Barely Discernable

2015 was a blur– kind of a going-through-the-motions sort of year, and to be honest, I really don’t remember much. I acknowledged all the appropriate anniversaries and grieved unapologetically. But 2016 had promise and I was able to start seeing light again… until….

Mid-June I lost my taste and my smell, and eventually a whole host of other things that after two MRIs, a spinal tap, and a whole lot of blood work led to a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. A disease in which there is no family history, no obvious reason that made me a candidate for the disease, but nonetheless, I was given the diagnosis.

I found an MS website that indicated that nutrition played a key factor in keeping the symptoms at bay. I started meeting with a nutritionist that I knew from Arizona.  We began by taking out things that are known to cause inflammation in my body. Gradually I reduced from my daily diet things like saturated fat, processed foods, sugar, and dairy.  The goal was to create an environment that would allow my body to heal and recover. I never denied having the disease, but I wanted to do everything I could to be proactive for my own future.

I also started “speaking life” (for lack of a better way to say it) to myself. Each morning I would state the things I was thankful for and I would remind myself of who I am in Christ. I started meeting with a friend through work who teaches balance to aging seniors. Twice a month she would come to my office and we would work on strengthening my balance — little things like shifting my weight to eventually being able to stand on one foot for 10 seconds, then 15 seconds, 30 seconds, then a minute+.

I also faithfully scheduled and kept my monthly massage appointments (I know… so tough!) And I started to really embrace what my pastor’s wife always says, “No thank you is a complete sentence.” I had to take care of me and I couldn’t feel badly about withdrawing from obligations, and not committing to everything that came across my desk.

The end of August, I had my three-month follow up with my neurologist. He wanted me to start taking maintenance drugs. He was not a fan of me following a holistic approach and in no uncertain terms told me that my markers were such that I was going to have another episode from which I would not fully come back from and that each episode would get progressively worse. That I would eventually end up with limited mobility and have a degenerative brain disease such as Alzheimer’s.  I told him that I was not denying that I had the disease but I asked to hold off until December — that if in three months, the then 6-month MRI showed active or additional lesions that I would revisit the drug recommendation. He said, that sounded reasonable and I carried on with my plan of guided self-care.

Fast forward to mid-December, now six months after the initial symptoms. I get both a brain and c-spine MRI and go for some additional blood work. I was no sooner out of the MRI appointment when I get a call from the neurologist’s office letting me know that they had the results and asking to see me the next day. Of course, it’s rarely good news when they call you that quickly and amongst all the emotions, all I could say to myself was “but I feel better.”  I arrived at the office a bundle of nerves. Dr. E asked me if I had seen my report. I said I had not and he gave me a thumbs up and said, “it’s good news.” As he read the report to me, phrases like “improved white matter disease, no new lesions, and my favorite ‘the area of abnormal signal and contract enhancement (etc…yada yada yada) has shown marked improvement, barely discernible at this time'” flooded my heart and I couldn’t help but ask if I could hug him.

So, now two weeks later, I’m set to enter another new year. One that yet again is completely different than anything I’ve experienced before. I’m keeping on with my plan of self-care and nutrition and while the lesions may be barely discernible, that will not be the case with my joy. Bring it on 2017 – your girl is ready for you!

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What’s in a name?

Twenty seven months ago I found myself in a much different place…a place I never expected to be. They say time heals all wounds… and in the midst of it all,  I would not have believed that but now, two years later, it’s much easier to accept.

I struggled with continuing my story on top of my  previous blog . It just didn’t “feel” right…and so rather than try to force the matter, I realized it was time to start a fresh blog–one in which I could  share the triumphs and trials of a life that is continuing to (re)build, a life I refused to give up on, a life that is now imperfectly, perfectly mine.

So what is in a name?  Why did I name the blog “behind the glass”? Well, during all the craziness, I found an unexpected ally. A friend that never hesitated to remind me that I was worth it… that yes, time does make a difference, and that yes, while it was OK to feel sorry for myself, it wasn’t the place to live. C shared one of her favorite sayings and its stuck with me since the day she said it.“When you find yourself being treated cheaply it was because YOU put yourself on the sale rack. It was time to get behind the glass where the expensive items are kept.” 

So I say to all of you out there in blog land that have gone through or are going through the crap that is unfaithfulness, divorce, and the loss of a life and lifestyle that you once knew… it’s time to get yourself behind that glass. YOU are worth so much more than you might think.  Just like C believed it enough for me until I could see it myself, I will believe it enough for you until you can see it for yourself.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep on keeping on…it’s not been easy, but it has been easier. I’m not starting over, I’m just starting again.