A blog is a personal journal of your daily life as a stroke survivor or stroke caregiver. Surprisingly, countless members have called it therapeautic to write down their thoughts and to vent their frustrations. You can make it private, just for your eyes or public and share your personal thoughts with your friends. Why not try it, create your blog and start writing and see if it helps you.
I went to see the neurosurgeon on Tuesday. I was interviewed by a young Asian associate doctor and sent for a 3D MRI and angiogram, a brand new way of showing the blood supply within the brain. The results were given to me by the associate and then I saw the specialist. It appears the aneurysm is larger and deeper than previously thought but at my age they are not going to operate as it would mean a full brain surgery. Coiling, one method of dealing with an aneurysm, is not an option. I think I was a little bit shocked by the news but taking into consideration I have had the melanoma op, the lymph node dissection etc I am not really a good candidate for another operation, especially brain surgery.
The specialist was fairly brutal because I think he wanted me to know if I wanted an operation it had to be after I got a clearance from the melanoma specialist and that would take time. He said he knew I had a long wait ahead of me but not to worry. Not to worry!!! So back to basics, no stress, no strenuous exercise, no * blush, sounds like no fun at all. So what can I do? As usual make some decisions, live a quiet life, let the future take care of itself, one day at a time. Hell's bells, what else is new?
So I have a plan. I have to just go on the way I always have, going about my usual routine one day at a time. Whenever I start to worry I will visualise that little bubble about the same size as the tiny diamond on my engagement ring. I will visualise a tiny angel sitting alongside the aneurysm, with her thumb firmly on top of it holding it in place. I know one day it may be that she will take her thumb off and the pressure will build up and life as I know is it will be no more. But It will happen to us all one day, in one form or another.
I went to Dissection Clinic down in Sydney today and there have been no changes in the past three months to the Lymphoedema, which is good news. In the interview I told her I had regained my confidence in walking down stairs which had taken a year to do and had recently started yoga again. She seemed pleased with the progress. No more interviews in any of the Sydney specialists rooms until next February. Hurray! I have survived twelve months since the melanoma was removed and six months since the operation to remove the lymph nodes. I have a lot to be thankful for.
My daughter took me to both appointments, I was so glad she had the time. We stopped for lunch today before we left Sydney and although it was expensive it was a happy time and one we rarely enjoy together. She also got the news today that the position she holds as Captain of the Cardiff Corps has been extended for another twelve months which is good news for me. If she had been moved it might have been a lot further away. Her husband's appointment has also been extended. Though he will now have a wider area to cover, which means a lot more time on the road. But she said he can cope with that.
On a less happy note my special friend who has the leukemia has now been in hospital for eight weeks and he now seems to be getting much weaker. I have been a regular visitor and it is painful to see the deterioration. With all the people I have ministered to in hospital you would think I would get used to seeing that happen but I never do. I am always an optimist, thinking with the right treatment, an adjustment to their medication etc they will be fine. But that is not always the case. So maybe there is more bad news to come.
There are signs of Spring now, birds building nests, green grass after a little rain, even some blossoms on the prunus trees in the parks we passed today. Hopefully the nights will warm up and we can start packing away the winter clothes. I have no plans, the future is a blank canvas. Don't think there is much fun and excitement ahead but who can tell? If I wake up breathing and moderately energetic I will endeavour to have a good day.
Suffering is something I am good at. I ha ve constant pain, not chronic. I am always in pain. It is my life. I am able to color and watch movies and eat and do thngs that they determine are all signs that I am not having a 10 day.
I am in the hospital right now. I had to get myself to urgent care, then they sent me to the
ER and then IWAS put upstairs. cellulitis again in my legs, but this time my right heel has a bed sore. not a blister, this is agony, who will get me what I need while I am in the hospital.... well the nurse last nite let me sleep. Islept over 8 hours. I woke like a banshee and with twice the attitude of queen of them. I blamed them for all of it everything and then I got some meds in me and was fine. no one understands me.
I must return in a couple of days or lose my bed in the hom
I need to sleepn now and the nurse says she will wake me.
I am waiting for an MRI. I have a bed sore on my heel. I thought it was a blister, OMG ! I want to scream. I was going to get an electrode and now this. I never get rest.I want to be happy now, I need to go go home to rest but now this. I want to go home to rest but I
Must get an MRI b4 I can go, finish antibiotics and go home to the place I call home now, or be alone homeless. I want to cry, I feel alone. My son did not want to come to hospital to visit. No flowers, but my best friend told me a care package for mothers day awaits me in the the mail,so hey I am loved. One love is enough for me. I polished my nails yesterday, I feel better with red nails.
The pain management team member visited,told me I am on too much pain meds so that hurts me more, I need less meds to feel better, I nearly felt crazy, I said yes I want an electrode, but it took years to get this cocktail all day to be figured out. I cried, I mean it makes me feel nuts to cry in front of people, no reason but mad at mean people who confuse me, fail to listen, no compassion, of course I take a lot I fail to understand how can I take less when
I hurt so much more than in my dreams..I need cry to feel better then
What is my goal today they ask me as I lay writhing in pain screaming for help,a pill,a shot,relief
Be normal,walk,smile,be happy,be nicer,what goal,on what planet am I on,what time dimension am I from...am I in purgatory.....they ask me seriously..... l wish I knew the goal. Am I for real can anyone tell me in a nice voice that I am going to be ok and return to what I used to call nohrmal?
It is a nightmare to be alive in this pain,alone in pain,alone without love yet my son tells me I am loved but he is busy as children grow live a life apart,and I feel regrets for things because NO ONE IS HERE!
I know I lived a good life helping others yet here I am alone on an island, stroke took me away in a boat to a place where I cann of even talk right when I am sick,I cannot walk when I am sick,and then they look at me as if I am faking it, but the docs say stroke makes it this way,then it went away. I feel better and it is not easy to explain to people I was ill,stroke deficits returned, and now my shaking is done, I can see better now,and I am a better yet weaker me.
I am whole and again myself.
I was scared. I called neurologist,he looked over my case and called me saying I not need him, hooray. Then hospital antibiotics, I am o n day 6 now, time to go home or I will lose my bed. Am I this ill...
They don't know.
Please send me home.
Or I will not be allowed to return to my pretty room.
Yesterday my dad had his 2nd round of chemo (4 different kinds of chemo drugs). He was shaky and weak when he got home yesterday. At 5 this morning my stepmom wakes me up in a frenzy. Daddy had fallen in the restroom and she couldn't get him up and he didn't have the strength to help. Plus he went to the restroom without his oxygen so he was running out of air. It took us both 15 more minutes before we got him up on the shower stool my stepmom had grabbed out of the tub. He seemed OK, no broken bones, but a pretty nasty gash on his arm. We cleaned and bandaged him. I went and pulled out the walker he has yet to use but he did this time. He was in the bathroom so he basically fell and then peed all at the same time. Everything was wet, his clothes, the floor, the top of the potty and anything else nearby. My dad just there breathing in oxygen heavily (I brought him his Mobil oxygen machine)... All he kept saying was "I'm sorry". Which we quickly told him there was nothing at all to be sorry about. This is a harsh mix of poisons they are giving him every 3 weeks. It's hard to see my dad be affected so much. Please keep him in your prayers. He needs every prayer we can get. 🙏
I have worked so hard, waited so long, dreamed so much, needed so much and I feel the page turning. I have such an overwhelming feeling that the page is turning, the Chapter is ending and a new one is beginning. I am full of anticipation, gratitude, excitement and fear. For the first time really... This chapter is about me. I can't explain my feelings... I am closing my eyes and letting each one wash over me. I feel it coming. It's overwhelming. For some reason even though I have fear I am not afraid. I know this sounds a little out there...but I feel it. Thank you Lord. I can't express this enough. 🙏
I had a massive bilateral cerebellar infarct in the PICA region. Since July 5, 2015 a whirlwind of things happened and eventually after a very long evaluation from a Neuropsychogist... I was diagnosed with CCAS or Cerebellar Cognitive Affectice Syndrome. I still have deficits that are not considered as part of CCAS symptoms but this diagnosis (which may I add is extremely accurate according to what happens to me daily) has been quite the controversy. Something a stroke survivor never wants. My experience has led me to my wonderful Psychiatrist (I credit him for believing in me and researching on my behalf which over 2 and a half years has led to the best help I have had thus far). He is absolutely there for me and continues to work to find a better treatment. I thank him everytime I see him which is a lot (every other month). I also have Cognitive Behavior Therapy each week. I want to point anyone who is interested to the growing information about CCAS to the many articles which are growing quickly in number. Science and the Medical world have in the past thought the cerebellum was only responsible for a very specific job. One that did not include emotion at all. Newer research has proven that is not the case. The cerebellum contains more than 50% of all the neurons in the whole human brain. The "Little Brain" is doing a lot more than we realize. Thanks to research lead by Dr. JD Schmahmann and his colleagues there is new medical science being discovered about the human brain. All in all it is fascinating and for me it is miraculous. Here are the words I searched on Google:
Cerebellar Cognitive Affectice Syndrome bi-polar, schizophrenia, ADD, mental illness
If you are fascinated by the human brain, curious of medical discoveries, or like me and are all of those things plus (I had a cerebellar stroke) and I hold a passion for learning about others strokes as well... Heck the brain in general!!!... Then this will interest you. 🙂 OK I also want to share why I am cooky lol.
Well, this Sunday afternoon I fly to Florida to finally meet my grandson. It's so weird to say grandson. But I love that I'll be a Mimi. 🙂 This little guy has been through a terrible first month but he'll be two months this 18th.. I sadly won't be there for that but I'm eternally thankful for his grandparents opening their home to me. It'll be a good visit.. HOT.. yuck
My heart is all a-flutter as I write this. I have so much on my mind, so much happening... Life is moving right along. I come here first to share... You guys are family. I am practically giddy with anticipation. I also tell my local stroke support group but I only see them once a month. I tell my mom, my sister and friends I keep in touch with. Where to begin... My new runs the gamut. Very good to very not so good. I'll just begin... Good first!
First, Spring is coming! I am utterly thrilled!!! The trees are all turning green, flowers are popping up every where, it's getting warmer and warmer, the sun is brighter, I can wear flip flops! Perfect timing for finding my own place to live.
I have lived with my dad and step mom for 2 years now. I moved here almost a year and half after my stroke when I left my ex fiance and went back to my hometown. A lot has happened. The biggest thing is losing a big part of my independence. Basically, my bedroom is my place of solace. I can shut the door and just be in my own spot. I miss having my own place and all my things have been in storage. I have been fighting for SSDI since before I left Nashville. I guess it was a year after my stroke when I applied. It's been a long hard road and I have been basically dependent on others since then. My dad gave me a room to stay in, my sister gave me her 2nd car she didn't use to drive, my mom practically paid for everything I needed and treated me at times as well. She was always buying me clothes, shoes, things I liked or wanted. Of course not everything, but I am so overjoyed for everything she did buy. Mom also paid for medical things and all my meds (which is extensive), she bought my gas, paid for my haircuts, paid for everything Kitty needed, she was my advocate always and my biggest support. I have called her everyday multiple times a day. She has been the only person who can help me calm down during a panic attack. Well not only her... A few others as well. I know I must drive her crazy! She is a rock, she is my rock. I love her to the moon and back.
Not being able to work is a hard bite for me to chew. I've always worked. I did have the privilege of staying home with my daughter until she was 3 though. I enjoyed working and the freedoms that come with it. The struggle to accept this about me is real. Thankfully, I won my SSDI case 100% in December of 2018 and it has been a whirlwind since.
To begin, I finally had insurance. Having no insurance and not having the opportunity to get any after having a history of stroke is scary. There were many opportunities for a medical therapy I had to turn down. I desperately needed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy due to my many cognitive issues but haven't been able to until recently. My Neurologist told me all the time "Tracy you have to get into CBT... Possibly for a very long time." but what could I do. I was very blessed to qualify for my hospital's patient financial assistance program and all my Dr's are from there group. Psychologists are not a part of that group. They are private practice only and without insurance it is only pay cash before any therapy period. Now, I can see a Psychologist. It is already helping me a lot.
Because I fall under very poor 😒... I get what's called Extra help through Medicare. It automatically qualifies for me to have Medicaid as well. So I am considered duel eligible (Medi/Medi). This also affords me a very big discount for deductibles, office visits, what is called the Medicare donut hole, all my co-pays, and is extremely helpful with my Medicare Part D (Rx). I'm so so blessed. My generic meds cannot exceed 1.50 per Rx and my name brand cannot exceed 3:50 per Rx. By May I will reach catastrophic status and have 0 co-pay for meds, just 4.50/month for my plan. 😃 All I can say is I am blessed.
I am also waiting as patiently as I can for the announcement of "I have my own home to move into"! I've been talking to Kitty about it and telling her that soon it will be just me and her and she will have lots of new areas to explore. I mean all I can do is be patient. 🤪😳😬!!! It should be this week that I get to tour the place and fill out and turn in all my paperwork. Don't worry I WILL share the news!
So on the not so good side (but really not so bad) Daddy is still battling non Hodgkins Lymphoma. He told me yesterday that he is losing more hair than Kitty (which is a lot). I sat with him and told him I met many going through chemo when I had my job near Vanderbilt Hospital that lost their hair too but it grew back! 🙂 He's been doing pretty well and his OT said this morning his sight is getting better in his left eye where the mass had gone through the orbital bone and really affected his eye and all the things that connect the eye to our body. So that is great! He's a bit moody but who wouldn't be. My stepmom is really struggling emotionally. I sat down with her and said to be sure and make time for herself that being Daddy's caregiver is going to be really hard work and it's important she take care of herself. My message doesn't quite make it through to her... I understand why but I hope she remembers our talk when she needs it. Daddy looks to her for most things... He doesn't let me help a lot. I do what I can to help them both.
My anxiety has been really really high the past few weeks. 😳 Lots of panic attacks (no trigger) and a few times seeing or hearing things. This happens to me sometimes. I go to my Psychiatrist tomorrow and will fill him in. I think I've been swaying between being depressed and being excited. Just so much going on right now.
Thanks to those who made it to the end of the book lol. I know I write so much! If you ever have to tap out it's fully understood. Another release of "stuff" in my reality. I'm grateful for the blog. Hugs to all of you!!!
It is always hard to wave goodbye to Trevor and Alice. They live so far away and with all my medical woes I won't be going out to Broken Hill for a while. But we had a good week, no big dramas with Alice settling in. Not as much time together as usual as they went down to Sydney for two full days, one to Taronga Zoo and one to the Royal Easter Show where they met up with the cousins, Tori, Alex and Oliver. Alice is very close to Oliver who treats her as his little sister so she follows him around as much as she can.
We had a visit from Shirley, Chris and Naomi on Monday, Shirley said it was great as Alice really talked to her this time. We had lunch out and the day just flew by. Chris is doing Biomedical Science at University now. He wants to do research. When he was much younger after Ray had had yet another stroke he asked me: " Granma why can't the doctors fix Pa?" I told him that we don't know all there is to know about stroke and he said: "When I grow up I will find out." So maybe that is still in his subconscious mind.
No news on when I am having either operation. 2 - 3 months seems to be the normal waiting time for a hospital bed now. I am not worried as I am sure the surgery will be done eventually. I find that just going on with my regular routine is the best way for me to keep busy and not fuss. I got used to the one-day-at-a-time routine when I was a caregiver for Ray so it is not new to me. Unfortunately it does mean I can't do any forward planning but that is not new either.
The summer heat has gone now, we still have the occasional hot and humid day but they are not the average day. The days are quite pleasant now. I am in the middle of repotting plants and cleaning the gardens up for winter. I know that with either operation I won't be able to do heavy lifting so I will do as much as I can now. I am enjoying being outside more although now we are off daylight saving the days seem much shorter. I am always glad when the humidity drops, it makes life much more enjoyable for me.
I have been to a couple of funerals in the past month. It is because all of the groups I belong to have members much older than me. I don't think that is a bad thing as some of them have mentored me over the years. Some of them were my best supporters when I was looking after Ray. I have been in my Lions Club for twenty years in November so have watched the members I started with get older and frailer, but that is life isn't it? I guess the younger members think the same about me.
I guess some of you have noticed I am no longer Hostsue, I am now swilkinson. I am still officially the Blog Moderator and still occasionally comment on posts so I am still involved. I still have a lot of people from this site on my Facebook page so I am still interested in what is going on in the lives of the wonderful friends I have made here. And I still pray for those who ask for prayer. Thanks to all who do the same for me.
Been awhile since I blogged so here goes. I did my trip in August to see my longtime friend in Texas. He is doing well, still has some reading deficit but getting better. No other issues at this time. We had a great visit, he took me to the Ft Worth stockyards and I rode a long horn bull! From there I went to see some other friends in Louisiana for a few days and saw the WWII museum in New Orleans. I drove the trip alone, just me and my Mazda Miata with the top down most of the time and my favorite music going. Fortunately there was nobody along to listen to my singing.
Some sad news, another very longtime friend has some significant health issues. He is 11 years younger than I am but life has not been as kind to him as it has to me medically. I just made another friend by accident recently. He is the husband of the lady we hire to take care of mum when Lesley and I need to leave her alone for a 1/2 day or more. We really hit it off right away but unfortunately he also has major health issues and is 20 years younger than I am. I also recently looked up a couple I knew over 40 years ago while stationed in Italy. Very sad news there, he is a bit younger than I and just diagnosed with terminal cancer. Wow, so much bad news among guys I know about my age!
I am most thankful that my health is at the moment very good. Stroke survivor yes, colitis sufferer yes, but all in all very healthy and grateful for it. Seems like the past several months since I had a heart ablation and a pacemaker implanted and I have been able to start exercising again most days I really feel great. I can tell my body missed the exercise I missed during the heart surgeries and our Alaska trip.
i have a few other “guy” trips planned and will take another guy along if I can find a healthy one. There is a college baseball tournament in May I may go to, it has been on my bucket list for many years, and it looks like to me I should get on with doing whatever is on my list. In June Lesley, mum and I are going to Minnesota so I can get my fishing fix. On the way back we plan to take mum to the Auburn car museum in Indiana so she can relive the memories she has of her late husband Bill and her driving in the Auburn car they once had in New Zealand.
then in July me and my Miata are heading to the A.C. Gilbert Historical Society convention in Akron, Ohio. He invented Erector sets for young boys like me to build with and many other toys for young lads to enjoy. I hope to see a “tractor pull” while in Ohio, another “bucket list” item.
maybe a fall trip after that in the motorhome with all three of us and the two dogs to somewhere, maybe the Ozark’s of Arkansas and Missouri.
mum is now 96, 97 in September. She is hoping to get her 100 year old letter of congratulations from the Queen which members of the British Commonwealth get. Her health has greatly improved since our return from Alaska. At this point I think she may just get her letter. I wouldn’t bet against her. I can also say that the best two years of my life have been the last two since she has come to live with us. I would not say that about all mother-in-laws, but her, yes.
anyway, enough for now, life is very, very good here, even though we are unworthy.
time for tea.
P.S. I forgot to mentioned we had the privilege of hosting two disabled vets a few days ago for one night,that or part of a group of 10 such vets currently hiking the Appalachian Trail which runs over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine.
I can't believe April is here already. 🌷 Spring Fever has spun its' spell. Flowers are popping up to smile at the sun and trees are budding and flowering preparing to burst into life. I really like this time of year... It's a time of new and fresh... New beginnings and new adventures. The drab of winter is replaced over a few weeks with color, warmth, joyful beginnings, everyone is looking up to the sunshine even the flowers, inner hopes start to infuse many... A virtual treat for the senses. Most of us get a bite or two from the spring bug. Today, I ventured out and picked up a couple pairs of sandals for the coming warmer weather. Things are moving right along in my life. I was chosen to apply for THDA's voucher program to help with housing and guess what! I qualified! I have received my voucher to look for housing in my area that will WORK with THDA (Tennessee Housing Development Authority)... Basically section 8 help. I ran a little ad in our local buy, sale, trade so that I maybe could find something in my qualification range (which proved harder than I had expected). Guess what! A long time friend I have since 2nd grade reached out to me. He owns a real estate agency and he said he wanted to help me find a home. I was not expecting that and am over the moon thankful. Jimmy (my friend) has a duplex open that they are redoing. He said it would be about 3 weeks before I could see it they are gutting it and replacing everything. I have about 1 more week and I am sooooo excited. I have driven by several times in anticipation. Once I see it and want to try and get it he and I will fill out an intent to Rent from and the THDA comes and inspects it. Then using all the variables from rent to utilities to need to %'s of gross income they then will approve or disapprove... Many times if the values are close they will work with the THDA to gain approval. So I'm not holding my breath, I am allowing myself to get excited fully knowing that I do not know the outcome. I'm OK with that... I choose to believe that I can do this (fear of trying in my eyes is becoming more and more a path to failure... If I fall ill pick myself up, dust myself off, and try try again!!! I told God in a prayer that I am giving this to him. Trusting that no matter the outcome it will be right. I'm not scared or worried. I'll take it as it comes. Breathes in heavily, it's such a free feeling washing over me. I have started a list of things I want to do or have, how I want to do something, what kind of flowers I would love to gaze at, take care of. If not there then somewhere :). I will keep you posted on this new and exciting adventure... It's so fitting for the season!!! So question... What great advice can you share with me to make this adventure as exciting as it can be. It can be about anything
i.e. Flower choice, suggestions about what would be really enjoyed, a decor idea, a storage idea, a l've had a stroke and I have stroke brain idea, ANYTHING!! PRETTY PLEASE. 🤗🙏🤩🙋♀️👂🤞🏡🌷🏵️🌸🌻🌺
Recently I watched very inspiring talk given by girl who lost her leg in senseless robbery & train accident. It was quite amazing to hear her talk about ordeal she went through. after she was thrown off moving train for resisting her gold chain robbery & she fell on track & losing her leg in process. Anyhow after she got treated with prosthetic leg, being national volleyball athlete she decided she would climb mount Everest with her prosthetic leg. Think about courage she had. one line stuck with me you are handicapped because of your limiting thoughts & not by your physical ability. I was telling hubby about this girl's amazing journey & he said something very interesting lot of times in life we stop ourselves thinking OMG this is so hard and I can't do it, & when you push it through it & do it that's your mount Everest. I know in course of my day I go through many limiting thoughts, if I remember his line that this is my mount Everest, it will give me that courage strength to push past my fears.
It’s been a while since I have made a block here. I am been in a funk. A funk that I don’t often talk about and I try not to talk about on the website. I try to always be happy and cheerful and I love to encourage other people. But as of late, I am been in a deep funk. Akin to a depression. In bed , can’t quite get out, however I do you go to work on the four days that I do strictly because you have to make ends meet. I guess it’s just the 810 year itch you could say. Coming to terms that I have exhausted most of my doctors to try to see if the last bit a remnant could come back to at least have good eyesight or good balance. I listen to a lot of people and I am encouraged by other peoples journeys and other peoples advice and I try to take it myself but as of late I’ve been almost nonexistent and that is why. But after talking to my family and friends, I have been doing a lot better, I think that when the weather changes and the sun is out and it’s a warm hopefully I will feel better. I also know that as of the end of June when I do have to cut my hours back, but unfortunately I will be working every weekend which stinks, I should have a lot more energy and a lot more time to reflect on all of the good things that I have and as far as I got him. I guess a lot has to do with the memory and I getting into this anxiety about not remembering how I got to be 44, which sounds bizarre, and I’ll be turning 45 this month and it scares me for I think that my life is halfway over and I don’t know how I even got here.
But like I said this is only a temporary funk and I think that I’ve been getting a whole lot better, I feel good, and I’m doing a lot of self reflecting which I think that’s going to help me and now you’ll be inundated with my positive comments to the point that you probably want to smack me in the face.
I went to the throat specialist, he said the thyroid operation was the way to go but probably the right side of the thyroid removed would be sufficient. I don't know how I feel about that. Anyway I agreed and now await an operation date, probably in May. He also asked me if I wanted to have the brain aneurysm surgery first but as the thyroid is the lesser recovery time I said let's do it first. This may be the wrong decision but I hope not. I really miss having someone else who can help me make decisions now as my family say: " It is your decision Mum."
The weather has suddenly got colder, last night was a cold snap bringing a dusting of snow to the Snowy Mountains and the cold winds came north to us. Then today it rained and I spent my gardening time rearranging my autumn wardrobe. I have a lot of clothes available, I just keep recycling them every year. Some of my clothes must be almost vintage now. I come from the mix and match separates era so it is a matter of matching blouses to jackets to skirts or pants to shoes etc. Of course the thick stockings I am wearing will be less obvious in winter which is a bonus.
I had a enjoyable week out west in an area called the New England District going out by train to go to a friend's 70th birthday party. Another couple stayed with him too, old friends from way back so it was a time of reminding each other of shared events and the fun times we had. Of course that would once have included Ray which made me a little sad. I guess you never get over a loss, just spend less time thinking about it. Those 44 years together will always be a background to whatever is happening to me now.
The next event will be Trevor and Alice coming here for the school holidays towards the end of April. While they are here they hope to go to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, to Taronga Zoo and possibly the Australian Reptile Park so I shall hardly see them. I love having them here and of course it means having the other grandkids visit too and mayhem all round. For a week it is great fun. Of course Christopher is in University now so I will probably just have Naomi visit this holiday. Life changes all the time doesn't it?
When I came back from my inland visit I had the house lights fuse, seems some of the house wiring may need replacing. Actually I need it all reviewed now. That is one of the problems with a house like this that has been built onto a few times, you forget how old some of it is, the original three rooms having been built in 1959! We bought it in late '60s and as our family grew more had to be added onto it to accommodate us. I sure miss Ray for that too, where is my lovely handyman husband now when I need him?
Life somehow is always a mix of happy and sad for me. I hate being a widow. I loved being a member of a couple, it always felt safe to me. Not that Ray and I were the perfect couple but someway or another we always managed to compromise. A new friend said to me: " Sounds like you were always fighting." but it wasn't like that. And of course there were all the years of me looking after him but I always included him in the decision making as much as I could. That is what a true partnership is about.
This is a blog about the way life is as I live it now, I have some freedom but it comes at a price. That price is loneliness. There are certain advantages, like I sleep at night without that voice calling: "Sue can you help me?" I still sometimes dream that. I miss Ray. And life is not as good without him. End of story.
The Syringa Vulgaris plant interestingly is a flowering shrub of the olive family. It is native to the Balkan Peninsula. This decadent ornamental bush is widely grown in many European regions as well as North America. In ancient Greek mythology the story is told that Pan, the god of forests and fields was hopelessly in love with a nymph named Syringa. Legend is she being afraid of his advances disguised herself by turning into the aromatic shrub. He never found her yet he found the bush. Noting the shrub had hollow reed like branches Pan created a pipe from those limbs. The scientific name Syringa Vulgaris is derived from the Greek word “syrinks” which means pipe. This flowering shrub used to make the mythological god’s panpipe is commonly known as Lilac.
As she stood and inhaled the night sky illuminated by the spring equinox moon she reminisced of her home. It was the spring season when the lilac bushes permeated the air. Not only are the shrubs beautiful in their hue of white, pink, and purple but their sweet aromatic scent embraces anyone who inhales. It had been many years since she journeyed to her homeland in the central region of Illinois. Both her stroke survivor and she grew up in the prairie land commonly known as the black belt because of rich fertilized soil. Their journey to the state of Texas happened in pursuit of a dream. While the predominant one season of summer was welcome by them with living in Texas it was much different than where they grew up with the four seasons in Illinois. Specifically, the blossoming of lilacs didn’t happen in Texas. So on that night when the brightness of the moon hugged her being to announce the arrival of spring tears rolled down her cheek. More so she imagined the perfumed aroma of lilacs back home while intentionally pondering days of old and longing to travel.
More often than not her stroke survivor talks about those days of his youth. He speaks about the time as a teenager when he was a speed skating champion, or his high school years when he was captain of the drum line. He reflects back to the nights he worked as a disc jockey at the local dance club. Those days of winning foosball champions and playing a drinking game called quarters for alcoholic beverages are all among the stories he frequently tells. His college days where he excelled in computer science, receiving honors as top of the class, he reminisces. The days of old are a dominating force in her stroke survivor’s mind where he currently dwells most of his days. Simply, if you ask him about today like what movie did he watch, what the television show is about, or to count to ten he cannot always do that task. Often with the speech therapist when being challenged in word association games he will avoid doing the assignment by telling stories of his younger years. There are days that are on point. Some days she feels like he could just get up, grab his car keys and go to work as if nothing were wrong. That image dissipates quickly and she is reminded of his deficiency while watching him struggle putting a spoon to his mouth when eating. And too, he will repeatedly ask to see his yearbook, play a movie that is decades old and he has seen a hundred times, or tell her a story over and over like it was the first time.
She didn’t know how many there are like her husband that are propelled to a different plateau with their stroke where the mind has short circuited because of seizures. The cognitive defect that engulfs her husband’s brain creates confusion so he goes back to that which he remembers very well. She is sure there are fancy medical names for this short-term memory malfunction but she cannot name them. Somehow, with his memory loss her stroke survivor still seems content.
So as she breathes in the night air of spring she thinks about those lilacs back home. Maybe her stroke survivor’s short-term memory is like Syringa from the mythological story and has hidden itself within the aromatic bush. Perhaps Pan is long-term memory and the reed pipe he made plays a continual recognizable tune that comforts her stroke survivor. None-the-less, when she spoke to him about missing the scent of lilacs back home he too commented about them but told the story of dreading having to trim back the lilac bushes at his childhood home thus his memory wasn’t as pleasant. However, it was that moment she realized they had a typical conversation. There was no speech deficiency or failure to recall. And while it was a long- term memory for them both it was a moment that reflecting about the lilacs back home addressed her longing to travel. With that she once again pondered days of old. Softly she reached up and wiped the tears of joy from her cheek.
An alarm clock rings in the wee hours of the morning before sunrise has made an appearance. Fred the Baker rolls over and sluggishly stops the loud continual sound. With his eyes forcedly wide open he swings his legs out from under the covers and sluggishly shuffles to the bathroom where he changes into his work attire. Still moving in slow motion out the door he goes only to reappear at a bakery. All during this maneuvering to work Fred repeatedly says, “Time to make the donuts,” up until customers arrive in masses, where he greets them eagerly with a wide variety of those glazed circles and a smiling face.
Michael Vale was a classical trained actor in New York City. He had roles in many television shows, Broadway plays, and movies during the 1960 to 1980 decades yet he was best known for his role as Fred the Baker in the infamous 1980’s commercial for Dunkin Donuts. Mr. Vale played that sleep deprived mascot role for over 15 years. When he retired there was a parade in his honor and a declared free donut day. Upon his death in 2005 the company adorned their donut packaging to honor him with the words he made so famous.
Some how as a Caregiver for 4 years to my stroke/seizure survivor husband I know that there are many mornings in which I get up the same way as Fred the Baker. Instead of donuts my mantra is more like, “Time to be a care-giver.” Now, I am not a classically trained actor. The role I play 24/7 is only infamous to my stroke survivor. There is no concept of retiring as a Caregiver nor is there a thought of a declared free care-giving day. Certainly, there are means to acquire such help and there are a few friends and family that step in to assist for a few hours here or there but mostly there is not a care-giving parade passing by my way.
The journey over the past four years has been a very rocky and mountain like terrain. Each day has brought it’s own challenges. I have become accustom to daily unplanned mishaps. As well, I do not beat myself up if I don’t get everything done on schedule. Basically, care giving is the hardest job I have ever encountered. And secretly, there are mornings I give my husband a donut because it is easier than whipping up a heart healthy meal. My stroke survivor has not bounced back to a level of recovery like many do. The seizure activity or short-circuiting of his brain has created cognitive decline. Which has made it hard for him to do most things in a timely fashion. He is listed as full assist by all recent assessments. In turn, I am the one fully assisting him. I have watched him slowly digress with communication and dialect to a point he stays quiet. He sleeps more than he is physically active. Mostly he no longer wants to get up or go out. Even still, we still greet each day with hope and a semi smiling face.
To be clear, I am not trying to advertise for Dunkin Donuts, more so I am merely using the old commercial as an analogy of how I, the caregiver, feel more times than not. When I started the care-giving journey back in 2015 I eagerly jumped in with both feet. I researched, prepared, and acknowledged all that was expected of me. Vowing to be an advocate for caregivers and stroke survivors I ran full speed ahead. Today, my pace has slowed down. Don’t get me wrong, I still advocate for caregivers while researching the latest in studies. Yet I feel not much has changed in the realm of support to caregivers and this makes me question why.
Without being too brass it just seem like stroke survivors are treated for an allotted amount of time as deemed appropriate by insurance then simply sent home with no concern to how the caregiver will manage on a day to day basis. Many a conversation I have had with doctors, therapist, and programs as to the deficiency in training and assistance for the caregiver. I am astounded at how most in the field of rehab or brain injury do not have knowledge of resources available. Often, I have found more information of things like support groups available than the people being paid to know. Of course, great help is a separate issue from any financial obligation that accumulates. It seems it always goes the route of services available for the stroke survivor that may have out of pocket expenses. The caregiver has to find means to continue their life while incorporating the role of seeing after a stroke survivor. In my case, I still work but had to cut back greatly to attend to my stroke survivor. Thus, I always feel like I am moving in a zombie state of mind. I guess what I am trying to say in noting Fred the Baker is I find it interesting that a professional actor can go down in history for an advertising catch phrase implying how tiring it is to prepare donuts. Meanwhile there are caregivers all over the world working relentlessly without any kind of notoriety. Somehow, the scale seems heavily unbalanced.
In truth, my dear readers, I care give because I love my stroke survivor and know him best but it would not be a job I would apply for outside my home. So as I end my thoughts I humbly stand today applauding to honor each of you whom are Caregivers.
It's been a while since I have written. Things are changing...some good some not so good but I'm rolling with it. I am happy to say I have started to volunteer here on Strokenet as a Chat Host since the passing of our friend Denny. This is for you Denny and all the other great members here at Strokenet. I hope I do it justice. So far it's been a joy and I have caught back up with some chat friends I haven't seen in a while. I welcome any of you to join us in Survivor Chat Room #2...my schedule is Monday 3-4 EST and Wednesday 3-4 EST but there are many other scheduled chats. Pull down the chat chat drop down list at the top of screen and check out the chat schedule.
Last time I blogged, I think it was the beginning of 2019. I talked about my past meeting my present. Things in that area have been calm since and no pressure. I'm glad. Now I will update you on my dad and his lung cancer journey that started last year. He had a scan in December I think and was told the cancer is gone. I know he felt so much relief...we all did. Then in early January his regular Oncologist called (the Oncologist that read and gave my dad the good news was not his regular Oncologist...he was on vacation). He started apologizing first before anything...more than once. That is when he told my dad that he wanted to look at his latest scans himself and that they had missed a new cancer spot on the opposite lung. He did tell my dad that he would have to have a biopsy to be sure but he was pretty sure. After the confirmed biopsy my dad was told it was stage 1 and not near a lymph node like the first and that he would only need radiation 3 times. This time would take longer and would be stronger and he would be strapped to the table for accuracy. It was a hard 3 treatments...painful because of the length, being strapped down and having a larger dose. He seemed pretty depressed. Since then we have waited until the newest scan last week. He has had pneumonia in between those times and was hospitalized but thankfully feels better. My stepmom told me that his newest scan shows a "cavity" in a new area. I put cavity in quotes because they are not sure what it is...a left over area from pneumonia or a new cancer spot. He will have it tested soon. I will update when we know more. Until then...just helping to keep his spirits up.
I blogged about winning my Disability case and 1st having Medicaid for a month and then Medicare and now Part A, B, and D. The Medicaid was backdated to June 1st 2017 and my Medicare to January 2018. So I have been busy working on past bills and collections. I've even sent my medications in since my mom paid cash for these (I could not). Having trouble though...some Medicaid says they have determined it not medically necessary, some is not approved because I got more than 30 days at a time (90 day Rx), some are even when i was hospitalized last year with a really bad chest infection and severe asthma and on oxygen (deemed not medically necessary. 😤 GRRRRRRRRR I am being penalized because I got 90 day Rx's when I could to save my mom money....I had no idea I would have retroactive Medicaid with ridiculous rules. How could I have known. Besides those 90 Rx's were the same as 3 30 day Rx's. 🙄 So it's been a sort of exhausting battle...I'm still fighting.
I also had positive dreams of being able to get my own place when I won. However, I can't afford housing on my SSDI income alone. I am going to have to apply for our state's section 8 voucher program to help me. There are 4 areas in TN and each opens on the "waiting list" for 1 day.
EDIT: I had stopped writing this blog a bit ago so there have been some changes. First, I am finally on the housing list (pre-ap list)...so happy and breathing ok ready for the next step. I am truly enjoying being a part of the volunteer team here and hosting some chats. Thank you to all of you who have joined in and please I invite anyone who would like to come hang out (check chat schedules). I am now doing cognitive behavior therapy once per week via the internet. It's going great so far. 🙂 I'll just end this blog with a hug and thank you. Things are changin...some good and some not but I am well. Looking forward to the rest of March.
Still here, still surviving, sometimes by only a thread, but we're doing okay. We finally sold the Scottsdale mobile home the end of December, and were able to get Gary's bathroom redone for a roll-in shower. I put that job off way too long and was worried my back would not hold out much longer trying to get him in and out over that tub to shower him. A $3200 job ended up costing nearly six grand by the time I fired first contractor and had to replace him with a handyman to finish the job. Technically, I should have had him rip it all out and start over, but I really couldn't afford that and didn't have the time or patience to take the phony contractor to court for reimbursement.....I was lucky to get him to reimburse me $900 to pay the handyman, in order to get the job done. We had the doorway between bedroom and bathroom widened to 36 in. so it is much easier getting through with wheelchair and I can roll Gary right up to grab bar in shower to pull himself up, turn and sit on his shower chair. He's lost a lot of mobility and some cognitive ability through all this, but we make it work.
It's been nice having my youngest sister and her husband in AZ again this winter doing the snowbird thing with their motor home. They have been across the country and back over the past couple years with that new motor home, so are now planning on buying a house south of Tucson and moving down here by Fall. This week they will be in AZ City, which is only about 25 min. away from us, so we will meet up a few times next week and they offered to sit with Gary if I need to get out while our caregiver, Carmen is on vacation to visit her son in Colorado. I may take them up on the offer and go get some acupuncture in Casa Grande. I've had those free coupon offers laying here on my computer desk for months, but never had the time or opportunity to use them.
Our daughter-in-law from Colorado was in the area for about 10 days in February for the grand opening of the new Ziggis Coffee in Chandler. She's an area manager in Colorado and travels to the new openings to help with set up and grand opening. Her original travel dates were pushed back by delay in opening, which turned out to be a good thing as she ended up being full time caregiver for our oldest son after his back surgery the end of December. He had two surgeries for spinal stenosis. I talked to him yesterday and he's very disappointed that progress is slow and he's still experiencing numbness all down left side from butt down to feet, and his right foot is numb. He's been on short-term disability for over 3 months and should have been cleared to go back to work this month, but the pharmaceutical company he works for is closing their Colorado operations, so he no longer has a job. He says he can't be on his feet more than an hour or two before his back spasms start and he has to sit again, so not sure if he'll even be able to work again. Since his wife returned home to Colorado she has also been sick with some sort of infection related to her colitis....so not doing well. Please keep them both in your prayers.
I'm hoping to get a new computer in the next few weeks, then can start adding people back on facebook. Had some problems with computer virus pop-ups, and lost a lot of contacts.
I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this morning, my melanoma specialist Prof Saw will find me a throat specialist who can see me locally but who operates in one of the Sydney hospitals. Then the throat specialist will liaise with the neurosurgeon who wants to operate now on my brain aneurysm to see who gets to operate first. Not a good day.
I wrote that to a few friends yesterday. I was in shock, I had gone to the doctor to discuss some options and he read out the biopsy report and there it was, the biopsy had shown a tumor in the node that had doubled in size. A bit of a surprise as the last report a year ago had said the nodes were all benign. But my mother had had her thyroid out in her fifties so I guess it is familial. Dash it all. Another operation to endure. I know it is my age, for some of us reaching 70 is one bridge too far.
So it is a waiting game again. I will hear from the melanoma specialist again with the information on the throat specialist, he or she will get in touch with me, maybe get some more tests done and then book me in for an operation. It would be nice if I had a choice but I don't. Remember I had the other operations in order to see my grandkids grow up? I guess the same applies.
The aneurysm in the brain operation is more serious of course, no laughing that one away. But an aneurysm is a small unexploded brain bomb and it is either get it tied off or live with the uncertainty of when or where it will detonate and blow. That is indeed a dilemma. So I will have to screw up my courage for that one. It is a pity somone else couldn't make the decision for me but I am still in my right mind so the decision is all mine.
So how do I feel? Not confident that I have a future. I say that knowing the side effects of both operations, the downside of doing hospital chaplaincy. Some people come through operations so well, recovering fully, some people don't. Either way it is a long recovery and life will be different to what it is now. But that is the good news in what may be an end-of-life experience. I say that because one of my younger friends (58) from my stroke recovery group died this week after two massive bleeds, one on the left side of the brain one on the right side. Life is uncertain.
Where does my Christian faith come into all of this? I don't know. I have always known life was uncertain, I was a caregiver for all those years and watched Ray have strokes, falls, fits and seizures. I saw how very brave he was and how he struggled back each time. I want to be as brave and determined as he was. I want to go into the operations knowing that things can go wrong but be brave enough to be able to take that chance. That is what living by faith is all about.
So if I write a few down blogs or put comments on Facebook that don't sound like my normal cheerful self you will know why. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike so don't feel sorry for me or worry about me. But do keep prayers and positive thoughts in your mind for me for the next couple of months as I deal with some of these awkward decisions. And help me to keep smiling when there is not a lot to smile about please.
I so look forward to my Sundays with my AHAs with super soul sunday & being married to my very spiritual, practical soulmate, my life is very rich with all ths AHAs. Today oprah while interviewing bradley cooper for his role in star is born as actor, director said "Art is kinda form of prayer", my husband quickly added Any work you do is a form of prayer, & AHA light bulb went in my head, its so true any work we do, if we do we should be doing as form of prayer, such that even if its volunteer work or you are working for money, or doing duties as mother & wife, it should be done as our prayer to God, & we try to do our best with our capabilities & not get attached to results, will give us most satisfaction in life
I guess I haven't anything fantastic to say-- I just realized it had been so long since I checked in . Its been a cold LOOOng winter in North Dakota-- although sounds like it has been for all in the USA.... Dan is doing alright--- the fiascos of the nursing home continue... He taught the aids and admin a lesson . He is very OCD - he asks the staff to take garbage out with them when they leave the room. They did not, kinda a passive aggressive thing with the staff . apparently it got left overnight, so the next day he flushed the garbage down the toilet, plugging the toilet. So they take the garbage now when he asks. Typical Dan -- Lots and lots of staff VS Dan power struggles . I just chuckle - anyone fighting with a brain injury - aka stroke . Is gonna lose. Hope all is well... NancyL
I have a lot to be thankful for. My daughter Shirley took me to see the specialist in Sydney today. Luckily the heat of yesterday was replaced by drizzly rain but as usual that just made the traffic worse and so our two hour journey took half an hour longer. I know why I love my part of the coast so much, it is because I would much rather listen to the sound of waves rolling in to shore than the sound of squealing brakes and the horns of impatient drivers. Or park by the lake instead of trying to find a parking spot among the high rise city buildings.
I have several tasks to do when I get there. I filled in the research paper I usually do on my post operation feelings which becomes part of a national survey, then I was interviewed by one of the associates which is part of their training and then I can see the Professor herself. It seems there is not any sign of further melanomas, no signs of secondaries. I do have some age related problems which the young doctor explained but these can be seen to one at a time. I don't have to see the specialist again for twelve months pending two more tests to come, one a biopsy and in March there is the brain scan and the visit to the neurosurgeon.
I am so grateful for everyone's prayers. It was a tiring day but just to know I have passed the first year without a recurrence of the melanoma and no secondary sites is a great relief. I still will have some residual pain from nerves damaged during the operation but that is a small price to pay. I have been given another year and will make the most of it. My word for this year is enjoy and so far there have been few days I haven't enjoyed. My life may be shortened by this past year's troubles but it is still a good life.
The week leading up to today was busy with all the tests but even then it was an interesting week. After one of the tests a woman friend picked me up and we went to lunch, a thoughtful gesture on her part. I am blessed with good friends. I don't have family close but Shirley is only and hour and a half away. I also had lunch out with my ex-daughter-in-law and caught up with her news. She is the mother of my grandchildren who live in Adelaide with my son and his new partner.
I am lonely still, really no getting around that. I have plenty to keep me busy, I have friends locally I can connect with as I do, but when Ray died the centre went out of my world. But we widows and widowers just have to rebuild our lives and I have done that. Like any rebuild it includes things from the past as well as relationships which are more recent. The friends I have now are from different parts of my journey. It is inevitable that relationships change when your partner's dies and some friends drift away and new friends take their place. And of course at my age many older friends die.
It was nice to have my daughter stay overnight and to and from Sydney we talk of so many things. She told me she now uses a lot of the sayings she heard from me and her father and her kids say: "where did that come from?" It is good to have a laugh together. I know she is busy and am glad she feels she can spend the time with me. It means a lot to me. Now it is onwards and upwards. No, I am not fixed or cured or guaranteed a future but for now I have a good feeling about the year ahead of me.
it has to be stroke deficit, but sometimes when trying to think through simple technical problem, one minute I have things crystal clear in my mind & then after 5 mins it just disappears& I keep on trying to get to the solution & just chase my own tail in developing simple software code, which should be so easy. It is so frustrating the way I am doing my volunteer work, I am glad its volunteering or else I would have been fired so long ago. though people working in my team must be thinking such an idiot can't figure out simple things. but I guess that's the reason I am retired from the work force since my cognitive skills are impaired
This Feb 8 it will be my 15th stroke anniversary valentine day. I can't believe it has been 15 years since I have been to valley of my life's journey, though old wisdom is right you find out who is truly yours when you are at your rock bottom, who is willing to lend you hand & get you out of mud. I found out who truly loves me & willing to stand by me when I was in my worst shape of my life. my siblings, mom, spouse, our son were biggest motivator in me pushing hard to fight for life which is now very stimulating& satisfying.I never knew I could still find so much happiness in my life, even when it felt like my life was over. I guess being stubborn & go with flow personality helps. I guess If I want something or believe in something, I won't give up. & me believing that I have full responsibility towards our son & he deserves better mom, made me always push myself more, & seeing positive results of it, made me push my boundaries even further. & after 15 years on this journey. life is good again. its different than how I would have envisioned it, though there is still lot of joy in it, Since we started celebrating as our valentine day I don't dread my stroke anniversary, I actually look forward to it. Its usually Broadway show with nice dinner & flowers kind of family date. Anyway I see lot of good things have happened in my life last year. I pushed envelop little further which have helped my self confidence even further. Few things I learnt hard way, but my life is richer due to it. hope whoever is reading this blog, never gives up & keep fighting & see how beautifully life will unfold for you the way it did for me
Every now and again something jolts me back to reality, today it was the post on Facebook by Steve Mallory announcing that our friend Denny (Dennis Jeffries) had died. Denny and I talked frequently during my years when he was a chat host on Survivor Chat and I was chat host for Caregiver Chat. He was also my friend on Facebook. Like so many of my friends on Facebook and Strokenet we never got to meet in person but nonetheless we were friends. In this modern age this will be so for many of our friendships. My heartfelt condolences to his beloved wife Peg and their extended family and all those who knew him and valued his friendship.
As I minister to the older church members in my own church and others in the organisations I belong to I am probably over familiar with death but never inured to it. I know each death robs us of a piece of our history and breaks down some of the bonds between us and others. All we can do is to remember those friends who have passed, remembering why we liked them, what we shared with them, remembering all that was good about that particular person and the ways in which the friendship enriched both our lives. We also need to remember those they left behind.
I have just had my daughter and her family here for the weekend. Not her husband as he had injured his back trying to start a stubborn water pump so he stayed home for some bed rest. It was only a day's notice so it was unexpected but turned out to be a really fun time. My grandson Chris starts University this year so is a grown man now, his sister Naomi is 14 so quite a young lady so it was funny to see them playing with the toys Alice aged six had got out to play with. The Nintendo Wii got a bit of a workout and more so on the second night when Pamela and the three Adelaide cousins joined us. I guess that is when I realise my house is small when five teens and near teens are fighting to see who will be the challengers in the new Wii games.
I do so enjoy having my grand children here, every time I see them I can see the changes in them. With Trevor and Alice's visit the first two weeks in January and then all the others last weekend I have been so blessed with the amount of time I have been able to spend with them. The Adelaide kids are going home in a week's time to start back at school, they are all doing well according to their abilities. I love them all and want the best to happen to them but have no illusions about them. Like Ray and I they will have their own struggle with life. They know Granma prays for them, but only two fully understand what that means.
Summer has been very humid so it is out shopping etc in the morning and home in the afternoons. I have to keep hydrated and remember to take some time with the affected leg elevated. I have just lined up all the appointments and tests for the second week in February prior to seeing the melanoma specialist, with more tests before I see the neurosurgeon in March. I figure this is all for my good, remembering especially that this is prolonging my life so I can look forward to seeing my grandchildren grow up. I have felt the negative effects of wearing the body stocking toes to waist bevause of the humid weather but try to remember that too is to ensure I live as full a life as is possible.
On the whole life is good and I have many blessings to count. I have a roof over my head, food on the table and many good people behind me challenging and supporting me. At my age I know that as long as we have love in our lives we are truly blessed.