Sunday, December 06, 2009

Yeah, Yeah...So It's December Already...

...and I haven't posted anything here for several weeks. Life happens.

I'm home at the moment with swollen glands in my neck and severe fatigue...ruled out that any of this is MS-related, but not so sure about the possibility of Ebola, Hantavirus, Cat Scratch Fever, or the good old 1500's plague. I DID complete the Seattle 1/2 Marathon Walk last week on the T-shirt and the medal to prove it...also got a half dollar-sized blister on the bottom of my right foot, but who's complaining?!? I've been busily "recovering" from the event ever since.

Just a few odds and ends to entertain, annoy, or disturb you:

1. Yes, Seattle IS now known as the cop killer city of the United States...we've had five police officer murders in the area since the end of October. Last weekend, I spent much of the night awake as helicopters circled overhead searching for a "suspect" in the recent shootings...that "suspect" is now officer shot and killed him...poetic justice, if you ask me.

2. I am receiving numerous "spam-type" comments to this blog daily. Anyone else have this sort of problem on their blogs? And just so you spammers know, I do not NEED cheaper drugs from Canada or Russian female escorts at this time...I HAVE health insurance and I don't speak Russian (or Canadian, for that matter...LOL).

3. It is colder than a well digger's ass once again in Seattle...frankly, I'm kinda hoping there really IS something to this global warming theory...would like to see a warming trend near me...just could do without the acid rain if possible.

4. I have made FOUR (count them -- 4) grocery bags full of Grandma Goldie's Holiday Snack Mix this year. This endeavor must has grown into a massive production and expense. To all of you expecting your yearly dividend of mix, be aware unless you provide proof of citizenship in the land of BrainCheese, you will no longer receive your yearly HAVE been warned. :-)

5. Bah Freakin' it REALLY that time of year again already when I have to brave the annoyances of the general public just to find some silly little gifts for friends and family because it is "tradition"?? Hello??? I don't DO Christmas, I'm NOT Jewish, and I'm hoping no one will notice if I just casually "forget" them this year. People have way too high of expectations for me and MY bar of accomplishment is soooo very low.

6. I discovered "carb loading" for exertion exercise does NOT include a 3 week plan of eating anything one wants before an event. Who knew? I carb loaded for nearly 3 weeks before the half Marathon Walk and now must pay the price...that price being some weight gain (of the nearly 40 pounds I have worked so hard to lose these past 5 months!!!) of about 5 pounds and feeling once again like a sugar junkie. Guess I should have consulted a personal trainer, but why? They probably would have told me I should only "carb load" the night before the event and what fun is there in such strict instruction?!?

7. It's official: I probably WILL live to see the year 2010...I feel like a foreign actor in some kind of strange sci-fi movie. Wasn't it just 1976 last year and we were celebrating our nation's bicentennial?

8. Prediction: Microsoft's BING will never be able to compete with Google..."google" has made it into the urban dictionary as a verb, for gosh sake. I can't imagine EVER saying, "Well, why don't you just Bing it?"...just doesn't sound right. Nice try Bill Gates...

9. Words of Wisdom: Just because it's advertised as an "all you can eat" buffet, doesn't mean you SHOULD. I'm just saying...from personal experience.

10. Shout Out: You know who you are and you rock! You make me smile...aweeeee.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Guest Blogger...

I received an email from Mary Ward, a freelance writer who writes for several blogs. She asked if she could submit an article for BrainCheese over 3 weeks ago...and, being the complete CHEESE HEAD that I am, I am also just now getting around to responding.

My first thought was, "Why would ANYONE who is an actual writer even WANT to submit something to be printed on this little toilet paper piece of the Internet?" I was quickly able to let go of that question (not because it was answered) and realize I have been too preoccupied with life to write anything of my OWN here, so I jumped at the opportunity!!

So, without further ado, I present Mary Ward and her post titled, "How To Keep Fit When You Have Multiple Sclerosis".

For people who have Multiple Sclerosis, keeping physically fit is extremely beneficial. No matter how you are affected by Multiple Sclerosis, there are a number of exercises from which you can benefit. If you stay as physically fit and healthy as possible, many of your symptoms may improve and their effects minimized.

Exercising on a regular basis will help effectively to keep you body working as well as possible to its fullest potential. Each person is affected by Multiple Sclerosis and you know what you like to do. It is vital that you find the exercise routine that suits you best and you know you will enjoy. Some people enjoy playing team sports like baseball and basketball. Other people with Multiple Sclerosis enjoy yoga and Tai Chi. You will benefit from any type of physical movement. You can even stay fit from activities such as cleaning, gardening or taking brief walks. Using your muscles will help keep you fit.

No evidence exists to suggest that exercise has a negative effect on Multiple Sclerosis over time. Nor is there any evidence that exercising will cause a relapse. As a matter of fact, the research on the subject indicates the exact opposite.

Exercise works effectively to improve the overall health of a person with a mild case of Multiple Sclerosis. It helps people with severe cases of Multiple Sclerosis remain as active and mobile as possible. Exercise works effectively to help many people afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis to better manage their symptoms such as bowel and bladder complications, difficulty balancing, muscle stiffness, anxiety, fatigue and depression. Exercise also helps to decrease the chance of heart disease.

In order to find the exercises that meet your particular abilities and needs, you may find physiotherapy quite helpful. A physiotherapist may be able to help you find the exercises to concentrate on a certain part of your body that needs improvement, or aid with management of a particular effect of your Multiple Sclerosis.

A single Multiple Sclerosis exercise that works for all cases just does not exist. Multiple Sclerosis affects different people in many different ways. Therefore, the best exercises will vary from one person to the next. In addition, you may find that the benefits you desire from an exercise routine will change over time.

Several types of exercise work effectively to help keep your body healthy, especially if you are affected by Multiple Sclerosis, such as:

· Aerobics like running, cycling or rowing are a great way to get the blood pumping all throughout the body by using several different muscle groups.

· Strength training exercises, such as lifting or using small weights, work well. You can also use the weight of your own body to strengthen your muscles and bones.

· Stretching is the ideal way to keep your muscles relaxed and supple. Remember to stretch before beginning any aerobic exercise, and use stretching as an exercise all its own.

· Posture exercises work to keep your head, shoulders, knees, feet and pelvis all in proper alignment to reduce the amount of strain on the bones and muscles.

No matter how you are affected by Multiple Sclerosis, you should be able to find an appropriate exercise routine that will make a huge difference in the way live with and manage your condition.

Mary Ward blogs about how to apply to online sonography programs.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Too Close To Home...

It happened just after 10:00PM last night...10:05 to be nearly exact. I had been spending my Hallows in meditation, fasting, and in introspect, when I heard the first volley of gunfire. Seven shots...I counted them. Then, a brief pause followed by 10 more. I know THIS, too, because I counted them (contrary to what the local news is reporting).

The sound of gunfire is NOT all that unfamiliar in the part of Seattle where I live...frankly, I'm not sure it is unfamiliar in MOST areas of any city these days. But THIS particular gunfire was not that far away from my home...within minutes, maybe two, I heard the sounds of multiple sirens racing over the streets and saw the Seattle Police Department zipping up and down the road. There was a frantic quality to the response last night...not that SPD doesn't ALWAYS respond quickly to most calls. But this was no ordinary call of "shots fired".

Last night, a Seattle Police officer was gunned down while sitting in his cruiser less than 1/2 mile from my home. He was killed in the first volley of seven shots I heard. News reports say an unknown gunman simply pulled up along side the police cruiser and opened fire...there was no provocation and no warning. This officer was literally assasinated for no particular reason...other than he was wearing the familiar blue uniform and badge.

I don't personally know the murdered reports say he was a training officer and was in the middle of a training shift with a rookie only one month on the job. Of course, the news is ALSO reporting a variance in the number of shots fired. I KNOW the exact count...I listened to it, looked at my watch, and waited to hear the sounds of sirens in hopeful response. The sound seemed too far away for me to identify a location for a 911 operator.

The words, "senseless crime", seem like SUCH a completely strange combination of words when trying to make sense of this tragedy. After all, isn't ALL crime senseless? But to literally assasinate a police officer, or ANY human being for that matter, leaves me speechless...and very, very sad.

I work very closely with the Seattle Police force in my "govmet" job...time and time again, these officers have covered MY arse when dealing with a potentially violent mentally ill patient. They go in first, securing the way for ME to enter to do my job. They cover MY back...keeping me safe so that I might ALSO protect the public in the role I have...whether that be protecting a suicidal individual or someone who's mental illness causes them to want to harm others.

It was through my job I learned about the "black stripe" on an officer's SPD officer kindly told me what the piece of tape meant that he was wearing on his badge when I somewhat dumbly inquired, not knowing the depth of the significance. I was told whenever an officer is killed in the line of duty, the force dons their badges with a black stripe to signify the mourning of the fallen is their "memorial" of sorts to their commrade.

The killing of the SPD officer last night hits too close to home, not just on a geographical level, but a personal/emotional one as well. I am keenly reminded of the inherent dangers of working as a public servant myself. I am often tasked with making safety decisions in MY job whether or not to request a police escort into a situation or whether I feel "safe" entering with only my work partner and the sole weapon we carry...our brains. The majority of the time, we make the appropriate decision about our safety and the safety of the population we serve. But there is always a margin of possibility we might miscalculate our sense of safety and find ourselves in dangerous situations. These are the risks we take...every day. And EVERY DAY at the end of the day, I am quite thankful yet another has gone by without injury or harm to myself, my colleagues, or the population we serve.

And EVERY DAY, I am always thankful the men and women in blue of the Seattle Police Department are available to me if I need them...willing to "go in" first so that I might safely do my job. I don't have a *badge* to carry in my today, I'm simply putting a black piece of tape across my heart and honoring these courageous officers...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cheese Curds...

Wow...I have finally rolled back over here to this blog, only to discover I HAVEN'T been here for over a week! What's up with that?!? Hmmm...wish I had a plausible explanation, but all I've got are a few CHEESE CURDS to discuss in my life right now...tidbits...nothing grand happening...just little things!

Since returning home from my GRAND experience in the Canyon named for such, I jumped directly back into my work schedule that is the busiest part of my rotation AND the part that is the most dreaded: DAY SHIFTS!!! Yep...nothing like a little 6:00AM action following a perfect vacation to set the tone for disgruntle. LOL It was a difficult shift just RETURNING back to "real" life from the Canyon let alone the abnormality of my schedule...but, somehow I got through it.

There is LITTLE else to tell or report in my life right now...not even sure THIS qualifies as CHEESE CURDS! I continue to try to keep up my walking, which also takes a good chunk of my time during the week. I've now walked a whopping 200 miles since I began this quest in July...and I'm dayumed proud of myself, too. :-) The farthest I have traveled in one walk time so far is 9 miles, but I am expecting to do 10 next week (the 11, then 12, then 13, and THEN the Seattle Half Marathon Walk!!). Of course, just as my journey times out doors advance into the 3 hour zone, the WEATHER in Seattle has tipped it's hat, dropping significant rain in the Emerald City. Since this is only typical for a return to winter months here, I've been out WALKING in it...can anyone spell "Monsoon"?!?

I'm hoping to make a few short, one or two night trips here and there this fall to visit some nearby friends...beyond that, the only things on my schedule are to work, sleep, eat, repeat. So, enough of MY cheese curds...what fine morsels of life's news do YOU have to share? Hope yours are a bit more "tasty" than mine!~...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Staring Into The Face Of God...

There is nothing more *grand*, mystical, magical, or infinite than to stare into this canyon and know there is a place in this world for all of know there is a far greater plan than I will ever comprehend.

And I'm quite content knowing I will never understand...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Canyon Bound!...

Off to check and see if anyone has shoveled enough dirt in the Grand Canyon to fill 'er up! Be back soon, preciouses...until then, click that link over there for 150 MS Blogs to Suck Your Time and entertain yourselves with a few wonderful blogs!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Embracing Mortality, Living Immortal...

I was 9 years old when I learned about mortality...the lesson was during a time in my life when I should have been allowed to continue to believe I could fly, if only I learned to flap my arms fast enough. Nine is awfully young to be asked to give up magical thinking and one's belief time is eternal...or at the very least, hoping the summer season would last forever without school.

It was the end of September in the fall of 1973 when I discovered I was vulnerable. It was this particular fall, like no other season, I was suddenly forced to believe my body was not invincible and I was merely mortal...a fragile human being walking on the egg shells of time.

On a mildly warm fall day, I was playing tag football with my best friend on the farm, when I gradually began to feel "weak"...I was having trouble standing without fatigue and the game drained all of my energy. It was only a few hours later my mother picked me up and took me home from our slumber party...I didn't really want to leave, but I felt strange and very tired.

Over the course of the next 24 hours, I developed what my mother thought was the stomach 1973, my family not only didn't believe in using modern medicine, they simply couldn't afford it. So, I was kept at home feeling very ill and vomiting anything I ate...mother still made me go to Sunday school that day, thinking I was only feigning illness to get out of paying my respects to the Baby Jesus. After all, I HAD faked illness before and successfully been allowed to stay home from church.

The next day, I was allowed to stay home from school because my temperature "didn't feel right" the days of the old mercury thermometers, my mother still felt the back of her hand was a more reliable gauge of fever than science. EP (my father) had a short business trip planned to the city 100 miles away, so my mother loaded me up in the van and we all drove out of town...still believing the stomach flu would pass as quickly as it had set in.

By the middle of the afternoon, with my parents in a store while I rested in the van, I suddenly had a strange sensation something was terribly wrong in my body...and I was frightened. I needed to find my mother to let her know I was becoming sicker, so I tried to walk into the store, collapsing at the front doors. Someone alerted my parents to the lump of flesh balled up outside and my parents came to scoop me up...rather than stopping at a hospital in the city, they drove the 100 miles BACK to our farming village to consult with the doctor in a nearby town...I heard my mother put the phone down and try to tell EP calmly the doctor had said to take me to the hospital...and then I passed out again.

I recall being quite alarmed when my father/EP, who was not known for affection, lifted me out of the car at the hospital and carried me into the emergency room practically running...I remember being relieved I was not asked to walk in myself. The doctor met us at the ER, took one look at me, poked my abdomen causing me to nearly pass out again, and uttered the words, "Prep her". I had no idea what those words meant, but I could sense the fear on my mother's face. The last thing I remember is having my arms strapped down out to my side in a strange crucifix fashion while staring into bright, hot lights above...I was screaming loudly, but it was as if no one could hear me...or perhaps the screams were only in my mind.

When I eventually recall being conscious again, I could hear the hum of some sort of machine beside me, and saw my mother crying in the chair across the room...I vaguely remember hearing the doctor telling her somewhat sternly, "Another few hours and she wouldn't have made it". A nurse was adjusting an IV line over head and, with what seemed like surprise in her voice said, "Oh, you're back!" She then very gently smoothed my hair away from my face and turned to tell the doctor I was "awake now" was so strange receiving such a gentle caress from a stranger.

I had narrowly survived a ruptured appendix and the ravages of septicemia that had infected my body over the prior 48 hours. Over the next 3 weeks, I would remain in the hospital, receiving IV infusions of various antibiotics, and trying to come to terms with my near death experience.


At the age of 9 years old, I was forced to embrace my own mortality. I remember the exact moment in time the realization of impending death shadowed my thinking...I remember touching upon an understanding that shattered my innocence: I was merely mortal. I could and would die some day and I would cease to be. Illness could overcome me at any time, any place. My body was fragile and unpredictable. It seeped into my thinking quietly, yet with the force of a strong undercurrent, washing away my young foundation.

I believe it was this experience that continued (and continues) to color my view of life as I know it. And this very experience has remained always present in my unconscious, teaching me to be cautious because illness is unpredictable and Life is fragile...the experience shaped much of my adult life and how I have viewed and approached illness (and wellness) in my body, particularly my initial response to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

The day I was diagnosed with MS, I embraced my mortality. Words like "fate" and "punishment" and various other themes of demise salted my thinking. I was angry and I was sad, sometimes dipping into all five stages of Kubler-Ross grief in a matter of hours. I recall believing I would most likely end up being in that 5% of the MS population who becomes wheelchair-bound in their first 5 years of diagnosis. I was terrified I would end up a ward of the State tucked away in some dingy nursing home and become either too disabled mentally or physically to *pull my own plug* so to speak. I did everything I could think of in my ultra-organized, anal-retentive fashion of thinking to "prepare" for the inevitable...I exercised every option available to make proper preparations for my eventual demise - from Living Wills to savings accounts - all to embrace my mortality.

Interestingly enough, what I have finally begun to learn in 45 years of walking on this earth and 6 years being diagnosed with MS is this: In embracing my mortality, I have neglected a key component necessary in preparing to die. I HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO LIVE.

These past several months while I have been away from this blog/the computer/email, I have been retraining my mind and body in the simple act of LIVING. In a world where the Grim Reaper has always been felt breathing down my neck, this has been no easy task. I remain rough around the edges as I continue to try new paths, new tasks, and learn new LIFE skills. But slowly, I have begun to feel the grip of MS and the squeeze of mortality loosening...I am beginning to feel as though I may once again fill my mortal lungs full of breath without worry the air may be the last I inhale. I am learning that, although the physical body is mortal, LIFE is eternal and will continue on long after my physical being ceases to exist...this notion has nothing to do with religion or heaven/hell/Karma, but everything to do with being present NOW...LIVING my life as though I am immortal.

As we turn the wheel of the seasons yet another round, I am keenly aware of the animal instinct to take stock in our bounty for the winter. Fall is always a time to begin looking toward the dark winter of our souls as we prepare for that quiet stillness. I feel comfortable moving into this new season, knowing this summer, I have harvested all I need to survive the chill of my unconscious being.

I know that I am merely a mortal...and I am CHOOSING to live life like there is no tomorrow. I am CHOOSING to live immortal...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

MS Inspiration?...

I have to admit...there is little that truly inspires me, except for the occasional glorious sunset and right now, the thought of eating a huge piece of chocolate cake (which I don't have available, BUBBIE! Not on the Met-Miracle plan...sigh). But, after spending my Saturday at the local Bike MS Ride here in Washington State, I have found myself *inspired* (not to be confused with perspired or even expired).

Yes, I was once again in attendance at the area "Rah Rah MS Ride"...that's how I usually refer to it. It used to be called the MS 150, but somehow that must have confused the less than logical riders, so it's now just called the Bike MS Ride. The National MS Society sponsors a gazillion of these rides across the United States each year and the Greater Washington MS Society Chapter holds their version of the ride in September every year, rain or shine. I've been to 3 of these may recall, the FIRST two involved an incredible amount of beauching and moaning from the CHEESE as she had somehow found herself in a less than glamorous cabinet position as the "tent czar" for Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named team. It was hella work.

THIS year, I finally came to my senses and decided it was time to give some other poor and undeserving individual the "tent czar" title (and to take care of the Higher Maintenance Dr. SWWNBN!) The planning took too much of my time and energy away from me in the past...and I just thought it was someone else' *turn*. Thank goodness another willing participant took up the cause (and she's on the list for my left kidney, should she ever need it)! So, I was free to simply become what I call "tent bling" at the event this year and actually ENJOY myself for the day (watching other worker ants do what I used to do).

It was a *bootiful* and warm, late summer day here in the typically-raining-Puget-Sound area on Saturday...I had a pleasant hour or so drive to Mount Vernon, Washington, singing my guts out with the car stereo and appearing like a mad woman darting down the freeway. I arrived on site (but not on time) to a warm hug and greeting from our local MS celebrity, Trevis Gleason, over at Every Day's OK...I've "outted" him before and I think he's used to my shenanigans. :-)

Trevis is one of MANY old friends, who I tend to see only once a year at the Bike MS event (probably because he usually sees ME first and runs to hide!)...the event becomes something of an OLD HOME week (or homecoming week, for those of you not in the know about southern colloquialisms) as I catch up with the news and the lives of several people, all bound together by those two initials: MS.

The Bike MS Ride can be a bit of a downer for me sometimes. Mostly because there are SOOO many people there WITH MS, the disease gets thrown up in my face like a drunken date (wait...I think I was the one who used to throw up on my dates?). Everywhere I look, there's MS. Everything ABOUT the event is MS. Everyone is focused on "riding for a cure" and "fundraising", neither of which I can honestly say (in my humble opinion, of course) will ever happen in my lifetime OR be enough money to assist.

The majority of the riders are those *healthy* know...the one's WITHOUT MS. There are always a percentage of MSer's riding, too...those that are functioning well enough to pedal. There are two-wheeled bikes, tandem bikes, unicycles, three-wheeled bikes, and a sea of riders all out riding for their own, individual reasons. They leave before Dawn's Crack (or shortly after she shows it), heading out to PROVE something, if only for themselves. And eventually, they all trickle back in to base camp...exhausted and physically spent...some barely able to walk (or sit!) once they dismount their wheels.

This is when the tent becomes a handy gathering place...each team is assigned one (tent, that is), and each team carries on their OWN festivities for the remaining hours or minutes of sunlight left in the day. Each team talks about their fundraising, their awards received (for best jerseys, best team spirit, etc.), and everyone catches up with each other...those people who only see each other once a year for this event.

There is an evening "Rah Rah MS" program also, where Trevis is generally a guest speaker (and you DO still owe me two beers, my man, for NOT doing the *sign* during your speech!). Teams gather in a huge crowd and our disease's favorite cheerleader and spokesperson talks about how we have to end the devastation of Multiple Sclerosis NOW (I have to admit, the man CAN give an inspiring speech that usually brings a tear or two to my eyes!). The crowd is filled with energy, even though the majority of the participants are beyond exhaustion from their ride. THEY are there for us...THEY are there for me...THEY are there because it is something THEY can do, if only for a weekend. THEY are there pedaling and riding because it is the one thing THEY CAN do, because THEY either know someone who's life has been affected by MS or they are carrying the disease with them in their own bodies/hearts...those two, simple letters: MS.

I have to admit something to you now...there is nothing more humbling or more INSPIRING than to see 60 - 80 cyclists wearing MY NAME (no, not BrainCheese...the name my mother gave me!) on the back of their riding jersey. That's right. The CHEESE somehow finds her name in the jersey design each year, along with the names of 10 - 20 other MSer's the team rides for (although, now that I've relieved myself of the "tent czar" title, Dr. SWWNBN probably will no longer remember how to SPELL my name in year's to come. LOL). THEY ride for me...THEY ride symbolically for you...wherever YOU are, living with MS.

I returned home late in the evening last night, still singing loudly in my car to Gloria Gayner's "I Will Survive" (but hopefully after dark, looking less like a lunatic), and wearing the fabulous T-shirt I received from the firemen on the team...long story, but maybe one I'll get around to sharing later...suffice it to say, I SLEPT in that T-shirt because I didn't want to take it off!

I crawled into the comfort of my own bed last night as the tears made damp spots on my pillow...but they were the tears of a peaceful kind. They were tears I don't often shed because I have little reason to feel them most of the time or, more often, I make little time to ALLOW them. They were tears of inspiration and *hope* (dare I use that word?). They were tears that wash the soul, leaving only the purest of shine on the heart. MS has brought many things into my life, much of which, I would gladly give BACK to the disease to keep. But, I would never, ever trade the feeling of inspiration I get being in the company of MS on this particular weekend.

THANK YOU to all who ride, wherever you ride, in the name of are my hope and inspiration...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Andy Warhol's Got Nothing On Me...

And neither does President Obama! Introducing the "Yes We Can":

OK, perhaps I've had a little too much free time this evening...I admit it. In between doing my mountain O' dishes and laundry, I was trying to come up with some kind of catchy title and pix for a blog post! It was either altering the Andy Warhol Campbell's Soup can painting, or trying to find some kind of picture demonstrating the word "commitment" that would be funny, yet not tasteless to the population of people I serve in my job...AKA, the psychiatrically committed. I settled on mocking Andy. although he'd probably FIT in the latter category as well. :-)

Well..."Woot?!?" you say. "What is all of this energetic *yes we can* and *commitment* got to do with anything? As a matter of fact, when has the CHEESE ever been energetic or committed (not commitable, COMMITTED) about anything?" Oh, and also, "Do we really care?"

I suppose the answers for the mass collective (all two of you who read this drivel) to the above questions would be in this sequence: Nothing, never, and no.'re gonna hear about it anyway. Because I'm just like that...annoying to the core!


Oh, sure...NOW I've got your attention. NOW your questions are along the lines of, "But how is the CHEESE and her fat arse that follows her going to possibly WALK 13.1 miles without stimulating a coronary?" Simple...I've got a plan. But first (**as always, que the background music and prepare yourselves for drooling boredom**), I should provide you with a little background information.

Long, long ago in the land of BrainCheeseville, I used to be athletic. Oh, SHUDDUP already! I was. I *used* to play competitive basketball on a college woman's team as well as softball...and I *used* to run/jog several times a week. Then, life took over, a career ensued, relationships fell into chaos...and I started drinking like a sailor, only I didn't have a boat...or maybe the drinking came along and the other things fell into place. I really can't recall...I was drunk. :-)

In 2001, I convinced myself and a naive friend it was time to "get back in shape" and, what better goal than to walk the Seattle Half Marathon walk? Well, oddly my friend fell for my grandiose notion and we began training for the event. And then we walked it again in 2002, and again in 2003 (I have the finisher medals to prove it, dayumit!).

I doubt YOU will recall (but I remember it as though it were yesterday...or at least a horrible PTSD flashback), but I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis on TAX DAY 2003. Life changed that year around me and in me, but I tried to ignore the information as best I could. I was determined to *carry on* just as I had prediagnosis...blindly and ignorantly. And I proceeded to walk the Half Marathon Walk that year as well...of course, without proper training and without paying homage to the MS gods. I also proceeded to become sicker than I had been in many years...AKA, severe MS relapse...which lasted many weeks.

My neurologist at the time advised me not to *take on* such an endeavor was too stressing for my body...I had to learn to accept my limitations...yadda, yadda, yadda. I switched neurologists to Dr. SWWNBN, who also said the similar advice. Although, I think Dr. SWWNBN basically said I was fat, old, and had MS...the makings of a perfect storm (she didn't REALLY say that, but that IS what I heard).

For the past 6 years, I have been resting on my haunches...waiting...mumbling to myself...wondering if I would EVER feel "better than this" again. This past year and summer, I ceased waiting. I made a conscious decision to MOVE from my place of inertia, finally (it only took me 6 years...give me a break!) understanding it was the WAITING that might kill me...not the movement. It was the waiting in my mind (for the other shoe to drop, etc.) that was slowly corroding away my joy.

After completing my 100 mile summer walk, I decided I needed a new goal to focus on...the Seattle Half Marathon Walk popped in my head. Why not? Why couldn't I? Why yes, I think I can! Hence, the *Yes We Can* up above in the picture...took me long enough to get to that, huh? LOL

Now, I'm certainly not saying EVERYONE should sign up for a 1/2 marathon walk near you...and I'm not even coming close to saying ANYONE should live their life following the blueprint I am using. ALL I'm saying is (or my infamous line, "I'm just sayin"), Life has an unusual learning curve while THROWING curves at us. It has taken me 6 long and painful years to reach a place where I can see life and my identity is NOT Multiple Sclerosis. It is a part of me, but it is something that is becoming a smaller and smaller part...because I've finally chosen to see around it and through it.

"Oh, sure," you say. "It's easy to talk all big pants about MS when you feel GOOD, now isn't it?"

And I answer, "Well, HELL yes it is!"

But I feel *good* right now because I had to choose it. And I'm fairly certain I would feel *good* these days even if I were flat on my back in a world-spinning, pain-inducing, leg-dragging, fatigue-splitting RELAPSE (but I would PREFER not to test that theory at the moment either). I wouldn't feel WELL, but I could still feel *good* about how I am choosing to focus my life and direction these days.

I've got 3 (long) months to train for my goal in November...but mentally, I've been training for this event all of my life. I've pulled a few mental muscles along the way and I've even abandoned my mind's workouts for weeks or months at a time. The important thing for me is to not focus on where I am at currently, but where I intend to BE and how I am going to get there.

Wish me luck...I've now officially committed. Or, at the very least, watch with amusement as I bumble along THIS new path!...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

How Do We Know?

I've recently been tossling with a strange dilemma...but the full ramifications of my conflict will require a bit of back ground information first. Stay with me here...I'm gonna need your expert input (or humorous responses anyway).

OK, so all y'all know I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over 6 years ago...duh. That's all I seem to talk about on this blog, aside from the random fart joke thrown in here or there! And y'all know I remain employed in a full time, top secret government job (janitorial really, but I'm still not allowed to discuss it lest I be water-boarded for disobedience). In my full-time, top secret "govmet" job, I am ENTITLED to (I prefer the word *entitled*...seems so very righteous) 16 weeks of Federally sanctioned Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time. Well, actually FMLA ENTITLES me to 12 weeks of time away from work in a rolling calendar govmet employer tacks on another 4 weeks for good measure.

Anywhozit...each year, my neurologist, Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named, fills out a formal paper called a "Medical Certificate of Need", which pretty much guarantees my employee right to miss 16 weeks of work BEFORE my govmet employer can legally replace me with a potty-trained chimp and sever my status as THE potty-trained chimp full time. But what my employer/FMLA also requires me to do is fill out a sick leave form for every freakin' fraction of a minute I might be absent from work due to illness (so it can be held against my 16 week allotment of time, should the *other* plan to fire me for bad behavior fall through).

On this sick leave form, I have several choices I can check as to WHY I am needing to use up my employer provided sick choices range from something as simple as a medical appointment (and oddly, they will NOT allow me to claim getting my nails done as a "medical necessity"...sticklers for rules) to personal illness to the almighty check box for "serious medical condition", AKA, FMLA, AKA, Multiple Sclerosis. Until this past year, I was never aware I HAD a choice which box to check: I was under the assumption I MUST check the "serious medical condition" box for each and every second of sick leave I begged off my employer.

So, a few months ago, I learned a dirty, little secret...I was neither required nor expected to check that "serious medical condition" box UNLESS my reason for illness absence was directly related to my MS! Who KNEW?!? I had been checking that box for 6, long, excruciating years for every sniffle or sneeze of time I missed at work!

Now, granted I have never missed anywhere near 16 weeks of work in any calendar year...but when I discovered this tidbit of information, I felt liberated. Suddenly I no longer had to count every bout of diarrhea or every head cold with fever day I missed and blame it on MS...if it wasn't the fault of MS, it wouldn't count against my 16 would just be viewed as *normal* illness...whatever the heck that is/was.

OK, I'm getting to my strange dilemma here...hang on.

This past Friday, I awoke feeling dizzy and nauseated (which I thought would pass in time for me to grace the doors of my employer with my bright, cheerful self at work...LOL) and ended up having to call in sick for the day out of fear of hurling on one of my coworkers or clients. The mystery illness passed as suddenly as it came on and I was able to make it into work on Saturday. So, when I went to fill out my sick leave request, I found myself hovering over the "serious medical condition" box and the "personal illness" box...I couldn't decide. Which WAS it? Had I just come down with a common stomach virus or was it the MS rearing its ugly head and taunting me again? How did I know? How could I tell?

Most normal people would have just checked a stupid box or flipped a coin, or consulted their Magic 8 Ball for an answer...the key word in that previous sentence is "normal". I, on the other hand, ruminated on the appropriate definitions and terms of "serious medical condition" and "personal illness" for quite some a matter of fact, I'm STILL ruminating!

The idea brings up lot's of uneasy questions for me...and the main one is, how do we know when symptoms are directly related to or caused by MS? Who gets to decide this? Our doctors? Our spiritual guru's? Our inner child? What are the criteria we use to judge physical changes in our bodies and what makes one symptom MS-related and another not?

My dearly beloved Always Really Nice Practitioner (ARNP) of neurology once told me, "BrainCheese, not everything is because of MS" as she tried to explain to me the dizziness I was experiencing earlier this year was most likely due to an inner ear disorder...maybe. And I am a firm believer EVERYONE with MS gets "normal" illnesses, too (like the Swine Flu, Ebola, etc...LOL) just like relatively healthy people. Sometimes it can take me a while to really understand a particular symptom has nothing to do with MS and I need to address it from a non-neurological approach. And still other times, it can take me a while to really understand and accept, yes...this IS MS.

So, my question to YOU, my preciouses, is do YOU decide for yourselves what feels like MS and what does not? Which box do YOU metaphorically check (because I know no one else in the entire world is required to fill out such a bizarre form in their workplace!) when feeling ill? I need your thoughts do we know?

And while you're at it, what the heck IS it all about, Alfy?!?!....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Contributing Writer...

I received an email from a *reader* (said with tongue in cheek because the notion of ANYONE repetitively coming here to "read" is Hi Larry Us!) a while back requesting to submit a contributing piece here on CHEESE. Well, seeing how I am barely a contributing writer myself these days, I said, "Golly, SURE!".

The following article was written by Emily Thomas and I have agreed to post it. As always (and just like in comments), I may not always AGREE with everything someone says, but the fact they are willing to SAY it has merit at the CHEESE headquarters. So, here you go...please welcome guest writer, Emily:

6 Tips on Staying Positive When You’re Ill

Whether you have a treatable illness or something much more serious, staying positive through your treatments and not letting the possibilities of your condition get you down can be a hard task for even the greatest of optimists. Yet, studies have shown time and time again that maintaining a positive outlook and taking care of your mental health is an essential part to your overall health and future outlook. Here are some tips that can help you look on the bright side even when you’re feeling more like a Debbie downer.

1. Put things in perspective. So you feel bad and you’re sick. But more than likely, things could be worse. If you’re doing well, improving or have a long life ahead of you, your situation isn’t really all that bad. Try to look at it from an optimistic perspective rather than just feeling bad for yourself.

2. Think about what you do have. You might be ill, but there are probably a lot of other blessings in your life. Friends, family and loved ones can be a great source of support while you’re dealing with your illness and can help to remind you of all the great things you do have, even if your health is suffering.

3. Celebrate your successes. Even small improvements in your health can be a big deal. Celebrate your good days, progress you’re making and new treatments that are working. Focusing on the positives of your illness can make it easier to deal with and keep you hopeful and happy.

4. Your brain isn’t your body. Your body may be sick, but your mind doesn’t have to follow suit. Your brain is the one in charge so make the conscious decision to take charge and not let worries, “why me’s” and depression take over your thoughts.

5. Take care of yourself. This doesn’t mean just caring for your illness it means caring for who you are as well. As much as you can, make yourself look good and feel good. After all, often looking good on the outside is the first step to changing how you see yourself from the inside.

6. Find things to laugh about. Even in the worst of times there are things that can make you laugh and lift your spirits. Surround yourself with people and things that put a smile on your face and make feeling bad not even an option.

This post was contributed by Emily Thomas, who writes about the
associate degree. She welcomes your feedback at Emily.Thomas31@

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dayum, I'm Good!!!

Even if I DO have to say so myself...which is about the ONLY time such an accolade is ever bestowed upon me. Sigh...

Drum roll please...

I did it. I completed 100 miles of walking this summer. And I did it in 51 days! That's right...I spit in your face, Multiple Sclerosis! I managed to rack up 100 miles of urban trekking just to spite you MS...Moohahaha.

It's good to have goals. Sometimes, my biggest *goal* I set for myself is to simply get out of bed. Other days, I get a hair up my arse and decide I'll walk 100 miles...just depends on my mood I suppose. :-)

Seriously though...I have been feeling FABULOUS these past two months. Dietary changes, exercise/activity changes, and mental conditioning changes have all seemed to align the planets in my favor. I have almost forgotten less than 6 months ago, I couldn't even walk 3 blocks without being sorely fatigued...let alone 2+ miles a day...and I really DON'T want to be reminded of that, i.e., MS relapse.

Admittedly, I recognize that tomorrow morning I could awaken and be unable to walk to my bathroom...that's just how this disease plays itself. I'm really NOT in denial of my past, my diagnosis, or my future...I'm just choosing not to DWELL on it or in it. And this mental change seems to be working for me right now.

Occasionally I read MS blogs that make me want to stick a dagger through my computer screen (and I won't mention any specifics here...ehem). It's not often, but once in a while I run across an MSer who espouses this diet or that pill or this exercise or that supplement or a new snake oil as the end all/cure all for their MS...and, for EVERYONE else's MS, too. If only it were that easy, I imagine the disease wouldn't exist at ALL! But there just ISN'T one plan or shoe that fits all of us...what I choose to do today, most likely will not FIT for you and what YOU choose to be/do/live/take probably won't work for me. We may have the same diagnosis, but the disease works upon us individually...just like the treatments do.

I've had some emails/inquires requesting more information about exactly WHAT I am doing that has caused this huge detour in my physical/emotional health...I don't mind sharing what is currently working for me with all y'all. As a matter of fact, I'm quite eager and narcissistic enough to WANT to toot my own horn (or wear my own halo)! But please do not mistake my personal enthusiasm as YOUR truth...I've found something that is currently working for ME, not you. If there is something you can glean from what I am doing that will assist you, then know I will HAPPILY share the information. But I do not want anyone to magically believe my path should or could be YOUR path. This bottle of SNAKE oil is mine!! You'll have to find your own. LOL

So, enough about me...what's happening in YOUR world? What things/treatments/ideas/diets/etc. are YOU trying these days to manage your MS symptoms? What have you found that helps YOU to feel better or at least more in control of your current issues? Is there something you are doing that would be helpful to share with everyone dealing with this disease? Talk amongst yourselves and leave a comment...I'll gladly share the "Dayum, I'm Good" title with you!...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Y'all Make Me LOL Til I'm ROFLMAO...

Recent emails and wall-to-wall comments on FaceButt (Facebook, for those not into *social circles* on the Net) have FORCED me to finally pick up my laptop (which has collected dust on my bedside stand from lack of use) and pound out a tidbit post on CHEESE...y'all have made me grab myself with laughter this past week (clarifying = I am grabbing myself in APPROPRIATE places, such as the belly) with your witty inquiries into my whereabouts...emails have either ranged between wishing I were dead or checking to see if I still am maintaining a pulse. Alas...for those of you praying to the gods of mortality I might have succumbed to an untimely death, I must report I am STILL ALIVE!!! Jen even tried contacting me on a Ouija board...desperate times call for (pun intended) desperate measures I suppose. LOL
I've been busy enjoying my life. **THUD**

I know. That is a highly profound statement. But pick your chin (or body) up off the floor and shake off the shock...I'm very much alive and I am well.

Many of you tried in vain for nearly 3 years to get me to SHUT MY PIE HOLE on this blog...and now that I've stepped away for a few weeks (OK, more like six), I can't believe ANY of you would imagine I had nothing left to say! Since when has having nothing meaningful to say kept me from typing out my senseless verbal diarrhea?!? And as far as not visiting YOUR blog...well, take comfort in the fact I have visited NO ONE'S blog in the past month and a half. I'VE BEEN BUSY ENJOYING MY LIFE.

So, here's the skinny on my typically boring, but time-consuming life:

Yes, I am still doing the Metabolism Miracle food plan...and I am pleased to report a whopping 21 pound weight loss. I wish I had a heavier number to report, but last week hit me with a bit of a set back. All I can figure out is, hormones at 45 are a BEAUCH on the metabolism! I actually GAINED 3 pounds over night on the weekend last week...and spent the following 6 days LOSING the little bastids again. Sigh. I'm hoping the recent draining of the uterus (i.e., menses, mother nature card, period, Aunt Flo...please insert your own wording for that monthly PAIN) will put me back on track and shift my metabolism into a fat and carb burning machine once again. I was rather enjoying the rapid weight change.

I've also continued onward with my goal of walking 100 miles this summer...I'm now only 9 miles away from a "hoot n hollarin" celebration! That's right...I've been walking SO much, I've nearly worn out a pair of sneakers. I'm not sure what my *celebration* will include when I complete this goal, but I'm thinking a chocolate bar is probably out of the question...would rather defeat the purpose of my slave-driving trek, no? I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to still feel the energy to put one foot in front of the other AND have the luxury of walking even with MS.

And speaking of Multiple Sclerosis (because this IS an MS blog and I am destined to mention the crappy disease at least once)......................hmmm............well............uhhhhhh...........I guess I have very little to say about THAT!! I've been doing so incredibly well physically (just to SPITE Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named), I've nearly forgotten I allegedly HAVE that diagnosis. Hehe...yeah, OK. I still have that spastic leg thangy in my calves...and I still get that saran wrap vision thangy in my left eye when I over heat...and I STILL get episodes of fatigue (what I commonly refer to as *dropsy*) at various times during my day. I'm just ignoring all of that. Or, better yet, I'm just learning/learned to live WITH it and around it. **insert loud knocking on wood sound**

I recently started seeing a massage therapist also, who obviously trained with our very own CIA in torture techniques. She's a Rolfer (google it) by training and she hurts me so badly I sometimes want to yelp. It is SOOOO dee vine! I think the little 5'3"-barely-bigger-around-than-my-right-thigh-woman could probably work the kinks out of a piece of variegated metal if she tried long enough. We've been doing a lot of neck and shoulder work, opening up specific muscles that have long laid dormant because of lack of exercise and bad posture...consequently, I have not had to use my TENS unit but a few nights this past month. Woohoo to paying for really DOES hurt good.

Yes, I have survived ALL of Mother Nature's brutal weather this summer, i.e., HEAT WAVES. And I really DID try to purchase a portable air conditioner (honest I did, Joyce!). Funny thing though...everyone ELSE in Seattle had the exact, same idea at the exact, same time! There was not a portable unit to be found on the left I suffered through it...stealing free air conditioning at work when I could and probably lingering way past my welcome at the local grocery store on several store runs. It has once again turned into the mild Seattle summer I am accustomed to...mid to lower 70's...and beautiful.

I have even finalized plans to take a small vacation in late September. I KNOW?!? Who KNEW I'd ever leave the state of Washington again?!? AND board an airplane?? Well, I plan to board an airplane anyway...I guess I'll find out if my name has been removed from that terrorist watch list or not. Ehem.

I've also got my Houston friend, Skeeter, returning to Seattle in September as well as the MS Bike ride to much to do, so little time. I've stopped apologizing to friends (and Internet friends, too) for my disappearing act this is what it is. I really CAN'T apologize for being BUSY AND ENJOYING MY LIFE. That would be like apologizing for breathing, which I am NOT sorry I do regularly...most days.

And now, back to the regularly schedule program...I will resume being BUSY AND ENJOYING MY LIFE. I'll be back here on CHEESE eventually...even GOOD things can't shut me up THAT long... :-)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

The Food Nazi...

I have a friend, Coco, who I've referred to once or twice before in past posts...the other *loving* (ehem) moniker I have given to her in real life is, "The FOOD NAZI".

My friend (who shall now be known as "FN" for this particular post) is an all organic, grow-most-of-my-own-food, wouldn't say *McDonald's* if she had a mouthful of it, person who spends a lot of her time with her food. Tending her garden in the summer months can take up entire blocks of days, let alone PREPARING the fruits of her harvest. She only buys organic label and wouldn't eat/drink processed sugar unless it was slipped like a date rape drug in her glass jar of well water! She is the epitome of *natural* chemicals added, which I guess also makes HER organic meat! Although not vegetarian, she consumes mostly all fruits and vegetables in her daily regimen of food intake. I think she may even crap fruit baskets and trail mix...but we're not THAT close of friends for me to ask such a personal question. LOL (And I KNOW you are reading this, FN, so maybe you could enlighten me after all!)

In the past, I have sometimes become annoyed by her insistence of a *chemical-free* diet...after all, the CHEESE just kicked the Mountain Dew habit 6 weeks ago (speaking of nuclear toxic drinks...which I still secretly wish to have!). It takes a lot of time and focus to maintain such an intake plan...time I have sometimes wished we used on other things when we are trashy movies, junk food, and wayward gossip.

But lately, I have found a new respect for FN and her dietary structure. Several of you have sent me emails lately wondering just what the CHEESE WAS subsisting on if there was no Mt. Dew pulsing freely through my veins? A few of you have inquired just what *fad* diet I was partaking in to have lost (now) 18 pounds in 6 weeks? Has this change in dietary needs affected my overall negative view of the world and dampened my sarcasm (that last question was obviously asked by someone who does not know me well!)?

Well, preciouses...I'm about to expose a food day in the life of the CHEESE over the past 6 weeks! Aren't you excited?!? Crack open that can of Mt. Dew (I even miss the SOUND Dew makes, which is not like any other soda pop...sigh) and get comfy. THIS is what the CHEESE has been doing for the past month and a half:

About 2 months ago and deep in the throws of what was becoming a seriously depressed mood, I made a conscious decision I HAD to change some things in my life...or the alternative was to lay down and die. That's how miserable I was feeling. I was catching EVERY bug that circled within a 100 mile radius of my immune system and I not only EMOTIONALLY felt like crap, but also physically. I made a decision to change many things in my emotional/mental world (like cutting out so many of the extracurricular tasks I had taken on at work and shutting out gossip from my life, etc.) and was desperate to spark some kind of change in my physical self. 6 years of an MS diagnosis, DMD's and experimental drugs, and somewhere around 35 (yes, that number IS correct) IV's of steroids took a major toll on my body, causing excessive weight gain with each infusion...weight that moved me well into the obese category and something I struggled in vain to shed.

Life sucked like the hose of a vacuum cleaner...for a lack of better, visual analogy. LOL I couldn't find clothes that fit (not that I've EVER enjoyed shopping for clothes, mind you), I was exhausted ALL of the time (and not "normal" MS fatigue either), and I was finding it harder and harder just to muster the energy to rise out of bed each day.

**Insert sound of a running vacuum cleaner nozzle here**

In my process to find SOMETHING that might fit my particular needs and make sense to my scientific mind (rather hoity toity to call my feeble, fart-humored mind *scientific*...really), I stumbled upon a book written by a dietitian from New Jersey (go Jersey girls! Said for YOU, Jen...ehem). The author's name is Diane Kress and the book is called, "The Metabolism Miracle". Much of what I read preliminarily about her book in press releases struck a chord in me as if she were TALKING to me. The *plan* is a 3-step plan of changing dietary habits, resting one's pancreas and liver for the first 8 weeks, then gradually moving into eating changes that become a lifetime habit...she even said in the press releases SHE, herself, suffered from what she has labeled, "Metabolism B".

You may find this amusing to learn, the CHEESE comes from a genetic cesspool of pudgy, overweight, diabetic, heart-diseased, cancer-ridden blobs (although I'm only referencing my DEAD relatives...which are nearly ALL of them!). CHEESE MOM was chronically hypoglycemic her entire life (too low blood sugar), but with a diastolic blood pressure (bottom, or second something number of the reading, *something over something*) that could rise into the low hundreds...she was not fat, per se, but had her own bizarre health anomalies (like aneurysms, which were only discovered after one KILLED her). And CHEESE DAD (who is often referred to as "EP" or...the man my mother slept with...too long a tale to complete in a blog, so leave it!) was an overweight, high blood pressured, coronary artery disease, diabetic old fart who ALWAYS seemed to have the shadow of the Grim Reaper lurking behind him.

As I said: A genetic cesspool.

So, as I sat around trying to shake off an insidious depressive state and still see my gnarly hobbit feet sticking out from under my frame, I got "The Metabolism Miracle" book and I read it...and dayum, if it didn't sound like me on every page (because, after all...the world IS all about me)!'s the wasn't really my FAULT, but more my PROBLEM to deal with. I can't go into great detail here about the book's content, lest I find myself sitting in a court room settling a plagiarism lawsuit, but I suggest if you are interested in hearing more about Ms. Kress' plan, get the book from your local library or order one's still only in hardback copy and about $22.00 to ship from Amazon dot com...and NO, I am NOT being paid to plug her book in this blog. As a matter of fact, if she knew someone with my reputation were plugging her book, she'd probably force feed me doughnuts until I exploded!

Anywhozit...what I CAN say in my own blog is exactly what I have been doing these past 6 weeks as I personalize the *plan* and follow the book's instructions. You might be shocked to learn I am NOT sitting around eating twigs and berries! Far from it actually.

The *plan*, as I like to call it (sounds sort of like a pyramid scheme or door to door Shakley sales...hmmm), consists of eating EVERY 5 HOURS WHETHER I AM HUNGRY OR NOT and taking in 5 grams of carbohydrates during my every five hour feedings. The goal for my first 8 weeks is to rest my over-functioning pancreas and liver and to only provide these organs enough blood glucose necessary to function. People with Metabolism B tend to crave carbohydrates, eat lot's of them causing blood sugars to rise and fall rapidly, then crave some more...folks with Met-B ALSO tend to be pre-diabetics or become diabetics, too, if dietary changes are not made. This is because of a vicious cycle that sets in as the pancreas OVER responds to the blood glucose levels, which cause too much insulin to be squirted out and circulating in the blood stream, which in turn RAPIDLY decreases the blood glucose level too quickly. In layman's terms: My metabolism has been like a hamster chasing air on a wheel...except the *wheel* has not provided me any EXERCISE and has only made me retain more fat than burn it!

"If the CHEESE is not eating twigs and berries, then what IS she eating?" you ask, scratching your heads and worrying about Mt. Dew withdrawal coma. Well, funny you should ask...I eat a LOT of CHEESE!!! (Hehe) And of course, several other items as well.

5 grams of carbohydrate is NOT a lot...carb content of some breads would mean I could only eat about a 1/4 to a 1/2 slice, which would make for a teeny, tiny finger sandwich. So, I have to shop diligently for LOW CARB items and sugar free items that don't taste like I've just licked the inside of a rusty tin can (and there ARE some great low carb/sugar free items out there...never thought I'd EVER put that line in print). The things I CAN'T eat right now are:

  1. Fruits...ALL fruits...not even a berry here or there.

  2. Corn, potatoes, peas, carrots, or beans.

  3. Mountain Dew...I dew miss you, my friend!

  4. Any high carbohydrate-containing food.

My day usually starts out with eggs or a product called *Egg Beaters* (not to be confused with *wife beaters*) scrambled with Canadian Bacon (because American Bacon just doesn't taste the same...good on ya, Canada!) and sauteed onion or other vegetables and cheese. I am supposed to eat 5 grams of carbs within an hour of waking, so I usually have a piece of Dakota Bread from Great Harvest Bread Co with some sugar-free strawberry jelly. My mid-morning snack will consist of a handful of nuts (because nuts are considered a FREE carb on the *plan*...woohoo!) and/or a piece of string cheese or other cheese. Lunch might be a lean hamburger crumpled over a bed of salad and veggies, or a 5 gram carb tortilla wrap filled with roasted chicken, deli meat, or tuna and lettuce/other veggies with about a tablespoon of Philadelphia cream cheese for flavor (and the cream cheeses COME flavored also). For dessert, I have a sugar-free jello cup. Mid day snack might be more cheese or peanut butter in celery or some other concoction of protein, such as smoked salmon. My evening meal will also contain a piece of Dakota Bread usually, sometimes several ounces of grilled steak or other meats, steamed or grilled vegetables and a side salad.

As you can see, I am now spending a LOT of my time focusing on the foods I buy and prepare for myself to eat! And I haven't even added in my hour long walk/2.5 mile hike I try to take daily just so my changing metabolism recognizes what is FAT and what is MUSCLE lurking inside my skin!! Oddly, I have NOT found myself to be a stark-raving, carb-craving lunatic as of yet...this is a good thing I believe. :-) And I have consistently awakened with more energy and less and less body pain each day. I jokingly now tell my friends (who are conscious enough to notice the CHEESE is shrinking slowly), " I'm only about 500 pounds away from being labeled MORBIDLY OBESE to just OBESE...WooHoo!" (Disclaimer: I do NOT weigh 500 pounds, thus making the statement a *joke*)

I have a very LONG way to go in making this plan/behavioral changes stick...I'm not so naive as to think 6 weeks of doing something will result in a lifetime change. But the key here for me is to recognize I AM making changes and I CAN feel better by putting some effort into it. Who knows? Maybe one day I will earn the coveted title of FOOD NAZI...Moohahaha. Better yet, I'd rather LOSE the title as the FAT CHICK with MS...

Friday, August 07, 2009

I JUST Have MS...

Time sure flies by when you DON'T have MS!

OK...Yes, I am still diagnosed with the disease (although I am prone to debate over that one...what am I saying? I'm *prone* to debate ANYTHING!). But I have to say, the past two months relatively MS-symptom-free except for the chronic neurological annoyances, has been DEE VINE. I have had no pinpointed, new, cropping up neurological disturbances for several weeks now...leaving me often in a state of AMNESIA about Multiple Sclerosis most of the time during the past 8 - 10 weeks. Who KNEW there was life WITH MS?!?

This morning was the first in a long series of days where muscle spasms startled me awake. I've had this phenomenon before and usually it has been my belief the symptom is more related to my inability to hold a stable potassium level...but I have to say, the return of the calf muscles in a Charlie Horse spasm x 10 magnitude DID startled me awake...I had let my guard down after all. I wasn't expecting anything other than my typical *good feeling body* to be housing my brain today. That's just what happens when life is sailing smoothly...sort of like women who forget the pain of childbirth (which, I think they are LIARS! Hehe). Out of sight, out of mind.

So, when I awoke around 5:00AM with my feet pointing straight outward like a fat ballerina and my knees drawn up to my chest, it took me several minutes to figure out I had NOT been hog-tied in my sleep. The pain (I can only imagine) is much like that of cramping childbirth...only in my legs...Lamaze breathing is about the only thing one can do until they (me) gather their (me) wits about them(me). This morning's vise grip spasms were also accompanied by a heaviness in my chest and a pulse of 42! For those of you not in the *know* about a normal heart rate, it's usually somewhere between 60 - 80 beats a minute...42 is (dare I say?) just not acceptable for sustaining life in a prolonged manner.

I reached over to my bedside stand and grabbed my cell phone and my nurse's cap...I keep both handy at all times. LOL Pulse 42, heaviness in the chest, but not pain per se, muscle spasms bilaterally? Hmmm...perhaps I SHOULD have eaten that banana that was offered to me yesterday?!? After a brief "Oh Sh!+" panic, I diagnosed myself with probable very low potassium level and dragged my cramping legs out of bed to my medicine cabinet. If you've ever taken oral potassium, you'll already know the pills are like swallowing a small sausage sideways...they're HUGE. But, after gagging one down my gullet and laying back down for another hour, the symptoms slowly began to subside. It appears I am going to have to begin taking these horse pills again on a daily basis if I want to keep up my aerobic exercise plan and dietary regimen...minor inconvenience.

Which brings me to the title of this blog (albeit loosely)...I JUST Have MS.

I would never want to minimize ANYONE else' experience with Multiple Sclerosis as I know there are many, many people out there who's MS has cost them so much in their lives...from mobility to cognitive functions to daily excruciating pain to loss of bladder/bowel functions to...the list goes on and on and each neurological symptom takes it's toll on everyone differently. But, so far...but for the grace of God go I...MS has seemed to settle quietly in my life like a layer of dust on a book shelf. I am still working full time, still mobile, still able to add 2 + 2 (OK, that's an exaggeration...I've NEVER been able to add or subtract, but not because of MS!), and still enjoying a sometimes rare quality of life.

When I look at those around me less fortunate in their MS, I am very grateful for what the disease has NOT taken from me...and I knock on wood, spin around in a circle three times, and throw salt over my shoulder as a measure of good fortune every time I acknowledge this: I JUST have MS.

Very recently, I was engaged in a conversation with my now ill friend, R.S., and I was whining about catching yet ANOTHER cold virus in July. R.S. smiled at me saying, "It's all relative", then proceeded to tell me about a horrific fall he took off his roof the night before. He managed to walk away WITHOUT a head injury or broken bones, but was seriously scraped and bruised down his entire side...less than 3 weeks later, he is now diagnosed with a terrible illness and is in a battle for his life.

It's all relative and I JUST have MS.

I find those words above much harder to say when I have been in a *bad* way or relapse with my MS. I imagine that is because the fear of the unknown grips my by the neck and clouds my vision...MS is in my face at those times and distorts my perceptions of the continuum I travel upon. At those times, mumbling in humble fashion, "I have MS", is about all I can muster...THAT cold reality can feel overwhelming.

But, when I am feeling *well* (relatively speaking), I sometimes want to deny the disease in me and all it's possibilities...I want to shout from the top of Mount Rainier, "I JUST have MS!", and hike down with exuberant glee. Some days, I'm very thankful I JUST have MS...I am without fear and peaceful in those now. Even waking with what felt like a probable heart attack in the making (I DO exaggerate!) was/is just a bump in my road and not a road detour needed.

It is times like these I am remind of some powerful lyrics from a Carly Simon song: "That life is eternal, and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon"...too bad she couldn't have added, "and I JUST have MS". Seems somehow fitting at the moment for me. LOL

SOOOOO...(you KNEW it was coming)...I've decided it IS OK for me to blog about feeling healthy and well. I know, I know...many of you have been coming here to CHEESE faithfully to be inspired by my *pithy* (or is that *pissy*?) wit and extreme sport sarcasm. I promise you, somewhere deep and buried within my pollyannic projections right now, that edgy and often angst-filled person STILL exists...yes, the FART humor remains, too. But I realized recently I have been avoiding this blog because I've had nothing BAD to say about MS! I've had nothing to commiserate upon. No traumas, no personal tragedies...nada. Life is good at the moment (STOP setting up a betting poll on time/date of my demise and when I will fly my middle finger at life again!!).

If you can tolerate my happiness (huh, huh...I said penis!) for the time being, I'll try to post more often than I have been. I mean, surely there will be SOMETHING out there that occurs in my life worthy of posting? There MUST be a smidgen of bodily functions humor left unpublished in this world?!?

**Checking my fart joke file now**...