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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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33

One Day At A Time

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“Depression is the inability to construct a future.” – Rollo May

Last month was a rough one for me. Physically, I was about the same. Emotionally, I was a wreck.

I was basically doing all the things I should not do. That includes, constantly thinking of activities I can no longer participate in. The more I thought, the more I cried. At first it was behind my husband’s back. Then it was right in front of him. I couldn’t control my emotions. I couldn’t hide the anguish any longer. I began to believe that MS was taking over my life. The pain was ringing in my head non-stop.

I consider this a personal low. I’m not proud of my behavior. I should have known something was up when I lost interest in the pastimes that keep me going and motivated.

But finally, I took a real look at myself. I focused on what was happening to me and I saw a depressed person.

How could I miss this? It’s simple Psych 101.

Thankfully, my husband suggested I visit my psychiatrists. So the next day I did. He increased one of my medications, but I still have some personal work to do.

The social worker I see, suggested I find something to keep me busy. I remembered that I already have that here with you guys. So I’ve come full circle, running with open arms, back to my online family. I’m right back where I started, but now I’m healthier and happier.

And I’m taking it, one day at a time.

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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12

Surrender To Reality

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“People do not like to think. 
If one thinks, one must reach conclusions.
 Conclusions are not always pleasant.” 
- Helen Keller

Just like everyone else, my life is a habitual attempt to achieve goals. Reaching, with our arms out in front of us, trying to grasp our greatest moments that we believe have yet to come. It’s a grand pursuit that we all have in common. But in that constant chase, the difference between most people and me is the fear that my highest achievements in life are behind me. I worry that my best days are now only realized through reminiscing.

Once MS took over my body, I re-entered the world as a different person. I have a pain that no one sees, my confidence is tested everyday and I have to accept that I can’t do all the things I use to do. The hardest part is learning to live in my new normals. I need to not fight it so much; instead I have to learn to accomplish things within my limitations. I need to surrender to reality. Once I do that, then I’ll be able to face the truth and concentrate on legitimate existing solutions and answers in my pursuit of happiness.

I must remember that I don’t possess my future. No one does. My new goal is to focus on what’s happening at this instant. Living in the moment.

Reminiscing can be fun but when you play the past over and over in your head, it becomes impossible to focus on happily living in the now.

23

Clandestine Tears

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“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.”

MS is always there. Sitting in me. Waiting to attack. It’s like everyday my body is playing a cruel trick on me. Numbness and muscle spasms are my new normals. It’s taking a lot out of me to stay up and active and there are times I cannot use my arms, sit up right or even think straight.

At times, MS controls not only my body but also my emotions. I feel sadness, anger and grief all at once. It’s a melancholy cloud that hangs over my head until I can’t take anymore.

And that’s when I cry.

It seems as if every single night I have a little cry. I usually do it when no one is looking. I go in the bathroom, close the door, turn on the faucet water and just cry. I have been doing this for years.

I always thought no one knew about it until the other day my husband ask me why I was crying.

I defensively replied, “What are you talking about? I wasn’t crying.”

He said, “Sure you were. I could hear you in the bathroom. I usually don’t say anything but this time you seemed to be in there longer than usual.”

I was taken a back by what he had said.

“Wait! You can hear me?” I yelled. “You have always known that I cry in the bathroom? Why didn’t you say anything?”

He replied, “Everyone needs sometime to grieve and I was just allowing you to have your time.”

I must admit I appreciate that time and that he allows me to have my clandestine tears.

26

A Crabby Night

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“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail”. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last weekend was our 11th wedding anniversary as well as my 39th birthday. One big ball of milestones headed directly towards me. The end of an era. My 30s to be exact while also the celebration of a wonderful partnership with my husband.

The plan was to head downtown. Stay overnight at a hotel and get something to eat. Everything was going great and then came dinner.

Have you ever eaten snow crabs?

Have you seen them before?

Well I have, but sometimes I have selective memory. I forgot how hard it is to eat them. First off, I could not crack the crab. So instead, I pulled each leg off causing juice to fly all over me. Keep in mind that I have problems with fine motor skills. It’s hard for me to button my shirts and hold things. But for some reason I thought I could conquer these crabs.

After I failed at my attempt to eat the crabs, I saw that my table was a mess and I was covered from head to toe with crabmeat. But I was still determined to have a nice dinner. Thank goodness we were at a buffet, so I did have other choices of food. To help out our waitress, I cleaned my immediate surroundings then I politely picked up another plate and started over with a different entrée. So the dinner was not a total loss.

FYI, I did leave a nice tip.

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13

Alive And Well

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“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I visit my occupational therapist (OT) weekly. She’s there to help me develop skills that will enable me to work or simply complete my activities of daily living, such as dressing and grooming. At this point we have become moderately acquainted with each other. I am a fairly outgoing person, when in the mood, and this is the part of me that she sees the most. We were talking the other day and I mentioned that I cry quite a lot.

“What!” She exclaimed. She seemed astounded.

It was nice to hear that she had a completely different perspective of me, one that seems to be closer to the original Nicole.

I like people to know that I do have a life outside of MS. I started this blog in order to highlight and find out whom that person was. It seems like somehow along the way I’ve steered off-road. I’m embarrassed to admit how much time I spend dwelling on things I can no longer do. Or how often I still cry alone.

But apparently, according to my OT, not enough to tear apart my intact personality. So my new goal is to keep that part of me alive and well.