Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Last week while on vacation, I managed to clean up my four garden plots. Each plot is about 3X7 feet. I planted potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, and a few more flowers. I still have to clean up behind the rhubarb yet but there's no real rush on that. I also want to add some peas just for the heck of it.

Now I have to wait for things to grow. The zucchini and the tomatoes didn't do well last year so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for those. I've already harvested one batch of rhubarb and it's awaiting being made into a chutney.

Why do I do this? I LOVE the smell of potatoes as they come out of the ground. If I could bottle that aroma, I would. The benefits of gardening, besides the food it can generate, are exercise, fresh air and sunshine, and the occasional chat with neighbours. I also get an up close look at some bugs.

One of the "bugs" I discovered in my soil this year was a june beetle larva. These are grub like creatures that are fat, fat, fat, and shiny white despite living several inches down in the dirt. They are in the larval stage for up to 3 years, eating roots of various plants. As I dig them up while prepping the plot, I am of two minds about what to do with them. I don't want to throw them back in the plot where they'll eat my stuff, but I don't want to kill them. What to do? Toss them in the open for the birds to get. Circle of life, right?

I also came across several adult june bugs, but they were still a little sleepy, not quite ready to emerge and scare kids and adults alike, flying into screen doors and occasionally ladies' hair. I covered those ones back up as they won't eat the roots and are just waiting to come out of the ground to mate. Who am I to stand in the way of love?

The lily beetles are out as well and I'm spraying my lily plants with soapy water to drive them away. They're bright red in colour and make no qualms about having sex in groups and out in the open. There will be no orgies on my lillies, thank you very much, love or not.

This last picture is of a trillium. We have several in the back of the building, but what we're really waiting to see is the endangered lady slipper. A few years ago we had 3 back there, last year we had 13. I'll take pictures of those when they bloom.

We also have a number of blackberry and blueberry bushes on the property that I raid. Most folks in the building haven't looked close enough to the plants we have on the property so aren't aware of all the goodies to be found. That's good for me. In August for about two weeks I will go out after supper with a bowl to get my desert.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Keep Smiling

On the side of this blog is a quote I was kindly allowed to put up by the author:
Anyone who has ever gone through a serious illness has probably been told that they are “so strong,” when in fact, that strength has been mistaken for a patient’s need to not inflict any more emotional pain on those surrounding them.

The reason this particular quote resonated with me is because on the day of my diagnosis and admission to hospital for treatment my main worry (actually, my only worry) was "how are my parents going to deal with this". My mom, I suspect like most moms, is something of a worry-wart. It was bad enough going off to college at 17 in Nova Scotia when my parents were living in South Korea. I knew they were worrying about me. I came down with mono during the second semester but didn't tell them until I was in recovery mode, because if they knew how sick I had been, they'd have been on the first plane, train, or automobile that would get them to me. Two days of travel to watch me throw up? I don't think so.

I honestly wasn't concerned about what MS was going to do to me. I already had known a couple of people with MS and they seemed to be OK. One gal had terrible tremors but she led a very normal life, married with kids. The other guy was somewhat disabled and had a scooter and had taken early retirement but he seemed to be coping well enough. And I literally figured that if I lost the use of the right side of my body permanently, then so be it, I'll get really good at typing with my left hand and start wearing velcro sneakers.

I was concerned about my parents. Firstly, I thought, Mom will blame herself. You know, "I should have eaten better when I was pregnant with you", "We should have insisted they remove your tonsils at 4 instead of waiting til you were 10, then you wouldn't have had all those infections growing up", "I shouldn't have let you eat that bug when you were 2". Then I thought, they're going to be calculating what my expenses are going to be as a disabled person and try to put together some sort of trust fund when they should spend their money on themselves in retirement. (They were just approaching retirement at the time). And then I thought they'll never sleep soundly again.

Mom and Dad were a little freaked out, as any parent would be. But after I called them, they showed up in the hospital to see me an hour later, and seemed put together. Of course, I was joking with the staff and eavesdropping on other patients' conversations in the ER and wondering how long I'd be in the hospital. The Parental Units put on a very brave face. When the admitting nurse came to fill out some forms she asked me how long I'd had MS. I looked at my watch and said, "About an hour and a half". She laughed, my folks didn't. "You were just diagnosed then", she said, and added, "I've had it for 5 years". I just looked at Mom and smiled.

As long as I could show my folks that there was nothing I was worried about, then there was no reason for them to be worried. I was very excited about being in a drug study, but they didn't want me possibly to be on placebo and maybe get worse. I couldn't discuss how excited I was about the whole process I was going through and the discoveries I was making about my brain. This was a cool factor of 10 in my mind (I really am a big geek- every time I have a cold I am amazed at how the body becomes a snot factory overnight; where does all that stuff come from? Intestinal upset? I'm wondering about what flora and fauna in my guts are working over time). Was I going to say that out loud? No freakin' way. Mom and Dad would have asked for a psyche consult and their worry would have just increased. So I kept most of these thoughts to myself for 10 years.

Since my diagnosis, some of my excitement has spilled out. The discoveries I'm making, things I'm reading, the professional people I speak to all inspire me to share my knowledge with my folks. And my mom is quick to share with me things she comes across, too. If I were to tell my mom that my MS is cool, she'd nod her head and say, "I know" because she knows what I mean. Not that MS is cool, it's not, but the experiences I've had and continue to have because of MS are cool. Actually, I'm sure my mom knows everything I think and feel. I'd put money on it. But I still don't want her to worry any more than she should, so some things are not shared.

Since day one, I really haven't had any bad down times because of the MS. I have had a few moments or at most an evening of tears and anger, but I'm fine. Really. Sometimes I'm so tired I just crash right after work, or some weekends that I spend entirely in my pajamas. I'm lucky. Very lucky. Those times that I'm tired, I will say so and people let me be. A little rest and I'm ready to go again.

I spoke with a neighbour recently, a very nice, semi-retired widower. He told me about his wife's battle with cancer and how she carried on as normal as long as possible. She maintained a strength and positive attitude until the very end that he marvelled at. "She had cancer! She was dying! She was suffering! It was hard on me, but it was much worse for her", he told me. "How could she have been smiling when things were going to end for her?" I told him that it may not have been as hard on her physically as he thought. "What's harder perhaps is worrying about how your loved ones will react to the news or the event of a death. She was probably concerned that you'd have a hard time dealing with her passing, so to help ease your mind, she put on a happy face". And I told him that I maintain a positive attitude because I want that reflected back on me.

If I lead by example, others will follow. I hope.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bike column #4

This is the fourth in a series of articles I've written for Atlantic Pedaler E-zine about biking with MS.

Getting to the Bottom of Biking

Because of unrelated health issues, I have been unable to ride my bike since April 30th. Keeping my fingers crossed, I'm going to try a little the first week of June (maybe even as you are reading this) to get ready for the MS Bike Tour. I have been doing a little prep work in advance of getting on the bike, mainly gardening with lots of up and downs, and stairs.

I have mentioned that before I even began riding I spent two months at the gym (makes me sound sooooo athletic, doesn't it?). My reasoning was that I wanted to be able to get on the bike and not be discouraged by lack of physical fitness. And to a degree it worked. I was able to go much farther than I thought I'd be able. The only problem was the seat. I wanted to be comfortable on a bike seat for long periods of time, and at my leisurely pace a regular bike seat just wasn't going to cut it.

The search began for something like a tractor seat. I'm not kidding, either. That's how I phrased it when I went in to Sport Wheels in Lower Sackville. The owner thought about it for a minute, then said, "I've got just the thing". And he came back with the biggest bike seat I've ever seen. It's about a foot across. He told me he got one for his mom's exercise bike. So now I'm feeling a little bit old and decrepit, but I bought it and put it on the bike. Simply put, it is one of the most comfortable seats I've ever sat on. And I don't care how silly it looks (and it does). It generates a lot of interest by on-lookers, I've gotten a few smiles from people, and few expressions of interest in buying it. I often offer to let folks try sitting on it. One day while taking the bike off the car 3 boys came by on skateboards. "Whoa, dudes.....look at the pimped out bike!" At least a few preteens thought I was cool.

I think I understand the reasoning and the physics behind some of those extraordinary bike seats I've seen, you know the ones with holes in them or specially designed to accomodate male genitalia, or the one with the two teeny tiny little pads for a teeny tiny little butt. And I know that speed demons spend little time resting on their laurels, so to speak. I can't imagine getting on one of those things. My giant seat did the trick for my first year of riding. I got a fairly large gel seat for last year's bike tour on my hybrid, but my tractor seat will stay on the mountain bike. The whole point of being more comfortable was to stay longer on the bike and therefore get more exercise. It worked! Someday, I may have a bike built for speed and one of those high tech seats, but I'm no Lance Armstrong and I'm not in a race. I just want to stay upright, finish if I can, and raise money for a worthy cause.


Friday, May 23, 2008


There are plenty of circumstances of serendipity in the natural world and in our lives. I've blogged about coincidence and synchronicity before, but a recent news release has got me thinking about it again and the added feature of serendipity. This time it's how it relates to medicine.

A lot of discoveries are made by "accident". Some of the more famous ones include X-rays, pennicillan, and LSD.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to attend an information breakfast sponsored by the MS Society. The guest speaker was Dr. Mark Freedman (a great speaker), who is an MS researcher in Ottawa and is leading an ongoing study which intended to observe how MS begins in the first place. Sadly the experiment was a failure. He talked about the study at the breakfast and was very excited about its failure. Just recently Dr. Freedman addressed a stem cell seminar at the US Institutes of Health. After 7 years, the researchers still don't know what they had set out to know. What they did was chemically destroy the immune systems of MS patients. Then the patients received a transplant of their own stem cells which had been harvested in the weeks before destruction. The basic hypothesis was that the immune system would be rebooted and MS relapses would occur, allowing the researchers to watch the disease evolve. But it hasn't happened. Actually, none of the 17 patients have exhibited any relapses.

A very nice failure. 7 years and no relapses. Wait a minute...these were folks with pretty debilitating MS, the disease was progressing, and it suddenly stops? Repair has been observed and no new lesions are presenting. Now before you get all excited about a possible cure, this is an ongoing study with only 17 patients. The treatment involves one similar to what leukemia patients go through, with chemo to destroy their own bone marrow before receiving a transplant. In fact, one person in this study died after the chemo and before he could receive his own stem cells back and all patients in the study knew this was a possible outcome. All the patients must be extremely brave to have put themselves on the line the way they have.

So now the researchers are focusing their studies on if this is an effective way to stop or slow MS.

Could stem cell replacement or transplant be a cure for MS? It's a very definite possiblity right now. But it's still a long way off to treat the disease. The docs still don't know how MS evolves, but the failure of the study may have led to an accidental discovery. Serendipity in action. Cool.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Carnival of MS Bloggers

The Carnival of MS Bloggers is up at Lisa's. Click on the Carnival button to the right or click here to read the latest entries, including a couple of new folks. Welcome to Brian and MissBizz!


One Fish Two Fish

Just came back from helping 5000 trout get into their new homes. As a member of the Sackville Rivers Association, I get to do fun stuff like that. The truck met us and off we went to 4 different lakes and the Sackville River. 5 stops altogether. The truck driver would scoop out a net of fish, then we'd pass it like a bucket brigade to get the squirming mass to its new home. Really cool.

A couple of the spots we went to were a little warmer than I expected and the fish are sometimes a little stunned when they're released so we'd scoop one or two up and force them through the water to get the water forced over their gills and that would wake 'em up a little bit. And since they'd been raised in a hatchery, they seemed to have little fear of people. As they acclimatize they act more and more like regular fish and scoot away.

At the last stop I was the first one in the water's edge and so startled a whole slew of tadpoles.....soon to be trout goes on.

On the home front, still no maternity wing in the aquarium. When the happy day arrives I can see me passing out cigars:"Here, have a cigar, it's a girl. And a boy, and another boy, and another girl....."


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bay of Fundy

A long time ago, in a galaxy very far wait, it was in this galaxy...our earth began to form. About 4,500 million years ago. Several million years later, continents had begun to develop, bits of the earth were located in very strange places from where we know them now. Nova Scotia was once located pretty much at the South Pole. (Last winter, it only felt like we were still there) A lot has happened during the past kajillion years that have shaped the earth and made it was it is today.

As a result of the earth's activities, Nova Scotia has some really interesting geologic and geographic features. One of them is the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest recorded tides in the world. It fills and empties like a giant bathtub. With whales. And every time the tide goes out it takes some rock and sediment with it revealing the history of the earth, unearthing (so to speak) a fossil record of what life was like on this planet before I was even a thought in God's mind.

Last weekend, the Wookie and I traveled to a couple of museums on the Fundy shore that focus specifically on geology and fossils. It involved driving a couple of hours from home so we stayed overnight (at a Bed and Breakfast called Gemstow's -thanks, Gerry!) in a small community called Five Islands, named for the occurrence of 5 islands 1-2 kilometres off shore. Each of the islands has its own name, but one in particular stands out. It was bought in the mid 90s by an American lawyer and businessman by the name of Dick Lemon. It is now known as Dick's Island by the locals. When he bought the island it was uninhabited. He has built an eco-friendly mini resort. When I say mini, I mean mini. No pool, spa, or even room service. In fact you do your own housekeeping and cooking, but they get you to the island and back. You can read about it here. I'm impressed with Mr. Lemon and his "resort".

Dick's Island is the one in the middle of the above pic. Click on it to get a better look.

Last year, Mr. Lemon began a fun-run fundraiser for the community. It's called "Not Since Moses" and involves walking or running to and between the islands at low tide. Imagine running on the ocean floor for two kilometres before getting your feet wet! Last year the runs began and ended on the mainland, but this year, because of tide times, the runners will begin the 5 and 10k runs from the mainland and end on the island. There won't be time for all of the walkers to do the whole route before the tide comes in. The participants will be brought back to the mainland by boat at high tide, just in time for supper and a dance at the 5 Islands community Fire Hall. If the Wookie and I hadn't already had plans for that weekend (the MS Bike Tour in New Brunswick) we would have volunteered for the run. What fun!!

I mention the Dick's Island and the Not Since Moses because it so easily demonstrates what a unique feature the Bay of Fundy is to Nova Scotia. Imagine walking to an island. Another interesting thing about the weekend was visiting the Fundy Geological Museum where there are windows into the labs for visitors to observe the scientists at work, cleaning dirt and stone from fossils recovered in the area. The picture I have included is a vial of earth removed from a fossilized bone of a prosauropod, Canada's oldest dinosaur, found right here. Cool, eh? OK, shaky photo, but you get the idea.

We also visited the new Joggins Fossil Museum. Joggins is a vitally important part of the story of the earth's history. the fossil records are abundant and revealed every day. A few of the discoveries include the world's oldest land snail, a 3 foot long salamander-like amphibian and an arthropod similar to today's "sow bug" or wood louse 6 feet long. That creature may have had more than 30 pairs of legs.....

There were a pile of stops along the way and plenty of places we wanted to stop in to but just didn't have the time. Just means we have to go back.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Where Is My Bug?

The Wookie and I had a night away on Saturday night. We visited a part of the province I'm not as familiar with but would like to be. So I'm busy compiling info about it and preparing a post about it.

While we were gone, I figured my menagerie would be fine for a night. I thought wrong apparently as the caddisfly larvae was gone. Disappeared. Not in the aquarium. Not visible in the apartment. Did my at-least-3-weeks-pregnant guppy feeder fish feed on it? The other two guppies perhaps? Did it rise to the surface of the tank, spread its wings, then fly off? I haven't a clue....

The very pregnant guppy is still pregnant. Or really fat. She chases the other two around the tank with no provocation. I suspect she's getting antsy. And speaking of ants, tune in to PBS' Nova this week about E.O. Wilson, Lord of the Ants. This guy's experiences and ideas about insects and life in general are extraordinary. So nobody call me tomorrow night.


Friday, May 16, 2008

My Little Caddisfly

Every day I learn a little bit more about this creature. As it develops more, I can make out more identifying features and have narrowed down the type of caddisfly it is and therefore do better research. In the above pic you can kind of make out wings on the sides of the bug as it floats face down.

So today the little guy seemed to still be struggling to "get out" of his old skin. Turns out the undulating is really just its way of breathing. By squirming it washes water over its surface and it is able to take oxygen through its skin. And what I thought was old skin is really the new wings, legs, and anntennae structure, all folded up. When I came home from work today, it appeared to be unfolding. The Wookie was the one who suggested that was the "newer" part of the animal, which turned on the lightbulb over my head and I was able to better track it down on the internet.

These little creatures come out of their pupa stage v e r y s l o w l y. What I perceived as struggling was actually breathing and growing. After a few more days, I suspect this little guy will float to the surface and prepare for flight.

Imagine you're a trout in a stream looking for something to eat. "Ooooo....a green wormy thing.....", gulp, and that's the end of the caddisfly. Or you go to the surface of the stream and you see a green wormy thing just floating there, wiggling around a little bit as it tries to break the surface tension and escape its former watery domain (sounds rather poetic). So you gulp it down. Good for the trout. Not so good for the caddisfly. But that's why insects have kajillions of eggs. There are enough of these insects that manage to evade becoming breakfast, lunch, or dinner, that the cycle continues.

And sadly, life is short when you're an insect, especially when you become an adult. In many species you don't even get to enjoy a good meal. It's just sex then die. Not even dinner first! Many moths and some caddisfly adults have little in the way of mouths. Some have a piercing probe to suck up nutrition from an available plant, but some have nothing, so die soon after becoming an adult. Their halcyon days are when they're wormy. I find it ironic that gorgeous creatures like moths live for such a short time. Candles in the wind I guess. Which is why I don't feel too guilty in catching adult insects and putting them in the freezer for later study and mounting.

On the fish front, I'm still not a grandmother. I just fear that I'll not be home when the birth occurs and the other two fish will eat the babies. The mother holds off on the cannibalism until about 12 hours after the birth as hormones dictate to her that she's not hungry. After that, "all's fair" as they say.

The wasp larvae seem to be in a holding pattern. I have seen some similar adult species outside recently but not the blue mud daubers that I have. So it'll be a little while yet.

This weekend is a long weekend in Canada (and other commonwealth countries) and next week I'm on vacation. I will be cleaning, gardening, and fundraising for the MS Bike Tour. But no biking yet. Maybe in a couple of weeks.


Thursday, May 15, 2008


As a child I was horse crazy. I still kind of am, though not enough that I have horses on my walls, pillows, etc. Horses are huge, gentle, creatures, with unmatched beauty and grace. And speed. I'm not sure what always attracted me to horses, but like many young girls, I was horse crazy. I read every series of horse books out there including the Black Stallion and Fury series. I knew about colic in horses, and how it can kill them. I knew about fetlocks and feathers, gaits and geldings, withers and warmbloods. My CCM supercycle was turquoise and one speed and I named it Mustang.

I learned to ride when I was 13 on a gorgeous buckskin gelding named Nugget. I had no idea what I was doing but I learned quickly and within a couple of days was able to ride bareback. I stuck to that horse like a burr, though I hope not as annoying. He was the eldest horse at the stable and apparently the gentlest. The only fly in the ointment was his experience as a youngster with a barb-wire fence and his face. He still bore the scars of his entanglement and that endeared him to me even more. He did take off in fright on the first day. When on a trail ride we had to walk across a barb wire fence laid down in the field in preparation for installment. As soon as he saw it, he sped off with tiny little me on his back pulling on the reins as hard as I could. I was small for my age and it took everything I had to stop him. That's when they explained to me about his bad experience. Nugget had several black lines on his tan face. They were the scars from the fence and as far as I was concerned, they were streaks of beauty. They gave him a story.

One horse story I read as a kid was The Blind Colt by Glen Rounds. It's a wonderful story about the birth and first year of life of a blind colt and the boy who catches and trains it. (As an adult I went looking for the book and it took a while to track down and order.)

I also had an affinity for Beethoven as a kid. I took piano lessons for several years and my favourite composer by far was Ludwig. The fact that the man composed some of the greatest music the world has ever heard while he was deaf, impressed me to no end. I had a poster of Einstein on my wall when I was 10. What I liked about him was that he had failed a grade or two in school but still went on to become...well, you know what happened to him.

As a teenager, I was a real geeky kid. I enjoyed school and reading and in grades 8 and 9 was bullied for this. I was once mistaken for a boy at the age of 14 (I was a late bloomer) and I didn't fit in with most of the kids in school so I spent a lot of time by myself. I was different and felt it. Nugget, The Blind Colt, Beethoven and Einstein all became role models for me as I navigated the typical angst ridden teenage years. I knew that whatever hell I was going through at the time would eventually come to an end, though that was little solace then. I couldn't wait to be an adult where I'd be in the company of other adults who wouldn't treat me like an outcast. Naive, eh?

I'm not sure why I had an affinity as a kid for the underdog or those with a traumatic life experience. Being small, perhaps I saw strength in those facing "disabilities" or challenges and admired that. Perhaps the Gods were foreshadowing my own challenges.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bug Update

You may be wondering what exactly you're looking at. Me, too. Actually, what I thought was a giant caddisfly larva may be something else entirely, but I'm still working on identifying it. In the above picture you can see it poking out of the little twig it has been using for a home. The twig itself is 2 inches long and this thing almost filled it.
On the floor of the aquarium is green gravel and a bunch of different coloured beads. The twig in the back along the bottom has about a half inch of exposed larva sticking out on the left. It was just out cruising around for food. It did eat the other two littler caddisfly larvae.
So yesterday morning after having this creature in my possession for two weeks, I discovered it had abandoned it's twig home. In the pic above it appears as a green worm-like alien. Last night it began wiggling like mad, seemingly to rid itself of it's outer skin. After not having seen it for a couple of days, it would appear it's in some stage of metamorphosis. you can make out one eye close to the top of its head.
This afternoon it still hasn't managed to get out of its skin, but it still tries...between rests.
Also in the aquarium are two female guppy feeder fish (not to be confused with the Gund stuffed animals behind the aquarium or the hanging glass seahorse). You can see very dark spots on their abdomens, which apparently are the eyes of the baby guppies waiting for birth. Yep, guppies are live breeders. No eggs in the sand for these things.

Perhaps now you can understand my excitement last night. And I haven't even talked about the wasps! I'll save that for another post. Don't want to get you too excited all at once.



A big round of congrats to Charles as he's posted his 300th Podcast. And since today is Wednesday, when he usually features some silly thing I've written and recorded, go check out today's Podcast about the movie 300 and the connection I made between ancient Spartans and MS. Or just click on the link on the right.

There was much excitement in my household late last night as I discovered some interesting goings on in my aquarium. I even have a picture or two to share but it will have to wait until later today. My remaining cannibalistic caddisfly is morphing as is one of my wasp larvae, and at least one of the feeder guppies is about to explode with a bunch of babies(I certainly hope not 300). Gotta do the work thing first but will be back this afternoon to let you know what's happening. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves...


Sunday, May 11, 2008


I have spent the past week and a half recovering from surgery. I have slept at least half that time. I call myself the Queen of Naps, but even this past week I have amazed myself. I have not been able to keep myself awake all day even once. I am going back to work on Monday and I suspect that when I get home I'll be going to bed again.

For about two weeks before the surgery I had planned on going for a massage as I was really beginning to feel a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck. Surprisingly, I haven't felt a need to go for a massage since the surgery. My shoulders and neck have miraculously healed themselves.

And that's when it struck me. I was really worried about the surgery and what it might find, so much that the worry manifested itself physically. I usually know when I'm stressed out about something. I'm quicker to cry. At the pre-op clinic, the nurse asked me how I dealt with stress. I told her, I cry. Which also explains (partly) why I sobbed like a baby coming out of the anaesthesia. For an hour and a half. Stress relief I suppose.

How bizarre, I have been thinking for several days. And I'm only now realizing all this. I have long been aware of physical manifestations of stress or anxiety but only now am I applying that knowledge to myself.

I have had "stress" dreams, mostly about work, but have always recognized those for what they were, and have tried to deal with them and the stress that caused them. Solve the problem, or deal with it, and the stress and the dreams stop. But how do you deal with a stressor that cannot be fixed with simple problem-solving or talking about it? You have to work towards eliminating the stressor. That in itself might be enough to at least reduce the stress, which goes a long way toward mental health.

But stress is a part of life, and scientists and doctors will tell you a vital part. When we were chasing or being chased by sabre toothed tigers, it was stress that allowed us to get away or fight. Nowadays, we don't have those prehistoric tigers to deal with, but our stressors are just as life threatening. Work, family, neighbours, taxes, bills...these all stress us to a degree and how we cope with them influences our quality of life.

And that's the key. Coping. Crying works to relieve some stress but it doesn't remove the stressor. So the stress will reoccur. Instead you have to find a way to deal with it. In my example of the successful surgery, my stressor was removed (literally and figuratively). But in the days before the surgery, perhaps talking to someone about what was on my mind may have alleviated it sooner. I wasn't even entirely aware of the stress until afterwards so I'm not sure if this was a viable option for me at the time.

This whole experience has brought to light one thing (and I knew it would): stress in everyday life has to be dealt with. And if your MS is a part of your life, that, too has to be included. How do you deal with the stress of MS? Do you talk to someone about it? Write about it? Look at all possible outcomes and plan for them? Planning seems to be key for me. It gives me some feeling of control over what happens to me. I write about it, a lot in the past six months. That helps me work through some ideas. I talk to some people about it depending on our relationship. And that helps in some circumstances.

There's no magic elixir to dealing with stress. It may be like the 5 stages of grief people go through when someone has died. You have to work through a bunch of steps before you can deal with the stress. Whatever the case, you can't deny that stress is a part of an MSers life. What you can do though, is deal with it.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Row row row your boatman....

On the bug front, interesting news. Of sorts. I suspect the largest of the caddis fly larvae ate one of the littler ones. I found bits of it on the bottom of the aquarium. On Saturday we were outside sitting in the sun for a bit and a bug dropped from the sky in front of me. I got up to investigate and discovered a cute little water boatman. They fly from pond to pond looking for food and mates and occasionally drop to the earth for a rest. Of course I scooped it up and took it inside to the aquarium and plopped it in. It dove to the bottom immediately and spent a little time swimming around. A few hours later I went back to take a look and he was gone. It's been two days and there's no sign of it anywhere. I will undoubtedly find a little dried exoskeleton at some point.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Cysts Gone

Two cysts, two fibroids, and an ovary later I'm up and around. I am looking forward to posting about this fascinating experience, but it will have to wait as I'm really really really tired.

Suffice to say, it was the best possible outcome, with no complications, and only one surprise for the surgeon. Apparently he was so impressed with what he saw through the scope he called the surgeon in the OR next door to come take a look. Cool. That's what I'm on this earth for, to teach others I guess. I am on schedule with my recovery, even going so far as to go outside to the grocery store with the Wookie and for a movie to watch later. We were moving at the speed of molasses in January, but we were out.

Now to get rid of the rest of the CO2 swirling around in my insides and walk a little more tomorrow. And I hope to be back at the keyboard for a little longer than two minutes at a time.

Oh! And thank you to all who had good thoughts and prayers for me. I am so lucky to have an extended internet family.