On Maggie’s Pond

I’m sitting here noticing that I need to clean my keyboard.  I can do that!  I focus on what I can do and not on what I can’t do.  If I sat around bemoaning all the things that I can’t do, just give me a shovel so that I can dig a hole six feet deep that I can crawl into.  Only problem would be is how would I get the dirt filled up after I’m in the hole.  That I can’t do.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis is not a death sentence.  It is not something to despair over.  It can lead to a shorter life depending on the type of MS one has, and actually; it may lead to a shorter life for those with other variables of MS, but not by much.

What is significant about MS/Multiple Sclerosis, is all the things we can’t do as time goes by.  You don’t get a diagnosis of MS and all of a sudden you are bedridden or significantly impacted in an obvious way.  Many people have MS and still work.  Many people, inclusive of those I know; you would never be able to tell they have the disease.  Many people, including myself, have advanced into severity but still go on taking care of the house and other activities like yard work, etc.

Let me show you an example.

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I started this pond last year.  My husband dug out the slate for me and put them in piles around the hole that I dug.  My husband helped define the hole for me.

This was my baby.  It was something I wanted to do on my own so that I could feel a sense of accomplishment.  It was something I could do.  It took me nearly two years to do it, but I did it.  I carried each one of those rocks from one part of our very large yard to the pond.  Along the way, there were things I couldn’t do, and I gladly turned it over to my husband.  Although he was very concerned about my falling, which I did often, he left me alone when I wanted to do it alone.  He did put his foot down a few times and insisted I come into the house but he balanced his concern with my determination to do this.

It wasn’t easy.  It took forever and many small steps to carry stones.  I couldn’t use a big cart so I piled rocks into my shirt and carried them that way across the yard.  I averaged about three trips in an hour and the rest of the time, I laid the rocks into position.  I still have a ton of rocks to go, but at least it looks like a pond.

There were many falls, one where I had to lay there a couple of hours before help came along.  It was okay.  I turned over on my back, watched the clouds and made up a melody in my head.  When I was asked how long I had been laying there, I white lied.  What would be the point in worrying anyone when I was hurting?  The hurt did not come from the fall but from my legs, which started last year.

At that time I thought that perhaps my legs hurt because I wasn’t doing enough on my legs.  I wanted to work them out.  It didn’t work.

I focused not on building the pond, but on picking up a rock, putting it in my shirt, then picking up the next rock, and so forth.  Then I focused on the long walk back to the pond, or at least it seemed like a couple of miles.

The pond was the ultimate goal but the pond gets built by a lot of small steps.  I focused on those small steps and broke those small steps even further.  I landed up with mini steps.  Those I could do even if it took me all day to do what someone else could do in one hour.

This past weekend, I was like a child excited about going to a candy store.  We went to the pond store where I purchased six Koi fish.  I tried fish last year, but the pond’s habitat wasn’t mature enough.  I waited a lot longer before I finally deemed the pond habitable for fish.

My Take on This

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that when you first hear the diagnosis your head spins with envisioning the changes that will happen in your life.  Yes, they are disturbing and yes, it seems calamitous.  It leads, for many of us, to debilitating lifestyle changes…gradually unless you Progressive MS.

I’ve had MS for 30 years, if not longer.  I still work around the house and in my yard.  I still walk with a cane or walker.  I am using my wheelchair a lot more frequently these days.  I have more than likely moved into progressive but I’m not asking if I have.  I don’t care to know.  It’s enough knowing that I have Congestive Heart Failure now.  That is something to worry about.  I’m trying not to.  The prognosis for that is about five to ten years, but my internist said he knows of some who have lived longer.

If one thing doesn’t get you, something else will.  It’s the nature of life.  We all die.  

It’s how we live that’s important.  It’s what we leave behind that counts.  We live on with the memories we gift people.  I concentrate on quality not quantity.  I concentrate on embracing the difficulties of the day not on defending myself from those difficulties.

Multiple Sclerosis is not a death sentence.  It is just one of those incredibly difficult and painful things that some of us are burdened with.  

I want to leave this blog behind as my gift to the MS world.  It is concise, brutally honest, happy, sad, uplifting, and depressing.  It is the whole of what MS is in “my” life.  It’s different for everyone.  In the long run, I want readers to feel that they have gained a lot of information (not the technical stuff), about what life is for one person with MS.  

My motto is “MS does not define me.  I define what MS is in my life.”

 

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Diggin’ It

diggin itThis is no time for excuses, I think to myself.  I’m back from surgery for a hernia repair, one of many.  This was a particularly difficult one since it was repairing a repair of a hernia.  I landed up with a swelling, called a seroma, that was the size of a football.  I’m still walking around with a post surgical tube hanging out of my stomach.  At the end of the tube is a small ball that collects post surgical fluid and blood.  I have to empty it out every night and jot down how much was collected.  This will determine when I will be finally rid of this pain in the ass, or should I say stomach.

The reason I’m complaining about excuses is that it’s so easy for me to fall into a lethargic stupor when I come up with a viable excuse to not do anything.  It’s so easy to fill my days with languid perusal of magazines or online sites that have no relevance to my real life.  It’s easy and it’s fun.  I do manage to fix supper every night, albeit late many nights.

Today, I told myself, “this is no time for excuses.”  I am hard talking myself and slapping myself around in order to snap out of my wanna be state of “oh well”.  Like Scarlett O’Hara saying, “Tomorrow is another day.

It worked!  I went out into my back yard and looked at my abandoned koi pond project begun before my surgery.  I decided to work on it, much to the dismay of my husband.  After all, I’m still running around with a tube dangling from my stomach and a whole line of stitches that runs from my waist nearly all the way to my belly button.

Then I took a fall out by the pond.  I landed up half in and half out of the pond.  I found myself laying back and laughing because the pond was full of muddy water from several days of rain.  I was laying in muddy water.

One half of my body argued with the other half of my body.  The one half that was practical and husband-like told me,

“You have no business out here in the first place.  What are you trying to do; cause yourself another injury?  Get inside and clean up.  If you have to do something, do it inside the house where you are safe.”

The other half of my body argued back.

“Feel the mud!  I feel like a kid making a big mud pie.  I’m not hurt so what’s the harm?  Feel how squishy the mud is between my toes?  I lost my sandal somewhere in the water.  It’s not that deep anyway.  It’s probably easier to dig up the dirt anyway even if the water weighs it down.  I can’t tell what I’m digging because I can’t see it, but I can feel it with my feet.  This is so much fun!”

After a couple of hours of “fun”, the other half of me finally won out.  So both sides were now in agreement again.  I dragged my muddy body with my shovel out of the hole and turned around to see what I had accomplished.  I laughed when I saw that one couldn’t tell because of the water in the pond.  But I knew, and with that sense of knowing, I felt proud that I did it even if my body did complain later on and into tomorrow over my aches and pains.

Multiple Sclerosis aside, this was as close to normal as I have felt in quite some time.  I was stubborn, and determined to do what others might think I shouldn’t do.  The world does not revolve around them, it revolved around me today.