Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Lately I'm struggling with the why's in life and I think I know what's to blame. For the better part of 2 months now my daughter has been incessantly singing the same song...no, one line from the same song! Over and over and over again I've been hearing "Why do I do the things I do?.." She's strung together an odd series of notes and sings these words in strange octaves from morning till night. So yeah, it got me thinking, why do I do the things I do? Why do I spend so much time working out, what's the point?

Yes I've dipped my toe into the depression pool lately, both out of frustration and self pity. In my defense it's not my fault. MS and depression go hand in hand. It's kind of like the whole chicken and egg debate, am I depressed because I have MS (scared of my symptoms progressing and shots 3x a week) or is MS making me depressed (like the chemicals in my body being all funky). Really though, why do I go to the gym?

Ok fine (eye roll)... I do know the answer to that ‘why.’ I know I’m a healthier person after I hear my cycle teacher say that with every pedal revolution and sweat bead I am stronger. I know that most of the classes are packed full of others who want to be healthier and stronger too, and I know if I get my behind to the gym it will be encouraging to spend an hour beside people who want the same things I do. It is absolutely impossible to feel alone in a fitness class and it is equally as impossible not to be energized by a teacher who could easily double as a motivational speaker! It’s not just the teacher that helps me to move though, the music, even the unlikely tunes help to get my muscles working.

Similar to my daughter, I love music but can't carry a tune if it jumped in my arms. Music and exercise are awesome together, and in my little world MS has it's own playlist. I’m not crazy, I realize MS is not a person but at times it is helpful to personify this cheating, lying, deceitful disease and tunes are my love songs to it. Not only jams from this generation apply though 80s rock does the trick too. Recently I heard rocker, Bret Michaels make a profound statement in reference to his Diabetes. He said, "When you have a disease you either do something or don't," deep... But ya know what, his words inspired me to write this particular blog today and reminded me that I already know the answer to why. Working out has millions of benefits (next blog I’ll list them all???) Anyway, well said Mr. Michaels!

Friday, May 13, 2011

I've been busy lately (and not just with caking) For the last month or so I've been fighting a tough mental battle wherein the MS part of my ever shrinking brain makes me feel defeated and weak.
The MS doubt I battle reminds me that I am unable to do things due to lack of energy or pain and it fools me into feeling like I'm disapointing people and being lazy. When I start listening to Captain MS I forget reality and instead of praising myself for listening to my limits and avoiding a potential exaserbation, I wollow. Even though I know I continue to get stronger by using my muscles and keeping my brain engaged in physical movement, I've been focusing on the things this disease keeps me from doing.

Yes, the logical part of me knows I am strong, the logical part actually listens to my amazing instructors at LIFETIME FITNESS who cheer on, and motivate each pedel stroke or bicep curl. When they speak to the class I'm a part of, as a team of athletes, I am overcome with a sense of joy and sweaty accomplishment. I am amazed that I can hold my own with those around me and claim that title! Sometimes, when I let myself truly watch the inspiring cycle videos of people who laugh at obsticals, I can see myself in them. When I notice the gigantic number of calories my heart rate monitor reports me losing, I am all filled up with darn near amazement! It proves to me that this broken little body can still move if I ask it to. That is if I carefully choose my exercises and prepare ways to combat my weaknesses, like with ice in a water bottle to maintain maximum coolness and wearing properly ventilated clothing. Then I'm ok and can take part in more things. But admitting that a hot day will increase the weakness in my legs and add to my unbalance thus making me say no to things like a field trip outside in May or an imromptu walk to school. That's the reality Captain MS wants to focus on....thus my battle.

These low feelings all started when I chose not to do the annual MS Walk, the big spring fundraiser from our local chapter. I usually walk and my generous friends and family usually donate lots of money towards finding a cure. Usually, I get excited for the walking challenge by setting distance goals for myself and all the money given by those who love me moves me to tears and inspires me. Since the walk always falls around the time of my MSaversary it's a very emotional time of reflection. This year I just didn't want any part of that. I pouted and wussed out not wanting to put forth the effort and visit all the emotions on an early (possibly cold) Saturday morning. I chose to just donate and thank those who did walk for the cause. The logical part of me knows that's ok. That sometimes, some things are too much for whatever reason and that others will step up if I'm not able. Except I know showing apathy towards change opened the door for MS doubt to sneak in and take over. I began focusing on the increasing obsticals spring and summer pose. I then looked at all I can't do instead of focusing on the strength this fundraiser shows me. Because I let the door open wide enough for doubtful seeds to be planted I got wrapped up in all that instead of what other walkers were able to do. Like a dear friend, who raised many dollars using her self proclaimed big mouth to tell her story. But recently I hopened my eyes to her efforts and was reminded of my desire to share with others the strength God has blessed me with.

I am able to use these words on this platform, I hope to inspire others thru my experiences and tips. As trite as it may sound when I stop and think about all I have dispite MS I realize my blessings thru MS. By sharing my story and struggles I hope to encourage everyone to move in some way. I'm here to remind myself and others that it's better, way of living. Even when it's hard, yes you can, yes I can! *no political affiliation intended*

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Everyone is doing it...

Thankfully I didn't die from my tooth removal surgery! It did knock me on my butt more than just a little and it sucked (duh). No relapse to report, but I believe the lack of exercise and the increase in apathy towards movement resulted in increased leg pain and worsening of secondary symptoms for a while. I haven't blogged lately due to well, life. I feel like changes in my schedule and over all life plans being shuffled around have kind of sucked the wind out of my sails. That was until a few weeks ago that is. That's when things started popping up to reignite my push to move.

First, I saw a commercial on tv for myrafitkit.com. The add laid out exactly the things I write about here! It said specifically that working out leads to increased mobility and less pain for Rhuemetoid arthritis patients in particular. This fit kit is an individual workout that factors in the strengths, weaknesses and goals of each individual person. I honestly didn't spend too much time on the website but the commercial laid it out pretty clearly. It was awesome to hear on national tv how exercise is beneficial to another disease!

That was cool and inspiring enough but then the next day I received the winter edition of my MS news magazine, Momentum, from the National MS Society. Inside I found a Mobility Alert article discussing strength training, and the questions surrounding it. Inside the article I found a study from the University of Florida that explained low intensity workouts with standard gym equipment improved muscle strength and reduced overall fatigue and disability in just eight weeks.The article went on to explain different types of exercises and offered some guidelines to follow such as how important it is respect your fatigue and discuss everything with your Doctor.

Nice timing right!? Ok but then shortly thereafter my mother jumped on the fitness bandwagon! My 54 year old mother suffers from osteoporosis and has a lot of physical limitations, but she truly has the desire to take advantage of all the health benefits I keep telling her about. She's interested to find out how exercise strengthens bones and provides more energy. For her birthday this year I bought her a stability ball and put together a simple routine with exercises targeting all the major muscle groups. She did well in our little 'personal training' session and the next day was so excited about her new goals that she even came with me to a cycle class! Cycle classes at Lifetime Fitness are among my top 10 favorite things... in the world. Here, I am able to pedal at the pace my body needs that day while listening (and reading on the screen) the instructor telling the class buckets of inspiring things such as; "nothing works unless you do," and "no one cares about the number of times you fall- they care about the number of times you get up". I can get a hold of many, many more phrases, and yes when the sweat is dripping into my eyeballs and I just want to quit those things keep me going. I was so proud of my mom that day and I was left feeling truly validated for all the time I spend raving about exercise!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The proof is in the (sugar free) pudding

The way I see it, it's September and school's back in session so that's why I'm about to be given a test. One of those big ones... I feel like I'm taking the SAT for MS on Tuesday. I'm about to put my body through stress and pain by having oral surgery. I'm going to take away nutrition and proper movement for a while, pump myself body full of new narcotics and see how well this little body performs.Yup I'm f-hu-r-e-e-e-k-e-d out! I've spent the last 5 years being so careful not to anger my body too much. No, I have not stopped living but I've said no to many things including both big life changes (like a job on my feet and having more children) to tiny daily things (like going to an outdoor festival in July.). I've kept a pretty tight reign on my stress level and my heat tollerence and I truly believe my constistancy and routines are as much of a factor in staying healthy as my Rebif injections are!

It's been a nice long summer wherein I squeezed a couple vacations, (which simply took extra planning and a roof rack for my Gazelle) visited multiple water parks (where I was always careful to stay in cool water when I was hot) and had many trips to the gym. My inexpensive Lifetime Fitness membership more than paid for itself each month! Especially after I decided to turn my "just good enough" workouts into "I bet I can lift more and go longer" ones. I am stronger now than I ever before and I enjoy fooling people into believing I am just like any other gym junkie. I'm not. I work out for a purpose that's bigger than becoming smaller.

So the positive bone in my body says I've made myself strong enough to keep an exaserbation at bay no matter the trauma I'm about to put it through...it just sucks that the 'bright side of things' bone is in my pinky toe. Positive I am not, strong as hell I am (yeah that pinky toe is crazy strong!) I'm scared to death at what MS is capable of. After all it was the trauma of labor and child birth that spun me into the relapse that gave me weakness on my right side and a slight tremor. For years prior to that I was blissfully unaware that the oddities I'd felt for years were byproduct of MS. To calm my fears, a few of my loved ones have come up with creative analogies such as, dental surgery is simply like being in a car wreck while driving a Hummer but giving birth is like being blind sided by a semi. Ooooo can't wait! No really, that does make sense to me, so I should be fine right?!

Friday, March 26, 2010


My husband is awesome. He often spoils me with wonderful gifts and truly makes spending time together a priority. Recently, he out did himself! This winter when snow was falling by the foot and the stress of Christmas was upon us, he booked us on a warm, relaxing seven day cruise! Since this is our fourth cruise together we kind of consider ourselves cruise veterans and pretty much know what to expect. I expect a lot of relaxing, sleeping, drinking, eating...and fighting crowds.

I hate crowds. Yeah, yeah everyone hates crowds but for me (and I'm sure many other MSers) crowds actually cause me pain. I can't stand taking little tiny steps and walking at a slow pace while trying not to step on anyone. Basically I have walking 'road rage!' When I take those short little steps my balance is challenged and the muscles in my legs have to remain tight while I'm walking on my tip toes. I physically can not follow slow walkers and as rude as it may look I need to quickly zoom past. Yeah, if I was in my car I guess I'd be all up on the person's bumper in front of me, but not shaking my fists or honking the horn or anything! I mean I'm not walking so fast as to break a sweat or elevate my heart rate, but when I walk at my own pace I am able to extend my legs and step with my whole foot. The down side is since I'm walking at such a quick pace it does take a lot of energy so I do have to stop for breaks every once in a while, but who would think the lady with MS would be leading the pack?

See, that's just the thing, people with MS are usually in pain. Since something in their body is hurting or numb the thought of walking, or doing anything quickly is daunting. True, it's safer to stay with the pack or even behind it but in my experience moving quickly (at my own pace) is always the best option.

So as annoying as it will be to get stuck walking behind the other 2,240 (or so) passengers I'm sure 'Vacation Megan' won't mind too much, I'll just keep up my dodging and weaving... with a margarita in hand of course.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Well, four days ago I was watching my girls dig in the sand at the park and three days ago I felt like I was trapped in a snow globe so… it must be spring in Nebraska! The calendar says so at least, so when I saw my tulips coming up I thought I could (probably) pack away my YakTrax. These little grippers saved my hiney this year time and time again.

It was an icier winter than most, which petrified me. I, like most MS patients, fall A LOT. I stumble often and am very aware that my kryptonite is found under my feet. Having to walk across things like uneven ground or thicker than average carpet are found on my list of scary situations, but ice and snow definitely top that list. So after spending most of December repeatedly slipping, falling… and complaining, my dear mother in law took pity on me and bought me these funny looking little shoe thingys for Christmas. Of all the gifts she’s given me (which are a lot, she’s very generous,) these are the best. Thanks to her I spent January free of falls (on the ice at least) and was finally able to walk to the mailbox without fear.

YakTrax are essentially tire chains for your shoes. The down side to these little gems is that they aren’t very cute (but neither is falling.) The up side is they are crazy practical, light weight and easy to use. They slip on and off any shoe and provide extra stability and confidence on ice and snow. These can be purchased at any sporting goods store for about $20.00 or here. No, I’m not a salesperson for these little grippers, I just know I will never spend another icy winter without ‘em. I mean I am a Nebraskan so I’m not planning on packing them too far back in my closet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


So I felt that it was rather appropriate to share this blog about my vacation on Halloween (seeing that it was only slightly less horrific than a Wes Craven thriller!)

In the last four years I’ve come to accept the fact that Captain MS and his pilot Rebif always steer the ship and I’m usually not even asked where I want to go.. but not this time! On this vacation I decided to be more in charge of my surroundings and activities to better suit my energy level and my fantastic symptoms. So my family decided to rent and RV and drive to the Black Hills. No long airplane rides and waiting in theme park lines for us!

Because it is absolutely essential for me to fit my workouts in throughout the day, our thought was that I could bring my trusty Gazelle, take potty breaks as often needed, and stretch my legs as we made progress on our journey. Prior to the trip, we spent many hours researching and planning activities that would be MS friendly (such as making sure flat walking trails were available so unstable, rocky ground wouldn’t be an issue.) Seeing our hard work pay off would have been lovely but unfortunately, we never made it that far.

No, instead of swimming at Evan’s Plunge or buying priceless souvenirs at Wall Drug, we found ourselves yanking burs off our puppy with needle nosed pliers, cleaning up a crushed can of ravioli, and scrubbing our daughter’s vomit off the carpet. Since stress results in excruciating leg pain for me, I was extremely thankful for all the room I had to move around (avoiding the smelly spills on the floor of course.) Due to the outrageously awful scent in the RV, our five day trip that we had been looking so forward to was turned into a day and a half long adventure.

I’m grateful to know that options do exist for making travel a little more comfortable with MS. And even though very little went according to plan, it makes for a good story!