Thursday, February 27, 2014

What else

Traveling many a different road...

Symptomatically, things are pretty much the same. Still in the wheelchair, still in the Cath Club, still sometimes need to lie down and do nothing.

But I'm traveling roads that were overdue for me to take, which I would probably never dealt with except my current MS experience made me confront them.

Eating... feel (or maybe  "feel") hungry? Eat something. Eat less at a sitting, but more frequently. Running too long on empty is definitely an energy sapper.

Honesty... speak the truth with love. Especially when you're talking to the people you actually do love.

Letting go... again, speak the truth with love. What They did (whoever "They" may be) is unreachable; it's past and gone. But how I feel about it... may still be a chain around me, Jacob Marley style.

And simply to say "I feel...[whatever]," spoken about and usually to only myself and with love... snaps a link. Sometimes even removes a chain.

Living with MS is just like living with, you know, life. Things fail. Or don't. Or do. Who's to know when and what and how? And this comes to each of us... standing  up is hard, holding things is hard, typing is hard, getting into the shower is hard, eating is hard. Well, the fact that everyone has to go through this doesn't help me deal with it, the fact that it's coming upon me sooner than the bell curve of the general population, my age & such included in the calculation, doesn't make me feel better.

But being truthful, and gentle, and honest... those do.

And what's one of the first things we learn, in the life with MS?
Do the best you can, however you can, at the moment that you try. 

And for all of us, MS or not... what else is there, than that?

Besides, of course... tell the truth with love.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gentle catching the vault

Oh my, it has been a few days since I've chatted with you, my dear readers...

I've been in a very dark and uncomfortable place. Spent day after day just lying down, with a blanket over my head, just listening to cartoons. Not watching... listening.

Been doing a lot of internal work, just sitting on the back porch, grooving on the yard, the moon, the fresh air.

I've always had a problem (most people do, I fear) working the whole "forgiveness" thing. Everyone agrees it's necessary, but "how"? That, there isn't a lot of talk about. "Oh, just let it go," they say. To which I say, "How?"

But I think I'm coming to the "let go" place using different roads. The main road is "truth," and the question is "how do I feel?" not "What did They (whoever "They" may be) do?"

"They" are not my problem. I am my problem.

My "inner conversation" has often gone like this... "So, I'm angry about how They ..." and then I stop myself. "How do I feel? Not 'They,' how do I feel?"

And very interesting answers come from this conversation. And at the end of it all, as Finn said on Adventure Time, "My vault? The place where I keep things I can't deal with? My vault feels... lighter."
And another gift of MS...being a member of the Cath Club.

At various points during the day (or night), I'm trying to suss out whether my bladder is calling desperately for emptying or just whining (very much like the cat mewling, "I'm just not happy! Everything's wrong!!!"), I suddenly put it this way:

I don't need to "bank" things I need to get rid of. 

Urine? That's all about getting rid of stuff I no longer need. I don't need to "bank" stuff I'd be better off simply getting rid of.

And so it is with resentment. I don't need to "bank" resentment. I don't need to bank righteous rage. I don't need to bank hostility. I don't need to bank sneering, poking a finger into my chest growling "I'm the one who's right here!"

Besides, those moments in the past, all those moments, both glorious and grim... they're all gone. Dead as dead gets. They ain't coming back. They can't.

And the emotions that go with each of them? Charged moments? Banking those charges imprisons me.

I don't need to "bank" imprisonment. Cath Club enables me not to "bank" urine; the way one "catheterizes" charged moments, is with truth. I feel... and that's where we come to: the truth. I simply say what I feel. I speak the truth.

And my vault gets lighter.

My new cath, "GentleCath," is among the kinds I've tried so far, superior. Works better, and is indeed gentle. So that's the task now... if you'll forgive a tortuous mixing of metaphors, cath the vault gently, with truth.

Quite the gift of MS, the Cath Club. In more than the obvious ways...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pepys. AGAIN. Still...

Oh, I had a dream today... so many dreams...

Sit down and do a little blogging. Maybe do a little business. Maybe write a little music. Maybe even go out to lunch.

Nope. This blogging thing ain't gonna last long, and then that's all she wrote. All I wrote. Back to bed. Probably to get up for eating. Probably not for much else.

I'm about as bad as I get, here and now...

Yesterday, to add insult to injury (or injury to insult), my legs collapsed just after (fortunately just after) I had managed to insert a Dulcolax suppository, when my legs completely gave out from under me and I hit the floor.

This is an all-time new bit of comedy... shove something (medicinal, of course) up your butt, then collapse and hit the floor. And be unable to get up until your wife figured out you were screaming for help and between the two of us, get me onto the pot before the whole reason I put in the suppository finally ... happened, let's say.

Well, everything came out alright, as the saying goes, but hitting the floor because your legs collapse is pretty much paradigm "no fun."

And of course, I've gotta do this all again--minus the "hit the floor" thing, I hope--because "B-san" is now "Bowel-san" not just "Bladder-san."


Well, tragedy plus time equals comedy, as the saying goes... I wonder how long I'll have to wait before this becomes actually funny?

I've got more to share, but that ain't gonna happen, right now. I've got another acupuncturing being done on Saturday... we'll see if that one lasts longer than the last one.

The last one, he did an amazing job. I felt better than I have for years. YEARS. It was truly beautiful.

Lasted maybe 45 minutes. And then it was over. And now I'm back to feeling as bad as I get.

Ah, but those 45 minutes... Art is long, but life is short, and so (right now, at least) is acupuncture.

And that's as long as I've got for you... for anyone, today. So, as Samuel Pepys was famous for saying, "And so to bed."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Strange coincidences

An amazing coincidence, this...

My Garden Guy, when he redid the back garden, planted all sorts of exotic, and extraordinarily wonderful, plants whose leaves give off an amazing scent and often have beautiful flowers.

Yes, they're ... geraniums!

Which I have been enjoying quite a bit. Brush by one, rub its leaves, smell them, and smile. We've got quite a few of them here, there's always a different, and quite wonderful, smell to enjoy.

And here's the coincidence... at my herbalist's yesterday, he found some random article somewhere about a topical treatment to address neuropathic pain, something that expresses itself in a lot of us MSers but in my case is putting a serious kibosh on my ... everything. Being constantly in a vague, apparently causeless, and certainly purposeless (from my POV at least) pain, really makes life no fun to live.

But he found that there's this stuff you can rub on your sore limbs, and the pain just magically goes away! It's amazing! Doesn't seem to have dosage limitations or issues of any sort! Lasts for hours! I put some on last night around 8 or 10 PM, and it was still working all night. All night!

And here's the coincidence... what is it?

Yup. You guessed it. Geraniums. Crush the leaves in your hand and then rub the oil on yourself, either just from your hands or rub the leaves on you.

No side effects, as far as I can tell, aside from a gentle floral scent. Sure beats the hell out of the pharmaceuticals I've tried--baclofen, for example, as far as I'm concerned takes too long to kick in, goes away too soon, and then according to the label you have to wait and wait and wait and wait to take another, during which time you are, of course... in pain.

Or I can rub geraniums on myself, as much as and whenever I like. The benefits of which last for hours. Hours.

So, my friends, if you know anyone with this kind of pain, get them geraniums. The better the smell, the better (more oil, among other things). Stick it in a pot, keep it watered and in the sun, and pick the leaves as you need them. Suck on that, Big Pharma! I've got a back yard full of plants that beat the snot out of anything you have to offer.

And, according to my herbalist's tests, the leaves have more power than just the oil. Oh wow, a plant is better for you than just an extract, where have I heard that before...?

So there it is, today's Strange Coincidence. Less pain, pretty leaves, good smells, no side effects apart from the charming geranium smell. Which, if you don't mind that smell, is a hell of a good side effect.

Which, in the troubled world we MSers live in... I'll take.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just... grow

What seems to have become a tradition, recently: Sitting on the back porch, grooving on my nightly dose of yummy medicinal herbs, and ... just listening, to whatever may come to me.

And what came to me a couple of nights ago was... the bristlecone pine. It can be found right here in California, nowhere near when I live but the bristlecone-pine forest is a place I've been myself.

A very interesting plant, this... it grows only in certain places, under certain circumstances, like all plants it likes what it likes, thank you very much, and without what it needs, it just ain't happy.

Very, very long lived creatures... some of them are thought to be on the order of 5,000 years old. They grow very... very... very... slowly. A three-foot-high tree could very well be older than the USA. At the protected forest, they have something they call the "Methuselah Grove" that hosts the oldest trees. They won't tell you which ones are the oldest trees, but I did notice a few kind-of-warn paths to trees that seemed to have nothing whatsoever remarkable about them, which I am assuming were among the oldest trees, but... see above, "nothing whatsoever remarkable about them." They looked like... bristlecones. But dang, were they old!

And what was the thought that came to me, that other night...? Well, the bristlecone does what every other plant does. It reaches towards what it needs or likes, it reaches away from what it doesn't like, and if something is in its way, it grows around it.

But it is in no hurry. No hurry whatsoever.

The growing conditions in the bristlecone-pine "forest," an interesting name for the environs in which they grow, it looks nothing like your typical vision of "the forest"... anyway, the growing conditions there are basically too hostile for anything else, and what most of us would think of as "good growing conditions" are precisely what it doesn't like. The rangers there told me that they had tried to grow one themselves, just a tiny sapling... but apparently they were "too kind" to it, giving it water like they give "normal" plants, and basically they killed it with kindness. The pinecones won't even sprout until they basically get the snot beat out of them, being tumbled around roughly and burned or otherwise exposed to (what we think of) as deadly high heat.

But they love those "nasty" conditions. And they do grow! But... they're in no hurry.

So, what does this say to us MSers? (Or, to all of us?) Reach toward that which strengthens you, reach away from that which harms or at best, doesn't strengthen you, and grow around whatever is in your way--yes, grow around it.

And don't be in a hurry. Just... grow.

We're all knocking on the door of springtime, the season of Wood... it is very much the time of year to do this, so let's do it together:

Just grow. Enjoy the sun, the water, and the fresh air, and... just grow. And what's the hurry? Take your time.

Just... grow.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Start today

We're not there yet. But we're beginning to turn the corner towards the season of Wood, the element of Springtime.

But here's the interesting thing about growing things in the Real World. Growth just... grows. The way it was meant to, the way it was "born" to, the way it "came from the factory" to do.

Parents see how that works with their kids. Yeah, X has their father's/mother's [whatever], but they are completely unique and although they may do things that are familiar, nobody does things the way THEY do because only THEY are... they.

Again, think of wood in the real world. You can encourage it... help it... train it... Yes, you may need to do some pruning, but there's always a price, sometimes one worth paying, sometimes not...

But wood, either real world or Five Element style, does not like being blocked. Being cut off. It's happy to go around things and be trained, but cut? It does NOT like being cut, it does NOT like being blocked so that it can't grow because the path it wants to take has been blocked.

Wood is not a happy place for people who like controlling things. Wood will accept training, will accept support, but does not like "no, grow THIS way" control... because growth really really just wants to ... grow. To do what it was "born" to do, the way it was born to do it.

So all of us, and especially us who travel the MS Highway, are being told--told!--to grow. Specifically in the way that growth wants to grow. The Way We Always Did Things is not an option. Growth wants to ... grow. The way IT wants to grow.

The way that is precisely going to happen to each of us is, well, unique. We came from the factory specifically designed to grow in THAT way, whichever way "that" happens to fall.

So, as we're approaching the season of Wood, and the glories of spring... clearly, for each and all of us, it's time to grow. The way "grow" wants to grow. MS and all. Or not. Or lots of it.

So, we are all called simply to...


An interesting approach, given daily examples of "I can't do that right now..." Which will in the fullness of time turn into "I can't do that any more," which is pretty much the way of all flesh, as the Good Book would tell us, even if we're trying our best not to cling to the declaration of "disability."

So, snow and ice or not, rain or not, cold or not, when the time comes to let everything go and just grow...

Let's do that.

And why not... start today? Spring or not, just let go and...

Grow. However we happen to do that... that's our "thing." So...

Start today.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Simple truths

Interesting days, these. Even by current "interesting days" standards.

Last Monday, I had my weekly treatment from my MD/acupuncturist/spiritual advisor. He told me that one of his other MS patients had told him that the amazing thing about MS is that whatever it was that brought IT to US, or US to IT, whatever it was that caused us to travel the MS Highway...

... is precisely what we need to survive it.

Well, I'll certainly tell you that the more I see, the more I see, and the more that I see that I'm seeing.

I've been reading much of the daily submissions of Ram Dass at, and I've been finding it especially supportive, and superbly encouraging to me to get out of my own way.

Especially supportive was his writing on the Witness. He writes "I am not my thoughts," and we can all certainly remind ourselves that "I am not Multiple Sclerosis." But even the simple "I feel [X]" instead of justifying/explaining/yammering/drowning in fighting for how you want to tag whatever brought you to that place... doesn't matter. How do you feel? Well, I feel... whatever you feel, but that's what you feel. Speak the truth. As we hear Rick encouraging Morty very frequently, "Don't judge."
Great. It takes us Adult Swim cartoons to be reminded of millennia-old wisdom.

But I will tell you that simply witnessing myself, seeing and saying (silently or aloud) "Yeah, that's what I'm doing..." makes a huge difference.

It's one thing to witness when one is catheterizing or doing other Medical Things (best to pay attention regardless), but in the paying of attention, one sees the most amazing things.

Certainly witnessing when I'm doing to my most-loved one the very thing that over the years has really pissed me off in all sorts of diverse circumstances... that's a very revealing piece of witnessing. Liberating, too... because when I see what I'm doing, I'm no longer trapped in the "doing" of that very thing; I'm free from it, I'm free from doing it, I and everyone around me, is... free.

Even so—as Rick reminds us, "Don't judge." Don't compound the problem by layering cruft all over it. Just witness. And separation from the problem, especially a you-really-should-be-paying-better-attention problem, will reveal its solution.

So, that's definitely the way to go today (and every day). Small steps, like instead of saying "That pisses me off," just saying "I'm pissed off" makes an immediate difference. Is that changing my MS condition? Who can say? But it's changing my "living" condition. Getting myself out of my own damned way.

Or at least, being able to realize "I'm in my own way." But even that's too much... what I am called upon to do is... just say "I feel..."

Simple truths. Let's start—and end—there.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Interesting gifts

Man, the daily "everything's different" is very, very different today.

A couple of days ago, the world changed... Winter basically "puts me out," as a Fire guy, Water (the element of the season of Winter) is very ... extinguishing, shall we say.

But a couple of days ago, I was writing music again! Sitting up for a few hours, even! I'm thinking, have we gone into the season of Wood now? Wood is the mother of Fire, after all...

And today, I sit at my composition computer and... turn it off. Oh, it was a wonderful couple of days, but like all things of this world, it ended. No music today, at least.

I'm handling some correspondence, this morning, writing this for you, and then... bed, probably.

I made myself some Dark Oolong tea, just to start off the morning differently for a change. And enjoyed it. May even make myself another cup or two.

But, the wild pu erh is medicinal, just like my various sets of herbs. So it'll be medicinal-tea-time again, before too long passes. But for a few brief shining moments, as the lyrics to the musical Camelot say, the oolong was wonderful.

Are we in the season of Wood, now? Well if we aren't already, we're definitely turning the corner and gonna be there soon (at least here in Southern California; the elements may express themselves differently in other parts of the country). Wood is about, among many things, new beginnings.

Spring has always been a time of loss, for me. School, a place that has always been a huge part of my life, ends in spring. Which means the plays, the concerts, the everything-that's-fun about school, it all goes away in the spring.

Moving back to the agricultural metaphor, spring leads to summer which leads to harvest, and school's about plant and grow during the school year, and then... harvest!

Theoretically, at least.

But I never really enjoyed spring as such, until now. It's actually a very wonderful season, if you can enjoy it on its own terms, accepting the special things that it, and only it, have to offer.

As with so many things, it's just like... life, then, isn't it?

So, my current M.S.-ridden state is what it took to make me perceive spring for what it is. Heck, for the first time in decades, last night I even sat outside and looked up at the stars, what few we can see here in light-polluted Pasadena.

So much that I can't (for now at least) do. So much that I used to do that is ... and this isn't neurological, it's just—over.

And finally, I can see Spring for what it is. And go outside at night and look at the stars.

Interesting gifts, eh?