Category Archives: MS and Holidays

Lots and Lots of March Stuff

Happy first week of March everyone!

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So much to share with you friends!

First up, and in no particular order, other than the order that I finally learned how to post this badge on my blog and am afraid to move it around for fear of losing it, order-  my blog was nominated a top MS Blog by Healthline!!!

I didn’t even know I was nominated!

Thank you to whoever nominated and voted for my blog!

And to be honest, I didn’t know much about this website either.  So now I’ve checked it out, love it, and have added it to my website.   Talk about MS awareness!

 

Speaking of which, Happy National MS Awareness Month!

Next up, have you gotten a chance to order my book, MS Madness! A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis yet?  If you would like too and would also like to help out an amazing organization, let me tell of an exciting opportunity.

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My book is listed in the Race to Erase MS online store and if you purchase through their store during the month of March,  50% of the proceeds go to the Race to Erase MS campaign.

I’m so excited to be working with this amazing organization!   Here is the link if you would like to take a look-

Race to Erase MS Online Store/MS Madness!

So the first week of March was filled with bad news, one fall-stupid bath tub, Ash Wednesday, my first book signing, good news, lots more good news-see above and many, many hours of  pondering all of the above.  Thus, I unfortunately do not have a new blog for you today.

 

BUT, as Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, I thought I would repeat last year’s Lenten blog.    I promise a new post next Friday.

Have a great week friends!

 

When Multiple Sclerosis and Lent Collide

Adding God to the MS balance beam

Due to Lent, this blog has a spiritual tint to it. I hope though, that even my non-believing friends will enjoy it from the aspect of how it incorporates another one of the elements of living with multiple sclerosis.

And really, how can you not believe in a higher power? I mean, God is freaking awesome! The sun, the moon, the Earth, the oceans and on the eighth day he created the Rolling Stones! How can you not love the creator of all that!!

For me, Jesus is my God. Only someone that cool would be capable of creating Keith Richards and keeping him around past his over ten lives thus far. But no matter what you believe dear readers, I wish you great health and many, many laughs always….

 

I think I messed up the Lent thing. As a Christian, I was excited about the approach of this time of year. We use this time to grow closer to God with prayer, almsgiving (does trying to make people laugh count as almsgiving?) and fasting.

My goal was to take advantage of this opportunity. I saved change to put into the little cardboard box that was our church’s mission project to support a local mission. I even put in quarters. When it was time to turn the box in and it seemed a little light, I even took some change out of another jar where I had been saving for my Lions Club.

Speaking of my Lion’s Club, I also fed the crew of a local Habitat for Humanity project in our club’s name. I didn’t have time to get fellow Lion’s to help me but that was ok as it was supposed to be a small crew.

The numbers increased however and thus it was that my fatigued MS self was slapping together ham and cheese on a windy morning for hungry construction workers. And, unfortunately, as far as I could tell, not a one of them was single! Not that that had anything to do with why I was there, it was about almsgiving of course.

 

When two fellow Lions asked my tired self to help them clean the God given beach, I did put a stop to that. Really, how much almsgiving can you do???

For the prayer portion of Lent, I obtained many books about Jesus and set to grow in my relationship with Him. It worked; I have enjoyed a lot of what I read.

But here is where MS screwed me up. My brain takes much longer to process information. So, while I was reading all of these great spiritual works, I was taking up a ton of time in my already pretty crowded with exhaustion, day. That left no time for the things I should be doing for my general health.

Suffice to say, what I wound up unintentionally giving up for Lent, was working out with my Wii Fit. Officially, I gave up casual reading for Lent in favor of more involved spiritual material and was planning on curbing my sweet tooth. But before I realized it, I was fasting on getting exercise and I am not sure that counts.

 

With MS there is so much you should do and so little energy to do it in. With Lent, there was so much I wanted to do and only forty days to do it in. Ok, technically, you don’t have to stop the prayer, almsgiving, fasting routine just because Easter arrives, but having a time table sure helps to keep you focused.

That is when I figured out where I went wrong. Focus is the key word.

There are always going to be more things I want to do and more things I have to do and I will always have to walk this MS balance beam of energy supply. Some days I may do it well, other days not so much.

But if I put God first, maybe I won’t have to balance Him with other things. Not even with MS.

 

Maybe Jesus IS the balance beam of energy. With Him first in my world, everything else will fall into place, even my Wii Fit, after it gets over being mad at me. Perhaps I will bring it an Easter basket….

Here is the other thing I learned, as it says in scripture, “it’s never to late to start all over again.”

 

Wait, maybe that isn’t scripture, maybe that’s Steppenwolf. I will have to check my notes. I have also really been into 70’s music lately.

The point is, everyday you just have to give life your best shot. Wait, shot is not the right word. Jesus is all about peace and love, not violence-no shooting…

Ok, let me try a third way. We are humans and as humans we are total screw ups. But screwing up isn’t always bad if we can learn from our mistakes and keep our focus on what is right and what is good for us.

And, no matter how hard you try, you can’t use Lent as an excuse for not exercising!

 

 

 

Auld Lang Syne Means “Old and Sigh….”

An MS’er tackles a new year and offers a contest update

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Happy days after the holidays friends, or, as I like to call them, the “ok to have Christmas cookies for breakfast time as you have so many to eat in order not to offend the people who gave them to you and you will start a health kick in the New Year anyway” week…

If you are at all like me, your holiday of choice was filled with food, family and friends and all of them are making you sluggish and nostalgic in the aftermath. Today my brain is foggier than usual and foggier then the fog outside as I ponder all things emotional, old and new.

 

For example, I have a friend having a birthday this week and she is turning 45. How on Earth is that possible?

Don’t get me wrong, I have friends of all ages and a true friend is not determined by how old they are. But this friend is in my same age bracket and if she is turning 45, what does that say about me?

I shiver at the thought!

The good news is that even stuffed with roast beast, potatoes, baked goods and chocolate, I got on the scale and discovered that I weigh 6 lbs less than I did at this time last year-woohoo!

 

Since my goal last year was to lose 20lbs by my next neurologist appointment (that was this past July and who’s to say that I didn’t lose it?) and I have had another appointment since then and that was three months ago and my goal had nothing to do with follow up appointments, I am considering this a success!

And since last year I went on a family trip where I lost six lbs chasing a 21 month old and his baby brother, and this year their ages are now 2.9 months and 17 months, my plan was to lose 12 lbs chasing both of them. Hey, you do math your way and I will do it mine.

The plan did not work however as I only lost 1 lb on the trip this year proving of course, that I still suck at math.

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Sitting down with a plate of holiday treats I decided to take stock of the year by looking over some former blogs. Turns out, when I go below the bare bones of the musings throughout the year, I discovered that it was a bit of a tough one.

There was a blizzard, ridiculous heat and humidity, bug infestations, being forced to move during the heat and humidity and bug infestations, two unexpected deaths of two dear friends, and a couple of falls.

Note- I only document one fall in my blogs this past year, a fall where Fido, my pet portable ac tripped me. The second fall happened on my recent trip where I got my first black eye, a real shiner. But man, you should have seen the sidewalk!

Looking over the blogs though, I also found some great stuff.

 

I got to see the Rolling Stones perform live which was huge because that could be the last time they perform live together again.

Yes, I did say that the previous six or seven times I have seen them live but you just never know.

I was able to keep my sense of humor through most of the bad, hopefully helping all of you giggle as I kept from going crazy by sharing some of the bad with you.

And my year was filed with wonderful and fun help from dear family and friends, for which I am super grateful.

So the good of the year outweighed the bad. And maybe the bad of 2013 will help ease some of the potential bad of 2014, making 2014 a total kick butt year!

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For example, while the move came at the worst time possible and I miss my little house, when the bugs and pollen and heat hit this spring, I will be in a new rental better able to handle it and complete with a real ac.

Don’t worry Fido fans, I will keep him around too if for no other reason than that he has stayed super loyal, despite the pushing incident.

And while my ‘get fit’ plan continues to be a work in progress (I did refer to it as baby steps though this baby is about to enter high school I have been working on this so long,) I have dropped 12 lbs and more importantly, adopted some healthier habits. All the better to move forward with in 2014.

So what if the end 2013 means we are all one year older, including my birthday friend. Let’s all give a collective sigh at this knowledge.

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BUT, let’s use that knowledge to work even harder to have a much improved 2014. I know I plan on it!

Happy Birthday dear, thrilled that you are older than me, friend!

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And Happy New Year to everyone!

PS One of the things that took a lot of work in 2013 was getting my book ready for publication. Now I can use 2014 to reap the rewards of its release and count all the huge book sales- hopefully!

Please mark on your calendars that MS Madness: A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis will be out in February!

In anticipation of its release, I can now announce the December contest winner! It is Cindy from Indiana. Her response to the question of what two quotes do I open MS Madness with were the first and most accurate. The quotes are-

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“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22 NIV

And,

“A smile relieves a heart that grieves…” Jagger/Richards from Waiting on a Friend

 

Cindy got the exact Proverbs verse and while she did choose the Rolling Stones, she didn’t get the exact quote from them.

Congratulations Cindy! You win a $25 gift card to Amazon and an autographed copy of MS Madness!

Others won a free e-book of MS Madness for their guesses and I will be in touch with them as well.

Thank you all for your support.

There will be one more contest in January which I am not going to tell you about now, mostly because my brain is too fogged to come up with contest details.

But please stay tuned!!!

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12 Days of Christmas, MS Style

A multiple sclerosis Christmas carol

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I love Christmas. I love Christmas songs. But personally, I don’t love the 12 Days of Christmas carol. I find it obnoxious. Recently however, I learned that it was actually an important and secret song.

Folklore has it that this carol was written in the late 1700’s in England as a code to help children study their catechism as Christianity was forbidden at the time. A partridge in a pear tree represents Jesus Christ, two calling birds represent the apostles Peter and Paul, three French hens represent the Holy Trinity, etc.

Weird, as my grandmothers always taught me that the Holy Trinity was Portuguese, but what can you do?

As a devout Catholic who totally gets the reason for the season, I feel bad calling the song obnoxious when is seems like it should be something to be appreciated, even just slightly.

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Kind of like how there was a brief time when I actually appreciated multiple sclerosis. And by brief I mean minutes, no, actually seconds.

This was when I received my diagnosis after I had diagnosed myself via the internet as having either early onset Alzheimer’s disease or acute and untreatable insanity. MS was actually a relief at that moment.

Now it is just absolutely obnoxious and that is on one of its very rare good days.

Since I am in the Christmas spirit all year long (but now that it IS Christmas, it is ok to be in the Christmas spirit) I thought I would combine the two.

So here friends, is a multiple sclerosis Christmas carol, obnoxiousness and all.

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On the first day of Christmas MS brought to me: one ach-y bod-y

On the second day of Christmas MS brought to me: fingers all tingly

On the third day of Christmas MS brought to me: three MS hugs

On the fourth day of Christmas MS brought to me: lots of blurry vision

On the fifth day of Christmas MS brought to me: brain completely spacey…..

On the sixth day of Christmas MS brought to me: every day so sleepy

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On the seventh day of Christmas MS brought to me: feeling kind of dizzy

On the eight day of Christmas MS brought to me: bladder very leaky

On the ninth day of Christmas MS brought to me: four shots so nasty

On the tenth day of Christmas MS brought to me: head feeling crappy

On the eleventh day of Christmas MS brought to me: legs acting lazy

On the twelfth day of Christmas MS brought to me: balance not so steady-

legs acting lazy, head feeling crappy, four shots so nasty, bladder very leaky, feeling kind of dizzy, every day so sleepy, brain completely spacey, lots of blurry vision, three MS hugs, fingers all tingly, and one,

ach-y bod-y…..

Let’s sing it together, shall we?

NOT!

Ahhh friends, a very healthy and Merry Christmas to you all. And for my non- Christian friends, may you have a healthy and happy season of all things good and not MS related!

PS- If your brain isn’t too spacey, try your luck at my fun contest! It is open just until midnight on 12/26/13 and the grand prize is still eligible! See MS Insanity Galore for all the fun contest details!

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*******Note*******

I wrote this particular blog over the weekend of 12/13/13-12/15/13- I swear I did. On 12/18/13 a friend and fellow MS’er posted on Facebook something similar that was attributed to the Must Stop MS Support Group.

I am very, very sure I didn’t copy them but it is possible that in years past I got this idea (the 12 Days of Christmas MS version) from somewhere else and just don’t remember it.

I would like to think instead, however, that great minds think alike!

If that doesn’t work, I will blame using an idea used before on MS.

Yea, that’s it. If I subconsciously stole this idea it is all MS’s fault!

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Falling Backwards

An up close, in depth, comprehensive look at multiple sclerosis “cog fog”

 

First things first with today’s blog post- please don’t sue me. I did not come up with the name of multiple sclerosiscog fog.” I found it on the internet on two different sites and so I have no clue who to attribute this clever phrase too.

But it certainly fits to describe when your MS cognitive difficulties collide with ongoing brain fog. Thus I am using this expression to help others understand one aspect of “cog fog.”

And yes, I know that I said this was a comprehensive look at “cog fog” and yet, I am only focusing on one aspect of it.  That is lesson number 1. When you have “cog fog” you often have no idea what you’re talking about.

Anyway, tomorrow is the day when we will have to change our clocks. This is incredibly stressful for me. While autumn is my favorite time of year and I actually don’t mind winter, this clock changing thing is horrible.

 

What is it all about anyway? Everyone grumbles and complains about it getting darker earlier, (I think that is what happens.) Why can’t we just leave it to the mighty guy upstairs to tell us when it is time to settle down for the evening and put our PJ’s on? Why stress about it and then try to direct the hour of the setting sun?

I have adorable little relatives in the western part of the country who don’t change their clocks; which is a good thing because they don’t know how to tell time. But their parents and the rest of their state don’t change them either.

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This makes the time difference even more confusing when it changes in my area twice a year. I can’t even remember the time difference once a year. Is the whole concept of some parts of the country manually changing the time while other parts don’t just a huge conspiracy to keep me from calling the little ones hourly just to hear them say, “I wub you, auntie.”

The next stressful thing about this process is getting it right. I can never remember if I am supposed to move the clock an hour forward or an hour backwards. Right up until the minute I do it, I am still confused.

Plus, they “the official people in the know,” say you should change the clock at midnight. What if you are not up at midnight?

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Here’s what happens. I call my mom twenty times that evening and ask her to remind me what I am supposed to do. Exasperated, she will say, “Yvonne, in the fall you move the clock back one hour. So if it is midnight, you would move the clock back to eleven. In the spring you do the opposite.”

“Ok, I will write it down so I don’t forget.”

And then I will forget to write the info down and will call her again.

I try to always do the right thing when I am supposed to do it. So to be prepared, I turn the clocks back one hour before I fall asleep, whatever time that happens to be.

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Then I wake up for a bathroom run and to make sure I am not confused in the morning, turn the clock back an hour again. When I wake up for my crack of dawn bathroom run, I don’t remember if I have changed the clocks already and if I did, did I move the hands back one hour, or ahead one hour? And was that the direction I was supposed to move them in?

The sun outside doesn’t help because the whole point of changing the clocks is to change what time the sun does its sun thing…

To make matters even more confusing for my MS brain, in this new electronic age some things change themselves. I can just never remember which.

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The cable box has a time different from my clock- which is right? My cell phone has an altogether different time, does it change itself? How does it know what the actual time is?

What about the microwave? Who tells the microwave what time it is? And whoever does that, why don’t they tell the stove the time as well?

Next in sorting this mess out, I turn on the TV news. They will definitely have the right time.

Except, what time zone are they broadcasting from? Are they in Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, Oceanic, Astrophysic or what? And does that time zone change its clocks back or forward or not at all?

You would think I could rely on the local news, they MUST have the accurate time. Except I just heard that our local news stations was bought by Fox Television and aren’t they in LA?

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So you without MScog fog” can see how something relatively simply to the rest of the world (or state or time zone or whatever,) can become completely overwhelming to someone with MS. After stressing about this over and over I wind up calling my mom in the morning to see what time it is.

“It’s 6AM and it’s Sunday. Go back to bed!” she abruptly and groggily tells me.

“Is that 6AM yesterday time or 6AM today time?”

Finally, someone helped me to see the REAL importance of this event.

“The fall time change means you get an extra hour of sleep..”

Now THAT is something I can appreciate.

I love sleep and I will take all the extra hours I can get. In order to better appreciate the extra sleep this year, I have decided not to change anything, at least not until late the next day. At that time I will call someone and ask them to tell me what time it is.

Can someone please give me their number? Funny how the operator tells me my mother’s number has been disconnected….

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And now for our DWTS moment- Thank you, thank you, thank you Jack for finally mentioning the fatigue! I have been waiting all season for you to bring up MS related fatigue and how that has got to be affecting you. Of course, when you did, your partner Cheryl Burke did not get it. BUT, she did say the key words, “you have to tell me how you feel so we can be on the same page.”

 

Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the people in our lives were to put that statement out to us and really mean it? Cheryl must have really meant it because she and Jack then went on to dance an incredible Jive!

And the biggest shock of the evening- Ozzy looked like he actually knew what was going on!

Memorable MS quote of the show- “I feel like I am turning into a zombie,” Jack.

I can relate Jack; I can definitely relate.

 

Vote for Jack Osbourne and his partner Cheryl Burke by calling 1-800-868-3402 up to 60 minutes after the show on Monday nights or by logging onto ABC.com or Facebook.com/votedwts up to 24 hours after.

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MS Horror Theory

A multiple sclerosis Halloween blog

ID-100207832Halloween is fast approaching and that fact, along with MS and a visit from an old friend, has gotten me thinking about ghoulish things. And by ghoulish I don’t mean the age of me and my friend, although that is frightening in and of itself.

My friend is one of those that has been a friend forever, although we aren’t able to get together regularly. But when we do, we can chat away a whole afternoon without realizing how much time has passed. If you have one friend like that, you are lucky. I am fortunate to have a few and am very grateful.

This friend reads my blog and so in the spirit of my Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere post, she brought me a pumpkin and some Hershey’s Pumpkin Kisses-yummy!

We were chatting and she suddenly said, “wow, how can you take that? Doesn’t that drive you crazy?”

 

I had no idea what she was talking about and said so. What she was referring to were the flashes of light that pass by the window in my new rental.

The rental happens to be on a busy street and I have blinds on the windows which I often leave open for light, but not all the way up as the glare is too much. When a car passes, it gives off a spark of light.

I was relieved she saw this and mentioned it to me. I had been living with these sparks since moving in but blamed them on another symptom of MS, (what I always blame things I don’t have an explanation for on,) or, ghosts. Ghosts didn’t make much sense as this building is fairly new but my MS brain didn’t put together the car/window connection.

Speaking of ghosts, she then brought up a theory about my All Aboard post, the post where I describe regularly hearing a train that doesn’t exist. After asking several questions, she determined I really was hearing a train.

“But didn’t you read my blog? There hasn’t actually been a train in these parts since 1938.”

“The bike path went right through the backyard of your old rental and isn’t too far away from here. You know, the bike path known as the Cape Cod Rail Trail? What you are hearing could be a ghost train,” she said sensibly.

 

It occurred to me that my friend was right AND she had solved the mystery! The famous local bike path was built over the old train tracks. What a relief. I wasn’t crazy and the train sound wasn’t yet another MS medical mystery. It was just a ghost!

This shouldn’t have surprised me. For a while now, I have compared my MS fog state to that of being a zombie. (See a former halloween blog titled Scary Brain, Scary Movie.) Aren’t ghosts and zombies closely related?

The more I pondered the ghost explanation the more it made sense. Especially since, I realized, ghosts have a lot in common with multiple sclerosis.

 

Ghosts are very popular during halloween which is represented by the color orange. Orange is the color that represents multiple sclerosis.

Ghosts are very scary at best, absolutely terrifying at worst. Just like an MS diagnosis.

Ghosts can hang around you for a very long time before they bother you enough for you to pay attention to them. Just like MS symptoms before an MS diagnosis.

Ghosts can take various forms and can affect people differently. Sound familiar?

 

Ghosts can be invisible and so people often don’t believe you when you tell them you saw a ghost. MS symptoms can often be invisible and so people often don’t believe you when you tell them you have MS. “But you look so good,” they say.

Ghosts hang around some people but not others and no one knows why. MS attacks some people but not others and no one knows why.

In spite of multiple studies and expense, there is no scientific solution that will get rid of ghosts.

In spite of multiple studies and expense, there is no scientific solution that will get rid of multiple sclerosis.

 

As halloween approaches, how is any of this helpful to me and my other MS friends?

What you can’t blame on multiple sclerosis, blame on the supernatural! You are then covered; people are horrified by both.

Now for our DWTS moment-

jackpasoJack danced an incredible Paso Doble this past week, a dance that recreates the viciousness of a bullfight. In rehearsals, his toughest job was finding the right emotions to want to kill his partner in the dance. He finally nailed it but I wonder if he did it by mentally changing his partner from Cheryl Burke to a bull to MS? That might have been what made it easier to bring her down.

Due to technical difficulties last week, there will be two eliminations on 10/28 so your vote is more important than ever.

Memorable MS quote-

“crotch forward,” Bruno.

 

Vote for Jack Osbourne and his partner Cheryl Burke by calling 1-800-868-3402 up to 60 minutes after the show on Monday nights or by logging onto ABC.com or Facebook.com/votedwts up to 24 hours after.

Whether you are a ghost or a zombie this year, Happy Halloween friends!

 

 

Resolve This!

An MS’er attacks the New Year

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Happy New Year everyone! Hope you have had an excellent start to this first day of 2013.

Yes, oh particular ones, I do realize that today is the 11th and thus eleven days after the first official day of the year. But my question is, says who? The Mayans?

I have chosen to start the New Year and my New Year’s resolutions today for several reasons.

1. I had way too much chocolate and goodies still leftover from Christmas to even attempt any healthy eating plan. Unlike my thinner friend who decided to start her resolutions on 12/29 to get ahead of the game (New Year kiss-ass,) I choose to be a rebel and just start later. I also resolved to waste less, so I would be immediately failing if I threw out the good stuff. My friend had help in that department. Her four, pretty much grown kids, who were home for the holiday helped her devour her treats. I was forced to tackle mine almost completely alone.

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2. The end of the first official week of the New Year was filled with two afternoons of MRI’s, for which I needed to refrain from taking my wonder drug, Aleve, for several days. (More on what I Iearned from the MRI tube in a future blog.) Without my over the counter pain meds, the aches were miserable and I resolved to do nothing but lie around my house and whine about them.

3. As you can see from the above, this year I resolved to take my health and ‘get fit’ plan seriously. So I seriously chose a good day to start- the 11th, the Yvonne deSousa official first day of the New Year! A brief Auld Lang Syne to all!

If you happened to be following my ‘get fit’ plan over the summer, you understand that it takes baby steps to achieve healthy new fitness goals. Little by little, I have been sneaking better habits in and have figured some things out along the way that may help all of you in your ‘get fit’ journey as well.

 

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1. One regular size Mounds candy bar is not the equivalent of two servings of fruit.

2. Kale is the best veggie in the world but eating eight bowls of Portuguese kale soup is not the healthiest way to meet your veggie requirements.

3. While super delicious, Reeses Chocolate Peanut Butter Pumpkins are not actually made from pumpkins and thus, don’t count as a fruit serving.

4. Cinnamon is an excellent spice and very good for you. But shaking just a little on ice cream, puddings and baked goods is the least effective way of adding it to your diet.

5. Just because something is in the yogurt section of the dairy case and starts with Yo, doesn’t mean it is the same as the yogurt the experts all tell you to eat. Apparently the stuff that comes with mini M&M’s and Oreo cookies are not the best in yogurt options.

6. Since dark chocolate is good for you, one would assume that milk chocolate is even better as it has milk in it. Apparently, that is not the case.

7. Turns out calories consumed by eating raw cookie dough really do count.

8. Vegan and vegetarian are considered by some to be politically incorrect words these politically correct days. The new appropriate phrasing is “plant based diet.” This I discovered when another friend and I attended a class on “plant based diet” cooking. (See, I really am trying.)

The class was held in a small, quiet room in a doctor’s office, and was just beginning when my friend called to tell me that she was late as she couldn’t find the place. I did what any good friend would do and gave her the best directions that would help her find it.

“It is directly across from McDonalds on Main, you know the Mickey D’s we went to last month to pick up the Frappes.” Despite the offended looks I received from the instructor, I did take home some good recipes.

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Over the fall, you, readers have been concerned about me as well and have sent me some helpful information. One reader and dear friend recommended a book called the Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book that I purchased and have leafed through several times. I swear one of these days I will actually read the words written in it, I really will.

Another reader mentioned the website www.skinnytaste.com and honestly, it looks really good. And I heard from the founder of the website www.msdietforwomen.com and that looks really good too. Guys, you are on your own on that one.

I also discovered the website www.crazysexydiet.com that is geared towards people using healthy foods to fight cancer, but has the same good for you basics we all need. I was at first pleased when I read their list of 9 Foods You Should Never Eat and discovered that I only ate 2 of them- two didn’t seem that bad. Then I realized that Portuguese bread and Italian bread are considered white bread so damn, there were three things on the list I need to cut out.

Not to forget the other part of any person’s ‘get fit’ plan, is the fact that you must drink lots of water. It is not that I have an aversion to water, I just forget to drink it. I usually remember right about the time in the evening when I remember to take my “so I don’t pee all night” pill, which of course, is too late to start drinking water.

And then there is exercise. Another reader sent me info about a website www.crankyfitness.com    The concept of this site is that if exercising makes you cranky, the website can relate.

What all of these things seem to say is that the basic plan should be to eat more vegetables and fruits, no processed foods, much, much, less meat, sugar, and flour, drink water and exercise. I am on it!

I have charged the batteries in my Wii and have the ingredients for my first recipe, a Ham, Brown Rice and Peas casserole for WHICH, I am going to substitute kidney beans for the ham and exchange half the brown rice for farro to add some good grains.

I can do this! Want to join me?

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Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

December Dates

An MS’er looks at the calendar

It is the Monday morning after a month long stay in another state, visiting relatives. My family and I had returned late on the previous Thursday evening. The next day it was all I could do through my fatigue to go to the post office and pick up the collected mail. (I have written about after travel stress and mail previously- check out the blog post from last year’s trip, Its on My List.)

I spent the weekend alternating between resting and going through the mail, resting and sorting the mail, resting and paying late bills, and resting and responding to other mail.

Before I stepped into the shower this Monday morning I looked at my calendar and saw written for today, 12/17/12, “confirm insurance, get approval and schedule MRI.”

While I was gone, changes had been made to my insurance and I knew getting this straightened out was the day’s priority. Yet in the shower, the date was bugging me. There was something more to 12/17, but what?

It didn’t help that December dates are pretty busy for me and not just because of the huge holiday that everyone knows about and adjusts their month around. (You know you do- even if you don’t celebrate Christmas you are making plans as all your favorite places are closed that day!) It is also a birthday galore month for me (besides the big guy’s of course.)

This particular December month is filled with the birthdays of one nephew, two cousins, an aunt, a niece-in-law who is also the mother of my two great nephews, a friend turning 40, another friend who turned 40 last year, a third friend who I thought was turning 40 as my MS brain completely forgot we celebrated her 40th last year with the other friend who turned 40, and a fourth friend who is my same age but who I can never remember if she is younger than me thus hitting my age this month or is older and is hitting the next dreaded year first.

At one point I discovered that a cousin-in-law I have grown particularly close to this past year also had a birthday this month that I almost missed-thank goodness for social media birthday updates.

While watching the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary Pay per View concert at a friend’s house, I was reminded that Keith Richards birthday was coming up (12/18/43 for those who would like to note it on their own calendars.)

I have always been a Stones fan and think Keith is the coolest of the cool and one of the most talented undead humans on our planet. But remembering his birthday is a bit extreme for my taxed brain.

 

Perhaps I remembered because I had listened to the audio CD of his autobiography Life this past summer. Still, retaining the actual date is random. (Speaking of MS as this is an MS blog, did you know that Keith had a beloved aunt who suffered from MS? He has a real understanding and sympathy for what living with MS is like. How much closer to perfection can this rocker get?)

 

I don’t care what all these folks say, they must have gotten ripped off from the birthday fairy or Santa Claus when they were kids. Anyway, what is up with 12/17? There is that whole end of the word thing but that is scheduled for 12/21.

I finished the shower and made calls and miracle of all Christmas miracles, the calls went smoothly and I scheduled my next MRI. It wasn’t until evening while I was writing on my calendar a reminder to stop taking Aleve 4 days before the MRI (and already bemoaning what an achy miserable blob I will be those days) that it FINALLY occurred to me what it was about 12/17 that was bugging me.   12/17/09 was the day I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Here is one of the many weird ways MS works. Every MS’er I know (me included) automatically remembers the day of their diagnosis. I can recall the date of diagnosis quicker than I can recall my social security number.

Yet, looking at the calendar on the exact day, and doing MS related errands involving this sucky anniversary, I couldn’t get my head around why this date was flashing like a black flag in my tired MS brain.

Oh, but the memory the understanding of the date brought. Three years ago I was a hurting, exhausted, smoking, depressed, stressed mess working in a job I generally enjoyed but was the root of a lot of the stress. And I was barely walking. Yet I was trying to focus on the spirit of the Christmas holiday despite MRI’s and doctor appointments.

Today I am less hurting, not smoking, less stressed, not depressed, better walking, not at that job, less of a mess. I am still freaking exhausted ALL the time though and am about as sick of dealing with fatigue as folks are sick of hearing me whine about it!!!

I have discovered skills that I didn’t know about three years ago (writing and public speaking but I guess referring to them as skills is really up to readers and the few audience members I have encountered thus far.)

And clearly, I am still as spacey as I was back then as evidenced by my spending the day trying to figure out why this day was standing out even as I repeated the same day to MRI people scheduling my three year MRI!

Here is another thing that has not changed. In 2009, the most important date was the one coming up the following week. Even through the pain and the fear about what was wrong with me, 12/25 was the most important item on my calendar.

If it is all the same with you, I will continue to focus on the biggest date of the month. So for the others (12/3, 12/3, 12/5, 12/15, 12/16, 12/17, 12/18. 12/19, 12/24, 12/27, 12/28, and 12/29,) you dates are ok on my calendar. But the one that brings me the most joy is 12/25.

Merry Christmas Everyone and whether you celebrate Christmas itself or not, a healthy, blessed holiday season to all……

Note- Joy is one of the words we associate with the Christmas season. This year, after the horrific, violent event of 12/14, joy may be much harder to find. If so, please remember the other words most closely associated with Christmas- peace and love. When we can focus on peace and love, we can come closer to healing.

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What do Multiple Sclerosis and Christmas Have in Common?

An MS’er gets ready for the holidays

 

I can just see you rolling your eyes as you read that line. You are thinking “ok, Yvonne has finally lost it for real. Christmas is a beautiful time of year filled with love, peace and joy. It has absolutely nothing to do with the dreaded illness of Multiple Sclerosis.”

I beg to differ however. Take for example, the lights. I used to love Christmas lights of all kinds, the more, the brighter, the merrier.  As I have aged I tend to prefer a simple theme in my light choices, say all white. Was this just because I am now more set in my ways? Am I just lacking in my imagination of lovely but erratic light patterns?

Who knows? But just two days ago I was driving through my hometown when I passed a house decked out five times as boldly as the Griswold’s home in the movie Christmas Vacation. Immediately my eyes began to blink, the dizziness settled like Santa on a rooftop, and my head started to swirl. Too many lights and MS both make my head spin. A brain explosion likely comes next.

Or, take the crowds. There was a time when I enjoyed the shopping. I would happily spend hours amid the other shopping folks looking for the perfect gift. New gift idea on the 23rd, no problem. Back to the mall I would easily go.

Why then in the last few years does the idea of holiday shopping make my whole body ache? The swirl in my brain begins again even thinking about it. Just the idea of the commotion brings the buzzing in whole body noise that does me in for days.

Thank goodness for online shopping even for major technophobes like me. So the shipping costs add almost 50% to the purchase price, at least I can pay them in peace and quiet.

Speaking of quiet, what about the bells? The bells used to be a lovely sonorous reminder of the joyful season. They would attract the goodwill of the masses. Now when I hear bells, I run, which is an amusing sight considering I am happy when I pull off basic walking. See me running and the laughs are yours. And I don’t run because I am too cheap to throw my change in the Salvation Army kettle but because each clang of the bell throws me off.  It jars my already jarred brain even more.

The lines for everything don’t help either. At this time of year it seems no matter what you are in line for, humans who never existed are all suddenly in the same line. Need stamps? All fifty people ahead of you are giving Santa a run for his money by mailing tons packages to children all over the world. Don’t they know that’s the big guy in red’s job?

Need a quart of milk? Every shopper in the world does too along with turkeys, ham, sweets, flour, produce, wrapping paper, tape, tinsel and whatever. The masses are coming for dinner- watch out.

Need gas? So does the entire planet. Christmas is coming, must have gas. I have noticed that standing brings on the body aches much quicker than simply walking. But if I walk even a foot away from the line, it triples.

So you see, the crowds, lines, lights, and to quote the Grinch, “the noise, noise, noise” of Christmas bring on many of the ill effects of MS. That is a sucky thing the holiday shares with the illness- the onslaught of symptoms.

The only way to minimize the symptoms in the season is to carve out your own special Christmas traditions. I decorate my tree (or actually asked friends to decorate my tree as the idea of carting the decorations up from the basement was just too overwhelming) with soft white lights that highlight the nativity scene in a calming way.

I shop online a little at a time while playing my own favorite carols at a low volume.

When I do venture to the stores I try to plan trips when I am feeling my best, and take the shopping one shop at a time. If I don’t finish in one trip, I go home, rest and try again another day.

If I hear bells then when I get to my car I turn off the radio and treasure what the sound of bells stands for in the quiet.

If my brain does get buzzing, my head gets swirling and my eyesight gets blurring, I stop, and try to think only about one thing, what is really at the heart of Christmas.

If you are Christian or even if you’re not, under all the commotion the heart of Christmas should be simple peace, love and joy.

So, this leads me to the one main thing Christmas and Multiple Sclerosis have in common. As crazy and overwhelming as they both can be, where it matters most, they are what you make of them.

Have a very Merry and Healthy Christmas!


Note to regular readers- you are not going crazy.  At least not right now!   The text of this post was originally published here last year.  But the sentiment is the same this year.  Plus, my time away made me too exhausted to create a new blog this week!   Check back next Friday for something new!

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