Friday, May 11, 2012

I drove for the first time in almost 2 months!

After probably around seven weeks, I finally drove my car again, both Wednesday and yesterday.  It was wonderful.. especially yesterday.  I drove my car when mom and I went to my neurologist's office for my infusion on Wednesday and it felt good but when I drove alone, wow, it was beyond words!  Alone means I can smoke, open windows as wide as I want and turn my music up as loud as I like.  I realize, however, my legs aren't strong enough to drive all the time, mostly since after parking the car I still need to get out and walk to wherever it is I went in the first place. Therein lies the problem!  Mondays and Thursdays are my chiropractor days so if my legs feel strong enough, I'll be driving myself since my walking is minimal on those days.  Otherwise, it wouldn't be a possibility.  But wow, I felt so alive behind the wheel again.

My parents surprised me a few weeks ago by asking me if I would object to having a water softening system put in my house.  Are you kidding me?  I have not only wanted this but NEEDED it for as long as I've lived in my home, which will be 10 years next month.  I had not been expecting such a gift and was very grateful to them.  My dad installed the system this week and the difference has been incredible.  After washing my hair, all I can say is oh, my goodness.. my curls look wonderful!  Yes, I am once again in love with my hair, especially after it has been returning to it's lackluster state the last few weeks.  Hey, it's all about the hair!
I was chatting with my best friend, Krissy, on Facebook earlier this evening and she asked me if I've decided to become old because of my MS.  I have to admit that I was taken aback by her saying this when nothing could be further from the truth.  I simply replied that maybe it seemed that way in my blog posts because I've reached a different level of acceptance than before and really have no hope of a miracle cure.  I've made my peace in having multiple sclerosis for the rest of my life, no matter how miserable it may be.  I suppose I come off as far more serious than I really am here on my blog as I am honestly much more humorous, silly, extremely outspoken and have a very quick wit in "real life."  Does this come through in my posts?  Hmm, I'm not sure if it does, but there are many sides to what makes me, me.  I most definitely have a serious side along with much compassion, love and understanding.  Oh, and I still love my hair! :)

I'd like to end this post on a lighthearted note.  Remember, life is too short to be serious all the time and I really do laugh.. a lot!  I hope I don't offend anyone with this pic.. please enjoy it because it's funny!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

MS.. 6th Tysabri infusion and some reflections....

I don't like posting so late at night but it seems to be around this late hour when thoughts hit me so I'll just go with it.  Who am I to argue with myself?  I'm rather cooky but I'm hardly insane!

My sixth Tysabri infusion was today (technically yesterday but since I haven't gone to bed, it's still Wednesday in my mind) and I have yet to decide if I want to continue with it or not.  Before my seventh infusion next month I have an appointment with my neurologist to discuss how I feel I am doing and what his opinion is on this, too, so things may change.  One thing I'm already a bit upset at with him is that he cancelled the MRI's he had wanted me to have before the next infusion and appointment.  He prefers to see me first and maybe then order them.  This does NOT make me happy in the least but if I have to wait, so be it.  I'm sure I'll get my way in the end.  I refuse to be silenced when he is the one who is working for me and not the other way around.
While in the infusion room I was able to talk with my neuro's nurse, Melissa (she is such a doll!), about a few problems I've been having lately.  I mentioned the extreme lack of appetite or desire to eat, and also how my blood pressure readings have been quite low considering I have been on hypertension medication and I check my pressure both before and after medicating.  I plan on calling my primary care giver tomorrow to make an appointment and see if he wishes to lower my dosage from 10 mg. Lisinopril to 5 mg., take me off the medication completely, or suggest something else.  My average readings have been 100/62 and I don't wish my blood pressure to get much lower than that.  After speaking with my neurologist, Dr. Short, it was decided that rather than taking 3-25 mg. tablets Topamax in the morning and evening, I should change it to 2 tablets in the morning and night instead.  I'll see if this helps with my appetite yet still keeps those nasty headaches at bay.

When Dorraine and I took Emmi Sue to the vet yesterday, I had one of my favorite Bolivian CD's playing in my car.  The group was Proyección which features Boris as lead singer, the man who was my first love and I was in love with for well over a decade.  It hurt to eventually let him go but when I did, I was finally able to enjoy his voice and music again and I'm so glad that happened.

Everyone has songs that bring back memories or remind them of a certain person but for me it's far more than that.  There are dozens upon dozens of songs that Boris sang to me during two vacations in Cochabamba, Bolivia and although I used to cry when I heard them, now I smile at the memories and relish in the love we once shared.  You see, he was already quite well known in Bolivia by my the second time I saw him in 1996 and as much as we loved one another, I didn't want him to ever think of me as just another girl who only loved him for his voice.  It was much more than that.  I had met Boris in 1993 and it's true that I met him because of his voice but I fell in love with the man behind the singing and he fell in love with me.  I'm a woman he will never forget as I did not give in and sleep with him as I'm sure many others did and have since then.  I guess you could say that keeping our love "pure" is what has kept it so beautiful in my memories and is also why I can think of him as sweetly and smile as I do each time I hear him sing on the CD's.  At least one, if not two, of the songs he has written have been to me and I still get goosebumps when I listen to these songs.
I'm not sure exactly why I'm writing about my music or about him tonight except that to know me is to know how passionate I am about every aspect of being Bolivian.  It's a part of what makes me who I am and I love it.  There is no music on earth that speaks to my heart and makes me feel as if I'm soaring far above the earth as my beautiful Bolivian music does.  It is simply breathtaking.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lack of energy.. what is causing it?

In my daily life, I find enjoyment in three basic things.  They are things I have come to depend on but lately, one of these enjoyments have been lacking and even though I shouldn't be terribly upset over this, I am.  I take much joy in my cats, smoking and food.  I no longer enjoy food and you would think this would be a good thing as I could stand to lose a significant amount of weight, but it is quite the opposite.
When I get up each day, I have one cup of coffee along with a serving of Greek style yogurt.  I started having this type of yogurt after my energy levels were extremely low half-way through the day and realized it could have a lot to do with what I was eating for breakfast, which had been either a small bagel or a serving of oatmeal.  Neither was a terrible breakfast, but I was left feeling drained of the little energy I have most days by 3 or 4pm (I usually get up around 11am and eat by noon).  Once I had this yogurt as my first meal the difference was incredible, largely due to the 12 to 13 grams of protein in a 5.3 to 6 ounce serving.

Even with this protein-packed yogurt for breakfast, my energy has been less than adequate and has left me wondering what else could be going on in my body.  I spoke to my psychiatrist about this today at my appointment and also mentioned the somewhat low blood pressure readings I have been getting on my monitor.  This evening, the reading I had was 100/57, which is definitely a bit lower than I would like.  The highest I have had since last Thursday has been 104/70, which makes me wonder if I am indeed hypertensive enough to be on Lisinopril, a medication used to treat hypertension.  I will mention this to my neurologist on Wednesday when I go in for my Tysabri infusion as I am not feeling quite myself lately and I really want to enjoy food again!

Actually, the lack of food enjoyment is probably a side effect of my anti-depressant and increased dosage of Topamax.  I don't mind feeling less hungry but this is getting ridiculous.  Nothing is appetizing anymore.  When I first mentioned this to my mom she thought it was wonderful to not want to eat, until I explained that I wasn't getting enough nourishment because of this lack of appetite.  She hadn't looked at the big picture and soon realized that there was more to it than simply not being hungry.

My weight has been an issue my entire life and it probably will be until the end.  I'm 5'6" (I used to be 5'7" but have already shrunk an inch!) and wish I weighed at least 80 lbs. less than I do, but I've come to terms with my weight and am happy I carry it as I do.  To look at me, you would not guess I weigh as much as I do and this, at least, is of some consolation.  This is also the reason why I don't find it necessary to share my exact weight since the number does not tell the story, although I am also not ashamed to admit to that number.  No, I take that back.  I am ashamed of the number but do not dwell on it obsessively as it does not represent who I am.
Even with my not-so-healthy-relationship with food, I would still like to enjoy it again and hope my neurologist will be able to give me some helpful tips or advice on this.  I may need to cut back on the Topamax dosage and I am more than willing to do this, as long as the headaches I was once plagued with do not return and eating becomes a bit of a pleasure again and not a chore.

MS.. catching up!

I haven't written about my MS too much in recent posts, as I'm sure most of you have noticed.  I wish I could report that I have been feeling much better but this would not be the truth.  I am not one to spend my time whining or complaining, although when I take time to look at some of my older posts, it sure seems that way!  What I prefer to do is focus on other aspects of my life when things are somewhat bleak or getting overly monotonous.  And honestly, my days have become extremely, mind-numbingly dull.  I'm still unable to drive, the pain in my hips, pelvis and lower back have not changed and my fingers have grown more numb each day.  Yeah, that pretty much covers it.  On a good note, the terrible headaches I was having a few months back have stopped since my neurologist doubled my Topomax dosage.
At my appointment with the urologist on Friday, I was told that the kidney stone was not visible on the x-ray but this did not mean it wasn't in my body.  I am still having trouble emptying my bladder but since I have had this problem over the years because of the MS, it's impossible to know if it's due to a stone or not unless I have a CT scan.  Since I have decided to pass the stone on my own without surgery, what's the point in having my insurance pay for a CT scan?  It seems extremely pointless and a waste of money so unless I do not have any relief or pass the annoying stone in the next month, nothing will be done and this is fine with me.  My urologist prescribed a few catheters, at my insistence, so I have them in case I'm unable to go on my own.  I hope it doesn't come to this but at least I've learned how to catheterize myself in the past and it is no longer as devastating as it was once before.

This week is filled with all sorts of appointments for me.  Tomorrow, I see my psychiatrist and the chiropractor soon afterwards.  At least I can say my psychiatrist is a very nice lady who actually listens to me and works with me rather than working against me, as my previous shrink had done.  On Tuesday, Emmi Sue goes back to the vet to see if her blood sugar levels have gone down but I don't believe they have.  I worry about her so much and am concerned that perhaps something more serious is wrong with my sweet little girl.  Then on Wednesday I go in for my next Tysabri infusion, which takes up a few hours of my day and leaves me feeling as limp as a wet washcloth.  I finally purchased a blood pressure monitor so I can check to see if it is my blood pressure that is affecting my energy level after the infusion or if it could be something else.  Knowledge is power!
To see who I am today, as opposed to how I was years ago, is truly a complete change in perspective.  I used to accept most things at face value and not question anything whereas now, I question pretty much everything.  I don't feel this is a bad way to be as I've chosen to seek knowledge above merely taking what people say as "gospel."  When I'm at the doctor's office, I ask why they want me to take certain medications, what benefits there are for me.. I want to know everything.  And if they cannot give me sufficient information, I do the research on my own.  Heck, I'll do the research on my own anyway!  I will always dig a little deeper so I am more knowledgeable and can make a more informed decision on most anything.

It was different, however, when it came to choosing to become an Atheist.  When it no longer made sense for me to be a christian, I spent a lot of time questioning, talking to myself, looking at it from many angles and finally decided that it was not right for me any longer.  It was actually one decision I made without any outside influence as I did no research on the subject.  The choice came from me and no one else.  I had not realized what a large community of Atheists existed until a few years after joining Facebook, but most have different views than I.  Most have based their decisions on scientific facts but since I have very little schooling and cannot contribute much when it comes to any such facts, my choice came from my heart and how I felt when I was following a religious path.  I feel much better about myself and truer to who I am now that I have embraced Atheism.  I am aware of the negative connotations the word "Atheist" carries and I wish this wasn't so since I am no different than anyone else except that I find all the strength I need in myself, my family, friends, cats and life itself.  I read somewhere that Atheists are hated, in the USA, as much as rapists and pedophiles!  This statement is completely outrageous and I sincerely hope those who read my blog do not feel this way.  From reading my posts, you can see that I am hardly a terrible person, nor am I lost or in need of any sort of salvation.  I am simply who I am.. just Lucy.  And I am a woman with MS who happens to be an Atheist.  I also happen to absolutely adore my three beautiful little kitties and would give my life for any one of them.  If this makes me a terrible person, well, then so be it.