Saturday, December 24, 2016

Morning musings over an excellent cup of coffee and MS and anxiety...

It's a beautiful, rainy morning. I enjoy rainy days. They're strangely peaceful. Or something.

I'm sitting here in one of my husband's old t-shirts and like, THE softest capri sweatpants that a friend gave me. I'm comfy. Super comfy. And the steam from the mug is dancing in front of the computer monitor. Pretty sure it doesn't get any better than this.

I can't help but feel beyond blessed as I think on all the goodness around me. I look ahead to an entire week off from work with my "babies". I think it's been about 11yrs since I've had a full week off at a time over the course of any part of a calendar year, much less the week between Christmas and New Year. Candidly speaking, I'm not quite certain how to process the time. I mean, what I'm supposed Do I clean stuff? Ugh, don't like cleaning. Do I find places within my 3hr comfort radius of driving and do a series of day trips? Ugh, being out in the cold makes me pee even more than a lot and that's just awkward to be all, "Hey, let's do a day trip and y'all go on without me! I'll be in the ladies room! Catch up with you soon!". After (over)thinking on that for several days, I ended up doing what I should have done prior to perseverating on the matter. I straight up asked the kids. My kids, who are totally not babies (18 and 17yrs old), both answered with a resounding................."nothing".

me: Like, nothing?

them: Nothing. We just want to relax.

But...I can't do "nothing". Because when I do nothing, I notice everything. And when I'm working, or *doing*, those verbs have a way of distracting me from that everything.

For example, the burning, sometimes searing pain I have across that large spot in the left side of my neck - hurts more. The constant twitching of my right ring finger - annoys more. The sudden and really weird way my eyes will decide they're going to stop cooperating with one another, resulting in quasi-aura (think migraine but not really) - sways more. The hearing in my left ear that comes and goes at will - surprises me more. The cramping throughout my body - grabs more. The pain in my chest, because MS likes to "hug" me nice and high, rather than the textbook torso hug - squeezes more. The numb spot in my left foot - feels less.

Last, but-certainly-most-notable, anxiety. It's huge right now. Max volume. Like, it requires its own paragraph. It makes me feel as if I have to apologize for simply existing. It says I'm a bad (granddaughter, wife, mom, friend, worker, woman, human). It tells me I can't do it, whatever "it" is. It asks how I could possibly think I was capable of whatever "it" is, if I can't even carry my lunch tray to my table in the cafeteria at work without throwing half my salad on the floor. That happened yesterday and, as I carefully cleaned the pumpkin seeds and craisins from the floor with a napkin, bunched up in my good hand, anxiety said, "LOL!!! (yes, anxiety is trendy and hip to text speak) Everyone is staring at you! You're such an idiot. Just shut down already. You made a complete fool of yourself in front of all these people. They think you're an idiot. Yesterday, you made a fool of yourself on the phone with your friend. She thinks you're an idiot. Here are a bunch of other times you made a fool of yourself. And everyone in the cafeteria is staring and laughing at you. Go sit in the corner booth, stare into what's left of your salad and don't say any words, because you'll just mess them up anyway. Seriously. Just completely shut down. Once you get up, that is. IF you get up. Without falling. Idiot."

Let me tell you, getting up from the kneel in that moment felt much like a fighter just knocked to the ground. My legs were wobbly - probably more from anxiety than MS - and I felt totally defeated and wanted to cry, but remembered my dad's words, which he would intensely deliver through clenched teeth when I would incur a major injury during a sporting event: "DON'T CRY. BE TOUGH." Honestly, there should be no crying over craisins anyway, right? No matter how good they are. Because come on, they are pure goodness. Thankfully, I was near a counter, which I used to help stand (kinda) firm. As I panned the room, twitchy hand pressed on the countertop, I found that...absolutely no one was looking. I thumbed my nose at anxiety, explaining that none of my 100 or so coworkers in the room had even noticed. Anxiety said they were staring, but chose to be classy by acting as if they hadn't. Oh, and that they were actually talking about it. And me. And anyway, how about that foolishness from yesterday. Foolishness that ruins all the things. Bad human.

Some may wonder how I can begin a post by explaining how blessed I feel about something, only to reveal that anxiety has me feeling a certain sort of way. In fact, I've been told before that if I were stronger in my faith, I wouldn't have all this anxiety. Well? To that I say, and have actually said...I didn't choose to have anxiety just as I didn't choose to have MS. And the God I know never promised that everything would be perfect in life. In fact, the scriptures say the complete opposite. But. He goes with me through it all. Before me, beside me, ahead of me. That is my assurance. Assurance, for me, doesn't necessarily mean no anxiety and it certainly doesn't mean no MS. It's just assurance. And it's everything.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas filled with lots of somethings or nothings, whichever you prefer, and tons and tons of assurance.

So, I wonder if I could.........okay no. No things to distract from the things. Assurance ;)

And a song that is actually distracting the burning from my neck. Because songs:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Body Image Issues Be Strong - And This Post Be Long

:::stands up:::

Hi. My name is Tina and I have body image issues.

"Hi, Tina."

:::sips water and prepares to get vulnerable for a quick minute or 10:::

You know, I just find it so ironic how I have these daily, hourly, mostly constant chats with God, be it out loud or in my head, and I still haven't learned that...when I ask to be shown something, boy do I ever get hit over the head with it. I'm guessing that's because God knows I need that sort of delivery. My mind moves way too fast and distraction is far too prevalent in me for subtlety. Isn't that a strangely spelled word? Who did that?

See? Distraction.

Anyway. My ramblings went something like this: "I feel restless. Don't know why. Everything is good, so this doesn't make sense. Just show me what it is.  And You know how I am, so make it clear." I guess I'd liken that conversation to Step 7, but I never really had the attention span to work the steps and ended up tangled in steps/principles like the cord of my headphones after I've shoved them in my pocket. There's more than one way to heal, thank goodness ;)

I started those ramblings a couple months ago. Since then, I've seen friends make bold social media posts, sharing their stories of struggles with self and body image. The "open letters" to moms on the beach.  Bathing suit season will bring those feelings of shame and inadequacy and comparison straight to the surface, right?  It's become a recurring theme all around me.

"Oh, that? No, God. I don't need to work on that. I'm good.  Really."

But, more posts surfaced...then messages at church that spoke to our perceptions of our worth...conversations with friends over coffee...and finding myself on the receiving end of an absolutely beautiful person's sharing of her own struggles with unworthiness and self image, to which I was completely dumbfounded and immediately said - well, after listening - "Wait. Stop. You're absolutely beautiful. I don't know why you would ever feel less than that.  That is not how I see you.  How anyone sees you.  And it's definitely not how God sees you."

"What's that, Lord?  I just gave her all that truth, but can't own it for myself?  Well.  I still don't really want to work on it.  I'm good, seriously..."

A couple of weeks or so ago, I had been feeling kinda blah, because the school year is starting shortly, which means I need to start presenting to work as if others will actually see me.  My usual "week's worth of clothing" hangs in the closet.  Pants that aren't of good quality, meaning they've frayed and faded after too many washings, but I make them work. Five or six feasible tops - some of which are really old, but I make them work. One pair of shoes that are scuffed (thanks, ms!), but I make them work. I tell myself, "At least I don't get stuck in my closet anymore like I used to. There aren't any choices to weigh my mind down. Everything gets worn once. Let's call it 'simplification' and pretend I'm using it as an ms coping strategy! Yes! That will make me look resourceful and savvy." And that looks much better than the truth, which makes me vulnerable...

The vulnerable truth is - when I look in the mirror, I see something that others do not see.

This has been a struggle since I was a small child. I remember being in kindergarten, hating the image in the mirror. I started taking laxatives when I was about 10, but that didn't make me thin. As a teenager, I resorted to a regimen similar to what wrestlers followed when they wanted to make weight. Work out hard, wear trash bags and sit in the sauna, eat as little as possible, then eat all the things late at night after getting super hungry, feel horrible about overeating, beat self up with typical "you're fat and worthless" self-talk, work out harder, eat less, eat more, rinse and repeat. And, above all else...plaster on happy face, never let anyone in, because I had to keep my secrets game strong. "You're only as sick as your secrets", right?  That is a very powerful statement for me.  By the grace of God, over the course of several years, I've unearthed and dealt with all the roots of that too-many-years-long-mess-that-took-on-several-faces.  I've come to see goodness in the face staring back at me in the mirror.  But, the struggle to look at my body is still very real.  

MS totally has not helped this body image sitch. I'm no longer able to work out in the same ways I did, nor can I run, nor can I sit in saunas, nor do I view big trash bags as attire - come on, that's funny. I have to approach my exercise with caution and cannot push my muscles to the point of burning, which had always felt strangely fabulous to me, because now it just results in terrible spasms. My legs have become dimpled and unsightly from sitting.  Always had a belly, even back in the extreme work out days.  I can hate on my arms, too.  It's all so easy for me to do.

But seriously. Back to the clothes thing. A week or so ago (see how God kept hitting me over the head, time after time and thing after thing?), I received a message from a friend, who asked if I'd like to come take a look at some clothing she was unloading. I *knew* that nothing would fit my short and sturdy self, but she's seriously one of the most fun people to be around, so why not? I figured I would simply hold the pieces up, determine them not to fit, and just enjoy that half hour or so of hang time.

Instead? She showed me what seemed to be endless pairs of brand new, beautiful dress pants and jeans. In my exact size. The quality of these pants is unlike anything I have ever worn. As if I wasn't already spoiled? *Several* new pairs of capri sweatpants for the gym! Who am I kidding! Capri sweats for the gym AND the sofa!!!  But then, it got real.  Sweaters and tops were next.  When she announced that we were doing this, meaning I was trying them on, I started with a panic attack.  I thought to myself, "No.  I am not allowing anxiety to ruin this day (yes you are, your heart is coming through your chest). Clearly, this is exactly what God is trying to show me (not here, not now, no thanks).  Get over yourself (can't), get in the powder room (don't wanna), and put this stuff on (not gonna fit me, way too fat for every last one of those tops).  Then?  Walk out there (seriously? in front of everyone?) and (be judged)...okay, whatever.  Hold your breath if you must, but just rip the band aid off already (kinda wanna pass out now), open the door (still wanna pass out), and go (legs are shaking, but okay then...and we're walking...)."

Digression alert (italics time):  I've written before about my personal level of hell that is "being all up in the dressing room", because you know what's waiting for me in there? The multitude of mirrors. One glance in any direction reflects my entire body from angles unimaginable. What is *that* about? "Oh doesn't this look flattering if I'm standing completely still and people are approximately 165 degrees to my left? I'm totally getting this." Then, I put it on in the morning and decide it's hideous. I'll never wear it. Instead, I'll shove it to the far left of my closet and donate it.  I also struggle with sizing. My clothes are too big, because that's how I hide. From my window tint to my giant hooded sweatshirts to my pink Phillies hat...pulled down right to my eyes.  Straight up hermit who has to consistently check thyself against isolating.   /digression

When I finally walked out of the powder room, where I had no way to hide, I was met with compliments and smiles and love and a little bit of "what are you talking about, that looks really nice!"-ities.  Because I was busy playing the "I don't think this looks okay" record.  Not every single thing worked for me, but many things did.  And so?

This is a picture of my upgraded closet.  See the hangers that are not wire?  Yep.  She gave me those as well.  I'm moving up, y'all:

I can't possibly explain the joy that I am feeling over these clothes.  I'm not comfortable yet in several pieces, but I have already begun to challenge myself by wearing them.  My eyes don't see contrast differences in certain shades of peach, pink, salmon, or lighter oranges all that well (thanks, ms!), so I was all the more grateful to have ended up with colors I could easily match.  How perfect was it that one top had a matching peach/pink/salmon or lighter orange (because I honestly don't know what it is) already paired with it?  As long as I can keep those two together, I should be good to go!  And speaking of challenges?  I thought I might go to the store and try this dressing room throwdown again.  I mean, if I could stand in front of 50 people at my friend's house (or maybe it was just 4 or 5 people), surely I could conquer the dressing room!  Or at least kick it in the face more than before.  Which I did.  I even made some new BFFs in the salesgirls along the way.   

My heart is smiling.  My closet is full.  My BFF list grew by 3 in the past 24hrs.  And someday, with my Lord's help, I will be able to see the beauty in myself that I so automatically see in others.  ;)

/end session 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

If I'm Lost, I Can Always Go Home To Find Myself

How can you explain being within a 5mi radius of the town you grew up in, yet not being able to find Target?

Oh the irony...

I think I've mentioned this strange phenomenon where I get all the symptoms of a migraine, yet my head only hurts at maybe a pain level of a 1-2.  I'm self-diagnosing that as a "silent" migraine.  Any formal dx would have to come from a doctor, meaning I'd actually have to go to a doctor.  Nausea, hearing and visual weirdness, word salads, taking upwards of "5 mississippi" to digest and answer questions, and this funky thing my brain does where it decides to 'not'.  Yet not completely 'not'.  Just some 'nots'.

For example:  My mental function was such that I could make sense of numbers and do high level things with them.  I could not, however, write a 2 sentence email in under 5 minutes.  And responding to a text message was a hot mess of bad spelling/sentence structure that would have made a series of clicks and grunts more coherent to those asking me questions.  "Answering questions" was on the list of nots, apparently.

See?  Migraine.  Without rip roaring, kinda-wanna-cry-but-that-hurts-too-much pain.

It seemed as if my thought processes cleared if I was up and moving around.  Therefore, when the nausea eased and my vision straightened itself out, I thought it may actually be a helpful sort of thing to take my daughter out to pick up the last of her college supplies.  We stopped by a produce stand in a neighboring town first, because I've been on this dinner cooking kick for the past several weeks.  Totally new for me since my very first flare and I have to say, I am enjoying it!  Well, until I set out from that stand to Target.

Italics symbolize the conversation my mind was having with itself:

Right turn here.  And there.  Left here.  Around the bend.  Where am I?  Oh crap.  Ok.  Right turn again.  A left should bring me out to...what the heck is this?  Wait wait.  Let me go back out the way I came.  Reverse all directions.  Back to familiar road from stand.  Right turn here again, because that is positively correct.  Right turn there.  "I'm sorry, Bean (daughter's nickname).  I know exactly where I am now.  Whew, I sometimes get turned around back on these roads!"  Left turn.  Wait.  Okay, no.  Just go right here.  Oh I love this song!  Am I out of bread?  I got 2 boxes of butter yesterday, but I should get more since I bought this corn.  Wait...where the heck am I again?  There's the airport.  "I'm really sorry, NOW I know exactly where I am.  When I was little, Mom would bring me here to watch the planes come in.  And Target is in front of the airport."  Right turn in front of airport.  Target isn't here, you idiot.  What the (not heck) am I doing?  It's near here, but I have no idea how to get to it.  I've been driving around for about a half hour.  I'm completely lost in my own town.  This is so embarrassing.  It's just like when the kids were little and...oh that's right...I know exactly what to do...

I admitted to my daughter that, okay, I'm lost.  And this had happened to me before (during a time of extreme stress).  What I'm going to do is...go home.  Home to where I grew up.  From there, I can find my way.  The twists and turns within my old neighborhood are easily navigated, stamped into my mind by love and warmth and nostalgia.  They bring back memories of no seat belts, Coke in glass bottles, listening to disco/soul music, and being with my mommy in our '72 Buick.  Walking to school, riding bikes to the family owned grocery store, buying individually wrapped pieces of their chocolate cake with caramel icing, and playing street hockey, frisbee football, and stick ball until I was called in from the top of the hill.

Home.  Circa 1972-1987:

There's something about my old home that helps me to restart, get centered, and clear the tripped circuitry in my brain.  It helps me to retro.  I remember talking about that (retro'ing) with my neurologist many years ago and she said that some people's minds will respond to stress by taking them back to times of comfort.

Stress?  Nah.  I've purposely not been allowing myself to feel that in light of my daughter going to college this week and my son getting his license.  When I've started to feel it, I've redirected my mind to something else.  Usually cooking.  Driving around looking for where they're selling that new cold brew coffee.  And laundry.  I have washed 3 towels, people.  That's just where I'm at right now.  It's like some strange version of nesting.  Maybe my beloved-and-now-retired neurologist was right.  Typical migraine triggers of stress...may actually now be "silent" migraine triggers.

I prefer these over the other layer of hell that migraines are.  Though, if I'm being honest and somewhat entitled, I'd love to not have the "migraine day 2, kinda wanna eat the top 2 rows of the refigerator, kinda wanna go to sleep on the kitchen floor" moments.  But first, kinda wanna hit the 'publish' button.  Ya know, so that anyone else who has these moments and feels a little crazy maybe doesn't feel so alone.  I'm with you.  Totally.

Thanks in advance for excusing any nonsense in my writing.  While day 2 is cognitively better, it ain't perfect.  Plus, kinda got jelly on my keyboard in an earlier feeding frenzy...and it's distracting...

Oh!  Here's an interesting article I found for those of us questioning our level of crazy and hesitating to call these things migraines, since the pain isn't particularly unbearable.  See?  We're not crazy.  Well.  Migraine crazy, at least.  I'm just not smart enough to paste this as a hyperlink.  Not today, at least ;)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pride Comes After The Fall...

That awkward moment when...

You're heading out into the kitchen to clean up and the dogs start arguing with one another, so you round the corner with that "I'm gonna break THIS nonsense up!" attitude.  And before you know it?

You're laying all over the floor.

See, when basset hounds drink water, they end up watering the floor in the process.  Fuzzy socks are suggested footwear.  Bare feet are an absolute hazard.

That's my PSA for the night.

The thud I made very well may have registered on the Richter Scale.  The pain that initially shot through my hip definitely earned some form of sad face on the hospital's pain scale.

Can I digress?  Wait.  Let me get into italics...

We've all been to the ER and had the triage nurse ask us to identify our pain level, right?  These faces.  There is no time in my life that I have presented to the ER and resembled any of these.  When I have been able to get to the ER with a migraine (rarely), I was barely mobile, shaking violently, hands clenched over face, asking for a vomit tray at the sign in sheet.  I always gave that a 7/8, because I couldn't see the faces to tell me otherwise.  That heart thing I had after taking a magic carpet ride migraine med?  There wasn't a corresponding "scared out of my mind" face.  I believe I gave that a 5/6, because it doesn't hurt when your heart has left your body and clung to the ceiling.  The results of the EKG felt I downplayed the severity and I won that no-expenses-paid, overnight stay in the luxurious cardiac floor.  With no coffee.  What was THAT about? And the kidney stones, which created writhing pain?  Again, no corresponding faces, but the nurse was able to properly assess based on my...words.  

Know what I think of when I see these faces?  I think of a dining experience at a new restaurant.  Excellent service, never running out of your beverage, food prepared to your liking?  0.  Wait staff taking the attitude of the last table out on me, not getting my sweet tea refilled, dry chicken and not enough butter for my baked potato?  10. 

/ end digression /

The thud.  The instant pain.  The customary inventory assessment of "how badly am I hurt, can my legs move with some sort of coordination, what's the best way to get back to my feet?" was interrupted by my son, who was clearly shaken:  "Should I call 911???"

And me, not really able to move my legs just yet, feeling the initial pain disappear into numbness and tingling, realizing there was no getting back to my feet in the immediate, yelled out:  "NO!  No no no.  I'm okay."

My husband came to see if he could help and saw me all twisted up on the floor.  I felt so sad that he had to see me that way.  I mean, it's Saturday night.  I wasn't dressed for the occasion.  I gave him the usual, "I got it. I'm good. Carry on.  Seriously."  But, it took a few minutes to get my arm and leg to do what they were supposed to do, which resulted in him coming *back* out to check on me.  In that moment, I was finally ready to accept his helping hand.  Sorta ready.  Okay, not emotionally ready, but more like recognizing and embracing the necessity.  Pride comes after the fall when you're me.

As my new and freshly laundered pajamas gently hold me, it is as if they are whispering, "Regardless of whether or not tomorrow is a high pain day, which it certainly has the propensity to be, on account of how the numbness is now transitioning into twinges of's okay.  It's going to be okay."

:::because pajamas would whisper and be totally supportive like that:::  

I also have a cat who likes to lay on the top of my desk chair.  Usually, he just hangs out.  But, tonight he's lending me his paw of my hair.  See?

Shout out to the solid construction of our home as well as to my chiropractor, who will put my Humpty Dumpty self back together again as soon as it's safe to push on me ;)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Trips - in the yard and stuff...

I took a half day of vacation today.

It's Fri-yay, afterall. Frinally.  And every other bad Friday pun you can think of.  So why not, yes?

I thought about all the incredible things I would do with those precious hours throughout my entire commute.  Which is approximately 7 minutes long.

Despite the intense heat (should I not know better after 17yrs?), I thought I would enjoy wringing my mind out by taking a trip down to our sorta local boat rental park, climbing into my favorite boat, driving it out to the center of all that is good, and getting in touch with that tiny part of me that is considered Native American.  It's probably 15% or grandmother's grandmother...whatever the calculus thinks.

I (finally, approximately 7 mins later, ugh...) arrived home and quickly became distracted by the plethora of unfinished household tasks.  Dishes in the sink.  A random chicken that escaped her run.  No, seriously.  The fact that there were only 3 towels left for showers, unless you wouldn't mind using a damp one in that pile over there.  Two remaining rolls of toilet paper, clearly enough for me for 24hrs, but not the other family members.  And the trash cans were still out at the end of the road.

I figured I'd just get that stuff together and THEN I'd be lake bound...

So I tried to:
  • put the dishes away, but kept dropping them  
  • put a sandwich together, but dropped that too
  • hand my son his cell phone, but bounced it off the floor 
  • walk up the stairs with the towels, but tripped and caught myself with my left wrist (that really could have felt better)
  • bring the trash cans up and around the back of the house, but stepped wrong and fell...down...tucked...and rolled...literally...for approximately 5 feet...'cause our front yard is a slight hill
  • get in the car to take my son to work, but didn't lift my leg high enough, caught it on the sill, and fell into the driver's seat
  • tell my son I was fine and I was going to go to the lake for a little while, but he made faces at me and said, "Mom.  Please.  Just go home and stay there."
Nobody puts Baby in a corner.  

"How's your time off going, Tina?" 

Like this, thanks:
While this all sounds somewhat negative, it certainly isn't meant to be.  In fact?  You can be assured that:

  • if anyone was driving by as I was rolling down the hill of my yard, they were impressed with my athleticism.  I make this look good.
  • my dog doesn't mind the hand tremors, because he gets the dropped food
  • my son will no longer trust me to carry his phone 
  • I'm done with housework for the day, I'll tell you THAT right's rather dangerous

And last but not least?  Be assured that I'll be on that boat at some point ;)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Happy Anniversary...With Love and Literal Hugs - MS

Like sands through the hourglass...

You're finishing that statement, aren't you.  Come on.  Say it.  Say it with me :)

"so are the days of our lives"

Can I digress for a moment?  Of course I can.  As long as I stay in italics.  Can I just share that I planned approximately 2.75 years of college courses around Days of Our Lives episodes?  And what was that show that immediately followed?  Wait...Another World!!!  That's it!  Oh how I loved those shows.  The only reason it wasn't a complete 3 years is because I was excused from my dorm shortly after starting freshman year.  "Excused" is polite for kicked out.  Ohhhh temper temper.  You've never done a single positive thing in my life, but I embrace you nonetheless.

Okay let's get out of italics.  

Like sands through the hourglass...MS has been around for 17 are the days of my life.

Each year at this time, I find myself doing an overview of sorts.  I look back on the early days.  The scans, the plethora of appointments, the medicinal failures, the falls, the eye mess, the nerve pain/numbness/pain/tinglies/pain mess, the...mess.  My mind then walks me forward to the fuhhteeg, more nerve mess, the word salad mess, the walking into stuff mess - which is actually quite funny (like when the chiropractor asks if that's a bruise on your back and, because you can't walk backwards out of the laundry room, basket in hands, without misjudging yourself in space and DOORKNOB!) 

I forgot where I was going with that, aside from running into stuff with my body.

Anyway, I look at it all.  Then, I compare it to today.  And to last summer.  Because last summer, I had that swallowing thing.  This summer, I have the mobility thing.  I can't remember 2 summers ago, so maybe that was a memory thing.


As I peek at my screen through the steam of my coffee...and listen to peaceful worship music...I'm reminded's okay.  

It's really okay.

I'm allowed to look back at those yuck things.  I just have to try not to live there.  I have to remember that the Lord has already worked everything out waaaaay ahead of my schedule and definitely far in advance of the yuck.  I need to remember that no yuck is a surprise to Him.  In fact, as I look back and see how things have worked in just such a way to care for my family and myself in the times of yuck over the past 17yrs, I can't *not* see the Lord's provision.  Sometimes, it was friends and family who helped with yardwork, weeding, and even digging small trees out of our rain gutters.  In others, it was meals, snacks, and desserts randomly showing up at our front door.  To this day, I still don't know which one of my friends it was, but my heart will always smile at the surprise of the doorbell ringing, the opening of the door, the seeing of a car out in the middle of the road, the wondering as to whaaaat was going on, and the finding of a glorious piece of homemade cheesecake at the door with a beautiful card attached.  That?  Was awesome.  It all?  Has been awesome.  But, there's more.  Because just the other day, another huge blessing.  This one arrived as a bag of clothing that was shipped to our door for my son.  See, he was set to attend a conference this week and realized that he had outgrown all of his presentable clothing.  He had purchased enough formal clothing, but was short by about 3 days' worth of neat-but-more-casual attire.  Guess what was in the bag?  4 days' worth.  Because that's how God does it.  And this friend had absolutely no idea that he didn't have everything he needed.  She simply decided to bless him.  The joy in his eyes?  The relief that came over him?  Well, that just put everything else into perspective.    

These blessings serve as my reminder that we don't do this life alone.  Even when anxiety, or fear, or even MS tries to sell me that lie.  I need only look as far as my front porch. 

So are the days of our lives...

Oh, and here's the song I had been listening to as I wrote.  It's my son's favorite version of How Great Is The Love.  Blame him for any goosebumps ;)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

From Invisible to Visible...Symptoms

Apparently, MS has put much consideration into juuuuuust what to get me as we round the corner into our 17th year together.

It's thoughtful like that...

Typically, I get some collection of funky, invisible symptoms.  Eye stuff.  Speech stuff.  Hearing stuff.  Creepy crawlies.  Constant itching.  Fuhhhteeg.  Spatial (un)awareness - resulting in bruises and the occasional scuffed on and so forth.  Point being, no one knows but me and whoever is putting air in that tire.  Meaning, I can just deal with it on my own.  My inner "only child" prefers the solitude.

But this year, the invisible is becoming visible.

See, I'll be walking along just fine and...this:

Thankfully, the first time it happened, I was pushing a cart through Target.  If I had to guess, I'd say I walked about 20 yards and boom!  This incredibly annoying...tickling...tingling...numbing sensation spread down the back of both legs.  My ability to coordinate my feet in any sort of normal pattern was gone.  And my son asked, "Mom?  You okay???"

With pretty much my entire torso leaning on that cart for dear life, of course I said yes.  Best case, I would get through the rest of the store with the aid of the cart.  Worst case, I would simply acknowledge the symptoms and set out to locate the toy aisle so that I could obtain an old favorite:  A Hoppity Hop!  When your Plan B is to hoppity hop right on through the rest of the store, you know you still have your act together.  Plus, I can't go to that particular store without knowing at least 5 people.  And when you really know me, you know that hoppity hopping through a store isn't out of the realm of what I might do.  And when you really know most of my friends?  You know that they would join me.

A small gang of mid-40somethings.  On these things.  In the middle of the store.  I think we need to make this a thing...

As I was saying, prior to distracting myself by retro'ing to the 70's...

I can get from my car to the door.  I can get from the door to my office.  Sometimes.  And sometimes?  I can't. There doesn't seem to be a pattern or playbook for this.  So thank goodness there are hoppity hops.

Visible symptoms, as compared to my typically invisible ones, present me with a new challenge...the challenge of trying to manage the emotions of others.  A whole new line of communication had to be opened.  I've talked with my family to make sure they understand that I'm fine and that I actually prefer this "gift" in comparison to even the mildest of migraines.  I've touched base with my coworkers to say, if you see me walking funny, or using a walking aide (hoppity hop)?  It's business as usual.  Because honestly, I feel pretty darn great, aside from back pain and the deflated rubber ducky effect.

The start of summer's heat and humidity is always a time of wonder.  But, this summer?  I don't have time for it.  Our daughter is going to college.  Our son is visiting colleges.  And as much as I appreciate the spontaneity and all?  I think I'll just do what I always do.  I will lean on my Lord.  I will choose joy.  I will love hard.  I will drink my coffee.  And I will check the weight limit on this thing, in case hopping would bring about a nasty case of vertigo:

Be well, friends!  Summer is coming...but so are we on our 40+ year old toys ;)

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:31

(and 40:31a - "they will hop and not become dizzy")

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Time Sure Flies...

Time flies, right?

Like...I remember my mother sitting across the hospital room from me, holding my daughter.  And she was all, "Before you know it, we'll be sitting at her high school graduation."

Thanks, mom.  Because this:

Selfishly speaking, I've had a great senior year.  Well.  It's technically her senior year.  But, you know what I'm saying ;)

I've thoroughly enjoyed watching how each of her teachers has helped her to grow this year.  The college visits have been SO much fun, primarily because my husband is such a fish out of water!  He did not have the opportunity to attend college, so his excitement at the novelty of it all was awfully cute!  He had the tendency to focus on the landscape, the number of electrical outlets in the dorm room, as well as the quality and selection of the free food in the cafeterias.  So he was all:

I did have the blessing of attending college.  Unfortunately, my college experience could be entitled "A Series of Unfortunate Events".  I did come away with some wonderful friendships, which I still hold dear today.  I also have a degree, which was the entire point!  But, due to the many negative experiences, I was very critical of the campuses we visited.  While my husband focused on the food in the cafeteria, I listened to the students.  While he sampled the pizza, I walked aimlessly through the aisles with the highest concentration of students, eavesdropping on their casual, unsuspecting musings.  Having to use the restroom no less than twice an hour afforded me the ability to overhear conversations taking place.  This helped me gain an overall understanding of the campus and whether or not it would - in any way - resemble the college I went to.  In one case, it was quite identical in appeal.  So we left.  Quickly.

(as quickly as I could go, which wasn't very)

Speaking of me, as if we kinda already weren't, MS has been quite argumentative over the past...oh I dunno...handful of months?  Quite.  Though with all of the senior year festivities, I haven't really had the time to worry or feel sad over it.  I guess that's why I can easily make the joke about this year being good for me as well.  Because come on!  It has been!

It goes without saying that we're incredibly proud of our baby girl.  We can't understand where the time has gone, only that it's been amazing year after year.  I continue to aspire to be like her when I grow up, though I don't imagine that happening anytime soon.  And her aspirations, you may wonder?  To cure autoimmune disease.

I introduce you to the next Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BCMB) major with a passion for autoimmune research:

This passion to cure autoimmune disease is not just for us, but also for herself.  She was diagnosed two years ago with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in the form of enthesitis, which seemed to set into her knees and hang there, predominantly.  Despite intense therapies, she was not able to continue her running career.  The condition has worsened since dx and has set in not-so-nicely within her back and hips.  The NSAIDs proved too harsh.  The other meds that were offered had side effects more frightening than the pain.  I'm in the process of researching the top doctors on this side of the country to see if there may be some form of new treatments available to help her.  I wouldn't mind the drive out to the Cleveland Clinic again, as I did for my second opinion.  I just don't want the doctor to say, "Oh you go to Dr. 'so-and-so'?  She was my mentor!"  Note to self:  Do not drive 7hrs to the student of the doctor you already have.  Anyway, that's my most recent focus.  Which is why I don't have time to worry about things like stabbing pains, fatigue, numb feet, walking into stuff, hand tremors, and where I may or may not have put my keys or parked my car.

I have this guy to keep track of the last two:

Well.  At least until he goes to college.  At that point?  I'll be in the parking lot holding my key in the air, pushing the red button until my car answers...

I'm so incredibly grateful for the blessing of my kids.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for them!  They have gone about their days, year after year, in humble service to this household.  They have seen the good, bad, and the definite ugly of MS.  This is their time to shine and step out into God's will.  It's exciting!  And maybe a little sad in a "where in the actual heck did the time go?" way.  But exciting wins!  Every time :)

Also every time?  The "serious selfies" that my daughter and I try and fail at.

Whew.  Almost got a little teary there...saved it!

Be well, friends!

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I don't have a clever title for this post, so...

It's really a beautiful gesture when someone offers to join me in my weekly grocery shopping.  I use the term "weekly" lightly, because we all know it turns into something that looks a little more like "thrice weekly".

Grocery lists be forgotten on the counter like...

Today, my daughter decided to join me.  My baby girl of nearly 18 :')  Anyway, I can't talk about that.  If I don't talk about it, I don't have to acknowledge it, right?  Moving on.

You may recall that I only use the little cart, on account of how I get dizzy about halfway through my excursion?  And, if I try to use the big cart, I risk knocking entire end cap displays over?  Okay, great.  You're up to speed.  So picture me strolling up and down each aisle, beautiful child trailing behind with little cart, watching in awe at all that is "mom carefully stacking tons of things into little cart to the point where it has lost the capacity to steer".  She asked me no less than 4x if we needed the big cart.

"NO!", said I!

Finally, about 6 aisles into the madness, she changed her language.

"Should I get another little cart?"

Comparing the remainder of my lengthy list to the rapidly declining condition of the little cart she was attempting to maneuver, I quickly surrendered.

"Sure.  If you really think we need it..."

As I waited for my daughter to jog to the front of the store to obtain a new little cart, I studied the next item on my list.  Eggs.  I began to question myself.  Can I get away with *not* eggs?  I mean, I like eggs.  I have them every morning with my gluten free, orange marmalade slathered toast and medium roast black coffee.  But I don't have a good history in actually purchasing eggs.  Or bringing them store to fridge, at least.

I drop them.  Or I drop them.  Sometimes, I even drop them.  One time?  I had a "temper temper" moment in my driveway, which resulted in clenching my fist into a powerful ball of hate and hauling off with a mighty jab, right into a grocery bag I was holding.  Inside?  Eggs.  Who punches eggs in the face?  No one, that's who.  Guys, I don't remember what caused me to flip out, but whatever it was?  Sure made a mess.


Anyway, back to the store experience.  Along came my beautiful, sensible, mild mannered, would-never-punch-an-egg-in-the-face child with the second cart.  She began to distribute the heavy load from one to the other as I went toward the eggs.  I approached them as if I was on a tactical team.  Thinking it through, carefully peeking under the flimsy lid to verify the integrity of the 18 pack.  Everything seemed in order.  I gently lifted it from the stack with both hands, so as not to risk an untimely hand tremor, and lowered them onto the topmost area of what was now my little cart.

I know what you're thinking.  What about checkout?

Flawless, thanks ;)

Our bagger was so courteous as to say, "I put the eggs and bread on top".

"Fantastic, thanks!", I excitedly exclaimed!  But I actually wasn't paying much attention, because I was trying to work the tiny computerized version of hell that is the credit/debit card reader.

Can someone design a universal one of those?  Preferably one with less questions.

As my daughter and I were walking out, we were laughing and joking about all sorts of fun things.  We were carefree.  Joyful.  Dare I say jovial.  We were also pressed for time, since she was due to begin her shift in short order.  So I said, "let's throw these groceries in the car and get you home!"

You already see it, don't you...

We victoriously scaled over the bumpy, raised plastic ramp (that reminds me a little too much of rumble strips and I question the reasoning behind them) without losing a bag.  I opened the liftgate of my car, picked up the first bag I came across and humorously called out, "weeeeeeeeeeee!" as I lofted it into the hatch.  I realized it was the eggs as it landed upside down with a :::crack:::

OMG.  Are you kidding me?  I didn't just...

You guys, I laughed so. hard. that my legs gave out.  There I was, the entire top of my body laying in the hatch of my car, screaming in laughter, with my daughter yelling, "REALLY???  REALLY!!!  THE EGGS!  YOU THREW THE EGGS???"

Pretty sure I'll be shopping alone, or with my son, from here on...