Monday, January 31, 2011

Living each day.

I didn't mean to miss a couple days of posting but I found myself on a spontaneous adventure that was much needed. After not being able to drive and not having much to do, I was getting a bit of cabin fever. We managed to solve that problem.
The weekend was rather exciting and served as a reminder that even though I'm sick, I can be spontaneous and adventurous. I don't have to give that up, nor do I plan to.
Saturday started off rather weakly as I was troubled with the most terrible of cramps. At one point I thought my uterus was going to evacuate, it was so bothersome. The day turned around when we went and decided to have lunch at a local restaurant called Ohana in the Roseway Theater neighborhood. It was Hawaiian food and oh so delicious. The sun was shining and I've noticed on days it's particularly bright I see a bit better. We then proceeded to the Roseway Theater and watched The King's Speech which was pretty spectacular. It's interesting watching movies with one eye pinched shut so I don't have double vision. It's annoying but it doesn't detract from the movie.
Later that evening Chrissey and I went to her friend Kristen and Shari's for a bit of board games and rowdy conversation. It was just what I needed, a nice welcoming embrace to the Portland community. In fact, it was so much fun we didn't want it to end. We gassed up the car and decided to drive the two hours to Lincoln City, eat at Maxwell's and stay overnight. The coast is one of my favorite places, the smell in the air and the wind, to me there is nothing better. We drove back yesterday morning, stopping and snapping pictures and having a good time. I have to say, I love late night car rides with Chrissey. Sometimes the conversation gets so deep and fascinating that we have to pause for several moments of silence while we process it all. I learn so much about her and even more about myself on these little trips. I think that's what I missed most on my travels across the country. I missed connecting and sharing that profound and life altering experience. It was nice to be able to have a bit of self reflection but I think it would have been an amazing experience if I was able to share it with her.
The vision is slowly improving although today there doesn't seem to be much of a difference. The prednisone is putting pressure on my eye and it aches, but it's tolerable at this point. It's not like weeks ago when I nearly wanted to pluck my eye out of my head because the pain was so severe. I'm not satisfied with the rate of progress but alas, any sort of progress is better than the alternative.
I have a job interview on Wednesday as well as an oil change so it's my hope that by then I'll be able to drive. I really should start resting my eyes more frequently as I suppose that would help. I did figure out the best way to describe what it is I see. At this point it's almost like someone turned the dimmer switch in my eye all the way down so it's difficult to really focus or make out any specific details. I hope for my sake, and the sake of my wallet that I will be able to see soon. I need to find a job.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Accomplishing stuff, a MSers dream.

My brain isn't fuzzy today. There's been a cloud lifted and I think it's because I'm beginning to taper off of the meds. I was actually able to complete my assigned readings for my Enlightenment class and then move on to the discussion. Yay for accomplishment. I've also applied for several jobs, including state and country jobs (which has good benefits).
I hate the days when I don't really feel like I have any insight to offer. I just feel like I'm getting better, each day I regain a little more of my vision with the hopes of tomorrow it being restored completely. I hate taking life one day at a time, I'd prefer everything to be instantaneous and set out in front of me like a Thanksgiving meal. I'm definitely a child of instant gratification, that's probably why I have no will power.
I do hope I'll be able to drive soon. My car is crying out for an oil change and I'd like it to get one but I just don't have the way of getting it down there. Come on prednisone, you've already made me pimply and quite round, why not do what you're supposed to so the public can be exposed to it as well. I'm all about sharing.
At least tonight is going to be low-key. It's just a movie and pizza. Nothing difficult about it and since I've completed what I needed to I can actually relax. If only all of us MSers could just relax. Tomorrow, on the other hand, is a completely different story. There's been mention of the word pedicure and my grubby bits are curling backwards in protest. It'll be the first time, hopefully not the last.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I love the quiet days.

Today was rather mild as far as symptoms go. I took my third day of six prednisone and look forward to tapering down to five tomorrow and so on. I'm on the second day of my prednisone induced menstrual cycle and the cravings are horrendous. I'm not even entirely sure what's driving them, the prednisone or the fact that PMSing. And I am. I'm irritable, depressed, anxious, bloated and broken out. I can't even imagine being anymore unhappy with my body. I need to start getting out there and moving around before the prednisone makes more fat little grubby pockets all over my body. The only good thing is that my vision is slowly coming back, I can actually make out differences in brightness.
The prednisone acne is bad. Very bad. It's all over my face, curves around my ears and is starting to spread down to my shoulders. They look like blisters more than anything else. My body is literally pushing the medicated toxins out of my body. It's disgusting. I feel like a game of connect the dots on a child's play pad.
I think, by far, what's getting to me the most is the depression. It's making me homesick, which is a very rare thing for me to feel. I've got this nagging little voice in the back of my head telling me I made a bad decision. I know this is far from true, that I made the right decision for me but it's this damn depression.
Tomorrow is a new day with a fresh slate. We'll have to see what happens.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I wish I could just understand.

I'm sick of doctor's not listening to me when I tell them something's wrong with me. I've been to a rather rude endocrinologist who shrugged my rather odd symptoms off as a just another PCOs'er who needs to exercise and lose weight. She completely disregarded my statements when I told her there was a connection between solumedrol/prednisone and my periods. I honestly believe that she, after seeing hundreds of other overweight patients, just looked at the shell casing and dismissed me. It's a shame. I really think there's an opportunity here at a discovery.
You see, it all started when I was in my early teens. I received my period once, from the time I was 13 until I was put on birth control when I was 17. That was the beginning of my journey but there's been a few bumpy parts along the way. Bumpy parts, that just don't make any sense.
Prednisone makes my body menstruate. That's right. Of all the things the doctor's have put me on including birth control, metformin, estrogen, etc. the one thing that allows me to have a cycle is the prednisone. At this rate, it's the only thing that works. I would consider it a fluke if it happened once or twice while on prednisone but so far it's happened during every one of my treatments.
I've said this before, but I can't help but feel it's all connected. I've sometimes considered the idea that it may be cushing's or some related disease but nevertheless, it always points to hormones. Perhaps it's some sort of adrenal crisis? I haven't the slightest idea. My main goal, when I get insurance out here, is to see a specialist, someone who is actually interested in these weird symptoms and will listen to me when I tell them something is wrong.
I think it all comes down to discrimination from doctor's. Whenever they see an overweight person walk into their office they immediately think of this person as unhealthy, a hypochondriac and just in need of losing a few pounds. I really wish doctor's would treat the symptoms and the body, not just my shape.

The sufferer conundrum.

I recently came across a blog written by a fellow MSer that could have easily been written about me. It was the condemnation of using the terms “MS sufferer.” I use these two terms together, at the frown of my fellow blogger, because I have my own reasons for using them. I consider myself a sufferer because, at this time, it's something I do suffer with, just like I have to suffer with annoying in-laws or noisy upstairs neighbors. It's the annoying pest that whistles in my ear while I go about my daily business and I suffer with it, because it's the hand I was dealt. One man's journey is another man's suffering.
It almost seems petty to attack something so silly as a term, or as it's put elsewhere, a label. It reminds me of those days in high school where we protested the labels we were given by society while others embraced it. Who cares? If I choose to consider myself a sufferer, that's my choice just as it's your choice to use a different phrase. Heck, I even call myself a PCOs sufferer, because, you would too if you've ever spent a half hour in front of the bathroom mirror plucking chin hairs with tweezers you can't even see.
Quite honestly, I picked the phrase up from a medical professional and it was just something that stuck. Instead of attacking the phrase, offer some other coined term we can use instead. Instead of picking apart labels, wouldn't it make more sense to present a united front? Remember, we're the source of available, real life information for the newly diagnosed.

My face is a volcano.

Or at least it looks that way. No, volcano is the wrong word, more like moon-faced. The small steroid pimples have begun to pop up all over, mostly in noticeable areas like above my lip (ugh) and around the corner creases of my mouth. I just spent a futile ten minutes scrubbing my face in a feeble attempt at trying to control my acne with a face wash. There's not much you can do when it's literally your body trying to rid itself of the toxins created by the medication. My face is a poster campaign for rejection.
I'm trying to decide, at the moment, what's worse. The acne or the hirsutism (facial hair) sweeping across my chin. I bet my body is loving feeding off the steroids so it can start new cultivations of hair colonies in abnormal places, like perhaps a patch right at the base of my spine or the fatty hump curving between my shoulder blades. It all has a sense of poetry to it, doesn't it? I should just be smart about it and just let it grow into a beard instead of spending the time to sit and pluck each hair. Then I'll fasten down my breasts and wear flannel. Hey, I bet it could really fly here. No need to even take testosterone, I make enough of it on my own.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And now I notice a grumpy bit.

So, given that I can't see, I can't really see what's happening to my body as a result of these meds. But, I still have the sense of touch and as I was feeling my face I discovered I now have the lovely little solu-medrol pimples popping up all along my hairline on my forehead. Lovely. As if I didn't feel bad enough about getting rounder and softer, now add in lovely pimples and faded vision. What's next? My period? Curse my tongue!

Is multiple sclerosis a treatable condition?

Is multiple sclerosis a treatable condition?

Taft said they didn't want to put me on this drug. I wish I could recall why. I hate doing the rebif injections because of the site reactions and the side effects. My hope is that once I get insurance out here I can locate a neurologist who would be willing to get me started on this drug.

Colorado Multiple Sclerosis Patient Reaps Benefits From Dahn Yoga

Colorado Multiple Sclerosis Patient Reaps Benefits From Dahn Yoga

This reminds me of a DVD I bought called heavyweight yoga that actually has a segment on it for people who are bedridden. Interesting.

Record keeping is so important.

I know that once I feel better I'm going to leave this blog as a side thought and proceed through life until I need it again. I've got to stop doing that. I need to make the most out of this blog as a way to keep track of things, such as: what sets off a replase, how am I feeling, is there anything important about the study of this disease I should share.
I originally started this blog with the hopes that it would be a way for those seeking information to find it. Thus far, I believe I've been rather unsuccessful. The primary focus of this blog has turned into a sounding board for my complaints about doctors, insurance, employers, etc. Which, in a way, can be helpful to those who want to understand the difficulties some of us face. But alas, readers, I feel in many ways I've abandoned what I initially set out to do, to be a source of information, to record everything that's important both personally and medically. So, from here on out, that's my main priority. I will attempt to write everyday, even on days where the sun is shining and I'm out living life. I think these are the most crucial of days to document anyway, to further show that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.
Now on to the good stuff. The prednisone is making me feel like my eyes are glassy and everything is a bit blurry. I can't recall if I've ever had this side effect before, so I'm willing to take comments from other MS sufferers out there who have experienced this or know someone who has. It's making seeing difficult overall because everything is just so darn blurry.
The good news is that earlier I experienced a wee bit of double vision, which means something is working. If I cover my right eye and attempt to peer out with my left I can almost make out the shape of my hand but I have yet to see any defined details.
I called around today and found out information about applying for state medical insurance as well as food stamps to help me out until I can look for a job. Jan, Chrissey's mom, is bringing me home the applications because said eye complications are getting in the way of seeing the app online.
At their insistance I've begun to take Vitamin D and Vitamin B12 daily in order to get the vitamins I need according to MS recommendations. I know the B12 is supposed to help in the healing process of the optical neuritis. I can't say either way because I've been on the solu-medrol and that usually complicates research.
I've put on about five pounds since this process began last Thursday, which for anyone who has been on solu-medrol this is a small miracle. Usually at this point I'm bloated, retaining water and all swollen. My pants feel slightly tighter than usual so I know I'm retaining some fluids. I'm also incredibly thirsty thanks to the heartburn the solu-medrol and prednisone makes me have. I think it's one of the reasons I slept so terribly last night, the heartburn just would not quit. At this point I know adjusting my diet won't do anything for it so I just have to suffer until my body adjusts.
My mood is better today. Yesterday I had a bit of roid rage followed by a complete breakdown of tears and sobbing. I hate to get to that point but it was an overall emotionally draining day and I know, again, the meds don't help. In the end, it all worked out like Chrissey said it would and now I've got my oral meds and I'm a happy young woman. Each day is another step towards recovery.
Since this flare-up hit me so suddenly as I arrived, I really haven't had the chance to reflect on my life back in Syracuse or even had the chance to explore my new surroundings. I have to investigate how I feel about leaving my husband and my old life behind, but I think that can wait. I have the feeling it's going to be a difficult situation to think about but I'm not blind (haha) to the fact that I know I made the right decision. I'm craving the chance to get out and really see things. I've been taking brief trips with Chrissey when we have the opportunity and being so blind I just feel like I'm missing everything. I'm excited to get to the point where I will be able to drive again. I think that's the part that makes me the most miserable, the not being able to drive bit. I love to drive, it's where I go to think and get away and right now I'm getting some serious cabin fever.
All in all, despite everything, today is turning out to be a good day. Even when you're sick you're entitled to those moments where everything is calm and at peace. I like that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sometimes being a gnat in one's ear really pays off.

I hated that I let me emotions take control of my situation earlier. I try to be a bit more reserved with them, especially over the phone, but the whole situation was even to much for me to handle.
There's one thing I've learned about life while having this disease. No one else will ever be your advocate, you have to fulfill that role. So, I annoyed them and I called and I left messages and I left messages with other companies and I even called the answering service. That's what did the trick.
I have my meds.. and I'm happy. I can take it in the morning and not be up all night like I more than likely will be tonight. So, things worked out in the end. I spilt a little anger, shed a few tears but I'll just blame that on the steroids and not me feeling sorry for myself. Problem solved.

Roid rage. Today blog, you'll be the place that I rant.

I'm frustrated. Frustrated with not being able to see and frustrated with doctor's who just don't give a rats ass. It's so incredibly dangerous not to taper off of with the prednisone. What's worse, is that the idiot receptionist told me I could come and pick the script up! This is after the several times I told her that I was in another state!
So let me start from a comfortable point just so I don't muddle up the story with my anger and frustration. I received my first round of IV steroids from the nurse on Thursday of last week. She went over with me why I need to follow up with the prednisone and taper off (mostly my body will crash and I'm at risk for a super bad relapse like I had before, which includes hospital beds and paralyzation). This was after hours in New York and I knew that I would have to call first thing in the morning to get the ball rolling on Friday. So I did, I woke up early, called the Shuk's office and explained to the receptionist (*insert eye-roll here*) that I needed the meds called in and since I was relying on someone else to take me to the pharmacy (because I'm flippin' blind!) I needed it done before the end of the day. So we go on Saturday, thinking, oh, they should be there by now. But alas, nothing. No call, no nothing. So I call the answering service and they put a call through to Dr. Shukri. He calls me back and pretty much tells me there's nothing I can do but call back on Monday and talk to Mary (his nurse).
So I did. I called back. Did I get Mary? Nope, I get the idiot receptionist again. She says she may be able to call it in for me. So I give her some time and she calls me back while I'm in the loo and offers to let me come and pick the prescription up (*begins to bang head on table and keyboard*). This is the same girl I've been telling that I'm stuck in another state, blind and cannot just pick it up. I explain it to her again and she says she'll take care of it for me. Playing the waiting game again I call bi-mart. Still nothing. I begin my last round of steroids (which is taking forever today because of how fast my blood is pumping) and call the home infusion line and let them know I'll be removing it today. I tell her the situation with the prednisone (or lack thereof) and she offers to call their office and try to speak with someone. She calls, and you guessed it, they are closed! Unbelievable. She did fax something over to them so it's my hope that they'll get it while they close up and finally take care of it. Don't they know you never stress a person with MS out like this? It's mostly fear driving it all, fear that I won't get the prednisone and I'll crash. It's a real fear that anyone in my situation could have, especially when they aren't getting the level of treatment they need to survive. I understand I'm in another state, that I'm not a priority, but I haven't had the chance to even unpack anything out here before this menace of a disease hit me.
I didn't ask for this. I never wanted to be sick and have to deal with doctors and nurses and IV lines and idiot receptionists. I understand it's my cross to bear through life but man, is it really asking to much to have people do what they are supposed to do? To relay priority messages? To do their job to ensure the health and care of their patients?
I'm frustrated and my heart is beginning to speed up from the steroids. I just need to breath. I can't help but thinking that if Taft was still there this would never have happened. He doesn't drop the ball. I wish there were more PA's out there like him. He's my superhero.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My thoughts are not empty and hollow atm..

I'm a little scared that I haven't had any sign that my vision may recover. What makes it worse is when I look on the internet and read all the stats about the recovery chances at this level of progression. I know.. that someday I'll probably be completely blind, since with each flare-up I manage to get optical neuritis, but I'm not ready for it yet. Please, don't let it be now. I'm so fearful that I'll never be able to see out of my left eye again and that I won't be able to drive.
Chrissey would say I worry too much, but I think in this matter, I have a right to worry. What can I do if I go blind? How depressed I would be if I could never gaze on beautiful works of art or some cinematic piece? I know it happens to people, but after 27 years of seeing, I don' think I could cope. It would more than likely mean flushing a lot of my dreams down the toilet. There's one dream I don't think I could ever give up though. I think, despite it all, even if I was blind and unable to function with my own limbs, I'd still try to go for my dream of being a disability lawyer. I want to help people like me. I want to help others inflicted with MS so that they may have the chance to live a better life than I ever could have! I want to make sure that these people are treated fairly in the workplace, unlike I was by certain higher ups that I won't mention here. No one should ever feel like they aren't good enough because they were born with a disease like MS.
I think the real problem lies in the fact that someone knows at least one person with MS. They then say, oh yeah, my Great Aunt Shirley had MS and lived a long, healthy life. Hunny, I'm not your Great Aunt Shirley. The thing with MS is it affects people differently. You can't group all MS sufferers into one large category and expect the definition to fit. It doesn't work like that. For me, I have to keep my immune system weak because the moment it gets too strong I know I'm in for a relapse. Therefore, I catch every germ you bring to the office. I catch every bug that goes around. I'm a connoisseur of sickness! Mention what's going around lately and more than likely I've had it, far worse than you will ever get it.
But, I don't think I'm jaded. Although, I will say, I do shrug it off a bit as if it were my lot in life that I have to face. But beneath that shrug, I'm terrified. Terrified of where I will be in five years, in ten years and if I'll make it another twenty years. I know that if I ever find myself stuck in a bed, using a respiratory to breathe and just existing I will not allow myself to continue that way. Never. I don't think that's anyway to live. That's one of the reasons I moved to Oregon is because I know it's a state that allows assisted suicide for those who are capable of doing it. I want to be able to have that option! The option of choosing to live my life how I want to, not how the government says I am to live.
I didn't mean to go into such a dark place with my thoughts, but this is what I think about when I'm given a moment alone. A moment of self reflection like I had so much of when I was on the road. Sure, I want to be like everyone else and have the freewill to do anything I want, but unfortunately, I'm not able to at the moment. The thought brings tears to my eyes that I'm so bound by this disease. When will I ever get my chance of freedom? I thought moving to Portland was my chance at discovering myself and my freewill but how quickly that all can change in a day or two.
Bah, perhaps I'm just being foolish or throwing my own pity party. It's not like I mean to, but this just happens to be the place where my mind wanders too. I also desperately want to wash my hair and take a shower, but with this IV in my arm, it's not the easiest of chores. Therefore, I'll stick with being scummy!
Scummily yours,

Quick post to pass the time

I'm writing this from my blackberry so it won't be a lengthy blog post, merely an update. I had a brief scare with my IV site and had to have a nurse come out and take a look at it. It was just a wee bit of blood from bumping it so I didn't have to have a new IV put in. Still no improvement in my lack of vision, except I've fooled myself into believing I can see lights, just a glimmer, but that's positive. I had to reschedule a few interviews for next week and I'm hopeful it won't damage my job prospects. I'm putting a lot of faith into my vision being restored but I've begun to work on a backup plan in the case it does not. If I remain blind in my left eye, I believe I will have no trouble getting disability. In fact, Chrissey's mom gave me the number of an agency that may be able to help me get food stamps and medical insurance until I get a position somewhere. Anywho, right now we're at the dentist while Chrissey gets a tooth extracted and after that we're off to look at houses. Good times ahead!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mmm.. salted peanuts means happy kiddo!

I'm so munching on salted peanuts at the moment. Does a body good. Or at least a body filled with solu-medrol. Day two of my infusion went without an problems, which I'm very happy about.
I'm still completely blind in my left eye, yet, I can't complain because I feel still relatively good. I feel like a could dance a jigg!
It's rough having not had an IV infusion in a while because you forget all the nasty side effects. With a healthy dose of steroids you get: the sweats, salt and sugar cravings, bloating, break-outs, insomnia, restlessness and hunger. It's annoying but in order to get my vision back I'll do anything at this point.
I'm excited for tonight, it's a calming night of pizza and movies with people I love. I'll try to write more later, but my life just isn't that fascinating at the moment.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A slight hiccup in an otherwise unbumpy road.

It's frustrating. I have the potential to have everything I've ever wanted but yet as soon as I begin to walk down a new path MS has to rear its ugly head and remind me that I'm sick. At least, so far, this has been a mild relapse, it just serves to remind me that I can do anything IF I remember that I'm sick. I consider myself a strong woman with strong dreams. Heck, the whole thing that started this blindness in my left eye was the completion of a 3300+ mile trip across the country solo, in seven days! A HUGE task for any MS sufferer to be taking, especially alone where the complications of MS can set in at any moment. Sure, I felt fatigued but not once did I feel sick. Hell, even now I feel fit as a fiddle, well with the exception of being completely blind in my left eye. But not once did I think this was going to happen especially when my life was turning out right for a change.
So I have to reflect on my life and make some decisions. Some serious, difficult and hard decisions that will have an impact on the rest of my life. This little hiccup has reminded me that I'm not invincible, that I'm not cautious enough. It sucks that I have to bandaid up everything in my life just so I don't cause myself to get hurt or worse. Normal people walk through life and take their bumps and bruises, why can't I? Now, I don't feel sorry for myself, it's just when this sort of thing happens you begin to question a lot in your life. Am I making the right decision, for me? Am I doing what's in MY best interest? So long I've put others before myself. But wasn't the whole point of this journey to regain what I'd lost, to become dependent on myself versus taking care of a spouse, a house, etc. I was supposed to regain my freedom from being the worrier, the stressed out budget manager. I came here to find myself and what did I find? The real me, the MS sufferer who needs to learn how to take care of herself. I need to take my meds, I need to eat healthy, I need to exercise and most importantly, I have to live each day for me. No one else. Just me... and maybe my cat.
If there's one thing I've learned on this journey is that it's okay to be alone, it's okay to sit down at restaurants and eat alone. It''s okay to go into stores and shop just for oneself. It's okay to lose yourself in your thoughts. And although I was alone for just a short while, I was never truly alone. I had those who loved me, who checked up on me and guided me when needed. I now have a support system here who all unanimously agree that I should check into getting disability. That I would be better off without the stress of working full-time and that I would get the proper insurance I need as well as the potential of my schooling paid for. Then, when completed, I could practice law on a part-time basis and help others who have MS get on disability and fight for their rights. I could truly do my dream job of being an advocate for people with MS and all sorts of disabilities! I could give my life a real sense of meaning. But even if I don't, I'm still okay with just being me.