Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm Pretty Sure I Have Kennel Cough...

It comes from repeatedly lapping up water from the toilet bowl...an activity I learned from my cat. She seems pretty healthy at the moment, however...I, on the other hand, am down for the count with my own version of Kennel Cough.

I'll be back after a brief station break (and fever break, cough break, and runny nose/achy bones break)...

Nose Back To The Grindstone...

Back to work after my 6 day furlough...why does it NEVER seem like enough time off? I have only been back at the "grind" for two days and already I feel exhausted. Of course, it doesn't help that I have been having some moderate shoulder pain since last Friday and now today, I am quite certain someone ELSE'S cold has caught up with me! Oh the horror of other people's germs...I've developed a stuffy nose and a somewhat sore throat over the past two days (but of course, I DO have to remember I was breathing toxic paint fumes all weekend...sigh...).

I don't know about the rest of you's MS peeps, but when I begin to "catch" some nasty bug flying around in my face (that someone else obviously breathed upon me), I really don't feel well systemically...it doesn't matter if it is a cold virus, stomach flu, or syphilis (just trying to grab your attention here with dramatics!), the result is the same. I feel overly tired, drained, fatigued, irritable, achy, and just plain ill at ease. I can only imagine "normal" people feel some degree of this dysfunction as well. But it seems like for those of us with compromised nervous systems (and particularly immune systems), the effects of "germination" (aka, that time frame in between the "catch" of something to its full-blown culmination of disease symptoms...I made that definition up...hehe) is especially difficult...it becomes just about all I can do to drag my sorry arse out of bed let alone "pretend" wellness. And I notice this getting harder and harder with AGE as well.

So, I'm not going to pretend wellness here any longer and I'm just going to bed...I need to feel that ever-so-comfortable mattress cradling me for a few hours...hopefully I will sleep through the night without my shoulder waking me in pain as it has done for the past 5 nights. I don't "think" this new pain is MS as I imagine it is just old-age arthritis acting up...at least that's my story right now and I'm sticking to it. It's really a beauch to get old...and even worse to get old with MS!...

Monday, January 28, 2008

We DO Get A Bit "Excited" Here About Our Weather!

I had PLANS to be out and about today...errands to run, shopping, groceries, mail to fetch. But, our ever-changing maritime weather has landed me safe and sound at home today...Sitting strangely content in paint fumes!!

Here's a little Seattle Weather video I threw together this morning (since I won't be going out driving with errands today!) of some shots around my city and my "hood"...enjoy. And for those of you sitting under your TYPICAL 6 feet of snow, I say this: YOU AT LEAST HAVE SNOW PLOWS, STUDDED TIRES, AND PEOPLE WHO ARE USED TO DRIVING IN WINTER CONDITIONS!!! Leave it...and laugh at my "trauma"...LOL...
video

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Toxic Fumes Can Cause Drain Bamage...

I feel like I have been sucking on a car exhaust tailpipe or huffing a can of paint thinner. But instead, I have merely been painting my hallway woodwork and doors with a fuming, oil-based primer! And to think there are people out there that actually DO buy this stuff to get high?!? If you listen closely, I'm sure you can hear the faint sound of my brain cells popping in traumatic death...

I know, I know...what WAS I thinking to begin a painting project at the coldest time of the year in Seattle with little hope of leaving doors or windows open for proper ventilation? Well, it's simple...and I WAS thinking (just not so clearly NOW on my brain damaged high). I was thinking that I have been feeling so good, I needed to take advantage of my "flight into wellness" and get some projects done around here that require more than one or two days of constant attention...like painting...with toxic fumes. LOL

I know I am singing to the choir here amongst MSers when I say it's important to take advantage of the *feel good* times because one never knows what lovely MS symptom might greet them in the morning. Perhaps tomorrow, I might wake up with numbness (although given the "drugged" state of my brain right now from fumes, I doubt I would notice!), or weakness, or pain, or...the list can be endless, and the unknowns? Well, they remain unknown...hence the name.

I DO tend to over do it when I am feeling good...just read back through this monotonous blog and you'll see where I've leaped into wellness, only to crash awkwardly to the floor. But still I leap...with a tiny hitch in my git along. And I have a list as long as my left leg of projects I need to complete around the hut...yesterday and today was painting.

My father (otherwise known and referred to as "EP", which is what I actually CALLED him throughout my childhood...pronounced as one word, EEEP), was an interior/exterior painter...the fumes of gasoline, paint thinner, and TOXIC PAINT simply remind me of growing up. I worked for him every summer, holiday break, and sometimes weekends from the time I was 9 years old. He ran a "family" business, first out of our garage, then later out of a small store-front shop...and "family business" to him meant family LABOR. I learned to paint at a very young age and later became a skilled laborer, doing fine, precision work after EP lost his ability to see up close. Painting for me is no different than dusting or vacuuming. But you think I WOULD have learned NOT to paint in small quarters with TOXIC CHEMICALS now, wouldn't you?!? I'm cracking myself up right now with the notion, but I'm not sure if it is a laughter induced from being "high" or just pure laughter...guess it doesn't matter much now.

POP...oops, there goes another brain cell biting the dust. I wonder if THAT will show up on my next MRI? I'm pretty sure SOMETHING should show up on a urine toxicology screen right about now!...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Full Tilt Rant...

I shouldn't go there, but I'm already here...

I don't read the paper, unless I can pick and choose my news story and sources on line (and that's not really "paper" now, is it?!?)...I don't watch the news channels on TV, unless I am doing so with the sound off. I like to make up my OWN version of what we call the "news" here in in America...my stories and captions with the TV scenes playing are ALWAYS nicer and far more entertaining! I DO have iGoogle and I use a web page called "topix.net" to alert me to stories I *might* find of interest about Multiple Sclerosis or the happenings here in Seattle...but as for the news in the rest of the world? Well, unless a blogger is highlighting it (say, important news like Britney Spears or Anna Nicole Smith!), I probably won't hear/read about until the "news" is something we call *history*. My world is safer and far more predictable this way...


I have unfortunately been bombarded by the well-meaning, who are sending me links/clips/snippets about the local murder here in Seattle on New Year's Eve...a young woman was stabbed to death just outside her front door and, just this past week, it appears a "suspect" has confessed to this murder (if I can BELIEVE any of the stories I am reading)...a suspect, who is being highlighted as MENTALLY ILL...thus, the multi-chat in my email inbox.


I am NEVER allowed/able to discuss ANY of the histories or medical records of the population of mentally ill I work with...laws prohibit this, and for good reason. After all, YOU could be one of these folks I see (if you live in my county...Sherry, you're off the hook there in Colorado!), or it could be your sister, mother, brother, boss, coworker, just to name a few options. And, because I am privy to many stories and records of folks dubbed, "mentally ill offenders", AKA, mentally ill criminals, I am often APPALLED by what I read in the local papers or see on the local TV news...thus, my self-imposed boycott to AVOID it. But, unfortunately, I could NOT avoid the story(s) airing right now about the mentally ill suspect of the aforementioned murder. SO, here's my rant:


I am just SICK (perhaps even MENTAL) of the way news gets portrayed when there is someone who has an "alleged" history of mental illness...especially high profile crimes! Does anyone ELSE ever stop and wonder just WHERE these reporters GET their paper-selling headlines??? They certainly are NOT getting facts from medical/mental health records...it's against the EFFING LAW TO RELEASE THAT INFORMATION!!! They generally tend to search CRIMINAL COURT DOCUMENTS (because MENTAL HEALTH COURT DOCUMENTS are sealed and confidential and CRIMINAL records are not), which provide snippets of information regarding a person's competence to stand trial, prior CRIMINAL charges, and an occasional police report, which is often laden with an officer's personal VIEWS about a suspect (believe me...I read hundreds of these "reports" a year and, I'm sorry to say this but, MOST local police do not have the slightest CLUE about Washington State Mental Health Law...just like I don't have much of a clue about CRIMINAL charges/law. I only INTERFACE with the criminal justice system here). Oh, and they also bang on the doors of neighbors or family members for their "professional" view of Joe Blow's mental stability. Extremely factual and high caliber reporting, if you ask me. (*said with tongue in cheek*)


Yes, the mentally ill DO commit crimes...our local county jail is FILLED TO THE BRIM with the mentally ill on one particular floor. This floor is considered the SECOND LARGEST mental health housing/treatment facility in the state...next to the actual STATE HOSPITAL, that is...where the mentally ill are conveyor-belted through on a daily basis because there are not enough TREATMENT FACILITY BEDS to provide care for these "inmates". And do you know what the MAJORITY of their *crimes* are? Does anyone in my county have any idea what their tax dollars are paying for in keeping these "criminals" locked up? Well, I'm about to let you in on a well-kept secret.


The vast majority of the mentally ill are being held in the county jail facility for crimes such as "criminal trespass" (they were sleeping in a park or under an overpass...highly *unseemly*...especially if they are arrested sleeping in the doorway of a STARBUCKS, for heaven's sake!), "dine and dash" (they get hungry, so they order food and leave), and "petty theft" (oddly, often stealing FOOD and BEER from area stores...imagine that...stealing food to survive?!? The beer is an entirely different matter). There are the occasional "VUCSA" charges (Violation of the Uniformed Controlled Substance Act...yes, they do smoke crack and other illicit drugs on occasion...which could be WHY they are mentally ill. But I won't segway into the lack of TREATMENT FACILITIES/FUNDING for substance abuse issues in my fair state!), or "public intoxication". There are various assault charges...usually against family members, mental health workers/case managers, shelter staff...people trying to PROVIDE for and ASSIST them...or random attacks on the street amongst the homeless mentally ill. And, once in a while...but honestly NOT that often...there is a high-profile case/inmate/mentally ill person housed on this particular floor of the county jail. And these high-profile mentally ill criminals are surrounded by multiple persons charged with these OTHER offenses...taking up precious cells that COULD BE USED TO HOUSE REAL CRIMINALS! You know, the people who DO commit crimes...the non-mentally ill criminals...who are getting released from jail in droves each day because there are NOT ENOUGH JAIL CELLS TO KEEP THEM INCARCERATED!!!


I am so saddened by the loss of life that occurred in Seattle on New Year's Eve...there is no explanation or words of comfort that can be given to those left behind in the wake of such violent crime. And it saddens me deeply when someone from the population of people I work with is suspected of committing such a heinous offense...when someone from the population of people I work with/the mentally ill DOES commit such an atrocity. And I understand the news reporters/TV stations need to "report" on such events...we as a society DEMAND this information because we think it provides answers or keeps us *safe* in some way. I only wish these reports could and did contain ALL of the facts...the facts that are protected by law regarding individuals and their mental health histories, as well as the FACTUAL accounts regarding those that serve this population. It seems we are forever destined to point fingers away from ourselves as a means of justifying our losses.


I highly doubt the local paper or TV stations will be reporting today on the memorial service of one of my colleagues from an area mental health center. This colleague served the mentally ill for many, many years and was a well-respected individual in the field. She died suddenly last week of a probable heart attack. She worked day in and day out with clients, finding them housing, food, services, and providing a *safe* place for them to share their deepest concerns and fears. There is no way of knowing how many person's lives she made better...OR how many clients she may have intervened upon, keeping them from committing various crimes or offenses because of their mental illnesses. There is unfortunately not enough ROOM in the paper for THIS story and no one appears to WANT to read about THIS side of mental illness...the side of compassion, understanding, caring, and *calm*...the side of mental illness that continues onward EVERY day without headlines.


So, get me off this spinning Tilt O' Whirl...it's time for me to crawl back under my rock...where it's safe...

Friday, January 25, 2008

If Laughter Is The Best Medicine, I Should Be CURED Of MS By Now!...

After yesterday's very serious post, I thought I should lighten the mood today with a topic that is very near and dear to my heart...laughter.

Gelotology...the study of laughter and humor and how it affects the body. It's a REAL science, peeps...I'm not making this sh...stuff...up! And it has been an art form for centuries, seen in the likes of Shakespearean comedy and even before Leonardo's twisted time.


So, WHY do we laugh? It seems scientists are still puzzled by this physiological response. There are many theories about the biology of human laughter, but most theorists divide these notions into three, main categories: 1. Laughter manifests as a reflex, 2. Laughter is a psychomotor response to specific stimulus that is voluntary, and 3. Laughter is a psychomotor response that is "pathological" and involuntary. What is important to note is, ALL three theories deem laughter to have both psychological and physiological restorative qualities. Laughter not only initially is stimulating to the mind and body (it increases heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration), but its final byproduct for the body is relaxation...hence the sayings, "weak with laughter", and "falling down with laughter"...the body's muscles DO relax and/or certain muscles become flaccid with laughter. Mirthful laughter (as opposed to pathological laughter...the kind of laughter the brain produces on its own in certain brain disorders) also is proven to stimulate the immune system by decreasing serum levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and growth hormone. The bottom line is, we FEEL better when we are laughing.


But I'm not writing this post merely to educate regarding the physiological benefits of laughter (I had to read many articles just to type out the above paragraph...AND, they weren't funny!)...I'm writing it to discuss the psychological benefits and to ponder the "art" and "learning" of laughter.


Comedy and humor have ALWAYS been a large part of my life...even in the midst of great stress, I have always sought out laughter as a means of positive coping...whether it be DARK humor or simple-minded (some might call it "potty humor") comedy. Let's face it...a well-placed FART will have me rolling on the floor *weak with laughter*.


I find people who do NOT laugh intriguing...and sad. And believe me, I've met my fair share of these folks. It is as if, to laugh, might betray the core structure of their personalities. For a long time, I always just assumed these enigma-type folks were mean-spirited or extremely depressed. But what I have come to know over the years of dealing with the non-laughing is, they have never LEARNED to laugh OR their innate reflex was *retrained* because of life experiences...and, consequently, they have spent little time PRACTICING humor and levity. Somewhere along their paths, the natural intrigue and wonder that makes a baby smile and laugh reflexively was lost...and they had no idea the saying "use it or lose it" would be true of humor.


I practice humor/laughter every day...it is one of the *skills* I find most meaningful and important in this game called Life. EVERY day, I look for something that might make me laugh...this is how I *practice*. I seek out thoughts, notions, interactions, experiences, people, or situations that allow me to practice the *skill* of laughter/humor. I also believe humor is a wonderful mind exercise, much like calisthenics are for the physical body...and I DO like to give my mind a workout (obviously more than I like to work out my body!).


Humor is NOT a product that necessarily knocks on my door each day and announces, "I'm here!". Sometimes I have to go looking for it...and I usually find it hidden (or in broad daylight) in the people I interact with, the blogs I read, the mischievous ways of my cat, and so on. Humor and laughter are the universal "joiners" for me...if you and I BOTH find something funny, then for that brief moment, we are meeting each other in the sacred place of understanding and "knowing"...a sometimes fleeting moment of joining intellect and human bonding.


We all perceive life and humor quite differently based on our past (and current) experiences with life/humor. For instance, some of the things I find gut-wrenchingly funny regarding statements overheard from the mentally ill, are things YOU might find appalling or inappropriate to laugh at. I, on the other hand, delight in the *dark* humor found in the seriousness of the disorder...because I am FORCED to be in it, day in and day out...because, WITHOUT finding grains of humor in such a serious subject that I am SUBJECTED to every day, I would surely lose my OWN sanity.


Sometimes when I read certain MS blogs, I find myself in tears...from LAUGHTER! Yes, even in the seriousness of Multiple Sclerosis, there is humor...and many of you practice this humor in so much of what you write. When I am reading your personal *twist* on "fugly" scarves/cooling jackets, or whizzing down the street on a scooter and "looking like a turtle driving a Ferari", I feel as if I have won a free pass into an unscripted movie...I don't need the surround sound or the popcorn to settle into my seat and feel like I am watching a wonderful comedy. And, because I HAVE MS, I can relate to the humor of the metaphors, experiences, and *dark* comedy of the disease.


I've always been pretty open and up front here on CHEESE regarding the topics that send me howling with laughter...many are the unfortunate byproduct of some of my life's most embarrassing moments! But I am curious to know, what make YOU laugh? Where do you practice YOUR humor/laughter? What feeds your funny bone? Do you search for those things in life that bring a smile (or smirk) to your face?


I once posed the idea here that I was thinking about writing a book titled, "Laughing Til I Pee", which was NOT about losing bladder control because of MS (although if/when I DO lose bladder control from my MS, I'm sure it WILL make me pee myself from laughter in an ironic, vicious cycle...sure the hell beats losing my fluids from crying though). What topics would YOU include in your own MS-related book with that title?...

Pandora's Box...Subtitled: Fingering My Bones...

I've been absent from the blog world for a few days...for good reason. I began my 6 day furlough from work Wednesday and dove into a project I have been needing to tackle for quite some time. It has caused me great pause and contemplation and I have not felt my usual "funny bone" self.

As some of you may recall, a few weeks ago I moved all of my items out of a storage locker I had been renting, into a newly-constructed storage addition here at my home. Among one of the items I have kept in storage (now for many years) was a large trunk full of old writing journals and items dating back to my childhood...something I have jokingly referred to as "Pandora's Box". Inside this locked and guarded trunk are decades of me...in writing...my experiences and thoughts throughout my life until now. Many, many pages of descriptive writings.


Those of you who read CHEESE are all very gifted scholars and well-read individuals (except you read THIS, so I sometimes wonder about your taste!), but just in case you have forgotten your Greek Mythology 101, I will remind you here...at least MY personal version and knowledge of "Pandora". It may help explain my box/trunk situation.


The myth of Pandora goes something like this...before mankind was created, there existed only gods and goddesses. Zeus was the main God and all-powerful, but there were "lesser" gods/goddesses who also were written about extensively by the Greeks. One of these gods was Prometheus and I believe it was this god that created man in human form. He liked his creation, so he gave man the gift of "fire", which pissed Zeus off. So Zeus set out for revenge and had Pandora sculpted out of clay to give to Prometheus as a wife (note any similarities to the Adam & Eve version here?). Pandora was given a jar (actually NOT a box, but somewhere along the way this got changed in the story) and told NEVER to open it...Zeus knew she would though, because she was a curious WOMAN, after all! LOL And, one day Pandora did just that...took a peek inside the jar/box. She was unaware the jar/box contained all of the evils of the world, including greed, disease, envy, vanity, etc., and these "evils" escaped. Somehow she was able to close the lid just before "hope" escaped...and this, my friends, in Greek mythology is why these "evils" exist in the world of mankind, but also why "hope" remains.


My Pandora's Box...


I have alluded to at times in my posts vague references to my childhood without much detail...I will not be disclosing much of that "detail" in this post either. But suffice it to say, not unlike many in the world today, my childhood was...ah...less than perfect. But, then again, WHO among us HAS had a perfect childhood?!? I spent many of my formative years living in sadness and fear and unable to grasp the meaning of many of the "evils" of this world. It took me many, many painful years to get to the place I am in today...a relatively well-adjusted individual (although some may argue THAT point!).


During these painful years, I wrote...volumes and volumes of pages. Enough pages to fill the blank journal section in a book store...and I SAVED each and everyone of these journals and pages in a trunk. A trunk that, over time, has become too heavy for me to carry on my own (**light goes on over that metaphor**) literally. In moving all of my storage items to my home, I heaved and hauled this trunk by myself, nearly breaking my back in lifting it in and out of the back seat of my car...dragging it at some points along the way. And this is when I was hit with a mighty revelation...it was TIME to lighten the load of the trunk/my baggage and use the storage item for things that are important in my current life.


I had to search for the key to the unbreakable padlock that kept Pandora's box sealed tightly shut...it had been years since I dared to unlock it and peer inside at the contents. I had been afraid...afraid to *know* what secrets the box contained...I was afraid of letting out the "evils" into the world and worried I might not be as fortunate as Pandora to close it in time and capture "hope" before it escaped, too.


Yesterday, with the assistance of my mentor, I opened Pandora's box. At first, I casually lifted items out somewhat quickly and meaninglessly, then began to feel an agitation growing inside me...it was as if all the emotions I had once *stored* in my writing were flooding back in a tidal wave. I had to stop handling my "bones" and walk away from it...my only thought was to take all of the contents to the local dump and never lay eyes on it again...I needed to be free from the weight inside the box.


My mentor, in kindness and wisdom, convinced me to wait and not simply dump the contents in the trash. "It is your history", she said. "Your story. And it is important."


I left the trunk and its contents strewn around my living room...fearful that if I simply threw it back in the trunk, I would just lock the box back down and continue to haul this heavy load around with me forever. I am a "neat freak", so I knew this clutter would eventually overwhelm me and I would be FORCED to deal with it...which is what I have done for most of the day today...deal with it.


So many things I have read seem as though they were written by a ghost writer in another life...and much of the contents WERE written in another life period, yet the words are a part of me. Each page I turn, I read about the trials and tribulations of a young teen, a young adult, a grieving child, an angst-filled young woman...all seemingly foreign to me, yet stored in the very sinew and bones of my body. And I find myself reading the pages with compassion, as if a mother watching her child grow up and knowing to intervene would thwart the lesson.


I am tired now...there are still many pages left to read, but I must stop the reading and carry on with the tasks of my life at the end of my day. Forgive me for neglecting to read your blogs...I WILL catch up eventually. But for now, I am "fingering my bones" and lightening my load...I am trying to pare down to something knapsack-sized to carry on my back for the next leg of my journey...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's Freezing Outside, But My Heart Is Warm...

My partner and I were having a "slow" night at work. Temperatures outside were dipping painfully close to the freezing mark...a dangerous degree for many of the 2,000 homeless people that live on the streets and in the shelters in Seattle.

We had been standing outside our office building after just coming back from an outreach in the community, when we noticed a homeless man shuffling by the building with a blanket over his head and only flip flops on his feet...he is someone we know, who sleeps every night at the bus stop nearby.


We tried to engage him in conversation to convince him to go to one of the emergency bad weather shelters nearby, but he shuffled on past us. We went up to our office...it was nearly "quittin' time", then decided we should go back outside in the cold with our car and try to find this man to give him a ride to one of the emergency shelters a few blocks away...it was painfully apparent, after all, that he was one of "ours"...one of the hundreds of mentally ill that sleep outside day after day in our fair city.


We drove around several city blocks trying to locate the man again without success and could only hope he had made his way to shelter...the temperatures outside were set to fall into the teens and anyone left sleeping outside would surely freeze to death.


As we rounded a block to head back to our office, my partner spotted yet another vulnerable homeless individual parked in a wheel chair against a fence. She asked me to turn the car around to check on THIS man because she "had a feeling"...sure enough...this homeless Vietnam veteran with no legs and a chronic mental illness was alone in the cold with no place to go.


We tried to convince this gentleman to make his way to a shelter also, but his mental illness kept him from being able to agree to go...he was "afraid" to be trapped inside a building at night. We were not successful in our initial attempts and returned to our office to check our files on his history.


After reading our files, we decided we HAD to go back out to find him and, if need be, we would initiate a mental health "hold" on him and force him into a facility tonight...we feared he, too, might be dead by morning.


After multiple phone calls and making arrangements and consultation with local police, we went back to the site we had last seen him, only to discover he had vanished. My partner was not to be deterred...we continued to circle many city blocks, stopping police officers and pedestrians, in search of the man...no one had seen him since we left him. Even the Seattle Police Homeless Patrol did not know his location...they were busily scooping up the homeless and giving them rides to shelters as fast as they could.


Just when I was about to give up the search, an officer stopped our car and reported they had spotted our "subject" a few blocks away...there he was...wheeled back into the original spot we had first encountered him.


We once again begged him and pleaded with him to go to the shelter where we had secured a prearranged "cot" for him (courtesy of one of the largest and kindest homeless shelters in downtown...they were FULL, yet agreed to take this man in IF we could get him there)...he continued to offer excuses for why he could not go and all of his excuses fell on our deaf ears. We eventually had to let him know if he did not accept this shelter bed, we would be forced to commit him to a hospital...he then quickly agreed to our plan and began to wheel away.


My partner, still not trusting that the man's mental illness would allow him to stay in the shelter, decided we should follow him there since he would not let us give him a ride...I also believed he would not successfully make the 5 block trip through downtown streets on his own...wheeling his chair in the now frigid cold.


And this is when it happened...something I will never forget...an act of kindness and selflessness witnessed with my eyes. My partner decided to get out of the car and PUSH the gentleman the distance to the shelter to insure he arrived safely...he fortunately agreed to allow her to do so.


For five, long and slow blocks in the cold, my partner pushed and cajoled this gentleman all the way up the streets and around corners until she reached the downtown shelter...I drove the car following a police officer down wrong way streets at only 5 miles an hour until we reached the destination. It was like a surreal parade...a victory of sorts. We had succeeded in hopefully saving a life tonight...a life that might never be missed by anyone if he slipped away into the night because no one would be looking for him.


As my partner and I returned to the car, her reddened cheeks glowing with cold, I told her what an amazing sight it was to see her pushing this man down the streets...I commented on what a wonderful thing she had done and praised her for going above and beyond the call of duty (we were well past our usual quittin' time at this hour).


She turned to me without any hesitation in her voice to say matter of factly, "It was the right thing to do".


I hope that I am never too cold, too hungry, too tired, too busy, too overwhelmed, too caught up in myself, or too scared to pass up an opportunity to "do the right thing"...because, behind EVERY situation, every disease, every behavior, every seemingly "bad" aspect of a personality, is a PERSON...another human being...if we only will look past those things we find ugly or disturbing and truly see them. Because we need to really SEE each other more often...because it's the right thing to do...

Monday, January 21, 2008

TAG! You're It...

AWRIGHT! In the words of Dr. Evil (from the movie, "Wayne's World", in case you are wondering where this profound quote originated), "THROW ME A FRICKIN' BONE HERE!"

I have taken a few minutes in the past 24 hours to TROLL just a couple of the links to other web pages/blogging sites I find secretly embedded in my stats page, and I have ACCIDENTALLY stumbled upon two more wonderful MS BLOGGERS... Shauna and Kim ...respectively known via blogs, "Bugs, Bikes, & Brains", and "Sunshine & Moonlight". Yes, they HAVE been added to the now 108 MS Blogs To Suck Your Time link on my side bar.


But, seriously folks...if you ARE an MSer reading this blog AND you write your OWN MS Blog, throw me a frickin' bone here and leave me a comment with your blog web address! You are obviously writing something you'd like to be read that will reach the entire world via the Internet, so why not let me link you to my list? The only people who come to BRAINCHEESE are other MSers, Jesus Camp followers, and sadly, my coworkers! And my coworkers will leave you alone as will the CAMPERS...just as long as you don't use the words, "Fetus, Jesus, Camp, Gays, or Abortion" in your posts...I seriously don't know WHAT buzz words attract my coworkers here...


If you are *waiting* for ME to discover you, it may not happen until a frozen day in...ah...SEATTLE, such as today. So, toot your own horn and drop a comment or an email because everyone with MS deserves to read what you have to say...and YOU deserve to be heard.


I find it both exciting and disheartening to have stumbled upon 108 MS bloggers...I KNOW there are more of you I have not found via web trolling and an unfortunate still MORE of you yet to begin writing your blogs. It seems once the shock of the diagnosis wears off OR MSers suddenly discover the world of Internet Blogging, our MS Blogging Club Membership seems to grow.


I wish I had the time in my daily grind/schedule to visit each and everyone of you...if for no other reason than to leave my comments on your blogs because I think I am "hi Larry usly" funny...and, sadly, I am the ONLY one who holds this belief about myself. But, I notice as people make "hits" on the CHEESE link to the 108 list, they DO often take the time to carefully review MANY of the individual blog links listed (how do I know this? Moohahaha...stats page!).


So, come on! Let me know who you are...you can't run and you can't hide from the ever-knowing CHEESE. If I have to come searching for you on my own, well...I don't know what might happen, but...let's just no GO there, shall we?!?...

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

In the words of MDMHVONPA (who seems to have disappeared into thin air this past week), I believe he once wrote something like, "It is so cold outside, my nipples are as hard as diamonds and could cut concrete"...but you'll have to check the archives of his blog for the exact quote. I'm just poorly plagiarizing here. LOL

I don't know if I have the same "skill" level in the cold as dear MDMHVONPA, but I CAN tell you it is "colder than a well digger's a$$" right now in Seattle! At the moment, around 1:00AM, the temperature is at 35 degrees and falling rapidly...tomorrow's high isn't supposed to get out of the 30's. People! That's friggin cold for this wet, maritime area!!!


Unsuspecting me left my home this afternoon without upping the dial on my heat...I came home to frigid temperatures and a cat that looked as though SHE could use a fur coat. I have since cranked up the thermostats, boiled water for hot tea, and am considering warming up my frozen bones in a hot bath before going to bed. This is just TOO darned cold for the likes of my sensitive bod!


Ah, Miss Chris? Got any extra rooms for rent in that ARIZONA DESERT you call home??? I could be on a plane tomorrow morning...just as soon as they DE-ICE the wings!...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Things That Chap My MS A$$:

1. Perfectly healthy-appearing people who shamelessly park in handicapped parking because they never turned in Grandpa's parking permit when he died in the early 80's.
Come on, folks! Grandpa probably DID need the parking pass because he was toting around an oxygen tank compliments of having to ride with YOU in your zippy sports car...your driving took his breath away. But if you are able to park your midlife crisis vehicle at the effing gym and JOG your way into the 24Hour Fitness Club, I imagine the extra exercise you'll accumulate WALKING from the lot across the street into your massage appointment will do you a world of good!


2. Doctors who prescribe medications without REALLY knowing what the medication might do to you.

It is my personal belief ALL physicians during their formative medical school years should have to SAMPLE each and every medication they might prescribe to their patients once they are cut loose with that dangerous prescription pad. I think until physicians can really EXPERIENCE the effects of the toxic chemicals they casually pass off to their patients, they really DON'T have a full appreciation for the wonders of medicine...THEIR medicine that we are told has MINIMAL side effects. I would guess if doctors were told to take, oh say, THORAZINE as an example, they'd definitely study up on what it could or couldn't do to their unsuspecting body. I don't ask my doctors to pop a dirty, unidentified pill in THEIR mouth that I've discovered on the examination floor, and I don't think they should ask ME to pop a dirty, unidentified pill in MY mouth that I find in a prescription bottle without being told it's positive and likely negative side effects.


3. People who DON'T have MS who tell me to "think positive thoughts".

Let me attach a 6 inch rubber band around YOUR waist while wearing one roller skate and one high heeled shoe on the other foot while poking a pin repeatedly in your right eye as I keep you up sleep-deprived for the rest of YOUR unknown existence...then we can talk about POSITIVE ATTITUDES and "thoughts". I imagine you'd HATE you, too, if someone uttered your stupid "positive thoughts" idea to you with the above conditions attached.


4. Zealous religious fanatics who tell me I need to PRAY harder and/or they will be "praying" for me also as a means of curing my MS.

OK...news flash. I think if God IS involved in my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, don't you think He/She already KNOWS I have MS? And if God could CURE my MS, what makes me such a bad person that He/She hasn't already CURED me in the first place?!? I personally don't believe "God" gave me MS...because, if He/She did, that's one MEAN Higher Power "som bitch". I just don't think "God" has such a cruel sense of humor.


5. People who feel a need to tell me about their friend's daughter's cousin's half-sister on their nephew's side of the family who has MS and did "this or that" to cure/fix/rid/assist them and you "wouldn't even know they have MS".

Yeah, thanks for the tip, idiots. You're right...I'm an uneducated imbecile who knows nothing ABOUT the disease because I've kept my head in the sand and chosen a neurologist from Timbuktu who never reads a medical journal. Oh, and by the way, "wouldn't even know they have MS" is why the friggin disease is called a HIDDEN DISORDER! If I hadn't told YOU I had the disease, you wouldn't even be having this conversation with me...it's not like I have a scarlet "MS" symbol tattooed upon my chest either. And if BEE STINGS were such a wonderful cure, I think I should have obtained full immunity to MS as a child, because I certainly had my fair share of bee/wasp/bug stings and bites running freely in the fields BEFORE I was diagnosed with the disease.


6. People who tell me I just need to "not get stressed out" about having MS because it worsens the disease.

OK, I'll give you a few points on this one. Current research DOES link stress increases to exacerbations...you are right. But don't you think if I COULD not get "stressed out" I would?!? I really don't have a death wish anymore than YOU do...unless by having this conversation you are hoping I might KILL YOU out of mere frustration from your ignorance as a means of controlling my stress, too. Hmmm...guess that would eliminate two birds with one stone, wouldn't it?!? Your "death wish" and my stress level...


7. Other MSers who insist that what has worked for THEM to deal effectively with THEIR version of the disease is the ONLY thing that will be successful for ME.

Last time I checked my birth certificate, I wasn't born with a twin, folks. So that means MY DNA is quite different from yours...not to mention my life experiences and probably my prior exposure to other diseases/bugs/germs/attitudes/people/toxins. Don't get me wrong here...I'm overjoyed with delight that YOU have found something that you believe has helped you stay strong and active and prolonging the disability of MS. But your "cure" isn't necessarily mine because MS affects us all very uniquely. So please save your strength when trying to hit me repeatedly over the head with self-proclaimed anecdotal information on what I should or shouldn't do to be just like you. And please don't threaten to stop being my "MS friend" or kick me out of the "MS Club" because I DON'T follow your advice and continue to make my OWN choices to try this or take that drug or pop this supplement or even DO NOTHING AT ALL. When we meet in the after life, you can feel free THEN to chastise me for not following your advice...we're probably BOTH going to make it to that destination around the same time anyway.

It Wouldn't Be Funny If It Weren't True...

I was in a mad dash this early afternoon to get my shower completed, fix something to take to work for supper, and get dressed and out the door on time to beat the evil time clock. I hate to be rushed because I become a "mush brain" and misplace important items as well as forget to TAKE important items out the door with me...like car keys. But that's another post...

So, today I was a bit discombobulated as I flew from my shower to get dressed and ready for work...already feeling I might be late if I didn't pick up my pace. I managed to secure a set of underwear (that would be top AND bottom equals a "set") socks, and slacks, only to discover I would need to press/iron my blouse unless I wanted the look Seattle is most famous for...GRUNGE! I dashed into my study where I keep my beloved ironing board (remember...I iron my sheets! This item is more sacred than my refrigerator) and cranked my super-duper iron on to await its steamy heat.


I typically keep all of my "essential" work tools in one place so I don't forget anything...my work keys, money, wallet, pocket change, badge/ID, and favorite ink pen (for signing those detention orders) lay in wait on a shelf to be deposited in my pockets as I go out the door. And, since I had my slacks already on, most of these items fit nicely in my pants pockets...except for the BIG GRIP ink pen I carry.


Not wanting to be slowed down in my already-feeling-late-for-work-waiting-for-the-iron-to-heat-up mode, I quickly shoved my pants pocket items in the front pouches of my pants and stood staring at my ink pen. Deciding it wouldn't fit well in my pants pocket (or, gawd forbid, might "ink" up my pants), I quickly shoved the HUGE PhD Big Grip pen down the front of my...er...valley between the Grand Tetons as a temporary "holding cell" for my writing equipment until I could get my blouse ironed and adjusted appropriately.


Now, let me first offer a disclaimer here. I am not the most "sensitive" of persons. I tend to have a fairly high pain tolerance (doesn't EVERYBODY say that?!?) and I've even watched minor surgeries done to my feet and other areas of my body. I don't generally notice much when I accidentally bump into things until nasty bruises form. I've started IV's on myself before (albeit usually INTOXICATED in nursing school...but that is ALSO information for a separate post!) and most shots/pokes/prods, etc., don't phase me much.


But I DID assume I maintained "normal" feeling in my...er...Grand Teton area. And without going into gory details about any past experiences in that landscape region, I'm pretty sure I have reasonable sensitivity in my upper "hills and valley".


I just returned home from a long evening at work and disrobed (again, not said to frighten or nauseate you), only to discover my favorite ink pen I had been pining for all evening long remained nestled between my...er...hills and valley!!! I had somehow forgotten where I had placed it, even "bitching" royally at work that "someone" might have thieved it from me when I wasn't looking (we are all very protective of our favorite pens in my job...because we USE them so much). And what is worse?...NOT ONE OF MY COWORKERS MENTIONED THE OBVIOUS AND PROTRUDING BULGE I WAS DISPLAYING IN MY...er...CLEAVAGE AREA!!!
There it was...sticking out like a log fallen on a hillside...my favorite PhD pen poking fun. I wondered why I set off the metal detector at the jail, even AFTER I had "de-jailed" at my office and removed the "hazardous" items I usually carry (like keys, gum, etc...serious weapons to inmates, I'm sure...LOL). Fortunately, the evening guard/officer at the gate knows me well and did not submit me to the evil "wand". Had he done this, I would have surely been very embarrassed to hear the wailing beep of the wand sound as he passed it over my...er...frontal appendage area. And even much worse, having to suffer through the look of amazement and amusement as I retrieved a GIANT PEN from my...er...private space!


I'd sure like to blame this little fashion "fox paw" on MS, but even I know I can't get away with THAT one...

Friday, January 18, 2008

No Wonder I'm So FAT!...

I don't often plug websites here on CHEESE (just other MS blogs :) ) unless they have some connection to Multiple Sclerosis...this IS an MS blog, after all, and I like to stick with the topic at hand...unless, of course, my political/religious/philosophical/spiritual/financial/health care opinion is in NEED of being broadcast to the entire world. And it is unfortunately ME who decides that need (versus a straw poll amongst all 3 of you that read this blog!).

But, in the same vein of "feeling good", I wanted to share with all y'all a website I have been using for the past 3 weeks as a means of tracking my daily intake...otherwise known as my "intake plan" (what some might shamelessly refer to as the dirty "D" word...diet). I have found it to be most enlightening and useful in my purpose of becoming more AWARE of what I am shoving down my throat in the name of nutrition.


The website is called, "The Daily Plate", and is found at http://www.thedailyplate.com/ . The most impressive aspect of this website is the fact it is FREE...yes, I said FREE! All one needs to do is sign up (no, they don't ask for the name of your first born or a credit card "just in case"...it really is FREE), then begin using the program as you see fit. The site can track your weight, your daily intake, your weight and calorie goals, your weight loss goals, provides a daily entry for diary purposes, and gives clear, graphic representation of the basic components of one's dietary intake such as protein, carbs, fats, sodium, and cholesterol. It has a "food bank" list of well over 1,000 different foods found in restaurants and grocery stores, so inputting data onto your "daily plate" is fairly easy...it even allows for manual input of calories if you can't find a particular food and also allows you to put in any exercise accomplishments (the site will even subtract your "sweat burning calories" out of your daily allowances, giving a net caloric intake).


I have found the site to be most useful in really coming to terms around JUST HOW MUCH CRAP I HAVE BEEN EATING FOR THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS! For instance, (and hypothetically speaking...LOL) did you know that ONE Hostess HOHO costs 125 calories?!? One measly, little HOHO...geez. And a pat of butter weighs in at a hefty 36 calories??? Well, you get the picture...my "treats" that I have been treating myself with for the past umpteen years have been depositing on my back side (OK...I admit it...my FRONT SIDE, too) at a hefty (pun intended) cost!


It is with great shame and guilt I DID take the half naked photos that most food gurus suggest one snaps as they begin making changes in their daily intake...I discovered my a$$ was so big (I can't see it regularly, so I just assumed the caboose was proportionate), I needed a panoramic lens with wide angle adjustment just to capture the scene in its entirety! I discovered every, little HOHO had not so nicely deposited to my back side...little yummy bastids...how DARE they?!?


Anywhooo...if you find yourself looking for a way to keep better track of your intake (I now suffer from food PTSD, so use with caution), The Daily Plate offers a useful resource in doing so. And, no...I was NOT paid in any way to advertise this. Besides, I would only want payment via a life time shipment of HOHO's at this point anyway...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Survivor's Guilt...Subtitled: Should I feel BAD about feeling GOOD?...

I seem to be in the second "R" of my RRMS diagnosis at the moment...the "Remitting" portion of the show. I am 3 weeks out from my last Novantrone dose and I'm feeling the burst of energy and wellness that has often come following the infusion of the blue dye. I have lost 9.5 pounds because of a commitment to a new intake plan, I am up to walking a distance of 2 miles at a time again, the tight banding around my waist and chest is all but a slight pressure, my gait is steady, I am less fatigued, and I only have the minor annoyance of pain in my left arm and shoulder and stiffness in my calves...the only remnants I have to remind me I have holes in my brain and spine that have given me the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I feel as *normal* as normal can get for me and it feels good.

So, why do I feel a tinge of guilt telling all y'all this? Should I shut my pie hole and just keep this flight into wellness a dirty, little secret? Am I rubbing salt into someone else's wounds who DOESN'T feel as good as I do right now with their MS?


In so many of the MS blogs I read, I witness the many difficulties faced and the adversities we each deal with every hour of every day. Some of us can't walk at all while others can barely walk 2 blocks let alone 2 miles at a time. Some of us are in constant, excruciation pain and others have lost hearing/voices/sight. And still others are urinating blood clots, dealing with medication side effects that are nasty, and fighting each day with overwhelming fatigue.


When I feel this good in my life with my MS, there is a part of me that worries my MS club membership will be revoked! Sounds absolutely silly, doesn't it? I should be REJOICING and PRAYING for that to happen...to be kicked off the MS team. If we could all be THAT lucky...


And when I feel this good, I LOOK this good, too...absolutely no one would ever know what lies deep inside my noggin when I am in the remitting phase of my MS...sometimes I even forget for periods of time that I have a chronic, progressive neurological disease. It's NOT denial...it is just the absence of relapsing symptoms. Without those acute reminders thrown up in front of my face, it's relatively EASY to forget...until the symptoms return to remind me.


I imagine these times are sort of like the psychological experience of survivor's guilt. The person who remains alive does not have a WISH to be dead...just like I have NO WISH to experience some of the horrible symptoms many of you are dealing with currently or have dealt with on a daily basis for a long time. It all boils down to my sense of wanting to FIX what you are having to go through...to be able to give each of you a small piece of the *normal* I feel...because YOU deserve to feel this good, too.


There certainly seems to be enough of the "feeling bad" to go around...such is the nature of an unpredictable disease. I just wish there were equal amounts of the "feeling good" to be distributed...evenly and fairly...amongst everyone with MS...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Mentors Who Have Shaped Me...

There was Miss Vienop in 2nd grade...she let me/encouraged me to stay in during recess and draw. She was an artist herself, working primarily in oils. In the 2nd grade, I could copy almost anything in pencil...my mother saved several of my drawings that are far better than the stick figures I can only draw now.

Mrs. Naysmith in the 5th grade allowed me to stay after school and help her in the library. I didn't want to go home..."home" wasn't the nicest place for me. She listened to me and kept my secrets...secrets only an 11 year old would find important...things I did not feel safe to utter out loud to anyone else.


Miss Garrells in the 6th grade read my poetry and short stories and encouraged me to express my emotions through words...she helped me to feel confident and find meaning in the difficult things in life.


Mrs. Schardt in the 8th grade pushed me to work hard in basketball. She taught me the meaning of teamwork and that winning wasn't measured by points on a score board.


Miss McKinsey in High School taught me not to be afraid and to speak out. She encouraged me to use my "powers" for good, instead of "evil" (LOL) and the art of leadership. She taught me the importance of being in the moment...to write about that moment...and sent my writings to papers to be published. She showed me the importance of persistence and also humility.


Connie, my first therapist, held my hand through difficult college years and helped me find my own strength when I thought I had lost it. She helped me to make sense out of senseless things and to use a painful childhood as a means to grow.


Kathy, my nursing school instructor, helped me to see the value of personal discipline and the importance even brief interactions can have on another human being...that compassion IS an art that one must practice repeatedly in order to paint the best landscape on the human canvas.


Carmela bore witness to my grief over the loss of my friend and sister. She wiped my tears and taught me that even in loss, there is growth...that even in sorrow, there is sunshine.


Marg taught me to stand up straight and to carry myself with pride. She told me once to "Take the power. You'd be surprised how much people will give you if you only take it." I have never forgotten those words. The words helped me in difficult management tasks when I felt vulnerable or not qualified in my job.


Jade opened my eyes to the beauty around me in the world...to appreciate the earth and everything on it. She taught me to let go and to live out loud...to sing in the car regardless of my voice...to FIND my own voice...and to touch the fire burning deep inside me.


Kristin showed me the way out from under an oppressive rock that weighted my chest down, making it difficult to breath. She taught me patience with myself, the merriment of laughter, the strength in tears. She continues to guide me and to shape me, with the kind hands of a skilled glass artisan...a glass vessel still in the making.


And today, I had the great fortune of spending some time with a prior boss from my current job...someone I consider a mentor in many ways. Someone who encouraged me by supporting my strengths and helping me to become aware of my weaker spots. Someone who I always felt had my MS back in an employment arena that is not always supportive to those of us with developing disabilities. Someone who truly "accommodated" my physical weaknesses while encouraging me not to lose hope or sight of the bigger picture.


I am still a work in progress...but if it weren't for the experiences that brought "fire" to my life, no matter how painful they may have been, I would not have had the catalyst needed to melt me into the medium my mentors have used to shape me...and they continue to shape me so wonderfully...

Words Laden With Familiar...


Bestest bud, coworker, and poet extraordinaire, Rojoo sent me this poem in the wee hours of the morning. It is titled, "THE RAPTURE", by Cynthia Huntington...tears of understanding still pooling in my eyes...



I remember standing in the kitchen, stirring bones for soup,

and in that moment, I became another person.


It was an early spring evening, the air California mild.

Outside, the eucalyptus was bowing compulsively


over the neighbor's motor home parked in the driveway.

The street was quiet for once, and all the windows were open.


Then my right arm tingled, a flutter started under the skin.

Fire charged down the nerve of my leg; my scalp exploded


in pricks of light. I shuddered and felt like laughing;

it was exhilarating as an earthquake. A city on fire


after an earthquake. Then I trembled and my legs shook,

and every muscle gripped so I fell and lay on my side,


a bolt driven down my skull into my spine. My legs were

swimming against the linoleum, and I looked up at the underside


of the stove, the dirty places where the sponge didn't reach.

Everything collapsed there in one place, one flash of time.


There in my body. In the kitchen at six in the evening, April.

A wooden spoon clutched in my hand, the smell of chicken broth.


And in that moment I knew everything that would come after:

the vision was complete as it seized me. Without diagnosis,


without history, I knew that my life was changed.

I seemed to have become entirely myself in that instant.


Not the tests, examinations in specialists' offices, not

the laboratory procedures: MRI, lumbar puncture, electrodes


pasted to my scalp, the needle scraped along the sole of my foot,

following one finger with the eyes, EEG, CAT scan, myelogram.


Not the falling down or the blindness and tremors, the stumble

and hiss in the blood, not the lying in bed in the afternoons.


Not the phenobarbitol, amitriptylene, prednisone, amantadine, ACTH, cortisone,

cytoxan, copolymer, baclofen, tegretol, but this:


Six o'clock in the evening in April, stirring bones for soup.

An event whose knowledge arriving whole, its meaning taking years


to open, to seem a destiny. It lasted thirty seconds, no more.

Then my muscles unlocked, the surge and shaking left my body


and I lay still beneath the white high ceiling. Then I got up

and stood there, quiet, alone, just beginning to be afraid.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jesus + Camp = Way Too Many Hits On This Blog!...

As all good bloggers do, I keep a statistics program running in the background on CHEESE that lets me know who, what, when, and where someone drives by here to read my profound musings (argh argh). It provides me with general locations of readers (AND your super secret IP addys...whatever good THAT information is), what web pages you've come from to get here, your bra sizes, and...no wait! I'm just kidding about the bra sizes (I heard that loud exhale of air/"whew" sound, Adina!). The program DOES tell me what search words are used also that lead someone to the drivel written on CHEESE.

Every day, I get somewhere between 30-50 "hits"/drive bys/readers coming to BRAINCHEESE because of this post and this one...last summer's rants about the movie, "Jesus Camp". It seems one cannot write both of those words in a sentence without creating controversy! I have gotten a few "choice" emails from obvious CAMPERS chastising me for the above mentioned posts...thank GOD/JESUS they don't post any comments because my policy about moderating comments is very lenient...don't be obnoxious toward anyone ELSE and your comment gets approved. Say what you want about me, my lack of grasp on the English language, or my personal opinions (one might get a comment BACK in the "comment section", but the comment won't be deleted), but trashing anyone else's comments/thoughts/views/opinions is simply not allowed here...I think that's a pretty fair policy.


I'm kind of amazed actually that some of the zealot CAMPERS who do take the time to send me an email praying for my soul's redemption, etc., DON'T leave a comment...but I imagine they believe I WILL just delete their comment, so why bother? Either that, or they are afraid ANOTHER regular CHEESE reader with MS who believes in stem cell research or is not of the Christian faith might respond...that would scare the "bejesus" out of ME! Some of you MS commentors DO have command of the English language (unlike me) and are extremely knowledgeable and intelligent (sigh...again, unlike me) as well as sharp witted (I try). LOL


We live in America..."allegedly" one of the most free countries in the world where freedom of speech is protected (as long as we don't say anything that rubs the current Administration the wrong way!). We can pretty much say what we want, when we want, and how we want. That darned Constitution just keeps coming back to bite us in the a$$ about this issue. :) And I will continue to exercise my Constitutional privilege to say what I want, and when/how I want to say it here on CHEESE...just as I will allow YOU, the obviously bored reader with nothing better to do than travel down the path of my blathering and distorted writing (because we ALL know if it weren't for Spell Check, NONE of this would be readable!).


In the infamous words of my deceased best buddy, Rodney (who died of AIDS because, yes...he was...GAY! Shhhh...), "The world is a big place. If you don't like me, take two steps back." Or, in the case of the Internet or TV, TURN THE CHANNEL!!! Because this is what you're always gonna find broadcast here...my opinion of the world/life/MS as seen through my eyes...and YOUR eyes, if you choose to comment...


Hmmm...I wonder how many "hits" and emails I will get if I just type the words, "JESUS CAMP" over and over? Jesus Camp, Jesus Camp, Jesus Camp, Jesus Camp, Jesus Camp, Jesus Camp...LOL...

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Curse Of Snow...

Well, not only did my Seahawks football team suffer an embarrassing loss to Greenbay in *it*, but *it* has once again fallen from the sky here in my Emerald City...the *it* being SNOW! Stoke the fire and break out the hot chocolate...at least for a day or two. Seattle has a thin coating of snowy ice blanketing the hilly streets. And just as soon as we are all well into traffic jams and car accidents, the darned stuff will melt away without leaving a trace *it* existed...and we will all wonder what the big deal was as we explain to our auto insurance companies exactly HOW we managed to dent up our vehicles. Or, how the Seahawks managed to LOSE a playoff game in what appeared to be blizzard conditions on Saturday in Greenbay (the Packers just thought it was a "light dusting"...LOL).

Saint EB kindly provided limo service for me after work this evening so we could go spend a few minutes together catching up while eating out...she picked me up promptly at 6:30PM from downtown Seattle. We drove up the hill (everywhere from downtown Seattle is UP hill) to our favorite dive and spent a measly 40 minutes indoors chatting. There was no rain or precipitation falling at all BEFORE we got to the establishment. After about 40 minutes, EB exclaimed, "Look out there! It's snowing!" And by gawd it was...it was not only snowing, but the streets were covered in snow and sleet.


She insisted on driving me home immediately, but after only one block of traffic, we aborted that plan and I opted to walk the 5 or 6 blocks to my bus stop and take my chances Metro (buses) was still running in the sudden weather change. I stood outside in the very cold temperature with sleet and snow pelting my face only to discover Metro WAS running, but the buses were running quite late...this sudden weather pattern was a BLIZZARD by Seattle standards after all.


I did eventually make it home to my purring cat and warm house and continued to watch heavy sleet fall outside my windows. I even attempted to get my trash out to the curb for pick up tomorrow (because we ALL know *it* will most likely be melted off by then and the garbage trucks will not even notice the wet runoff *it* created)...but after slipping and sliding in my cozy house slippers (not the best choice of shoe cover in a snow storm, take my advice on this one) in the drive way, I finally abandoned the idea and returned to the safety of my warm interior dwelling.


After my brief experience in *it* this evening, I forgive you, Seattle Seahawks. I should not have expected you to play well in *it*...even IF you had cleated shoes and I don't...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some Days It Doesn't Pay To Chew Off The Restraints...

I'm tired...vewee, vewee tired. This past week has been excruciatingly difficult for my body and my psyche as I have propelled my way through it...and only one more day shift to go before a few days off. Sometimes I wonder WHY I push myself so hard?...is there any purpose? Will someone somewhere be positively affected by something I say or do in my work? The sum total of my life/career MUST be more than the numbers on a paycheck...

Anne commented on the previous post, remarking "how" I am able to still go to work with MS. That comment got me thinking (which is always dangerous and often with poor result!)...but frankly, it's not a comment I haven't wondered about privately many times in the past five years without prompting.


I used to say I "don't have a choice" but to continue my employment, meaning I was my own, sole provider and SOMEONE should feel sorry for me...it's a fabulous martyr line and works wonders to steal the attention in a crowd of 12-step co-dependents, but it's not accurate. :) The fact of the matter is, we ALL have choices...and there's no reason for me to feel "bitter" or martyr-like because I CHOOSE to continue to work when I don't always FEEL like it. And I'm certainly NOT implying here that anyone with MS makes a CHOICE to stop working when they still "could" be gainfully employed if they only pushed themselves harder...that's crazy thinking, too. No one chooses their symptoms or disability that can come with Multiple Sclerosis and no one really CAN push themselves to do something their body simply is no longer able to do...it's not rocket science, but simple mechanics...if the body breaks down, it just doesn't WORK right anymore.


Right now, my body ISN'T "broken down" to the extent I am no longer able to successfully function in my line of work...hopefully my MIND also is functioning at proper capacity, too. LOL And you will never hear me bitch about the TYPE of work I do...oh sure, you definitely WILL read/hear me bitch about the hours, the meetings, the pay, and the politics/management of my job...that is the American way (and I AM a member of a Union, for gawd's sake!)...but you won't hear me complaining about the work itself. I enjoy my work...in fact, I truly LOVE my career.


Every day, I am challenged by the people I interact with in my job...whether it is the consumers I evaluate, other professionals, family members, or my own coworkers. The beauty of "crisis work" lends itself to constantly challenging my mind to problem-solve what sometimes seems an insurmountable issue...I am asked to not only problem-solve/make legal decisions, but to comfort, to empathize, to teach, to set limits, to process and think, to publicly speak, to be confident, to impart calm, to manage, to laugh, and to be present in the moment. I am asked to be the best "human" I can be, which is definitely a challenge sometimes when it might feel easier to be cold/uncaring or even inhumane...when extending myself feels too vulnerable, yet the "human" thing to do.


Every day (and I mean every day), I am reminded of Multiple Sclerosis, whether it knocks on my door via stiff/spastic calves that insist I stretch them out before trying to walk from my bed (lest I "swan dive" into the wall...been there, done that!) or constant, nagging pain in my left arm/shoulder. And, but for the grace of God go I, I still CAN walk from my bed and my pain level doesn't distract me to the point of removing my concentration...I am very fortunate and lucky in MS so far. The disease has not demanded I cease participating in a career that I love...I am very fortunate indeed.


So, when I am BITCHING here about Dawn's crack or demanding meetings or working too many days in a row, please know that underneath my crude manner is a person with MS who is thankful every day that the disease has not taken away something I hold near and dear to my heart...I'm talking about the work I do with others...the "others" who's disease of mental illness IS robbing them of their rightful good fortune.


And this is why and how I go to work each day...with MS...