Friday, February 29, 2008
“Leap and the net will follow.”
On the surface, that is a cool concept. Take chances. Don’t always play it safe. Sort of what Mark Twain is saying over there to the right.
I am a firm believer in not always taking the simple and cautious path. I want to grow all the time and live a full life. Not reckless, mind you. Just…not so guarded that I am one-dimensional.
But I don’t know if this would work for me if I were, say, in an airplane. Even if one that was still on the ground.
I can’t decide if it is inspirational or insane. If I am a scaredy cat hypocrite or sensible.
How do you feel about leaping?
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I have been eyeing The Scale for several weeks now. It has been looming, its shadowy figure beckoning through the glass.
No, I’m only kidding, it hasn’t been beckoning, it just sounded so nice and dramatic to say that.
But I have been looking at it. Of all the women I have seen weigh themselves, no one has run screaming from the place. So yesterday, I took a deep breath and inched on.
Holy Mother of God.
Now I know why no one runs screaming from the place. They are too busy reeling in horror and trying to cling to some shreds of dignity as they adjust to the brutal reality that The Scale is clearly off by about 50 pounds.
Granted, it could be worse. I could weigh 1000 pounds and I don’t. But it feels as though I may as well.
This is going to take for-freaking-ever.
I cannot be like Jessica, who writes a great blog at http://allabouthabits.com/ and documents her weight as well as her losses. Jessica is brave and honest. I am cowardly and deceitful. Even with myself. I could never tell anyone what I actually weigh.
But, hopefully, the losses will mount and I will share those. That is the one good thing about yesterday’s frightful revelation. At least I will be able to see how much I am losing. If I don't die of mortification first.
Monday, February 25, 2008
As I have said before, I hate having Multiple Sclerosis. It does not make me a better person. It does not make me grateful for what I have or more appreciative of life or cause me to stop and smell the roses. It just makes me cranky, resentful and self-pitying. And sick. Anyone with MS is very sick and probably in constant pain, but we look pretty darn good, so people tend to forget just how darn sick we really are. As I have also said before, there is no justice in this world.
I do believe that most people are basically well intentioned. But they can be incredible knuckleheads. In attempts to be “helpful”, they say the most mind-bogglingly insensitive things. For instance, I might point out it is less than helpful to tell me about the 61 year old woman who has died of MS. I figure at that rate I have about 8 more years. Someone actually told me this. And read me the obituary. And asked me if I knew her, as though I know everyone in the world who has MS.
Guess what? It may be greedy, but I would really, really like to have more than another 8 years. So that is information that I find depressing to the point of paralysis. Telling me about people who died of the same disease I have is probably at the top of my list of things I don’t want to hear.
Some other things to consider not saying, after polling people with chronic conditions:
* My cousin had that and he was cured after eating nothing but bean sprouts (or applying crystals or drinking oxygenated water or meditating) for a year.
* I heard that medicine [that you are taking] causes death, insanity, blindness, extra limbs, take your choice.
* This is God’s will.
* God never gives you more than you can handle, or its obnoxious cousin, this will make you a stronger person.
* Oh, you go to that doctor?
* I believe people who really want to do get well.
Some things to consider saying to anyone who is sick or in any kind of distress:
* I am thinking about you.
* I am praying for you.
* Here is my number if you want to talk.
* I am sorry you are going through this.
* I don’t know what to say, but I care about you.
* Can you tell me if there is anything you need?
People who are struggling, for whatever reason, physical illness, temporary setbacks or something else really big (even if it is only really big to THEM), mostly need support and presence, love and genuineness. None of us are perfect. You don’t have to find perfect words.
Maybe don’t remind them they are going to die. But be there.
Friday, February 22, 2008
2 pieces of pizza
2 pieces of soda bread
One big tummy ache. A colossal headache.
Tons of self-condemnation.
I don’t even LIKE soda bread for Pete’s sake!
But the martinis were lovely. :) And so was the pizza.
I swam off about 400 calories yesterday, so that mitigates the damage somewhat. But my pride and confidence are sorely wounded.
I want to be prepared for the next time with alternatives to giving in to cravings. I have to put my thinking cap on.
It doesn’t help that I am very MS-y today. A muscle spasm has frozen my upper back, making it hard to move. I have currents of pain rhythmically shooting down my limbs and my right hand is numb and twitching. A very fun package. Can guilt cause a relaspse?!?! I usually hate taking pain meds, but today not taking them is not an option if I am going to be functional at all.
But on the plus side, it is snowing here in Jersey and it is so, so pretty! Bella and Corrie are enjoying the snow.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Evensong this past Sunday was a gift of tranquility and grace. Candle lit, with the voices of dozens of guest choristers resounding through our century old church, it was beautiful physically and spiritually.
Our parish’s Assisting Ecumenical Priest, Rev. William Forbes, delivered a moving homily and related this parable:
There was a woman whose happiness was shattered by a great and sudden sorrow. She was torn apart by the death of her only brother, a fine man, who died suddenly in the prime of his life. In her anguish she cried out, “O God, why?” But there was no answer—only silence. She couldn’t live with the silence and she decided that she must go in search of an answer for herself. She thought that she would seek the wise counsel of the holy one who lived in the uncharted wilderness. And so she set out on her journey. She hadn’t gone too far when she came upon an old man sitting alone on a bench beside the road. He was weeping. “Why do you weep, my friend?” said the woman as she paused next to him.
“I have suffered a terrible loss,” he replied. “I have not enjoyed good health for some time now, but the joy and meaning of my life was my dear wife and, unexpectedly she has now died and my heart is broken. I don’t know if I can bear such pain.”
“I, too, have suffered a great loss,” said the woman. “Tell me, do you know why God allows such things to happen?”
He replied, “Some of my friends tell me that I am suffering for my own misdeeds. ‘God is just,’ they say, so my loss must be what I deserve.”
“Do you believe that?” asked the woman. “No, I do not. . .” he said.
“Nor do I,” said the woman. “Come, join me in my search for truth.” And, she took him gently by the arm and they went down the road until they came upon a man who seemed to be wandering aimlessly. “Come, walk with us,” said the pair.
“You will not find me to be very good company. My heart is heavy because I have suffered a great loss,” said the stranger. “And what is that?” asked the old man and the woman together. “My wife, who gave purpose to my life, has left me for another and I am alone in the world.”
“That is a sad and great loss,” said the old man. “Have you found meaning in your pain?” “My friends said that God is wiser than I and must have done this thing to make me stronger.” “Do you believe that?” asked the woman. “I try, but I cannot.” he said.
“Then come with us and let us seek answers together.” And so he joined them and they continued until they came upon a young woman sitting in front of a small cottage. She held her head in her hands and they could hear her sobbing. “Why do you weep?” they asked together.
“My baby has died,” she said. “She was only three months old. She was ill from birth and now my arms will never hold her again, nor will my eyes see her grown up.”
“We will weep with you,” said the woman. “Tell us please, has God revealed to you why we must bear so much pain in life?”
“No. . .my husband says that there can be no God in a world where babies die. He says everything happens by chance and that faith is only for fools.”
“Do you believe that?” they asked.
“I don’t want to. . .” and her voice trailed off.
“Then come with us and we will seek answers together from the holy and wise one.” Together they walked for a very long time. At twilight they reached a bridge. On the other side of the water they could see the figure of the holy one coming toward them. He was clothed in light. They were frightened and they covered their eyes. They wanted to run away, but as they uncovered their eyes and the light grew slightly less bright, and they beheld a face as care-worn as their own. It was a face that had seen as much as life offers anyone. . .
“You have come a long way. What is it you seek?” he asked.
“We seek the truth of suffering. Why does God visit such tragedies upon his children?” There was no reply. They studied his face and drew back as they saw tears running down his cheeks. At length he spoke. . “Forgive me. My heart is heavy, for I am bearing much sadness. I weep for one who has lost a brother; for a mother and father who have lost a child. I grieve for a love which once delighted but is now over. I weep for a love-filled marriage that lasted for many years and is now ended by the death of a beloved wife.”
As these words were spoken, they were all moved with an overwhelming sense of compassion. The woman took the arm of the holy man. The young woman came forward to wipe the tears from his cheeks. The old man grasped his hand tightly and the younger man put his arm around his shoulders.
The woman asked, “Why do these things happen?” He said, “God’s dominion is the dominion of the heart. There pain cannot be prevented. But it can be healed.”
“But what is the purpose of suffering?” said the old man.
“It has no purpose,” said the wise one, “it can only be endured.”
“How can we endure it?” asked the young mother.
“Only by sharing it,” was the reply.
“Show us how,” said the young man.
“This I have done. . .” He said no more and suddenly, he was gone. The woman looked up and saw that they were holding on to one another and caring for each other.
We all experience suffering in our lives, some big, some small, some that takes our breath away with its randomness and cruelty and unfairness.
But one redeeming feature of the pain we endure is our connection with others. That is why I am happy you are here and reading these words. I need your support on this road and I hope you are feeling mine.
Thank you Rev. Forbes for your generosity in sharing this poignant message of wisdom and comfort.
Note: Rev. Forbes' battle with pancreatic cancer ended in July of 2009. But his model of cheerful grace and comforting spirituality is forever.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I still do not have the courage to get on a scale. If I really knew how much I actually weighed, I would have to go lie down in traffic.
I am swimming a lot. I was on the swim team in college, in the Pliocene Era, and loved to backstroke. So that is what I am doing now. It is so calming, I lose count of the laps and just keep going. I learned stretching exercises for the pool from the personal trainer that have really helped my flexibility and the spasticity in my limbs.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Every time I go to the neurologist, I futilely ask if perhaps there has been some mistake. But he doesn’t mince words: “Oh, you definitely have MS” he says cheerfully in his cute English accent.
There is nothing good about having MS. Absolutely nothing. Some people say, “I have MS, but MS doesn’t have me”. This is rationalization that borders on the delusional. The MS tentacles insinuate themselves into every aspect of your life: mobility, thinking, elimination, stamina, sexuality, everything. When you have MS, your life of doing things without a thought is over.
Pain is part of the MS package. Pain from damaged nerves that does not respond to conventional analgesics. I have been crippled with neck, back, hip and leg pain for weeks. Nothing was helping. My neurologist just prescribed Neurontin, which is to treat neurogenic pain. I finally began to get some relief.
But wait, there’s more!! Because what do I find in the drug information about Neurontin? It causes WEIGHT GAIN. That is what every info sheet says: weight gain. Weight gain, weight gain, WEIGHT GAIN AND WE DO MEAN YOU MARIE YOU BIG FAT PIG!!!!!!
And according to those who know, we’re not just talking a few pounds. We’re talking up to 30 pounds!
God help me, I would rather be in pain than continue to be fat. How sick is that? But I will give the med a try and see what happens.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I have this awesome salad for lunch everyday – spring greens, goat cheese, pecans, chicken and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. But it appears the goat cheese and pecans (the best part!!) are ramping up the calories. I might as well have pizza!!
Then there are the cookies. My idea of a thrilling treat (too sad!) is two cookies and a cup of tea. I found these great little cookies at a local gourmet market. They were perfect. I thought. After a week of sucking them down, I checked the calories to add to Fitday. One hundred and fifty calories EACH. My “harmless” little dessert was packing on another 300 calories.
When I initially realized this, the first thing I did was, of course, beat myself up. What a pig, how stupid, etc. Then I felt sorry for myself. Poor me, I’ll never have goat cheese again.
But I was talking to a dear friend tonight and she reminded me, it’s not forever.
Right now I have to really cut back to get where I want to be. But once I reach that goal, I can ease up a little, add back things I like, I just have to be careful and keep things moderate.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
I’m miserable. I cringe when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror. I can’t bear to have my picture taken. I look like a gnome. I look like a whale. I look like…you get the picture. Not a happy camper.
Now I have two weddings coming up. Both my sons are getting married in the fall. So I feel like this is finally do or die. I have to lose weight or spend each entire wedding day hiding from the photographer.
I joined a gym, but only went half-heartedly until a few weeks ago. The kids gave me 10 sessions with a personal trainer for my birthday. When my son first asked me if I would like that my impulse was to blurt out “Shit NO!!! I want something good!” But I realized this would be good for me, so I graciously thanked them.
Now I go to the gym at least three times a week. I do the treadmill for 30 minutes and the pool for 40. I am eating carefully, no junk, a lot of salad and fruit, I measure everything to check my portions.
But I’m still not losing!!!! Aaaaaggghhh!!!!! The weddings are in just a few months. What am I doing wrong?!?!?!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Yikes, what a journey this is!! And who needs to do it alone?!?
We are all struggling with issues of health or weight or self-image. This is the place to share successes and defeats, struggles and triumphs, even little ones. Share ideas, tips, be cheerleaders for each other.
This is the blog where you will find encouragement, advocacy and, best of all, self-pity!