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Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th is NOT a bad day!

I am happy to say that I am still standing (and sitting) much straighter today and hope this will continue at least until my next appointment with Dr. Mike on Monday.  I'm not planning on pushing myself by doing too much as I do not wish to make things worse, as is what I usually tend to do.  Not this time!  I'm going to allow others to help me as much as they can and enjoy the "pampering" since I know, or at least hope, this flare up won't last too much longer.

Today is my 43rd birthday, so Friday the 13th is not a wicked, bad, evil day!  It's just another day, folks.. but for me, today is somewhat more special.  I really don't celebrate my birthday too much and the highlight has become reading the beautiful messages left on my wall on Facebook from friends and family.  My day began in perfect fashion with a phone call from my dear tía Lucy (aunt Lucy), although I was awoken at the ass-crack of dawn of 8am.  She calls me each year on my birthday and just hearing her sweet voice brings the biggest smile to my face, no matter what time it is.  Her sister, my beloved tía Sonia, called me around 1pm to add her happy birthday wishes and brought tears to my eyes.  She is such a lovely woman and I am very fortunate to have these two women in my life, although they are so far away geographically.
Tía Lucy, me and tía Sonia.. 2010 (they celebrated my 41st b-day with me)
From my aunts' phone calls to messages from various cousins, nieces, nephews and friends, to my parents calling and deciding they would bring pizza and cake so we could celebrate together later this evening, today has been a very good day.  My body is still very weak and hurting and I'm not up to going out to eat, as I would have liked, but I'm fine with eating at home with Mom and Dad.  I choose not to make an issue of such unimportant matters.  I'd much rather focus on what I have in my life, and that is two relatively healthy and loving parents and how I am still able to live on my own, despite minor set backs in my health.

Oh my goodness!  How could I forget about Dorraine!  She brought me not one, but two birthday cards.  The first one caused my eyes to tear up so I was fully expecting to break down crying as I took the second one out of the envelope but no, I my face broke out in a smile as I laughed.  The front of the card had a shirtless man sitting on a motorcycle wearing only jeans and the message she wrote.. well, it's private!  I'm still giggling over that card.  She knows me very well!
So today isn't quite what I thought it would be, but that's alright.  The plan had been to go to my favorite Thai restaurant which I have been craving for months, but I can go there at a later date.  Life does not end because I was not able to go there on my birthday.  There is always next week, the week after, next month or later.  Besides, the pizza my parents are bringing over is fantastic!  What could be better than pepperoni pizza, cake, diet 7up and sharing it all with my wonderful parents?  Nothing comes to mind, so let the celebrating begin.☺

Thursday, April 12, 2012

MS.. consider chiropractic care for pain relief

If I said it once, I'll say it again.. going to my chiropractor has made life soooo much better!  Just as going to my neurologist will never heal me, my chiropractor cannot take all the pain away, but his adjustments and gentle massages have made such a difference in my life.  There was a time when I was completely against chiropractic care and being that I am an extremely stubborn woman, I did not foresee ever changing my mind, but once the pain became absolutely unbearable I was willing to try anything to make it at least a little bit better.  I decided to try going to a chiropractor almost two years ago, with the first one I saw being a bit of a "quack," but I maintained an open mind until I found the one I see on a regular basis to this day.  Dr. Mike Richards has helped me understand my body a bit more and has taken away much of the discomfort I would be feeling if I were not going to him.. and for this I am very thankful.

Taking medication is a sort of "band-aid" that will never heal our bodies of anything.  It merely masks the pain until it is felt again and we take our next dosage.  That's what I like so much about chiropractic.  It's natural care for our bodies and is not "band-aiding" anything.  Yes, it's true that what I have wrong with my body cannot be healed but the spasms can be lessened and my problems HAVE gotten somewhat better with regular care as he is teaching my body how it should be functioning by reminding it of what it's supposed to do.  Our "medical" doctors, however, are taught to give us medicine as a way of healing us, which really doesn't heal our bodies, unless they are treating the flu, infections or other ailments that need antibiotics or worse.  I've learned to give an entire new sort of respect to chiropractors and other more ancient practices.  They have been around for centuries for a reason.. they work!
For anyone with MS and suffering from extreme body pain, I urge you to look into chiropractic care and when you choose to do this, make sure you have a sit-down with the doctor and discuss his care plan for you and make sure you tell him what it is you want from him/her.  In most cases, I would not recommend you mention your wish to go to a chiropractor to your general physician or neurologist as chiropractors are rarely respected or seen as necessary by most doctors.  They would rather medicate you than have you going to a hands-on sort of doctor, yet it's something that could help you more than you can begin to imagine.  Try looking outside the box and put your own well-being ahead of what your doctor may think if you go to a chiropractor.

As for me, after seeing my chiro today I feel much better.  I am still leaning to the left but not nearly as much as before I went.  The pain has lessened enough that I was able to enjoy a glass of wine (Riesling is the best!) with dinner and not take any pain meds since early this morning.  I have two appointments next week, as I usually do but have not gone lately because of various reasons.  I will not let anything interfere with my chiropractic appointments anymore!  My pain and my body must come first.  And as always, live is grand.

MS.. 5th Tysabri infusion and more MRI's on the way

Another Tysabri infusion under my belt but the good thing is I managed to have my neurologist stop my "infusion room" for a few moments to talk about how I've been feeling.  He wasn't quite sure what to make of the way my body is severely leaning to the left (seriously, it's THAT bad!) but after speaking for a little while, we decided it was best to have my hips and lower back x-rayed and also to have some MRI's taken of my lumbar spine.  Yay!  This is what I've wanted all along!  I don't know why most of my neurologists tend to focus only on brain MRI's when the spine also shows lesions, and I strongly feel the way my MS has been hitting me lately will probably show up in the lumbar scans.  But these MRI's have to wait until the beginning of June, which is fine.  My neuro had already explained to me that he was planning on doing more scans after being on Tysabri for six months and June would be around that time.

I'm sure you've all noticed how I've chosen a different font for this post and I think I'll do this from now on since many of us with MS have vision problems.  I've had no trouble in reading what I write, but I do try to keep all of you in mind since my blogging is not for me alone.  If anyone is having trouble reading my blog, feel free to leave me a message after this post and I will do my best to address this issue, although it's worth mentioning that if you simultaneously press "Ctrl +" on your keyboard, it will enlarge the screen to your desired size.
I love the message in this image.  It speaks volumes to as to how I've been feeling lately and to how I'm sure many of you feel on far too frequent occasions.  Whether it's pain or a terrible circumstance we find ourselves in, if nothing else, we at least want to call a simple truce and get through it with as little damage as possible.  I've been trying to find things to "lose myself in", in order to distract myself enough that the pain becomes secondary to everything else in my life.  It hasn't been easy but there have been times when things as simple as online chatting or talking on the phone with my mom have worked.  Other times I lean back in my computer chair, light a cigarette and enjoy each puff and focus on just that.. nothing else but the simple joy of smoking.  Yes, I know smoking is not the best thing to do and I am not an advocate for getting anyone to begin this habit, but it is one of the simple joys I still have in my life.
My cats are my other joys and I could never describe their absolute beauty and importance in my life through simple words.  Last night I was hurting so very much and as I lay down in bed my little Allie came to me and would not leave me alone for the longest time.  It's as if she truly understands how I am feeling and when I need more love.  As I lay my head on the pillow, she decided to rub her sweet face on mine, purring the entire time.  Then the head butting began, but she was very gentle.  Jinger joined the love fest and rolled around next to me, filling the air with her musical purrs and almost bringing me to tears.  Emmi Sue was next as she climbed on my pillow and began to lick my hair, which she knows I hate, but on this night I allowed it to go on.  My girls understand me on a level no one else in the world ever could and if licking my hair is Emmi Sue's way of telling me "Mom, I love you!," then so be it.  I must have drifted off to sleep moments later because I have no recollection of anything except my phone alarm ringing many hours later.  Yes, I am very loved.

And so life goes on and I can only hope tomorrow will be slightly better.  Dorriane will be here AND it's chiropractor day!  I'm sure he will be extra gentle with me but I could use a good adjustment or two so I cannot wait.  Ahh, just thinking about it makes me feel better already.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MS.. friends can make all the difference

There's nothing in the world I would like more than to be able to get my body to rest.  My mind is tired yet the spasms are very active and not allowing me to relax enough to get some much needed sleep, so I felt it would be a fine idea to sit and write while I allow my medications to kick in.  I usually take half of one Baclofen tablet (equaling 10 mg.), but decided to take the entire dosage a couple weeks ago, and I have also added 100 mg. Neurontin to my nightly medications.  To tell the truth, I was in such agony earlier today that I took one of my Neurontin capsules at dinnertime but didn't feel any difference.  I still cannot believe the intense pain in my body and am left wondering if it is all due to the MS or if something else is happening.  Could it be arthritis?  I desperately need to speak with my neurologist tomorrow and see what can be done.  I'm not sure I can take this horrible discomfort for too much longer.

Ugh, I hate that I've been sounding so whiny and complaining quite a bit lately but I'm sure no one thinks I'm exaggerating, right?  If there's one thing I am not, it would be a hypochondriac.  I'm really quite the opposite as I prefer to not share my pain too much but there are times when it's horribly overwhelming and it overshadows my every move and thought.  Yet even through this pain, today was almost a decent day before it turned into pain.

You see, Dorraine was here and she helped me, despite feeling extremely tired.  I offered to make a fresh pot of coffee to maybe give her more energy, which she, of course, accepted.  It was a quiet, peaceful afternoon with Dorraine until I tried to sign my name on the paper she turns in to work each week to verify her hours, as I do each time she is here.  My right hand would not work for anything.  I was able to barely sign "Lucy" when I looked up at her and said I couldn't write anymore, so she gently said it was alright for me to wait until next time to sign my name for today and the following visit.  I no longer allow it to bother me when my hand doesn't work, yet it was slightly upsetting.. but life goes on.
But while Dorraine was with me, I started chatting with a new friend on Facebook and he was able to put a smile on face for a few hours.  I don't think I've smiled quite that much in ever so long and it felt wonderful.  As silly as it may sound, I felt alive!  So I dedicate the cute doggie picture and quote to Dorraine and my new friend (whose name I will not post until he says it's alright to do so).  You made a difficult day much more tolerable for me.. thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I believe my medications have finally begun to work enough to allow me to sleep at least a little bit so I will try to lay down.  I'm not sure if I will write again later today or not but I thank you all for following me on this journey.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MS.. through the pain, I find inspiration

I had intended writing on a completely different subject earlier today but pain has a funny way of altering my way of thinking.  I don't know what is happening to me lately and I'm glad I'm going to my neurologist's office tomorrow for my 5th Tysabri infusion so I can, hopefully, snag him for a few moments to ask him if anything can be done about my current situation.

In a previous post, I had jokingly mentioned that my body tends to lean to the left but while I was in the shower early this evening, there are no words in existence to describe the pain and discomfort I felt.  I found myself leaning so far over to the left and any adjustments I attempted to make left me screaming in pain with tears streaming down my cheeks as I clutched to the grab bar to keep from falling.  I should have placed my shower chair back in there but I thought I would be fine.  Wrong decision!  I need to stop assuming I'm doing better than I am and accept my MS is killing me at the moment and not do more than I should be doing.  Now, less that two hours later, I'm still leaning to the side so dramatically that I'm afraid I will fall out of my computer chair and the pain is becoming more severe with each passing moment.  I can feel the spasms in my hips, pelvis and back and I just want to yell at the top of my lungs that I've had enough but there's no point in screaming as it will only frighten my girls and probably make me hurt more.  I just need a moment of peace from the aching.
I saw the above picture on Facebook today and what a perfect day to see it!  It really is just a bad day, or series of days, but it's not a bad life.  The pain is just terribly intense but it will pass and I know this from experience.  Even spending time writing in this blog distracts my mind enough that I forget the intensity of the pain for at least a few moments and for this, I'm very grateful.  So to all of you whom I've never met but read my words, I sincerely thank you.  If it were not for you, I wouldn't feel the need to write as often as I do and you are, in your own way, saving my sanity and giving me a reason to maintain my positive thinking during a time when the MS is attacking me harder than I wish to admit.  I choose to be open and honest in my writing as this is how I am in my every day life, so I do not pretend I feel great when I am unwell.  Yet knowing many others with MS depend on me to be strong, gives me added incentive to find positive energy within myself and keep moving forward because I am no longer invisible.  I am no longer a "nobody."  I have a small audience who rely on me to fight this battle and wish me the best, as I'm sure you do, and I do not take this lightly.  I never thought I could touch as many people as I have and I thank you for giving me this opportunity.  Without knowing who you are, I love each and every one of you and hope you are doing well, no matter what stage of MS you may be in or what ever your life situation may be.

And there you have it.  All of you inspire me on a daily basis to keep fighting this demon called MS and also my depression.  You help me find my way when I may feel somewhat defeated.  On top of having my wonderful parents, my brothers, my amazing little kitties, a few fantastic friends and a loving family.. you are also on my list of those who inspire me.  Hugs to all of you! :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Choosing joy over sadness :)

Over the years, I've learned to not feel jealousy when people I know are able to do things I can no longer participate in, but rather be joyful for all they can enjoy.  In many ways, I live vicariously through their travels and accomplishments, even though they are not my own.  It was not an easy transition and I am not even sure when it happened, but it has brought me peace and acceptance in my circumstances and allowed me to live each day without regret from that moment forward.
The funny thing about me is that I was more of a negative, pessimistic sort of person until I chose to change my outlook on life.  It was a very deliberate change of attitude which was not easy in the least, but I am very pleased that I did not give up on myself when the journey became difficult.  I never could have imagined the beauty of life which would unfold before me with this change in thinking.. but it did!  It's not that I used to feel the world revolved around me, but when I felt negative or depressed all the time, without realizing it I twisted things around to make everything to be about how it was all about how it was hurting me.  I think many of us who suffer from depression do this, even though we feel no one cares.  The human mind is a very interesting thing indeed!  But I don't want to talk about sadness today.  We all need to choose our own paths and happiness can be a choice, if you want it bad enough.

Facebook has become a place where I spend many hours each day and it brings me joy when I see how many of my nieces and nephews revel in sharing photographs of their young children in their every day activities.  To see the sweet smiles brings tears to my eyes and I can only hope that one day, we will have the opportunity to meet so I can hold them in my arms and give them the kisses I am bursting to put upon their soft, robust cheeks.

Once upon a time it would cause me terrible heartache to see a woman holding her baby, knowing such a beautiful child could never be mine.  Life has a way of taking away such pain and making certain decisions quite easy to make.  I had already dealt with the fact that I was "reproductively challenged" years ago, yet when I hit my mid 30's I suddenly began to have a regular menstrual cycle for the first time in my life, meaning I could probably become pregnant.  What?  Now I could get pregnant?  But I was single and not in a relationship!  I was a grown woman who dated from time to time and still enjoyed sex and took the necessary precautions to avoid pregnancy, but I was frightened at the thought of bringing a child into the world in my condition.  As I came closer to nearing age 40, the answer was very clear to me.  I opted for elective sterilization, but had it done using a new procedure called Essure, where the doctor (my gynecologist) put two soft inserts (which she described as "coils" resembling those found in a pen) into my Fallopian tubes.  This procedure is non-surgical, as these inserts go through the vagina and cervix, into the Fallopian tubes and only taken 10 minutes!  Over the next three months, your body works with the Essure inserts to form a natural barrier within your Fallopian tubes.  These inserts prevent sperm from reaching the eggs so that pregnancy cannot occur.  You still need to use birth control during these three months and until you are tested to make sure the Essure is verified as permanent through a simple test.  Seriously, it's that easy and I can't believe I just typed all that out.. I feel so medical! lol
I've been asked a few times why I chose elective sterilization and my answer is really very simple.  I did it out of love for my unborn children.  First, I have MS and if there is even the slightest danger of passing on the multiple sclerosis gene to my baby, I won't do it.  Second, I was almost 40 and it is not the safest decision for a woman to have her first child after age 35.  Third, what if I had a child and my MS kicked in after his/her birth and I could not take care of my own child?  I'm fully aware that MS tends to become dormant during pregnancy and then, on many occasions, tends to go into full swing afterwards.  My legs and hands/arms are already very affected and it would kill me to not be able to mother my own baby.  And what if the MS never returned to where it is now but I remained horribly crippled?  There were just too many "what ifs," with the most important one being passing on the MS to the person I would love the most in my life, so it was the easiest decision I ever made.

I choose to take responsibility for my accomplishments, joys, failures and sorrows.  They are all a part of who I am and have all shaped me in some sort of way.  The last man I dated, who remains a good friend, told me something that touched my heart and it is something I will never forget.  He said to me that he hates that I have MS.  He hates seeing the look on my face when I feel the pain the MS causes me.  He hates knowing how much the MS has hurt me over the years.  But he cannot hate my MS because he loves me and my MS is a part of who I am.. so how can he hate something that has helped shape me into who I have become?

Just as a bully will try to break us down, MS will do all it can to do the same. It will learn your weaknesses and use them against you any chance it has.  Sometimes, I feel MS has a personality all its own but I shouldn't give it so much credit.  It's simply a horrible disease which lives inside of me.  With or without multiple sclerosis, my life will shine because I refuse to accept anything less than this for myself.  It won't shine as I had foreseen in my youth, but it will be wonderful in different ways than I could have imagined.  Who would have thought the loves of my life would be three little four-legged girls who cannot get enough of my hugs and kisses?  I sure didn't, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The reason for changing my blog title

I think I finally found the perfect title for my blog.  Ahh, what a relief!  I had been very satisfied with my original name of "MS, 3 cats and Atheism" until I realized I may be alienating many people with the Atheism part of the title so it really wasn't a problem to find a better way of describing what I write about each day.  The thing is, I ponder the importance of being non-religious even more than I dwell on the pain of having MS but those who read my posts are not aware of it, which is fine with me.  We do not all share the same views and it's far more important to me to reach those who suffer from the effects of MS on their lives than to write about my opinion on how ridiculous and wrong I feel religion is to the world.  So there you have it.  It's more important to spread positive thinking and honesty on how MS has affected my life than to be negative and honest on religion.  Damn.. why do I have to be so mature? hehehe
Yeah, OK.. so after I typed "why do I have to be so mature?", I remembered how I had seen this image on Facebook earlier today and it fit EXACTLY to how I felt.  I had a choice to make last night and I made it.. for my readers more than myself.  This does not mean I will not write about being an Atheist, as it is part of who I am, but it doesn't need to be part of the title of my blog as there are more important aspects of me which others can relate to and may need to read to get through difficult times.  I know writing this blog has helped me immensely this past month and a half as I have had to face my insecurities in a different way now that I am "naked" before the world and wish to be an example of strength and hope for others.  I am not one to "preach" to anyone.  I am not one to say one thing and do the opposite.  If I say it, I believe it or have done it.  I am ridiculously honest, as I'm sure most of you have noticed in my ease of sharing embarrassing aspects of what the MS has done to me.  But it's just part of life and in the end, we may all have to face these things and in my sharing, I may have made it somewhat easier for many of you to get through difficult moments.  That is my goal.  More than helping myself, which has been a lovely side effect of this blog, I wish to reach as many people as I can to spread knowledge and understanding of multiple sclerosis and depression to make your lives as peaceful as humanly possible.  I wish, back when I was diagnosed in 1990, the internet had been available as I was lost in a world of confusion and sadness and needed some sort of lifeline of comprehension and acceptance to me keep from drowning.


And now, being that it's Easter and my parents have been concerned about me, I will be going out for dinner with them as soon as they arrive at my house to pick me up.  I wanted to finish this entry but what I have written will suffice for this evening.  I wish everyone a lovely holiday and may all of those who live with MS (or any other illness) enjoy a pain-free weekend.