M.S. Awareness brings all of those fighting this illness one step closer to a cure by fundraising for higher education and continued funding of research and medications. As previously discussed in my post, "What does a cure cost?", I discussed how expensive clinical trials and medications can be. Unfortunately, these costs will most likely never change. However, raising money and awareness brings new exciting opportunities to the table for those who are fighting the disease or may know someone who is. You may have noticed your friends sending you an invitie to join them on their "Walk MS" team this spring. I personally have three other friends with the disease. Most of the walks are coming up here in the next few weeks. I strongly encourage you to take part in these events. Even if fundraising is not your cup of tea, join your friend and show your support. The motto of the National MS Foundation is "Join the Movement".... I think that fits so well. I am so proud to currently have 15 friends to sign up to walk with me on April 9th. I hope to continue my fundraising efforts as well to lend my hand in research to continue to improve the quality of my health as well as many others!! Continue to read my blog to follow my journey. To view my teams page please follow the link provided below!! Happy MS Monday!!
Well, it has been a much eventful past few weeks! I found out earlier in the month that the pressure in my eye was too high. The theory on this from my doctors was that I had developed glaucoma as a result to the medication that was injected to my eyes to help restore partial vision and lower the inflammation to my optic nerve. I received three series of Kenelog injections. They were successful in helping my eyesight and they sped up the process of calming my optic nerve. I will never regret choosing to have them done. As with all medications, side effects are a risk. In my case, the medication never fully absorbed into my system. This caused the pressure in my left eye to continue to climb over the past three months.
Regular, healthy eye pressure should sit somewhere between 10 and 14. My has harbored in the 40's for quite some time. So, I was referred from my retina specialist to a glaucoma specialist to help regulate and remedy this problem. One of the biggest problems with glaucoma is up to a 30% vision loss. In a situation like mine (one who already has vision loss), this is not good news. We tried three different approaches. The first week I used a drop called Isotol. I did not respond to those. The second week we tried a combination of Combigan and Travitan drops. My doctor referred to this as the "kitchen sink" approach, meaning that was the most intense approach. My eye once again showed no response. Then, for the third week I continued the combination drops and started taking a pill called Diamox. Diamox pulls the fluid off. The side effects are awful. The pills cause numbness in your face, hands and legs because they rob your body of necessary electrolytes. Thankfully, this goes away as soon as you cease taking the medicine. On the fourth visit, my pressure had reduced to 21 with the pills. However, the pills are not something you can take long term, and the pressure was still not within the range she desired. So, surgery was the only option left.
Two surgery options were available to me. The first option was to remove the Kenelog from my eye. In many cases, 70%, removing the steroid will lower the pressure to a healthy level. This surgery requires little down time. The Kenelog is removed by making an incision, removing the steroid and putting a few dissolvable stitches in the eye. The second option was to have a new drain put in the eye. This surgery takes roughly 6-8 weeks to heal, requires continued observation, medication and comes with a whole list of restrictions. Naturally, I was thrilled to try removing the Kenelog injections first. I am not a big fan of being down and out for over a month!!
So, I had surgery on Monday. It was such a interesting experience. You are put under anesthesia while the eye is prepped and the incision is made. Then, as they are completing the operation you wake up. Sounds awful I am sure but you cannot feel anything. I carried on a conversation and even cracked jokes with the doctors as they completed the operation. I was allowed to leave the surgery center a mere 30 minutes following the procedure!! Truly amazing how much technology has advanced all of these procedures. Recovery has been pretty easy, I just feel like I have something in my eye all of the time and the stitches are very itchy. And, it is very gross to look at. My eye is very bloody and yellow. The stitches have yet to dissolve but they said this takes about a week. Here are some pictures from the procedure, I will keep you posted on my progress! :)
So today is the day where I reach yet another milestone in my life. I have officially cleared the mark of three decades!! Yeah! It was a glorious day. I received many Happy Birthdays, lots of hugs, and several sweet messages. Birthdays bring strangers out of hiding and show that your good friends really are the best. But, most importantly they allow you to see that no matter what, your mom will not break tradition. I have always loved angel food cakes. You know the one with the angel food center in a bunt cake shape with the whipped strawberry topping??? It is to die for. And when I got home from work today, my Mom and Dad appeared with the cake. My friends gave me a cake when we were dining at Bravo the other night. It too was strawberry. So if I look a little round over the next few weeks you know where it came from... TWO strawberry cakes!! I must also mention that my dad bought me a new leaf blower for the big b'day. I know that you are probably thinking, what??? But, those who know me well know that I love trees but cannot stand leaves. I drive my neighbors crazy with the constant blowing and mowing but I love to have a well kept yard! I like people to know that I keep my space well maintained. So, each day when I get home I blow the leaves off my carport and driveway. But no more extension cord for me!! Stevo has upgraded me to the gas one with lots of power!!! Really stoked about this gift.
Enough about that... what in the world will I do know that I am thirty. Well, I will be the same person I always have been. Fun at heart, serious when necessary, crazy about my kids and passionate about life. I will however, resolve to continue to make some necessary changes for my health and my happiness. I will not shed tears for those who are undeserving. I will let go of some of the anger and resentment I feel towards my ex-husband. I will wake each day and be thankful for the miracles I have been given instead of the tragedy I have faced. I will know that the disappointments or difficulties I have faced have help shape and mold me into the person that I am today. I will not be afraid of what "may" happen. I will love my children, I will teach my students and most importantly I will wake up each day and just keep breathing. I made twenty wishes for New Years, & I still intend to keep every one of them. Oh, and we cannot forget that I will become more diligent with my wrinkle cream... can't just let myself go!!
So I am ending with words from Maria Shriver. I just finished one of her books and I enjoy her writing immensely. She is honest, smart and has a great sense of humor. These are her words on "trying to be Superwoman":
"Perfectionism doesn't make you feel perfect, it makes you feel inadequate. You are not worthless because you can't do it all. You are human. You can't escape that reality, and you cant expect to. Self-acceptance is the goal. If Shakespeare were a Superwoman, she might have said, "To be or not to be -- take time and wisdom."
Ok... I know that many of my Kansas friends would not consider 8 inches of snow a Blizzard, but in Arkansas... it's a Blizzard!! For starters, at the first sight of snow or sleet all schools and businesses close quickly. Sometimes, they call school so quickly by the time we get home the sun is shining and the "weather" is already done. Regardless, snow brings a lot of fun for the kids and the adults. I am always glad to relive my childhood moments of sledding and snowman building with my children. We love to play outside together. However, there is one big problem. Now that I am an adult I get soooo cold!! My feet, hands and face are always freezing and they act as if they don't even notice that it is 16 degrees outside with the wind blowing 10 mph. Children are so resilient. Another admission I must make is that sledding is now very scary for me. I think a majority of the problem is I probably weigh 100 more pounds now than I did the last time I went sledding. Extra weight equals extra speed. I however discovered a solution... just bail off!! One funny event of the day, I sled right into a neighbors trash dumpster and recycle bin. I say I should receive at least 10 style points for that one!! Hope you are all enjoying the snow and staying warm. I know that I am looking forward to Saturday and its 60 degree weather! :)
Do you ever feel like you are carrying around a "Monkey" on your back?? I think I have felt that way a lot these days. For starters, I have spent years relying on the wrong people. Whether is has been friends or relationships I seem to sometimes take on more than one can handle. One of my best friends and I have come to the conclusion that we are attracted to people projects. Although you are aware from the get-go that you cannot change someone, you try your damnedest to "help" them. However, when the relationship comes crashing down for some reason you are surprised??
For me personally, I have either dated the emotionally unavailable,the addicted to something, or the unreliable men. I think that people with a problem are attracted to natural care-givers. I have always loved taking care of others and I am gratified when I feel needed. I know there are some people out there that would not take advantage of someone like that, but many do. I guess there comes a point in life where you become a "hardened heart". Scorn by past experiences or unwilling to allow history repeat itself you become a different person. For me that has resulted in being very distant and almost disconnected.
I am not the girl that gives up easily. I stayed with a hopeless addict for years to keep my family together. I sacrificed everything to keep my marriage knowing that I could "fix" him. It took him finally getting arrested to wake me up that this was not a battle I could not continue to fight. Then, immediately following my divorce I dated my best friend... not good situation either. He is a great friend, terrible boyfriend. Marching to the beat of your own drum, schedule and needs are fine... but when you fail to realize that once a week communication is a must to keep a relationship together its time to move on.
My good friend **Roy** as he calls himself reminded me last night of one of the most important parts of my life these days. He said that I motivate him to do things he doesn't want to do some days. To know that my journey or struggle has inspired at least one person is a victory to me. So, I am going to continue to remind myself that it is not anyone else that defines my happiness. It is solely up to me. I have to spend this time to focus on "me"... even the new version of me I am still getting to know.
So my church finished a lecture series today entitled Five for the Fight. It was an amazing series that set forth to give people the tools to overcome many of life's biggest challenges. I have come to the conclusion that a majority of the stress we have in our life is self made, but then there are the other issues that are completely out of our control. Which ever category the problem falls in, solving it or getting through it is where people hit a road block. This series enabled you to use scripture to help guide you to a solution. So when is the last time you were asked to memorize scripture?? Well for me I think it dated back to my private school days at Sacred Heart. But, I was up for the challenge. After all, it was just five verses. It was really neat to see all of the people, kids and adults, at the memorization stations each week. Everyone really got in to it, not to mention the prizes that you could win if you completed all of the verses. But I think the most important element of this activity was the ability to dissect the scripture. If you are feeling lonely, it lead you to a verse. Battling addiction, gave you a verse. Financial troubles.... gave you a verse. According to a Gallup Poll many self declared Christians do not know how many books are in the bible or how many Apostles there are. Basically the point is that people are attending church but have no knowledge of the foundation upon which their religion was built on... the Bible. I have to admit that I don't study Scripture and don't know many people that do. However, maybe when I am feeling low or are looking for guidance I should turn to it. After all, it must have done something right to earn the nick name, "The Good Book". Here are a few of my favorite verses I learned:
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. 1 Peter 5:8-9
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
So today I took the twins bowling. This trip needed to be perfect to help my son forget about a let down that happened earlier in the day. However, this trip to Professor Bowl was far from perfect. To start out, we received a lane next to a Birthday Party. Now I hate to be the fun hater about a party, but the kids were sitting all over our lane and we did not even have a place to put our shoes. Then, we go to find a ball. There were about 7 balls left in the whole place, all over 14 pounds. So, I decided I will seek assistance from the counter guy. I was so disappointed. I explain the ball situation (LOL) to the clerk and he responds, "Yep, there all gone." So I say, "So I guess we should just go home then?" and he fires back, "If that's what you want to do, but you already paid and we don't issue refunds." JERK!!! But I decided I would not allow this jerk to ruin my day, so the kids and I begin to granny bowl with out 14 pound ball. All is going well and then I realize that Kennedy is walking weird. I ask her if something is wrong with her shoes and she says she doesn't know but they feel funny. I take a closer look at her shoes and realize the retard gave her two left shoes. I have never been so happy in my life to march back up to the counter and point out the rude guys mistake. He just laughs of course. So, with two of the correct shoes we head back out to the lane and continue along with our game. No additional problems happen from this point except for the fact that I lost to a 5 year old. Congrats Kennedy, you kicked my butt!!
Today I received a early birthday present in the mail. I love getting packages so I was very excited to come home to find a package awaiting me at the door. My Aunt bought me a diamond heart pendant to celebrate my "30th" birthday that is coming up. It truly made my day. She said "I know you already have a lot of diamonds, but when I turned 30 your Mom bought me a diamond and I wanted to do the same for you!!" I was elated and I told her how much it meant to me and that I didn't own many diamonds anymore.
And this is where the title comes in. Time goes by but the memory does not fade when someone takes your belongings and pawns them to feed their own addiction. I was married to a drug addict. I married a man who didn't even drink alcohol and divorced a full blown heroin addict. To tell the entire story of his cycle of addiction would take months, but that has no place here. Rather yet, the pain that he brought me is something I will always carry with me.
I cherished the jewelry that I owned. I had a beautiful diamond pendant that my grandfather has given me. A amethyst birthstone ring that my parents had purchased for me in lieu of a class ring. A marquise ring and a wedding band. All pawned for a fix. I know that material items should not weigh on our happiness but most jewelry has a story, a memory. These are things I will not have the luxury to pass on to my children. So, my Aunt's gift entirely made my day. I love the necklace. I love the thought that I will get to pass it on to my daughter or grand-daughter and say, "My Aunt Sarah gave this to me for my 30th Birthday."
So, I know I missed MS Education Monday this week. I guess you could just say that I was in a little bit of a funk. I think sometimes when things are running smoothly we take that for granted. Then, when something changes it becomes too difficult to handle all at once. I was so glad to be back at work. I finally felt like I was getting my groove back and then... BOOM!! Routine appointment turns into another referral to a different specialist, more tests, more appointments, more medicine and even another possible surgery! And, on top of everything else I have to have a root canal. I say let's just sweep this week under the rug and forget it happened!!
But, on a good note I had a great conversation today with an old friend. She and I had many good times together as teenagers. Now, the two of us can share stories of our battle with MS and the daily struggles that are difficult for others to understand. Sometimes I think that is all any of us are really looking for... someone to listen and someone to understand. Another friend sent me an email today that really made me smile. She said "I am not going to tell you anything uplifting, I know you don't want to hear it right now. I just want you to know I am here to talk to if you need anything." That email meant the world to me.
So I am not going to let this bad week consume me. I am going to laugh with my children and enjoy the sweetness and innocence they bring to my life. I am going to not focus on all the things that I did not get done this week, I will focus on the things that I did accomplish. And if nothing else goes right, I will fall asleep soundly knowing that I by far have the cutest Valentine's Day decorations on my door at school. LOL :)