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29
Sep

Rubber Ducky

Right now there is a giant rubber ducky floating down the Ohio River in Pittsburgh.

rubber ducky

You may want to ask “But why Amy?  Why is there a giant rubber ducky floating down the river in Pittsburgh?”

The answer to that question is “Why not?  Why wouldn’t there be a giant rubber ducky floating down the river?”

Also, this is really funny…………..

Texts From My Cat

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27
Sep

Ataxia

The first time I wrote about ataxia it was so bad I would sit on my hand.  Maybe I had to sit on my hand because of the intention tremor.  It was a combination of both I think.  Remember that the 1st time that I wrote about this I didn’t know that I didn’t know anything.  I thought I knew something.  I was wrong.  I don’t admit that I’m wrong a lot so mark this date.  Ataxia is a problem with coordination of movements.  I don’t really have a big problem with it anymore but right after the stroke Oh. My. God.  It was bad.  This was the main thing I think that made me look so freakishly bad to the outside world.  I had ZERO control over my movements.  Walking was ridiculously bad.  Because of the ataxia, my right leg would just do its own thing before landing in the correct spot.  I had to concentrate like hell in order to make my arm and leg on the right side of my body do what I wanted them to do and everything I tried to do took like 5 hours.  It’s not that my muscles DIDN’T work, they didn’t work CORRECTLY.  A lot of stroke survivors have a limb that doesn’t really work, doesn’t function at all.  That wasn’t my problem.  My problem was that those muscles worked TOO much.  They were just crazy.  Those muscles were insane.  Now they’re sane.  Kind of.

27
Sep

NFL

On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing their game against the Vikings in London. Apparently the NFL wants there to eventually be a football team in London. Ummm, does anyone else think that this is incredibly stupid? It’s called the NATIONAL football league. Not the NFL plus oh yeah London too.

25
Sep

Dysarthria

When I started writing this blog, I hadn’t found my voice.  Writing voice, that is.  When I started writing this, I was just a physical therapist who had a stroke and I thought that I knew some stuff.  I’m still that and will always be that.  I’m still a PT who had a stroke.  But now I know that I know nothing.  Ok, that’s not true.  I know some stuff, but everybody knows some stuff.  I now know that I knew NOTHING – less than nothing, absolutely nothing about recovering from a stroke.  No one knows anything.  Ok, some people know some stuff but not a whole hell of a lot and no one knows how to get a stroke survivor to full recovery.  That’s where Dean comes in.  🙂  If you want to get to full recovery you better do your own research.

So, in light of this new knowledge that I know nothing, I’m going to revisit some of the topics that I wrote about in those early months.  I’m gonna start with my speech.  My speech problem is called Dysarthria and it sucks, I hate it.  But, it could be A LOT worse.  It’s a completely motor problem meaning there’s nothing at all cognitive about this.  My speech muscles are messed up so I sound kinda weird.  I used to not talk on the phone.  I wouldn’t talk to a new friend on the phone that I made recently and when I finally did he said “why are you self-conscious about your speech?”  So I need to get over it.  But living with this 24 hours a day, day in and day out makes that difficult.  I don’t notice the improvement that someone who hasn’t seen me in a while notices.  My first speech therapist was absolutely awful and useless.  But I’ve learned not to put the focus on the bad guys (like the doctors who f’d up my life), and put the focus on the good guys.  To treat this disorder, diaphragmatic breathing is HUGE and is the foundation of getting your speech back to normal.  The breath is the foundation of absolutely everything.  My diaphragm was not even mentioned to me until I started meditation and breath work lessons.  Diaphragmatic breathing is not only the foundation of speech but is also the ultimate relaxation device.  It’s much better than any anti-anxiety pill you could take, and I would know.  Now I am taking singing lessons.  I end up cracking up during every lesson because I sound ridiculous but this is gonna get my voice back, I know it.  I’ve already made a ton of progress in my singing lessons.

24
Sep

40 is the new 30

They said on some talk show today that “40 is the new 30.”  Well that’s good, I hope that’s true.  The first time that I had a 30th year on this planet it blew chunks.  And I blew chunks.  I would very much like the opportunity to do it again.

24
Sep

Disability

Someone sent me a really interesting article.  It’s about whether to disclose a hidden disability.  All of my disabilities are invisible.  You see me walking down the street and you wouldn’t know that I had a single issue.  I am painfully aware of what I look like to random people who don’t know me.  I’m painfully aware of that.  They see a pretty young lady.  You’d have to talk to me for a while to even know that I have a problem with my speech.  Even that is getting to the point that it’s not an immediate giveaway.  Whenever I use my handicapped parking pass, which I don’t use unless there is no place to park, which by the way I was just at Whole Foods in the middle of the day on a Tuesday and it was PACKED.  Jesus, I’m never going to that store on a Saturday.  Sorry about the tangent, anyway whenever I use my parking pass, I get out of the car and people look at me and I know that they’re thinking “what is she doing parking there?”  I know it happens, I know people think that.  I’ve learned to let people think what they think and say whatever they want to say and not let it affect me.  I can only control what I say and do.  Given the option, I would choose that my disabilities be invisible as opposed to visible.  Given the choice I would choose not to have to deal with these crapass disabilities ever but I do, I have to deal with it.  I DON’T have a choice.  I’m trying to make the best out of the piece of shit situation that I was dealt because the alternative of making the best out of this situation is well_______you fill in the blank.  I had a stroke at 30, it is what it is.  That’s why I do a ton of meditation, it’s the absolute only thing that makes me feel better.  Given the option, I would choose to have it this way, I would choose invisibility but it causes me a lot of problems and annoyances.  But again, it is what it is.

Please go here for a better, affordable alternative to learning Transcendental Meditation.

22
Sep

Dexter

Goodbye Dexter Morgan, goodbye forever.  😦  Your serial killing ways brought me a lot of joy in the last few years when I had VERY little to be joyful about.

22
Sep

Protocols

When you have surgery on your rotator cuff or hip, there is usually a protocol that your physical therapist gets that says stuff like “the patient should have this much range of motion by this day.”  It’ll say stuff like when the patient can start to put weight on the extremity and what exercises can be performed.  Well that makes it easy.  I used to love it when I would get a protocol because I didn’t have to think.  There is no protocol that comes with stroke patients.  Not only is there no protocol, no one knows ANYTHING.  Recovering from a stroke is a ton of trial and error.  Dean always says he hates it when doctors and researchers say “every stroke is different.”  He should be angry at that.  Every stroke is not different.  A stroke is a stroke.  What should be said is that “every stroke produces different effects and every stroke will cause the patient to have to work on different things.”  But every stroke is the same.  It’s all brain damage.  So stroke researchers, get on the ball and figure out how to produce recovery in the brain.

21
Sep

Barb

I named this post Barb because this was completely her idea and she has emailed me with questions and given me multiple ideas for blog posts.  Thanks Barb!  🙂  Usually I have an answer.  I hate not having an answer.  It reminds me that I don’t know everything.  This is what she emailed me this morning and I didn’t have an answer for her.  GRRRRR!

“While taking inventory and stretching this morning, I remembered asking an OT about something, but getting an unsatisfactory answer. Maybe you can do better:

How come I straighten my fingers in the morning while I stretch when I can’t otherwise? She said that it was because I can have involuntary control without having voluntary control.

Why is that? And is there any significance to having involuntary control?”

I don’t agree with the involuntary vs. voluntary control answer.  Involuntary control is like when the muscles of your stomach contract, it just happens, you don’t control it.  So it would have nothing to do with skeletal muscles.  Muscles of organs are called smooth muscles.  Muscle muscles like your quads, biceps, and finger muscles are called striated (skeletal) muscles.  I could tell you craploads of stuff about why certain things feel different in the morning and are harder to do but this has me stumped.  I don’t like being stumped!!!!!!!

20
Sep

Parallel Parking

Don’t ever say that women can’t parallel park.  I have brain damage and I can do it perfectly…….

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AND……………………………………………..just for laughs…………………………………..

4ad

20
Sep

Mirror Box

My parents made me a mirror box using these instructions.

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How many things can you find in this picture?

 

If you’d rather just buy one, this one looks good.

19
Sep

The Myotome Dance

A myotome is the muscle(s) that correlates to a spinal segment.  For example, your biceps are your C5 myotome.  Or is it C6?  I forget, anyway the nerves that come out of the 5th segment of your spine control the biceps.  So if you present with weakness in your biceps this well tell your super smart therapist that there is something wrong with your 5th cervical spinal segment in the neck.  This is the case for every muscle in the body.  To learn these for the upper body, in PT school we all did what was referred to as “the myotome dance.”  Starting at the shoulders down to the wrists there is a little dance that we performed, and with each motion we would name the spinal segment that it correlates to.  Here it is….

Raise the shoulders (C2-4 myotome)

Lift the arms out to the side (C5 myotome)

Bend the elbows(C5,6 myotome)

Straighten the elbow (C7 myotome)

Bend the wrist (C7 myotome)

Pull the wrist back (C6 myotome)

Bend fingers (T1 myotome)

I might have that wrong, I haven’t done the myotome dance in a few years.

This has nothing to do with a stroke.  If you had a stroke, all of your myotomes are f’d up.  Well, at least all myotomes on one side.

19
Sep

High Blood Pressure

I took my dog for a walk last night and some lady on the street bent down to pet her.  As is par for the course, the lady said “aww why is your dog limping?”  So I told her she had a stroke 3.5 years ago and the lady says, trying to be funny….”well did she have high blood pressure?  That’s what causes strokes in humans.”  Oh lady on the street.  😦  But this lady didn’t think anything at all was wrong with the dog’s owner so that’s a good thing.

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By the way…….

ada

18
Sep

Physical Therapy

I can’t sleep so I thought I’d write a blog post.  I fell into the profession of physical therapy back asswards.  Most people have some story like “my mom went to PT” or “my sister went to PT” or “I want become a PT to go to Africa and help all the starving little kids do physical therapy.”  No joke, I heard that (well, close to that, in a group interview for PT school).  Not me, I got nothin’.  I don’t have some story.  I just decided to go to grad school one day and I really liked my anatomy class in college so I decided to go to PT school.  For whatever reason, I got into a school out in Philadelphia and BAM 3 years later I was a physical therapist.  Then BAM 4 years after that I had a massive stroke, almost died, and my life was flipped inside out and upside down.  I miss it.  I miss being a PT.  I liked making people feel better.  It definitely wasn’t a thankless job.  It was pretty thankful.  I hope to do it again someday but I’m a far way from being a practicing PT again.  That sucks cause after what I’ve been through and after what I’ve learned I’d be a f’ing amazing physical therapist.

17
Sep

Eccentric Control

Ok so this is something I knew but REALLY, REALLY, REALLY learned first hand in the last few years.  An eccentric contraction is when the muscle is used to go down a hill, step, or lower something.  Eccentric contractions are harder, no matter what they’re harder.  They’re harder if you haven’t had a brain injury or a knee replacement, they’re just harder.  Every single patient that I ever saw had more trouble with eccentric contractions.  It’s significantly harder for me to go down a hill than up a hill.  And I live in Pittsburgh – there are a lot of hills here.  And I have a dog so I have to walk on those hills everyday multiple times a day.  If you really work on that motion, you’ll automatically gain more control over the concentric contraction.  A concentric contraction is the opposite – it’s when going up a hill or staircase, or lifting something.  An isometric contraction is when you contract the muscle but there is no movement.  So push against a wall really hard, nothing moves – that’s an isometric contraction.  To start out strengthening a really weak muscle, use isometric contractions.  Then move to concentric, then do eccentric contractions like crazy.