Saturday, September 29, 2007

Snow & Grace...

On rare occasions, if I am paying close attention, LIFE will knock loudly at my door with the most profound of questions. These questions will come to me disguised in many forms, from the strangest of sources, at the most peculiar times. Today, LIFE knocked with her question...

As many of you may recall, I have been asked to sit upon a state-wide committee/task force regarding recent legislative changes in safety issues concerning mental health workers. I am both honored by this task and also at times overwhelmed. It is hard work, it takes up some of my free time, and I am not always the most "patient of saints" when it comes to functioning in political arenas. But, there ARE a few people also sitting on this committee who have been interesting to get to know and who's opinions challenge many of my own.


It is from this task force committee I met "Bea"...Bea is the chairwoman who is compiling endless data in the most brilliant of ways in hopes of us meeting our legislative deadline by the end of the year. She presents herself with poise and a depth of understanding that could only come from years of self-examination.


On Wednesday at my latest committee meeting, I had to inform Bea I would need to "telecommute" to the next scheduled "pow wow" because I would be home recovering from my Novantrone infusion...I, at first, only told her I was receiving "chemo" the day before our next meeting. But her puzzled and concerned look opened the door to me disclosing I was being treated for MS...after all, I didn't want her to think I had the dreaded "cancer" or something! LOL


The exchange between us was very brief...neither of us really KNOW each other at all and have only met in person twice. She wished me well and I departed the meeting to return to the regular grind of my job that day without further thought of our conversation.


Today, I received an email from Bea with a request for some information pertaining to our committee. At the very end of the email, she wrote a personal note that said this:


So sorry to hear about your health issue. Are you managing it OK? What is it teaching you?

Warm regards,
Bea


And so it was, LIFE knocked loudly at my door, asking me once again, "What is MS teaching you?" I was/am surprised by the profundity of which this question has stirred around in my mind all day. I was equally surprised at the level of difficulty I encountered finding the right word(s) to describe my "lesson".


After pondering this question from LIFE, I eventually responded with this:


In response to your personal inquiry about my health, yes...I am "managing" well. Thank you for asking. What Multiple Sclerosis has taught me is simply put: Grace.

Best to you,

Linda D


Sometimes I am jealous of the language of the Inuit/Eskimo's...they have over 100 words for the English word "snow". (Actually, this is somewhat of an urban legend or, at the very least, a misuse of what defines a "word"...but I like the idea all the same. LOL) This is because "snow" is such an every day, multi-faceted, integral part of their world. They live it, breathe it, drink it, pray in it, build with it, and consider themselves a part of it...snow.


If I could have 100 words to describe my definition of "grace", I still believe I would fall short in my description and not do the word justice. It is a state of being for me, a flexibility, a mind set, a place, a verb, a noun, a joy and a sorrow, and this very moment in time. It is all that is in me and around me, regardless of Multiple Sclerosis, the great teacher and catalyst of my state of "grace".


And, it remains at times, elusive and as magical as the falling snow...sometimes only resting briefly on the tip of my tongue and melting back into my mouth, quietly quenching my thirst.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Just Another Rainy Day In Seattle...

Ordinary...absolutely ordinary. Nothing unusual to report. Nothing exciting happening. Errands, laundry, rain. Sigh...this is my life on my one day off.
I suppose I should be thankful for a day of boredom...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Bad?!?...

My short-lived fantasy that I may have fostered the smartest cat in the world appears to be fading. After reviewing recent comments on yesterday's blog about the intelligent signs of life seen from the P.O.D. (Princess O' Darkness), i.e., her near human-like trait of urinating in the bathtub drain, I am now being forced to consider the idea this behavior "may" be aberrant...demonstrating only the intelligence of a feline IN DISTRESS!!!!!!!

A couple of you commented and sent emails that perhaps my feline friend WAS trying to communicate with me and she might be peeing in the bathtub drain because she is ILL, not highly evolved as I so wanted to believe. So, I consulted the "catologist" on staff at work...my neighbor and my friend...the only "cat whisperer" I know. Woe is me. My chosen expert on the subject of feline behavior ALSO suspects the poor P.O.D. may be suffering from a URINARY TRACT INFECTION!!!!! WOOT?!?!


So...it's off to that expensive vet doctor I go this weekend. To have my poor, little kitty shamelessly "cathed" and test her urine. Somewhere around $200 - $300 dollars later, I will finally have a definite answer...she will either be found ill or...THE SMARTEST CAT ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH!


I'm still really hoping for the "intelligent" outcome...LOL...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction...At 6:30 In The Morning!...

You've all heard of the One Hundredth Monkey Theory, right? The alleged story of the 99 monkeys on the island of Koshima that, according to Dr. Lyall Watson, began washing sweet potatoes in the sea? Then along came the 100th monkey to join the group and this addition somehow set off some kind of "critical mass theory", causing all the monkeys on the island to begin to wash sweet potatoes? And then somehow telepathically, monkeys on neighboring islands ALSO started washing sweet potatoes in the sea spontaneously?? And the theory proposed was there is some kind of cosmic learning that can take place causing "shifts" in nature and behavior when this critical mass is achieved??? You REMEMBER this theory, right?!? LOL

Well...all I can say...all I WILL say...is WATCH YOUR CATS, PEOPLE!!!!!!! There's some really strange "learning" going on in my house and I fear it could be "catching"...telepathically...

This morning, still in the shadow of Dawn's Crack at 6:30AM, I arose to the hateful blaring of beeps of my alarm clock, and stumbled into the darkness of my bathroom...a typical process I do even IF I am not having to get up at such an ungodly hour. The general bathroom time exchange goes as follows:


  1. I sit down to pee.

  2. I begin to pee.

  3. Meha, AKA Princess O' Darkness, my cat, comes barreling into the bathroom for her "I've got you as a captive audience for attention with your pants down now" time, in which I have to pick her up while she wallows around on me...during my pee.

  4. Eventually she jumps down and will occasionally then use her own litter box or scamper out of the bathroom, leaving me to finish my business in peace.

Now, let me back up just a bit here...over the past few weeks, I had noticed the P.O.D. (Princess O' Darkness) was not appearing to produce as much urine in her litter box as has been typical. "How do I know this", you ask? Because her SERVANT, AKA, Me, has to clean the darned thing out twice a day!


But, being the ever-caring servant to a cat that I am, I watched her for signs of possible illness and increased her water in her wet food. Alas, nothing changed. She neither became ill nor increased her urine output. I kind of let the whole notion of the change go to the back of my mind. I mean no change is GOOD change, right?


So...back to this morning at my wretched urination hour. I am sitting on the commode after the P.O.D's shameless "hand-whoring" on my lap, and she jumps down and hops into the bathtub. This, in itself, is not unusual either...she's a busy cat.


I'm really not paying much attention to her at this point. After all, I'm tired, I'm crabby, I'm on steroids, it's too early, I have to go to work, etc. But for some reason, I do glance over at her in the bathtub through the filmy slits in my eyes. And, what I see next, I can barely utter out loud...I am STILL not certain if I should be fearful for my life or completely amazed and astounded!


I cast my eyes in the P.O.D.'s direction and it doesn't immediately dawn on me that she is squatting over the drain hole in the bathtub. I sort of stare at her as though her position is not registering in my brain as "odd" or I am completely stoned out of my head...neither of which proves to be true.


And then I HEARD it...the all-too-faint sound of a trickle of water. And that tiny trickle of water was echoing in the bathtub drain pipe! My cat, the once-thought-to-be-retarded-kitten, the Princess O' Darkness, my precious fur ball is...URINATING IN MY BATHTUB DRAIN!!!!!!!!


She turned and glanced at me over her shoulder while finishing her "business" in my drain, staring at me with a, "What are YOU looking at?" gaze, as if I should have already known she was smart enough to pee in a hole in the ground! I am certain I heard her tiny cat telepathic message saying, "Well YOU pee in that big hole. I get to pee in the little one."


My cat, as you may recall, BELIEVES she is human...she also "believes" she owns me. I'd have to admit, the latter statement IS most likely true. And somehow, some way, she has taught herself to mimic MY behaviors in the "terlet".


I am afraid...and if you are a cat servant yourself, YOU should be afraid, too. Especially if that "Hunert Minky Theory" is correct...LOL...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In My Spare Time...And I've Been Meaning To...

So, I've had some MAJOR spare time on my hands these past few days as I "take it easy", per doctor's orders, and try to LET the Solumedrol take affect WITHOUT spinning wildly into that steroid mania (for which I am famous!).

Saint EB and I started our own, private book club (of two) a week or so ago right after I became filled with cabin fever and decided to find something to read. I have had the book in the pix on my shelf not long after it was published in 1998...and not because the EVIL OPRAH recommended it either! I bought it after reading Wally Lamb's FIRST novel, "She's Come Undone". He's an excellent writer at the very least of compliments.


I DID start the novel in 1998, but put it down after I realized it was about Schizophrenia, twins, domestic/family violence, family dysfunction through the generations, and riddled with physiological references. I WORK in the psychiatric field after all...I generally get enough of this topic on a daily basis! But, it was bothering me that I paid good money for a most likely good read and had not picked the book back up in 9 years. So, whether out of pure and simple penny-pinching behavior, or being "drawn" to it by some cosmic force greater than myself, I grabbed it off the shelf and started reading again...AND told Saint EB about it.


Saint EB IS competitive! She ran out and bought the book (rather than waiting for my gifting of it to her) and began pouring through the pages...she, unlike me, is an avid reader, educated, and intelligent! LOL I am slow to comprehend and often reread pages before I realized I've already scanned the page of text (I HAVE BRAIN LESIONS! Give me a break...). So, of course, she has already finished the book and I remain with about a 100 pages left to read, which I hope to complete tonight...we CAN only discuss the subject up to my point of reference, so we're both antsy for me to git 'er done.


I read most of yesterday as I was lying about, face flushed and hot from steroid overload, and stomach ravenous for what I call "pregnancy food"...pickles, ice cream, sour kraut, apples, candy...actually just about anything left edible in my frig!


Today I have managed to get juiced up again with SolyMed #2, go out for brunch with Saint EB, drive to a few condo open house places (Saint EB is "shopping"), return home to catch the remainder of the Seahawks vs. Bengals football game, AND water my outside plants. This, of course, was ALL done to avoid any type of cleaning, paying bills, or sorting through the stacks of papers in my office! I'm no dummy...LOL


I head in for two very early dayshifts at work on Monday and Tuesday (why God, why?!?) AND get my final dose of SolyMed at 4:00PM tomorrow...then, it's off to the land of precarious footing with oral Prednisone...no need to discuss the possible pitfalls that lay waiting on THAT road. Been there, done that, here on CHEESE before!


And I've been meaning to mention two websites I've recently become aware of, but have not taken the time to do so (at least I don't THINK I have...but again, I HAVE BRAIN LESIONS! Give me a break if I already did...).


The first is a website called "Patients Like Me" at http://www.patientslikeme.com/ . I received an email from one of the website administrators several weeks ago, bidding me to check it out, and I did. It originally grew from the aspirations (I believe) of a couple of brother's who's sibling had ALS. They were trying to create a community for ALS patients as well as a resource for ALS patients to track their symptoms, treatments, etc. They have expanded the site to include Multiple Sclerosis patients as well. I have loaded a bit of my medical history onto the site under BRAINCHEESE and have been "half-arsed" keeping it up. It's a nice site, but a bit cumbersome for my liking...especially when I have a MedicAlert zip drive key/program that already does everything the website does for me and more (you, TOO, can have this high-tech and overly priced computer data storage key by joining MedicAlert for a yearly fee, then paying around $54.00 more for the data key! But hey, you DO get a piece of that fine jewelry they sell to wear around your wrist or neck, alerting unsuspecting police, fire, and rescue you are NOT drunk...you just have MS! BUT...the Patients Like Me site IS free...).


The second site I have been tracking is a blog written by Sean Spence, who has MS, AND is riding a 1500 mile trek right now to New York City on his bicycle and documenting his trip as he goes...he ALSO sent me an email alerting me to his blog. And since the dude HAS MS and is accomplishing this great feat, I thought he was deserving of a mention here on CHEESE. His blog address is: http://www.missouritomanhattan.com/ . Seems like a motivate fellow, raising awareness of Multiple Sclerosis as he goes!


I know I mentioned only two sites I FORGOT to mention...this third site is one I've ALREADY mentioned but, since my mind wonders, I decided to plug it again because Sean's ride just reminded me of it...and THIS blog entry brought me to tears. It's the boys riding the Bike The US For MS ride through the northern United States...I really LOVE these guys AND their humor and inspiration (and it seems the September theme has been cycling, so I'll give them a mention again).


Off to read now...and avoid ANYTHING remotely resembling cleaning/work/paying bills...because I'm "resting"...yeah, that's the ticket...LOL

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back On The Juice...

Yep...picture is worth a 1,000 words...and about $4,000 dollars! I'm back on IV Solumedrol. "WOOT?!?", you say.

Well, remember the "situation" (neuro called it the dirty word, "relapse") back in August when I had to get juiced up again because of leg/foot pain, etc.? That DID get better, but never totally went away. And right before that "situation", I had developed what I thought was some version of overuse syndrome/tennis elbow (which, BTW, I don't PLAY tennis!) from just overdoing it in my yard the end of July. My left arm also ached, but Ibuprofen seemed to help some.

Then,there was the BIKACIDE and subsequent broken left pinkie...the "fall" from grace, AKA, Swan Dive into the cooler at the MS150 Ride? LOL My left hand has hurt like a son-of-a-...gun...since September 8th. And my arm began to hurt even more.

THEN...(geez, I'm just exhausted RELIVING these events in my mind!) I discolosed a little bit about my work "situation" and the depression/stress I was feeling that immobilized me for a couple of days? Sorry, I'm not at liberty to go into details on this one. But, suffice it to say, I've been fairly stressed/fearful about several things regarding my future. I've also been trying to weigh in on the fact the Quarterly Novantrone has not seemed to hold my MS at bay these past 3 months...major mental bummer.

Consequently, whether an exacerbation or stress reaction, the pain in my hand and forearm gradually moved up my arm, into my neck, and across the base of my skull. Nerve pain and I are long-time accomplices...we go places a LOT together and, generally speaking, I just accept it...PAIN.

If you've never had neurological pain, it's pretty hard to describe. It's not like having the sensation of a hot poker being jammed in your eye and feeling like you're going to pass out nor is it like the feeling of having your foot stepped on by an elephant. It's not "sharp" and immediately "intense" like that...but, the one thing it is...IT'S ALWAYS CONSTANT. I've never found ANY pain-reliever (including IV Demerol) to really make it go away, so I never take narcotics (even though they are always offered)...they just don't work for me. And the seizure medications neurologists use (Trileptal, Tegretol, Depakote, Lamictal, etc.) to control pain only leave me feeling like a sacked-out, mentally-deficient, brain-dead, goon drooling and staring from my couch! LOL

When my particular brand of nerve pain began waking me up in the night and/or keeping me awake earlier this week, I decided I had to make some changes. Not sure "what" change needed to be made, I consulted Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named, who immediately said, "I'd better not read about this on your blog" and "IV Solumedrol x 3 days"...well, one out of two ain't bad, right?!? (And besides...she doesn't even READ my blog. If she did, I'd have been fired as her patient a very loooong time ago. LOL)


So, I toddled up to Club Med today and had the hose shoved back in my arm and the juice dripped in me. It still amazes me, what USED to be rather scary "chit"--the idea and process of having massive doses of steroids dripped into my system--has now become just like taking my car to the car wash...I don't LIKE to do it, it takes time out of my day, it costs me money, but somehow I end up "feeling" better about things when my car is clean. And, I don't spend a lot of time wondering LONG TERM just how damaging those automated car wash systems can be to the body and paint of my vehicle...what will be will be. The only difference is, I think I can probably just get a NEW car if/when the car wash wears this one out...I'm not so certain about my BODY!!! But hey...I'm into immediate gratification. LOL


So, it's 3 days of drip, 12 days of pills...or for the math impaired (such as myself...used a calculator to add this one) 15 days on ROIDS again. I'm ALREADY feeling ravenous hunger pangs...which I readily admit, could simply be an EXCUSE to eat whatever I want and blame it on ROIDS!...

Friday, September 21, 2007

There's A New S.L.U.T. In Town...

For a lack of anything better or more entertaining to post (because it IS 1:30 a.m. and I am just off work and tired), I give you the S.L.U.T....which is causing quite a stir in my politically correct Emerald City:
Yes, it's true...there's a new S.L.U.T. in town. The brand-spankin' new South Lake Union Trolley! And her acronym is causing a bit of controversy.


It seems the fine (albeit, a bit quirky) South Lake Union community "somehow" overlooked it's lovely new trolley's name (Yeah, right! And I've got some desert property in my back yard here in the rain forest to sell ya!) and folks are lining up to weigh in on this uh...well...politically incorrect name. Or at least that's what all the stir is about...we just CAN'T have a new girl in town called a "slut".


I'll tell you what? I'm off work tomorrow and, if it's the last thing I do breathing and living on this earth, I WILL ride the SLUT!!! And then, I'm going to buy myself one of the T-shirts some highly entrepreneur-type dude is selling that says, "I rode the S.L.U.T".


Ah...there IS something to live for...LOL...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Omen Or?...Let's Not Go There...LOL...

Last night I had the strangest dream...or should I say, THIS MORNING? Since I didn't fall asleep until well after 3:00AM. I've decided THIS particular dream is probably best left "un-analyzed". But you, fine CHEESE reader, must sit through the recount, blow-by-blow, ad nauseum! Moohahahaha...

OK, where to begin? I'm in some kind of semi-run down hotel in Kansas City (oh, the "Kansas" connection becomes all too clear in a moment...sleazy hotel? Not so clear...LOL) and I have a huge West-facing picture window. It's a bright sunny day outside, but when I look out the window I see a gigantic, white, spinning tornado barreling down upon the city (get the Kansas connection yet, Dorothy?!?)...it's huge...maybe a mile wide. There's no audible noise like you'd usually hear with a tornado of this size (been there, done that, in REAL life on the plains of Nebraska!) and I realize NO ONE BUT ME knows it is coming!

I quickly begin racing down the long hallway of the run down hotel, pounding on doors, trying to wake people up (even though in the dream, it seems like it is already mid morning...go figure...it WAS mid morning when I was dreaming!). I'm obviously there WITH some people (who turn out to be friends from work), but I can't readily locate their rooms. I'm throwing doors open and kicking them in because...well...there's a MILE LONG WHITE TORNADO ABOUT TO HIT AND NO ONE SEEMS TO NOTICE BUT ME!!! (And since I can't disclose recent issues I have been dealing with at work UNRELATED to my MS, suffice it to say, "I'm just the messenger")

I find two of my coworkers. One of them, Julio, I have to practically beat to get her out of her bed and away from the picture windows that are in every room...she's very sleepy for some reason. I then run into a room perpendicular to the hallway and realize I'm going to have to take cover soon. So, I find a quilt my grandmother has made (and is currently folded on my REAL sofa at home! LOL), try to cover up with this, and hide under some furniture...BUT...the furniture in the room is like child's play furniture...all pink (it's because of those dayum Breast Cancer Awareness people I now dream in PINK!!) and plastic, and I realize it's not going to protect me.

For whatever insane reason, I run outdoors. It is now pitch black outside...like night fall...raining. People of the lovely town of Kansas City are trying to find shelter, scurrying about. The tornado has not yet hit town. I find shelter along side a brick building with about 10 homeless people. I now have a blue, plastic tarp in my possession AND my grandmother's quilt. I lay the tarp down in the mud and cover my head with the quilt to avoid flying debris...and...nothing...happens.

After a period of time, I uncover my face and look to the West. Completely dark...except someone is now shooting off a fireworks display...sort of like a "bat signal"...and I realize this "someone" is trying to signal that all will be OK. Instead of a bat, however, a very large fireworks dotting of lights illuminates the sky and the shape of an owl appears! (And now you know WHY I will not be discussing this with any shrink. LOL)

Eventually, the sky begins to lighten up and over saunters my coworker, Lynne...she's dressed in impeccable summer white and pastel clothing. I am covered in mud. She sought shelter AT a shelter...I have been laying outside in the rain and mud with homeless folks. She invites me to the shelter, but I know they won't take me because...well...I'm covered in mud and look homeless!

At some point, coworker, Julio, finds me (I'm also frantically trying to locate my cell phone, which has fallen out of my pocket into the mud...true story...recently DID lose my cell phone!) and the sky becomes daylight again. Myself, Julio, and about 6 homeless people line up along a brick wall to watch people returning to their homes, etc. Julio lights a cigarette and hands it to me...and then...(I am sure,much to everyone's sheer delight here on CHEESE)...I WAKE UP.

Yeah...my psyche is calm, cool, and collected right now! I look so dayum good and remain unflappable...Wonder Woman...that's me...

"RYE TA." (**Said with my best Dr. Evil voice impersonation**)

Dayum, I Look Good!...

You know, I NEVER realized how absolutely fabulous I appeared to other people until I started talking about how badly I have been feeling physically and emotionally as a result of my Multiple Sclerosis! I haven't had this many well-intentioned friends and acquaintances remark, "But you look so good", in response to my comments about my MS since my early 20's when I DID look dayumed good physically and didn't even HAVE MS (but they neglected to tell me that then...B-Turds!).
Maybe there really SHOULD be a Miss MS contest? Sorry fellow female MSer's...based on the latest poll, I'm gonna win hands down...cuz, well...I look so EFFING GOOD! **sarcasm intended**

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BUBBIE Is Right, You Know?...

"Depression is Anger turned inward"




That's what the experts used to say 25 years ago anyway...we learned in our Psych 101 classes in the 80's that the noun "depression" could be simplified into believing someone was feeling ANGRY and, therefore, had turned that anger inward upon themselves.



Since that time, the noun "depression", has been rediscovered in psychiatry to be far greater than a simplified explanation about anger and has also been removed as an ideal an individual maintains full control over the disorder...in other words, gone is the notion that if one simply STOPS feeling angry, the depression will magically leave.



True CLINICAL DEPRESSION is a far greater beast than anger...it is a manifestation of multi-layers of emotions and mental states as well as a physiological response in one's brain chemistry. It is now a well-known fact, the physiological response that occurs in the brain chemistry of someone who is clinically depressed looks very different from the brain of someone who is NOT experiencing clinical depression.



And, although experts can try to assert the psyche or mind can also ALTER the chemistry of depression, they have yet to develop a fool-proof method of training the mind to do so...thus the invention and use of anti-depressant medication and an assortment of other "mind-altering" chemicals in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy.



But I'm not writing about clinical depression today...actually, I've been very careful and clear to say, "I am NOT clinically depressed", for the very reasons ascribed above. I HAVE gone so far as to say my current issue is a "situational depression", but even THAT explanation is somewhat exaggerated. To be very succinct, I AM AFRAID...and BUBBIE'S comment in my previous post drove that simplified notion home, so thank you, O' Wise Sage, Bubbie! LOL



In my many meanderings down various spiritual paths and teachings in my life, I once heard a lecture from a Science Of Mind (the old Church of Religious Science) practitioner who stated, "There are really only two emotional states in life. FEAR and LOVE, and neither can exist in the presence of the other. All other descriptive emotions fall into these two categories." I DO believe this idea to be authentic and true.



If you "Google" fear and love, you will find a wide array of spiritual teachers talking about this ideal. For instance, Frank Sant'Agata says:






"Learning to make the active choice to love and not fear in every situation is the way to find inner peace in this world. Yes, I said choice! We all choose what we wish to see in every situation, at every moment. Most of the time we choose based on what we learned in the past. It is what we were taught by our parents, teachers, peers, doctors, employers, etc. and what we were brought up to believe we should do. We act on laws that we made to control our behavior and that of others so that we may live in an orderly society. When someone gets "out of order" they may be disliked, fined, incarcerated or killed. Sometimes, entire countries get "out of order" and our answer is to declare war on them.


These are all things that are done out of FEAR. We fear that, if someone is out of control, that is, not following the rules we set up for them to follow, they are a threat to us, and we fear they will harm us in some way. So we react to our fear by attacking them first. That is the way of this world. The law of the jungle so to speak; eat or be eaten; kill or be killed. That is the way of fear!



Sonya Green describes the Love/Fear phenomenon in this way:

Between Fear and Love is the Living.



Fear has many faces and most of those faces are in disguise. Fear can be so deceptive that we rarely recognize or define it, and therefore fail to challenge it when it sneaks up upon us in such an insidious way that it can paralyse, erode, control and ultimately destroy us. Fear is the most lethal weapon and the most toxic poison known to man. Fear is highly contagious and self destructive. Fear can be spread by word, suggestion, imagery, innuendo or intimidation.



Fear is a chameleon and will most often show up as something completely different which makes it very difficult to recognize or unmask. Almost all destructive behavioural and emotional responses can be tracked back to fear when we peel away the layers of our feelings and actions. Fear is the core issue behind violence, jealousy, bigotry, anger, depression, greed, hatred, lies, insecurity or obsessive worry, just to name a few. When fear is appropriate it is a vital, effective life saving response which is critical to self preservation.



Staying alive and protecting ourselves from harm is our most primal and instinctual priority. Appropriate fear, will prevent and protect us from danger; it will instantly ignite super alertness and superhuman strength. This is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response. Most of us will have experienced this super state of reaction if we have been involved in a potential car accident. In something like a nanosecond we are capable of processing an extraordinary amount of information and physically manoeuvre the car to avoid the collision.



Appropriate fear is also an effective decision making factor. Most, if not all, of our choices are based on predicting pleasure or pain. We are predominately motivated by pleasure and pain, that is, gaining pleasure or avoiding pain. We all like to kid ourselves that we operate from intellect, and that we make decisions by using knowledge, logic and experience. If we just scratch the surface a little we will almost always find that our motivations are emotionally based. Pleasure is easy to comprehend; we choose and maintain our careers, relationships, homes, hobbies and possessions because they please us. Choices of pleasure may encompass comfort, self esteem, love, respect, acceptance, approval, security, safety and prosperity.



Decisions based on avoiding pain may include any or all of the above, but from the flip side. Avoiding pain is extremely motivating and many of our decisions and reactions have a fear base. Pain avoidance is what fear is. Fear of physical or emotional harm, poverty, abandonment, violence, humiliation, loneliness, disapproval, disease and ultimately – death.



It is vitally important to discern what appropriate and inappropriate fear is, as appropriate fear can and will protect us, and inappropriate fear can destroy us. Most of the time we don’t recognize it at all, so, it’s impossible to name it, let alone challenge it.



The human condition has a huge emotional range and can appear quite fluid in its ability to change; we can be carried away or bounced around in a little cesspool of negative influences one minute, and then find ourselves lifted up and flying high the next . Emotions can be quite unpredictable, indefinable and often uncontrollable, and yet emotions can dominate, create or destroy us.



At the very risk of having this blog printed out and waved in my face at any upcoming potential discussions with my employer regarding ADA, FMLA, or "accommodation" requests for my Multiple Sclerosis, I will directly say here and now...the issue I have been skirting on CHEESE...the FEAR I have been labeling as "situational depression"...is really a deep-seated terror of possibly becoming unable to perform the functions of my current job, losing my job, being "phased out" of my job, becoming unemployed, becoming "homeless and penniless", being unable to solely support myself financially...ALL BECAUSE OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. There, I said/typed it...let the Human Resources minions do as they will with this information. I AM DESPERATELY AFRAID.



This fear of which I speak (and with whatever "label" one chooses to place upon it) has left me feeling emotionally and somewhat physically paralyzed. What I DO for a living is all I have ever known...I have spent nearly 22 years "doing" what I do in a variety of settings. My career has weaseled its way into the very fabric of my identity. I look upon my current job with an even greater sense of identity and responsibility because the very NATURE and TASKS of my job require me to be a known "public servant" 24/7/365...somewhat like a police officer, who is never REALLY off duty even when off the imaginary clock. The notion of potentially and suddenly changing the fabric of my identity sends cold shivers up my spine and sweat upon my brow...all because of MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.



If there is any ANGER associated with my fear, it is this: I LOATHE MS, MY MS in particular. It is an unforgiving, cunning, manipulative, narcissistic, and hateful disease. "It" doesn't care or mind what I might want and "it" certainly doesn't follow traditional rules and guidelines of society. "It" sneaks up on me, like an IED in my road, and tries to blow me to "smither-eens" whenever "it" feels like it. "It" decides when I've had enough or when I haven't and "it" dictates much of my future.



And what I hate/loathe MOST about my MS? "It" is a product of my OWN body turning against itself, whether because of genetics, virus, sunshine, or any other negligible cause. "It" is me doing this to me, in the most simplified version of auto-immune language...and "it" feels out of my control, even though my own body is creating "it".



You will never hear me say the trite words, "I have MS, but it doesn't have me"..."It" DOES have me...in a tight vise, squeezing and pinching my very will to live and push forward. But what "it" doesn't have is control over my perceptions AND how I choose to express the essence of my life...namely, how I choose to acknowledge and deal with my FEAR.



I don't have any cute sayings or simplified answers to impart upon you regarding how to "appropriately" manage fear...mine, in particular. LOL But what I DO know is this: by naming and acknowledging fear for what it is, the emotion becomes "tame-able"...fear's image becomes less of a vicious monster and more like a scared and tremulous child crying in a corner. I can deal with a crying child...I can't *battle to death* a huge and looming monster.



So, thank you for letting me ramble to the point of authenticity...thank you for allowing me to ramble to the point of identifying my inner truth. But then again, what CHOICE did you have, dear CHEESE reader?!? LOL Although, if you've gotten THIS far in reading, you did have a choice to click the ol' mouse many paragraphs prior and take you away to some other read that would be far more entertaining! (Several are suggested to the left of this page)



And a special thank you to BUBBIE for her comment and to HARKOO for her private emails...your assistance in "seeing" to the core issue has been much needed. And now I think I will go outside and plant a Hosta garden...play in the dirt...and bury some of this FEAR in Mother Earth...






Monday, September 17, 2007

I Feel Like A Cymbalta Commercial...

cymbalta




(Before you read any further, it is a MUST you listen to Alanis Morissette above...the song is from an old album of hers called, "Jagged Little Pill"...you'll get the picture! LOL)

I'm sure all y'all have seen those dayumed CYMBALTA commercials...heck, for all I know, some of you may be TAKING Cymbalta. And I'm certainly not here to say the drug does or doesn't work on depression and/or neurological pain...but their commercials just make me want to kick my TV! Especially when I'm feeling somewhat situationally depressed myself. LOL

The commercials start out with 3 or 4 sad sack individuals who can hardly get out of bed, let alone play with their dog/children/spouses..."Depression hurts" is the motto. The commercials go on to say there is "hope" on the way...Cymbalta. And the next thing you know, those 3 or 4 previously sad-sack-individuals are out having the time of their life all because of Cymbalta. Sigh...now don't YOU just wish it were that "CYMPLISTIC"?!?

Well, depression DOES hurt...so does Multiple Sclerosis and a vast assortment of other neurological diseases that have depression as one of the disease's primary SYMPTOMS. Depression is not the forefront issue...the neurological disorder is. In other words, the "depression" came second.

In my own, personal case scenario, "depression" is definitely a secondary symptom...the MS and all its glory came first...and all the difficult situations MS brings with it. My response to these "situations"/stressors leads me to feeling depressed/down/blue. So, unless I can treat the primary issues (MS and stress response), my "depression" will most likely continue to rear its ugly head.

My biggest life stressor right now is facing the impending idea I may not be able to continue to perform the functions of my job in the manner I have grown accustomed to. Let's face it...I WORK in a fast-paced, stressful occupation! And my MS is constantly reminding me of its presence in my work...whether it be via fatigue, cognitive issues, pain, mobility issues, etc. Unless I can figure out how to treat THESE symptoms first, my "depression" will no doubt just continue to affect my MS.

But hey...wouldn't it be nice if it really WERE that "Cymplistic" to just take a pill and suddenly be the life of the party...with my dog, my spouse, and my 2.5 American children?!? LOL...


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Special THANK YOU Post...

Not wanting to be accused of having "bad manners" (as my mother does flip flops in her grave), I'd like to thank ALL of you who supported Saint EB's Bikacide in spirit and in donation. And a special thanks to:

Joan K.
Koko Quincy
Wanda W.
Deborah Faye
Kelsey & Matt Dingman (My fabulous niece -n- nephew!)
"T" (My dawg!)
Sharon Nations
Adina (who donated "anon" to the team)
Carmela Nelson (The One & Only)
Christine Heitz
THE Corrine (is that better?!)
Dianne & Peter Gadzuk
Dr. Rosemary Vienot
Flip O.
Lynne Meredith/Merrynuts
Miles W.
Patti Solinger
"Rojoo", Poet Extraordinaire
Sara Oberdorf
Sharon (Skippy) Lu
Sharon Hendrix
Sinead Lancaster
Steve Zacher
Susan Hand
Virginia Miller, ARNP
I am sure, much to your relief, your "loofly" names will now be immortalized in this post...but...er...removed from the left side bar! Thank you, thank you...
And, by the way, the Smyelin Babes Team earned nearly $25,000 dollars! So one of you MSer's best be hitting the National MS Society up for something...they've got some cash in their pockets again. LOL

The Elephant In The Living Room...

I suppose there's no use trying to pussy-foot around or try to "hide" from you the rather large ELEPHANT that has been lurking in the CHEESE living room, right? After all, I wouldn't want to insult your intelligence with vague references of the 2,000 pound pachyderm that appears to be sitting on my lap these days.

I'm talking about my "mood", or more importantly that "D" word...D-pression. And, although I would not go so far as to classify my mood as clinically depressed (situationally, yes...clinically, no), it HAS been fairly subnormal these past few weeks. And try as I might to maintain a "cheerful" disposition here on CHEESE, my mood has been weighing heavily on my writing...after all, I DO have a rather large elephant pushing its feet upon my chest! LOL


Working in the Mental Health Field (as I do) lends its own set of mores on how we, as psychiatric workers, deal with our own feelings/moods/emotions. Generally speaking, we are probably one of the more DYSFUNCTIONAL groups of people because our custom and "norm" is to NOT talk about these things as they pertain to us as individuals...pretty F-ed up, right? Sort of how police officers rarely discuss being "afraid"...they don't talk about fear because they are FACED with fearful situations day in and day out.


In my field of business, I am also faced with depression and a wide array of mental illnesses EVERY, single day...and, but for the grace of God go I, that I DON'T also suffer from one or more of the disorders I deal with (at least not routinely and on a chronic basis...let me clarify THAT statement! LOL).


But depression HAS been something I have had to face and deal with a few times in my life...serious, debilitating depression. I have always chosen the "better living through chemistry" (medications) and psychotherapy approach. These two approaches, in combination, have helped during these periods in my life and the episodes have always passed...eventually...not quickly enough for my liking USUALLY...but eventually.


I have alluded to several recent stressors in my life of late here on CHEESE...situational crises of which I am not at liberty to discuss due to the nature of their content (work-related mostly). These "emotional/mental" issues have been triggering all sorts of physical responses in my body...mainly, an exacerbation of chronic MS symptoms. Not relapse material necessarily, but a heightening of symptoms that have become chronic in nature over the years.


And when these type of situational life crises occur, it becomes a game of "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?" Did my MOOD cause this exacerbation and then, has this exacerbation caused my MOOD to worsen? It's a guessing game, of which I never have an exact answer...each one plays upon the other...as my mood worsens, my body reacts. And as my body reacts and becomes more dysfunctional, my mood worsens.


With Multiple Sclerosis, I have found this cyclic mind/body connection to be overwhelming at times. So much so, that I find myself sinking into a state of inertia...I become paralyzed (not literally, thank goodness!) with little ability to respond positively to even the most mundane aspect of my daily life. My physical and mental fatigue over takes me, my emotional dysregulation (fancy term for MSer's inability to regulate their emotions...thought you'd like me using the term, Bubbie! E.D. LOL) becomes even less controllable and I cry or feel rageful at the drop of a hat, my sleep becomes nil, my body pain becomes predominant, weakness, muscle spasticity, and visual disturbances become exemplified, and my over all sense of my life feels as if it has been flushed down the Universal Toilet.


I share this with all y'all here on CHEESE because I believe, 1) It is important to be honest, and 2) It is also important to have a sense you are not alone...me AND you. I am considered an "expert" in my field regarding psychiatric symptomology and behavioral analysis/prediction and yet, I too, at times experience the very disturbances of psyche as some of my patients...the very disturbances YOU talk about on your own blogs or in emails to me! I become a classic case of "teacher becomes student".


So, we can ALL now point our finger at the elephant who's been tromping around in the CHEESE living room, identify it, call it by name, and try to move it back to the zoo where it belongs...before it breaks any of my expensive virtual furniture here on this blog. LOL I will continue to make my feeble attempts at humorous posts here, but please understand little in my life FEELS funny right now...except for the idea I might be able to do the "I'm pinching your head" Kids In The Hall approach with my "elephant" and shrink it down to a manageable size!!! (Ask MDMHVONPA...he'll know what I'm referencing here...oddly...sigh)...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

When Is Enough "Enough"?...

Ever have one of those moments in your life when, for whatever reason, you didn't pay attention to the Cosmic Road Signs along your life path? I'm having one right now...I was driving along my "path" a little too fast and a little too oblivious and there it was:I slammed on my Cosmic Brakes, but I think it was a bit too late...my mode of transportation in this life appears to be swerving dangerously out of control. And, if I haven't already hit that magical "wall" so many talk about, I am careening toward it at break-neck speed.

I'm really not fond of living life this dangerously close to the edge...nor am I ever prepared for a "crash"...but then again, who is?

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Life...In A Nutshell...

Facing the cold, hard fact I am currently feeling OVERWHELMED in my life is not an easy task...particularly for someone who's Modus Operandi is to make feeble attempts to be in control...of all things, all the time, at all places in my life. LOL Feeling "overwhelmed" certainly does not lend itself to filling my deep abyss of control issues.

But I am...overwhelmed...and not quite certain HOW to gain back my false sense of security I find in my illusion of being "in control".


The MS150 preparation and event seems to have zapped me of my super powers...it feels as if someone has secretly sewn a chunk of Kryptonite in Superman's cape. I cannot "catch up" on my rest/sleep, I have little to no patience/tolerance for surprises or flexibility in my life, my body aches as if I PERSONALLY rode the 150 miles of the event, and my mood is circling down the Universal Toilet.


It has not helped that my work life has been spinning violently out of control either...since the majority of my waking hours ARE spent at my job. Suffice it to also say, I am currently embroiled in a rather large dispute with my employer (not related to my MS), which I cannot discuss openly with the public, and the matter is sucking my will to live. LOL


I have also begun to notice a "chill" in the air, signaling the return of the Fall season. I generally enjoy this season, as the Fall colors are complimentary to my clothing choice options (or at least some overpaid SALES PERSON tried to convince me I was an "Autumn" on the color wheel years ago. LOL). But psychologically speaking, I also recognize the "Fall Season" as a time of introspect and taking one's inventory.


I wrote a post about this on the old AOHELL BrainCheese last year: Counting My Nuts . My personal psychological theory is, the Fall is a time we, as human "animals", inventory our personal cache in our psyche...if we have "enough" there to meet our needs for the long upcoming Winter of our souls, we relax into the season. And if we don't...well...it can be trying times. And right now, I'm worried my psychological pantry has not been stocked this past year to weather me through the winter.


I HAVE been quickly reading several of your MS blogs and noting a theme relating to mood and/or depression...as you will note, THIS blog is also paying homage to that theme today! LOL I have another theory about MS and season changes as well. I believe those of us with MS are already hypersensitive neurologically to these "shifts" because of our failing nervous systems and we become even MORE acutely "aware" or affected by these changes of season. It makes perfect sense to me we may ALL be experiencing a higher level of emotional/mental turmoil right now...and that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.


So, I suspect we should all just give ourselves a break (including myself) and realize we are NOT "breaking" during this time...depressive symptoms, mood changes, anxiety, etc., may simply be happening as a response to situations well out of our control, but heightened because of our MS and the season change. And if my personal psychological theory is received as a "load of crap", so be it. But if my theory helps even one of us to gain perspective in our MS lives right now, then my work here is complete.


And please take note: The title of this post is, "My Life In a Nutshell"...not "My Life In a Nutcase". It is difficult to lose something one never really had in their possession in the first place...like my MIND, for instance...LOL...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Giving The Finger A Break...Literally...And Other Tall Tales...

I know many of you have been awaiting my "official" report of the MS150 Bike Tour weekend...some of you simply want to hear the dirty story of how I managed to break a finger without ever really LIFTING one or mounting a bicycle. Well...all I can "officially" say is, "What happens in LaConner STAYS in LaConner!" And that's my story and I'm sticking to it. LOL

I once again apologize for not trolling YOUR blogs these past few days and leaving my profound comments as well as neglecting to pound out a few words on the keyboard HERE on CHEESE...it is extremely difficult to type with only NINE working fingers and actually a bit painful, too. I know...pass me some cheese to go with my WHINE.


But, I have also returned from my very exhausting weekend of frolicking in the sun (yes, I even got sunburned...go figure) to an extremely fast-paced work week. And, on top of ALREADY being too exhausted to defend my own ego, I had an early morning staff meeting yesterday, followed by an additional 10 1/2 hour work shift...you do the math...3 hour staff meeting + 10 1/2 hour work shift = 13 1/2 hour work day. Most grueling even for someone who DOESN'T have MS!


So...the "finger". I wish I had some great tale to impart upon you about the "finger incident". Frankly, I considered just MAKING SOMETHING UP to explain how I returned with a broken finger...at least something more entertaining than "I tripped and fell into a cooler at the team tent and smacked my hand hard enough to break my little finger". Let's face it...there's just no glory in THAT truth! LOL But alas...this is the true tale of my mundane life...


And, as far as the weekend goes, I believe I can simplify the story into a few words: Traffic, good food, meeting new people, cool mornings and warm days, sunburns, exhaustion, more good food, considering firing Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named (WOOT?!?), triumph on Saint EB's face, "headwind", laughs, pranks on our tent neighbors, injuries (oddly, St. EB's blood is still smeared on the side of my car!), poor sleep, weighing the effect of homicidal ideation toward Dr. SWWNBN (you just KNOW there's more to the story here!), emotional tears from evening program, making new friends, DAWN'S CRACK 3 days in a row, hostess-ing until exhaustion, feeling sick, scenic drive home, and collapsing in bed for 2 days post event. That pretty much says it all...except for a few "minor" details in between, which I will eventually get around to posting hopefully later this week! LOL


Now, I need to return to my couch and stare mindlessly at the walls while I "rest" in preparation to return to yet ANOTHER 9 1/2 hours of work AND give my aching finger a break from this keyboard. I mean, somebody's got to make a living around the hut to afford the style my cat has grown accustomed to! LOL...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My MS CHAMP, My HERO...

It began on a whim...a chance sighting of an advertisement for the Greater Washington Multiple Sclerosis Society MS150 Bike Tour. She told me she wanted to ride the event in my honor...my only deserving quality being the harsh fact I have MS.

We spent the summer "training" together. EB riding her bike, walking hills, and building endurance...me, watching my friend transform and blossom before my eyes.


You see, although not diagnosed with MS, EB has had her share of recent life tragedies...painful losses that hardly compare to the bumps in the road my MS brings. This was HER summer, HER Ride of Passage, HER transformation, not mine. My MS was merely a catalyst in the grand scheme of things.


At 64 years old and still recovering from major life traumas, my friend mounted her bicycle on a crisp, Saturday morning, and rode off into a sea of nearly TWO THOUSAND cyclists...all riding in unity to support the cause of MS...all believing this noble feat can and would make a difference, help to find a cure, or provide "hope".


She didn't know tears fell from my eyes as I watched her silhouette become smaller and smaller and eventually fade out of sight that cool, Saturday morning as she raced away from the starting line. She didn't know the tears that were cascading from my eyes were for her, for me, and for the thousands of others diagnosed with MS I will never meet. She didn't know the heart-felt honor and grateful humility that overcame me as I watched her return from her ride, full of life and exuberance. She didn't know in that blessed moment of her return, pedaling across a long awaited finish line and bringing months and years of her life full circle that she was and would forever be my MS CHAMP and my HERO.


Perhaps now, she does.


And to all of the riders of the MS storm, I say this to you:


Run until you can run no more.

Walk until your legs no longer carry you.

Sing even after the music begins to fade.

And HOPE until your heart aches.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Upbeat Tomorrow...

Just a quick note (typing with a broken finger) to say I have returned from the BIKACIDE, Saint EB was/is a champion hero, I am marginally in tact (another story), it was overall a great weekend, and you will have to wait with baited breath for more details and pictures tomorrow...the "event" has unfortunately left me beyond exhaustion, as noted with a fractured finger, a developing head cold, and needing to be in bed. More to come later.

Good times...ah, good times...LOL

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I Told You I Was Sick...

My mother, Peggy, used to always say that was what she wanted engraved on her tombstone..."I told you I was sick". Well, today I finally got to USE my mother's favorite saying!

This morning was my every-six-week-post-Novantrone appointment with Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named. Yes, she DOES make me come in and see her against my verbal protests. I prefer to do most of my dealings with the good doctor via "virtual reality", AKA email...it's just easier.


But today, there was some anticipation in the air prior to my appointment since the MS150 Bikacide is only 3 days away...it wasn't that I really wanted or needed to see Dr. SWWNBN for any kind of neurological consult...I needed to get some of the weekend plans finalized! LOL


So, in I strolled with my usual greetings to the front office staff, who I otherwise fondly refer to as the doctor's "minions". The typical jokes and silliness began between us as I patiently waited to be called into the tiny exam room I refer to as the "cell"...it's like being trapped in a small box with an out of control fly when Dr. SWWNBN swoops in...too much activity for my pea brain to wrap around.


And, in typical fashion, the nationally known neurologist flew into the room to begin her badgering of my condition and attempts at brow-beating me into medical submission. She did her usual neuro exam, pausing unusually while checking my reflexes in my arms and legs. There was a look of seriousness on her face as she went back and forth between my left side and right side, banging me repeatedly with her little rubber hammer. At first I thought she was just getting her jollies smacking me, but then I realized she was far more focused than I have grown accustomed to.


Finally, after beating my arms, wrists, and knees to the point of assured bruising, she announced, "You've got hyper-reflexia in your left side". She seemed somewhat pleased with her keen assessment. I, on the other hand, was not.


She then announced, "It's probably left over from your relapse," as though this explanation was the "end-all" and I was simply to accept her words as gospel.


Now, if you're like me, often times when I'm having an MS "situation", I sometimes lapse into wondering if this or that symptom is just a figment of my imagination, AKA, "all in my head". More often than not, I wonder this. MS is such an illusive and strange bug, sometimes it's really hard to KNOW if this or that really IS MS or possibly something else. And it typically isn't until the situation/relapse knocks me on my butt that I conclude it really ISN'T all in my head!


For some unknown reason, Dr. SWWNBN's assessment today was comforting...proof this last "situation" wasn't just a concocted notion in my mind. Kind of hard to fake hyperactive reflexes!


So, with the assuredness and blatant grandiosity only I can muster, I announced to Dr. SWWNBN, "I TOLD you I was sick!" as though there was more than just my own doubt clouding the air.


She looked at me and shook her head laughing. And then my nationally known neurologist uttered two words...two, profound words that only 20 years of practice and 10 years of medical school could have fostered.


"Well, DUH!", she said. That was all I needed to hear.


**FOOTNOTE: Just a reminder, I will be away from my computer tomorrow through Sunday evening, attending the local MS150 bike ride. Please do not put out an APB on me or send police to do a welfare check due to lack of posts! I am certain to return Sunday evening with "hi-Larry-us" stories and adventures! And I apologize HERE for not responding to comments the past two days OR commenting on YOUR blog...we'll all just have to catch up soon**

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

After ALL That!...

Most people would probably be ecstatic not having to testify in court...I, on the other hand, get really irked when I have to set an alarm for Dawn's Crack, stumble blindly into a shower, dress in my "best" court clothes, make phone calls, ride a bus, stand around in court for over an hour, and then NOT TESTIFY!!! It's just a beauch to put your A GAME on and then not be able to use it...

But that's exactly what happened this morning. All of the above. And now, I have returned home to get ready for 9 1/2 hours of work at my office...life is sooooo unfair sometimes. LOL


I "bitch" about this day, but the fact of the matter is, it IS just part of my job (for which, I often indignantly declare I am not PAID enough to do!). And on the heels of Labor Day, I feel very fortunate to HAVE a job and still be able to perform the functions of my duty. After reading many of your comments on the Labor Day post, I can only remark, "But for the grace of God AND MS, go I".


So often, our work or our profession becomes such a large part of our identity. Let's face it...how many times have you been asked at a party, "What do YOU do for a living?" or "And where do YOU work?" It is assumed it is the American way to be gainfully employed. Stay at home mothers/fathers sometimes cringe at having to answer those questions with, "I'm a stay-at-home mom/dad", as if THAT role is somehow demeaning or less than the role of a 9 to 5-er. And although I've yet to answer, "I have MS and I'm on disability", I can only imagine there might be some reservations giving this response, too.


I tend to CRINGE most of the time whenever I am asked what I do for a living...it's just NOT a typical job. I often resort to out-and-out lying about what I do for a living in certain crowds...particularly airplanes where I may be trapped with a "talker" in the seat next to me for three or four hours! LOL If I tell people I'm a "nurse" or "I work in mental health" or, God forbid, actually EXPLAIN what I do for a living, there's always SOMEONE who wants to tell me a story about the mental health of their mother/brother/sister/husband/aunt/grandma/dog. And the cold, hard reality is, when I'm not "on the clock", I really don't care...I have a life of my own and I'm not PAID to care or give advice outside of my workplace. Yes, I know...cruel beauch!


When I lived in Houston, TX, I had a great "work lie"...you see, Anheuser-Bush bottling company is located there. You know...the makers of Budweiser? I used to tell people (and with a straight face, too!), "I work for Anheuser-Bush in their quality assurance department". And when or IF someone was bold enough to inquire further as to my function in the QA department, like asking, "And what do you DO there?", I would calmly reply, "I taste a lot of beer". This would usually end all further questions/comments...most people don't have a lot of interest in beer! Or, they were mortified at the prospect I might be a drunk...LOL


I've never really devised a great "work lie" here in Seattle...can't use Microsoft because EVERYBODY wants to know about Bill Gates or computers...can't use GOOGLE for the same reason. LOL I'm sort of limited for a mundane job/business here with all the millionaires and technology companies. Somebody will know someone or something about any business I want to pretend to work for.


So, why not ask the CHEESE readers to collude with me?!? Can y'all think of a business here or profession I could "pretend" (LIE!) to work for that's as good as my Anheuser-Bush cover? Oh, I have such faith in you...LOL...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Porky Pig In Court...Subtitled: MS And Word-Finding Difficulties Suck...

Most of you know, my job involves psychiatry and legal assessments for mental health commitment...I don't talk much about my work because, for the most part, what I do is shroud in HIPAA (Healthcare Information Act) and privacy laws.

But, one of the pieces of my job is to provide court testimony when needed...sometimes to defend my legal decisions, sometimes as an "expert" witness. This is a part of my job I LOATHE, so most often I try to avoid having to go to hearings whenever possible...and honestly, I fairly rarely ever have to BE in court to provide testimony...something I'm quite proud of (in other words, the majority of my legal decisions are upheld).

Tomorrow...Tuesday...is an unavoidable court day. I am my own witness on a case and will most likely be called in to testify. And, although I LOATHE having to go to hearings, it's really not that big of a deal once I get past the "swear to tell the whole truth so help you God" part. But at least they've finally gotten rid of the Bible on the stand!

The first part of court testimony involves raising the right hand and being sworn in...I wear my MS Band of Hope on my right wrist, which helps avoid confusion over which arm is my left and which is my right (believe me...it's happened before!). The second part of testimony involves answering questions under oath, usually from defense attorneys who are paid to try and make a fool out of me in attempt to set their client free...whether they NEED to be in the hospital or not.

Lately I've noticed when under stress, my word-finding difficulties exacerbate. I become a stuttering Porky Pig...kind of like this:



I don't really have any fancy tricks to avoid the brain drain that occurs in these stressful situations...I try to stay calm...I try to rehearse any specific dynamics or wording I might need to make my point. I try to get enough sleep so I can be as alert as possible. I laugh at myself and hope others laugh along and/or finish my sentences for me. But beyond those basic practices, MS and word-finding problems are my nemesis in my job.

Anybody ELSE have specific word-finding difficulties? What do YOU do to try to lessen the effect in your speech? Any words of wisdom?...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Labor and Multiple Sclerosis...

Hehe...GOTCHA! You thought I was going to attempt to write something I know nothing about like childbirth, didn't you?!? Well, this WILL be almost as painful for you to read...this post is about Labor Day in 'Merica.

Every now and again, I like to do a little research into the background of why we do the things we do in this country...especially holidays. You've all endured past posts about Easter, Christmas, and an assortment of "other" holidays that have grown to mythical proportions. But what about Labor Day? Where the heck did THIS one come from? And why do I feel compelled to fire up a barbeque, put my hand down the front of my pants, and drink Schlitz Malt Liquor? Is "Labor Day" something genetic? Or was it simply a holiday designed for Jerry's Kids and a telethon after T.V. was invented??? LOL


To the best of my extensive research knowledge (which includes Google, a book on black magic, and yelling at my neighbor over the fence), this is what I found about the origins of "Labor Day". Now mind you, this information is coming from the U.S. Department of Labor...a "govmet" entity...so can we REALLY trust it to be true?:


Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

"Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country," said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor. "All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man's prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day...is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race, or nation."


Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.


Founder of Labor Day


More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.


Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."


But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.


The First Labor Day


The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.


In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.


Labor Day Legislation


Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887.


During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
A Nationwide Holiday


The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.


The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.


The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.



Mkay...now THAT was truly boring and patronizing, no? Because if you're like me and nearly a quarter of American laborers, YOU DON'T GET THE DAYUMED DAY OFF! That's right...if you work in a hospital, or are a fireman, a police officer, a burger flipper at the local McDonald's and so on, you STILL report to work on Labor Day. And, except for the greeter at Walmart who still has to report to work on the first Monday of September (although I may be wrong here...Walmart workers may be more organized than I give them credit for...but I digress), almost ALL of the above professions are UNIONIZED!!!



And here's the real kick in the teeth to all of us considered "essential" staff (these are the people the National Guard will go out and BRING to work in the event of a disaster)...we don't get Labor Day off and we're paid FAR less than most of the people who DO get the day off in their work week. How did that happen?!? I only have Monday off because it falls on my REGULAR work rotation to be off...not because it's a holiday...because I GOT LUCKY with the Roman Calendar!


OK...enough of that rant. On to Labor and MS...


I had great difficulty finding ANY statistics about the United States labor force and how many of us with Multiple Sclerosis remain gainfully employed (or how many workers with MS actually get Labor Day off...oops! There I go again...LOL). The best statistic I could find (and it's really poor) comes from the National MS Society...the Mothership of Spending Your Donations Gathering Statistics.


It appears a recent (When? Do they say? No...) survey done by the NMSS indicated "35% of people with MS are employed after 20 years with the disease". I read this and shook my head in disgust. It tells me nothing, except some people are still working with MS. But how MANY is what I want to know...who ARE these MSer's and what do they do? Are they still working full-time or reduced hours? What kinds of "labor" are they engaged in?


The best I could do is my own math on this one, which is purely speculation. Since it is estimated there are approximately 400,000 peeps currently diagnosed and living with MS in the USA, 35% of that number is 140,000. So, roughly 140,000 MSer's are working in the labor force...crude statistic, for sure, but a little more telling than "35% after 20 years diagnosed".


I think I may know of FOUR of you...that's right...I know of .003% of this 35% of the working MS class.


So tell me...ARE you diagnosed with MS and still working either full or part-time? If you are no longer in the work force, when did you leave it and why? Please enlighten me with some micro statistics here on CHEESE...but don't tell the NMSS! They'll quite possibly try to claim this survey as their own...LOL


Oh...and Happy Labor Day. That is, if you're a lucky turd who gets the day off!...LOL...