Eat More Vegetables for Better Health? Blah!

Unfortunately, I have never been one that loves to eat vegetables.   I have tried many times to include more veggies and salads into my diet, and I just never stick with it (notice I didn’t say I “can” never stick with it, because I take responsibility and know I’m capable if I try harder).  It’s also a huge problem that my “go to” drug when stressed has never been alcohol or illegal substances, but unhealthy food.

Although my brain knows that my health can be improved by making healthier food choices, old habits have always kicked back in.  Considering the serious health issues I have had these past few years, I realize this simply defies all logic.

I’ve been stuck in an all time low as far as my health for some time now.   The career goals that I worked so hard for have had to be put on hold, and I feel like I’m a failure at almost everything I do because I have so many different symptoms that impact daily life.  I cannot stand feeling this way, it’s like I’m being held hostage in my own dysfunctional body and the past two years I might as well have been in a coma because life has simply been passing me by. My weight is at an all time high, and my activity is at an all time low. The bottom line is that I’m miserable and only making my health issues worse.

We recently made a HUGE life change and moved over 1000 miles away to the Boston area in search of better health care.  This isn’t a move we could financially afford, but considering the health issues and lack of competent physicians in the area where we lived, we also couldn’t afford not to.  Life is just too short and what I have been doing these past two years has been anything but LIVING.

Along with this pursuit of better specialists to help with my Multiple Sclerosis, I know it’s way past time to do what I can to take control of my health and that means doing whatever it takes to eat healthier.   I think the most difficult part will be trying to lose my all or nothing attitude, but I know deep down it can be done, even if it isn’t always easy.

Since I’m not a huge fan of eating vegetables and feel lost when it comes to making healthy food plans (the brain fog I’ve been experiencing hasn’t been helping), my husband and I decided to try juicing for several days to see if we start noticing any improvements.   Hopefully within this time I will be able to start thinking a bit more clear so that I can set short and long term goals, as well as a plan to reach those goals.

I am very lucky that I have a great friend that is also a health coach and certified detoxification specialist. Besides being extremely intelligent, she is also the most patient person I know which is exactly what I need to help turn my health around.

Today is only day 1 of juicing, and instead of wasting energy allowing myself to feel afraid of failure, I will keep a positive focus on planning a future with better health.

Loss

When I was told I had multiple sclerosis, I did what most people would have done and started researching to see what I was up against. The list of potential symptoms seemed almost endless, but I was still prepared to fight and overcome any obstacles caused by the disease. It recently occurred to me that while I was learning how to deal with the aches, pains, fatigue and focused on the many issues caused by MS, I didn’t piece together that these symptoms could cause losses I never imagined. Losses that little by little, make me feel like I can never be the same person I was before, like:

My love for listening to music, which stopped even before I was diagnosed. I don’t know why I didn’t think it was strange that I suddenly didn’t want the radio on in the car anymore, and slowly lost track of the music world to the point I don’t even recognize most of the songs or musicians that came around after 2006.

My love for reading. I used to read book after book and would get lost in the story. I haven’t been able to read a book in years both because it bothers my eyes and I have difficulty focusing on what I am reading.

Writing was another important part of my life, and I had always planned to write a book, but now it’s a struggle to find the right words and complete thoughts, so I have avoided it for the most part until starting this blog.

Although there are other losses, none caught me as off-guard as the loss of friends. There were several people in my life that I considered extremely close, and thought of them as lifelong friends. This past year or so the fatigue, noise sensitivity, optic neuritis and cognitive issues have prevented me from going to social functions or even talking on the phone or corresponding online at times. At some point while trying to battle everything MS has been throwing at me and going through the biggest struggle of my life, some of those I considered close enough to be family disappeared. Thankfully I do have a couple of amazing people in my life that have been understanding despite the fact that I am not currently able to be the person I was before.

As I move forward, instead of focusing on my losses, I will try and focus on the positive. There is always something positive if you look hard enough, like the fact that I was able to take the time and make an effort to write this.

The Fog

I’m not sure how it’s possible to show strength in my writings while still painting an honest picture about what I am going through so others with MS or similar illnesses know they are not alone.  I’m not one that likes to whine and gripe about my symptoms, at least I hope I am not.  I typically reserve talking about my every day battle with MS with a few select people, and I don’t even tell them everything.

Today is one of those days where I feel like I’m in a fog.  The fatigue is literally impossible to fully explain and on days like today it feels like it completely takes over.  I can’t even count the times I have had to go back and correct the few sentences that I have typed above, because I make such sloppy mistakes as a result of the exhaustion.   I want to just sleep, and oddly enough at the same time I am restless so I just sit and wish I could do something, anything, productive while trying to keep my eyes open until it is finally time to go to bed.  It’s almost like I envision it would be to walk through thick, waist deep mud, where every movement you try to make is a struggle but instead of it being just my body attempting to push forward, it’s my brain and just thinking takes up so much energy it’s difficult to connect thoughts. So I sit, in this fog, and hope when it starts to lift I have the energy to fight my way to the other side of this disease where I can start living a somewhat normal life again.

I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul

I found something I wrote in 2010 that was also posted on Montel Williams’ MS Diary page and thought I would share it here as well.  I had mixed emotions while reading it, but mainly a deep desire to find the strength I had at the time I wrote the summary of my symptoms and personal circumstances when I was first diagnosed.  I haven’t given up hope by any means, but the fatigue I’m currently experiencing makes it difficult to regain the fight I know is still within me.

“I Am the Master of My Fate, I Am the Captain of My Soul” – written December 24, 2010

The title of this note is from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley.  I fell in love with that poem a long time ago, especially those lines, because I believe that all of us have the ability to achieve our goals.

I am 36 years old and I was diagnosed with MS this past November, but let me rewind a few years.  In 2006 I took a leap of faith and quit my job of almost 13 years at a local police department where I was a Communications Supervisor to move from Florida to Texas to attend law school full time.   During the time I worked at the police department I was raising my son as a single parent and taking classes part time to get my AA degree, and then went on full time for my BA.  In 2006 my son was 12, and although leaving a stable job for the unknown was stressful and scary, becoming an attorney was my lifelong dream and I was determined to make it work because I realized at the time, and still believe, that you have one life to live, so live it to the fullest.

Law school takes 3 years to complete, and after completing my 1st year I transferred to a school in Jacksonville, Florida to finish up my last 2 years.  During law school there were times when I was exhausted and felt overwhelmed and “out of it”, but thought it was just stress.

During the summer of 2008 I was interning at a Legal Aid office.  I have always felt passionate about helping the “less fortunate” because I can relate to having personal hardships and know how much it means to have someone that actually cares take the time to help.  During this summer, I started experiencing strange symptoms.  I felt dizzy and off balance.  My vision was blurry and eventually became double.  I was exhausted and it was even more difficult than normal to focus and concentrate.   I didn’t have health insurance, but I researched my symptoms and I was actually afraid at the time I might have MS. I was terrified, to say the least.   I went to a walk in clinic when my symptoms didn’t go away after a couple of weeks and they said the testing for MS was expensive, and it might just be stress.  Within a couple of weeks my symptoms started getting better and I finished up my internship and then went back to law school to complete my last year.

Right before graduating I became worried about the Bar exam and thought I might have ADD because of my focus issues.  I even remember worrying that the same symptoms that I had the summer of 2008 would return while trying to study for the bar during the summer I was studying for and taking the bar in 2009.  Studying for vast amount of material the bar exam was difficult, but I somehow managed to pass the Florida Bar exam the first time around (Hillary Clinton and JFK can’t say the same!!).  I now work in a small civil law firm handling primarily foreclosure defense cases.

In October 2010 I was in a minor car accident and had a little neck pain, then a week or so  later noticed my right arm, thumb and index finger were all numb.  I thought I had a pinched nerve, and had just received health insurance through work a week or two prior to this happening.  I found out about a week later that I didn’t have a pinched nerve, I had lesions on my cervical spine.  A follow up MRI with contrast confirmed that I have one larger non active lesion and 2 newer active lesions.  I was devastated when I received the news, but finally that episode from 2008 and other symptoms I was experiencing throughout the years all made sense.  The first day I cried and felt numb.  After that I realized that the only thing I can control about having MS is my attitude and outlook.  I have worked hard to try and become a positive person, and I will not *allow* MS to take that from me.

This past month is mostly a blur after another episode hit me hard, but I didn’t miss a day of work.  Despite some cognitive issues, vision and balance problems, and Bells Palsy that set in on the right side of my face, I still managed to be able to think on my (wobbly) feet during 2 mediation’s and discovered vital errors made by the Plaintiffs that allowed me to submit Motions to Dismiss the Plaintiff’s complaints and ask for sanctions against them for my clients.  That made me feel so much better considering one of the main concerns I have had is being unable to function in  the profession I worked so hard to achieve. Thankfully, almost 2 weeks ago the “fog” lifted and my symptoms are getting better.

I am not sharing this because I think it makes me more special than anyone who might be reading this.  I am sharing because I know first hand that if you set your mind on a goal, you CAN reach it despite the obstacles you may have to overcome to achieve that goal.  My journey to becoming an attorney was long and not always easy, but it was completely worth every risk I took, and every bit of hard work I put in to it.

Hurricane MS

Storm_Warning_LR

When hurricane warnings are given, the information is rarely accurate.  Meteorologists point to at least a dozen areas on a map with lines drawn in various directions that ultimately land on potential target areas.  The storm (if it even hits) can at times be devastating, or it can blow over and be almost uneventful.  Most everyone in the storms projected path becomes anxious because they don’t know what to expect.  Some arrange to flee the area and find a safe place to stay until the storm has passed, while others aren’t able to escape so they brace themselves while still hoping for the best.

Tonight I feel like the person that isn’t able to escape, and although it is not an actual hurricane I fear, it feels somewhat similar.  My anxiety is caused by being trapped while my own body attacks itself and all too familiar symptoms of multiple sclerosis start to surface once again.  I have been having serious struggles with various symptoms for some time now, and try to remain positive.  The symptoms I feel setting in today are not foreign to me.  I remember them all too well because the last time they started I soon felt like I was swept inside a tornado, taking one hit after another, never knowing what to expect next and wanting nothing more than to find my way to safe ground where my aches, pains, extreme fatigue and cognitive issues were replaced with the normalcy I once took for granted.

Like an impending storm, there is no way to know if these symptoms I feel coming on will pass over, or if they will lead me to dark places I don’t ever want to revisit.  There is no way to ease the tension as I wait and wonder how big of an impact, if any, this damage to my nerves will have on the already diminished quality of my life.  All I can do is brace myself and remind myself that no matter what, I will find a way out of the storm.

Trapped

I feel like I’m trapped in a bubble.  A bubble that crushed all of the dreams I worked so hard to achieve, at least temporarily. This bubble changed my life in a way I never expected and for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to get out.  Sometimes I feel like I’m finally close to breaking free, but then I sink back down and any chance of normalcy seems out of reach again.

As I write this, I feel like I should be ashamed of my current situation, but I’m not ashamed because I haven’t completely given up hope and I’m not at fault for the unforeseen turn my life has taken.  To say I’m extremely disappointed would be putting it mildly, but I don’t feel there is a word to fit the many emotions I feel.

All of these emotions come just a couple of years after accomplishing lifelong goals of completing law school as a single parent, becoming an attorney and unexpectedly meeting (and later marrying) the love of my life.  Everything was falling into place, but that didn’t last long because during this time I was also diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis has a way of creeping in and changing life for the worse.

Although I’m currently in a place where I feel damaged, sometimes useless even, and I long every day for the life I thought I would have, I am not defeated and I will not give up without a fight.  I am determined to find a way to put my life back together, I just have to find the energy….