Music: One Of The Spices Of Life

Here is today’s blog post about taking advantage of what music has to offer in terms of stroke specifically and what it can add to your life in general. 

Did you know that your brain treats music as another language? People that can’t speak can sing a familiar song when prompted. 

That it’s the only activity to fire all your brain at once?

Today we’ll be talking about music therapy in some of it’s many forms. 

This afternoon I was listening to the 70s station on Pandora Radio as I did some of my exercises. Not only did the time fly by but I realized there was “more pep in my step” as I kept pace with the beat of the music. It led me to think about music and how important it can be to our brain and our life- even our pets too. 

I’m lucky thanks to my Mom for having a smartphone to listen on, so I always have music nearby. 

The choices in the digital world are as wide as the web. Some of the more popular are:


Pandora

Spotify

iheart Radio

Apple Music

Your own personal playlist 


Whatever floats your boat , oldies ,80s ,90s or new music, there’s something for everyone. I particularly like the the 70s station, it takes me back to those days of surf, sand, and suntan lotion. 

So even if it’s as simple as turning on the radio wherever you are- your kitchen,car bedroom or barn-(your animals will love it and it’s impossible to be unhappy or tense when you’re singing) listen to whatever makes you happy and fire all the cylinders in your brain while humming,singing and swaying( carefully please) to the beat of your own drum!

Sharon


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Why My Own Animals Are Better Than Trained Thererapy Animals

The benefits of animal therapy are well documented and I’m glad to see the implementation of more of that when working with patients from young to old and all sorts of ailments. While I loved the animals that I worked with in therapy, their patience and tolerance was amazing, I found that the ultimate benefit was in my own animals. I so wished to see my own dogs and the crowning wish was to see my horse. I had to settle for pictures to keep me going. 

Unbeknownst to me people were working behind the scenes to make my dream come true. On a beautiful sunny day at the end of August, my sister wheeled me into the parking lot to behold a trailer with my beloved horse accompanied by his very composed lady friend. My son and his girlfriend had cooked up this miracle that will go down in hospital history! There in the hospital parking lot was a lift to the clouds of my spirit beyond compare! Once he got over his nerves we were so happy to see each other and the memories will be with me forever.

Time passed  too quickly for me, but it wasn’t long before I was the talk of rehab with my hospital visiting horse. Because I spoke with everyone who was curious, the relationship between me and Booman was soon on display. Everyone asked me about him daily!

Knowing how I felt about him, the therapists got together and organized an outing to the barn which was quite an accomplishment because I was still in a wheelchair. The staff was so moved by the experience and the obvious benefits to me, that they asked permission to send a writer to document what happened. The next thing I knew we were in the brochure that is handed out to families about the hospital! Now he finally has the fame he thinks he so richly deserves! 

He’s never been the most adaptable to new experiences but he came through with flying colors. I’ve always said that when it needs to count he doesn’t let me down. The staff still talks about what a gentleman he was. 

So if you’re contemplating what animal therapy can do for you, don’t discount what your own animals can do. Even though they’re not formally trained for therapy work, a little fur therapy goes a long way.

A round of sloppy kisses for everyone!

Sharon

The Anatomy of My Stroke Recovery

In my recovery I’ve been a part of many groups dedicated to educating people, tips and tricks, and what you can expect during the healing process from stroke. I have to say that most of these groups are helpful in their own way. I’ve picked up many tricks and found out about things I had no idea about pre-stroke. Like anything else you’re interested in, it’s all another world like boating, golfing, or even riding. I partake in these groups on a limited basis as I’m an introvert and prefer to lurk quietly, although I do celebrate everyone’s successes. They also allow people to vent in a safe place that is for the most part, supportive and judgement free. The caveat is that no two strokes are the same. What works for one doesn’t work for another- it’s frustrating! Hard work just seems to be a unifying factor for everyone. 

What I have found is that what I think will help me now, (I aways think I’m more ready than I am!) may help in the future. It’s constantly evolving and frustrating. For example my sister bought me a beautiful rollator that I thought I was ready for. It turns out that it was too much for me. I needed more stamina and a brace to hold onto it! It has made me realize that recovery is not a linear thing ,it’s much like the path that has been laid out for success, a tangled knotted ball to be unraveled patiently, sigh. 

I thought I might share what has worked for me over the course of my recovery so far. I’m lucky in the fact that all my deficits are physical. I can’t imagine having to deal with cognitive difficulties as well. I give a nod of respect to anyone dealing with that. 

My grabber has been indispensable to me as it helps me pick up things when my balance is less than stellar. Exercise balls have helped me regain some of my grip and I still use them. My shoulder pulleys and my tabletop bike have been staples for quite a while. I’ve just added a balance disc to my routine as it’s supposed to help with balance and walking, we’ll see. Just walking with a grocery cart has allowed me to walk more normally without my cane and not like a demented three legged racer. Still like a drunken sailor but I’m working on it! These are all additions to the tried and true standard exercises which I try to spice up. I now leave early for my appointments so I can take the stairs. Elevators are for handicapped people, I remind people who ask. I now appreciate just how marvelous a machine the human body can be for all it can do. I never really thought of it that way before my stroke. Horses were the athletes. My body was just something to be used and abused! That has been a change of heart that has come from the stroke. Now I have to slow down by necessity. 

I’ve told my family that they won’t be able to keep up when I’m finally as mobile as I wish! Turning in my handicap placard will be a day of victory.  So don’t pray for an easier life, pray for a greater stamina to carry on. You never know when all you took for granted will be swept away. 

Sharon

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A Life Sidelined by Stroke

 

I started this blog to chronicle my journey from active horse mom- the emphasis on active- to a life sidelined by an unexpected stroke.

I was the chief cheerleader , tack cleaner, stall mucker,trailer packer and check writer for my son in his showing days. As time went by I became the caretaker for our retirees and settled in to a routine of rough boarding so I could manage every aspect of their care. It was my bridge from being out of a mother job to mothering someone else who didn’t mind. My son still works with horses, but life intruded on his ability to ride. 

We had lost his best friend and my heart horse to a barn accident and I was devastated. Eventually under the guise of it would be better to have someone looking out for Booman during the day- as the barn was far away from home- I finally decided to put to put him into full board. It turned out to be the best advice I could have gotten. 

We settled in at the barn, a little rocky at first, just getting used to what can and can’t be done for a big group of boarders. The staff was all wonderful and they didn’t mind me giving him the extras that he was used to. 

If he gets a clean stall, clean water, food and hay that’s fine with me- I don’t expect anyone to care for him the way I do, when they have so many others to be responsible for!

Life was moving along at at a leisurely summer pace when my stroke hit! August 2016 will go down in infamy as they say! I was in the hospital for two weeks and then on to rehab for a month. 

Where I had once considered myself a pillar of invincibility and strength, I was reduced to nothingness. I could only rely on the care of the staff and the loving relationship my horse and I had built over many years to sustain me. 

Not only was the staff taking exceptional care of him in my absence but they even came to visit me in the hospital!

I found solace in my family and the many stroke groups but nothing pulled me through like the love of my horse. 

It’s now almost two years ago and I’m still working and struggling in the trenches of stroke, but I have the love for my horse that keeps me going. 

While I don’t see him as much as I’d like, I know that he’s being cared for by a marvelous group. The therapists at rehab came to know how much he meant to me due to my incessant chatter and arranged a visit to the barn for me.  Even my sister who is not a horse person has stepped forward to pay his expenses for me because she knows what he means to me. 

Now I truly know the meaning of the Seabiscuit quote “ You don’t throw a whole life away, just cause he’s banged up a little” With his bad eyesight, arthritis, Cushing‘ s and “quirky personality “ it would be easy to give up on him-but I never have considered it. 

Now is the time for me to make horses a part of my life but not all of my life for the time being. I’m using this time to revel in my dogs and the home life I was always neglecting.

I’ll keep you posted!

Sharon

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