World Stroke Day

World Stroke Day, Oct 29, 2017

As I approach the one year anniversary of my stroke I want to help spread the word that  a stroke can happen to anyone, at any age and you don’t have to have the obvious risk factors – I didn’t.

World Stroke Day is October 29, 2017. Learn about stroke and the warning signs and symptoms here.

stroke-head1What is a stroke? A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off. This causes brain cells to be deprived of oxygen and to die.

How a person is affected by the stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged.  For example a small stroke may cause temporary weakness of an arm or leg while a larger stroke can leave you paralyzed or unable to speak.

I am one of the fortunate ones who has recovered completely. My recovery is thanks to where in my brain it happened and the fact that I was pretty healthy over all. I did not have high blood pressure or cholesterol I exercised daily and maintained a fairly healthy diet.

The doctors did determine that I have a PFO – Patent Foramen Ovale – or in simpler terms a hole in my heart. This seems to be the explanation for my stroke. I did not and do not have any of the risk factors usually associated with stroke and stroke risk.

A Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is a flap-like opening between the two upper of the heart (the right and left atria). All people are born with this flap-like hole, but for most, the hole closes by itself after birth. However, for roughly 1 out of every 5 people, this hole does not seal itself, resulting in a PFO. In fact, many people have a PFO and do not know it because there are no signs or symptoms. –  Texas Heart Institute

Learn the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke:

Face  – drooping on one side or numbness
Arm weakness – is one arm weak or numb
Speech – is speech slurred
Time – time to call 911 if any of these symptoms exist,  or if you are unsure? Call 911 any

 

way! Time is critical! Get help immediately

Know the F.A.S.T. symptoms but also note these other warning signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden NUMBNESS or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden CONFUSION, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden TROUBLE SEEING in one or both eye
  • Sudden TROUBLE WALKING, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden SEVERE HEADACHE with no known cause

If someone shows ANY of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services.

I was extremely fortunate to not have any physical deficiencies  after my stroke. The doctors attributed some of that to my physical condition when I had my stroke. I was in pretty good shape and followed a fairly healthy diet. Today, I still exercise 5 to 6 times per week and maintain a healthy diet.

For more detailed information on stroke and stroke prevention:

National Stroke Association

American Heart Association

World Stroke Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here we go!

OK, so the one post a day for 30 days didn’t work out for me. I think the stress that I had going on over my health about a month ago was preoccupying my entire life. That’s behind me – I don’t have official results from the TEE but the preliminary results were “best case scenario” this is according to the head of cardiology that did the TEE.

On to better things! I did go on a grand adventure shortly after the procedure.  I left the sweltering end of summer heat in Boise and headed to the more desert-y heat of Moab, UT. I had never been to this part of the country and wow! what an amazing landscape. Words really cannot do it justice. I stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast for two nights and had a very notable dinner at 98 Center that first evening.

Dead Horse State Park did not disappoint. The only downside was the hazy/smokey skies but the vast beauty of the area is incredible. I did zip into Arches National Park but alas I was a tad late in the morning for my taste. The crowds were too much for me so I bailed and went on a quite hike outside of the park. A short hike (Grandstaff Canyon) along a creek in located off of the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (US 128) just outside of Moab.

I left Moab behind after two short days to join a friend from my Colorado Springs days at her condo in Crested Butte. The drive over was interesting. I put my trust into my rental car’s navigation.  It DID get me to my destination but I was a bit worried when I came across this sign:

PavementEnds

I continued up and over Kebler Pass, through Colorado’s largest Aspen grove (amazing), and ended up in downtown Crested Butte! We had a most excellent time hiking and catching up with our lives and Crested Butte is a most charming and beautiful mountain town.

From there I went to Greeley, CO then Evergreen to visit Mr. Fantastic’s family. It was an enjoyable time and a long over due visit!

A side note, I have traveled from point A to point B by myself but I’ve never  stayed and visited things on my own. While going out on my own was the point of this particular adventure I did learn some things about myself. I CAN travel on my own and have a good time doing it and I don’t need an entourage with  me to enjoy it. However, I did miss having someone to joke around with and talk with especially at dinner time.

Here are just a few of the photo highlights:

 

Day 14

Another beautiful day in the Boise area!  We DO have amazing weather. Using talk about the weather to distract from the fact that I have, ahem, missed a few days writing. I have been busy and didn’t want to keep boring anyone who might be sticking with me through this tedious beginning.

The past couple of days I’ve biked the entire Boise Greenbelt, worked out, hiked, volunteered at the zoo (back to my regular day) found THE bread recipe we are going to work with, had Moscow mules and tacos with friends and tried my hand at refrigerator pickles. All these things are making me stronger and distracting me from the looming TEE on Tuesday this coming week.

The transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) is being done to get a better look at the back of my heart. That seems to be where the hole in my heart is. I have a PFO or patent foramen ovale – read here for complete info of this fairly common but usually benign issue. The thinking is that since I am an otherwise healthy, non-risk factor adult the PFO was the cause of my stroke. I do not want to have another stroke so it does make sense for us to figure out what the heck is going and be proactive. But, I am feeling skittish about even going near a hospital again.  It has been 9, almost 10 months since my stroke and physically I’m getting stronger every day but some days I question my metal stability.

Looking ahead (yay)! September 5th I head out, by myself to Moab, Arches, Canyonlands and then on to Crested Butte, CO to meet up with a friend to hike. This trip is going to be my mental health trip. Not that I need to fall apart but I do need to come to grips with all that has happened and I need to realize that I am capable of living a full life and that I am extremely lucky to not have any deficiencies from my stroke and brain surgery. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful and joyous every day for being alive and being able to spend time with my family but I do feel a little bit stuck.

Wrapping up today’s post with a couple of pictures from the week. I’ll be back on Wednesday (day 17) to report on how everything turned out.

 

Day 9…

I mean day 10. Oops! I forgot to write yesterday. I was a tad busy and distracted yesterday.

Trying a different bread recipe today. The one I did the other day was tasty and did come together easily but I wanted to try out a couple to see what might be our “go-to” bread. This multi-grain bread recipe is from Our Best Bites. Right now my 8 grain cereal is soaking – the first step……

……….No pictures of the finished product but the girl and I taste tested the end product and YUM! This recipe is a winner and will be my go to for  bread (at least until I try another one). Now to stay ahead of the game so we don’t have to purchase bread in plastic.

This is pretty much a wrap on day 10!  Day 11 holds a workout, grocery trip – including taking my glass containers in to do some of my bulk buying that needs to happen. This means having to figure out who will weigh them for be etc. Definitely out of my comfort zone!

 

Day 8

One full week of blogging every day down! I am enjoying the process but I also realize I need to become more organized with my posts.  My goal this week is to start planning my posts, instead of just letting a stream of consciousness dictate what I write. (stick with me and I’ll aim to become more focused and relevant but first I need to achieve my 30 day goal)!

Thanks to my calendar, I did make  it to the noon cycle & barre class. I was tempted to skip it because I had already hiked 4 miles with the dogs this morning. Having it staring at me from my calendar motivated me to stick with my plan. I can see that I will need to measure the scheduling/writing/accomplishing thing daily. In the end I was glad that I made myself go on to class. It was hard but the good kind of hard where you know you getting stronger (and I think it’s helping my cardio goals).

Zoo Boise is having their volunteer appreciation party this evening. Looking forward to seeing the animals in the evening – maybe I will finally get to see that binturong!

The next couple of days will be busy with this and that but I’ve got everything written down so that I am setting myself up to be successful. I ran across this little gem from Oberlin College on scheduling and planning. It’s targeted to college students but it resonated with me so I’m including it here for easy access and to help me.

Stay mindful out there and make the most of your day! Here’s a shot from our morning dog walk –

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Day 7 – a new hike

Mr. Fantastic and I got out early today and checked out a new (to us) trail and re-conned for a longer hike for next weekend. After a bit of a workout we grabbed some tasty brunch at Locavore .

This morning we hiked the Highland Valley-Cobb Loop Trail. I wanted to start breaking in my new (!) boots. I LOVE my Asolo boots. This is my second pair and they are comfortable and hike worthy right out of the box for me.  I just love these boots!

This trail was a pretty quick 5.6 miles. Half up-hill and half down. We  hiked it counter-clockwise (clockwise seemed like there would have been a bit more up-hill and a bit steeper. Dunno for sure just seemed that way coming down). The trail is exposed so we were fine today being out early and with slightly cooler temps but water, hat and sunscreen are a must. This trail is in the wildlife management area where dogs must be leashed if you bring one (or more).

It took us 2 unhurried hours. Highlights of this trail were the quite, uncrowded paths  and sweeping views of the valley. There was a young rattlesnake napping on the trail – we gave it a wide berth after which it woke up and moved slowly off the trail.  Otherwise a decent, straight forward hike.

After a quick and tasty brunch stop it’s on to prepping for a busy week ahead. This week I’m going to start making my own bread and break out the old sewing machine. I need more reusable bags, specifically produce bags. We are cutting out as much plastic as possible but it does take a bit of planning before I hit the store. Recipes for sure so far this coming week:

Day 6

Day 6 dawned warm and clear and I got four miles in before 9:00am! I feel fantastic today – like I can take on anything!

I’ve discovered I prefer to do my writing in the morning. If I wait until later in the day/evening I end up writing a post of incomplete thoughts that I publish just to stick to my daily goal.

Today and the rest of the weekend holds prepping for the coming week. Menus, grocery and a little exploring. I know that I can reach my fitness goals and be confident in my upcoming procedure (more on that at a later date). Rest, exercise, good nutrition, recovery, hydration – I got this! Stay tuned!

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Day 5

The days are zooming along and I’m finding it a little harder to find something to write about EVERY day. So based on my quick post from day 4 (and really, I’m not sure it contained a complete thought) I thought I’d continue to expand on what’s driving me.

I want to create better habits along with being more mindful in my every day life.  After all, every day life is what our lives are made up of – splashed occasionally with spectacular vacations, shows or other enjoyable pursuits. My goal with this blog is to measure my success after 30 days. Have I created better habits? Am I more present in my life daily? Did I reach my 30 day fitness goal?

This blog is my new writing habit. I will write a post every day for 30 days. There are no rules. Just write.

Practice mindfulness daily. I will be present in the moment and practice listening. I will work on keeping my racing brain in check to fully understand what is being said to me or what I am experiencing.

Schedule my workouts out weekly. Schedule on Mind Body and your calendar. I’m old school and like seeing things written out on my calendar hanging by me desk.

If you’re interested in creating habits or how to become more mindful I suggest starting with Google and looking for an article or two that speaks to you and how you want to proceed with learning about your options. I am doing what might work for me.

Here’s a shot of my calendar. I have added in workouts etc for next week! (the week of 14 Aug)!

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Day 4 – a little background

Why am I counting the days?  First, I needed to start somewhere with this blog. Second, while on our vacation I decided I needed another trip. Third, I need to up my fitness game for this upcoming trip. Fourth, I signed up for the 30 day new client special at UpCycle Boise to give me a boost (and as the whole try new experiences things etc).

First. I’ve had the idea for a blog for 3 years now but I’m just now trying to make it happen. The delay can be attributed to classic over thinking something and wanting it to be perfect out of the gate.

Second. While on our vacation last week I realized I miss the mountains and hiking.  I also realized that I am one small outburst away from a major breakdown.  I need to have some time on my own to process and reflect on what’s happened over the past 9 months.

Third. I’ve been working out/exercising since January and I’m not seeing the results I’d like to so I decided it was time to mix up what I’m doing and get some cardio in. I need the cardio in order to tackle some Colorado mountain trails.

Fourth. A new client special was just the carrot I needed to go ahead and commit to trying something new and get out of my comfort zone.

That’s it.  That’s why counting the days got me to finally get this started. I realize it is far from prefect now or even what I really envisioned this blog to be but I had to start somewhere or I was never going to start.

So I will leave you with this thought today….

never-regret

Day 3 – the heart monitor

Day 3 or Wednesday as it’s more commonly known dawned slightly cooler and I headed out just after 7 am to get the dogs out for a romp in the cooler air. Hit a nice yoga class at the Y after and then on to the cardiac specialists to get the heart monitor.

So, all I have to say after these first few hours is that I’m working hard to forget the monitor is there and go about my “normal” activities.   Easier said than done so far.  I’d say my anxiety level is fairly high as I try to act normal.  I did manage a nap – stress is exhausting.

Now, I’m acknowledging that the monitor is there and it’s there for a good reason and it IS better to know then to keep my head firmly planted in the sand ostrich style.

So, back to my regularly scheduled life.  On tap for the rest of day 3….chores!  Not a ton of fun but a must since we are back from vacation.

Speaking of vacation, we enjoyed our road trip to Mt Rainier, North Bend, WA, Seattle and finally Portland, OR.  Mt Rainier was amazingly beautiful!  I am definitely going back there! Next up was North Bend AKA Twin Peaks. We stayed in the fancy pants Salish Lodge (it was very nice but a bit of a shock after Rainier). We then traveled directly into the teeth of high tourist season in Seattle with our first stop being Pike Place Market.  To say we were overwhelmed is an understatement. The Seattle highlight was the modern pop culture museum.  The drive to Portland was a bit stressful – tons of traffic, stop and go and just tension from Mr. Fantastic.  The girl is considering Portland State University for her college experience. Portland definitely seems to march to the beat of it’s own drummer and that’s a good thing!

A few photo highlights from our tours: