Friday, February 29, 2008

Fridays With God...Totally Unrelated To "Tuesdays With Morrie"...

I was lying around this past Friday morning with a growing concern for my increasingly difficult means of ambulating…I had to urinate, after all…and the bathroom seemed like a speck in the distance to my numb left leg and my painful right one. My legs have been screaming, “Mutiny!” for the past several days, making the most mundane and mindless tasks a more difficult lesson than trigonometry…which, by the way, I was too frightened to attempt in high school or college…math.

I stayed in bed contemplating the consequences of simply urinating in my sheets…I live alone…who would know besides me? And I’m sure I could overlook this most bizarre of failures…eventually…but probably not until the urine had dried a nice yellow-brown stain into my mattress. Until the final, dried, ink blot occurred in the cotton batting, I would be forced to lie in cold, wet, smelly sheets if I chose this route of relief. Like trigonometry, this course of action was not in my future best interest.

And still, I remained a fixture in my bed…with a bladder swelling like a red water balloon in the hot little hands of a 10 year old in July...trying to find a fitting target to "burst" upon. Not wanting to make any choices about my future relief, I decided I needed to distract myself from the growing pressure in my abdomen...so I began a series of mindless thinking…or as some might refer to it, “day dreaming”.

It’s quite odd where my mind wanders off to when I am in discomfort and trying to avoid unpleasantries. I say “odd” because I have heard of few people day dreaming about what their conversation would be with their God/Maker/Creator/Master if they were to die in the moment…from a ruptured bladder...but still, my mind went there. And the conversation went something like this:

**The scene is set in what appears to be a bright, sunny day. Yet there are no people or things or activities, and I appear to be floating on some type of misty cloud, sitting behind a large desk, waiting for a bright door to open. I feel warm all over (and I had to wonder if maybe I DID urinate on myself at this point) and content. Suddenly a Voice booms out to me from behind the door as a very white piece of paper appears on the desk in front of me. There are only two questions written on the paper in the most exquisite handwriting I have ever seen. The Voice calls out:**

“There will be an oral exam. Answer the questions on the paper.”

**I review the questions on the paper, which are quite short, and I feel a confidence in my responses.**

“Hmmm…the first question says, 1) How much did you love?, and the second question says, 2) How much did you learn? Is this really all there is? Are these the only questions I must answer to gain entrance into the Afterlife?”

**Again the deep, yet crystal clear Voice says**:

“There will be an oral exam. Answer the questions on the paper.”

**I take a deep breath, confident I can nail this one. Two questions. Has my life really boiled down to two questions?**

“Well, the first question is quite easy and I’m surprised YOU don’t already know the answer to that one, O’ Great One. How much did I love? Well, let’s see…

**And I begin to ramble**

“I was born with two parents who, although not the most warm and fuzzy people in the world, loved me and I guess I loved them. Then there were my two sisters…I fought a lot with my middle sister…loved my eldest sister…and I guess I can say I tolerate/like my middle sister now. There was also a whole host of extended family…most are dead now…but I guess you already know that, too. Then there have been my friends. I love my friends…they are like the family I had to grow to love only better. And I work with people…mentally ill people…and I guess I can say I love them, too. You KNOW I try to always do good works with them, don’t you? Oh, and I have my cat…I pretty much love her also. I’m rambling now, aren’t I?”

**The Voice patiently repeats itself**

“There will be an oral exam. Answer the questions on the paper.”

**I’m starting to feel a twinge of nervousness now. I thought I HAD just answered question number one…but it was apparent the Voice wanted something more**

“Oh, OK…so you’re not just asking about people, huh? How much have I loved? Well, I think I’ve loved pretty big, you know? I mean, there have certainly been people I haven’t liked and circumstances I have disliked, but overall, I think I’ve loved pretty big. Oh, then there is this shitty disease you gave me…can I say, “shitty” here? Hmmm…I guess I can if you want an honest answer. I certainly have not “loved” Multiple Sclerosis. As a matter of fact, I’d have to say I haven’t really embraced the concept of “loving” this disease at all. And I’m kind of curious…WHY did you give me MS anyway?"

**There is only silence. I realize suddenly this might not be the best time to question my Maker about Their motives. I imagine a bolt of lightening streaking down out of this bright sky and striking me dead. Then it dawns on me I am probably ALREADY DEAD if I am talking to my Maker, so I ramble on**

“OK, scratch that question. I get it. I’m just supposed to ANSWER the questions, right? So that’s my final answer, Alex…I think I’ve loved big, minus a few people, situations, and diseases.”

**There is only silence, so I nervously move on. I decide to try the comedic approach. Surely God has a sense of humor?**

“Question number two. How much did I learn? (I laugh a giddy laugh here) Well, you’ve certainly given me ample life lessons to learn SOMETHING, haven’t you? Oh, that’s right…you’re not answering the questions…I am. OK, for starters. I learned NEVER to try to remove the mixer on a shower in a condo building that has only ONE water shut off to the entire building…you remember THAT debacle, don’t you? The one where, I’ll just say “You”, nearly killed me by blowing that mixer into my chest with a blast of water with the pressure of Niagara Falls? I remember it…and I learned from it. Like I tried to do from ALL of the life lessons you sent me. And I learned a whole lot of other things, too, but I’m assuming you don’t necessarily want me to detail them here because you already KNOW them, right? I mean, the list is quite niggly and long. I hope I'm not boring you...God. Am I supposed to refer to you as "God" or do you prefer something else like, 'O' Great One', or 'Puff Daddy', or 'Grand Mistress' something? Is there going to be a question and answer time for ME to ask YOU questions when we're through here? Cause I certainly have a LOT of them...questions, that is?"

**A silence as thick as Antarctic ice settles into the scene. I wait…scared to life because I'm already probably dead. I wait. I think to myself I’ve probably said too much already. And then, the Voice speaks again. I don't hear any annoyance in the tone, but I'm pretty sure just like a failed job interview, I'm not going to BE "hired"**

“My Child. When you have learned that love is all there is, come back to me. Until you have learned this, I will continue to provide you ample opportunities to enlighten you…and then, some day in eternity, you will be able to answer both questions with one response.”


And this, my friends, is when I finally got up, dragged myself to my bathroom on a pair of unforgiving MS legs, and urinated. The “pressure” had become too great…in more ways than one…

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Precarious Balance...

No change in my current symptoms prompted me to email Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named today in the most pleading of ways...it is a rare thing for me to stoop to BEGGING for pharmacological intervention...I'm sure this was a consideration in our subsequent communications. The decision was made to hit me with another blast of Solumedrol (if I had a dime for every bag of THIS juice that has been run into my arm I'd be...) for 5 days...and, for once, I'm in full compliance and agreement with the plan.

It is a precarious balancing act when trying to make medications decisions regarding Multiple Sclerosis. There are the initial "to treat or not to treat" questions that most MSers face when first diagnosed. Should I take an ABC injectable drug? Tysabri? Become a drug study participant? What is the "right" choice for me in my current circumstances? Will any drug be effective in slowing down the progression of my disease? Will I be able to tolerate the side effects? The answers to those questions fall somewhere on a broad spectrum for most of us and seem to hold no "right or wrong" in the decision...it becomes a choice of WHAT YOU CAN LIVE WITH versus what you can live without at times.


Then there is the decision whether or not to take something ongoing for chronic SYMPTOMS. Should I try the Baclofen/Zanflex/Flexaril for my spasticity? Will the Lyrica/Topamax/Neurontin help with my neurological pain? What are the side effects of Provigil/Amantidine/Ritalin and will those side effects outweigh the benefit for my fatigue? The list of medications and choices goes on and on...and we choose them based on consultation with our specialists, our past experiences, and a tiny bit of luck thrown in.


And then, there is also that decision whether or not to treat an MS flare/relapse...something we ALL know from experience will not kill us and will most likely resolve itself, with or without treatment. To take the steroids or not? This is the question that has been currently front and center in my own experience.


I have decided to "take the treatment" for this most recent car accident/virus/MS flare and I will tell you why. Some will not support my decision or my rationale for it while others may wonder why I have not made this decision EARLIER in the relapse. It WAS offered to me initially (before the virus became front and center and medically speaking, too potentially dangerous for me to be infused with Solumedrol)...all I can tell you is, today's set of circumstances--waking up to a continued inability to walk without assistance and pain, as well as having to miss yet another day of work--was the final straw on my decision back.


I weigh out many factors when trying to decide WHAT to treat WHEN during the course of my MS and/or relapses. More often than not, my decisions get based upon what I CAN'T live with rather than what I can. If my pain is so great it is affecting every aspect of my life, I request treatment. If my ambulation makes it nearly impossible to take care of my own activities of daily living like toileting, I request treatment. If my vertigo becomes so severe and disabling I begin to focus on having NO future, I request treatment...and so on.


I weigh out carefully the CONSEQUENCES of any treatment as well. If the insomnia/ravenous appetite/jitters of steroids is more overwhelming than the pain or MS symptoms, I refuse treatment. If the nausea/vomiting/fatigue of Interferons leaves me incapacitated more days a year total than ANY RELAPSE, I refuse treatment. If the long term side effects of any medication pose more risk than I might be willing to live with SHOULD I develop them, I refuse treatment.


Currently, I have been missing several days of work because of my viral infection that has now culminated into an MS relapse. I initially and instinctively knew I needed large amounts of rest, which I have provided for myself...not only to kick the virus out of my life, but to also restabilize my MS. I don't LIKE sitting at home with nothing to do but rest, and still I have done just that...because the potential CONSEQUENCE of NOT resting seemed far greater than a few days at home. That decision was almost a week ago, and I am STILL no better than I was on the weekend after my fever subsided.


I am a single, white female (bet you didn't know THAT, huh?!?) who's primary support is myself. There is no income flooding into my home from outside sources other than what I bring home to the table. There is no one standing by to wait on me, fetch for me, carry me to the toilet (and this is also a CHOICE I have made for my life a few years back...not crying in my booze here...I decided this was a better life for me!), or fix my meals. And, when "well", this is a wonderful arrangement...LOL I make my own money, I spend my own money...on ME...and of course, my cat (who is as useless as tits on a bull when it comes to caretaking me).


I have to always be mindful of just what impact my MS/illnesses/relapses are having on my employment situation and just what I can AFFORD (consequences again) to take for granted and what I cannot...second guessing what my BOSSES can afford to take for granted as my employer and what they cannot also weighs heavily on my mind. And believe me, I have a WONDERFUL employer who has always been very supportive of my absences...there are unfortunately, LIMITS to that support...both physically and financially, which is no fault of theirs or mine.


I am a single, white, female who is generally highly energetic (bet you didn't know THAT about me either. LOL) and requires a certain amount of intellectual stimulus to remain sane. Most of the time, that stimulus comes from my friends and my job. When I am in the throws of my MS/illnesses/relapses, I find myself dipped in discouragement that I might ever get better...doing the "just accept it" dance of complacency...this wreaks havoc on my mental stability and I begin to close off others from my world in an effort to "hide out". And, the more I hide out, the more discouraged I become...a vicious cycle of self-defeating emotional turmoil.


For all of these above reasons, I am choosing to TREAT my relapse at this time. It is not just one of the above reasons, but a combination of them all that has prompted me to request and comply with Solumedrol. And I share all of these reasons with you for a "reason", too. It is my hope in sharing the multitude of issues in my personal balancing act, that there will be something in my situation that might resonate in YOU as you decide what course of action(s) to take in your MS. "We" have MS, but "we" are all so very different in how we deal with, understand, react, work with the disease and there is no ONE right or wrong answer...the key is to find YOUR balance...and stay on the rope...


What considerations do YOU weigh in when making treatment choices for your situation and MS? Care to share some insights?...hint, hint...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So Little To Say, It's Painfully Pathetic...

Not much to write about here in Gimpville...still home from work dealing with the aftermath of one hella hard hitting virus, which has turned into an MS opportunistic event. My days have been filled with reading some blogs/Internet follies, watching Judge Judy, doodling on drawing paper, and dragging myself around on a cane that I wish were a crutch. Oh, and "grief eating"...which is a nice way of saying I'm feeling sorry for myself so why not eat? LOL

My left leg remains numb (or feeling like it's asleep with that pins and needles affect) and uncooperative while my right leg has a nice nervish pain running from my hind end down to my knee...makes walking quite a sight really. My balance is consequently somewhat of a joke...I have been kissing my hallway walls one too many times as I fall into them. Thank Gawd for sturdy plaster drywall I guess. And now this evening, I'm noticing some tightness balling up in my left shoulder and neck...this could simply be due to the fact I am LEANING on my left arm too much with my cane...or (and probably my luck), this could be my left arm feeling "left" (argh, argh) out and trying to horn in on the action! What fascinates me the most about the sensation (because there is little else to occupy my time/thinking) is the "creepy/crawly" feeling in my left shoulder, as if worms are weaving around on my skin...most bizarre, unless one is a cocaine addict I suppose (cocaine bugs? You've heard of cocaine bugs, haven't you? I digress back to work-related issues...).


One of my dear heart friends stopped by today with a few bags of groceries, which was very welcomed...I was getting down to my last box of rice and final can of beans. The ice cubes in my freezer were beginning to look like something gourmet. Then, Saint EB swung by the hut this evening, bringing me a dose of my favorite salad from the pizza joint...I'm sure I underwhelmed her with conversation. She's been my only real visitor in a week. And, after Saint EB left, another sweet friend from work called me and let me ramble incessantly about my health (or lack of it) for 20 minutes...I'm quite certain I sounded painfully pathetic.


Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named has exchanged a few "choice" emails with me...no steroids because of the virus and next to nil functioning immune system. Steroids might serve to only MASK infectious symptoms (should they develop) at this point. She keeps asking me if there is "anything I can do?" I've thought of SEVERAL things she could do, but most of them are illegal or clearly out of the scope of her practice...like cleaning my house. LOL


I have heard nothing from the insurance company or auto repair shop that is allegedly fixing my car. I DID receive word (this weekend, I think?) that they were NOT totaling my dear buggy and I imagine no news is good news at this point. I have a perfectly good rental car sitting in my driveway racking up expense and dirt...I've been too ill to motor anywhere as I think it might be a bit dangerous to operate the accelerator with the TIP OF A CANE!


I can't WAIT to go to bed and wake up tomorrow morning to do this all over again...sigh...I'd clap my hands together like an excited kid on Christmas morning, but I'm afraid the activity will only aggravate my shoulder more...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sometimes You're The Windshield, Sometimes You're The Bug...

There's an old (and disgusting) joke that goes something like this:


Q: What is the last thing that passes through a bug's mind right as it hits your windshield?

A: Its A-hole

Which are YOU today? The windshield or the bug?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Depression Deleted...

I stumbled into my computer screen today to write a post about “being” depressed. I wrote the entire post…then, I erased it. It was filled with images and words about “feeling” sadness, anger, and fear, not “being” depressed…as I reread my own words, a light went on inside my insular tunnel and I decided what I was TRYING to say wasn’t really what I meant. So this post was written instead…

In my early twenties (and frankly, well into my early thirties), I withstood several bouts of serious depressive episodes. These episodes would wash over me without warning or cause, yet I always seemed to search tirelessly for their meaning and the catalyst that created them. I spent thousands of dollars on therapies, medications, trips of avoidance, and STILL the depressive episodes would suffocate me…like a giant wave or a tight noose around my neck…making the simple act of breathing in life a struggle.

I “know” depression well because I have BEEN it…felt it, touched it, tasted it, and breathed it…I “know” depression well because I have lived it… I “know” depression well because I have and continue to work with it daily in my chosen profession and have born witness to it, watching its profound affect in the many faces and lives depression touches. I recognize depression when it shows itself and, because of this familiarity, I can work with it in others, holding their space within my hands, in hopes of molding depression into something less frightening for them.

In my twenties, I wrote poems about my depressive episodes in an attempt to find meaning amidst the words. Poems such as the following flowed out of me like violent rivers jumping their banks:

THE END

Looking out
And hating in.
Worthless feelings
Dance inside.
Stirring the dust
That’s in my mind.

Spinning downward
Inside myself.
Empty fear to
Taunt my soul.
Giving in
And letting go.

Feeling dead
Yet breathing air.
Violent cries
To end the pain.
No way out
Alone again.

I think I’ll self-destruct.


Depression seems to carry a language of its own, often requiring translation for those less familiar. And, but for the grace of God go they, those who have never endured depression whispering in their ears, struggle to make sense of the words. To someone who has never experienced true, clinical depression, the language can feel quite foreign and be entirely misunderstood. The language of depression can also become “inviting” to use without understood definitions…much like throwing out catch phrases picked up in High School French class or street slang heard in movies. We unfortunately think we are “relating” by using the language in “catch phrases”, when in fact we are simply confusing the translation or carelessly misusing the impact…further alienating the person who is in the depressive episode.

I say all of this to explain the light that went on inside my head today and WHY I deleted my previously written post about “being” depressed…because I am NOT depressed…because I was carelessly using the word “depressed” as a catch phrase to describe the sensation of feeling out of control of my life in the moment. Which, if I exam my current situation closely, IS ONLY A MOMENT…not forever, and not feeling forever…simply a moment of discomfort in time.

When one truly feels depression, there are no moments…only lifetimes. And those lifetimes of feeling become longer than any hours of a day, week, or year one could imagine enduring. There are no “segments” of feeling joy…there is no vision of a future without depression…there is no hope OF a future. Most often, there is no “hope” at all and many times any identifiable feelings such as sadness, anger, or hurt, have been drained of any recognizable substance…one who feels true depression sometimes cannot identify their feelings because those feelings simply no longer exist…they have been sucked into the void of darkness.

I am sad, frightened, and angry about my current moment in life…it saddens me that I cannot jump up off my couch and participate in my usual life at the moment. It frightens me to feel this vulnerable in my MS and not be able to predict my future. And it angers me that I have to experience this “moment” in my life at all…thanks to life’s curve ball circumstances of a car accident/serious virus/MS onset symptoms. But I AM experiencing these feelings and so very thankful to have them and be able to identify them…I am grateful my life DOES contain joy, peace, and comfort, and that it is not cloaked in the darkness of depression.

Don’t get me wrong here…I am NOT whistling “Zippity Doo Dah” out my ass, but I also am NOT depressed. And I do not want to negate or degrade another’s experience of depression by using the word as a “catch phrase” for expressing my feelings. I can translate the language, but I am NOT speaking it now…

Now, as a disclaimer (because I cannot and do not offer medical advice here, even though I pride myself in playing a doctor on the Internet!), I must say…if you are finding yourself caught submerged under the wave or in the noose of depression, tell someone…anyone…even if they cannot fully understand the language you are using. The person you disclose this to will hopefully find a translator for you that CAN understand what you are saying. And if depression is griping you so strongly that you are feeling no way out of its grasp other than suicide, give yourself a moment to BREATHE…and then another moment…and another.

What I sometimes tell people is this: If you are depressed and suicidal and have NOT tried every available intervention to alter your circumstances, you owe it to yourself to do so. Most of us would try every intervention known to medicine to cure our cancer/MS/diabetes/heart disease/etc., before giving up and laying down to die…depression should be no different. It would be a great loss to kill yourself BEFORE realizing the intervention you needed was right around the corner. And if you have already decided suicide is your only answer, then there IS NO RUSH TO ACT UPON THE DECISION. Give yourself a month, three months, or six months to TRY another intervention(s) until you have truly exhausted all probable assistance. Again, if you have already come to the suicide conclusion, you can always hold this decision in your cards for later use, but you do NOT HAVE TO PLAY YOUR HAND IMPULSIVELY NOW. Be wise about any permanent solutions.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Surrender...

I'm sending up the white flag today...I surrender. I quit. I want to hit the "escape" key on my keyboard and hope it shuts down this particular "screen" of my life and I reboot...

Fever is gone I think for good now...seven days of it was certainly long enough. I STILL have the respiratory cough/shortness of breath/fatigue/congestion/lack of appetite unfortunately. Yesterday, I also woke up with a difficult weakness in my left leg...I tried to be thankful the moderate pain seemed to be subsiding in my back and leg and "hope" (hate that word) I was turning a corner on these issues that have kept me home bound for a week (except for jaunts to and fro to doctors and an ER). I tried to enjoy my tiny fox hole of perceived recovery...I had a bit more energy...I posted some "blog boredom" things. I crossed my fingers, threw salt over my shoulder, rubbed Buddha's stomach, kissed the Blarney Stone, and gave POSITIVE THINKING a fair chance.


TODAY, I cannot feel my left leg at all, which certainly makes something as simple as WALKING extremely difficult...and all "positive thought" has evaporated into thin air as I prepare for what has the appearance of the onset of yet ANOTHER relapse. Screw POSITIVE THINKING...it's highly overrated anyway. I'm sending up the white flag instead.


I am not superhuman, contrary to my OWN belief. I have withstood a fairly serious auto accident and the subsequent "fall out"/stress from this event, which culminated into a serious respiratory virus. And now YOU, Multiple Sclerosis...it's so like you to go for the "kill"...to take advantage when the strategy is in YOUR favor...to take hostages AFTER a cease fire has already been declared. YOU follow no treaties, no agreements, no plans, no common alliances of war. YOU are a terrorist, pure and simple...a greedy, destructive terrorist.


Well, go ahead MS because I QUIT...I SURRENDER...I'M WAVING THE WHITE FLAG. Do what you will because I don't care. I am indifferent...resigned. You no longer hold your strongest power over me...FEAR. At least not for today.


Take your best shot...

Annuale...I'm STILL Gasping For Air From Laughter...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why Is That Monkey Waving At Me?...

There must still be an element of delirium gripping me tightly, even though my fever is subsiding (finally). Either that, or I have been falling asleep WAY too much on the sofa with the TV talking to me this week! I "thought" I was awake earlier today, when suddenly I realized a monkey was waving at me through a window...scared the jungle crap right outta me!!!It took me a few minutes to realize my head was plastered to my pillow and the waving monkey was actually coming from a Saturday kid's show called, "Animal Planet" (I think)...

I either need to return these new bifocals or return my BRAIN and I think the brain swap is the better deal at the moment...

Reservation For One, Please...

Forbes magazine ran an article some time ago, listing the most expensive hotel rooms in the world. Numero Uno on that list was The Penthouse Suite at Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France, which has a nightly rate of $37,200.00. For just a bit over 37 Grand, you can get FOUR BEDROOMS, a PRIVATE TERRACE with a JACUZZI, and SWEEPING VIEWS of the MEDITERRANEAN...and of course, knowing you are SLEEPING IN ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE HOTEL ROOMS NOT JUST IN FRANCE, BUT IN THE WORLD.

In 2006, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality put out Statistical Brief #111 , highlighting the AVERAGE cost of an emergency room visit based on statistical data collected in 2003...data that is now five years old. In this brief, it was estimated the "average or mean" cost of an ER visit (with many variances based on region, age, and whether surgical intervention was provided) was approximately $560.00, falling between a range of as little as $42.00 to as high as $1,246.00. I can only speculate with inflation and the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in America, this AVERAGE cost must be well into the $1,000.00 mark...and that's using the word "average" quite loosely.


In Seattle currently, for just one dollar shy of $1,130.00, I can stay one night at the famous FAIRMONT HOTEL (it's the grand hotel downtown where all the "stars" stay) under their "AN ENGAGEMENT TO REMEMBER PACKAGE"...this package includes:


Deluxe accommodations
Complimentary valet parking
Horse-drawn carriage ride to and from the Space Needle
Northwest picnic basket with Champagne and cozy blanket
Two tickets to the Space Needle's observation deck
Dinner for two in The Georgian
Sleepless in Seattle DVD
Breakfast in bed for two the following morning with mimosas

**It does NOT appear the FAIRMONT provides the potential MATE, however...I think the hotel expects you to bring that person along with you**


My point is (and I DO have one), my insurance company will peel off somewhere between $1,000.00 - $5,000.00 from their tightly wound wad of dough for my recent EMERGENCY ROOM EXTRAVAGANZA...an "event" where I spent no less than 5 hours unattended in a hallway (eventually in a dirty room for the catheterizations...at least they didn't HOSE me in the hallway!). I had my vital signs taken once, blood drawn and sent to the lab, an IV started in my wrist by a nurse (and in my WRIST I might add, because I was TOO DEHYDRATED for her to find a vein in my forearm!), 2 chest X-ray pictures of my lungs, unnecessary STRAIGHT CATHING 3 times, 1/1 liter bag of lactated ringers (sugar water), potassium followed by oral potassium pill, an Albuterol inhaler, eventual urine sample DIP STICK (no lab involved in this simple procedure to see if I had a urinary tract infection, which I probably DO have now because of the excessive straight cathing), and a 60 second "gun and run" at the doorway by an ER physician to tell me I had a probable Adenovirus (and I am NOT exaggerating the 60 total seconds).


Unlike the FAIRMONT's comparable deal for THEIR cost of a room and guaranteed "romantic night", I didn't get a carriage ride, a DVD of "Sleepless In Seattle", OR engaged for the cost of this ER visit...but I'm pretty sure I got SCREWED in the end just the same...


I'm just sayin'...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Adenovirus Is A Great Weight Loss Plan...If You Don't Mind Feeling Like Dying...

Remember this post ? Back in November last year, I wrote something called, "The Plague Unplugged"??? It highlighted the CDC's more recent viral investigations of a specific virus called the Adenovirus14. There are several Adenoviruses...some worse than others. In the aforementioned post (and most likely psychically connected, although I did NOT know that at the time!), I hopped up on my rickety soapbox professing my miraculous AVOIDANCE of most diseases/flu/viruses through the vigilance of proper handwashing and my favorite alcoholic skin beverage, Purell.

Scratch that post from your memory.


I've been diagnosed via Emergency Room with "an" Adenovirus..."they" think. "They" know what I have been suffering through the past week is NOT bacterial, so it MUST be viral. "They" think it may have an unpredictable course of recovery..."they" won't speculate. But, as usual, if I am not better in a week, please come back to the ER for another $5,000 dose of lactated ringers (IV fluids) and more potassium...it's never good to become as dehydrated as I was yesterday...causes stupor and delirium.


I've been running a constant fever between 100-102 since Sunday night...have a cough and shortness of breath that makes walking from my couch to the bathroom an "event"...no appetite and have now lost another 7 pounds (there's got to be an easier weight loss plan, eh?)...weakness ALL over my body with an activation of old MS symptoms in my back and legs...head congestion WITH a gushing nose, which makes the flow of the Amazon River seem like a trickle in volume comparison...oh, and confusion/disorientation/delirium which seems to have gotten corrected via potassium and rehydration...at least I THINK it has?!? If you're confused, does one really KNOW they are in the moment?!? Isn't that how confusion works? I digress...


Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named emailed me today glad to hear I was still alive (I assume Dr. I'm A Crotchety Nasty Fart in the ER may have contacted her upon my arrival)...she "threatened" me with sending out a search and rescue mission since my primary care ARNP is on vacation. I take her threats seriously...she follows through on them. I am remaining home bound for the time being...like I could honestly GET anywhere else at the moment? If it weren't for my dear friend, Merrinuts, who has worked covert "rescue" for me before (by busting me out of a hospital back in 2005!), I would not in all likelihood have MADE it to the ER yesterday.


When I am feeling up to sitting at this computer for longer than 10 minutes, I will most definitely post my ER horror story. If this is any indication of how my "visit" went, I got straight cathed no less than 3 times before "they" were convinced I was fully "French" (Pierre...you know, "peeing air"?) and not simply withholding a urine specimen for FOUR EFFING HOURS! It was only then Dr. I'm A Crochety Nasty Fart fully understood I really WASN'T lying about my inability to urinate ALL AFTERNOON...proof was in the pee...or lack of it. I also spent what I believe may have been the good part of an hour staring at an "ink blot" test on a window frame in my ER room, trying to decide if I was looking at blood or feces smeared...the things I do to entertain myself. If I wasn't already ill going IN to the ER, I am now most likely SICK coming out. Oh, and this was NOT my usual ER stomp at Club Med, where the floors are shiny clean and nurses actually check on you every so often. THIS ER was simply closer and I doubt I'll be going back to it any time soon...


Must go lay down again and let the Adenovirus percolate some more in my lungs...it seems to like me better when I am more relaxed...and defenseless...

Monday, February 18, 2008

FEVER...

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Peggy Lee isn't the only one with "fever"...I imagine my recent auto accident and combined stress has tipped the health scale in a negative direction. I'm running a nice above 100.2 -101* fever as of last night and today (had a brief reprieve from it early morning, but it snuck back in by late morning). Left side of my face has gone numb, left leg is having sharp, shooting pains bursting down the front, torso is tight like a girdle, and I have a growing headache.

I'd utter out loud, "Somebody just shoot me", but I'm afraid "someone" might and it would be too late to change my mind. :-) For now, I'll just yell out, "FEVER!"...Peggy Lee style...

Friday, February 15, 2008

C.T.D...

C.T.D...Circling The Drain. It's very callous nursing humor/dark sarcasm for when someone is about to die. Used to actually CHART this abbreviation in reports when I was in nursing school in the Stone Age. Goes right along with F.L.K...Funny Looking Kid. That abbreviation ALSO got removed from child birth medical records sometime in the late 70's I'm told (but you might want to check your birth records just in case! I did...LOL).

I "feel" as if I am C.T.D.-ing right now, but not in the literal sense. Or maybe it is the sensation my HEAD MAY EXPLODE trying to keep track of my life in the moment? Or it could be I am clinging to the furniture, trying not to get SUCKED UP by my life right now? Because it IS kind of doing that for the time being...sucking. LOL

Yeah, yeah...pity party. Whatever. Call it what you want...I've penciled myself in on my calendar to "experience the funk" of my current life situation(s) until Monday morning. And then, after Monday, I have no more time for this "mood" I am in...no more energy to be wasted on anxiety/fear/sadness...it's back to being my typical caliber of BITCHY without the addition of this "mood".

I'm sure it has not helped that I was in a fairly major car accident on Wednesday...my body IS NOT adjusting well to its newfound muscle aches and joint pain. It appears I may have actually gripped my steering wheel so hard in anticipation of the crash, that I have nicely JAMMED my left thumb! But even this too, shall pass...and I DO appreciate all y'all's comments in the previous post. It's very kind of each of you to hold my place while I lick my wounds. Oh, and seriously...to any of you driving an SUV? No insult intended to YOU because I KNOW you are reasonable and safe drivers! It just scared the bejesus out of me to see this monster Lincoln Navigator come up over my hood...I am now frightened of ALL big wheels...just like I am of BIG DOGS since being mauled as a kid. Nothing personal. :-)

I am still without wheels (although I'm not so sure I really WANT to be out driving right now anyway), but hopefully this will be resolved tomorrow. Anne asked in the previous post comments if I have insurance for a rental? The answer is, "Yes. I am more insured than God". LOL It has just been a difficult battle of sorting out WHO'S insurance will be paying for what as I did not WANT the other party's carrier to do what I have heard they typically do...CHEAP REPAIR AUTHORIZATION. I wanted MY carrier to authorize the claim/repairs (if my "Luna" is not totaled...still waiting to hear the final report) for certified Honda parts only, and then have MY carrier go after the other carrier for reimbursement. It seems we have now reached a "deal" on this, which STILL may be all for naught if my poor car is put to sleep and buried...sigh...

Yesterday I lost my house keys on the Metro bus while trying to get from my house to my neurologist's office (you can BET I cussed and stomped about THIS event for several hours...and cursed the SUV driver that caused me to have to TAKE said bus in the first place!). Then after arriving, I waited for over an hour to see Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named because of some clinic SNAFU. She sent her unsuspecting resident in first to interview me...poor child. I simply wasn't in the "mood".

After a few short, questions followed by my curt answers, Baby Doctor/Resident said, "You seem a little down. Are you doing OK?" (**Listen for the door opening widely for sarcasm here**) To which I replied, "Well, let's see. I had a fairly major car accident yesterday that may have totaled my car and I am in more pain than usual today because of probable whiplash and a jammed thumb. I've been on the phone for the past 3 hours with butthead insurance agents and, while on the bus trying to answer yet another call from butthead insurance agent #1, I somehow managed to lose my keys to my house out of my pocket and now I'm not quite sure HOW I will get back into my house before I have to go to work for 10 hours this afternoon. Other than that, I'm pretty much having a typical day." (**And, I gingerly shut the sarcasm door**) Baby Doctor went and got Dr. SWWNBN. LOL

I wasn't even in the "mood" to banter "regular style" with Dr. SWWNBN. We had some serious things to discuss...like my labs, my whiplash, my Novantrone...my stopping Novantrone to "rechallenge" Tysabri.

Yes, you read that correctly. "We" have decided to stop my Novantrone (to "save" about a year's worth for the future, since there is a lifetime maximum on the amount one can receive...in case I NEED it more later) and "challenge" the Tysabri again. You might remember (although I don't understand WHY you would?!?) I had to stop the Tysabri last fall in 2006 because I had an "anaphylactoid reaction", AKA, broke out in a rash during infusion. I was put on Novantrone following this event because my MS continued to progress. In December, I had labs drawn to check for Neutralizing Antibodies for Tysabri (NAB's) and this was negative...meaning my body did not create antibodies to REJECT the Tysabri, so it still may think the Tysabri is OK to pulse around in my veins. There has been another year gone by of MSers receiving Tysabri, data collected, and the current school of thought is to "retry" Tysabri for someone like me who doesn't show NAB's in their blood work. And, since Interferons are off the table for me (as is Copaxone because it didn't WORK), I'm back to considering Tysabri. Dr. SWWNBN anticipates one or more of the oral disease modifying treatments now in study "may" get final FDA approval by 2010 and 2012...but that's still a long way off in MS time. So...Tysabri.

I am supposed to get yet another MRI (I think I will now have accumulated enough time in the TUBE from MRI's to win a trip to Disney), more blood work (An HIV test of all things? I did remind her I was not an IV drug user nor a gay male...LOL), another Echocardiogram of my heart just to make sure the Novantrone has done no harm (and I sooo enjoy ice cold "lube" smeared under my ta-ta's), and a load of paperwork to fill out again for the TOUCH Program (Tysabri watchdog folks)...short of a colonoscopy and lobotomy, I think everything will be covered from end to end with all these tests. If all is well, I may be restarting Tysabri as early as April or May (there's a "washout" period between coming off Novantrone and starting Tysabri of 3 months...mandatory).

And, not unlike YOU this time of year, I am needing to get my income tax information together and meet with my tax accountant...if all of this doesn't suck me down the drain, I don't know what would!

Off to bed now to MOPE some more...it IS on my schedule after all and I may need the full 48 hours I've allotted myself to have my "mood". Of course, about 18 - 20 hours will be spent at work this weekend, a hopeful 16 will be spent sleeping, and that ONLY leaves 12 - 14 hours of actual MOOD time. Surely that is enough time to feel sorry for myself...isn't it?!?...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SUV's SUCK!...

Had a near head on collision today with a MONSTER LINCOLN NAVIGATOR that nearly climbed over the top of my tiny Honda Civic hood...I'm relatively OK (no gashes, broken bones, head injury) and quite thankful to be so. My beautiful-in-near-excellent-condition "Luna" (silver car) is most likely totaled, however. Can't go into details of the accident (just in case insurance companies TROLL blogs for these things! LOL), but suffice it to say, IT WAS NOT MY FAULT and I am NOT THE ONE WHO RECEIVED THE POLICE OFFICER'S CITATION...that award went to the "other" driver. My "award" will most likely be the after effects of whiplash/possible MS trigger, being without transportation until insurance companies shake hands, and quite possibly having to buy a new car.

If this wasn't my fault, why am I the one feeling like I will be suffering the worst damages? Effing SUV's...

Keeping Up With The Joneses...

It's 2:00AM and I have just completed my nightly "drive-bys" on many of the MS blogs I try to keep up with...some of you are prolific posters with much to say! I only wish I had the hours (and the sanity) in my day to keep in step with ALL of you...but alas...by 2:00AM and after being at work for 9 1/2 hours, I am not only nearing brain death, I am also nearing brain FREEZE!

Once again, I find regular work interferes with my life...sigh. It's not that I feel OBLIGATED to read the multi-blog listings here on CHEESE...it's that I WANT to be able to read them all. But, it is not humanly possible for me.
I may have to devise a new "system" for keeping up with you "Joneses"...anybody have a helpful suggestion? And puleeze! Do NOT recommend the Evelyn Woodhead Speed Reading Course!! LOL

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Masks We Wear...

My mother died 11 years ago today after suffering a massive aneurysm while fixing breakfast. I just happened to be "home" for this event, having flown from Seattle to Nebraska to assist her in transferring EP (my father) to a nursing home. I am always reminded of her on this day, just as I pause to reflect upon her life on her birthday.


Sometime in the early 1990's before her death, I traveled "home" again for a brief visit. I was, at the time, doing bodywork/massage/therapy in my private practice while still working on call as a nursing supervisor. I was also involved in a women's spirituality group and sat on a board of directors that produced women's festivals and gatherings. And, in my spare time, (which there was little of!) I also led a women's body awareness workshop weekly. Although sounding as if I were constantly on the go (and basically, I WAS!), my life was very rewarding and fulfilling...doing many of the things I most enjoy.

One of the various group projects I engaged my clients in was the making of plaster cast face masks. Purchasing multiple rolls of actual CASTING MATERIAL (the old fashion kind the doctor USED to put on broken bones...and I still have an entire BOX of this stuff in storage...sigh...), my "group-ees" would carefully construct plaster face casts of each other and then decorate them in a theme that would demonstrate "who" was behind the mask...it was a wonderful, messy project that everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy. We would then hold *circle* and each client would be given the time to explain their decoration(s) and the meaning BEHIND the mask. I even had one of my clients lay the casting over MY face so I could also produce my "mask":
In my travel back "home" to visit my mother during this *era* of my life, I decided I wanted to cast HER face...something deep inside me compelled me to this endeavor. But I knew my mother, being the stoic, Germanic character she was, would probably not "readily" jump on this idea...as a matter of fact, I could pretty much bet she would loudly decline and declare the idea as just another one of "her feminist crazy daughter's notions". I had to use *something* that I knew she couldn't resist...so I chose my orphaned nephew!


My eldest sister had died in a car accident about 7 years earlier and my mother was practically raising my sister's two boys...grandsons she adored and would go to the ends of the earth to provide for. I convinced my youngest nephew, Tom, to "ask grandma" to comply with my request...and, as predicted, my mother agreed...grumbling, but agreeable. LOL


Tom and I laid my mother on the floor face up and began to carefully place the strips of plaster over her face...gently and delicately. I remember thinking this was one of the few times I had ever TOUCHED my mother's face as an adult...we were not a "touchy" family (and I now remember lovingly and gently washing her face and hands while she lay unconscious on a ventilator just before shutting down the machines). To this day, I still recall my mother relaxing into the moment and almost falling asleep during the process...it was a snap shot in time that I treasure.
I took the mask back to Houston with me on the plane and did complete the smoothing plaster process with the intent of eventually sending the casting to my nephew when he was older...after all, it was only his tiny, lispy voice that persuaded my mother to participate in the first place! I thought he would one day possibly feel the same connection I had felt to his grandmother/my mother during the process of making the mask. I even *intended* to decorate the mask before sending it to him.



Nearly 15 years have passed since I cast my mother's face that warm August evening. I still have the mask...it has been sealed away in *Pandora's Box* (see previous posts) all these years. It has only been since opening *Pandora's Box* this past month that I rediscovered it...tucked safely away next to the mask of my face. I have taken it out of the trunk and held it...I've tried it on my face...it doesn't fit (oddly, the plaster casting of MY face still fits...even WITH my now fat, chipmunk cheeks!). I have stared at it and also gazed at old photos of my mother this past week trying to *find* the person behind the mask.


My mother wore many masks during her short time on this earth...we ALL do. It is a strangely unique experience to hold her "face" in my hands, knowing I am only holding a smooth, chunk of plaster...yet knowing my mother's face was behind it.


Maybe now I am ready to *decorate* her mask...to give it depth and color and meaning. As I remember her today, I am acutely aware how much her *mask* has softened over the years...how the darker colors I once thought belonged to her have brightened...how lines have smoothed and blended...how unique the shape of her face was and how truly one-of-a-kind her *mask* remains.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Embarrassment Is Optional...

Over the years, I have learned the "joy" of being the butt of other's jokes...yes, I did say JOY and BUTT in the same sentence. I have found being able to laugh WITH others when I do or say or act in ways that are funny (not always immediately understandable to ME, however!) is a wonderful bonding experience I can share with them...and let's face it...I DO and SAY and ACT in ways that can be quite Hi Larry Us without even INTENDING to entertain!

In my formative years (like probably as late as YESTERDAY!), I suffered from many self-doubts, self-consciousness, and self-loathing, as I struggled to grow and become who I am today...it's been a long road to get to this place called "here"...this place of feeling comfort in my own skin, of knowing I make mistakes, but that I'm basically "good enough" and in many instances, MORE THAN ENOUGH for what I require of myself. I'm generally quite content with who I am and the basic direction of my current life path.

Years ago, I was given the opportunity to learn a very valuable lesson about myself (and life in general) which I have carried with me to this very day. The lesson surrounded core issues about self-worth and being comfortable in my own skin (literally!)...and it is a lesson I am going to share will all three of you who read this blog...who knew you'd be so lucky, right?!? My hope is in sharing this morsel of angelic wisdom, you TOO, might hear/read something worthy of carrying with you to remind yourself about choices and the wonder that shines within. This tidbit of information shall henceforth be called, "LIFE LESSON #1: Embarrassment Is Optional".

In the early 1990's, I had been working as a psychiatric nursing supervisor for several years. I primarily worked with children and adolescents by this era because I felt what I knew and what I could do would have the strongest, positive impact on this "sponge" crowd. Kids, no matter what their dysfunction, STILL have such a magnificent gift to "re-learn" basic life concepts and the payback one observes in teaching with them is almost an immediate gratification...and I was ALL ABOUT immediate gratification back then.

One of the disturbing concepts I began to notice in my work with children and teens was the fact so many of them were "touch deprived"...especially in a psychiatric setting where *boundaries*, appropriate, non-sexual touch, and NO PHYSICAL CONTACT were strongly stressed to avoid misinterpretation or even lawsuit. After all, many of these kids had come from broken homes or situations where adults DID take advantage of them abusively via "touch", so their psychological safety was the most important thing to stress...and still...so many received no touch at all because of these theoretical psych taboos...touch is something ANY human being must have to thrive and to grow. Many of these kids would resort to typical acts of violence just to GAIN touch via restraints, knowing the adult staff in observance would lay hands on to avoid having them injure someone else or themselves.

When my "touch" light went on during this era of employment, I had been sitting "restraining" a 7 year old for over an hour (because mechanical restraints, i.e., belts/cuffs, were not used in this facility...at least THAT was a plus) who fell asleep finally in the comfort of my arms. This "touch light" was such a strong beacon, I could no longer ignore it, and decided to enroll in a local massage school to learn more about the "art" of touching others (little did I know, I would not only learn the art of massage/touch, I was destined to change careers many months later while still dabbling in nursing management "on the side"...LOL).

At the massage school I attended, I met ANOTHER seasoned nurse who worked in a local ER...her name was Mary Lee Musick. The name alone was such a melodic one and we rapidly formed a solid friendship. She, too, had enrolled in massage training because of similar philosophical reasons...the "art" of nursing did not offer us the "art of touch"...regardless of how we utilized our nursing skills.

Mary Lee was a very wise woman who lived on a farm, down an awful dirt road (her husband would have to come to the main highway on his tractor to get me if it rained because their road was too rugged to drive a car on), in a cabin she and husband John had built, with chickens, livestock, and an assortment of herbs and medicinal plants...for all practical purposes, Mary Lee would have been considered a "witch" by standard Christian definition! LOL To me, she was simply a very powerful healer, combining folklore and western and eastern medicines.

Mary Lee was also enrolled in another bodywork program called "Dubbing" while in massage school. If you are familiar with "Rolfing", Dub Leigh studied under Ida Rolf (deep tissue neuromuscular guru) and began his own training study, using similar techniques. Dub had spoken to our massage class on one occasion, most likely drumming up students for his side study. I initially perceived him to be an old, curmudgeon, short-tempered type of man and had already heard tales of his "training" sessions...they were brutally painful! I personally wanted NO PART in this type of experience.

Mary Lee seemed to see past the teacher and felt this was a training technique she wanted to add to her bag of tricks, so she signed up. Each training student had to provide their own model (VICTIM) for weekend classes that would last nearly 4 months...Mary Lee found a model (VICTIM) who attended the first 2 weekends, but then dropped out...my guess is out of fear!

Because we had become good friends by now, Mary Lee felt it would be OK to ask ME to fill in for her model (VICTIM) so she could complete the remaining 3+ months of the course. I immediately said, "NO!", because I was not in a state of mind to tolerate this type of weekly, brutal (perceived) punishment. LOL I was also already aware that, part of the "model's" experience was standing in front of the entire class each weekend in their underwear and having the ENTIRE CLASS critique their physical structure...she might just as easily have asked me to stand nude for an artist's painting class! I had the same visceral response. It wasn't really the BODYWORK process that frightened me...it was the naked underwear issue. I do, after all, still maintain I have a slightly higher than normal pain tolerance (as does EVERYONE I meet...sigh...). I don't maintain I have no issues with body image!

Mary Lee resorted to begging...something I have always fallen *sucker* to. She spent lots of time explaining all of the bodywork techniques and benefits (which were actually beginning to sound quite helpful and intriguing and something I might ALSO want to learn) to alleviate my fears. I listened intently, but STILL struggled with the idea of that NAKED/IN UNDERWEAR weekly body critique situation...I knew my physical body could withstand the deep tissue work, but I did NOT think my emotional one could withstand being BARED weekly to a group of strangers! This is what my decision had boiled down to: I wanted to do the bodywork part, but not the naked critiquing part. IF I didn't have to do the naked part, I might consent...so I asked her...and this (finally!) is where the lesson came.

ME: "Mary Lee. I've given this some serious thought and I think I really WOULD like to be your model for the class because I not only want to learn these techniques, but I also think it would be good for me physically to HAVE this type of work done to me. I just can't get past the naked in my underwear issue."

MARY LEE: "Uh huh." **said slowly and with a smile**

ME: "OK, I'll do it just as long as I don't have to stand up in front of the entire class in my underwear and be embarrassed."

MARY LEE: **pausing to think** "Thank you! I'm very relieved and so glad you're willing to do this! But, I have to be honest with you...you WILL have to stand up in front of the entire class in your underwear each week...but, the embarrassment part IS OPTIONAL."

How often I fall prey to the belief my feelings are not within my control OR my responsibility...after all, they ARE just feelings. But I have learned most (if not all) of these feelings are the result of my THINKING mind. And if I make conscious choices to work with my "thoughts", I can gain some mastery over the extent of my "feelings".

To this very day, I am rarely if ever "embarrassed" by any situation...I sometimes still feel inadequate, guilty, sad, or even angry about certain issues in my life...but the embarrassment IS OPTIONAL. And I prefer to opt out of this nonproductive feeling...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

I've Misplaced 16 POUNDS So Far...

A few weeks back, I posted here on CHEESE how I have been using a website called, The Daily Plate , to become more mindful of the extreme quantities of CRAP I have been shoveling into my pie hole over the past many moons...thus causing an EXTREME QUANTITY OF WEIGHT to accumulate around my bones! And, after reading both BUBBIE'S BLOG and ANNE'S BLOG about their successes using the website, I thought I should possibly update all y'all on MY personal success.

I say those words "personal success" with tongue in cheek because I have a very, very looooong road to travel in my return to a healthy weight and activity program before I will feel successful. But, I am pleased to report I have somehow MISPLACED 16 pounds off my frame...I'm hoping I have "misplaced" the weight well and will not be FINDING it again any time soon (either via natural gorging at the table or steroid use for MS).




Just to give you a pictoral idea of what 16 pounds looks like, I've prepared the picture below for your viewing...(not as classy as BUBBIE'S Weight Ticker at the bottom of her blog, but I think you'll "get the picture" LOL)...


Where's Martha When I Desperately NEED Her?!?...

Tagging onto yesterday's post, I am here to tell you the NIGHTMARE'S just keep continuing! I just received "word" my beloved, Republican, born again, Midwestern, accountant SISTER really IS planning on making a visit to Seattle in July...somebody just PU-LEEZE shoot me now and put me out of my misery.

Now don't get me wrong here...I like my sister. This state of *like* unfortunately only began to occur after my parents both died 10 years ago and we were forced to either begin to *like* each other or claim we were both orphans. LOL But, as you can see by the descriptive line above, my middle sister and I are pretty much POLAR OPPOSITES! And, I can actually deal with that part of the visit.

What I CAN'T seem to deal with is the state of affairs my hut is currently in and I have somehow flipped a switch and begun thinking about EXTREME DECORATING...you heard me right...EXTREME DECORATING.

I bought my home a little over 2 years ago and, upon move in, initially began my personal "home make over". I say "initially" because I was immediately hit with an MS relapse shortly after moving in and began a downward spiral in my state of health. Consequently, I successfully remodeled my bathroom (which IS, after all, the most important room in my home...I tend to spend a lot of time there for strange reasons) and began painting/decorating my living room, but was halted midway through. And, unfortunately I have just never jump-started the project(s) again...I've been content living in a partially painted living room, staring blankly at an 80's kitchen that makes scenes from "That 70's Show" look more updated. I've also been sleeping in what I call an "apartment white" bedroom, with NOTHING on the walls except a growing number of cobwebs!

My sister fired a warning shot over my head about a month ago, letting me know she and her family "might" make the several thousand mile trek from the Midwest to the Pacific Coast...I assumed the operative word in her sentence was "might"...little did I know, "might" to her meant, "I just haven't made all the arrangements yet". LOL

I haven't seen my sister for about 5 or 6 years...the last trip I made flying to her home was at least that long ago and she hasn't been out to see me in Seattle since the first year I moved here...1996. We're just not the travelin'/visitin' type...probably why we still *like* each other.

I would like for her trip here to be a memorable one...mainly because, as MY health deteriorates, it may be one of the last trips either of us will be making to see each other again for many years. I don't mean to sound grim here...it's just been very difficult for me to predict my state of health these past 5 years and the stress of traveling across the country seems pretty overwhelming these days. That's not to say this won't change...just because I have MS doesn't mean my life stops. But it does mean I have to budget my energy like an auditor searching for a penny just to make my energy ends meet. And, traveling has just not been a priority.

So NOW I'm sitting here looking around the hut and trying to budget my energy toward the many decorating and remodeling projects I still have to complete before I feel "settled" into my space...and, I'd like to get as many of those completed as I can BEFORE my sister and her family arrive. I have a need to turn my home into MY home...not the home of the previous owners...as I want it to be as comfortably "me" as possible when my sister gets here. I realize she is not coming to critique my home, but to see ME...and still...my home IS a reflection of me and I'd like it to be a nice one...not the reflection of an unpredictable disease. Is that too much to ask? Really? LOL

I'm sitting here at my computer at 2:00 in the morning thinking, "What would Martha do?" and I've had an epiphany...MARTHA WOULD HIRE THIS CRAP WORK DONE!!! And Martha doesn't even HAVE MS...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

My Dreams Are Whispering Secrets...

I awoke this morning feeling quite out of sorts...not myself...whoever THAT person is! There seemed to be the dusty reminants of a dream hanging onto my psyche, clouding my thoughts, and producing the ill at ease feeling. I decided with time to spare before falling out of bed and beginning my daily routine of preparing (or "repairing") to go to work, I would take a few minutes to myself and attempt to sort my "out of sorts" out.

The dream WAS a work dream...the kind of dream where one's "performance" comes under the scrutiny of the ever-watchful ego eye. And my ego was painfully aching from this particular dream.

The setting was a combination of my work office and my home, specifically my bedroom where I SLEEP. For some reason, I was working the night shift (a shift that not only exacerbates my MS symptoms because of the drastic change in sleep/energy patterns, but one I do not LIKE to work) and I was "lead" on the shift with my coworkers. I was on the pager (meaning responsible for all referrals/calls that came in during those work hours) and meticulously turned it on and verified it as operable. There were no evaluations waiting when I arrived at work, so I decided to lay down and rest, awaiting the first page and call to evaluate...because I was "lead"...subsequent calls would be triaged out to my coworkers.

Somehow, rather than lying down at work, I did so in my personal bedroom...pager grasped tightly in my left hand so as not to lose it or "miss" any calls...and I fell asleep. I was sleeping on my stomach with my left hand tucked under my pillow (later comprehending the pillow must have muffled the bleeping sound of the pager!).

I awoke suddenly (in my dream) and realized I had been sleeping for several hours...it was now 4:00AM (in my dream). I checked the pager and, with much horror, saw where one of my coworkers had been sending me text messages regarding work calls that were coming in...several text messages had accumulated and changed from initially being messages of "There's a call" to "Where the heck ARE you?".

I panicked (in my dream)...somehow I had fallen asleep on the job and had missed very important work. I was surely not only in trouble with my coworker, but also my boss(es).

I dashed out of bed, falling to the floor (because of MS, no doubt), and ran to my office. My very angry and disgruntled coworker greeted me and advised me he had been taking referrals ALL night long, had tried to keep up, but couldn't. I had let him down...I was surely in "trouble"...I was panicked. And THIS is where I returned to full awake consciousness...NOT in my dream. THIS is what was hanging onto the coat tail of my mind and troubling me in my now awake hours.

Dreams are funny business...not often "ha ha" funny business, but *funny* business. So often, they tell a story about us and often that story may not even be one we recognize. Unfortunately for me, THIS dream's particular story was blatantly recognizable...it is the age-old story of self-worth...or lack there of. It is also the story of my life (that has many pages) where I feel inadequate and somehow scrutinized for that "inadequacy".

I won't go into long, dramatic, childhood details in feable attempt to explain my "story" of self-worth or inadequacy...I've already paid thousands of dollars for alleged professionals to hear THAT tale! LOL Instead, I will fast-forward to events of today...not the *root* of this story, but the *blossom*.

I have noticed of late (at least the past few weeks and maybe months) as my work environment evolves and faces many changes (not all welcome, as *change* often is not), that I have been grieving many losses. Losses of how things "used" to be, losses of the illusion of "stability", and losses of a perceived sense of "security". As I grieve these losses and cope with the changes, I feel a vulnerability that is unwelcome as well.

In my job, I am required to be an "authority" (which is somewhat Hi Larry Usly funny because I generally FEAR authority!!)...an unbending tree in the wind...and the final *say* in certain situations. The payoff is, I GET the last word in certain disagreements...the cost is, I must be RESPONSIBLE for that last word, which can sometimes be a heavy weight to carry. It requires a certain amount of psychic strength to "pull this role off"...and any weak spot...vulnerability...can create a place for the *tree* to begin to crumble.

My personal "crumbling" sometimes takes the form of feeling resentments...of placing blame on others...of participating in *gossip*...of withdrawing somewhat so as not to tip my hand to another...and also eventually, in feeling physically *ill*, MS-style...AKA, relapse.

I believe this particular dream in the wee hours of the morning was serving to remind me to get myself in check...to shore up my *tree*, both in my work life AND my personal life...and to take a hard look at how I am managing my own sense of worth and and feelings of inadequacy. The dream was *thumping* my psyche and saying, "Listen up!".

So today, I will try to be more mindful of my interactions...both personally and professionally...and attempt to patch up those places of vulnerability where I have been allowing situations and circumstance to chip away at my *tree*. Vulnerability is not necessarily a *bad* thing...at times, it is a necessity in finding true strength. And that is what I hope to accomplish today and in the next few weeks...a return to my true strength. A return to the SECRET I already know inside myself...with or without my dreams telling them to me in an opposing, negative fashion.

I AM strong...in body, spirit, and mind. I am "enough"...and I most certainly am adequate...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

This just sent to me by Michelle of BRAIN ANGLES...

It's time to shake off that Super Bowl loss/celebration and turn to matters at hand! Michelle sent me this way cool video today, encouraging us "Staters" to pay attention to our politics...whatever they may be.

Take a peek:





Hi Linda,

I just want to share this music video to encourage your country's citizens to vote. I was inspired!

Stay inspired!

Michelle
Expand your mind ~ visit
Brain Angles

Monday, February 04, 2008

In Loving Memory Of HARKOO'S Patriots...

May I express my condolences regarding the tragic loss by the New England Patriots to the New York Giants this Super Bowl Sunday...please send all cards and flowers to Patriots fan, Harkoo/Joyce... :-)




Friday, February 01, 2008

I Got My "Medical Degree" From A Box Of Cracker Jacks...

As some of you know, I am a nurse by trade and I only play a doctor on the Internet...and, after today, I believe Cracker Jacks may be revoking my medical degree altogether!

I received an email from Saint EB a few days ago, which stated, "Why are you never around when I need you?!" I assumed she was experiencing some type of cardiac arrest, so I immediately picked up the phone and dialed.

It seems Saint EB's frantic, yet indirect cry for help, was regarding her *skin* (which, I guess for a diva, this issue IS almost as serious as a heart attack!)...EB was experiencing a severe drying of her outer coat of flesh and no amount of lotion was relieving the discomfort. In fact, it only seemed to be making matters worse...the lotion, that is.

We ARE experiencing a colder than usual winter here in Seattle, so it's only natural those with tender and "sensitive" skin might be scaling up like a Carp fish...me? No...I've never used lotion in my life, which I am certain comes from absolutely clean living (for those of you who know me well, you will be severely punished for divulging what my "clean living" REALLY consists of...**belch** typed while choking on an Oreo).

I attempted my best psychiatric phone intervention to calm her nerves (which consisted of laughing out loud and exclaiming, "Oh, Gawd!"), and then reassured her I held the medical key of knowledge that would unlock the mysteries of a return to healthy, moist skin. "Eucerin", I exclaimed.

"Whaaaat?", EB replied back, as though I had belched on the word (see above...I WAS eating an Oreo). But I hadn't belched, so I repeated the brand name once again, slowly and deliberately, fearing her scaling flesh had also rendered her dumb and possibly deaf.

"Eucerin", I said with absolute certainty.

I explained to Saint EB that Eucerin (no, I am NOT being paid to "plug" this product here...it's just dayumed good!) was a topical lotion containing *urea* and it would resolve her body dandruff in no time. I hopped gingerly up onto my medical soapbox podium and proceeded to provide her with a soliloquy about the product that would have made Hamlet proud...I explained how *urea* and any lotion with *urea* in it, made from the urine of animals, was the best product to use because it was the closest "match" to the human body and what the human (came from apes) body needed. I smugly rambled on about how scented lotions, particularly those containing *alcohols*, were B-A-D for human skin because they dry the skin OUT, not hold moisture in. I really should have charged her a consultation fee for this...LOL

A few days later, I once again talked with Saint EB...she was singing the praises of Eucerin, which she immediately went out to buy based on my in-depth medical knowledge. There was only one problem with my "knowledge", however...the Eucerin product SHE bought contained NO *urea*.

"WOOT?!", I exclaimed. "Well, it USED to", I went on to add, secretly knowing she might not recognize *urea* on the label...after all, she just manages an entire OFFICE of about 45 people. I, on the other hand, have an Internet Medical Degree from Cracker Jacks!

"Nope. No urea", she said this time with conviction. "But it's really working, so thank you for recommending it".

I couldn't WAIT to get off the phone with her to hit my medical library (AKA, the Internet and Wikipedia...where I do ALL of my highly trained medical research). I absolutely KNEW she must be wrong.

Well...here I sit dejected...AND, trying to shove my medical degree back in the tiny box (wait! There's one last piece of caramel corn in there! Oh, sorry...I got excited and distracted finding a morsel of Cracker Jacks left in the box). I consulted the Eucerin Website and MOST of their products DO contain *alcohols*, although they say they are the "good" kind. AND..."some" of their products DO contain *urea*, but get this (and I quote directly from the website's FAQ page)..."Urea is a skin conditioner and humectant (meaning that it draws moisture into the skin). It occurs naturally in the skin, as part of skin's natural moisturizing factor. The urea in Eucerin products is synthetically produced from inorganic salts and does NOT come from any animals or humans."

Well, waddaya know? The dayumed crap works WITHOUT the pee of a Himalayan Yak! Who knew?!? **mumble, mumble under my breath**

**Footnote: No animals were harmed in the writing of this post**