Author Archives: bonnie

A Reader’s Comments on Shirlee’s Stroke

Bonnie - My heart bleeds for you all and the situation you are in. I remember going to church one Sunday morning and telling everyone my husband was doing great in rehab after his stroke. When I got to rehab I went to his room and the mattress was on the bed, stripped, and rolled up. I almost passed out, I was sure he had died. His heart had acted up and he was sent back to the ER. The doctor had left a message on my answering machine that I didn't see before I left for church. I know what ups and downs are all about. My husband was 71 when he had his stroke and lived ten years. I don't know how old Shirlee is but if she recovers enough to go home you will have your hands full and if she needs a nursing home it will cost an arm and a leg. I guess you just have to take a day at a time and do what you have to do.

It sounds like Dale is having a rough time with his dentures but if he loses weight and brings his blood pressure down maybe it will be worth it. It sounds like you and Sandy will lose weight also with all the running around and cooking less.

EK, PA

Update on Shirlee, Bonnie’s Mother-In-Law, who had a Stroke January 16, 2013

Shirlee has been gradually improving. It's been up and down. First she was sent to a rehab place and there she got a bladder infection. She was sent back to the Kaiser Hospital in two days. Then she had another mild stroke, which they saw on a CT scan. She is sleeping a lot and not eating much (she's lost 15 pounds). At the hospital she had the catheter removed but they used a scanner that showed she wasn't able to void her urine completely so they put the catheter back in. Then they put in a Pic Line to deliver her fluids as she still can't swallow liquids (the doctor said the Pic Line is safer than an IV needle in her arm). They are giving her antibiotics orally and a mild blood thinner. She was moved back to the rehab place last night. She can see with her right eye in the morning, but not very well in the afternoon. She can move her left arm to wipe her mouth but can't control either arm well enough to feed herself. She can't use her left leg at all, but she wiggles her left foot, but not when asked to. She can't keep her lower dentures in place when she falls asleep so the nurse has to pick them out of her mouth so they don't fall out. She doesn't want to have her dentures taken out but the nurse takes both upper and lower out and cleans them once a day. Yesterday she joked with the physical therapist when she had her therapy and that was a good sign. She can't hear well at all without her hearing aids and she can't put them in by herself, so she isn't using them. Her sister wanted to talk to her over the phone, but Shirlee couldn't hear her and didn't even know she was supposed to be on the phone with Joan. Joan said she could hear her talking to Dale, so that made Joan happy. At the hospital they use something on her legs that squeezes them for a few minutes everyday and that kept the fluid from building up in her feet and legs, but at the rehab place they don't do that and her feet and legs swell up. On her chart it says she is suffering from heart failure and the after effects of a series of strokes.

Dale still cannot wear his dentures. The dentist wants take his dentures and drill out over nine areas where he has protruding bone so they will fit, but he says he doesn't want to ruin the dentures as in all his research it says after 10 to 12 weeks the body reabsorbs the protruding bone and then the dentures get loose and have to have goop put in them so you can eat. He paid  lot of money for the dentures and doesn't want them to be drilled out. It's been five weeks since his oral surgery so he has five to seven more weeks to go without dentures.

He is eating everything blended in the VitaMix. He has also become a Vegan (all plant foods and no animal protein -- not even dairy). This is because he wants to eventually get off the blood pressure pills and in his research being a Vegan is the best and quickest way to accomplish that.

I'm going to close now and go to the store for "plant" foods (we have discovered ready-made tamales for Vegans, Vegetarians and meat eaters and the three of us have been eating one or two a day, which has been helping to keep us fed as we rush around trying to take care of ourselves as we drive to downtown Walnut Creek and try to find parking at the hospital and rehab place so we can spend time with Shirlee every day).

A Reader’s Comment About Shirlee’s Stroke

Dear Bonnie - I am so sorry about Shirlee's stroke.  It reminded me of my husband’s stroke. He was also paralyzed on the left side.  That means that the stroke occurred on the right side of the brain.  For some reason, if the left side of the body is affected, the thinking process seems to function better than if the right side is affected.  My husband's mind was good until the end for which I was thankful.

I know this is going to cause a lot of changes in your household.  It will be good that there are three of you to work together to meet Shirlee's needs. I will  be praying for all of you, especially Shirlee, as the days go on.

EK, PA

Bonnie’s Mother-In-Law, Shirlee, Had a Stroke (8 Days Before Her 85th Birthday)

We are spending a lot of time at the hospital as Shirlee had a stroke on Wednesday, January 16, 2013. She has taken a turn for the worst today after seeming to improve yesterday.

January 13, 2013, three days before Shirlee had a stroke

January 13, 2013, three days before Shirlee had a stroke

 

Her left side is paralyzed and the first indication that something was wrong (that we noticed) was that she couldn't seem to see perfectly during the night Tuesday night (the doctor told us later that she must have lost the sight in her left eye during the night). She didn't say anything about not being able to see, but she called to Dale from the hallway and asked him to help her find the bathroom and after she used the toilet (he waited to help her back to bed) she just stood up and didn't move and asked him which way to turn to get back into bed. She got back into bed and thanked him and he went back to sleep, but first he thought about her behavior and decided that maybe she couldn't see right and planned to call Kaiser about it in the morning. (He had taken her to the pain clinic Tuesday because she fell out of bed and landed between the bed and her end table Monday night and scraped and bruised her side. The doctor looked her over and felt her ribs, etc. and said she didn't break anything and she should take Ibuprofen for the pain.)

Dale was on the phone talking to the advice nurse at Kaiser when Sandy yelled to him that Shirlee was having a stroke (Dale had asked Sandy to sit with her while he called Kaiser from his phone in the office.) I was in the shower and I heard Sandy yell. Later Sandy said Shirlee was talking to her normally when all of a sudden she started to drool and mumble incoherently and shake her head and fail her right arm and hand around. Dale quickly called 911 and the ambulance came in 10 minutes.

Yesterday, Friday, Shirlee recognized me and seemed to be able to focus both eyes. We could understand most of what she said ("Oh, Bonnie, my friend." and then she began to cry). She even swallowed some apple sauce and cranberry shush. But today she couldn't swallow and she had another CT scan. The first one, that was taken on Wednesday, showed that she had been having strokes for several weeks, not just the big one that morning. I'm going back to the hospital now and maybe we'll get more information.

Dale is home now and is going to take a nap. We are taking turns (with his daughter, Rhiannon, in between us) of being there for Shirlee.

The next step for Shirlee is to go to a rehab facility and she will be there (as long as she keeps improving and can retain her instructions on how to do things -- the doctor says she will not fully recover and will be in a wheelchair) for up to six weeks. She was scheduled to go there today but not being able to swallow put it off temporarily. They haven't put her on a blood thinner yet either as that might cause her to die. Then the doctor said, "However, not putting her on it might cause her to die, too!"

Dale’s Dental Saga

On Christmas day at 7 AM I was at Walgreen's 24 hour Pharmacy picking up a prescription of antibiotics for Dale. I had not slept all night and at 6 AM he called his dentist to say he was running a fever and had chills and sweats and his face was swollen everywhere.

Yes, Dale finally had his teeth extracted on Saturday, the 22nd of December. It took nine hours to get the job done and Gigi, his Vietnamese dentist, told us it would only take 3 hours. He had extraction appointments with her twice before (December 9th and 15th) and she couldn't do anything because his blood pressure was too high. It was 200 over 107 on the 8th. He had called her to tell her his blood pressure was high. She said it should be 135 over 80 or less because extracting teeth causes your blood pressure to go up and if it was already high it could kill you. So the surgery on the 9th was canceled and Gigi advised Dale to go to Kaiser and get a prescription for Blood Pressure Lowering drugs, which he did.

For the surgery scheduled on the 9th Gigi prescribed an antibiotic to be started a few days before his appointment and to be taken for 10 days, which Dale did, but it gave him diarrhea, so he didn't want to take any more antibiotics if he could avoid it.

On the 15th of December, after taking blood pressure lowering medicine for 5 days, Dale’s BP was 160 over 90, which was still too high so Gigi sent him home with instructions to call Kaiser and get his doctor to prescribe double the amount of the BP medicine, which he did. That amount got his BP down to 140 over 85 and she said that would be good enough if she just extracted the teeth that were giving him pain (maybe three) and she asked him if that was okay, and he said yes (she ended up taking all 27 of his teeth out).

That was at noon. She kept taking out teeth and asking him if he was feeling okay to continue and he kept saying yes. He really wanted to get it over with. Every two hours she finished a quadrant and Dale would get up and walk around and drink water and go to the bathroom. Each time I thought he would say that was enough for today, but he kept going back for her to take out another quadrant. Gigi said she had to break his teeth into four parts (she had a tool to do that) to get them out. She said something funny too: "Dale doesn't have bone as good as an African man, but he has the best bone I've ever seen for a Caucasian man."

It was after 9 PM when we left Gigi's office. He did have Novocaine, which at first he didn't want. When she was done Dale hadn't eaten for 11 hours (Gigi hadn't either -- or her helper, Danny, or me), but for Dale it was not good as, after all his teeth were out, he came into the waiting room and after sitting down in a chair he said he had to lie down and got down on the floor. He stayed there for awhile and Danny, Gigi's assistant, helped to get him back up into the chair and then he passed out. He just sat there and his eyes stayed open but he was not responding to our questions. Gigi got a tube of glucose and squirted it into his mouth and he swallowed and after he took two swallows he started to answer our questions, but he didn't realize he had passed out.

At first Gigi wanted to call an ambulance and get the paramedics to help, but I told her he just had low blood sugar. He had been trying to help lower his blood pressure for two weeks by eating like a vegetarian (no animal protein or fat -- which is not what I would have done) and having small meals often, which meant he didn't have enough reserves in his system after not eating for eleven hours and having oral surgery for nine of the eleven. That's when Gigi disappeared and came back with the glucose.

There was a great explanation for why he passed out in our Contra Costa Times newspaper yesterday. Here's the link:
http://www.yourwestvalley.com/columns/article_9d4b1d98-5122-11e2-be42-001a4bcf887a.html

Anyway, the three of us got him into my car and I called Gary to meet us in the driveway when we got home and he was waiting for us and walked beside Dale into the house in case he passed out again. Sandy had made him a chocolate milk shake in the Vitamix, which he drank right away, and we used the Vitamix again to whip him up a meal made of chicken enchiladas mixed with my famous vegetable broth (that's what he requested). And he's been drinking his meals (4 ounces each) every three hours ever since. He has been having chicken because he likes the chicken enchiladas that Sandy made without salt and that we had frozen in squares. (He temporarily stopped being a vegetarian.)

On Sunday (the day after the surgery) Dale's face began to swell up and he looked like a chipmunk, which we all thought was normal as when our wisdom teeth were extracted our faces swelled up. But it was probably more than that. By Monday night the whole house smelled like infection. I mean it was wicked. I couldn't go into our bedroom when he was sleeping because the smell was so strong. He couldn't sleep long at a time because his face hurt everywhere and he can't sleep on his back (he turns onto his side as soon as he falls asleep). So, when he woke up in the middle of the night I told him he had to call Gigi and get antibiotics because he had a raging infection. He agreed and called her at 6 AM and woke her up (on the 25th, Christmas day). She prescribed some strong stuff because after the first tablet the smell diminished considerably and by the 27th the swelling of his face had gone down everywhere except in one place. However, since Christmas night he has been sleeping in his Lazy-boy chair in the front room because his face was/is too painful to sleep on his side.

Gigi had his dentures all ready to go and wanted him to wear them right away on the 22nd, but his gums were so swollen and painful that he couldn't wear them. He saw her on the 27th and she said he should wait another week and she will adjust his dentures to fit then. She also said he was healing nicely and in a week all the stitches will have dissolved and the skin will be nice and pink (it's white in spots now).

That night (Thursday, the 27th) he started having diarrhea again and was planning to call Kaiser and get a phone appointment with his doctor to discuss what he should about it but by yesterday (the 28th) the diarrhea had stopped and his bowels started acting normal again. He has been taking a lot of probiotics between the times he takes the antibiotic. The antibiotic is very strong and he is supposed to take it for 10 days so we will see how it goes.

He is also still taking the blood pressure medicine at the stronger dose as it is the only thing that has helped keep his blood pressure at near normal levels (it goes up and down, but doesn't go as high as it did on December 8th).

Sandy has been cooking dinner every night for all of us. Gary helps with lunch by making Shirlee sandwiches like the ones he makes for himself out of leftover roast beef, chicken or ham. Shirlee loves Gary and Sandy. She gives Sandy big hugs whenever she sees her cooking in the kitchen. The Vitamix has been in use constantly and Sandy even made a mixture of ham hocks, beans and corn bread muffins (she soaked the beans overnight and then cooked them and the ham slowly for 24 hours) that turned out great -- or so Dale says. I can't eat beans and the Gerber-like food he is eating all looks, smells and tastes the same to me.

Well, this is all for now. I slept 13 hours straight Thursday night. Until then I had been only sleeping for five hours at a time and I skipped sleeping at all Wednesday night. So now I'm trying to catch up with making my broth -- I haven't had any for three days because we used it up making meals for Dale in the Vitamix and I didn't have time to make it again until now.

I've been doing dishes and laundry (Dale only missed one day of not unloading the dishwasher for me) and I've been able to keep up shipping orders and Dale has even been talking to customers even though it's hard to understand him with no teeth!

Sandy went nine months without teeth so he is soldiering on and nobody seems to care that they have to ask him to repeat himself a couple of times.

Bonnie’s Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope you and yours are happy and healthy. Everyone here sends their love and Christmas wishes to you.

We have a full house this holiday season. It’s me, Dale, Sandy, Gary (Sandy’s boyfriend), and Shirlee (Dale’s mother).

Sandy and Gary have been in a long distance relationship since she left Washington in March 2001 (they had been living together since 1997). They text and talk over the phone every day and he visits her here in California two or three times a year. This visit will be his longest at over two months.

Sandy is still on the mend from her ordeal with osteomyelitis of the jawbone. It’s been amazing and heartwarming to watch her slowly but definitely work her way back from undergoing over a dozen oral surgeries and losing so much bone that one Kentucky dentist told her she would never be able to wear dentures. She not only wears dentures but has proven the doctor wrong who told her repeatedly that people never completely get rid of osteomyelitis of the jawbone.

Ben, Sandy's Son, and Sandy, Bonnie's Daughter, Wichita, KS, Memorial Day 2011

Ben, Sandy's Son, and Sandy, Bonnie's Daughter, Wichita, KS, Memorial Day 2011

 

With five people staying at the house most of the day and all of the night we are in a routine of making three meals a day for everyone, doing laundry daily, and grocery shopping often. Sandy does the cooking, Dale and I clean up the dishes and kitchen, and everyone does their share of folding and putting away the laundry.

While Gary has been here he has been carving walking sticks that are beautiful works of art with human faces and animals emerging out of the wood.

Sandy enjoys working with beads and wire that she miraculously turns into gorgeous earrings.

Dale is kept busy with his consulting work for The Road To Health as well as caring for his mother who will be 85 in January (he takes her out every day for a ride in the car because she likes to get out of the house for a while and she doesn’t drive anymore).

I do the ordering and accounting, pack and ship boxes of supplements for The Road To Health, and do the shopping for the family (which gets me out of the house almost every day, too).

We all enjoy watching TV and ever since I drove Sandy to dentists in Indiana, Kentucky, Northern California and Mexico (the last two many, many times) I’ve been listening to books on CDs in the car. The last three books I’ve listened to are: "The Racketeer" by John Grisham, "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O’Reilly and "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel. I’m almost finished listening to "Life of Pi" and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I plan to see the movie, too.

I also love to experiment by taking new (to me) supplements that I read or hear about. My experiments consist of adding each new supplement to my diet for about a week before I add another one. The most recent ones I’ve tried are: Moringa capsules and Green Coffee Bean capsules both by Genesis Today. Moringa is an African super food that provides amino acids and minerals in higher amounts than milk, helps prevent diabetes, and helps to satisfy hunger and therefore aids in weight loss. Green Coffee Bean capsules help people avoid developing diabetes and help with weight loss without exercising or dieting by preventing the body from turning sugar into fat.

The good news is the Moringa capsules give me energy. I had started taking naps every day for two hours (as well as sleeping eight hours a night) before I began taking Moringa and in just one day Moringa stopped my need for naps. I feel energetic all day when I take two capsules of Moringa daily 30 minutes before I eat breakfast (I don’t take it again in the afternoon as the label recommends because when I do I stay up too late). I was visiting with a colleague in the health food industry the other day who is also taking Moringa and she said after taking it for three months it helped her eyesight. Neither of us has noticed any weight loss though, but maybe it’s too soon.

The bad news is that I’m allergic to green coffee beans. They caused me to forget the names of things while I was talking about them and to say things backwards as though I had suddenly developed verbal dyslexia. I didn’t realize what was causing it right away. It didn’t start until the third day of taking two capsules of Green Coffee Bean every morning and two again in the afternoon. On the fourth day my memory was worse and I also did something that at the time seemed so hilarious that Sandy and I laughed until we cried (after loading the dishwasher I pulled the oven door open instead of the dishwasher door and almost poured a scoop of dishwasher soap onto the oven door).

After that happened and Sandy had left to take a walk with Gary I thought to myself that it wasn’t funny at all that I was forgetting the names of things and making mistakes like I wasn’t fully conscious of what I was doing, so I’m thankful I could still remember that I had recently added the Green Coffee Bean capsules to my diet. So, to test if they could be the cause of these “senior moments” that had happened to me all day for two days, I stopped taking them and by the next day I started to remember the name of things more often and I didn’t do anything else weird, but it took another three days of not taking them before I was back to consistently remembering the names of things.

Coincidentally, the previous Sunday there was an article in the newspaper entitled “Five signs of Alzheimer’s Disease” and one of the five is calling a familiar object by the wrong name such as calling a tea kettle a water pot. Another one is going through red lights when driving − and wouldn’t that be similar to mistaking the oven for the dishwasher? − it’s doing something you always do, but doing it without realizing you’re doing it wrong. So, I believe I experienced two days of what it must be like to have Alzheimer’s Disease and it’s very scary!!! Thank goodness the cause was that Green Coffee Beans do not agree with me and that I could quickly stop taking them with no remaining side effects.

Dale, Rhiannon and Bonnie at Angela & Corey's wedding reception January 13, 2013

Dale, Rhiannon and Bonnie at Angela & Corey's wedding reception January 13, 2013

 

So, here I am healthy and happy and looking forward to my 76th year with a new appreciation for remembering the names of things and for being able to drive safely.

Love, Bonnie