Category

Health

I Quit

The time has come; I just have to quit.

Drinking has become a chore. Finding the alcohol in every situation…

quit mimosas

There’s no drink service on this plane/in this comedy club/at this tapas joint? How can I possibly deal?
Will I be able to sneak a bottle into that festival/concert/cruise ship?
How will I function without alcohol at this holiday party/high school reunion/completely random social gathering?

 

Perhaps there is a comfort in knowing exactly where to go (the bar!) and what to do (get a drink!) when entering a potentially awkward situation, but hopefully this is something that a mature (kinda) adult can deal with.

I’m not a person who has some amazing blackout-rode-a-llama-home-from-the-bar-and-there-are-3-people-who-I-don’t-know-sleeping-on-my-kitchen-floor-and-how-did-I-end-up-with-MORE-money-in-my-wallet-than-I-started-out-with-? story, but I’ve definitely had periods in my life during which I imbibed a little more than I should: when I was dealing with my diagnosis, coming to terms with my separation, that time(s) that my kids just would NOT STOP (okay, so that’s daily).

And my interest has just not been where it used to be. I truly feel that sometimes I’ll have a cocktail out of habit, not enjoyment.

quit alcohol

And health!
Of course it’s better for your body to stay away from alcohol. As per WebMD, drinking, even moderately, boosts one’s risk for several types of cancer (but, let’s be honest, that site is infamous for diagnosing everyone, even someone with the slightest swollen glands, with the big C).

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discusses the horrific effects of drinking on most of one’s anatomy, including the brain (shocker: it’s harder to think clearly when you’ve been consuming alcohol), the heart (stroke, among other issues), the liver (I think we were all aware of this one), the pancreas (dangerous inflammation and swelling), and the immune system (maybe get 2 flu shots this year?).

Further research discusses how the chronic abuse of ethanol (alcohol) can have permanent effects of brain function.

And of course my health in particular, which has taken a turn for the worse as of late. I know drinking alcohol is disproved of among the medical community in regards to autoimmune diseases, so this is precisely directed toward my goal of taking MS down!

I’m not talking about the dude that has a couple of beers on Saturday night with his buddies then calls it a night, and I’m not implicating that woman who meets her co-worker for a drink after work.

I’m also not talking about that guy who needs a couple of shots of vodka in his orange juice in order to function for the rest of the day or the lady who carries around a flask of rum to work to pour into her coffee. The chemically-dependent individual is on a whole different level.

I’m talking about ME. I am not a binge drinker. I wouldn’t even consider myself an abuser, but I do drink.

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a bordeaux, saying “No thank you.”

I just don’t need another “thing.”

I remember quitting smoking. How it seemed completely impossible in the beginning. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around the concept of going to a bar and NOT smoking.

  • Being in my car and NOT smoking.
  • Eating a meal and afterward NOT smoking.
  • Taking a smoke-break at work and NOT smoking.

Now, however, I feel so completely free of the burden of cigarettes: of buying them, of having them in supply at all times, of smelling like them (in retrospect, eww!), and of having to go outside in the middle of January to have one.

Will I feel more unburdened without having alcohol in my life?

Let’s find out.

Rain Before Rainbows

Maybe if I try…

Maybe if I try: Rain before rainbows
Rain, rain, go away…

 

Part of becoming a grown up is accepting the fact that you can no longer accomplish “anything you want to do.”

No, I’ll never explore Mars.

No, I’ll never discover that I’m actually a princess, mixed at birth.

No, I probably won’t even inherit millions of dollars from a dear uncle who I don’t recall ever meeting.

And apparently I won’t be able to work outside the home either.

I had argued this fact on two occasions without an actual trial:

  • After my daughter’s birth, I stayed home, with the intent to return back to teaching after the kids were in school full time. Just after my son was born, I was diagnosed with MS. After much deliberation, it was decided (with nearly no input from me) that my career, for which I’d gone to undergraduate and graduate school, as well as countless workshops, seminars, and symposiums, blah, blah, blah was no longer an option. I would be unable to return. I mourned, but still upheld hope: maybe if I tried…
  • During my divorce deliberations it was decided (with, once again, nearly no input from yours truly) that I COULD work; that I was just being lazy by saying otherwise. I rejoiced: maybe if I tried…

And try I did… I uploaded my resume to one of those online-job-recruitment-site-thingies on a Wednesday night, and my first call came in on Thursday morning. With no preparation at all, I started interviewing. I was not quite as nervous as I normally would be, because I wasn’t actually planning on going back until the following year, when my little one was in kindergarten. This was just practice, I told myself. I hadn’t even updated my certifications!

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Withdrawal

Wondering where I’ve been?
Me too- I haven’t been able to find myself as of late.

Most recently, I knew something was seriously wrong, as I was shaking so much yesterday that I couldn’texperiencing withdrawal even type my password into my laptop. After 5 attempts, I gave up. I shouldn’t have been driving; my eyes were darting back and forth uncontrollably. I was dizzy and nauseous and scared. With a disease like MS, I couldn’t help but think, it this how it’s going to be from now on?
The more I took a look at these symptoms, the more I noticed that they were similar to the physical withdrawal manifestations of a heroin addict.
Hmmm, I thought, I don’t remember doing anything like that…
It was then that I figured it out. I’m such a moron. It was approximately a week ago that I stopped taking the 2400 mg of Neurontin that I’ve been on daily to combat the pain that I experience due to Multiple Sclerosis.
I didn’t contact my doctor or anything. Just stopped taking it. I feel like such a fool.

At least there’s a moral at the end of my stupidity, though: DON’T DO THAT!!!

From now on I’m going to consult my doctor about any lifestyle changes. From an increase in my Advil intake to a hike in the woods, he’s going to know about it.

Has anyone else ever done this, or am I the only buffoon out there?

“Vacationing”

Lemtrada treatments don’t make for the best trips…

Mom and I walked along Main Street in Nyack, desperately trying to find the little Italian bistro that served the gluten-free penne where we had eaten the year before. The biggest challenge was that we didn’t even remember the name, just that it had outdoor dining tables and a loud fountain that made me have to pee when I sat too close to it.

After a few blocks, my mom asked the stranger, who I could hear softly padding behind us, if he was from around here and knew of the restaurant.

“No, sorry, I’m just visiting.” He must have seen the hunger-induced desperation in my eyes when I turned around to look at him, though, because he went on. “But why don’t you try me?” Our horrible explanation and lack of name or address wasn’t very helpful. “I’m really sorry, wish I could help.”

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Forgetting MS

Sometimes I legitimately forget.

It’s 9 am and the moving truck is coming in an hour. I’ve been up since 5:30 and still haven’t finished packing up my clothes. Or- doh!- the basement. I wish I could just power through, like I had planned.
My legs, though, they’ve quit- they up and decided that they’d had enough.
And now I sit and wait. Wait for my mom to get here. Wait for my ex to get here. Wait for my legs to feel up to the task of walking; a task that I’d taken advantage of for the 30 years before I started to show symptoms of MS.

My message is this: don’t take advantage of the things we all sometimes take for granted. The ability to see, the ability to hear, the ability to walk.

Love to all <3

Forgetting MS
My baby, sleeping on the floor, next to one of the many moving boxes throughout the house.

Blue Bicycle

bike

It was propped up against the interior wall of my garage, awaiting a long journey down tree-lined streets, through neighborhoods where children played freeze tag on their front lawns. The bike was fueled by those laughs and yells of playfulness, or, more accurately, it’s driver was. The shiny powder blue steel bars that formed the frame were strong, yet delicate; its brown wicker basket practical, yet dainty. In my mind, I rode that bicycle everywhere.

Growing up in Strong’s Neck, our bikes were equivalent to freedom. At 9 years old, with a simple, “Bye Mom, bye Dad!” I’d leave the house, climb onto my 10-speed, and go.

I hadn’t made any defibicyclenite plans.

My parents hadn’t set up a playdate.

I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be.

I set off for Tara’s house first, one of the only other girls in the neighborhood. She’d open her door and come running out in a flourish, as though she’d been waiting by the front window for me to arrive all morning. Together, we rode up the street to Karl’s, the wind fluting in my ears.

He was already outside with his sister, but stopped talking to her mid-conversation when we pedaled up his drive. From there, we went to several other houses, collecting friends to join our platoon along the way. We rode our bikes for a couple of hours, then usually went over to someone’s backyard, where we’d play until the sky became sooty and Mom called for dinner.

The neighborhood gang would dissipate one-by-one, hopping on bikes to head back to warm suppers. The next day would inevitably repeat this same pattern.

My bike was my freedom back then, and I looked at it now- chrome gears and untouched pedals- and saw it as freedom as well. Someday.

blue bike

A Letter to One I Love

Hey you,

We have to talk (you hate clichéd phrases, I know, but in this case it just seems like the right thing to say). Simply put, I’m hurt. Irrevocable harm has been done; you seem to have turned your back on me completely. These flaws showed up about four and a half years ago, and, call it intuition: I knew, yet I was still dumbfounded.

I mean, how could you?

And, believe me, I know I’m no saint. I’ve made some poor choices in my life too: I smoked for a time (which, unfortunately did nothing to increase my coolness), I consume alcoholic beverages (my fair share, as well as the fair share of several others), I had a diet coke addiction for a while there (mmm… aspartame), but this, THIS is unforgivable!

I’ve changed, but unfortunately so have you. Some can blame time, blame age. I don’t know. It’s been nearly 37 years now, and you decided to revolt. I loved you… I love you. Please, PLEASE return to your normal, healthy state, and stop attacking yourself.

I promise to be good to you from here on in. You’re my one and only body, and I truly want you to be healthy.

Love always,
me

In Retrospect, I’m a Moron

 

TheySeeing things in retrospect say hindsight is 20/20. Looking at things “in retrospect” is never good for the psyche…

I just had such a typical reaction. As with so many in the situation, I blamed myself. If there’s one thinIn Retrospectg I hate, however, it’s being so regular.

When our ninth Valentine’s Day together rolled around, I received no mention, no card, no delivery of over-priced bouquets and chocolates sent to the door. That isn’t to say that couples who don’t celebrate the day are destined for relationship trouble- we just always HAD.

Sappiness is a quality that runs deeply through my veins.

I could sense that there was something awry. As the days went on, I bought pseudo-informative literature on being a better wife to peruse on my kindle, and put some of the ideas into practice. Telling myself I was crazy, and that nothing was wrong, we went back to our lives as normal: me taking care of the kids, him taking care of the bills.

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Hike

hike

 

Butterflies the color of frothy milk bubbles glided close to my nose and tall grass tickled my ankles.I breathed in the sweet smell of honeysuckle, peering through the tree trunks, so long and slender, like the necks of a hundred giraffes.

On foot, I raced the strong river currents. The sound of the rushing water spilling over abounding rocks competed with the raucous chirping of the blue heron.

A wall of dirt loomed to the left, the gnarled roots of trees jutting out toward me, desperately searching for nutrients. The path became more narrow and I looked down at the rocks and sticks and uneven ground that tried to prevent my endurance on the trail.

Looking back up to the mountains in the distance was all at once exhilarating and calming. My breath felt like it had been cut short, to blame: the enchanting scene before me, the thin mountain air, the strenuous hike. I took a large gulp of oxygen and continued to put one foot in front of the other. I allowed my mind to meander through the cavernous enclaves of thought that paralleled the twisting path.

I shouldn’t be doing this. It’s a fact that those with multiple sclerosis cannot hike on dirt paths through the mountains. But I put that thought out of my mind and concentrated on planting my feet on the ground in a meditative rhythm. A little over an hour had passed and I started to notice that it was becoming harder to lift my feet over the debris on the trail. I was beginning to move at a much slower pace than my mom and my sister, whose bodies became smaller and smaller as they got further away. Don’t look back… don’t look back and see me stumbling.View from our hike

My new soundtrack became the more frequent tapping of my walking stick as it hit the earth, and my breath as it augmented when I tried to speed up. The last few paces of the hiking trail were a struggle. Although I didn’t feel tired, my legs and feet just wouldn’t obey the directives so clearly laid out to them by my brain. I looked up the dirt path, assessing whether I’d be able to make it, or if I’d be spending my remaining years sitting on a rock, only a few feet from the paved road. From around the corner, I saw the dog, pulling my sister down toward where I was standing. She put out her arm without a word and I gratefully grabbed hold, allowing her to be my support up the rocky hill.

I’ve never been more appreciative to see the blacktop of a parking area, and I welcomed the sight of the silver Mazda that my mom had thankfully pulled around closer to where I had emerged. With a huff and a grunt, I fell into the backseat of the vehicle, the dog seated comfortably next to me. I caught my breath and absorbed the coolness of the air conditioning. My mom twisted around to look at me. “So, what did you think?”cloud and sun

I looked over to the magnificence of the mountains, the clear lake below. I thought about the butterflies and the birds. I remembered the trees and the colors so vivid that I actually felt them. “I can’t wait to go again.”

 

Identification

What Is Your “Identity”?

I remember in a graduate class the professor posing the question.

She told us not to answer right away, but rather to consider the question carefully over the course of a few days. The next time we met, each of us were to think of all the words that identified us as individuals— teacher, spouse, parent, student, patient, former whatever-the-case-may-be, athlete, friend, etc.

Oh, good. Any easy day, I thought. Time to give my brain a break.

Turns out, I was wrong. This happened to be a defining moment for me, though at the time, I was unaware. So, I considered the ways that I saw my life, and how others perceived me. I thought about how I wanted to be identified. I also thought about how I didn’t want to be identified. This is an exercise that I find helpful to return to often, in order to make sure that I’m doing everything in my power to display the qualities that I want to be synonymous with as a person.

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