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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Heaven received a special Warrior this week.

No, no, no, no, no!!!!
I open this morning's newspaper and see it: the obituary of a girl younger than I. Dead after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. 

All of medical science preaches that mutiple sclerosis does not kill us. Right? We may become disabled because of complications that are directly a result of MS, but our disease is not a killer.

But, there is is...Barbara dead at 55.

I realize with an increasing horror that I knew her. She was the bubbly greeter at the area MS Self-Help/Support group meetings that my mother I attend when I was initially diagnosed. Barbara, obviously younger than I, a mother of small children at the time, was on fire with enthusiasm. I really do not believe she was denial; she simply wanted to know more and she needed to share with others newly diagnosed. But, Barbara had had time to partially accept her destiny and wanted t present a positive front. 

As a newborn MS Warrior, her urgent need to reassure and envelope me into the fold was over whelming to the point that I knew I unintentionally pushed her away. She scared me.

She also intrigued me. How could a person with this horrible disease be so upbeat? Why did she want me to be upbeat as well? Couldn't she see that I was frightened beyond words? No, I didn't want to get together for coffee, but thanks for asking. Thank you, but I really do not think I can do a play date with our children (mine was only six months old!) any time soon. (I couldn't even hold my son without fear of dropping him.)

As I attempted to emulate Barbara's welcoming spirit, I silently screamed for her to shut up, go away, leave me alone. At that time I did not understand her cries of and for friendship. She needed me as much, if not  more, than I needed her.

Barbara was the youngest member of this odd assortment of Warriors. Chronologically she had difficulty relating to Tina in the wheelchair, Roger with his double-fisted canes, and blind Tom in the corner. She was still walking unassisted and exuberant in her quest to remain whole for her babies. She had taken it upon herself to be the MS welcome wagon for the less mobile facilitator of the group. Because she needed to be needed. She needed to be useful. Barbara needed to be whole again.

I get it now. 

That very individual whose spirit initially frighten me away from that group was setting the stage for my own attitude toward this ridiculous disease. In my heart I know that was right and I was so, so very ungrateful at the time. I really believe that Barbara knew that and she forgave me. 

Because, she got it, too. And it was her plan to live life to the very fullest, head on with a smile and a welcome. I wish I could let Barbara's family know that she touched me and I truly believe that the fear she ignited in me was the best medicine that any physician could prescribe.

I do not know the particulars of Barbara's life or what she has dealt with in the fifteen years since our first and only meeting. And I really want to believe that she did not die of  MS, but rather because of symptoms of it. But, we are also told that we cannot die of a broken heart. And I do not believe that.

So there.

Rest in peace, Barbara. Heaven received a special 
warrior this week.



Monday, February 20, 2017

Ouch! So this is pain of MS?


Comic text sound effects pop art vector style. Sound bubble speech word cartoon expression sounds illustration. Lettering Ouch discomfort. Comics book background template.
Since my diagnosis in 2001, I have read repeatedly about the physical pain associated with multiple sclerosis. Call it naivete, call it stupidity, call if just could fortune, but I never knew what that meant. The only physical pain I could identity with was the result of a fall. My parts just didn't hurt otherwise. 

I guess it took sixteen years, or maybe it is my advanced age, but the physical pain has finally caught up. For several weeks I have suffered off and on from a weird burning sensation of the "woman" parts. No, it is not an infection, and no, I so not have any sort of communicable disease. Sure, it could have something to do with post menopause or the fact that my body recognizes my true age even if my mind does not. It is really weird. The best way for me to find relief is to not wear undergarments or tight pants. It (the discomfort) hangs around for a few days, and then, just as quickly, is gone. I really do believe that it due to highly sensitive nerve endings. And that is a result of MS, right?

For about as long as this very intimate ailment has existed, my legs have complained daily and are fraught with sever cramping and debilitating spasticity (Did you know that this word is not recognized by spellcheck or in the dictionary? Why do I find this so appropriate for this undefinable disease that I have?). My toes curl up and my feet ache. It is horrible, besides being just downright inconvenient. Granted, I do not exercise as I probably should, but I try to stretch and do a bit of yoga every day to relieve signs of physical stress. It just doesn't seem to be enough.

And I am tired. Really tired. I just do not want to do much of anything. My daily multivitamin with an extra boost of iron helps, but not always. I hate it when my favorite time of day is bed time. And that is what it has become. I am great in the morning, super great; full of vim and vigor. After my son leaves for school, I fire up my computer to accomplish a full day's amount of work. I review books, answer e-mail, do some writing, and sometimes even fit in a FB game or two (That is dangerous diversion, though.) I clean before 9AM, pay bills, make lists, and basically plan the rest of the day. By lunch time,I have accomplished more than more people in a day. And I take my time about it, so do not assume I wear myself out. It is just that my energy level is on fire when the day is just awaking. But, when I am finished, I am literally d-o-n-e: physically, emotionally, and mentally.
[Okay, so this really doesn't sound like I am that tired at all, does it?
The crash comes later. And when it occurs, all I want to to do is be left alone. I could be ready for bed by 9PM and would seriously do just that if not for the many responsibilities of being a parent and a wife.]

Other than an attempt at yoga and stretching, my fight against the pain has been the beautiful high dose of ibuprofen to which I succumb all too frequently of late. I do not like my relationship with this pain pill; but, when essential oils, exercise, and herbal tea does not work, I have no other recourse.

What do you do to combat this annoying pain and fatigue? I cannot afford the expense of a monthly massage (although that is a lovely way to spend money), so that is out. So, do not suggest what I know to be a sincerely wonderful addition to the anecdote list.

What do you do?

I am anxious to hear from you on this fine pre-season spring day in West Virginia.

Love and Light,
Lisa

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Old Drive-In

The Old Drive-In by [Reiss, Howard]AWESOME BOOK!!!

Today I am not writing about MS. Today I am handing you a gift.

I have reviewed books for Readers Favorite for years, just for fun; since my retirement this has become more serious than a past-time. I actually earn a few bucks for doing what I love most: READING and WRITING. It is the perfect job for me.

Yesterday I read a novel that I cannot get out of my mind. Never having heard of the author before, my curiosity turned to infatuation. Howard Reiss is my new favorite author. Of course, I tend to gush bout the last book I read until another good one comes along; but I am totally serious. Reiss is an awesome story teller and I cannot wait to get my hands on his other work.




Reviewed by Lisa A. McCombs for Readers Favorite
Mitch and Sandi had the perfect life: gorgeous city apartment, two pretty children, a lucrative income, and the world by the tail. And then…Mitch’s law firm went belly up…and his father died. As Mitch reflects on his life, he realizes that neither of these disasters really matter. He returns to his childhood home in order to complete the process of closing that door forever when he is hit with a solid round of reality. With the unsolicited help of a hitch hiker named Sam and his mother’s best and Merri, his mother’s best and only friend, Mitch comes to terms with the facts that he really doesn’t like practicing law, his hated father might have had sincere feelings for him, and his first love was truly his one and only. Mitch sorts through the clutter of his childhood in an attempt to exorcise the past, while discovering his true destiny.

Howard Reiss unearths a genuinely beautiful story in The Old Drive-In. A truly nostalgic reflection on what could have/should have been that we all question some time in life. Reiss’s dialogue flows with sincere reality making his characters very relatable. Many times while reading I had to look over my shoulder to assure myself that they were not in the room with me. The underlying themes of apparent in The Old Drive-In range from adult coming of age and self-discovery to a truly timeless romance. This reviewer plans to adorn her bookshelves with other wonderful stories by Howard Reiss.  I wish I could give Mr. Reiss more than five stars!

Howard R Reiss

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What NOT to say to a person with MS


What it's like to have a chronic illness:


It has happened to you. You know it. Maybe you are guilty of the same thing; empathizing with someone else's pain.

It's a common reaction and one that all humans program as a response to another's complaint.

That doesn't make it any better, though.

Maybe it is because this morning I am plagued with chills, have a killer ear ache, and just do not feel well, my patience with folks who insist on attempting to be in my shoes is at a low. My immediate ailments are NOT due to MS, but (unfortunately) the multiple sclerosis tends to magnify any physical (or mental/emotional) interruption in daily living; so, YES, I probably feel worse than the normal person. Interestingly enough, though, with my current physical state, my walking gait is rather impressive today. Funny how the body compensates.

So, I plan to blunder through my day with as much bravado as I can muster. Today is bowling day and my day with Mom. So, I must overcome, breathe the other way, and push through this thing. That ids what we Warriors do, right? Today I will sucker punch MS and try to bowl above my average. For most people that wouldn't be too difficult since my average is very low. Like 30's? I did have a 75 game last week (Don't know how that happened.), so there is hope.

So, to those folks who doubt that I am sick, or that I do not get enough exercise, or that you know how I feel, I am dragging my "don't look sick" body into today. And I will enjoy it.

If you don't commiserate with me, I will return the favor.

Cheers,
Lisa




https://multiplesclerosis.net/infographic/things-not-to-say-to-ms-people/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=promoted&utm_campaign=MS

  • You don’t look sick
  • You shouldn’t drink diet coke
  • OMG this diet cures MS
  • OMG this vitamin will leave you symptom free
  • Aren’t you gluten free? … You should be
  • Aren’t you too healthy looking to have MS
  • Try this herb; it helped my cousin’s uncles’ sister’s friend who has MS
  • Well aren’t you taking your meds?? (Yes….) Then why is your MS bothering you still?
  • Are you contagious?
  • You shouldn’t eat meat…
  • What did you do to get MS?
  • How DID you get that? You must’ve had mono
  • If the heat bothers you, don’t be in it… or move…
  • I heard a vaccine caused it
  • Can’t you just walk slower?
  • Why are you dragging one of your feet?
  • Why are you always so tired? It can’t be that bad…
  • Well if you’re in remission, why are you on meds?
  • If pregnancy makes it better, why don’t you just keep having more kids!
  • That celebrity with MS seems just fine, why aren’t you?
  • Do you take enough vitamins?
    Are you sure it’s MS…? How can doctors be so sure?
  • Stop using MS as an excuse… you can’t feel that way ALL the time.
  • Maybe you just need to try a little harder.
  • Why don’t you try a different medication, that doesn’t cause so many side effects?
  • You seemed fine the other day…
  • You slept ALL night, how can you be so tired?
  • (This is for the younger MS’ers) WOW… you take more medicine than my grandma…
  • MS… isn’t that the muscle illness? (No. That’s MD = Muscular Dystrophy)
  • You daydream a lot in the middle of a conversation, that’s rude! (No… it’s cognitive issues)
  • Why do you keep forgetting things?
  • Oh TRUST me… I know exactly how you feel!
  • Oh, you should just exercise more…
  • It really can’t be that bad…
Oh… and when they compare how they feel or have felt in the past, with your symptoms… like it’s the EXACT same feeling…


More good reading:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Do you push yourself?

Related image

There is no doubt about it. Entertaining the MonSter is hard work. We MS Warriors are always on call. There is no room for a "time out".

Yet, it is emotionally and physically impossible to be "on call" 24/7. Or, is it?

The first thing we have to do is get our head in the game. Last week I fully realized the physical pain associated with MS as I fought with my legs to move and my hands to grasp. I succumbed to tears when no one was looking. I allowed myself to consume massive amounts of junk food as a ridiculous placebo to my pain. I found myself snapping at my son and my husband about trivial things, and basically just didn't care about their feelings. I mean, couldn't they see I was in pain? Weren't they aware of my condition? Why did they want my compassion about their own snuffly nose and  weather related aches and pains? How could they forget that I dealt with much worse on a daily basis?

And then, it dawned on me that my personal reaction to life was affecting my family life. 

And...it was basically my own fault.

My MS was not really their baggage.

I wasn't pushing myself, I wasn't being the warrior I profess to be.

Multiple sclerosis is hard work. In order to properly function, we must be ever mindful of that...every...single...day.

When I am doing that, I go to the floor for gentle/restorative yoga as soon as my son is off to school in the morning. The positive effects are nearly instantaneous. The problem? I often get lazy even under the judgmental eyes of my yoga Nazi feline pal. My cat knows me better than I know myself. I really believe she holds me accountable for how I will feel the rest of the day.

Which brings me to a valuable point: accountability. Some of us need that challenge to keep us honest, and if that works for you, go with it; even if it is a cat to whom you answer. 

So, get off your duff and move. You want to bet this thing? Non one is going to hand you the magic answer. Neuros can give advice; general practitioners can offer their two cents; friends can commiserate...but, the end result is how we meet this first hand.

I learned a long time ago that basically I AM ON MY OWN. And most of the Warriors I have met know that, too. We can share experiences and personal tips, but the end result is that we are oiur own physician.

This sounds rather depressing, but it is all in our perspective. And it is all in how we treat ourselves. Know your boundaries but never stop pushing yourself.

This past weekend was rather busy for me and after a local book signing on Saturday I just didn't think I could continue with my busy agenda for the rest of weekend. A two hour drive Sunday morning with the return drive in the afternoon for another book event? Was it worth it? did I really need to put myself through that?

I could cancel. I could be that deadbeat undependable person. Or I could mentally slap myself around a bit, get a good night's sleep, realize that my family would survive a few hours without me and get out there to do what I have always dreamed of doing. Since a little girl, I have always wanted to be a writer. Now I am. One of the responsibilities of a writer is to promote your work. That takes energy. That takes a mental, emotional and physical push.

So, I pushed myself and I had a great day. I sold a few books, but even more importantly, I connected with other MS Warriors. I made the effort and I had wonderful conversation with other folks living with the MonSter. 

I pushed myself. And I am glad.

Push your self today, this week, this month.
Lisa


GOOD STUFF:

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

You might be contagious.


Image result for pictures of sneezing and coughing

Struggling with a writing topic this morning, I stumbled across this little video by Pastor Phil Waldrep that instantly caught my attention. The message is direct. It is simple. It is so true.

Often times when announcing my relationship with the MonSter, the concern for contagion is posed. No, one cannot contract multiple sclerosis by contact with a Warrior. Multiple Sclerosis is not a contagious disease. People do not get MS; they have MS. This is a preconceived condition that has noting to do with washing your hands or covering your mouth when coughing. MS does not spread like the flu. MS just is.

But our attitude does spread, affecting everyone with whom we come in contact. So, in answer to that question of contamination:
"No, MS is not contagious; but attitude about it is.

Take a peek at Waldrep's message and concentrate on being contagious.


http://philwaldrep.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=664b015e5b973cd2b7fe5b8f2&id=71b7a13e5b&e=ae605e398c

Lisa

Monday, January 30, 2017

There is more to life than multiple sclerosis...

Today I will vent...and not about multiple sclerosis or its many annoying issues. Aside from God and family, my life normally revolves around my MS, with a healthy smattering of fulfilling my dream as a writer. Today I will only focus on that dream with whole- hearted attention....until it is time to prepare dinner.

In the literary world the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena is on it's second round of publicity with the release of the second movie. Normally I would wildly applaud the author of such a feat with unbridled excitement. "Yea, for us! Authors rule! (Yada yada)"

But I just cannot do it today. I cannot condone the writings of E.L. James and retain my sanity. 

When the first book in the series was released, I (ashamedly, as an author) was unaware of it until it hit me full frontal during a signing of my own at an area Barnes and Noble. Set up right at the front door to welcome and hopefully entice customers, I found my heart beating madly at the oncoming onslaught of females headed in my direction. Since that particular B&N Saturday was actually sponsored by the county board of education, I felt certain that these gals were school teachers here to inspect my latest young adult title. 

I prepared my most welcoming smile and loaded my hands with book marks and business cards. Oh, yes, this day I would introduce these teachers to fiction sure to inspire their wards.

My shoulders back and head held high, followed the direction of the hoard with a hand in the air to indicate that I was there to serve.

But...alas...that parade of squealing women (yes, they were actually squealing) raced past my display to the table beside me. The one over flowing with black and white covers of a new release I had not noticed before. What was this that held their attention so raptly? Of course, as a writer, it was my responsibility to inspect this addition to the best seller list. Mainly because that is what writers do. It is necessary to "in the know" to truly be involved in your craft.

So, I left my table still clutching a handful of business cards to eavesdrop on these women. They were absolutely beside themselves with glee n the prospect of acquiring this particular book for what sounded like a marathon weekend read.

The book cover itself was a bit intriguing, rather plain yet classy. You just cannot go wrong with black and white, right? There was no way to pick up a copy for closer inspection what with all of those frantic fingers gobbling up books as fast as even more women entered the store and flocked around the table. So, I had to open my mouth and inquire (rather loudly) about this fuss.

And there my education began. 

"You don't know about Fifty Shades? OMG!"

A book shoved into my hands, the squealing continuing and growing in density, I broke away to return to my little, quiet table to ponder over this amazing thing happening right in front of me. What ever this Fifty Shades thing was, I wanted in. I had to get me some of what was causing those volumes to literally FLY off the display table.

That is what I remember thinking as I glanced at the back of the book before turning to the first page for a quick scan. I just could not see what the big deal was.

"I read it last night! It is my new sexual bible! I have to get all of my friends a copy. OMG! I hope they have enough!!!"

What? Sexual bible? Huh?

I quickly flipped through the pages of the book, scanning for hints as to the content. That when I saw them...those words...sodomy, masochist, blind fold...

It was my turn to squeal. And I did. Not that I am  prude nor do I condemn anyone their reading/viewing preference. It is simply none of my business. But I felt that I had to intervene in some way.

With a smile and (wavering) outer courage, I approached those women with my business cards outstretched and invited them to visit my table for taste of wholesome to take the edge off after a day of unbridled smut. (Sorry...I don't mean to sound contrite...or even jealous...but this was MY day and I really didn't want to share it with the likes of a handcuff merchant.)

I tried to replace the copy of Fifty Shades of Grey that was burning my hand, but not before it was scooped up by the woman obsessed with purchasing as many copies as she could hold. I was successful at distributing my own information, but knew better to hold my breath as I watched dozens of female readers by pass my table for thew next three hours. I wanted to scream at them: "Hey! Real life author here signing books!"  
"Think of the children! Don't your students deserve a good read?"

By the end of my stay, I believe I might have sold a couple of my own books...when the Fifty Shades table was empty...but I was totally intrigued with the debacle I had witnessed.

Is this what a best seller looks like?

When I got home that day, I researched E L James and her work, finding myself blushing  all over my computer keyboard. Okay, so I guess sensation is a big part of success, but the Fifty Shades movement was going to have to survive without me.

Or, so I thought. When my bibliophile niece asked about my B&N experience, I described the entire what had happened and asked what she knew about the book and/or author. Like me, she is game for most any reading experience. No, she hadn't read it, but felt obligated to make her decision first hand. she would purchase if I read it first.

Free book? Sure.

I made it through the first fifty pages before tossing it (literally) her way and making her promise to not let her mother know who gave it to her. My niece finished the awful thing (y'know...informed reaction and all that) to let me know that once done, the paperback served as starter for her evening fire.

Now, do not get me wrong. I am NOT slamming the success of the author. Sure, the subject matter is on the far side of crazy, but that's what sells. My issue is that the writing is just plain terrible (coming from an experienced writing teaching veteran, award winning author, and co-conspirator young adult follower).

So, if she can make a living off of horrible prose, there has to be room for me with my clean, gut-wrenchingly honest stories of realistic teens. Right?

For the month of January I have offered a free signed copy of my latest book Bombs Bursting in Air in exchange for an Amazon review. Several reader have accepted the challenge and I am thankful. There is one more day in the month and the post office is very near my home, so there is time to get that last request to me.

I just need a mailing address; Either via PM or e-mail. I pay postage and am just happy to share some goodness.


Thank you for listening. Writing is what I do when I am not entertaining the MonSter.

Lisa