As I’ve said before, I keep good company with guys who wear eye patches. Here are some others:
I spy with my little eye … the big 6-0 today. At this time in one’s life, one takes a bird’s-eye view of one’s life, turns one’s eye on their successes and milestones, and darts an eye beam on the future with … visions of years of more work? gazing at retirement? visualizing what life means in this second half?
However, I have to open my eyes to my new situation. I have to keep my eye on the ball, and an eagle eye on what my future holds. A lot of that is going to be hard to eyeball.
You see, there’s something I don’t see eye to eye with my medical situation: the damage to my left eye, which was caused during my stroke on Christmas Eve, is … permanent.
I found this out at an appointment with an ophthalmologist yesterday. For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, a stroke attacked my brain — and apparently my left eye. After my thrombectomy, most everything was all right …
In my left eye, in my retina, there is a black blob, a spot that shows where the retina lost blood. Visually, I see that spot, which covers a third of my vision. The doctor said my eye is still showing damage. The artery is getting blood at half the rate that it should be.
The stroke probably sent plaque into my brain and also into my retina, sending pieces of fatty deposits into my eye. That reduced the amount of oxygen.
According to stroke.org, “Cerebral embolism is a blood clot that forms at another location in the circulatory system, usually the heart and large arteries of the upper chest and neck. Part of the blood clot breaks loose, enters the bloodstream and travels through the brain’s blood vessels until it reaches vessels too small to let it pass. A main cause of embolism is an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. It can cause clots to form in the heart, dislodge and travel to the brain.”
So the clot also entered the retina. The surgeons were focusing on clearing the blockage in my brain and did nothing about the eye.
There’s no need to cry one’s eye out, and the doctors don’t get a black eye — they treated me well. And without batting an eye I am carrying on, keeping my eye on the ball and my eye on the prize — learning to live with it.
With the help of Gage — the apple of my eye — we’ll get by.
Here are some general communication strategies from my rehab hospital. If someone you know is having trouble communicating, these may help:
- Eliminate distraction.
- Face-to-face is best.
- Allow extra time for a response (e.g., “What do you want to drink?”)
- If no response, try rephrasing the question to a yes/no and waiting (e.g., “Do you want a drink?”)
- Try offering a choice (e.g., “Would you like milk or tea?)
- “Mirror” back the response to ensure listener knows you have the message (e.g., “You want tea … sounds good.”)
- People with difficulty communicating may benefit from gestures and visual cues.
- Avoid rapid questions and “on command” style of communication (e.g., “What do you want? Tell me what you want? Which drink? What do you want to drink with your food?” etc.)
- It’s okay to accept a non-answer … go back it later.
Many of these answers would have helped me in recent weeks, as well as
10. Don’t try to put words in the person’s head. You don’t know what he is trying to say.
11. Have patience. Let the person attempt to get what he’s trying to say out of his mouth. He will get there.
Thanks, everyone, for caring and wondering how I’m doing. Speech therapist says I’m doing well. Gage says he has noticed an improvement in my speech.
3 weeks after my stroke (plus a few days), here’s what’s going on:
I had speech, physical and occupational therapy scheduled — 42 hours over the next two months! After a single physical therapy session, the doctor canceled the rest of the sessions — he said I passes the walking, climbing stairs, standing on one leg tricks with flying colors!
Occupational therapy has been pushed back by the weather, so I don’t have a session for a week.
Speech therapy has been challenging. I can talk to Gage and to friend and families with little impairment. But I get hung up on some words and my thought processes. The therapist is really good. She is using my experience with space and science to help along. For example, I read a NYT article about Apollo 1o the other day and then wrote a short synopsis about it. It turns out she picked that by random, then I told her to Google “space.com” and my name. I will be entertained by her reaction …
She has other exercises for me to do. For example, she shuffles a deck of cards and then I deal them out one by one. For every red card, I name an animal; for every black card I name a vegetable. It’s a classic exercise in transitive reasoning. Try it sometime!
My biggest complaint is my eye. I have retinal artery occlusion, which causes blood clots to cover the retina. So there’s a big, gray blob over one-third of my viewpoint in my left eye.
When pisses me off is that I read how important it is to check it looked at ASAP, yet my appointment is THREE WEEKS AWAY!!!
Luckily, I am okay. Just spent a few days with family, had a nice time (fir a funeral). My days are spent organizing the collectibles I’m selling, making to-do lists for Gage (lol) and napping.
I need to thank all the people who have sent over food — pot roast with potatoes and carrots, pork roast, chili, carrot cake — much more and I’m going need to try to get back to gym (which the doctor says is okay with a light load).
Silverado is a Western done right, playing its big skies and wide-open spaces. And introduces you to a cattle call of Arthurian legends — the hero with a lot to prove, the villain who was perfectly foil, the dance hall girl with a heart of gold, a gambler whose mother called him Slick.
Hear this movie: The spin of a six-shooter cylinder, the clip-clop-clip-clop-clip-clop of horse hooves, the barroom baroque of whiskey rails, card fans and the chirrup of a spittoon.
See this movie: One pivotal scene takes plays at the duel between the hero and the villain. High noon, Main Street. And the church, its high steeple peering from the street, keeps a watch over the hero’s back.
When this movie, which came out in 1985, comes on, I watch it.
I’ve been nominated to post photos from my 10 favorite films. It a hard task. And I’ll explain what I made those picks.
A friend has nominated me to name my top 10 films.
“Psycho” is my first film
Anyone who wants to learn how to make a movie, must follow this movie.
It entices you to follow the story of a pretty women, Janet Leigh, as she goes through with her scenes — the bank, the police, getting a room at the motel, for a unfortune, grisly ending. Then the movie is only about half done.
And what is going on with the Mother? The Oedipus complex … the man’s cowardice … his homonormative nature … So much to explore in thiese characters.
And you can’t avoid The Shower. The scene is one of the leading movie scenes, right along with Dorothy’s cheers of Toto from the witch’s castle, Darth Vaper declaring his paternity, and Leo DiCaprio declaring he was king of the world.
With my stroke head, some things I remember about “Psycho”:
- The blood is Bosco chocolate syrup.
- The Catholic Church gave the film “a morally objectional” rating.
- Amid all the bird motif Janet Leigh’s name in the script is Marion Crane and she’s from Phoenix.
I’ve been nominated by Jane Burns to post photos from my 10 favorite films. It a hard task. And I’ll explain what I made those picks.
I keep good company.
I’ve been researching areas in the stroke field and the most seductive is lining up some folks to play games.
The website Seabo, “a leading global provider of affordable evidenced-based therapy solutions for individuals suffering from impaired mobility and function” has an article called “35 Fun Rehab Activities for Stroke Patients”
I’m scheduled to start rehab next week and the quicker I get with that the better.
On the Saebo article states, “Physical activity is important for increasing the chances of regaining function after a stroke. Through the power of neuroplasticity, exercises help stroke survivors reclaim abilities they had before their stroke. Over time, even light activity such as going for a walk or cooking will contribute to physical improvements and help prevent the deconditioning that leads to further deterioration.”
That’s been my goal from the get-go. Play some games, talk to some people, get out of my xxxx. And here is a condensed list of some activities and games:
Board and Card Games
Scrabble involves a variety of skills that stroke survivors can work on. Adding up the scores uses simple math, coming up with words requires cognitive flexibility, and the mechanics of the game involve simple grasp-and-release tasks.
Playing jenga involves physical and mental coordination while stacking blocks and trying to keep the tower from falling.
The mechanics of checkers involve simple grasp-and-release movements that can help stroke survivors improve their motor skills while cognitive flexibility and problem solving are required to perform strategic moves.
Playing Battleship is good practice for stroke survivors with speech or word retrieval problems. Players have to use the simple words “hit” and “miss” and “sunk” to communicate. Inserting pegs in the board also helps with fine motor skills.
5. Connect Four
Connect Four improves attention and motor skills. Players pick up and drop small disks, and they pay attention to both their and their opponent’s pieces.
Scattergories involves listing words in different categories that all start with the same letter. This helps with language and word retrieval. For stroke survivors with more severe cognitive impairments, Scattergories Junior may be more appropriate.
War is a simple card game in which you flip over a card, and the person with the highest card wins. Playing war requires attention skills and hand coordination.
Playing poker helps challenge cognitive skills like sequencing and categorization.
Slapjack is played by flipping over cards and slapping the stack whenever a jack or two of the same number in sequence are played. Playing Slapjack requires attention and motor skills as well as hand eye coordination.
Uno helps stroke survivors work on decision making, attention, and visual discrimination.
(11-16 were boring …)
Knitting is a relaxing activity that can help stroke survivors take their minds off of their recovery. For survivors who are limited to one functional hand, a knitting aid makes one-handed knitting possible.
Taking pictures is a great way to practice creative expression without much physical effort. It also provides a great excuse to get outdoors and take in the surroundings.
Whether putting together letters, poetry, or stories, writing can be a great creative outlet for a stroke survivor. Journaling can also be therapeutic and help a survivor keep tabs on their emotions and recovery process.
20. Making Music
If the stroke survivor was a musician before their stroke, then they will likely enjoy it after as well. Singing along to music is an easy and fun activity. They can also play on a keyboard or piano with their unaffected hand.
Painting uses fine motor skills and helps stroke survivors practice their grip. Using different colors and textures also helps stimulate the brain.
Drawing uses many of the same skills as painting, but it requires less equipment and is easier to clean up.
Making pottery is an excellent activity for stroke survivors with limited arm and hand function. Clay is soft and easy to work with, and sculpting can help improve fine motor skills. Pottery can also be made with one hand.
While it may require a few adaptive kitchen aids to help, cooking is an activity that can be both practical and fun.
Woodworking requires attention, problem solving, memory, and sequencing skills, in addition to various fine or gross motor skills.
Activities that Stimulate the Brain
26. Word Search
Word searches help a stroke survivor work on their perceptual skills and attention.
27. Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzles are available in a variety of skill levels and font sizes, so there should be one within almost every stroke survivor’s capabilities. Crossword puzzles help with word-finding skills.
Whether the material of interest is newspapers, magazines, or novels, reading is a great way to pass the time and engage the mind. Audio books are another great option for those with visual deficits.
29. Learning Sign Language
Activities that allow a stroke survivor to learn new skills are beneficial in multiple ways. Learning sign language both stimulates the brain and exercises the hands.
Meditation can help lower stress, relieve chronic pain, and stave off depression.
31. Jigsaw Puzzles
Putting together a jigsaw puzzle improves both concentration and motor skills. Picking up and placing the pieces is a grasp-and-release activity.
Completing a challenging mental task like Sudoku stimulates and maintains the brain, creating more complex connections between brain cells.
Video and Computer Games
33. Wii Sports
Virtual reality games like Wii Sports have been found to motivate and help stroke survivors stay more committed to their exercise routines.
34. Computer Games
While traditional computer games do not incorporate physical exercise, they can help stimulate the brain. There are many brain games available on the computer that can help with skills like problem solving.
35. Dance Dance Revolution
For stroke survivors who are able to safely participate, playing games like Dance Dance Revolution can add to their exercise routine and encourage them to get moving.
So who is in for board games? Leave me a msg and let talk.
From a small seed a mighty trunk may grow.Marcus Aurelius
Roman emperor 121-180
The feeders on the deck are full of bird seed that spills out when the sparrows descend and pick their way through to the good seed. The cardinals, finches, blue jays and tufted titmouse let the sparrows have their way, like a gang for protection money.
I have some starter seed for some thoughts about recent events:
I have a slight stroke, basically called a TIA — transient ischemic attack. My literature that I carried home from the hospital says “an ischemic stroke is the sudden DEATH of brain tissue” (my emphasis), right there on Page 1. I have 15 pages of tips and pointers on occupational therapy, speech therapy, and physical therapy; nutrition change, lifestyle changes, and other changes. But there is that sentence.
The doctor tried to get at my stroke in the brain … via my groin … not going there with much …
The doctor attempted to snag the stroke via repeated stabs at the scar. He got most of it. Imagine: Stroke the Dragon is pinholed inside Castle Brain. There are several avenues and channels that reach the dragon, and the doctor tries each way.
In my visual field — my left eye — I have a wide band of gray cloud over about 20 percent. It’s predominant. I see that image every sight in sigh. If I stare at it for a bit, I can make out lines of distinction. It’s like you drew a circle over and over again. Until it pulls together this blip or cloud. I don’t know if it made a difference, but if I … it’s like scarring the scene or the Dragon battle.
These are my current thoughts as convalesce.
‘Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk,
Up at Lawrence on the Kaw —
‘Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk,
With a sis-boom, hip hoorah,
Got a bill that’s big enough
To twist a Tiger’s tail,
Rope some ‘Horns and listen
To the Red Raiders wail –
‘Cause I’m a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk,
Riding on a Kansas gale.
Kansas is a great place to be from. I say that without irony, without remorse, without regret. I am proud to be from Kansas.
I grew up in a community that valued education, supported the arts and instilled common sense in its people. Don’t ask me what happened to Kansas, because I don’t know. I shake my head as I read the latest shenanigans from the state government.
I especially feel like I received an excellent education — in grade school, high school and college. I return to the University of Kansas only rarely — maybe once every five years. But when I’m there, I feel like I’m home. (I also love my hometown, which I’ll write about later.)
Probably like everyone, sometimes I do feel bittersweet about my time at KU, though. For a long time, I never felt like I fit in — not at my dorm, not on the newspaper staff, not even in the neo-hippie co-op house I shared with six other people. But also like everyone else, college introduced me to the greater world. I discovered who I was, found out where I wanted to go, and figured out how to get there.
I just love the campus. Wide Jayhawk Boulevard curves along the stately limestone buildings; the Campanile towers over Potter Lake; the Chi Omega Fountain gushes and Prairie Acre remains pristine. In all my travels, it remains the most beautiful campus I’ve ever set foot on.
Off to See the Wizard
From Lawrence, we set off on our two-week exploration of the state I grew up in. I really had never seen much of western Kansas, so I wanted to check out some places I had always heard of and some I only discovered when researching this trip.
Our first stop was in Wamego, which has a very good Oz Museum. With costumes and recreated sets and collectibles and memorabilia. We had visited it before, about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, this time we arrived about 20 minutes before closing, which did not give us enough time to go through the museum.
Back to O-town
Next we bypassed Manhattan. Nothing to see there.
But we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go through Ogden, Kansas. Founded in 1854, it’s a proud little town of 2,000 people. The welcome sign at the city limits says “Gateway to Fort Riley,” so they must feel a connection with the nearby army base.
I Like Ike
So on to Abilene. Foreboding dark clouds told us to forgo our plans to camp out, and for the first time on our journey we stayed in a motel. We weren’t the only ones finding shelter there, either. In the rafters above a stairwell, there was a nest of baby birds — five or six of them — peeking out and waiting for Mama Bird to bring home dinner.
Abilene is the hometown of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. His boyhood home is open for tours on the grounds of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. He and his wife and an infant son are also buried in the Memorial Chapel.
The museum has exhibits not only on Ike’s life, of course, but also on World War II, from the big players — Churchill, Hitler, Stalin — to the unnamed heroes of the French resistance, and the unfair treatment of Japanese-Americans who were sent to camps in the United States.
There are detailed maps and photos and plans about D-Day, of course. Then it goes into the Cold War and Ike’s presidency. They get their point across, I think, that many people consider the 1950s a very bland time in America, and Eisenhower a bland president. But, it was the time of tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, especially in post-war Europe, but also in Southeast Asia, where communists took over China, the beginnings of the Vietnam conflict were brewing, and on our doorstep, when Castro took over Cuba. Amid all these crises, the museum maintains that Ike was a firm, steady hand that kept the tensions from boiling over.
Of the many Eisenhower quotes the museum displays, one stood out to me: “The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene.”
You and me both, Ike — sons of Kansas.