Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why I blog

When this blog first started it was supposed to be about my recovery. While it may not be as prominent today, my recovery will always be part of my story. As Chris said so many years ago, “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon”. A little help--medical, miracle (or both)--would be appreciated.
On the other hand, my blog has become so much more over the past couple years. It has become a place where I can express myself somewhat freely. However, it takes a lot of work for me to post a blog right now. It also takes a bunch of time. And not just my time, either. Chris helps me proof and post. I can’t begin to thank him enough. Now that I think about it, I should also express my gratitude for those current and past caregivers for getting and keeping my hand positioned just right. That is no small task.
Speaking of which, two of the guys from Be Extraordinary came to start working on a custom foot switch for my chair, and they’re bring it up next week. That’s good, because I have places to go and things to do.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dear Blog Proofreaders

Dear Blog Proofreaders,
I owe you many apologies. There have been many comma omissions and other mistakes. I really have no excuse, except maybe I can blame the stroke. Yes, I will assign responsibility there.
As for writing style, I have no idea what I am doing. I can actually place responsibility on the stroke for this one. My Associated Press Stylebook is on a bookshelf across the house. If it happened to be in a different location, it wouldn’t matter, so there’s that. I could look up questions online, but that wouldn’t be efficient. So I guess that means we are stuck with Alison Style for now.
Sincerely,
Alison
Just a sidenote, I am recovering from some rare disorder. At least I had never heard of it. One evening, Chris noticed swelling along the right side of my face and neck, and I began to feel pain radiating from my mouth. A visit to the dentist and referral to an oral surgeon later, and we learned that I have an infected salivary gland. Who knew? The antibiotic seems to be working though.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Begging for money

My switch was broken for a while, but now it’s fixed. I am even getting a backup this time.
I know I never beg for money, but I will not let it stop me now. If you are longing for a nonprofit to support, boy howdy, have I got some for you.
Be Extraordinary has been invaluable to me. I would not have a blog without my switch. I also wouldn’t have taken as easily to the power wheelchair. And they are working on other projects for me and others who need their help.
Another nonprofit of note is Falling Forward Foundation. Simply put, they pay for therapy when insurance doesn’t. I was a beneficiary before I even knew anything about the nonprofit. Right now, Falling Forward is primarily working with rehab facilities in Lawrence, Kan., the Kansas City area, Colorado, and most recently, Chicago.
Of course, there is also NOPW whose purpose is to make people aware that young individuals can and do have strokes. Their annual events begin May 16, and go throughout May, but I suppose they would accept donations anytime.
I am also glad to report that my motorized wheelchair will be here within a month. It may seem like it has been a long time since I first mentioned it, but it really hasn’t. Not in the health insurance world. And if there is anything I have learned during this whole process, it has been a little bit of patience.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Eras

Prepare yourself for a couple of euphemisms. I have been watching a few historical dramas lately. For example, I am catching “Little House on the Prairie” almost every afternoon. Let me rephrase that so I sound less pathetic. “Little House On the Prairie” is on all the time and I watch sometimes. I am also watching “Bomb Girls”, “When Calls the Heart” and, of course, I was an avid “Downton Abbey” viewer. I was saddened almost as much by the cheesy series finale as I was by the fact that it was the last episode ever.
It is fun to imagine living in different eras, but the fact of the matter is that I would have probably kicked the bucket (euphemism one) by now if I lived in another time. There is also a small chance I could have not passed away (euphemism two) if I lived in a different period. Undoubtedly, I could have lived, but far less comfortably. There obviously would not be a blog, and there would definitely not be a power wheelchair in the 19th century, the 1930s or the 1940s.
While we are on the topic of media, I finally got around to watching “My Beautiful Broken Brain” on Netflix. While I thought it was good that it brought awareness to stroke in young people, there were too many missed opportunities (euphemism three). I think it is important to mention that there are many other telltale signs of stroke and ongoing side effects. The filmmaker chose to show her journey and no one else’s.

And for those of you who needed to look up the meaning of euphemism, it could be said that you are missing a few crayons in your box. But not really, because you are reading my blog.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

My family

I have to admit I have been remiss in not mentioning my great extended family.
On both my maternal and paternal sides, I have very nice cousins. I also have very kind aunts and uncles. My dad’s sisters, for example, are ever-present.
My mother’s younger sister has been more of an encouragement to me than I can begin to describe. She was sidelined for much of her adulthood, but she still managed to bring up two children, travel the world and get her doctorate. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention how all that happened during a long career. I think it was made possible, in part, because she had the emotional support of her husband. Sound familiar?
When I was in Nebraska, I felt scared and alone. But I felt less alone because she was there a lot. We planted coleus, watched silly movies and had storytimes about my mother when she was young. Back in  Kansas, she continued to visit. The staff at the nursing home and the computer I had borrowed knew her name.
Now, she is a grandmother and my aforementioned wonderful uncle is battling cancer.
I guess what I’m saying is I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing family. I took that fact for granted for much of my life. Because I lacked a grandfather on my paternal side (he died before I was born) and my mother’s mother died young, I felt cheated. Also, I was never close to my mother’s dad. But all this doesn’t matter. I feel close to all of them now.
Chair update: As it turns out, I need to go back to the doctor before I get my power wheelchair. Next up will be more waiting.
My mother, standing right, and her siblings at their Springfield home in the early 1950s.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Power wheelchair

Imagine not being able to move for four years. And also think of what it would feel like to suddenly be able.
That is how I felt when I drove a power wheelchair for the first time ever. I had absolutely no clue how it would feel. It felt surreal, by the way. I could finally turn around when I wanted to hear a particular conversation.
It is also quite terrifying to have to depend upon a machine to move forward, backward or side to side. I have grown accustomed to being pushed around. Mind you, I still can’t move my neck like a normal person.
Probably the most gratifying words I have heard through the entire power chair process came from Tom with Be Extraordinary. He basically said he wouldn’t have imagined I could drive myself three years ago when he met me. What will I be able to do three years from now? 
video
 Here I am in a test power chair.
video 
Thumb to go right. Pinky to go leftt. Left toe on a switch is forward and backward.
I use the same switch to drive as I do to blog.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Granny's

I have mentioned before that my family moved a couple of times while I was growing up. Only one place stayed the same—Granny’s.
The farm came into the family in the 1800s. Land Grant, I think. There was plenty of ground unexplored.
I remember searching for shiny rocks. I also recall a certain tree with a limb that mimicked a rocking horse. I found a gorgeous Luna moth and put her in a jar. I only knew she was female because she laid eggs in her new home. When I took the jar to school, there were tiny caterpillars all around the building.
There was a one-room schoolhouse, flanked by my great-grandparents’ home and Granny’s house. By the way, my World War II-fighting, Purple Heart medal-winning grandpa built the house for them. Literally.
Back to Granny. The woman could cook. I think she creamed everything. I take that back. The green beans were cooked in bacon grease and the broccoli wasn’t creamed either. Before my plate was cleared, I always heard, “Ali, want some pie?” No matter how many people there were, there was always room around the table.
Beautifully sewn and embroidered, this apron made its way to my kitchen from hers.
I went for noodle lessons one Saturday. I forgot to mention how good her noodles were. They were amazing, and I was even able to make them at home before I got sick.
Growing up, my brother and I alternated on the sugar cereal. I don’t remember what his favorite was, but mine was, and always will be, Lucky Charms. There also was a steady stream of Cheetos and Doritos glutting from her cabinets. And crème wafers. Yummy. Also really unhealthy, but she lived until she was 94. Go figure. When she was still physically able, she mowed her own lawn, tended her own vegetable garden and drove into town in her big, old, green truck.
It was at Granny’s that I learned that the amount of shine on one’s wrapping paper isn’t directly correlated with how much one is loved. Although it is a nice bonus... But I am better adjusted as a granddaughter of Beulah Olive.