Sunday, December 7, 2014

Year-End Round-Up


The year has gone by so fast. I know time does that without you realizing it, and I'm not sure why things have come so quickly for me this year.

I'd like to think it's because I've been busy, and I suppose, looking back at my calendar (I keep three, because my memory is fairly-well shot nowadays), I see that I have indeed been very busy. I'll do a quick run-down, not only for year's end, but for my own posterity so I can have a record somewhere. That's what this blog was supposed to be when I first started it, and the daily journaling thing just hasn't worked out for me. Maybe if I put access to this blog on my tablet, it would, but I don't want to do that. My tablet is for things other than blogging. Besides, the little keyboard display on it is really annoying. You have to click to another screen entirely to get to a bunch of punctuation, and I don't like that at all. I use that keyboard thing as little as possible.

Anyway! I'm going to put a cut here, because this is going to get long, and you might not have time for that. So click for more!

April's post talks about how I was fighting with clinical depression, and that's so, so true. That was a very difficult period in my year, but with time and effort and the support of friends and family, I managed to pull up out of that spiral.

Nothing terribly interesting is on the calendar for May.

June was a busy month in that we had some company come and I did my very first ever 5k walk.

Read that again. I did my very first ever 5k walk. I can't believe it either. But I'd been reading stories about MS Walks and people with MS walking and a friend of mine did a walk in my honor one year and I used to be so active and and and.... So, when a friend told me earlier in the year about this new 5k walk a local town was hosting this year, I signed up. I'd been training myself for months to walk (my doctors want me to work on my mobility as much as I can - exercise is important for my condition, lecture, lecture, lecture) more than a few minutes, slowly building up my stamina. Endurance is much harder for me now, and I had been walking with friends to get myself in shape.

When the day came, the friend who had signed up with me and I went down and did it. We fucking DID IT, you guys! We were the last ones to cross the finish line (it took me an hour and 23 minutes and 45 seconds), but we did it. A whole 5k. That's 3.1 miles, guys. When I first started training this year, I could barely walk fifteen minutes, let alone just half a mile. But I kept at it and worked hard and pushed a little too hard (my husband told on me at my neurologist's visit in July about it, too, and I got Talked To About Pushing Too Hard), but it paid off. It was hard and I didn't think I could make it, but it was an easy walk and the weather was really great, and I had friends with me. I also had a lot of encouragement. Not only friends (both online and off), but the race was staffed with a lot of volunteers I knew, and each one I'd pass would cheer me on. As would random other walkers/runners! That's what really surprised me about the whole thing. Runners are apparently very supportive people. Or maybe it was just the cane that prompted them to smile and say "great job!" or "keep going!" or "you're doing great!" I don't know. But I fucking did it, and that was a hell of a feeling. I may have finished the race next to last (my friend generously offered to cross the finish line after me on purpose so I wouldn't be dead last. That wasn't necessary but still very sweet of them!), but finish it I did. And that was just the beginning.

I should note here too that starting in April, we began some serious renovations on our house, getting it ready for sale. Husband and I spent a little time every day we possibly could sorting through boxes and closets and various other things that had accumulated over the years. Friends came over and helped us haul things to donation centers and the dump, as well as helping us clean and paint. Every month through September, people were over once a week or so helping us do something. We have the best friends and family, and by summer's end we were 98% ready to sell our house. There's still a few things that need to be done, but we should be able to sell this spring, which means a move is in store for us next year. That's all right. I've been planning to and working toward a move for awhile now, so the idea isn't all that stressful.

Back to the summer.

July was more painting and my annual MRI. Good news! No new lesions. I guess the Tecfidera and walking my ass off was doing some good. I saw my neurologist shortly thereafter for my bi-annual check-up and MRI follow-up, and all was well there, too. More blood tests were ordered, and my white cell count is stable (low white cell levels are a concern with Tecfidera, so regular monitoring is essential). 

August brought my first-ever (TMI!) colonoscopy. That wasn't the most fun experience, but it wasn't nearly as terrible as I've heard stories about. I had to stop my Tecfidera for a day (because you simply MUST eat with it to negate the gastrointestinal side effects and one of the the preps the day before the test was a day of clear liquids), and my neurologist was okay with that. All was well (test was fine) and things went back to normal. More stuff with the house got done, and summer wound down.

Nothing terribly exciting happened in September. More stuff with the house (hey, I work slowly, all right? I can only do so much, and there was a lot to do around here!). Husband went out of town for a week and brought back a lovely flu-like illness (fever and all), and we were both down with that for a few days. I recovered faster because I'd been prepared for it and did what I could to minimize things and expedite my recovery, because October was approaching and with it was company coming.

October came and company arrived late in the second week, just in time to join me for my very first ever 10k.

Yeah. That's what I said. This 10k is an annual event here in my state, and I've wanted to do it since long before my diagnosis. I figured since I'm slowly progressing toward a wheelchair (who knows how slowly - hopefully they'll cure this shit before that day comes), I'd better get to it if I'm ever going to do it, so like I said - I've been working all year training for it. Closer to two years, really. I wanted to do it last year, but a lot of things got in the way, and training was derailed. This year, had to happen this year. I don't know how much longer I'll have enough mobility to walk without more than a cane, so it was this year or never. My neurologist was okay with it, and I'd worked hard all year to get it done.

There was a caveat with this event that scared me more than anything. A time constraint. Part of the race is along a highway, and they close it down to one lane for two hours only, so if you're not through that part of the course by the time that two hours is up, a bus came and picked you up so they could reopen the highway. So yeah...that part scared me. I took me almost an hour and a half to walk just HALF that distance (a 10k is 6.2 miles). How in hell was I supposed to get twice that far in only two hours? The answer? HAUL ASS. That's it. That was the only solution. Assholes and elbows until that part was over. The hardest part? The highway part of the course was most of the way. Only the last mile or so was off the highway, so I couldn't let up. My friend and I worked out a pace that allowed me to "rest" a little between bouts of ass-kicking pace, and that seemed to work. I really can't say much. I was kind of zoned-out for the last half of the walk. It was all I could do to keep my legs moving and my lungs working. I knew if I stopped for any reason, I wouldn't be able to start again.

But I did it, people. I fucking did it. I crossed the finish line in two hours, 23 minutes, and 55 seconds. That's almost exactly an hour longer than the 5k. By rights it should have been twice that time (since it was twice the distance of the 5k, which would have made my finishing time something like 4:47:10), but it wasn't. Only an hour longer. I couldn't fucking believe it either. Hell, I couldn't believe I'd outpaced the Bus of Shame, but I did.

Then I came home and promptly died for three days. I could barely walk more than a few feet. Everything hurt. The adrenaline I'd been using to power through the event wore off about a half hour later (we came straight home after the race), and I used the absolute last of my energy to shower before collapsing into my bed. The first day after I could barely move. Just enough to make it to the bathroom and back to bed. The second day I could make it to the living room and back. Large doses of anti-inflammatories helped immensely. The third day was better, but I still couldn't leave the house. The fourth day was all right. I managed to get out and do a little walking again, but nothing like the training I'd been doing. Company stayed another few days, then left. And guess what?

They're coming back next year to do it again, only this time they're going to run it (timed) while I walk it (possibly timed).

They wanted to make sure I could do it first before leaving me to do it on my own, which I appreciate. And yeah. Hell yeah. If I can possibly do it next year, I'm game. It wasn't nearly as hard as I expected it to be for me. The dread made it worse. Now, though? Fuck yeah. I got this. No problem. I even joined a local gym and have been trying to get there at least three times a week to walk. (I've been managing maybe once or twice, given circumstances and other things, but I'm managing something!) I also promised the volunteers of the walk I did in June that I'd be back again next year if they do it again, and that's looking to be an annual thing as well, so I guess I'll be doing that one, too. Ooo-rah for training, then!

As a result of all this house-preparation and walking-training, I've lost a few pounds. I've consistently maintained my weight under 160 for the last three months, and I'm hoping to be down to 150 by the end of the year (just 5 more pounds to go! I can do it, right?). I'd love to start out 2015 at 150, then maybe by the time I see my neuro again be at 145. My long-term goal is 135, but I'm taking it in baby steps for now. I can do 5 pounds. When I lose that, I'll work on the next five.

So that was October. I walked a fucking 10K. FUCK YEAH.

November brought us Thanksgiving. We had a few people over and a nice little gathering. Nothing big or extravagant. Low-key and casual. Very low stress, which is exactly what we're trying to focus on for both me and the husband.

Which brings us to December. We've got the tree up and the labels printed to send out our holiday cards. We've found a house we like and have put an offer on, but it's contingent on us selling our house, so we'll see about that (it's a small hope - the real estate market is absolute shit for sellers right now). Presents for out-of-town people are sent (all hail internet shopping and gift wrapping!) and other shopping is pretty much finished. I am on the ball this year.

Since we've been working on our house the past couple years, I've been on a cleaning kick. I use Unfuck Your Habitat and Apartment Therapy's "Clean Your House in 20 Minutes A Day" sample schedule to help me. I love UFYH because it's geared toward people with disabilities (mental and physical), and it's been so helpful on those days when I Just Can't. I like the Apartment Therapy schedule because it helps me focus on an area in regular rotation. I really challenge myself with the 20 minutes, too. Between the two sites, I'm managing to keep my house a low-stress area. I've discovered that mess and clutter are big anxiety things for me, and cleaning not only helps lower my stress, but keeps me moving as well.

This year I've gotten rid of a shit-ton of stuff. We even had a yard sale over the summer (we'd been accumulating stuff for that for a couple summers now, so a friend helped us out and we finally had one this year). I'm trying not to be obsessed with getting things cleaned and cleared, but I kind of am. Husband found this book mentioned on a site he visits, and I can't stop thinking about it. I want to read it. Maybe Santa will bring it to me for Christmas.

That looks like all for now! Things are going along. I hope to update more frequently next year, but as I've said in previous posts, I only have so much energy, and blogging isn't high on the list of priorities. So there you go.

Happy holidays to all, whatever you celebrate!

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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!