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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Before leaving for the center of the universe, I have some exciting events that I hope you will attend. My third  book Opening Pandora's Box is a hot ticket item so make sure you hook up with me soon to get your copy and find out what happened at the conclusion of Raspberry Beret!

Thursday, June 20, 4-?: Downtown Fairmont at The Artisan's Shop tables
                HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WEST VIRGINIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, June 22, 1-3 at Barnes and Noble in Morgantown
                C'mon, all you Mo-Town readers, I would love to see you there!
Saturday, June 22, 4-5, at The Artisan Shop Grand Reopening in Fairmont.
                 This is an AWESOME new business that carries all area crafted items. Beautiful jewelry and fantastic gift items! (Oh, and my books:)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Learning to walk...again.

     Ten steps...that's all...maybe not even that many.  I could almost touch the door knob to the sterile tile bathroom located near my hospital bed. So, why wouldn't my legs cooperate and take me there? And where was a nurse when you needed one?
     After two day of relative solitary confinement being prodded, probed, and pinched I was ready for a little independence.
     But that was not to be.
     And I really had no one to talk to about what was happening to me.
     My husband didn't seem too concerned about my condition. He blamed it on an over consumption of alcohol. (I was the mother of a six month old nursing child. When did I have the time or desire to "tie one on"?)
     My baby was in the care of a good friend who had graciously taken time off work to be a surrogate mother. (She later became my husband's fourth wife. Go figure.)
     My mother was on vacation with her sisters somewhere in Tennessee. I was afraid to call Dad because I didn't want to worry  him. I really didn't know what to tell him anyway. Besides, I was the strong child...always in control and out to prove my independence. Besides, I didn't want to aggravate his weak heart or interrupt a golf game.
    This is where the virtue of pride becomes a handicap.
     I know that now, but in 2001 I had something to prove.
     Relieved that my collapse was not the result of the suspected stroke, I was determined to recover, reclaim my son and retreat from an unhappy marriage.
     If stress is a contributing factor in MS exacerbation, I was long overdue. Child birth at age 40; an unhappy second marriage to a 43 year old adolescent; in the middle of major home renovations; trying to find spiritual peace with my decision to embark upon single parenthood.
      None of that compared to my immediate dilemma of attempting to take my first steps, baby steps, since loosing my land legs 3 days before.
     I could wiggle my  toes and flex my feet. I lifted my knees to form a tent out of the bed sheet. Yep, everything seemed to be in working order, but I had no confidence that I could stand, let alone walk.
     So, I lowered myself to the cold floor and tried out what would become my new method of physical mobility.
     I scooted on my butt.
     Reaching my destination I pulled myself up to the royal throne and cried, and for the last time. I would face the journey back to the bed in due time. I needed to start celebrating the little accomplishments in life. I had made it to the potty on my own. Even if it wasn't with any formal dignity.
      Maybe next time I would crawl.
     ...and for most of the summer that's exactly what I did. By the time the new school year began I was able to join my students without them being the wiser.


Read more about living with multiple sclerosis in my young adult novel Abby.



www.amazon.com/Abby

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Water Works

Incontinence
     A friend of mine used this word once in describing strange physical symptoms she was experiencing. Due to her tendency to being the definitive hypochondriac, I really didn't think much about that particular word or its meaning and just nodded in requisite agreement.
     When the word popped up again during D-Day (Diagnosis Day) my mind raced to recall the first time I had ever heard it. I immediately cringed in sympathy for anyone who experienced such a degrading, animalistic situation.
     And then I realized that I HAD experienced incontinence; but I had associated it with a probably urinary tract infection for which I was prone.
     Pre-diagnosis, I can remember sitting in traffic and being mortified to feel my bladder totally empty onto the plush, black upholstery of my snazzy l'il sports car. It was a warm day. I had driven several miles aware of a need to relieve myself, but confident that I could and I would make it to the next fast food rest room right up the road. That's when the traffic lights failed me and progress toward those Golden Arches stopped. Thank goodness I was alone, with no one to witness my lack of bladder control.
    I hated to soil my car seat but at least this hadn't happened in someone else's vehicle! I could clean this up with no one the wiser.
     Why had this happened? What was wrong with my  body that I couldn't "hold my water"?
     I needed to get home and clean myself up. Sitting in my own puddle of urine was NOT a pleasant experience. And it totally ruined my buzz of a fun whip around town in my open air sportster.
      Afterward I remember laughing at myself as if I had committed a secret blunder to lock away in my private memory vault.
     But then it happened again...and again...
     Once at a the deli...once in the hallway at school...no, twice...no, three times...once on my back porch as I fumbled for the house key...again in my kitchen when I miscalculated the number of steps it would take to reach the bathroom...a couple of times in bed in the middle of the night...
     You get the picture.
     What a horrid fuel for an already accelerated anxiety level. I never knew when it would happen and I avoided liquid consumption to the point of near dehydration. The muscles that controlled the physical act of urination no longer obeyed my command.
     My gynecologist suggested practicing contraction exercises. My mother told me to wear Depends. My neurologist told me I would just have to live with it. My urologist prescribed medication but I could never remember to take it and really wasn't excited about consuming another chemical.
     I admit that I really didn't do much (any) research on my situation after diagnosis. It was what it was; and it remains thus.
     Since my diagnosis, my life has taken a new direction. I still teach full-time; I am a mother and wife; I enjoy my hobbies; I attend church when I am not camping (I'm relatively sure God understands). But I do NOT go out of my way looking for additional responsibilities. I enjoy my home, my books, my career, and my family.
     And I head for the nearest bathroom at the first sensation, no matter how small.


Read more about living with multiple sclerosis in my YA novel Abby. Find it at Amazon.com or e-mail me at hummingbirdo2000@yahoo.com.

Friday, June 7, 2013

God doesn't throw us more than we can catch.

So, this afternoon my son and I were eating at Subway in our neighborhood Walmart, when a turbaned lady (and her shopping cart) was led shakily to the seat next to us. She immediately  dropped her turquoise covered head to her lap and quietly threw up on the floor. Her face was covered in a faint sheen of perspiration and she did not raise her eyes even when a kindly Walmart employee came to tell her that her husband was being paged. He approached quickly and gently wiped her face with a napkin before the Subway manager brought her a wet paper towel and invited her to wash her hands.

I did my best not to give the situation much obvious attention, but my heart went out to them. Of course my imagination filled in as many blanks as possible, what with her head wrapped in a colorful cloth and the evidence of her physical condition. I silently prayed that the chemo/radiation  was helping and that her nausea will disappear soon.

What is the proper attitude to have when confronted with an obvious physical weakness? It is difficult to hide some diseases and physical ailments and that creates awkward reactions. I wanted to hug that lady and tell her that "things would be okay", but it wasn't my place and none of my business. I just wanted her to know that someone cares. Even a complete stranger.

Fortunately my MS is not always apparent unless it's one of those days that require my cane. I try to assume a low profile and not draw attention to myself. Some folks aren't that lucky and sometimes that attention just adds insult to injury when staying out of the public light is made impossible.

As soon as the area had been tidied and the turbaned woman's husband had his wife and the cart under control, they walked gingerly off to resume their shopping. I heard him comment affectionately, "That's my girl" and  I had to smile; but the incident had left its mark on me. I wrapped the remains of my sandwich in Subway paper for my son to toss into the trash with his empty food container.

Even though my appetite had found an untimely interruption, I reminded myself of the beauty of human motivation. God bless that lovely lady and God bless her loving husband. They will be fine.
God doesn't throw us more than we can catch.

My MS. Is it age or is it MS?

Not long ago, a colleague of mine suggested that it would be great for me to write about my relationship with multiple sclerosis. At first I thought that was a silly idea. Who wants to read about someone else's disease? Since then I have had the privilege of reading several personal experiences with life altering conditions and have found them extremely interesting, inspiring and helpful. So, here is my first installment in what I plan to write here over the summer. We'll see if it draws a crowd or if it simply serves to help me vent:)
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    So... this morning I woke up with heavy, dark pouches under my eyes. I went to bed before 11 PM, I was not partying, I did my daily exercise and even added an extra ten minutes of yoga. I've been a good girl lately. Low fat diet (okay, I did put cheese on my burger last night...but I did not snack). My weight is below 130 and my BMI averages at 22. Not bad for a 53 year old.
     But I look in the mirror and I see...a 53 year old woman with bruises under her eyes and an aching jaw from fiercely grinding my teeth all night.
     So...is this my age or is it my MS?
     Because this is my MS.
     Multiple Sclerosis is a customized disease. Every victim is unique.  Symptoms might be similar but reactions vary.  I have decided that our attitude towards our disease is most likely the MOST IMPORTANT ingredient to living with the mystery of MS.
     What is the difference between aging and MS?
     Our bodies progress with age. Our memories diminish, vision becomes skewed, hearing dims, flexibility stiffens, and reaction time lengthens.
      MS has dominated and defined these changes in my body since my diagnosis in 2001.
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I promise I will write more tomorrow. I am actually rather excited to talk about My MS.

If you are interested in reading more about dealing with MS from a teen age point of view, check out my YA series on Amazon.com. Titles: Abby, Raspberry Beret, and Opening Pandora's Box.