Tag Archives: the grinch

Plumber Crack

From young to old, courtesy of multiple sclerosis

Last week I minimally and tentatively gave multiple sclerosis credit for something good-my being mistaken for someone not old enough to legally purchase alcohol.

Well I was wrong!   MS reared its ugly, aging head once more just so I didn’t go too crazy with sentimental gratitude.  For the record, I may never buy alcohol again for fear of breaking the being carded spell.

Allow me to set this latest scene for you.  This time last year I lived in a little house on the edge of the woods.  My then landlord lived in another town and if there was a problem, he would come fix it.  Simple as that.

Otherwise I never saw him.   Since he didn’t live near me, he didn’t care what the yard looked like and left the simple maintenance up to me.  Suffice to say after several years I was actually living in a jungle. Since I can barely keep up with basic maintenance on myself, let alone the inside of my living quarters, the outside was left to its own devices.

Now I live in a bigger, shared building with very kind, very dedicated landlords who also live on the property.  They are so dedicated that they are on top of everything!


Driving by my rental you will likely notice how pristine everything is and should you choose to walk across the lawn, you might actually emerge from your walk not covered in blood sucking ticks hiding in the overgrown foliage.

One would think this set up would be a good thing, that having landlords who address issues before they arise and take care of their property at no extra expense to the tenants would make said tenants happy.  One would be wrong, at least if one of those tenants happens to have multiple sclerosis.

To quote my friend the Grinch, “oh the noise, the noise noise noise! The one thing I HATE, all the noise, noise, noise, noise!”


Strange how I did great at the Rolling Stones concert but show me a hammer or a skill saw and I panic.  It must be something to do with classic, beautiful, somewhat organized sounds verses crap.

First, the carpet upstairs needed to be replaced.

Then the roof needed to be re-shingled.

I left my house during the first re-shingling day but even that was tricky due to MS.  The contractors had placed a huge blue tarp over the front door and I could see ladders on the other side of the tarp but no opening.  What if in searching for an opening I knocked one of the cute contractors off his ladder?

I had a back entrance but was afraid to use it as since I never did, I could not remember which key I needed to lock and unlock that door.   I was stuck for a bit until I saw the very edge of the tarp to my far right.

This is how I handled my dilemma.  I leapt off the front steps towards the direction of the tarp opening and into the bushes.   Then I got up, dusted myself off and ran away.

After the roof was fixed, several windows needed to be replaced.  Then said windows needed to be painted.  Nobody told me about the painting and so it was that I woke up one morning with the sound of someone singing while they tried to come through my bedroom window.  And that was just the painting on the outside.


The worst of the property upkeep is that of the landscapers.   My landlords are so nice that they tell the landscapers they can come whenever they want.   Which is why it is not unheard of for the landscapers to show up after midnight with their weed wackers, lawn mowers and leaf blowers.

Ok, my particular version of midnight due to my MS sleep issues, which probably translates to 10AM for the rest of the world.

I swear I am grateful for the care my landlords show the rental, I really am.

But I would be even more grateful if MS didn’t make enduring all that care so downright painful.  Once a hideous obnoxious noise (hammering, motoring, bad singing) gets into my MS head, I am down for days with the most killer headache one can imagine.

So the above was what was going on in my apartment for the last several weeks.  But that was not all.  I was also having plumbing issues. On any random, given day it was 50/50 whether my toilet would flush properly or not.

Plunging would not fix the problem.  I went online to research how to be my own plumber.  All the tricks I read about did not work.

On three different occasions I had to knock on my landlord’s door to report the plumbing issue. And on three different occasions he couldn’t fix it either.  And so, on three different occasions a plumber was called.   The plumber reported he had no idea why I was having such trouble.


I broke down.  I told my landlord that I couldn’t take it anymore and was leaving for the day to escape all this property trouble. I thanked him and his wife for their offer to use their bathroom whenever I needed it but said all I really wanted was my own toilet that worked.  I could take everything else, just please, please resolve this one issue before I went crazy.

A new plumber was called.  And it turned out, that I did, indeed, have a faulty toilet.  There had been lots of reports with the particular model as pipes in them crack easily and cause all kinds of problems.   I needed a new one.

My landlord called to tell me the problem and told me that he felt bad about all that had been going on and that he wanted to make it up to me.  Thus, he had ordered me a special ADA compliant toilet.


I told him I didn’t need an ADA compliant toilet.  I just needed a toilet that worked and he shouldn’t spend the extra money on something I didn’t need.  He said not to worry about the money.  He wanted to do this for me and “who knows what the future might bring with that disease of yours.”

My new toilet doesn’t have support bars around it but will easily accommodate them should I need to add them.  Just like my grandmother did with her ADA compliant toilet that she bought in her eighties.

Thus it was that exactly one week after I was mistaken for being 20 years younger than I am, I was using my new toilet for the first time, a toilet specifically designed for the disabled and the elderly.   And exactly one week after that, I had an actual birthday.  I swear you can’t make this stuff up!


Things have quieted down at my rental now.  And I am used to my new bathroom fixture and so far, it seems to work.  I’m only used to it at home however.  Since it is higher than others, I have to try to remember this when using a public facility.

Twice I have almost fallen on a filthy floor because I wasn’t expecting the seat to be where it was.  So I guess the new toilet is also helping me practice my balance issues?

It is certainly not helping with my exercise routine.  With my horrible bladder most of the exercise I got was from continually lowering myself onto my old normal potty.   Ah well, like we all need to do when we have MS, I will re-calculate and re-balance and be grateful to have a landlord worried enough about my future to make sure the most basic of human functions will be manageable no matter what MS decides to bring next.

In the meantime, I will just try to celebrate another birthday by not thinking about old age, young age, or MS.

But you can make sure that I am getting one of my older looking friends to buy the wine!


Even though it is my birthday, I want to give you a gift!   Five of you anyway.   Five readers who have signed up on Goodreads will receive a free autographed copy of MS Madness!  A “Giggle More, Cry Less” Story of Multiple Sclerosis.   Check out the link below to sign up before it’s too late!

Goodreads MS Madness Giveaway


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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