An MS Doodle Dandy

Multiple Sclerosis patriotism


With the exception of my late teen/early 20’s years, I have never been much of a rebel.  I grew up with this intense need to please and so when someone tells me to do something, I do it.

I floss daily.

I get my car’s oil changed every 3500 miles.

I pay my taxes BEFORE April 15th.

I wait ten hours after eating before swimming.

About the only rebellious thing I do these days is consume raw cookie dough against the advice of both the raw dough packages and that of my older sister.   But I try to do that in the privacy of my own home so as not to offend anyone and I do feel bad about it, kind of.

This sense of doing the right thing carries over into being a good citizen, even when MS makes me feel wiped out and yucky.

I suppose if I was really a great citizen I would have skipped my brief rebel years and joined the military.  The only problem with that was the fact that I am total wimp and wouldn’t have lasted one day in boot camp.  So hats off and deep, deep gratitude to those brave folks who defend our country!

The least I can do to be a good citizen is to vote.  I understand how government works; I watched Schoolhouse Rock when I was kid.


(I’m still totally furious that Conjunction Junction beat out I’m Just a Bill for the number 1 spot in a recent special featuring all the episodes.  I demand to know who voted for that!)

So on primary day I put on my goody two shoes and headed off to the polls.  It didn’t matter that not many people bother to vote in the primaries.  I was going to because it’s a privilege and it’s my patriotic responsibility to honor that privilege.

I even did research on who to vote for.  And by research I mean I asked my very smart friends who have ideals similar to mine who they were voting for and then I voted for that person too.


(And I did watch a commercial or two- I try to take this voting thing seriously.)

Luckily, my town is small and since it was only a primary the polls weren’t too packed and I didn’t have to stand too long to cast my ballot. But my civic duty was not done for the week.  The next day I had jury duty.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind serving on a jury. I actually think it would be interesting.  I just can’t imagine any lawyer would trust me on a jury with all of my cognitive issues and my extreme fatigue.   But being the good citizen that I am, I would let the court make that decision.  I was happy and honored to do what my government asked of me.


The problem was, this was a lousy week to have to serve.  I had a lot going on and precious few non exhausted hours to do them in.  Of course, I didn’t know this would be the case when I got my notice, the notice that gives you the option of postponing jury duty.  Being on the road by 7:15 the morning of, standing in long lines to be processed, and waiting long hours in a hot stuffy courthouse was just not conducive to my life and my MS that week.

But it was what it was and I would just have to do my best.  I took comfort in the fact that I had one of those ‘call the day before’ notices.  Every time in the past when I received one of those, I never had to actually go in.  I would call the automated line the day before and an automated voice would tell me I was excused.  That’s what would happen with this jury service, it just had to.

When people who don’t have MS say they don’t understand ‘brain fog’ or ‘cognitive difficulties’ you are usually too fogged to explain it to them.  So allow me to do it for you.  The following is what brain fog looks like:

At 4PM on the day before my service I called the courthouse.  The instructions were clear- do not call even one minute before 4.  To be on the safe side, I waited until 4:02.

The automated voice thanked me for being a good citizen and calling.  Then it informed me that all jurors with groups numbered 0- 58 had to report.  I had been assigned group number 0060.  I had to go.

I was distressed.  I absolutely could not believe it.  How on Earth would I get through this crazy week with jury duty smack dab in the middle of it?


I thought perhaps I made a mistake.  I called again.  And again, was thanked for my service and told that all jurors in group numbers 0-58 had to report.  I was resigned to my patriotic fate.  I would just have to suck it up.

I postponed that evening’s shot so I wouldn’t face the horribly achy side effects during jury duty.

I went to bed super early.

I set two alarms to get up on time.

I stopped on the way to get some much needed caffeine.

And I stood with my burning legs in the long check in line, chatting with other potential jurors.

When it was my turn to hand in my summons, the court officer pointed out that I hadn’t needed to report at all.   WHAT??

Didn’t I call the automated number, he asked?

“I did.  It said all jurors with group numbers 0-58 had to report.  So at number 60 that means me, right?”

The frustrating thing about ‘cog fog’ is that once your brain makes a mistake, even a simple counting mistake, your brain then accepts that mistake as correct.  So even though I have known how to count since first grade and I called TWICE, I still screwed up.

I’m such a dedicated citizen that I showed up for jury duty when I didn’t even need to.


The court officer told me that my service was completed and kindly sent me on my way, probably noting my name and number for next time to tell the judge “this chick is way too dumb to serve, she can’t even count to 60.”

The good news was that I got back the badly needed day in the middle of the week.

The bad news was that I was so frustrated by my mistake that I wasted a lot of that day stressing over it.

Before I knew it the night passed, and when I turned on Facebook the next morning I was reminded of the date.

It was 9/11, a date no American will ever forget.

The date got me emotional.

It got me sad.

And then, it got me proud.  I started thinking about the amazing country I am lucky to live in.


I started humming Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Here’s another way brain fog works, your mind starts wandering down seemingly insignificant paths for seemingly no apparent reason.

I looked up Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Did you know that doodle was actually an insult?  The phrase Doodle Dandy was meant to insult the earliest American patriots, doodle meaning dumb.  But they chose to adopt the phrase instead.

And so it was with me-MS dumb or not, I’m happy to be an MS Doodle Dandy; an MS Doodle Dandy who’s ready for jury duty whether she’s wanted or not.

PS  If you are humming Yankee Doodle right now than you are a true patriot for sure!



10 thoughts on “An MS Doodle Dandy

  1. I looked at the 60 and thought Oh Yay she doesn’t have to go and then I thought perhaps I had read it wrong when you were so frustrated to go! Nope, for change I was correct. Glad you got your time back to yourself and for heavens sake don’t stress the small stuff as we have much bigger issues. I have NEVER been called for jury duty and actually think I would enjoy it BUT I have been involved in a few malpractice suits so guess I’ll never get called. NEVER my fault just happened – want to make that clear. As for serving in the military. No need to thank these guys now as they volunteered! If you ask each and every one of them they will tell you they cringe when people thank them as they knew what they were doing when they signed up (all for different reasons) and they do it proudly and, again, each for his or her own reason. They are actually embarrassed when greeted at the airport or thanked on the street. I know as I live among them – what they do wish for is that we would step up and help their families when they are gone and that the government would realize their importance and pay them correctly for their service but it is still a privilege to live in this country despite the entire mess of it all and there are days when the F18’s over my house don’t bother me or one of my neighbors in a black hawk knows I will be pooling and buzzes down during maneuvers to give me a shout out that even with the state of messy affairs I am proud to be here. Celebrate as for sure no more jury duty for you! As they say here – Carry on

    • I think it was the zeroes that messed me up Judy. Why did they have to throw those zeroes in there? You bring up an interesting point about military men and women. I was in an airport several month ago and there was Marine in front of me in the gift shop. He was buying snacks and a water for his flight. I asked if I could treat him as a thank you for his service and he declined. He seemed to get really embarrassed too and so it was an awkward moment. I will be more cautious next time. I just don’t want our servicemen and women to be taken for granted. It brings me comfort that in my rebel days I did support veterans by running a pretty hefty tab at my local VFW!

  2. Funny that your blog was about Jury Duty. I just received a questionairre from Federal Jury Duty to see if I was fit for service. I, too, am a people pleasing goodie two shoes but I thought “I’ve done this 3 times before travelelng from Lancaster to Philadelphia (90 miles) and NO More!!!! I promptly did the on-line questionaire and completed the “why I can’t” section with gusto. Maybe it’s my age, but this being a dutiful citizen has gone down the tubes with me. I don’t know if I’m lucky to be chosen in a lottery 4 times in the last 25 years or just plain unlucky. Either way, I say I’m happy to have MS as a reason to not do my civil duty this time around. If my excuse and my neurologist’s note are not enough to get me out of this, I plan on being the most uncooperative cititzen around. No more shrinking violet at age 63. Just say, “NO!” (I hope everybody still likes me! ~~HA)

    • Too funny Audrey! Weird how it works- my mom wants to serve on a jury and always has. She thinks she would be an awesome juror yet she’s NEVER been called!!! So crazy…Maybe you can send your summons to my mom?

  3. Regarding thanking service people. We Vietnam era people remember how horribly our guys were treated at airports, etc. when they came home from Vietnam so we are particularly sensitive to heartfelt thank yous to our service men and women. My husband was drafted into the Vietnam war and served there for a year. No one thanked him but now if we see a vet with a Vietnam hat on, we thank him and of course my husband asks where he served. Thank a Vietnam vet next time and never stop thanking our present service people whether they expect or want it, somewhere in their hearts they are happy someone cares.

    • Another good point Audrey. I was too young to directly remember Vietnam and how awful it was for our servicemen but I of course have heard the stories. My father and uncle served during that time and my uncle was a marine on the ground in Vietnam. My dad served stateside because he had only been in the country for a couple of years and was a new citizen. I think the brass were worried about his loyalty if they sent him overseas. He saw a lot of horror too though as one of his jobs was to escort the bodies of fallen brothers home. I guess what I am trying to say is that, we as citizens should never forget all the sacrifices that our made for our many freedoms. However we remember and express our gratitude, whatever way works best, we just must always be grateful…

  4. Didn’t you hear me?
    I was talking to the computer screen saying…”You’re #60, you don’t have to report!!”
    Must not have heard me. Oh well.

    Glad you made it through. I agree, you probably won’t get another call to serve for a real long time!

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