Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This isn't an amusing post. But you need to read it anyway.

Today was a rough day.

Sometimes they all feel like rough days..... but then something comes along that puts all the other PITA stuffs into perspective.

I have students whose parents are alcoholics. Girls who have babies. Girls who have elected to not have their babies. Boys who are pushing themselves to their breaking point physically for athletic dreams. Students with sick parents. Students who are sick themselves. Drugs and alcohol are not uncommon for any and every group.

There is hurt everywhere. And it's so hard to not feel that hurt.

But this week, a boy in a neighboring district reached his breaking point and chose to take his own life rather than continue being bullied. A tenth grade girl in my caseload was in the same vo-tech shop as he was - and she came to me in tears today.

I sat there, watching her heart break.... my heart breaking right along with her. I didn't know this young man.... I barely knew the girl sitting before me.... and yet, I did know him.... and I did know her.

And the next thing I knew, I was crying too.

I was crying for her. I was crying for him. I was crying for his family. I was crying for every person who has ever felt like their only solution was a permanent solution. But I was crying for myself as well. I was crying for that dark place.... that dark place that some don't ever escape.

It's so hard. The darkness. You can't see anything. Not even yourself. And it's silent, that darkness. Silent and oppressive. You don't speak out because you think no one is there in the darkness to hear you - you would hear them if they were, right? But you hear no one in the darkness. You are alone. Utterly and completely alone in the silent darkness. You don't reach out - who would be there to take your hand? You are alone. Drowning in the darkness. Silent in your suffering. Unable to see. Unable to speak. Eventually, unable to feel.

I've been there, in that darkness. It's a sad place, but it's eventually not even a scary place.... because, no matter how sensory deprived.... it becomes.... familiar. But I've also seen the gaping hole that has been left in others' lives when someone has decided that they are unable to escape that darkness. When you're in that darkness? You don't understand the void that your death would mean for others. That, for someone else, you may be taking away their light. Light you couldn't even see yourself.

If you find yourself in that darkness, reach out your hand.... call out for help.... and when others hear your cries, they will reach out as well, from their spot in the dark.... and as we are all reaching out, we will all realize that none of us are ever truly alone in that darkness. No one needs to suffer in silence. No one needs to feel alone.

And no matter what the circumstances? No problem is so permanent that it requires a permanent solution. Problems are temporary. Love is abundant. Help is out there.

You are loved.

You would be missed.

Please reach out your hand.

You are not alone.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Placebo? I think no.

I thought it about time for an MS update on here. Surprisingly, there has been very little worthwhile MS material to discuss. Although, it's occurred to me now, that that lack of trouble? is worth posting about.

(It shouldn't be all about me bitching all the time, right?)

Roughly three months ago, I began participating in a drug trial through the hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. (you may recall the ridiculous nature of the cognitive tests... yeah, they're still just as fun.) Any time you participate in a drug study, there's no real way to know if you will be given the active meds or a placebo. However, since any drug is accompanied by side effects, it's usually not too hard to figure out which group you fall into.

I am not in the control group.

Meaning, I am about 98.64% certain that I am taking the active meds. The active meds, in this study, are a form of estrogen. I'm also taking my Copaxone, (which is my daily shot - a drug therapy that is meant to slow down the progression of the damage that MS does to the central nervous system) but I have now added 4 little 2mg pills of Estriol to my daily regimen of meds and supplements.

(I mean, what's 4 more pills in a pile of oh so many??)

Obviously, I can't, with 100% certainty, confirm that I am on the active meds, but, I mean... come on now.... they're hormones. The women reading this will understand right away that when your body is adjusting to hormones, there are some obvious signs. The men reading this will simply have to be grateful that I am not going to describe in any sort of detail what those signs are.

(you're welcome.)

But also? I actually feel pretty good.... in that, I feel almost normal most days. Which, though not anything to throw a parade over, after so many months and months of feeling like I was losing my mind.... normal is a welcome reprieve. I haven't had an uncontrollable crying fit since sometime mid summer. (I have cried over known circumstances.... I'm still more emotional than I would like, but not irrationally so.) And a lot of days I can pick my daughter up off the floor without feeling like she weighs three times her actual 36lbs.

Most days, I am tired, but it is normal tired. Not fall-down-and-cry physical exhaustion. Some days, I am irritable - most notably, more so since the introduction of the additional hormones - but not irrationally irritable. I mean, hey, I haven't felt the need to stab someone in who knows how long! And, by comparison, hormonally irritable doesn't seem that bad.

I still have some aches and pains. I recognize that when I hit a certain point and continue to push past it, the aches and pains get worse. The MS is still there, lurking, and waiting for me to slip up and allow it a reason to remind me that it could take me down at a moment's notice. But, for the most part, the hormones seem to keep it on a shorter leash.

Why is that?

I'm so glad you asked. :-)

The only time, in nature, that science has seen MS go into a type of "remission" is when women who have MS are pregnant. Something in the hormones that the body produces in pregnancy - most likely the same hormones that prevent the body's immune system from attacking the developing fetus as a foreign body - stop the immune system from attacking it's own central nervous system. In some cases, MRIs have even revealed that lesions have shrunk in size during the remission - a process that rarely occurs on it's own. (MS can strip myelin faster than a body can repair it - which means once there's scar tissue, it usually lasts.) MS is a degenerative disease, which basically means that it just continues to get worse. Except in pregnant women.

(This also sort of explains why, in men, the disease ravages their CNS so much more quickly - they have so little of the hormones to begin with, you know, being boys and all.)

((Of course, they do have the whole peeing standing up thing going for them.... but, it's hardly a wash, really.))

So what is the study, well, studying? It's a two year long research program that's being conducted on volunteers across the country who have MS. The study is looking to establish two things: concrete evidence that the hormones increase the daily functionality of an MS patient and decrease relapses, perhaps evidence that the hormones can heal or shrink the pre-existing lesions, and - hopefully - show that there is not an increased breast and/or uterine cancer risk with the hormone. (Which, clearly, would somewhat offset the beneficial aspects of the meds. Just sayin.)

But, long story somewhat shorter? I feel *almost* like myself a lot of the time. Which is nice. I had almost forgotten what that person felt like. I definitely forgot what it felt like to feel simple joy at the simple things in life. I'm still not back to what I would have been pre-MS.... and I likely never will be.... I may always feel the need to stab on occasion, it happens.... but, I'm getting there. In some ways, the darkness is subsiding a bit. A little more light is filtering through. And I'm feeling a little more hopeful.... most days, anyway.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I have a problem.

Okay, so here's something you don't know about me. (which, given my penchant for over sharing, there's probably not much you wouldn't know.)

I have a serious addiction. And that addiction has a name: Ed Robertson.

Ed is the guitarist and singer for the band Barenaked Ladies. (Yes, I realize some of you reading this may not even know who that band is.) ((No, I do not care.)) And, while they are my favorite band of ever, really? Ed is just the yummiest thing since.... well, since Paul Rudd.... although he pre-dated my Paul Rudd addiction.... so he's basically the yummiest thing since boys stopped having cooties.

I heart him.

I heart him BAD.

I realize he's not the typical love-muffin stud most women would swoon over. But me?


Yeah. It's bad, people.

How bad? Well, today in a vo-tech meeting, a counselor from another district walked in and I almost stopped breathing.

I shit you not - he looked just like Ed.

So much so, I don't even know what his name was. I know I was introduced, but in my head all I could hear playing was a looped track of every BNL song ever, all overlapping one another, all overlapped by my inner fan-girl squealing with delight.

(Let's just bear in mind that this was not actually Ed, kay? Cause clearly I am sick.)

Turns out, he sat right next to me at the conference table, which, while that might sound good, actually made it very hard to come up with reasons to turn to my right to gaze at him with a lovesick look that I am sure was freaking him out. Not to mention, I was so jazzed at his mere presence (again, NOT ED), that I could have slid off my chair.


It's bad.

So, as I am daydreaming about if he plays the guitar or not and how I am going to whisk him away from his wife (yes, I saw he was wearing a wedding ring... which, since clearly my own ring wasn't stopping my fantasies, why would his? Come on, people. Keep up.) and what our beautiful dark haired, greenish-blueish eyed children are going to look like (my husband looks nothing like this, btw.) ((sorry honey, but you already know what's up.)), I notice something that - again - took my breath away. Just not in a good way.

You guys? He was wearing a W. W. J. D. bracelet.


Yeah. I am pretty sure, should he consider what Jesus would do, that he was not going to let me climb in his lap mid-meeting and make mad use of that fabulous leather swivel chair he was sitting in.

However, despite my disappointment - deep, deep, disappointment - a plan began to hatch in my mind. It involved me getting a job in his school, coming up with pointless questions just so I could go ask him, not really listen to his answers as I stare deep into his eyes, and then - after an appropriate amount of time - jump his ass and convert him to the godless heathen that I am.

I mean, it could totally happen.



(or, not-Ed. Whatever.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

I might be dead soon. So you should probably be nice to me while you can.

You know how they say some animals can predict when people are going to die?

Yeah, well my lab is following me around so closely that I have literally stopped short a few times only to have her halfway up my ass before I even knew what was going on. (as I type, she is laying on my feet.)

This is a dog who, in prior times, could only be roused from her vigorous laying around by the sound of the refrigerator door opening or the smell of take out. Occasionally she could be tempted by her rope, but only if it was accompanied by the words, "wanna play catch?" and a look that told tales of hours worth of fetching a slobber covered rope.

Of course, that was all prior to her losing our other dog and then becoming too old to want to rouse herself for much of anything. For the most part, we'd just be bringing the people foods to her out of sympathy and knowledge that - at 11 plus - her dog-days were numbered anyway, so how bad could some extra pizza crusts be?

However, recently, she has been glued to my side in a borderline obnoxious way. And it's not even just when I go to the kitchen - which I could sort of understand/forgive. No. She follows me to the bathroom, to Callie's room, to basically anywhere I go.

I shower, she waits on the bathmat.

I pee, she lays on the tile.

I get dressed, she lays in front of my bureau.

I type pointless blogs, she keeps my feet warm.

(which would actually be kinda nice except for the fact that every time I have to get up to refill my drink, I have to do this ninja like gravity-defying step over her sprawled out form.)

((which she then gets up from to follow me into the kitchen in time to get in the way of the refrigerator door opening at all.))

I am pretty sure she's trying to tell me something.

Either I'm going soon or she is. And while she is the older of us, I am probably the unhealthier. In fact, I'd take some over/under bets on it being my liver, despite the pre-existing holes in my brain. Not that I know if you can actually make over/under bets on something that isn't technically numerical in value. It's sort of a fuzzy subject for me, as I've been drinking since before I started writing this. (But really, that should skew the odds drastically, no?)

Although, with as close as she has been following me? I could be the first ever recorded death by dog-enima.

Just sayin.