Ten

Ten

Ten (number)
equivalent to the product of five and two; one more than nine; 10

Ten – number of years, to the date, of being diagnosed with MS

April 15, 2009 – ten years of living with multiple sclerosis

Ten years ago I couldn’t see what or where I would be now.

Ten years ago I walked into a hospital in a small European city to get the results of a lumbar puncture from two weeks prior. Like a movie, I stood outside of the hospital for 15 minutes, knowing that might life would never be the same coming out on the other side. I took a deep breath and in I went. I met with the resident on duty, a name I’m not sure I ever knew, where I was told in a hallway, that the CSF results were 99% conclusive for multiple sclerosis. What’s next? Call the clinic after the holiday. Two weeks later I came home to New York and collapsed on my family and a neurologist I met, once prior, a few months earlier.

Ten years ago, I got MS for my 40th bday, but on the verge of turning 50 (geez!) in a few weeks, I look back and recall my neurologist told me that I would be ok. And that I would likely continue to live my life with mild disease burden. 

Ten years ago, I could never have seen what he told me. Ten years ago my insides were sicker then they had ever been, and yet looking at me, I “looked so well.” I couldn’t hear people, over the buzzing, literally, that I would be ok. That I would be more than ok. 

Some nights I laid awake 3,000 miles away from home, in a foreign country, wishing that I had a terminal illness so that I didn’t have to live the rest of my life in turmoil. It wasn’t that I wanted to die, I just couldn’t envision living the way I was at that time. 

While I am fundamentally the same slightly cracked, mildly scrambled, person I was prior to the MS, what I learned is that life probably wouldn’t have been too different had I not been diagnosed with MS. Meaning, I’ve heard people say that being diagnosed was life altering for them. That they found more meaning then if they hadn’t been diagnosed. 

While I have made friends along the way as a result, and hopefully helped a few as well, I would tie this convoluted “gift” up in a bow, and give it right back to where it came from without thinking twice.

Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t just impact the people who have it. It touches everyone around it. It’s like a super old ivy growing around a building. It can look beautiful, but yet wreak hell on anything it comes in contact with, strangling everything in its path.  

People like to use war analogies for diseases (warrior, battle, fight, etc.). Or I’ve heard so many times over the years, “I could never do what you do.” Or the phrase, “you don’t know how strong you are until you have no choice.” I cry bullshit to all of it. If people get sicker, does that mean they have fought hard enough and it’s their fault? I am not a warrior, I am not special. We all have our “things” to deal with and we do in our own way. 

Ten years later I am still a grand daughter, daughter, sister, cousin, friend, business owner, music lover, foodie, traveller, part-time contrarian, ever reforming type A control-freak workaholic, and questioner of science & medicine. 

Two years ago to the day, I started this blog & social media (Facebook & Twitter). Thanks to everyone who sticks with me and it. 

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Life

life

Life (noun)
a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings

Each person’s life is different, and how each person approaches life is different. What we all do have in common is that one day we are all going to die. They say the only things that are guaranteed in life is death and taxes, but let’s face it, even taxes aren’t guaranteed in this day and age, just ask the person masquerading as our president.

I think what we also have in common is that at any given moment, life can bring you to your knees, further down that you ever thought you could go. And in the next moment, you see a sunset or a flower, and it can bring you to the highest high.

For me, MS was like that the first few years. Fortunately the last two have been quite benign. And while most days I don’t hit those soul crushing lows, the what if does stick with me buried deep. What if I wake up and my feet are numb and it lasts for months. And then I come back to, but what if it doesn’t? I’m glad we’ve been in what if it doesn’t territory for a long time.

The life moments of peace my body experiences now, where it’s almost as if I don’t have MS, are more, than less, these days. Sometimes I look up after hours of working and think, “wow I haven’t had symptoms or thought of the MS for hours” and I am just me. While some people will say that they are “me” with the MS, I do agree to a degree, but I would be happy to be me, without it.

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Year

Year

 

Year (noun)
the period of about 3651/4 solar days required for one revolution of the earth around the sun

Whenever I think about the length of a calendar year, I can’t help but think of Rent. I remember seeing the Broadway production and thinking anything was possible. I used to think that about NYE, and inevitably would be let down by the seemingly over the top expectations on what the shift from one year to the next should bring. After all, Tuesday still comes after Monday.

Now I think of a year as any 365 days, wherein any morning you wake up can be the start of something new, it doesn’t need to wait until January 1. And I might argue that it’s probably easier to sneak new things under the radar any old day of the week.

I’m learning how not to dwell in the past and find myself getting annoyed with those “best” and “worst” lists or even more horrid, New Year’s resolutions. Every 365 days will have all of these things because life can be wonderful and messy all at the same time, but I guess that’s what keeps it interesting.

2018 was wonderful for me personally, professionally, and health-wise. I’m moving out of another year without having an MS flare-up because I just don’t have time for it. And while I’m shatteringly exhausted from politics and bad, self-serving people, I still believe that as a nation those are the sum of our parts and not the whole, and we will persevere.

Happy, healthy, prosperous to all and thanks for reading.

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Thankful

Thankful

Thankful (adjective)
expressing gratitude and relief

A – autumn chill
B – body that carries me day to day
C – city life
D – dancing
E – exercise
F – family & friends
G – giving
H – happy
I – ice
J – jam
K – kindness
L – love
M – music
N – naps
O – options
P – pizza
Q – quiet
R – red
S – sea
T – tough
U – unusual
V – visual
W – winter
X – no more xenophobia
Y – yippee
Z – zany

Thankful to those who continue to come on this journey with me.

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Enough

Enough

Enough (noun)
occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations

This week was a marathon in not feeling like enough. I’m trying to figure out at what point in life do we a) know we are enough or b) it just doesn’t matter anymore?

I wish I could feel like either on any given day, but then I wonder if it’s tied to always wanting to do my best whether professionally or personally. And to this day it feels like so many others I know are more than enough.

Most days it is relatively easy to look beyond the mess and imperfections, but in the blink of a moment, something can cross your path in the course of a day, and a 180 happens, and it’s more than enough to feel like enough.

One of the things I often remind myself, that even in the throes of the worst MS flare-ups I’ve had, I have been more than enough, and more than most who don’t have my respective burden. But sometimes, even that isn’t enough.

So when exactly are we enough?

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Gratitude

Gratitude

Gratitude (noun)
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness

Tonite was a typical summer evening in NYC, aka hot & sticky. I had planned to attend a great concert, but wasn’t sure my body would hold up to being outside in the humidity, and while it’s not pleasant, I haven’t been giving my body enough credit lately. To set the stage for just how humid it’s been? I have pretty much straight hair and even I’m sporting a top knot these days because my hair is going “poof” the minute I’m outside. So, yes, it’s HUMID. So done with summer!

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I pushed myself to go and was so glad I did. For most of the show the humidity went away a bit and I got to enjoy it. And then when it did come back again, by that point my body was acclimated and I was able to get up and dance for the remainder of the time.

Looking around at the crowd and the NYC skyline and the audience enjoying the music, a wave of gratitude came over me. I’m grateful to have wonderful family and friends in my life. People who both cheer me on and tell it like it is.

I’m grateful that I feel healthier than I have since the diagnosis nine years ago (and 10 this month since symptom onset). I’m grateful to have access to medicine, fitness, and doctors that are part of keeping me healthy (I wish everyone did, but a topic for another time). I’m grateful that I have a body that I’m feeling a little less like its betrayed me or I’ve betrayed it.

I’m grateful to live in a city that cares about protecting everyone, warts and all. And I’m grateful to be in a position to give back to my community and organizations that need it, especially in the current political climate (literally).

Keep on keeping’ on…

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Happy

Happy

Happy (adjective)
feeling or showing pleasure or contentment

These days I am finding myself happy (and healthy) and sometimes it’s hard to say that out loud for fear the other shoe will drop.

In December 2016 I started taking sertraline for depression. It was the first time I had a really bad, spiraling night, that wasn’t related to the multiple sclerosis (but maybe it is because it’s a central nervous system disease), or being treated for a flare-up. I recognized that I needed help. I reached out to a long distance friend who helped me for as long as I needed it. I went to bed and the next day I went to see my neurologist. And when it came to treating this issue, I couldn’t care less about any stigma that society has about brain health. I didn’t think twice about treating the multiple sclerosis or taking medicine for asthma growing up. My only issue was worrying about side effects. And although I didn’t turn purple, boy did I spend weeks insanely nauseous while titrating up to the full dose.

Fast forward 1.5 years later, and about a month ago I realized the sertraline (and probably age) is likely slowing down my metabolism, which already works backwards, so I decided to split the dose in half. I did this on my own without consulting my neurologist, because I know my body. I also now know how I should feel most of the time (say 80/20 rule). And I can recognize the shit for what it is, and frankly most of the time I just don’t care about stupid stuff anymore. I think the 20%, as Gaga would say, Baby I was Born This Way. And you know what? I’m good with that.

So a bit of a long about route to say most days I wake up happy. I enjoy what I do professionally (and the people I work with) and am having wonderful life experiences (on my own and with loved ones). I feel better than I have since before I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nine years ago. I’ve been so leery about saying the latter out loud, especially with my once every 18 to 24 month MRIs coming up next month. Feeling physically and mentally great also allows me to be the best I can be for the people I love and care for as well.

I spend way less time these days wondering when the shoes are going to come tumbling and I happily give the middle finger to the shit that just doesn’t matter.

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