Monthly Archives: July 2013

I Blame it on the Cog Fog!

There’s a symptom I get from having MS (multiple sclerosis) that sometimes causes me stress. That symptom is what is often called (by those who have MS) Cog Fog. The technical/medical term for Cog Fog is mild cognitive impairment. I prefer to call it cog fog – it’s easier to spell, where if I want to write the medical term, I usually have to check the spelling yet again.

The reason I’m writing about this, is that I wrote a post for this blog earlier today, a totally relevant post, where I talk about the memoir I’ve written which bears the same name as this blog ‘Mick, Jane and Me – Living Well with MS’. I’m quite pleased with the blog post, I feel I did well with the honest writing of it. The only problem is, I didn’t actually post it to this blog. I posted it to another of my blogs instead.

How silly is that? Actually, it’s not silly, it’s just a frustrating example of what can go wrong, when you have MS. Cog Fog strikes again, and you have to either fix it all up again, or you break down and cry. I don’t like crying, so that’s why I’m writing this post – with a link back to my other blog, where you can read my post all about my Verse Memoir.

 

Do you love trees?

Image

I do, I love them very much. I am a few different things, and lover of Nature is certainly one of those things.

I love Nature, especially trees, clouds and birds. I spend some time almost every day, and certainly at least once a week, contemplating Nature in a meditative way. I sometimes sit on our front veranda, watching birds and clouds and trees. The tree on this page was the focus of a recent article I wrote.

I am the editor of the Mallala Crossroad Chronicle. This publication is a newsletter published monthly, and focused on the town of Mallala. I have lived in the Mallala district since late 1988. We moved out there from a lovely cottage in St Morris, so that we could begin breeding dogs.

At the time, my husband Graham and I were involved in showing dogs, and breeding them seemed to be a natural progression. We moved to the country with our pure bred Schnauzer, and our crossbred dog, and the dog breeding/showing began.

At that time, we didn’t have any children, and I wasn’t going to have any kids, I wanted to go on breeding and showing dogs for the rest of my life. My body had other thoughts though, and soon enough I was getting quite desperate to be a real mum, not just the dog’s mum. Nature took its time, but soon enough, we were blessed with a human baby for me to care for.

I resigned from work and settled down to be a stay-at-home mum. That was nearly twenty years ago – we all settled in to living in the country (the only home our son has ever known), and we did our best to become ‘country people’. I found that I loved this country life, where the sun and the wind and rain were more important than climbing any corporate ladder (for me anyway, Graham still had that climb to do for many more years).

Things were going well, but between us, we found many other things to do on the weekend, and the dog showing thing lost its interest to us. In the meantime though, we’d taken on another dog breed – the Pharaoh Hound, breeding a couple of litters, but that wasn’t enough to keep us heading off to the dog shows.

We still have one Schnauzer, and we have three Pharaoh Hounds. They’re pet dogs now, and we’re all enjoying ourselves. I’ve become ever more interested in creative writing, and Graham and Jake are both involved in the Mallala Lawn Bowls club. They both have other things that are important to them too. We’re far too busy for dog shows!

So life is going well, but of course there are always things that happen that might throw a spanner in the works. My spanner in the words has been multiple sclerosis (ms). This chronic illness came along in early 2010, and it’s still there, making my life, our lives, a bit more challenging. 

MS is an illness that causes the body’s immune system to attack the Central Nervous System (CNS). It causes lesions/scarring along the linings of the CNS. This causes nerve impulses not to go where they should go, or to be halted. As a result, various parts of the body don’t work properly in people with MS.

There are various medications that may help to slow the progression of this disease, abut at this point, there is still no cure. I’m living well enough with MS. I’m on a new medication that seems to be controlling my ms, so that my body can heal some of the scarring, and my disability is somewhat lessened. I still can feel the disability though – when I get stressed or get too hot, my symptoms come back to haunt me…

Watching Nature helps me to conquer stress, most of the time. Sitting and watching the trees, like the one here, helps me to stay serene…

A Sneak Peek!

So, why am I here, and why have I put this picture here?

Well I’ve written a book, you know, a memoir about my life with Multiple Sclerosis. And people with Multiple Sclerosis need walking sticks, right? No, wrong, actually. People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) may need walking sticks, or walking canes similar to the two I’m holding in the picture. Or they may need walkers, or even wheelchairs. To be honest, I’ve certainly used the two mobility aids I’m holding triumphantly here. But Mick (the Stick) and Jane (the Cane) are no longer needed by me every day. In fact, I can’t really remember when I last used either of them to help me stay upright and moving.

I’m happy to report that I’m able to move about with no mobility aid at all. I occasionally think afterwards, or during the event, that it would have been handy to have one of these two friends with me. I’ve recently managed some walking and gallery touring without falling victim to the horrible consequences of gravity. Gravity and I have had a rocky relationship over my life. I had my first introduction to its danger with a fall as a child. I have a poem about that incident in my memoir – this is the poem, one written many years after the fall.

Gravity Hurts

At

the age

of seven

I learnt more

about gravity in

my nano–second

fall from our backyard

pine tree than I could ever

learn

from

text

      book

                      or teacher

So that’s a little bit of a sneak preview of my memoir, where I write about my life with MS. There are good things there, bad things, philosophical thoughts and more practical things. I needed to know these things back in 2010, when I was first diagnosed with MS. It took a while, but I’ve been working at learning about MS, and what it’s like to live with MS, ever since my diagnosis. I hope my memoir can be a fun way for people to learn more about what it’s like to live Well with MS.

My life is a good one. I’m able to do most of the things I want to do. Mick and Jane both helped me to walk better when I was diagnosed, and now they’re helping me in another, fun way – they help me to talk about my book! If you have a Mick or Jane of your own, or you know someone who does, I hope my words can assist you to have a fun and enjoyable life!

cover pic

A bit of an oops!

I have too many blogs, I think. I wrote a great post about motivation for exercising in winter, and posted it to my blog (one of my blogs). It was supposed to be this blog though, but it was actually another one. This one.

So if you’d like to read about getting motivated to exercise in winter, when it’s cold, why not go along to that other blog – it’s a friendly blog, called Garden dog, and it has interesting things there. Well, I found them interesting to write anyway!

Now I’m actually going to do some exercising on our family Wii Fit machine. I’ve motivated myself! It’s all Good!

 

More to Life than Food

Today, for me was a day of feeding my soul more than my body. My body did some work, but so did my brain, my brain and my imagination.

I live close enough to Adelaide to be able to get there in only one hour, and today my husband (Graham) and I visited the Waterhouse Art Prize exhibition at the Museum. This event is an important one in the art world, occurring annually. Graham and I have visited it for the past three years. Graham has been there in earlier years, but 2011 was my first time, and I’ve loved going every time since then.

We seem to be building a collection of Science/Nature related art, having purchased paintings in the previous two years, and another two paintings this year. It feels good to be the owners of some interesting pieces of artwork.

Going to the Museum meant I had to do a bit of walking, and then obviously I had to walk around the gallery to see the art. I found it a pleasant way to get exercise…

I did my Wii Fit exercises this morning too, 33 minutes worth this time. Some of the exercises are harder workouts, a couple are more fun, and easier. I’m glad that my Wii Fit program is back on track, and I’ve been posting details on my Facebook page, so that my friends can see what I’m doing, and so I know they’ll notice if I don’t do my Wii Fit!

Testing my body and my brain both feel like excellent things for me to do!

My MS Exercise Program

One of the things I know has been good for me, is this. Physical exercise. One of the first things my neurologist said to me, at maybe the first appointment after he told me I had MS, was that I should exercise. “Move it or Lose it” were his words. At the time, I didn’t really believe exercise was going to happen much.

One day, though, I got out the family Wii Fit machine and started trying out the exercises again. I’d been keen on this form of exercising earlier on, well before I came down with this horrible disease. Back then, I was exercising to try to tone up and lose a bit of weight. Now I had a better reason – to keep being able to get around on my own!

I started the exercising with the Wii Fit machine, and gradually got better and better at doing things. I enjoyed beating my own records, and was thrilled when I was able, occasionally, to beat the records of my husband Graham and son Jake. Before Christmas I got keen on the Wii Fit again, working toward doing 30 minutes of Wii Fit every day.

This is more exercise than Dr Lee had advised, he’s said I should walk for 30 minutes every other day. So I keenly continued the Wii Fit, gradually working up to and then beyond 30 minutes. I tailored my exercise program according to how I was feeling, sometimes just doing easy things, sometimes harder things.

This way, I was able to keep going, paying attention to my body, and what it could do. I’ve had periods of time when the program falls down, and then I switch the machine back on, eventually, and start over again. I’ve noticed I become less able it I go for a few days without “working out”, but it all gets going again, eventually…

I have to confess, I haven’t done any Wii Fit at all fro nearly a week. I think I have a case of Can’t Be Bothered, because it’s so cold and gloomy. It is winter, after all. I’m sure I’ll get back into it again soon, and I’ll go back to reporting my progress to my Facebook Friends. Doing this in the past has helped me to keep on track, and keep motivated. Some people have said they feel inspired by me!

That should be enough to get me going again, but I’m afraid it isn’t working just yet. Perhaps if or when the sun starts shining again, the Wii Fit will get switched on again!

My first Post on my Newest Blog

Starting a new blog can be a scary thing, at times. Will anyone read my words, does anyone care what I want to tell them?

But I had to begin this blog, to advertise my new book, which will be published soon. I’m hoping the book will be launched late in August, this year. There are still a couple of things that need to be done before the book can be launched. I need copies of it for starters! I’ve written the text, the illustrations are in place, and the front cover is done. So tick, tick, tick for all of that. Next comes the back blurb, and then printing the copies, so I can sell them.

This memoir was written in verse, and it has some poems in it, as well as an illustration to begin each chapter. The illustrations were done by South Australian cartoonist and illustrator, Simon Kneebone. The photographs on the cover (front and back) were done by South Australian poet, theatre person and photographer, Martin Christmas. I received funding from Arts SA Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust to pay for a marvellous mentor Ray Tyndale to help me with the verse. (any lack with the verse is my fault, not Ray’s)

So that’s what this is all about – one sufferer reaching out to others, and hoping to build a community to help us all to live well with MS!