have stopped taking on other adults problems.  I am still compassionate and loving.  I am simply disengaged.  I’ve always been the caregiver sacrificing my own needs to be there for other people, interfering in their decisions at times and justifying it while pitying them.  As I write that I realize they are harsh words.  What has changed though has nothing to do with others, it’s about taking care of myself and not being willing to sacrifice my health – mental or physical – over someone else’s poor choices and that includes my son.  I love him as much as ever and I have given him all that I have.

Followup:  He’s fine.  Doc thinks dehydration but I think he lied to me about going.  It wasn’t enough time between calls for him to be seen.  I hate when he lies to me.  He passed out in the car again between 0830 and 1200 when he called again.  He’s out of money, gas and food and didn’t go to work today.  He’s a grown man.  He’s giving it a good effort anyway.  A grown man wouldn’t run out of gas unless it was extenuating circumstances, but exhaustion will do that to you too – foster poor decision making.  I’m glad he’s ok.

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