Executive Management
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About lwisman

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    Vice President and Director of Inforrmation Resources
  • Birthday 11/28/1950

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  • Stroke Anniversary (first stroke)
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    Caring for my cat, cooking, writing, and gardening.
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  1. Monday (March 6) was the 20th anniversary of my brainstem cerebral hemorrhage. It is sometimes hard to believe it was 20 years ago. I am 66, so it is a significant part of my life. I have come a really long ways since 1997. Like many, there were no stroke risk factors in my history. The doctors did some testing, but finally declared the reason for the hemorrhage was not known. That was reassuring and scary at the same time. It is my understanding that if you have a brainstem stroke the chances of dying within a month are 90%. Needless to same I am very glad I beat the odds. I am sure I beat the odds partly because I am a very stubborn person! I also was willing to put in the many hours of therapy. Over the years I have also done a fair amount of research and tried various alternatives to promote healing. There is no panacea, but almost anything has helped. When I saw my doctor at the end of February she suggested therapy because I have problems with falling. When I first had my stroke I had no balance. It has increased, but I walk with a rollator. I sometimes walk inside my house (where everyone including the cat knows not to run into me, walk under my feet, etc.) But, I use the rollator 99% of the time. For the first time in 19 years I am back in therapy. I have completed four of ten sessions. Mostly the therapist is out to strengthen my legs and hips. I am still tired from my last session 24 hours ago! She had me walking on a treadmill yesterday. I did not think I would ever get on a treadmill again, not sure if my feet could keep up. It went very slow and I had a therapy belt around me so the therapist (who was also within arm’s reach of the off button) could help. It went ok. The house next door to us in sold after being on the market for two weeks. My sister saw Dan the old owner this morning at Costco. I read the average in the Chicago market right now is 84 days. So they were very lucky. They did have house totally repainted and new carpeting laid. So it is ready to move into. He said the family has four kids. It is not that big of a house! Last Saturday a gentleman knocked on our door saying he was talking to the neighbors because they were considering making an offer on the house next door. He wanted to know about flooding. I explained that because it has been wetter than usual the last few years the water table has risen. The only time we had a flood was when our sump pump died. We now have a backup sump pump that (so they say) sounds an alarm when it goes on. It has not turned itself on in four years. Another house on our block sold after being on the market for months. They have had lots of repair trucks and a garbage bin in the driveway for over a month. The people living there before were an older couple, who lived there when we moved in in 1999. I suspect it had been a while since improvements were made. There are people on our block who have lived her 30+ years. We had part of our privacy (one wall) replaced this week. A section had blown down. They now make privacy fences with metal posts covered in wood. That way they do not rot. A few years ago our neighbors on that side (not the house which just sold) had a party and people were leaning against our fence. Not a good thing. I wish these folk would move! Next Friday is St Patrick’s Day. My sister insists we have corn beef and cabbage. As far as I know we have no Irish ancestry. I did suggest that we wait until next week to actually buy the corn beef. Friday is our usual grocery shopping day. I talked with an old friend this week. When we lived in the same city we always went out for lunch on International Women’s Day. I thought that was a good excuse to call her. She was living with her sister-in-law and niece, but both died last year. So it is a sad time for her. She was in Concord NH. She has now moved to Portland, Maine where both of her children live. We have eaten most of our Girl Scout cookies. I know you can now buy and have them sent to servicemen overseas. But, they are a tradition and even though I would not eat them often if they were always available, they are a nice treat. We are having strange weather. We have not had an accumulating snow since Dec 17 which is very odd. We had had a few days with flakes, including yesterday. Temps have been from 20 – 70 in the last month. The daffodils are up. Hopefully it will not get too cold for them. But, daffodils are hardy and they are closed to the house. Hope all is going well with you. Spring in almost here (in the northern hemisphere!)
  2. I am glad you and Sarah enjoyed yourselves. I have not visited Pearl Harbor, but my parents did years ago. My Mother's brother was MIA during the Korean War and his name is on the memorial. Good to know you arrived home safely. My sister and I went to Australia in 2005. Yes, it is a long ways. We visited a number of friends and had a good time. I lived in Brussels for 10 years and made that trip many times. It is more difficult going to Europe from US than to Australia. The time difference is SO different from Australia that jet lag was not as bad. Who knew?
  3. Have you checked with the cruise line. If they know about his deficients they may be able to help. Eg, is there such a thing as a handicapped accessible room on a cruise ship? Are there elevators which make everything accessible? Think through how you have had to adapt your home. Places you visit -- how are they handicap accessible? Figure out a few key questions before calling. Remember, handicap accessible for one person does not work for another.
  4. I find both phone and in person difficult, although the phone is more problematic. On the phone you have no visual clues. My other problem with both is that my brain does not process information as quickly as it did pre stroke. I prefer communication via email. That way my brain is focused on email. (With a phone call it often takes my brain several seconds -- or minutes? to focus on the conversation.) I also have time to think through my response. Phone and in person has improved over time. Probably a good idea to practice on both..
  5. The first snow of the season came on Sunday December 4. When I left home at 8:30 am there was no snow. When I came out of the building at 10:30 my car was covered with snow. Of course, the snow removal tool was not in the car. So I used my hand (in glove) to wipe the snow off the back window. The wind shield wipers and hot air vents finished the snow removal job. There is still some on the ground almost a week later. The temperature has dropped to the teens. We are supposed to have more snow this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. By Monday we are supposed to have received a total of ten inches over the weekend. Then the temps continue the teens with wind chill in the single digits. Time to stay home. This cold weather will apparently stick around for the next two weeks or so. Bummer. One bit of good news is that we have hired a snow removal service. In past years my sister (76) and our neighbor across the street (83) have removed the snow. He died this summer. Neither should have removing snow for several years. On Monday evening I went to a meeting. When I came home Marge was in the living room where she could see the front door. She said Jade the cat was sitting on the couch. When Jade heard the garage door open she jumped down heading to the front door. Smarter than the average cat. I finished ordering Christmas gifts this week. Isn’t internet shopping great? No crowds! On Tuesday we picked out and had our tree delivered. We discovered a couple of years ago that there is a store not far from us who will not only deliver but bring the tree inside and set it up in the tree stand. This is a whole lot cheaper than therapy if one got hurt. Plus it is a whole lot easier! You do have to take it down, but that is easier than putting up. Marge really likes the smell of a real tree. On Wednesday we decorated the tree and put up other decorations. I dropped one of the gadgets for hanging a Christmas stocking. Glued it back together. So far, so good. Sorted through the cat toy box to see what needs help. I threw out one fuzzy mouse which had lost its tail. Several toys went into the washer of Thursday. They faired ok. Replenished catnip in the toys. I discovered that I had placed several toys in the catnip. Jade was happy to have some toys saturated with catnip. I used to raise catnip outside in the summer. A few years ago a stray cat got into it and made a mess. Decided I would just buy catnip as needed. Jade does not actually go “crazy” over catnip. She is drawn to it, however. It actually calms her. Strange. On Thursday I made brownies. I was asked to make three dozen cookies for a funeral at my church on Saturday. We had cookies left from Thanksgiving (2 dozen) so I froze them. Added the brownies to the cookies. Next week I make cookies for the church again. Every year we package homemade cookies and sell boxes. They are very popular. Some people give as gifts. Others are just glad they do not have to make cookies! Usually we make about $700 which goes to missions. I will have to admit that I bought a box years ago. The problem is that I am a snob (LOL). If you are going to eat cookies I think you should use quality ingredients – like real butter and good quality chocolate. We decided that we were not interested in eating them – rather get the calories another way. Put the cookies out for the animals. The opossum particularly seemed to enjoy. On Friday my sister left at 7:30 am to take her car in to the shop. A red light (I don’t remember which one) came on so she called and they said to bring it in. She stopped on the way home and delivered my cookies to the church. She noted that the preschool kids were showing up so the place was quite busy. Friday morning the snow (which the weather folk said would come on Saturday) began. Very light small flakes. The snow last week was huge flakes. So it goes. Marge went to the grocery store. It is now 3:30 on Saturday and no snow yet. It is supposed to start some time this afternoon. Hope everyone is having a good Holiday season. Take care!!
  6. Happy Birthday lwisman!

  7. Sue, Thanks for the reminder. I find the blogs to be more interesting than the board these days. They give a glimpse into how people are coping and reinventing. I agree with SR that it is time consuming and hard work. But, it is definitely worth it.
  8. It is fall and we are headed into winter. So it is time to get stuff done before the weather gets nasty. Nothing like making a doctor’s appointment and then be faced by snow! This week I saw a neurosurgeon. I had not seen one seen one since 1998. In 1998 I was told me I no longer needed a neurosurgeon. He (who did my surgery) has probably retired, and I have moved. In 2010 part of the shunt put in my head in 1997 migrated to my abdomen. It was removed. The other part of the shunt has migrated four inches and is part way down my scalp. My regular doctor was suddenly convinced I should see a neurosurgeon. The neurosurgeon said removing could cause more harm than good (no surprise) and I should come back in a year. My sister was going to take me but had forgotten so was not back yet from her Weds morning meeting. So I drove myself. It was raining really hard and it was a 20 minute drive. My blood pressure was up – again no surprise. I also got my flu shot this week. Next week is dentist and mammogram. I think that is it medically for a while. We also saw the estate lawyer this week. Both of us have a will that is over ten years old. We decided since we are not getting an younger we should see a lawyer to be sure everything is in order. We have joint assents so we needed to see at the same time. My car goes in for inspection on Nov 2. So it will also be ready for winter. Early voted on Tuesday. I am a real fan of early voting. It is much, much easier. My polling place (a school) advertises it is handicapped accessible. But, you have to have someone else go it and ask for a guard to take the handicapped person to an accessible entrance. Otherwise there are steps. I find it had to believe that there are still undecided voters. I’ve known for months who I was voting for. I did go online and printed the ballot. It was very long and included lots and lots of judges. I went to the state bar association to get data. I am really tired of the battling ads. Geesh. They are obviously politically motivated often with skewed data. Our governor spent $74 million of his own money on ads. Eighty percent of the ads are for people not on a specific ballot – we even have dueling ads from another state. What a waste of money. My sister has nine political bumper stickers on her car! Our electric pepper mill died. So I bought a new one. Having an electric mill really helps. You do not need two hands. I bought a new door bell. Ours has been losing power for some time. Yes, I tried new batteries. I cannot hear it in the kitchen or in my office. If I know someone is coming I have to sit in the living room. I bought one with two receivers and is loud. Now I just have to hook it up, which is an easy task. Our fence has had a lot of problems this year. The guy who came this morning said the real problem is that the water table had risen a great deal. Global warming. At least we do not have fire! Monday is Halloween. The weather is supposed to be nice so there will probably be a lot of kids. They are always very polite. Trick or Treat is scheduled for 3 – 8. How everyone is having a good fall!!
  9. The company that owned the trap picked up the trap and raccoon. The raccoon was relocated.
  10. Sue, Thank you for the time you devoted to caregiver chat. I am sure it helped a lot of folks. I have to admit I am a bit jealous of you beginning spring. At this time of year I wish I lived in your hemisphere! It is getting colder and colder here. Lin
  11. Sue. Your presence on the board and your work on blogs have been appreciated. I feel as if I know you even though we have never met. Hope you and Sarah have a great time in Hawaii. Lin
  12. Fred. It does seem like the best any of us can do is to keep on keeping on. I also drive (but seldom and only locally). That bit of independence really helps. Continue to stay positive!!
  13. Back in 2003, Virginia Garlitz was the head of the foreign languages department, and a tenured professor teaching Spanish language, culture and literature, at Plymouth State College, in New Hampshire. She had been working there since 1972, and she enjoyed a rich academic life, sharing with others her knowledge and passion for the things that she loved. But, one day in February 2003, Virginia’s life took a disturbing turn. She was sitting in her office, talking to a student, when she suddenly became paralyzed on her left side. As she started to lose consciousness, she managed to tell the student to call “911” and, then, everything “went to black.” Virginia was taken to Mary Hitchcock Hospital, in Dartmouth, New Hampshire. There, doctors discovered a hemorrhagic stroke on the right side of her brain, caused by an arterio-venous malformation, a tangled mass of unstable blood vessels that had burst. The ruptured AVM catapulted Virginia into a coma which lasted four long months. When Virginia finally woke up in May, she learned that some things had changed in the “outside world,” while she was unconscious. She remembers the first two things that her husband told her upon awakening: one, that Plymouth State College, where she worked, was now a university, and, two, their state symbol, an ancient stone face known as the “Old Man of the Mountain,” had fallen off his cliff. Virginia says that she knew how he must have felt; she, too, had also fallen off a cliff. Once medically stable, Virginia went to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where she received physical, occupational, balance and speech therapies from May through August, 2003. When she was discharged from in-patient rehab, she continued out-patient therapy (from 2003 through the present) at various rehab centers in Boston and Concord, Mass., and Campton, New Hampshire. Apart from standard treatments, Virginia sampled a variety of non-traditional remedies, including hypnosis and acupuncture, which gave her some relief. She also tried a Saebo® dynamic hand brace, which she no longer uses. Her paralyzed left foot was fitted with an AFO (ankle-foot orthosis), and she started using a metal cane to help with balance issues (she continues to use both to this day). Virginia’s recovery wasn’t always smooth; she had many setbacks and days when all hope seemed to evaporate. It was extremely difficult to accept that she was no longer the independent person she had been, and that she had to rely on others for everything. Relinquishing control left her frustrated and despairing. When Virginia “plateaued” in her recovery, she broke down and cried because she knew her old life was lost to her forever. But, her husband reassured her by saying, "while we may not have the same life, together we will build a new life". This made her realize that although she couldn’t control much, she could still control one thing: her attitude. Knowing her husband “had her back” enabled Virginia to start moving forward once more. (She says her husband is her “everything”: friend, lover, valet, cook, companion, cheerleader, grief counselor, essentially, her “rock”.) To keep Virginia buoyed, she and her husband crafted their own mantra, “CBW”, which stands for “could be worse”, inspired by a Spanish saying that goes, “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet”. They invoked their “CBW” mantra whenever Virginia felt down, but, over the years, they revised the mantra from “CBW” to “CBB” (“couldn’t be better”) which more-accurately reflected their optimistic outlook. Optimism is the one thing that enabled Virginia to continue pursuing her scholarly interests in reading, writing and researching. Thanks to her many colleagues at Plymouth University, she was able to audit many college courses, including French, art history, and cultural anthropology. Now, thirteen years beyond her stroke, Virginia’s reached a point where things have settled into a satisfactory routine. While she still can’t use her left arm or hand, she says that thanks to her long-suffering husband, and the help of countless other wonderful caregivers over the years, she’s able to get around better and live a very active life. And what an active life it is. Virginia swims once or twice a week, using a snorkel mask and fins, and she plays piano with her “left-hand man,” a young piano teacher who gives her weekly piano lessons at home. She also belongs to a book group, and to a group dedicated to philanthropic and educational projects, particularly for women. She attends monthly language conversation groups in Spanish and in French. And, she and her husband travel to spend precious time with her singer-songwriter son, his wife and their two children, who live in Paris, France. Most importantly, Virginia continues to be productive, by writing and publishing articles for a Spanish journal (she says, “Thank heaven for the internet!”). As such, Virginia considers her greatest post-stroke accomplishments to be publishing two books, plus several articles, and conducting a seminar in Spain. Virginia says that while her life is satisfying, she’s still hoping for the day that her neurons can be rebuilt using stem cell therapy, like the kind they’re experimenting with at Stanford University. However, even though things aren’t 100%, she remains upbeat and wants to share some valuable advice with other stroke survivors: ● Always keep going. ● Use whatever you can to get yourself closer to what you were before your stroke. ● While it may seem so at first, a stroke is not the end of the world; there’s still a lot of life to come afterwards. ● Keep looking forward and be optimistic. ● Attitude makes all the difference; she says she’s living proof that survivors can reclaim their lives after a stroke. Right now, Virginia is in a good place. She says she’s happy, healthy and her mind is clear (even though her brain doesn't work perfectly). As she and her husband say….CBB. Anyone who wishes to contact Virginia can do so via the Stroke Network. Her user ID is PEW.
  14. Asha, Before my stroke I was able to sort out computer problems in "the blink of the eye." Now, it takes me days rather than minutes. I find if I give myself a lot of time I can usually n find the solution. I find if I work on it and then leave alone for awhile, I am able to see the solution. It is frustrating!!