Friday, December 14, 2012

Broken heart, Aging body

On a brightly sunny morning, Ellie and I returned to her favorite shore near the Gateway of the Chemung River. Her ashes were scattered to the wind and onto the water, right where she loved to swim. We were watched only by a lone eagle and three inquisitive gulls, who checked to see if anything good was being offered.
The Chemung will never feel the same for me. And I am no longer the River Hag with her familiar, a little brindle digger-dog, hunter-dog, RiverDog.
Birders and Hikers: don't give your heart to a faithful four-footed follower.
She'll break your heart too soon, for sure. Far too soon.
Little Pond

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rest in Peace, Ellie

June 1, 2002 - November 24, 2012

My Huggamutt Cuddlebum

See you in the morning, Little One.

Love GrammaDog

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Snowball Effect

Ok, so we go to the ER.

ER sends me to my Neuro.

Neuro now wants to send me for an MRI.

She also wants me to get new glasses.

Ambulance, ER, MRI, new glasses.

It's going to be a lean Christmas this year.

Little Pond

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Got my first ride in an ambulance Saturday night.

It'd been coming on for over a month, and I just didn't recognize the signs.

First, I had been light-headed for brief spells.  Mental note:  tell family doctor to adjust blood pressure medicine.  Only thing was, my blood pressure was fine.  Even during a spell.  I actually had Husband RJ take it once right between two spells.  Normal as hell.

115 over 80.  My personal best.

Then (Squeemish, look away!) my catheters began to sting.  Well, I reuse them and have done for almost a decade.  But my new Neuro decided that that was WRONG.  I patiently explained that I wash them and dry them thoroughly after each use.

Well, she raised Holy Hell, and I finally decided that, Hey, maybe she's right.  I began to dip them in alcohol after washing them.

DOH!  I thought the stinging was the alcohol.  Wrong.  I also did not catch on to the terrible pain in my back, left side.  I thought it was the sprain acting up again.

Well the light-headed thing finally got out of hand.  Happened only when at rest or just standing around, doing nothing. 

Saturday night, while watching Celebrity Ghost Stories, the sound was pulsating in my head, and the room was swaying.  Total confusion set in and I collapsed on the couch.  RJ tried to take my blood pressure, but my arm kept flopping away from him.

"Call 911.  I need an ambulance."  He grabbed the phone and began to dial.  Then he had an idea: why can't he just drive me?   This was a huge mistake, because it takes no time to dial 911.  He had already gotten through when he hung up.

911 called back.  RJ said I was unwell, but he would take me to the ER.

911 wasn't having any of it.  In a few minutes a police car showed up, and my dear, sweet HuggaMutt attacked the nice young cops, who just wanted to help.  They took a minute to assess the situation and called an ambulance.

It took God-Awful Forever for the ambulance to arrive.  By then I couldn't keep my eyes open.

(It was only the next day that it occurred to me that neither the cops not the EMTs believed RJ's story.  I wasn't much help because I couldn't focus, visually or mentally.)

I was finally lofted onto a gurney and carted out to the Erway van.  Then the interrogation began in earnest.  To his credit, the EMT was still monitoring my pulse, pb and taking blood samples.  Pretty soon, he stated, "Your blood pressure is high, and you are hyper-ventilating.  We will proceed to the ER."  He kept calling me "Dear" during the whole interrogation and followup.

For a Saturday night, the ER was fairly quiet.  Guess the party doesn't start until after Midnight.  We did the usual waiting in the curtain-shrouded room.  I was stuck all over with monitor thingies. (What a pain:  I hadn't shaved my legs all week.  I don't shave my legs all winter.  My bikini area is another story.)

The final verdict:  U.T.I.  What the hell?  Also, it would be a very good idea to go to the Neuro as soon as possible for the lightheadedness.  They gave me stuff for the soaring blood pressure, a smack on the butt, and sent me home.  The next morning my blood pressure went so low, I couldn't leave the house.

It is nearly a week later and the UTI is somewhat better, but the light headedness is not.

Punch line:  Neuro can't see me until the middle of December!  She's stacked up and I am going on a waiting list for a possible opening.  In the meantime, I am living as usual, with antibiotics and those orange pills that dye EVERYTHING orange. 

I am light headed as I type this post.

Little Pond

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Remission. Not!

Just went one round with the dentist recently.  He wants to crown a broken molar, and I want to let it go.  My teeth are finally beginning to crack, and will all need some work soon, too.
I figure I'm good for only about another 10 years at best.  They say that the average age of death for MSers is about 62-65.  The dentist said I was in remission, right?  Wrong.  I'm exhausted/weepy all the time, and my legs are numb to the knees, the hands to the wrists.  My face is numb on the left side and my vision is deteriorating.
No doubt, some of that is old age, but remission it is not.  The only reason I don't beg for Solumedrol, is that I hate the mess it makes of me, and I am still living with the side effects of the last dose two years ago.  Tinnitus anyone?  Both ears.  Sounds like the refridgerator is running in over drive.  When I am outside, it sounds like we live in a factory town.  I know, because I grew up near a factory and worked in them for years while going to college.
But I digress.  Back to the oral deterioration.
At the same time, Husband RJ broke a front tooth.  As Mr. Commisioner, he sometimes has to be on television, so he will need a temporary for the gap and a bridge afterwards.
So I was telling the dentist that I didn't want to be bothered, but he talked me into it when he promised to finance it a few months.  I, too, will get a temporary crown, but all told we are talking only 850.00.  RJ's work will probably require a loan!
Yeah.  THAT kind of expensive.  After all, it requires an extraction, a temporary, and a bridge.
He won't go without a temporary, even though it's a bottom tooth.  Gotta let him go for the whole package, because it will be murder to even get him to do THAT.
He already has a mouth full of bridges.  One bridge was the experimental Maryland Bonded Bridge, back in the early 1980's before bonding was mainstream.  It has lasted all these years, and is a beauty.  Four front uppers.  They would still be shiny and bright if he didn't smoke so much.
My teeth look good, but hurt most of the time.  I am a grinder, or at least a clencher, at night.  I keep forgetting to ask the dentist for an appliance.  Maybe I'll just pick up something from Walmart.
Seriously.  They seem to have everything else there.
Little Pond

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We got a bumper crop of the tiniest pumpkins ever grown in RJ's garden.  We gave away a few, mostly for cooking.  Then we kept the rest on the back stoop and stairs to get them out of the heat.
Finally, after the Labor Day weekend, we set them out on our front porch for display.
Here's a picture before the local rapscallions get their hands on them.  We expect to find them either smashed in the road, or chewed by the squirrels.  In the meantime, we are enjoying them.
 I am still walking Ellie, when she is healthy enough, by the river.  Her illness has made her lazy, and she prefers the well-worn paths on the levees to the scruffy grasses and plants by the banks of the Chemung.
On the way, we captured this prize pumpkin in the back yard of a neighbor's lot.  Somehow this wound up outside his fencing.  Makes us wonder if the darned thing planted itself from last year!
Hardy bugger, eh?
Little Pond

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I'm cool.

While I spent a scary few minutes in a hail/rain/windstorm, I am fine.  The worst of it was no electricity for 23 hours.  And we had a minor cleanup in our back yard.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Living with MS

Well, it's a bit like bird watching with a dog.  I can get close to the real thing, but am never able to finish what I want to do.

In this case, both the MS and the dog would not allow me to get a clean shot of the ever-elusive Green Heron of Foster Island.

We came slowly around the island--quiet--oh so quietly.  Ellie was being a little angel, just sort of moseying a tad to the left and ahead of me.  I heard the strange, almost metallic call of the critter, and I sited it immediately.

I began to take quickly successive shots, but the little fellow didn't care for me.  It pulled up and away, so I dropped the camera pod and tried to zoom in.

The little stinker remained just beyond the range of the optical zoom.  Luckily, our Canon has a digital zoom also; unfortunately, the images stabilizer does not work in that mode.  Still I kept snapping away, shaky hands and all.

Until I noticed that Ellie had gone missing.  I could hear snorting and frantic digging.  She had gotten down to the concave bank, and was working manfully to dig her way to a muskrat.

No dice, Baby Dog.  I jumped down to the bank and grabbed her by the collar and yanked her back into the sunshine.  Then came the ridiculously laborious trek up the three foot bank. 

Not even my reinforced camera pod to help.  And a very unwilling and frantically scurrying RiverDog to pull me back to the muskrat burrow. 

All for the enjoyment of three teenagers sitting in a nearby pavillion.  One even had to stop laughing to pee behind a recycling bin.

Well, I did get one almost decent shot, but only I would know that it was a green heron.

Little Pond

Friday, June 29, 2012

Seventeen Years Ago

Yep.  It was 17 years ago that I was diagnosed.  A lot happened in those years, but one thing remained the same:

Because we were well-insured, our doctor ordered every test under the sun back then.  He even sent me to an Audiologist for my hearing.  I was having an awful time with a very obnoxious tinnitis that deafened me in my left ear.

The Audiologist told me that I suffered a significant loss all right, but not to worry because I had super hearing in my right ear. His advice:  "Don't let anyone sell you a hearing aid for this sort of thing."  End of visit, no sale.

This summer I took my mother in law in for a hearing aids.  We are still working out the bugs, but they certainly help her.  A LOT.

Just for s#its and giggles, I, too, had my hearing tested.  My left ear is noticeably deafer than my right, and as a bonus, each ear has its own tinnitus.

You've probably guessed some of this:  of course they tried to sell me hearing aids.  No sale.

Here's the corker:

My hearing loss is about 25% between the two ears: actually just about normal for a person my age.  But they wanted to sell me hearing aid thats would make their own special buzzing to offset the tinnitus.  They insisted that their "audiologist" recommended it!

End of visit, no sale.

Little Pond

Thursday, June 07, 2012

I gave up

No, not in my fight against the MS.  I gave up trying to find my bikini-line razors.

Thank heavens for Amazon.

I think I may have gotten my first set from Sam's Club, but damned if I can find them at Walmart, Walgreens, RiteAid, or anywhere else around here.

I got sick of searching and went online.

Why so important, just now?

Well, as my readers know, I am not shy about the fact that I shave "down there."  Not just the bikini line, either.  Year-round, regardless of the weather or dress.  Incontinence makes this a necessity.

I can't stand to be "dirty."  Tena just loves me; I am their best customer.  I would rather skip a meal or two than go without a fresh pad.  And the Super-thins are very expensive:  more like a few meals.

When I was amassing all the medical input for the Social Security Disability claim, it was imperative that I establish medical documentation for everything.  Everything.  That led me to the local Urologic Partners in Elmira.

The Assistant at the Urologists noted my freshly-shaven bottom, and mentioned that one of the head honchos there wanted to know why some women shaved.  Obviously a person fond of furry kitties, if you catch my drift.

She was very disappointed to hear my sensible reason.  Apparently she'd been collecting sexier answers from the clientele.  And my guess, although she didn't actually say so, was that most pro-shavers do it for the same reason that Linda Lovelace did.

Not me.  Not now.

Parenthetically, there is a comedienne on Comedy Central who does a who schtick on Brazilian waxing.  One punchline has to do with, "and the lips?" "NO!  No lips, thank you."

Now that really gives me the shivers!  I had to get drunk just to wax my legs, and I gave up on my underarms decades ago.  Same for the Epilady, which left me vulnerable to ingrown hairs in a week or two. 

I reiterate:  Thank heavens for Amazon. Noxema disposable bikini shavers: 15 for 23 bucks, shipping included.  They are properly curved and don't give too close a shave.

Who needs shaving bumps in the bikini area?

Little Pond

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

My knees make a crunching sound?

So I now do yoga every day, to ease lower back pain.  I look pretty fit, and I definitely feel better on days I do those stretches.

So naturally there has to be a downside.  Living with MS, I've learned to expect them. 

How can there be a downside to yoga?

Well, the stretching is designed to work the lower back muscles, and it manages it very well, by making me more flexible.  Furthermore, it teaches me to use other muscles to make up for the loss of the strength in the lower back.

I now have little baby abs I haven't had since before my kids were born.  So naturally, there is no longer any place there to shoot the copaxone.  MY FAT WAS MY FRIEND.  Say with with me all you self-injectors:  My fat is my friend.  No fat means not much subcutaneous flexibility.

Beta bruises are common for those who shoot Beta Seron.  But copaxone has never bruised me before.  I've accidentally shot a blood vessel and gotten a quick, but disconcerting, rush.  But bruises are beginning to show on my belly and, well, forget the legs.  The rubbing from the jeans put a quick end to that experiment.

All right, I can live with the bruises.  I have tons of them anyway, just from being an MS spaz.

So What the Hell is this crunching sound in my knees during stretches?  Listen, I've had a crunching sound in my kneck for at least a decade, but I never had to listen to my knees.

I will be seeing my Neuro soon, and will ask her about it.  Too late to talk to the Family Practitioner; another of my doctors has bowed out of practice.

Any guesses, out there?  Bet yet, any solutions?

Little Pond

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Bet you recognized the symptoms!

My last illness was apparently something that was going around the East Coast.  Everyone I know got at least a touch of it, and it is still making the rounds.

Right after I recovered, my little Ellie dog got very sick and I was afraid we would lose her.  She wound up a day and a half in the hospital on IV antiobiotics.  She came home to boiled chicken and rice: her new staple in our household.  No more treats (except to cozen down a pill) and very few chewies.

I am better, but of course I am still tired.  Running nose makes me a disgusting thing to have to kiss, poor RJ.  This spring my trips to the river are shorter:  entire trip out and home cannot take more than an hour or so.  Housekeeping is also curtailed.  I spend the usual two hours sleeping in the middle of the day, and find I cannot take on any work or visit, or whatever, in the afternoon.  Nights, I use the recumbent bicycle to play games for about an hour, then I turn couch-potato another hour before bed.

No idea whatsoever about my weight, cholesterol, bone density.  All things will be revealed in the next five weeks, starting Friday.

I am no fun.  Even alcohol has been reduced to an occasional vodka and veggie juice.  Triple distilled vodka at that.  I used to drink only Dewars and soda water, but I've learned that I can expect burning in my bladder and urethra when I do that.  Sheeeeesh!

Did I mention that wine puts me right to sleep and beer gives me reflux and gas?  God help me, I can only drink Rolling Rock: so I don't bother.

Bottom line:  Ellie and I visit three days a week, on restricted diets and activity.  We still get out to the river, but back home by 11AM for light lunch and naps.  I'm okay, but always tired, lame, and cranky.

How could I ever return to work?

Little Pond

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day One of Wellness

So far.

Over a week ago I picked up a bug from Heaven-knows-where.  No one around me was ailing, and no one picked it up from me afterwards.

The very first sign came after an Egg McMuffin from McDonalds.  Up it came in two hours.  My stomach was lousy from then on.

Low-grade fever, minor nausea, headache, and just a touch of intestinal distress:  I was guessing at first that I got into some MSG.  Good way to get really sick, for me any time.  On the other hand, I had prepared any food I ate, except for that made by my daughters.  They are well aware of the allergy, and have food issues of their own.

Monosodium Glutanate can come disguised as yeast extract, various vegetable isolates,  almost anything hydrolysed, and I think, other processes commonly used by food packagers.  They are all flavor enhancers, and most people tolerate them very well.  "If it tastes good, spit it out!"

But it wasn't MSG poisoning.  I was exhausted, barely able to do anything for even an hour at a time.  Exercise was not possible for most of the past week, and walking the dog put me on the couch for the next few hours.

During the entire time, any high fiber food left me in danger of--God forbid--a bowel accident.  And I couldn't "trust a fart" as was so well put by Jack Nicholson in "The Bucket List."  The headache became apparent just as soon as I began my yoga upon rising in the morning.

I could eat, so I made a chicken broth spiced with fresh ginger, adding rice or vegetables on whatever day I could manage to keep them down.  (I finally found a chicken broth with no additives that bother me.  At Aldis.)

I drank chicken broth for three days, slowly moving into my usual cereals.  Then bagels and cream cheese until I could eat chicken.  After that I boldly moved into my usual diet.

All with mixed results.  It was surely some sort of virus, so by the fifth day, I just began my usual routines, only avoiding people.  I especially skipped a visit with the grandkids.  Nothing changed until this past weekend, when I felt almost normal.

A short walk in Monday's record heat sent me back to the sofa, with acetaminophen for the headache.

Today I feel fine.  I am even going to walk with my daughter and the dogs down at the River.

We shall see how it works.

Little Pond

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tomorrow is the First Day of Spring

...and I am already up to, and beyond, my full dosage of antihistamines.  All the trees are budding, and some are beginning to bloom.

Just about one month ahead of schedule.  Not to pee on anyone's parade, but fellow allergic people know why I am not pleased.  Usually I start with tree season, including "non-allergenic" ones, such as the evergreens.  Then I move into the early blossoms and their pollen.  This is followed by hayfever season, then ragweed, and finally the dust, mold and everything else of late summer/early autumn.

When I look in the mirror--which I rarely do--I see dark circles around my eyes.  Something like Tim Burton's Corpse Bride.  And all I hear in my plugged ears is constant tinnitus.

My morning yoga, begun flat on my back on the bed, is now accompanied by choking on my own phlegm.  And nearly every time I stand up from sitting, I can expect light-headedness.

Husband RJ, a smoker, is complaining of runny nose and sneezing, so I know I'm not alone.

You know the pollen maps on the Weather Channel website?

I won't even go there.

Little Pond

Monday, March 12, 2012

Very Belated Apologies

Seven years:  that's how long I have been blogging my experiences with MS.

In all that time, I have never felt the fatigue that I have now.

Bright, clever and cheery.  Boy was I suckered in.  Seventeen years ago, I was a much younger woman.  The first attack really flattened me, but not for long.  I quickly shortened a 2-3 week hospital stay to five days.  My neuro was amazed and admiring.

The ensuing years repeated that pattern.  An attack, some Solumedrol, and maybe a new maintenance drug:  I always landed on my feet, able to return to work, even after some really nasty tailspins that left me flat-out for weeks.

Somehow, I knew that this attack, now two years ago, was different.

Of course, I had aged a decade and a half.  And every single exacerbation had left a scar and further disability.  Ah, but I always returned to work, chipper and enthusiastic.  Bring it!  That was my motto.

Now I feel the mind-numbing fatigue and aches,  the fall-inducing limp and foot-drop, and of course, the whiny, weepy, throat-choking emotional swings.  Oh yes, I've gotten older, but the Multiple Sclerosis has also matured.

Typing creates stupid problems with the keyboard, sending the cursor up to the previous paragraphs, and inserting my thoughts where they don't belong.  Even just sitting brings a clearer understanding of the damage to the nerves in my feet and legs.  Any fatigue will double my vision and lessen my hearing.  And there are days when I am so tired of living that I'm ready to join my ancestors in the Big Sleep:  the very same feeling my 82-year-old mother relates to me over the phone.

Yeah, the cheeriness may return with the Spring, and the fatigue is being eased by my loyal kid, VeggiGirl.  She is a God-send, just as my two youngest brothers are there for my aging, ailing parents.  VeggiGirl, Husband RJ and I are there for my 82-year-old mother-in-law, and don't think I'm not aware of how draining all THAT is.

So a very humble apology is appropriate here:  I am very, very sorry if any of my posts left ANYONE feeling as if they were not doing enough, despite their illness.  And sorry if my chatter made anyone jealous and feeling blue or worse yet, guilty.

Time and Multiple Sclerosis have caught up with me.  Everyone says better days are coming, because MS progresses less when age wears down the immune system.  Well, apparently 58 years is not enough age for that just yet.

And please forgive me if this post is a downer.  Spring is here, and better days are coming.

I promise.


Friday, January 13, 2012


Life can change in an instant.

VeggieGirl moved back home.  Things just didn't work out with her man.  They are on good terms, though, and I am grateful for that.  I still miss my former SIL, and, well, all the young fellows that used to hang around here.  Guess they are all just surrogate sons to me.

So now we are a much busier household.  TWO dogs and FOUR cats.  Photos here.  VG's dog Frankie is a rescue, and we can see why.  A barker.  It's taken me a week to teach him to stop when I command it.  That means there are two dogs (HuggaMutt is also now full time)  that must be calmed and commanded.  We live on a street with a lot of foot traffic:  mostly dog walkers.  I do an awful lot of commanding.

And, yes, I understand that enough exercise will calm them down.  Unfortunately, that is the very thing I cannot offer.  Last year's back injury was caused by dog-walking on ice.  The snow has arrived and the best I can do is to push them out to the back yard.

Thank heavens they have each other for exericse.  I let them romp and tussle;  that sort of noise has never bothered me.  After all, I was raised with five brothers; scuffles were the rule, not the exception.

The cats are pretty much taking care of themselves.  We have a kitty room with two twin beds thrown together and covered in comforters, pillows, throws, and a huge, bean-bag style turtle to use as a bed on the beds.  All behind the security of a baby gate:  it is their haven away from boisterous dogs.

As for me, VG is a cook at the local Soup's On!  This ensures a steady stream of good,  often vegetarian, fare.  We also cook together and for each other.

The only problem now is that I have no time to clean my house.  It will be months before I can get it back to my usual uncluttered, low-allergen norm.  By that time, VG will probably have found a new appartment.

And I will miss her.