Friday, December 26, 2014

Quarterly Gratitudes from an MSer: December 2015 edition

First of all, I'm grateful you are all reading this since I have not posted at this blog since September 1. One of my goals for 2015 is to get into a regular pattern with the CraterBrain blog again. More on that later. 

Second, I'm happy to wish everyone a fabulous holiday season!

Third, I'm gonna get right to it because it's redundant to start a list with a list, no? 

Just one of many
great resources
1. Gratitude always goes to my online MS cohorts who are true champions for the cause. A lot of people with MS barely understand the disease, but there are some bright lights in the mix who know how to interpret the research, know how to differentiate snake oil from real science, know how to share their experiences and help others in a way that is not at all self-serving, but rather a gift to so many others who are still finding their way in the MS wilderness. I'm talking especially about you DK, and SS, and AG. 

2. I attended an MS "road show" this fall that was inspiring on multiple levels. I learned a bit more about things like lesion load and was able to get to the bottom of some unfounded rumors about the main disease modifying therapy I'm on. I almost didn't go to this event but am so glad I did now. 

3. We bought ourselves a really nice RV over the fall that we have already used twice and I'm making plans to use it regularly in 2015. The long-distance traveling by plane is really becoming less and less of an option... I really don't tolerate the experience well anymore and dread the possibility of flying in the future. It takes too much energy, it is overstimulating and fatigues me, I always get overheated, and the unpredictability of flight travel just adds to the stress bomb. I need a vacation once I get home because of it. Not so much with the RV; we live in a part of the world when I can go just one hour from home and feel like I am halfway across the continent. The simplicity, the comfort, the fresh air... my kind of vacay!

4. A repeat from my last two gratitude check ins: My meds. All of my meds. I'm grateful to take them, grateful to be able to afford them and to be able to tolerate them. I had to drop them briefly, twice, to get carpal tunnel surgery, and it was made obvious by their absence that my body needs them to operate at maximum. 

5. I've had two carpal tunnel surgeries. The first, in September, took longer to heal than I expected but the numbness is gone. I'm recovering from my second (operation was just last week) more quickly this time, and will be glad to get back to things like yoga again, which probably won't happen until January as I won't be able to put weight on my recovering wrist for a few weeks yet. Still, glad to have a great surgeon, and the hospital system I am a part of was pure excellence.

6. I'm grateful for more time for reading than I've had in the past. Deeply involved in an epic novel by Ann Rice right now. Hoping for more of this in 2015. It feels good to be able to read and not struggle with migraines or weird cognitive hiccups that make it difficult to comprehend.

7. Grateful for nary a symptom, most days. When I was first diagnosed, I kept a daily journal that filled two or more pages with details of symptoms and side effects. Now, I might have 1 or 2 slight symptoms a week, not even worth cracking the journal for. I live in constant amazement of this reality and do treasure my sense of "normalcy" now, as it so much resembles my "normal" life before diagnosis.

8. A key symptom of multiple sclerosis is something called an "MS hug." This is a deep cinching feeling at the torso which makes it difficult to breathe without great pain. I have not experienced this as an adult, that I'm aware of... but when someone described this experience recently, I realized it was something I used to have when I was a kid, age 10 or 11. It's funny how you have certain physical sensations and just think that is "normal." Certainly, nobody raised an eyebrow when I complained about this vice-like grip around my ribcage and the inability to take a deep breath when I was a kid. I remember my mom, or maybe it was my grandmother, telling me I had a touch of "the pleurisy." What I'm grateful for, here, is the fact that somebody online took the time to accurately characterize the sensation so that I could relate to an experience I had which had been previously lost in memory. And also grateful, weirdly, to realize I've probably had MS to some degree for nearly 40 years. This means that my disease progression is on a very slow course, and that, indeed, is very good news.
Tesla 3 MRI: Extra roomy!!! 

9. I am still so happy for the kind of care I receive from my doctors. My primary care physician is amazing. I went in for concerns about pulsate tinnitus, which may be symptomatic of intracranial hypertension (which we have not yet ruled out as a separate condition). The sensation was so extreme that the doc sent me in for a Tesla 3 MRI to take a look at my cranial arteries to rule out aneurysm. Gratitude part A: no aneurysm! Gratitude part B: having a Tesla 3 MRI and learning that MRIs were first developed as a technology to help diagnose MS, specifically. 

10. Finally, I'm glad for the end of 2014. For me, it was mostly a great year, but I know that it has been hell for many of my closer friends. I want 2015 to be a year of mindfulness, creativity and restoration, not only for me, but for them. I would love to be able to pay it forward for all the wonderful people who have helped me along these last couple of years.