Saturday, August 22, 2015

Webcam video from August 21, 2015 03:22 PM (UTC)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Webcam video from August 17, 2015 06:45 PM (UTC)

Aphasia: I am overwhelmed with aphasia; it's engulfing. I can't form the words.

Aphasia: Take a look.

I had a birthday, August 15, 1947. I’m 68. I have aphasia to the max.

Fifteen years, in 1999, I had a stroke; whopping, catastrophic, massive ischemic thrombosis. I couldn’t speak, walk and tooled away in wheel chair from the nurses station in five hospitals. I was a blank slate. The left side of brain was fried. A left middle cerebral artery has a clot and complete occlusion. Not good. My left gray matter is 80-99%, per the carotid duplex.

It’s some good news, 15 years later, my left carotid arteries are clear. Numbers and letters are bad for me; like a fog. Like slow motion. Backwards and forewards, right to left…I have no concept. Slowly, I’m reading again. Author Carl Hiaasen, he’s a Florida guy, totally irreverent; he makes me laughing. Laughing is good.

My right hand is dead in the water. After the stroke, I wrote gibberish on my left hand. I won an AP award from an editoral I wrote for ’99, six months before the stroke. The universe is chortling hysterically; God’s little irony. Specifically, I couldn’t remember my name, address and ZIP code. I was real mess.

Seven months later, I came home from the hospital in July, 2001. I had rampant Afib for, at least for twenty years. The doctors were puzzled and ordered generic pill, metoprolol, aka, Lopressor. Lopressor reduces the heart rate, I get that. I took the pill, but the Afib was back with a vengeance; pounding, hammering and, frankly, I thought I was going to die.

I believe it’s mercury fillings. The Afib is gone. The dentist extracted the mercury fillings (I have dentures), in 2005. No panic attacks, no heart-stopping Afib and I have my life back. After the stroke, I had one-word sentences; food, water, haircut. I'm slowly learning to speak. It's wonderful feeling. Mercury stays with you for a long, long, God-awful time. But, I HAVE time.

I digress; aphasia, loss of ability. I am overwhelmed with aphasia; it's engulfing. I can't form the words. 

Check it out.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Meet my Ancestors: Grandma and Grandpap had off-the-charts blood pressure and a blinding headache. Both had strokes.

Anna Wisniewski and Walter Szczekocki

Grandma and Grandpap Szczekocki died of a stroke, respectively, 64 and 72. They are obese people, with lard, butterfat; essential dumplings, with astronomically high blood pressure and blindly, sufferably headaches. Conversely, I too had a stroke. I was fit, extremely (68/50) low pressure and absolutely no headache.  (Read: Mercury Fillings, please.)

Grandma and Pap Yezek were healthy as horses. They were farmers. Pap was 78.  I have knowledge about Grandma. Anna Hribal Yezek raised chickens and never spoke to me. It’s a long story. Two women, Grandma and Mom, fought constantly.

My mom, Jo, was plethora for cerebral vascular accidents, although Mom died of an aneurysm.  She's 72.  Grandma's family history, the Anna Wisniewski Szczekocki clan, died from a stroke. Grandma had five sisters; all had strokes, Mary, Gertie, Frances enlisted with Women's Army Corps (WAC) in Chicago and Helen owned a beer distributor. 

They died very, very young. Grandma had a sister from the convent, Sister Teonesta, praying fervently at the contra-cerebral vascular accident. Sister had a stroke as well. They are obese people

My dad Charlie and his brothers died of old, decrepit, age. The daughter, Eleanor, is 95-plus, living and well. Dad died of Alzheimer's. He was 87.

You pick. I had a massive, blown, left middle cerebral artery, with an acute infarct. The infarct is the loss of adequate blood supply.

I was dead, essentially, at 52.

Meet my Ancestors, a long time ago....

"Tsk." she muttered. 

She flung the tomato juice, milk and Sunkist oranges for $.49 cents. Grandpap wanted coffee, too.

"Such high prices," talking to herself.  She continued to shop and just for fun,  Kraft Carmels.  Grandma had a sweet fang.

Marion Market's was busy Saturday mornings; a sunny, spring April day.  
She checked out. The supermarket had two women on cash registerers, busy sorting the produce, 15 minutes from her house. Two shopping bags to distributed the load, arm to arm, she walked to the Post Office.  She'd run out of  $.04 stamps.  That done; home.
Everson, Pennsylvania is extremely hilly and uphill.  It's a village of Polish Catholics, everybody knows everybody and Fayette County population is about 1000, more or less.  
Grandma walked briskly.  Well, not briskly.  Grandma is hefty.  She walked uphill to St. Joseph's church, up yet still on Maple Street, huffing and puffing and markedly short of breath.  She opened the door, exhausted.  The bun on the nape of her neck was soaked with sweat. She heaved to catch her breath. The mouth was drooping, just a little, she had a headache. Anna died in the living room. The family doctor, Dr. Pisula, and came running. But Grandma was still.
"Anna had a stroke mercifully fast," he said, "there's nothing I can to. I'm sorry. She's dead." 
The doctor packed his stethoscope and little black bag and left.  
She hated doctors and pills, hence, the physicians told her about hypertensive drugs. All the time.
Coincidentally, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of massive cerebral hemorrhage, April 12, 1945.  I'm a useless factoid.
Grandma did the same, April 12, 1958.  Grandma is 63.  I was 10.

Anna, recently deceased, and Walter Szczekocki, owns the house on Maple Street.  Kitty Mae and Jess Johnson were married and lived in the house.  Mary Ann and Billy were siblings.  The older children have married, Louie, Chester and Jo.   Kitty Mae and Jess produced a son, William Walter Johnson, aged 5.  Mary Ann was engaged and Billy is in high school.  It's a compact house for the family and there's an out-house with kinfolk.
Mary Ann Sczcekocki Knipple
Pap is distraught, to be sure, and crying.  "Go call Jo," he ordered.  Kitty Mae dialed the number, for the elder sister. 
I answered  the phone.  Clearly, something was wrong.  Aunt Kitty Mae was wailing.
"Where's your Mother?" she said, sobbing.
"Here. Wait a minute. It's Aunt Kitty Mae." I passed the phone to Mother, "She's crying."
"What's wrong?" said she to Mae.
Marions Market.  Shopping bags.  Soaked with sweat.  The doctor came and went.  Mum was gone.  Mum had a stroke.  End of story.

Louie (brother's Mom) Szczekocki and Helen Gismondi

I was an only child of Josephine and Charles Yezek.  Jo died of a whopping aneurysm and Charlie died of old age.  My mom is borderline-agoraphobia and my dad is amiable drunkard and he never missed a day's work.  A weird family, but I loved my parents. Charlie's a plumber and the pick-up truck full of parts and spigots and fittings and debris clutters the seats.  Dad is disheveled and looks like an unmade bed, but he is quite smart.  He had a scruffy baseball cap, grimy hands and watches boxing and works at Westinghouse a long time ago. Dad is his own boss. 
Mom called Dad. My Mom and I squeezed into the truck, flanges and all. My mom never owned a car. Well, she had a permit, sort of.  She had a crash in Bridgeport Dam, another booming metropolis, in her 20's. Two cars and a fender-bender; she tore up the permit.
"I'll walk,"  she noted.  Dad was with at the time and the car was fine, damaged, but fine. She never drove.
Grandma never liked Mother, sad but true, and Mom couldn't care less. My aunts were sobbing and mounds of Kleenex tissues were wet and soggy. Mom, however, nary a tear.
"I'm sorry, Pap," she embraced Grandpap.
The undertaker came and went and the body was embalmed.

Grandma died at home and the coffin laid in the living room.  All sorts of company came, from the inebriated men to the women making kieska, kielbasa, duck soup dziczyzna, my personal favorite, pierogi, laden with lard.  The camaraderie came non-stop for three days; the women prayed the rosary and the men were imbibing.
The day of  Grandma's funeral, Mom was late.  Exceeding late.  One hour late.  The sisters glared and Grandpap scowled.  Mom was undaunted, with Arpege perfume, red-red lipstick and seamed stockings just so.
Two years passed, Grandpap had a stroke. Dziczyzna, keiska and all matters of cholesterol took their toll.

Me and Charlie
 I remember Grandpap. My hair was short and Buster Brownish and he called me Mimsy.  He spread his arms around me and grinned.
"Hi Grandpap," with a hug.  
I remember a white shirt and tie, never smoked and he brushed his teeth with salt.  He had sparkly teeth.  I was four and he was gigantic.  I found out later Grandpap was miniscule person, perhaps 5'7".  Even Dad the plumber was a munchikin .  Even my first ex-ex-ex-husband was 5'7", the misanthrope womanizer.  Yes, a contradiction in terms.
Kitty Mae was kind, long-suffering and loves the church and the crisp, clean almost-virginal linen.  She's was always ironing for the church.  Men-folk abound with Grandpap, Jess, Little Billy and sibling Bill.  Mary Ann Szczekocki and Knip Knipple were married by now.  Knip was deranged in a good way.  Jess was a loving husband and ten years senior.  Kitty Mae was wildly hypertensive.
Every day before breakfast, Mae took the coffee and buttered toast with home-made preserves, out on the rear porch to feeding the birds.  Chickadees, bluejays and cardinals scarfed down crumbs and bits of toasts. The birds ate from the plate.
Sister Teonesta
Pap was 68 and had a mild stroke, then suffered two strokes. He's quasi-bedridden and he's falling down over the bed, to the floor.  Apparently, the paralyzed side, the arm and leg, were dead.
"Mae," said Jess, "it's Pap,"  Grandpap fell to the floor with thud.
"You can't walk, Pap," she explained.  Jess and Kitty Mae pulled him up.
Grandpap was mute and discouraged.      
Kitty Mae bathed him, fed him, encouraged him and he died in his sleep.
Grandma and Grandpap was buried from the house from the living room, respectively, 1958 and 1962.  It was a full-blown, three-day, bells and whistles wake.
Grandpap looked good for 70 years, white shirt and all.  Legions of men came to the Polish Club to give respect and the women baked delicious dishes.
"Na zdrowie," the men toasted.
The undertakers, however, halted the viewers.
"It's leaking fluids," said the afresh dead body.
"Here.  The eyes and the ears," squinting at the ooze. "It's overflowing."
"Well, that's not good," said the embalmer.  "Pump it out?"
"Pump it out."
The decay fluids were leaking badly.  I peeked through the keyhole on the door of the living room.  Out of the coffin he went, to the floor.  The undertakers manipulated the pump.  I don't want to think about it.
Mom's affliction with agoraphobia, coincidentally, buried Grandpap.  She never left the house.  I was a teen-ager.

The cemetery was peaceful, calm and serene and Anna and Walter left us.  

Josephine and Mickie Yezek

Grandma had a sister, Mary Somerfield, and she had a premonition, Mom told me.  Mary had a booming voice and she smiled all the time, toothless, I'm afraid.  She was rotund, never had a bra on and the paczki doughnuts were rich and heavy.
Mary had a son, Bobby.  "I don't know why I'm baking a cake so soon," said Mary telephoning Mom. "The birthday is next week," she noted. "Well, you never know."  
Mary died Wednesday, December 16, 1958 of a stroke and his birthday is in December.  She's 51.
Bobby Somerfield ate his cake silently.  He was obese and weeping.  Mary iced the two-layer cake in absentia, clearly gone and clairvoyant.
Years later, the house was quiet. Jess had a supervisor job with Anchor Hocking Glassware, Kitty Mae had copious ironing from the church and Bill the Sibling was a mechanic for small planes.

Billy Johnson was grand champion of divorce and three-times loser of wives. He's moved out, of course.  He had a pre-op for his knee surgery and had a sky-high-off-the-charts blood pressure.  He's taking antihypertensives.

Bill "Murphy" Johnson

Aunt Mary Ann, Knip, Jess and Kitty Mae were vacationing at Ocean City Maryland.  Well-rested and tan, Knip and Jess checked out.  Kitty Mae was going to the bathroom.  
"What's taking so long?" said Mary Ann.
"Mae?" said Jess.  "Are you OK?"
Jess opened the door in the bathroom and here she was, moribund, and quite dead.  She had a stroke.
Kitty Mae refused to talk about the stroke. She had small strokes.  Mae walked with cane and almost-mute characteristics.  She had a "yes" or "no" utterance, at best.  My mom's funeral two years ago, Kitty Mae couldn't speak at all.
Uncle Jess died of lung cancer. 
The doctors prescribed antihypertensives, unlike Grandma.  She's 59.
Chalmer "Knip" Knipple and Billy Szczekocki
Anna and Frank Yezek were farmers and "Pap" and the boys were coal miners.  Acre's and acre's of tillage, from cows and chickens and porky swines. The stint in this farm are brief and remote.  I remembered fireflies, lots of cats and mice, and sweet acrid odor of manure.
Anna Yezek was dynamic. Grandma had five boys, Dad was one of them, and the sixth baby daughter Eleanor, at least 90, last I heard. The sons were active and vital till death, to the exception of Mick with a heart problem. My Dad was 87 and he couldn't let go, kicking and screaming till the last.  Charley finally succumbed.  He had Alzheimer's.
Milton Yezek, the fifth baby, worked for General Foods in Connecticut and the brothers worked in a coal mine, coughing up dust. Uncle Milt graduated from Penn State University and got the hell out of Dodge. He scraped up the tuition and bought a life. The little I saw, Uncle Milt was kind, empathic and harvesting fresh produce from the garden. Milton was a farmer at heart. He's dead.

GG Mary Hribal Beran, Me, Charlie
Charley had a brief stint in higher learning as well.  Westinghouse picked up the   tab bachelor's degree, unheard of a company-based tuition-assistanced in the 1940's.  Dad was brainy. He discussed with Jo, the rigors of night school three times a week for six years, albeit  a sheepskin; he chose no, and left Westinghouse.
Mom and Grandma didn't like each other, heinous comes to mind; stormy, infuriated and, well, insane.
Anna and Jo were fighting vehemently about nothing. Mom left the farmhouse with a huff, kid in tow and sheepishly Dad fired the pick-up truck, full of parts and plumbing supplies. Grandma was smirking and Dad was in the middle once more.  Fierce Mom and fiercer Grandma.  Not good, not good at all.  I'm probably seven.  My Mom left the farm, never to return.

I don't know the family or Pap or kids or the autocratic Grandma.  
My Mom's brood was plethora for cerebral vascular accidents and my Dad and his uncles died of old age.
You pick.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Percy Killed a Rat


“You’re free!”

Izzy and Percy catapulted just like a slingshot, out the door, sniffing everything from raccoons, skunks and, yes, deer, to the fresh air.

They are shelter dogs. Izzy is four years old, small, a little rotund, bared her teeth for food, toys and varmints (although she never bites). She’s mixed-breed. Percy is a joy. Eager to please, follows me everywhere and he is dachshund. He is long-bodied, extremely short; a “badger dog”, the heavily-built weasel family. He’s two years old and he likes puppyhood. He digs frantically in the yard, just because.

I had a stroke 15 years ago. I’m extremely careful about, well…everything. Four falls (Help…I can’t get up!) and I learned; slow and easy. The right arm and leg are tingly (well, dead I guess) and walk with a cane. The two pet doors, front and rear, are barricaded from forest creatures. I opened the roadblock and the dogs are free to roam, in the house and the yard. I live in the Laurel mountains in Pennsylvania.

I peeked outside the window, the dogs are fighting over a huge rodent, recently dead. He won. Percy bounded up the steps, and Izzy followed suit. In the house, Percy presented a moribund creature. The rat was enormous and he was proud. Izzy looked on, the hackles on her neck are showing and the ridged four paws were ready, pouncing.

“Izzy, stop!”, I warned. She stopped, disappointed.

The red shag rug in the front of woodstove, 4 x 6, had an assortment of toys; the hedgehog, the fuzzy fuchsia ball, the overstuffed bone and there, strewn about, a dead rat. Delighted and pleased, Percy is happy.

I took the WalMart bag and deposited the fur-bound creature. Bounty paper towels and one-gloved left hand, I dumped, secured it, and in to the garbage.

Percy is intimidated and never deterred.

Rats await. He’s a badger, sort of.
Fur-bound Creature, Dead

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Dreamt of a Car. Then a stroke happened. I lived in my car, Doritos strewn about and numerous Coke cans.

I wish....nice!

It's morning.

Blearily eyed, I turned on the light for my aspirin and metoprolol (Lopressor) and the ever-present water. On the night stand, I gulp it down.

Before the stroke, I was a supervisor for Chrysler Motors, Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in the '80's.  I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. I loved the body shop. The plant is a swiss watch, something is always going on, somewhere. I worked the Sundance and Shadow line.

I lived in my car, Doritos strewn about; numerous Coke cans; just-in-case items of toothbrush, deodorant, change of clothes (Snowed in...Michigan winters) for the plant; caked eyeliner brushes from a distant memory; my stuff.

Fifteen years ago, 1999, I had a monumental stroke. I'm 68 and it's 2016; it's an ischemic stroke. I dreamt of a car, whizzing by, not a care in the world, gas pedal floored and eating a Taco Bell (extra-hot). The windshield wipers, the  turn signals, the rear-view mirrors (although, it's all's knows;  the garbage cans, the bike, the little tot, programmed to stop the car), and the ever-present radio, all of a sudden are confusing. What about the other guy?

The reflexes are not good.

For instance, the aspirin, Lopressor and the water in the morning. The screw-on (it's tiny) water bottle, generic aspirin (it's pop-top) and metoprolol "to open push down and turn" are pretty easy. But is it? It's the lids. I get foggy about the lids. Just for a brief moment, a nanosecond, I'm concentrating. Which is which? I close the lids. Yes, my brain is fried. I'm little aphasic, too. Well, a lot.

Ditto for:

I have Anita for everything; for shopping, dog walking, vacuuming and other things.  Agency on Aging with the conjunction of Twin Oaks in Hopwood, PA, one day a week. I depend on the provider. For example, lugging bird seed and an enormous bag of kibble for the dogs, Izzy and Percy. One-hand ain't good.

I shower and shave my legs and towel-dry...every time without fail (the caregivers knows's a joke) "Can I shave my legs, please?" 

"No...your arm pits", Anita, the caregiver, noted. "Pits, pits, pits!"  She lathered and shaved and clean-shaved arm pits. In my mind, legs, not arm pits. The stroke wired me. Concentration: legs and arms. I'll get it right.

Turn right or left; I forgot peanuts for the birds, trudged back; the ceiling fan...which is it?  The ceiling fan or the ceiling light switch?  I devised a plan. The short ceiling fan and the long light switch. And the remote TV? The Exit button and the Mute button; get it wrong every time...time after time after time. I know the exit button and the mute button. The word indicates exit and mute. Duh.

The reflexes are a dollar short, needless to say.

So the car is out. The rear back up camera, power locks and mirrors and fog lamps is no more. I love my quasi-car, but what about the other guy; God-forbid the rug-rat kiddos.


Percy and Izzy

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I have an appointment for Botox on July 9, 2013. Yay.

I have an appointment on July 9, 2013 for Botox.  Just the right hand.  My leg has flexion, but it's too far gone. It's 13 years.  I have my WalkAide, four-pronged cane and I walk a lot. Two out of one ain't bad. I have flexion in my hand, just a little bit. No claw-hand, it bends and it's loose. The fingers are not rigid.

Dr. Marti Haykin fired some questions at me; the date and time and place. It's hard to think sometimes but I responded. The doctor had a bag of tricks, "and, if and but", it's hard as hell (pardon me).  I can't do this...I have a brain freeze.  The brain catches up, but, the thought process is skewed.  Stroke survivors? You know what I'm talking about. I'm little bit aphasic.  Well, a lot.

Good news, though. I breezed threw with flying colors, "and, if and but", with no problem at all. I'm a overachiever, have to, have to, have to do it.  In the comfort of my home, unconstrained, the words come. I'm excited, anticipation, you know?

The stethoscope revealed funky arteries in the neck, on my left side. I related Dr. William Weisel, family practice, noted obscure arteries for long, long time, faint arteries. I went to the hospital in Oct. '09 for a (magnetic resonance imaging) MRI and checked out fine, completely negative.  Ditto for the Doppler carotid in Oct., 2012, negative. In my opinion, (my humble opinion) look to the source of the problem. Is it the brain (Yikes.) or more? I dunno.

On a lighter note, I invested in a Mac Pro, Time Capsule and Pages. Now it's the hard part...I have no idea what I'm doing.  I have no back-up system and that's frightening. Pages is a plus. I'm a writer sort of; a poor writer, and I keep pluggin' away. MacBook is ancient, '08? Something is wrong with the Mail and Safari (internet).

Baby steps.