Friday, March 29, 2002

I thought perhaps I would check in for just a moment. I’m still in the land of the living, though uncomfortably so.

I’m still coughing. I still cannot breath through my nose even with my Breathe Right strips. I am still incredibly weak. And to top is all off, the 1,750 mg of antibiotic I am taking daily is wreaking havoc on my system.

I’ve blown right through my sick days for the entire year and am now eating into my vacation days.

And the three people who have come in contact with me this week are now sick as well.

I could start to feel sorry for myself if I weren’t so darned tired. Tired of sleeping. Tired of television. Tired of reading. And tired of being ill.

But, alas, you who are reading this certainly did not stop by to join a pity party, so I will impart a bit of wisdom to you: Check freshness dates on the items you buy at the store.

I dragged myself to the store because I have no food and really should start eating more than malt-o-meal. The milk, the salad mix, and the cheese I chose all were expired food goods. I didn’t notice that until I was already hunched over my cart in line to check out. Bothered to no end by the lack of attention to the goods in the store, I actually had the manager go and fetch fresh replacements for the food in my cart.

After I got back home, I had to take a nap to recover from the strenuous one-mile trek to the store.

Now I am here to say, “Hello!” And to remind you to check the expiration/best-if-used-by dates on your food purchases.

Monday, March 25, 2002

My misery has reached new heights. It feels as if some tiny demons are stabbing the back of my throat with sharp knives. Today I have gone through half a bottle of chloroseptic spray, sucked on an entire packet of Hall's throat lozenges, and sucked on two trays of ice-cubes (nearly choking myself in the process).

This afternoon, in desperation, I braved my dizziness to venture to the doctor's ...only to find that they have lost my chart. After waiting for an hour while the office staff conducted a fruitless search, my doctor just saw me, swabbed my throat, and sent me off clutching a prescription for a super-antibiotic.

On the way home, after waiting another hour at the pharmacy (where my blood pressure was 98 over 61), I stopped by 7-11 (where I surely spread my germs) for some cherry vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Dr. Pepper.

I have returned to my green chair and my heating pad and am praying it is bacteria not a virus attacking my body so that the antibiotics will work. was your day????

Sunday, March 24, 2002

So...the soured milk smell has finally left my car. And...the hall closet is cleaned out.

But...I have been visited by fever and chills and aches and pains and dizziness and weakness and coughs and sneezes and overwhelming malaise...otherwise known as the flu.

Rats! Being upright long enough to post here is a bit much, so I will return to my green chair and blanket and heating pad...


Friday, March 22, 2002

I spent an hour cleaning out and organizing my toolbox. I have been wanting a new one since part of my is held together with a pushpin. The one I want is less than $10.00, so I am not sure why I’ve been intent on “saving money” by keeping my old one.

I spent an hour organizing my toolbox. I spent an hour doing so because I am avoiding the closet where the toolbox is kept. I’m fairly good about keeping things organized, but this closet has somehow gotten out of control. Each time I look at it and determine that I am going to do something about it, I end up just shutting the door.

So, if, as I’ve already pointed out, I tend to organize because I am upset about something chaotic or out-of-my-control in my life, then what does it mean that I am deliberately avoiding organizing something that is bothering me with its messy state?

Thursday, March 21, 2002

I have a partial hearing loss from the MS. I found out about that April 11, 2000. That was another bad day for me.

I sort of went into an emotional tailspin because I thought: No! Absolutely not! I cannot handle one more physical problem that will need to be monitored. If I can remember correctly (and we know what a long-shot that is), it was nearly three months before I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t do anything about my hearing loss, and, thus, the funk I was in was simply not worth it. Now I just explain (rather unapologetically) to anyone who is going to watch tv or a movie with me that the volume might be a bit loud for them, and I keep the volume cranked up on my phones.

Anyway, from time to time I find myself hearing high pitches from machinery around me. The copier at work is one example. I can hear this tone the entire time it is on (which is all day). I’ve learned to ignore that one, but right now I can hear a tone from my modem that I’ve never heard before. I know it is the modem because I logged off and back on three times. I could only hear the noise while I was connected to the internet.

I will also have times when suddenly all the sounds around me become muted, and I start hearing a high-pitched tone. The tone does not last long, and then the sound around me returns. This does not hurt, but it is strange…especially when it is the general cacophony of the gym that has suddenly become muted.

That it is strange is why I’m even writing about this. Strange things are a constant of having MS. Now I am not saying the tones are due to the MS-related hearing loss since I have put off this year’s visit to the audiologist because I simply do not want to see the comparison graphs between where my hearing was a year ago and where it is now. I’m choosing blissful ignorance for the time being. But I would like to know what might be the cause of these tones. When I’ve asked others around me if they hear high-pitched tones, they look at me as if I am crazy.

Crazy and strange. My MS companions. You notice strange things. You ask about them. You get funny looks (even from a doctor) and then usually a long, frustrating time later you meet or read about someone (and usually many “someones”) who’ve been having the same strange, crazy experience as you. Perhaps another MS companion would be “Ah-hah.” The companion I often quite have as I read the National Multiple Sclerosis Magazine or people-with-MS websites.

It’s funny. You get this strange (that word again) sort of relief when you find out that you are not crazy; you are, in fact, just having another symptom of a particularly pernicious disease.

I think, perhaps, a key to living with this disease is accepting the strange and the crazy and take comfort knowing that the “Ah-hah” will eventually follow.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Kashi tried to eat a battery yesterday. He has this rather fundamental belief that all things are edible (as previously discussed in my musings that he might really be a goat). Have I mentioned that one thing he tried to eat was one of my inhalers? He actually managed to puncture the canister of medicine, which, rather violently I might add, shot across the room and put a dent in the wall. Those canisters are not meant to be punctured.

Fancy is developing her own eating preferences as well. I believe I’ve mentioned that each morning she sits on my shoulder in the bathroom as I get ready for work. Ever since Ben (her avian husband) died, she’s become quite clingy--understandable, after all, as I am her only flock left. Getting ready with her generally ensures that she doesn’t squawk the entire morning. Anyway, most mornings I eat a graham cracker with a glass of milk as I get ready (mostly to get rid of the taste of the protein shake that starts my day). Well, a few weeks ago, she hopped off my shoulder and made her way down my arm to my hand. One bite of that Keebler Golden Graham, and she was hooked.

Now, when I get ready in the bathroom and she is with me, Fancy will sit on my hand until I give her a quarter part of graham cracker to eat. If I try to ignore her and continue with applying makeup, she will merely flap her wings to keep from falling off as I raise and lower my hand. Any attempt to return her to my shoulder ends with her back on my hand before I can pick up my makeup again. In fact, if she’s on my shoulder and I enter the bathroom to put away a towel or something, she promptly hops to my hand and waits for her treat.

Have I mentioned that she’s a stubborn bird?

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

I think one of the worst smells in the world is sour milk in a car. I think this because for the fourth time, I am greeted with that fetid miasma each time I get into my car.

Now the other three times, I knew what had happened. One time a kid spilled his milk from McDonalds as we were driving to the park. Foolishly I thought the three-year-old could handle a straw. After all, the park was mere moments from the restaurant. The second and third time, I spilled my own milk. I like to bring a container of chocolate milk to work for an afternoon snack. Both times, I dropped the container and both times it hit the door frame and bounced into the car instead of out, popping off the top as the milk spilled. Even after cleaning the spot, each time I had to live with the smell (mixed with cleaning fluid) until it finally went away.

This time, I have nary a clue as to what happened.

I know I bought milk last Thursday. I know it must have spilled with the noisome fumes. But I do not know where it spilled. These brain cells of mine, you know. I cannot remember where in the car I put my groceries. It could have been in the front seat. In the back seat. In the trunk.

I've tried to sniff for the the apartment parking lot, in the gym parking lot, in the Walmart parking lot, in the bank parking lot. Each time I was interrupted by someone staring at me while I was sniffing the carpet and/or seat upholstery. As you can imagine, I stopped sniffing.

Needless to say, I still don't know where the milk spill is in my car...but each time I open the door, I am reminded anew what a horrible smell sour milk can be trapped within a car.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Tonight, after our writing lesson, my student and I played Scrabble. I won. But was it really a victory? She doesn't play much and was not in the practice of looking to play letters to make a word both vertically and horizontally, neither was she in the habit of using the letter "s" in just this manner. So, perhaps we should play a few more games before I declare my first Scrabble Victory (remember my friend chastened me in the other "first" victory saying I cheated by rigging the game when I did not let the crossword puzzle guru play with the rest of us).

I am birdsitting this weekend. The ring-necked African Parakeet arrived this evening. I really enjoy having him since he talks and is quite affectionate. Fancy has yet to decide if she likes him. Sometimes when they are each on one of my shoulders, one or the other will amble over to the other bird's shoulder. They will then prance about a bit before either the first bird retreats or the second bird does. They have yet to bite or snip or charge each other, so I let them be together a bit. I think Fancy at least enjoys his company during the day when I am gone as they can see each other from their respective cages.

I cannot wait until Saturday...I need to sleep!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

I had an epiphany Sunday night. At least one for me. And I’ve been thinking on it ever since…

Sunday, my father woke me up when he called at 11:15 in the morning. He woke me up because I am not sleeping well since my joints hurt so much. But I didn’t mind because he was calling for a date. Lunch at Fuddruckers!

I got out of bed and hobbled to the bathroom. [It takes me a while to get going in the morning.] I then took Kashi outside, but I didn’t walk him far enough to do his business other than raising the water table in our area a bit because I was still so stiff.

So when my father arrived, I was just setting out to walk Kashi again. I asked Dad if he wanted to wait inside or join me, and he chose the latter. It was as we were walking back up the short incline to my apartment door that he commented on my state. I was quite short of breath and literally heaving myself up the stairs in the hallway using my arms on the handrail. He asked if I was always this short of breath just taking Kashi out. I replied in the affirmative with some blithe comment about having asthma and MS tends to do that to a person, but did not think much more about it until later.

At Fuddruckers, I chose a booth that was really for about six people because it had a cushioned seat and a handy brass post that ran from floor to ceiling on one side of the circular booth. I knew I would need help getting in and out of the booth, especially by the time lunch was over. The first half of the meal, I got up twice to get drinks just to move around a bit, but I was enjoying our conversation so much in the second half of our lunch that I didn’t move around. Consequently, I had to pant my way through the pain of rising up and stand still for a few moments before I could straighten my body enough to walk.

Later, I broke a glass when I dropped it. I dropped it because I had been sitting on the couch with my legs resting on the coffee table. If you were to stick your legs out just now, you would notice that the angle of your foot changes as your toes drop forward. So when I tried to stand, forgetting to do so slowly, the pain of moving my ankles to a right angle for walking was more than I could bear. I grabbed at the arm of my couch to keep myself from falling and dropped the glass I was holding.

Still, the confluence of thought did not come until even later. Just before I went to bed. I was outside, walking Kashi, huffing and puffing my way back up the small hill when it hit me. I thought about Dad’s comment. I thought about how difficult something as simple as even having lunch out has become. I thought about how whether this new problem really is arthritis or actually an exacerbation of the multiple sclerosis…it did not matter. Both reasons cause pain and both reasons are not going away. And I thought about how I having been living with far more pain that I thought I would have been able to deal with as prosaically as I have been.

Suddenly it hit me. My epiphany: barring medical breakthrough or miracle healing…I will be sick the rest of my life.

I’ve thought about my future at times. I’m trying to make financial decisions based on the understanding that I most likely will not be able to work fulltime until the standard age of retirement. I quickly flip through all those advertisements for wheelchairs in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Magazine when I am reading the articles. But I don’t ignore them. I know what my future may very well hold as far as physical and mental breakdown due to MS. But I have never really thought about the fact that I could very well spend the rest of my life ill.

This realization is quite unsettling, as you might imagine. One that I am only beginning to swallow.

What does one do with that sort of knowledge…with this sort of epiphany?

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Long time no write????

I haven't been feeling well and thought that the involuntary evacuation of my stomach was not the reading material you might seek here.

Now I am on my way to bed having spent the evening troubleshooting a computer long-distance with my folks. I genuinely wish I knew enough to connect to their computer and just work on it. Blind troubleshooting is rather difficult. I might even have a smidgen of compassion the next time I call tech support.

Two highpoints of my day:

My dad called and asked me for a lunch date. We ate at Fuddruckers. :)

When I was walking this morning Kashi, another tenant here told me I was lucky I could have my dog with me. You see, the apartment complex changed its pet policy to exclude dogs. I am grandfathered in since I had a lease before the policy was changed. I am fortunate to have Kashi. I would even say I was blessed. Company of any kind is always nice, but especially so when you are not feeling well.