Acceptance and Nature – The Child is Father of the Man

A favorite family story revolved around how accepting I am.  I was about three  years old and waiting to cross the street with my mother and her best friend.  A midget came  and stood by us.  My mother and friend waited with baited breath for me to say something.  Instead, I am told I looked the woman up and down, gripped my mother’s hand and crossed the street.

Another favorite family story concerns my mother’s pregnancy with my brother.  He is two years, nine months younger than me.  Almost flippantly and buying for time, they announced there was going to be a new baby and it had been ordered from Macys.  My mother ordered from Macys all the time so, of course, this made perfect sense to a two year old.  I never said a word about her getting fat.

One more favorite and this one speaks deeply to who I am.  When I was about one, my mother inadvertently bent down and was hidden from view.  I am told I looked around, didn’t see her and proceeded to practice walking.  When my father came home from work, they both hid.  Again, I looked around and proceeded to practice.  I actually walked in public for the first time at my one year celebration at my grandfather’s.  Another baby tried to play with one of my new presents.  I stood up in front of all and calmly walked across the room and took it back.

So, what does this say about me? Well, we can’t tell about what I was thinking back then.  What I do know about me now is that when I was working, I tried to make everything look easy.  I had to figure it out myself before I would do it in front of others.  See learning to walk anecdote above.     I also worked with a myriad of proprietary software applications.  Almost always, I worked  around things unless they were totally broken.  See above baby stories.  I also have a wide and diverse circle because of my accepting nature.  I take people as they are, for the most part.

Now onto my disease, condition, whatever you want to call it. When my body started acting differently, I ignored it.   I broke down and visited my husband’s PA because I thought I knew what it was.  It wasn’t.  I then embarked on a doctor journey – neurologist, rheumatologist, endocrinologist. An indecisive spinal tap.  Whilst all this was going on, I did not look up anything on MS.  This was partially due to my not wanting to influence my perception of symptoms as well as flat out denial.

A word about doctors and the medical profession – I was brought up with a healthy disregard for them.  My parents didn’t readily believe everything a doctor told them.  Another story.  My mother’s ob-gyn accused her of eating improperly during her pregnancy with me, particularly salami which she abhorred. She came out of the hospital after having me, weighing less than before she was pregnant with me.  She went to her postpartum visit, told him off and never returned.  As they aged and became more experienced, they trusted even less.  The second part to my disregard of doctors is having been exposed to pre-meds at Johns Hopkins.  At 18, I prayed to never get ill.  So,  I take most things doctors say with a huge grain or grains of salt.  I have never truly embraced my diagnosis.  I refuse to believe there is no hope.  I have tried and continue to work with alternate therapies.  However, this year I came to a realization or several.  I advocated to get a spectral leg and then an improved one.  For the second one, I looked on line for something that would be less obtrusive and allow me to wear better (prettier) shoes.  I did not research what people said.  I did realize after awhile that I was throwing my right leg to the side.  Back to the doctor and for the first time, I was referred to a physical rehab doctor.  I had never known.  This doctor was the first one who actually evaluated my walking and what I really needed.  Result?  Frankenstein!  I went on line and discovered that other people felt like me about these braces.  So I  could discount his statements about wider shoes.  I, also saw, that feeling ugly is valid. It can and does impact my health.  Several years ago, when I was employed and making rather decent money, we found out about the Bioness.  It was around $7000, not covered by insurance.  I asked my neurologist about it.  She told me I probably would have the same result with the spectral leg.  I accepted that.  Now, I have seen research and reports from people on the Bioness and the Walkaide.  Wrong!  It may truly have helped.

When I was first diagnosed, I immediately thought about food. I consulted a nutritionist who made all kinds of claims about a diet that made no sense to me.  I asked my neurologist, who concurred.  I accepted.  It was the Swank diet.  If the nutritionist or the doctor had said so, I would have researched and gone for it big time.

The same thing happened with exercise.  I had started Zumba, which I love.  My doctor approved.  I did water aerobics for awhile.  ( I couldn’t get out of my suit and canes and water are slippery!)  I did get the occasional prescription for physical therapy.  I did have an MS Yoga video. I have just discovered MSWorkout and the MS Gym online along with a myriad of other exercises on Youtube.  Movements I can do that help me.

So, I am fighting my way back  on three fronts: food, exercise and walking assistance. My nature took to the fore over my upbringing.  I have learned a very hard lesson.  And yes, I guess it can be said that these insights into my character is an upside.  I would have preferred not to have had a reason for these.  All I can do is move forward with a new understanding of the effects of my nature – positive and negative.

Jennifer’s Way, MC and Me

Recently, I read Jennifer’s Way by Jennifer Esposito.  If you don’t know, she’s an actor who suffered for years with undiagnosed celiac disease.

This is a must read even if you do not have a celiac problem.  If you have been on a journey to discover what’s not right with you, this is informative.  It took her years and tons of money.  What hope do the rest of us have? It also reinforced what I have learned on this journey.  It’s up to you.  You are the one who needs to do the research.  You have to keep on asking the questions, over and over. And then, question it again.  It’s up to you to coordinate it all.  This is brutal because to begin with the reason you are on this journey is something is not right.

Three years ago, I started playing and playing is the right word with diet for overcoming my condition.  That’s what we like to call it “MC” for my condition.  A doctor told us that’s what we call it when we don’t know what it is.  And no, not MC.  My belief is, if you name something like that, you give it power.  So, I may be in denial but  that’s how I deal.  Anyhow, just for fun, I cut gluten for one week.  Then I went out to dinner and there were popovers.  Can I tell you, I got a headache immediately.  Yes, there is definitely a relationship between my walking and gluten.  I had an iron stomach as a child.  I could and did eat anything.  And it fascinated my father, who was afraid of vomiting, that I could throw up, most times, and return to the table.  I was sure when this started that I  had no food sensitivities.  I was told that when I was little I was allergic to peaches.  My mother would not have that and fed me little bits until I could eat peaches.

After the gluten, I stopped dairy.  I drank tons of milk as a child.  I only stopped when my brother became chubby and we switched to skim milk.  I also had yogurt for lunch most days.  This started when Dannon was the only yogurt and there were only 8 flavors.  This was hard for me.  Guess what?  The stubborn weight dropped off!  And something else, it was always a family joke.  Right after I was born, the people from my father’s office came to visit.  I passed gas so loudly that this woman nearly dropped me.  Ahem, once I stopped dairy that stopped, too.

One of the things discussed in the book was the hereditary nature of things.  Hmmm.  Another thing that immediately struck me was that for years, Jennifer lived on Pepto Bismol, ginger ale and crackers.  So did Daddy!  I knew once that he really loved me when he gave me his bottle of Pepto when he was leaving me at uni.

I drifted back slowly to the gluten.  Not a lot.  I’ve never really been a bread or pasta fan so no problems there.  I do stay away except for pastry and the occasional piece of cake.  No yogurt but yes to ice cream. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks, yeast triggers stomach pains and weakness.  Oh and secret vice, frozen condensed milk.  I get violent stomach cramps.  Hmmn

It’s just about a month to my birthday so here we go again.  I am going to strive for no gluten or dairy and see what happens.

Read her book.  See what journies it leads you on

April 2016 Check In

How did I feel this past Month?

March definitely was a combination of the lion and the lamb.  I am actively looking for work.  I fear that my age and infirmity are preventing me from getting a job.  Yes, I try not to focus on it but it is the elephant in the room.  Sometimes, I say that too.  Then, my Jawbone hasn’t been working so even though I am not walking enough I can’t tell.  I am deteriorating.  No one likes to hear it or see it.  I fell three times.  The last was a week ago and I really hurt my left hand.

What did you do for yourself this month?

Still with the gym and less so Zumba due to the weather.  I can’t really go out in rain or snow, too much chance of falling.  I have started to write again.  I started journaling in January and am writing in the day.  I have continued to clear clutter.  I am trying to reach out to people.  I am reconnecting with the creative  bits of me, a little writing, a little art.  Decoupage again.  Something I started to do in 7th grade.  I was always good at it.  And I am starting to take some glasses.  It’s both an outlet and a way to meet people.

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

More smoothies.  A little off the rails with gluten due to holiday.  And a little more meat.  Getting back on track.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

More time in the gym.  I am really liking it!

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

Faith helps lots.  My friends are awesome.  Some came into my life, some left.  The ones that are here are my rocks.  My stepsons continue to amaze me with their love and support.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

A higher purpose is kinda grandiose.  I stand by fighting for what’s right.  Hopefully, others can benefit.  Living with integrity and never ever giving up.

Conventional medicine  Still just Ampyra and Baclufen

Symptoms – Hands are getting weaker and my balance is off.  My fingers are going white and numb which is freaking scary.  My right hand turns purple sometimes.

What symptoms are most troublesome  – Independence and mobility.  I also have been falling more.  Part of it I know is  stress.  But the rest of the time, it’s balance. And the fingers!

Do I blame myself for things – Yes, I am still believing it’s food, stress and exercise.

How is stress level?  Well, I am  still not working. So it’s getting to me.  I am able  to sleep later though.  I’d like to wake between 6 & 7 in the morning.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

Faith, food, exercise.  Creative work. Never give up!!

January 2016 Check In and Prior Year

Start of a New Year so it’s time to not only look back at the previous month but also state of being (so much more than health) for the last year.

How did I feel this past Year?

It was definitely a mixed year.  I had some highs and lows.  Getting the Ampyra and being able to walk more was great.  I also was able to get nice “things”.  It was an acknowledgement that I was good enough.  I made my milestone.  I spent it with one of my best friends.  I lost 20 pounds because I ate right, not diet.

I lost my job and that’s what I did, it’s lost. So, maybe that’s a low.  We’ll see

How did I feel this past Month?

It’s the holidays – a bit frazzled.  I am surprised despite being home I didn’t get a lot done for the holidays. It’s like losing in a way.  Overall, a bit calmer.  Still trying to sort out.

What did you do for yourself this year?

Well, I did more exercise and was more mindful of my health.  The biggest thing is that I stood up on the job issue and have not taken it lying down.  I also validated myself  by believing I was good enough.

What did you do for yourself this month?

Well, the Elves Workshop was a blast.  I have more fun than they do.    Spent time with the kids which was great.  Applied for jobs like crazy.  Still trying to reconnect with me.  Restarted my gratitude journal and my journal.  The gym.

What did I eat this year and how did it make me feel

The beginning of the year was better than the end.  I slowly drifted off plan.  It clearly reflects in my health.

What did I eat this month  and how did it make me feel

Uh,  holidays?  Totally lost it.  Last year I didn’t touch the cookies.  This year I ate them all!  Still tried to mitigate when possible.

Did I exercise?  What did I do?  How did it feel

I am going to answer for both the month and the year.  I increased it this year.  Partly due to the Ampyra, and part due to what I wanted and needed.  After the job ended, I started the gym more.   However, it’s not like in times past.  I realize it’s because I can’t take classes so miss the social bits.

For whom or what are you grateful?  What matters most in life?

Again, I feel blessed, especially at this time of year.  I can still walk.  I have friends I love and who love me.  Life is still full of possibilities.  I still feel joy.  Friends, health and love are what matter.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement

Still working on that mission statement.  I am thinking about joy.  Someone commented recently that I have always been smiling since I was a child.  And she should know.  So sharing that joy.    And whilst I don’t want to be a poster child, I am partly out about the MS.  Okay, I still don’t accept it.  However, if coming out prevents people being treated the way I have been jobwise, then so be it.  I guess at the end of the day I want my life to have mattered and changed someone else’s positively

Conventional medicine  Just the Ampyra and Baclufan.  Waiting for coverage for the biotin

Symptoms – Well the stress hasn’t helped.  I am a bit weaker.  My balance is the pits.  My hands are going but I am fighting.

What symptoms are most troublesome  – Walking as always. A bit wobbly too.

Do I blame myself for things – Same as always. Of course! Yes, I am still blaming myself for not being aggressive against this. However, getting back to me, slowly, slowly but surely!

How is stress level?

Moderate.  There are days it peaks for sure.  When I take money out of savings to live and when I have to charge things.  But not commuting is so huge.  This still applies.  Feeling not working but am optimistic.  Stress is down a bit and manageable.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?

So aside from my Christmas pudding, a serious return to the right eating, sticking with the gym, gratitude and attitude.

Make 2016 count!

May Warrior Check In

Back for MAY :

How do I feel today – Nice day.  Attended a tea.  I actually did a table.  I was all tizzed about it but think it went well.  However, mixed feelings.  This is my fourth one.  I walked in first time four years ago  in a dress, today with a cane and pants.  But I am walking better than I have due to the drug.

What did you do for yourself today?

See above.  I went to a tea, very girly.  My husband was wonderful and helped set up and breakdown.  There’s a jewelry boutique so I got to shop!  And then went to Odd Job afterwards for this and that.  I didn’t work.  It’s a real break.

What did I eat today and how did it make me feel – BAD.  It was tea!  I did do a smoothy before I went but scones, salmon tea sandwiches, chocolate.  Then Chinese food.  I have been seriously sliding and need to recommit to proper eating.  I need to max the opportunity the Ampyra has given me.

Did I exercise? What did I do? How did it feel – Still not going to the gym or Zumba. But I am walking more.  I will get to gym.  This was the least I have walked all week.

For whom or what are you grateful? What matters most in life?   Grateful for friends and the possibilities of new ones.  Grateful for the people I am meeting through the blog.  Ampyra.  New possibilities.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement – Higher purpose still not defined.  Beginning to dream again.  Uh, maybe some sort of sharing

How long have I been treated with conventional medicine Ampyra,  two weeks.  And it is working.  I was able to walk longer and stronger.

The first time I had a symptom – June 2004 walking on the beach boardwalk

What symptoms are most troublesome – being off balance and not walking well, wearing ugly shoes and consequently ugly clothes

Do I blame myself for things –  Yes, I am still blaming myself for not being aggressive against this. Still!  And I think always.  It’s funny how we don’t take things seriously

How is stress level? It’s high.  Trying to tone it down.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?   Start over.  It’s a new month. Have a different day.  And yes, I am thinking about things other than disease and death. I am thinking about art and new jobs and possibilities, flowers and spring.

Until next month.

April Warrior Check In

Back for April:

How do I feel today – Perkier today than in a couple of weeks.  I have had a lot of stress, frustration and pressure around my work.  I think my husband is slipping.  He definitely did and now I have no trust.  And although today was the first day all week, I could walk freely,  I took a bad fall in the subway.  My husband was with me and he couldn’t stop it. People always bad mouth New Yorkers but a man helped my husband pick me up off the platform and people held the elevator for me and this was rush hour!  I walked more today than all week combined.  I thought I really hurt myself.  We will see.

What did you do for yourself today?

Well, I blogged,  had lunch with some friends.  I am not working tomorrow, resting, reading and doing fun things.

What did I eat today and how did it make me feel – Mixed, though mostly good.  Granola (homemade) for breakfast and snack,  orange,  uh two Lindt chocs,  sushi for dinner and half a slice of my husband’s pizza.  I feel it, gave me a headache

Did I exercise? What did I do? How did it feel – Still not going to the gym or Zumba.  Due to more falls back to square one with abs.  Have been on treadmill and Wii.  Need to find the original DVD because of the balance issues.

For whom or what are you grateful? What matters most in life?   Grateful that I didn’t seriously hurt myself in my fall.  Grateful for the kindness of strangers.  Friends and family, health are what matters most.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement – Higher purpose still not defined.  Beginning to dream again.  Too heavy for me.

How long have I been treated with conventional medicine Not this month but I have appointment with doctor on Tuesday and am going to try for the Ampyra.  And yes,  I am going to do my best to eat right this month

The first time I had a symptom – June 2004 walking on the beach boardwalk

What symptoms are most troublesome – Getting really slow and bad at walking and not being able to get on and off the train.

Do I blame myself for things –  Yes, I am still blaming myself for not being aggressive against this.

How is stress level? It’s high.  Now I am really frightened about how things are going down.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?   Start over.  It’s a new month. Rest and do art.  Eat right

Until next month.

March Warrior Check In

Back for March:

How do I feel today – Mixed blues.  Despite the fall and my face, we ran around a lot today.  First thing, we went to Trader Joe’s and Omaha Steaks.  No, no meat for me.  Husband’s youngest just got his first apartment and we filled their freezer.  Then on to the Chocolate Duck, again not for me, getting a class for a niece and Easter Egg supplies for the kids.  Then on to sister in laws to drop off things and pick up Girl Scout cookies.  Not for me.  I don’t eat them, ever.  Visit kids with food, flowers and pyrex for housewarming.   I gimped through everything very frustrating and depressing but I still get going.

What did you do for yourself today?

Well, I blogged and then I am going to make a wrapped bracelet.  And it was fun shopping.

What did I eat today and how did it make me feel – Sigh.  Not good.  I started the morning with coffee and a piece of Christmas pudding.  Toffee crunch after trader Joe’s.  A streusel apple spelt muffin.  Quinoa chips.  Dare I say, steamed pork buns for dinner?  But I have been really good all week, smoothies and salads

Did I exercise? What did I do? How did it feel – Still not going to the gym or Zumba.  Still housebound, still doing the stepper and recently added treadmill.  I am working my physical therapy back in.  Hurt in falls so I am back to square one with Abs.

For whom or what are you grateful? What matters most in life? Grateful as usual to be warm safe and dry.  Grateful that I didn’t seriously hurt myself in my fall.  Grateful for the kindness of strangers.  And my job.  And my stepsons are awesome.

Do I have a higher purpose or driving force in my life?   Make a mission statement – Higher purpose still not defined.  Beginning to dream again

How long have I been treated with conventional medicine Not this month but I think I need to go to the doctore.

The first time I had a symptom – June 2004 walking on the beach boardwalk

What symptoms are most troublesome – Duh, gradually losing my ability to walk and being dependent.  And the falling.

Do I blame myself for things –  Yes, I am still blaming myself for not being aggressive against this.

How is stress level? It’s high.  Now I am really frightened about how things are going down.

What can I do tomorrow to make it better than today?   Start over.  It’s a new month.  I still have new days.

Until next month.