Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank You, Claire Booth Luce...

...who is credited for saying, "No good deed goes unpunished". Because in "cryptic-speak", this has been MY week! When even the best of intentions fail to be recognized...when doing the "right" thing is criticized...when going above and beyond usual expectations is scrutinized.

Yes, "no good deed goes unpunished"...but I have the satisfaction of knowing those who "punish" for good deeds are more likely to become the subject of their own karmic whip by a much larger Judge than myself!

Nuff said...(**insert tiny Moohahaha laugh here because I can't resist**)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"It Is Finished" (Said With My Best Martyred Voice, Hanging High On My Self-Made Cross!)...

At last...the kitchen/dining room painting project is spite of my numb-turned-to-fire-fingertips! Just goes to show you (aka MYSELF) what I can accomplish when I put my mind (and body) to it.

Yes, my fingers were cumbersome then painful throughout the project...big deal. Those of us with MS know how to work around challenges. If we didn't, many of us would never even get out of BED everyday. And yes, my cement neck hurt(s) like a son-of-a-gun...nothing that can't be managed via "better living through chemistry" (aka, drugs). LOL

There are far too many days when I wake up in the morning and just want to give up. I want to hide between my sheets and somehow hope life will just whirl past me to some fantastic "end", where I can yell out, "Do over!" and get to try this thing called living one more time. It's not about being depressed or hopeless or suicidal or's about *wishing* for some kind of magical clean slate without MS. It's about REMEMBERING a time of feeling immortal and invincible...remembering a time when this thing called living seemed less of a chore and more of a promise. And then I remember a conversation I had once with someone who became sightless during their adolescent years, and perspective returns in my world.

My blind acquaintance lost their sight at the age of 14 due to a genetic disorder. Prior to this age, they had 20/20 vision. I remember feeling so horrible to hear their story of being able to see the world once, then having it removed from their vision forever and I commented on how absolutely devastating that must have been for them...after all, wouldn't it have been better to have never had sight at all than to LOSE something so precious and KNOW it was gone?

My acquaintance (who at the time of the conversation, had been sightless for over 20 years) said this to me: "Had I never had sight as a child, I would have never truly seen beauty...I would have never been able to appreciate the colors and the movements people can describe to me now in my world. And I certainly would have never come to appreciate the senses I rely upon and have had to learn to use in different ways to "see" the world as you do through eyes. I am so lucky to have seen the beauty around me, if only for a short time."

When my MS begins to drag me down and I feel "unlucky", I remember this conversation. I have KNOWN what it is like to run a sprint across a finish shoot a basketball through a hike a mountain look up at stars (before vertigo) be party all night (before fatigue) speak accomplish much in little time. These things I have KNOWN and my mind and body have not forgotten. How very "lucky" I am in life to have had these very lucky I am in life to still be able to complete projects around my home...even IF it is far more difficult to do with MS.

How very lucky I am that I can SEE the new color of my kitchen walls:
And SEE and FEEL the coolness of the new tiles on my floor:
And how very lucky I am that I can say, in spite of MS, I DID THIS...that I still CAN do this...and, it is finished.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Change Is Good...Right?...

I assume going from no feeling at all in my hands to a fiery sensation in my fingertips is a "good" least it's FEELING, right?!? This is what I woke up to this morning...a burning sensation in my fingertips.

Can't type actually hurts to press the keys! But at least I can now tell where my fingers are falling...and correcting spelling errors is a REAL pain...seriously. LOL

Sunday, June 22, 2008

You Rock!...

Hats off to three of my colleagues who, as I type, are walking in the 20 mile "Out Of The Darkness" Suicide Awareness/Prevention Walk here in Seattle! These three dedicated mental health professionals each raised over $1,000 dollars and began their trek around 7:30PM this evening...they will be walking with a few hundred others until 5:00AM this morning...from dusk until dawn...out of the darkness.

I just left Husky Stadium around 1:00AM and can happily report all three remain in good health and spirits...continuing the remaining 9 miles of their distance, with a hopeful hot bath and pampering at the end of their journey.

You ROCK, ladies!!!

And while on the subject of suicide, here are excerpts from an interesting article in the BMJ...the information is now 10 years old, but still applicable to current Multiple Sclerosis statistics correlating depression and suicide with MS:

Mental illness leaves patients at risk for harming or killing themselves, none more so than major depression, with which a 15% lifetime prevalence of suicide has been consistently noted. Less clear is how these figures translate when applied to patients with neurological disease, particularly those conditions known to be associated with a high risk of comorbid depression.

An example is multiple sclerosis, the leading neurological cause of disability in young and middle aged adults. Depressive symptoms of sufficient severity and duration to warrant a diagnosis of major depression affect up to half of patients during the course of their illness. This is three times the prevalence reported for major depression and psychiatric comorbidity in community based samples, and it also exceeds that for other neurological disorders.

...a Medline search of all published data, which shows that patients with multiple sclerosis were generally more likely to attempt or commit suicide than patients with other common neurological disorders, and a Canadian study of 3126 patients with multiple sclerosis who were followed longitudinally at two clinics between 1972 and 1988. Comprehensive databases kept track of virtually all patients within the respective catchment areas, each of whom received at least a yearly follow up examination. Suicide accounted for 15% of all ascertained deaths during this 16 year period, proportionately 7.5 times that for the general population matched for age but not sex.

With these statistics, it is surprising that the treatment of depression in multiple sclerosis has received scant attention.

While the past decade has undoubtedly brought a greater awareness of the neurobehavioural sequelae of multiple sclerosis, the risk remains that clinicians may yet miss a treatable cause of morbidity and mortality. The measure by which disability is assessed remains the expanded disability status scale, which affords little weight to psychopathology. Attention remains largely focused on more easily discernable and quantifiable evidence of disease, such as how far patients can walk unaided, the degree of cerebellar disturbance, or measurements of visual acuity. The paucity of studies of treating depression related to multiple sclerosis attests to this. The problem is compounded by new treatment modalities such as interferon beta-1b, in which physical improvement may be offset by a potentially deleterious effect on mood.

While it is premature to conclude that depressed mood represents a core symptom of multiple sclerosis, it has taken psychiatrists and neurologists almost a century to realise that Charcot's astute observation of altered affect in the disorder he helped define demands prompt and careful management.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


(You get the picture/title joke, right Lisa E.? Since you're a trained musician and such...LOL)

OK...I'm really NOT fishing, although I'd LIKE to be. Anything but what I have been doing, which is a make over of my kitchen. Fortunately, I am on the downhill side of the project, which feels satisfying. My BODY would beg to differ.

I'll try to get a post up soon of some more "draft" material submitted by all y'all...right now, it's off to bed I I can start tomorrow all over again just like today.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

While You Were Out...

What can I say, but it has been an "interesting" week here in the Land O' CHEESE.

On Tuesday, I DID get my third TYSABRI infusion. I even started a blog post about the event, but decided it ended up being too boring for even ME to suffer through reading. Here's an excerpt, however:

I went in for my third TYSABRI infusion today at the office of Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named. I was prepared…I had not forgotten last month’s infusion debacle when I casually mentioned my hands had developed a numbness in them. You remember? The day my Tysabri was NOT infused in May and I was sent for an urgent MRI (all because I had foolishly mentioned a symptom onset/change?), only to later be told I now had Degenerative Arthritis in my neck (and had to reschedule my infusion for the following inconvenient day?). Ah, yes…the bitter taste of the experience still lingers in my craw.

I was prepared with devout determination to be infused…I painted on my best poker face before my appointment and rehearsed my non-informative lines. I smiled when I thought it was appropriate, “chatted” when necessary, and tried to limit my typical rambling prose to simple, nondescript language. Everyone at Dr. SWWNBN’s office was being placed on a “need to know” basis…and frankly, I just didn’t think they NEEDED TO KNOW!

They didn’t *need to know* the fact my hands have progressively become more and more numb…my plastic mannequin hands…and I had now taken to burning myself on hot appliances because I simply can’t feel the heat radiating through my flesh (only the infusion nurse asked about the rather large scabbed area on my left thumb…I avoided response with a “hey look…a chicken!” tactic). They didn’t *need to know* my handwriting has become illegible (and who really WANTS to read anything I write besides my signature on a check anyway?!?). They didn’t *need to know* the pain in my neck and shoulders continues to disturb my sleep EVERY night…every frickin’ 2-3 hours…and it hurts worse to lie down than to remain upright. They didn’t *need to know* my neck becomes painfully stiff as a board at work…to the point I can no longer sit at my computer and type clinical notes for more than 20 minutes at a time. They didn’t *need to know* the massive amounts of Ibuprofen I had been consuming just to GET 3 hours of quality sleep feels like it has been burning a hole through my stomach…I wake up feeling like “Puff The Magic Dragon”, as if I am blowing flames from my exhaust! They didn’t *need to know* I am still balancing on the fence regarding my intuitive belief “something” else is wrong besides Degenerative Arthritis…since I didn’t have these symptoms BEFORE I went off Novantrone and started Tysabri…and I remain leaning toward stopping all MS treatments. Nope. They just didn’t *NEED TO KNOW*.

And so it went...Dr. SWWNBN *accused* me of not talking to her when my carefully placed words strategically left my mouth. It appears I am regarded as a rather "loud mouthed patient" in the office, so my change in demeanor was noted. In MY profession, it is called being "guarded", and I will admit I was WELL defended! LOL

Tysabri in, strange side effects out. By the middle of the night early Wednesday morning, my head once again felt as though it might compress down into my chest, obliterating my neck completely. My joints stoked the smoldering fires burning deep within them and the pain was radiating around my bones and long muscles. Can you say, "No sleep, children?!?"

I finally pried myself out of bed and fired off an email to the gods, requesting suggestions for something...ANYTHING that might give me some relief from the systemic pain. This is the email that floated back into my "in box":

"Tramadol is non-narcotic but it can give people a buzz (it’s not totally benign) might be an alternative. I’m assuming Tylenol doesn’t cut it? How long is it lasting? Ice packs alternating with heating pack (20 minutes each) help at all? A muscle relaxant would be another option to try. Usually the headache gets better after the first few doses, if that’s any comfort."

I highlight the last line of the email ANNOYED me more than anything! But I held my tongue and responded with this: Thanks, but "no", it isn't much comfort to hear "the headache gets better after the first few doses". :-) It's not the headache that is causing me the greatest distress. And on it goes.

I loaded myself up on gastric-burning Ibuprofen on Wednesday and headed out to my PT appointment in the afternoon. Suffice it to say, by Wednesday afternoon, I felt myself being sucked into a strange vortex of pain/discomfort and emotional distress. Madam Z, my physical therapist, DID get me laughing over her personal antics...until she strapped me into the neck stretching traction device, set the timer, and left the room. I was all alone with myself during the next excruciating minutes...what seemed like an eternity of time.

While in the traction machine, the headband strap that is used to hold one's head firmly in place came loose...the velcro edges that normally cling to each other suddenly had a parting of ways and my head was free to roam in the machine...really NOT a good thing. And me, rather than wanting to pull the emergency cord and try to get someone running into the room, decided to wait for the 10 second release of the machine and see if I couldn't just strap my head back down on my own. BIG MISTAKE.

I've never been one to have great "timing" (either with joke lines or cooking!) I cranked my neck to the side in the machine to try to look above my head, I "lingered" just a second too long. The traction machine, in its programmed wisdom, decided my 10 seconds of release were over, and began its torturous grind to pull my head off my shoulders...with my neck in the contraption SIDEWAYS. My neck was now wretched to the right in a most unholy position.

Clearly my fault and not wanting to admit my guilt (and pride), I was able to free my neck from the device and wait for the session to tick down on the timer, but not before my neck was rendered incapable of TURNING to the left....Madam Z returned with a look of concern as I sat with my legs dangling over the edge of the gurney and rubbing my neck. I decided it was best to say nothing and just leave...which I did...and sat in my car crying in pain and disappointment. Thus, producing Wednesday's grief-filled post.

I returned to my home and contemplated my options (and NO, the options were NOT gun, rope, or pills!). I have grown worse over the past 2 months with numbness and weakness in my hands...complicated by what my inner truth believes is a systemic side effect from the Tysabri. And at that moment, I realized I had also foolishly WORSENED my own condition because I was too prideful to call for help when my fat head escaped the PT machine! Maybe I was being "too prideful" about a LOT of things?

On Thursday (after little to no sleep and my neck fully stiff as concrete), I tucked my tail between my legs, lowered my valiant head, and fired off a one line email to Dr. SWWNBN: I'll go...please refer me to a neurosurgeon you know and trust. I felt myself once again caving into the Medical Establishment because I could find no other viable option...I was worn down.

Referral to the surgeon was quick and succinct...I was emailed a name and phone number to call. I waited until Friday to make the dreaded call so I could *consult* with my personal "insulting nurse" (**description stolen from Saint's how she refers to ME and my medical advice!**) dear friend, who I have mentioned in earlier posts, that was RETIRING on Friday the 13th. What better way to say, "You cannot escape me even in retirement" than by begging her to accompany me to a neurosurgeon's consultation scheduled ON MY FRIGGIN' BIRTHDAY!!! Yes, it's true...the first AVAILABLE appointment with Dr. Slice -N- Dice is in July...sigh. I really can't imagine what Karmic debt I must be paying off to have earned THIS one.

Friday involved much sadness and tears as Ms. Merrinuts said her final good-byes to full time employment and sailed her ship into the sea of retirement. I fortunately, was kept very busy at work during the day, leaving me little time to choke up and blubber. But suffice it to say, I am happy for my dear friend, but completely and utterly self-centered-ly SAD...for ME...for MY loss...because the world DOES revolve around Moi. (NOT LOL).

So now I'm "hopped up" on Tramadol...a synthetic opioid...and I have to honestly say it IS relieving some of my neck pain and discomfort. I managed to actually SLEEP ALMOST 5 HOURS WITHOUT WAKING UP last night...a new world record for me since beginning my 2-3 hour nightly cat naps several weeks ago. Maybe Dr. SWWNBN DOES know one or two things of benefit?!?

But, I'm still holding my breath until my July appointment with Dr. Slice -n- Dice...and, if I successfully hold my breath long enough, I'm not going to NEED a neurosurgeon! Maybe a cardiologist, but not a neuro-doc...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

When Having MS Just Isn't Enough (we want your DONATIONS, too!)...

Back to the DRAFT...

Here's a little sumpin' sumpin' sent in by an anonymous CHEESE reader, discussing one of MY favorite subjects: Tapping MSers Pockets FOR MS. Y'all already KNOW my thoughts on this is someone else's view:

I am single and had been OK with this path until I ran into the healthcare buzz saw involving MS and maturity. I think all those domestic arts classes or whatever they are called these days should tell folks that they really must have children for their old age long term care. In fact it’s necessary these days to have some sort of caregiver for many treatments and even tests.

It is eminently annoying to read in the MS propaganda about "involving your care partner", etc., etc. What rock have these people been living under? Have they looked at the census stats re: the astounding number of single households?

BTW, why on earth are there 2 national MS associations or societies? I've heard the "party lines" from these organizations' staffers, but based upon my professional experience this evolved because somewhere in their historical development there were competing egos. Wouldn't scarce resources be better spent if overhead, staffing and fundraising expenses, were used for only one organization?

When also did I become fodder for the fundraising appeals of not only these 2 competing organizations but also both of the "MS clinics" I have been to? What is the use of signing all the HIPAA crapola if these medical institutions can troll their records and put me on their appeal lists? Oh you may say that is not the purpose of HIPAA (which I understand), but someone has put me on the MS organizations' lists without nary permission from me. Appeal letters and support group notices are not welcome and I never ever asked for any of them. I guess my only consolation is a perverse knowledge about the costs of direct mailing appeals and the fact that I am bringing down their success rates. How these turkeys got my business address is unknowable and a thorn in my paw.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Having A Moment...

I sat in my car today following my physical therapy appointment and had a "moment". Feeling overwhelmed by grief, I watched my tears splash onto my T-shirt, and I thought about the old proverb that tells us not to cry over spilled milk. This is what came out of me as I fumbled for pen and paper and jotted down handwriting that has become even difficult for ME to read:

Barbie & The Milk Proverb

Let me cry

Over my spilled milk.

It is not the milk

I grieve,

But loss of

The simple act of


Liquid into cup.

How I take for granted

What used to be

Mindless tasks

Of rote memory.

My flesh no longer

Feeling the smoothness

Of the cup

Beneath fingers

Weakened by disease.

These foreign appendages,

Stiffly positioned

Like arms

Hanging from a

Plastic doll,

Serving no purpose.

Barbie has no brain

To bring these


Back to life.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Since I Seem To Be On A "Monthly" Theme Here...

It's that time of the month again...for my THIRD TYSABRI infusion, that is. I go into the office of Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named today to receive what will be my third (and possibly final) dose of the liquid gold this afternoon.

You may recall last month's angst I was having over whether or not I want to continue ANY on-going MS treatments at this stage of my disease process...that decision still looms out there on the horizon as I have agreed to receive one more dose of Tysabri, then make a decision...pending the outcome of how I feel FOLLOWING this third infusion. I remain unconvinced my sudden onset of neck/back/joint pain in April has not been the direct affect of my infusions versus Degenerative Arthritis (as previously diagnosed by Dr. SWWNBN). I DID go to one session of physical therapy as "commanded" and have two more sessions scheduled in the following weeks...but neither I NOR my PT, Madam Z, are hopeful there is much she can do to improve what feels like a systemic reaction to *something*.

As the month of June progresses, I am attempting to deal with/avoid (it's all a matter of prospective!) the loss of a dear, retiring friend at work and I will be frantically whirling into preparations for my sister's visit the first week of far, I'm not all that "keen" on June...sigh. I WILL continue to post submissions from the "draft" here on CHEESE to delight and entertain you, while sprinkling in a smattering of my own dramatic drivel. It seems my Sunday "Carrie" post may have put a few of you over the edge (LOL), so I will try to find more palatable topics for the remainder of the bowel movements or something... :-)

Off to shower and dress for my early afternoon wouldn't want to be disheveled for the likes of Dr. SWWNBN's office! She might withhold my Tysabri again and send me for another MRI in hopes of finding my CONSCIENCE somewhere in the black and white pictures...

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Due To Mature Content, Viewer Discretion Is Advised...

I awoke this morning to a scene not unlike that of Carrie during the night of her prom…except I was not covered in pig’s blood…let’s just say I looked like something one might find at a gruesome murder scene, but marinating in my own menstrual blood instead! I had to get out of bed (well before I had intended), rip off all of the bedding from my sleeping cocoon (well before I had intended to wash my sheets), and gimp into the shower (well before my MONTHLY bath was due!...LOL).

Yes, that’s right. Gentlemen, change the channel. I’m going to be talking about menses today…periods…the “curse”…that time of the month…for an ENTIRE post. Because the subject is on my mind this morning…and, of course, on my expensive Egyptian Cotton sheets!

For an organ that is described as “no larger than a human fist”…7.5 centimeters long/2.9inches (per Gray’s Anatomy, not to be confused with the CBS show “Grey’s Anatomy”…and far more reliable than Wikipedia!), and weighing only 30-70grams/1-2 ounces “normally” (and without an “occupant”/baby), this little reproductive organ can sure store VOLUMES of blood/endometrial tissue when it feels like it! For those of you *not in the know* about the “normal” menstrual cycle, most women (males, breathe a loud sigh of relief here if you didn’t stop reading as instructed…you DON’T have one of these) experience a sloughing off of their endometrial lining every 28 days or so (aka, the period, the curse, the menses). For some women, “normal” cycle times are between 21-35 days, so don’t feel like a failure if you can’t claim to “bleed with the moon”!

Generally, during a “regular” cycle, women lose approximately 35ml/1.8 ounces of blood per period/menses. For some women, this blood loss is more, and for some, considerably less. For MOST of us, it just SEEMS like gallons and gallons of wasted “baby lining”! But if the truth be known, that entire amount is just about enough to fill 1½ shot glasses (I will refrain from any sickening “Bloody Mary” jokes here). And researchers tell us generally a woman’s heaviest “flow” day is on the 3rd day AFTER she begins her menses (which fits in nicely on the time line of my “Carrie” moment!).

Female menstrual cycles can be affected by many variables…age and weight are certainly two main factors. Age, because as we age, EVERYTHING begins to wear out (actually, our hormone levels change), and weight…well, because mainly the hormone, estrogen, is primarily stored in our fat cells. So, the more *tire* one has around the gut, the more estrogen there is believed to be available in the body. Other common variables are certain diseases, climate and altitude (don’t ask me about THIS one, I just read it somewhere…probably on a bathroom wall), diet, smoking and exercise (I DO love to include those two bad habits together!), pregnancy (no brainer here…at least I “hope” this is a no brainer why there’d be a change in the menstrual cycle?!?), fibroid tumors, and medications. And this list is NOT exclusive. Hormone changes/fluctuations are what influence the female menses the most, and these changes can occur because of the above list (and for other reasons too exhaustive to list here). Which reminds me of a really bad hormone joke: Q: Do you know how to make a hormone? A: Don’t pay her. But I digress as usual. LOL

But seriously, if only briefly…the word “hormone” comes from the Greek word “hormao”, which loosely translated means, “set in motion”. And that’s exactly what the sex hormones in the female body do—prepare the uterus, each and every month to conceive and hopefully carry a child…to “set in motion” the birth of off spring with an everlasting lifetime of grief and despair…if you happen to be a Jewish mother. LOL And, at some point, even the female body recognizes it would just not be COOL to be applying for Social Security while taking Lamaze Classes! Eventually, like it or not (and not soon enough for me), the female body enters a phase called “peri-menopause” (that wonderful time where it just can’t decide: Social Security or day care?) and finally menopause.

We’ve all read or at least heard about the affects of pregnancy on Multiple Sclerosis. And surely we all know by now, it is NOT the fetus/baby that has been shown to be the causative factor in a marked DECREASE in MS symptoms/flares (“we” DO know this, don’t “we”?), but the drastic HORMONE levels that get rearranged when a woman becomes pregnant. Estrogen levels steadily increase as do progesterone levels, which prepare the uterus and the body to maintain a viable pregnancy. As we age, estrogen levels steadily decrease, causing a cessation of menses, otherwise known as “meno-pause” (menses pausing…get it?). Nobody really knows yet WHY this complex and changing hormonal balance in the female body during pregnancy and co-occurring with MS causes a generalized REMISSION time…it just does. But I STILL don’t recommend all of us women with MS run out and knock a bun in the oven just to get a break from our MS symptoms! I think I’d personally rather be numb than dumb. Hehe…

Another fact whispered in the female MS circles but sorely under investigated is WHY the menstrual cycle seems to temporarily WORSEN our MS symptoms. I, for one, would testify in a Congressional Health Care hearing that this is FACT…I really don’t need a scientist to confirm this at the current stage in my life! I am sadly one of those “other bleeders” who has NEVER had a regular menstrual cycle…and, after the past 5 years of MS diagnosis, my MS symptoms drastically and suddenly worsening are one of the ONLY red flags (yes, I DID mean that flag analogy to be funny) I have, signaling me it is time for that pseudo-monthly deed to occur. My joints stiffen, my spastic calves worsen, the MS hug either returns or worsens, a headache sometimes occurs, and my sleep becomes wildly disturbed among other things. These symptoms all return to baseline or disappear once Aunt Flow pays her visit, but generally come on or worsen about 3-5 days prior to Auntie’s visit.

I am also one of those women (who I consider FORTUNATE) to have experienced a chemically-induced menopause while on NOVANTRONE. That’s right…I stopped having periods for almost a year and hoped the Novantrone might have thrown me into early menopause…couldn’t be THAT lucky, however. Once I was off my every three month IV schedule of the big “N”, I simply reverted back to my regular irregularity of “the curse”.

I personally believe (without ANY scientific backing whatsoever) our hormones and our immune systems are in a delicate balance and directly influence each other…possibly more so than any of our other systems in the body. And I believe a key component to unlocking the mystery of Multiple Sclerosis lies directly under our noses in our hormones…both in the female AND male bodies (Let’s face it boys, IF YOU’RE STILL READING! You ALSO have small amounts of female hormones in your bodies just like women have testosterone levels.) Unfortunately, no one at the National Institute of Health is running out to offer ME a grant to study and investigate my belief…but then again, they really aren’t bending over backwards to throw ANY money into MS research. And this, I believe, is because MS is still considered a fairly rare disorder…oh, and the fact it doesn’t generally render anyone impotent or affect the breasts directly.

Well, enough about this sensitive subject…or is it just ME who’s sensitive? Probably…I tend to be a tad bit “temperamental” with the red tide. If I’m not crying my eyes out and believing Armageddon is around the corner, I am plotting someone else’s death, i.e., homicidal ideation! Time to go check the sheets that are in my dryer and get back to numbering my “menstrual hit list”…don’t worry…YOU’RE not on it. Or ARE you?!? Moohahaha…

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Out Of The Closet...And Into The Frying Pan!

I received an email from a DELIGHTFUL CHEESE reader, responding to my call for a "draft" here on BrainCheese...KARLA (who describes herself as "lurking for a while") writes the MS Newsletter for the Multiple Sclerosis community at HEALTHTALK (link will take you right to the MS site).

I was very touched by her submission, which is heartfelt and expressive. It begs the question, "When do any of us really GET it...really KNOW we have MS and accept the uncertainty of our futures?" I'm still "getting" it...sometimes with ease of knowing and sometimes like a frying pan *upside my head*. No matter where each of us are in our journey with this disease, I believe we can ALL relate to her words.

So, without further blather from me, I give you KARLA:

At three years in, I get that I have MS. I even get that it could change my life as I know it. After the severity of my first attack – which left me half paralyzed, dizzy, unable to walk with slurred speech, trouble understanding things and even some hearing loss and double vision - it would be hard not to get that.

But at three years in, I’m only beginning to realize that I didn’t “get” that this is forever.

I mean, I’ve known from the beginning that this is a chronic, life-long condition without a cure. I know. But I didn’t know, you know?

Relapsing-remitting MS, it was described to me, would come and go. There would be bad days, and days I forget I even have it. And the degree to which I recovered from that first attack proved it to me – there I was just months later with a crooked smile and a nose I can wrinkle on only one side, but generally the same girl I was before. So I imagined a future using the past tense.

“That attack sucked”
“That was a rough part of my life”

But scan after scan and lesion after lesion the past tense never came. Three months at a time was the longest I ever managed to go without new symptoms. And then recently I had an 8 month winning streak – practically holding my breath the entire time – only to discover on the culminating MRI that there were no wins after all, just new, quiet lesions.

This is forever.

And I wish I had something punchy and optimistic to say about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jumping out a window or anything. I knew on a logical level all along what I might be in for, and I can still do almost everything I want to. I’m damn lucky, really. But the reality – the kind of knowing in my bones - that I might never have a day (let alone a week, a month, a year or a decade) where I can forget that I have MS is just sinking in for the first time. And I’m not sure what to do with that just yet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Part Two of “Jimmy dSpaz”…by None Other Than SPAZ ATTACK!...

More musings about my infamous Humane Society "mouser" cat, Jimmy dSpaz. The Big Cheese was kind enough to post part 1 of my escapades with dSpaz on her June 2 blog. That note ended with me locking dSpaz in the outdoor rabbit cage. He was outside because I was NOT going to allow him inside the house to live with ME and the dogs, because the ONLY reason I brought this Boy home from the Humane Society was to live OUTDOORS in the hay barn; his sole job in life was to stalk and KILL ALL rodents living there.

"How's that working for ya?" you might ask. Frankly, it's not. My home-made version of a rabbit cage is a fenced in 2 by 4 foot area with a solid roof. Since rabbits can't climb I have a 1-inch gap between the wire sides and the roof. Needless to say, when I strolled by two hours later, Jimmy was nowhere to be found.

"Jimmy, JIMMY!" I yelled out. In response I heard a faint meow about 100 feet up the hill from me. "Oh CRAP – He's up a tree again!"

I called out again as I begrudgingly trudged back up the hill, gazing at the tree tops to see which one he was in. "JIIIIImmmmmmeeeeeee." Whoa! There he was, right in front of me well-hidden in the tall green grass. I had almost stepped on him!

"Oh Jimmy," I cooed softly as I inched closer, not wanting to startle him or scare him away. He looked at the nearby fence and tree, wondering if he should make the break to jump and climb. He turned his head toward me with such pitifully sad eyes I couldn't help but gather him in my arms and coo over him.

"Oh Jimmy … it's OK, you can come in the house with me."

I set up a nice soft bed for him on a shelf behind my washer, gave him food and water, and then showed him the, OMG…dare I say it? A LITTER BOX IN MY HOUSE – right there, next to my toilet – GAG ME.

I had to erect a baby-gate to keep my four dogs out of MY bathroom, which I know shared with a CAT, to keep them from eating CAT Tootsie Rolls! Geeze…somebody Shoot ME PLEEZE!

It might have been because the dogs were blocking his way … I don't know, but I DO know it didn't take long before my entire cozy little house nestled in the woods reeked of cat urine and poop. Jimmy was relieving himself behind the washer and dryer – double GAG! Since it adjoins the bathroom, I moved Jimmy's bed into MY CLOTHES closet. His bed remains there to this day. That means I have to leave my closet door open at all times, which means everything gets dusty and full of cat hair. "Why," you might ask, "didn't you just return him to the Humane Society?"

I'm a sucker for sorrowful eyes. I couldn't return him to that tiny wretched cage when he was obviously a very affectionate loving cat – who just happens to be afraid of the great outdoors! So much for my mouser (sigh).

The boy is truly a lover of the great INdoors, but I'm not fond of the stench of a cat box. I decided to attach a makeshift cat door in my bathroom window, with a carpeted shelf on the outside where he could either lay in the sun on one side, or use his cat box which I'd placed on the other side. I'm happy to report Jimmy loves his new cat door and it didn't take long for him to "graduate" from the cat box; he now relieves himself outdoors.

I really do abhor the muddy, little paw prints he leaves all over my bathroom while traipsing from his bed to his cat door. But since I tend to be a co-dependent SAP who anticipates, and puts other's desires first, the situation remains that way to this day.

A few weeks after I made my dramatic and perilous climb up the tree to rescue him, Jimmy did catch and kill a tiny little mouse, then brought the dead thing in the house to show me. I was so proud of him and gave him lots of praise. Perhaps too much praise. He's caught a couple more mice and brought them in the house to show me, but has neglected to kill the tiny tots. After the four dogs have their fun chasing the little rodent around -- knocking into furniture and wreaking havoc on the place -- Shadow, our little Golden Retriever, is the one that catches the mice and does the dastardly deed.

Couple weeks ago Jimmy scampered up another tree on the neighboring property. Unfortunately it was during a freezing cold rain storm, and it was an alderwood, not an evergreen tree.

It was late fall, the leaves were all off, the tree itself had thin flimsy branches that were wet and slimy from the rain. No way I could climb the thing even if I wanted to.

Toward evening on the third day -- after three days of hearing him pitifully meowing for me to rescue him -- it started to hail. Oh brother… if I left him, THAT DARN CAT was surely going to freeze to death -- or give me humongous vet bills.

I got my tall extension ladder out of storage -- the giant one on which I'm able to paint the outside of second story houses with -- and tramped, slipped, and skidded down the hillside through the muddy horse pasture, lifted the ladder over the wire fence and placed it down in bushes on the other side.

The horse fence was too high for me to climb over without bending it (and I'd spend hours putting the dang thing up), so I retraced my soggy steps back up the hill, away from the high horse pasture fence, and clambered over a lower fence, then struggled through thick, slimy wild scrub growth until I finally reached the ladder. I then pushed my way through the wet, thick brush, extended the ladder as high as it would go with the top rung straddling the tree (did I mention it was a very narrow tree?). All the while Jimmy dSpaz stayed up there meowing happily I was rescuing him -- and hey, the cat was soaking wet and hail was pouring down ... I had to rescue him, didn't I?

I stood on my tip toes, at the very top of the fully extended ladder (about 30' in the air) steadying my climb by grasping slimy, spindly branches until I could touch Jimmy with my fingertips. He leaned to me a little bit, so I grasped the nap of his neck and tucked him under my arm. Then yes, this fully drenched, portly old spastic lady with MS, descended the wet, mucky ladder with one arm around a very wet cat that felt the need to hold on to me with his claws dug in to my skin.

By the time I got down the darkness of night was upon us. Suddenly, I heard crashing and the sound of branches breaking as something came running in my direction. I gasped and stepped back in fear as I saw a large, brown animal burst through the bushes. I heaved a sigh of relief when I realized it was just a harmless deer bounding past me.

With a start I realized the deer must be fleeing from something, and whatever it was I could still hear crashing through the woods and brush in my direction. "Was it a horse?," I wondered silently. "No. Horses don't chase deer and none are on this side of the fence … coyote?"

The next thought paralyzed me with fear and made me wishing I had a gun. "Cougar?" I faced the noise head on, my only weapon a fully drenched pussy cat.

What ever it was stopped a couple feet in front of me. I eased back, slowly. A tiny blond head popped a happy face through the brush ... it was Shadow! Our little bratty boy dog who likes to dig a hole under the chain link fenced yard so he could be free to roam and play where ever he chose.

Whew, we were safe, I could breathe now.

So after all that -- and having to take another trip back to retrieve the ladder -- how does Jimmy dSpaz repay me? By bringing in more tiny — and very much alive — mice.

In fact, at 3 a.m. that very morning I was rudely awakened by my dogs scrambling around the house, knocking over furniture, while trying to get yet another cute little varmint. I know it was cute because I flipped on the light just as this little gray thing scurried between my legs, followed by a pack of wild dogs.

I retained my balance as they sped through my legs, shook my head and then got back in bed. I'd been through this before. I didn't get anything more than a catnap the rest of the night.

Naturally I was a bit groggy in the morning; as I walked by my kitchen table that darn mouse scurried past me again, a dog lurched toward it, spinning me off-balance in the process, and I knocked a new bottle of Pine-Sol on the floor. The top popped off and half the bottle, with a label that bragged it held 25 percent more, spilled on the floor.

Now, it's been years since I've bought a bottle of Pine-Sol and that's because it smells horrible. However, I was looking for something to clean my tile floors that would both disinfect and rid the grime and smell of muddy, wet dogs and THAT CAT (oh how I love the winters of Western Washington). Pine-Sol does promise to clean, disinfect and deodorize.

Well, it might indeed clean and disinfect, but I will never buy it again. I spent most of the morning cleaning the floor, and while it is Pine-Sol fresh and clean, its toxic smell is worse than that of a drenched, dirty dog.

Until next time,


Cutting The CHEESE...

I am always amazed, delighted, surprised, humored, or puzzled by some of the comments and emails I receive in connection with this blog…something I have been dabbling in writing now for over 2 years…a blog with a running journal, dateline, and commentary of my life with Multiple Sclerosis and just “living” in general. These communications I receive, both personal and community-oriented via email/blog comments, provide me with excellent opportunity to exam myself closely and ponder the *image* I project via my writing. I am always very pleased when something I say resonates with someone else…when something I express provides another with an opportunity to exam a thought, belief, or feeling of their own. I am even pleased when my babble causes a stir of controversy…because I believe it is through looking at our differences, we truly find our commonalities.

Lately, I have been pondering my *image* in this blog and trying to fine-tune this projection. I have been asking several questions of myself along the lines of, “what is it I really want to say/really want others to know/really want readers to get out of coming here to BrainCheese?” “What is my purpose and point in writing?”

I believe I began writing BrainCheese initially with complete self-centeredness. I started this blog (on AOL, as some of you may recall) while in the midst of a horrible relapse that left me feeling sad, alone, and isolated at home for many weeks. *Blogging* became an outlet for me to examine and work on frightening issues I was facing at that time. And, slowly over time, my rational for public writing (something I like to refer to as public verbal masturbation!) incorporated more of an altruistic meaning…BrainCheese became a format I could utilize with the idea of assisting others via examples from my own life experiences…something others could perhaps read with a resultant inner voice saying, “You are not alone”.

Through my own version of twisted, potty humor and bad grammar, I have tried to create a format of knowledge, experiences, acceptance, and yes (I’m going to use the “H” word) *hope* for others who are struggling to make their way down the shadowy path of Multiple Sclerosis. This has been and REMAINS my goal in writing this blog, and also is always in the back of my mind when writing via private email with many of you who humor me by stopping by to read here and then send me a personal “shout out”. I hope (there’s that “H” word again!) I am and will continue to strive to achieve this goal as it gives the entire process of *blogging* deep meaning and value to me.

What I also h-h-hope each of you who cruise by BrainCheese recognize is, what I write…what I project onto the computer screen…is not the sum of who I am. Just like your comments or emails are not who YOU are in your entirety. The Internet has offered each of us a remarkable communication tool, but it is vastly limiting of the human experience. What I post here on CHEESE is merely snippets of my life experiences/conversations/observations and often embellished for effect with the goal to quickly and as succinctly as possible make my point. Entire blocks of my life are deliberately “left out” of my writing due to MY need for privacy or the privacy of others. In other words, I DO write what is true for me, but nothing I write is my WHOLE truth. For example, this blog will never contain details of the nearly 10 hours a day/four days a week I spend at my work as a Commitment Specialist, which is an ENORMOUS block of “CHEESE” you will not hear about!

I suppose my point (if there ever WAS one at all in this post!) is, just because I have taken a brief hiatus from my USUAL blathering posts here on CHEESE, it does not mean I am in any way planning to STOP boring you to tears with my barrage of B.S. LOL I am absolutely THRILLED with the emails I have received of YOUR “guest writing” (aka, the BrainCheese Draft) and hope (dayumit…used that word again) more of you (especially you silent NON-bloggers out there) will consider submitting something you’d like to see in *print*, or something you feel compelled to share, or even just something you need to get off your chest. You are an integral part of the CHEESE community and I KNOW others would love to hear anything you have to say. I am needing to take a bit more time for myself right now as I prepare for the upcoming visit with my only living sibling, make crucial decisions about any on-going MS treatments, deal with (which really means find more ways to AVOID) the changes in my work place regarding the retirement of a dear friend and coworker, and find new ways to cope with what is becoming a chronic physical pain/condition in my neck and arms…I’m sure, all of which, will become “fodder” for future posts.

I have two more submissions from SPAZ ATTACK (thank you, thank you, SPAZ!) yet to entertain you with and then (sigh) my well runneth dry…unless, of course, YOU (yes, YOU!) make the sacrifice to send something my way from your writing vault. Operators ARE standing by to assist you…LOL…

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Submission #3 Of The Draft Request...

Whew...while I am enjoying my vacation, sipping Mojito's by the waves in perfect 75 degree weather, while remarking on the wonderful weightloss and stress reduction program they offer here at the REAL Club Med...

OH WAIT!!! **shakes head wildly** That's the DREAM I have been having while taking a break from writing my Tales O' Trivia here on CHEESE! Back to reality...

Here's a little ditty (OK, maybe not a "ditty", but a great post all the same) submitted from the "draft" by Zee, a wonderful blogger down south (hey, Oregon IS south of Washington!), who writes the MS Blog, Behind Blue Eyes . And I just "happened" to find an actual album cover of her daddy's band to go along with the post! (Somebody call the Copyright Cops now...I've returned to stealing from the Web):

Goin' Against the Grain

Years and years and years ago, when I was younger than 10, my dad and his friend Tim used to get together on a regular basis and play music at our house. For a while, they set up in the dining room and would play for hours, looking outside at the yard and large oak trees that lined our block. Later, dad nailed grey egg cartons all over the ceiling and walls of our basement, to absorb sound, and they played down there. Tim and dad did this for years, with various and sundry other musicians joining them at times. As you might expect, by the time the bands broke up and Tim had moved away and dad had stopped playing for the most part, I knew the words to every one of the songs, whether I liked them or not.

Most of them I did like, in fact, and for years afterwards I'd occasionally hear a song in my head and be reminded of those practice sessions. Several years ago, dad loaned me a tape he and Tim had made back in 1983 – before Tim left Portland for Nashville, dreaming of stardom – and I was excited to find that some of my favorite “Tim & Dad” songs were on that tape! These were the songs that haunted my memories: songs whose names I couldn’t recall or never knew, snippets of musical phrases that appeared and then flitted away again with only the briefest recollection to leave me puzzled. Songs I sought without much luck while listening to the many tapes my dad made for long road trips.

Unfortunately, these songs were only on tape and I had long since switched all my music over to digital format. Most of what my dad and Tim, or their band from that same era, the Surf Cowboys, had done up to that point was on CD by now. That tape was the last holdout.

Today, a package came in the mail from my dad, and low and behold, it was a digitized version of those 1983 recordings!! I promptly threw the disc into my computer and ripped it to my hard drive and have been happily listening to it ever since. Many of the songs dad and Tim did together were ones Tim wrote or songs they collaborated on. Tim may be a lot of things (a whole ‘nother story in and of itself) but he really is a talented songwriter, and – coupled with arrangements my dad put together – the music they made was interesting, tuneful and memorable.

In thinking about it later, though, I realized that this music from my childhood is music that so few of my generation would know or recognize. Music is one of those defining entities in my life: I grew up with my father singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” and other “kids” songs to me while I went to sleep; I started flute lessons at 10 and instantly clicked with that. Later, taking up the piano, I felt instantly drawn to the kinds of music I was able to make with the range of combinations the piano offers. Music has always been around me and more often than not the music I was listening to at the time defined the memories I carried with me and pulled up later at random moments.

I, of course, know and like many of the bands popular during my childhood– The Bangles, Bon Jovi, Debbie Gibson, the Beastie Boys, Duran Duran, the Go Go's, Michael The Weird One, Wham! – but many of the songs I love best are ones that my dad and Tim wrote and sang. I have yet to meet anyone of my generation who knew of their bands or music back in the day. At the time they were popular on the scene here in Portland but, like many local bands, they faded away as the bands broke up, and names and faces were forgotten. Many people who hear the music now seem to like it, but it’s an aspect of my childhood that I don’t think will ever mirror anyone else’s.

Addendum: This piece is based on a post originally written for Zee’s Boston Musings – my first blog – on April 1, 2005. I’ve cleaned up a few things in this version, added a bit more description and a few more details, and generally made it more of an essay. Since this post was written, the CD my dad sent me of the 1983 recordings has been mastered and released under the title “Heroes of the West. It is available for purchase here for those who are curious. The original version of this essay appears on Behind Blue Eyes.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

And Then There Were 117...

Sad, but true...Denver ReFashionista joins the ever-growing hit list of MS Blogs over there on the link. She writes Living! With MS , not to be confused with Living-With-MS , written by BlindersOff, or Living With MS , written by Lauren. Which, I just discovered my alphabetizing skills have gone to hell in a hand basket as I clicked on the link to grab website addresses!

Sigh...going back to FIX that now...and put a tag beside each Living With MS so you know who's who. Even if I DON'T know who I am...

The P.O.D. says, "Hi"...(If She WERE Only This Photogenic!)...

Kitty Hell...Nine Lives/Nine Days...

And this one comes to you all the way from the far reaches of Western Washington...which means SPAZ ATTACK is even further west than I am! Written with the flair of a professional writer/journalist, Spaz shares with us a moment in the life of a cat and its owner not afraid of heights:

Mice, shrews and rats – all are drawn to make a cozy home in my barn full of hay. Warm for them, yes, but the pesky rodents drive me nuttier than a loon (as if living with MS didn’t keep me in that mindset all by itself!). One of my dogs, Shadow,a little Golden Retriever, is already a good mouser – seeking them out and killing them, but as most know the rodent population is quite adept at procreation; hence, poor Shadow couldn’t possibly keep up the pace. It seemed for every one he killed four more sprang up. I decided to get a cat. I had many friends asking me to take one of their own barn cats off their hands – for free it seems cats are prolific, too.) But the humane society had put the word out they were inundated with cats so would people pleaaaaaaaaaaase come and adopt one (or two, or three)? I decided to do the honorable thing and rescue a cat from the Humane Society – which, by the way, told me ALL their cats were house cats.

“Well, we do have this one male in this corner cage… I think he’d make an excellent barn cat.” I peered into his cage, unimpressed by his typical tomcat looks — gray-stripped. His fear of me showed as he backed away and glowered at me from the corner of his cage. I figured it didn’t matter if he bonded to me, I just wanted him to kill mice. I told the young gal I’d take him. Imagine my shock that it was going to cost me $70 to adopt this cat – I could have gotten one free!

“The $70 is the price for getting him neutered and just helps cover our costs of feeding him while here." Oh well, I reasoned,the money was going to a good cause.

Since he just didn’t seem to act like a normal cat – and I often refer to myself as a SPaz because of my spastic muscles, I decided to call him Jimmy dSpaz.

Well, he spent the first 12 days at my home really living up to his name. The HS told me to confine him for three weeks until he knew mi casa su casa, so I fenced off his new home in the hay part. First thing I noticed on our arrival was his loud purring. I took him out of his carrier and he wanted me to pet him — this wasn’t the scardy cat I’d seen in the HS. This guy was affectionate — and so grateful to be out of his rotten cage at the HS! I did notice he seemed scared at the sound the horses made…”hum, he’ll get used to it.

First three days I fed him, gave him clean water and gave him some small petting – not too much because I didn’t want him to bond with him, ya know? This guy had a job to do, period. Day four I went in the morning to feed him but he was no where to be found.

“Jimmy… here kitty, kitty,” I said in a loud, but pleasant sounding voice. From a distance I heard the faint cries of a cat meowing. I followed the sound and discovered Jimmy half way up a 100 foot fir tree a couple hundred feet up the hill from the barn. I figured if he went up, he could come down. Didn’t happen. I opened a can of tuna, leaving it at the bottom as a way to bribe him down. Morning, noon and evening for the next nine days I tried to coax him out of the tree, even leaving a can of tuna at the bottom to entice him. No Go, in fact he went even higher, going all the way to the top where I was sure he’d become fodder for the eagles. Finally, the evening of the ninth day he came down to about 50' off the ground. I took tried to coax him down the rest of the way, but no go. He spent last night in the tree again at the half-way mark. When darkness started falling again I was afraid he was going to starve to death up them, plus so irritated at hearing his pitiful cries I decided it was time for me to rescue the boy.

I trudged up the hill with a 6-foot ladder so I’d be able to stand on the top to reach the bottom tree limbs. I then weaved, climbed and pulled myself up through the spindly branches so I could snag the cat and bring him down. Keep in mind this was a fir tree. The branches are close together but they are short and thin so I really had to hug close to the trunk.

As I struggled to maintain foot and hand holds while climbing up my thoughts turned to, "This is so stupid, this cat's going to panic and scratch the heck outta me" and "I AM so stupid ... I have MS, numb feet and hands -- and I'm a fat old lady,-- what am I DOING 50 feet in the air??!!!

My strength started giving out and body started quivering. A branch broke underfoot. As I hung there and tried to get another I thought, "Oh great, I'm gonna fall and break my back because I'm trying to rescue a stupid cat who is probably too dumb to know how to kill any mice!

I finally reached Jimmy, who, fortunately, was purring loudly and happy to see me. Thinking ahead about how I was going to get a cat I didn’t know down the tree I’d brought a rabbit leash which makes a harness around his neck and front legs. Now the dilemma was how to climb down without the cat scratching my eyes out — and leaving both hands free to descend. I tried putting him on my shoulder, but that didn't work because dug his claws in me to make sure he was safely perched on there. With the help of the leash I was able to lower the frightened screeching cat, claws outstretched, to a branch beneath me. Then I’d lower myself a branch, lower Jimmy, myself and so on.

Finally, we made it down to the bottom and plodded back to my house. Just as I was climbing over the 4-foot wire fence into my yard my stepfather let the dogs out the door. Jimmy clawed and struggled to get away from me and those wretched dogs. Would ‘a lost him, too, if weren't for the leash. While I screamed at the top of my lungs for the dogs to stay back, I dragged the now hissing, spatting, clawing cat into the old rabbit run and locked the gate. And whether he liked it or not that is where I planned for him to live the next week.

Th, tha, That's all for now folks!


Monday, June 02, 2008

Submissions From The "Draft"...

This is the first submission received from my begging...I mean INQUIRY...of others (non-bloggers especially!...don't want to tramp on my friend's parade, LISA, over at Carnival Of MS Bloggers) to forward something/anything they would like to share with the CHEESE HEADS who read this blog. And, I have to say, this reader has really taken my request to heart...writing FROM her heart.

BrainCheese is also very excited to have received TWO MORE submissions, which will follow this one from another reader, SPAZ ATTACK. Be sure and check back this week for SPAZ's account of "kitty hell" and, well...MS Medication Hell! (Taunting you to return for those titles. LOL)

Without further wait, I give you a boldly written piece from Sara:

About a year ago I made this post; due to issues with who reads my blog, I had to keep it hidden to protect the innocent but I'd love for it to be public for people to read.

For a country that thinks it's got its shit together, they could surely learn a thing or two from others, in particular their views towards homosexuals!! How many police forces in the US can say they are completely open?!?!

I know for a fact that here in London it is truly open. My friends Jim & Rob have a lesbian skipper and if you asked them what they think about it, they look at you funny as if to ask why are you even asking? “She's one of the team members and we back her fully!”

Probably the other reason I get so hot headed about this topic is that it's near & dear to my heart. Most of you who read this blog have known me a long time, if not my whole life. Do you think I'm a "normal" person (yeah, yeah, yeah, what's normal). Let's remember how many of you "grew up" at my house . . . close to every weekend, Kris, Colin, Patrick, Matt, Kevin, Adam, Pete, and I'm sure I've forgotten someone who was sleeping over at my parents house . . . why you ask? Because I had parents . . . yeah I know that might sound funny but when you think about the family situations these boys were coming from (drug dealing dads, alcoholic moms, deadbeat dads, etc) my parents became everyones parents. I know on more than one occasion poor Kris got taken into "Mr. O's office for a talk" - that's one place I never wanted to go for any talks!! To this day Kris talks about it, not in an "I got yelled at by your dad" way, but more of a role model supportive way. Maybe hard to understand if you've never hung out with my dad for long periods of time, but bear with me.

In the fall of 1999, the week of Thanksgiving to be exact, Chas & I flew from Albany, NY to Austin, TX to visit with my cousin Ned & his wife Terri. Chas & I had the week off from college so we went down a few days before the rest of the family was meeting us. We were having a fantastic time boating on the river, touring around the city, relaxing by their pool. Auntie Ann arrived 2 days before thanksgiving & dad late that night.

The day before Thanksgiving Chas' mate (Doug who had been at college with us) was driving up from Waco to have lunch with us. I will NEVER forget this lunch, it was so surreal. That morning Dad asked if Chas & I could talk to him in the TV room about some personal family business. Understand Chas was a part of my family we'd been dating for 3 years. Dad, Chas & I all sat down on the couch & dad pulled out his legal size yellow pad of paper which he always had no matter where he was, he brought some with him. He said something along the lines of, I have something important to tell you both about our family and he started to cry. I of course immediately thought he was dying or that something was wrong with my sister Patty or Mom. To be honest I'm not sure how the next few minutes went or what he said, but the bottom line was he was coming out of the closet. To be honest, my first reaction was happiness that nobody was dead or dying. I was in such shock about what he had said I didn't really say much aside from, "you'll always be my dad". We hugged and he asked if I wanted to call mom or Patty or one of my godparents who knew. I said no thanks & just went back to the room I was staying & tried to comprehend what he had just told us.

Then Chas walked in to say we had to leave to meet Doug & his girlfriend at the BBQ place just down the road. As we were leaving the house (me still in a haze), I recall Dad asking if he could come along? I have no clue what I responded but I think Chas said "yeah sure".

I got out of the car & could see Doug's brand new silver mustang from across the parking lot. We walked over, introduced my dad & Doug's girlfriend, then proceeded inside. We got seats by the river, ordered our food & I'm sure there was talking, but I'm 90% sure I stared out the window most of the meal. I could barely eat, I just wanted someone to pinch me so that I would wake up.

The rest of that night was uneventful - nobody talked about it & when my sister called us she told me how mom had told her while she was driving on I-87 and she nearly drove off the road. Neither of us knew what to say. so I said, "see ya on Saturday" and we hung up. Chas & I tried to talk about it before going to bed but I still didn't know what to say. Chas was so supportive, I know I might not have been able to hold it all together if not for him.

Thanksgiving Day went without a hitch, Terri's whole family came over & the day after Thanksgiving we went Christmas tree shopping, ate leftovers, & swimming. Saturday we flew back to NY and everyone met at my parent’s house.

Part Two of the whole surreal experience started here. For some reason up to this point I think it had not truly sank into my head, but now with my mom, dad, Patty, and Chas all sitting around the living room table discussing what was going to happen next it was slowly starting to seep into my brain. “My dad is gay". Again came offers to call family or friends & again I still wasn't sure what I would say after they answered the phone.

To be perfectly honest I have no clue when it all "sank in" and I think there are still days when I wake up and wonder if this has all just been a dream - I don't say that in a bad way, just that what I thought my life would be has been dramatically different with my dad being gay & my parents understandably getting a divorce.

I still don't know any people my age who have a parent who came out of the closet during their teens or adulthood, but I'm guessing I'm not alone. I have to say one great thing that happened, in part because of this, was you found out how supportive your friends can be. I worried that maybe friends would reject me if they found out my dad was gay. I worried that boyfriends wouldn't want to meet my dad b/c he was gay. So far none of that has happened & I think that even a few friends have become a wee bit more open minded now that they actually know someone who is gay & realize he's just a normal person.

BUT I must take this time to thank my boyfriend at the time and family for "taking care" of me & Patty. The summer after we found out my dad was gay, my parents decided to get a divorce & move houses. Understandably Patty & I did not want to be around for the division of property etc, so we hid in Rhode Island for the summer. Thanks to you both Patty & I were able to make it through the rough bumps of the divorce & we will never forget you for that!

Okay, so what got me in a twiddle was reading a friend's blog, (who was just posting something he read) that gave this reason for why gays should not marry: “Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like.”

And so I ask you, am I F***ed up because my dad is gay?

I THINK NOT!!!! If anything I think my family is more open than most in NY State or in America for that matter. Okay, done with my rant . . .have a good morning, afternoon or evening (depending on which time zone you're in).