Sunday, March 28, 2010

MS Fund Raising Walk 2010

Three weeks from today, Sunday, April 18, 2010, friends , family and myself will be taking part in the annual MS Fund Raising Walk. It can be a fun day. There is a party atmosphere, we walk along the boardwalk and the company is great.

But it is an event I would gladly pass up. Because it is an annual reminder of the fact that I have MS and that this incurable disease has devastated my life.

Of course I am not the only one afflicted with MS. The walk is also a sobering reminder that as bad as it is for me, there are others who are even sicker. I can still walk some distances, although I need either a cane or a walker. There are people I know with MS who have lost that ability, so to a certain extent I am lucky. I do need a wheelchair for any length of more than a block or two. I hate it, but at least it allows me to get places.

MS has stolen much from me. It has distorted my relationship with my children, who are often required to be caregivers rather than simply my kids. The same goes for my friends, who are wonderful and generous and solicitous, but I would rather be a plain old friend. It has taken away the ability to do anything spontaneously. I have to always worry, are there stairs, where is the bathroom, will there be someone to help me if I need it? I was just laid off from my job. How much of their decision had to do with the fact that despite being one of their top producers, I was a very expensive employee as far as health insurance goes. It was a self insured company. My health care costs run in the thousands every month. I am a liability to a small business. There are wonderful jobs out there that I am fully qualified for intellectually and professionally. But I can’t travel easily anymore. I can no longer maintain the pace I demanded for myself as a department head. So my hard earned career, which was going nowhere but up, is now in tatters.

I am in pain all the time, either from muscle spasms or from haywire nerves. So I tend to do things less and less. Running an errand is a project. It is a struggle to even get dressed.

The disease progresses incrementally. There is no predicting how far or how fast it will go. Statistics say most people with MS will have their life shortened ‘only’ by about seven years. When the time comes, how much will I want to have seven more years? Or will it be sooner? As immobile as I am, will I develop a pressure ulcer? I am on a powerful and dangerous medication to slow down the progression of the disease. Will I contract an infection that my immune suppressed body will not be able to fight? Will my next stumble and fall (for I am always stumbling and falling) be fatal?

Here is the thing: it is crucial to know the ‘me’ in the preceding paragraphs is EVERYONE with MS.

That is why the MS Walk is so important. The NJ Metro Chapter has an excellent rating as a charity. Almost 86% of the money they raise goes into programs for those of us with MS and into research to find a cure. There have been so many developments to treat MS in the past decade alone. That is thanks to fund raising for research.

Whether or not you live in the New Jersey area, I would love for you to be part of my team. You can be a Virtual Walker, collect donations and never have to set a foot anywhere. Or you can come join us on the Belmar boardwalk. Or you can make a donation to our team. I would be thrilled by any of those. This is the link to my team page:

And if all you can do is wish us well and keep us in your prayers, I am incredibly grateful for that as well.

Thank you to those of you who have already made donations and for your beautiful messages of support. I am astonished when someone calls me an inspiration or brave. I'm just me. But thank you for thinking and saying such lovely things.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog. And thank you for anything you can do to support the MS Walk.

Please leave any comments about your own experiences with the walk or with MS. I would love to hear from you.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Photo Friday

This is a candid snap of my grandmother, Anna, with my father on her lap.

He was born in April and it looks like November-ish in this picture, so it would be autumn of 1932 and he would be 7 months old. He looks like he was a lot of baby to hold!

This picture was taken in Central Park and you can see Bethesda Fountain through the trees.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

These Days

It’s three minutes to two when I glance at the clock. My insides twitch and the split second thought shoots across my brain, “Better get a move on, the work day is almost over.”

But then I remember. I’m not working anymore. People all over the country, all over the world, will look at their clocks and watches and computers at three minutes to two and think they better get a move on. But I’m not one of them. And with that realization my insides twitch even harder.

I am filling my days with cleaning and organizing. But I start one project, make an enormous mess, feel completely overwhelmed and then move on to another one. So the whole house now looks as though I’ve been burgled.

In between organizing, I knit and I read and I write and I job hunt. But those things overwhelm me too and I find I cannot do any of them for more than ten minutes at a time.

The job hunt feels so futile. I applied online for a position with a large managed care company. I sent the electronic submission at 10:58 am. At 11:04 am I received a thanks-but-no-thanks e-mail. The job description fit my résumé almost word for word. Yet somehow it still only took six minutes for them to reject me. I did not feel as though this boded well for my future employment potential. It makes me wonder if there is some secret, subliminal code in my CV that says “Don’t hire her; she’s a loser.” Or maybe there is a Ten Most Unwanted list that Human Resource Departments cross reference.

I am developing a Bad Attitude.

I had lunch with a high school friend that I hadn’t seen in years. Catching up meant many tales of woe. When we came out of the restaurant, I had a flat tire. This sweet woman was so upset for me. But to me, a flat tire is now the equivalent of breaking a nail. It still makes me smile a little bit to think she thought it was a big deal.

Basements full of sewage are a big deal.

No heat during a blizzard is a big deal.

Losing your job is a big deal.

A flat tire? Practically a lucky break.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

I try to remind myself that life is good.

I still do believe that, but I have to work a little harder at it right now.

On the plus side, it is Spring.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Trying Something New: Photo Friday

I am going to try something a little different. In addition to my regular posts (when I can think of one!), once a week I will post photos with a story. I have such an interesting family that I could go on for years. At least I think they’re interesting. lol Please give me some feedback on what you think.

A Pure Moment of Happiness

These are pictures of my Aunt Hanna and my Grandmother, Anna, laughing.

My Aunt Hanna had been sick since she was in her forties. They said it was a stroke, but I think, in light of my own MS, she may have had it too. At any rate, laughing was not something she did often. So when I recently found this photo I was both stunned and delighted, because I loved her.

In the other picture, my Grandmother is sitting next to her older sister, Mabel. I am the big fat baby on my Grandma’s lap. The little petite one is my cousin Jeannie, on her grandma Mabel’s lap. My grandmother had a very hard life and there are not many photos of her laughing either, so I treasure this one.

Hanna and Anna were twins. They were the third and fourth girls of what would eventually be five. Their little brother Edmund died before he was one.

They were born in Leadville, Colorado in November of 1897. My great-grandfather was a miner. By 1900, the Census places them in Denver. But within the next few years they returned to Prince Edward Island, Canada, where my great-grandparents were from originally. I can only imagine what it was like to travel across the United States to PEI with five little girls at the turn of the century!!

My grandmother told fantastic stories about growing up in PEI. By fantastic I mean pretty much unbelievable, but she swore they were true. These were a mischievous pair and if they were told not to do something it was almost certain they would do it when no one was looking.

Don’t ride the rogue pony. My grandmother climbed on his back, was thrown and suffered lifelong back troubles.

Don’t touch the ax. She did and says she cut off her big toe! But the good part of the story is that she patched it back on with mud and herbs and it grew back. Hmmm.

Glass was a precious commodity at that time and place. My great grandfather had gone into town and bought a piece to fix a window. Until he could get to it, he slid it behind a dresser for safe keeping. Hanna and Anna were playing hide and seek, one went behind the dresser and…goodbye glass.

He went and got another piece. He hid it in a closet. Same scenario. Third piece. Under the bed. Guess where Hanna hid? They got a licking that time and the fourth piece of hard gotten glass survived.

They had fascinating lives, ultimately ended up living together for the majority of that time in Manhattan. My Grandmother took care of Hanna after she got sick, along with working full time and raising my father as a single mother.

They were both so good to me, so loving and nurturing, I adored them. They have both been gone for over forty years, but I miss them still.

I am so glad that at least a few moments of their happiness have been recorded forever.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Reminder

This is a hard time for me right now. Lots of expensive work going on in the house. Some distressing family issues. Of course, the worry, actually the mind numbing, hyperventilating panic, of being out of work. And I am so weary of being in pain all the time.

But a friend sent me a video that was a good reminder of the importance of prayer, especially for those who have caused me grief. My church’s mission statement is essentially “God’s Unconditional Love Practiced Here”. We are obligated to pray for those who have hurt us.

I have a long list currently:

  • The simpletons who laid me off.
  • Family members who inexplicably and hurtfully don’t speak to me.
  • The plumbers who destroyed my basement and then called me names.
  • The pain doctor who blew me off.
  • The guy whose careless driving wrecked my car this summer.
  • People who leave ignorant, hate filled comments after online news articles.
  • People in general who irk the piss out of me.

This is for them:

(e-mail readers:

Well I never said I was a saint. The mission statement says ‘practice’.

I need a lot of practice.