Friday, December 31, 2010

A Class Re-Reunion

See, I attended 3 different schools.  The reunion I went to a short while ago was for the school I attended from K-8th.  This one was for my graduating class.  They've already celebrated the formal reunion, which I missed out on.  But!  They set up a re-reunion.  I was all about it:-)

I mean it when I say I completely adored my 11th/12th grade years.  I attended a small private school where there really wasn't much of the traditional, clique-ish atmosphere.  It was a family of sorts.  Dysfunctional?  Sure, at times.  But a family nonetheless.  They needed a shortstop for the team and I needed a change in surroundings.  I had no idea the depth of the lifelong relationships I'd form as a result.  All I gotta say is...praise God they needed a shortstop.

If I were to sum up my class in a few words?  I'd go with "insane", "silly", and "covertly intelligent".  Covertly intelligent in that our teachers knew we were smart, but no one else would've guessed it.  Okay, that was probably just me.  I shouldn't throw my friends into the path of that bus.  There was very little we took seriously, with the exception of our athletic teams.  We were larger than life and living it in fast forward fashion.  I still recall how us girls would have sleepovers where we'd often spend as much time chatting with our friend's parents as we would with one another.  Again, like a family...

Most of us held jobs at the local mall.  Some of us were fortunate enough to work across the hallway from one another.  After closing time, or during a snowstorm that left the mall quite empty, us girls rolled thawed pretzel dough from our employ at Bavarian Pretzel and threw it across the hall at our classmate boys working at Kinney Shoes.  The boys at Kinney Shoes would blare the store radio so that we could sing and dance in our respective stores.  We made about $3.65/hr.  It was to be expected.

Facebook reunited us after too many years apart.  In the random stati that have been posted, we've learned that we continue to have things in common...even as grown up spouses, parents, and now mature, responsible employees.

We rescue animals, we have similar home lives, and some of us even have ms.  My friend, Brian, who was one of the Kinney Shoes boys and the epitome of silliness, happens to be the President of Team Inspire.  That's a team of people who ride an insane number of miles on behalf of folks like me...and his dear wife...who have ms.  I wish that his wife and I didn't have so much in common. 

This year, Team Inspire was honored by the Nat'l MS Society for being a top fundraiser.  They've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight ms.  And I'm blessed to be one of the people they take into account when they're riding...and riding...and riding. 

My classmates and I are still very much a family:-)  They offered to park my car for me.  They met me on the sidewalk and walked with me to the establishment.  Every door was held on my behalf.  Those seated at the end of the table all stood up for me when I entered so that I had a choice of way too many seats.  They offered to walk with me to the restroom.  At the end of the night, I was delivered to my car, reverse valet style.  I was truly humbled by their thoughtfulness and careful consideration...invisible symptoms or not. 

This is Brian, delivering a classic photobomb on me.  This is me, cracking up over it.  Any questions... 

This used to be the girl gunning pretzel dough...and the boy across the mall hallway, dancing to blaring music. 

My apologies, ms.  You're not on our level.  I mean...just look at us!  MS hasn't stolen our smiles, nor our joy, nor our relationships.  It can't steal our faith, nor our determination, nor our will.  That goes for each and every one of us, everywhere.  We > ms.

I am thankful to have the loving thoughts, prayers, and consideration from my high school family-esque friends.  Thank you, graduating Class of 1990.  I am truly blessed by your friendship:-)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Going To The Grocery Store - Before Snowstorm

They're calling for a major snowstorm and what did I need to do this morning?  Yep.  Go to the grocery store.  Excellent.

I arrived to a parking lot scene that looked a lot like Black Friday mall parking.  Are you kidding me?  And why is it I haven't gotten a handicap placard yet for "lead leg" days like this?  Stupid.

As I crept through the lot, I saw reverse lights!  Beautiful!  Flicked my signal on and waited patiently.  The person was backing out and what's that I saw?  Little green Honda lady whipped around the corner, looked straight at me and my blinking signal, and took the space.  Oh temper temper.  It was alright, because another car backed out just 2 spaces from the front.  I took a moment to give a little celebratory cabbage patch dance in the driver's seat as I rejoiced in sweet justice.  How ya like me now, little green Honda lady?  Sorry, Lord...someday I will mature.  Hopefully.

I walked into the store and it was sheer pandemonium.  Thankfully, I just needed a few things...things that I felt I had to explain to those standing much too close to me in the applicable aisles.  I'd say things like, "I was seriously out of eggs, I'm not just here 'cause of the storm" and "I really just need this bread, because my husband plows and he needs to take a bunch of sandwiches along with him" and further disclaimer-like dialogue.  But because everyone was so busy elbowing one another for the last pancake syrup, hip checking one another for the last Entenmann's cake, and pie facing one another for the last gallon of milk...they paid me no mind.

Forget about trying to find a moving line at the registers, so I went to the self checkout.  Because my fine motor capabilities aren't quite with me right now, I dropped my shopping card on the floor.  Bent down to pick it up, attempted to put it back in my purse, and knocked it off the counter.  It was unzipped, so everything fell out.  I was kneeling down, trying to pick up all of my coins and cough drops and chapstick and such off the floor...tried to stand up too quickly and nearly face planted when I was tripped up from my old friend, Vertigo.  She's a feisty one, that Vertigo!  By that point, the line behind me was building...and shifting impatiently from left to right (unless it just looked like that on account of Vertigo and all), and people were giving me an extra helping of "stink eye".  Again...invisible symptoms = misunderstanding.

I finally got myself situated, successfully fished my cash through the machine, made it to the know, the one MUCH closer to the store than little green Honda...and eventually entered the solace of my driveway.  Right on cue, my front door opened and the most handsome little guy, dressed in pajamas, his Daddy's sneakers on his feet, appeared:-)  Just as he has for about 6 years now...he bopped down the front walk, opened my driver's door, extended his hand and said, with a smile, "hi Mommy!  I got the bags!"

He's pretty awesome, right?  Yeah.  I think so too.  He'll make a wonderful husband someday, though I don't see the future wife agreeing with his carefully thought out plan of building a room onto his house and moving me in.  I'll be cool with her and long as she doesn't take my parking space.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wifely Guilt = Baked Goods

I'll be honest...I go through moments of feeling like a crappy wife.  Can I get an amen? 

I'm well aware of what I'm not.  Like...I'm not a whirlwind around the house.  I've shared before how I cook a bunch of meals on Sunday evenings, when I seem to have the greatest amount of energy, and reheat them throughout the week.  I don't load the dishwasher unless I lose the game of Dish Jenga we seem to play around here, and that doesn't happen often.  I'm not prompted to do laundry until we're down to the last towel, the last pair of dress pants, the last pair of undergarments.  I'm just trying to get through my work week, you know?  I don't pay attention to things like...baking.

So my husband and I were having a nice little conversation when he casually mentioned to me that a woman he knows told him how she found these tiny Reese's peanut butter cups at the store.  She was going to make chocolate chip cookies and experiment by putting the tiny RPBCs in the cookies.  Hold on.  I know she didn't just talk RPBCs with my man!  (lol!)  Anyway, continuing on.  She said she was going to make them this weekend and would give some to him.  My reply?

"Aw!  That's really sweet of her!  Tiny RPBCs, eh?  Creative." 

Oh hello, Guilt!  Haven't seen you in a little while, how ya been?  Nice of you to stop by over something so trivial as...cookies.  I'm sorry, Guilt.  But as Rose Royce's song said when I was little, love don't live here anymore for you.  You'll have to move on.  I won't jump through your hoops, especially not over cookies.  Life is simply too short.

But then I did what I do.  I went to the store in search of tiny RPBCs.  Spotted the "Baking Needs" aisle...yep, that must be the spot.  Think again.  Wait..."Candy"!  Surely that's the correct aisle?  Nope.  You've got to be kidding me.  Just regular RPBC, not these fairy tale tiny ones.  I began to doubt the existence of such a delicacy.  I did find the bite sized RPBCs, but those were much too large to place in the sort of chocolate chip cookie I was picturing.  Again, I did what I do.  I got frustrated and threw the bag of bite sized RPBCs at the shelf in annoyance, but I missed and it hit the floor face down.  As I picked it up, I noticed a recipe on the back.  Bite sized RPBC in a...cookie?  Could this be the one time my temper gets me what I want? 

I don't know, but judging by the picture immediately below?  I'd say I just BROUGHT IT, baby!

THAT just happened!  So what if I didn't read the directions properly.  No matter that I didn't fill the little cups with quite enough cookie dough, resulting in the RPBC sticking up and out of it, rather than being properly flush with the top.  I don't care, because it wouldn't be something I baked if there wasn't something slightly askew with the finished product!  And what my husband likes most:-) 

Healthy wives, you can keep your fresh cooked meals, perfectly baked desserts, neatly stacked dresser drawers, and empty sinks.  This is how I roll with holes...

Enjoy the recipe, friends!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Is This Stuff Contagious?

I'm thinking it may be.  Or at least the symptoms.  Do you think one can just catch the symptoms?  Allow me to explain.

Early last week, my husband left for work...late.  He had been up 2 hours earlier, but just couldn't seem to get out of the house (eeek!) and he does NOT have the excuse of "I had to style my hair", because he's pretty bald and what's not scalp is cut with a #1 attachment.  He was just late and couldn't explain it.  My husband?  Is never late.  Ever.  I?  Am always late.  Always.  I really don't mean to be.  Really.

But it's not just that.  About 10 minutes later, I heard the roar of his truck coming up the driveway.  He rushed into the house, explaining...with a look of utter shock on his face...that he forgot his cell phones.  You don't understand.  My husband would leave his glasses behind, rendering him legally blind, before he would leave his phones!  He looked at me in a very boyish manner and said, "I really don't know how that happened..."  Mmm hmm.

On Friday morning, I made my way downstairs to prepare my pot of coffee and...what was that on the counter?  My husband's thermos?  Full of coffee?  Okay, hold up.  His phones and glasses would be left behind before that thermos!  A little while later, I heard the text message alert on my phone.  It was my husband.  "U can hav my coffee.  Dont say a word."  Mmm hmm.

This morning, he was a busy little worker bee in the kitchen.  Next to the stove, he had a carton of eggs out...loaf of bread...some frozen hash brown patties...frozen sausage links...and full pot of coffee.  Each Sunday morning, he morphs into Emeril and whips up huge family breakfasts, then proceeds to hound the kids and I until we're ready and in the truck for church.  Remember, he lives in the "House of Late".  If he doesn't hound, we aren't getting anywhere on time!  So as I'm pouring my coffee and having simple conversation with him, he grabs ahold of the electric burner coil of the stove and yells out, "OW!  STUPID $%@..."   

He said he wanted to "level" the burner coil, because it looked a little crooked.  But forgot he turned it on.  Um?

I've done a lot of things, but not that.  I've forgotten to put deodorant on, and forgot to rinse the shampoo from my hair before I shut off the shower water.  Oh, and I've grabbed ahold of a hot cookie tray without a mit (and didn't feel the pain, because my hand was hot/cold dead).  But walking out without my coffee?  Never.

I guess it could be a "sympathy flare".  Or pseudo flare.  Whichever.  When I was terribly ill during my pregnancy with our daughter, he was also ill.  When I went through nearly 2 years of monthly migraines, he had low grade headaches.  But this is too much.  Yesterday, I slipped down the stairs (again) and he was there to see it.  I could see that he was upset by it.  I'm sure this stuff scares him at times.  I'm sure he goes through moments of playing his own version of the What If Game.  But geez...he doesn't have to go and grab a burner coil over it.  One of us has to exhibit a certain level of safety around here!

And there he is..."HONEY!  It's 9:04!  You still have to get a shower.  We're going to be LATE!"  Mmm hmm...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Needle Nostalgia - A Story of Failure

I became slightly desperate for spring water tonight, so I went downstairs to the "guinea fridge".  I didn't find the water, but did find 2 boxes of unopened Avonex!  This is an indication of 2 things. 

1) That I have been well trained by my husband not to go into the garage.
2) That I'm perfectly justified in having my husband committed for treatment of OCD.  I stopped using Avonex in 2006.  :::crickets chirp:::

If anyone's wondering about the term "guinea fridge", it's the refrigerator we have out in the garage that houses my husband's water bottles and the occasional 5 year old frozen Hungry Man tv dinner.  In case of freezer door to access Salisbury Steak.  I didn't coin the phrase.  Urban dictionary did. 

Seeing the Avonex brought back the memories of the 6 months I fumbled, stumbled, and bumbled my way through taking it.  Yes, I received an instructional video.  Yes, I was offered training by a real nurse.  Did I take the help?  No way.  Not my style.  I'm not the "read the directions" kind of gal!  I'm the "I got this" gal!  And I didn't "got this" when it came to injecting myself.  But I have memories I can share.  We can laugh together, right?

I remember how dramatic it was to sit and watch the video.  And the diagrammed areas in which I could inject.  I chose thighs over stomach and ruled out buttocks after I failed to reach around properly.  I mean, I nailed myself with the needle and all?  I just couldn't figure out how to push the little plunger.  Awkward...

My husband was not willing to help me and don't mistake this sentence for me coming down on him...I'm not.  Some of us are cut out for things like this and some of us aren't.  I was thankful for his honesty.  Part of it was that he knew of my aversion/phobia of needles.  During my pregnancies, my negative blood type earned me rhogam shots.  And tests.  Shots.  Labs.  You know how it goes when you're expecting.  Pin cushion time.  When it was time for my c-section, the nurse was trying her heart out to anchor the IV.  She tried the typical spot...crease of arm.  No luck.  Wrist?  No.  Hand?  Fail.  Other hand?  Nope.  Other wrist?  Eh eh.  By that time, I was sweating profusely and...swearing profusely and...I said, "I think this would be less painful if you used a BUTTER KNIFE!!!  GET SOMEBODY ELSE IN HERE!"  In came the pinch nurse, who nailed the opposite arm in .02 seconds flat.  Time for the epidural block for surgery.  6 tries later, as I was nearly vomiting from the pain, I told my husband I refused to have our baby.  Get them all away from me.  On the 7th needle shove, by golly, the guy got it.  Hate needles.  Hate.

On my 1st neuro appointment, my doctor said, "you're young, you have 2 small children, you need to do this (take Avonex) for them."   So I did.  I'll do anything you want me to when it comes to my kids.  I iced my thigh beforehand.  First shot down, what I thought was a lifetime to go.  Felt like a sledgehammer hit me in the thigh for the next day or two, and my body felt as if it was hit by a large automobile.  Icing was so not the right thing to do!  By a month or so into the meds, I was feeling the side effects throughout the week, not just a day or two.  The large automobile morphed into a semi.  But I was doing it for my kids.  Literally.

I used to take their Christmas picture to the bathroom with me.  I'd stare at it in a "this one's for you" manner...tears running down my face as I jammed the needle into the thigh du jour.  Or however you say "of the week".  Du week.  Tried as many different methods of injecting as I could think of, but all I felt was stinging pain...and a full week's worth of feeling completely and utterly horrendous.  On one occasion, I hit an artery and blood came squirting out of my thigh.  I collapsed in fear, afraid I'd just killed myself.  My neuro chuckled when I called her cell and said, "oh my God!  I just tried to give myself a shot and I'm bleeding out!  Should I get myself to the hospital?"  This woman should get a medal for enduring me.  Seriously.  But she wasn't giggling for long, once it became apparent that my condition was worsening slowly but surely.

Six month check...I didn't do so well with the usual tests.  My sight was worse, my reflexes were off, and I had a great deal of pain all over.  She prescribed an MRI that showed new lesions, and they were active buggers.  A blood test liver didn't appreciate Avonex.  A big ol' "D/C" went on my chart in red.  Discontinue, baby.  Discontinue. 

"Only about 2% of the MS population reacts negatively to Avonex, Tina..."

Let me introduce myself.  I'm 2%.

The decision was then mine.  I chose "change diet drastically, stop doing things I shouldn't be doing, do my best to live life in the highest quality, and above all else...pray fervently".

Part of me wants another MRI.  The most recent one I've got is a brain scan that was done about 6 months after the one that showed Avonex kickin' my tail.  It showed a reduction in lesion load, and my largest lesion (4mm) was barely visible on that scan.  Another part of me doesn't want the scan, because I just want to keep on keepin' on.  I still have ms, that I'm sure of.  And I'm a failure when it comes to traditional treatments, so it's not as if it would lead me to another option.  I even failed natural supplements.  Maybe it was the fact that I was taking approximately 32 pills a day?  Nah!  Couldn't be!

So this is me.  2%.  A medicinal failure.  A supplement failure.  I am God's hands.  God and a gluten-free diet.  And a lot of coffee.  Cheesecake, too.  I think cheesecake has healing properties...

"The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid...The Lord is with me; He is my helper." Psalms 118:6-7

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stuck In Circumstances...

Last night, I was driving home from my friend's house with tears in my eyes.  These were not pseudobulbar tears, they were the real deal.  We had just come from watching a beautiful Christmas production at her elementary school. 

I haven't been in the Christmas spirit lately.  Not that I don't love the Lord, because I do.  Not that I don't celebrate Jesus on a daily basis, because I do.  I dislike the "let's buy stuff" theme.  I really, really do.

I haven't been very steady lately.  While I'm sturdy in build, I'm unsteady in gait.  But!  I must be pulling it off, because no one has noticed.  Except for me.  Yesterday, for some reason, people kept bumping into me.  It took a great deal of energy to steady myself after each encounter.  In the evening, we went to a Christmas show (excellent show, by the way) and it was crowded both before and after.  I was bumped into a minimum of 10x.  On one occasion, a man banged into me with a pretty good amount of force as we were in a cattle chute-esque line...and I subsequently bumped into a woman, who was NOT thrilled with me despite my apology.  Silly woman.  Clearly, she did not realize that she could've been critically injured had I completely lost my legs and flattened her.  Again, invisible symptoms.  Next time, I'm so taking a cane along.  Then maybe the man would've apologized to me, or at least been more careful of me.  And maybe the woman would've at least understood.  Or not.

I haven't been very smiley lately, at least not for long.  I see my grandmother slipping away.  It hurts.  A lot.  My assigned role has transitioned from "medical decision maker" to "protector".  She's made it quite clear that I'm to essentially "keep them away" from her.  "Them" equals the doctors and surgeons.  Because they feel she's not mentally competent to make sound decisions regarding her care, which she totally is, she has asked me to do everything in my power in this regard.  My power?  I don't feel very powerful.  Wait.  She literally just called.  She wants a coffee coolatta from Dunkin' Donuts, and says, "I'm not allowed to have it, so pretend it's yours.  Don't let them take it away from you."  I'm now Protector of Grandmother/Dunkin' Donuts Product.  I'm coming off the elevator with a Heisman Trophy stance...coolatta tucked firmly in my right arm, left arm extended in a "pie face" formation.  They shall NOT take the coolatta!

So that's why I was tearing up on my drive home.  And then it hit me.  I'm a hypocrite. 

I had just told a student earlier in the day that my prayer for him was to not focus on the one negative thing that may happen in his day, but to appreciate the 10 positives that came before and after it. 

Hypocrite.  Completely.

It's SO easy to get caught up in my circumstances.  I don't remember what it's like to feel 100% healthy.  I barely remember what it's like to have enough money to do things like pay our bills AND take vacations, or have overnight trips, and provide Christmas gifts for not just our kids, but for others.  I sorta remember what it's like to not have to pee on a 20 minute schedule.  I definitely remember what it's like to stand firm when I'm bumped into...and to successfully put out a 70-80hr work week...and to spend happier times with my grandmother.  Circumstances.

So today, I will make a conscious effort to count my blessings.  But before I do that, I will accept the challenge of my recently woken daughter, who wishes to race me in Mario Kart.  Oh hey!  Blessing daughter.  #2...Mario Kart, because it's perfectly acceptable to scrape your car into things in Mario World.  Sometimes, I wish I lived in Mario World.  That may be my next blog.

Be well, friends!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I'm A Nyquil Commercial

Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, I can't rest...

Keep in mind, I'm germophobic.  I use my shirt sleeve to open a door.  I use a napkin to pick up and use a salt shaker at a restaurant.  I also use one to handle tongs at a salad bar.  I use my own whiteboard marker at school, because while I love the children with every fiber of my being...they've typically just wiped their forearms across their running noses or sneezed a handful of "love" into their hands and then want to use my marker or hand me my water bottle.  Love you, sweetie...but you're a 4' bundle of germs.  Unarguably adorable, made in the image of God, but germy nonetheless.  Why am I like this?  I don't want to get sick.  Scratch that...I can't get sick.  Why?  Because "sick" gets ms in an uproar and it nails me with a "pseudo-flare".  Pseudo?  Let me tell you, it feels quite real to me!  Because right now?  I am sick.  And ms is being quite dramatic over it all.

So for example, the only thing I can imagine doing is sleeping.  My eyes are burning.  I feel like that handful of goo I used to throw against the wall as a child...where it would ooze down into a heap on the floor.  Pick it up, toss it again...WHAP...oooooooze.  Yes.  That's me. 

I feel a little sorry when people get colds and they don't have an underlying neurological disease.  I mean, all they get is the sniffling, know the rest.  But me?  I also get leg weakness, eye blurries, slide-down-the-wall-fatigue, muscle spasms, and peeing upon coughing, which is a pretty cool trick.  How boring their lives are.  Truly.  Jealous much, otherwise healthy folks?  Mmm hmm.  I thought so.

And everyone wants to help, God bless them.  "Why don't you take an immune booster?"  Well, my immune system is already quite moody...I'm not sure I want to "boost" what's already in combat against itself.  Or as one dear hearted friend suggested...I could drink this funky stuff from the health food store.  A whole thing of it, not the equivalent of a shot glass.  Know what?  I'd rather cough up both lungs and a spleen.  But it's the thought that counts.  Thanks for trying to help me, but just leave me be the ooze on the wall, that slides down into a pile on the floor...look away...look away...

Wonder if the makers of Nyquil are in the works of a medicine that goes like this:

Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, leg weakness, blurry eyed, oozing, stiffness, dribbling, so I can stay awake long enough to drink my coffee...........medicine.

Oh.  And make that all possible in a shot glass-sized package.  Deal? 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I'm Not Drunk...I Have MS

I've talked before about making up t-shirts that say things like: 

"I Have MS, Be Nice To Me"
"Today I Am Weak, Be Nice To Me"
"Today I Am In Pain, Be Nice To Me"
"Today I Don't See Well, Be Nice To Me"
"Today I Am Angry, Stay Back 500ft"

I'm considering adding to that...

"I'm Not Drunk, I Have MS"

The thought came to me on Friday night, when I had been treated to late night "breakfast" by a dear friend.  Previous to breakfast, I had a very stressful incident that woke ms from slumber and it decided to weaken my legs for good measure.  So in I walked, somewhat shaky legged.  No one noticed a thing, because it was about 10pm.  But hours later, at approximately 2am, I had a hard time standing from the booth and walked very gingerly to the cash register.  Everyone in the diner, consisting of truckers and drunks, stared...and I know what they were thinking.  FLAGGED! 

I made my way to my car and noticed an officer sitting in the parking lot.  As I started down the road, he pulled out behind me.  Great.  All I could think was that he saw me walking crookedly out of the diner and slowly ease into the driver's seat.  He followed at the traditional "let's see what this nut's gonna do" distance.

I was already going through it in my head.  Handing over my license and registration...wishing I had that MS Membership card I've poked fun at...and explaining, "Officer, I know how my diner exit must've looked?  But I haven't had anything to drink.  Truth is, I have ms."  Followed by, "so rather than falling backwards while closing my eyes and holding my arms out, rather than face planting while walking heel to toe, and rather than sticking my finger in my eye while trying to touch my nose...could I save you the trouble of all that paperwork by just giving a breathalyzer?"  I followed those thoughts with a quick prayer that went something like, "Lord, I've really been through it today.  Could you spare me the hassle?"  A few miles down the road, after I successfully stopped and restarted at 2 red lights and entered the highway without swerving, he turned off.  Whew...

As I made my way home, I wondered how many times people have thought I was drunk when I wasn't.  I do stagger around at times.  I've got beautiful bruises on my right arm from banging into things.  I've walked directly into a wall before.  My car has a flattened dent in the side.  I've had to replace 3 of the 4 wheels over the past 6 years due to whacking curbs with such force that I've bent them.  I've held my keys in my hand and dropped them for no reason.  I misplace my words in a sentence sometimes.  And the pseudobulbar affect?  Who wouldn't think to themselves, "drink much?"   

Maybe I really should get that membership card from the NMSS...