Friday, December 21, 2012

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

Okay, so I stole the title of the post from an old song. I'm not exactly creative at the moment.

Anyway, it's been almost a month since I last blogged, and that's not because I haven't been meaning to. Time is a valuable commodity when you have a condition like mine, and as loathe as I am to admit it, blogging just isn't high on my priority list when I have to choose what to spend the little energy/coherence I have on something.

MS affects everyone differently, and I've talked a little before about my primary symptoms. Most prevalent is fatigue (oh, God, is there fatigue!), but there are a few other things that really make my life interesting at times. Those include:

Anxiety (this is a biggie)
Decreased cognitive function (which is a nice way of saying "I can't brain today, I have the dumb"), including memory loss
Clumsiness/decreased dexterity i.e. falling/stumbling
Numbness - usually in the extremities but other times elsewhere

Now, about that memory thing. I have a hard time recalling most things. I can watch a TV series, know I've seen it, but every episode is new to me because I can't remember I've seen it. You get it. Given that, I'll write down what I do remember about this week.

Monday (12/17) - I don't remember much except that I remember I didn't go to the pool for some reason.

Tuesday (12/18)  - I went to dinner with a friend. (For the record, I didn't eat anything I hadn't eaten there before, several times over.) It was very nice and I went to the pharmacy afterward to pick up a prescription and something that had never happened to me before happened. (Sensitive viewers please skip this paragraph, as it contains FAR TOO MUCH INFORMATION, but needs to be documented so I can tell my neurologist about it, as it's a new thing/symptom, and I'll need to watch for recurrence.) After I picked up the script, I was doing a little shopping and felt my stomach rumble. I ignored it as I'd just eaten a nice dinner out and was digesting. Then it rumbled a little lower and all of the sudden  I needed the bathroom, IMMEDIATELY, or I was going to have an accident. I looked around for one in the drug store and couldn't find one, but I knew there was one at the sandwich chain two doors down. Honestly, I wasn't sure I would make it. I knew there was no way I could make it home - I'd have an accident for certain. I abandoned my shopping card and literally hobbled, lower cheeks clenched tight against anything wanting to move, to the sandwich chain. I barely made it, but I made it. I have NEVER come that close to a bowel accident anywhere, in public or otherwise. Bladder accidents, sure, I've come close. Never have I worried or even experienced a bowel incident like this.

I know bowel and bladder control problems are common with MS, but I've never had to deal with my bowels before. Bladder, yes. I've had a few close calls and even an incident or two that's taught me to carry extra bladder control pads in my purse, but nothing like this. Anyway, that's documented. Moving on!

Wednesday (12/19) -  I went to the pool, then ruined my almost full hour of exercise by going out for pancakes afterward. This is important to note because I slipped and fell in the entryway of the restaurant. My cane went flying and I just went down. It was a slip of my pool shoes (this was really the issue here) on the wet floor beside the rugs put down to catch the water (it rains a lot here). I stepped off the rug to make room for my friend behind me, my shoe slipped in some water there and down I went. No injuries, though, beyond a bruised and scraped knee. Everything else was okay. A nice stranger offered her hand to help me up, but I waved her off and got up on my own. I found my cane and went and had breakfast. Before we ordered I went to the bathroom and checked myself out. I washed the knee and hands and cane and went back to my table. I carry a small first aid kit in my purse (look, you learn to do this after awhile with this condition, and should have one anyway whether or not you have MS) and hand sanitizer (alcohol 60%). I sanitized the scraped knee, took an ibuprofen (which I also carry) and put a bandage over it. Then I sanitized my hands and went on with my breakfast.

Yeah, the knee hurt. It still does. I banged it good. But nothing else was hurt or damaged, and I'm okay with that. The restaurant staff was concerned also, but I waved them off and told them I was fine. I spoke to my husband and assured him I was all right and didn't need the hospital. (The first fall I had before I was officially diagnosed I unknowingly broke my tibia and fibula. I didn't go to the hospital and ended up mentioning to my family doctor that it still hurt 10 months after the fact. He took an x-ray and told me it was an old, healed fracture. So I break my leg and walk around on it for 10 months. Go me. Hello, high tolerance for pain! So we're a little more careful now.) I'm fine. It was my patella/kneecap proper that got banged, not anywhere else hurt or scraped. Just a bruise is all. I'll heal. It could have been a lot worse. Side note: I really need to both cut and paint my toenails. I was wearing pool shoes and my toes aren't all that attractive. Imagine if I'd hurt my foot! Then people would have been looking at my ugly toes with nails in need of clipping. (I may have my priorities out of order.) Moving on!

Thursday (12/20) - Here's the part where it gets interesting. All this week I've had anxiety issues, and Thursday was hard. I took the day completely off. I stayed in bed until 1PM, then got up and spent the rest of the day watching movies on the couch, surrounded by my pets with my husband close by. It was a very anxious day and I needed my family close. I had a hard time moving - my limbs were clumsy and heavy - and just stayed down as much as I could. My husband is always attentive and understanding when I have "a hard day," and he kept me well-stocked with things to eat and the DVD player going. He's an awesome guy, my husband. I noticed as I was getting ready for bed that my neck and chest were numb/less sensitive than they usually were, but I shrugged and just chalked it up to another symptom in this bad patch. I went to bed about midnight (remember I'd slept until 1PM and hadn't laid back down for a nap, so I'd been up about 12 hours - a feat for me) and slept until this morning.

Friday (12/21) - THE APOCALYPSE HAS...wait, no it hasn't. Huh. The world didn't end, and the sun rose in the East and everything, and I was feeling okay. Mostly. I mean, I could get out of bed, which is more than a lot of people, so I did that. I fed my animals and got the day started as normal in our house. I was still very lethargic and didn't get to the errands I meant to get to all this week.

I went out to dinner again tonight, by myself. On purpose. I just needed to get out of the house, but my anxiety nearly stopped me. I stood in front of the door for five minutes, coat and hat on, keys in hand, ready to go, but anxiety reared its ugly head, saying things like, "Don't go! What if the house burns down while you're out? And you're not here to save the animals? What if someone breaks in because they see no cars in the drive? What if-"

Anxiety tries hard to make me its' bitch sometimes, and I take exception to that. Sometimes I don't want to take the little white pill my doctor gives me for those times to make it go away. Sometimes I just want to live my life and to hell with what that bullshit does to me. So I ignored it, grabbed my purse and left. Fuck it!

And you know what? It was fine. I had a nice dinner, a glass of wine, a nice dessert, some tea with it, and the house didn't burn down. I didn't get a flat tire. No one broke in. Everything was just fine. For the first time all week, I felt like everything was okay.

As I said, this week has been hard. Anxiety issues (I think the upcoming holiday is partly to blame; I may be stressing slightly), hard days, etc. I have a lot to catch up on, and catching up when you have MS is hard. The trick is not to get behind in the first place, but the smallest thing can set off a chain reaction that wrecks everything you've spent time arranging. The limited energy I have becomes even more of a valuable commodity, so things get shoved back and pushed aside to make room for the things I am able to accomplish.

Fortunately my family and friends are understanding (for the most part - there are a few people who are intimidated by my condition and aren't sure how to treat me, but they're learning) about things, so if I'm a little (or a lot) late for things, they understand.

Like my holiday fudge. I planned on making some on Wednesday, but things got a little out of hand and I ended up taking it easy. The fall didn't hurt me physically all that much, but mentally and emotionally it shook me up. Blunt reminders of my condition don't sit well with me. They make me angry more often than not, because I try so hard to live as normal a life as possible. I already do so much to compensate for this disease that when I'm, quite literally, knocked on my ass, I tend to resent it.

But what else is there to do about it? I can't sit down and cry and lament "why me?" because it's not going away. I can either cope or give up, and I'm not the kind to give up because I've had a little setback.

The "little setbacks" are going to become more frequent and more difficult, and that's just a fact. (Unless they cure this shit, which they might.) I might as well get used to it.

And gather my ingredients to make fudge tomorrow.

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I don't want any advice, "try this/have you tried," or any medical opinions. Anything else, feel free to comment!