Independence Archive

5

The Power Of The Chair

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“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” ~Mother Teresa

I own two power chairs. One is portable and the other is heavy-duty. Due to limited space in my home, the heavy-duty chair has been stored at my parent’s house. I never use it and it just sits in their dining room taking up space. My parents didn’t mind it staying there, but it bothered me. So last week I decided it has been at my parent’s house long enough and it was time to sell it.

So, what did I do? I took some pictures of it and tried to sale it on Facebook. I thought it was a good idea, but apparently…no one else did. Not one call.

Plan B was to give it away. I wish I had done that from the start.

I connected with my local MS Society and they gave me some leads of people who were in need. After a few days, I was able to connect with a fellow MSer who needed a power chair.

I recruited my dad to handle the specifics and the actual transfer of the chair. He’s good with that kind of stuff.

The man resides roughly two hours from my parent’s home, but was happy to make the trip. He was so appreciative.

Who knew how rewarding helping someone would be.

22

It Was A Success

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“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work though difficult problems.” – Gever Tulley

I recently received a suprapubic catheter. The surgery was completed with no problems or complications. The main reason I had surgery was I no longer held complete control over my bladder function and the catheter will help me regain that control.

It was an outpatient procedure that lasted an hour and a half. My urologist and his team made me feel so comfortable during the preoperative instructions and evaluation that I urged my mother to stay home. My husband was there and that was enough support.

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Despite my comfort level with my doctors and the surgery, I still had the normal pre-surgical jitters.

So to ease my doubts, I persistently played in my head the reasons why I was getting the procedure done. I remembered the sleepless nights. We were waking up every three hours to use the restroom. I vividly recalled the times I returned home from a night out wearing wet soggy Depends. I called to mind dozens of ruined outings due to a weak bladder and the endless anxiety about the “restroom situation” every place I went.

I used all of these memories as my motivation to continue with the surgery.

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Now the big question is…

So, was it worth it?

The answer is…

An overwhelming YES! I would do it again tomorrow.

It’s been less than a week but so far so good. And as we all know, there is a learning curve with everything. So as I learn, I will let you know. But for now it seems to have worked out.

It was a success.

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13

Therapeutic Horseback Riding

I am back at the farm for another season of therapeutic horseback riding.

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I ride until August, then we take a couple of months off because of the heat.

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It cost $25 and I go once a week.

I really love it and recommend it to everyone.

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Meeting my new horse. (Video)

23

Wish Me Luck

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“Life is a crisis – so what!” — Malcolm Bradbury

Over the last few years, I have had bladder problems. Before now, it was simply an inconvenience. But lately it has gotten out of control.

Everything I have tried has failed. I’ve been on various medications. I wear Depends religiously. I’ve even tried self catheterization, with little success.

I am still aware of when I need to pee; I just cannot get to the toilet in a timely fashion anymore. And when trying to use the restroom, timely is the name of the game.

I’m just simply tired of “accidents”. So this week, in an outpatient procedure, I will receive a surgically implanted suprapubic catheter. My urologist tells me it’s common for patients with multiple sclerosis.

What do you think?

I’m not really clear how visible it will be or how often it will have to be changed. Basically, I have a lot of questions. I’ll be sure and write them down so I can get the answers during my consultation.

I just can’t wait to be happy and dry. Wish me luck.

31

A Friend Indeed

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“Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone”
– Maya Angelou

Lately, I have been feeling down. Unfortunately this is nothing new. Two to three times a year I go into a “funk”. Not sure what it is but I really hate when it happens.

I mentioned this to my MS support group and after hearing about my troubles, a fellow MS group member, invited me to hangout with her for the weekend.

Sue, who has become a good friend and confidant, recommended we attend the New Orleans Oyster Festival. I agreed and we set a time and chose Sunday as the date.

Once the big day came, I was so excited. As soon as I woke up I began getting ready. As I was putting on my clothes, I could hear the patter of rain on my bedroom window. I looked outside and sure enough it was raining. I felt like crying. Then the phone rang. It was Sue. I just knew she was going to cancel. I answered the phone with a melancholy hello. She ecstatically answered back, “You ready?”

I said, “Sue, it’s raining.”

She replied, “If MS can’t stop us, how we gonna let a little rain stop us? Girl, put on a hat and let’s go!”

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So we met on the Riverwalk in the rain. We were able to find some shelter and settled in to eat our charbroiled oysters and shrimp po’boys. The sun even peaked out and gave us a thirty-minute reprise so we could see the bands play music and watch an oyster-eating contest.

On the way home, I just felt so happy. Yes, my issues were still present but for a little while I was able to escape the worry and tension that always accompany my problems.

It’s funny how friends and family can come through just when you think no one cares. Yes, a friend in need, is a friend indeed.

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35

Accessible Salon

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“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragement, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.” – Thomas Carlyle

I mentioned before, my hair salon asked me to stop coming to their shop. To be fair, the owner actually said, “We can only work on you if you bring someone to assist you.” They said they were afraid I would hurt myself.

Well, since it usually took between 3 to 4 hours to complete, finding someone to stay that long in a hair salon was very tough. My husband volunteered but I knew he would be miserable. It was all women, everyone spoke Spanish and the TV stayed on Latin American television channels. That’s probably not his idea of a good time.

Since being asked, “not to come back”, it has taken a while for me to find a new beauty parlor but now the search is over. I finally found another hair salon. It is in a local shopping mall. It’s a pretty high-end mall. There is a fee to park and they also offer valet parking. We don’t valet park but we found out that the mall will validate parking if you show a receipt from a purchase.

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The salon is nice and it cost more than the old place. To remedy that problem, I go every two weeks instead of once a week. By doing that, the amount I spend comes to about the same as before.

The best part about the new salon is they work on me from my scooter. I never have to get up. Also, it is appointment only service instead of first come first serve. This cuts down my time in the salon to about an hour.

So far, I am in love with my new accessible salon.

Check out the finished product below.

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23

Parade Days

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Last week I was in the hospital for two days after having an adverse reaction to my latest prescription. The symptoms were so bad that the doctors first thought I had a stroke. It wasn’t until all of my test came back negative that we linked my sudden change in health to the new medication.

Before this happened, I was excited because it is Carnival time. I have been going to Mardi Gras parades in New Orleans, Louisiana for over 30 years. But this year just wasn’t the same. I can’t put my finger on it but I didn’t have as much fun as usual. My guess is, since I really hate being in a wheelchair, being at a parade in a wheelchair just wasn’t enjoyable. I don’t like when people stand in front of me blocking my view. It’s funny because everyone is nice until the floats start throwing trinkets. Then it’s every man for himself. Also, bladder issues can cause a real headache especially since the portable restrooms provided by the city are not wheelchair accessible.

But my best guess at the source of my newfound melancholy feelings toward attending parades is the fact that I have been extremely tired lately. I am so weak these days that it’s hard to enjoy myself at events, especially ones that take so much energy. Parade days are all-day affairs that can last 5 hours or more. And there are usually multiple parades. The recent one I attended was actually three different parades. This is something I did all the time, but nowadays it’s just too much for me. And being only one day removed from the hospital didn’t help either.

After I made it home from the parades, I decided I would not attend anymore because they are just too taxing on me.

Moments later, following my declaration, I saw a picture posted by Steve Gleason* at a Mardi Gras parade. He helped me put my overreaction into perspective. So now I have decided that I won’t totally stop attending Mardi Gras parades. I’ll just adjust how long and how many I attend.

Happy Mardi Gras Everyone!

*(Steve Gleason is a former New Orleans Saints football player who is now battling ALS – Lou Gehrig’s disease)

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