I bid you adieu, MS! Are you listening?!?

I’m having an exacerbation…

Photo: Edie Beale

It started a week or two ago, I think.  This is the first flare-up I’ve had in years.  It feels a bit foreign to me since I’ve been flare-up “free” for such a long time.  On a positive note, this seems to be a minor attack – weird numbness, in weird places – nerve pain across my shoulders – bladder games – emotional swings for no reason.  AND, as usual, all are invisible symptoms which are frustrating as HELL to explain to family and others.  Based on facial expressions and comments, I’m not sure who’s the more frustrated…me or them?  Hmm, this behavior is such an energy buster…something I must let go of and fast!  I’ll start my steroid “dose-pack” this week.  My attitude is actually positive regarding the Methylprednisolone, as my sinuses will thank me for it too…kill two birds with one stone? I hope.

I’m slowly trying to get back into blogging these days, but it’s been difficult to find the energy.  In fact, I’m missing out on a #bloggab chat on twitter right now because I felt compelled to write this little entry.  I think I made the right choice – I needed this writing “therapy” session!

I’ve somewhat pinpointed the trigger responsible for this latest exacerbation.  It all points back to stress, and too much of it lately.  Stress is my worst enemy.  To me, it’s a “disease” all in it’s own which can intensify problems of the always present cog fog and fatigue issues I possess.  When I was first diagnosed with MS in 2001, researchers and doctors continued to debunk the connection of stress and exacerbations or how it affects those of us with MS.  Thankfully, opinions have now changed about this via continuous study, and most importantly, MS patients began to speak up – LOUDLY!  Stress means different things to different people.  Stress affects us in different ways too.  It can temporarily intensify existing symptoms, or it can cause a full blown MS attack.  I have learned some wonderful tools to help me cope over the years, but stress still happens – because, life happens.  I’m now trying to “practice what I preach” to others when stress, set-backs and emotional issues take hold.  I must remind myself to be kinder to ME – to rest – to let go of guilty thoughts, things that I “shoulda, coulda, woulda” done to possibly prevent this set-back – remind myself that I’m human, and repeat a reassuring mantra… “this too shall pass”.

MS is different for us all.  MS is unpredictable and somewhat uncontrollable in it’s nature – which makes it difficult to “manage”.  Stress can be managed…sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it’s possible. Therefore, as I put my turbulent winter/spring of 2014 behind me, I will breathe.  I will focus on managing the things in life that I have control over and am CAPABLE of managing.  For the remainder of this year and years to come, I will embark on realistic journeys…calm and serene, infused with healing thoughts of wellness and joy.

In conclusion, I submit this request to my MS pals and to others who know me:  
If you catch me falling, ignoring my own written words and promises, remind me.  Call me out, will you?


Author: Mary

ABOUT MARY ~ I am a "late-blooming" writer from Texas who specializes in creative writing/poetry. I have a background in music, the performing arts, and enjoyed 14 years in sales/marketing & as a special events planner in the private club industry. I am a 1990 graduate from The University of North Texas who started off as a music major (voice), but I wasn't "feeling" it was the right fit. So, I took a break, changed directions & graduated with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Management. I was an athletic, healthy young woman who also displayed an unfortunate pattern in the men I chose in life (life lessons indeed!). After a brief marriage in the early 1990's, I decided to focus on my career, yet 5 years later I met hubby #2. So, with more maturity & high hopes for success, I married again & became a full time stepmother of two. Along with several rewarding events & fond memories came more challenges, yet I maintained a fun, successful career in the food and beverage industry until 2001. Life...as I knew it changed when I received the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Looking back, I must have been in denial or a state of confused shock as to how dramatically my life would actually change. I attempted to work a few more years after diagnosis, but I was becoming more unpredictable, forgetful, & lost - my job performance was never quite right anymore. You see, this disease affects everyone different. I went through relapses & other issues, but my mobility was intact - then. Unless you REALLY know me, I was then & continue to be labeled an "invisible symptom" case. My MS enjoys messing with my brain, & many other body functions. Anxiety, mood changes, nerve pain, heat & fatigue are debilitating - quite an uphill battle especially when stress is involved. A few more "in denial" years went by & I dealt with this vile invasion of my "internal room-mate". My husband couldn't understand, nor could he handle my ever increasing health issues - he hated every part of it (I don't really blame him for that). But, he avoided being around me when I was suffering - he {didn't sign on for this & I sure didn't look sick}. He was embarrassed as to how my MS affected his lifestyle. So, divorce and other challenges came into play in 2009. Those were painful, rough days. I know now I was suffering from a nervous breakdown. Not yet had I thought to seek the help of a professional therapist to help me cope or to help purge the noisy voices & chaos inside my head, so I began to purge through writing. WRITING saved me! I attempted to compose little songs & dove into playing piano again - I even taught myself a little acoustic guitar & it felt good...soothing. I had found a form of therapy which enabled me to breathe again; a healing tool that didn't require a prescription. This journey to reinvent myself actually seemed plausible via my artsy background & new creative outlets. I've become a student again & the benefits of turning off our "auto pilot switch" & instead focusing on learning new, foreign things & activities is priceless. This "rewiring" of the brain is called Neuroplasticity. Writing (primarily poetry) & music has filled me with a POWERFUL passion, purpose, & endless possibility. This may sound odd, but I'm grateful for the tough times! There's this gift called "resilience" - my MS & other life struggles have gifted this to me. A gift which forced me to find "me" & to focus on the important things in life...to laugh, live selflessly with compassion & passion. Find me on: 🔸Twitter: @pettigrew66, @MSpals, @MSpalsPoets 🔸Facebook: MaryPettigrew48 🔸LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/mary-pettigrew-1b582330 🔸Instagram: 🔸https://www.mspals.org Acknowledgments and Press ~ • Two of my early poems were published in the U.K. in book compilations of poetry: ~The Summer of Sport: Forward Poetry 2012 ~ Poetry Rivals Collection 2013 • Featured in 2 articles in The National Multiple Sclerosis Society's 'Momentum Magazine' ~ 2013 = art therapy & MS ~ 2015 = connecting via social media • My work has been featured/published in various book compilations, blogs, websites, as well as other multimedia platforms including: www.pajamadaze.com www.disabled-world.com www.HealthCentral.com www.MyCounterpane.com www.MS&MeRadio/TBI Network Something On Our Minds (SOOM): funds The Accelerated Cure Project "Twitter Q&A" - A Writers Experience (details forthcoming) • Creator & Co-founder of MSpals: a global organization (2014)

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