Friday, October 24, 2014

If You Give A Mouse A Bucket...

  You get a great big puzzle... (click on photo to embiggen)

   After my nap this evening I came downstairs (following a trail of dimes?)  to four very excited dogs. They were all sniffing around a green 5 gallon bucket the Great Scot had left in the living room a few days ago; growling and barking. Setting aside the dime conundrum for the nonce, I turned on the overhead light and cautiously peeked in the big green bucket only to find a mouse had invaded my house, the louse!

   I have no idea how he got in the bucket, or why, but he will stay right there until my darling gets home... just as the dimes will sit on my desk... as proof that I ain't making this up! As for the dimes: one was on the stairs, one at the bottom, and another on the floor by my desk; they weren't there before my nap!

   It's getting close to Halloween, mayhap we have a ghost with a juvenile sense of humour? *Insert goofy Halloween music here.*

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Changing Things Up + An El Recipe

   Went to see my primary care person this morning and received a boatload of information which included phrases like Fibromuscular Dysplasia and Right Choroidal Plexus Cyst. We (the Great Scot and I) also found out that Dr. Bear was a little confused yesterday when he said the lesion caused by the stroke was a small one, it's actually almost an inch which is pretty significant. (* In Dr. Bear's defence, he didn't receive the reports until we were getting ready to leave.) In fact my PA, whom I'll call 'Angel' on the blog... because she totally is one... remarked on how fortunate I was not to have much more significant damage and she was very pleased I've shown so much improvement in such a short time. On Monday next I see a cardiologist, in the meantime I'm just trying to process all this information and trying to find out as much as I can about what it all means. I admit to being a bit unnerved at discovering there is a rather sizeable cyst (not a tumour!) in my brain, even larger than the lesion.... not uncommon except for the size. The upshot? Trying to plan what to do is on hold in most areas as it would be a tad premature. 

   So anyway... my sister-in-law, El, has shared another of her recipes with us! It's called tablet and is a wonderful Scottish candy, try it... you'll love it! Thanks El! (Her picture, which I totally stole, lol.)

Tablet Recipe

As promised tablet:
125g salted butter
1kg sugar
250ml milk
400g condensed milk 
1 tsp vanilla 
Tray big enough I just guess lol
Melt the butter over low heat
Add sugar and milk
Stir til sugar has dissolved 
Pour in condensed milk and turn heat up to bring to a boil slowly
When it's starts boiling turns heat down slightly and simmer for 20mins
Stir occasionally 
After 20 mins drop some in a cold cup of water it should be soft and you should be able to roll into a ball when ready
If not keep boiling til ready
When ready take pan off heat and add vanilla
Beat solidly for 10 mins as it cools

Pour into tray! 

Go visit Jean at Delightful Repast, her handy conversion table will be a huge help if you decide to try making tablet yourself, and you should, it's great!

Watch this incredibly touching and uplifting video:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Where We Are

   So to continue with 'stroke stuff', let's take a look at how things are going right now. First, it helps to know about the types of stroke: (image taken from the CDC website, click on picture to enlarge)

   The most common type is the ischemic stroke; as I found out today, this is the kind of stroke I had. Often they are caused by a clot blocking the artery to the brain, and account for roughly 85% of strokes. Hemorrhagic stroke is far less common and results from bleeding in the brain. The third type is called Trans Ischemic Attack; (TIA or mini-stroke) like an ischemic stroke, a TIA is caused by a blockage which is 5 minutes or less in duration. Don't be fooled however, a 'mini-stroke' is still a medical emergency, and often leads to more - and more severe - strokes.

   I went to the neurologist today and found him very likeable, informative, and passionate about what he does; I'll call him Dr. Bear since he is somewhat round and bearded, lol. (He also talks really, really fast!) Dr. Bear told me the actual lesion was very small, about the size of a pencil lead, and located on the right side of the brain... strokes located on the right side of the brain affect the left side of the body, and vice versa... in the part of the brain which controls sensory perception, and is located very close to the areas which control emotional response. Here, let me show you: ( image source )

   This is why my left side is weaker and feels 'off'. Even now, although I can use it and know intellectually it's mine, my left arm doesn't feel as though it belongs to me... it's difficult to explain so I'll just leave it at that... and it feels as though it's fallen asleep. Not numb, precisely, but not all the normal sensation is there and, through simple tests done by Dr. Bear in his office, he found the same is true all over my left side... just a slight, but noticeable, difference in the quality of sensation. The slight tingle of the left arm is called paresthesia and refers to a tickling, stinging, burning, or pins and needles sensation with no physical effect. The location of the lesion also explains my runaway emotions, and is known as lability, (fortunately this seems to be wearing off):

 What is emotional lability? 
Emotional lability refers to rapid, often 
exaggerated changes in mood, where strong 
emotions or feelings (uncontrollable laughing 
or crying, or heightened irritability or temper)
occur. These very strong emotions are 
sometimes expressed in a way that is not related 
to the person’s emotional state. ( ABIOS website )

   So this is where we are; tomorrow:where do we go from here AND my sister-in-law El's recipe for tablet, a lovely Scottish sweet!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Stroke of.....Luck?

  1.    I'm not sure why information about strokes isn't more widely known, but after my experience I can say with certainty it should be! Even a relatively minor stroke leaves a lasting impression, and minutes count in preventing further damage...even death... so call 911 immediately if you or someone you love experiences any of these symptoms. Here is a quick list of things to watch out for: (image url)
  2.                                                                                                                                                                                                                Click on the image to embiggen. 
  4. Please note that the symptoms for men may be slightly different. So what, you ask, happened when your stroke occurred? (You know you totally asked that too.) Answer: I don't really know, I was asleep when it happened, I can only describe what went on when I woke... Forgive me if this wanders a bit into T.M.I. territory. 
  5. I'd gone to sleep on the couch; it was a very ouchie and 'twitchy' morning and I wanted my darlin' to get a good sleep so I, as the Great Scot would put it, 'kipped out on the couch'. It took a while for the movements to subside enough for me to fall asleep, but sometime after 8:30 I drifted off and began having a nightmare of epic proportions... all about snakes tunneling into my heart and one of my eyes. A couple of hours later I woke and needed to go to the bathroom. Um, yeah.
  6. Keep in mind that, because of the Parkinson's, turning over in or getting up from bed is difficult... but this time it was nearly impossible. My left side felt weak and 'floppy', but I kept trying until I'd flailed my way up on my feet, only to fall back on the couch and do it all over again; this took a good 10 minutes. The Great Scot and the kidling were upstairs in their respective bedrooms and couldn't hear me call, so I held onto furniture and slowly hobbled toward the bathroom, about halfway there my bladder just 'cut loose'. (Sorry if that's TMI, but it's not uncommon for stroke survivors to lose bladder and/or bowel control, at least temporarily and it's another sign to watch for.)
  7. So, after making it to the bathroom and cleaning up, what did I do? That's right, I did not get help or call 911, I went back to sleep on the couch. Most of you have followed my blog long enough, or know me well enough, to realise what an atypical reaction that was for me, perfectly illustrating the 'confusion' aspect of a stroke. The next time I woke, my left side was still weak and floppy and my left shoulder was drooping quite a bit; although my face was only minimally affected. For the next three days I told myself, as well as my sweetheart and kidling, that I must have 'slept wrong' even as I was becoming aware of other things which were 'off': difficulty concentrating or remaining on task, outbursts of anger or tears which were out of both character and proportion, and an increasing lethargy. To make things even more interesting... as I noted before going offline to switch internet providers... my doctor's office had split, oh and my neurologist had left her practice as well, and it took a few days to track someone down to help me. It was a week before I saw a healthcare professional. Why? Mostly because I've been the one to handle these things, making appointments... recognising when something is really wrong and needs to be taken care of immediately.... and my brain just wasn't being cooperative in this case. Even those who have had severe strokes can be unaware that they have, in fact, sustained damage and may fight going to hospital, or having 911 called. Do it anyway! Even as fortunate as I've been, there are lingering effects which may have been avoided or minimised had I been in my 'right mind' (if I do, in fact, have one, lol) and gotten medical attention sooner. 
  8. I'm giving myself this week to talk about my stroke, as well as strokes in general, so I can let friends and family know what's happening... as well as to get stroke info. out there, but I promise to move on to other subjects thereafter. Tomorrow afternoon I meet with a new neurologist to discuss what's happening with my brain; would it be wrong to walk in singing, like the Scarecrow, 'if I only had a brain'??


Friday, October 17, 2014

Isn't THAT Special

I'm back, or more properly, I'll be back more next week. 

Long story short: On the 26th of September I had a stroke, not a major one although there are lingering and annoying affects. A lot of doctor's appointments in my future as well, oh yeah! Feel free to insert lots of sarcasm in that last line. In any case, I'm back and typing again, albeit slowly.

Hope all of you are doing well and am looking forward to catching up with you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Temporary Farewell (+ PEANUT BUTTER bread recipe)

   So, this isn't my usual blog time but needs must; and a peanut butter loving crowd commands... Firstly, however, I wanted to let you know that we're going to be switching internet service providers, so I'll be off the internet for a few days. I'm going to miss you. I think you'd be surprised at how much your posts and comments help me make it through each day, but more about that later. Right now, it's Peanut Butter time!

   I found the original recipe at shewearsmanyhats, and it looked so good I had to try it! You know me, I have to change things around a bit, so here I'll give you my version, but you'll find the original version at the link above. Either way, it's a winner!

2 c. flour
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. sour cream (added for flavour, and a better rise)
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda (for better rise)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander (for added flavour)

   In the recipe on the link, she used her blender for mixing the batter but mine is elderly and no longer able to handle heavy batters, so I used my hand mixer and it turned out wonderfully. This is a moist and tender bread with excellent crumb, and is certainly going to become a staple at our house.

   Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease (or spray) and flour loaf pan, set aside.

   Place peanut butter, milk, sour cream, sugar, and eggs into a deep mixing bowl and blend until smooth and creamy. Sift all dry ingredients, except sugar, in medium bowl; stir to combine. Add to liquid mixture in batches, blending with mixer between each addition, until dry ingredients are incorporated into a smooth, thick, but still pourable batter. Adjust liquids and flour as needed.

   Pour into your loaf pan and place in center of oven; bake 55-60 minutes (baketime adjusted for greater volume) or until a toothpick/knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15-20 minutes, then invert on wire cooling rack and let rest until completely cooled. This is great slathered with a bit of jam or jelly, or as the Great Scot calls it: 'a jeely piece'. Yes, I meant to spell it that way, it's the way it sounds, but any way you say it, it's yummy!

   I'm going to miss you during the few days I'm away, but the timing is also good: the concrete cloud has been hovering of late. Things are very 'Parkinson-y' these days; I find myself doing the Parkinson's shuffle, masking, (the loss of facial expression) I'm moving more slowly and my balance is worse. At the same time, that wonderful new doctor I found and his even wonderfuller assistant have split offices, so it's time to decide which one to go with... Ah, and I've lost another neurologist, who has moved on to parts unknown, leaving me to find yet another. 

   Right now I feel sad, angry, frustrated, needy, whiny, and dependent. It hurts to have to start all over yet again, and part of me just wants to give up. The Great Scot and the kidling are worrying themselves over me, and that hurts even more. This time away will be, I think, dedicated to re-discovering my vim and vigour. In the meantime, be well, I'll be thinking of you, and looking forward to seeing you again.

In honour of Scotland's vote on independence tomorrow:


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Just A Little Batty (+ a recipe)

   Ever heard of a flying squirrel? (Link is also image source.) They look like this:

   When I was a 'tween and teen, we had a group of flying squirrels living in a tree-filled gulch behind the house and occasionally we would get a glimpse of the shy little critters. What a joy that was! 

   This is a tale, however, about mistaken identities and what was, in retrospect, the scariest animal encounter of my young and foolish life...

   I was 5, or 6 at the most, and we'd recently moved into a house, in the small town where we lived at the time, we jokingly referred to as 'the old grey elephant'; a grand old place that was slowly sliding into a slightly disreputable old age. It was surrounded by huge old maples that bombarded our yard with 'helicopters' on a yearly basis... and one evening, whilst playing out front, I discovered a dainty little furry creature clinging to the bark of one of the trees. It came to my hand readily, and snuggled in quite placidly, not even disturbed when I ran into the house shouting for my Mom to come see what I had found! Methinks she was a bit relieved that it wasn't a snake, or some such, since I had a penchant for such things. I suppose I was just a tomboy in a tutu, lol.

   Mom thoughtfully provided me with a box to house my new friend, and I promptly ran next door to the Langdon's to show my best friend, Penny, and her siblings my little furry pet. This is when Miss Furry had a good stretch, showing off lovely wings! One of Penny's older brothers, I don't remember which, opined that I'd been befriended by a flying squirrel...... oh boy! Later, Mom and I drove, along with Miss Furry in her box, across town to visit my grandparents, (and Mrs. Goble, who lived in the apartment behind them, and who was one of my favourite people) who admired my latest pet and how placid it was when I handled it. A lot.

   When we returned home, Penny was waiting for us... Mr. Langdon wanted to see my flying squirrel... and so Mom and I walked over, me being proud as punch and all. We settled on a couch in the living room and I opened the box, reaching inside to pick up Miss Furry, as I had been doing all evening, when Mr. Langdon warned me not to in a very odd tone of voice. It seems that my cuddly friend was not a cute and cuddly flying squirrel after all; instead, it was an Indiana bat .(also image source)

   This revelation prompted an immediate, and thorough, search for bite and scratch marks since they are often carriers of rabies. Fortunately, there were none and I obviously did not develop rabies, but as I got older and understood just how dangerous that little adventure could have been... let's just say, I'm glad the kidling wasn't quite the animal lover I was as a child!

   Next, a recipe adapted from a traditional Native American dish called Three Sister's Soup. It's a delicious, hearty soup or stew that is equally delicious as a vegetarian dish, or with the addition of some type of meat, and was served either way, depending on what was available. 

                                   (image but not recipe source)

2 qt. water
8 oz. pkg. dry beans (I like red beans for this, but any type will work)
14 oz. can hominy, drained
2 c. cubed roasted squash, if using winter squash, or one whole sliced zucchini, if using summer squash (I use what is seasonal)
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped
4 oz. diced green chiles
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, or 3/4 tsp. dry
3 cloves garlic
1 sprig thyme, or 1/4 tsp. dry
salt and pepper to taste
optional: 1 smoked turkey wing

   Rinse and pick through dry beans, place in large pot with water, bring to boil, cover, and remove from heat for two hours. Add smoked turkey wing, if using, and bring to boil again, reducing heat and simmering for 2 hours. Add all other ingredients and simmer 1 hour longer, or until beans are tender. Enjoy!

There are some difficult images in this video, but it's well worth listening to, and very appropriate...