People

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Happy Saturday! Well, I was supposed to tackle the garden, but I ran out of steam, so a job for tomorrow and Monday.  It’s frustrating that so little wears me out, but such is the nature of my MS these days. At least I don’t have much of a garden at this house.  My choice, and it’s all perennials except of course, for the weeds that I do need to be more on top of!

Time for the topic at hand! People. We meet many people through our lives, starting with pretty much just family when we are first born and then widening our horizons with friends, acquaintances, co-workers, medical professionals, etc.

There is a book called ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven,’ by Mitch Albom, which I understand is amazing and I really must read. Some time ago, my doctor wrote about the five people he had met in his lifetime that helped him to shape his life/career. We do meet a lot of people in a lifetime and some are in our lives for a short time, some for many years and some all of our lives, or at least most of our lives.

Every one of those people has the potential to make a difference in our lives, some by becoming a big part of our lives, like spouses and children, and some by just imparting some wisdom on their way through our lives. And then there is everything in between.

I am thinking of this because I am feeling so very blessed with the people I have encountered and spend time with in the various roles I have here in our town of Cobourg.  I am on two accessibility advisory committees, one for the town of Cobourg and one for the county of Northumberland. What a caring bunch of people on both of these committees!

I have connected with Community Care Northumberland, where I do friendly visiting with two ladies in the community, and I do palliative vigils, where I have met people in the last days of their lives and learned some really interesting things about the people they were.  I am also on the Community Care Northumberland local committee for the Cobourg location, where I get to find out about the amazing people in our community and what they do. Also, through this agency, I get to meet other volunteers at various events like the volunteer appreciation lunch, the annual palliative training and the bereavement training that I just took.

I also connected with the Extendicare down the street, where I visit with some lovely elderly people and have a great appreciation for the things they have been able to do in their lives.

I have even met the most amazing group of people through the Community Catholic Church of Canada.  I have known the Archbishop since she was an Anglican priest at the church I took my kids to 20 years ago and she has introduced me to some really awesome people and because of this, as I widen my horizons, I have met some awesome people at St. Peter’s in Cobourg and St. George’s in Gores Landing. They are all a wonderfully warm and welcoming group of people.

I also recently connected with an MS group that meets for coffee once a month and we just chat. I have often said that I have met some of the most amazing people since I was diagnosed with MS about 24 years ago.  I have met some fighters and I have met some who chose to crawl into a bottle, or never leave the house. We cover the spectrum, I think.

Every one of these people, has a story, and every one of these people has given me food for thought. Some of that food has been merely a snack and some of that food has been a many course meal.  It’s amazing, just what you get to learn that you can then apply to yourself, or just save for another day.

So, my suggestion is this:  cherish everyone you meet. There are some not so nice people out there and you will learn that you don’t want to keep them in your life, but you will still learn something.  God bless you and all the people in your life!

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Memory

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Happy Monday!  It’s what we call a civic holiday up here in Canada.  In the province of Ontario, it is called Simcoe Day, in honor of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, and the man who initiated the abolishment of slavery in Canada. Truthfully, most folks don’t care what the day is as long as it is a day off.  Those of us who are retired, don’t often remember what day of the week it is, much less what the holiday name is, unless, of course it is Christmas and I love Christmas!

Today’s blog is about memory, or perhaps more fittingly, the lack of it. This was prompted by the fact that I couldn’t remember what I was going to blog about. I know that I had an idea for something very profound (I’m sure it was!), but it got lost somewhere in the grey matter, called my brain.  I could, and often do, blame the MS–it’s nice to  have a convenient excuse for such things.

I may have another excuse, which I hope doesn’t show up too soon, or if I am truly blessed, will not show up at all.  Cavan and I sent our spit in the mail to 23andme and got all kinds of information back.  For both of us, it mentioned a high probability of Alzheimer’s. Not too terribly surprising for Cavan, as his mother suffers from it and his paternal grandmother also suffered from it.  So, he has it on both sides of his family.  For me, I am adopted, so it was not a surprise, but besides a high probability of celiac, it was the only red flag.

Well, I guess the flags are really only yellow, as with probability you never really know if you will get it or if you will dodge that bullet. Celiac is probably a certainty for me.  I have known for years that I feel much better if I avoid wheat. I told my doctor that because I am not in agony, it is hard to convince myself to avoid it for the rest of my life.  I was actually surprised by the range and severity of symptoms when I read up on it, and I have a few of the symptoms, but fortunately, none are really severe.  I will go back to avoiding wheat for a while, though, as I would like to feel better.

Going back to the memory thing.  I know that if something is not on my calendar, I will definitely not remember it, but as I discovered last week, if it is on my calendar and I don’t check my calendar, I will also not remember it! Cavan is the same, so we actually share calendars (Google is amazing for that!), so that we know where each other needs to be and we can properly schedule appointments to make sure that nothing overlaps and we don’t get double booked.  This is especially important when you need to drive, as we are down to one car.  This works most of the time, although there have been a few times when one of us has had to walk, take a taxi, or hop on the Cobourg bus.  I have taken to coloring events on my calendar yellow if I need the car (which is really just when I need to drive into the city).

As with my MS symptoms, you just need to adapt.  You learn a different way of doing things. I have lots of sticky notes and keep whatever I can online so that I can find it. My phone is my life, because of that.  All phone numbers are stored on my phone, although it is linked to my Google account so that they are shared back and forth between the phone and my Google account, and that gives me backup. I think I need to start writing down ideas for blogs, though!

Anyway, things are good and manageable for now, for both of us.  Eventually, we joke that we may get to needing only one book and one DVD movie to watch, as we won’t remember how either ends! We have a little trouble with that now, but we still try to keep up with various TV series and go to the movies occasionally and I like to read a lot. I don’t think I will really get concerned until we start getting lost in our neighborhood. With prayers, perhaps we will never get to that point.

Prayers for all of your challenges!  God bless!

Dexterity Triumph!

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Happy Monday! It’s a beautiful, but hot day here in the resort town of Cobourg.  No problem, I have tidying on my list to do today.  I’m afraid that I have gotten sloppy over the week, but I’m on it today!

Here we are at the end of July!  I can hardly believe it.  The years do fly by now. It’s actually August tomorrow–a new page on the calendar and a time for new opportunities. Don’t you always feel good, when there is a new month full of possibilities?

Well, I’m actually blogging about this past weekend’s opportunities. I had the switching up of the pets on Friday. I had my youngest daughter’s cat for a week and a half.  Poor Kanye was sick and Kaitlyn’s condo had no air conditioning. So, I picked him up the day I arrived back from Nova Scotia, but had to return him on Friday as my oldest daughter was coming out with her dog and it was a bit much to have the Dallas the dog, Kanye and my own cat, Jett in the same house at the same time.

Anyway, a friend of Alysse’s was hosting a painting party.  I don’t know how many folks have attended these, but they are fun! To me, a painting party was when you invite a bunch of friends over to help you paint a room in your house, but this actually walks you through creating a painting on canvas! I was excited to attend, but a little nervous, as the MS has left my hands somewhat numb and with some dexterity challenges.

I am happy to say that I actually produced a painting, and you can actually tell what it is a painting of! On top of that, we had a glass of wine, while doing it.  What could be more fun than wine, paint and brushes and a blank canvas?  Our instructor is a friend of my daughter’s and she walked us through producing the painting, step by step.  Everyone creates the same painting, but you can take artistic license and make some changes as you go. I would recommend it to anyone!

My second dexterity triumph was the next day, when I hemmed a couple of dresses. I used to be really good at this, hemming so that you couldn’t actually see the stitches on the outside. I now have to use a larger needle because of numbness, and to be able to see it well enough to thread it! But, it is still fine enough to produce a decent stitch.  The stitches aren’t as uniform as I used to be able to do, but you can barely see the stitches on the outside and I’m rather proud of that. There was just the one little incident when using the scissors, that my right index finger froze in a bent position–very painfully, I might add–and I had to get it to straighten out.  The pain was in my wrist, where I guess the muscle contracted and didn’t want to let go.  Oh well, what’s the fun in tackling something without a challenge or two.

So, I can proudly say that I managed two fairly challenging projects and triumphed! I’m rather proud of myself, I must say.  It has given me the ambition to tackle some crocheting with finer yarn and hooks!  We shall see if I can manage that.

I think it is always nice to stretch your boundaries every now and then. Enough with the same old, same old!

Well, folks, may you rise to meet all of your challenges and may you look to the new month like a blank canvas of many possibilities.  God bless!

Lazy Ass

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Happy Tuesday!  It’s a rainy one here in the resort town of Cobourg and only the second decent rainy day we have had since the beginning of summer.  The grass and  plants are very happy, although at least we did keep up with watering the plants.  The grass, not so much, and it is pretty much dead I’m afraid.

I don’t really have a planned topic for this rather late blog.  I was in the city Sunday and Monday, so I didn’t get to my blog until now.  I was also rather neglectful of my daily prayers on my Facebook ‘fan’ page.  I will confess that I do not have many fans anyway, so perhaps it wasn’t really missed.  I have only about 130 fans (I know, pretty sad, right?).  On Twitter, however, I now have about 6,720 followers!  Wahoo, who knew an old gal like me could do that?  I am actually getting a lot of retweets.  Most of what I tweet is Bible and other inspirational quotes.  I will also confess that although I have never bought any followers, I have invested money in a company that tweets about my books.  I haven’t seen any real results (translation:  book sales) yet, but it has only been a couple of weeks.  I’ll at least give it a couple of months.

Since I mentioned that I was in the city, I shall enlighten you on why I was there!  The Sunday was spent at my oldest daughter, Alysse’s place.  We had a baby shower for her step-sister, Victoria.  Please note that Victoria is not related to me, but since she is kind of disowned, I do my best to let her know that we care about her.  My youngest daughter Kaitlyn was able to join us as well.  Alysse cooked up some delicious food–lamb meatballs, cassava, sweet potato and bacon perogies, bacon wrapped chicken, etc.  A paleo delight!  Victoria was thrilled with her gifts and I went at least partly practical with a big box of diapers and a big box of baby wipes.  We also got some lovely little outfits.  Shavoy, the baby daddy was thrilled with the little camouflage outfits and they both loved the tuxedo sleeper.  We also got tiny socks and little blanket and stuff.  The little boy is due on September 4th.

Yesterday, I spent with my friend Viv.  We got some errands run–picking up a prescription, banking, mailing a letter, purchasing a new mixer and even had lunch out. It was a lovely visit.  Oh yes, we also went to see the movie Florence Foster Jenkins, which we really enjoyed. I think I’ll try to get in to see Viv at least once a month–perhaps even twice–to help her get thing like that done.  Especially at Christmas.  At 90, she still takes the bus and subway, but I think I would rather help her take care of these things.

Well, I didn’t have a topic for this entry because I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it.  Basically, I guess it was just an update of what I did.  Hm, that’s not very exciting.  Perhaps I need to think about what I really want my focus to be now that I am retired.  I’m sure that many of you have heard that if you want something done, give it to a busy person.  I know that to be true.  When I was busy, I had to schedule time for those requests.  Now that I have tons of time on my hands, I still need to schedule things, or they don’t get done.  Truly, my house should be spotless and there should be no chores on the list.  But alas, it is too easy to just put off to tomorrow, what I don’t feel like doing today.  

Yup, I’ve turned into a lazy ass. In my defence, and this is pretty lame, I am feeling the fatigue of my MS even more since I retired, than I did before. We had family over for barbeques, only nine people on a Thursday and then nine more on the Saturday and I was pretty much useless for much of last week.  How sad is that? I guess that I should be thankful that I managed to work fulltime for more than 20 years after my diagnosis.  It seems to be much more than most people get.  Perhaps I have just earned a restful retirement?  But then it is strange to go from being so busy to not doing much.  Then again, my body may be reminding me that that is exactly what I am supposed to do.

So, I am at the end of my musings.  I pray that everyone has a gentle week and that the rain revives my very neglected grass.  God bless!

Go with the Flow

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Another glorious Sunday morning!  I just wish I could shake this chronic fatigue because I just don’t feel like doing much of anything.  I started reading, but I just feel like I’m going to doze off.  I did indulge in a nap yesterday, but it doesn’t seem to have helped.  Ah well, time to fight through.  This is even my day away from my daily exercise.  Perhaps I would feel better if I did do at least some exercise!

I am managing to fight through the urge to rest most of the time.  The fact that I can still be upright after living with MS for over 20 years tells me something.  It tells me that a positive attitude and fighting through the fatigue has, for the most part, worked for me.  I know that it doesn’t work for everyone.  I am very blessed.

I realized the other day that not only am I very blessed, but I am happy.  Not everyone has that, I know.   That isn’t to say that life is perfect.  No-one’s life is perfect, but being happy in the moment and understanding that you are where you are meant to be and are content with that, brings happiness.  Now, if I could just get my finances under control.  Oh yes, back to contentment…

Here we are at the beginning of August–more than half way through the year.  I still can’t get used to the fact that it is 2015, much less that we are half way through the year. Every year brings something a bit different, and gee, they seem to fly by so quickly.  I do still long for retirement, I must say, but I have figured out that I need to be in a better financial place to be comfortable retiring.  I just need the MS to cooperate and we’re good.

I also need to find a new level of patience at work. I am working in an area that scares me.  My kids will tell you that I like to believe in rainbows and unicorns.  I believe the best in people.  So, working where I have to be worried about cyber security doesn’t exactly align with that.  But it does pay well.  So, I shall hang in there a bit longer and, hopefully, manage to make a reasonable contribution while I’m there.

So, I seem to have wandered through this blog today, not really having a point I suppose, but it’s that kind of day.  It’s a beautiful Sunday, a day of rest and reflection.  It isn’t meant to be a day for major work.  So, I shall just go with the flow.

God bless everyone and I pray that you find your flow……….

A Cloudy, Rainy Sunday

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It’s a rather gloomy, rainy Sunday and I’m having some trouble finding some energy to do anything today, I’m afraid.
I don’t know if it is being without the Copaxone for over three weeks, if I’m just imagining it, or if I was headed for feeling this way anyway, but I can’t even seem to concentrate to read more than a chapter at a time of my latest book.
I have always been an optimist, but today, it feels like the wind is out of my sails.
On the good side of things, I am down a couple of pounds and sticking to the paleo diet. That makes me feel good, but the last three nights, I have had to sleep 11 hours and Friday afternoon, I even needed a two hour nap that I had a heck of a time trying to get up from.
I wonder if I just need a week of just resting. To me, it feels like such an indulgence. I can’t manage to work full time and nap every afternoon, so I have always been afraid to give in to an afternoon nap.
I know. I’m such a whiner! I need to suck it up and carry on! I need to give myself a pep talk and get on with it!
When is it time to say that I just can’t?
There are still some things I hope to do before the MS wins this energy battle.
I chuckle at work because the latest slogan at Enbridge is: Life takes energy. Well that’s pretty funny because that is the one thing that I seem to be in decreasing supply of.
Okay, here’s the pep talk: Straighten up! You are needed, so get yourself together and carry on! Meet the challenge head on like you always have and win! Slap that smile on your face and show the world that you can do it!
Okay, back together again.
God willing, we will share in another week of blessings and get through whatever is thrown our way!

Me and My MS

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It’s actually rather difficult to rant on such a lovely, sunny Sunday, but I was trying to figure out a topic and this is what came to me.
I’m a glass is half full kind of gal and so I have to start with the good stuff first. The company I work for and the medical insurance company I deal with have been great, since my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in 1994.
I had five pretty bad relapses in 1998 that allowed me to change the course of my disease. Before I went to see my neurologist that year, I did my research, with the assumption that we had to do something about the course of my disease. At that time, there were three drugs on the market, all injections, which could potentially help me. Betaseron, which was first on the market, Copaxone and Rebif. Avonex was not on the market yet.
So, I called my insurance company to see which they would cover. They told me that they would cover Betaseron and Copaxone, saying that Rebif was homeopathic (I know, crazy, right?). So, armed with that information, I went to my neuro, who said, “pick one.” Imagine that. I think that if it didn’t work, it wasn’t his fault, but there you have it.
I did a little more research and discovered the Copaxone had fewer side effects, so late in October of 1998, I began the daily needles. Fast forward to now—almost 17 years later, when I tried to get a refill and I’m told that the insurance company wouldn’t cover it. It turns out that as of last August they have a new policy. All expensive drugs (and this one is $1450 a month!) have to have the doctor fill in this paperwork, which, of course, took them a week to fax to me.
Now, it seems to me that a new policy like that should have been communicated to their customers right away, rather than when you are nearly out of it.
So, I called my doctor, whose receptionist says that he only fills in forms on Tuesday or Thursday at noon. The problem is that although my own doctor has been prescribing it for years now, I don’t know if he will sign it, or defer to the neuro. They would not allow me to fax it to them to see IF he would sign it first, so the first appointment is 3 weeks from now. I have four needles left.
I might have gone directly to my neuro, but the last time I tried to get an appointment between regular appointments, I was told, “He’s too busy to see you and can’t do anything for you anyway.” So, I wait. And I wait to see the effect on my MS, after nearly 17 years on it. Truthfully, the first four years I was on it, I didn’t have a relapse at all, but since then, I have had a very slow decline. Has it kept me from having any relapses, who knows?
Three years ago, my neuro documented that I was getting a bit worse each year. I can’t remember if his documentation actually said ‘secondary progressive’ or not, but if I am, I no longer qualify for Copaxone anyway. Hm, it might be that the retirement that I was hoping for next year might start with short term and then long term disability.
Am I up for a new adventure? I guess I have no choice. Let’s see where this takes me! My glass is always half full, remember? So, I wade into the unknown with a smile on my face.
God bless everyone, with their own adventures!