Monday, 23 September 2013

Winter is coming...

We've been winterizing the house and I am really hoping all this work will make a difference in the electric bills this winter.  The big bonus of winterizing is we also do a "fall cleanup" at the same time. Ahhhh, decluttering!

So far we've gutted the porch closet, refilled it with summer love, and shrinkwrapped it. It's breezy out in the porch, so closing off the closet and window are necessary evils. Ultimately, I'd like to get someone who knows house-y things to tell us wt-heck we can do out there longterm to help with efficiency. I can see underneath there from the front stoop, so I'm guessing there's be a relatively easy way to insulate. Anyone? No idea. Must consult the fathers for suggestions.

Happy first day of autumn, friends. We've already cleared the lawn of leaves once, and the grass is again buried beneath them, so the seasons of blankets and wool socks approacheth! Whooo! Many dread our long winters, but I generally experience fewer symptoms through the cold months, so I welcome the white weather. Yeah, it's a lot of early morning and late night snowblowing and shovelling but I'll take it. 

But first, the season of colour! I am so excited to be heading to Newfoundland for a little trip during fall! I have lived in four provinces and one state and there's nothing that compares to the oranges, yellows, and reds that cover the west coast of Newfoundland in autumn. Love. 

It's gearing up to be an unusual trip for me because the dog, while recovering fantastically, is still not fully healed. That means no stairs, no slippery surface floors (hard to avoid, even here in our own house), and zero crate time. The specialist told us from the start that if we absolutely HAVE to crate her, to limit it as much as humanly possible. So, our babe has been uncrated since the first surgery. I like to keep her used to the idea since there will undoubtedly be times when we'll have to rely on the crate, but she's enjoying her freedom and there seem to be fewer occasions when a crate is warranted. Yellow tornado is growing up.

I always feel like I should include a note on how I'm doing for the fam who don't ask. On the symptom front, no real change. Still symptomatic. It's no better but no worse. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have sweaters to sort.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

hidden monsters

As hinted at in my previous post, my stranger feet are back. Thankfully, there's no complex walking, just the paraesthesia - numbness from both knees down. Blah. I've been brooding on this since it started up again - how will I respond if and when the sensation disappears forever? I always assume it will return again - that I will regain the sensation I've lost. I am an eternal optimist but I know that particular expectation is a naive sentiment to many with MS. I realize that many cases of relapsing remitting MS change to progressive/secondary progressive MS at some point, but I'm not sure I'm mentally prepared to lose sensation to this disease, one limb at a time. Apt, but creepy, one of the early names for MS was "creeping paralysis" - geez, way to be uplifting. It's a strange thing to see a splinter in my foot and not be able to feel it. I know millions deal with much worse, but I'm in a bit of emotional tumult over it these days. 

I'm assuming this is a relapse and not a pseudoexacerbation - a big word for the best case scenario. Last night, no matter what position I tried to sleep in, it felt like a hidden monster was gnawing on the full length of my right arm. Constant biting pressure. Not joint pain, not necessarily muscular - intense arm pain from below the shoulder to my wrist. I extended my arm towards my sleeping feet, bent it at the elbow to rest my wrist on my belly, raised it over my head, stuffed it under my pillow, but nothing changed the feeling of being a monster's lunch. I stared at the time projected onto the ceiling for four hours before finally slipping into sleep. Demons don't dine quickly.

This isn't meant to get you down or show you that I'm down. I'm lost in my head about it at times and will freely admit that needing a moment to get my balance because I misjudged my foot placement makes me sad, but it is what it is. It makes getting over the Abbey-proofing baby gates more of a challenge than before, but I can still get around just fine. No need to dust off the cane or grab at the walls or furniture. To look at me, you'd not see a struggle. I hope the foot and leg sensation returns. It's 10 in the morning and last night's excruciating arm pain has completely disappeared, so that makes me optimistic. Ever the fool. (true story: someone who is naive is technically termed a naif) The only way for me to avoid despondency and hopelessness when faced with relapse is to will myself not to define it as misery-inducing. Happiness is very often a choice from within.  

Getting MS was never on my agenda and now I can't seem to get it off the long-term calendar. I have to live with invisible monsters for the rest of my life, so I'm trying to look past the fear that comes with each new symptom and focus on the contentment I have in other parts of my life. Contentment that can, when not clouded by fear and discomfort, eclipse physical disability. Maybe I am ever the fool, and I'm certainly not happy to have multiple sclerosis, but I can be happy in spite of it.

Monday, 9 September 2013

My words are gone to the darts...? Whatever.


It's been a pretty quiet summer with lots of house arrest while the pooch recovered from two knee surgeries. That put me home quite a bit, but I managed to complete the August geocache 31 in 31 challenge - a cache a day every day for a month. I think Nance and I ended the month with over 50 finds, so all in all, a neat experience. Not one I'm eager to repeat since you're forced to work around regular life and some days you find yourself using your 18 spare minutes of the day to stand in the pouring rain, looking for a tiny magnet hidden somewhere on a giant memorial gun, and wondering why the heck you're not at home having a nice glass of wine. More fun than not, though.

We've been caching with renewed interest this summer, and I've brought my total finds to over double what it was at the start of the year. In addition to slogging around town looking for tiny hides, we found a few in PEI and Quebec so it was neat to grab those provincial profile souvenirs.

You'd think that the forced caching would mean I've been more active than usual, but when you have to get a cache a day, you tend to pick sure things - the ones you know won't take hours to find. So, all in all, I've been less active and my body is very aware of it. I've been low level symptomatic for a bit now (random numbness, limbs falling asleep much easier than normal, very heat intolerant, blah+blah), so I'm back on the activity wagon and have been trying to get moving again. It'll be that much easier once we get the go ahead to increase the yellow hound's activity level too. Hopefully we'll get the green light late this week! Fingers crossed. 

This whole "dog destroyed 2 ligaments" summer has had silver linings and the biggest plus has been that Abbey is loving being handled more. With months and months of massage, range of motion exercises, ice and heat compresses, she has learned to loooove being rubbed. It may sound strange for a dog, particularly a goofy lab, but she was never one for physical affection and we had to clicker train her into accepting head touching when she was younger. So, when I'm sitting next to her and she goes belly up and whomps her massive tail as a request for tummy scratches, I have to admit that my heart gets a big squeeze. 

In other life news, work has been good. Busy. Challenging. New perspective. Being symptomatic hasn't had an effect on that side of things, thankfully. I'm not sure how I'll cope if and when that ever happens. I know cog fog (receptive dysphasia - difficulty in comprehending communication) can be a career killer for many with MS, but I have none of that unless I am completely exhausted. I do, however, have a sprinkling of expressive dysphasia from time to time. If you're not familiar with it, it's this odd little quirk (actually brain damage, but let's call it a quirk for the sake of my own comfort) that makes me say words I don't mean. I may try to say "pencil" but "table" comes out. Or I may ask Nance if she's seen my "handle" when I mean "brush". The dog's "tail" is a "wing". (Sidebar: can you imagine if lab retrievers could fly?) It's a really weird feeling, but I can see the humour in the situation most of the time and N will joke about it in a way that works for me. It mostly happens with single or double syllable nouns. It has happened a few times when out with friends and I haven't bothered to explain it yet. It usually gets a laugh and is dismissed. I'm not sure if anyone realizes it's an MS thing or not and I really don't care to make every slip up an education session. If you have noticed my word replacement, that's what's going on. I can honestly say that I mind it a lot more on the phone than in person. For some reason, it's easier to let it go and laugh about it when the listener is in the room. Thankfully, I don't spend a lot of time in phone communication. It doesn't happen when I type, so I'm lucky in the sort of work I do.

Anyhow, work has been good. Life has been quiet, but good. I'm still chugging along on Avonex injections and they seem to be working okay. I'm another year older and am still feeling great, just don't be surprised if my phone rings and I ask you to pass me the remote.