Monday, 27 October 2014

You do what now?

Hold on to yer panties - I've been running. 

Yes, running.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned my dilemma with running here before, but it can be summed up as "I run, I heat up, I fall over" - pretty typical for someone with heat sensitivity caused by MS. But, this funny little cold snap know as October has allowed me to get in a few kilometres here and there for a few weeks now. Actually, a few months. Whacky. 

I am seriously fortunate to have the best fiancée ever (vomir, right?) and she's been supporting the running. It's hilarious for me to be chugging along at 4km and see that she is chipper as a chipmunk and has hardly broken a sweat. I keep myself from throwing things at her by reminding myself that running isn't just a skill one picks up overnight. ;) She's a great running partner for me, though. She gets it. She knows I'm dealing with more than burning lungs and tired legs when I run - stabbing head pain being the number one issue. But, I tell myself that it's temporary and try to block it from my mind and carry on as best I can. Rather, I try to embrace it in some twisted way - acknowledge it and let it be so it fades from my immediate thoughts. Namaste, yo.

I'm by no means claiming to be a runner...I have more of a "YAY - it's over!" mindset about it. But, I'm ready to go as soon as N gets off work, so clearly something in me recognizes the gain beyond the pain. So, cheers to that! Also, Abbey's loving family running and I'm suddenly more likely to randomly run on our walks now and that blows her fuzzy little mind.

On the MS side of things - nothing to report. My lower right leg is numb off and on, but it doesn't impact my day to day physicality, and years after diagnosis, that sort of thing doesn't have a huge impact on my state of mind either. I'm also trying to ignore the jumping nerves in my face this past week. Hoping that's just lack of adequate rest. 

I've been eating well, exercising lots (heaven is 20 minutes and a set of dumbbells for me), and just trying to keep on keeping on in every positive light possible. Planning a wedding and having a dress (sidebar: WE BOUGHT DRESSES!) - those are big motivations for staying healthy and active.

Oh, new supplement CoQ10. Great for vascular health. If someone can explain the stabbing pain in my head when I run as anything other than a vascular issue, I'd love to hear it.

Monday, 18 August 2014

investing in happiness

I'm not going to try to backfill the gap of time between posts, but I've been busy.

I will, however, fill you in on the Big News. I think anyone reading this may already know, but we're engaged!

From that, I suppose you can guess that Nance and I had a fantastic trip home. We started out camping on the East coast amongst the bunnies, teeny red squirrels, and heaps of townies. We had a blast, non-waterproof tent mishap aside. Some of Nancy's uni friends dropped by, we brunched with another, and we met up with some great folks that were running the Tely "with" Nancy. Unfortunately, our cell and home numbers are too similar (one digit in difference) for my brain sometimes and I gave my cousin my home number to get in touch. Ack. Missed encounter there, but maybe next time.

Abbers had a great time camping. She was the queen of Pippy Park and kept stolid guard against invading rabbits and pigeons. On race day, I took her for a stroll along the race route and we made some new friends. It was HOT in town. Like, dirty, muggy hot. Nance had a great race, even though she couldn't find her cohorts at the Start. What a fricken' crowd! It was a really fun atmosphere and made me feel like I need to sign up for another race to focus my motivation.

After the race, we headed back to lucky campsite #13 and what with the beautiful day, and Nance repeatedly saying she was having the best vacation ever, I knew it was time. I commissioned the ring months ago and had been carrying it around since it arrived in the mail. I moved it to and from pockets and bags, being careful not to spoil the surprise, just waiting for the right time. I had all kinds of romantic approaches in mind, but in the end it all came down to a sunny, peaceful afternoon in a campsite. Bunnies, squirrels, blue sky, and a ring. It sounds straight out of Disney, right? I must have felt inspired by her farmer's hat. I took a photo moments before I asked so I'd remember exactly what she looked like in that moment. My best friend. As she worked away at her crossword puzzle while sitting in the shade, I interrupted to tell her I had been thinking about something. I'll leave out the details, but we were both tearful within 40 seconds. Happy tears.

It's been a while coming. Our friendship started on a much different path, but maybe sometimes good things have to fall apart so greater things can come together. I never thought I'd marry my best friend.

It was really fun to have mom's family reunion on the horizon, knowing we'd get to tell many people in one shot. Fun and a bit nerve-wracking. We told one friend first because she dropped by the campsite a few hours after the big ask. My mom was next. We wanted a few days alone with the new status, and mom's house was next on the list of destinations. Again, I really don't want to fill in every detail here but it is fabulous to know how much we are loved and supported.

So, a weddin'! Fall of 2015, fingers crossed. My brother told me he has it all planned already and that we're being shot out of a cannon. I'm hoping that was the double rums talking.

….and on the MS front because that's part of the reason for this blog...
Things are good. I'm still off of any DMD and am comfortable with it for now. Eating well, managing rest and heat, and exercising have huge impact on my symptoms, so my focus is on those things right now.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

All things four legged

What's that saying? Don't count your chickens before they hatch? Yeah, something like that.

So, Abbey needed a fourth knee surgery. 4 in 13 months. Heartbreaking, really. 

She's free and clear now - she had the other medial meniscus removed and is back home again, safe and sound. Poor pumpkin. I feel so bad for her - it must be utterly confusing. But, as always, the good news is she's recovering a-okay. She's back to her buoyant self - boundless energy. She's on house arrest for another week and a half and then rehab begins again. Today's the last day of meds and the incision looks good. Just when we were getting back into long walks!

So, here we are, snuggled up on the loveseat together, her giant head occasionally lolling across the keyboard, her rear left limb shorn and scarred. It'd be pitiful if every so often she didn't lift her head, tip it backwards and try to nibble my chin. I love this yellow beast. She's indefatigable and even more so now that she's not allowed leash walks. Lots and lots of training sessions to keep her mind busy. Her most recent behaviour is to place her chin on her right paw on cue. I've named it "nite nite".

Nothing to report in other areas. No change in symptoms that I can detect. I'm still off of Avonex and it seems to be going okay for now. One positive is that my Saturday mornings are way better without the Avonex hangovers I've had from the beginning. I'm still aiming to go through the provincial process once all the paperwork works out.

The MS walk is less than 2 weeks away. Looking forward to that. I'm past my goal now and am very grateful for the support. Here's hoping for decent weather! We'll go regardless, but good weather helps the overall mood of the event.

Nance has been out of town for a few days. I keep telling her that when she's not here, Ringo (the cat) is up nearly all night. This was this morning's example.

5:04 A.M. 
Woke in a haze. Something woke me but I wasn't sure what. Listen.
There it is. Ringo was breathing strangely. He has mild asthma, as many Siamese do, but this was different. Loud. Opened my eyes to try to spot him in the dark and could see he was on his cat perch, facing the wall. I called his name and he hopped to the bed then back to the perch then back to the bed wildly. Uh oh.

I threw my legs over the side of the bed and turned the lamp on. I could see from his profile that he was wide-eyed and breathing like he was the size of Jabba the Hut. I hopped out of bed to get to him and he snapped his head around looked at me like I was effing crazy…like I had pulled him out of a trance.

There was a moth in the bedroom. He had been stalking it. 

5:04 A.M.

Monday, 28 April 2014


MS awareness month is right around the corner again and in light of that, I thought I'd point to some of the latest research that's bubbling around MS circles.

A foodbourne toxin may trigger MS 

Data presented at a meeting of the American Society for Microbiology adds to growing evidence that suggests a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens [seriously, say that 3 times, I had to look it up twice just to spell it] —  commonly found on raw meat and poultry — appears to attack the same cells that are targeted in MS. It's an interesting link that is inspiring further research. The trigger is still unknown and the theories include everything from environmental metal (from dentistry metals to mercury in fish) to high salt diets or Epstein-Barr virus.

Vitamin D can slow the progression of MS

As mentioned here, researchers at Harvard found that having high vitamin D serum levels at early stages of MS tended to reduce disease activity and progression. 

Stem cell research  is sowing seeds for hope

The idea of blasting my current immune system before introducing stem cells isn't all that appealing to me (yet?) but it's one of the few treatments shown to help those with more aggressive forms of MS than I have. Nerventra, coming from Teva, is also showing some promise.

…and back on the farm, my folks stayed for a lovely 10 days and are now visiting with my aunt before heading home. It's amazing how much of a challenge it is to stick to my regular rest/exercise/nutrition routines when we have company, but I did okay. Maybe a few more hops than usual. I can usually manage to control any food temptation but it's hard to resist the siren song of a cold beer. 

As I mentioned above, May is MS awareness month, and I've started a small campaign for MS Walk pledges. I'm at my initial goal already, which is amazing and reinforces the support I already feel from family and friends. I am fortunate enough to be able to do this walk every year and may try to drag some friends along again this time. I realize some are hesitant to donate to larger organizations and I know a lot of funding goes astray to pay employees and fund marketing, but in the end, the MS Society does good work and is there when we need it. Thank you to those who have donated so far or have dropped me a personal note of support. Here's hoping the universe is listening and all that karma comes back your way.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

and so it goes

Lemtrada is a new trade name - the same drug, Alemtuzumab, is sold as Campath for treatment of lymphomas and lymphocytic leukemia. Campath was pulled from markets in the US and Europe in 2012 to prepare for the higher-priced relaunch as Lemtrada aimed at MS. We're looking at something around $95,000 total for eight treatments over the course of two years. No treatment required after that. Nice price point. 


Haven't done much research on this one yet, but Lemtrada is making the news since its approval. New infusion treatment for those with relapsing-remitting MS (like moi).

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

the science of food and supplements - whoo!

Soooo, coming up to a month off of Avonex and all is well so far. I'm still planning on going through the province, but that takes time and some paperwork that I don't have yet. 

In light of not being on a disease-modifying therapy at the moment (thanks to Blue Cross) and relying on diet, exercise, and rest, I want to talk a little about supplements and specific dietary choices I make to support them. I mention a few in this post from last year, but thought I'd elaborate since "what do you supplement?" is a big question in MS circles. So, likely a boring post for everyone else. Sorry 'bout that!

Let me start by saying there are, give or take, 96,560.6 kilometres of blood vessels in the average adult human body. The endothelium is the gatekeeper - the protector of those thousands of kilometres of blood vessels, and it is highly active in regulating the body's inflammatory processes. Endothelial dysfunction has been linked to a wide variety of diseases. MS is one of those diseases. So, I primarily supplement to reduce inflammation and protect my endothelium. 

I've mentioned before that I'm a vegetarian. I'm lacto/ovo which means I consume some dairy products (primarily cheeses that don't use animal rennet) and eggs. Aside from the fabulous dishes we consume at home, these are choices I make to support regular meals:

B12 supplement
Why? I don't eat red meat, which is the highest source of B12, and this vitamin plays a key role in the normal functioning of the nervous system. Specifically important to someone with MS, a disease that attacks the nervous system. It's found in Swiss cheese, eggs, and some fortified soy products too.

Vitamin D supplements 
Why not just tan? Take a look at this post and you'll get an inkling of the importance of vitamin D for someone with MS. There is a lot of research into the link between vitamin D and MS and it all points to increased intake being a positive thing. I take 5000 IU a day. I also spend a lot of time outdoors, but living in Atlantic Canada means we spend 5 months a year without strong levels of the UVB needed to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D also helps absorb calcium. Which leads me to...

No brainer. Aside from the well-known roles calcium plays in tooth and bone health, it also plays a significant role in muscle contraction. Spasms can be a painful symptom of MS for many and I'd like to stave that off for as long as possible. Spasticity in MS comes from an imbalance in the electrical signals coming from the brain and spinal cord, often caused by myelin damage. While I can't predict which areas of my brain and spinal cord will demyelinate, I can prepare my body to fight it as much as possible. So, I take a small calcium supplement - beans, leafy greens, and tofu take care of the rest.

Supporting food
Seeds/nuts and leafy greens for the magnesium intake. Vitamin D is somewhat inefficient without magnesium to help process it. 

Next up is Turmeric/Bromelain
What the heck are those, you ask (who am I kidding - who even reads this far?)? Both support liver function. Bromelain is a powerful anti-inflammatory found naturally in pineapple and can help fight osteoarthritis. There are strong links between MS and osteoarthritis - both being diseases of inflammation and while I don't want to get too deeply into that here, let's just say that I do not want another incurable degenerative disease on my plate. 

The curcumin in turmeric modulates the body's inflammatory response by down-regulating the activity of enzymes involved in inflammation mechanisms. I've stared at that sentence trying to simplify it further, but no can do.
More info here.

Milk thistle
Whut? Milk thistle is a spiky little flowering thistle whose active ingredient, silymarin, modulates oxidative stress and prevents cell death in the liver. While the research into silymarin has mixed results, many studies show liver protectant qualities.
More info here.

Green tea
Yep, plain old green tea. The active ingredient, EGCG, is an Nrf2 activator. Basically, Nrf2 is a powerful protein that is latent within our cells and it can't move or  get to work until released by an Nrf2 activator like EGCG. When it's released it can migrate and bond to DNA located at the regulation mechanism for the antioxidant system that is available in all cells. This process allows for production of important antioxidants, lowering overall oxidative stress. I drink green tea all day long. If you didn't follow that, I'm sorry. Drink green tea. It's tasty.
More info here.

Dietary choices
Fruits and veg. We aim to get 7 servings of fruit or vegetables a day. It's not hard when you consider that 1/2 cup of tomato sauce or salsa is a serving. Half a cup of any fruit. Half an avocado. This is great reading on the importance of this step. Yay for lowering risk of death! Not risk of abc disease or disorder xyz, but actual death. Full stop. Seriously, how can anyone argue against these kinds of findings?

So that's about it. That's how I protect my protector. It's not a big deal to stay on top of, and the research is out there for each and every supplement, so...why not, right?

In other news, mom and Lindy arrive in two days. I'm superduper excited to see them - I think this city will feel like a real vacation for them - there's not a lick of snow left on my property now. They're still buried in Newfoundland. 

PS. Doggins is doin' great. Small gait issue with the rear right, but that may always exist after the cruciate and then the meniscus damage. She's happy as a clam, though. As are we all.

PPS. Signed up for the MS WALK in Saint John this year. Looking forward to it! 

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
- Albert Einstein

Friday, 4 April 2014

hugs, drugs, and other things

tl;dr All is mostly well. I'm off of Avonex for a bit. And I'm okay with that.

Since we last tuned in, dogface had knee surgery #3. It's been a tough 11 months for her and for us. Mostly just the emotional toll it takes on us to see her hurting and then to rehab her back only to have another injury. I won't say it was a financial picnic either, but in the end, as my dear friend Brian says, "you can't tickle a Nissan Rogue under the chin". We're all good now and she's cleared for any and all exercise. Her knees are stronger than they ever were so it's just a matter of working her back into shape gradually. We made sure to keep her as lean as we could during recovery so she's at a nice, healthy weight. It's hard to ever think of an English lab as "lean" but she has a nice tuck and trim, so she's at conformation standards.. We're up to around an hour and a half of leash walking a day...barring sidewalks with lucky loonie ice rink conditions. We're both benefiting from the walks!

I haven't updated in a while and tend to update with the good and cheery, so I thought I'd post right now as I've been symptomatic and unhappy about it. It's nothing that interferes with life, but I have what is often given the cutesy name, the MS hug. The reality is not a soft, warm embrace. At times it feels like I'm having what I imagine the beginnings of a heart attack heel like, except nowhere near my heart. The left half of my torso and the right side of my back is being gripped by a giant hand, a rubber band, a girdle, a boa constrictor, a get the idea. Most of the time, I feel like I can't catch a full breath. The hug is from lesion or other abnormal activity in my central nervous system causing a spasm of the intercostal muscles (those thingies that hold the ribs together). The thing with MS is those muscles may or may not be in spasm but my central nervous system damage makes the rest of my body think they are. Bummer. 

It's not life threatening. It doesn't affect my functioning and it's not of the vision, bowel/bladder, mobility, cognitive factors that constitute a neuro appointment. It's still a bitch, though, and it takes a toll on my mood. It also makes extended walking uncomfortable, as if I'm wearing a shirt that's far too small for me. Sometimes sitting still feels pretty icky. Through trial and error, I've found that wearing a sport tank helps - the grip to my body makes the other gripping sensation less noticeable. Otherwise, I'm well. I thought it might be a pseudoexacerbation since I feel so well aside from this blasted chest weirdness, but I'm not sure since it has been going on for a few weeks. 

So far my plan of attack includes rest, moving my ass around the nearest 5km or so on a regular basis - as gross as it feels, staying cool (winter in NB, so this is pretty easy), keeping stress at bay, and putting it out of my head in a "stop worrying" way rather than one of denial. Sometimes a plan of attack doesn't make a damn difference. 

[Note: I wrote the previous paragraphs 3 weeks ago and the hug is more off than on now. I'll take it!]

As always, Nance has been incredibly supportive - letting me whine, but knowing that I don't want to dwell on it. I'm ever a silver lining type of person and never want to lose that. Exercise helps. Meditation helps. Writing helps. 

I had an appointment with my family doc since writing that bit about the hug. I'm not interested in steroid therapy for my symptoms because of the risks of osteoporosis (and I consume little dairy), so there's nothing she can do to help. Still good to have on a chart for reference, though.

It's that time of year again when I reapply for special authorization for Blue Cross to approve of my DMD, Avonex. I sent off the form to my neuro's office early May and found out this week that I've been denied. Bastids. 

In the time it took to find out, I ran out of the drug and I didn't pay out of pocket this time. I've been researching and tinkering with the idea of going off of Avonex for quite some time, and this opportunity arose organically, so I took it. I'm considering applying to the province for coverage. Historically, they turn me down too. It's a bit of a nuisance to apply to the gov since I'm self employed so they need my tax information for the last three years plus a record of liquid assets and a handful of other info. I truly have no idea how people with less access to resources manage the paperwork.

Okay, that's enough. I don't have it in me to write a total bummer post, so the positives:

I am off of Avonex. Since that happened I'm far less irritable on a day-to-day basis. Coincidence? Likely. Interesting, though.

I am getting back into meditation and loving the mindfulness it brings. 

Mom's coming! My mom and step-dad are visiting over Easter and it'll be the first time since I moved here in 09. They've never been in my house, so it's a warm idea that they will be able to picture my home when I talk to them from now on. They're staying with my brother but he's only a hop, skip, and 4 jumps over the bridge (totally different from jumps off the bridge). I'm looking forward to seeing them. We (Nance and I) don't celebrate Easter but we did as a family when I was young, so I imagine we'll at least do a holiday meal. Perhaps a certain bunny may pay a visit.

Tangent: My favourite Easter memory is getting up early one Easter morning, hugging a pink bunny that was waiting on the couch, and turning on the TV to watch Godzilla in my jammies until everyone else woke up.

In other news, the plans for a summer family reunion seem to be shaping up. 44 yeas so far, I think. Not sure how many nays. I'm banking on being home before the reunion to do some of the east coast for camping/hiking. Doggins should be ready for that kind of activity by then. I certainly will be! 

That's all for now. If you see Mother Nature, send her my regards and tell her she's been overgenerous with the white blanketing here in NB. Today's +6 was much appreciated. She's welcome to cancel tomorrow's snow.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Big numbers

This is a research post, but bear with me, it is really interesting and promising. 

The Harvard School of Public Health has put out a new study that followed people with MS for 5 years. Stay with me, it'll get interesting, I swear. It found that people with increases of a certain amount of average serum vitamin D levels (50 nmol/L, to be exact) within the first 12 months after diagnosis showed the following benefits:
  • ·      57% lower risk of relapse
  • ·      57% lower risk of new active brain lesions
  • ·      25% lower yearly increase in T2 lesion volume, and
  • ·      0.41% lower yearly loss in brain volume from months 12 to 60

Those numbers are amazing. 57% lower risk of relapse is significantly higher than even the disease-modifying drugs are noted at.

The study had 465 participants and started off on a completely different foot – measuring beta interferon efficacy. But, with a great bit of luck (or planning, I’m unsure which) all participants had at least one measurement of their serum vitamin D levels during the first year of study. The team then followed participants through a combination of MRI scans and neurologic examinations for 5 years in total.

What’s really key here is that the researchers were not supplementing vitamin D, they were only measuring it as part of the pool of blood samples they were collecting to track the efficacy of the drug…nothing at all to do with the vitamin D side of things.

So, why is this relevant? Because it gives yet more evidence that vitamin D levels are somehow important in disease progression. The higher the serum vitamin D blood levels are, the less disease progression and brain atrophy and fewer active lesions and relapses. Low serum vitamin D levels early in the disease course are a risk factor for long-term MS activity and progression in pretty significant terms.

I supplement vitamin D and have for years now with my neurologist’s blessing. I live in a high latitude, and when it’s not summer, it’s winter. It's hard to get appropriate exposure to UV through those wintery months even if I'm outside every day. I don't high dose, even though toxicity is rare. I take just enough to keep my levels up.

Bonus: the supplementation also keeps my mood up. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to depression and mood disorders.

Will link when I can find the actual study and not the millions variations of the same media release.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Airborne for everyone!

I wish I could find a nice way to say "If you're sick, please don't come for drinks" or "If you're sick, please don't hug me" or "If you're sick, please don't invite me into your home". I'd even be happy to have a nice way of asking if someone who sounds snuffly has a cold or if it's just allergies.

Most of the general public don't realize that as a side effect of MS, their sniffles could trigger my next relapse. Even if I don't get  relapse from a cold, I'm nearly guaranteed a pseudoexacerbation (kind of like a temporary relapse).

Get your flu shots, people. It protects you and it also helps protect people like me!

Thursday, 9 January 2014

I don't bake anymore

On an MS forum, I recently came across a "wild diagnosis stories" thread about peoples' reactions to being diagnosed. Not the lengthy wait times or misdiagnosed problems people faced, but what they did in response to the diagnosis. Some dyed their hair a bold colour, others got piercings or tattoos, and some quit jobs and traveled around the world. It got me thinking and I guess I'm boringly pragmatic - I got myself in better shape.

I tend to put my faith in science (less so in the politics of pharmaceuticals), but knew that starting a disease-modifying drug program could only do so much. I'd have to take responsibility for my health more than I had been doing and start paying attention to maximizing function if I wanted to do everything I could to hold onto it longterm. 

When weighed for my first MRI, I was shocked to know my weight had hit 200 lbs. I had completely lost sight of my own body. In the past, I'd hit the gym on a nearly daily basis. When I moved and that was no longer an option, I started running around my janky neighbourhod in Ontario to the dulcet sounds of Mary J Blige and old country tunes. I did ashtanga along with a pastel-painted TV show and later on my own, managing to get my inflexible self mastering some damn intricate poses. My dumbbells and I had a love-in every other day. But, when I moved from Ontario to the maritimes, my life became still. My semi-sedentary nature was entrenched in a sedentary lifestyle. Work had cheap junk food in the cafeteria. I didn't have anyone to work out with. Excuses to mask laziness. [I tried to think of a nicer word for laziness, but the shoe fit] I look at photos of me from the early 2000s and wonder who that girl is and how she got so full of face. 

Just before my diagnosis, I had a little epiphany and realized that my life was too sedentary for my liking so I started walking regularly. I bought and started using an elliptical machine. Then, I was stricken with MS [sometimes I like to use the phrasing other people use to describe me...isn't it hilarious?] my feet went numb, and my legs and entire lower body quickly followed suit, and I didn't think twice about siting on the couch to wait for bad news. Did you know that I stress bake? For real. If I'm stressed, the house smells like cookies or stout cake.* Inactivity + stress baking. Oh yeah,  great combo.

When the news of having MS arrived, I was having panic attacks on the regular. The first time I tried to go for a walk, I ended up going solo. I made it halfway around my 2km block and panicked. Shortness of breath, dizziness, heart banging out Bartok - I thought I was going to black out on some stranger's perfectly manicured lawn in suburbia. Impaled by a Weed Man sign. Instead, I took a shortcut and talked myself through getting home. "You're fine. You're not dying any faster than anyone else. You've walked this countless times. If all else fails, you can whisper a cry for help and people will call the police for by-law violation". I joke with myself when worried. It helps.

I made it home, flustered and teary-eyed, but in one piece. So, then I went out again. I bought a cane. It was for mental support as much as physical support. At that point I couldn't feel the bottoms of my feet (or the tops, for that matter) and that sensation of being off balance was affecting my willingness to go places. I had had a panic attack in the mall with a friend a few days earlier and had hardly been outside the door since. I knew the numbness was a big part of the panic and I didn't want a cane, but I wanted panic even less.

I eventually tried that walk again and I was fine. I carried the cane, but didn't use it. I definitely needed the physical support for a while, but when I got used to the sensation [or lack thereof], showing myself I could go without it was important to me. Then I went for another walk. Then another. Pretty soon I was walking around 30 km a week and feeling great. I stopped stress baking. I bought a weight scale (despite a love hate relationship with the concept). I got back into a little weight lifting and some yoga. I decided to become a pescatarian. I later realized it'd be just as easy for me to become a vegetarian, so I dropped seafood too. 

In the years since diagnosis, I've made better choices. I made the difficult choice to leave a relationship that was easy and kind because it felt like I was alive but not living. I picked up new hobbies...ones that took me outdoors! I have half marathon medals now! I've worn out too many pairs of sneakers to count. I dropped negative people from my life as much as possible. Life with MS has changed me in numerous ways, and yeah, it's a huge, scary monster some days, but not all days.  I didn't do anything wild or unconventional. No blue hair. No new piercings. But I did react and adapt. Those intricate yoga poses? Not even close to doing them now, but eff that, I have snowshoeing to do. 

*Poor Nance. I'm happy so she doesn't get fresh cookies.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2014? Already?

Happy New Year!

2013 was a great year for me, despite a lot of down time with the dog. Love her to bits, though, and fingers crossed for good health and no unexpected major expenses this year. 

Speaking of yellow dog, she has been LOVING this early winter weather and pretty much wanders around in a face slide or making doggy snow angels. Goofball. It's been a bit tricky for us to take her on all of our outings lately since the cold has been so...cold. With a windchill in the -30s, her little paws can't stand prolonged contact with the ground. I've been using invisible boots again (the salve you slather on to protect against salt and cold) but it just can't compete with the -30 temps. 

Anyhow, the upside of all of the ice and snow is I'm back on snowshoes again! Whooo! We've been out a few times and I could not wipe the grin from my face on the first outing. Sunshine, snow, Nance's smirk, and a racing dog. It was so incredibly peaceful. I won't pretend my cardio's where it needs to be, but am pretty confident we'll be on the snowshoes enough during the winter that I'll stop sucking wind at the top of hills. 

On the health side of things, I'm finding it hard to keep the sensation in my feet when showshoeing. I'm careful not to overtighten the toe strap of the shoes. I wear a loose-ish sock and don't tie my boots tightly either, so I'm not sure what else to try. Those hand warmers burn my skin if left in one spot too long, so I don't think I ca use those in my footwear. I've tried double socks and that's a no go too. Stupid comorbities - I look forward to cool weather all summer long only to lose all sensation in my toes and fingers from Raynauds. I swear I keep SmartWool in the black all year 'round! 

Sidebar: It is incredibly interesting to me that I have 3 cousins with MS (all female), at least 2 with Raynauds, and no one on one side of my family ever has warm feet. Won't someone please sit next to me and tell me the circulatory system has nothing to do with MS again...

So, I thought I'd do a little taking stock from 2013. Things I'm particularly grateful for:

1. My health and that of those around me. I have MS. It's no more a death sentence than being born is. It's not something I'd choose, but I have it and it's not going anywhere. So far it's not impacting me to any severe degree. I make better choices based on it, and that part was hard to figure out, but it's getting easier. 
2. The funniest, most charming pets in the world. I know it sounds silly to many, but I spend all day, every day with these two critters and would be at a loss without their snuggles. [Note: If they weren't so cute, their wrestling sessions would annoy me to an early grave}
3. Love. I am loved. I love. That helps me to laugh often, smile more any one person deserves to, and offers me the freedom to be the person I am and expand my comfort zone.
4. The basics - having a roof over my head and food to eat. It's easy to forget how fortunate I really am just to have those. A recent ice storm left many around us without power, no running water, no way to shower, and no viable means to cook. It's unfathomable to me that so many in the world face that on a daily basis.

I lean towards being an appreciative person (or, I sure think and hope I do), so the list would be endless if I kept going, but that's the short version.

I'm totally humbled by Santa's visit this year. Myself, I'm trying to move towards giving experiences more than material goods since it's hard to find "stuff" that those around me need or might want. I'm not sure I'm any better at finding experiences to give! Y'all need to drop more hints. :)

I'm overjoyed by this funky little ukulele Santa left with my name on it. I've been  strumming along to a lot of my faves (and transposing others so I can simplify the chords to match my novice skills). Poor Nance, someone should have given her earplugs.

I am totally excited to see what 2013 brings. I hope it brings nothing but the best for you.