Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh MS...What Can I Blame On You?

I walked into work today with that heavy load on my shoulders...the one I wake up with when I know I've messed up and need to clear the air. 

This mess up came in the fashion of me allowing myself to be worn down to a nub.  A nub can't shine a light, and I certainly didn't.  I knew I had to apologize for being edgy, not so much AT a coworker, but in her presence.  It was one of those, "WHAT!  You gotta be kiddin' me!" vent-like responses that I so quickly give.  Except when I give those, it's usually to someone who knows me well enough to understand that I'm really a very loving person underneath the temper I have.  The temper that I've convinced myself I've beaten over the course of the past 20 years, because when I get REALLY ANGRY...I just keep quiet.  'Cause when you're silent, noooobody knows.  Shhh...

I entered the office and anxiety set in.  What do I say?  Do I even bother?  I mean, it's not like I said something offensive to her.  I'll just let it go.  I'll pretend everything's fine.  My actions will speak louder than my...what's that, Lord?  Is that "butterflies in stomach" feeling I've got Your way of saying, "go do it"?  Ugh, fine.  But I'm blaming ms.  I'll explain how I've not slept more than 3hrs a night in a month.  Then I'll say it's been seriously hot, my legs are shaky, and I'm vibrating from my armpits to my buttocks.  Keepin' it G rated.  And I'll tell her how I've scratched red marks into my stomach and shoulder from itchy spots that have no cause, other than a neurological misfire.  Yes, that's what I'll do.  I'll blame ms for that outburst...

I approached my coworker and said, "Hey, I hope you'll forgive me for my..." and here's where my heart took over..."lack of self-control this weekend with my ranting".  Her response?  "Hey that's your problem.  I mean, ya know...whatever" complete with hand swat.


So I politely completed my apology by sharing how, each day, I make a conscious effort to shine a light.  And that I fell very short the other morning, and I felt it was only right to apologize.  Insert smile, turn, and exit stage left.  Had to digest that one.  And a hand swat too?  Really?  Aren't people automatically supposed to accept my apology, or tell me to think nothing of it?  Wait a second.  Why am I now pointing a finger at her, just because she didn't respond the way I thought she should?  I'm responsible for me, and need to carry myself as such.  And why am I so deep right now?  Now THAT one just may be the fault of ms.  

While I could easily blame ms for my current emotional fluctuations, and while that could honestly be quite legit, I can't.  Or shouldn't.  Though I wanna.  People should be able to tell I love the Lord by the way I carry myself.  I'm supposed to exercise self-control.  Yet another reason I dislike exercise.  I shouldn't fly off the handle and feel like it should be fine because I've apologized.  And I shouldn't blame my companion of 10 years now.  We're like...common law or something.  So what kind of thanks would that be? 

So I'm making the effort to rethink my circumstances.  The lack of being tired at night?  Allows me to play UpWords with my kids, because they're also up way too late this summer.  I talk to my friends online, do my banking, and cook meals for the following day.  And the weak legs?  Eh, no biggie.  I have a sit down job and my chair has wheels.  I roll to the printer, roll back.  It's very nice.  The vibrating torso?  Some people pay for back massagers...mine is built in.  I should be thankful, right?  Right!  Yes.  Thankful.  I shall be thankful.  Always.  Pray continually.  And give thanks in all circumstances.  Said with head nod on each word.  Yes, yes, yes.  I'll try.  Though I wish they made an ointment for these itchy spots.

Now where is that cup of coffee I made and sat down somewhere in this house?  Forgetfulness.  That's one I forgot to mention earlier!  Yes, I will blame ms for that...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Insomnia Is Making Me Stupid

I was sitting up at 4am thinking to myself, "gee, we've been having a string of several humid, 90 degree days in a row here, and I'm feeling absolutely no effects of ms!  That's awesome!"  This is what happens to me when I achieve a cumulative 2-3 hours of sleep per night over the course of a few weeks.  I become...stupid.

I woke up last night at 12am, 2am, and 4am.  I decided it was more aggravating to go back to bed, so I thought I'd get up and begin my day.  At 4am.  Stupid.  Because at 7am, I hit the Giant Wall O' Sleep!  But...had to be at work to begin a special project in an hour.  That means I had to run through the GWOS face first, and the end result is never pretty.  It's sort of like driving your lawn mower as it's running out of gas, when it sputters and stinks up the neighborhood until it finally shuts off.  I sputter.  My patience level drops to -12, and I'm far from shining that light for God that I mentioned in my previous post.  And at some point, I finally shut off.  That one's coming. 

While at work, I did my best to focus on the braille-sized font of the project, and to endure my coworker's constant interruptions...walking over to my desk a minimum of 7x in just 3hrs, just to complain.  About everything and everyone.  She complained about the unsuspecting desk girl and why wasn't she helping us.  And would you look at this one's handwriting.  And was I checking off the charts as I entered them...when I said no, I was going to check them off once they were fully complete, she went on about how she's not doing it that way, I needed do it her way.  And I've learned that the way she does things doesn't make a lot of sense, but she insists it be done her way, or she talks about you.  On and on with her complaints and dronings.  And trashing others. 

Those of us who have experience working in any office have the full understanding that a coworker who complains about people to us...will also complain about us to people.  And I was doing great at sitting there, under the protection of my pink Phillies hat pulled down to the top of my eyebrows, trying to block her out.  But I allowed her to wear me down. 

There's that line in the Bible that says something like, "do all things without arguing or complaining, so that no one can find fault with you". The Bible follows with, "so you will be blameless and pure". But in the 2010 Office Cubicle Translation, it means, "so that you won't get trash talked to the boss on Monday morning". It'll be my turn in the barrel and I deserve it, because I left the "self-control" and "patience" Fruits of the Spirit at home.  I can read all the scriptures I want, but if I leave 'em on the floor next to my bed, what good does it do?  I gave her the ammo she wanted.  Let's push the new person, whom the bosses have openly praised, to her breaking point.  As tired as I am, that point is not very far.  Not even my pulled down Phillies hat can save me now.  Yet part of me?  Doesn't care.  I'm so tired of adults acting this way.  I'm so tired, period.  Has someone seen my patience?  I can't seem to find it anywhere.  Oh yeah, it's at home...I almost forgot.

Insomnia is kinda like paper to the rock of my Fruits.  I think we all know paper covers rock.  I immediately thought of when my very dear friend, Principal in a Christian school, was doing a devotional about shining a light.  She demonstrated the "hide it under a bushel?  NO!" by turning the lights out in the assembly, lighting a candle, and placing a basket over the flame.  Yep, she set the basket on fire.  Why...WHY didn't we all have Principals like that, right?  She rocks, simply stated.  But as we discussed the event later, I told her she unknowingly taught the best lesson ever to those kids.  When your light is covered, really bad things can happen.  And they also learned that they should never, ever...put mother's Longaberger baskets over candles.  That's just funny...

So yeah, I'm just waiting for Insomnia to subside.  I can't accept the advice of the folks on the ms support message boards, who suggest various cocktails of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol.  One guy, who says he loves not being able to sleep at night - then walking around like a zombie all day, suggests all 3.  His screen name is "sexmedsnrocknroll".  Betcha I knew that guy!  Guess I'll stick with tired/stupid.  In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep God's Word close to my heart...and my yap shut.  That way, people won't immediately know I'm tired.  And stupid.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fish Outta Water!

That's how I've felt at times over the past week or so. I can almost hear my kids yelling, "fish outta water, fish outta water!!!" as they have in their swimming pool games.

This past school year, I worked as an educational therapist in a Christian school. This is a workplace where it's not uncommon to be walking down the hallway, encounter a coworker, and have a huge conversation about faith. True, the majority of my working career was spent in cubicles and behind desks, chasing money owed to my employers. But for the majority of that majority (what?), I spent time in said Christian school as a volunteer. In a way, being at the school was like attending a daily worship service. And I'm the type of person who needs that constant influence, because I have a mind that runs as fast as Speedy Gonzalez all caffeined out. Probably because I'm all caffeined out.

This summer, I'm working as a medical biller in a fast-paced and very large medical practice. I absolutely love the job:-) But I realized quickly that I wasn't in Kansas anymore. Then again, I've never been to Kansas.

I have a Jesus fish on the back of my car. As I was walking through the parking lot the other morning, a coworker asked me where the feet were on my fish. I didn't get it at first, because my mind was running as fast as Speedy Gon...oh nevermind...I'm already onto the next thought. When I politely smiled and answered, "there are no feet on my fish", she whispered...literally whispered, "I'm a Christian too". Over the course of last week, I had 2 other coworkers approach me to say, "'re a Christian?" and then quietly disclose that they were as well. That's when it hit me. Fish outta water!

Admittedly, I feel a sense of pressure. If they're approaching me as a sister in Christ and whispering, that means they're talking. And if they're talking, that means they're watching. And if they're watching, that means...they're watching! I don't have any visible signs that tell others I'm a Christian, besides the fish on my car. I would hope that the way I carry myself would be enough indication. That's not always easy!

Just the other day, I had made a joke about ms to a coworker. She stopped in her tracks, looking at me in a state of shock, and was all, "YOU...have MS???" Me: "yup". She said she'd have never imagined, that I have such a positive personality, and then came the million dollar question..."how do you do it?"

...through Christ who strengthens me...

The expression on her face was priceless.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vacation Hangover

Vacation Hangover. The letdown or exhaustion that follows a holiday trip.

Well, that's better than any other kind of hangover. 'Cept I wasn't on vacation, ms was. But now it's back, as I was whining about in my previous post. Thank you for your tolerance. I usually subscribe to a No Whining Policy, but ugh...just ugh.

Not sure where all Alice was able to go (for those of you new to the blog, "Alice" is the name I've given to ms), but she was pretty peeved about having to come back. And you know what? I get that. But for the love of all things good, I wouldn't mind a quarter tank of energy and some sleepiness. I've got to start my summertime job tomorrow and put in a solid 9-5 day. Then again, Dunkin' Donuts is on the way...

The 3 H's visited today. Hazy, Hot, and Humid. They turn Alice into a BBOH. Big Ball of Hate. That abbreviation's not mine, I stole that from the lady in the Carrabba's commercials. She's my hero.

I missed church this morning, because I woke up feeling as if I were hit by a Mack Truck that had a giant "MS" across the grille in lights. Don't have me committed, but I envisioned a woman resembling Large Marge from Pee Wee's Big Adventure at the wheel. On the door, "Alice" is scribed in calligraphy. Anyway, all systems were a "check" upon waking, but that just meant they worked. They didn't work well. So what's a girl to do? Sleep in.

I schlepped around the air conditioned house, completing low level chores. What are those, you ask? Well, I put my smoothie cup in the sink. I dug some beef bbq out of a tupperware and heated it up for lunch. Oh, and I also let a dog or two out. Just out, not back in. I asked my kids to do that. But I did have a nice visit from our neighborhood Jehovah's Witness lady.

Yes, I was raised to hide from them as a child. But seriously? They've changed their approach. They don't bang the door knocker incessantly and stare into your windows as they did when I was little. Now, they're gentle and peaceful. Plus, we don't have door knockers anymore. While I worship in a Church of Christ setting, I subscribe to THE Church of Christ. That's not a particular building or denomination. He preached unity, so that's how I roll. I see it kinda like how some people paint their faces up and wear their Eagles jerseys to root the Eagles on and think that's the only way to be a fan, others have season tix to root them on and think that's the only way to be a fan, but I choose to watch and scream in the comfort of my living room, appreciating all other fans. If the face painters and season tix holders think I'm wrong, that's ok with me. This is me, over here, with my own drum. So yeah, I enjoy her visits. Anyway, no one comes to visit my house, 'cause of all the dogs.

We had a beautiful conversation about...Alice! Here, her niece has ms as well. She shared what challenges are presented, as well as her fears. And I saw another example, through my giant eye flies in my left eye, that we're all just here together in this crazy world, trying to get by. Like the grocery store parking lot lady said yesterday, "God gives us what we need when we need it", and maybe that came in the form of something I was able to say to my God-loving friend, who is very concerned about her niece. Had I been where I usually am at that hour, I wouldn't have been home to talk "Alice". Plus, my kids love the little magazines. We all won.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Welcome Back From Vacation, MS!

Missed ya like a boil for those 2 weeks, but somehow life just isn't the same withoutcha! And besides, what would I write about? Oh I know! "Life After MS...a story of normalcy". Who am I kidding. That would never be me.

MS returned bright and early in the form of weak legs. One word: Nice.

Nice. I was planning to take my kids to the beach tomorrow for a day trip if 2 things could come together. 1) if ms stayed away, and 2) if I had a plethora of funds to spare for gas/lunch. Guess what? 0 for 2! And I was highly disappointed, not for me, but for my kids. Ahhh those kids. Over the years, having to be told, "Mommy can't". Mother of The Year nominees? I hereby withdraw.

By about mid-morning, full fledged depression had set in. No beach trip, no money over and above gas and dog food, and my legs feel like I ran a marathon, yet look like I've spent 12 years in a bed. I mean come on, at least they could LOOK good! I slumped into my chair, unwilling to move.

I was instantly surrounded by 4 pairs of hound eyes, who stared at me as if to say, "could you kindly get over yourself and be troubled to the point of picking up a little food for us, or must we pee on your pillow tonight? The yours." So I put on my big girl pants and headed out for dog food.

Carrying the 35lb bag was a chore. As I was heading back up the road toward home, I remembered my son is out of bread. It's a special kind that they happen to sell at the grocery store next door to the pet store. I considered how many steps it would take to get to the gluten/dairy free aisle, to the register, then back to car. Costs $3.99 and I've got a $5...let's do this! Had to settle for a moderately far parking space. I was annoyed with myself, wishing I'd just suck up my pride and get a handicapped placard. I longingly looked at a car parked in the 1st handicapped space, thinking how nice it would be to...what's that? Feet? Why are there feet sticking out of the bottom of the car? And they're not moving.

I ran to the car, trying to recall the first aid/CPR course I had to pass at school. I got there and saw an elderly woman laying on the floor of the car, between the seat and pedals. She was on her cell phone? So I was all, "'am? Do you need help?" She explained that she was in from FL, driving her grandson's car and unfamiliar with the security system. The car had some kind of button that's well hidden under the dashboard, which enables the car to be started after you've shut it off. She politely exited the car and asked me if I could find it according to the directive from the grandaughter, who was on the phone. It was taking me an eternity and I still couldn't find this stupid button from my current position. I knew what had to be done...

Time to take off my Phillies hat, twist myself to lay on my back on the floor of the car, and get serious. Once I did that, I found it in 2 seconds and got the car started! The woman was so awesome. She said I was her blessing of the day, gave me a huge hug, and blessed me.

On my drive home, son's bread safely in passenger's seat, I couldn't help but recall her blessing. And I realized that I was able to run to the car, able to get down low enough to lay on the floor of it, and able to get out. I then walked into, through, and out of the store without incident. I am blessed. All the sudden, the beach trip disappointment didn't matter so much.

I came home with my son's bread and he screamed, "YES! BEST MOMMY EVER!" Really? Even though I just told him that we aren't going away tomorrow? He then said he was worried I was taking so long to get home. I said, "sorry, buddy...I met the neatest lady at the store", and left it at that.

So thank You, Lord, for enduring me patiently. Thanks for opportunities to serve and for the physical strength You gave me to get the job done! I wouldn't have gone to that store at that exact time if I were packing for the day trip, and I'd have missed meeting that wonderful woman and seeing Your blessings all around me. I = spoiled brat :-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


So I'm on day 4, or should I say "night 4" of waking up around 2am and...not falling back to sleep. As far as I've been concerned, ms had taken a vacay somewhere around 2 weeks ago. Well, with the exception of the 20 minute bladder schedule. But seriously, if I'm not having electrical shocks in my extremities, or walking around with 400lb legs, or seeing eye flies the size of carpenter bees, I consider it all glory! Then came insomnia.

Insomnia is an old friend of mine. But for years now, I've come to achieve a solid 7-8 hour sleep pattern and it's been great! By the 2nd night of its return, I realized how much I'd missed it. Like a heart attack...

This from a 2am google search: "Many people with multiple sclerosis complain of insomnia or broken sleep patterns, yet sleep problems are not a result of the disease itself. They occur because of secondary factors such as stress, spasticity, inactivity, or depression that people with MS often have."

Here's a time where ms says, "hey, don't blame me! I do enough on my own!" Indeed. So if I'm not overly stressed out, I'm not having spasticity, and I'm still working the 10+ hour days, thereby not "inactive"...that only leaves depression. Great. Can I blame THAT on ms?

I've learned another gem from my search. There are 3 stages of insomnia:

Initial Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep at night.
Middle Insomnia: Waking up during the night and not being able to fall back asleep quickly.
Terminal Insomnia: Waking up too early.

I fit into the "terminal" category. I may not be the sharpest crayon (pronounced "cran") in the box, but where I come from, "terminal" ain't good.

I really hope it resolves soon, because the deafening sound of my husband eating Frosted Flakes at 4am as I type my blog is driving me to ill thoughts of flinging kitchen utensils at his body. The fallen-and-drain-collected hair he carelessly throws on the ledge of the tub, rather than stretching his arm an additional foot to the trash can? Makes me want to take said collection of hair and stick it to his pillow. And the plentiful laundry baskets of clean clothes that remain on the living room table for days after I've folded them, without him carrying them upstairs for me? Makes me want to remove his pile of clothes, place them in the driveway, and do burn outs on them. My car is all-wheel drive, so it would be difficult to do...but it might be fun trying.

The poor man. He works 7 days a week to provide for our family. He cherishes me with his whole heart. And in return...I fantasize about beaning him with spatulas and ladles, crafting a chia pillow, and tracking his clothes up with tire marks. That's just not right. Come on, Mr. Sandman. Bring me a dream!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Taking MS On A Day Trip

Yesterday morning, I was prepping for a day trip to an amusement park with our school. Couple things that are constants for this trip are: It's always extremely hot, tons humid, huge amounts of walking...basically an ms'ers nightmare all in one day. But most of all, it's one of the most incredibly fun days I experience with my kids, every single year:-)

It's taken me a few years to get a routine down, and I continue to tweak it. Coffee for energy? Check. Taking in as much water as I can over the next 2 hours to negate the dehydrating effect of coffee, and to over hydrate myself for the walking, waiting, and sweating to death that will occur over the next 10 hours? Check! Most people carry backpacks with well hidden water bottles inside, so as to avoid paying $3.50 per bottle inside the park, but that gets too heavy for me. I gotta go sans luggage, ya know? So I bring about 12 bottles and keep them in a cooler in the car. I guzzle as many as I can prior to leaving the car and again at lunchtime. It works.

New for this year...a baseball hat. I've noticed that other ms moms from school wear giant golf hats. And they look fabulous. That's not my style, nor do I own one, nor will I try one on. The answer to my dressing room question of, "does this make me look fat" would surely be, "no, but it makes you look like Edith Ann. Put it back. It's as wide as you are tall." I discovered the happiness my pink Phillies hat provides. I mow in it, exercise in it, and throw it on for early Saturday morning errands. I've begun cooking in it, but can't quite explain why. I'd have never gone to an event in a baseball hat. But seriously? In that level of humidity, the top of my hair flattens and sides expand tremendously. Isn't a hat a blessing? I'll bet a woman invented the hat. A woman with hair just like mine.

While at the park, I received messages from my mother and husband saying, "hope you're okay and having's really hot out there!" and, "remember to sit down in the shade!" What made that funny was, I read it as I was laying out in the sun.

We arrived at 10:15am and left the park at 7:30pm. 9hrs 15mins. I had realized around lunchtime that ms hadn't shown up yet. 2pm, laying out in direct sunlight for a few hours? Nope, still no sign. Well, if you don't count the bathroom trips! All that planning and careful thought...and it no shows on me. Totally and completely okay! In fact, it hasn't been around (aside from bathroom trips) for about a week now.

MS, I'm not sure which vacation destination you've gone to, and I'm thankful that at least one of us is able to have a vacation. Better you than me. But I wouldn't mind if you decided to stay wherever you are. I'll keep the bathroom trips as postcards, kay?