Wednesday, 30 December 2015

runneth over

Another grand adventure under our belts and we stuffed ourselves to the brim with laughter.

We are back in New Denmark after a 10-day road trip to see some of the famjam during Santa time, and we packed a lot into those days.

On our whirlwind adventure we: 

  • Slept on cots in our house in Saint John 
  • Had a sudden hellish stomach flu (me)
  • Met up with a handful of friends (Nance only for most of them. See list item b.)
  • Watched an important basketball game. Go, Rush!
  • Played tipsy ukulele with my brother. Nod to Angela for her fab recorder skills.

  • Played Anomia and pictionary competitively...against children. Cutthroat. 
MS note: actually having anomia does not make the game harder.
  • Made our way to the city of pizza corners!
  • Embraced the bounty of trails Halifax has to offer. We three miss living near sprawling parks like Point Pleasant or SJ's Rockwood. Just seeing Abbey on a beach for a few minutes made me tear up. I have to admit, though, our snowy potato fields are pretty good playgrounds too, even if you have to keep watch for coyotes.
  • Shopped a little, but mostly gawked slackjawed at all the traffic, people, and shiny things
  • Pretended we were everything from spaceships to British pigs and tickle monsters
  • Visited with family (or tried to steal kittens, depending on your perspective) and watched tenacious adults struggle with 3D character puzzles for hours. I got a text after midnight showing Tinkerbell in all her 3D glory. When did kids' toys get so tricky?
It's been far too long since I spent quality time with some of dad's clan. Feels like home.

What else? We:
  • Learned about the barbarous trading world of Shopkins
  • Went to see Tina Fey's Sisters movie. Almost turned around and went back into the same theatre for a second viewing. So funny. 
  • Got soul refreshment in the piles and heaps of giggles that emanate from three-year olds, especially in the presence of nose thieves and toe snatchers
  • Acquired peace of mind by trading in tiny car for transportation with all wheel drive - take that, Klokkedahl Hill.

84 degree angle

  • Oh, and we have 800 movies to watch thanks to the best brother-in-law ever! Winter just got cozier!

That's the short list. Top mentions go to sharing meals and stories with our siblings and being with a very happy little boy sometime before 7 AM on Christmas morning. Moments that matter.

On the MS side, I am moderately symptomatic, but nothing too out of the ordinary. I know I have not been getting adequate rest and hope that things get back to normal now that we're home and can gradually get our house in order again. Very much hoping to lose the nagging leg pain, but it doesn't impair my function, so there's that. Silver linings. 

I loved every moment of our holiday hijinks, minus the stomach bug while sleeping on a cot, but it's also good to be back so we can unpack and start making this house feel like home. The adage that home is where the heart is has never felt truer. Home is with my little family, wherever we land.

merry ho ho

Oh, did I mention we're doing an 80km walking holiday in Ireland in August? Maybe I did. Prepare for lots of whining about walking. Who am I kidding, I don't even update enough for "lots of" anything. ;)

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

walk this way

I took Abbey to a park this morning - we have a few hours of driving this afternoon, so I wanted to burn off some puppy power beforehand. As I popped out of the car and headed towards the few stairs that lead to a field, I stumbled. The boots I had on aren't made for snow. Two quick recovery steps to the left. Phew, righted, or so I thought. Two more quick recovery steps to the left.

It wasn't lasting. I didn't fall. I didn't hurt myself or anyone else. The scary part of those four seconds was that I was feeling fine. Rested. Present. Happy. And, just like that, I was reminded how MS can drop in for a quick chat out of the blue.

Now, I really want to blame it on this sinus thing that's brewing. No grip on my boots. Tired. But I am fairly certain none of those were to blame. I find it difficult to describe having MS when people ask. Some people lose mobility with MS. Some have impaired vision. While I have had affected ambulation and problems with my peepers, I mainly seem to get random weirdness that even WebMD doesn't cover [see previous post]. How do you describe this buckshot scatter of symptoms to people and help them understand? And is it worth sharing just how strange our bodies can be?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

life in a box

I filled in one of those personality tests recently and one of the questions was about déjà vu and whether I find history repeating itself foreshadowy.

Here we are, again, at the beginning of December, packing our worldly possessions onto bite sized pieces. Or, feasibly carrying sized boxes. It turns out that on a pleasant Sunday, as one sips coffee and contemplates life - or watches The Muppets, whatevs - one can be booted from one's comfort zone when a stranger pulls up out front and pounds a SOLD sign into the frozen earth of the front yard. That is the current sitch.

The house we were renting sold. We were given a month's notice once we tracked down the landlord to ask if there was something we should know. Unfortunately that month is December, a month packed full of travel and, y'know, Christmas. Soooo, back to the land of boxes and tape.

Thanks to a friend's connections, we were very fortunate in finding a new place to rent quickly - not everyone will rent to people with multiple pets. Very few would rent to us if they saw Abbey in all her boisterous glory. The owners of the new place, however, are animal people and had cats and dogs themselves. There's even a fenced in dog yard surrounding the back door.

So, where will we live, you ask [let's pretend you were curious]?! Well, we are moving to the even teenier town of New Denmark. Population somewhere between 400 and 1100, depending on your source.

We have started moving ourselves, one truckload at a time, and have made a lot of progress. I am happy to report that we'll have help with the rest of the large items. We moved two mattresses ourselves and learned that 90 year old houses can be tricky. For example, the stairwells are at supernatural angles that can make mattresses expand to triple their width and weight somehow. Fascinating, really.
It is a cute house and I look forward to making it home in the upcoming weeks, but boy what I'd give for a time machine right now. Or a magic wand. Where's Samantha's nose when you need it?

The distance from town will mean that I won't get to see my darling wife every day at noon. But rather than focus on the few dark clouds, here are a few of the highlights: there are miles and miles of snowshoeing trails. We won't have random dingdong dashing because we only have one neighbour. It's waaay easier to eat better when you have a decent drive to get to a store. The dog is going to be blissed out with her huge playground out back (read: someone's snowy potato fields).

One of the tough parts of a sudden move is my opportunistic friend, MS. I don't have the option of sitting back and relaxing, so I have been a little more symptomatic than usual. I have the strangest, grossest sensation of constantly feeling like there's a hair on my tongue at the back of my throat, even though there's nothing there. Ick doesn't begin to describe that. To make life slightly comical, my upper lip feels like it's bouncy. When I talk, there's a very noticeable vibration in my top lip as my lips meet. Bizarro. And, loathe not to live up to the blog name, my feet feel like someone else's again. Numb soles. That sounds more emo than intended.

I am taking care of myself. Trying to get to bed early. Meditating. I took a few days off of packing to be with Nance while she's on the road for work. Forced stoppage. It feels impractical not to be home packing but this is the smarter move. Today, rather than wrap dishes or bag shoes, I grabbed a fancy coffee, bought a new hat and brought Wonder Dog to a park. It was a stunningly beautiful time. Sunshine, snow, happy dog. Big smiles.


Friday, 6 November 2015

stop pushing your muddy surfboard into my pants

Sometimes I find myself saying the most ridiculous phrases to my dog. The title was today's winner.

Close tie: "put that Santa hat down and stop chewing your brother". That she had both the cat and the hat in her mouth at once shows talent.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

rings n things

Radio silence over.

I like blogging but it's like going out for a walk in the rain - hard to take the first step. So, here I am, solo on a Thursday night, listening to the snore of one huge dog and trying to stiff arm the cat from having a nap on the laptop.

So, what's new in the life of me? I'm married! We had a great time planning the big day except for a few minor snags. The day before the wedding was less than ideal - hot HOT hot and a lot of people everywhere. It was decorating day. Their help was appreciated but I can only manage so much stress and extroverts (even the understanding, well-meaning, helpful ones) don't always get how just sitting quietly in a room full of people is extremely stressful sometimes - let alone when they're all calling your name. Add heat and my own million thoughts to process and you get me standing in the walk-in fridge repeatedly to gather myself.

Decorating day was fun with a mix of overwhelming moments stirred in. At times it felt like we bit off a bit more than we could chew and we were wondering if we had been overly ambitious in planning a wedding in a community we no longer lived in.

…but it turned into something spectacular! People genuinely seemed to have a blast. The photos tell the story of people having a great time with friends and new friends. The music was good. The food was amazing. Even the weather behaved (read: I didn't fall over in the sun). We had a ball from the ceremony into the wee hours. My wife looked stunning and I now take every opportunity to use that word. The only thing I'd change, given a time machine, would be to find more time to sit and talk to everyone. Or better yet, dance with everyone!

My shoes were well worn.

It was incredible and humbling to have so many loved ones travel to share in our day. Childhood friends to brand new friends - every face there was so appreciated. Our siblings spoke at the reception and both made us cry - touching and funny. Yeah, so, moving on because the screen's getting blurry as I think about it. They're great.

Sooo, married life is amazing. From an MS perspective, it's peace of mind for me - there's comfort in knowing that no one can question Nancy's role in my life if something were to happen to me (organ donation, cremation, beach scatter, for the record). But it's more than that (obvs!) - we have something great and it's a marker of that success. Between us, we have many certifications, medals, and honours - why not have one for our relationship? In our "non-traditional" (snicker) lives, it's a satisfying tradition to uphold - marry the person you can't live without. Would we have continued on down the road of happiness without these rings? Of course. But it's really great to have them.

Since the wedding we've been back and forth to the house (still for sale!) a few times. It's convenient to have an empty house to stay in, but boy wouldn't it be great to have it sold! We decided to actively look for tenants for the winter to try to offset some of the costs.

What else? The weather has cooled enough for me to get back into regular dog walks and that is so fulfilling. I love heading out into the world with her and seeing what fun we can find. I have needed a kick in the pants to get out more lately and the crisp air is just what the doctor ordered.

Speaking of kicks in pantseses, I've been frustrated by leg soreness since September. Not just now and then - it's a full time gig I didn't sign up for. I have some upper right arm weirdness too but it's quick spasms like that strange eye flutter everyone gets when tired - nothing too tricky. An annoyance more than anything. Every time I stand from a seated position, however, both legs are painful. I first noticed it the week before the wedding so it may be a stress-induced relapse. I also switched a few (non-MS) medications around then, so it could be related to that. Whatever it is, it's free to leave anytime!

I feel like my first few steps are those of an ancient woman - stooped, shuffling, and cringing. Not fun. Once the imaginary tin man shares his oil can, I'm fine and can keep moving without noticing it too much. It feels muscular sometimes and just plain nerve-painy other times. As I sit here and type I try to identify the sensation. It hides a little when I have the stimulation of the seat beneath me, but there it is - a deep, dull ache. I've been taking baths more than ever to try to ease it, even though I have a thorough understanding of chronic pain and realize that a bath won't hush the errant signals. Baths are soothing, though, so I tell myself to go soak for a while even when I couldn't be arsed.

I don't like to complain. No. That's not right - I do like to complain. In fact, it comes all too naturally to me but I don't want to become comfortable in complaints, so I try to keep them at a minimum. Mindfulness and all that. I share my leg pain and other symptom information for transparency. MS isn't something that only strikes me every few years in a relapse. It's distressing every day. Maybe I share those things here so I'm voicing them. Forcing myself to acknowledge MS. That said, I am very fortunate that mine is manageable. Thankfully, I haven't yet faced the big dementors of the MS world - depression, paralysis, blindness…if all I can complain about is this steady leg pain, I figure I'm still coming out on top.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

when skies are grey

It is currently 30 degrees in my living room and it's just past noon. Time to turn the furnace on to blow some cold basement air around! It's dusty, but it works.

Other people are all:
It's SO NICE to sit out in the heat!
and I'm all:

Locals warned me about the hothothot summers here, and I witnessed a few days of it when visiting last year, but boy - it's been scorching these last few days! It's a tricky thing to manage with MS. I get serious cognitive dysfunction when my body temperature goes up, so it's hard to find motivation to leave the house. Last week Nance and I were out for a little walk with pooch and after around 25 minutes (mainly in the shade), the heat hit me like a ton of bricks. I don't feel it happening. I don't realize that I stop walking. I go from fine to waaay not fine like someone has thrown a shutdown command without a restart option. We went from sauntering up the hill to get home to me shuffling to the side of the road, foggy-brained, and annoyed with N for holding a water bottle too close to me.

It didn't dawn on me she was suggesting I drink some of it. Cog fog removes common sense processing. And I can't articulate my thoughts in those moments, which is the scariest part. I know I'm too warm, but can't think how to fix it on my own. Being dependent on someone else to recognize those signs is not ideal. I took a drink, found some shade and after a few moments someone pushed the On button again.

On the flip side of not wanting to seek out opportunities that may bring cog fog, exercise is of great benefit for those with MS (and…well, everyone), and I love being outside. These elements combined leave me in a pickle. Do I grab the soccer ball and run "suicides" with Nance? (no…tried that…bad idea for all kinds of reasons) Do I stay indoors and become resentful? Also, no bueno.

If someone can suggest an outdoor summer activity that keeps me relatively cool and is available in my current location (no swimming pools other than a small kids pool, don't even suggest it), lemme know. The beach used to be a great option since the ocean gave a cool breeze, we could walk, and the dog could get a swim in. Sadly, moving inland has struck that from the list of possibilities. My best idea so far is to carry an oversized patio umbrella around with me, but I'm not so sure that's socially acceptable.

And I'm told walking to get an ice cream does not count as exercise.

Friday, 19 June 2015

new findings

What we know is never concrete and whole.

Nothing makes that more apparent than the recent discovery that our brain has lymphatic vessels that were previously undetected. Thousands of specialists may now have to rethink their understanding of the brain. For those unsure, one of the lymphatic system's functions is defence against foreign particles, microorganisms, and diseases via the immune system. One big filtration system. So, if that filtration system has some weird issue in a vital organ such as, let's just say, the BRAIN - bad things can happen.

It's a pretty big "wow!" moment and turns our understanding of the brain on its [apologies] head. The brain has a drainage system that no one knew about? Seriously? No one knew the tub had an open plug? All along, we thought that the blood brain barrier, something akin to a conniving barbapapa, from what I can tell, was the only entrance to the brain's home.

Another function of the lymphatic system is that of absorbing fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin D and transporting those substances to venous circulation. Still with me? Could drainage be the problem after all? Does this somehow explain why people with MS respond so well to vitamin D? Does this explain why or how CCSVI works for some? (the lymphatic system would eventually drain into the jugular)

What is happening?! How can all of this be? It's exciting and confusing at once!

Sure, anatomy textbooks have needed updates before (Belgium found a new knee ligament just a few years ago), but this feels like a potentially huge leap forward for research. If there are lymphatic vessels in the brain, the blood brain barrier has a backdoor and we may be able to start understanding why - yes, why - some MS drugs actually work. Or, maybe, maaaaybe even start  getting a better handle on causation. Dare I even conjure a whammy on that one?

Imagine if neurologists, immunologists, radiologists, and pharmaceutical companies all got on the same page! Don't roll your eyes at me; it could happen, right?

This finding may have a more immediate impact on people with Alzheimer's than it will for MS, but it is a very compelling piece of science either way. People with Alzheimer's are shown to have huge chunks of protein in the brain for no known reason. Now the number one suspect is a relatively straightforward drainage problem. So far, these lymph vessels have been found in mouse model studies and confirmed in human autopsy.

So, now we wait to see what comes of this.

Because something will. 

To paraphrase Buddhist canon, "three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth".


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

World MS Day 2015

In light of World MS Day, let me take a moment to talk about my least favourite question: How are you feeling? 

(Close seconds being "how is your body?" [shudder] or "How is your MS?")

Don't get me wrong, I love how supportive my people are. I have super friends and family and the most amazing girl in the world behind me. But, for the life of me, I can't figure out how to answer this question. No one actually wants to hear "Well, I haven't felt my right shin in I dunno how long...and man, grabbing hold of the right word in the right moment is becoming increasingly harder." No one wants to read the boring litany of new MS research studies that never make it past studies on Mickey and Minnie.

This isn't a flu. It's not a cracked bone that can mend or a wound that will close. It's not like there's an -ectomy or -otomy to remove what I have. The answer is never truly "fine" - that would be a constant lie. Nor do I want to talk about my every twinge and ailment. So, what is there to say?

This disease will be with me for the rest of my very (universe-willing) long life. MS is chronic and progressive. I will, most inevitably, decline at some point. Marking that decline through small talk isn't high on my list of things to do.

My life is different. I've been rewired head-to-toe by a drunken electrician. Life is good but it is often a multitude of tiny struggles that defy description. 

So, if you're wondering how I am, ask how I am. Please don't ask me how I'm feeling.

Friday, 15 May 2015

visits, sunshine, and a few extra pounds

Spring has officially launched in tiny town! There are flowers of some as of yet unidentifiable variety pushing towards the sky in the flower box. Birds aplenty. And the smell of manure here in farm country is starting to pervade the morning breeze.

I'll take it.

Sooo, what's new? Mom's visited. I spent Mother's Day with her for the first time in maybe 17 years. Not 100% sure on that guess, but that's when I moved from my home province, so it's my best estimate. It was nice having her here. Fairly relaxed. We managed to fit a lot into her stay while keeping the day-to-day pretty slow. We saw a comedy show, had a dress fitting, attended an awareness walk, visited the wedding venue, been to a handful of farmers markets, frequented a potato chip factory, visited the falls, watched Nance run a half marathon, went shoe shopping, had a few nice dinners out, had a few nice dinners in, walked the dog a bunch, frequented the local ice cream parlour a handful of times, wandered around Fredericton + Saint John + Grand Falls + Edmundston, talked wedding talk, went through our wedding decorations, and sat in the sun! Yay, sun!

We've had a smattering of wedding replies so far. We've invited as much of the away fam as we could (no one told me editing a guest list would be a Herculean task!) and it's tough to estimate how many will come. I'm eager to send out invitations to the mainland folks too since most of our closest friends fit into that category. We're not spending a lot of time fretting about it, but the details are mostly falling into place bit-by-bit. No hints of bridezillas yet! 

Let's talk about the MS hoohaw a moment here since it's May and I'm often putting out a call for donations around now. This year, however, I'm living in a place where there is no MS walk. The closest is 2 hours away. I'll miss those few hours of community - I can't begin to express how walking with other people in the red bib feels - but I'm okay to opt out a year. I know my own family and friends donate to charities of their choice no matter what, and I'm thankful for the awareness they spread on my behalf and the behalf of others with MS. 

The cause of MS is still unknown and there are four major theories:

  • Infectious - childhood viruses could trigger an onset of MS or the irregular immune response we develop. Epstein-Barr is the front runner in that race. So far no virus has been directly linked to MS.
  • Immunologic - an irregular immune system response is pretty much a de facto part of understanding MS. Some believe that's the end of the story - we were born with wonky immune systems that deteriorate with time and start attacking healthy tissue. Others believe that the immune response is a result of some other issue that haywires our immune systems. 
  • Environmental - there seem to be MS clusters, or areas where MS has much higher incidence and prevalence than other ares. There's also the vitamin D mystery. Most MS cases occur fa away from the equator, so it's thought that vitamin D may be a contributing factor. Supplementation does have significant numbers supporting that theory. Diet is another environmental factor that's thought to play a role. Obesity and salt in the diet raise the risk of MS. Is there anything that isn't a risk factor?
  • And lastly, genetics - according to the literature, if you have relatives with MS, you have a higher chance of developing it. I'm not sure how anyone could fully tease any one of these theories from the other, but there is no doubt that there is some sort of issue with hand-me-down genes. I have 2 relatives with MS on one side of my family, and 1 on the other. I don't personally know of relatives in older generations who had MS, so I can't say for sure where my own genetic predisposition comes from, but it is bound to be from both sides. There is a very tiny increase in risk if you have a blood parent with MS.

On that note, I feel well. I'm 14 months off of a disease-modifying therapy. I have a smidge more weight on than usual (bitterly cold winters in a small town meant more vino than necessary), but it's dropping. Coming out of hibernation and into a warmer season is so amazing. I can't wait for fresh produce to start showing up at the local farmers' market! We're starting a "cleanse" soon of smoothies and soups to get back in the swing of things. Having company means we end up bringing things into the house we normally wouldn't (not under duress - see list of things we did with mom for proof) and if I look at bread, I gain 4 lbs.

On a non-MS note, I've been struggling with this stupid reflux. I went through a dietary process 10 years ago to try to figure out my triggers, but it turned out that it's triggered by food. Period. So, hopefully losing a pound or seven will get it back under control. I've been on proton pump inhibitors for ages and ages and just switched to a new one in hopes that it'll help. This is also a bit of a genetic thing - muscular problems with the stomach or esophagus. It scares the crap outta me when I have swallowing troubles - I always wonder if it's MS (it's not) or reflux (it is). Some of the potential longterm symptoms of MS are troubling to me and dysphagia is a big one. Who knew heartburn could cause so much paranoia!?

We have company coming this weekend, so I'm off to hang sheets on the line and freshen the guest bedroom! Peace out.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

where's my tauntaun?

It's a bit of a strange time. Our wedding is months away, but people want to talk about it a lot. I'm a little averse to that since it's generally meant to be one big party and I'd rather not put too much pressure on the day to be ideal. It's a semi-fancy party in the woods and I'm trying to keep framing it that way. No wonder people get so stressed out about wedding planning.

It has also been a time of remembrance for me. A childhood friend of mine passed away far too young and I've been thinking of her a lot. Remembering youthful shenanigans. I'm not one to share this sort of thing but it feels wrong to do an update without acknowledging her passing. xo

On to more mundane news

It has been a long, cold winter. While the rest of the province is hiding somewhere beneath mounds of snow, we're able to see over the banks in all directions, but are freezing our rumps off. December was the coldest winter on record here in decades. We're at the point where an unexpected 0 degree day felt glorious. I didn't even wear a coat. 

Sadly, the extreme cold means there's little opportunity for socializing. Yes, I said sadly. And yes, I am still very introverted. I love my partner with all of my heart and can't imagine living here without her, but boy, we need outlets. f'realz. We're great together, but we're just not people who can have supper and then watch TV until bedtime every evening. We've dusted off the crib board, started a ginormous puzzle, I've even taken up crocheting. We're justbored. When it's reasonably warm (read: not -30s) we can snowshoe, thankfully. Going to the gym work days at lunch is also helping burn off some energy, but I find myself searching for signs of Spring at every turn. Oh, to be able to comfortably walk the dog! Listen to me - I'm hoping for the days of muddy dog belly!

Abbey seems content with the cold and snow.

That cold is particularly uncomfortable, as is any extreme heat, because I have A) Raynaud's and B) dysautonomia - an MS accompaniment that is behind my inability to thermoregulate. There's pretty interesting research coming out about treating dysautonomia - a condition that is also seen in Parkinsonian disorders. It's basically an electrical stimulation of nerve fibres administered to potentially regain balance in the hypothalamus, the portion of the brain responsible for thermoregulation.

In other research news, dextromethorphan, a drug found in cough medicines is showing to protect loss of myelin in animal models. I'm not one for animal model reports as they rarely make it to phase I human trials, but this one is pretty intriguing as it could means a low cost drug alternative for those without the means to purchase other, exorbitantly-priced MS medications.

And one more from the research mines - also animal model stage - cinnamon is showing to suppress clinical symptoms of what is the mouse equivalent of MS. Kinda neat - bring on the spice!

That's all for now. I'm off to shovel, check the fire, and crochet yet another something.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

relocation acclamation

It has been a very busy few months of boxing, organizing, and fresh starts.

We have packed up and relocated to a stunning, friendly, little town of 5,700 people. To put that in perspective, when I lived in the metro Chicago area, I was surrounded by 9.5 million souls. GTA? Around 6 million. Luckily, I enjoy a quiet life, so the change is not too drastic so far. 

So, here I am living in Brayon territory training my ear for a very different dialect. It's French, yes. 82% of households here have French as their mother tongue. But it's also a living, breathing, colourful mix of French, English, and a mystery ingredient I've yet to identify. It's not just chiac as many suggest - it is its own non-acadian thing. And that thing is damn hard to follow for an Anglo like me! At least chiac has a strong English mix I can follow, like "watcher un movie" and "parker mon car".

But, I'm trying and I'm learning. It's rare to hear English or even fragments of French I understand when out and about, so it's like there's a constant noise buffer around me when we're shopping. There's a soft wall of conversation my curiosity can't lean against. 

One thing is for sure - news travels fast in this town. We were out shovelling a few days ago and met one of our neighbours who already knew where Nancy works and what she does. He already knew what kind of dog we have, that she's very friendly, and not that old. That I work from home. The grapevine grows on the neighbourhood watch signs here. It's somehow refreshing, though. We were a little concerned about being a female couple in a small town, but have yet to face as much as an eyebrow raise from the locals. If anything, that we're vegetarians attracts more attention. 

I'm enjoying life here so far. It's a little more challenging for my social fiancée in that she doesn't yet have a group of like-minded people to run with, but it'll come. We are meeting good people, and although we miss our SJ friends very much, social life here will become more familiar and comfortable with time. Plus, our friends in SJ HAVE SAID THEY WILL VISIT. ahem. reminder.

The cold is something we all have to get used to. The temperature has bounced around and on warmer days we snowshoe, but we've had windchill in the negative 30s nearly every day since Christmas and it's hard not being able to exercise the dog. And hard for the pooch to behave with so much bubbling potential energy. It's -18 today, so Abbey and I bundled up for an hour-long trek. We are both much more satisfied because of it. Her frozen, eyeless teddy bear may tell a different story.

One thing that concerns me about the weather here is the threat of summer. People keep telling me it nears the +40s on occasion and I am just not built for that kind of heat. I become a bumbling, confused mess in the heat. We're renting for now, so hopefully by the time that menace rolls around, I'll be living in a place with air conditioning!

Nothing to report on the MS side. I'm doing well unmedicated. I feel as strong as ever and am hoping that trend continues. Vitamin D, CoQ10, curcumin, B12 - 6-7 servings of fruit and veg a day. I know with a wedding on the horizon that this year may bring some undue stress, but we're trying to plan ahead to mitigate it. 

Here's to new beginnings!