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The first “thrill” of MS is that it's not my fault and I couldn't have prevented it. The next thrill will be when they can fix it.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Why Me?


First off, to anyone reading this that has already seen an email from me or the note on Facebook, this is NOT a pity-party! I’m not asking the question. I’m going to answer it!

To bring the rest of the regulars at my cyber coffee shop up to date, I have my official diagnosis from Cleveland Clinic. I have MS, PPMS to be exact. That’s Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. The disease is not fatal, I repeat, NOT FATAL. It is, however, incurable, at least right now.

MS is a disease of the central nervous system that claims about 400,000 people in the US in its ranks, roughly 1%. Boy the percentages always get me. I’m never in the middle. I’m 100% looking at the best side of things, 100% loyal to my friends and about 98% optimistic, which makes me about 2% cynical. I’m also, as a Mensan, 2% smart and now I’m 1% sick. Actually it’s smaller than that. The primary progressive form of MS applies to about 1 in 10 people with MS. So I’m not alone, but still relatively unique!

Don’t think I’m taking this all lightly, or it hasn’t hit me yet. It’s a life-long but not life-shortening disease. I have a choice. I can be devastated and depressed and waste myself into dark brooding or I can face it, make adjustments and move on without losing any my joy for living, since I still have a lot of life left. Which do you think sounds like a choice I’d make? It was an easy choice for me. I don’t do dark and gloomy well.


So, why me?

Why anyone? If it were truly up to me, no one would ever get an incurable disease. But they do happen to people and this one happened to me. My attitude makes the doctors and nurses smile. That makes me feel good. Maybe there has to be a certain number of people who have a positive attitude to encourage the medical professionals and inspire others that are inflicted. Maybe that’s why me.

I can be outspoken and I’m a decent writer. Maybe I needed to “have” something to do the research and speak out about it. Maybe there needs to be a smiling and optimistic face for MS. Maybe there are ideas or medications yet to be discovered that I need to be able to help promote or prove they work. I don’t know. I do know I haven’t done anything bad for this to be a punishment, so it MUST be an opportunity.

In the next couple months I’ll meet with my MS specialist again to start the medication trials to find one that will do more good than side effects for me. I’ll also meet with a physical therapist in Cleveland who will set up a PT program that I can do in Toledo. I’m going to get my arms in better shape and get the upper body workout of “walking” in the park again. I need to find a park with good paved walking paths that I can use my wheelchair on. I’ll get back into school in the fall semester and I figure during that semester, I’ll start working on updating my resume. I’m going to take this opportunity to, really knowing my weaknesses now, really discover my strengths and make me the best me I’ve ever been.

I don’t want pity, just a little positive reinforcement here and there. I want to enjoy every day for the treasure it truly is, like I always have. If someone looks at me and feels better about their situation because, “at least I don’t have HER problems,” that’s okay. It’s good. It’s certainly better than ignoring me! I want to continue to be a happy optimist and be an inspiration in whatever way I can.

Feel free to ask any questions you have in comments or email to chronicleofnani@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sad Day

Bagheera Patch
4/1/96 – 6/21/11

Yesterday started off like any regular good day starts. We had an appointment to take Baggle in to see the veterinarian to see why he has gotten so thin. At 15 years old and having had some problems lately, we could see the signs that one of these visits to the vet, he wouldn’t be coming home with us. We were prepared. But, can you ever be prepared to say “goodbye?”

Baggle had been in because he was losing weight before. At that time he was also having loose stools and not using the litter box to deposit them. When we took him in he got some fluids injected in him for the dehydration that caused and an antibiotic prescription. Giving him the pills was a chore, but after the prescription was done, he stopped losing weight, even gained back just a little, and we were happy to see a major decrease in the loose stools, we called them “Baggle Bombs,” on the basement floor. He seemed to regain some of his energy, appetite and had returned to his old self.

But in the last couple weeks, we started to see some changes again. He wasn’t eating as much as he always has, although he was still insistent on pushing his sisters away from all three bowls until he decided which one he wanted to eat from. He started to visibly lose weight again and we made an appointment to see his vet. David and I were both thinking the same thing would happen. He’d get fluids and we’d have to administer medication again. The doctor felt his stomach and chest. She was concerned because, while he felt constipated and dehydrated, there was more, his chest didn’t feel right. She did an x-ray.

Baggle’s heart was not shaped correctly for a cat and there was a shadow, a growth or tumor. She explained options for the next step. Measures to remedy the digestive issues would only be temporary and they would be unpleasant and stressful for him, maybe more stressful than he could take in his condition. There was nothing they could do for his heart, given his age and strength. She danced around what her recommendation would be, waiting for us to suggest it, that would be easier on us. Baggle wasn’t showing it in earnest, but there were many ways that we could see he was in pain and struggling. I knew what his vet was trying to say, but couldn’t bring myself to verbalize it. David managed to and the vet said she was sorry, but euthanasia would be the most humane thing, given what he was going through and what could be done for him. They could do things to make his life longer, but it wouldn’t be comfortable or pain-free time. We couldn’t be that selfish.

I had been holding back my tears, but when David’s started, I couldn’t stop mine. Seeing David hurt on top of losing Baggle was beyond my emotional threshold. We had some time with him while they were getting ready for the procedure to pet him and tell him that the pain will be gone and he’d be able to play with Chester and Azzie again.

That was yesterday.

Today is the first day of our return to a 2-cat home. There were no whiskers tickling us awake and no desperate eyes looking up and begging for my lunch. There aren’t squeaking sounds from wet paws rubbing on the kitchen floor after he dipped them in his drinking water. David will miss someone sitting on his mousing hand when he’s on his computer and I’ll miss the cold paws on my legs. Although he was afraid of strangers, Baggle was loving and affectionate with the people he knew. Baggle was the former alpha, having retired from that position when the bossy kitten moved in. Kaline still gave him the job of “Food Czar,” always letting him at the dish first. It was the only “boss job” she gave any other cat. I think Carla may take that job now. Kaline never complained when Baggle stole her treats, but Carla did!

Kaline and Carla took turns having a thorough sniff at the carrier when it came home. I’m really not sure that they realize that Baggle isn’t coming home. When Chester left us, he was in great pain and howling from it. I think Baggle and Kaline knew that and understood what the empty carrier meant. This time, Baggle didn’t show his pain often and he wasn’t crying in pain when we left. I think maybe they knew he wasn’t doing well. Maybe that was communicated in an instinctual way that cats understand that we don’t.

Last night when we went to bed, we had Kaline on my hip and Carla under the covers between us. We usually don’t have them both, one or the other. It seems they did know we needed extra kitty-love last night. This afternoon they came down together at lunch. One rubbed the front of my legs and the other the back.

Baggle always watched his sisters play “chase.” I think it made him tired to watch them. He got rattled and didn’t want to pick sides when they scrapped. Maybe they’ll get along better now that it’s just them. What a nice tribute to their brother. As for David and me, Baggle wouldn’t want us to be depressed or grieve too long. He’d want us to love his sisters and “eat well and share it with the cats!”

It’s going to be a little emptier for a while, but we’ll always remember and treasure the years we had with our Baggle-Buddy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Dear David!

June 11, Red Sox @ Blue Jays

Yanno, at certain times of the year I just don’t blog all the time because, well, because I’m not in front of the computer to blog!

Last weekend we were in Toronto! My birthday gift to David this year was dinner and a ball game. Well, the Red Sox were in Toronto on June 11, so I took him to dinner in Toronto too, since we’d already be there for the game! The Red Sox really had their way with the Blue Jays all weekend long, including the 16-4 shellacking on Saturday, when we were there. I have told him to remember the gift I gave him when he takes me to see The Reds for my birthday!

After the game, we went to dinner at Kit Kat Italian Bar and Grill. What a wonderful meal! Incredible ambiance all the way! We sat in the outdoor patio, listening to Frank Sinatra and others doing American and Italian standards until the live jazz from a few doors down took over as sunset segued into a vibrant city evening.

Antipasti Misto

I had an antipasti misto, veggies grilled just to the perfect middle of crispy and flavorfully cooked with Italian lunchmeats and cheese. Canadian food laws in the area of aging and curing luncheon meats and cheeses make the Canadian variety of the Italian favorites I grew up with in Michigan just a bit more of a spoil for the palate. And did I say the veggies were good? I mean HEAVENLY good! Also the coffee, a latte with Italian grounds, espresso brewed. I had one before dinner and one with dessert, YUM!

Okay, and this was dinner for David’s birthday, so let me make it clear that it’s not just me. He enjoyed it too. Before we left, I was perusing the Toronto dining online. He said he wanted a steak or maybe his swordfish for the year for his birthday. The steakhouses had good sounding menus, but the average steak dinners were in the $60-80 range. It’s not that my wonderful man isn’t worth every penny of that, but my bank account isn’t so worth every penny of that. Kit Kat’s menu included many good sounding dishes, including a couple of steaks for a bit less. I could even afford us wine and dessert!

When our waiter told us the specials, I smiled. It was swordfish with a mango relish. That was what we both ordered. Now, you know you’ll be served well when the owner of the restaurant and a friend are in the table next to yours. You also know you’ve made an excellent choice for dinner when said owner is enjoying the same meal you ordered! The swordfish was wonderful, with more of those great veggies! While chatting with the owner, we mentioned that we were celebrating David’s birthday and after the meal, our server brought out a tiramisu with a candle for him! We ordered a fudge cake and shared both. It’s definitely a restaurant I’ll want to go back to and one I’ll recommend to friends and family as a must-eat-there in Toronto!


You probably noticed my Tweet Box in the right column. Yes, I’ve decided to use my Twitter account. That’s baseball oriented too. Brandon Phillips, second base for the Reds has an account that he uses regularly. Twitter is the source where the Cardinals rivalry with the Reds brews! Brandon tweets tongue in cheek bravado with Cardinals fans and he is a “hated man," greeted with choruses from the St. Louis boo-birds. That rivalry he has with the fans under The Arch seems to make him bring his A-game to St. Louis.

Brandon’s Tweets are not all about jeering the opposition’s fans. He Tweets from a players perspective about the games and things going on in the Cincinnati community. He welcomes tweets from his fans and sometimes gives prizes for trivia. One kid Tweeted to invite him to come to their little league game on a Reds off day. Sounds cute and crazy-kid, huh? Brandon went to the game, met the kid and signed autographs while spending time with the little league team! When the Reds were in San Francisco, there was an interview with a couple of reds fans on TV. They weren’t Reds fans from San Francisco or fans that bought tickets while they were on a baseball vacation. They were fans who answered a trivia question on Brandon Phillips’ Twitter page and won tickets to the game. In interview, they said they figured they’d get the tickets and try to find a discount fare to go to the game. Nope. Brandon included the full trip as the prize! As much as I complain about the prices of MLB things going up with all the money the players make, I can’t complain about Brandon Phillips. He gives back in a huge way. Sure the personal love from his fans must feel good, but he’s giving back not just things, but of himself in a more personal way than a lot do! Now, I don’t actively get involved in the Twitter games. I don’t have Twitter on all the time anymore than I do Facebook, but I DO follow DatDudeBP.

I’m going to try to leave a one-liner for the day on Twitter that will also show up on The Chronicles. If you have a Twitter account, please feel free to follow me and interact with me there!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Saving Money and Feeling Good!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens. All opinions are 100% mine.

Pharmacist

I’m a pretty open person, so it comes as no surprise that my medicine cabinet has a few boxes and bottles, both prescription and over the counter.  With insurance on the prescription drugs, I almost hope I can get a prescription for everything I need to take!  Yowza!  Even my vitamins add up to quite a tab! My journey to cutting costs without cutting corners has actually been a pretty good one.  I’ve learned a lot!

 

It started with non-prescription ibuprofen.  An NSAID, non-steroid anti inflammatory drug, is essential in maintaining a decent semblance of tolerance with my mobility issues.  Long ago I knew the name brand ibuprofen gel caps were the right choice for me, but not my pocketbook!  My research brought me to realize that the ingredient lists for the big brand and many of the store brands were almost identical.  The active ingredients are the same.  Sometimes the inactive ingredients are different, sometimes not.  Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products Ibuprofen gives me the same relief at substantially less cost.    Now, if Walgreen’s Brand will quell the swelling enough that my challenged mobility is less challenged and I can do more, imagine what it can do for a headache or achy muscles after a workout for you!  Most important to me, the Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products Ibuprofen comes in liquid-gels, just like the name brand, for faster acting relief, still at a substantially lower cost.

 

Since I had such success with the Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products Ibuprofen, I tried another Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Product, Wal-Dryl, a replacement for the brand I take for my allergies.  My experience with Wal-Dryl was even better!  I get the same active ingredients at a lower cost and the big plus – it doesn’t make me as drowsy as the name brand!  That’s got to be something in the inactive ingredients, because it does every bit as much for my allergy symptoms.

 

The Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products I’ve tried have been fantastic.  It’s a store-brand I trust and one I will always consider first for my OTC drug needs.  Right now, Walgreens is offering some gift card giveaways on select blogs.  That can give you an opportunity to try some of the Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products on their dime!  Believe me, when you see how the Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products work just as well as the name brands and see how comparably little they cost, you’ll be a believer too! 

 

Be sure to check out the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™ to see what Walgreens is doing to bring affordable health and wellness to your community and how you help that cause every time you purchase Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Home Again

David and I shared this decadent dessert
at Montana Jacks in Moline, Illinois

One could say the wheelchair worked so well at the Mud Hens game I just kept going. We went to the Hens game on Friday, May 28. We’d been throwing around ideas of where we were going and when we were leaving for our spring vacation.

A David and Nani vacation during baseball season takes some preplanning. The weather has to be right for photographing trains and there are baseball schedules to gather! The weather forecasts were telling us that the trip to see the steam train in St. Louis was probably going to be the direction we went, planni0ng to hit Iowa on the way. I had the schedules for 11 minor league teams. I put which teams are going to be home and game time for each day we’ll be gone and then we can reference the list on nights that we want to go to a game. We ended up seeing a Lumber Kings double header on a cloudy day in Clinton, Iowa and an evening Gateway Grizzlies game in Sauget, Illinois.

UP Steam Special

Since we were planning to be in Missouri for the steam train, I just had to let Kelly know to see if she could drive up from Sikeston to spend some time. I sent her a message saying that we were going to a Cardinals game on June 2. “Should I buy an extra ticket?” I got an enthusiastic, “yes!”

We met up with Kelly for lunch after chasing the steam train coming in to town in the morning. It was the seventeenth year for the seventeen-year cicadas. Their song was LOUD and there were cicadas everywhere! If you are easily rattled by bugs, this is not the time to go to St. Louis! Now, I’d already awakened to a huge spider in the sink my very first morning in Moline, IL, where we stayed while shooting trains in the Quad Cities area, so really, I welcomed the cicadas!

Kelly, Me and David at Busch Stadium

On Thursday night we went to the Cardinals game with seats on the Club Level which gave us access to the air-conditioned concession area where you can get some of the better selections, including a variety of salads, Mongolian barbecue and the Pretzel Dogs and Bratzels that called Kelly and me. David and I stopped at the Ben and Jerry’s cart. I got a small Cherry Garcia. Yeah, Nani and the black forest. I have to say that the new Busch Stadium is fantastic! It’s a beautiful stadium with a beautiful view and great amenities. I’ll also give a tip of the hat to the stadium graphics, great job! I photographed a bunch of them for scrapbook inspiration! The Giants won the game we saw, which was of course, as a Reds fan, fine by me.

"Edible Lunch Art" at Bravo Cuccina
Fenton, MO

For the most part my eating was a tour of the many ways you can make a grilled chicken salad with fish three times, once outdoors on the Mississippi River and I have totally discovered the dippin’ veggies at Denny’s. Denny’s does Dippin’ Veggies with carrots, celery sticks and cucumbers and a bowl of ranch dressing. I don’t use the ranch dressing, but I love being able to get a double order to go so I can have my crunchy veggies in the car!

It was a fun and relaxing vacation. At times it was on the very chilly side, especially in St. Louis. I was wrapping up in my coat in the car and with an extra blanket at night. It was highs in the 90s and that means the dreaded high power air-conditioning. David prefers it much colder than me. But when we were outside it was nice to even hot some times. That’s Nani friendly weather!

Stay tuned for some new mugs!!
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