Nena

Today, as the title suggests/states is a fine winter’s day. The sky is blue and the temperature is cool, but not too cold. A perfect day in fact to get outside and do some work. The task to be undertaken wasn’t one I thought of, but I had to step up and be involved.

My son Jake suggested to me that we finish off groom Nena, our standard schnauzer. The schnauzer is a breed that needs to be either clipped or stripped regularly to keep looking good. If you let too much time arrive, you end up with a creature that looks like a total hairy mess. We did a pretty good job on clipping Nena recently, but didn’t quite finish off removing excess hair from her legs and feet. Today was to be the day to finish that job off.

I got out the necessary tools, and put them near the grooming table, then we let Nena outside. She came outside, sensed what we were up to and she retreated from us, twenty metres away in fact. She didn’t come when called, which is most unlike her. We have four dogs, Nena is the only schnauzer, the others are all pharaoh hounds. Usually Nena is good about coming when we call her, and it’s the pharaoh hounds who aren’t so obedient. 

She doesn’t like being groomed though. She really, really doesn’t like being groomed. Nena isn’t a completely naughty dog though, not at all, so Jake was able to get her and put her on the grooming table, and keep her more or less on the table. It was bit of a struggle, with Jake holding on gently, but strongly as Nena struggled to get back to the ground. In the meantime I clipped and snipped as best I could, taking care not to damage Jake or Nena. 

As i turned out, the job got done, and while there was some blood, it was only mine, and only a little. I accidently clipped my left hand slightly and made it bleed. Looking at Nena now, she’s looking good and she seems to have forgiven us for the grooming outrage. Life around the place is good, the weather is still fine, and I’m grateful to live with this lovely dog. Nena is twelve and a half years old. She’s been a show dog and a mother, but her finest role is the current one, that of being a lovely and obedient family friend. 

Dangers not just from Strangers

This link has some sobering thoughts on the subject of Stranger Danger, and the actual truth of the matter – it’s not just strangers who commit awful crimes against children…

 

It’s now Spring, and at last our garden is beginning to pay its way. We’re finally able to pick our own produce! My husband, Graham, bought two raised garden plots in Summer, filled them with compost and soil and then planted some seeds.

First up were the baby carrots, lots and lots of baby carrots, coming up so thickly it was hard to thin them without pulling up too many. We more or less left them alone, and picked some now and then, tiny carrots brushed off and consumed with satisfaction!

Then the basil came along. Actually, thinking back, that may have happened the other way around, it doesn’t matter. We have lots of carrots and lots of basil. We also have capsicums growing, and we’ve had a couple of tomatoes, mature enough to eat. So far, in terms of taste, the tomatoes are the winners. The tomatoes grew from compost made with vegetable peelings, etc, and are cocktail tomato size, a delicious mouthful of flavour!

The baby carrots are OK, but not brilliant, and the basil is tasty, but basil is basil… The capsicums are still growing and we don’t know whether they’ll be great in flavour or just good. What else? Hmm, the beans were OK, but nothing wonderful. But, like the basil I think, beans are beans…

We’ve had some super dooper heat waves which may have had an impact on the vegetables as they grew, I don’t know. The weather is cooler now, I hope with no more heat waves to come. I’m excited watching the tomatoes growing from the blossoms, and I hope all of the little green blobs turn into delicious red flavour bombs!

When I go out into the vegetable garden area, I still take a look at how things are going, and I still pull up some carrots. I usually wait to eat them now though, the thrill of growing our own has dimmed a little, and I bring them inside and wash them!

Growing your own (or having your husband do it), is the way to go!

Visits to the garden have been limited to a quick toilet break and back inside for the dogs, these crazy-hot days we’ve been having! The temperature today has been around 45 or more for most of the day, and that’s 45 degrees celsius, not fahrenheit! It’s down to 41. something now, but that’s still too freaking hot!

It is summer here though, so I suppose hot weather isn’t that unexpected… I’m very glad our air conditioner works well – without that, I don’t know how I would be getting on. Whenever I go outside with the dogs (which I don’t do that much), I feel heat affected. I’m so sorry for everyone without access to good air conditioning at times like this. Having multiple sclerosis in summer is not fun for me and for most other suffers. I’m hoping I will receive a yes for my application for a concession from the South Australian Government for our heating and cooling costs.

The air conditioner uses lots of energy of course. It’s worth paying for it, if it enables me to keep on going, pottering around inside doing little jogs, or tap tapping at the keys here on the computer keyboard. I’m so glad we bit the bullet and got as many solar panels installed as possible. Another few panels would be good, but what we have makes for much lower electricity bills than we’d have with the panels.

It’s surely a short sighted government that would seek to cut back assistance for people to have solar panels put in where it’s appropriate? That’s what I think anyway – solar is good, wind power is good, and tide, and thermal sound fantastic too. Australia should be leading the world in these matters, not reluctantly trailing behind.

I was at the Australia Day celebrations at the Mallala oval this morning, talking to many different people and enjoying the lovely sunshine. One of the people I spoke to was a friend I haven’t chatted with for some time, I’ll call him M.

M was recently diagnosed with having MS. This was after over thirty years since having any major symptoms that could have been put down to MS. M was tested for MS with both lumbar puncture and MRI, and his neuro at the time said it wasn’t MS. But last year, another major episode led to another neuro, after another MRI, declaring it was in fact MS and would have been back then, the first time.

We chatted further and M told me he’s now on Tysabri, and not enjoying it/not thinking it’s doing him any good. His symptoms are getting worse, and he’s concerned about the risks with jvc inherent when you are using this method of treating MS. I mentioned the need to do what feels right for you, and wished him well.

It seems that these drug treatments certainly lead one to carefully considering how far one is prepared to possibly get better. My thoughts on this are that we all have to make up our own mind about what we’re prepared to do to help improve our health. I would never have thought I could give myself regular needle injections, but I could and did. 

Two years of weekly Avonex shots in my thigh. I’m proud of myself for being able to do it, but I’m so happy not to be having to still do that. The Gilenya medication, which is in capsule form is so much nicer to do, one capsule every morning, easy-peasy!

If something goes wrong with this method though, and I had to take something else, I wonder … Would I go back to Avonex, which worked OK (or seemed to anyway). Or would I look into the newer medications? At this stage, I haven’t really considered this, I’m just hoping I can go along as I am now, getting better, but still not symptom free. 

The ‘better’ is good enough for me, if I have to live the rest of my life as I am now, that’s not a bad thing. I can walk, talk, think and drive. My quality of life is good, slowed, but only a by little bit. I never wanted to run marathons anyway. 

I’m living my life how I want to, I’m living well with MS!

 

Fish pond, I'm So Sorry ...

two of the fish.

There are a few really good things about having MS, you know. Getting a disabled parking permit, and a disability support pension are the obvious ones, of course, but there are quite a few other great things about having multiple sclerosis.

One of them, is having an excuse for practically everything:

Forgetting things? Yeah sorry, mild cognitive dysfunction.

Dropping things. Sorry, muscle weakness.

Falling over. Yeah damn muscle weakness again…

I could just go on blaming multiple sclerosis for everything that doesn’t go how I want it to, or anyone else wants it to. Tiredness, being dumb or clumsy, obviously that must be because of the multiple sclerosis. But I don’t want to be labelled as being too dysfunctional. I’m capable of doing things, quite a few things, and I’m actually proud of myself for some of my talents. In view of this, I try not to over-play that line.

Writing is certainly one of those talents I have. I can pen a mean poem if I want to! I’m good at writing about pretty well anything I set my mind to writing. I have a few published books to my name, and I still receive royalties for one of those books, many years after the book was first published.

And the book this blog is based on, “Mick, Jane and Me – Living Well With MS” – I’m quite proud of this book. I enjoyed writing it, hunting up all of the bits and pieces that went into publishing it. Being able to write, publish and market the book are talents not every person has. I did it though, and it’s quite a fine looking book. I had some great people to follow, and to get assistance from. I also had financial assistance to help get it  all done.

There was the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust grant that gave me money to pay for my mentor to help me get my writing verse abilities spruced up and working well (or at least better than they had been). And of course the printer of the book, Centre Print, who are the printers for the MS Society SA & NT, who printed 100 copies of my book for me for free. That was a great help!

So because I have a disability, I was able to get a memoir about an important part of my life printed. This memoir has some quite profound stuff in it. Useful things about medications, some about exercise and its importance. And I found quite a bit of philosophical thinking that went into the book toward the end.

I really enjoyed these philosophical thoughts. It came from some quite deep pondering, and I wonder whether these thoughts would ever have come about to be written down if it hadn’t been that I was writing a memoir about my new life. So really, I think this may be the best thing about having MS.

Because my life has changed, had to change, I’ve given myself permission to think quite deeply about what I am capable of doing, what is important to me, what are the best things for me and for those I love and who love me. So this has meant the creation of a new writing group (Adelaide Plains Chapter & Verse) that meets weekly in Gawler at the Prince Albert Hotel (every Thursday afternoon). And I’m also involved in a group for people with disability that meets monthly at the SA Writers Centre.

Another thing I want to explore further is Public Speaking. I have things to say about disability, my own and the subject in general. I’ve had a bit of experience in public speaking, and I certainly want to take this further in the future. I look at life in quirky ways at times, and I’d like to perhaps get into a bit of comedy work. These things will get more work next year. I already have one booking for public speaking, with another possible one in the process of being planned. I’ve put the word out  about this, and hope to at least get some learning gigs in 2014, with a view to doing more in the future.

So, The Best Thing about having MS is the permission I feel I now have to put myself out there into the world, knowing I have a story that interests others. I’m pretty sure there was another thing I was going to write about, but you know what? I’ve forgotten what it was!

Ah, I know, the Very Very Best Thing about having MS is that I can now get away with laughing about peeing my pants!

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