Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Puzzle ~trying to sort things out

It has become one of my ways to  write out a few things in a couple logbooks  at the end of my day. In turn I use these logbooks to help me blog here. And to possibly see a pattern, a portion of the puzzle.
One logbook helps me keep track of my dmm injections, symptoms and possible reactions. The other helps me keep track of food, water intake, exercise, and symptoms as well.
The logbooks show, since the double vision episode, I have been experiencing a handful of symptoms daily. There hasn't a day gone by that hasn't required a notation in my logbooks. Most of the time it has been the same ones over and over. What I have termed as the Status Quo,  the New Norm that I now expect.
Please understand that these symptoms don't stay the whole day. They come and go. Some only make an appearance once in a day and some days more than others. It's a huge puzzle I am working on.
That is why the logbooks are important to me. They hold the information of my days and hopefully an understanding of sorts.
At times some beloved one will asks "How are you?" I simply say "fine". I don't mean "fine" as in one of the popular acronyms. I'm just fine. Not because everything is good or gone. But, because I am really doing fine under this set of conditions.
This past month I can look back and even remember a few days that  have only had one or two symptoms written down. And the other day, January 18th, I went through a day like no other. A day with no noteworthy symptoms. I was jotting down some notes in my logbooks and stopped short. I looked at Gregg and remarked about the fact that I either didn't have any symptoms today or I don't remember any.
I didn't remember any! We had been out an about and I didn't remember having any dizziness, any balance issues, any weakness in my hands! I didn't remember having any symptoms! Thanks be to God!
Since that day, I have had statis quo days. I still praise God and will take whatever days He chooses to give me. I'll keep working on this puzzle. Not that I expect to ever solve it, that is quite out of my hands. Or BOC (beyound our control). I simply want to see how it progresses. I want to remember what it has been like and I look forward to seeing God's Hand on me during the course of it. And so far, it is true, I have been able to see His Hand on me.
Looking back I can see His guidence, His support, His Grace and Mercy. I'm reminded of His Faithfullness, for He is Faithful and True. That gives me Hope.
I'll continue working the Puzzle. I'll pick up a piece and look at it. If it fits with another I can put them together and see a larger picture.
So far the only pieces that are together show a pair of  hands holding someone. And Really, that is all the farther I need to see. For it  is my Lord's Hands and He is holding on to me. I stand in awe that I am in His Hand

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Care Giving

I've mention before that I am a caregiver. I have been able to claim this title since 1994 and I am truly thankful that I have had this experience. As strange as that may sound.
Being a caregiver has given me a different focal point for these past years. It has also given me a tether that at times I have struggled against. But, this tether, has also given me a balance that I may not have otherwise had.
I'll try to explain it like this.
I use to run dogs. Snow dogs. I was part of a team, four dogs and myself the musher. I was blessed to a part of  the team for 9 years. We started out with just one dog and one musher and over 4 years we grew. The next 5 years were run with the 5 of us.
During those years I learned a little something about tethers.
A team consists of the dogs, the sled, the harnesses, the gang lines or tethers, and a musher. The dogs of course being the power source, would be of no effect were it not for the harnesses they wear and the tethers that hook them to the sled. One may think that the tethers would just be a means to move the sled and for the most part this is true. However, I have been witness to another effect those tethers allow that, I for one, did not expect.
These tethers, just flexible nylon cords, hooked to the dogs in such a fashion that it helps them with balance. The first time I saw this happen I couldn't believe my eyes. We'd been running on some back roads when we came upon a stretch of really slick stuff. Stuff that I would have had trouble standing up on. The dogs gripped the hard pack with their toes nails. I watched as each one bared their toes to get their traction. I thought we would all fall to the ground in a heap. Then I saw them separate from each other as far as the tethers would allow. The tethers became taut, rigid, a frame work to lean out from. In effect creating  balance. With their toe nails digging in and using each other to work against they got us through the bad stretches. I learned that day that the dogs could  balance and stabilize themselves by using the tethers and each others strength. I learned as my part to add an little back pressure by stepping lightly on the claw brake.
What a lesson for me.
I realized that I have been living this type of life. Indeed all of us that have families and loved ones live this type of life.
I am a caregiver and am tethered to the one who needs me to help him. But, I am also one that needs a caregiver or caregivers. The ones that live with me in this life of MS. They are tethered to me and I to them.
If we remember the lesson from the dogs and not fight our tethers to one another but, use them to help stabilize us in the bad stretches.
What a team of strength we can be when we help one another.
Once again I give thanks to my Lord who speaks loudest to me through the animals around me. I am so grateful to Him for giving me the ability to glean life lessons from His Creations. He, who is also a major part of our team.
the One that holds the strongest tether.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Life Upside Down: Four months in.

On the good side of things- nothing has really changed in the past month. It, of course, has been four months since my diagnosis, two months since the start of my DMM (disease-modifying medication), and a few days since an occurrence of my toe trouble.
Since that was the focus of last month, I'll mention the fact that my neurologist didn't think it was a reaction to my DMM. He prescribed some over the counter hydro cortisone cream. So when it becomes unbearable I use that and it helps.
I just can't seem to keep my toes warm and I think that is why they are giving me trouble.
I had chill blains when I was little. I played outside too long in the snow with inadequate boots. Anyway, that was then and this is now. This toe trouble seemed a bid reminiscent.
Last month I did some snow shoveling with inadequate boots. I believe my toes got too cold and thus the toe trouble. Just starting on the DMM and not knowing what to expect I possible wrongly blamed it for my troubles. Note. I am still having trouble ruling it out. Though it does look more likely that I keep letting my feet get too cold.
When I was little it was a long time before the cold stopped effecting my toes. I remember several times that I would stay to long outside in the snow and suffer the consequences. Once I had chill blains the occurrences would increase. One has to be diligent to keep your toes warm to be free of the painful red sores.
So here we are trying to be diligent once again and failing. My toes feel cold most of the time. In one of the books I've been reading the author writes about cold feet being a symptom of MS. The book explains that when  MS starts to tamper with the interconnections of your nerves responsible for the diameter of the blood vessels, the perception of cold feet can happen. It also explains that your feet are not really cold it is just your perception due to nerve damage.  I don't know if I am having this symptom for sure or if I am just not being diligent enough. I'm thinking at least in part it is the latter because I am receiving damage from them being cold. If they weren't really cold they wouldn't be having trouble.
Another problem I am having is hard to admit. I am having some anger issues. I have always had some trouble with anger but, lately it's become worse. I'm really not proud of this and am praying my Lord will help me figure this out.
It's kind of like having a big 2-stroke motor with a monster power-band for a temper. If you've been around this type of dirt bike you know what happens sometimes when I get angry now. I don't think it's my DMM or even the MS per say. I think I am just angry about my situation. When I have ridiculous trouble taking care of something that needs doing and it doesn't go so easy. My 2-stroke revs up and hits that power-band. Unfortunately my sweet family gets mud thrown on them from my knobby tire. I don't like myself very much at these times.
So, that's been this past month. My other symptoms have stayed like a base line for these four months. There hasn't been any changes in them and I haven't really been able to avoid them. They just happen or not without warning. I feel good most of the time. Just slowed down.

I pray Dear Lord, help in and through all this. Help me to be loving. To come through more and more like you.