Saturday, April 28, 2012

One man and three pretty kitties = a new outlook

Many times, when I spend time with my parents and share my thoughts on life and how far I've come in recent years, I can't help but feel they are amazed at the woman I have become.  I am the first to admit that my life was very unstable from a young age because of my mental state.  I was consumed with anger, self hatred and extreme low self-esteem, yet the outside world saw me as a very mature teenager.  I suppose this was due to my being quiet, keeping to myself most of the time and always respecting my elders, so this was interpreted as maturity.  Damn, were they ever wrong!  Even my parents had me pegged wrong when I was in my teens, or perhaps it was easier for them to see me as "different" from my brothers and leave it as that.
I had a severe case of inferiority complex through my 20's and into my 30's and it affected my life in terrible ways which I will not get into here.. or at least not at this time.  It was absolutely impossible to give and receive love when I felt no love for myself and couldn't comprehend why anyone would want to love me.  Yes, I loved my parents and I tried to love both my husbands but something wasn't right in both those relationships.  I suppose, for the first time, I began to realize that they weren't good enough for me and I began to see a little bit of my own self worth but I still had a long way to go.

After my second divorce in September 2002, I chose not to go out to meet another man and this lasted a few years.  I was already receiving Social Security and really had no need to leave home for anything, aside from going to the store or doctor's appointments, so I spent all my time with my three kitties.  It's amazing how, if we choose to keep our hearts and minds open, we can learn so much from our pets.  I have learned countless things from my cats and I truly wish I could be more like them!  They taught me the true meaning of unconditional love, forgiveness and the importance of a gentle touch and soft spoken word.  I owe so much to my girls but during that time, someone else entered my life who changed it forever.  His name was Magdy.

I used to enter chat rooms on Yahoo and preferred chatting with men over women so when a person named Magdy had messaged me, I automatically assumed it was a woman and this deeply offended him.  In all capital letters, he messaged back something like "NO, I AM A MAN!"  He was from Alexandria, Egypt but living in Kuwait because there was more work in that country.  He was not, however, Muslim.  He was Coptic Christian, a religion I had not heard of until that point, but took it upon myself to do some reading on it to be more informed on the subject.  I won't go into details about him or the relationship we had and he has, unfortunately, passed.  During the time we knew one another, I never had anything but the utmost respect for him and his beliefs.  But knowing Magdy changed things inside me and I am forever indebted to him for this.  I have never "met" anyone like him in my life and wish I had had the chance to hug him at least once but he became too sick for us to meet in Mallorca, Spain, as had been our plan.  I still carry his smile, voice, his very essence in my heart and will never let him go.  I am a better person for having known him and I was fortunate enough to have those two and a half years with the beauty that was Magdy. 
There is a song that makes me cry uncontrollably to this day as it reminds me of him and that song is My Immortal by Evanescence.  Even at a distance, we'd wipe away each other's tears and help one another through all the pain we were dealing with.  Me, with my MS and Magdy, with his heart problems and finally with the prostate cancer that took his life.  He will always be the love of my life for so many reasons and I dedicate these song lyrics to him, as I dedicate the tears I cry to him each time I hear the song.

My Immortal
I'm so tired of being here, suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave, I wish that you would just leave
Your presence still lingers here and it won't leave me alone

These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me.

You used to captivate me by  your resonating light
Now, I'm bound by the life you left behind
Your face still haunts my once pleasant dreams
Your voice it chased away all the sanity in me

These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried, I'd wipe away all of your tears
When you'd scream, I'd fight away all of your fears
And I held your hand through all of these years
But you still have all of me.

I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me, I've been alone all along.

After Magdy passed away there was a deep sadness in me but I was able to find strength within myself that I would not have been able to do if it had not been for him and my three little girls.  It was not an easy thing to do and even though almost seven years have gone by since I had him in my life, I think of him often and remember the sweet sound of his voice.. and I smile.  I am the product of my life experiences, good and bad.  I've chosen to take the bad times and make them into positive experiences by learning from them and taking the good times and making them as glorious as humanly possible.

Friday, April 27, 2012

MS.. handling changes in my body

Being alone every single day gives me a lot of time to think, and perhaps over think, many aspects of my life.  I realize I have said this before but it helps me gain a deep perspective on the direction my life is headed, or could be heading in the future.

At this moment, I am clearly having an MS relapse, even if it doesn't show up in the brain MRI's I had taken a month or so back.  I can feel it in my body so there is no denying it.  Perhaps when I have the spinal MRI's taken in early June the evidence will be there for the neurologist to see, but it doesn't change the reality of what has been occurring for quite a while now.  The MS is kicking my butt in many ways.

Apart from this exacerbation, my body has been changing over the last few years.  I'm not sure if it's the MS damaging me or if my body is aging too rapidly or a combination of both.  All I know is that two years ago when my dear aunts were here for my 41st birthday, I was standing relatively straight up with pain in my hips but nowhere near as intense as it is now.  Knowing my reality is shifting isn't easy to accept, but it's to be expected after 21 years with a chronic, debilitating disease.  There are things I need to reevaluate or relearn in different ways, so my body doesn't ache as much since the simplest of tasks now bring almost unbearable pain.
I spoke with my mom about this tonight and mentioned that even the thought of cooking simple meals, such as macaroni and cheese, are no longer possible for me.  Maybe I'll ask Dorraine to help me with this next week.  Perhaps she could make a few batches of mac and cheese for me and I'll separate portions into containers, freeze them and eat them at my leisure, rather than wonder from day to day what I'll be having for dinner.  Even making a tuna sandwich has become painful for me!  I think I'll need to ask her to prepare pretty much everything for me ahead of time so I can just go to the refrigerator and find ready-to-eat meals.  It's hard for me to do this, but it has become a necessity and I'm sure she won't mind.  Dorraine is someone I can confide in about anything and everything that is going on in my life and understands that the moment I feel better, I'll be back to taking care of the little things in my life again.  I just can't do it anymore.

The strange thing is, I'm not even feeling sad right now.  I've been able to take things in stride.. for the most part.  Sure, there are days when I feel more down than others but I still can't believe how well I've been handling the changes I've been going through lately.  Obviously, I hope this doesn't last too long and I can, at least, get back to the life I had before my right leg stopped working well enough to drive my car. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two days worth of ramblings

I've been in a very positive, reflective mood all day and evening.  I have been posting all sorts of uplifting messages on both mine and pages I am a member of on Facebook, hoping that others will read them and not think I am merely saying things for the sake of it but because I truly feel the way I present myself.  I also decided to make a change in my life by taking someone off my "friends list" on Facebook.  I should have done this a few months ago and truthfully only accepted his friendship because I felt he needed to have me on his list after I broke up with him earlier this year.  Things have felt awkward and strange as I've never felt comfortable keeping him in my life.  His pessimistic attitude brought me down as he was usually quite negative about life and I do my best not to feel this way.  It wasn't much of a friendship and I have moved on.  Maybe now, he will too.
I admit that I probably spend much of my time on Facebook but I've come to enjoy it very much.  I used to play many games but now that I've joined different pages, I do far more than just entertain myself with games.  The images I attach to my posts are from the pages I joined on Facebook and while on those pages, I share things about myself or simply leave a comment, sometimes inspiring and other times humorous.  Then again, maybe I'm not nearly as inspiring as I think I am!  I honestly don't know, but I do enjoy my time on that site.  I have made many friends from around the world and what I love so much is that it doesn't seem to matter to any of them that I am a disabled woman with MS.  They enjoy getting to know me simply because I am who I am.  Some are from MS pages, others from the Atheist pages and some friends are from various other areas of Facebook.

So I began this post last night and became very tired since my nighttime meds kicked in sooner than I had anticipated.  Not much has happened in the last twenty-four hours except that Mom and I spoke on the phone and although she couldn't tell from my voice, I was crying by the end of our conversation.  I try not to share all my aches and pains with my parents since they really cannot help me or do anything to ease the pain but for some reason, I told her how there have been many nights lately when I have been unable to even brush my teeth from the intense pain I feel when I'm bending over the bathroom sink.  My sink is extremely low (not sure why it was built this way) and it has become an incredibly difficult chore for me to do this very simple task.  I mean, we're talking about brushing my damn teeth!  I floss at least twice daily and use mouthwash when I get up from bed so many evenings, I've been rinsing with mouthwash, gargling and leaving it at that.  I don't let more than two nights go by without brushing, but yes, the pain has been THAT bad.  Sitting in front of the sink wouldn't help since I cannot reach the sink and my electric toothbrush tends to make me drool a bit, which is why I lean over the sink as much as I do.  Ugh.  Who would have thought that brushing would be such a difficult endeavor?  It was bad enough when I no longer had the strength to use a regular toothbrush and switched to a battery-operated one.  The clean I get from this toothbrush is superior to a manual brush so no matter what, I would never switch back.  The reason I had cried while talking to Mom wasn't because I was feeling sorry for myself but rather when I was explaining the pain, I teared up.  It's an all-consuming pain that begins in my right hip and just takes over every inch of my body until tears are streaming down my face.. from brushing my teeth!  OK, I'll stop talking about it now.
Indeed, life goes on and I try to suck all I can out of every day of the life I have.  I've wanted to include my favorite quote for quite some time and what better time than now?  So here it is.. words I try to live by.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
--Henry David Thoreau

And there you have it.  Words that inspire me to not be afraid of the unknown.  Even having MS and not being able to do as much as I'd like, I still take chances and risk getting hurt rather than living "safe" and not at least attempting new things.  I don't want to get to the end of my life thinking I hadn't at least tried and not lived while I had the chance.  I just know that when my time to die comes, I know I have lived.. and isn't that what life is all about?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Urologist said WHAT?

The last few days have been filled with intense hip pain so I was relieved that I had an appointment with my friendly neighborhood chiropractor today. *smile* When the pain is not quite as bad, the relief I get from him tends to last up to four days while during my less-than-adequate-periods, I'm lucky if it lasts a day and a half.  Yet I'll take whatever relief he can give me and for however long it will last.  At least it's something.

After my chiropractor was my follow-up appointment with my urologist.  He needed to see me post kidney stone fiasco but as it turns out, it's very likely that I have NOT passed the painful stone.  WHAT??!!!  Since my trouble urinating has increased dramatically since the kidney stone incident on the last day of March, my urologist feels very strongly that I probably have yet to pass the stone so he has ordered x-rays of that area.  If the x-rays do not show anything, he may order CT scans.  If it shows that the stone is still in my body, I will have a choice to make.  Do I want to have it surgically removed or wait for it to pass on it's own?  Ugh.. what a decision to make!  But I think I already know what I will decide.  I prefer to not have surgery if at all possible and since I already know what that horrible pain is, I won't hesitate to call my parents the moment I feel it again.  I also have a bottle of the pain pills my E.R. doctor prescribed so I would take those the moment the pain kicks in and hope the stone passes quickly.  I am not looking forward to going through that again, but it looks like I may not have a choice.  Damn.
For the most part, though, I have to say that today turned out much better than I could have foreseen.  My parents drove to my home and I thought they would both accompany me to my appointments, but Dad chose to stay behind so he would have time to do some much needed yard work.  Mom also had a chiro appointment as she has been having pain on the back of her head and in her neck, so we headed that way and then to my urologist.  While we were waiting to be called back to the examination room, Mom and I had a chance to talk for a short while and what I love so much about my mother is how easy it is for me to open up to her and she with me.  She is absolutely one of my very best friends and I treasure her (and my dad!) with all my heart.

My parents are both Catholic, although they tend to lean more towards Christianity than straight Catholic doctrine, so they are definitely more open minded than most Catholics I have known in my life.  When I share my thoughts and feelings on different topics, I try to choose the right words as to not offend them.  My Mom tends to listen and reflect on my words to get back to me at a later time as to how she felt.  She prefers to think before responding and I truly wish I reacted this way!  I'm more of an open-mouth-insert-foot type of person, which isn't a great way to be.  But today, everything was absolutely wonderful.  We talked, laughed, almost cried, shared and held hands for a bit before being called by the nurse.  It was a good day, even with that impending kidney stone lurking in the back of my mind.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Do things really happen for a reason?

I had no intention on writing tonight until I saw this image on a friend's page on Facebook and all sorts of thoughts went through my mind.
All my life, I've heard people say exactly what it says up above.. that everything happens for a reason.  But is this really true?  I don't think it is.  The comment I wrote on my friend's Facebook page was:  "I don't think everything happens for a reason.  Sometimes, life just sucks.  We somehow find a hidden meaning in it but there wasn't a 'reason' for it.  What is the reason for my having MS?  NONE.  Shit happens and I no longer analyze it.. and life is more peaceful this way.☺"  I wonder if people feel there is a meaning in everything that happens in life is based on religious beliefs, and this is where my thoughts are leaning.

How can anyone say they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that everything happens for a reason?  Is there some sort of scientific evidence to prove this point?  Yes, we cut our finger and we bleed.  It will happen as a direct result of the injury but that is not what is being said in the image.  Why do I have MS?  Why do many of you have MS?  Why did my mom have breast cancer and almost lose her life to it?  Why does my Jinger have hyperthyroidism?  There is no reason for these things except that sometimes, it's the luck of the draw.  It happens.  To try to find some sort of meaning for these things would be futile because reason does not exist for them.  I have MS, most likely, because of the part of the world in which I live and the same goes for my mom having breast cancer, although her taking birth control pills for as long as she took them did not make matters any better.
I often reflect on my life and how I have become a kinder, confident, more tolerant, more loving woman, yet at the same time angrier, impatient and somewhat more demanding since my MS diagnosis 21 years ago.  But to be fair, I was barely out of my teens when I was diagnosed so I don't know how I would have turned out without this illness.  I can only hope that I would have remained Agnostic and continued onto Atheism, but what would have been will always remain a mystery.  So does this mean I feel my MS happened for a reason?  That my life turned out better because of it?  NO!  The only good thing that has happened, that I do not believe would have occurred, is having my three little girls in my life.  That was the direct result of settling for someone because I was afraid to be alone or with my parents for the rest of my life.  I can also say that the home I have to this day is because I chose to marry the second husband and picked this house mostly for the love of my girls.  We can always reach and find a hidden reasons for everything, can't we?  And sometimes, to make my life a little easier, I prefer to think that because of my MS I have my wonderfully sweet kitties and they are the light of my life.  Deep inside, though, I know my MS happened because it just did.  It was random and I prefer that it hit me instead of afflicting one of my brothers or my parents.

I suppose the randomness of life is part of its charm, at least it is to me.  Once in a while, a butterfly may land on your nose or your finger just because it chose to do so.  Or a small child may smile at you or point a finger in your direction and break into giggles for absolutely no reason.  It's all a part of life and I take it as it comes.  There's no need to analyze everything that happens.  Sometimes, it just is what it is.  It's far from perfect but it's beautiful because each one of us has a story all our own.  I embrace life as it is with all its imperfections as we ourselves are quite imperfect.  But aren't we wonderful in spite of this?  Of course we are!  Imagine how annoying we would be if we were utterly perfect.  Ugh, I don't even want to think about it. Our charm lies in our imperfect personalities, quirks, habits and this is how I see life.  Far from perfect but wonderfully charming in all its splendor.