Fall Life

Physical and Occupational Therapies:

Independent Physical therapy feels like the same routine each week, but it is helping me to get stronger and I try to mix up which machine I’m using when to keep it from getting boring. I’m still at 40-75 lbs. It took me quite awhile to get up to even 30-50 lbs, so I expect it will take a bit to be able to lift more weight. Before the accident, I hadn’t done weight lifting with my legs and back for a while, so it’s hard to say how much I’ve improved. But with my arms, I could lift at least 50 pounds when it came to everyday life activities like lifting apple crates and dog food bags. Right now, I’m lifting about 40 lbs, so I’m getting back to where I was. It just takes time. My left side is still weaker, and I have a hard time using my wrist fully because it doesn’t turn all the way and it’s painful to grip some things.

I don’t really have a specific goal in mind to be able to lift. We don’t know if my left side will ever work fully the way it didn’t before the accident. It likely won’t, but I’m learning to compensate and find ways around it so I can still do as much as possible like I did before. I’m trying to walk at least a mile every day. This is still a ways from the 3-4 miles I was walking before the accident, but I’m trying to slowly increase this over time. I have to remind myself sometimes a mile is a lot further than the few steps I was able to take when I started walking again back in February. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but when you have injuries to the extent I did, it takes awhile to come back from it. Up to two years is the general timeline I’ve been given from most of my doctors before I will be mostly healed and as back to normal as possible. I’ve always been one to set goals and strive to reach them, so I have to remind myself of this when I am wanting to be back to normal faster than my body is ready.

I’m noticing less and less discomfort when I walk. Standing is still tough. Over time, I’ve been able to increase how long I can stand. I couldn’t stand for more than a few seconds starting out, then increased it to a few minutes, and now I can stand for at least 15-20 minutes before the pain really starts to set in. I thought that most of the weakness in my legs was gone, until my husband and I took part of a day to get some canning done, and I found being on my legs off and on for several hours brought the weakness back. My legs were shaking and felt as though they weren’t going to hold me, something I hadn’t experienced since I’ve built my stamina for standing longer. By last night, I had nerve pain in my hip and legs, something else I hadn’t had in awhile. It was a reminder that I’ve come a long way, but physically I still have more limits than I did before.

Canning

My husband and I always try to can at least a little bit each year. We often have help from family members too; many hands make light work! This weekend, Ben and I tackled tomatoes. I am used to standing for most of the time it takes to can something, but my body just won’t allow it anymore. We have a red stool that I’m able to sit on for at least part of canning, so that helped a little bit.

Our black lab supervised and our Catahoula did cleanup duty, waiting for any scraps that would fall off the table or stove on to the floor. He LOVES tomatoes, really almost any fruit or veggie, but doesn’t get tomatoes normally because dogs aren’t supposed to have them. From everything we researched, the very small amount he got shouldn’t hurt him.

A few photos from our weekend project:

Birthday Celebrations

We also celebrated my birthday this week. Every year, I try to bring in my birthday with the sunrise and end my birthday with the sunset. I wasn’t able to get the greatest photos of the sunrise, but the sunset was pretty cool. My ankle has been swelling some, so rather than trying to hike on my birthday, we went on a drive. Photos are below.

Fall

Just three photos for this section. I know the old wives tale says these caterpillars predict winter. I’m not really sure what this one says about winter, but we’ve heard a lot of people saying it is going to be a rough one, and some of the nature signs are pointing to this as well. Winter is one of my favorite seasons. I do have some anxiety about driving in the snow after the accident, but am hoping that will get better with practice once the snow actually does come.

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and the Christmas season has always been very special to me. Last year, we celebrated Christmas in the hospital. It was a very special Christmas that I wrote about here: https://talesfromnorthcountry.com/2021/01/01/a-christmas-to-remember/ One thing I really missed though was the traditions we have at home for celebrating. We never got to finish decorating our Christmas tree. Ben had the idea of putting it up slowly, adding ornaments as we counted down the days until Christmas to extend the special day and the excitement of decorations, so we never finished getting everything up.

We celebrated Christmas in March, and took awhile putting our tree down. There was a sadness with it, a reminder of what had been lost even with all that had been gained. When we finally got everything off the tree (it’s artificial) there was again sadness and it felt so empty. We had noticed Fall lights and decorations in the store, and decided to try this instead. We decorated our tree for fall, and will redecorate it at Christmas time. It is a reminder that even when things are really hard and dark, there is still light, brightness, and good in the world.

-I’m going to skip quotes and songs for this week. This is getting pretty long. Until next time

Cindy

And yet….

Physical and Occupational Therapy

This is going to be a longer post this week, so I’ll try to keep this section brief. This week, I continued with Independent Physical Therapy. I’ve up to 75 pounds with parts of the exercises I do, and 40 pounds minimum for most things. This is a long way from the 1 pound limit I had with my wrists after the accident! I continue to work on building strength, especially in my left side.

I was also able to attend a class at Grass River Natural Area. We did a short walk, and learned how to collect seeds from Native plants. It was a great class, and I learned a lot. My left side was sore afterwards, but it was worth it, and very nice to be able to take another class.

Most days I am able to walk close to a mile. My goal is to get up to at least 3-4 miles a day. Right now, pain and weakness stops me from going further but it gets better each week.

Another loss

This week, we lost my Aunt Esther, my mom’s sister. Loss seems to be so very much a part of life. C.S. Lewis in ‘The Four Loves’ says:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” 

C.S. Lewis ‘The Four Loves’

Between 2003 and 2010, there were at least 11 family and friends that passed away. We also lost my dog Cora and my brothers’ dog Bear within a couple of weeks of each other. Losing a dog may not seem like much of a big deal if you’ve never owned one, but they become family and those who have owned dogs or other pets will likely understand that loss. From 2013-2017, we lost at least 11 more family members and another dog we’d loved for many years. Since 2020, we have had at least six family and friends pass away, my husband and I were in a serious car accident, and we’ve dealt with everything the pandemic has brought about.

I say all of this not because I want people to feel sorry for us. I don’t. In fact, I hesitate to even say anything when someone I know passes away anymore or something bad happens because it feels so surreal, so unbelievable. I need to process all of this, and one of the best ways I can do that is to write it out. I could go back further, where there were more losses as well, but right now, I’m processing the past 18 years or so. So very much has happened. Some positive, but a lot of really hard difficult things too.

My mom comes from a family of 14 kids, the oldest died shortly after birth. Most of her siblings had children and many of them have children so it’s a big family. My dad comes from a smaller family, but the cousins on his side of the family are close, so we have relationships with family we might not have had otherwise. With that comes loving and dying. The more people you know, the more you have a chance of losing someone you love and care about. Death is as much of a part of life as living is. Loss is a part of the world we live in, like it or not.

When you’ve lost as much as I have, when you’ve been through one thing after another, it becomes normal, even if it’s not. Sometimes I feel like I’m just waiting for the next loss to happen, for the next bad thing to take place. I’m not just talking about all the death, I’m talking about the loss of our “normal” lives with the pandemic, the loss of the use of my left side as I “normally” would, and the loss of a year of my life that I will never get back.

And yet. I feel as though two simple words hang in the air despite everything we’ve been through. They give us hope. And yet, we will see many of our loved ones again. And yet, there is hope for the future. And yet, despite everything we’ve been through, all of the loss and pain, there is still so much good in the world. And yet, despite our hearts breaking over and over again, there is joy. And yet, when it seemed as though all the world was ending, Jesus came to save it. And yet.

Death isn’t the end. No matter how much death and loss we experience in our lifetime, no matter how much loss I experience myself, it is not the end. Praise be to God for this! And yet, death does not win. Even in great loss, we have this hope.

Ben and our Pup

Ben continues to deal with his peripheral neuropathy and all the issues it brings with it. His feet have been swollen and painful a lot this month, and it has spread up to his legs and into his hands. He has also had some problems with blood pressure and blood sugar levels in the last month or so, which he hasn’t had before. We are working with his primary doctor and the team at the University of Michigan to try to figure everything out.

We’ve also been dealing with our dog Wesley having an ear infection. He’s had one for well over a year, off and on getting worse. We’ve been to the vet many times, changed his diet, had him tested for allergies, and tried lots of medication, including sending a sample to Michigan State to get a specialty made antibiotic for him, but his ear infection just doesn’t want to give it up.

We are trying several medications at once this time, in the hopes we can knock it out. Otherwise it will be a trip to a specialist for him.

Road Trip

This week, I took a little drive with our two dogs. I needed to clear my head. I needed to process everything that has happened as much as I could. I headed out to Lake Michigan, where the waves were supposed to be somewhat high. We weren’t disappointed. There were people taking pictures and videos, someone windsurfing, and someone collecting rocks. It was chilly, with the wind blowing hard, but a beautiful day. The sound of the waves was so peaceful and relaxing, and I returned from our trip feeling at least a little more clear. Life can be tough. And yet…..

And yet there is still so much to be thankful for. We are dealing with a lot. Some days are really tough. And yet there are days like this, when the world is as it should be….

Quotes and Scripture from this week:

Songs on Repeat this Week:

Life is full of trials and difficulty. And yet….

Until next time…

Cindy

Birdwatching Photos

This week, I have a lot of photos to share from birdwatching this summer, so I’m doing an extra post to make it a little shorter. As part of occupational and physical therapies, we’ve worked in my personal interests, as you are more likely to stick with something if you enjoy it. So photography, writing, birdwatching, art projects and hiking have all become a part of my daily and weekly routines. Over the summer, I’ve tried to get in a small amount of birdwatching between appointments. I have yet to hike very far, but you can see a lot from a car too. Some photos are better than others. I’ve been having some problems with my camera, and I also struggled to hold the camera at first with the weakness in my wrists. As it gets easier to hold the camera, I’ve been able to take better photos as long as the camera isn’t acting up. I also put in a couple of photos of other critters, like a chipmunk that likes to visit our backyard and our black lab, who LOVES to birdwatch with me.

Photos:

Rehab Round 2, Day 7; No Going Back

Occupational Therapy:

In Occupational Therapy,  we worked on getting dressed with the reacher and sock assistant.   I was able to get a shower in,  and we practiced sliding on the shower bench to get in, leaning back far enough to not break my restrictions.   I will most likely be using a shower bench when I get home.

Physical Therapy:

In Physical Therapy,  we practiced walking with the regular walker again.   I walked 100 feet the first time,  and 75 feet the second time.   We practiced getting in and out of bed,  including a higher bed,  and practiced getting in and out of a car.  We also practiced walking with the walker on a mat for a different type of surface and practiced going up on a board to simulate crossing over a threshold. 

Other:

Today I enjoyed coloring in a coloring book,  and continued to work with family on the plans for me to come home. This week is flying by, and there are still a few things to do before I hopefully get to head home!

I’ve discovered I actually like Sour Patch kids. My taste buds have changed over the last couple of months, to an extent.

Songs to Focus on:

From my mom….

Other songs to focus on…

Scripture to Focus on:

From my mom….

Other Scripture to focus on…

Movie Lines….

These movie lines have been standing out to me. After something like this, a person is never the same. And why should we be? Trauma changes you but it can make you stronger.

There is no going back. There is no returning to normal, only moving forward and finding a new normal. For events such as the accident I was in are not meant to send us back to who we were before. They are meant to change us, to help us grow and become stronger. It’s up to us to decide whether we will allow the trauma to change us for the better or worse.

You can’t be the same after something like this. Sure, you can return to a sense of normalcy, but it will never be the same. And it shouldn’t be.

Rehab Round 2, Day 6; 90′ repeat

Occupational Therapy:

Today in Occupational Therapy,  we worked on putting socks on with a sock helper.   It’s a special device that assists with putting on socks when you can’t bend down.

We also play Solitaire,  with me standing for part of the time.  My legs were pretty stiff with it being first thing in the morning,  so I wasn’t able to stand long.   In the afternoon,  we played a game of  Suduko, with the game propped up and weights on my wrist so I had to practice reaching while building my muscles.

Physical Therapy:

Today in  Physical Therapy,   we practiced walking with a non- platform Walker.  I was able to walk 86 feet the first trip,  then 90.  We also practiced navigating the wheelchair through an obstacle course. 

In the afternoon,  I walked 90 feet, then we played a balancing game in which I stood with my feet apart and bounced a beach ball back to someone. My walker stayed in front of me and the wheelchair behind me on case i lost my balance, and the PT person stayed by my side. After a round of that, I put my feet together, and then for the 3rd round, we placed a foam board under my feet. This made it harder to balance and I had to grab the walker a few times to keep from falling. We finished the session with another 90 foot walk in which I tried to pick up the pace to see if I could go faster.

Other:

This morning, I was able to use the reacher to dress myself, all except socks and shoes. In between therapy sessions, I was able to work on this blog, practice wheeling myself around the room, and chat with Ben on what is needed for my return home.

Today i also enjoyed a visit from one of the harp players. The music they play is always so calm and peaceful, and I enjoy it a lot when they can come.

The reacher… a great tool for when you can’t bend down.

Songs to Focus on:

From my mom…

Other songs to focus on…

Bible Verses To Focus On

From my mom…

Other Scripture to focus on…

Rehab Round 2, Day 5… 47′, 42′, 75′

Occupational Therapy:

Today in occupational therapy worked on me getting dressed with the reacher. If you are not familiar with a reacher, it’s a special tool that allows people to do things for themselves when they otherwise couldn’t. I have a lot of restrictions with my total hip replacement, among them not being able to bend down for anything, so the reacher comes in really handy with picking things up and helping me to get dressed.

We played a card game with me standing up to practice my balance and strengthen my fingers. We also played a game in which I handed a bean bag from one hand to another through a loop, and then tossed it into a crate. We played a board game with dice, where you put numbers down based on the dice rolled, and we played Jenna.

Physical Therapy

Today in Physical Therapy, we practiced walking with the walker. I was able to walk 47 feet, and then 42 feet before needing to take a break. We then tried a walker without a platform. I was able to walk 75 feet all together, with several breaks.

We also practiced rolling out of bed with the log roll, and wheelchair mobility. I am able to operate the wheelchair fairly well with my arms.

Other:

If all goes well, I may be going home soon! It’s been a long road with a long road to go, but it would be nice to get back home.

Our pets will be very glad when I’m home. Chewbaca is really having a hard time without me there. Ben sent me a picture of him being all sad and clingy.

Songs to Focus On:

From my mom…

One of the churches we used to go did a skit with this song years ago…

We also did another skit…

Bible Verses To Focus On:

From my mom….

Other Scripture to focus on…

Rehab Round 2, Day 3…110′

Occupational Therapy

Today in Occupational Therapy, we completed several different activities to help build my fine motor skills. We played a form of Chinese Checkers with blocks, completed an activity where you had to match pegs on a pegboard to pegs in a picture, and folded laundry. We also did the shower ring activity, where I move rings from one side of a looped pole to another, and practiced using the reacher to move beanbags and then pull up a pair of scrubs. We did everything without my braces on today.

The reacher looks like this…

Physical Therapy

Today in physical therapy, we practiced walking with the walker. We walked 25 feet the first time and 30 feet the second time, for 55 feet total.

We also practiced doing the log roll from the mat. During the second round of PT, I walked 30 feet and then 25 feet for another 55 feet. In all, I walked a total of 110 feet today.

Other:

Growing up, my parents always taught us “I can’t” is not part of our vocabulary. We could say something was hard, challenging, frustrating, difficult, etc. , but we were never allowed to say ” I can’t. “

I come from a family where my sister has a learning “disability,” I was born with a dislocated left hip, and some of our cousins have “disabilities” as well. We never really called them “disabilities”, they are different abilities. We are not disabled, we are able to do things differently than a “normal” person.

This attitude has really helped me a lot during this time. It’s weird being in a wheelchair, and I am still not able to move my quad muscle very well. Earlier, I set my left leg of the wheelchair leg rest to change positions. At first, I couldn’t lift it high enough to get it back on the leg rest without asking for help. I kept trying and eventually got it! It isn’t easy, it hurts, and it’s frustrating, but it felt so good once I had my leg back on the leg rest!

(Ignore the white flakes. This is what happens when every limb has a cast or brace for nearly two months…. my skin is just peeling off everywhere. I’m thankful for lotions from Bath Boutique Treats to help heal my skin! )
https://m.facebook.com/BathBoutiqueTreats

I’ve also been exhausted today, and slept every chance I got. It’s a lot of work for my body to do what it is doing right now!

I also got to order food from a supplemental menu. I still wasn’t able to eat much but it was nice to have something different.

Bible Verses To Focus On

From my mom…..

Genesis 1:1

Other verses I’m focusing on:

Songs to Focus On:

Rehab Round 2, Day 2…. 45′

Occupational Therapy:

Today in occupational therapy we practiced getting dressed. It is so nice to actually be able to stand up and put pants on. We did several assessments to look at my hand strength and assess my fine motor skills. We did a cognitive assessment and also worked on moving ball’s from one peg to another. The balls are hung on the pegs by rings, The goal is to slide them off one peg and up onto another one. We did this without my braces on to see how it would go. We also did a clothes pin activity, in which I moved clothes pins from one bar and put them on another. This was again done without braces. Overall I did pretty well but my left hand is definitely weaker than the right.

Physical Therapy

Today in physical therapy, we practiced walking more with the Walker. I was able to walk 20′ ,took a break, and then walked 25′! We also practiced wheelchair mobility and practiced using a log roll to get out of bed. I did well with all of it today.

Other:

All of the hard work I’m doing definitely makes me tired. I slept a little bit this afternoon and evening and will hopefully have another good night sleep tonight. It’s amazing how much work it is when your body hasn’t been able to walk in a while.

We also got a major snowstorm today. It was peaceful at times watching the snow fall, but also reminded me of the accident. I hope one day I can watch the snow fall again without being reminded of that day.

Bible Verses for Today:

From my mom…

Other verses to focus on…

Songs

From my mom…

Other songs to focus on…

Rehab Round 2, Day 1…. Fifteen Steps Forward

Occupational Therapy:

Today in occupational therapy, I went through the assessments to see more of where I’m at.   I also got to take a shower using the shower bench.  Previously, It was either bed baths  For the shower wheelchair.  It felt so good to be able to stand with the Sara Stedy, and then sit on a bench for a near regular shower.

Physical therapy:

Today in physical therapy, We practiced standing up with the Sara Stedy and a walker.    I’m using a platform walker to help support my left wrist, So it’s a walker with a special platform to hold your arm.   My physical therapist also added special bands to my wheelchair to make it easier to steer and drive.   I can now use both of my hands and a foot to operate the wheelchair!   This is a long way from operating it with 1 heel and 3 fingers.

My new ride, with bands to help me grip.

We also practiced getting into and out of bed.    It’s a little tricky with my hip being like it is, but the therapist showed me some strategies to help.

We ended the day in physical therapy by standing up to the Walker again and trying to see if I could take steps.  In physical therapy, they always have someone following close behind with the wheelchair so that you can sit back down if you need to. 

I stood up to the Walker and began positioning my legs then took a step forward.  I did it again, and again,  and again  Before I needed to sit down.   I  was able to take 5 steps!  

We took a break  and went at it again.   The goal was to take at least a couple more steps than what I took previously.  I made it to 8, and then the therapist ask if I thought I could go to 10.   I was still feeling fairly steady, so  I gave it a shot.  I was able to take the last 2 steps to make it to 10 steps, or 15 steps total for the day!

Other:

Today has been a day of getting back into a routine.   I was able to get some more reading in, and received another amazing care package and some great cards.   Thank you again everyone for all of your thoughts, prayers,  Amazing notes and cards, Care packages, and all of the other wonderful things people have been doing to show their support.   It means more than you know.  All of it is so very greatly appreciated. 

Bible Verses:

From my mom….

Other verses I am focusing:

Songs to focus on:

From my mom….

Other songs to focus on:

Therapy Day 13…. January 13

Occupational Therapy

Today in Occupational Therapy, we worked on playing a litte block game. It was like Chinese Checkers, where I had to move little blocks up or down, back and forth, taking out the middle one until I had no more blocks to jump over. It was fun!

We also worked on the rings again, where I moved Curtain Rod hooks from one bar to another and then over a loop from one side to another. We added weight to my wrist to make it more challenging.

Physical Therapy

In physical therapy, we worked on slide boarding to the mat and then doing some exercises to strengthen my legs from there. I don’t know that I described it before, but the physical therapy gym has Mat beds that are created to go up or down to allow you to slide more easily from your wheelchair to them and they can be laid on for exercises.

In the afternoon, we tried to do more of wheelchair exercises but my quad appeared to be locked up. We didn’t know it then, but this would be a sign that something much more serious was going on. We to do the wheelchair backwards with me moving it backwards but I was not able to go forwards.

Other:

Today I spent a lot of time resting and in pain. My quad muscle seems to have locked up. I have been getting very concerned about what’s been going on with my leg.

Ben and I were able to chat a little bit today on Facebook messenger. Although the hospital food isn’t terrible, with my limited diet I’m really missing Ben’s cooking. It was a rough night in crazy morning for everybody within our unit. The day got a little bit better , with beautiful blue skies out the window, but by night I was in a lot of pain again

Songs:

From my mom…

Other songs to focus on…

Bible Verses:

From my mom….

From others…..

Other verses to focus on…