Saturday, June 13, 2009

Are You Afraid of Relationships?

True story; I was visiting my brother and his family a week ago. They have a prayer group at their house every Sunday night for dinner, discussion, and prayer. And, apparently, all are welcome...even sinners like myself. Anyways, I was staying for the weekend, so I was the first one there and I had the opportunity to meet and greet people as they walked in.

A few were already there and the gathering was starting in the kitchen and I was conversing with a couple of others and for some reason we were talking about relationships, when all of a sudden, one woman, who I had not met yet, kind of butted into the conversation from the side...let's call her Betty. So, Betty leans in and blurts out, "You know, the word engagement has the word 'gag' in it!" There was a moment of silence in our little group. But, Betty wasn't done. She then let loose with, "And if you transposed the 'I' and 'T' in marital, you get martial!" Another second of silence. Still not done shocking us, Betty says, "I'm proud to say that I am happily single, if you haven't noticed!" Well, it was time to respond and I didn't hesitate any longer. Bear in mind, this is the first time that I am meeting any of these folks. I say back to Betty, loud enough for all to hear, "No, you're NOT! You are cynically single" When I said that I was not sure how anyone would receive my response, after all, this was prayer meeting. Luck was with me. The entire room had tuned in and when I said that, everyone burst out laughing!

I found out later, from my brother, that Betty was a rabble-rouser by nature and this was the only meeting that she was allowed to attend. Because of her demeanor and other indiscretions, which I won't go into, she has been barred from attending any of their other gatherings.

Anyways, somehow I got to talking about how I was catching an early flight out on Tuesday morning. My brother and I would be waking at 4 AM to get to the airport on time and when Betty heard that, she piped in how she gets up at 4 AM every day. I immediately puckered up, seeing visions of Betty pulling into the driveway in the darkness Tuesday morning to take me to the airport. Fear got the best of me and perhaps saved me in this case. I changed the subject before it got off the ground. "Did you know, I made the roasted potatoes we're having for dinner tonight?"

YES, I have MS

My first blog...what is the theme of my blog? Let's see. Thinking. How about ME.

YES, I have MS. But, it appears it is a milder MS than some. It is relapse/remitting, as the doc says; certainly not to be taken lightly. My symptoms are not advanced. I can see, although it was my vision that first caused me to go to the doc. My vision gets what I call 'wonky'. The eyes start wandering a bit, well, at least one of them does. And, not all the time. I also experience numbness and fatigue in my legs, but I am still active and I try to do all the things I used to do. My abilities are impaired compared to what I was like just a few years ago. Although, I am certain that I have had MS for a long time without realizing it...probably 20 years or more.

Anyways, my eyes had acted like that about a year earlier and it went away then, so not really caring for a visit to the doctor's office, I forgot all about it. Then, the next time, after a year, and I thought, 'again', maybe I need glasses. It didn't take that doc long to get on the right trail. She said I needed an MRI. That sounded serious enough that I scheduled a trip to the MRI store the next day.

A day later, I get a call and there is a suspicious lesion on the MRI and the eye-doc tells me I should see a neurologist. So, not wasting any time, next thing I know, I have a copy of my MRI and I'm looking at it at home before I see the neurologist, and it is plain to see...there is something there. Now, I have a history of cancer, having had a melanoma-positive mole about 10 years earlier. So, the immediate concern was cancer. The neurologist confirmed that, but he was not eager to dive in, it seemed, so I sought a second and third opinion.

Brain biopsy was the consensus decision, and in less than two weeks I was strapped to a state-of-the-art operating table having a hole bored into my skull and a needle inserted into the largest of the suspect lesions. The on-site pathologist saw no cancer, but did see demylenation. In the blink of an eye, my life expectancy went from six months to whenever. So, I found out that a sample of your brain will not allow a neurologist to diagnose you with MS, even though, that is what I was told it PROBABLY was.

Seems there is a torture protocol invloved in the diagnosis of MS that includes a spinal tap and my doc was intent on seeing that I didn't miss out on that. This was the longest of all the processes as it turned out...the OFFICIAL diagnosis. Multiple MRI's, counting of lesions, positive spinal tap, and finally the diagnosis. I was ready to start the treatment, but which doc and I decided on Betaseron...then I had to wait to get APPROVED for the treatment. When it was all done, I felt like I had been INITIATED into a club or some sort of fraternity, with all of the hazing INCLUDED!

So, as I said, my MS is mild, but that is not to say it does not affect me. I think the mental and emotional toll is the worst of my symptoms. The fact that I can't run and jump like I used to can easily be written off as getting older. It was only a few years ago that I could still jump and get above a basketball rim. That is history now. One of the things I have noticed and I don't know if this is MS or if I am just a wuss. I find myself tearing up when I am watching TV, viewing a tender moment or an exciting sports victory. I watched the movie Seven Pounds, and I swear, I cried from start to finish. Took me three days to recover from that experience. I have talked to friends and family about that movie and some couldn't understand why I would cry over it. Hmmm...maybe I am a wuss...