Dangers not just from Strangers

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!

I’ve been thinking more about plants recently. Not just stately trees, but smaller plants. My husband is responsible for some of this thinking on my part. He’s set up two vegetable patches, set up high, well away from any rabbits who may drop by. 

We’ve been getting excited about bonsai trees again, my husband and I. We’ve both been playing with bonsai for many years, and have our own bonsai trees we’ve tended since before we moved to the country. I’m not sure whether any of my plants actually go back that far (we moved to the Mallala district in 2008). One of Graham’s trees is that old though. It’s a jade tree, with a worthy trunk and stately manner…

The vegetable patches have been in place for about two months. We’ve just begun enjoying the fruits of his labours – with two beans picked from the patch and consumed this morning. They weren’t huge beans, but they certainly had a suitably ‘beany’ flavour!

I’ve tried some of the carrots, with are only the size of my little finger (I have quite small hands). I’m trying to leave the vegetables alone so they can grow bigger and better! We also have a fine crop of coriander, and some basil growing too. Added to this is the pot of chives that we’ve had growing for many, many years. It dies down every now and then, and we pick produce from it sometimes, when a meal needs a little bit of the zing chives can bring.

I actually picked some chives yesterday afternoon, for the salad I made to take to an event we both went to. The salad started out as a plain waldorf salad, with walnuts, celery and apple. Then I put on some yummy garlic sauce, instead of coleslaw dressing, with some sweet chilli sauce for some sweetness. 

I felt we needed more to make it a bigger bowlful, and didn’t have any more celery to add. We have more apples, but putting any more in would have unbalanced the salad. So what to add? Mushrooms, obviously. In times of need, you go to what’s in the fridge! Then I put the chives in, but still felt the salad could take a little something extra.

A look in one of the kitchen drawers reminded me of the dried fruit, nut and seed mix I often put on my breakfast cereal. I sprinkled some on top and mixed it through, and then came the taste test. I was a little worried about whether the garlic sauce and sweet chilli sauce would work, but I needn’t have concerned myself, it was a great mix.

The next concern was this – would the Mallala Lions like my quirky take on the simple waldorf salad? Well the proof to the answer for that one was the empty bowl, once dinner was done! I’ll definitely try this version of a family favourite again. I suspect it will have another run during Christmas Celebrations this year!

Do you have any stories of your own variations on basic recipes? I love the creative choices cooking brings! Creative cooking is so much more fun than slavishly following a recipe in a book!

 

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