Monday, December 31, 2007

What's On The Plate for 2008?...

Please forgive the food reference and title of this post...I got a hair up my butt (as my beloved mother used to say...I have NO idea what she really meant by that!) yesterday and decided to begin a fast. I've now been fasting for over 18 hours, so "food for thought" is rattling around in my brain.

I have never been one to participate in New Year's Resolutions...I find the idea to be similar to Confession, which doesn't PREVENT one from future *sins* just absolves the past, so to speak. But I do like the idea of shifts in focus. Self-imposed or not. So, my idea of beginning a fast on New Year's Eve is not so much about "resolve" as it is a "shift". And, since I was too ill on Hallows (you remember?...that pagan New Year called Halloween?!?) to participate in my usual fast during that time of year, I decided now was as good a time as SHIFT FOCUS.

As many party-goers (aka, DRUNKS) will be out ringing in the New Year tonight, I will be home contemplating...shifting my focus. Remembering the year(s) past, staying in the "now", and looking toward the light of 2008. 2007 was one of my BETTER years...I think I will be sad to see it go. But, oddly, I am also looking toward the coming year...something I have not often felt over the past 5 years of living with MS.

Some people become very obsessed about the "G" word...goals...this time of year. What's your GOAL for 2008? What do you plan to accomplish in 2008? What do you expect to have happen in 2008? Blahty, blahty, blah. People make resolutions/goals for the New Year, only to find themselves sorely disappointed. I have been guilty of this in my younger years...making outlandish, magical goals without doing the "base" work required to obtain them. As if simply SAYING these goals out loud will somehow change my behaviors that have CAUSED me to need to set a goal in the first place. No introspection has gone into the plan, only the magical plan itself is made.

I have come to recognize "goal" achievement (keeping resolutions...whatever you want to call them) requires "goal" planning. And not some simple resolution I have made up on or around New Year's that might be a "good" idea, but that I lack the substance to achieve. Achieving goals/resolutions is much like building a house. And yes, before any of you creative visualization folks jump down my throat, I WILL say having an idea...a mental picture of what I want...can be an important first step to reaching my goals, too. But sitting and staring (or daydreaming) about the Martha Stewart home in the magazine doesn't magically make the dang thing appear either!

For me, I must first lay out the plan or steps of my goal...the blue print of my theoretical "home" I am about to build. I must carefully think through the design, what tools I will need, what materials will be necessary, and why I really WANT to build my "home" in the first place. And then, I must discuss with myself the idea of consistency and my goal something I CAN feasibly do? Will I have the energy to complete the "build"? Can I enlist others to assist me? What if I run out of this material or that amount of energy?...where can I find more? I certainly don't want to clutter up my mental neighborhood with a partially build structure that serves no purpose in the end...and something I've expended a lot of energy on for naught. I find THIS particular stage of my goal-setting to actually be the most important for me...the planning and assessment.

There's a lot that goes into preparing to build a house. Clearing of land and digging for the basement (or taking a good look at dysfunctional behaviors and digging deep into my psyche to discover what is under my foundation), finding the funding (or energy source), gathering supplies (or support systems, friends, sleep...whatever is needed to begin), are just a few things I must think about BEFORE I begin the construction. If I have taken the time to draw up detailed "plans" of my home, the actual BUILDING part is relatively easy...sweat on the brow, but for the most part, simply following the blue print.

In my past, one of the important pieces I lacked in achieving my goals was the MAINTENANCE portion of the goal...yep...hitting a mark is one thing, but staying there is another. Going back to the analogy of the home, it's easy to understand...if I do nothing to maintain my "home", it will quickly fall to shambles from neglect. I must remain ever-vigilant of the "termites" in my mind...those behaviors and ideas that are order to keep my home in proper working/living order.

I have, on occasion, had to enlist outside "inspectors" and "exterminators" to help me with the maintenance portion of my goal achievement. Sometimes I NEED to heed the warning of a friend or someone I trust to tell me, from their vantage view point, this behavior or that idea is harmful to my structure or slowly eating away at my "home". I certainly don't like to be TOLD I have developed an infestation, but I am always thankful someone takes the time to do just that...before my goal is completely eroded away.

My hope for you, if you ARE someone who sets goals or New Year's Resolutions, is that you really take the time to PLAN what it is you wish to achieve in 2008....that you give yourself all the advantage you might need to be successful...and that you surround yourself with friends or family who carry hammers, who are there to give you a rest from your project when you need one, and who support you no matter what you are attempting to "build". And with that, you begin to build your dream home...wherever that may be...

Friday, December 28, 2007

Feeling Tired & Blue...

I came to an important conclusion today...I realized I have not been posting here on CHEESE of late because I have simply been too tired to formulate coherent sentences. I believe the holidays, working many hours, the cold and ever-changing Seattle weather, and a "mini-me" relapse condition (You know the kind...not quite big enough to give it the "R" word, but substantial enough to make living with MS a challenge?!?) has zapped me of my super powers...not that I was Wonder Woman to begin with.

I have been struggling with a nagging pain/tightness in my waist and chest, which makes even the most joyful person a bit "crabby". Consequently, my sleep has been disturbed by frequent awakenings as I attempt to turn in positions my tight torso does not want to twist body prefers to remain stiff as a board and unmoving right now when I sleep, only to awaken with a body bitchiness, as if to say, "Why the heck did you leave me in THAT position all night?!" I just can't seem to please me at this point. LOL

In about 12 hours, I am scheduled to receive my 5th Novantrone infusion. "We" (the neuro and I) decided to go ahead and bump my infusion day up a few weeks because of what has been feeling like a return of annoying MS symptoms..."we" are hoping an early dose of the BLUE DYE will scare away any potential "R-Word" situations that may be brewing about in my brain. It's hard to second guess this disease, but not so hard to recognize a decline in my functioning, which has been occurring over the past 3 weeks. Besides being excited to see the return of my nuclear green urine, I am so hoping THIS dose will finally give me the Smurf-blue whites of my eyes that sometimes accompanies's the holiday season after would be great to have eyes for 24-48 hours that match the Hanukkah blue lights I have twinkling outside my home!

Perhaps after this dose of chemo, I will find the energy to return to my old habits of near daily drivel here on CHEESE...I know neither YOU nor I can wait! Who knows, I may even return to the proper blog etiquette of REPLYING to comments left here...I'm sure you've all been disappointed by my lack of response. **Trying not to bite my tongue in cheek**

Now, I must go turn on my heating pad and lie down for another fun night of rigor mortis I wish I could fall into a "dead sleep"...but, of course, wake up afterward!...

Friday, December 21, 2007


How many times have we ALL heard the title of this post? And how many times has this assumption been right or wrong? Probably 50/50 either way, I imagine. Well, here's my latest, "Not everything is MS" story...

As some of you long-standing and not yet completely bored CHEESE readers (or maybe you ARE completely bored and just haven't figured that out yet?!?) know, I have been experiencing difficulty with my vision this past year. No, not optic neuritis difficulty...difficulty READING small print, computer screens, etc. I have delayed seeing my optometrist for several rational reasons (my vision plan wouldn't cover new frames, I wanted to "wait" to see what my vision might do, I couldn't find time in my schedule, etc.) and one completely irrational one...I didn't want to be told the cause of my changing vision was aging!

I finally broke down and made an appointment two weeks ago after losing my glasses TWICE and later locating them on top of my head. I was placing them there whenever needing to read anything up close...for an all-my-life-nearsighted-person, the idea of not being able to read up close was most disturbing. I've ALWAYS been able to see things in front of my face...just not far away. And my right eye is sooooo incredibly near-sighted, I often had to have things smack dab in FRONT of my face to see it, but I still could "see" it with my glasses on. So, my optical appointment went something like this:

EYE DOC: (after twirling, spinning, blowing air in my eyes, and basically blinding me for several minutes) "Well, you are right. Your vision HAS changed substantially since your last exam."

BLIND ONE (me): "I know. I've been putting off coming here for several months. I DID see an opthamologist in April this year because of those headaches (had previously disclosed my "migraine" issues from this spring), but he basically said everything looked fine with my optic nerves. You know, this darned MS can be such a stinker sometimes."

EYE DOC: (looking at me quite puzzled...her face is close enough to mine that I can actually SEE her eyes and quizzical look) "Oh, this isn't MS. This is old age."

BLIND ONE (me): "No, I don't think you heard me correctly. My story is, THIS is MS...and I'm sticking to it!" (me, now looking quite smug)

EYE DOC: (smiling or maybe laughing hysterically...she's moved across the room and I can no longer see her expression) "You can call it what you like, but you need bifocals."

BLIND ONE (me): "That would be MS BIFOCALS, right?" (still with smug look on my face, trying to uphold my inflated attitude)

EYE DOC: "You can call them whatever you like...they're still bifocals."

BLIND ONE (me): (making a leaking air sound as my ego deflates)

So, I now have some very expensive GOGGLES. That's right...these darned "progressive bifocal lenses" feel like I'm wearing goggles. They are great for reading a computer screen, I must admit, but I shan't dare try to WALK more than a step with them on...the FLOOR seems to rise to meet my every step!!! EYE DOC assures me I will eventually "train" my eyes to get used to the new "look"...I hope so. I also hope the dizzy feeling I have gotten during the few hours I have worn them does not trigger my vertigo. If THAT happens, the goggles will be returned to sender and I will be back to my old practice of peering over the top of my mono-lenses or losing them on top of my head.

Man, Multiple Sclerosis can be a beauch sometimes...
and so can getting old, but I'm not admitting that just yet...LOL...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Mental Health Break...

Uncoiling At The Keyboard...

I WISH I was as flexible as that snake...unfortunately, I currently have the appearance of a "L" shape with a bundle of legs drawn up under me. The squeezing in my waist/back/legs has now moved up into my rib cage...a most distressing feeling. The current "plan" is to move up my Novantrone dose a few weeks and see if we can ward off a full-blown relapse (I'm still referring to THIS as a "situation" versus the "R" word!). Baclofen DOES seem to help with the tension, but I'm just not able to take the drug and work coherently...which IS a requirement of my job...coherence.

I'm heading back to bed and still hoping to wake up from a nap and find this "situation" resolved on its own...too much to ask?!?...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Makes Me Want To Jump...All OVER Politicians!...

What WILL they think of next? The following article (I forgive any of you for finding it too lengthy or boring to read to its end) was published locally here in Seattle regarding our infamous "suicide bridge". It appears the governor of my fine state is willing to SINK (pun intended) millions of dollars to add a 1/2 mile fencing around and under SUICIDE BRIDGE while cutting MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THE STATE COFFERS TO FUND MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT!!! No wonder people jump here...there's no money to assist them in ongoing treatment if they don't have really good insurance OR don't qualify for state medicaid, which is also cutting HUNDREDS of people from their rosters because of funding issues.

I guess the politicians better start planning for fences around all the tall buildings in Seattle, around other over passes, making sure no one owns a gun, limiting the number of prescription pills one can obtain in a bottle, decreasing all carbon monoxide fumes known to man, and prohibiting the sale of rope. THAT ought to eliminate suicides in our city...FER SHUR...

Now excuse me while I go answer the phones installed on this bridge to discourage jumpers...I'll have to dust them off first from lack of use...

State budget includes suicide fence on Aurora Bridge

Story Updated: Dec 18, 2007 at 2:40 PM PST
By Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) - Gov. Chris Gregoire is hoping to take the Aurora Bridge off the list of most popular bridges for committing suicide, by putting $1.4 million in her supplemental budget proposal to begin building an 8-foot suicide-prevention fence on the historic landmark.

More than 40 people are known to have jumped off the bridge in the past decade. Most years, three or four people jump, although nine leapt to their deaths in 2006, tying 1972 as the worst year on record for known suicides from the Aurora Bridge.

The Seattle bridge has the second-highest rate for bridge suicides in the nation, Gregoire said, but doesn't come close to No. 1, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, where about 25 people are known to jump to their deaths each year.

"Installation of an 8-foot suicide-prevention fence with illumination on the Aurora Avenue Bridge will help make the bridge safer and can help prevent suicides," the governor said in budget documents released Tuesday.

She said she plans to put additional dollars in her budget proposal for the 2009-2011 budget period, and estimated the total cost of the project would be $7.5 million.

The half-mile bridge built in 1931 carries State Route 99 over water at its highest point, 155 feet above the channel connecting Lake Union and the Lake Washington Ship Canal north of downtown. But many jumpers fall on solid ground, sometimes onto a parking lot in a former warehouse district that has morphed into a trendy area full of office buildings, shops and restaurants.

The people who work under the bridge or live in the neighborhood should get the credit for the fence money in the governor's supplemental budget, said Stan Suchan, a spokesman for the Washington Department of Transportation.

"That project largely exists because of community involvement. The community is passionate about this," Suchan said. "I do share their concerns and I'm eager for the project to move forward."

The project is complicated by the bridge's status as a national historic landmark, and by the fact that the steel-truss bridge carries 45,000 vehicles a day on one of the main north-south routes through Seattle and requires careful, frequent safety inspections, he said.

A year ago, his department worked with city officials and suicide-prevention experts to install six emergency phones and 18 signs on the bridge, for suicide deterrence. The signs encourage people to seek help instead of jumping.

Measuring the impact of those measures is not possible, said L.J. Eddy, the head of the Seattle Police Department's hostage negotiation team.

"Nobody can say, 'We saw an increase in calls or a decrease in jumpers,"' Eddy said a month after the phones and signs were installed. "And we can't measure the potential suicide person, who sees the signs and turns around."

Suchan said people in his department have already done some research concerning the fence, so the governor would have a good estimate to put in her budget, but the design and planning work will require the dollars she has earmarked.

Government officials had previously ruled out a suicide-prevention fence because it would complicate the inspection process. Because of its height and location between two hills, the bridge is inspected by a special truck that dangles a bucket carrying the inspector over the railing. Building up the height of the railings could hamper those inspections, Seattle transportation officials have said.

Transportation planners will need to find a solution that allows inspections, while still preventing suicides, Suchan said.

"It appears that fencing is the best solution," at least in the Washington Department of Transportation's opinion, he said, adding that the dollars the governor put in her budget match his department's proposal.

The bridge has been altered several times in previous decades - to improve pedestrian safety and to make it more safe in earthquakes.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What Lies Beneath...

I haven't spoken/typed much lately about my Multiple Sclerosis because...well...I actually haven't posted much about ANYTHING of late. It's not because my MS has vanished. Quite the has been lurking just below the surface and, this past week, reminding me of its presence with a gentle "tug". And, as usual, I have been trying to simply keep my head above the water by treading...just like we ALL do, with or without the diagnosis of MS.

What began last weekend as something I chalked up to standing too long in my kitchen stirring snack mix and baking bread has turned into something I can no longer successfully ignore. I've developed a rather annoying and uncomfortable "tightness"/squeezing sensation from my waist down and into both legs. And what is worse, if I stand for more than a few minutes, I have a most unpleasant "pressure" in my bowel, giving me the idea I need to catch up on my reading by sitting on a toilet...I know...TMI...Too Much Information! I decided today, after resting for the ENTIRE weekend, it was time to consult Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named...mostly, because I have never experienced this lower abdominal sensation before.

I will be the first to admit, I really haven't been "myself" lately...WHOEVER that person is! A lack of quality sleep stacked on top of a few stressful weeks at work/holiday rush time/anniversary of my sister's death/and an assortment of "other" unusual circumstances, has left me feeling what can best be described as anxious. And I don't "do" anxiety well. I have pondered the notion I might be experiencing a slight depressed mood, exacerbated by the anxiety...and, I don't DO depressed mood well either. LOL Whatever the case or cause, I have not speculated much about this below-the-waist-phenomenon because I assumed it was just all part of my "mood" and would pass on its own (just like the Cymbalta commericals say, "Depression can hurt"...physically). Unfortunately, today I have had some difficulty walking and the discomfort below my waist has increased to more than a slight is interfering with my peace and calm!

There has been a LOT of cold and flu flying around my office and numerous folks have been out sick. When I awoke Thursday morning with my face ACHING (I know, I face must hurt all the time because it's been KILLING you. Old junior high joke...), I assumed the "bug" had finally caught up to me and I was in the beginning throws of a sinus or cold "issue". That pain left me fairly quickly however, and I did not develop further symptoms that would be typical for seasonal illness. I again attempted to just "ignore" my bodily discomfort.

Today, the below-the-waist-phenomenon has kept me pretty much butt-planted on my couch or in bed...minus the making of the previous post's video. Dr. SWWNBN is questioning whether my Novantrone is "holding" me now for the full 3 month dosing sequence...I don't know what to tell her.

What I DO know is, I'd like to hear from any of you that have had a similar symptom...the below the waist squeezing/pressure/discomfort/aching/weakness feeling accompanied with a bowel sensation of needing to "evacuate" (a fancy nursing term for "take a dump")...not bowel urgency...just a feeling like relieving yourself of yesterday's meals would be a "good thing". Anybody? Anything? Ponder this and get back to me, OK? It would be nice to know I'm not just full of sh!+ as the reason for this "pressing" symptom! Or, maybe it WOULD be a relief to know I am just full of it...

Waiting For A Cure...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Office Parties, Holiday Prep, Anniversaries, Working, and Illness...These Are A Few Of My "Favorite" Things...

Well, like the title of this post says, I've been over-indulging in a few "favorite" (and not so favorite) things this past week and have neglected to troll my FAVORITE blogs OR post anything on this lovely site of breaking news...maybe having a weekend off from work will allow me the necessary time to play catch up. (And BTW, the photo is NOT a pix of any of my coworkers and no animals were harmed in the process of acquiring it!)

So in a brief update, I will provide a tiny tidbit of titillating type and catch all y'all up to speed...because my life is sooooo exciting. Sigh...OK, maybe not "exciting", but it has been busy!

OFFICE PARTIES: After preparing what amounted to enough Grandma Goldie's Holiday Snack Mix to feed a small, third world country, (and baking a bazillion loaves of banana and pumpkin bread) I rented a medium-sized UHaul truck and drove my bounty into work for distribution. As is typical, fighting broke out amongst the clan as snack bags were sized, weighed, and compared to one another for exact "fair" serving amounts. The Washington State National Guard was deployed to *keep the peace* in the cubicular land I call my office.

This week also brought to close one of my supervisor's careers as she waved good-bye into retirement without so much as looking back (good for her, I say!)...and retirement DOES spells "P-A-R-T-Y" in my office. I didn't have to do much for this event as our faithful party planner extraordinaire in the office took care of all the details (including what can only be described as an orgasmic cake eating experience...something we call the "Cora Cake" event) and provided a lovely send off for said "supe" (pronounced "soup" for those of you not familiar with inner office terminology. LOL). It was a nice gathering and I got to spend some time with my previous Big Boss Lady as well as one of my prior supervisors...old home week was a great event as I have had the pleasure of working with some wonderful folks who crawled out from under their OWN rocks of retirement and came in to attend the party.

HOLIDAY PREP: I'd like to say I have finished this yearly ritual of self-defeating purpose, but alas...I have not. For someone who does not even CELEBRATE traditional winter holiday events, I sure seem to be spending a considerable amount of time PREPARING for them! I have finally mailed off packages to my buried-in-snow sister in the Midwest...perhaps by spring, she will be able to make the trek to her mailbox to retrieve my niece and nephew's gifts.

ANNIVERSARIES: Yesterday, December 14th, marked the 20th year anniversary of my eldest sister's death. I suppose that is all that needs to be said here, except I miss her dearly.

WORKING: I actually had the pleasure of going out on some "interesting" cases this week, which required me to use the remaining brain cells I have left to problem solve with patients and their families...I prefer it when my work is "interesting". "Interesting" reinforces why I do the work I do..."interesting" gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling inside, melting some of the icy cynicism that tends to accumulate around my heart after weeks of observation of systems failure in the mental health world.

ILLNESS: All good things come to an end...eventually. My post shingles flight into wellness mode screeched to a halt by Thursday of this week. I awoke with the shared blessing of a sinus headache, most likely passed on to me by one of my ailing coworkers...several peeps have been out sick with some form of cold or flu and I suppose it was only a matter of time before my germ-magnet-immune-system latched onto an infected airborne particle. This sinus pain also came with the onset of nerve pain and aching in my left shoulder and MS symptom my body often reverts back to whenever it needs to remind me I have holes in my brain. My calves and hips have tightened up once again, giving me the look of the bell ringer at Notre Dame when I first begin to stroll...fortunately, the wonders of pharmacology DO seem to assist with this symptom. I am still over a month away from my next dose of Novantrone, so I am ever-hoping this tiny "flare up" is simply the result of whatever BUG I have been inoculated with. Time always DOES tell...

My cat is now standing on my chest and staring at me, as if to say, "It's the weekend dammit and you are homage to my presence". I must go serve my humanly duty and become slave to her every desire! If there IS such a thing as reincarnation, I so hope I come back as a cat...sigh...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Secret Recipe(s) Revealed...

I stole the photo off the is NOT a photo of my infamous mix. But since I had no photo of the 10 roaster pans I made, I decided to improvise with thievery...I'm good at that.

Grandma Goldie died of ovarian cancer 20 years ago in 1987. I have decided THIS year...the 20th anniversary of her as good a year as any to reveal her secret recipe. Besides, several of you have asked for samples to be sent to your homes and dear Sherry in Colorado already disclosed a "secret" ingredient in her comment...WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE! It seems she may have grown up in the same "white trash" era I did. LOL

So, since I can't (and won't) mail each of you who inquired a sample, I'll just give you the recipe for you to make some yourselves...Moohahaha. And without further ado, here is my dear Gran's recipe:

4 cups Chex cereal, Cheerios, Kix, Cheese Balls, Pretzels, and Nuts

3/4 cup Salad Oil

2 TBLS Worcestershire Sauce

1 TBLS Garlic Powder

1 TBLS Paprika

Mix/Blend Oil and Worcestershire Sauce and pour over dry ingredients. Sprinkle Garlic Powder and Paprika over on mix, while stirring to evenly distribute. Bake for 2 hours at 225 degrees, stirring every 20 minutes in oven.

**Tips: I tend to buy corn/wheat/rice chex cereal and add all three. One box of regular sized cereal has about 8-10 cups in CAN make a lot! Planter's no longer makes their cheese balls (believe me, when they stopped making them, I called the company!). Utz does make large barrels of cheese balls usually sold at Sam's Club's, Costco, or possibly Walmart (OR, MDMHVONPA can mail you some from Pennsyltucky where they are made!). I use a shaker to mix the powders in so they sprinkle over the mix evenly. ENJOY!

And, since some of you even requested samples of the pumpkin and banana bread I make, I give you THESE recipes also!

Banana Nut Bread

2 cups sifted flour

1 TSP soda

1/2 TSP salt

1/2 cup margarine (I use real butter)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 TSP vanilla

3-4 bananas

1 cup chopped nuts

Measure and sift together flour, soda, and salt. Cream margarine(butter) and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until thoroughly mixed. Stir in mashed bananas. Fold in dry ingredients. Place in well greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 325-350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes (or until a tooth pick stuck in the middle of the loaf comes out "clean").

Pumpkin Bread

1 2/3 cup flour

1/4 TSP baking powder

1/2 TSP cinnamon

1/4 TSP nutmeg

1/3 cup melted shortening (I use half real butter...there's a theme here!)

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 TSP soda

1/4 TSP cloves

1/4 TSP salt

1/3 cup water

2 eggs beaten

1/3 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup raisins

1 cup cooked pumpkin (canned does just fine)

Combine dry ingredients and add remaining ingredients. Mix well together. Pour into well greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

And now you, too, my friends, can enjoy the same childhood kitchen treats I grew up with each holiday! Happy holidays...

Sunday, December 09, 2007


I may have over done it this weekend...Friday and Saturday were snack mix day and today was the baking of several loaves of pumpkin and banana bread. I think I actually stood too long in my kitchen and now I am feeling the "burn"...well, at least it's not the "burn" of anything I was baking.

I get in these moods/experiences where I set my determination meter a bit too high...I take on too much at once...and then I pay the piper. You'd think after a few years of living with MS, I'd begin to plan better and "accommodate" this illness. But no...somehow like the magic of childbirth, I FORGET the literal pain I have inflicted upon myself in the past by doing too much. I only seem to recall the "magic" of the moments...and then I BIRTH another project. LOL

So, I am off now to bed with the help of my snooze pills. I also have not been sleeping well for the past several nights, which only compounds my sense of fatigue. It is time to get out the rubber hammer of pharmacology and force some shut eye since I still have one more day off on my furlough. I DO need to rest up somewhat before I return to work on least that's what any NORMAL functioning person would

The Tradition...

Sorry, dear blogging friends...I have not forgotten's just that I have been up to my armpits in Grandma Goldie's Holiday Snack Mix with my head in the oven!

It seems the tradition of my beloved "Gran" will never die...even though she passed away from ovarian cancer 20 years ago. Grandma Goldie (my mother's mother) used to make this delicious snack mix every year for as far back as I can remember. Most of us know the mix simply as "Chex Mix" purchased in a store, but my Gran made her own...every holiday...rain, shine, or sickness...for an entire family gathering of around 30 people.

I don't know if Gran made up her own recipe or if she copied it off a cereal box, but the recipe got passed on to my mother and then to me. And I've been making the blasted stuff for as far back as I can remember, too! Much to my coworkers and friends delight...

When I started working in my current job, I decided to make up enough mix for 40+ small bags to distribute to all of my coworkers...that was 8 years ago. And, during the past eight years, those "small" bags have grown in size as has the number of people I prepare bags for. What began as a quadruple batch of snack mix has now grown to TEN, LARGE ROASTER PANS...a task that takes nearly 12 hours to complete...not to mention the couple hundred dollars it takes to purchase multiple boxes of cereal, nuts, pretzels, cheese balls, oil, etc.

Every year I say to myself, "Self...stop the madness. You don't have to continue this tradition. It's grown too big and have MS. Time is energy and you have so little of both these days."

And every year, sometime around Thanksgiving, my coworkers and friends begin to drop hints (some subtle, some not so subtle) of "wonder"...wondering if I am going to make the "mix" again this year! As a matter of fact, one of my coworkers even wrote a song this year (rewrote a Christmas carole) and sang it in a voice message for me...she's hoping for an extra bag I imagine.

Last year, I fell ill in relapse in December (was in the hospital) and the holiday tradition passed until January. And somehow...some way...I managed to get the "mix" out just after New Year's. I felt I owed it to my dear colleagues and friends who stood by me through a very dark holiday time.

This year, I began grumbling about "the mix" just before Thanksgiving. When was I going to find the time (an entire day) in my schedule to shop then stay home to MAKE the madness? Why was I spending so much money on this crap? Did anyone really appreciate the time and energy I spent just for their 5 minutes of snacking delight? And then, I remembered my grandmother...

Grandma Goldie lived through the Great Depression when food was very scarce in this country if you were poor. She later owned and ran a restaurant and enjoyed cooking and serving food for people. When she switched jobs and became a US Post Mistress, she continued to gather up her extended family for two, large meals every year...Thanksgiving and Christmas. She cooked for days in preparation to feed 30-40 relatives...mostly her children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, and any other "stragglers" off the street who needed a meal. She did this EVERY year with a smile...because feeding others reminded her of her own "wealth and abundance" in her life...a satisfaction obtained not from financial gain, but from the gain and significance of family, friends, and relationships.

I imagine I will continue to carry on the tradition of my Gran until I can no longer hold myself up at the counter top and oven...I have so much and so many to be thankful for...because it is what she would have done...because I am my grandmother's child...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Seeds Of Change...

I felt myself get a strange lump in my throat while talking to Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named in my last appointment with her. I was trying to discuss the recommendations Mr. Rehab had made for me at my Vocational Rehabilitation Appointment the month before. I easily breezed through the "psychological" recommendations and some of the basic work-related changes he suggested...but as I progressed to the final subject, the mysterious lump swelled in my throat and I felt my eyes become teary. I had deliberately saved this subject for last.

I stuttered and stammered as I broached the subject with her. "Well, the last thing he recommended I am not sure I really need and it's pretty hard for me to talk about it with you, but it's on my list (I was carrying a written list of topics so as not to leave out something important) so I suppose it's worth discussing...," as my voice trailed off, I found myself looking away to swallow down the lump that was rising in my throat.

Dr. SWWNBN sat back as if to brace herself for the unknown. It is a rare occasion I am speechless in ANY setting, let alone with her, and I believe she sensed my struggles.

"What?" she remarked inquisitively, but with a softer tone than usual.

"Well," I struggled to find the right words. "He thinks I should ask you for one of those parking thing-a-ma-jiggy's to hang on my mirror when I need it, but..." I continued to feel very uncomfortable and had to pause again to regroup.

"It's just that I'm not sure I need one, but sometimes I guess I do. It might be helpful to have, but...this is REALLY hard to ask about!" I exclaimed, as if speaking to a higher authority than Dr. SWWNBN. I was now wishing I hadn't even brought the subject up and had just let the sweat from my palm completely obliterate the ink marks on my paper.

"Oh, that's a great idea," she said, leaning forward, no longer in fear I might tell her I was pregnant or some other equally as horrifying news.

"Well, I don't KNOW if it's a great idea or not," I began in my continued self-argument. "It's really hard for me to ask for such a thing because I'm basically now...I don't need to be parking in disabled parking, except maybe once in a while, but even then..." I was looking away again.

"No, you should have one. For those times when you DO need it. You won't be using it ALL the time, but it's a good idea for you to have the option. I'll fill out the paperwork for you."

And that was that.

My disabled parking placard(s) arrived in the mail today. It pained me to open the envelope because I KNEW what was inside. Flashy, shiny, blue DISABLED PARKING placards.

Change is very hard for me and acceptance is even more difficult. Throw in an ounce of "You don't deserve this" and I've pretty much mentally screwed myself into a corner. LOL

My mother used to tell us to clean the food off our plates because there were "children starving in China" and we should not "waste" food they might otherwise eat (thus, began the eating disorder I carry with me today!). In a somewhat different realm of thinking (but along these same lines), it is very difficult for me to consider parking in a space designated for "disabled" because, A. Someone who is far worse off than me at the time might need it more, B. I am NOT disabled (it is an "ego" thing), and C. I should just be able to PUSH myself harder even when walking with a cane...after all...I still CAN walk if I'm only using a cane, right?!? The placard shows someone in a wheel chair, not someone with vertigo, a cane, a dragging leg, etc. The entire permit was certainly NOT designed for me.

I don't know how long these placards will sit on my counter top before I eventually move them to my car and take one to work with me. I don't know if or WHEN I will ever find the courage (and dare I say, "humility" in it's purest sense?") to USE one of them. I don't know if I will ever get over the sadness of the reality I might NEED one of them at some point.

There are just some things about the disease of MS (and life) I remain ambivalent about..and each seed of change that gets planted takes on a life of its own.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Eclectic Holiday...

MDMHVONPA has once again tagged me...I believe it is because he doesn't have enough to do, raising twins, chopping wood, working full time, and attending his Karate Kid classes. And being the good lemming I am, I will follow his lead over the cliff and to my death.

But seriously (if there is such a thing)...the dear man has "tagged" me with a meme about Christmas. That would be THE Christmas. The holiday believed to be celebrated by everyone around the world. And unfortunately, this belief is urban folklore as I am here to tell you, not everyone celebrates Christmas...and I am one of those "not everyone's".

Now, before I begin to receive any Christian hate mail (not from YOU regular readers, but some weirdo Google-ing anti-Christ or something! LOL), I will tell you I was raised in a household that celebrated Christmas. I believe in the SPIRIT of Christmas...just as I believe in the SPIRIT of Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Solstice, and Hanukkah. I believe the wintertime holidays all have a common thread that interconnects each of us to one another...and that thread is woven with light, goodness, giving, peace, birth, hope, and wisdom.

So, in answering the following meme questions, I will have to pull out memories and ideas from my childhood OR bore you to tears with my current spiritual practices. Yes, I thought you'd choose the childhood memories route! Here goes:

1. Do you put up a real tree or artificial? We always had a real tree in our house...probably because that was what we could afford.

2. When do you put up your tree? I don't recall an exact day, but I know it was sometime after Thanksgiving.

3. When do you take down the tree? Mother was always big on getting the fire hazard out of the house before the needles fell off!

4. Do you like eggnog? I've never had it.

5. Favorite gift received as a child? A Johnny West Chuckwagon set.

6. Worst Christmas gift ever received? Can't remember one

7. Favorite Christmas movie? The Grinch (Duh!)

8. Have you ever recycled a present? I can barely get my recycling out to the bin, let alone recycle a present.

9. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Anything that doesn't eat me first.

10. Favorite Christmas song? Silent Night

11. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Stupid people, but that's really ANY time of year.

12. What you love most about the holiday? For a brief window in time, the majority of the world becomes a bit kinder and softer.

13. How many reindeer did Santa have? Is that old fart still around?!?

14. Best Christmas memory? My mother's cinnamon tea roll.

15. If you could have one Christmas wish what would it be? World Peace...wait! I'm not in the Miss America pageant...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Old Testament Relived...

Somebody get me Noah on the phone! I need to consult about an ark...I'm also not too sure what a cubit is, but I think it's around 45 centimeters. LOL

The good news? The snow is melted and gone (it's almost 60 degrees outside today)'s been replaced by what we call here in the Northwest a "Pineapple Express". (Or the snow was just the beginning of it anyway.) We are being drenched now with rain gauge overflowed sometime in the morning at 5 inches. That would be FIVE INCHES in less than 24 hours. Roads are now closing, rivers are jumping their banks, basements are flooding, and...well, you get the picture.

And I am getting ready to swim my way into work...this should be a "fun" afternoon/evening (I say with tongue in cheek!)...

**And for those of you getting blanketed in the Northeast by feet of snow fall, all I can say is stay warm!**

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It Got A Little Slick, But I'm Here To Tell About It!...

As predicted, snow began falling from the skies over Seattle around 1:00PM today...just in time for me to head out and make my way to work. Fortunately for me, MOST people seemed smart enough to stay home today and watch the weather from the safety of their living rooms, so my drive in was not too treacherous...the snow hadn't even begun to "stick" by the time I arrived at the downtown office building.

However, over the course of just two, short hours, the streets of downtown became blanketed with a heavy snow...the wet and wild kind any kid would love to get their hands in. I was still able to watch this event from the warmth and safety of my office building, staring in awe at the misfortunes of a few who took "tumbles" trying to walk their way uphill in the slushy slickness. And this is when the first "call" came in...

Not only did I have to skid my way out of a parking garage that sits half way on a hillside and steer in a car that probably doesn't weigh as much as I do (Toyota Prius), but I also had to make my way over the floating bridge to an emergency room on what is commonly called the "East Side"...anything really that sits on the "other" side of Lake Washington is called the "East Side". Seattlites are just snobby that way...LOL

My partner and I breathed a sigh of relief to find ourselves safely tucked in a parking space outside said emergency room. We completed our task at the ER and made our way BACK across the bridge to downtown Seattle. By this time (around 7:00PM), the large, falling flakes of snow had changed into a mixture of snow and rain. Although COLDER THAN A WELL DIGGER'S A$$ outside, we managed to drudge our way through assessments and return to the warmth of our bat cave unscathed...all in all, it was a pretty decent night at work in spite of the weather. This was my thinking until I returned HOME from work around midnight.

I easily drove my car home on the now damp streets, only finding a bit of slickness on the hillside of my own driveway, and parked my car on the cement. I was anxious to get inside and "warm up" a bit, having been out in the cold again for 20 minutes. Much to my surprise, when I opened my front door, a near Arctic BLAST hit me in my already cold cheeks! It was also COLDER THAN A WELL DIGGER'S A$$ in my HOME!?!?

After checking a few electric powered clocks, it became painfully apparent my electricity had been off for several hours...most likely a product of heavy snow on power lines...which meant NO HEAT had been circulating within the walls of the hut. It was a whoppin' 52 degrees inside!!!

My cat looked at me with a hateful stare when I closed the front door behind seems even her fur coat was not sufficient heat for the hours she must have spent huddled in the cold and dark alone. She promptly attacked my ankle as a statement of her disgust.

Tomorrow, we are expecting a bit warmer temperatures...just in time for another front to blow through. This next bout of weather is only supposed to bring flooding more snow for awhile, thank goodness. And THIS time I will plan a bit better for my cat...I've put out a tiny inflated raft just in case she needs to seek an emergency floatation device...she should be fine...right?...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Winter Blunderland...

Well, "they" are still predicting 1-3 inches of snowfall this afternoon in my hilly and chilly's a great day to stay indoors! Unless, of course, you work in emergency services, law enforcement, hospitals, or the Department of Transportation. The Postal Service isn't the only one who has dibs on that going to work in "rain, sleet, snow, or hail" thingy! You'd be surprised to know how MANY of your city/county/state/federal workers go to work regardless of the weather or natural disasters...or maybe not.

In my particular "essential service" job, my coworkers and I cover the entire county I live in...all 2126 square miles of it. From the base of majestic Mount Rainier to Vashon Island and as far north/northeast as the Skykomish River and Alpine Lakes...all 1,808,300 citizens that live within these borders.

As you can probably imagine by this description, we can be driving through SEVERAL weather patterns on any given day. So...when SNOW is predicted for the lowlands (which includes Seattle proper right down to the waterfront/Puget Sound), I tend to become a bit of a weather-phobe. And it's not my driving in this weather that concerns me...I spent my formative years on the plains of Nebraska plowing into snow drifts with the front of old cars just for "fun". LOL But VERY few other people (many transplants from California, or at least that's what I'm told) in this city know how to DRIVE in snow!

So, I give to you my early morning song-writing in honor of my upcoming "snow day/night" at work. Please feel free to sing it out loud today as you think of me risking life and limb on the highways and back roads of my county. LOL Or, if all you can muster up is a good CRINGE, that will do just fine, too:

(Sung to the tune of "Let It Snow")

Oh, the weather outside is frightful
MS is soooo delightful
Only if you've no place to go
Then let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

When I finally get to work today
Slip sliding all along my way
I'll be cursing every mile I go,
"Blessed snow, blessed snow, blessed snow!"

When I leave my job tonight
I'll be in for a horrendous fright
Up the hills I will have to go
I curse the snow, curse the snow, curse the snow.

And when warm again in my bed
As I shake snowflakes from my head
I'll think, "Winter in Seattle sure blows",
When it snows, when it snows, when it snows!

His Friday Is MY Monday...

I'm glad to read MDMHVONPA is enjoying his Friday...that lovely spring board into a weekend, two day vacation from the drudgery's of the working class. I'm really not bitter (or AM I?!?). Honestly. It's just that his Friday is actually my Monday. Which means HIS Tuesday will be MY Friday...anybody confused yet? LOL

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear...Snow, That Is...

Yup...forecasters are predicting SNOW again in my fair, emerald city. It certainly feels COLD enough outside to snow these days! It is supposed to get down in the 20's by Friday evening and...well, it ALWAYS rains here (myth #1), so there will obviously be plenty of sky-falling precipitation to freeze into precious, little flakes. Add those precious, little flakes to the ginormous flakes behind the wheel of cars and my fine, but hilly city turns into a winter nightmare...and just my luck...I get to go to WORK this weekend (adding one more ginormous "flake" behind the wheel of a car!).

I really can't complain about the Northwest weather so far this year. As you may recall (or if you can't remember, but wish you could, go here and

here ) LAST year's fall and winter weather gave me MUCH to complain about..we had flooding that would make Noah worry about the sea-worthiness of his ark and winds that could only be described as SENT FROM HELL!

I am sitting at my computer right now with a space heater blowing dry, skin-chapping wind on me just to warm my frozen feet. I don't know why it is THIS year I seem to be much less tolerant of the cold...I've always been warm-blooded, but for some reason, I can't seem to get warm and STAY warm. I find myself walking around my home with blankets bundled around me (YES! I DO have my heat on blasting electric bill will most likely cause me to sell a kidney just to pay for this comfort.) and my indoor thermometer says it is 70 degrees inside (I look like Nanook of the North!). I even moved it around the room just to make sure it wasn't broken AND set it near the front door to "test" it's ability to read colder weather...seems to be reading just fine. The common cold denominator is ME.

I don't know if the Novantrone is causing me to feel cooler this year or if my intolerance for the cold is some strange aging process. I AM carrying the same amount of insulating BODY FAT I had on me last year...THIS cover should have me looking like Richard Simmon's Sweatin' To The Oldies every time I exert ANY physical activity, but I remain chilled to the bone...not a drop of sweat beads on my forehead. And if it did, I'd be worried it might turn into a tiny icicle!

I've also noticed with this cold intolerance/feeling cold all the time comes a new and improved muscle my joints and muscles are just too cold to move about the hut. I've been hitting the Baclofen again just to be able to sleep through the night and not wake up in a tight, banded board. Once I get moving again, the incredible stiffness does seem to the moral of the story is to keep MOVING, I guess. LOL

And for all of you medical prognosicators who (like me) simply PLAY a doctor on the Internet, NO...I am not sick or coming down with something. I am not having chills nor do I have a fever. I'm just DAYUMED COLD! Very, very dayumed cold and I have been for several weeks now. What gives?!? (And NOW you may diagnose freely)

Has my body suddenly become living proof of global warming on a microcosmic level? Has the "ice" around my heart (formed from glacial movement of my brain and causing cynicism) spread to my Nether regions? Have I lost so many brain cells to MS I am no longer "rubbing them together" and creating warming friction? Has my cat suddenly discovered a way to not only try to suck my will to live, but also suck my body heat? Has Seattle Public Utilities launched a covert operation to pump COLD air into the homes of a million people in order to force them to run up massive electric bills? Has the distance between my FEET and my HEART increased significantly to cause a cooling of blood flow before it reaches my toes?

I don't tell amongst yourselves and get back to me on this one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Grinch Night...

It happens earlier and earlier each year...pretty soon, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" will begin airing in August!

But, tonight was the "big" night on ABC...did anyone ELSE catch my favorite holiday story tonight? Sadly, I almost missed it myself due to some serious "self-Christmas" shopping. I had to swing by my favorite electronics store on my way home from a meeting to purchase a replacement camera for my now defunct Canon...something I consider a necessity.

I DID wear my most discrete "Grinch Wear" sweatshirt to my meeting with the mucky mucks today...after all, I only get to wear this stuff for a few short weeks in December each year (I left the Grinch bedroom slippers at home and I'm not telling if I actually had on the Grinch boxer shorts or not! LOL). I'm not sure what the mucky mucks thought of my choice of outfit for the meeting and frankly, I don't really care. They are all mental health people so I imagine they can just deal with it...or diagnose me behind my back...whatever.

Of course I will be watching my personal video of the Grinch a few more times before the season is's sort of like Christmas music to me...I can get away with watching the derned tape as many times as I like, just as long as I PUT IT AWAY by January 1st!

Ah, life is good in Whoville tonight...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Miso Tired...

Yeah, I know...I'm really stretching it to link the title of this post to the picture! But the title IS correct...I am DAYUMED tired.

I just finished a five day stretch of working the DAY shift...I will make no more mention of the time of day I have reported to work. I am nearly comatose. My body aches as if I just wrestled Helga, the women's heavy weight champion. I have developed "interesting" sores in my mouth which seem unrelated to anything Novantrone could be causing...I'm referring to them as my "stress" sores as they are surely the result of too little sleep with too much stress.

Apologies for not making it around to my usual blog reads...I've just been too tired. As you can probably tell, I've even been too tired to post anything HERE. And even THIS post is lacking in substance (which actually isn't that unusual now, is it?!?).

I do feel compelled to make one comment regarding some of the search words/sentences I have noticed lately that a few desperate souls are entering into Google and ending up peeking at CHEESE...a couple today are just TOO fascinating to not make mention of here.

Some of you may not be aware of this, but when someone enters a "search" page and gets directed to this blog, my stat counter keeps...well...STATS of this information. And I am privy to what gets entered into Google Search and directs someone to this blog. Today, I noticed two such searches that caused me to laugh out loud and I apologize in advance for this horrible behavior...I'm sure "whoever" entered the search words was probably quite sincere in

Today, I was most intrigued by "someone" who entered the following:

"Does Copaxone make you fart?" and "Does being tired cause heating of the brain?"

I am now VERY interested if BrainCheese was able to ANSWER those two questions?!? Does anybody ELSE know the answers to these questions??? I'm just way too tired to do any research on either topic...LOL...

Friday, November 23, 2007

I Am A Grinchologist...

Now that I can breathe a sigh of relief to have Thanksgiving over, it's time to start planning for the NEXT big event...winter holidays. Don't get me wrong...I actually had a very pleasant Thanksgiving at work followed by a most scrumpdilleeishous evening meal, hosted by none other than dear Saint EB. My e-vile plan of playing upon the sympathies of friends to mooch a meal worked like a charm! I made a "buttload" of money working on the holiday, I didn't have to cook ANYTHING, and...I ate a most excellent free meal. Life is good in my world.

I was quickly and painfully reminded of the next approaching winter holiday when I flipped on my boobtube at 6:30-in-the-gawd-awful-morning and began my comatose preparation to return to work (need I mention ONCE AGAIN, I hate working the day shift and I'm in my once every seven week five day stretch of them!)...the "tube" was replaying scenes of midnight mayhem as malls in the Seattle area threw open their doors to greet the insanity of holiday shoppers willing to risk life and limb in the name of a "bargain". Don't worry, dear will NEVER find me in these crowds...I really don't like people all that much. LOL

And as I watched news reports of paramedics being called in to revive trampled shoppers in other stores across the nation, I began to feel a sudden warm "glow" in my cheeks...I began to feel the ice chunk around my weak but beating heart loosen...there was a bit more of a bounce in my step. Yes! It was now officially GRINCH SEASON!!!

Yup...I'm definitely a Grinchologist. And I look forward to the 3-4 weeks of the year when I can brush up on my Grinch-study. The only time one CAN reasonably fly their Grinch flag is between Thanksgiving and's's part of our "culture"...and I am what I'd consider an expert in this area.

WAIT! No, I'm not talking about being mean and nasty because it's the holidays. I'm talking about the GRINCH...Dr. Seuss's, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas". It's a classic and the man (Seuss) was, in my opinion, a genius.

For nearly 40 years (or at least as long as I can remember), "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" has replayed during the winter STILL gets air time every season. This 30 minute animated film has quietly snuck into our homes year after year and I, for one, LOVE it...and I've never grown tired of it.

I used to watch the cartoon with my eldest sister, Patty, when I was but a tot (she was 8 years older than me). And when I finally got a REAL job and found myself several hundred miles away from her, we used to call each other (we still remained in the same time zone) and watch the "Grinch" on TV together while talking on the phone. This is one of the fondest memories I have of my sister, who died in a car accident 20 years ago this December 14th. She adored this cartoon and message as much as I did/do.

I have Grinch wear...T-shirts, sweatshirts, boxer shorts, slippers. I freely admit this. I own not one, but TWO copies of the original cartoon and I watch them every year. I have the TV version of the story memorized and I can recite most of it on cue. I still get choked up every time I watch the cartoon where, in the end, Seuss eloquently says, "Christmas time will always be as long as we have we." I used to have "Grinch" parties instead of holiday parties complete with "Grinch" door prizes. Yes, I AM a GRINCHOLOGIST. And I am DAYUMED proud of it.

Sure...some people are getting excited to celebrate the birth of Jesus while others are preparing for Hanukkah to begin at sundown on December 4th. And still others are looking forward to Kwanzaa and the Solstice. But me? I'll be anxiously anticipating the network replay of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas"...aaahhhh...that's the spirit of the season...LOL...