Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Finding Balance

I've learned a lot this year since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and most of it has led me to realize... I still have a lot to learn. First thing I figured out ~ I was in denial. Then, I learned I had to make a lot of decisions that I was not equipped for and that I really didn't feel like dealing with. So denial was easier. But, there came a point where I had to at the bare minimum seek out medical advice because the MS was causing Optic Neuritis (blurry vision) and I kind of needed to see. So I went to a highly recommended MS Specialist in the area.  I also made an appointment with a Naturopath that was recommended to me.  At that point, I was confused and not really wanting to hear ANYTHING about MS.  Just felt like I should make appointments because it seemed like the thing to do.

Last year, when this all began, Oz and The Wild One heard I was going to get advice from a Naturopath and they both freaked out and begged me not to go to a "witch doctor."  They really, really wanted me to see a traditional doctor and get real medicine and be treated and be fine.  Since they could not be more opposite from each other I was pretty shocked that they were on the same page. So I took their advice, along with the advice of medical professionals that said I should go traditional. And I did.

But, in the back of mind I thought ~ I will probably go with the Naturopath's advice too ~ because there is nothing that motivates me to dig my heels in like a man (or 2) telling me not to.
So at that point I knew I would pursue ALL avenues of treatments.

I tried not to talk to many people about MS at first. Everyone had a story. Scary, awful, stories. Hopeful, uplifting stories.  But too many stories. Too much info, too many choices, too much.

So I hid myself in a cocoon. I went traditional and started taking injectable meds.
It had it's pros and cons.

In the meantime, I also pursued Natural treatments.
For about 9 months I took the injectable meds AND went for colonics, started to be more aware of the diet I ate. Apparently, gluten, sugar and dairy aggravate autoimmune disease like nobody's business!
I took supplements and protein shakes.

Then just lived my day to day life.
I was basically unaffected for months.

But, like clockwork every 4.5 months the relapses were happening. Despite being on the traditional meds. Despite any dietary changes I was making, etc.

One day around the 4.5 month mark the vision in one eye just gets blurry. Then it causes a fogginess in my head and dizziness starts. It's full on flare up within a day and the only treatment to settle it down is a 5 day course of high dose IV steroids. They usually work.  Sometime I have to follow up with a couple weeks of oral steroids too. Then it returns to normal again.

Over the summer I had a severe allergic reaction to the injectable meds I had been taking.  Apparently it happens. It was scary as hell!! And the other recommend meds sounded awful and the side effects sounded awful.  So I decided to hold off on choosing new traditional daily meds.

I immediately had a flare up after having to stop the med.  4.5 months almost to the day. The eyes again. More steroids.

Recovered and back to regular life in couple weeks time.

I decided at that point , around September, to go full force into the Natural Treatment and see what I can do without traditional meds for awhile.

SO I began I stricter diet of trying to really stay away from the gluten, sugar, diary, yeast, etc. Autoimmune Paleo.  Basically fruit, veggies, and lean protein.
I continued with supplements of every single thing that you can imagine might help. Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, etc, etc.
I started weekly acupuncture and hypnosis.
It was life changing!

The combination of the foods calming my nervous system and the meditation and hypnosis calming my brain have led to more energy, more conviction in what is right for my life and a side effect of it all had been some weight loss.
I have felt great!!

However, just like clockwork at the 4.5 month mark the flare up started and the vision went blurry again about 2 weeks ago. UGH!

So I for the 4th time this year, I started the IV med treatment. I am so thankful there is treatment.
The treatments get done at home. A nurse comes and hooks up the IV for me and then daily I drip the meds myself.

The first few times it happened it was terrifying. I didn't know what I was doing. It was nerve-wrecking trying to figure out how to administer the meds and manage the side effects steroids. The Wild One was here for the other 3 times this year and walked me through it and helped me get the meds started up and the IVs out at the end.

But, this treatment cycle I was on my own.
And it was ok!
I did it!! I hooked it all up. I unhooked it all.
I didn't need help, I didn't need to make any calls for advice.
The IV was not too bad to rip out at the end either.

But, I was worried to miss work and I had Super Hulk Steroid strength as a side effect of the meds. So I over-did it.
I went to work and exhausted myself. Then I couldn't sleep so I cleaned linen closets and my bedroom and then the kids bedrooms. This house hadn't been so organized in 11 years!

Then I started cooking. I made meal after meal until our bellies, fridge and freezer were overfull.

And then I crashed.

And not surprisingly the treatment didn't work. The symptoms got worse.

So I had to start another 5 day course of IV meds this week.
Oh shit! I was not expecting that.

So this time I have had to rest. Really rest. NO work, NO major housework.

It didn't helped that weather delayed the nurse getting here.
Then it took 2 nurses ~ 10 attempts to start an IV.     WTF?!!!!
The only place left to get one in was the crease near my elbow.
So it's sort of forced me to have to rest it.Which had turned out to be a good thing. Forcing me to sit still a bit more because I can't lift much.

I have learned many lessons lately.  And these last couple of weeks have given me time to reflect..

ONE- I am NOT sick. I am not a condition or a disease. I have a diagnosis for symptoms that sometimes act up.

TWO- It is about balance. Traditional medicine is not bad, I just have to find the right combination of meds and trust the doctor I have chosen to be my advocate. I really need to put effort into researching and get moving on a decision for the long term soon.

THREE- Natural Medicine is ESSENTIAL for me.  Autoimmune Diet is amazing and makes me feel good. My stomach is not bloated, my energy is up, my body feels good even when my eye is blurry.
I notice the foggy feeling appears worse when I eat sugar or dairy. I notice I feel better when I drink a ton of water and eat things that calm my body.

FOUR- Cooking is fun! I actually like it. WHO KNEW?!!

FIVE- Grocery shopping does not have to be my nightmare. I can pick fun, colorful, yummy foods.The staff at the grocery stores are helpful and great about telling me how to cook the things I buy. Love it!

SIX- Hypnosis and meditation are changing my life! I can see the things I want for my future now. And the things I do not want anymore.  Toxic people and habits are are ok to leave and it feels good to start over.

SEVEN- an organized house feels good.

EIGHT-Air diffusers and essential oils are my new favorite thing!

NINE- massages, acupuncture and reflexology are miracles!

TEN- my family and friends are the best support system I could ever ask for.
I have received so much love and help with the kids and company and check ins.

I am stronger than I have been been in a long time.

An MS diagnosis does not make me weak.

It certainly motivates me to seek more education about living well. It also helps me feel inspired to be my best self.

Fruits, vegetables, steroids, all of it ~ leading me to where I need to be going.
Grateful there are options!
Grateful that today was the last day of the IV and it's out!
Back to regular life tomorrow hopefully!

I have met some great people that have shared their stories about Autoimmune Healing.
So glad I am finally in a place where I can hear those stories and not feel overwhelmed.

I am glad I got my head out of my ass and started to realize there is a whole world of information out there.

I don't need to take it all in at once or ever, but I am glad it is available. Learning is good!
Finding my balance in life...yet another chapter.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Nothings

When you willing participate in a dead end relationship, you know for certain one will eventually end.  When you are not the Wife, the Baby Mama or on the track to building a future with someone it is inevitable.  It may take 2.5 years, but eventually it ends. Even if you have a great time together and laugh more than you ever have with anyone, even if your lives become intertwined and your families create bonds. Even if you love his children and yours love him.  Even if you love his father and he helps take care of you and your children. Even if you spend nearly all of your free time together.  If you are not on the same path, it is essentially a Nothing relationship.

A Nothing relationship can be mutually beneficial in many ways. Many ways.  Some ways are practical, company, comfort, distractions, fun, entertainment.  Some ways are helpful like setting up better filing systems and taking care of cleaning and repair projects around the house. Having a different perspective on things, being with someone with a different kind of life experience can really teach you new things.

But, at some point The Nothings hit a crossroads. They have to decide to stay together or venture off independently.  And sometimes they venture off and try to find a better fit.  But, then they get back together. Sometimes this happens...oh 8 -10 times in 2 years. Each time much like the first.  Starts off great in the first few weeks. Missing each other makes the appreciation stronger. The attraction and chemistry is stronger than ever.

So the pattern continues and The Nothings try to build a relationship that works.  It does for awhile. Still knowing this is not the person we will be with in the future.  It is not the right fit, not the person I want to raise children with. But in the meantime, I WAS raising children with him. My children are influenced by him. My son dresses up for him for career day. My daughter is attached.  His son is one of my most favorite children on the planet and his enthusiasm and love of music is contagious!! His daughter is smart and strong and teaches me and my children that working hard and being independent is valuable!  His youngest child is a snuggle bug impossible not to love.

And yet...The Nothings return to the place of deciding. What's next? We went season by season.  Sledding in the winter, biking in the spring and summer, distractions. Cleaning projects, road trips, binging tv shows, grocery shopping, day to to life.

Eventually it came to the end of the road.  There was Nothing left but negotiating the furniture that would stay or go.  Kitchen and living room tables stay, outdoor equipment goes.

Starting over again. Not as difficult as Divorce because my children, my house, my job are all my own this time around.  But, harder in some ways.  That chemistry connection was off the charts and tied us to The Nothingness for a long time.  It is difficult to let go of.

Not difficult to let go of...the wondering, the what ifs, the extra laundry, the extra stress. The Nothingness.

So yesterday, after a 2 month separation, the last of the Nothingness went out.  The final stuff is removed from the garage. The extra bed and stuff in storage began to feel like a scene from the Tell Tale Heart (according to Oz.)  It was like the guy in the POE poem that felt like he heard a beating heart and started ripping up floor boards and it was just a watch.  The extra stuff felt like that this week. I needed it out. Time enough had passed. When it went out the door it felt like a relief. I could breath again.

However, the true wisdom came from my children.  When I told them back in December about the break up and the moving out of things in our house, they said, "Ok."

Umm...that's it??

Should not have asked...

One of my sons said, "I didn't like how he talked to you. He was grumpy and you are happy. You need happy."

My beautiful, strong Baby Doll said, "It wasn't a good relationship anyway."

And so that summed it up.  I can NEVER go back to Nothingness. They are always watching, listening and learning.

I am stronger than I have felt in a long time. My babies give me the strength to want more, to be better.
I am ready for SOMETHING, something real. Something meaningful.
I am awake now and when I look around I realize I have IT. I have this beautiful family. I have these people that love me, that I love.
I have my mom, my friends. They have been my pillars of support in all of this.
I have my aunts and cousins that are just surrounding me with love.
It felt good to have closure, to say no regrets, no hard feelings. Just it is what it is. It's all ok.
And now onto the next chapter.
That's the great thing about life.
There is always another chapter unfolding...