Archive for October, 2011

23

Authentic Happiness

Swimming Pool Steps

I’ve returned to aquatic therapy at a local hospital. I must say I always leave there feeling good, yet a little out of place maybe? For example, I’m probably the youngest person in the group, yet one of the most disabled too. This gets me a little down. Again, only my husband experiences my misplaced frustration.

“Will you please just wheel me over there, please?” I snarled.

Today, instead of using the chair lift, I insisted on being wheeled closer to the steps leading directly into the pool. This would allow me to walk directly into the pool. It’s important to note that I can’t really walk that well. Thus, the chair lift is safer. I know this. But sometimes I just want to do what I want to do. He pushed me to the steps. Helped me up, then proceeded to leave the area. He normally leaves, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he was a little aggravated.

Anyway, the chair lift gently and safely lowers me in the water. It’s not bad, but boy did it feel good inching down those steps! Now, I was holding the rail for dear life, but the class even cheered me on! It was a little victory. Today I’m going to choose to focus on that.

Being in the pool gives me authentic happiness.

I’ve blogged about my pool therapy more than once. Apparently, I must really like the water! Or maybe it gives me some sort of satisfaction or joy perhaps? After all, I’m no longer going to physical therapy due to insurance issues. In turn, my visits to the gym are of monumental importance to me. I’m inside a lot. As a matter of fact, I often feel socially isolated. I wonder if my caregiver, my husband, does too?

My point is the pool makes me feel happy, but it’s probably fleeting. “Transitory happiness brings momentary pleasure but enduring or “authentic” happiness, as positive psychologist Martin Seligman calls it, manifests as deep satisfaction with how you live your life.”

That’s what I want.

43

The Decision

St. Louis Cathedral-New Orleans, LA

Wow. I’m getting a late start on this post! Thank goodness my editors ( my husband and my close friend ) have not been nagging me! I guess my slow start is because yet again I’m in the midst of an M.S. drug change. My neurologist thinks we need to be a bit more aggressive in my treatment. I agree. I can slowly see myself losing strength and functionality. And the FATIGUE and weakness is unimaginable! Sometimes my husband has to help me bathe! Forgive me if that’s TMI (too much information!).

So needless to say, I’ve been anxiously digging my way out of a little sadness. Something I don’t like to readily admit too! It’s easier to sometime write about though. Changing medications messes with me, because none of the options are fool proof. Don’t get me wrong. I know there is no cure, but can I at least get an injectable (shot) option that will not give me a cancer?!?!? Or a pill that I don’t have to take for the first time in the doctor’s office, because it may dangerously slow my heart rate! Now, that’s scary. In addition, I don’t even think that pill is specifically for my type of M.S., which is Secondary Progressive.

So to deal with this I went to church at the historical St. Louis Cathedral here in New Orleans. It’s the oldest church in the United States. It conveniently overlooks Jackson Square which is next to the Mississippi River and the Jax Brewery Shopping Mall, Washington Artillery Park and shadows the French Market complex. On Saturday late afternoon my husband and I joined the tourists downtown and rolled to church. I have a feeling Tommy suggested this because the Saints play on Sunday!

After, a nice inspirational talk from the priest, we left …and headed to the French Quarter! Funny, huh? What can I say? It’s New Orleans! Within, a few minutes, I looked at my empty lap and asked the dreaded question no woman wants to ask her clueless husband, “Do you have my purse???” He didn’t answer, but I knew my purse had not only my wallet, but also his car keys and wallet as well.

He didn’t say anything, but did a 180 degree turn and we dashed back to the church! To be clear he ran while I held on for dear life! We were both frantic and scared it was gone. I was looking in the crowd to see if I spotted it on anyone’s shoulder, female or male! I managed to mumble at least it was in a church. Tommy didn’t crack a smile.

Which medicine do I take?

We made it back. He was sweaty and I was wind blown.

The priest had my purse!

Everything worked out as it often does. I guess I’ll make the right decision about my medication too. I’ll let you know how it works out!

26

My Bruised Ego

Where I usually sit.

Every now and then my ego/id gets the best of me. When this happens my husband Tommy usually receives the brunt of my aggravation. Sometimes I just want to leave my apartment by myself. Don’t get me wrong I really love my husband but occasionally I just want to be alone! In order to safely accomplish this, I sit outside on our balcony and practice my Spanish or talk on the phone. I guess the common jargon is “me time.”

Well this particular day simply sitting on our balcony wasn’t enough. I wanted to go closer to the pool. When I told Tommy I was going outside to the deck area, instead of him simply saying okay he asked me, “Why?”

I hate the dreaded “Why?”!!

Can I do anything on my own? Am I not a grown 36-year-old woman? But instead of telling him that, I just responded with a snide, “Because that is what I want to do!” I got up, grabbed my purse, phone and walker then closed the door. I tried to slam it, but the door was too heavy! It’s very hard to make a dramatic exit when you’re using a walker. I think he even had to come behind me and shut the door all the way.

See my purse?

I was outside only a minute before I accidentally released the walker and it rolled about six steps away from me. This normally would not be a big deal, but I honestly can’t walk too well or stand for very long without the walker or some other form of support. I managed to take a seat on the cement fairly quickly. The real problem was, “How was I going to get to the walker?” No one else was out there. No one could see me. So, I decided to go for it! I was going to walk to my walker!

On your mark, get set, GO!

Well, it didn’t quite go that way. I was too afraid to try. Besides, this is cement we’re talking about here. Instead, I hesitantly called Tommy on my cell phone to come out to the balcony, so he could at least see me. Okay, here we go again.

On your mark, get set, GO!!!!!!

I took one wobbly step, another to stable myself but lost my balance and I fell straight to the cement. I’m a seasoned faller, so I know how to safeguard myself. Not even my glasses were broken. Just my ego!

I guess I got the brunt of this one!

34

Cleaning Out My Closet

Is there really such a thing as peaking too early? I originally started writing this blog to reconnect with who I am underneath M.S. At the inception of this website, the title of this blog was an easy no brainer. I was desperately, no frantically looking for who I used to be. But only after a few months…I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for. The bottom line is that person is gone. No matter how fast I run I’ll never tackle her again. I could have a good week and think THAT’S IT. I’M BETTER NOW!… then the dust settles and that dream eludes me again.

Last weekend I cleaned out my closet. Donated my high heel shoes and fancy clothes. Shoes that honestly, I’ve coveted for quite some time. However, that’s a totally separate demon to contend with. It was a ceremonious endeavor. I could hear Etta James playing in the background. I could see my used tissues spread around me. I was sitting on the closet floor packing and actually polishing old shoes! I wanted to make sure they were presented nicely to a local battered woman’s shelter. The door briefly opened and closed. As my husband left shaking his head. I’m sure he figured I was headed to the mental ward. Though, I was in tears, deep down I knew they were only things, but to me it was as if cleaning the closet of a deceased loved one, but this time the loved one was me pre multiple sclerosis. The thing that brought me through was the comfort in knowing some woman really might appreciate what I had to offer. Just maybe she will grow to covet them too! (Joking)

So I realized that the entire premise of this blog is bologna. It says I’m looking for Normal, but my friends, I am normal right here and now. Plus, “normal” continuously morphs. Do you get it? I just have to build a new and improved version of me. Plainly said, normal is whatever I can do right now. Normal is no longer what I use to be able to do. As a matter of fact, I need to strip those words from my vocabulary. I’ve said countless times, “I use to be able to…”

It’s like I was pacing behind “Normal”, I manage to grab him, he turns around and to my surprise… it’s me!

6

Lemonade From Lemons

This blog is about sharing the realism of my condition with my readers. It’s to receive and answer the questions that are sometimes hard to ask me in person. It’s a way for me to vent. If you can walk away from here and know a little bit more about me.. that’s great. If you gain insight into MS, that’s superb! If you laugh in the process… that’s HUGE! I would consider that a job well done.

I only bring it up because my last post caused such a ruckus; I wanted to make something clear. MS is NOT the best thing that has ever happened to me. It did change my life from the inside out. I have learned several invaluable lessons. Lessons that I do think I could have learned without MS, but no one asked me! Damnit. I would not wish this on my worst enemy. Leaving my career and moving back south together with my husband were the best things that ever happened to me. It’s the classic making lemonade out of lemons.

Today, I wanted to deviate from my normal routine and take a minute to spotlight a hero of mine. He’s a former New Orleans Saints player who recently announced he has ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an incurable neuromuscular disease.

*Steve Gleason may always be remembered most for his blocked punt on the night the Louisiana Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina — a play that stirred an already emotional crowd into a deafening, drink-spilling frenzy. He says, “In a way, I see this as an opportunity to continue to be an inspiration, maybe even more so than I ever have been.”

Man, talk about “new normals”. He was a professional athlete! Can you imagine the courage he had to muster up to “come out”? I mean this is not a glamorous disease. Recently, when he returned to the Superdome for the 5-year anniversary he walked onto the field with the help of an old teammate, quarterback Drew Brees. So that’s courage AND humility.

But the attention he brought to the ALS foundation was enormous. I hear their phones were ringing off the hook.

We need a face like that for Multiple Sclerosis.

Steve Gleason and his wife Michel walk onto the field.

Steve Gleason ALS Survivor

*Times Picayune