A Spring Statement Piece

The good news, Mom does not have a stress fracture in her hip.  The bad news, the doctor doesn’t know what is causing the pain.  She was given a shot in her muscle which seemed to calm things down but she woke up this morning again in pain.  If the pain does not improve today she is going to go back and receive a lumbar scan to see if this is a nerve. Mom and Dad sounded upbeat though last night. That was a relief to hear. Today though a little less upbeat, a little more unsure. 

To perk up Mom’s spirits, Sister K and I spent the morning like we always do sending her emails.  We forwarded promos we received from stores, comments on The Bachelorette premiere last night, or silly stories we read online. Email is a great way for us to communicate during the day because Mom has an iPad so she is able to be on the computer without having to maneuver and actually sit in our computer room.  She can sit at the kitchen table or even be laying in bed checking emails.   

I knew Mom must have been feeling a little better today when all of a sudden I saw her name appear in my inbox.  Then it appeared again and again as she was replying to the emails sent several hours ago.  One of her responses in particular made me laugh.  Mom used to be an avid All My Children fan.  We laughed that Susan Lucci was her idol. Now that it has been canceled she has been branching out and watching the other new abc shows, The Chew and The Revolution.

So this afternoon she emailed us the following message based on what she had just seen on The Revolution:

the world is a stage,every day you are the actor…work it!
Big things for Spring . . 
Metallics, shine, lace, eyelets, mix patterns,
Colors- pastels and sorbet (this is a watered down pastel shade)
Splurge on the ONE piece that brings energy to you, like a statement necklace, or a bling headband added to a simple outfit
Wedges or espadrilles in bling color
Arm, ear or wrist candy in a neon color added to a simple outfit.(not huge pieces)

Yes. The email is all over the place and practically verbatim from the show but that is the art of Mom on an iPad.  The best part is Sister K and I can speak this fluently and understand everything she is saying. 

But when I asked what her statement piece for Spring would be she replied: “Pinky”

{I am not sure I have explained this yet but Mom has a pink walker.  We don’t call it a walker. I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to refer to this thing as a walker and no one else would either. So we named it Pinky. And it is called Pinky by everyone, everywhere we go. This is a topic for another day though. Pinky deserves her own post.}

So what is the point of this email with fashion tips for Spring? To show that I am truly from a family of girls.  A family of fashion loving girls. And we have successfully found a way for Mom to continue to show this side of her amidst everything else. To the point where she now refers to her walker, “Pinky” as her statement piece for Spring. 

It makes you think about what the phrase “statement piece” should really mean.  In Mom’s email The Revolution said it is “one piece that brings energy to you.”  Typically you would think it is a necklace or bracelet, but could it be something more?  Could it be a positive attitude? Could it be a smile? Could it be a little more patience?  For me right now it is all 3 of these things.  Mom says her statement piece is Pinky but Pinky symbolizes so much more.  Pinky symbolizes a part of her acceptance of this piece of her life.  Some days this acceptance is easier than others. 

So this Spring I will also be wearing my own statement piece everyday- a more positive attitude about life and most importantly about Mom’s MS.  One of patience, of smiles, of laughter and most importantly love.

Do you already have a Spring statement piece? Have you ever thought of using a statement piece as a means to make a personal change in yourself? Do you think I maybe do need a new necklace/statement piece just because it is Spring?

A Different Kind of Mother’s Day

It was a different kind of Mother’s Day.  It wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t full of fancy brunches or lots of gifts.  But it was full of love.  A lot of love for the greatest woman in my life. Mom.

As you know, Mom may have a stress fracture in her hip.  Sister K and I were originally planning to surprise Mom by driving home for the day on Mother’s Day.  But because of this new development, I decided to go home Saturday instead.  I thought Dad could use the extra help and Mom could use the perk in her spirits.  There are times when you feel truly needed once you arrive somewhere- this was one of those times. 

Needless to say Mother’s Day in my house was not full of the usual restaurant lunch/brunch of years past.  Mom didn’t even make it out of bed all day.  Sister K did arrive and Mom got her second “daughter surprise” of the weekend.  Sister K is staying home until today since I had to come back last night because of work.

To avoid any specifics out of respect to Mom I will keep things general.  Mom was in a lot of pain and was on some very strong pain medicines that began to make her sick.  Mom is also having a lot of trouble walking.  Going from her bed to the bathroom, to the kitchen, anywhere.  She has trouble getting into bed and once in needs to be adjusted.  To put it simply, there is a lot to be done.  A lot that can be overwhelming for one person.  

But, even through the toughest moments of the weekend we found moments of laughter.  Moments of smiles.  There was the moment I completely forgot to put the brakes on Mom’s wheelchair while she was trying to get out and Dad responded with “Hello Genius!” There were Mom’s funny one-liners making fun of the situations we were in, the things we were having to do.  There were the moments where I layed in bed rubbing her arm trying to soothe her and make the pain go away.  Moments when she was in pure pain and I started telling gossipy stories to try to distract her mind or I told her to pretend she was back in labor and doing lamaze. There was also the fact that while I sat in bed feeding Mom soup, Sister K was rummaging through the bathroom cabinets screaming about mosquito bites she had just gotten outside and how bad they were hurting. As if we weren’t in the middle of a million other things, Sister K knows how to clear the air while directing the attention elsewhere. And it always makes us laugh. 

Finally around 4pm yesterday we all sat down for a moment to eat.  This would’ve normally been the moment where we traditionally celebrated Mother’s Day but yesterday’s Mother’s Day was different.  We had picked up lunch food instead of going out to eat.  Dad, Sister K and I got out the tv trays and all ate our lunch sitting on a bench at the foot of the bed in our parents’ room.  Mom was laying in bed finally resting.  Hello, Dolly! was playing on the tv.  I had put the movie on earlier in the day as an uplifting and fun distraction. I have always loved this musical since I was little and I also know how much Mom loves Barbara Streisand.   

As I sat there watching the end, Sister K on my left, Dad on my right, dogs behind us on the bed and Mom laying down I had a thought.  This is it. This is what Mother’s Day at the heart of it is all about. A day of love and togetherness with family. This Mother’s Day celebration was a simple one but it was also a tough one.  It made me realize how strong my family is, how resilient we are.  It was a Mother’s Day where Mom watched the family she has been the anchor of all these years anchor her.  She watched us use everything she had taught us and put it into action.  She watched the strength she instilled in her daughters come to life.  Amidst the pain and the stress, there were those simple moments of laughter and simple moments of love. 

I don’t usually remember one Mother’s Day to the next, but I have a feeling I will always remember this one.  I will especially remember the way I felt sitting on that bench for the rest of my life.

“Why Couldn’t She Have Broken Her Nose?”

Friday.  Sigh. I love a Friday.  I called Mom at lunch today and she told me that she was in so much pain because of her hip last night that she hardly slept.  Consequently I am pretty sure Dad hardly slept.  This morning Dad was either going to take her to the emergency room or her primary doctor.  They opted for the primary doctor sans appointment. They walked in even though they were booked and sat.  They eventually got to see the doctor.  The doctor thinks Mom may have have a stress fracture in her hip and scheduled her for an MRI today at 4. 

What? Seriously? Are you kidding? No, it’s clear you are not. 

I called Sister K and told her this right after.  Her response.  In this overwhelmed voice that implied what else could go wrong she proclaimed WHAAAT?? And then we both started laughing.  Not a mean spirited laughter.  We hate more than anything the idea of Mom in pain.  This was an overwhelmed at life right now laughter.  A laughter I am sure everyone experiences once in awhile. We talked. We thought out loud. About our life right now.  About what else could go wrong?  We were just so overwhelmed and in shock all we could do was laugh.  Then I responded and said, “I mean why couldn’t she have broken her nose?”     

So that’s where we are.  Mom is scheduled for an MRI today at 4.  They have a doctor’s appointment on Monday morning to find out the results.  At least the doctor was able to give Mom some strong pain medicine.  We were planning to surprise Mom Sunday for Mother’s Day by driving home for the day.  It’s clear we may be needed around the house to help out a little more.  It’d be nice to be there to keep Mom in good spirits and to help Dad.  With the way our schedules have played out I am planning to go tomorrow night and come back Sunday.  Sister K will drive down Sunday and come back Monday since she is done with grad school for a few weeks until June. 

Even as I sit here writing, I sit here dumbfounded.  I’m worried, I am concerned and a bit overwhelmed.  But there is great comfort in having Sister K to get through this with a good perspective.  A perspective that is not filled with bitterness and anger.  But filled with a dash of laughter.

Sometimes you have to laugh at life.  At these cards we have been dealt.  Our cards are becoming increasingly more complex.  They are growing in size.  Just as we think we’ve gotten a handle on them we get dealt a new hand. It’s becoming quite the cycle.  Life is forcing us to find a way to deal with it.  And we are dealing with it in our own way.

For Sister K and I we are silently wishing Mom had a broken nose. And then we are laughing because who wishes a broken nose upon their Mom..on Mother’s Day weekend no less.    

Hoping you can find some laughter too in this crazy thing we call life.  Wishing you a happy weekend and a Happy Mother’s Day.  

Shuffleboarding Through Life

Yesterday Husband had his last final for the semester.  This means he is now officially through with his 1st year of Grad school.  To celebrate this, his grad school friends planned a shuffleboard tournament.  Have you ever played shuffleboard?  I had not.  So as people explained the rules to me and what to do I stood there with a smile.  I nodded.  I pretended to understand.  Really having no idea what they were talking about.  Lines. Points. 3 points. 4 points. No points. Okay I thought. Let’s just dive in and see what happens.

As it turns out, I am really good at shuffleboard. The first few times I had to shoot the puck were a disaster but then I got into a rhythm.  I still messed up a few times but got better and better with my “dismount.” I think this is kind of true of life. My life especially right now. 

3 years ago I was told Mom has MS.  There was no smile but I nodded.  I didn’t understand the rules. I didn’t understand what that meant. But I was forced to dive in. To see what happens.  In a way I am shuffling through this experience.  Shuffling through life with Mom.  The first few experiences were a disaster in their own ways.  I didn’t communicate correctly. I stressed Mom out. But now I am feeling more like I have a rhythm.  I still shoot my puck off the table sometimes.  And that’s okay.  But my coordination is improving. I am getting a better eye for dealing with certain topics. Certain issues.  Out maneuvering my opponent.  In this case the opponent is MS.  Once in awhile I do something amazing and score a very high score with myself.  With Mom.  Much like I did last night. 

(I scored 11 points on 3 throws and won the game. I also won MVP. WIth this win came a lovely trophy that says MVP and is literally a toilet bowl. Husband is very excited about this addition to our apartment…)

I must remember there will always be new games in life.  New rules. I won’t always understand them but sometimes there isn’t time to understand.  You just have to dive in. Play the game. Try to do the best you can and sometimes you may surprise yourself and be better than you think. 

Do you ever feel like you are shuffleboarding through life?  Have you ever played shuffleboard?  Where do you think the best location is for a toilet bowl MVP trophy? 

 

We’re Going To Hug Her

I called Sister K on my lunch break today.  We talked as I wandered the streets to get my mid-day iced tea from McDonald’s.  I’ll admit that I have one just about everyday.  I’ll also admit for $1.08 there are worse things I could be addicted to. 

I had called Mom first but she was rushing to eat lunch so Dad could pick her up and take her to rehab.  She mentioned her leg was in pain again.  She was frustrated and down. We didn’t talk much about it and got off the phone quickly.  So I called Sister K instead to inform her of this.  We talked about it for a minute and then Sister K sighed and in a silly way said, “What are we gonna do?”  And I paused for a minute and laughed to myself because there was such truth behind the question yet we both had no idea what the answer was.  I also realized in this instant I could begin to get sad and down.  I could begin to wallow in these circumstances.  How things keep coming up with Mom and she can’t shake this leg pain.  Instead though I caught myself.  I was focused on positive thoughts just as Sister K said “We’re gonna hug her.”  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Yes. That is exactly what we are going to do.  Then I chimed in with my own list- we’re going to tell her we love her, we’re going to call her, we’re going to listen, we’re even going to surprise her on Sunday for Mother’s Day.  

We wish we could fix this but we can’t. Sometimes the pain is too great, the medicines are not working fast enough, the symptoms are beyond our comprehension and all we can do is hug Mom.  It’s those hugs that will say so much while at the same time saying nothing not all. 

So we’re going to hug her and we’re not going to stop.   

Have you ever thought about the power of a hug?  Do you ever hug someone when you don’t know what else to say? Do you love a good hug as much as I do?      

A Smile on a Dreary Day

In an effort to try and keep my mind more positive I am taking a step back to evaluate what brings negative thoughts into my life.  This is and will continue to be an interesting process.  Sort of surprising actually.  I believe dealing with Mom’s MS has shifted this into not just an idea but a necessity for me.  I have a lot of overwhelming thoughts I am dealing with internally right now.  Sister K and I share these thoughts together.  But these thoughts, they are not uplifting.  They are anything but uplifting.  It’s a battle of the mind in some ways.  I am fighting to remain positive.  It is my natural instinct to fall back on negative thoughts than to stay in the positive.  It is easier but not healthier. 

It’s a dreary day outside.  It is interesting how it can impact your mood.  A dreary day gives you 2 choices: You embrace the dreary day and are thankful for the excuse to curl up with a good book or you embrace the dreary day and allow yourself to transform your mood to be dreary like the weather.  A year ago at this time I would have allowed my mood to mirror the weather.  It would’ve sent a bad mood into overdrive.  Now though, now I am challenging my mind.  I am trying to make a conscious effort not to go there.

So what do I think about to stay positive today?  I am thinking about my kindle. It was my birthday gift from Mom and Dad and I got it this past weekend when I was home.  I love it.  I am currently rereading Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenWe watched the ending of the movie at home Saturday night because it was on tv so it was fresh in my mind when I went to look at the free books offered.  More than that though, it has become an escape.  A whimsical escape for my thoughts and my mind.  It requires a little extra focus to read it because of the English literature.  But once I am focused and reading I am absorbed.  The feeling of being absorbed continues when I am not reading.  I am not thinking about Mom’s MS in my spare thoughts but Elizabeth Bennett.  Her mother’s love for her daughters and crazy antics reminds me of a sillier version of Mom.  It makes me think of Mom as my Mom and not Mom with MS. 

So tonight I am going to head home from work and transport myself to the Bennet family’s home filled with sisters, love and laughter.  In a sense I will be wrapping myself up with the qualities I love most about my family.  And on this dreary day thinking of that makes me smile.

Dear Wasps, Thank you.

This past weekend Sister K, Husband and I drove home for the weekend.  It was “Celebration Station” as my sister called it at our house- a belated birthday for me with my family, Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby all rolled into one. 

Our Plan: Sister K and I began the afternoon pulling the cover off our patio table and chairs.  Mom had bought a new one and wanted us to change them out.  This was a very small task that took less than 5 minutes.  We were then going to wipe the table off and spend the day relaxing with the family outside by the pool with homemade margaritas.  For dinner we were planning to grill steaks and eat outside for the first time this year.  Sister K and I had told Mom we would take care of getting everything out there because we know that usually is a stresser on Mom to deal with moving things from the kitchen to outside.  Eating outside is relaxing and creates a positive mood for everyone that it is worth the extra effort. 

Reality: My family is learning to go with the flow becuase of MS.  I say my family, really I am learning more to go with the flow.  Plans change on a whim, things don’t work out and you have to roll with it.  Well our plans got turned upside down but this had nothing to do with MS.  It had to do with wasps. 

After taking off the table cover we were setting up the lawnchairs and I began to notice 2 bugs flying around.  They seemed to be almost circling the table.  I thought they were moths and didn’t pay much attention but then Sister K said, I think those are wasps.  We were confused and then thought to ourselves, is there a wasp nest on the table cover?  So what do two girls who are grown adults in their 20s do? Try to solve this for themselves? Absolutely not.  We yelled inside for Dad. 

He comes out and upon further inspection of the cover we realize there is in fact a tiny wasp nest attached to it.  There weren’t any wasps near it because we had already moved it away so Dad crushed it.  But, we still had the issue of what we thought were 2 wasps.  A typical family is probably prepared for these things and has RAID or some other powerful product laying around.  Not mine.  But determined to not ruin pool day Sister K begins googling and realizes furniture cleaner will kill them as well as most household cleaners.  So we get a bottle of Windex.  We then proceed to corral our dogs and watch as Dad kills these 2 wasps.  Success.  We are in the clear.  Let’s resume pool day. 

No sooner have we layed one towel on a lawnchair does another one appear.  Once again, what do we do? Yell inside for Dad.  He reappears, Windex in hand.  We kill another one.  We go back to lay out our towels.  Another one appears.  We call for Dad again.  This time he and Papa (our Grandpa was also over for Celebration Day) both come out.  Sister K turns on the camera of her iPhone just as it disappears.  So instead of just going back inside, I begin interviewing Dad about this experience and “mid-interview” a wasp appears.  He goes after it.  I am sitting here starting to laugh just remembering the sight of Dad strategically moving with a Windex bottle.  All of this while Papa just sits silently with a little smile. A chuckle.  A chuckle I think he has because he knows we can do this all day. The wasps are going to keep coming back.  This was their home base.  There will constantly be another one.  Finally we declare pool day has been a bust.  We go inside to eat chips and queso, drink our margaritas and laugh. 

While all of this was going on Mom was asleep because she is on some strong medicine for the spasms in her legs that have been causing her painful leg cramps.  The medicine makes her very dizzy, tired and sort of “out of it” for lack of a better description.  She knew there was something going on with wasps because she couldn’t help but hear it from the bedroom but she was in and out of sleep during this. 

At our steak dinner (in the kitchen, not outside) we were describing the afternoon to Mom when we remembered we had the live video Sister K had taken.  It was the most special thing in the world watching her see it, reliving it and laughing hard with her over how funny it was: Picture a 28 year old girl with a sombrero on her head and blue mumu dress (that would be me) interviewing her Dad, then watching him with a can of windex trying to kill wasps and chasing them around, strategizing about where they are going.  It was a sight to see. 

The point though is we live day in and day out with Mom’s MS being in the background of our thoughts at different points everyday.  We are concerned she is struggling in so much pain.  We could focus on this.  Sometimes we do.  We actually had been discussing it Saturday morning.  But Saturday afternoon we chose to focus on laughter.  Today as I am reminded of my weekend, I am not sitting here sad because Mom didn’t feel well this weekend.  I am sitting here smiling and laughing because of wasps.  I am sitting here feeling a large amount of love for my family.  I may even have a little love for wasps, as twisted as that sounds. 

Lesson learned: Be silly.  Be funny.  Remember to laugh and laugh hard.  Take advantage of technology.  Record these funny moments when Mom may not be there to take part .  She can relive them later.  Today she is reliving this memory.  She feels just as much involved in it as she would’ve had she been standing out on the patio seeing it firsthand. 

At lunch today we had gotten off the phone and I was reading for a little bit before my lunch break was over.  Mom called back and said, “You are never going to believe what I just saw while I was sitting here at the kitchen table- a wasp just flew by on the patio.” And we both laughed.

Do you ever have days of celebration that end up in a series of funny calamities?  Are you good at going with the flow when plans change?  Does your family keep a spare bottle of RAID around?

Half Full

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily. “And freezing.” “However,” he said brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

Optimism is tricky.  It’s easy during easy times and hard during the hard times.  Dad is someone though who radiates optimism and it shows.  For the most part he is always optimistic.  He is always uplifting to talk to and he always gives me the sense that no matter what’s wrong or how big the problem it’s going to be okay. 

I think I tend to lean towards the pessimistic side.  I tend to think why me instead of why not me.  Mom getting MS hasn’t helped this very much.  I have noticed even more of a tendency to focus on the negatives in life than the positives.  The problem though is when I am drawn to the negative I like to stay there for awhile.  My mind becomes cloudy.  I can’t support others the way I would like and I especially have trouble supporting myself.

For instance Dad is trying to get a heater for our pool so Mom can use it year round.  Hoping this will help her to exercise more and strengthen her muscles.  After a month he was having trouble getting the city utility company to contact him about completing his request, something that would’ve frustrated me to no end.  It would have made me bitter, helpless and I might have just given up.  Instead he spoke with Mom’s doctor who put him in touch with the Director of the MS Society who called the city utility company who then had someone higher up personally call Dad to apologize.  A lesson learned in optimism but also a lesson learned for people dealing with any disability: Keep fighting. If you aren’t being treated the way you should be call your local chapters.  They are there to help you and your family members. 

In relation to my Happiness Project, I have made a committment to try to find the positive in every negative.  To be more specific though I am going to find 3 things each day to be optimistic about in my life.  It’s a small step but I am working towards tricking my mind.  Hoping if I do it enough my mind will naturally work towards the optimistic side than the pessimistic side of life.  I will begin to deal with problems or situations that arise from a more half full perspective than half empty.

How do you stay optimistic?  Any tricks you recommend? Do you find yourself more glass half full or half empty? 

My 28th Year

I am struggling with this blog.  Struggling because there are a lot of feelings I have about Mom’s MS but also because I worry I am consuming myself too much with it.  Then again it is a big part of my life.  I also wonder if what I am writing even matters.  If it even resonates with anyone but me.  I want to make it more personal but am trying to figure out how.  Make it about Mom’s MS but my journey with it.  How this is impacting me personally.  How this is changing me.  How this is launching me 30 years ahead in life in some regards but I still feel exactly the same in others.

I turned 28 on Monday.  Happy Birthday to me.  On Sunday as I was reflecting on the past year I was on the phone with Dad who was struggling, phsyically struggling.  Mom had been having severe pains in her legs and hadn’t been able to sleep for several nights.  They had been to a few doctors last week for her swollen ankles, her primary care and her neurologist.  They changed her medicine, took her off medicine but nothing seemed to be working.  Dad took her to a doctor Sunday who gave her a muscle relaxer just to try to help but instead of helping it made things worse.  It essentially turned her muscles to jelly.  To make a long story short Dad spent several hours maneuvering and figuring out how to get Mom into bed.  She was on the floor at several points.  I was on the phone with him a couple times throughout this.  He finally had success and finally got her situated at about 11pm.  A process that began around 8pm. 

I layed in bed reflecting.  Thinking 28 years ago Mom was in the hospital.  We were hours away from meeting for the first time.  Nothing more than a mother and daughter.  A healthy mother and healthy baby.  I began thinking of the past 28 years.  Thinking of where we were today.  How did we get to this point so soon.  I was sad.  I allowed myself to lay in bed that night sad.  Thinking and sad.  Going over life, plans and how things can happen that you never imagined. 

I made a decision that this next year I would focus on myself and clearing out some clutter in my own life.  Internally and externally.  I am doing my own Happiness Project inspired by this book and the corresponding blog.  I am going to spend the next year becoming the best person I can be so I can help Mom to the best of my abilities.  I am realizing this next stage of this battle with MS is going to be largely mind over matter.  It’s going to test me in ways I have never been tested.  Test my mental strength, test my ability to resist the negative and test my family. 

I am writing this here to hold myself accountable.  It’s going to be an interesting journey but one I am hoping is full of successful changes and new tools to use as I deal with Mom’s MS.