Whatcha doin?

It’s been a week, and my fatigue is finally lifting. I’m back on the vegan diet, I’ve pushed through to get a couple good runs in this week, and I’ve been napping a lot. All of that, combined, seems to make a big difference. I also have my next Tysabri infusion on Monday so that should help as well. The fog is lifting! Hooray!

So, what have I been up to? I think I already mentioned I’m leading a Financial Peace University class at church. We are three weeks in and it’s going pretty well! Every one is really excited to be there and we have great discussions every week. I’m really hoping this class becomes a regular thing, because I know there are people who expressed interest in the class but weren’t able to sign up for this one.

I made homemade granola bars the other day, for the first time ever in my life, and I was really surprised at how good they turned out! I have a couple ideas to tweak the recipe, but nothing major. I didn’t measure anything as I was just going from memory of a recipe I had read earlier in the day. Oatmeal, peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chips. I was surprised at how easy they were to make and how many bars it yielded. So much cheaper than the store bought ones, by far. I’ll have to remember this and make another batch soon. Aside from the honey, these are all ingredients I almost always have on hand, so it would be nice to be able to throw a batch together to have snacks to feed the family for when we are running around and don’t have time for proper meals.

I’ve also been doing this weekly Bible study and we are currently reading the book of Joshua. The Old Testament has always been a bit difficult for me and while it’s a challenge, it’s nice to be able to tackle that challenge with other ladies who are usually equally confused. I’m learning a lot and that’s always a good thing.

Alright, now I’ve typed a bunch of things and I still feel like I’m forgetting something. I’ll go back to my crocheting, or my Farmville, and maybe it will come to me. Or not.

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Have I mentioned fatigue lately?

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about fatigue. So long, in fact, that had forgotten how debilitating it is.  But then it hit me, like a velvet hammer, and knocked me off my feet. I should have seen it coming, really. I had been cheating on my vegan diet. First it was a little bit of meat here and there, and then the cheese. Oh, how I missed the cheese! Creamy, cheesy pasta was my downfall. I had no stomach issues, which is what I had been expecting. What I had not expected was the fatigue. But it came, and though I’m back on my vegan diet, the fatigue is reluctant to leave.

I’m struggling. Struggling and sluggish. I’m still waking up early to be with the kids before school, but that’s been more of a challenge. I set my smart watch with alarms every 15 minutes after the initial 5:30 alarm, so if (when, rather) I turn it off and fail to get up, it wakes me up again in another 15 minutes. Since there is no snooze option on the smart watch, this works beautifully. So I get up, power through making sure the kids get off to their school buses, and then I go back to bed. Because when I try to stay up and do things, my body and mind are resisting so strongly. And when they resist that strongly, it starts to bleed into my soul and spirit and I risk entering that awful state of depression. So I rest when my body says to rest. And I pray that this doesn’t continue for long.

I know this is MS and it’s very common, but I felt like I had it beat, you know? So I’m trying not to feel defeated. I’m trying to be positive and believe that I can beat it once again. Because I cannot function like this. I simply can’t. It’s no way to live.

Okay, this is a depressing entry, I know. But please know that even through these hard days I am reminded continually that Jesus is my strength and that gives me endless hope. For reals.

Rainy days

It’s raining today. Storming, actually. It’s been awhile since we had a thunderstorm during the day like this. We’ve had a couple overnight, but those are no fun because I can’t hear the thunder. I don’t wear my cochlear implants overnight. Usually my daughter tells me all about the storms the next day because though she usually sleeps soundly, she is sensitive to the noise. That and she worries about lightning striking and all that. So it makes for rough nights for her, while I secretly envy that she can hear the thunder.

So. Today’s storm is nice. It’s dark and cloudy though, which makes me want to go back to bed (which I did) and stay in my pajamas all day (which I am). I’m also roasting a butternut squash to make soup, so the house smells like autumn. My sister and I have our annual retreat to the monastery this weekend, and this year we decided against planning an elaborate menu and instead are each bringing a homemade soup. We think between soup, salad, and snacks, we should be set for the weekend.

My plan for this year’s retreat is to get a big head start on my book. I want to read through the past five years of journals in order to get an outline or map of sorts of what I’m going to say. That’s a giant task and not something I feel like I can do sufficiently while I’m here at home. Distractions and all. I am very easily distracted.

I still feel like I have this nagging voice that tells me I can’t write a book, not one worth publishing anyhow. That voice I need to just keep telling to shut up. Lots of people less qualified than me have written books so I have no reason to believe that voice.

What else is going on? I started leading Financial Peace University this week for my church. We have a small group but it happens to be very diverse. People from every walk of life. Newlyweds, single, married with kids, empty nesters. It should make for some really interesting discussions as the weeks go on. I’m very excited to be doing this class. For one thing, I needed the refresher, for sure. But also it just feels good to be able to give back and serve God in an area I feel like He’s given me a passion for. I was a ball of nerves this first week, because my vision loss and difficulty hearing still give me great social anxiety, but everyone was extremely understanding and gracious. I’m confident it’s going to be a life-changing class for everyone.

Speaking of social anxiety, I’m also in a women’s weekly Bible study and yesterday was my first time going. I attended last year and loved it so much, I’m doing it again. However, I had a lot of trouble hearing people in the discussions as well as reading the materials they hand out every week. There’s not a whole lot I can do about the discussion because you can’t expect to completely retrain people to speak a different way just for that one hour a week, so I’m learning this is an area I have to accept not being able to hear everything. I just have to accept and be thankful for the words I CAN hear.

As for the lesson handouts, I had been scanning them into pdfs every week so that I could read them in high contrast on my computer or tablet. That was kind of a pain, but it worked well. It only occurred to me after the class had ended that I should have been scanning my answers to the questions as well, because every week I would get to class and struggle to read my answers during the class discussion. This year I am super excited because they offer the lessons and questions in pdf format, so I don’t have to do all the scanning! It may be hard for others to understand my level of joy here, because until you’re faced with the daily difficulty in seeing and hearing things, you just can’t imagine it. I know it’s something I took for granted, for sure. If you are reading this and you have fully functioning eyes and ears, will you please just take a moment to thank the Lord? Because not everybody has that luxury. It’s so hard, people. Not impossible, just hard.

Well, my squash is roasted so I need to go saute some shallots and garlic and get the soup assembled. After that perhaps I’ll do some crocheting. I’m on my third of thirteen afghans for each of the nieces and nephews. A perfect rainy day activity, wouldn’t you say?

Running with the dog

I ran with my dog again today. I had run with her once before, but it was a much shorter run. This time I just kept lapping around the neighborhood, with a couple detours to dispose of doggie poo (twice!) and to avoid a FedEx truck (she loves those delivery drivers). I didn’t start out intending to run a long run, but she sort of motivated me?

What’s funny about running with Piper is that she’s not really running. I’m the only one running, and she’s just trotting along. When she tries to stop to sniff things or mark the territory, I just give the leash a little tug and keep on moving. So she didn’t really slow me down, other than having to stop to pick up the poo and walk it to the trash (I refuse to run with a swinging bag of dog poo).

Piper is just a happy dog, and she makes for good company. I sort of wanted to keep running to see if I could tire her out. She always seems to have limitless energy. I don’t think I tired her out, but she did seem a lot less eager as we entered that fourth mile. I have no doubt she will nap happily the rest of the afternoon.

Either I’m crazy, talking like this, or my husband is right: I’ve become a Dog Person.

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Sleep

I sleep pretty well these days. I don’t have the burden of sound that most people have. I never have to worry about being woken in the middle of the night by the dog barking at a neighbor heading off to work the third shift, or a thunderstorm passing through. I don’t even have to worry about my husband’s snoring anymore, though I had been married long enough when I lost my hearing, and I had already learned to sleep through it.

My kids started school today. My son started middle school, which starts earlier than the elementary school does, and is located quite a bit further away from our house. Those two factors mean the school bus comes a full hour and a half earlier than his younger sister’s bus. It makes for an early morning, but it went surprisingly well today! I woke up at 5:30 to give myself time to brew my coffee and wake up a little before waking him up (He had set an alarm but slept right through it, as I had expected he would).

Y’all, I was really dreading 5:30 am but I woke this morning feeling surprisingly rested. I checked the sleeping log that connects to my watch and it said I went to bed at 11 pm and had over 3 hours of deep sleep. Six and a half hours of sleep, 3 of it deep sleep. This really surprised me because I generally sleep a full 8 hours or more and get almost 3 hours of sleep. So getting more sleep apparently wasn’t really helping me? I guess it’s all about quality, not quantity, because I had a full, busy day today and did not feel the overwhelming urge to nap. I survived an entire day that started at 5:30 am with NO NAP. What?!?! I don’t know if this is a fluke or what, so I’m going to see if I can keep it up, going to bed at 11 and getting up at 5:30.

I have to say, I really enjoyed 5:30. It was super peaceful in the house, and I was able to wake up at my speed (i.e. slow as molasses). I read my devotional, and just eased into the day. It was really nice. It was just me and my coffee, and Jesus. I’m looking forward to tomorrow morning!

Mellow Mel

I was lamenting to my therapist this week that I recently started feeling like the Zoloft I take was leaving me a bit numb and had altered my usual emotional self. Which I suppose in hindsight is odd because I’ve been taking it since last December. She wasn’t quite sold on the idea, I could tell, and she let me just talk around the issue until I came around to the possibility that maybe I am just aging and becoming more subdued. Mellow. But we agreed I could still be mellow and maintain my core characteristics. I can still be the same old Mindy. Just a mellower version, I suppose. My husband has always called me Mel, which is short for my full name – Melinda. So now he can call me Mellow Mel (though if he did I doubt I would answer lol). This is an interesting development, but I can embrace it. It’s kind of nice to be more calm. I could definitely get used to it, and I hope it lasts.

Drop me in the river

My daughter and I went camping last weekend. We left on Wednesday and came back Sunday so it was a little more than a weekend. My kids (and sometimes me too) have camped with the church my dad was pastoring for the past four or five years. He is no longer pastoring the church because he is retired, but the people really bonded with us and invited us back this year. I’m so glad we went, and I hope to join them in future years, but the whole time I was there I was dreaming that we could do similar trips with our own church family back home. Someday. We’re still growing. Right now we do a camp thing but it’s just one night and it’s held on one of the family’s properties. Also, my family has not yet been able to go. Conflicting schedules and all that.

Anyhoo. The camping trip for me consisted of a lot of relaxing on the porch of our cabin, crocheting and reading. The occasional walk around the campground to chat with people. I did not see much of my daughter because she was off riding her bike and playing with the other girls. One of the girls had brought about a dozen headbands with mermaid sequin cat ears, so they each wore a headband for the duration of camp. They dubbed themselves the “kitty cat club” and I can’t even tell you how that warms my heart. That all these young girls so quickly bonded. All of the mothers and grandmothers were touched to see their bond and we hope to keep them all in touch by good old fashioned snail mail. Perhaps they can remain friends throughout school, and make appearances at each other’s graduation parties. The last night of camp they all sat around and cried because they were sad that camp was ending and they wouldn’t see each other again for a very long time, if ever.

The first full day we were there we went for a canoe ride on the river. It was so wonderful and peaceful. Until the very end. Just at the end where everyone docks we hit a large rock or log and the current of the river yanked us over. Y’all, I was so freaking scared. I saw Natalie and her friend floating away towards the dock, and then I saw my AquaMic, my waterproof case for my cochlear implant, floating away. It had come off my head and life vest in the fall, and I was struggling to catch it before it was lost forever. It took a couple grabs but I was able to secure it and get back to shore. That’s when I saw my shoe floating away. Gah! Just a shoe, I know, but still. One of the older boys at the shore, or the gentleman who had been steering our canoe, I’m not sure, was able to get to where the shoe was and grab it for me. I did not want to have to walk around camp the rest of the weekend in flip flops. But really, I was mainly happy to be on dry land and could see that Natalie and her friend had made it safely to shore as well. When I walked over to her, she was almost in tears. She said she thought she was going to lose me. That’s when I realized that I must have put on quite a spectacle of fear when I was trying not to lose my precious cochlear implant. I felt really bad but she got over it pretty quickly once we went and got ice cream, so it was fine.

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Oh, I almost forgot about my phone. I was wearing my running belt to hold money for ice cream and my phone in a Ziploc bag. I took it out at the ice cream shop to check it and realized right away that it was not doing well. Those Ziploc bags are not airtight, I guess. Or I hadn’t closed it tight enough. I freaked out a ton because my phone is my connection to the world, as I’m sure it is for most people, but my nextdoor cabin neighbor had rice that I was able to leave the phone in for the remainder of camp. It didn’t fix it completely, as I still can’t use my “back” button unless I use the phone’s stylus, but it’s otherwise fine. Answers calls, sends texts, my books are all still there. It even charges normally. So it’s only minorly disabled. Kinda like me, you could say.

The day after that canoe event we had a tug of war between the guys and gals. The tricky thing is that they do tug of war in the river. It’s shallow at the shore but it’s quite rocky and the rocks are sharp and slippery. I tripped/slipped on a fairly large rock and bruised my shin pretty well, and then went on to assist the girls in winning a match. When they made us switch sides it was a different story because that’s where all the rocks were so it was almost impossible to gain a good footing. They tried to get me to join them the following day for a rematch but I told them no. That river and me were broke up and I had no interest in going back for more abuse.

I was pretty wrecked by Saturday afternoon, and kind of ready to go home. My legs weren’t moving right, I had bruises and pulled muscles all over the place, and I missed my shower. So I’m very happy to be home, but my body is telling me it’s still not recovered from all the activity, so I’ve dubbed this entire week a Week of Recovery. I’ll be resting as much as possible, with the hope that I’ll be back to working conditions by Monday.