Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cross Stitching

I decided I would do something crafty tonight with the hopes of getting myself out of this dumb funk I've been in. 

I thought I'd give cross stitching a try so I broke out a little cross stitch kit I had.

Here's what the outside of the package looked like:
Notice the inspirational quote. I just knew my stitching this mantra -- combined with the the sound of a Full House episode I'm sure we've watched no less that 9,721 times playing in the background -- would be the equivalent of antivenom for "the funk".

I opened the package and started reading the directions, half of which were in a different language and the other half I couldn't comprehend. 
So I thought... "No biggie, I'll just follow the picture."

Until I studied the picture... 
...And made a conscious decision not to cry. 

There were so. many. symbols. And different kinds of lines... And symbols made out of these lines... All of which required me to refer to the directions. The directions I couldn't understand.

I would not be defeated, though. No siree, not today! I was going to do this craft come hell or high water.

So I took a deep breath and went to work.
Nailed it.

I'm not sure if I grew wings on the way down tonight, but I have definitely been reminded that sometimes it's okay to just toss out the directions and go our own way.



Monday, October 20, 2014

Granny Gear (thank you, Jesus)

So on Friday I had surgery to remove a bit of cancer from one of my tatas. I'm told it appears to be noninvasive and early stage (thank you, Jesus), so once my incision heals I will undergo daily radiation for 4-6 weeks and then I'll be in the free and clear. So, yeah... How's that for an opening paragraph to a blog post?*

I found out about this diagnosis on the day I was leaving to go to the Bike MS event, where I spent a weekend discovering strength I didn't even know I had with some of my closest girlfriends, including Tina, a breast cancer survivor and wise counsel to boot. We laughed until we cried that weekend and I can't imagine the timing being any better (thank you, Jesus).

Here's a confession, though. Sometimes I feel like a fraud when people tell me how strong they think I am and today has been one of those days. Today I've felt like I'm staring up a hill that I just don't have the energy -- or maybe even the desire -- to climb. Today I'm over it. Today I don't want to be the person whose strength others admire. Today I want to hitch a ride.

...But I've seen this hill before.

I know the descent after this climb will be so much fun. I know I'll look back at this and say "that wasn't so bad". I know I need this hill to reach my destination. 

But most of all I know someday this hill will just be a memory so until then I'll just leave the bike in granny gear and keep on pedaling. 

And pedaling. 

And pedaling some more... 

All the while thankful I'm not on this hill alone (thank you, Jesus).

Tina and me at the Bike MS event. We had just finished climbing one of the day's big hills... And then we ate some cookies.

*Please know I am fine, well taken care of and in great hands both medically and here at home. Mike even did ALL of the laundry this weekend... Every. Single. Bit. This in and of itself almost makes the whole ordeal worth it. 


Friday, October 3, 2014

Sharing My Bandwagon

Writing is therapy for me and sometimes when I share very personal aspects of my life I do so because I feel others could benefit as a result. This is one of those situations.

I know this month is all about "the pink" and while I whole-heartedly support breast cancer advocacy, support and awareness (make sure you get those mammograms, ladies!), I'll admit that I'm still on a "post- Bike MS high", a cause that will always be so very near-and-dear to me. 

I just watched this video in its entirety and can't keep it to myself

It is kind of long but it is very interesting and I can totally identify with all three of the people who have shared their stories about the emotional and cognitive challenges they face while living with MS. It's almost eerie, actually. Here are three different people with three different stories but as I was watching it, I just kept thinking... "Me too!". If you are close to someone who is battling MS and are at all interested in what they may be experiencing "behind the scenes", I encourage you to watch it, as well.

The perception of MS is that it is a physically-debilitating disease — and it certainly can be — but the reality is that the hardest part about having MS (for me, anyway) is dealing with the things most people probably don't even realize is happening... The cognitive and emotional difficulties this disease can cause are so very real but can be equally as invisible and difficult to articulate. 

The subjects in this video are able to describe these struggles as best (and comprehensively) as I've ever seen, and, although I don't know them, felt connected with them nonetheless.

It's good to know I'm not alone and that what I experience and feel isn't just "in my head".

It's really hard when you're struggling with something others can't see or understand, and while I don't do well to wallow in self-pity, I would be lying if I said I'm "all good" all the time... I'll leave that to Joel Osteen and his super white teeth. Apparently he's God's favorite child because nothing seems to go wrong for this dude. Except for that tie, maybe. 

The truth is that no matter how I (as well as many others battling this dumb disease) might appear on the outside, there's a deep struggle going on below the surface. For example: I rode 130 miles on my bike two weekends ago but had major difficulties with simple math (not related to Common Core, btw!) and information processing today... It actually left me feeling deflated and even a but "dumb". I definitely had an "off" day today. The unpredictability of MS is so perplexing to me.

I'm so glad the National Multiple Sclerosis Society produced this video. I hope it helps to bring some clarity to people who might not "get it" and perhaps some comfort to those of us who do. I especially love how it provides suggestions for ways to cope with these challenges. I'm really glad I stumbled upon it and if you are close to somebody with MS I especially hope you'll consider watching and even sharing it with them, as well.

Me and my #BikeMS team/besties who, at the time of this post, have raised over $5,000 for MS research, education and advocacy. Boom!