Sunday, March 27, 2011

Panic, But Not At The Disco

I was unpleasantly awoken by a panic attack at 1:54am this morning.  Again.  I really dislike those sorts of panic attacks.  Not as if I enjoy a high level of anxiety when I'm awake, but the waking jolt, gasping for air, heart pounding through body, clutching at chest, sweating, and overall feeling of "oh em gee"?  That's worse than the radio station my husband uses at mach 10 to wake himself each morning from his comatose sleep.  I'd almost rather wake to that...though it results in the same heart palpitations and gasping.  Rather than clutching at my chest, I clutch at my ears. 

I've learned to stop trying to figure out what's to blame.  MS?  Hormonal stuff like...pre-menopause heading more toward the real deal?  I'd like to think it's that, because I'm counting down to menopause and the end thereof.  Come on, when you're working with ms symptoms that are largely invisible, something like menopause is not scary.  I've always followed my mother's  footsteps to a T.  To be done with all of that drama by the time I'm 57ish? BRING. IT.  Many of the symptoms she went through were similar to mine.  She would occasionally say, "sometimes I wonder about myself (meaning ms-wise)".  I would say, "Don't worry, Mom.  You don't have ms.  You're just getting old."  :-)))

So yeah.  I'm not sure if I can blame the holes or the "old".  Either way, I have woken much more exhausted than I went to bed.  And I have way too much to do it's time to caffeinate... 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Sappy Story About A Restored Marriage - In The Deodorant Aisle

I was in the grocery store this morning at 6am on about 3 hours of sleep.  Insomnia helps me to be uber productive.  In any case, it was me, a few vendors stocking the shelves, a bunch of store workers, and...yeah that was pretty much it.  Thankfully.  Because I was dragging myself through each aisle, enjoying the musical selection (today's grocery store music ain't what it was in the 70's) when that song by Staind, "Everything Changes", came on. 

Know how a song can remind you of something or have special meaning or put you smack dab in the middle of a place you do or don't wish to be?  Yep.  That one does it to me.  So I stood there, staring at the deodorant, whisper-singing the song...tearing up.  Not tears of sadness, but those of thankfulness.

See, my husband and I have a wonderful marriage.  We're partners, best friends, soul mates...the matching socks in the drawer.  Not to say that every day is filled with bliss, but it's filled with blessings.  Not to say that every day is perfect, but it's perfect for us.  It wasn't always this way.  Well, except for the soul mates part. 

I'm sharing this in a global fashion, because I remember how I felt like an outcast in those "for worse" times.  Things were challenging enough between us before I found myself in the giant, noisy donut machine and received the verdict.  One of my first "Top 5 Thoughts" post diagnosis was...what is this going to look like in my marriage if things are already tough?  Admittedly, I couldn't see the end of the story.

And it didn't help to know a couple of women with ms, who gushed of their husbands' loving concern for them.  Those guys did a number of things like...administered their medications for them, or insisted they stop working, or saw to it they got to the gym on a regular basis, or took the kids to all of their extracurricular events, cooked, cleaned, massaged their feet.  Oh yeah I said it.  Massaged their feet.  I remember smiling and nodding in support of my girlfriends, but behind that smile I was thinking, "whatever.  That's so not us.  There must be something wrong with me.  With us."

We were great at putting on a pleasant act for everyone.  We hoped things might magically change back to the way they were in the very beginning, back before a bunch of stuff happened, but didn't really know how to make that so.  Life was hard enough for me to get through with a body that was constantly fighting itself.  I was putting my every effort into being the best mother I could be and working as many hours as humanly possible.  But then we hit our rock bottom.  And why this song takes me back is because my husband said to me, in a very dramatic moment..."we stood in front of God and made vows.  'Forever' isn't just a word."  And I was thinking, "are you serious?  You just quoted that Staind song.  How convenient."  Go ahead and laugh, it's funny now:-)

After years of prayer, studying God's word, and constant efforts in letting go of the things we were holding onto...we find ourselves living in a marriage of abundance.  Not financial, not materialistic, not outward appearances.  It's abundance, alright...with partnership, commitment, and reverence.  We became the spouses we only hoped to be back in the rock bottom days.  Though I can't get a foot massage for anything.  Don't let me fool you.

So my apologies to fellow insomniacs in the grocery store who may have heard the sniffling in the deodorant aisle.  It's just that I'm in awe of how God worked in our lives...once we called out for help and decided to get out of His way;-)  

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. - John 10:10

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Open Letter To My Friends

Ok, so I'm going to have to roll you all into a ball and write this collectively, seeing as how I'm referring to many people in many places with one post!

My dear friends: 

You are a true gift to me.  Your impromptu text messages are my "pick me ups"...the uncanny timing of which couldn't be more perfect.  The special thoughts and prayers you lift up on my behalf are appreciated more than you know.  I can't help but smile when I open my email to find that you have sent me a message or posted to my "wall" on facebook.  I am humbled when you bless me with a meal.  Those times you brought the coffee over to my house, and dropped it at work for me?  Were awesome:-)  Your care of my family while I tended to my grandmother's medical obligations was incredible.  Your gentle, kind, servant-minded spirit is your ministry.  I learn to be a better friend through your example.  When you refer to me as an inspiration, I'm confused.  Because it's you who inspires me.  When you say, "I don't know how you do it" - I think of the times you've told me you've prayed for me, and I can easily answer that question.

I hope that wasn't too difficult to follow!  When your mind works in a hectic, disjointed fashion like mine does, it all flows nicely.


One quality of yours I most appreciate is your patience with me.  I'm sorry I don't always appear engaged when you speak.  I really am.  It's just that my mind skips around like a kindergartner on the playground.  When my eyes dart away suddenly, that means I'm trying to hold my thoughts together and organize them into something productive.  I want more than anything to be able to go out for a run with you, or even a brisk walk.  Ironic that I'd desire to run, seeing as how running was the punishment I always received back in my sporty spice days.  Some of you recall those runs, because we got into trouble together:-)  I'm also sorry for the considerable amount of time I spend in the restroom when we go out.  I'm sorry for the times I may seem quiet or unavailable.  Truth is, I might be at the MS Amusement Park in that moment...riding the "emotional roller coaster", taking a turn on the "sleepytime express", hanging out with that weird guy who guesses your weight...but he's guessing my symptoms.  Because seriously?  If that guy would ever guess my weight and go 20lbs heavy, things just might get physical!  Finally, I'm sorry that I have to be reminded of things.  A lot.

Please always remember what you mean to me.  I lift you up in prayer and praise each day.  You are always on my mind.  That said, if you're ever feeling exhausted and aren't sure why?  It's because you were on my mind, which means you were moving at about 250mph...

Thank you for blessing me in so many ways!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Balloon Car - Dedicated To Me

A couple of my students had to fabricate a "balloon car" for their science project.  Uh huh. You read it right. Now for the math lesson:

balloon + cardboard + straws + round things for wheels = COOLNESS!

Because I love to joke around with my students, I said I thought it would be a great idea to name it after me.  They also thought it a good idea, because my last name is fun to play around with.  It starts with "Mac".  The possibilities are endless!

You know how you choose not to name your child or even your pet a certain name, because you knew someone by that same name and they grated on your last nerve?  As if the name has some control over personality traits and characteristics.  Is it just me who does this?  Discuss...

I'm here to tell those of you who doubt, it's true.  And it also applies to inanimate objects. 

I was invited to be a judge in the balloon car contest.  My students met me at the door, excited to show me their finished product!  I saw multiple "Mac" catch phrases all about the car and I was touched!  But when they said, "see, Mrs. Mac?  We named it after you.  Whaddya think!?!"...I was humbled.  And when they took their place at the starting line, crouched down, and prepared to let the "Mac Attack" fly toward its required 5 meter mark, they smiled in nervous anticipation.  Would it make it?  Would the construction remain in tact?  Would the balloon hold up for the 3 passes it needed to make?  It was a 50 point assignment, afterall.  A lot was riding on the line!

Away Mac Attack went...limping on slightly bent water bottle caps it had for wheels, pulling slightly to the right, slowly and steadily making its way across the gym floor.  I couldn't help but share in their anticipation as it neared the 5 meter mark, as it was slowing...slowing... 

It crossed!!!  They passed!

But it didn't stop.  It kept going...and going...slooooowly, steadily, limping along.   I couldn't help but see myself in that moment. Limping along. Leaning to the right. Slowly, steadily moving forward, not giving up!  I began to walk behind my namesake, yelling and cheering for it!  It creeped along and I could hear the slight sound of its "ta dum, ta dum, ta dum"...until it finally came to rest against the bleachers. 

When the car came to rest, it was met with great cheers!  "You did it!", I yelled to my students!  They looked at me with such joy and excitement, fist pumps abound!  Truly a priceless moment, seeing kids so engaged in their schoolwork, having fun with it, making it their own!  I give thanks to God on a daily basis for my job.  I am richly blessed:-)

Great work, kids!  I couldn't be more proud of you for your hard work and determination!  But next time, you may want to name it something like "John Force" or "Don Garlits" - not after some lady with ms.  But I have to say..."Kung Fu Mac"?  Never before done.  Innovative.  Inspiring.  Sheer brilliance.  Just like you:-) 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

MS = Daily Excitement!

The Nat'l MS Society is doing that "MS =" thing, where you're supposed to write what MS "equals" to you.  Mmmkay...I'll play. 

A list of some of my personal favorites. 

MS =

  • an intimate knowledge and inappropriate appreciation of public restrooms
  • a desensitized right side from banging into tables/doorknobs/chairs
  • being on a first name basis with my auto body shop guy
  • shooting myself in the eye with hairspray on a consistent basis (stupid hand tremors)
  • scuffs on the toes of all my shoes 
  • no need for oven mits due to inability to feel heat in my hands...though I don't suggest trying it
  • striking fear in the hearts of my family members when I crest the top of the staircase with an overloaded basket of laundry
  • gaining a true understanding of how Porky Pig must have felt while attempting to communicate...sorry I laughed at you 30yrs ago, Porky.  It's true what they say about karma.
  • grocery shopping with the little cart - EVERY time!
  • knowing which pantyliners are best
  • being accused of public intoxication when all I've had was coffee
  • having the super powers of electricity and vibration at the touch of a finger

Have I forgotten anything?  Of course I have!  I have MS ;-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Difference A Friend Can Make

A friend can insist on coming to your house, even when you try to avoid being seen with your hair a mess, your house a mess, your body a mess, and your brain a mess.  Yesterday, I was all that mess and then some.

A friend can bring over a couple of coffee mugs, a bag of coffee and fixin's, and a Bible.  Sing it with me, "these are a few of my fa-vor-ite things..."

A friend can ask what she can do to help you around the house.  She can take it upon herself to make that coffee she brought along.

She can sit down with you and make small talk, but say some very big things in the midst of it.  Those "very big things" are encouraging, uplifting...things that act as a kick start to your spirit.  Things that continue to roll around in your short-circuited, hole filled mind long after she's spoken them.

Allow me to share part of the small talk in the hopes that it might uplift someone the way it did me:

She was telling me about a half marathon she ran and how there was a woman there who didn't fit the mold, so to speak, of a typical runner.  Sounded like she was built more like me.  Shout out to sturdy girls!  She was wearing shorts in the freezing weather, and her legs were bright red.  If anyone ever wonders why I don't run, this is just one of the plethora of reasons.  Anyway, she passed this woman during her race...twice.  She finished, grabbed a bite to eat, cleaned up at the hotel, and returned to the finish line to cheer for the full marathon runners as they completed their race.  As you may have guessed, who came across the finish line just prior to the close of the race?  Our sturdy girl!  And it sounded as if she may have gained a new running partner along the way named Frostbite.  In any case, my friend said, "at that moment, I realized that the body has nothing to do with it!  I wanted to go to the woman and ask her, 'what was it that got you from mile 18 to 19, and 19 to 20, and so on?  Because I know what got me from 10 to 11, and 11 to 12.  But I want whatever it is that she had."  And then, she gave me a look and a hand waive as if to say she thinks I've got...that.  Wow.  I was sitting there in oversized sweats, non-brushed hair, questioning my future, and longing for a fetal position.  But she reminded me that "the body has nothing to do with it".  Yeah.  I guess it really doesn't, does it...

The monthly, weekly, daily race called family, friends, full-time employment, and service to others is my marathon and that of so many other ms'ers.  MS may have thrown me down in temporary victory this week, but what it didn't count on was the power of answered prayer.  See, I had been praying for "a break", "encouragement", and "a renewed spirit".  I received all of that and then some...

I also got a really nice coffee mug.  My friend said I should keep it as a reminder of our time together. 

Are you kidding me? 

Well, at least I finally had an actual reason to cry...

"If one falls down, his friend can help him up..." - Ecclesiastes 4:10

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hangin' On...

Today is a day in which ms could definitely be capitalized.  So here, you get to be MS.  But you'll never be mine.  Never.

My legs were so stiff that I felt like I was walking with stilts.  Wait.  Let's not get crazy.  Stilts that are 3' tall to match my equally long, luxurious legs.  And painful.  Very painful.  I dropped nearly everything I picked up, even that piece of lettuce that had the extra bit of french dressing on it.  You can never get that out, you know.  Never.  I stuttered on a level equal to that of Porky Pig, even going so far as to substitute words that are completely NOT those which I was tripping over.  And "exhausted" doesn't begin to describe the level of tired I feel.  I'm stupid tired.   

This unfortunate physical presentation hasn't just appeared out of nowhere.  It's been building.  It makes me think things I probably shouldn't be thinking, doubting things I probably shouldn't be doubting, and planning things I probably shouldn't be planning. 

Each day, I awake with the intention of "working as if unto the Lord".  By Thursday?  I feel like I'm "working as if unto Night of The Living Dead".  By Friday?  I'm back to getting lost in my closet.  I want to stay home and eat pudding.   

It's been a seriously tough week.  To sum it up, I've napped more this week than I have in the past year.  And when I say "nap", I mean I laid down to do leg exercises and woke up a couple hours later, wondering what day it was.  If you can call "passing out" napping, then yeah, that's what I did.  All week.

Tonight?  I dragged myself home from work, climbed up the stairs to my bed, told my son to wake me in an hour so I could take him to a meeting at school, curled up under my blanket in a fetal position, and dozed off with tears in my eyes.  I hurt.  Everything hurt.  I was beaten down.  I am beaten down.

But I found a piece of scripture that I had never noticed before today.  Okay I'll be honest, I found it when I did one of those "close my eyes, open it, and point" deals.  The last portion of Psalm 91.

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him."

And that's what I'm hanging onto.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Jelly or Jam?

My husband has had it with me and my grocery store faux pas.  For the umpteenth week...I have purchased grape jam. 

:::collective screams of horror:::

Husband, with wrinkled up mustache, staring at jar in disgust:  "I will say it again.  I only like jelly."
Me:  "'s all the same!  Can't you just eat it?"
Husband, with severely askew mustache:  "yeeeeeeesssssss...but I only like JELLY on my SANDWICHES!"
Me:  "but you're eating toast right now.  I mean seriously, I can't be expected to pay that much attention to it. (Husband interrupting me by pointing to how the label has "JAM" highlighted in yellow)...I grab what I grab. (me, extending arm straight out, pinching fingers together)...I don't reach up, I don't reach down, you get what you get."
Husband:  "no, I only want JELLY"
Me:  "okay, now you're being a Diva"

:::look of shock from 6' tall, 265lb truck driver husband with thick goatee and mustache, bear paw hands, and shaved head:::

"I'm a what?"

"oooooooh I think you heard me..."

It wasn't that it was on sale, or that it's my personal choice of smearable fruit, or that I have a deeply rooted loyalty to jam.  It's simply that...those items are in the final aisle of the grocery store.  By the time I get there?  MS is having a play date.  I'm exhausted, using my cart as a walking aide, sometimes swaying, and usually seeing double.  I buy what I can stick my arm straight out and grab.  And obviously?  That's jam.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Open Letter To My Husband...

...or "about" my husband.  Whichever.  On account of how I seem to forget to make a deliberate point of telling him how much I appreciate him, and exactly why I appreciate him.  It seems to get lost in between the, "I forgot the milk at the store, can you grab that on your way home tonight?" and the, "I fell asleep and didn't get anything in the oven for dinner, hope you're not hungry!"  After working 14-16 hours, I'm sure he's not at all hungry.  So without further adieu...

  • He is my husband, my friend, their father, our spiritual head of household, and our family provider.  
  • He has proven that his silence and overly calm demeanor are virtuous, rather than simply a state of catatonia (as I always thought them to be, even going so far as to check his pulse).
  • He follows me around the house and tries to take my laundry baskets out of my hands.  When I say, "what are you doing!?!  You're in my way!", what I mean to say is, "thanks."
  • He races me to the doors in attempts to open them for me so I don't have to.  When I say, "what are you doing!?! You're in my way!", what I mean to say is, "thanks." ;-)
  • He is my sounding board when I've had enough, no matter what I've had enough of.  Even if it's his dirty clothes thrown next to the basket, not in the basket.  When I say, "the next dirty sock I find next to the basket goes on your pillow", wait...I have actually done that.  (Love ya, Honey!)
  • He is the voice of reason when the weight of our financial woes pushes me down into the ground, face first.
  • He says things like, "we can get through this", "we need to keep fighting", "God will provide", and "we are stronger because of this".  And I need to hear those things sometimes. 

He means "this" in a financial sense.  But I think of it on a more grand scale.  "This" to me means chronic illness and living life with it and through it, as well as all the other challenges thrown our way over the years, especially those very close to "home".  He's right.  We are stronger for each and every one of those trials.  I remember the things I used to pray for years ago.  But God didn't give me what I asked for, because He had something better.  Much better.

We truly are stronger because of this.  All of "this":-)