Its a question of patience, initiative and time.

I am diligently working on preparing myself for the workforce. I am career counseling with one center and will make an appointment with another tomorrow. The two centers have different strengths. I am utilizing an online site run by the Alberta government as well. My resume was a challenge to configure due to lapses in time making my resume look like hell in chronological order. Dealt with this by grouping my experience and listing them by years rather than specific dates. I finally called my university to inquire about the hold on my transcripts. I had to drop out in 2009 due to a MS attack and qualified for a government bankruptcy due to disability of my student loans. However, one small one was overlooked and that loan has now tripled due to nine years of fees and interest. Until that is paid, I can’t access my transcripts. I gave them my information and expect to be hounded by them soon to pay. Which will have to wait. Oh, the wreckage of Multiple Sclerosis!

I had thought to start right away on full time and actually applied for a full time job, than had a heart attack over it. I’ve been cautioned to start with volunteer, then part time first. Which, I am doing. I applied for a reasonable job and hope to hear from them. If I take on too much, too fast, I’ll lose track of my commitment to the Wahls Protocol, which is the reason I am able to work at all. Fatigue is the other problem, there are still days where I need to sleep and do nothing. How will that work with a full time job. My ultimate goal is to eventually and slowly build myself up into a full time job situation while successfully incorporating the Wahls Protocol into that schedule, thereby, if this goes well, allowing me to wean off of disability. Time will tell that story.

Time….I’ve been held back for so long, I am raring to get out there and do something! I am ambitious by nature. A self starter. Patience is needed or I can set myself back. Not the plan! This month, I want to get to a registry and learn what is required for me to get my license. That’s a priority. I have the use of a friend’s car to practice with once I get my Learner’s Permit. I am sure it will be like riding a bike, I drove for 25 years, but its been eight years and I will need to rebuild my confidence behind the wheel. In the mean time, I am anxious to begin a part time job, I am sick of being flat broke all the time due to the cost of the Wahls Protocol. I have debt to pay on, a driver’s license to obtain, citizenship to file for (I’m on a Landed Immigrant Status) and, eventually, a car to finance. I am getting there….one carefully stacked boulder at at time.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Note: The monthly symptoms page has been updated.

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/background-balance-beach-boulder-289586/

A shift in attitude

Until I stop crying about the state of my affairs where I am consistently focused on what other people have or don’t have, I will go nowhere. Even if good breaks come, I won’t see them because I will be entrenched in the practice of someone else who has it better. Having Multiple Sclerosis is not what I had hoped for, but here we are. I must see past the “unfair’s” in order to cope my very best with what I’ve been dealt. For one thing, we never know what another’s “cross to bear” is. When practicing jealousy and self pity I then constantly compare with what I assume other’s have: more money, more opportunity, better upbringing, ready access to education, etc. I assume a lot. You never know what that person has been through or where they’ve been in their lives by the one day I stand with them feeling the “why them’s and not me’s”. And just consider the complete waste of time, energy and how ultimately destructive this is. Time and energy I could direct into working towards an abundant future as I seek my path of purpose, whatever that is. Even if its only the purpose of being the positive one in the room, the big smile that greeted you and made your day better.

I grew up in an unconventional way, outside mainstream society. It wasn’t easy to work out of that and learn all that I hadn’t had the chance to learn. When I think that that wasn’t fair, then I remember I’ve been given a gift from my experiences. That being the opportunity to live among people of many walks of life giving me a birds eye view of the human condition more than someone who has been sheltered all their lives, living in one place with little experience outside of their one culture. On the other hand the person who has been sheltered all their lives may find that they are satisfied with a simpler life and is a stable, steady person. Something that I’ve always had to work hard to be.

Sickness happens, I’ve been given a gift. The Wahls Protocol is my ticket out, but it has taken a commitment of mind, body and spirit. Having MS is a great deal of work all by its self. If I have to work that hard to deal with an affliction and someone hands me a tray of tools that I need only commit to the path to reap the rewards of health and well being, then really I have two choices. One is to continue being disabled in mind, body and spirit and hang onto my old ways of doing things, looking for the magic pill that will heal me without me having to change anything in my lifestyle and causing me to deal with the horrible fall out of another MS attack. Or, I can accept that I’d rather put that time, energy and effort into exercise, diet and a change of attitude that will bring me increased health and well being and no more MS attacks. I am human and stubborn, it took me two years to wrap my head around the fact that it is absolutely necessary for me to do this and become willing to go any lengths for it.

I’ve had to overcome a lot of adversity in my life, as I am sure others have too, and each time it has been the same process. Change or die. There is such a thing as death of spirit too. Doesn’t have to be a mortal death. The process was always enough pain from the conflict to finally cause a moment of defeat and throwing in the towel, thus opening my mind to a better way. Once I do that, there is no more warbling back and forth, I have accepted that this is it. Then I let go of all the “poor me’s” and “its not fair’s”. Of course, there is no hope till the kit of tools is revealed. Diagnosed in 2004, I was not made aware of this till 2014. That said, it is not your fault if you’ve not been shown a way out, but once you have been shown a way that works. Then its your responsibility to give it all you’ve got. To “play the Hell out it”.

I love the quote above from Sheryl Strayed who is the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail her memoir of her own overcoming journey. A movie adaptation from the book was made called Wild (released 2014) featuring Reese Witherspoon. This is another practice of mine, I am always on the look out for others who rise above their difficulties. I fill my life with them. Instead of filling my heart with the sickest people’s antics, I choose to instead fill it with people getting well. On the 27th this month I am celebrating one year on the Wahls Protocol and will post my before and after pictures. Thank you Dr. Wahls!

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels

Quote from the book: Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

By Sheryl Strayer

 

 

What next?

The sound of steel chains clanking against wood, the feel of a breeze across my face on a sunny day, the sounds of carnival music and children laughing, the fear in the pit of my stomach as we slowly climb the first big hill of a new coaster that I’ve never been on before. Deep down inside, I know we’re safe, but, a horrifying thought, “There is the rare and odd case of a malfunction, like the one I heard of that shot a car of screaming patrons off the tracks and into a billboard sign killing everyone……or was that an urban myth?” “Oh my God, were at the top!” I can see the whole park and half the city from here. We creak up to the tippy top and just begin to crest where I see for the first time just how sharp and steep the trip down will be. Yikes!

This is a how I feel with my plans to hopefully rejoin the work force. I am slowly creaking up the big hill, more than halfway to the top. Most of the time, I am sure it is the correct direction, but that it must be slow, like the car creeping up the tracked hill. Counseling first, volunteer work next, then career counseling and finally the time will be to knock on doors of potential employment situations that will be best suited for me. That day will come when I crest the hill, tipping, and I take the literal plunge. A fleeting thought, “Oh my God, will my car break away from the steady, but fast guidance of the rigid tracks as I fly off and crash and burn!”

Truth is, I don’t know what its like on the other side of that hill, this is a new coaster ride. I do know that chances are infinitely slim that I will fly off the track, because the track I am on is a steady one. It is a well thought out, well advised, researched, prepared for and worked for track, most important is that it is a Higher Powered track and I have faith. I know that the ride will be exhilarating and rewarding. I also know that I will be frightened, but really, really happy too. I love roller coaster rides. Then there is the moment of the fleeting thoughts, “Maybe I shouldn’t do this?! What if….? What if….? And…..What if?!”

Someone shot down my greatest accomplishments in my life on my resume in the space of 60 seconds because they are not suitable to be on a resume. You will be prejudiced against, red flags will be set off with this word and that word. That goes right in line with old paranoia’s that I have worked years to grow out of. Self constructed prisons of, “What will they think?” and, “Who will take me seriously?” I have not had a conventional life, both my failures and my triumphs are controversial to some. Can’t talk about MS, can’t talk about the blog, can’t talk about 26 years clean and sober and all the accomplishments I’ve had with organizing successful events. I wonder if it is okay to list success in drinking events instead. I will not hide my entire life from anyone. I bring all of me or none at all. I said that in college and I wrote honestly and I received nothing but the greatest respect from my teachers and my class mates and one A after another on all my written papers. I said then, “I bring all of myself or nothing.” I will not live a pretend life of safety that was never my real life. My life has been a roller coaster ride that I am not ashamed of. Some of it does belong on a resume. Because I earned it. If someone will prejudice me for that, than why do I want to work for anyone who thinks like that.

Bonne Sante

It is a matter of thought…

I gave away my walker last week. A woman in my lobby was waiting with a walker unable to get into her cab because her heavy duty, older walker didn’t fold up. I thought of my aerodynamic fold up walker that I haven’t needed to use in six months. I gave her the walker, she was thrilled to have it and I was thrilled to not need it. A friend said, “What if you need it again?” I said, “A. I’m not going to need it again and B. If that’s not the case then I’ll buy one.” Its like giving away clothes that are too big for me. I want to keep them in case I put the weight back on. That thought is self defeating. I live my life in the day and keep a vision for tomorrow well stoked. My vision for tomorrow is abundance, health and physical fitness. My responsibility is training my thoughts and body for that future today.

I am a sober alcoholic. It would be the same as keeping bottles of my favorite alcohol lying around, in case I drink again. Sobriety has been the act of thinking sober. Losing weight has been the act of thinking thin and fit. Getting well has been the act of thinking spry, active, clear minded and to stay focused on that. I had to tackle the disabled mentality and identity that one becomes accustomed to when reduced by an illness as devastating as MS. I’m preparing to work again. The MS Social Worker said as she motioned two fingers slowly pinching closed to a one inch gap, “Baby steps.”, she cautioned, “Try volunteering fifteen hours a week first.” My instant retort, “I already volunteer fifteen hours a week.” That is the perfect example of a closed mind. First of all, the volunteering I do is sporadic, not in eight hour shifts. That’s what I need to do.

After allowing the idea to sink into my head (took a week), I contacted a friend who is involved with a non profit that had asked me a few years ago to get involved. I declined then, because I was way too sick to commit. However, that isn’t the case now and is a prudent way to test the working waters and see how I do over the course of several months. That is wise. If I leave it up to my head, Miss, “I want to jump into a forty hour a week job after over a decade of not working first!”, mentality can and will set me back leagues. Slow and steady wins the long haul race. I’ve asked professionals for help so that I do this prudently and don’t set myself back. Asking for help is part one, part two is taking direction. We see advisers as a weakness, but it is actually a sign of strength. Most powerful and successful members of society have advisers. For a complete picture the balance is to research your advisers (make sure they have the expertise you need), weigh the information they offer and look up your own information. In other words, don’t follow blindly, do your due diligence and don’t close your mind to other’s valuable experience. Its a balance. I see the Social Worker a second time and have my first appointment with the Occupational Therapist this coming Wednesday. Woody Allen said that, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” I have learned that this is absolutely true and that the rest is following up with what is offered. I am on a fact finding mission to understand what I can do and what I can’t. This way, I am protecting myself, making myself as useful as possible and not wasting anyone’s time.

I have a clear vision that is growing and expanding. I see myself successful in my work, my personal life and will be financially set. My responsibility is to do whatever I need to do to realize this. That is to stay positive, change my thinking to that of an able bodied person, to think abundantly, to get to the gym, eat the foods needed for health, and continually cut out toxic products and toxic people from my life…..

…….One day at a time.

 

Bonne Sante

Focus, patience and calm, no less is required.

I read once that the highest percentages of car accidents happen within one mile of home. That’s because we switch to auto pilot and become less observant and alert, over confident and driving on memory. Whereas, less familiar routes, we need to pay constant attention. Also, anticipating home, we might speed up, anxious to get there. I’m a jewelry artist, working mostly in bead embroidery. My pieces can sometimes take months to finish. Within hours of finishing the piece, I speed up and make near fatal flaws, because I can see the end in sight, I am excited to do the finishing touches and complete the piece that I have been meticulous with up to that point. Same theory. I’m going through that right now. I can see the finish line for my foray into the work world and greater independence, but I’m not quite there yet. Here is where I must be particularly careful, lest I jump the gun and undo half of what I’ve achieved so far.

I take something called Access Calgary, which is a door to door service for the disabled using handibuses, vans and checker cabs. I’ve utilized the service for three years now. When I started the Wahls Protocol nine months ago, the drivers knew right away I was the one they were picking up, I either had a walker and always my cane. I just didn’t look well. Now, especially at the Southland Leisure Centre where I work out, they don’t make a b-line for me anymore and twice this week, they went back in their vehicles and phoned Access that they could not find the rider. When I called Access and was directed to the correct vehicle, in both situations, the drivers said, “I saw you, but didn’t think….”. Today too, again. Obviously, I’m looking healthy and compared to most of the people were picking up, I am. And I am grateful. But, as strong as I look, I’m not ready to give Access up yet. Where I work out would take a bus, a train and a bus to get to. An hour of transit one way, carrying a gym bag. The same gym bag will be filled with wet clothes on the way home and a fatigued leg from working out. I take regular transit for local trips and reserve Access for complicated trips like the above. I still suffer from fatigue. I walk strong, but I still have an expiration date and will still fatigue. Eventually, I think I will most definitely be able to let go of Access. But right now, I need them to help me continue to rehabilitate.

I guess, I’m experiencing an in between point. I am rehabilitating to the point of feeling well enough to work and stand on my own two feet, but not quite there yet. I have three more months of intensive rehabilitation to go before I am ready to take the first really big step out. I have an appointment with the MS psychiatrist and the MS social worker at month’s end to discuss psychologically getting ready for the possibility of working full time. Now, I say possibility because I have not one but two neurological conditions to consider. I have a fused neck, a result of a stenosis and compression. The last thing I want to do is aggravate that. I’ve had two surgeries there, don’t want a third one, because then were talking c/1 and c/2, into the base of the skull. And I’ve read nothing but horror stories about that. This is one aspect I will carefully discuss with my doctors. It may be when its all said and done, that part time is the best I can do. I’m shooting for full time, while reservedly, remaining realistic.

I guess time will tell the future story,

 

Bonne Sante

 

Enjoy what is

Decreasing stress is one of the components of the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Stress is known to be a catalyst for illness. My own experience proves that. I was under a great deal of duress building up to becoming sick. Life happens, sometimes it isn’t pleasant. I’m stating the obvious, but its important to look at the truth of that. I have learned over the years due to a different illness I have that relies on the practice of gratitude to stay in remission, how to live in the moment, to look at my part in relationships and mistakes, to do spot check inventories, to make gratitude lists and to enjoy what is. Like anything these habits require a commitment and daily practice. I have had years of successfully applying these practices to my life and I’ve had times when I let them go and let old negative habits creep back in to the detriment of my serenity.  It was during those times that I got sick and running scared, made bad decisions that made the situation ten times worse then it had to be.

How to practice serenity is to be grateful for everything. To remind myself to live in the moment. I like these statements, “God will only give you what you can handle in one day.” and “I have all the money I need provided I die at 12 midnight tonight.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for this or that. It means, I make the appointment, research the information, jot down the idea, then let it go, putting it out of my mind till its time to deal with it. This takes practice and is sometimes easier said then done. However, like anything, practice makes it easier to do, then the rewards flood in from the practice.

Sometimes to get down to a free flowing serene state, I must look at unpleasant truths about myself, especially if the same set of calamities or repeated mistakes happen over and over again. That’s usually a sure fire sign that the fault is mine. Somewhere, there are deep rooted issues that must be unearthed, amends made, myself and others to be forgiven and then, if the work is earnest and sincere then peace for this situation or relationship happens. Other people are usually necessary to help with this, such as support groups, advisers, counseling, religious practices for some people, etc. Food for thought, the smartest and most powerful people on Earth have advisers, the more responsibility they have the more advisers they have. It is, paradoxically, not a sign of weakness, but of strength to seek advice and assistance.

Meditation is the practice of being in the moment. To be aware of all five senses, to quiet the mind, concentrate on breathing, build a deeper communion with a Higher Power if one so chooses, or to feel a deeper connection with the Earth with sounds of nature and thoughts of ancient trees and pathways thru the woods or how the Earth feels on your hands when you plant something. We can do quick, in the moment meditations with everyday mundane activities, like concentrating on the warm sensation of sudsy water as I clean the plate, listening for the sound of clacking silverware when I drag the bottom of the sink for silverware to clean. Or we can do long prepared meditations. Set the scene, a favorite spot in our home that we create the space for. Burn incense maybe, light candles, play serene music or sounds (I like the ocean) or listen to a guided meditation. Exercise and jewelry making are both deep sources of meditation for me. I am completely focused when I create, colors, sewing, the feel of beads in my hands, or exercise, I’m off in my own world. When exercising, I am completely riveted on the teacher, the movement I’m doing, the feel of the water, the weights in my hands, the flexing of the targeted muscles, my breathing. When I do these things, I am not thinking about the bills I need to pay in two weeks, or the appointments I have tomorrow or even in two hours, I am completely in the moment. This is one of the reasons I love doing these two activities. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, causes the body to do certain things, increases heart rate, gasping for breath, racing thoughts of fears and over dwelling on negatives. Meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, deep thoughtful breathing, bringing one’s thinking back to the present moment and the realization that one is safe in that moment. Many fears are of bogeymen that are not happening right now and in most cases may never happen. And if there is a difficult loss occurring, job, family, health, then the practice of these above can make them easier to handle, more manageable by making it possible to take the situation(s) piece meal.

To enjoy what is are all these practices, that is the goal for me. That and humor. A sense of humor can cut stress in half and help keep a heart light. There is always two ways to look at any situation. Most of the time there is something good to consider even when it feels unfair. Here’s a silly joke:

Four men from Boston meet every Sunday to play cards. Clancy, Taylor, John and Ian have known each other for decades. John is the upbeat positive chap in the group. No matter what anyone says he always answers, “It could be worse.” This always rubs Clancy the wrong way. One Sunday, only Clancy, John and Ian show up. Ian, visibly upset, breaks the news to Clancy and John that Taylor is in jail after coming home Saturday night and finding his wife in bed with another man, he shot and killed them both. To which, John says, “It could be worse.” Clancy yells back, “That’s the last straw! You drive me nuts, how could it be worse John, two people are dead and our good friend is in jail, how could it be worse, you tell me that?!” John replied, “It could be worse because he could’ve come home on Friday when I was there.”

It could be worse.

 

Bonne Sante