frontpage stats
Samsung DVD Burner

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

7 hours and counting

I have now been noting in my blog for several weeks my own mental preparations for the new year. Sadly, just because we want things to be one way or another, they rarely are. It is much easier to decide how things should be than to make them so. I dreamed that by today I would magically find happiness and learn to leave my stress behind. My reality is much different.

Try as I might, I can't seem to just settle down and enjoy myself. I think I am being tortured by my own brain and I don't mean the one suffering from MS. Just when I have resolved to make changes in my thoughts, I feel myself giving in to the most destructive ones. It seems I feel best late in the day. Getting started is the hardest and leaving things undone is a killer for my peace of mind. Even when I am pulled by the desire to relax, I just can't seem to. Even my breathing is shallower than it should be.

I have been looking through my "toolkit" (the place I keep reminders of what makes me happy and sane) and the tools still look good. I am just having trouble using them. My husband says that 2009 can't possibly be worse than 2008 so things are looking up. I want him to be right. I seem to have lost perspective on most things and I can come up with a ton of worse scenarios for 2009. Where did I go from the glass half full to seeing it nearly empty?

I am going out with friends for New Year's Eve. I should be excited. The problem is I don't seem to get excited about anything anymore. I am not excited about the coming year either but there is still a part of me that hopes it will bring good things. I will awake tomorrow with a new, clean slate. What will I make of it? Will all my effort eventually pay off and I'll find some new joy? I still think that we make things what they are with our outlook. How can I change my outlook? I have seven hours and I want to bring in the new year with hope and enthusiasm.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Toward a new year's resolution

New Year's resolutions can be so cliched. We promise ourselves to committ to something or to give something up. Maybe we start out the year with a bang but often our resolutions fall by the wayside. Some people might say, "Why make a resolution at all?" I have said that many times myself and yet this year it is a primary drive for me. While I am determined to focus on what's working in my life, it is still abundantly clear that such a focus is not enough to make my life feel good to me. I am craving something more.

I have thought long and hard about what changes I would like to make in myself in the coming year. There are a few but I feel that if I really work hard on just one or two that many of the others may fall into place. One thing that MS has really shown me is that each day is a chance to reinvent oneself. Sometimes this is easier said than done and so I like the idea of looking toward the new year as a clean slate where I can still change my life for the better.

This all leads to my actual resolution. My resolution is to work hard to not allow little things to make me so anxious and overwhelmed. In order to achieve this difficult goal, there are a few things I need to do. I need to stop making mountains out of mole hills. I must accept and enjoy my present because I have no real idea about what I want from the future. There are some things I must do even when I don't feel great or feel apathetic because in the long run, I will beat myself up otherwise. I need to second guess myself and my choices less. I need to find ways to manage little tasks and not let them make me panicky and stressed. I must keep breathing because lately I get myself so spun around that I cannot even achieve this simple yet essential thing.

For months I have been asking myself, what I want but I still don't know. It is alien for me to not have loftier goals and bigger dreams but I do not. Perhaps this is ok or perhaps it is a symptom of my poor stress-management. While it does feel like the worst of my depression is behind me, it just is not gone yet. I can't lie to myself and say I am happy when I am not. I find moments of happiness and small things I enjoy but nothing lasting. I think I find my best times when I am completely present, unconcerned with what is next and I am feeling relaxed. I need to find ways to expand upon this.

I am trying to think of things that I love outside just my husband and my dog. I know I love reading, writing and creating things. I really have enjoyed the job of refashionista but lately I have let it fall by the wayside. I used to really enjoy going shopping and/or putting myself together to look nice but lately it just overwhelms me and I also often feel like I can't find a way to look good although my body has never looked better. I love doing and teaching yoga and so I know that I need to reprioritize it even though there can be an enormous time committment. I like to spend time with friends and family when I don't feel like it's keeping me from taking care of things I have to do. Accomplishing things makes me feel good too. Doing things well also gives me some fulfillment. I look at what I have listed and wonder if it is enough or if I need to find something more. I think that these things will hold me for the short term as I work on my resolution but in the long term, I will need to find other things to drive and entertain me. I will continue to seek answers within myself in the coming year even as I work toward my resolution.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reflecting on the Light

So dark so long,
Buried beneath the drifts--
Less light every day
Until one could almost suffocate in this frigid tundra.

Yet for weeks I have been seeking
I'm seeking the elusive light.
I see signs of my search everywhere
One commonality to the season,
Always the same
Around the world
Everyone yearns for the light in the darkness and cold.

In the yoga classes I taught last week I reflected every day with my students upon "light." The phrase we always end our classes with is "Namaste" which is often translated as something like, "The light in me acknowledges the light in you." There is this notion in yoga that there is a light shining within each of us. At times I can feel my light shining brightly but at others it seems weak and frozen. Cultures around the world seem to celebrate light this time of year. The solstice marks our shortest day and then from that moment on, we see a little more light every day. I am looking for this source of light within me as the new year approaches and I try to sort out my resolves for the new year. My despair waxes and wanes but I am determined to use the tools at my disposal to shake it off. Sometimes this seems to be a minute-by-minute excercise. Maybe it is harmful to constantly ask oneself, "Am I happy?" Often, I am not but I would settle for abiding content without anxiety. Perhaps that is a light unto itself.

One of my favorite sanskrit songs is about seeking light and a firmer reality. This song inspires me.

"Take us from the unreal to the real
From darkness into light
From death to immortality
Shanti (peace) Shanti (peace)."

I pray now that I find the light within myself as I move toward the new year and I wish the same to my readers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feeling like a big *@&!

I hate MS! I don't so much hate it for the physical inconveniences. I hate it for the havoc I have allowed it to wreak on my life and on my mind. I hate it for letting me be comfortable with allowing myself to flake out on people. I hate it for giving me an excuse to be less than everything I can and should be. I hate it for robbing me of the care-free content I felt before. More than MS, I despise myself for allowing myself to become this vampire I am.

I am a vampire. I suck from others and offer nothing in return. I have allowed myself to be a leach, rather than a contributor. At times I am surprised that I have not already driven most of my friends and family away.

Why this storm of self-loathing? I have spent the last few days noticing that something really isn't working and asking myself what I will change in the new year. Several ideas have popped into my head but when I think of executing my ideas, I find myself filled with an ardent desire to just sleep for eternity. In the meantime, as I give in to these urges, I am hurting others. My inclination is always to opt out of everything I don't absolutely have to do if I feel at all ill.

A few weeks ago my mother was in town and I hardly saw her because I allowed myself to succumb to nausea and stay in bed. Lately, confronted with any challenge I choose to stay in bed. I am a basket case. I can't seem to wrap myself around anything and the littlest things alarm and overwhelm me. I feel guilt for not going out. I feel guilty for allowing my husband to take care of so many things. I feel guilty for not showing my husband more often just how much I love him. I feel like a selfish beast. I am not there for my friends the way I should be. Most of the goodness has gone out of life for me and yet I have a good life and I can see the things I should be grateful for.

Somehow I don't think that me wishing I could change is going to be enough to make my new year a better one. I think I am going to have to take many active steps to improve things and yet I find myself paralyzed and terrorized where before I felt strong and determined. Now I must find a way to do a better job at life. I must find a way to be a better friend. I must find a way back toward hopefulness and a desire to do more than just exist through this long life. I don't usually pray but now I am praying for the strength to be more like the woman I used to be.

Friday, December 19, 2008


There are only about six more hours until I officially start my vacation. It can't possibly start soon enough. I'm really feeling like a break and a mental reset is in order. I want to have the time and energy to think about my hopes, plans and dreams for the new year. I am looking forward with anticipation to a fresh start.

Tomorrow my husband and I will be heading out to Minneapolis to visit his mother and grandmother for christmas. We are driving so I'm hoping for some good, or at least decent, weather. Christmas is a big thing for his mom so it should be a fun time. We are looking forward to visiting with some old friends as well. I'll be sure to post a blog or two once I get there. I hope everyone else has a great holiday too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not bad for a Monday :)

Lately I have been a bit stressed and overwhelmed but today I am feeling better again. At the moment, I am not worried about anything and I'm not dreading tomorrow. It is a nice change of pace.

The weekend also had its bright spots. On Friday I went to work but that night I went out to dinner for my birthday with my husband and our best friends. We had Ethiopian food and it was really fun. Then they came over for a while. My best friend bought us a new Britta pitcher with a filter. I was pretty stoked on that. She also got me some beautiful earrings. My husband also got me some nice gifts. He got me a cool necklace, an awesome t-shirt and the boots I have been coveting. I had no expectations in regards to gifts or my birthday but I ended up enjoying the attention.

There was more too... I got some great warm up pants and a very sweet card from my mom. My brother brought me a lantern from Laos and an ornamental tobacco pipe. Then, yesterday, to my surprise, we had a family party with several celebrations and one of them honored my birthday so I even got a carrot cake. I know that you're not suppossed to share your wish but I wished that I might continue to find ways to remember all the things that I have and not the things that are not working. Today I remember again so maybe my wish will continue to flower.

My niece had her Bat Mitzvah this weekend. She turns thirteen today. The ceremony was touching and beautiful. I cried at least three times. When I read my section of Torah translation, my little sister and I actually laughed out loud. Jacob had eleven sons. That was somehow funny. My niece did an amazing job with her Hebrew singing and reading. It was obvious how hard she worked. At the end of the whole thing she had to make a presentation about what her Torah passage meant. She chose to write a poem. I thought I could write but... Her interpretation and her poem where almost surreal in their insights. I often see a lot of myself in her. We are certainly different but there is much about the way she thinks about the world and writes that I can really understand. She makes me proud to be her aunt.

I was sick yesterday but today I feel much better. I thought about calling in and didn't. I'm glad I went to work. It was a pretty good day and going in, despite adversity, made me feel good about myself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where's the Refashionista?

I am neither here nor there, I'm just in an unexpected slouch. My motivation to do anything that absolutely doesn't need doing lately is zilch. I take care of work. I take care of my house and my chores and then I spend a lot of time laying or sitting and doing nothing hoping my attitude will improve. I am sorry to be such a lame blogger. I have little to post and little to comment on. Sorry if I have not been by your blogs lately. I imagine my next vacation will return a little of my vigor.

My birthday is Friday and I still don't even know what I want to do. I'm not excited at all for some reason. Actually, I'm excited about next to nothing lately but I hope the holidays will change that. My niece has her Bat Mitzvah this weekend and my mom and brother are coming to town for a few days. Perhaps their visit will light a fire under my butt.

That's all I've got...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Things are different

Coming off the results of my latest MRI I should be ecstatic and yet something is troubling me. I still don't feel like I did pre-MS. Yes, my health is less predictable and I tire easily. Yes, I get more stressed and anxious than I used to. Yes, my vision isn't what it used to be but that's not the real issue.

Last night I was at a surprise 30th birthday for a friend and I was hanging out with the birthday girl and some of her friends. Somehow they got to talking about how they still didn't feel grown up despite their age and in that moment, I realized that I do feel grown up. I don't just feel grown up, I feel old.

This realization was another big reality check. Right before I was diagnosed my husband and I went to Vegas to party. At that time it was fun to know that I looked great, I could stay up most of the night and I had few responsibilities in the world. We had long resolved not to have kids, primarily because we didn't want to have all that responsibility and we didn't ever want to grow up.

I know now where my thinking changed. Until early last year I felt invulnerable. I was fit, healthy and young-looking for my age. I imagine it is common to believe that you won't lose your health or suffer any major life-changes outside your control. That is exactly how I viewed things. When I learned that I had MS, I couldn't even believe it. Even now it's hard to believe that I'll ever get really ill or have to quit working (maybe I won't). On the other hand, I also know now what it is to feel vulnerable. I no longer assume if I feel sick that I'll just get better. I also no longer have the confidence that I used to. I don't dream or look ahead much anymore. I know that this will need to change so I can be truly happy but one MRI has not done the trick. I don't think I can go back but I need to find ways to move forward to.

If someone were to ask me what the hardest part about having MS is I think I would tell them that it is the mental and life adjustments that are the most taxing part, not the physical pain. This is probably a little different for everyone but for me the daily battle with my own mind is really the hardest part.

Friday, December 5, 2008

MRI Results

Well the results are in and they are very positive. I have no new lesions! I was also delighted to learn that my existing lesions have actually grown a bit smaller since my last MRI. I actually did not know this was possible. Can they disappear too? I didn't think they could but someone on another blog mentioned that some of their's have. Has this happened to anyone else?

I have not been feeling all that great the last two weeks or so, first headachy, achy and a little nauseaous last week, then this week a cold but the MRI results really lit a fire under me. I even stayed late at work so I wouldn't have to bring stuff home. Anyway... something I'm doing must be working so I'll stay mellow, watch my diet and stick with the yoga and hope that the future comes in a promising fashion.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


On Monday I went for my third MRI in six months so now I consider myself an "expert" (LOL). Seriously though, this time in the tube felt old hat. I really just chilled, spaced out and planned this post. It occured to me that someone who has never had an MRI might be interested in reading a little about what my MRI experience has been like so here it is in brief.

The first time I ever had an MRI it was on my brain. I got it because a few weeks previously I had an irregular CT after the start of a bout of horrible vertigo. At the time I went for my first MRI I was so dizzy and weak that my husband had to bring me in with a wheelchair. I was wearing a transdermal, anti-nausea patch at the time to keep me from puking but when I got there the technician said I had to take it off because it had metal on the inside and you can't wear metal into the MRI machine. I also had to remove my tongue ring which had been in for over twelve years. I let it close at that point but I was much more disturbed about the prospect of having my head slid into a plastic sheath and my body shoved into a narrow tube when I did not have the patch to rely on to control my nausea.

My husband helped me into a gown and wheeled me close to the room for my MRI. I felt sick and scared. The technician took me in and was very reassuring. They gave me earplugs (because the machine is very loud), strapped in my head and slid some sort of plastic contraption with holes in it over my head. They also gave me a "panic button" to hold in case I got sick, scared or claustrophobic. When I looked up, I could see the technician in the next room revealed in a little mirror above my head. I was still sort of scared. The tube was tight and the helmet was tighter. I told myself to take deep breaths. I started singing in my head. Then I started singing out loud. The machine rattled and I sang for several minutes. Suddenly the technician's voice blared into the room. "You can't sing, you're moving. You have to lay still. We are going to redo this test. If we can't get a clear picture, we will have to reschedule." I was sobered by that. Who knew you had to be so still? I got through it all in about twice the normal time but I was ok.

My second MRI was of my cervical spine. I felt better and was much less nervous. This time I noticed things. It is hard to be perfectly still in the tube. They actually run a series of tests while you are in there. The pallet you lay on moves a little before each new test. Each test feels and sounds a little bit differently. If you breath deeply it goes more smoothly. It is actually not frightening at all unless you are claustrophobic...

My MRI the other day was the smoothest. I knew what to expect. I took a quarter Klonopin to help me remain calm and still. While I lay in the tube I just practiced breathing and meditating. It was easy to stay still. The whole thing went quickly and the experience was restful. All that's left now is the results and I don't expect those quickly. I am unafraid of the outcome. I already know what to look for and I realize this is not something I can control.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Interview on Health Central

Hello all. I am honored to be this month's interview on Merelyme's (Merelyme)Health Central Page. Click on here to read the whole thing and be sure to check out Merelyme's Blog and other work as well.
Happy reading,