Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays

Since the computer at home is done and I am off of work for the next 9 days, I wanted to wish everyone a great holiday.

Have a very blessed 
and a 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fear is a driving force

I heard really sad news today and it was a blow to the positive swing I have been on (don't worry I will not stay here long).

I had mentioned once before that my best friend's mom had MS.  Although she never had huge physical symptoms (gait issues, numbing, etc) she had noticed lately that she was definitely having cognitive issues (having issues speaking, remembering basic things).  Well today after an MRI, she received the diagnosis of beginning Alzheimer disease (basically the cause was MS).  In a year's time she has doubled the lesions on her brain and although she seems fine physically, she is now officially in a progressive form of the disease. I feel sad that I was not more caring and aware of this "hidden disease".  Now, after 14 years of friendship with her daughter, I am able to understand how scary this all is, but is it too late?  I cried talking to my BF as she deals with the fact that her mother may at some point forget who she is, who her granddaughter is, who SHE is.  What kind of life is that, not one that I want to sign up for.

MS is known as the "invisible" disease as it is not obvious by looking at someone that they have it.  Most people do not have clue how MS affects a person (me either, really).  Even newly diagnosed, I find myself stumbling to explain how I feel most times and it is easier to not mention when things pop up as to not come across as complaining (people tire of hearing all the things that are wrong with you-they have their own problems).  This is a tough place to be in; you don't feel well (tired, vertigo, numbing, pain shooting through the legs, cognitive issues, etc) and you don't want to be that person who is always whining.  I also tire of people thinking they know what is best for me - I have been exhausted for months and someone tells me I should get more sleep (cause that will fix EVERYTHING).

NO, I am the one dealing with this, do not tell me how to be!

Anyway, I just want to say that MS is scary and I fear what is to come (daily).  It is the force behind all the changes that I am making in my life, as I try to take control of something that is really uncontrollable (and that is scary in itself).  I know that life is unfair, I get that, I just don't always have to like it.

I leave you with a video for World MS Day (this year May 26) which made me cry.  This is now my life and sometimes that is hard to take.

Monday, December 21, 2009

CSA s and More

Soon I will be embarking on my "lifestyle change"(trying not to call it a diet).  I was concerned that this new venture would be difficult, especially in the times that I am running 40 mi a week.  It is hard to balance full time work, exercise and scratch cooking 3x day/7 days of the week.  Although I am not confident in it all yet, I am learning more each day.

In fact I applied (these places are run out of shares) for a Community Supported Agriculture Farm (CSA) in which I pay $500 for 20 weeks of veggies, fruits, herbs and flowers.  I chose Lavender Lane BioDynamic Farm based on the fact that they choose to grow their stuff Biodynamically.

Here is a quick definition for those of you that do not know what that means (from
Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, with an emphasis toward balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, and animals as a closed, self-nourishing system. Regarded by some proponents as the first modern ecological farming system, biodynamic farming includes organic agriculture's emphasis on manures and composts and exclusion of the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include the use of fermented herbal and mineral preparations as compost additives and field sprays and the use of an astronomical calendar to determine times of planting and harvesting.
Anyway, it is good stuff and I am excited to support local farmers who support  the local environment.  After talking with farmer John (as he is known), this CSA also provides recipes for ideas on how to use stuff like kholrhabi and daikon (for the non-cooker like me).

I will be picking a date soon to start my lifestyle changes; I am looking at the end of January, but I need to write it down so that I stick to it (I am looking at it similar to my training plans).  Until then, I will be fatting myself up.

On another note, I did my longest hike yet since all of this "stuff" started - 7 mi.  Felt good, energy felt good, and it was pretty on the trails (snow, yay!).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Eating Tips

Since I am going gluten, dairy and legume free starting at the end of January, I have decided to make up for it this month  To be funny here are some "Christmas Eating Tips" that I am currently living by.

  1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.
  2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!
  3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
  4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
  5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
  6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
  7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.
  8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
  9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
  10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And the times they are a changin'

Updated the look of my blog today, it was about time.  Had fun making the header and am thinking I could change that more often now that I know how.

The picture of me is from our August two week hiking trip to New Hampshire this year.  I am hiking down the Tuckerman's Ravine trail off of Mt. Washington. 

For me mountains are a metaphor for my life. 

  1. An ascent that at first looks smooth turns out to have unseen dips and ridges and valleys.
  2. The higher you climb, the thicker the weeds, the harder it is to breathe.
  3. You need a clear vision of where you're going if you want to avoid getting disoriented by the clouds that roll in and block your view.
  4. You have to be determined to make it to the top. Otherwise every slip, stumble, and fall will give you an excuse to turn around and head home.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Our computer has died; it has been a long slow drawn out death. For weeks it has made horrid sounds as it tried to keep going, but alas it's end has come. Basically that means that I am updating these blogs at work-shhh.

I have been doing really well lately; the runs are starting, albeit slowly (I am up to 2 mi-whohoo). A far cry from my marathon training a long two months ago. I ran Saturday with the plans to run Sunday but the rain and cold and just general fatigue kept me lazy yesterday. My plans are to get to the NYE 5K (it is tradition) and then to work up to the Fool's 25K trail run (I really liked this on last year). Depending on how that training goes, I might sign up for the Rev3 Half Ironman, but I want to play it by ear. Originally that was going to be my plan, but hey life changes and I am on for the ride.

I am getting excited about the holidays, not only do I have 9 days off in a row but I am getting to spend (and get) some real holiday love with the family. I think this holiday (and everyone after this) will be just that much more wonderful because I am not taking anything for granted now. I am hoping for a white Christmas (enter song here), so that I can do some of this (oh how I love snow).
Happy Holidays to everyone!

Monday, December 7, 2009

There were signs

My neurologist wanted me to write down anything that might have been a sign & symptom of MS.

Looking back there have been quite a few signs, it is funny that it all seems so apparent now, but I easily wrote them off when they occurred. I can see why MS is so hard to diagnosis, because all of these things could be something else and not obviously a chronic disease.

1) My first sign was IBS. Now this is something a lot of people get "diagnosed" with, but could be a sign of MS, food intolerance, other auto-immune diseases, etc. My doctor told me that 1 in 4 women are diagnosed with this (so do not worry, it isn't always a sign)
2) The year following my marriage (2004 - 2005) I was having these vertigo spells. If I moved my head at all I would feel dizzy and faint. I went to the doctors and she thought I was having these issues because my blood pressure was so low (60/90 at the time). So I was told to take in more salt and after around 7-8 months it went away.
3) Fast forward 3 years and I was training for my first AK marathon (this was 2008). I had done my 20 mi run on a really HOT day and afterwards my skin on my entire right side (from head to toe) went numb. I even posted something on my tri club forums to see if anyone else had this happen and people told me to go to the docs. I did, and all he said was that I had a pinched nerve in my shoulder and I received some PT exercises for my neck and back. After a couple of months I got all feeling back. My neuro gave me a vibration test (see below) and I passed with flying colors.

4) Then two months ago in Oct is when the migraine followed by optic neuritis occurred. Of course I was unable to ignore the fact that I lost vision in my left eye and I was forced to really confront what was happening to me.
5) Other signs
  • Fatigue - I am always tired and never feel like I get enough rest, this has been happening for years and mainly responsible for the 4-5 cups of tea and coffee I drank a day.

  • Heat Intolerance - I get zapped if there is any running in the sun or heat; in fact my husband makes fun of me because I am sweaty and red before we even begin to run

  • Falling/Stumbling - I am always falling (running, hiking, walking). My trail-running partner last year was always commenting about how I am always falling. Of course I have considered myself clumsy since a little kid.

  • Memory - this is my most annoying sign. For awhile now I have had trouble recalling words, memories, names, etc. I just thought it was typical, but now, not so much. Nothing like having beginning Alzheimer's at the age of 28.

  • Tight Muscles - I have had chronic tight calf muscles. At first I chalked it up to running, but I have not been running much this past month and they hurt every morning.

  • Shaking - I always joked that I could not be a surgeon, now I know why my hands shake so much. They just got worse after this last attack too.
So this is just the beginning of signs, it will be interesting to see what I "pick-up" along the way.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I ran

I was determined to run last night. I got home at 5:30, changed quickly, grabbed the dog and ran. I ran a whole mile and half. I was going to limit myself to 1 mi with a .5 mi warm up and cool down, but it was chilly and I only made it a 1/4 mi before I wanted to move my legs. I felt aerobically really good (I am glad I am not completely at square one).

It was a pretty awesome night, the clouds were spooky behind the almost full moon. It was brisk and I enjoyed that shock to the system. I felt good to be alive. I made it home and celebrated in my own way. I was pretty tired after it, but my body had been in an almost vegetative state for a month. I will try running again on Wed, I hope I feel good.