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The aging homesteader

 
pollinator
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Hmmmm.....don't know if this may be pointing to a new forum or sub-forum on stroke and recovery in general?  Mine arrived with the New Year....seems to fall into the category of 'slow progressive stroke' and briefly detailed here for the benefit of others.  It started New Year's weekend, by recollection on Saturday or Sunday evening.  Slight tingling in left hand noticeably while typing.  Next *day* was fine, but the following night it was there again.....along with slight numbness in left leg.  As many rural dwellers might do, I assumed pinched nerve or having layed or slept on that side wrong along with perhaps pulling a muscle while swinging the splitting maul or moving endless mounds of snow about.  Started the work week with the same pattern.....numbness as I fell asleep at night, being fine by day.  Until about Tuesday when doing okay at work, but no longer as 'fine' as before.  With the usual poor foresight, I waited until that evening, with a large blizzard moving in, to contact a few physician relatives.  They calmly assured me that I should have paid the ER a visit, like, 3 days prior!....and that I should get myself there ASAP.  Which I had to answer with "When the storm passes....".  Clear access throught the drifting for the truck wasn't available until Thursday evening, but it had already dropped to -20F by the time I had busted through with the tractor, so it was going to be the next day.  For various other reasons, it was not until 5 pm Friday evening that I was finally stretched out and ready for blood work, vitals, CT and MRI scans, all of which confirmed the suspected....ischemic stroke in the basal ganglia on right side causing the left side light paralysis, loss of coordination and deficit in balance.  From Tuesday up to this point, I had progressed from a slight limp to a now exagerated limp while still being able somewhat to use my left arm in assisting my right arm in tasks.  Although I've recovered amazingly much function since that time (inflammation in the area of the brain lesion caused much of the symptom expression in my case.....with natural reduction in the swelling, faculties returned to function to a certain extent),  the 'rewiring' phase will be in swing for many months as new roles are mapped onto old synapses and neurons that had other prior tasks.  Even with the family/genetic/behavioral risks that conspired in bringing this on, I feel fortunate to have made it this far with the therapists very optimisitic about future degrees of recovery.

One thing I'm left wondering for the Permie-type as I reflect upon this incident is what I might have done differently at first notice of the numbness.  I've not really found good answers on the internet other that "get to your local ER!....".  It just seems like for many who might for various reasons not have....or not desire.....rapid access to current health care
services, there might be some protocol of physical/nutritional/herbal treatment to engage with at first signs of onset that may alleviate downstream severity of the stroke results.  Clot busters would be a main treatment adminsitered at an ER for many or most presenting there with acute stroke symptoms;.....is there some non-ER equivalent or substitute that perhaps others have heard of?  Seems like this will be an important topic for many aging Permies.  Best wishes to all struggling with this in themselves and the loved ones in their care.
 
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John F Dean wrote:  We had already taken positive steps to make the property more accessible.  

It's amazing how important that is, and how many homes I see where people have spent piles of money on landscaping, assuming they'll never be on crutches or in a wheelchair. We're *all* one car accident away from needing an easy and safe way into our houses!

Prioritizing is always an issue.  So, I need to invest now in appropriate changes that were already on my short list ....the walk in tub, chair lift to the basement, ramps and sidewalks.  

It's hard when you have to make decisions that balance finances and needs. So much depends on the house design you're working with, and the personality and choices of the occupants, as to how to make the tougher choices. A friend of the family had a wasting illness and they stayed in their bungalow as long as possible, but finally opted to move to a condo and I think the big push was to avoid slippery doorsteps and snow! The house had been bought when they had 4 teens/preteens at home, so as much as they loved it, it was time to move on.
 
master gardener
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Location: southern Illinois, USA
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To all those concerned, my wife is home and baking bread.   My issue is preparing for and addressing those problems coming in the future.  
 
pollinator
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John W.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I could see myself shrugging off a little tingling. I've already had one experience with random tingling on one side of my body. I went to the ER and had full head/neck MRI and the result was my first and only migraine (I had a horrible corporate job and the stress was...bad). I had no idea a migraine could do that. My nurse said that her migraines would occasionally cause paralysis on one side of her body.  

One aspect of a stroke is that it can impact decision making and risk assessment. There are certain signs that shouldn't be ignored and yet at times people do. I didn't realize that a stroke could come on slowly. Usually you think about a sudden change in symptoms. This slow progression is really important and I appreciate you sharing it with us.

None of us want to be over-reactive about symptoms, and the fact is, going to hospital is admitting that it might be something serious. I've held off on going to the ER when I was having a really nasty AFib episode. I was wearing a heart monitor at the time and the monitoring company called and said to get to the ER NOW. I debated about it but finally went. Two years and two surgeries later I am a new woman.

I think a new thread about stroke would be a good idea. There are a lot of us older permies and those that aren't so old may have family members who are. Personally, I think if someone is showing signs of a stroke, the ER is the only option. I love natural medicine and herbs and all they can do but sometimes you need the big guns for critical care. My preference is taking those herbs and doing other treatments before a stroke happens. I'm also interested in recovery and remapping/rewiring of the brain. Our bodies can be so amazing at recovering.

 
Robin Katz
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John Dean, glad to hear she's making bread. Good way to work off the stress of the day. Give her a hug for me.
 
gardener
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My goodness, John and John, my heart goes out to each of of you!

This is certainly a wake up call for all of us, not just us aging homesteaders….


I do think we can put our heads together to research and compile a collection of strategies for prevention and best early responses to the onset of stroke symptoms, maybe how to tell if you are having a stroke.  

And when we are done with stroke maybe we can take on the other manifestations of cardiovascular disease.

Does such a thread belong here or is there a better place for it?
 
John F Dean
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Hi Thekia,

To me it is connected to aging ......yes, I do realize some much younger folks have had strokes.   When I was much younger, I worked with an older gentleman.  His catchphrase was, “ Growing old ain’t for sissies.”   He was right.
 
John Weiland
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This is not meant to be alarmist, but just adding to the discussion within the context of the COVID pandemic.  Note in the following link that COVID appears different than influenza as an increased risk factor in stroke and heart attack.  It was something I brought up with the ER doc and they confirmed with regard to our own local (US, Northern Plains states) population.  

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/covid-19-diagnosis-raises-risk-of-heart-attack-stroke#:~:text=In%20one%20of%20the%20largest,COVID%2D19%20diagnosis.

I'm hoping to see from one health-directed institution or another some future guidlines that may address this potentially broader incidence in the general population.


 
Robin Katz
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John, that's a very interesting article and they point to increased inflammation as the source of the heart attack and stroke risk. And they see the same type of increase with influenza so it's more of a generalized inflammatory response that causes problems.

For me, the focus would then be on taking a bunch of anti-inflammatory herbs, supplements and foods if I was infected. I don't see a down side to doing this during recovery. We eat pretty healthy and take quite a few anti-inflammatory supplements already but it's good to know how dangerous increased inflammation can be.
 
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More breaks, more naps.  More trips, lighter loads.  Two wheel wheelbarrow is a godsend.  Know my strengths and weaknesses and have the humility to admit to them and adjust accordingly.  Stairs are deadly, more and deeper steps and smaller riser heights, or ramps where possible.  Face reality and have the humility to ask for help when needed.  Stay the heck away from ladders - I used to scamper up and down forty foot ladders no problem, now even an eight foot ladder is extremely uncomfortable for me.  ICE powered machines are more dangerous than people think, I refuse to increase my dependence on them (plus ICEs are a royal pain in the rear to maintain).  I am willing to accept getting less accomplished instead for the sake of personal safety.  I have known quite a few people in my days who ended up under an overturned tractor, pureed by a chainsaw, or tangled up in a drill press, sheave belt, or PTO.  I got no time for that...

Finally, set smaller goals.  Mentally speaking, it is better to adjust goals downward and meet most of them than set lofty goals and fail to achieve them on a constant basis.  Aging is a mental as well as physical game...
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Sorry, I need to confirm ICE = internal combustion engine?
 
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I'm in my mid-30's and slowed down just a bit from my 20's but still enjoy reading through this thread to pick up bits and pieces on how to make jobs easier. I'm realizing that anything I can do now to take better care of my body will give me better odds of continuing to do physical work in later years. Just because I can lift a heavy log and carry it 40 feet now, doesn't mean I should!  
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Ryan,
Interesting question; just because I can ….

I think the key is to work smarter not harder at every age.

I listen to a podcast called the drive, hosted by Peter Attia who is a physician concerned, preoccupied, maybe even obsessed with longevity.

The name of his podcast is particularly apt, as he is driven to athletic performance, accuracy, ethics and other qualities which make him a reliable source for up to date medical and physiological information and practices.  He talks about training for “the centenarians’ olympics”.  The events that will be important when he gets that old…..  so he has a sense of humor too.

Anyway, if lifting a heavy log is easy for you, or challenges you but does not endanger you, then why stop?  Enjoy the power of your youthful body!  Why not?  As much as possible don’t let the surfeit of testosterone cloud your judgement  and become “testosterone poisoning”.  

Start now, if you haven’t already, to make health and longevity your highest priorities, and train for the centenarian olympics 😊

 
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