Sunday, November 16, 2014

Investigating Anxiety, Depression, And A Whole Back Story

After many months...many more than I initially counted in my head...I have (finally) gone to the doctor to talk about all things "mind", y'all.

Ok, so it wasn't really my choice.  It was the result of an intervention of sorts.  When your friend says to you, as you are explaining (complete with jazz hands) how your mind just won't let you rest, "We have had this conversation 7 times. (just 7?  Nah.  Way more than 7.)  You are going to the doctor.  I will go with you.  I will even take you.  But you are going.", then proceeds to sit there, know you better pick your phone up and make the appointment.

So I did.

Mind you, I cannot think of a time in my life - going as far back as early childhood - in which I was not anxious.  When I was little, I used to worry about everything.  I mean everything.  I spent my elementary years thinking that no one loved me and had recurring nightmares of my mother driving away from me as I ran after her car.  I would wake up in the middle of the night, tiptoe across the hallway, and quickly look in to see that my peacefully sleeping mom was right there.  Her presence gave me comfort.  Enough to sleep maybe another hour without another nightmare.

Teen years weren't much different on the anxiety scale.  They just came with bigger worries and insecurities.  And people would always say, "These are the best years of your life!" and I would be thinking, "Seriously?  All this drama?  All this pressure?  I'm supposed to know exactly what I want to do with my entire life so I can choose the right college and the right major and I have things going on that no one even knows about?  THIS?  Is as good as it gets?"  But at least I had sports to drown the emotions in.  The fact that my "fight/flight" mechanism was broken and stuck on "fight" for all those years gave me the aggression and tenacity that athletes thrive in.  I played every sport available to me.  However, every waking moment couldn't be spent playing a sport.  Those were the times in which the struggle, as they say, was very real.  I had become physically ill.  Food was definitely an enemy, which helped bring that about.  Because my dr couldn't find anything medically wrong at that time, she recommended I see a therapist.  I didn't embrace the help, because I was of the mindset back then that seeking help was a sign of weakness.  How misguided this child-of-the-70's, where you don't talk about it and it isn't so, was.

Late teen/early 20's - rinse and repeat on that anxiety.  I remember being sent to the campus counselor in my freshman year of college, because I had a major panic attack during an exam.  You guys will like this story.  See, I had pulled an all-nighter and knew every fact for my psych (of all things) test.  Professor walked around the room with blue books, placing them on each desk.  I had not seen a blue book prior to that moment and thought it was an interesting way to deliver a multiple choice test.  Prof went to the front of the room and said, "Please open your books and write everything you know about..." as I was already opening to find it completely blank inside, realizing that my mind had gone completely blank, and I could barely remember my name much less anything I had studied.  Boom.  That's all I remember, aside from the room spinning and going dark.  Again, I didn't embrace the help.  I know.  Ugh, right?  Instead, I battled my mind in secrecy.  I couldn't always deal with getting from my dorm room to the classroom, so I frequently skipped.  I isolated and got by on my ability to self-teach.  I often showed up just for exams.  I dealt with intense drama and pressure...all by myself and in not good ways.  I played sports there, both on a varsity team and recreationally, but again...that couldn't be every moment.  My most vivid memory of my 4yrs of college was when my mother came to take me to a diner outside of town for lunch.  I was lower than low in that moment.  Having her sitting across from me was my saving grace.  I was not strong enough to tell her what was happening, but her simple presence was what I needed in that horribly dark time.  No, I was not the person who found college to be the most wonderful time of her life.  I didn't do the grad ceremony.  My degree came via mail.  I really can't tell you how I ended up with a nice GPA.  Really can't.

There's some history.  So let's get to the present - the over 40yrs.

I'd gotten help years ago, (finally, right?) which has given me the tools to fight back against the anxiety.  I have a strong faith in the Lord.  I have, by all intents and purposes, an amazingly blessed life.  All things that help me to know that the latest, lengthy wave I've tried to white knuckle my way through is something I need to get real with.  The commotion in my mind...the vibrations in my chest, as if your foot is resting on the gas pedal of your car, idling at 2000rpm...the broken "fight" setting that persists...the unexplained weight loss...all can be helped.  I just have to come face to face with it.  And I'm totally inspired to do it.

My friend did accompany me to the appointment and yes, I allowed her in the room.  She was there to make sure I didn't try to minimize how I was feeling.  I'm really good at that whole "I'm fine, seriously!"...vibrant smile...I have my stuff together and I don't want you to know how I'm really doing...presentation.  This friend knows that about me.  But I was too emotionally exhausted to pull that smoke screen game off this time.  I began to speak and didn't get very far until the tears began.  I was raised not to cry, so when it happens, and especially if I can't get that stuff under immediate control, it's beyond heartfelt.  Like beyond.

Tomorrow, I should have the results of the various labs that my dr ordered and we'll go from there.  Who knows, maybe MS is to blame for this resurgence.  I was treated for depression early in the course of the disease and we all know MS likes to ebb and flow.  Maybe there's some sort of hormonal cause.  Maybe it's something else...or none of those.  The bottom line is, I'm not alone.  I have a God who loves me more than I can imagine.  I have a beautiful family and compassionate friends who love and support me.  And I know that I'm not supposed to try to carry this by myself.  The strongest thing to do is what I've done in facing it head on.  Sure, I may have used a couple of the doctor's tissues, but there was a ton of strength in those tears 'cause they were real...and she had the nice kind of tissues ;)

If anyone out there in blogworld can be comforted by knowing that I have struggled with these things, and that I find myself there again...but I continue to be brought through them by the grace of God and the beautiful people He has placed in my life, then I gladly share with humility.

Just please excuse any thoughts that didn't come together or overly lengthy paragraphs.  I'm under caffeinated and the 200mph neurological commotion is kinda pointing and laughing.  I'll have the last laugh...

Be well, friends!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What If We All Had Comic Book Symbols?

It should come as no surprise that I often have deep thoughts.

Today's?  Was...what if we all had comic book symbols that floated above our heads?

Like this:

Our comic book symbol could serve as notice to others.  A warning, if you will.  That they might treat us with a little more...patience, kindness, compassion...and maybe pick up the tab for our coffee if they were so moved?  I'm just sayin'.

I'm one of those, "You have MS?  But you look so good!" sorts of folks.  I always say thank you to that, because come on, I'll take it.  It's like when someone says you look nice on a particular day.  If you're me, you only have 6 tops and as many black dress pants.  This is strategy on my part, because when I have more choices, I become overwhelmed in my closet and cannot get out.  Laugh with me, has happened.  So when someone says, "You look nice today!", I want to say, "Thanks!  It's a little something I call 'Tuesday'!"

What I'm saying is, with the exception of bruises from walking into things and scuff marks on my shoes, ms is invisible to those around me.  And I feel comic book symbols are the answer.

If I were bold enough, I would write something like this in mine for all to see:

"I don't remember what it feels like to be well.  Sometimes, it's a major accomplishment just to get out the door in the morning.  I don't want to worry or be anxious, but I don't always feel able to control that.  My hope is in the Lord.  I'm trying my very best.

Thoughts of the comic book symbol concept intensified as I waited for my son to finish soccer practice.  Again with soccer, right?

Someone was joking with him about the way he runs.  I thought to myself, if they only knew his story.  A story that isn't as "over" as we thought it might be, but that's ok.  We're not afraid of facing challenges in this household.  His comic book symbol might say something like:

"I was brain injured.  There was so much I couldn't do and running was on that list.  I worked very hard to overcome many obstacles.  I still struggle with things no one can see.  My bible is always next to me when I wake up in the morning.  My hope is in the Lord.  I'm trying my very best."

I thought of my daughter, who's been struggling through a weird, autoimmune, inflammatory condition that has taken her ability to run with her cross country team.  Her comic book symbol might say something like:

"I'm the 3rd person in my family-of-4 diagnosed with an autoimmune condition.  I'm beyond disappointed and a little scared.  I don't want what my mom has.  I'm super quiet, so I keep it all inside.  I trust that God has it.  My hope is in the Lord.  I'm trying my very best."

Honestly, don't we all have stuff that a comic book symbol would be helpful for?

I think about the list of friends that I - just one person - pray for and all the tough stuff they're dealing with in the midst of their daily grind.  There's illness.  Difficult family challenges.  Financial struggles.  Combinations of all.  Yet each of them gets up in the morning and goes about their day...managing that illness, dealing with that family challenge the best way they know how, working as hard as they can - trying their very best.

It inspires me :)  Often, to the point of happy tears...

Yep, we're all fighting a battle.  Some plates are overflowing more than others.  Some plates are not just overflowing, they've fallen on the floor and cascaded across the entire room.  But...we're only an arm's length, a phone call, an email, a text message, or maybe a social media post away from someone who loves us and would love to help hold the plate, or clean up some of the mess on the floor.

And maybe that someone's comic book symbol would say something like, "All I want to do today is buy coffee for the next person who messages me!"

Talk about inspiration...

Token Meme of Truth

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Flares and Ironic FB Stati

I started with a flare this past Friday.  I have to say, it's really a pretty sneaky one as far as flares typically go for me.  Basically, I was minding my own business, plodding along in my work when I stood from my desk to get bottle-of-water-number-four du jour when...boom.

I fell into my filing cabinets.

I laughed a little and looked down to see if I tripped over anything in particular "or nah", as the teens say.


Bending my head down resulted in electric shocks.  Then stabbing sensations in my face.  Plus that all too familiar disco ball sensation.

So I went home for the day.  There went 2 of my "sick hours".

That was:  "Falling, Stabbing, Spinning Friday"

Over the weekend, I slept more than most people sleep in a week.  It was a wonderful weekend, however.  No one belittled my son during his double header soccer games.  And actually?  He had some great plays, which brought him joy :)

That was:  "Sleeping Saturday/Sunday"

Fast forward to Monday...

I couldn't think.  Like at all.  And the guilt I felt was overwhelming.  The self-doubt and self-bullying thoughts entered my mind and gave me a little bit of thinking ability.  The wrong kind.  All I could focus on was all I was not.  Like "good enough".  Or just "enough", really.  To combat this, I decided to take a walk around the building.  I had amazing conversations with people I ran into (thankfully, not literally) along the way.  And I focused my tasks on work that needed done, but required less thought than usual.  Filing, organizing, stuffing envelopes, receiving papercuts, stuff like that.

That was:  "Mental Fog Monday"

Tuesday was unremarkable.  It was more like a mash up of Sleeping Saturday/Sunday plus Mental Fog Monday, but in a much lesser capacity.

Oh, I did actually have tremors.  All, "This is your egg.  This is your egg, on the floor, because of MS.  Any questions?"

I was sure I was on the downswing.  "Tremor Tuesday".

Today, I posted this deep thought from my morning devotional on the book about how there are times that our "best" isn't enough, but that it doesn't mean we are not enough.  Here's a clip of the devo for all us highly performance driven individuals:

"God wanted me to humble myself before Him and be honest about my limitations."  and "...some days my best isn’t good enough, but it’s all I have to give."

And then I went to work.  I immediately dug in with a huge project that had no option but to be completed today.  Yet, as I worked, I began to lose the ability to read the font on my screen.  I squinted.  I opened. out eyes with cold water (like that would help?)...squinted again...and my screen morphed into like...something similar to this:

The frustration became so great that I sought out a friend to pray with.  I stood in her office, fuming, pressing my fingers into my eyes to see if that helped at all with the pain at least.  Tearing up a little.  Positive I couldn't finish my project.  Replaying the morning devo, but hating it all the same.  Until she interrupted my thought process by asking, "can I be your eyes?"  

Be my eyes?  Hmph.  That was something I hadn't thought of.  I could read numbers from my paper reports out loud, or point at where they were if I couldn't...and she could type.  That could most definitely work!

Together, we worked to finish the project.  I wrapped another few things up that didn't require a computer screen.  Then?  I left work, exchanging the last few hours of my workday with a coma nap.  How am I seeing the screen right now?  Eh, could be better.  But...

Tomorrow is a new day.  A new day to be thankful for what I could accomplish today.  But maybe to be extra thankful for what I couldn't, because it was a moment in which I was reminded of who God has placed all around me to walk with me through this.  And the opportunity for me to put into practice that whole "humble yourself before the Lord" thing that I'm REALLY bad at.  I'm always stuck on "I got it" and "I can do it myself".  Until I can't.  And that just ends up in a lot of unnecessary and misplaced guilt: 

Thanks, Lord!

"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." - Ecclesiastes 4:10 NLT

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Temper Temper, A Kid's Soccer Game, And How God Keeps Me Classy

This is a blog post because it was too big to turn into a fb status:

This morning, I was able to spend a portion of my morning in a worship setting at a ladies' prayer breakfast.  But then, I had to leave early in order to take my son to his soccer game.  And that's where it kinda fell apart for me...

Because there's just something about certain parents at these soccer games that makes it difficult to "keep it classy".

What I don't understand is:  What would possess a parent - especially from your own team - to say mocking things about a kid who's out there giving his best.  That kid is my kid.  You guys, this is rec league soccer.  We were winning by 9pts when my son missed a goal.  We were then up by about 11pts when he missed another.  And when he couldn't keep up with the person he was assigned to on defense.  And I think we had 13 goals when he tripped and another teammate picked up the slack for him.  We won by double digits.  All of which means nothing, actually, because there are no playoffs or trophies or college scouts get the idea.

What I do understand is:  I...we...serve a powerful God.  Because anyone who has known me for a long time?  Knows.  With each comment, I immediately and instinctively had no less than 6 come backs pop into my head.  Really, really unkind comments that would have surely left the poor person rocking in the corner of the port-o-pot or something.  I became so angry that my vision started to cloud up in my left eye and stabbing pains started in my left cheek.

And then this happened:

The cartoon-esque angel/devil arrived on each shoulder.  No coincidence that the ms difficulties were on the same side as that pitchfork.

I literally put my hand over my mouth by resting my face in my hand, elbow propped on crossed leg.  I then had to actively battle the ugly comments in my mind with pieces of the serenity prayer...scripture...and the fact that my behavior is a direct reflection of my walk with the Lord.  At one point, I was trying to make deals with God.  If I could say just one thing, surely I could let go of my rage and get my eyesight back.  C'mon, God!  Let me pick my favorite and then I'll go back to trying to enjoy the game.  I sat still, waiting for my "yes".  Waiting...silently...asking again...then hearing another comment about how my kid was apparently not enough for this nearly unable to see at all out of the left eye...

Instead of hearing what I wanted, I was reminded of a time when a player kept it classy in the face of absolute lunacy on the field.  She was pushed, elbowed, shoved from behind, tripped, kicked at, trash talked, rinse and repeat.  If she could stand firm in the face of THAT, I had no choice.  I had to keep my hand over my mouth.  Literally.

When my son came off the field after the game, he acknowledged that he had a rough one.  I reminded him that it didn't matter...I was proud of him, because he never quit.  I mean, there are gonna be bad games.  Bad times.  Bad days.  But they don't define us.  We press on.  Never quitting.  Never giving in to circumstances.  Or ridiculous people.  With even more ridiculous sunglasses on.  I mean, come on.  Do you have a pair of matching driving gloves in your pocket?

I'm sorry, Lord...

Then, I proceeded to trip all the way up to my car, because it took every last ounce of self-control and strength that only faith could provide to keep my act together.  I had nothing left for the long walk!  No matter.  I could have fallen and rolled down the gravel driveway, but I'd have looked pretty classy along the way ;)

I'm definitely not where I need to be, but thankfully, God didn't leave me where I used to be...
                     - me

Friday, August 15, 2014

Serenity - A Big Long Story About A Trip

For the past few mornings, the various "daily devotions" that I'm subscribed to have discussed the same theme:  Rushing.

Confession alert!!!

Everything is a rush for me.  Rush to get ready for work.  Rush all day at work.  Rush to the bank and rush back.  Rush to get kids to and from sports practices.  Rush home, because I'm all but asleep...throughout the entire rush.  Even on Sundays?  I rush to get ready for church.  Rush to get there.  And rush home, because of no other reason than - that's apparently my normal.

It's draining.  Ya'll feel me.

This summer, I've been blanketed with perhaps my longest lasting bout of depression.  Typically, just when I'm ready to contact my doctor, it ends up lifting.  Then, I'll feel it return.  Then lift again.  Rinse and repeat.

I have trade offs to weigh.  Side effects vs it-doesn't-usually-last-as-long-as-it-would-take-for-med-to-kick-in.  So I'm used to waiting it out.  Depression, for me, is a inability to feel the joy that I would typically wake up feeling...a disinterest in eating...a disinterest in getting out of absolute disregard for dragging a brush through my hair.  Other stuff, but those give the general idea.  The amount of energy it takes to get out of my house in the morning is, like, a lot.  It goes a little something like:  I thank God as I'm driving to work.  I give thanks that I'm able to work and to do a good job in His name, and that I have a job to go to, and that everyone I work with knows I have ms and they are supportive and loving.  I ask for a special measure of energy.  I ask that the blanket be lifted.  By this time, I'm typically in my parking space.  I pull down the mirror of my sun visor and stare into my own eyes.  I try to smile to see if I notice the old, familiar spark.  Not yet?  That's okay.  I tell God that I know it'll come back.  I open the car door and know that the rush is about to begin.  I talk to God all the way in, "let this day be Yours...this is Your day...Your day..."  I see my reflection in the glass door.  Many days I think to myself, "it looks like you did your hair with a .357...maybe we should do this mirror thing before walking out of the house?"  I do the same thing on my way to the grocery store.  I thank God for the money for the groceries.  Ask that I get through the whole store without getting dizzy or blurry eyed.  Thank Him that I am able to do the trip.  See the occasionally frightening image of myself on the security monitors.  Wonder how my hair got like that...

Keep in mind, when the blanket isn't draped over top of me?  I don't have these extensive discussions with myself.  I wouldn't necessarily say my hair reflects that, but anyway...

I had been rushing on empty for what felt like forever.  To summarize?  I was done, guys.  Totally done.  And then?  It worked out in just the right way for me to have the privilege of taking my son to the mountains to stay with his friend for a few days.  I rushed to get everything done at work, rushed to pack, rushed to make sure my household had what it needed for me to be gone a few days, rushed to the gas station for a fill up, rushed from rest stop to rest stop all the way up, you get the picture.  By the time I climbed the stairs into the loft and crawled into my adorable bed that first night...I was a shell of a woman.  A twitching, depressed, not-hungry-all-day-but-gotta-eat-something woman.  I felt such a hot mess that I couldn't even pray before I went to sleep.  I knew I didn't have to do the talking, because that's where the Spirit comes in and spoils me ;)  

Woke up super early the next morning.  Fixed myself some coffee (necessary).  Carried my bible out on the deck, where the morning fog was so heavy across the valley.  I stared at the heavy fog that covered the valley beyond the trees and felt a measure of sympathy for the beauty that was underneath.  I squinted in the sunlight and thought I'd get a picture of it, because it would be important for some reason.

I picked up my bible, closed my eyes, and just sat in the presence of the Lord.  No noise.  No rush.  No one needing anything.  Just bird noises, a slight chill in the air, and breathtaking beauty all around me.  I asked the Lord to give me a verse that He would have me read.  I randomly opened my book, eyes still closed.  I settled on a page and slowly opened my this, I kid you not:

"The Lord is my shepherd, I have all that I need.  He lets me rest in green meadows"

I looked up about 2" to view all the beautiful land.

"He leads me beside peaceful streams"

I looked up and over to the pond.

"He renews my strength"

...eyes started welling up with tears.  I couldn't quite refocus my eyes until...

"Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me."

full. out. sobbing. tears.

I'm grateful I was the only one awake in that moment, not just so they'd miss the cry fest, but because I began to speak to God out loud.  Something like...I'm so tired, Lord.  I just want to sit here with You and do nothing else.  Just let me sit here.  I feel just like that valley.  There's a heavy fog over me and I can't even see my own beauty right now.  How can others see it if I can't.  I love You.  I know You love me.  I should not feel like this.  But I do.  Please help me.

In the stillness, and the wet sleeves from wiping my face, I began to feel such a peace and calm come over my heart.  No, it didn't lift the blanket...didn't give me a sudden appetite...but it made the blanket less...significant, maybe?  Yeah.  Significant.  Kinda like how ms can sometimes be big for me, but most of the time, insignificant.  I'm 15yrs into this ms thing.  As my daughter says, "it's whatever..."

That trip will be a forever sort of memory for me.  Hours of drive time in conversation with my son.  The laughs with our friends.  The amazing food that I wasn't hungry for, but it certainly tasted great!  The joy in his face as he tried new adventures.  And the time I was able to spend, just me and the Lord, on that deck with a mug of coffee.  The only word that kept playing over and over in my head was...serenity.  That word took me to the serenity prayer.  The full one, not just the 2 lines people know about courage and wisdom.  

Random side bar alert:

I took this picture at a rest stop on our way home.  My son was trying to make sure I didn't miss out on the beauty of whatever was over there to the left.  I was more interested in taking a picture of him trying to point something out to me.  "Isn't it awesome, Mom?"  What...the part about how you're always looking out for me?  Yep.  It is.

Anyway, back to serenity.  Where we're living one day at a time.  Enjoying one moment at a time.

NOT rushing one day at a time.  Rushing one moment at a time.

Oh.  Yeah.  That's right.

Okay.  I'm doing it again.

That rushing thing.  Stop it.  Remember the mountains!


Let's not get back to the twitching shell of a woman phase...let's see if I can actually do it.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time.  Taking, as He did, this world as it is and not how I want it.  TRUSTING...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's All Fun 'n Games 'Til Your Kids Go Away For A Week

I don't know about you guys, but it's been a challenging handful of months.

I was describing to a friend how I feel like "early 90s me" (ya know, able-bodied, playing college sports and stuff) one day  /  and Frankenstein the next.  Or the next 2.  Okay, maybe the next 5.  Wake up the next day...or 3...or 6...and feel like "early 90s me" again.

It's weird.

Stiff gait.  Intermittent loss of feeling on the left.  New eye flies in the right.  

It's annoying.

Depression.  Fuh-teeeeeeeg (which is the uppermost level of fatigue, for inquiring minds).

It's heavy.

Random right hand tremors.  Equally random sensations of being bitten by mosquitoes.  In one spot.  In one leg.

It's awful.  No wait.  That's actually kinda funny.

The other day, I slapped the back of my leg about 4x before I realized that a bug could *not* be so advanced as to escape my cat-like reflexes and return to the exact same spot on my calf.  Repeatedly.

Yesterday morning, I was eating my breakfast and literally threw my scrambled eggs into my own face.  To which my son asked, while laughing so hard he could barely breathe, "hand tremor, Mom?"

It's all fun and games.

My son has a way of dealing with a mother with ms, and that way is "humor".  He's jokingly referred to himself as my "helper dog".  Now read that sentence again and make air quotes, because that's how he does it.  Like when I can't find my keys, because they're hiding in my hand.  When I can't find my sunglasses, because they're hiding on my head.  And when I can't find the cereal, because it's hiding in the refrigerator while my almond milk is hiding in the pantry.  Yeah.  He helps me find them.  All of them.  He helps me carry things.  He opens doors for me.  He puts the clean dishes away/folds the laundry/and just kinda...takes care of things.

My daughter also has a way of dealing with a mother with ms.  She stares at her brother when I ask, "where are my (sunglasses, keys, breakfast foods)!!!!".  Laughs.  And reprimands him when he harasses me about dropping/walking into/forgetting - things.  She takes care of our pets.  She sweeps the floor.  She takes care of the dirty dishes/puts the laundry away/and just kinda...takes care of things.

My servant minded kids.  My biggest cheerleaders.  My biggest helpers.

...left for a week to work at camp, where they serve and lead children in activities and Bible studies and jello eating contests and hay rides and *not* dishes or laundry or "your keys are in your car that is running".

I've dropped them off for years, but this time was different.  This time, I Frankenstein.  And Frankenstein mode puts "helper dog" on high alert.

My son insisted on coming with me to unload the car, which is something I typically do so that both kids can catch up with friends they haven't seen since the previous year.  He carried all of his sister's belongings into her cabin, then his to his own.  He assured me that I would find the set of keys I had misplaced before we left.  And he told me not to miss him.

I nestled in under the cover of my window tint and sunglasses, my fuzzy eyes tearing up a little as I watched him walk away toward where the staff was to meet.  Several groups of teens walked past him, laughing and having a great time.  Rather than trying to integrate with them, he stopped and turned back to wave at me.  I tried to make a series of hand motions, symbolizing the fact that I wanted him to catch up with the kids and not bother waiting for this ol' lady to drive off...but he stood there, waving and sorta fake-smiling.  I knew this meant I would need to drive past him, because he wanted to know that I was okay.  I stopped when I reached him, put my window down, and asked if he was okay.  He responded with a trademark "yeah" and returned the question.

Insert trademark "yeah" :'-)

People have often asked me what it's like to be a mother with ms.  Imagine their surprise when I say I've been able to see several blessings in it where my kids are concerned.  They have a work ethic.  They know empathy.  They know perseverance.  They find joy in doing for others.  They understand that the world doesn't revolve around them, because there's something bigger.  They're strong in their faith.  They know that God is the only constant in their lives - the source of true comfort and peace - a peace that surpasses all understanding.  They've seen that this life is not always easy, nor was it ever promised to be.  The promise is that the Lord is with us through all of it.

With us when your mother falls down the stairs at your kindergarten classmate's birthday party and knocks herself unconscious.  With us when your (then-medicated) mother drives the lawn tractor deep into the driver's side door of her car.  With us when your mother asks where the keys are that she's holding.

With us.

(I did find those keys, by the way.  In the pantry.  I kid you not.)

(And to continue parenthetically speaking of the pantry, "helper dog" stole my box of gluten free lemon wafers for camp.  I know this, because I had just eaten one before I got ready to drop them off.  I do not misplace desserts or coffee...and it would explain his quick trip back inside the house.)

I will miss my baby girl and my helper dog.  I pray they will be able to shine a light for the children they're working with and for this week.  I pray they'll have a great time reconnecting with their peers.  And I pray that I would remember my own words about that comfort and peace.  MS may have itself in a tizzy in this particular time, but God is bigger.  Bigger than any worries, definitely bigger than what will soon be a sink full of dishes, baskets full of laundry, and randomness strewn about the house.

See ya in a week, kids...

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cast ALL Your Burdens...

Sometimes, anxiety likes to wake me so that we can hang out together.  While I'm flattered and all, it's just not really my cup of tea.  Or coffee, which I can't actually taste today.  Maybe tomorrow...

It goes something like this:

A:  "WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
:::gasping for breath:::
me:  ...what?

me:  ugh, no I'm's on my calendar.

me:  when have I ever 'forgotten' to pay that?  No one 'forgets' their mortgage payment.  C'mon, you gotta do better than this, Anxiety.

:::chest tightness begins, Anxiety seems to be hitting a nerve, gotta talk to God::: 
me:  I will get done what I'm able to get done...

:::adrenaline rush, we're so done sleeping, it's time to talk to God:::

So what do I do...half asleep, yet fully awake?  Well, I mess it up.  I respond by making trades with the Lord.  Trades, ya'll.  As if I haven't read the verse hundreds of times.  "Cast ALL..." not some.

I also think of everyone else who may be feeling anxious.  Because at 3am, there's plenty of time to think.  Students taking, or getting ready to take, their finals.  Friends going through health challenges, financial burdens, concerns for their children, job stuff, marital stuff...all sorts of stuff.  I asked God to be with each of them and make His presence known.  Comfort those kids, those in those circumstances...bring them - us - through it all.

And He will.

By the time I was done conversing with God and got tired again, it was time to be up for work.  So?  I passed the time by making a picture from one of the flowers my kids took a picture of.  This flower was so striking that maybe it will help me (and maybe someone else) remember.  All anxieties, not some.

Be well, friends!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

That Awkward Moment When A Pop Singer Captures Your Life w/MS

I very well may be Demi Lovato's oldest fan.  I mean, do women who are on a 4-5 week color cycle typically have her songs on their iThingie?  Probably not.

(women under 30 are wondering what a 'color cycle' is...and my response is, "just wait, sister.")

Regardless of how often I may or may not have to pour unnatural goop onto my hair, or what my iThingie library consists of, one thing is for certain:

Demi Lovato nailed it.

Let me give you some background...

This morning, I had an argument with my husband.  While these are rare, they are usually bad.  They are bad, because arguing with one's spouse is bad.  In addition, they are bad, because I do not address things as they are happening.  Instead, I mentally record every "I-can't-believe-he-just-walked-past-that-giant-laundry-basket", every "I-know-he-didn't-just-drink-the-last-of-that-iced-tea-and-not-put-a-new-pot-on-the-stove", and every "did-he-really-put-that-mug-in-the-sink-when-I-just-loaded-the-dishwasher?"  And then?  After I've collected too many of those and begin to answer myself with, "yes...yes he did...", they all come flying out.

That is bad.

Like this morning.  I smashed my hand after losing my balance while descending the stairs with an overflowing laundry basket.  Hope you followed all of that.

We did the usual exchange, which goes a lot like...I yell, he stares, I yell some more, he stares, I ask him what he's looking at, he stares, I yell until I've tired myself out.  But not today.  Today he was snappish (after the first few rounds of stares).

him:  "Why don't you say you need help?"
me:   "Why don't you GET. UP.?"
him:   :::blank stare:::
me:   "Do you understand that my whole body is twitching and vibrating right now?  And that I should not have to carry these baskets all the time!"
him, snarky:  "How am I supposed to know that you're not feeling well and all...twitching and...!"

oh. no.


...and then I started to do this new thing where water leaked out of my eyes.  What could my husband do?  But stare?  And go to work?  Nothing.  That's what.  At least the tears stopped me from continuing to speak, 'cause I won't talk and cry, 'cause then people will know I'm like...crying.

Ugh, this.  It's just one of those realities for my husband and I.  And maybe for others out there in The Land of Invisible Symptoms.  I assume.  He assumes.  I assume some more.  I have enough of him assuming.  I explode and ruin my chances at Proverbs 31 Wife of The Month.  Again.  I tell him I'm sorry for arguing.  He tells me he's sorry for not realizing I need help.  I tell him it's not his fault he's not clairvoyant.  We laugh it off.  And I remind myself of what is trying to tear me down.  It's not my husband watching the morning news with a cup of coffee.  It's not the housework that never has an end point.  It's not even that person who takes the best parking spot.

It's ms.

And here's where Demi nails it.  She goes and sings a song about a building and I think we can all get with it, or at least certain parts.  Especially if you're a little silly like me and find it both humorous and simpler to personify ms at times.

Go on and try to tear me (us) down.  I (we) will be rising from the ground.  Possibly falling into the wall like this morning, but rising nonetheless.  Because skyscrapers.

Dear Demi:

It's okay that we're on a first name basis, right?  In any case, I greatly appreciate your music.  Someday, I hope to see you sing in person.  I'll be the oldest lady in the crowd with the scuffed left shoe and the 2 teenagers hiding their faces while I sing along.  Keep up the great work!


Tina (because we're totally on a first name basis)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Update: What Was Actually The Matter w/My Son

First - I want to thank you all for your prayers and thoughts and for my son.  I'm beyond humbled by the overwhelming response to what was essentially a "dear diary" post.  You guys are amazing.  Seriously amazing.  And I mean that :)

Next - I want to tell you the good news!

A cardiologist at our local childrens hospital confirmed that the chest pain he was having after his hockey games?  Totally not cardiac.  No restriction of activity necessary.  No follow up appointments.  No more deductible charges or copays.  In his beautiful accent and somewhat gruff bedside manner, he reported that it is "not da heart".

I immediately knew what that meant.

Reflux.  He has reflux.

And, while GI stuff is still "stuff"'s nothing he can't get under control with a little dietary modification and a little medication and a little maybe-stop-eating-jalapenos-why-don'tcha.

So today, as we wrapped up the weekend by swinging through our local walmart in search of dress shirts that actually fit for an upcoming trip, I couldn't help but giggle at him the whole time.  He was so carefree.  Smiling.  Laughing at the more trendy clothing on the racks, because he's a very old skool kind of evidenced by his nifty pair of wingtips.  Humming and singing a song that was stuck in his head.

This song:

No wonder he was so carefree :)

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place that we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My Son's ER Visit, Sunday Night Gameplans, and Galatians

Last week, immediately following my son's first week back to physical activity (a.k.a. dek hockey game), he started with chest pain and a heart rate that could best be compared to...dub step.  Several hours after his game, he started to feel a little better.  Rather than take him to the hospital, primarily because he was feeling better, I decided to call the doctor first thing in the morning.

She didn't really have much to say except, "take him to the hospital if it happens again, unless you want me to order tests."


This week, immediately following my son's second week back to physical activity (a.k.a. dek hockey game)...the same thing happened.  So I followed the doctor's orders and took him to the hospital.


We've been through so many years of doctor/hospital stuff, he and I.  We had a great conversation about that in the middle of the night as he waited to hear his test results and whether or not he'd be staying.  He really just wanted his bed, but he couldn't yet lay flat without discomfort.  He did say that the gurney was much more comfortable than he thought it would be and turned down offers of warmed blankets and refreshments.  He didn't want to trouble the nurse.

When I looked into his face, he was really just an overgrown version of the toddler who sat very still on each hospital gurney and doctors' table so many years ago.  His gaze fixed  Gauging whether or not I doubted the medical team, so he'd know if he should doubt them.  Gauging whether or not I looked scared, so he'd know if he should be scared.

Me? Scared?  Nah.  Because the only time I was scared for him was in 1999.  And that's when I found out that God was real.  Before then?  Nope, didn't believe that.

But...because I know that, and because I've told him that story and he knows that, and because we are surrounded by SO MANY friends who focus their prayers and kind thoughts on us, there's no reason to be afraid.

:::Sidebar finished:::

The end result of his hospital visit was...his EKG and xrays came back fine.  We're to follow up this week with doctors, because there is something going on.  They were just ruling out an emergent situation.

So it's Sunday night and I find myself sitting here, working on a game plan for this week.  Ya know, which 'son calls' should be made first over my lunch break.  Will I even bother with the ped, or go straight to old faithful Childrens Hospital.  I'm not one to play.  I think we all know what I'll be doing.  I'm looking over our checkbook.  Taking a peek in the pantry.  Asking the husband if we can make it another week without ordering heating oil.  I look over at my son, knowing how far the Lord has brought him, feeling a sense of absolute peace with whatever may come...and find him staring at his electronic device with a look of sadness on his face.  I ask him what's wrong and he says that his friend is going through a time of sadness, stress, and disappointment.  He explains ways that he just wants to fix it, but knows he can't.  He decides the best thing he can do is pray for his friend and ask God to comfort and bless them in this time of literal "ugh".


Just as so many are doing for him...and he doesn't even know it.

We all battle something, right?  But?  We all have each other.  I thank God for that.

It doesn't mean things will be easy.  It doesn't mean they'll always go the way we want them to.  But it does mean that we can get through it, whatever "it" is.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MS = Why I Don't Commit to Stuff

I love serving others.

Serving others and volunteering is a blessing and not just to those on the receiving end.  I think we can all get with that.

But.  I also have an "energy bank".  And over the past-almost-15yrs, I've gotten pretty good at knowing how to "budget" something for which you have no steady income, nor consistent expenses.  What's my secret to managing my energy bank?

There isn't one.  It's day to day.  The only successful management of my energy bank is to do the things I absolutely must do (get up, go to work, come home) and leave the other things to be sorted through after those 3 have been accounted for.

There was a big event planned at my kids' school.  Emails and notices came around weeks ago with bunches of opportunities to smile and socialize and serve and bless others as they went about the itinerary of this great day.  I was chomping at the bit!  Countless times, I began an email to those in charge.  "I can help!"  But, I never actually sent any of them.  It's as if ms froze my index finger and simply would not allow it to click the mouse.  I told myself that...if it was meant to be?  It would be.  I would wake up on game day with at least some energy and tiny measure of strength.  I also told myself I would not feel guilty about it if I didn't.

That's something I've also been working on for the past-almost-15yrs ;)

Today was game day.  I woke up to a beautiful sunrise!  Obnoxious birds, scream singing with elation!  Our horrendous winter has finally given way to a burst of spring!  I had a nice conversation with my husband before he left for work.  I had a nice cup of coffee placed in front of me.

I could do this!!!

When suddenly, and I'm talking pretty suddenly, something like a weighted blanket washed over me.  I picked my coffee mug up, drew it to my mouth, and...just tasted warm liquid.

Ugh.  Looks like today's an "I can't taste stuff" day.

I told myself...that's okay!  I don't need to be able to pass a taste test to go smile and socialize with a bunch of people!  I told myself to go to the shower and wash the blanket off.  After serving at the event, I would come home and take my kids out for breakfast.  Yes!  That's exactly what I would do...


When I got to the top of the stairs, that voice came into my head.  You know what it said..."if you lay down for a couple minutes, you'll feel a lot better."


Four hours later, I woke up to a beautiful, sunny day.  Birds still screaming with elation.  At some point during my slumber, my kids had opened a couple of windows to allow the fresh, spring air in.  And started laundry.  And did the dishes.  And cleaned the kitchen.  And looked at me with smiley faces and said, "Good morning, mom!  Didjya sleep good?"

Yeah.  I did.

"Do you want breakfast?"

Yeah.  I do.  Sure.

My plans = wake up early, go serve at the event, come home, wake my kids, take them to breakfast.

MS's plans = wake up early, punch Tina in the face, send her back to bed, render her day useless.

What really happened = wake up early, get punched in the face, get sent back to bed, wake up to find that I was actually the one being served, give giant hugs to my kids, and spend the rest of this beautiful day with them.

My "energy bank" may be kinda low, but my blessings are innumerable :D

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mac Arthur Park - a story about a cake

Yep.  That's the best title I could come up with.

I'm sorry in advance.


My husband turned 44 last week.

And there's something you should know.  My husband?  Loves his birthday.  And he doesn't just love it.  He L.O.V.E.S. it.  In fact, he could best be compared to the camel in the commercials.

"Know what's in 2 weeks?  What's in 2 weeeeeeeeks!  Honey.  Hey kids.  Guess.  Guesssssss what's in 2 weeks!"

All I could think was...really?  Do you want me to rent a moonbounce?  Cotton candy machine?  Wooden yard animals proclaiming, "John's 44!"


But what he really wanted, aside from attention, was his annual chocolate-cake-with-peanut-butter-icing.  Homemade.

Just the mere word "homemade" deducts about 10 points from my Energy Bank.  

As the days wore on, my husband's countdown changed.  "What what whaaaat!  8 days til my birthday!" and "5...5...5 days til mah birthday!" and "3 more days, 3 more days...til what, you ask?  MY BIRTHDAY!  YEAH!!!"

Guess what else changed by the day?  My...presentation, if you will.

We're having extreme weather, and you all know how much MS likes extremes.  About as much as I like my own birthday.  I found myself dragging through each workday.  So mentally exhausted.  So physically vibratory.  My legs gave out while I was walking through our local grocery store in search of the perfect lunch to the point where I had to seek stability at the salad bar.  I took that to mean my perfect lunch was at the salad bar.

Let me tell you what makes people stare.  A woman dressed in business casual, holding onto the salad bar railing with both hands, trying not to fall into the food nor smash her face into the sneeze guard.  People stared, then walked away...muttering things.  Yet all I could hear in my mind, through my obviously embarrassing moment of lower extremity instability, was my husband's countdown to his 44th year.  "What what whaaaaat!"

:::gotta be kidding me:::

By the time we were at Birthday Eve (again, really?), I had nothing left.  Not physically.  Not emotionally.  Simple tasks, such as emptying the sink, wiping down the stove, and sweeping the floor, were no less daunting than running miles and miles in the sweltering heat was during my sporty days.  It didn't help that I reached saturation with my husband.  Every towel of his I picked up off the bathroom floor and every dirty dish of his I loaded into the dishwasher made me hate the idea of baking his cake.  In fact?  I came to hate the actual cake.  I began to run scenarios in my mind of baking the cake, sitting it behind my rear tire, and backing over it.  Hey honey, what's that in the driveway?  What what whaaaat?

Cake.  That's what.

I decided not to.  Cake did nothing to deserve a Yokohama tire print down the center.  Plus, I'm really trying to be a Proverbs 31 wife.  Nowhere in those scriptures is it revealed that the "wife of noble character" marched her donkey, in a stomping motion, across her husband's birthday flax...loaf?  No.  I would ask the Lord to forgive my horrible, cake destroying thoughts.  Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.  A nicer, more patient, more gentle me.  The me who wants to glorify You with everything I have.  That woman does not drive over food.

Finally, the birthday came.  I woke up in the morning and felt as if my entire body, complete with vibrating legs, stabby chest, and squeezing head, weighed 600lbs.  I dragged myself from my puffy cloud of swirling blankets to the coffee maker, to the shower, to the closet, down the stairs, to the car, and to work.  I had a great day :)  I then balanced our checkbook, remembered stuff I was sure I'd forget, got laundry started, and felt like I'd experienced several victories all at once!

But I didn't make the cake.

My husband came home and looked on the counter...but it was not there.

He opened the microwave...but it was not there.

He peered into the refrigerator...but it was not there.

"I'm sorry.  I didn't make your cake."

To which my husband stopped for a moment, looked at me in order to attempt to figure out whether I was being snarky or about to burst into tears.  The answer to that was simply "yes".

I had carried the guilt for days.  I'd argued with myself in that ugly way that I do.  I told myself it was ridiculous for a grown man to be so excited about a random birthday.  I told myself that he needed to get over himself.  And I told myself that I didn't care about his cake.  But then, my good self surfaced.  It's not ridiculous that he was being joyful and silly.  He works very hard for us.  He never asks for anything but that stupid cake.  The stupid cake I truly did care about, because I care about him.

And anyway, MS is stupid.  Not cake.

Enter tears.  Enter Donna Summer's song from my childhood.  Someone may have left the cake out in the rain.  They may never have that recipe again.  But at least they baked it in the first place...which made me cry more.

Fast forward a day.

My son has this wonderful, amazing, beautiful friend.  And she loves to bake.  And she bakes really well.  And she came over.  And you know what?

She and my son made the cake.  The cake that's half gone.  Or half full, depending on how you interpret a cake plate.

This time, my tears were those of gratitude.

I stood at the sink, washing their used dishes and utensils, replaying their laughter in my mind, giving thanks to God for a pair of 14yr olds who would rather do something for someone else than have actual fun in playing a video game together.  They were sitting at the kitchen table, kinda just...hangin' out...with me.  In that moment, I realized that baking his cake together and being in the same room as stabby me was "actual fun" to them.  All I could do was shake my head and smile through the tears.

To some, it was 'just' a cake for my husband's birthday.  My kind, loving husband.  To me, it was an obstacle I could not seem to overcome in the midst of overcoming everyday life.  But!  Those kids came to my rescue.  Sort of like the railing at the salad bar, but far less awkward.

Well done, kids.  You are appreciated. don't even know :-)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happy "Sweet 16th", Beautiful Daughter

Happy Sweet 16th to the most...


I'm having trouble with the huge listing of adjectives, because I start typing and they sound like I'm quoting the fruits of the Spirit.  I guess I actually am.

What can I say about my Bean?

Christ-like.  Every adjective I type falls under that.  Loving, caring, kind, compassionate, resilient, selfless, incredibly hard working, just...amazing. And beautiful.  And smart.  And...amazing.

It's not easy being a kid in this house.  These kids have experienced some rather unflattering, possibly worrying, borderline frightening moments where their mother was (okay, 'is') concerned.  The awkward word salads, Olympic-sized falls, days of post-shot side effects, and pseudobulbar roller coaster rides.  Those are just the highlights.

It's not easy being my daughter.  She's grown up in the shadow of a mother with holes in her head, and a brother who's had a rough handful - maybe 2 handfuls - of years with his health.  There were times she's felt overlooked.  Ugh, just typing that brings tears to my eyes.  If she only knew how often she was at the forefront of my thoughts.  All the lengthy drives to my appointments and studies...and to her brother's appointments...I wanted nothing more than to be home with her, sitting with her, reading to her, playing games with her.  And all the times I'd choose to go to the rehabilitation hospital's chapel to read and pray (instead of clip coupons and gossip with the other moms) while my son was receiving treatments...and the times I took their picture with me so I would have the courage to inject myself with medicine that was making me horribly ill - she was foremost in my thoughts.  My oldest 'baby'.  My beautiful little girl.  Sure, I had told her how much I loved her and wanted to do things with her, you know, as I was dozing off or on my way out the door to yet another appointment, but I always wished she could truly know my heart.  I would whine to the Lord and explain that it...all this health stuff...wasn't fair for these kids.  None of it.  Not fair.

But God...

...has made Himself so visible and real to her, occasionally through those hard moments - maybe 'especially' through those hard moments - which I had determined to be "not fair".  She has a scripture for every occasion.  When the going gets rough, and it certainly has done that, she seeks refuge in the Word. She is an example.

That's what I could say.  She is an example...of Christ-like living.

She's also a quiet leader who envisions herself in a ministry position.  She prepares Bible studies and devotionals with a peaceful smile that she probably doesn't even realize she's wearing as she works.  I suppose it speaks to that verse in Philippians about the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding hearts and minds in Christ.

That peaceful smile :)  God has done - and will continue to do - incredible things through her.

And she's my Bean.  I can't measure my love for her, because no one's ever come up with those sorts of words.  Not even me - in my most intricate of word salads.

Happy Birthday, Bean.  You are loved beyond words...even made up ones ;)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Neurology's Funny 'Til It's Not - ramblings about my son's concussion

My son has a concussion.

Know how?

Laughing.  That's how.  Apparently, someone said something funny on the bus + he laughed so hard that he threw his head backwards + the steel beam that borders the glass windows = concussion.

This happened about 4 weeks ago and he hasn't really seen a whole lot of improvement in the headaches, the emotional roller coaster rides, the confusion, even the slight measure of pseudobulbar tears.


Can we call it pseudobulbar if he doesn't also experience the intermittent laughter that us MSers know so well?  Meh.  Maybe not.  Maybe it's just 'tears with no label'.

I dislike labels anyway.

As I sat and watched him complete a neurological exam - much like those I did, faithfully, every 6 months...until my doctor retired and I decided I would also retire from those appointments - I got teary.

I remembered his early years and alllllll he'd been through.  The horrible prognosis he was born with.  Didn't help that he sustained a head injury after that prognosis.  Helped even less that he had an allergic reaction which produced seizures and neurological short circuits and, eventually, lots of labels.

The therapies were intense.  The endless 'social stories' exhausted him.  But, by God's grace, years of his relentless work, and a pediatrician in disbelief...those labels were removed from his chart.

My inner voice said, "this is not that...this is just a concussion...and he's stop it."

But I couldn't *not* see his much younger face as he looked to me for approval immediately following each trick the doctor asked him to perform.  Those glances helped me to exchange misplaced emotion for...the game face.  He's no stranger to being asked to perform tricks to show his brain function, just as none of us in this forum are.  He was prepared to do whatever she asked of him and to follow it up with a casual "did I kick that in the face or what!" approval seeking glance toward me.  Until he didn't kick it in the face.  The dreaded "heel/toe walk down the hallway with your eyes closed" trick got the better of him.


"I'm okay!"

Yeah, he was okay.  But he was also kinda scared.  Because this faulty neurology serves as a reminder to him of yesteryear.  I figure that's what prompted him to ask me - straight up - if this means he's going to end up back where he was, having to go through therapies?  And, if so, will this time be different?

My answer:  I don't know what this is gonna look like, but God does.

So what's a mother to do when there's nothing she actually can do?  At least until his headaches subside?  And while the team of folks who helped him years ago aren't even in the country at this time, but will see him as soon as they return?

Pray.  Pray and wait on the Lord, because there's always something going on around us that's got His name all over it...if I just stop. and. look.

What have I noticed in my day to day musings?

Well, I've noticed that my son has been given something far more valuable than the information from the classes he's missing, the competition in the sports he's having to put on hold, and the fun of the video games he's experiencing withdrawal from.  He's feeling the blessing of real, true friendship and support.  Like how a friend will just...sit with you.  Because sometimes it's not about having all the right words.  Sometimes? It's just about...sitting with you.  So that you know they're there.  In your best of spirits or your downright worst.  No matter what.

That is how this time is different.  

Thank You, Lord.  I see what You did there.

...and maybe the neatest part is, so does he ;-)

Friday, January 3, 2014

There's No Crying Over Snow

When you're me?  This?

Exhausts you just to look at it.  And it makes you feel defeated before you've even finished your coffee.  Because come on, I know what this will feel like by the time I'm done clearing it.

And all of that?  Put a lump in the back of my throat.

Clutching my coffee mug as if it would somehow hug me back, I told myself that I had to get to work.  Stop it.  Go get some arctic wear on.  Get that mountain off the car.  And get there.

Winter has always been a little more difficult for me, ms-wise, than summer.  While both extremes are less than optimal, summer seems to be more of an "I could sleep. Forever" feel, whereas winter is a "stabby-pain-that-causes-you-to-jump, heightened tremors, and a double side order of visual disturbance and vibrations".


I was right.  Cleaning the car off wiped me out.  As all 5'1" of me pushed and dragged a shop broom across the top and sides of my car, I cried a little.  I got mad at my husband.  With every swoop, I complained to..the air? I shouldn't have to do this.  I carefully stepped into his giant footprints as I walked around my car so I wasn't up to my stabby-ankles in snow.  I yelled to the air, something about how I could understand him walking right past a laundy basket, but an entire car?  No.  I decided in my mind that there would be no excuse for this.  "Just wait 'til tonight when he gets home"...that's what I promised myself.  He better get ready to pack his bags for the guilt trip I was about to send him on!

No, wait!  I had just 'resolved' to be more of a Proverbs 31 wife!  I can't ruin that just 3 days into January, right?

:::wait for it:::

WRONG!  Proverbs 31 says nothing of the wife having to clear her donkey of snow before she went to gather that wool and flax!  Yep.  He's goin' on a guilt trip...

And then my musings took a far worse turn.  I told myself those awful things we say to ourselves from time to time.  "No one cares.  No one understands.  When you have invisible symptoms, you're on an island-of-one."  I was feeling ridiculously sorry for myself.  And I cried.  A little more than a little.  All because of some snow.

"Pity party of one, your table is ready..."

So I drove to Dunkin' Donuts, because I felt like I was entitled to a chai after all that snow clearing business.  My whole body was vibrating and the stabby pains I had in my face last night were cranked up to 10 and biting me in the ankles and shins.  My right eye was doing this new thing that I'm kind of fascinated by.  Each time I blinked, it was as if I had a water droplet in my eye...but I didn't.  It was just a distortion that cleared when I blinked, then would become distorted again.  Hmph.  "That's interesting!", said self.

I waited in the drive thru line with what I estimated to be...the entire town.  Finally, I received my chai and carefully placed it in my cupholder.  My hand was twitching and the very last thing I wanted to do was spill it.  I felt so happy in that moment.  I mentally subtracted a few things I might say to my husband when he got home.  I shifted my thoughts to my work day and began prioritizing my tasks.  For me, running through a mental game plan is no different than waking up and running through the physical functions I have good sight in both eyes?  Eh, just one eye?  Okay, great!  And can I think straight?  Yes?  Great!  Anyway, at that point, I was stopped at the longest red light in town and ready to take a sip of chai.  I carefully removed the cup from the holder, took the lid off (germophobe, ms's fault) to take a sip and was only half full.


Oh no.  On came those awful feelings all over again!  REALLY???  You shorted me on the very thing I just rewarded myself with?  Someone has  Is that why she was smiling at me when she doesn't typically engage with the customers?  I'll bet it was!  And I oughtta spin this car around in the snow and go back to ask for the OTHER half of my chai.  I'll even say "please", because I'm classy like that!  But. I knew that turning around and going back into the store - in my current emotional state - wouldn't be a good idea.  I drove on to work.  Crying a little, but at least the right eye had an actual reason for the distortion.

My mind was spinning in high gear as I drove up the road toward work.  My pity party was in full swing when I noticed a man snowblowing the loooong walkway that runs along the front of our building and down a hill.  He was bundled up - the type of bundling where you could only see a bit of a nose and eyes.  The wind was blowing against him and the flying snow.  I thought it was one of the young men from a plow crew, because who else is going to be out there in the blustery winds, right?  When I looked closer, I realized it was...the boss.

For some reason, that snapped me out of my rut.  I remembered how blessed I truly am in spite of this stupid condition.  I have a boss, which means I'm blessed with a job.  And I could go on and on about how that boss is always concerned with things like...the climate of my workspace, and all the other things that working with something like ms would entail.  But he's a humble man and wouldn't want me to do all that ;)  I've been blessed with such incredible bosses over the course of having ms.  They have all been kind and compassionate.  They are not just bosses, past and present...they are friends.

The thought came to mind that my husband was also out in this weather, working, before the sun came up.  He may have figured I wouldn't be going to work this morning, which would explain why he hadn't cleared my car off for me.  I remembered him getting up at 3am to be sure he got to work on time.  He works very hard for us.  For me.  I thought of what it must be like to be him...watching me walk into stuff, drop stuff, and all that stuff ms does for me.  I can't lose sight of the fact that medical conditions can often be harder on the loved ones of a person than the actual person.

The truth is...everyone cares.  And I know that.  But what a slippery slope that sort of thinking can be.  I am so mindful of speaking positively to others, but I don't follow the same rule when it comes to myself.

Maybe that could also be a resolution?  Yes, yes it could!  And maybe I should also print out the full 31st Proverb and tape it to myself so I could refer to it often.  Ahem.

We're all in this together, ms'ers.  God bless us as we live each day to His glory...