Sunday, 28 February 2016

Pet Therapy

I agreed to 'babysit' my daughter's dog while the family was away. It's fortunate that Lily, the dog, is ten years old and quite content to sleep a good part of the day. We're a matched set in that regard.

I was crazily looking forward to having this house guest. Years ago in my other life, that married life, there was always a dog, one in the house and the hunting dogs outside.

Later, I had cats, as cats were more manageable when I spent so much time at work. I have been without a pet for nine years, so this is a treat.

We're getting into our routine, getting used to each other, and I'm writing about it more in my other blog. (See link to the side).

Pet Therapy works. I have all this love from my pal Lily, and because of her I've been outside frequently, and walked daily. I'm sure we make a strange pair when we walk the circle of the court, Lily on her leash and me with my walker.

I know I could do this without the dog, but I don't seem to get to it, but with Lily depending on me I rise to the occasion.

There is a down side, as having a pet creates work. I can see her footprints on the floor, and the dusting seems to be a priority. I'm fortunate that the weather has been relatively dry, so she hasn't come in with her feet caked with snow and ice.

We're on Day 3, still enjoying our visit.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

More Recliner Adjustments

As is true in so many things, when you change one thing, others things need to change, too, or at least be altered. If I’m reclined I can’t reach my phone on the side table. The table I use for my laptop, like a hospital over bed table, doesn’t work anymore as the recliner goes solid to the floor.

I found the table works if I raise the foot and pulled the table close, though it sits to the side and isn’t close enough to type without reaching, add in more strain to my upper back. If I pull the laptop forward, into my…ha ha ha, lap, it works better, but not best.

Right now I’m using the bed tray my brother gave me for Christmas. (He and his wife are so thoughtful). It didn’t work in bed, that lack of upper body support, but works in the recliner. Who’d have thought?

I just have to figure out how to rid myself of all of this, with the least little effort, when I need to get up.

I found another little problem with the chair, once I’ve powered back and am all comfortable, I need to have everything at hand, it’s not a fast thing to be upright again.

Like now, I left the remote by the bed so have no option to change the TV channel. The other day I ran out of yarn and needed the second ball, in the cupboard of course. It just requires a bit more planning than when I could just shove the table out of the way and stand up.

And, if I feel that urge to go to the bathroom, more urgent on those days I take a water pill, I need to listen. It’s not as fast as it was before, so I can’t take the time to finish a row of crochet, or a paragraph of writing. When the brain tells me to go, I need to get up and go.

All in all, the chair is a positive addition comfortable and cozy. The little inconveniences will be worked out over time.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Hot Spots

Early on in my disease I began to experience strange symptoms that could not be explained. I assumed it was due to wacky nerve impulses received in the brain, some message misinterpreted, or some miscued data.

One such symptom was a feeling that I had stepped, or sat, in something wet. The cat immediately took the blame as I jumped to the conclusion that he had peed on the floor or furniture. Another is the numbness down my right leg, and yet another a feeling of being chilled, sometimes my whole body, sometimes just a leg.

The other day I was sitting in my new recliner chair, all nice and comfortable, except I felt a hot spot under my right leg, above the knee. Since my chair has all the bells and whistles, including heat and massage, I immediately checked to see if the “heat” option was on…and it was not.

Like the cat before, the chair took the blame.

There was something wrong with the chair, a short, a breakdown, something that caused the heater to be on, when it wasn’t turned on. I was pissed, to put it mildly. I hated that I would have to deal with this issue when I’d been feeling good about taking charge and getting the chair in the first place.

That night, when reading in bed, my bed also had a hot spot, and later, so did the driver’s seat of my car.

So all is well, my weird MS sensations have changed from ‘wet’ to ‘hot’, and that’s just how it goes. This disease is nothing if not unpredictable, for you just never know. Dealing with this is manageable, considering what the possibilities could be.

At least I’m back sitting comfy and relaxed again.

The Recliner Chair

When I saw the doctor last fall, and we discussed my issue with declining upper body strength, she suggested I get a recliner chair. With the chair reclined, it takes on the burden of supporting my head and shoulders.

I received a lot of advice before making this purchase. My brother wanted me to get the deluxe model, the one with heat, massage and what he called the ‘ejector seat’. I agreed that the simple, more frequently found chair might work for now, but I needed to think ahead.

I found my brother really got into this project, and did some research, sending me pictures of chairs he found on line. He forgets my shopping is more limited here than it is in the city. He solved that problem by offering to pick me up and take me chair shopping. I appreciated the gesture, but found a solution quite by surprise.

I was on my way to the dentist, had a few minutes to spare and decided to check out the sale at the Medicine Shoppe next door to the dental office. There in the middle of the store sat a recliner, on sale, with all the gadgets and gizmos. And free delivery. Sold.

My son and his family were here when the chair was delivered, so he spent time and effort getting it properly plugged in and positioned. The kids sat in it and gave the power a try, laughing when the seat raised them to a standing position.

By reclining the chair I take the strain of sitting upright off my back, and get the added bonus of having my feet elevated, to reduce swelling. I don’t need the power ‘lift’ to get out of the chair, but can see that it will come in handy when I feel tired, or with what is most likely, more decline.

I’m a good Scout, and believe in the old motto…Be Prepared.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Making Life Easier

With the changes I was experiencing, I felt my quality of life begin to suffer. What time I had to be productive was limited and it always seemed to come with some kind of struggle. Last fall I began sorting through my closets and drawers, trying to make life easier, by getting rid of the clutter.

My place is so small this task should have been quick and easy, but I have lived with the mess of it and the time it’s taken to get it done. Since that time I have managed to take two carloads of ‘stuff’ to the Blue Box, and garbaged a lot more.

It took months, but I have made some changes to my living space that make life easier for me. I moved the printer up to eye level, saving the bending and eye strain when it was on a lower shelf. I reorganized the coat closet, and have my hat and mitts in a handier spot, along with my cleaning supplies, the garbage bags, etc.

I cleaned out my drawers and closet with that old rule in mind, if it hasn’t been worn in the last year, get rid of it, and I was fairly compliant.

My bed is high off the floor, with six drawers underneath, more bending and cursing when the comforter got in the way. I bought a tall, narrow cabinet with four shelves (that my son kindly picked up, put together and positioned in place), and moved all my fleece jackets, sweats and sweaters into it, along with all my jeans and comfy pants. The drawers now hold my stash of yarn. Works for me, and in the process I found clothes I’d forgotten about in those bottom drawers.

I also gained hanging space in the closet, from where the fleece items were hung, and with a couple of those space-saving multiple hangar things my son gave me.

In the kitchen, I put everything possible into baskets, so instead of reaching and sorting through the cupboard, I can pull down the basket and find what I want. I rid the shelves of all the outdated stuff that I had saved for that someday I might bake or cook with some creativity. Not going to happen, not anymore. The things I use are now within reach.

A good start, and a smart move looking ahead. Now the biggest obstacle is to move the phone within reach from the bed. I haven’t quite figured that one out. If one of the kids call and I take a bit of time to answer, they know I was still in bed, or had gone back to bed. I’m faster  and the phone is closer in my chair.

Looking after me, finally.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

More Changes

It was frustrating to say the least, to find myself, if not exactly bedridden, spending so much time in bed. I read and watched television, but that was about it. This behavior did not allow me much time or energy for being creative.

I had forced the issue all fall, painting, crafting, and crocheting, as a way of avoiding what was happening. I would work a bit, sit, nap, do a bit more, but now I had another symptom, and needed to see the doctor.

I was experiencing pain at the base of my throat, felt a fullness that was bothersome, but not choking. This feeling came and went, worse when tired? I wasn’t sure.

I saw the doctor at the end of November and she ordered a chest x-ray and an ultrasound. She was questioning whether my thyroid was enlarged and pressing on my esophagus. I never had the ultrasound done until January, as it was booked and cancelled four times. The first two times were because the technician was quite ill and there was no replacement, the third time I cancelled because it was the day before our family dinner, and I didn’t need the drain to my energy the day before. The last time it was delayed was due to a winter storm.

Finally, in January, I was determined, come hell or high water, to get it done. No snow was expected that day, but the temperature dropped to minus 16 Celsius, and I worried that the car would get me there and back with no problems.

Waiting gives way to worry, and I with every delay I grew more afraid of the possibilities. End result, I had the tests and all was well, sort of.

That pressure feeling was not my thyroid, which was actually small in size, though the radiologist did question whether the pressure I was feeling had a pulsing sensation as, apparently, my right carotid artery is somewhat misplaced to the centre and could be some pressure on the esophagus. It didn’t feel pulsing to me, so not the issue.
We, the doctor and I, decided not to pursue any further testing, and that I would keep my eye on it, and try to see if there was anything that seemed to bring it on, make it worse.

There are two more likely causes or explanations. It could be another of those fickle MS symptoms, vague and difficult to diagnose or explain, or it’s related to the three pinched nerves on my cervical spine.

Time will tell. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016


I’ve been avoiding this blog site, and have no excuses other than I realize I was avoiding putting into words the way I was feeling.

A hot summer, a busy time with a fall wedding, I knew I needed some time to regroup and get back to my ‘normal’. It didn’t happen. I then blamed the holidays, but I could feel the changes, slow for sure, but still changes. I was weaker, my was fatigue kicking in faster than before.

With a disease like MS, the changes can be slow and subtle. I find I do little things to adapt physically, without actually being aware of what I’m doing.

Case in point. I know my fatigue is much more problematic. I feel exhausted just getting ready to go out, and push myself through the activity. Sleep does nothing to ease this kind of tiredness.

I’ve gone from cane to walker, and do better with that two handed support, and make use of the cart in stores for the same reason.

But, I realized the new habit I’d acquired…and it was light bulb time. Whenever I sit where I have no upper body support, I place my hands on my knees or thighs and let my arms take the weight of my head and shoulders.

I became aware I take this stance when I go to the bathroom, something I’d thought was for those sleepy, middle of the night excursions, but was something I did routinely in some form or another, elbows on the table, counters, the cart or the walker. Even when driving I was pushing, straight armed against the steering wheel for support.

The overwhelming fatigue I felt had driven me from my wing back chair to my bed. By the time I have dinner, I’m done, and I have to lie down where I have full body support.

I’m losing upper body strength, and indicator of the ongoing decline in my condition, and the slow, but steady progression of my disease.