Thursday, April 19, 2012

Post 49 - Friends & Family: The Best Medicine

I usually fill these pages with information about how I try to cope with the symptoms of MSA and the various ways I deal with day-to-day challenges. This post will be somewhat different because I recently underwent an experience that proved to have some unique results.

I guess I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately because of the all-around deterioration in my condition. Life in a wheelchair, difficulty having oneself understood, and being dependent on others for just about everything, can really “bum you out.” Now add to that the fact that another birthday (my 68th) had come was making me feel a little depressed.

Fran must have sensed my change in mood because, along with everything she has taken on, she planned a surprise birthday party for me. Well, not really a surprise. To answer my questions about why all the party goods and extra foodstuffs were suddenly appearing in our pantry, she told me a few neighbors and friends were going to help me celebrate – nothing special. Imagine my surprise when I was wheeled into our clubhouse to find 35 friends and relatives – some of whom I haven’t seen for years.

What a sure way to shed the blues! I spent most of the evening talking with everyone in attendance – some of whom travelled from as far away as New York. I noticed as the night went on that my voice became stronger and easier to understand. I was even able to eat the delicious paella without the usual throat constriction.

So what did I learn? First, Fran can sure throw a party, especially one that is therapeutic, as well. Next, the Fenoy/Baldwin families can sure make outstanding paella, along with a bunch of tasty appetizers. Then, who knew our guests would make so many incredible desserts. Nobody left this party hungry! Lastly, many thanks go to Fran and everyone who shared this wonderful evening either by attending or by sending one of the many birthday cards or electronic greetings.

I should also say that the days of feeling sorry for myself are over. How can I feel down when I realize that so many wonderful friends and relatives are always there to lend support?

As I told everyone that night, when I blew out my candle, “This was my best birthday ever. What say we do it again next year?”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Post 48 - "No Sweat"

Usually, it’s a good thing to hear someone use the term, “no sweat” because it means that their task has turned out to be easier than expected or not so hard after all - a real ”piece of cake.”
Unfortunately, the phrase “no sweat” has a far different connotation to most MSA sufferers – a fact that I was vividly reminded of on Saturday, March 31.

Let me make it perfectly clear – I’m a big baseball fan - so when our condo community announced that they had tickets available for a Tampa Bay Rays – Boston Red Sox Spring Training game nearby in Port Charlotte, I was quick to sign up for tickets for me and Fran (who, like me, has become a real Rays fan) and two friends. Like much of this winter, yesterday’s weather turned out to be mostly sunny and warm. Our seats, which included lunch, turned out to be in full sun in the right field picnic area.

After spending most the afternoon in the full sun, we left the game after about 7 innings, dropped off our two friends and drove home. Once there, Fran remarked how red I was and then, when she got close to me, how my whole body was radiating heat. Like most MSA’ers, my internal thermostat is out of whack so I can’t tell if I’m overheating; plus – I don’t sweat like everyone else. However, by now I was starting to feel the heat myself and was concerned if I didn’t cool down, I was headed toward some form of heat stroke. So into a cool shower I went for about ten minutes. During that time I could feel myself rejuvenating and returning to my type of normal.

Another MSA lesson learned – almost the hard way. Always beware of prolonged exposure to heat. Just because there’s no sweat dripping down your forehead, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to take all precautions. In fact, no matter where someone with MSA may live - be alert to any temperature extreme. BTW, the Rays and Sox played to a 7-7 tie.