Monday, July 28, 2014

Oww!



It is such a shame that our MS symptoms and side-effects do not come with an absolute warning so that we can plan our daily events and life experiences around the inconveniences of the disease. It would be so very wonderful to at least be able to depend on a fair indication of an exacerbation or annoying symptoms so that our social and professional calendars ran more smoothly.

My brother’s girlfriend has a talking parrot who often gives him all the parrot love that she is capable of, rubbing affectingly against him, perching on his shoulder, or staring adoringly on to his face. When they first became acquainted he fell under her spell and didn’t realize that her attention was a false sense of security in her devotion. After  a few “bird attacks” his attraction to her waned drastically and Abby was relegated to her cage when he was in the room. He learned that there is nothing as painful as being bitten by an irate parrot. But then, he started paying close attention to the bird’s behavior when he was around. Abby really did seem to like him and approve of his relationship with her “master”; but he noticed that when she tired of his human sentiments, she would emit a little squawk and pronounce quite clearly “Oww” before offering her extremely painful bite.

Though the bird does not speak the Queen’s English nor does she communicate as her human counterparts do, she obviously related a very human sentiment with a related action. And she let her prey know what was to come.

I hate it when I find myself unexpectedly kissing the floor or unsuccessfully forcing my legs to obey a desperate plea to MOVE. My MS does not warn me of these surprise parties by saying “Oww” or creating mental red flags before organizing a full blown attack. Sometimes I do not even feel the “bite” until I am already inconvenienced by its war strategy.  I wouldn’t even mind borrowing this verbal feather friend if I thought she could warn me with her irony.

I know there are several things that I can avoid in order to subsequently avoid the ill results of MS, but that isn’t the same thing. Staying out of the heat is a smart move. Getting plenty of rest and fitting in some time to exercise are all good things. Eliminating stressful situations and negative relationships are all very, very good ideas as well; but with MS it is not always that easy. And MS does not give us a variety of choices either. We can choose to diet or exercise. We can decide whether or not to plan an day around work or fun. It is our human ability to stop smoking, read a book, watch a movie, buy a new dress, or indulge in self-serving activity or volunteer for a community project. We do not get to choose with MS. MS is in the driver’s seat and gets to make most of the decisions in everyday life. And MS if full of “Oww” moments, the majority of which come with a forewarning announcement.

Of course, life does not come equipped with clear cut cautions, so we must spend some time to analyze the cause and effect of life.

I have an uncle who lost his leg to diabetes and is finding it very difficult emotionally as well as physically in adapting his life around the loss of mobility and independence e. There were many warnings in his life about the possibility of such a tragedy and often he really did have control over the consequences of his life choices. When living with any disease, we need to know our limitations. I am not saying that he choose to lose a limb, but there are always choices that can help us guard against such consequences. Maybe his lifestyle dictated the turn that his unfortunate disease developed.

I mentioned my Parrot Brother, but there is a second sibling in my family. My other brother fell victim to a brain tumor several years ago. He had always suffered headaches that increasingly became more and more painful and frequent over the years, but were never connected with the possibility of this tumor. They were probably early signs of his condition, but headaches are not always viewed as cause to consider a brain disease. They are more commonly considered an inconvenience and annoying part of life. They might have been his “Oww”, but he didn’t know that. After three brain surgeries, the tumor is mostly removed. There is no cancer and he has successfully regained most of his bodily functions. I often think it is rather strange that he and I share many of the same neurological symptoms although our conditions are not the same. Or, are they? His tumor and my MS are both conditions of the brain. The right side of his body suffers the most, as does mine. We both limp around and favor our right legs. The biggest difference other than the obvious diagnosis is that he prefers and tolerates heat while I definitely demand cooler temperatures. I find it a little weird how our brains are conditioned to these differences in order to properly function within the boundaries of our physical conditions.

Neurology is neurology, I guess. It is all an “Oww” attack.

 

 

 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Flop Drop Giggles

Just call me an over achiever, but I have experimented with a variety of drop foot eliminators, including one of those wire-controlled devices to elimate my drop foot and I just could not get along with it. I think it is probably a wonderful tool for folks can afford it or that their insurance recognizes it as a viable treatment for MSers. Mine, unfortunately, does not; but, I could diverse very quickly onto the topic of what the "real" world views as important. We have all experienced this. Because we cannot understrand MS and because it cannot be categorized in black and white terms as far as definition, then there is no true documentation to make it a "real" disease and funding for this imaginary condition is not justified with the powers who hold the purse strings. Whoops! Showing my cynical persona. Sorry.
It's me. I'm back; Miss Positive.
This Flop Drop thingy sounds like an interesting and affordable idea. Sure, it's another money maker for some enthusiastic inventor, but some of man kinds best ideas have evolved from unexpected activities. (Who would have thought that flying a kite would start this whole electricity fad?)
After closely analyzing this Flop Drop device, I think I understand the physics of it. At first, I thought that I could probably rig a similar doohicky (West Virginia slang for thingy; thingamajig; whatchamacallit), but without the 'professional' assecorizing that I am certain this factory-made tool includes. As far as I can tell, the most important part of the Flop Drop is the tiny bungee cord that seems to control the entire process.
I am in no means financially equippeed to frivolously throw my money around, but for this price I think it may be worth trying. I know what I have to do to compensate for my drop foot and I have been consciously raising my right foot higher when I walk. It may take me longer to reach my destination, but at least I am trying to improve my gait. When I sit on the coach I remember to do some legs lifts to hopefully strengthen the unused muscles in my right thigh that I have allowed to take a permanent rest by letting my leg just drag along. I can feel the muscles reacting to this long forgotten exercise and I visulaize a more mobile me.
So, if this Flop Drop (How can you say that without giggling?) helps me move around better, I'll give it a try. I just chalk it up to another level in my guinea pig life of MS.
/http://dropfootorthotics.com/learn-more/

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Purple Dragonfly Award Winning Book!!!!


 

 

 


 


Abby Wins Coveted Purple Dragonfly Book Award


 


                CHANDLER, AZ (June, 2014) – The judges of the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in children’s literature, have spoken, and  Abby  by Lisa A. McCombs, won second place in the YOUNG ADULT FICTION category.  Lisa teaches eighth grade reading at Monongah Middle School and is the author of two additional young adult novels, Raspberry Beret and Opening Pandora’s Box. Abby, the first installment in this trilogy, is also a Reader’s Choice finalist for 2012 and 2013. All three novels are  available in hard copy as well as e-book format on Amazon and Create Space.

                “Winning any place in the Purple Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a First or Second place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the sponsor of the Dragonfly Book Awards. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

                Abby is about seventh grader Abigail Van Buren Masterson who has attended five different schools in seven years. The novel is in journal format as Abby records the trials of her adolescent years to confidante Dear Abby. It retails for $15.00 and can be purchased at Kerri’s Korner, Barnes and Noble, Tamarack, and on Amazon.com. To learn more about the author, visit her Abby page on Facebook or contact her at lmccombs@access.k12.wv.us.

                For a complete list of winners including all first and second place and honorable mention recipients, visit www.FiveStarBookAwards.com and click on “Winners.”

                The next Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest is already underway. Submissions postmarked March 1, 2015 or earlier are eligible for the Early Bird reward: a free e-copy of The Economical Guide to Self-Publishing or Promote Like a Pro: Small Budget, Big Show written by Radke. Final deadline for submissions is May 1, 2015. The Early Bird deadline for the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest, which recognizes outstanding literature in all categories, is August 1, 2014. October 1, 2014 is the final deadline. For complete rules and submission forms for either contest, visit www.FiveStarBookAwards.com and click on the contest of choice.

                To learn more about Five Star Publications, celebrating 28 years of doing business in Chandler, Ariz., access www.FiveStarPublications.com, email info@FiveStarPublications.com or call 480-940-8182.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blogger: Lisa's Page: My MS, MyStory - Edit post

Blogger: Lisa's Page: My MS, MyStory - Edit post

Yoga is NOT for sissies!


What a perfectt sentiment to what is on my mind today! I have played around with all types of exercise all of my life and when MS presented ist own challenge to me, I realized that my exercise regime needed to take a serious turn from high impact aerobics to more manageable options. "Yoga!", the spealists urge. "Yes, yoga!" my neurologist choruses. "Yoga is the thing!" all of my research indicates. "Namaste", my cat's wise eyes tell me at the end of my yoga routine. To this point, I thought I was doing okay in my yoga practice. Not too strenuous, not too anything, really. I realized that I was doing more observing than actual participating when I tuned in to Sadie Nardini (Rock Your Yoga) on the Veria channel or invited Charles from my Yoga Zone cd collection into my living room. Sure, I stretched; I rocked; I did what ever I was told until it became too challenging for me to continue. Then I just folded into a child's pose and thought about what I should do with my day. I was missing a most important message.
 
When the practicing yogis tell you that child's pose is always there for you, listen to them. They mean to assume child's pose until your breath settles and you are ready to move on with your practice. They do NOT mean that you have completed your yoga session for the day. Child's pose is a resting place, not the conclusion to your yoga session. I needed an expert to drive this home before I truly understood.
 
Through the National MS society I  discovered MYMSYOGA with Baron Baptiste and Dr. Elliot Frohman. This is a free compact disc and has enlightened me that my yoga practice has not been doing me any justice. When I play with my yoga tapes, I am not practicing with yogis purposefully directing an audience of particularly situated individuals. After working with my new cd for one and a half days (No, I could not make it entirely through the session the first day.), I realized that Baron is not watering down his practice to fit my physical condition. And I started on the Foundation level! What he does, though, is constantly reassure his viewers that it is okay to fall. It is acceptable to feel unstable; and to remember that child's pose is there for you...as a resting place...for a minute or two...not for the entirety of the class.
 
I like that the participants in his recorded sessions are a variety of age, gender, and physicalcalities. I can relate to at least one woman as obviously having a drop foot or similar affliction that forces her to pay special attention to that leg. A drop foot has little to no muscle control and is often "left behind" in physical situations. I cannot forcably lift or raise my right foot in order to put on my pants or even to bring it to a reclining position without assiting it with my hands. Sucks, yep! Because I realize now that I have basically inabled my right leg to collect welfare instead of working a steady shift, I  have a lot of work to do to make it work for me now. Thirty minutes with Baron and you will discover that as well.
 
I do not think I will be ready to move on the second level, "Transformations", for a few days, and I do not even have the energy to look at the third level right now; but I plan to hang out with Baron for a couple of weeks. I like that he and Dr. Frohman have worked together to design this special program for people with MS. It is yoga, no doubt; but there is that assurance that this was developed with us MSers in mind. And in yoga, we are urged to be "ever mindful."

namaste

Look for Abby on Amazon.com
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

“Culprit in skin damage is exposure to sun”


So, while reading the newspaper this morning my eyes fall upon this headline. I find it ironic since that very sun is what is plaguing me today. It is a beautiful summer day in West Viirginia and this evidently is praying on the minds of a group of my teacher colleagues who are getting together next week for a day of fun in the sun. We are to meet at a swimming pool in a neighboring town for some laughs and visits and then off to a popular watering hole for dinner and drinks. It sounds lik so much fun. I used to partake in these randezvous quite often in my early teaching days. The memories flood my socially hungry brain and I see myself young, lean, tanned and ready to play with my pals.

Sure, I reply to the FB invite. I’ll be there!

Then I step outside and am instantly slammed to the ground by  the heat. My legs get weak and my head spins. And that is on the shady premises of my back porch. What will it be like at a swimming pool in direct sunlight? I panic. I really want to see my buddies and I really, really want to have somefun. But I know that will not happen. I will make all of my excuses and be seen as Lisa the Party Pooper once again.

And I begin to think about Mother Nature’s hand in my disease. I spent most of my youth in the sun. I life guarded my way through high school and college. I dreamed of living on the ocean and training to guard on the beach. I was one of those fools who slathered baby oil and iodine all over my body in order to sizzle away all of my healthy skin cells. I loved the heat.

After reading the article in the paper, I took a better look at my skin. Yes, the signs of sun damage were apparent on my dry, wrinkly body. Even with generous use of lotions and oils, there is no reparing  the damage done to my skin. That’s history and nothing can be done to fix it now. I actually really do not care that much. I had a blast growing up in the  sun. That was another distant chapter in my life. Unfortunately, what I did to myself then is catching up to the way I live now.

Because MS is such a mysterious condition, I must pose the question. Did my extreme exposiure to the sun’s rays have anything to do with my diagnosis? I doubt it, but the great sun gods are paying me back now. I have become that old cat lady who  prefers to lounge in the comfort of my air conditioned house, looking out at the day rather than participating in it.

The article says that our skin undergoes a number of changes throughout the years and with age it looses essential moisture and oils that cannot be thoroughly repaired. The skin becomes less elastic, much like a rubbver band. Gravity “tugs on the skin”, and instead of bouncing back, the skin begins to sag. That is when fine lines start to appear and areas of the body hang down. The article goes on to say that the single biggest cause of damage to the skin is not aging itself, but exposure to the sun. Of course we are preached at about this all of our lives; but, there are folks like me who prefer to turn a blind eye and grab as many rays as we can. So, I get to suffer the consequences now; but that’s okay. I’ll live with it.

What I do not partidularly want to live with , though, is the absence of the sun in my life. Just thinking about exposing myself to the heat of the day is exhausting and is a real killjoy. I have absolutely no desire to hang out at a pool knowing what I do about the diverse  effects that will most likely follow. No amount of drinking water or cool clothes will repair what I know will happen to me after laying out in the sun or even floating around in the pool. Because I have to get out of the water at some point, right? Out of the refreshing pool water and back into the proverbial frying pan.

My head will spin, my face muscles will slacken, and I will most likely start to slur my words and become somewhat incoherent. My drop foot will totally drop off and there will be no walking for me. Which is bad, since my drop foot is also my accelerator foot and will make driving extremely uncomfortable as well as a little dangerous. Sure, I could hitch a ride, but that will not eliminate all of these other symptoms and fears.
I still have several days to conquer my fears and make acceptable plans about the day; but right now I feel that it is not in my best interests to attend. MS has made me such a fuddy duddy. I don’t like this part of me and I do not like the unwelcome attention it gives me. “Oh, Lisa can’t go because the heat is bad for her.” “No, Lisa won’t be there. Y’know, she has MS.” Of course I rarely give such honest excuses. It’s not fair to make my friends and colleauges uncomfortable with the ill effects of my disease. They understand it as much as I do, but at least I was invited. Right?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

MS isn't always the worst of the bad things...

This is my week in a nut shell: It's Spring Break (yes, we didn't get enough days out of school this year:) and my family normally spends a few days at our home away from home...Bemis, the Center of the Universe. This year, how ever, I get to stay home for most of the week, entertaining doctors. For some time, I have suffered weird chest pains that was orginially diagnosed as some kind of chest inflammation that required 3 daily doses of high power Motrin. It helped for a while but after several months I became nervous about the amount of Motrin that my body was ingesting...and the pain was not going away. So...I took my concerns back to the physician who has now decided that a pain pill (when needed) is more the ticket, in addition to a muscle relaxant at bed time. It's done wonders, but a further precaution is the heart monitor that I am wearing for the next 24 hours. My heart rate is (I guess) alarmingly low, (Isn't that a good thing?) so I have been referred to a cardiologist and am proceeding with caution. I just hope that this new doctor journey does NOT interfere with Westest. Oh, the complications that would create! (Seeing as how this educational measure of student achievement and teacher competency is more important than ANYTHING in my profession.)

But...I will dwell on that later. My main focus right now is to endure the next 24 hours so that I can get ready for my original Spring Break occupation.

I'm not worried about the heart monitor and I actually appreciate the fact that I have to avoid using the telephone or the microwave while wired to this gadget. I find public interest in this visual indication of an infliction fascinating, though. Just because the little black box and accompanying grey wires are part of my attire today, complete strangers are compelled to sympathetically comment on my "situation". It doesn't hurt that my drop foot is acting up today so my gait is a bit "off". For nearly 13 years I have evidently passed off my MS as just an annoyance rather than a daily complication. Now, because I am connected to a physical reminder of a possible "condition," my fellow Earth occupants dig into their generosity banks to offer encouraging words. Hmmm.....

I try not to call attention to my MS and mostly do a pretty good job of that. I have been using my cane more often of late and that has produced questions, especially from my students since I don't really go any where else but school. Two comments in the last week, one from a student and one from a colleague: "Mrs. McCombs, what's with the cane?" "Oh, my. How did you hurt your ankle?"

When I admit my MS, I do not do so with shame, and I do not mind offering an abbreviated desciption of the disease. I just hate admitting to a weakness, regardless of the fact that it is nothing I caused. It is humilating enough that I need to justify my physical limitations, but the confusion exhibited by an onlooker is sometimes even worse.

FIVE DAYS LATER
Ah...but it gets better...
The heart monitor was no big deal and all test results are encouraging. There is supposedly
nothing wrong with my heart (but I am anemic), but considering my family history I fully intend to see the cardiologist any way. What's another day away from school if it assures me more days to enjoy my son? Westest be damned. (Oops, did I really say that?)

So...I finally spent some of my break in the Center of the Universe; but it was short-lived. I felt horrible when I got there, went to bed early, and awoke even earlier...in tears. And I mean full blown hysteria. I could not stop crying, my chest hurt, my mind was imploding with terribly depressing images of anything and everything bad that could happen to me and to my family. I was so jittery that I could barely dress myself. After a LONG, hot shower, I packedmy things and drove home; scared behind words and unable to squelch my periodical bouts of crying. My poor son had to witness this and he did his best to make me feel better. My baby is becoming such a wonderful young man.

We drove immediately to my doctor, where I underwent another EKG and more blood work.
The diagnosis? I have an ear infection, which was causing my dizziness. Better yet, the muscle relaxant was the main culprit. "Some people experience periods of depression." Lucky me, I'm one in that statistic.

The anitibiotic is working miracles. I am no longer dizzy or jittery. My chest pains are even gone.

I'm still going to the cardiologist; but I will NEVER take another muscle relaxant.

My son and I had a long talk about drug consumption. ((Yep, forever the teacher in search of that "teachable" moment:) I am totally blown away by what that teeny, tiny  little white pill did to me. In fact, I only consumed a fourth of it. He agrees that recreational drug use is NOT in his future. Good boy.

So..I am now on an essential oil kick. Noni juice has all ready proven its benefits regarding MS. Vitamin D is crucial. Peppermint always calms my tummy and there's nothing more relaxing than a hot cup of camomile tea. Honey is an awesome natural remedy for many things. I'll keep my anticiotic for now, though.

My goal is to discover a good medical reason to eat all this yummy Easter chocolate in my kitchen!