Saturday, September 30, 2006

Seahawk Fever...Or Some Other Pyretic Problem...

     Just once, it would be sweet to have something in Seattle to be proud of besides the Microsoft Empire.  Because, when it comes to sports teams, this city is a metropolis of "almosts".

     We almost won the Super Bowl last year...almost.  And the Seattle Supersonics almost made it to the final  two in their 2004 season (I think).  And don't forget our almost Mariners baseball team...of course, based on the performance THIS season, we'd almost like to forget them!

     We don't have much here that brings the entire city together, except standing in the shadow of a Starbucks Coffee shop on nearly every corner...IF one drinks coffee, that is.  Most of the time, we're a city of diversity, a city of varying opinions, and a city of controversial issues...those are actually the very reasons most people choose to call Seattle home.

     We're a little snobbish if you ask us about our weather...that's a given...and yes, it DOES rain here (We know you're a tourist if you're carrying an umbrella!).  But if you ask us about our Seattle Seahawks NFL football team this year, you're liable to get a warm response...that is, if you say something "nice" about them.

     So why am I (of all people) writing about football in an MS blog today?  Well...thank goodness you've asked (and there is a "loose" connection here)!  Because my MS buddy, Suzy, in Chicago (pronounced Chee Kag Oh) has accepted my Sunday Night Football challenge:  The Chicago Bears vs. the Seattle Seahawks!!!

     Yep...they're going head to head tomorrow on NBC.  My Hawks, her Bears.  So just to keep things "interesting", I challenged her to a Loser Sends All competition.  That means, if my Hawks lose, I will be sending a humble pie package of Pacific Northwest goodies to Chicago...maybe a bit of smoked salmon, some Starbucks coffee, a bit of See's candies, and of course the token souvenir shot glass with the Space Needle printed on it!

     But since I am sooooo incredibly confident the Hawks will win tomorrow night's match up, I'm hoping for a few trinkets from Oprah...she's in Chicago, right?!?  Maybe one of those new cars she's been giving away...


Oh, My Achin' Joints...

     I better slice you off a hunk of cheese to go with this let me just get this out of the way.  "DAYUM, MY JOINTS HURT!" (Borrowing the wonderful spelling of condemnation from my friend!)

     I'm three days post TYSABRI infusion again and, as in the first go-round infusion, I'm left with some serious fatigue and incredible joint pain.  I finally emailed Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named to discuss this today...she fired a response back (I think she is hot wired to the Internet somehow 24/7!).  She wants to check me for neutralizing antibodies now, which sounds way tooooo complicated for me to understand.

     I did leave work yesterday after only 4 hours and returned to the Bat Cave to lie about with the Princess of Darkness (kitten)...this helped some.  But I went right back in today and jumped on the bucking bronco of my job, only to leave tonight completely fatigued and pained.  Fortunately, I was working partnered with someone who carried both our loads (that sounds a bit like a Beavis and Butthead joke about to happen, doesn't it?!?), so I managed to stumble through the day.

     The weekend approaches and I am grateful.  I'm tired, I'm whiny, I'm crabby, and I feel isolative.  Hmmm...I'm just trying now to figure out how THIS is any different from my norm??? LOL

     Hopefully this systemic joint discomfort will subside soon...hopefully the Princess of Darkness will have mercy on me and let me sleep in this morning...hopefully there will be no "emergencies" among friends to pry me out of the Bat Cave...hopefully this nasty "whine" I'm indulging in will not intoxicate me into a stupor...I'm full of hope...and probably full of crap as well...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Knowing Which Way To Turn...

     This post is for my friend, Suzy, and for anyone else out there struggling with "knowing" what we need.  Not unlike Marge Piercy's poem, I believe we ALL know somewhere deep within ourselves EXACTLY what to do, where to turn, and which way to go...right or wrong, it is OUR way.



The Perpetual Migration  

How do we know where we are going?

How do we know where we are headed

till we in fact or hope or hunch

arrive?  You can only criticize,

the comfortable say, you don’t know

what you want.  Ah, but we do.


We have swung in the green verandas

of the jungle trees.  We have squatted

on cloud-grey granite hillsides where

every leaf drips.  We have crossed

badlands where the sun is sharp as flint.

We have paddled into the tall dark sea

in canoes.  We always knew.


Peace, plenty, the gentle wallow

of intimacy, a bit of Saturday night

and not too much Monday morning,

a chance to choose, a chance to grow,

the power to say no and yes, pretties

and dignity, an occasional jolt of truth.


The human brain, wrinkled slug, knows

like a computer, like a violinist, like

a bloodhound, like a frog.  We remember

backwards a little and sometimes forwards,

but mostly we think in the ebbing circles

a rock makes on the water.


The salmon hurtling upstream seeks

the taste of the waters of its birth

but the seabird on its four-thousand-mile

trek follows charts mapped on its genes.

The brightness, the angle, the sighting

of the stars shines in the brain luring

till inner constellation matches outer.


The stark black rocks, the island beaches

of waveworn pebbles where it will winter

look right to it.  Months after it set

forth it says, home at last, and settles.

Even the pigeon beating its short whistling

wings knows the magnetic tug of arrival.


In my spine a tidal clock tilts and drips

and the moon pulls blood from my womb.

Driven as a migrating falcon, I can be blown

off course yet if I turn back it feels

wrong.  Navigating by chart and chance

and passion I will know the shape

of the mountains of freedom, I will know.


(And a special thank you to the wonderful and wise teacher who shared this poem with ME for the first know who you are!)





Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Do They Really Think We're THAT Stupid?...Probably, yes...

     I'm too tired and achy to really rant today...and my "I'm Just Sayin'" reflex is barely kicking as well.  BUT...

     Since I'm home lying about in recovery from my Tysabri infusion yesterday, I've had little to do but stare at the BoobTube/TV...I feel too crappy to do much else.  And after only an hour or two of life's greatest invention (TV?  Yeah, right...), I've come to the conclusion the "people in power" think the American TV viewers are as dumb as lemmings.  I'm talking about the Mafia Pharmaceutical Companies and their asinine drug ads...and I'm not so sure their theory about American's ability to think for themselves ISN'T all that inaccurate.

     In a matter of only one hour, I have been bombarded by no less than FIVE absolutely, idiotic, (did I already mention asinine?) completely amoral advertisements by DRUG COMPANIES!  And just so I can be fully sued for my opinion, let me name them outright:  Tylenol, The Boston Medical Group, Detrol, Boniva, and Loestrin 24Fe.  I DO feel a need to tell you a bit about each ad, just in case they are only being shown regionally to what the MPC (Mafia Pharmaceutical Companies) hopes is a brain dead West Coast.

     Let's start with the Tylenol ad:  A well-dressed woman, perhaps a CEO, is talking about the wonders of Tylenol.  No big deal so far, right?  But she's obviously a CEO FOR the makers of Tylenol.  And she tells the viewers (and I will take liberty to paraphrase here) if they're NOT going to take the product as prescribed, she doesn't want you to take it AT ALL!  Why???

     Hmmm...I'm going to take a wild, educated guess here (while I still have some educated brain cells rubbing together).  Because Tylenol WILL kill your liver if you take too much of it!  It's right there on the packaging insert.  It's a well-known fact to suicidal patients...overdose on Tylenol and you WILL die.  (But just in case you're considering this as an exit, let me warn you:  Acetaminophen overdose is an extremely painful death...and it won't kill you for about 3 days.  But it IS's a primary source for assured death by suicide if you don't seek intervention.  I DON'T recommend it however...and for the record, neither does Dr. Kevorkian!)  Do I smell a long trail of LAWSUITS here filed against the makers of Tylenol by STUPID people who took too much Tylenol for whatever STUPID reason and now suffer from permanent liver damage???  Yeah, OK...this one is a no brainer.

     Moving right along to The Boston Medical Group.  I kid you not, their add says, "Have Viagra and other products let you down?"       **Inserting VERY LONG pause here**

     Do they MEAN for that line to be funny, or is it just me?  But their commercial runs for all the STUPID LEMMING MEN out there who have been "let down" by Viagra and other products...The BMG assures the male viewer to have no fear...they can help...they guarantee it...they WON'T let you down!  I haven't researched this group to find out how they can guarantee a "NO LET DOWN" outcome, but I worry it may involve the insertion of a very long (or short in some cases) STEEL ROD!!!  Run to them, lemmings...RUN!

     Exhausting myself, but I must go on to the ad for Detrol.  OK, let me first say I sympathize with ANYONE who has an overactive bladder...I really do.  I don't want one, and if this particular drug helps you with YOUR overactive bladder problems, then I think you should take it.  But...I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ABOUT IT in between The Oprah Show and the 5:00 o'clock news!  And I certainly don't want to know about your problem via a bizarrely formed stick figure made out of plumbing pipes, driving a car (no less), and trying to BIRD WATCH...but he can't...because he has on OVERACTIVE BLADDER!!! ain't that commercial sweet??  Bring me a friggin' sedative because I can't take the "cute factor" applied to serious medical conditions.

     Boniva...Has Sally Fields lost her mind or in such dire straits she must be the spokesperson for THIS ad?  Didn't she just land herself a new gig on prime time TV to pay the bills?  And when did our little FLYING NUN become OLD enough to advertise for calcium replacement and osteoporosis???  I don't object to the pill, I just object to using dear SYBIL as it's spokesperson!  I NEED for Sally Fields to remain eternally young...I don't want to hear about her shrinking stature and her brittle bones.  True, her face lift scars may be showing, but I don't care Sally!  Get off the old lady pill ads and back to making us believe you have the ability to fly because of your habit or your Multiple Personalities are getting the best of you, Sybil!  Those were your GOOD DAYS and I rather miss them.

   And finally, Loestrin 24Fe...the new oral contraceptive NOT advertised to keep your young adolescent girls from carrying one in the oven, they can have a 3 DAY PERIOD!!!!  I'm not even sure it's mentioned clearly that this pill is for BIRTH CONTROL!!!  It's website is actually ...I am NOT kidding here.  Please go to this site and review the shameless advertising done to lure young women into believing they SHOULD only menstruate for 3 days...they can get more done...their fun won't be shortened...they won't have to BLEED inconveniently.

     For the love of God...has anyone ever stopped to think there might be a REASON women's menstrual cycles are the length they last?  Are there really mothers out there who might BELIEVE it would be better if their daughters only had their period for 3 days?  Is this a marketing strategy to pull the wool over the eyes of the Catholic Church and NOT let on this pill is actually a contraceptive?  AND...LASTLY...Do the makers of Tampax and other feminine hygiene products KNOW there's this deadly competition out there to keep women from spending half their paychecks on products to keep from dripping blood down their legs????  Have they realized the LOSS they will incur should women only need 1/2 the amount of hygiene products on a monthly basis?  Hmmm...I smell a mighty big TAMPAX lawsuit coming on.  Oh wait!  The MPC's probably own the feminine hygiene product rights as well...never mind!

     I'm really tired now...guess I'll go back to watching TV for a while.  I'll probably need to double dose my blood pressure medication however, just to get me through another hour or two of the BoobTube ads...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I Ain't Dead Yet...

     Yep...survived my second Tysabri infusion today (I'm sure much to the disappointment of a few)...looks like I ain't dead yet!

     The infusion went remarkably smoother "technically-wise" today.  I only had to stay at Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named office for a little over two hours...much better than the first 3 1/2 hour saga in August.  It seems the office staff of Dr. SWWNBN prefer cookies instead of cupcakes (**mental note made**), but they did not turn me away with the dozen Top Pot Doughnuts I carried for insurance of survival.

     I do seem to be having the same post infusion fatigue/arthralgia I had after the first dose.  It hits me even before I am leaving the office.  I also noticed my face got flush and I felt "hot" during the infusion as well...not to mention the perspiration beads on my back and neck.  BUT...other than THAT...I'm tolerating the Tysabri well (**knocking on wood**).

     I'm pretty tired, so I apologize for having to stretch soooo far to find anything humorous to type.  I just thought I should warn you as soon as possible, however...I AM STILL ALIVE and PML free!

Round Two Of The Tysabri Attack...

     Today is Round 2 of Tysabri far, so good.  Rumors of my potential demise from Round 1 were falsely reported.  LOL  I'm getting ready to load up the car with some local TopPot Doughnuts to take in to my neurologist's office where I receive the infusions (remember my theory on "feeding the hands that could kill you"?...still a big believer).

     The only change I noticed from Round 1 Tysabri infusion was my vision did clear up...still too early to attribute that phenomenon to the medication or just blind luck (pun intended!).  The remainder of my MS symptoms seem to have snuck by the medication unscathed...the spasticity, fatigue, weakness, lack of mental clarity, etc., continue to accompany me as though life long friends.

     I will see Dr. She Who Will Not Be Named today, neurologist extraordinaire, and I'm sure a full neuro evaluation will be conducted (can the words, "neuro" and "conducted" be used in the same sentence without giggles from the MS peanut section?) to determine what benefits, if any, can be seen from the Tysabri.  I think the Good Doctor figures as long as I can verbally spar back at her, I must be status quo.

     Wish me luck...I'm hopping back in the ring in a few, short hours!  AND...I'm saving out the best doughnut for myself this time!

Monday, September 25, 2006

I'm Just Sayin'...

     Isn't it odd how George Bush couldn't even FIND the New Orleans SUPERDOME for 5 days after Hurricane Katrina hit last year...but now he's able to get there for a Saint's game tonight?  Did someone give him a new GPS unit or are the photo "ops" just better a year later?

     I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Got Nuttin'...

     It's a blank slate kind of a day...the sun is shining and it's supposed to be 75 degrees in Seattle today.  There have been no new homicides of note or world leader speaking faux paxs in the's football Sunday, so only the NFL or This Old House on PBS can be found on the tele...Devil Kitty has actually been in a sweet princess mode/mood (so far!) today...I've so far, even referred to her as Meha versus any other choice, derogatory name!  I can faintly feel the friction of my last two functioning brain cells trying to "rub up" some activity...some kind of humorous story to share...but, I got nuttin'...nada...zilch.

     It's not a bad thing...I rather enjoy having absolutely nothing to talk or write about.  And, as you can see, I'm fairly skilled at writing about NOTHING, too...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I Didn't Have Children For A Reason...

     Somewhere along the way, I forgot to have children...OK, that's not entirely true.  I DIDN't have human children of my own, but I did help raise one or two along the path of my 42 year's existence...I think they turned out fairly well adjusted!  Neither of the three have ended up in prison OR on America's Most Wanted I might add! LOL

     But now, I have a kitten.  And, although not requiring any parent/teacher conferences or prom dresses, I am finding her to be more challenging than a HUMAN child.  At first, I thought she was a bit "touched" in the head BEFORE I brought her I know she is POSSESSED instead!  (Note photo...I snapped it during one of her "transformation" periods.)

     My first day back at work yesterday was really quite uneventful.  But for some reason, when I finally got home and crawled in bed, I just couldn't find any restful sleep.  I tossed and turned, noting the time on the clock nearly hourly, until around 4:00AM...I think that's about the time I fell into a fitful sleep.

    At 5:30AM, the painful cries of Devil Kitty began outside my bedroom door.  This was WAY TOO EARLY to be responding to any need, except my own...and that was to SLEEP.  The pitiful cries continued, on and off for 2 hours, until I was finally FORCED from my bed, resigning myself to just get up, feed her, and crawl back to sleep.  Oh, but the ways of the Devil have no mercy!

     After feeding the Princess of Darkness, I fell onto the couch, thinking perhaps PD would allow me rest there if she could "see" me and keep me in her Devil's eye.  She had other plans.

     I dozed for maybe a full 15 minutes, awakened by the violent scramble of tiny cat hooves trampling wildly across my face, claws extended for better traction.  No blood was drawn, but "words" were exchanged between us.  My "No, Meha's!" were received on deaf and deliberately defiant ears.  She dashed wildly down the hallway, returning to attack my exposed toes the next time.  I finally got up and tried to do a few dishes.

     There was a period of about 10 minutes when the Seed of Satan was nowhere to be found...this is NEVER a good sign!  I knew she was summoning her minions for something big...I was not disappointed.

     The fresh scent of Devil's Poo lofted from the litter box..."Ah," I thought, "maybe she just needed to relieve herself and now that 'pressure' is off her mind, she'll settle down."  I strolled down the hallway humming a "happy" song.  I was not prepared for what I was about to find.

     From one end of the bathroom to the other and atop the sink counter and toilet lid, were small, Devil-sized foot prints of kitten poo, tracked in a random pattern all around the room...the Princess of Darkness was nowhere to be found...she was still "on the loose" somewhere in my home with unknown quantities of fecal matter attached to her hooves!  Then I heard the crash in the kitchen.

     I limped down the hallway to the kitchen to find my Fallen Angel prancing with her poo-infested feet on the KITCHEN COUNTERTOP!!!  Less noticeable, but no less toxic hoof prints could be seen all over the surface of the counter WHERE I PREPARE MY MEALS!!!  I took several deep breaths to avoid hyperventilation and snatched the Prancing Princess of Darkness from her stage and locked her in the bathroom with me.  There was much howling and gnashing of teeth, but I was eventually able to wash the bottoms of her feet and release her to the hallway while I proceeded to wipe up her bathroom dance steps.

     As you all know, I DO have a license to practice nursing, but my background is in's a well-know fact psychiatric nurses (and anyone else in the psych field for that matter) DO NOT DO SECRETIONS!  Poo counts as a "secretion"...I don't "do" poo well...human or otherwise.

     I proceeded to gag my way through the bathroom wipe down, pausing frequently with a dry heave now and then...I cursed the Darkness...I prayed the infamous, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" prayer, attempting to cast out the demon possession in my home.  I threw the rugs in the washer and nearly gassed myself on Clorox.  Then, I tackled the kitchen area...I had no idea such tiny, little feet could carry such monumental amounts of "material" on them!  The Princess of Darkness eyed my every move.

     About 45 minutes later, I decided I had earned the right to check my email and, if Devil Kitty granted me leave, I might even be able to pound out a blog entry for today...Little Lucifer had other plans.

     While seated in the computer room, LL made her way INSIDE my junk closet, climbed to the top of the multi-piled and precariously stacked assortment of "junk", and carefully placed her weight in such a way the entire pile came crashing down!  I nearly had a heart attack from the noise...there was a brief moment I fantasized LL may have been hit on the head by a heavy object, rendering her a bit "touched" or "slow" as I had initially thought she was over a month ago.  I know I could keep up with a retarded hard could that be?  (Oh, yeah...and so as not to be offensive to the profoundly politically correct out there, please substitute "retarded" with "developmentally delayed" if needed.)

     I finally closed off two rooms in the house and hid behind door number two, in hopes Devil Kitty might not notice I was missing...I held my breath in silent fear of her...she STILL found me!  We simply returned to how my day had begun at seemingly innocent kitten meowing outside my door and pleading for my attention!

     Although not Catholic, I am considering calling the Catholic church to they still DO exorcisms?  And does anyone know if they've ever performed one on a cat?...

Friday, September 22, 2006

And Another Thing...

     Yes, I do HAVE to go back to work today...but who could resist commenting on the "interesting" speak Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, made to the United Nations on September, 21st???  And I quote:

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tore into his U.S. counterpart and his U.N. hosts Wednesday, likening President Bush to the devil and telling the General Assembly that its system is "worthless."

"The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said, referring to Bush, who addressed the world body during its annual meeting Tuesday. "And it smells of sulfur still today."

Chavez accused Bush of having spoken "as if he owned the world" and said a psychiatrist could be called to analyze the statement. "As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world. An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: 'The Devil's Recipe.' "

     Well, I'm certainly no FAN of the current United States Regime in power...actually I'm less than a fan...I'm OPPOSED to it!  But isn't Chavez' statements sort of the "pot calling the kettle black?"...I DO like the way "Jorge" dresses up the devil costume in the picture though...don't you?!?

     I guess if the costume fits, wear it...

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho...It's Back To Work I Go...

     The furlough is's back to work today.  I hope I remember how to do my job! LOL

     I'm sure I have inundated all of you with multi-daily posts to "Cheese" these past 6 days...I WILL miss having the time to write whenever I want, that's for certain.  But my six days off have been well spent.

     The important thing is, I did NOTHING important...which was, in itself, quite important...I let myself rest.  I chased Devil Kitty around.  I watched cheesy daytime TV.  I watched several of the fall TV premiers.  I did a few errands and a bit of house cleaning...but mostly, I LET MYSELF REST.  MY body is thanking me profusely right now and cussing the fact I must "return to the grind" tomorrow afternoon.  Oh isn't my BODY cussing that fact...I guess it's my MIND!  LOL

     I hope y'all have a safe and pleasant first weekend of autumn...and if you need me, I'll be at work...send up the Bat Signal or something...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Religion, Faith, and Multiple Sclerosis...

     Not long ago, someone asked me if I was a "Christian".  I gave my "pat" answer of, "It doesn't really matter what I believe.  What is important is what YOU believe."  The question came from a mentally ill woman who believed she was the bride of Christ, so a carefully thought out response wasn't even needed...she delusionally believed everyone BUT her was the "devil", so my response was a moot point...but, it got me thinking.

     Then, earlier this week, I watched news coverage of how Pope Benedict XVI set off a worldwide outcry and violent protest from Muslims because of a quote he made in his speech, "Faith, Reason, and the University--Memories and Reflections", on September 12th.  If you read excerpts of the speech (or if truly bored, the entire translation), it does NOT appear it was the Pope's intention to single out Islam, but instead make a point how there is a tendency to exclude the question of "God" from least that's my take on the now infamous lecture.  This international situation got me thinking even more.

     THEN, I watched the world leaders' reactions play out in response to the Pope's quoted statement in his lecture.  There were outcries by Muslims to kill Christians, Americans, and anyone not a believer of the Muslim faith.  Here's just one excerpt of such a statement: 

Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin, a hardline cleric allied with Somalia's Supreme Islamic Court, urged Muslims to "hunt down the Pope" in a speech, saying: "We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion. Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim. We call on all Islamic Communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope."

     Obviously, THIS got me thinking even more!  I decided it was time to "tackle my take" on the subject of religion, faith, and how these two seemingly innocent words carry such controversy.  But because this journal/blog is ALSO about MS, I thought I'd throw a disease on the pile for good measure and try to tie them all together...wish me luck!

     Because I'm a "Word Ho", I often consult my dear old, falling apart, having survived a flood, dictionary, Merriam-Webster.  After all, words already in print are rather "safe".  So, let me share with you the "accepted" definitions of religion and faith, per M-W:

RELIGION:Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back --

1 a : the state of a religious <a nun in her 20th year of religion> b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious
attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity
: CONSCIOUSNESS 4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

And now, FAITH:  Pronunciation: 'fAth
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural faiths/'fAths, sometimes 'fA[th]z/
Etymology: Middle English feith, from Anglo-French feid, fei, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust --

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty   b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>
synonym see Belief- on faith : without question <took everything he said on faith>

     WooEee, Mary!  That's certainly a lot of information to take in all at once!  The most important aspect I find of these two definitions is, they are BOTH considered "nouns" in the general sense...oddly, neither is seen as an "action" word or verb (Suzy in Chicago, eat your heart out with this peculiar English lesson!  She's taking an English course this fall at college, for those of you not in her blog loop!).  Yet we here in Western culture often "think" of these two words as verbs, and on rare occasion, a loose adjective.

     So, how do religion and faith tie in with the topic of Multiple Sclerosis, you might ask?  Well...they do and they DON' all depends on the person!

     I read many MS blogs daily, interact with multi-cultural people in my job, and carry my own belief system.  Several MS bloggers refer to themselves as "Christian", one I know of considers himself "Buddhist", some of the Somali people I deal with in my job tell me they are Muslim, and I've got a few Jewish friends here and there.  And dare I NOT exclude my Wisconsin friends who practice Dianic Wicca!  As you can see, I've pretty much been exposed to all of the major religions of the world.

     Two of the common threads I find with ALL of these religions and their practices is 1)  a belief there is something greater outside of the individual self, and 2) the practice of prayer.  OK, sure my Wiccan friends don't call it "prayer", but spell casting is pretty darned's asking for something one feels they lack and doing so in a way it harms no one...let's not split hairs here!  LOL

     When it comes to dealing with Multiple Sclerosis, I'm quite certain there is no greater demandon ANY Higher Power's time then when someone is first diagnosed with the disease...I don't think it really matters what your religious belief is...we've all "prayed" that same line, "Why me, _____, why?" (Just fill in the blank with whatever and whomever you pray to...God, Allah, Yahweh, Jesus, the four elements, etc.)  Those of us with MS have ALL asked this question in some form of outcry/prayer...don't lie to me...I KNOW you have! LOL

     When dealing with MS, we turn to our religions or our spiritual beliefs because SOMETHING GREATER THAN OURSELVES is at work when it comes to Multiple Sclerosis...if it weren't a force greater than ourselves, we'd simply fix it...we'd make it go away...we'd heal ourselves...I'd heal YOU if I could.  But I can't.

     There also seems to be an unspoken phenomenon or little dealt with idea among MSers which really has nothing at all to do with religion(s), and that is the aspect of "faith".  Now some of you may say "faith" is nothing more than believing in good luck, i.e., "I have faith this drug or that treatment will help me"...we don't know for CERTAIN anything will help us, but we still role the dice  and we still base our decisions about our health in the ol' "crap shoot" principle...maybe it will, maybe it won't, but we're placing our money on the table in the "faith" area...M-W calls it, "a firm belief in something for which there is no proof".  Sure there's the science part of MS, but what does any scientist REALLY know about how each of these treatments work on the individual?  I can answer that:  They don't.  No one does.  Enter dear lady, FAITH.

     When I see the world around me freaking out and even killing each other over their RELIGIONS, I just want to cry...and, after I do that, I get mad.  Too often the ancient texts that religions use to guide their followers gets twisted into self-serving interests that SERVE NO ONE, but those who skillfully do the "twisting".

     Then, after the tears and anger subside, I turn to my FAITH...not a religion, but pure faith...a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.  My firm belief that there IS something/a force out there greater than firm belief that prayer is a universal language, which we ALL speak.  I turn to my FAITH that leads me to understanding I may NEVER have proof of anything...I may NEVER have or know the answers to my difficult life questions.

     If MS has taught me anything, it HAS taught me the necessity of prayer and intention in my life.  It HASN'T brought me religiously close to anything, but it HAS strengthened my faith.  I BELIEVE my development of Multiple Sclerosis was no accident...I have to believe that or risk losing my value that there is a force greater than myself out there calling the shots.  I have to BELIEVE there is Order in Chaos (speaking directly to Mdmhvonpa now! LOL), and likewise, Chaos in Order.

     I BELIEVE that how I intend my life and how I pray my life set the course for how I LIVE my life...and if there's any "proof" of this phenomenon, read a few quantum physics books and you might also jump over to the "dark side"...Moohahaha...just kidding!  It's actually a pretty HOPEFUL discovery in science...Quantum Physics, that is...and it's NOT new.

     So, for those of you firmly tied to your religions out there...good for you.  I think it's also important to have some type of spiritual practice in life and I hope your religion brings this for you.

     And for those of you who are NOT religious, but practice faith, good for you, too.  "Religion" should just be the noun in any spiritual practice and not a shield to hide behind or shoot from, such as we are seeing religion being used quite frequently in the world today.

     And still, for those of you with MS who have one or both of these things, religion and/or faith, I hope you find comfort in your beliefs and practices...I hope you are able to live your life with Multiple Sclerosis with intention and purpose...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Four Seasons and MS (And I'm not Referencing a 5 Star Hotel Here!)...

     Let me first start by clarifying something right out of the starting gate.  I'm NOT BITCHING about the rain that has begun to fall in Western Washington...Lord knows we have needed it, having just survived one of the driest summers ever on record.  But it IS raining again...that stuff that Seattle is known for.

     I suppose I should also say once again, "I love fall."  I really's my all time favorite of the four seasons (see a previous blog post for more fall gushings).  But, I have noticed with the changing of the guard on the season issue there also comes a "changing" of my MS's sort of like solar clock work.

     It has become apparent to me fall and spring are the two worst seasons for my MS.  Personally, I find this "odd" as I would think the heat of summer or the cold of winter would have a more dramatic effect...but not so with my personal "brand" of Multiple Sclerosis!

     Every one of my major relapses has occurred in late winter/early spring...not to mention this is also the time I received the lovely diagnosis of MS in 2003.  Looking back in time, I don't think I've had a major relapse in the fall, but I am aware of many symptom changes that occur in autumn.

     One of the first things that becomes NOTICEABLY apparent in the fall is the spasticity in my calves...I feel like I'm walking on a couple of 4 X 4s of wood.  Mornings are the worst and I have to allot extra time to stretch things out before I try to walk, lest I do a painful swan dive to the floor.

     Then, there is the generalized arthritic feeling throughout my every joint...I don't "normally" (in quotation marks because the word normal seems an odd one to use when speaking of MS) have this feeling...or at least not every day like I do in the fall.

     My fall fatigue is not something I can judge accurately right now because fatigue in GENERAL has been kicking my butt for a few seasons in a row.  But I do recall fall being a particularly difficult one as far as motivation to move goes...I'm certainly continuing to experience it on a much broader scale than I ever have before...fall or no fall.

     The other "interesting" symptom I notice more in the fall is the facial/eye twitches/tics.  I can only speculate this occurs more frequently because the air outside is colder...but I'm not a physiologist or a biologist to apply the necessary physics and anatomy principles to figure this one out!  I'll just take a wild guess this might be the causative factor. LOL

     I'm interested in hearing from YOU, MS reader, if you also experience symptom changes with the changing of seasons and what those changes look like for you?  Is one or more season more difficult for you than others symptom-wise? 

     Please comment in the "Comment Section" below if you feel so inclined...or if AOL is still giving you grief in commenting, send me an email at and I'll post your comments for you.  (I'd like to use this page for more than my blathering bitching, etc., and hope it can be a tool for others to share/learn from.)

     And for my dear friends/readers/coworkers who are NOT living with MS, please feel free to comment about YOUR "special" ailments and the effects you feel with the changing seasons...who may find there are those of us with MS who ALSO deal with neurosis, psoriasis, erectile dysfunction, etc...LOL...we're ALL just one, big, happy family here!

Attack Force Dirt Devil!...

     I have found the ultimate weapon!  The super-secret double duty tool that sends Devil Kitty scrambling for higher is the household Dirt Devil Vacuum!  Just switch the motor on and Devil Kitty is nowhere to be found.  Ah, a few moments rest without kitten on my shoulders/lap/arms/neck/abdomen/countertops/plants.

     The only problem is, I suppose while I have the vacuum out and manning it as a weapon, I really SHOULD vacuum the rug...OK, maybe I need to rethink this strategy...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Miss Manner's "Fox Paw"...

     Somebody call Miss Emily Post (is she even still alive?)...I've created a major faux pas in the Blogosphere!  I feel as if I may have passed gas in the big blog/journal living room, but I didn't mean to.

     I'm talking about the "Comment" section of BrainCheese.  Many of you leave kindly worded comments almost daily in the Comment Section of this journal, and I DO emphasize "kindly"(Thank you for not being harsh with me...I'm actually very sensitive. LOL).  What I didn't realize until recently is, in the world of the BLOGOSPHERE, I am supposed to KINDLY comment back to you in the comment section...who knew?!?

     I guess I should have figured out this little fact of blogging etiquette sooner.  I often go back and read comments in my favorite MS Bloggers' sites and I have noticed most of you comment BACK about my comments to you (all this commenting talk is giving me a headache...just needed to comment about that).  I just thought you were being "extra nice"...I just thought you were better people than I.  I've only recently learned you are NOT necessarily better "people" than I, but better INFORMED people!  (And we're not going to debate this fact...let me have my grandiose fantasies.)

     I also got an email from someone who said they couldn't leave a comment because they didn't have an AOL account...y'all KNOW how much I love AOL, so I got to checking into this issue in hopes I could once again "take down" the corporate monster (I'm just kidding, Mr. Turner...really!).

     What I have uncovered is you don't have to PAY to have an AOL account (or AOL Internet access either), but you DO have to create an AOL/AIM screen name.  So, what's an AIM screen name you might ask?

     An AIM screen name is a sign in name that lets you chat via the AIM chat's actually free.  It's just like having an MSN Messenger/Hotmail screen name or a Yahoo screen name, neither, of which, does one have to subscribe really is FREE (of course, "free" does not rule out free of corporate or government spying on what you do on the Internet).  I don't know for certain if you also have to download AOL's Instant Messenger software or not to create an AIM screen name...there's always a catch, and that may be the catch to this.

     Here's an excerpt from AOL about commenting in AOL journals:


Comments are only open to people with an AOL ScreenName.

AOL Journals does have commenting built into it. That’s the good news. Only people with an AOL ScreenName can write comments. That’s the bad news. Now, this doesn’t mean people have to have an AOL account to write comments. The ScreenName service will accept a free AIM account, if that’s what you have. I guess AOL figured these journals would be written by AOL members, for AOL members, so they didn’t need to worry about locking out people on the outside world. A little shortsighted, maybe, but I think we’re at the point where nearly everyone has at least an AIM account, so I don’t think it’s worth making a huge deal over. If you really have to speak your mind, you could always send a private e-mail.

It is a pain, though, if you’re not signed in to the ScreenName service. You can read the journal, and you can read existing comments. But if you try to write one, you’re taken to the ScreenName login page. You have to log in before you get to the comment editing screen. And when you do get to the screen, all you are given is a text box for your comment. There is no place to enter your name. It uses your screen name. There is no place to put in your web site or e-mail addresses. Instead it makes your screen name a link, using the aol:// protocol, which opens up the Buddy Info window for the comment author in the AOL client. Again, if you don’t have AOL, you’re out of luck here. But, if you don’t have AOL, you’re not important to AOL. So you get what you can.

     I think that was actually fairly said by one of the AOL techno-geeks...especially the last two lines!

     So, dear readers and voyeurs, please accept my most humble apologies for my blogging "fox paw"...I will, henceforth, try to do right by you and COMMENT back to you in the COMMENT section of BrainCheese.  And if you'd prefer a more intimate comment or response (ruling out any cybersex, of course), please feel free to email me at . (And for those of you who have my super secret Bat Cave email addy, carry on with it's least until I have to report you as SPAM!)

**Humbly bowing to the computer gods... 

This Is What My Life Has Boiled Down To...

     She's totally taken over...I can't even pee anymore without her jumping in my "draws" and attempting to find a hiding makes for completing the act of toileting quite a task!  Note the photo...I'm not even allowed to BLOG without her approval!

     I'm talking about the sweet little ball of fur I adopted last seems much longer than a month, but who's counting? LOL  She is controlling my life!  I thought cats were supposed to be independent...aloof, for that matter...and not care much what their human counterparts were doing?  But NO, not MY little ball of fur!

     OK, in Meha's defense, there ARE times when she's absolutely now, for instance.  She's curled up nicely on her "throne" beside the computer desk AND she appears to be sleeping.  Her throne is a padded bar stool with a tiny towel bed on top...she occasionally will sleep here and let me type every once in a while.

     Then there are the times when she likes to play...she SHOULD like to play...I think she owns every toy made by Petsmart for cats! LOL  She's quite a jumper, too.  So good, she can now leap from the floor to the countertops before the word "No!" even leaves my lips...she's very athletic.

     Well, I suppose I will try to sneak out of the computer room undetected and try to find a lunch snack for myself.  It's doubtful she'll remain asleep, though...she has a sixth sense for knowing when I'm in the room or not...

     Go ahead and say it...I know what you're thinking anyway.  I've become servant to a cat....

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thought You Should Know...

     Two posts in one day...I must either be sick or bored!  And if you've already read the previous post today and are back at "Cheese" AGAIN, you must be sick or bored as well! LOL

     I was earlier sick or bored and decided to plow through my innie and outtie email box (uh, should those terms be reserved strictly for the bellybutton?!) and stumbled across an email I wrote to Joyce Nelson, the President and CEO of The National MS Society, back in August.  I was commenting on the August/September issue of Inside MS (see photo's actually the previous month's publication).

     This magazine is the Society's very own publication and, on occasion, contains some food for thought.  I find some of the articles personally useful, some I can't relate to at all, and a few others a bit of a load of crap...I have those same responses to ANY mag however, so this should not be offensive to the NMSS!  I think I get the magazine mailed to me because I donate a few bucks to my local MS Society here in Washington each year...if it's not coming because of financial donations, then there must be a HORRIBLE breach in my privacy and security system!

     Anywhooo...the magazine focused on isolation and MS.  There were a bunch of common-sense suggestions for how to keep one's self out of feeling isolated because of MS.  There were a few other blahty blah articles as well.  This focus struck me as rather "odd" devote an entire issue on isolation and MS?  What WERE they thinking?

     After some careful consideration (and some not so careful as well), it dawned on me that there really ARE MSers out there who feel isolated because of their disease...who ARE isolated because of mobility issues, etc.  Not everyone with MS is like me (DOH!). 

     So, I decided to fire off an email to Dear Joyce in my most professional tone, and see what happened...I am happy to report, so far, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED. LOL  That's probably best anyway.  But, because I listed a few of my favorite MS bloggers in my email, I thought maybe I should fill y'all in on just what I said...just in case the "MS Police" were to confiscate your computers or something:

     I just finished reading your "On My Mind" commentary re: MS and Isolation in this month's issue.  I'm not usually one to comment on these things, but feel this is a worthy topic of discussion.
     I am a health care provider working in the psychiatric field, and was diagnosed with MS in 2003.  One would think having a bit of medical knowledge about Multiple Sclerosis would have sufficiently calmed my fears, but it didn't.  I was initially devastated and immobilized with "what if's".
     I began a personal campaign to study, accumulate, and research as much information as I could to quell my anxiety and fears, which led me to the NMSS website among others.  I started emailing and chatting with MSers around the globe, desperate to locate any resource of information I could that might give me some direction or comfort.  I soon discovered a circle of friends via chat rooms who would answer many of my questions based on their own, personal experiences with the disease process.  This not only decreased my anxiety, but also answered so many of the questions NOT covered in textbooks or discussed on websites.
     This spring, I began a personal on-line journal called "Brain Cheese", which I have used as a forum to provide information and entertainment about my own experiences with MS. I discovered there are many such journals and blogs out there written by other MSers.  I not only write entries almost daily in my blog, but also try to read the daily or weekly entries of other MS bloggers.  This "MS Cyber Subculture" offers a wealth of clinical, personal, and practical information that we all share across the Ethernet with one another.
     Often what is available in print to someone with MS are carefully worded and printed brochures designed to "normalize" the experience and the disease...cheerleader information, if you will.  This format can be very useful to someone newly diagnosed, but lacking in depth for those of us who have already accepted and/or lived with the disease for a while.  What I find most inspiring and helpful in the blogs/journals is a chance to read about the obscure or "unusual" symptoms, side effects, or experiences we have.  The blogs are a format of discovery to say, "Wow!  That's happened to you, too?"...even when the medical establishment has yet to document it.
     There is no need in this day and age for ANYONE diagnosed with MS to suffer from either ignorance about the disease or social isolation because of it...if you have access to the Internet and are still able to see, read, and comprehend.
     I've decided to include a list of the MS journals/blogs I have found entertaining and helpful and perhaps you may choose to peruse them or "spread the word" about these resources.  As always, NO ONE can replace the medical knowledge of a doctor or neurologist, but I think anyone who reads these sites already accepts this common disclaimer:
     There's a top 10 list in no particular order, but are all blogs/journals I try to read and participate with. 
     I hope you find this email useful in some way and, if not useful, at least "food for thought".  Thank you for your many contributions to the MS cause.  I have been quite pleased to read your written contributions in the magazine as well as learn of all the progressive accomplishments being made toward research, treatment, and a hopeful cure.
     And, of course, I signed my real name and location.
     It will be interesting to see what response if any I DO get from the NMSS.  Frankly, I don't think the organization is one that likes a lot of controversy...but then again, my email was FAR from actually reeked of "nice". LOL  A bit unlike me really...
     So, now you know, fellow MS've officially been "outted" more hiding in your MS closets, my friends...


Who Crapped In My Spinach???

     I told my mother when I was a youngster that those green vegetables might kill me...hmmpf...NOW I have proof.  Somebody crapped in my spinach!

     OK, that's not exactly accurate, but I DO like the way it sounds.  Nobody personally defecated in my spinach.  No one probably "let loose" in the spinach crops in California either.  But somehow an entire crop of spinach from farms in California has been recalled because of an outbreak of E. coli lurking on the green leaves.  And our government (AKA the FDA, who has done such a remarkable job keeping our food sources safe...yeah right!  Think Mad Cow Disease...think E. coli outbreak in the 90's at Jack In The Box...think...) has issued a recall of ALL the packaged spinach on the store shelves in just can't be too safe, ya know.

     I just tossed out my $5.00 bag of packaged wasn't from the Natural Selection Foods Processing Company, which is being blamed for the E. coli outbreak...or at least I don't "think" it was from there!  Here's a snippet of the national news just in case you might be reading this blog and munching down on a nice, healthy, green salad:

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 17) - Federal agents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention intervened this weekend to help investigate an E. coli outbreak tied to tainted spinach from California's Central Valley.

The greens, which appear to be grown by the world's largest producer of organic produce, have sickened 102 people, including the death of a 77-year-old woman, according to health officials.

CDC officials said Sunday they've started an Atlanta-based emergency operations center to help state health agencies with E. coli testing. Epidemiologists are helping test spinach samples and stool samples of those who have been infected, center spokeswoman Lola Russell said.

The center is helping when state health agencies can't perform the tests or when a second opinion is needed, Russell said.

E. coli cases linked to tainted spinach have been reported in 19 states, with a majority of cases in Wisconsin.

Other states reporting cases were California, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming, according to the CDC.

Connecticut health officials have reported two cases of E. coli in the state, with one person having recovered and another continuing to recover.

A spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Public Health, has said the two cases match the strain of E. coli found in other parts of the country, but he wasn't sure whether they are associated with the outbreak. State officials are investigating.

The Food and Drug Administration continued to warn consumers not to eat fresh spinach or fresh spinach-containing products until further notice.

Natural Selection Foods LLC recalled its packaged spinach throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico as a precaution after federal health officials said some of those hospitalized reported eating brands of prepackaged spinach distributed by the company.

However, some restaurants and retailers may be taking spinach out of bags before selling it, so consumers shouldn't buy it at all, the FDA said.

Boiling contaminated spinach can kill the bacteria but washing won't eliminate it, the CDC warned.

"We're still in the process of alerting people of the fact that they need to check the refrigerator," Russell said.

The spinach could have been contaminated in the field or during processing. About 74 percent of the fresh market spinach grown in the U.S. comes from California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

There have been previous bacterial contamination outbreaks linked to spinach and lettuce grown in the state.

Federal officials stressed that the bacteria had not been isolated in products sold by Natural Selection Foods, based in San Juan Bautista, Calif., and known for Earthbound Farm and other brands. As the investigation continues, other brands may be implicated, officials said.

Natural Selection officials could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.

The company was founded in 1984 by Drew and Myra Goodman. Within two years, Earthbound Farm began shipping pre-washed, packaged salad fixings, and the company's "spring mix" became a mainstay of restaurants and supermarkets.

      So much for healthy eating, eh?  I have a friend who would argue the fact "if the vegetable came in a package, it's not healthy".  She fully believes all of our foods should come "al naturel"...straight from the ground, tree, or hoof with no packaging needed... the less the food is handled by human hands before it hits the mouth, the better.

     I'd have to say in this case, she may be looks like someone may not have washed their hands while on their potty break at the processing plant!!!

     (**Just to be certain you're not believing this theory, the E. Coli outbreak is more likely due to a tainted water or chemical source...perhaps even soiled machinery...but NOT from an uncouth wiper**) 

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It's In The Air...

     It's the one season that holds many sensory delights for me...I can smell it in the air, see the changing of leaf colors, feel the briskness of the wind, and hear the football games at the nearby high school on Friday nights.  It's fall...or at least it almost is.

     I once had one of those fancy schmancy color analysis done...back in the days when I actually CARED what I looked like and even wore make up!  I was told I was an "autumn"...I suppose there may be some truth to that.  I DO like earth tones and fall IS my favorite season.

     Fall always makes me think of cooking and pumpkin pie...or at least someone ELSES cooking and pumpkin pie!  It's hot tea time and hot's raking leaves and cutting back dying flowers.  It's slowing down in school crossings and taking that last trip to the shore, tightly wrapped in a lined windbreaker.  Fall is reflection time and lighting more's harvest time and shorter days.

     For those of you who cling to summer time, I feel your pain.  LOL  Fall is just around the corner,'s just in the air...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Quotable Quotes Of The Week...

     My, what a week it has been!  There seems to have been so much happening around me...I'm not even sure I took it all in.

     Since there seems to be too many individual stories to tell about my week, I thought I'd just summarize with a few "quotable quotes" and let y'all wonder where the quotes came from and determine for yourselves just how my week has gone:


  "So, are you up for going to the casino on Sunday?"

     "Honey, I don't think black people turn blue."

     "We're working on it."

     "Is anyone available?"

     "The subject then offered what appeared to be human feces to the witness."

     "George (Bush senior) can't help it that he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

     "We will continue to fight this War On Terror."

     "Yes, it's been five years now.  But every day is 9/11 to me."

     "Was she naked?"

     "Well, if you don't want to take the anti-cholinergics, your other option is life style changes."

     "No, I don't hear voices, but I do talk to myself too much."

     "I got a kick out of telling my 70 year old mother that my pediatrician was gay."

     "Where's my C.O.L.A.?? (Cost of living adjustment)"

     "I'm too f%&#ing tired to be profound!"

     "He's 95 years old...he has a RIGHT to be depressed and want to die."

    "Chocolate will DEFINITELY help."

     "I didn't tell you where I was going because I knew you wouldn't approve."

     "Yes, she was breathing my air once again and I was very annoyed inside!!!"

     "Bush has just broke into the tv with a news conference so I will scrub the toilet and wash the cat food bowls..."

     "How was the staff meeting, should I ask? Do I care?"

     "Does anybody know what time it is?  Ah, hell...never mind."

     "I'm lovin' you bald."


     "Do you think anyone will notice if I'm not there?"

     "I then noticed her outside the window without any pants on. (was she completely naked?)  No, she had a necklace on I think."

     Well, I guess that pretty much sums it up...hope you are enjoying your weekend!  I have finally made it to my 6 day furlough and will now move myself to the couch to watch cartoons and perhaps drool for several hours...


Friday, September 15, 2006

In Memory Of Ann Richards...

     The state of Texas has lost one of it's greatest...former Texas Governor, Ann Richards, passed away on Wednesday after battling a six month fight with esophageal cancer.

     I was in my mid 20's when Ann Richards blazed her trail into the governor's office in 1990.  She was a one-of-a-kind person and a one-of-a-kind governor.  She was the FIRST female governor in Texas...decked out in that big, grey Texas hair, with a sweet Texas drawl that could melt butter...she rocked the world of politics and set the stage for the advancement of minorities and women in a state dripping in good ol' boy politics.

     Ann Richards wasn't afraid to take on the tough battles...she had a way of using words and wit that won over the hearts of many of her constituents and stopped her foes in their tracks.  She was an alcoholic...not proud of the fact, but peaceful in her own recovery...and rode a Harley motorcycle just "because she could".  She was hope for women everywhere...she was an inspiration to THIS young Texan at the time I lived in Houston.

     Hats off to you, Ann Richards!  You were one of the great ones in your short 73 year walk on this earth...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sometimes Doing The "Right" Thing Is The Hardest Thing To Do...

     I returned to see the Gut Doctor yesterday...thousands of dollars of tests revealed I have that age old Irritable Bowel Disease and nothing more.  I could have told him I was irritable without all the tests. LOL

     We discussed treatment options, which mostly included medications I'm not willing to take at this just seems dangerous to throw another pill into the cesspool of chemicals already floating around in my system.  The "other" treatment option is to clean up my act...a much easier thing said than done.

     It always seems the hardest hurdles for me to jump in my life tend to be the ones that appear on the surface, the easiest.  "Cleaning up my act" would consist of better living...of eating a more proper diet, cutting out caffeine, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, losing some weight, and decreasing my stress.  All of these things come in NON-PILL form and cost me nothing financially.  All of these things require little more from me than a change in mindset.  So why are they the hardest things to do?

     I'd like to be able to blame my "Inertia Interuptus" on Multiple Sclerosis...after all, most of my physicians use my MS as a catch-all for every other symptom.  But I think I suffered from "II" even BEFORE I was diagnosed with MS...I think "II" has been in my life working behind the scenes for a looong time!

     For someone who spends her work hours committing the mentally ill, I have realized I am truly a "commitaphobe" in my own life.  I don't like to commit to anything...I don't like change...I prefer to run my race with no obstacles.

     Unfortunately, the track of my life has become lined with multiple hurdles and it's getting harder and harder to move in the direction of the finishline without attempting to leap some of the bars in front of me.  And I'm too far down the track to even think of turning around...I've halfway begun the race and I'm halfway finished.

     As a behaviorist, I DO believe in the Amoeba theory...organisms will attempt to escape painful stimulus.  But just like the Amoeba, they may not move UNTIL there is a painful stimulus...I've essentially become an amoeba and my tolerance to what I perceive as pain has increased dramatically!

     I've lived with the symptoms of IBS for several years now...I've grown accustomed to my crazy bowel problems...I've become desensitized to the issue...the "pain" of the situation just isn't great enough to warrant movement away from it.  What an unfortunate place to find myself, but not uncomfortable (painful) enough to cause me to want to move away from the problem.  I suffer from a severe case of Inertia Interuptus.

     I don't have a lot of well thought out suggestions for overcoming II...if I did, I'd most likely be DOING the suggestions myself.  But if you also suffer from II (which by the way, IS a made up diagnosis!), perhaps you might have some words of wisdom for the comment section of this blog that might support those of us with this debilitating disease...that is, if the II suffers can bring themselves to reading it...


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Work Is Really Interfering With My Life...

     I'm not even sure I'd go (to work, that is), except I need the money...ah...and health insurance, and life insurance, and social contacts, and personal satisfactions, and...

     I'm in my unusually LONG work week...a six day stretch right before my 6 day furlough (or "furlow", as I usually like to call it because that spelling conjures up images of letting my hair hang down!).  And because I work anywhere from a 9-10 hour day, THIS week makes for a lot of hours spent at my "home away from home" office space.

     I DO love my job...don't get me wrong.  But lately my Multiple Sclerosis fatigue factor has been hanging on me like a pair of lead weights around my ankles.  This fatigue and my tough schedule just don't mix well.  I find myself having to CHOOSE between having the energy to make it through my work hours or taking care of other necessities at home...and, it's been my HOME and personal care that usually come second in the line up of choices.

     This week, I also have a 3 hour MORNING staff meeting thrown into the mix (and y'all know how I detest morning time!).  I have considered going to my big boss and telling her I simply can't make it to the meeting...I don't have enough spare energy to attend.  But I fear making this type of "accommodation" request might begin a long series of questions and responses I am simply not ready to venture into.  I fear I might be forced to provide a doctor's note, a certification of disability, etc.  I'm just not ready yet to have this type of discussion because I don't FEEL disabled!

     Those of us with MS, and still dipping our toes in the employment pool, face some challenging tasks and decisions.  Because MS is such a "hidden" disorder, it is often difficult to make a case for accommodation or to even ACCEPT we might need one.  It's this acceptance part I find the most challenging personally.  I am not one to give in or to give up easily...I am also not one who likes to appear "weak" or "vulnerable" in any way.

     But, I feel my body giving me signals lately it just doesn't want to cooperate with the demands I place upon it...gone are the days of functioning on 3 hours of sleep, fast food for meals, lack of exercise because there's no time, and pushing myself to the point of physical exhaustion.  My body feels as if it is organizing to go on "strike" and, if I don't present a workable contract to the negotiation table soon, it will take it's picket signs and mind will be left scrambling to try and figure out how to make everything work.  And since I can't hire a "scab" to cross that picket line, I suppose I best start listening to the body!

     I've not talked about MS so much the past few days in blog, but it is ALWAYS reminding me it is remains as the union organizer for my body, calling the shots behind the scenes and always trying to get something better for itself.  MS wants a better contract, it wants a better pay off, it wants better hours and better working conditions, and it's constantly threatening to take my body on strike.

     Looks like it may be time to call in the "Federal Mediators"...I'm just not able to work out much of a deal with MS right now and we're both quite frustrated with the negotiation process...

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remembering Her On Her Birthday...

     Today would be my mother's 74th birthday...I don't think she would have liked having her birthday tied to what most Americans now call, "9/11".

     So, instead of blogging about our country today, I am choosing to remember my mother's birthday, her life, and her death.  The following is a letter I wrote on behalf of my sister and me for the local, hometown paper where my mother lived for over 40 years.  It was published alongside her obituary in February, 1997:

     Dear Mother,

     This week has been such a difficult one for your daughters.  It has been filled with tremendous sadness surrounding the suddenness of your death, mixed with the celebration of the new life of your grandson, Matthew.  There simply are no words to describe the intensity of our varying emotions.

     As your daughters, we have loved you through many of your life experiences and we continue to love you in this final transition.

     We remember our childhoods with you, with great fondness.  You were a warm-hearted mother who always put your family first on your many lists.  You instilled in us important values about life and giving to others.  We learned these values, not so much by your spoken words, but through your actions.

     There was never a time that our friends were unwelcome in your home--no matter how many guests arrived with us.  You always found abundance in your kitchen and we remember the joy you found in cooking for your family and for others in the community.  It is with bitter-sweet sadness that we will remember you cooking breakfast for us the morning you died.

     You were always a very private woman, who said little, but felt much.  At times you seemed driven to do the absolute best that you could, and the products of you labors reflected this.  You smiled often and giggled a sweet  laugh whenever you felt like it.  You taught us to see the humor in even the most difficult times.  Because of this, we know that you would want us to celebrate your life--to cry, to laugh, to remember you, and to let you go.

     As your daughters, we are comforted and blessed to have had this time with you.  And now, we humbly send you back from where you came, knowing that you will never be far away from our hearts.

     Peace to you, mother.


     Your daughters

     Happy birthday, mom...wherever you are...


Sunday, September 10, 2006


     I remember exactly where I was the morning of September 11, 2001.  I was asleep in bed when my telephone rang, stirring me from a pleasant early morning slumber.


     “I’m glad I finally got through to you.  We’re OK,” the voice on the phone line said.  It was a familiar voice with an unfamiliar tone.


     My most intelligent reply was, “Huh?”


     “They don’t know for sure where the other plane is right now, but they don’t think it’s heading to California.  So we’re going on toward the college.  I thought you’d want to know we’re safe.”  This was the voice of my partner of several years, calling from a college scouting road trip with the grand daughter in central California .


     “What are you talking about?” I responded rather indignantly, because I despised being awakened by a phone.


    “Don’t you have the TV on?” the now impatient and anxious voice replied.  “We’re under attack.  Someone just flew two planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York and a third plane is missing in the air.”


     I proceeded to spend the entire day with my eyes transfixed to the television set, staring in horror as one TV station after another replayed video footage of planes exploding and people running and stumbling in shock on the streets of New York City and in and around the Pentagon.  The entire country stood in painful disbelief that such an atrocity could happen on our democratic soil.  Businesses closed, airports shut down, and the normal bustle of the cities was silenced, as if ghost towns had replaced once vibrant areas of commerce.  Only those of us who worked in “essential services” i.e., hospitals, firemen, policemen, etc., reported for duty as usual.  But nothing would ever be “as usual” again in America.  We no longer felt “safe”.




     On the 5th anniversary of what will forever be known by the numbers 9/11, I find it only fitting to take pause and remember what happened on that horrific, September day.  I take pause to remember THIS day as I would any other traumatic or tragic anniversary.  I pause just as I do every December 14th (the day my sister was killed in an auto accident), or February 11th (the day of my mother’s sudden death), and so on.  I pause, not only to pay tribute to the many lives lost that day, but also to be thankful for the wonderful gifts that still remain in my life…gifts that feel even more precious to me since September 11, 2001.


     I also can’t help but ponder in my “pause” how or why such events happen in this world and I am truly saddened by the answers I see around me.  I will not write today in a manner that might seem callous to the deceased and victims of September 11, 2001, but rather speak my thoughts openly about the living…it is, after all, the LIVING who must learn from our mistakes.


     I have had to turn my television off this weekend because my stomach can no longer contain the bile that rises in my throat every time I hear, “The War On Terror” in relation to the 9/11 attacks.  This sentence and the rhetoric that accompanies it not only saddens me deeply, but also causes a shiver to run violently up my spine.  And this sentence is being repeated over and over and over again as the United States remembers the attack on our great nation five year’s ago.


     “The War On Terror”…I resort once again to consult with dear Merriam Webster.  This wonderful dictionary defines WAR as: (1) : a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations (2) : a period of such armed conflict (3): the art or science of warfare 2 a : a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism b : a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.


     Furthermore, Merriam Webster defines TERROR as:  1 : a state of intense fear
2 a : one that inspires fear b : a frightening aspect <the terrors of invasion> c : a cause of anxiety d : an appalling person or thing 3 : violence (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands <insurrection and revolutionary terror>


     OK, someone may want to call Homeland Security now before I go any further, because I’m certain I am about to piss somebody off somewhere!  If you look quite literally and closely at the words “war” and “terror” and combine the definitions of the words in a working sentence, it would go something like this:  “Declared, hostile and conflicting antagonism ON a state of intense fear.”  In even simplier terms, one could say “we” are fighting hostily against our own fears…we are, in essence, battling against a FEELING!!!


     A wise world leader once said (and that leader would be one of our very own presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt), “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”  My, but he had wisdom and wasn’t afraid to show it!  President Roosevelt didn’t have any degrees in psychology, but even he knew there was no army large enough or powerful enough to win a war on fear…even he knew there were no bombs or rockets large enough that could anhilate this feeling.


     I am here to tell you…and let me clear my throat and speak loudly…NO ONE WILL EVER WIN A WAR AGAINST TERRORISM…no matter how many bodies are bloodied, tortured, burned, or buried.  Because terrorism is a feeling, not something material or tangiable and feelings cannot be destroyed.  Hearts can be changed, feelings altered, and behaviors modified, but treating a feeling as if it is a noun is just plain crazy.


     Back in the days when land was plentiful and still under discovery, people fought over physical boundaries and ownership.  This practice still goes on in the United States, except we like to call it “Gang Warfare” now.  We have always fought over “stuff”…land, material possessions, boundaries, oil, etc.  World War II was one of the first wars fought over “ideals”…the United States engaged in this war to assist in bullying a bully who was killing innocent Jews because of a twisted “ideal”.  We were no longer fighting for “stuff” but rather had shifted to fighting over “idealogies”.  That’s not to say there were not other wars preceding WWII that also contained conflicts of idealogy, but WWII solidified the United States to fight for a “cause”.  There WERE material possessions fought over in WWII, however…these were the LIVES of thousands of believers of the Jewish faith…their literal bodies.


     A war can only be “won” when one side has something to lose and the other has something to gain.  The loss can be material, bodily, or idealistic…same goes for the gain.  The trouble I have with the rhetoric on this so called “War On Terror” is, it appears the United States and it’s people are the only side that has something to “lose”.  We are afraid to lose our possessions, our freedoms, our ideologies, and our lives.  We present ourselves as a country that has everything to lose and only a false sense of security to gain.


     Suicide bombers, no matter what their religion or faith (as I will not focus on ANY religion here), approach their mission with everything to gain.  In the scheme of things or the big picture, their loss of life is actually perceived as a mighty gain.  They BELIEVE that in givingup their physical life, the afterlife rewards will be much greater.  This ideology is engrained.  They override the reflexive fear of death with the power of their mind…with the strength of their conviction.  They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


     Now, please do not misinterpret me here.  I am in NO WAY condoning the hostile act of suicide or mass murder via suicide.  I am in NO WAY condoning ANY hostile act against human life (or any other form of life, for that matter).  I am simply trying to provide example of how and why we can never win a “War On Terror” by fighting a physical war.  We can’t irradicate terror or the feeling of terror by taking possessions or eliminating the lives of others.


     Ah, to live in Utopia.  Wouldn’t it be just peachy if we could “all just get along”?  I doubt Rodney King knew how famous that sentence would become when he spoke out during the riots in Los Angeles…but it is simple truth and simple wisdom.  We DO need to all just get along.  So how do “we” do this?

     “We” do this by first becoming individuals and THEN becoming part of the mass collective.  “We” start with ourselves and work outward.  “We” start with confronting our own, individual fears and maybe, just maybe, believing that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”We” start believing again in our basic human values.  “We” start replacing our fear with faith (and I ain’t talkin’ religion here, either).  “We” begin to accept our shortcomings and our mistakes, and work towards greater acceptance of ourselves.  “We” strive to be a better person, always open to learning and experience.  And then “we” join the mass collective and bring all of these things into the group, accepting and growing in our differences and our similarities.  “We”, as a nation, stop acting like angry, righteous children and stop bullying the kids who look different than us..."we" stop pushing them down on the play ground and taking their candy.


     Maybe there are “bad seeds” born into this world that no amount of tolerance, education, or acceptance can cure.  It’s really hard for me to “go there” as a basic believer of behaviorist theory.  I have worked with children and adolescents (and some adolescent adults, too!) enough over the past 20 years to know reshaping takes a tremendous amount of patience and time…relearning doesn’t occur overnight…restructuring the human psyche is a tedious process.  Such is the way of changing our world, too.


     My mother used to respond to her children’s verbal bickering or fighting with this sentence:  “If you kids want to fight, go to the basement.”  I didn’t know how wise she was at the time when she would make this statement, but I smile knowingly now.  We knew right away what she meant when she would make this statement and we WOULD at least stop the outward verbal sparing.  You see….we didn’t HAVE a basement in our house.


     So, I leave YOU with this final thought about the “War On Terror”…If you kids want to fight, go to the basement.  My mother should have ran for president of the United States...