Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Required Dog Story

It seems if you want to get anywhere in publishing, you have a few choices available:

1. You can write about what a terrible job (fill in politicians' or general's name here) is or are doing and how he/she/they will destroy this land and everyone in it if we do not stop them immediately.  It helps if you blog (OK, got that covered), have a good size audience (appreciating a reading audience of even one right now), and can also squeeze in a radio show (still waiting for that callback from Current Network).

2. Turgid erotica, with the words "Oh, my" in it a lot.  You can be a celebrity, or a person who is famous for being famous, or a person who knew someone famous (or think you did and it also helps if the person is a dead famous person), or know a person who can write and will put your name on the book.

3. Write about an animal - cat or dog, usually a dog, and put said animal on the cover of your book, and let the money roll in.  Dean Koontz, thriller writer extraordinaire, usually hides a dog somewhere in his story and the dog can either talk, or make words out of letter blocks, or drive a Maserati backwards down any street in California.  Then there's Dewey, the cat at the library, and how he helped people read.  And there are a ton of others that I'm sure you could bring up.

I've let my interest in politics wane over the last four years, and there are more than enough opinions without adding an uninterested one to the chorus.  I don't know anyone famous.  In Upstate New York, we have politics as our celebrity outlet of choice, but those folks come and go.  But now and then, Angelina Jolie or Ryan Gosling show up for a movie (acting in one, not watching one).  Local media follows the stars for us, which I appreciate. So since I don't really do politics, and don't follow movie stars, that leaves one way to get wealthy writing.

Here's the Dog Story.

She saved no ones life but my own.  No burning buildings did she run in to save the babies.  She never found a bomb, drugs, or a thrown ball.  She was terrified of rats.  Yet she was brave to the end of the fence, defending her territory, unless someone opened the iron gate and walked into the yard.  She would then look at that tall thing moving by, sneeze at them in greeting, and go back to contemplating the ants on the sidewalk.  Or roll on her back and watch the world walk by upside down.

That was my dog Cookie.  She looked like this:

All right, not totally like that, but this drawing that I found at a craft fair in Lansingburgh in 1983 got the basics right.  She was a a mix of beagle and collie (a colgle?), which meant for my family a very hairy beagle.  Here's another picture:

I think that's my mother's Corvair there in the street which makes this picture some time in the very early 70s (picture taken by a Polaroid Swinger!).  Cookie was with us from 1965 to 1976.  During that time my family peaked, and then was separated by weddings, move outs, and my father's gradual decline into Primary Progressive MS.  But Cookie remained until even she saw it was time to go.  August 1 1976.  My father came home later that day to tell us he'd been let go by General Electric. In later years I was dumped by a girlfriend on August 1, and then was transferred out of a favorite job to one I could not stand on another August 1.  I hated that day.

I've written in these blogs about the years that were then to come, and how I'd be dealing with my father's disease and then my mother's bipolar depression.  But I didn't say anything, I don't think, about my dog NOT being there.  She was in my heart, where she still visits me.  Even in my dreams, she'll drop and and talk to me, actually talk, seeing how I'm doing, and then wander off.

When I was contemplating retirement back in 2010, a number of people said I could get a dog as a companion for these days.  No thanks.  While I was an immature dweeb during much of Cookie's life and would occasional take out my life's frustration on her (my own bipolar rage boiled even then), I'd thought that another dog could have the advantage of a new improved post millennial Tom (all drugged up and no place to go).  But as moving around is a bit harder for me these days, I felt the dog would walk me instead of I walking it.  It just would not work. Besides I had had the best.

So her ghost sits besides me looking out the window at the birds in the bushes, smacking her lips at those tasty treats.  She looks back at me and wags her tail, and I smile back.  Both bipolar and MS effect the brain enough for some to see illusions, or delusions.  For this one, I am grateful.

I have lots of Cookie stories (real ones) to share for the rest of my Required Dog Story. You no doubt have your own for your past pets.  Love to hear them.

Right now, we're going for a walk.

From Lisa at Brass and Ivory

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thanks, Osbournes (but no thanks)!

You've probably watched a bit of television and every now and then and seen on a celebrity program the names and pictures of people and you have no idea who they are.  No doubt from a previous generation or the next one or two down the line.  I wrote in one of these blogs that all music for me ended in 1985, well, except for a few songs (I mean who doesn't like Hootie? - 1st album).  Reality programs don't do much for me, as my reality is quite enough, thank you.

So when I saw this announcement that Jack Osbourne has MS, my first reaction was that's sad, I can relate.  My second reaction is "Who is Jack Osbourne?" To help with the second, he looks like this:

He's got MS? He looks fine! (Sorry, had to get that in).  Jack has, or so we've been told,  RRMS (Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis) and that is certainly not a fun thing.  He's 26 and has a child with a significant other.  I'm sure he does something, and, looking over the Wikipedia biography, does fit that group of people known as a television personality.  Back in the day, he'd be on the Merv Griffin show, right after one of the Gabor sisters.  

So, Jack, welcome to 1/2 million of us.  Its too bad that the diagnosis of myself and the 499, 999 didn't rate the cover of People magazine.  But such is celebrity.  Glad to know that Mom Sharon will not let her son die from MS.  And I understand you've become a bit of a spokesperson on MS, and I do hope that you've sat Sharon and Ozzy down and had a conversation that RRMS won't kill you (yes, there are people out there that insist it can happen) but can make for a miserable time now and then.  I'm sure you'll get the best of doctors care, who will eventually tell you there's no cure, take this Copaxone shot, or these pills, get a good attitude and keep moving.  The RRMS will abate now and then.  There, that'll be three hundred dollars.  Sharon, make the check out to cash, OK?

And Ozzy, YOU CAN LEAVE NOW!  BYE! You are scaring the other patients! (remember, Jack, cut the stress).

To be fair, I never listened to Ozzy's music (even though "Crazy Train" came out in 1981 and fits my pre 1985 criteria).  In fact, the only part of Crazy Train I've ever heard is the first nine seconds, because you'll hear that at sport events, introducing batters, or during perpetual time outs in basketball.  I'm sure the rest of the song is just great, as are all his other things that has been, well, put out there.  He doesn't seem to care for socks, though.

Anyone know who Sir Augustus Frederic D'Este is?  First diagnosed case of MS.  He was the grandson of King George III.  Can you imagine what the royal family would be going through now if it was found that William or Henry had MS?  With the Queen behind it, and her billions, we'd have a cure in a week.  But Sir Augustus died in 1848, and nobody had a clue what to do, despite there no doubt being hundreds of cases of MS in Northern Europe, but only the rich guy got noticed.  Because he could.  Sir Augustus kept a diary in which he wrote out what would be considered now the normal symptoms of RRMS.  He lived with the disease for 22 years, and, as is stated, kept a positive outlook.  (See Jack? Just keep the sunny side up.)  Sharon, please note.  It's not always fun, but you can live with this.  Sir Augustus set the standard.  Too bad all the other people that had it lived in hovels, and/or were mostly illiterate

Sir Augustus died at the age of 54, but hey it was the first half of the 19th century.  Ann Romney, Mitt's wife, has MS.  David Lander ("Squiggy" on Laverne and Shirley) and Teri Garr have MS, though already there's a group out there going "Who?"   Rock stars to writers, MS doesn't care about the size of your bank account.
Now today we've learned that Jack is claiming he was dismissed from a reality TV show upon the disclosure of his MS.  The producers felt he could not complete the show's tasks, which were for celebrities to complete military type training.  It might have been a good thing to show the world that MS folks can run a mile, or lots more, or climb ropes.  We are still here, and we can still amaze.

Good luck, Jack, and to us all.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Five Keys to Mental Health...Something to look forward to.

Baseball. Autumn. Smiles from friends. Smiles from Strangers. Anything happy go lucky from Paul Simon (oh, wait, scratch that, there isn't any).  Beatles songs - most of them. Road trips where someone else is driving.  Short road trip where you drive and remember where you're going and why. Did I say autumn?  Roses from my garden.  My wife's smile.  Boston. The city and the band.  The Band.  New York. Citifield. Movies.  A good walk where you don't mind the pain.  Breathing quietly. Days where the injection pain goes on and on, but you don't care because it is supposed to be helping.  Drugs. Plans. Retirement. A nice lunch.  A leisurely dinner.  A boat ride on a lake.  Cooperstown.  Calvin Coolidge's farm.  General Grant's home at Exit 16 of the Northway - standing on the Overlook where he came in his final days to see the Beauty around him.  A haircut (it doesn't take long).  Lake George. Fort William Henry. The Saratoga Battlefield.  Chilled peach soup.   Meatloaf, both musician (1st album) and the food (my version).  Days when my arms don't itch (injection side effect).  Old book stores.  New book stores.  Caffe Lena's.  Baseball at the Joe (with no giveaways).  A 30 degree day in late January.  A 65 degree day in August with that cool breeze.  The first day of school (or so I remember). The last day of school.  Facebook surprises.  Disney.  Kristen.  Renaissance (the 70s group).  Blues music. A working air conditioner.  Picking out a song on the piano or guitar.  Dropping three pounds.  Actually completing a road trip without asking directions.  Completing my Buddha shrine.  Bob Dylan.  A dog licking my hand.  Sitting by cool water.  Fenway Park.  Valley Forge.  New York at Christmas.  A county fair.  The way my wife takes my hand and squeezes it on a bad day.  The wind as I ride my bike. Lake Wobegon.  Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky." The next Star Trek movie.  The Mets winning another World Series.  Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.  A Pop Tart.  Finishing my novel, for the sake of finishing a novel.  Oreos dunked in milk.  Having the iPod suddenly play a streak of terrific songs when its on shuffle.

Everyday we wake up, and we realize whether we are totally healthy or not that we have a choice to make to face that day in a proper spirit or not.  I wake up each day with pains and strains in my legs, occasionally numbness, and that fog in my head.  But I get up, because there's always something that needs to be done, even if it is laundry (which I am a whiz at now).

Mr. M's list of the keys to mental health ends with "something to look forward to."  I've put a list up that's not so much of a bucket list, more things that are just nice to have happen, or favorite places to go. Nothing gigantic here.  Obviously, I did not put a cure for MS down because that won't happen while I'm around and there's money to be made for drug companies by merely treating the symptoms (ooops, did some cynicism get in there? Sorry.  We all know they are trying.  Really.).

But when talking about this, and we turn to you, what gets you up each morning, and we're talking about more than getting a paycheck here, is it that significant other? your children? something else? Well, as we've found in the other discussions, what you're seeing is that person you see in the mirror serving others.  Each of the activities listed above could be done alone, but each one was meant to be shared with another.  The dedication of getting up and facing each day for the benefit of others, even if its just to welcome them home (occasionally all I can contribute) will keep you moving spiritually.  Add in the exercise, activities, love, and the need to be part of Something Greater, and you can keep your head in the fight. Bob and weave.

MS, or whatever your challenge, can only take you down if you let it.  And I'm not preaching from a pulpit that's never been breached by the hordes.  I wake up a MS person with bipolar disorder every day. But I also wake up as Tom, and there's more yet after that.  I know you want to pull the cover over your head some days. I do too. I know of whole families who won't discuss the fact of this or other diseases.  My family just stuck their proverbial heads in the sand until it was too late.  All we can do is be patient and reach out.  I don't have cooties.  I have my story, and I'll share, but tell me - where would you like to go today? and tomorrow?  I've got Oreos!

All ahead, Mr. Sulu.  Second Star to the right, straight on 'til morning.  Warp Speed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summertime and the living is...

Just absolutely ridiculous with this heat!

I know, I'm supposed to be Mr. Buddhist here and "it is what it is" and all that, but damn, Sam,  there's one thing that really can ruin an MS person's day (aside from falling, forgetting where your house is, and who is that person is smiling at you?) and that's heat.  In fact I'm writing this in the air-conditioned bedroom far from the kitchen where its only 86 degrees.  Now there are plenty of good places to get info on MS and heat like here.  While Julie in the article talks about how MS sufferers have to resign themselves to sitting in dark rooms typing on their laptops, hoping the air conditioner will keep cranking, and we sit reading books (honestly not that hard), we miss the bliss of the outside.

Back when my hair was short, or rather long, or really, back when I had hair I'd be outside in this weather playing baseball for hours, and later I'd watch other people play baseball, and then go home, grab a shower and a cold Coke and watch baseball on TV.  Now I can barely make it watching one game before I doze off.

But like I'm supposed to say, it is what it is.  Looking at the other world, there's been a few studies that may link weather and bipolar disorder, but nothing definitive, so you can Google that at your leisure.  What matters is that I can get crabby (or crabbier) in this heat.  I am fortunate that my wife is also not a big heat person.

The only reason we like summer, aside from baseball, is that the next season is autumn.

Relief will come again, I know.  Meantime, I can finish that Regis Philbin autobiography.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vacationing with the Disabled

Last Saturday was my wife's birthday and we celebrated by taking a three day cruise out of New York. I'm not sure if I should mention the name of the cruise line, but suffice it to say it has something to do with a Very Famous Mouse (VFM).  We have a place down at the Very Famous Mouse's establishment in Central Florida, and just enjoy the service we get.  When you've got MS and bipolar, the fact that the only decision you need to make is how much food you want to gorge yourself on (or could if you wanted to -we need to be as healthy as possible, and you can eat that way at VFM's) is not too bad.  All right, every few years, I have a turkey leg in the Magic Kingdom, OK?

Hey, I'm on vacation here.

On this particular trip, there was a large group of developmentally disabled folks and another group from Autism On The Seas which takes children with special needs and their families on cruises that include special staffing and activities. Commendations to both groups for taking their charges on a good time where they can be pampered, and see young people dressed up as cartoon characters, all friends of the VFM.

Except Donald.  And Daisy. And the security staff had a woeful night.  But more on that in a minute.

To keep ourselves on the BP/MS track, maybe its just me, but since I was diagnosed with both things, I seem to be able to see "one of us " in the everyday world.  I mean wheel chairs, walkers, and canes being used by folks our age and younger with that "certain walk" (it's the way we do the things we do), makes it easier to spot MS or one of its cousins.  But even the slower walk, stiff legs, and perpetual look of exhaustion and we can see us.  We just fall in tune with each other.  Now BP is different since it doesn't totally manifest itself externally if the person that has it is doing his or her best to control symptoms.  But you definitely know "one of us" when things aren't going well.

Like Saturday night on the ship.  And for this young man we saw walk by us midship, there were certainly some issues.  He was of Southeast Asian descent, was very skinny and wore older clothes and work boots.  He was carrying a toy baby in his arm when we first saw him, but we admitted that the ship had so many "cast members" he may have been a worker from below decks and he was just carrying the toy that some child had left behind.

Following dinner, the VFM's friends appear for pictures with the guests (and provide the guests the opportunity to pay big bucks for copies of said pictures).  We normally pay little attention (OK, we've already got our pictures) and went on to other things.  Except you could not ignore the man crying on the stairs.  His story was that he has very little money and spent most of it on the cruise so he could meet Donald Duck.  Since it was a three day trip, not everyone comes along, through it was nice to see Captain Hook and Smee along for the ride.   But no Donald. No Daisy.  Disappointing for most of us, especially we drugged up people.  But the man was crushed, and began wailing.  Since this might start a larger chorus of wailing to be supported by children, babies, and some of the more challenged guests, the big guys in the white "Love Boat" suits "escorted" the gentleman up the stairs and into a spare room, and was followed by the well coiffed VFM's staff. Calm was restored, but it was the gossip of the ship.

Now this is a VFM cruise, so you know there's a happy ending.  He was granted a special one hour meeting with Donald, and then Daisy.  Two hours with his favorites. Two hours.  I wonder if the man knows that Donald and Daisy do not talk.  How many pictures can you take?  And I am hoping Donald and Daisy's helpers were compensated accordingly.  We saw the gentleman leaving with his suitcase (shopping bag) and new friend Duffy the Bear.  The baby had been abandoned, apparently, which annoyed the social services worker still in me.  I mean, the baby can blink and wet, but all Duffy does is stare at you. All day. With those beady black eyes.

I have to the credit the folks on the VFM Cruise Lines for dealing with those of us who can't control their reactions, no matter what they or we try.  I still have my moments.  We've been going to That Place in Orlando that the VFM owns for over 25 years, and I swear, the first time we got our picture with him and even the most recent, there were tears in my eyes.  That's the Mouse.  My very hip nieces and nephew are rolling their eyes, I know.  Those 20 somethings don't get it.  But for us, for our age, that's the Mouse.  And when those 20 somethings have their kids and they want to go to a certain place in Orlando, and know a certain aunt and uncle have that place there.....they'll get it, and I know they'll be treated special as we were and those other folks were on the VFM cruise.

Turkey leg! In 4 months we're going to Orlando and it's turkey leg time!  I hope my wife doesn't read this part.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Now Doesn't This Dunk Your Hat In The Creek.....

OK, before I begin, take a look at this piece of information here.  That's fine, I'll wait.  HmmmmHmmmhmmmm.  Oh, good.  Now in the spirit of sharing, I'd like you to know that that guy is my psychiatrist. Or was. Or still might be. I'm not sure.

First, I freely admit that everyone is presumed innocent before proven guilty.  However, I always did wonder why there was a very large amount of turnover in the office.  Last few years have been tough for jobs, I am aware, so I did wonder why so many young ladies were in and out of the place, unless incompetence reigned.  But basically I paid my co-pay, sat in the chair, filled out the forms, and met with either the Doctor, or one of his associates.  Before the associates all disappeared.

Aside from possibly having a serial killer employed, and that's the reason they had to move to their new place because there were no spots left for the bodies to be buried, it did cause one to ponder.  I see a lot of physicians because of my dual diagnosis (everyone needs a hobby) and it's more than likely that at each visit the same face would greet me and discharge me.  Sometimes the face was attached to the same head.  There was consistency.

But not at this psychiatrist's office.

Anyway, moving on, you may have noticed in the article that this particular doctor was called on the professional carpet for having "prescribed excessive levels of medication, failed to properly monitor patients and failed to maintain accurate records." These were the alleged charges.

Read more:

Now, this Doctor and I have had no personal problems, as far as I can tell, in that we worked well on trying various medications to calm the bipolar, and adjust to the new challenges of brain lesions from MS. Working also with his associates, we had a good rapport, and the improvement could be visibly seen.  And for those who might have looked, this is where the 5 Keys to Mental Health came from (and No. 5 is on its way).  If something needed to be changed, it was changed immediately, or if something needed to be added, it was.  And I have benefitted and am grateful to the practice.

But still....should I go back there? Should I recommend the practice to others?

Everyone lives with their own delusions, even well trained doctors.  Within each person is a golden nugget, a true clean soul that shines.  It just gets covered with personal crap, and the jewel can not get its light through the mud and gunk of life.  The person needs to clean that jewel themselves.  And it takes time.  This doctor may have some time soon.

Last night I started looking in my health insurance guidebook for another psychiatrist, one that was, literally, closer to home.  I've been fortunate that I've had the same doctors pretty much for years, and haven't had to experience the constant shuffling many patients do.  In fact, my regular physician retired the same day I did.  But as far as I know, none of these folks had any of the issues that are being doled out to my psychiatrist.

So how to handle this? For those kind enough to actually read this blog, consider what would you do if you found out a professional individual who helps you balance your disorder/illness/life has not exactly been a shining light to others?  Forgive and continue? Forgive and move on? or just move on?  I am fortunate that I can.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday, Monday... can't trust that day.

I don't like Mondays, as Bob Geldolf and the Boomtown Rats said once long ago, and because it is so long ago, you might want to Google Bob and see what he did aside from a couple of really decent albums.  Oddly enough, the song noted above was written by Geldof in response to a school shooting in California in 1979.  If Bob had kept on with that line, he'd never have had to tour again.  In the 30 years since the release of I Don't Like Mondays, over 375 people have been killed in school shootings (per just in the last 20 years (so jack that figure up), and we haven't even talked about disgruntled former employees going back to work and shooting up the place.  In another  posting I spoke of having dreams where I go back to my old office and shoot up the place.  This is why I do not own a firearm or have any in my house.  I would never do anything, but when you're dealing with a bipolar mind battling MS, you do not take chances.  I grieve for the poor kids who died for nothing, and for the deluded minds that pulled and, right up to this weekend, are continuing to pull the triggers.

But back to Mondays, have you ever heard a happy song about Monday?

Monday, Monday by the Mamas and the Papas
I Don't Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats
Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters
Manic Monday by the Bangles

(Quick-Name that Tune....."Monday I've got Friday on my mind")

And you can add your own to the list, post Boomer generations.  All music for me stopped in 1985.  Don't laugh, it'll happen to you, too.  ("What's wrong with these kids today, Heather [nursing homes will be filled with women named Heather]?  They never had great music like Nicki Minaj or Nine Inch Nails.")

Mondays.  Starts with an M and ends with an S.  Now that is not a coincidence.  The reason I'm going on about this is that MS likes to play with you, and me, and it usually for me starts on Monday morning.  No matter how I slept, I will wake relatively pain free and walking almost "normal".  I'll be able to take walks, exercise, work in the yard, run errands.  My head is relatively clear, and I'll cruise through the day.  Until 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  It's as if the MS person in my head has MS, and completely forgets that it's supposed to throw the pain, confusion, dizziness, and spasms switches.  I must hear this little Homer go "d'oh!" and reach over to grab the switches before Mr. Burns shows up.

And Homer is definitely back at work bright and early on Tuesday.  You want to walk, stupid Flanders, all right you'll walk but it'll be like you had 14.7 cans of Duff Beer (mmmmm......beeeerrrrrr).  And just to make it just as much funs as Homie can make it, you'll have all kinds of trouble at the Doctors talking, and you'll be talking like you've got phasers.  He, he, he.

Uh, Homer, that's aphasia.

That's what I said a phaser. Fire when ready, Mr. Donut.  Make it so-so.

Wayland Smithers sighed.

No matter how the above Simpson turns out and whether a bit of aphasia has crept in or I'm using my unkempt thoughts to phaser my way through life, Tuesdays are tougher than Mondays.  You can probably tell because I'm writing this on Tuesday.  There's no scientific reasoning for what days hurt more, but I'd be glad to study up on it if the National Multiple Sclerosis Society wants to send a grant this way.

Right now I have a sudden urge for a beer, and a donut, or four.

(By the way, it's the Easybeats - Friday on My Mind [1966]).

Friday, June 8, 2012

Five Keys to Mental Health - Something to Believe In

belief system is a set of mutually supportive beliefs.  (from wikipedia).

Today (June 8) is the birthday of Mohammed, the great prophet of Islam.  Since you never know who you may offend with statements about religion, I'll just let that one stand, but this is an important day for a lot of folks out there.  Islam, like Christianity, Judaism, Bahai and others, all are belief systems.  They bring a form and structure to life, explaining as best it can the world around you, the whys and wherefores, and how you can impact others for good, as the belief system defines "good".

When looking at the world from a brain that is not quite centered, there is the definite challenge that answers being offered be beliefs are grasped a little too hard by those needing a structure to build on or replace one that is considered worthy of rejection.  Religion or at least faith has a place in the bipolar world, and even those of us also living in the MS world.  The spiritual side of any individual plays its part in that person's decisions, especially in choices of how to handle chronic illness.  Even if the person believes in nothing or Nothing, they still have to wake up with the one person they know best - the one in the mirror.  Belief can start there.

So let me say right here. Nobody, no Body, No Spirit, is punishing you by shoving your disease/suffering down your throat.  My MS comes, as far as I can figure, from my father who had it at the same time in his life.  I think he got it from his father, but what is fact is that Martin males in my line don't make it to 60, except for my brother who is hanging in at 67 (too old to be a baby boomer).  Genealogy is showing that the further back in history I go, the more the evidence I find.  And if you want to add in the bipolar, that comes from my mother's side.  I'm the only one blessed with the double whammy, as far as I know.

I do not blame God in however you perceive Him/Her/It/Them for what is happening to me.  My response is All Right, I can not cure these problems in a hospital, they will remain with me for all the days of my life.  I can take pills, exercise, talk to professionals, and do what is necessary. Change diet? I'll do the best I can.  Remove stress? Done, I guess, since my job is gone.   But how much hurt, how much of the pain every human being suffers, which when its floating around inside your soul/mind is cause of a lot of the stress.  It's that pain within that builds the steel cage of suffering where you and your memories fight it out (and are cheered on by the monsters of mental delusions).  

And when you're lying on the floor of the cage, battered by every screw up and stupid thing you've ever done, because nobody wants to hear about how nice you were to that lady in Starbucks yesterday, You lie breathing and then the voice comes.  "Ready, now?"

Your choice.  I recommend "Yes".

I was raised by a Catholic father and Presbyterian mother, but religion played little role in my life, to the point where I asked why did we note Easter and Christmas if this was not a faith in the family.  My Dad never spoke of it as he just listened to my mother's berating of the Catholic faith if that made her happy.  Personally I find Catholic churches beautiful and the history of the litany going back so far to the saints and founders bringing a consistency.  Look, I know there's all kinds of problems within the Catholic World, and all faiths, but I would merely refer anyone to the actual words, as far as we know, of the Founder.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  And look in other faiths as well.  It's just the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

I've noted elsewhere that I study Buddhism, but I'm not advocating that for anyone, except that while there is no formal "God" in Buddhism - the answer to your dilemmas are to remove the delusions within you - it does offer a rational alternative, a system that builds up within so you can look out and see others.  You can reach out to another, and should the person respond, help make each other stronger, and more alive.

I will caution that there is Buddhism the faith, and Buddhism the philosophy.  The Faith involves Monks, Nuns (both of who are some of the sweetest people ever) and acknowledging of emanations of Buddha.  Meditation and prayer in group and by yourself can be guided by the Monks and Nuns, but also just with CD or toss the instructions on your iPod.  There are as many versions of Buddhism as there are clouds on a stormy day, and as intertwined.  Each has something to offer.

What Buddhism offered me was the structure I needed at the time I needed it.  Six years later, I'm ready to move on.  My brain , because of MS and bipolar, makes meditating difficult (new and improved information coming on beta and gamma waves).  Buddha so long ago said "take what works for you, try it and see."  Thanks, Lord Buddha, so I shall.

But I'm not leaving Buddha behind.  As you can see.  The area will improve, but I see him each day, just sitting there.  You can see four paths, which represent the Four Noble Truths.  Eventually, there will be a larger pathway that will represent the Noble Eightfold Path.  These are basic buddhist teachings, but I'll leave them to the curious to further explore.

We come back to the beginning of this entry, the need for something to believe in.  Buddhism has as its basis neuroscience, an idea of reworking the brain for a more positive feeling within it.  Meditation has its place, and it functions in other faiths as well.  So you can believe in science and a faith within.  The Dalai Lama once said that if science proves Buddhism incorrect, Buddhism must change.  Science and faith haven't always gotten on so well, and are still arguing today.  Both are needed for a better understanding of "why am I here, anyway?"

But if you find that looking and talking to statues, or the darkness, or the light makes you feel odd, then look within.   You can find the structure that you need to build not a cage of mental anguish, but begin to build a home where you can thrive.  If it takes pills and shrinks to do that, fine.  I do it.  I exercise, and change my diet, and write blogs that people tell me they read.  I go for refuge to Buddha, dharma, and sangha (that's Buddha himself, dharma is his teachings, and sangha are fellow students of the dharma).  Anywhere is a foundation waiting for you to build on, Christian, Jewish, Islam, Ba'hai, there is power in each if you come with an open mind and heart.  Listen to to the teachers. Question what you must. And listen again.  Maybe it won't work for you. But understand there is a Greater Something that ties all life together.  That's all they're saying. And you right now are as important a part of it anyone. 

Once you begin to believe in yourself, either through faith in Something Greater, or just in "Yay, me!", you are on your way.  You'll probably slip and fall in the mud, but as W.H. Auden said "Stagger onward rejoicing."
(from Atlantis)

Lots of work left, but it can be accomplished.

When we return for the last of these, looking forward should be easy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just crappy, thanks. You?

A Monday morning full of clouds and rain.  MSers realize that summer is coming, and that means the Dog Days of June, July, August, and September (we don't discriminate).  Heat and MS do not mix well.

The destruction of myelin, the protective sheath which surrounds and protects nerve fibres causes the formation of plaques on the nerves which slow nerve impulses. A build up of heat slows down nerve transmission causing symptoms to worsen.
Many people with MS experience a temporary worsening of their symptoms when the weather is very hot or humid or they’re running a fever, sunbathe, get overheated from exercise, or take very hot showers or baths.
                                                                                                                  - Heat Intolerance
So adding in the news from the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Center shown here, there's caution that should not be thrown to the wind, in fact should be kept in a back pocket.  Since I didn't have any pockets, cautioned was swept away either by raking, or digging in my yard, or chopped up by the lawn mower and an allergic infection has settled very comfortably in my lungs.  Last week was quite hot and being the he-man type (I can work in a yard for two hours straight, or I could in 2005 and I'm still standing up so I must still be good, right?) I breathed in all kinds of little nasties, and they've decided to  add to the misery by setting up housekeeping.
I've got my cardio doctor this week, and I'll rest and relax as much as possible.  The next in our series on good Mental Health is Something to Believe In.  I'll let you know why that stopped for me.
How are you feeling today, anyway?