How much is too much???

bsaThe Boy Scouts and the Marine Corps have both molded me into a man who has never been afraid of hard work. I used to find the point of working too hard and hover dangerously close to that line and only periodically crossing over. Working hard was never good enough, and I would often push it to the extreme always doing a little more. Consistently putting excessive effort into everything that I did and using every ounce of my energy until the job was complete.

However, I now carry a heavy burden called multiple sclerosis that stifles the stride of my progress. At times this awfully alarming affliction can feel like running a marathon while carrying an anvil. This maleficent monster can make necessary movements more challenging than putting an elephant through the eye of a needle. Yet 2.3 million of us brave souls worldwide who are impacted with this torturous tribulation trudge on showing our great strength every day.

I still repeatedly try to push too hard, move too fast and go too far drifting dangerously close to that thin red line. Finding and crossing this line can be devastating and can cause the need for extreme respite. This extended recovery can be as simple as sitting for a few minutes or as significant as being bedridden for several days.

I have done well with my workout routine of three hours a day on three days a week. I had some physical impediments that arrived well over a year ago with very little likelihood of their disappearance. However, I keep moving forward, knowing that my struggles now will help my endurance later. My fitness habits will help me live a longer, healthier, and happier life, causing my MS to flair as little as possible.

wgWhen I return home on the day of my workouts, I am weaker, limiting many of my daily duties. My dinner and evening cleanup is impacted significantly, and my evening tasks are discouragingly diminished. However, my strength slowly returns by the next morning, making that the day that I try to get things done.

I have now added a physical therapy session on each of my two free weekdays. This augmentation makes five consecutive days of strenuous activity that causes conflict for all MSers. So far, the first week has been an intensely debilitating life that is beyond comprehension. This level of tiredness makes me fall asleep quickly but creates a wakeup that is too arduous for understanding. Keep in mind that I have always instantly gotten up when my morning alarm sounds, never believing in the snooze button.

ccSo here I sit contemplating my complicated conundrum. I have been swimming seemingly indefatigably three days a week for the past two years. The day after each swim day, I have a full day of needed respite that I must now fill with more physical activity. My new enigma is how I do both events without crossing that MS line of too much. With multiple sclerosis, that line of too much jumps like a caffeinated Chihuahua making it hard to not pass.

Know your body and listen to it, it will forewarn you.

Finding the line in the sand…

start3The hate, sadness, and self-centeredness that fill our world all demand joy, happiness, and humility to counteract its impact. However, there are a time and place for everything, and not every moment is the correct instant for every comment. I try to keep life fun by using humor to exploit every situation. I always try to take a good or bad circumstance and find its funny aspect. However, I have recently realized that I sometimes need to change my tune. In specific situations, I tend to take it a bridge too far, and I do not read the moment like I should.

Back when I was poorly walking with a cane, I politely held the door for a woman as she left the building. I quickly grabbed the door and proudly held it as I have always done for others. As a gimpy guy, I was glad that I could still open doors for others no matter how unsteady I was. As this woman passed me by she gave a quick thank you and I returned with you are welcome. When I then walked through the door, I tripped over something, and like a skipping rock, I lost the fight to gravity and fell. I jumped up like a Mexican jumping bean and recovered just as quickly. In that instant, I said in a loud voice, “I give that dismount a 4.5!” I quickly found the closest chair and sat for a bit to rest.

bambulanceOften I take it excessively far at the improper point and place. Medical situations like hospital visits and doctor appointments are not complementary comedy conditions. I am the knucklehead who thinks it is ok to be funny while riding in an ambulance in a snowstorm on icy roads. I soon realized that they probably have some tape to put over my vocal hole to get some quiet so I decided to zip it. Thankfully for them, it was only a thirty-minute drive, and I stopped talking after ten minutes or so.

My one-liners can also get me into trouble as I tend to spout them off at the most inopportune time. A while back, I was in the ER and wheeled up next to the bed. The nurse asked me if I could get into the bed by myself, or do I need help? I quickly said, “Thanks, but I am sure that I can make it, but if I hit the floor, then I take it back.” Within the span of a blink, I had six pairs of hands on me ready to help me to get onto the bed. I honestly meant that I could do it, but they did not understand my lousy humor and poor timing. That being said, they were not even going to chance me falling.

pol trfrI was at the pool, and I had quite literally fallen during my transfer on my last visit. The lifeguard was there and asked if I was feeling ok to make the transfer this time. I said, “sure, but if I do not make it tell my mom, I love her.” He knew that I was joking from my laughing, but he did not walk away until I safely transferred from my chair.

Periodically in the pool, my legs will spasm and throw me onto my back while I head to class. While the spasms cause my legs to tighten, I cannot do anything except lay on my back and kind of swim using only my arms. This swim is more of an imposing endeavor because of me holding the pool noodle. There is always at least one classmate around, and inevitably they ask me if I am ok. I quickly say no and then say yes, and by that moment, I do not always know anymore if I am ok or not.

prosIt is complicated to break a habit as I have become proficient in this punctually practiced proclivity. These jokes make me laugh, but the professionals involved tend to be all business and have no time for my shenanigans. This behavior has been going on for an excessively long time and needs to change. My new job is to focus hard on my conduct and slowly change my inclinations and become more mundane in some situations.

Read your moment. Jokes may not be a good idea.

Define the meaning…

bsaWhen I was a boy, I was very active in the Boy Scouts. To find me packing for a camping trip was not a surprising discovery as our Boy Scout Troop camped once per month. I enjoyed being surrounded by Mother Nature to meditate in her awe-inspiring beauty. These trips allowed me to escape the troublesome topics of my childhood and let me contemplate conundrums as they arose. I would, of course, have everything resolved in a weekend like a TV sitcom.

At one of our Scout meetings, our leaders said that we would be inviting moms on a moms camping trip. The scoutmasters wanted the moms to see what their sons did and how their boys lived on a camping trip. We were advised to share with our moms that they will be staying in the camp lodge. We were warned that the boys would be cooking one meal of foil dinners for the moms. How scary and exciting this adventure would be for us as well as our moms.

backpackAs I packed, I suppose that I was in my own little world, although others might simply say that I was oblivious to everything. None the less I had a camping preparation procedure making packing a very systematic endeavor. I knew that every time that a certain father went camping with us, it was guaranteed to rain. Since this dad was going camping that weekend, this meant that bad packers would have to work with wet woes. I had been in the scouts for several years by then and could not make errors like that. I had to stand out as a positive example for the new boys.

overnightMy buddy, Mike’s mom, was driving the four of us, both of the mothers, Mike and me down to the camp for the weekend. When Mike and his mom showed up, I loaded my pack into the trunk. When Mike’s mom, Sandy, saw my mom’s overnight bag, she posed a query. “Where are your camping stuff and sleeping bag?” she questioned. My mom explained that she did not need it because they were staying in a lodge. Like a petulant little girl who does not want to wear her shoes for the day my mom was sent back inside. She was told to at least get a couple of blankets and towels, and without the dramatic stomping, she complied. Little did my mom know what she was in for.

As we arrived at the camp, Mike and I grabbed our gear full of sleeping bags, clothes, and other necessities. We then began our campsite preparation process, looking for a spot to set up all of the tents for our patrol. There was also a requirement to find the correct location for the campfire. We were genuinely unaware of the chaos that the mothers were battling.

lodge3All of the mothers arrived to see the retired rickety Boy Scout camp first aid lodge. This lodge was where they would be living for the next three days and two nights. They walked in to find some rusted old hospital style beds complete with plastic covered mattresses from the 1970s. There was a nice layer of thick green mold in the sink to protect any dishes that they may drop. There was also a chunky coating of blue-green mold in the tub to protect anyone who fell while showering. The lodge had running water because outside it rained significantly, the roof was punctured severely, and the ceiling leaked profusely.

My mother was horrified as she was ill-prepared mentally or gear wise to deal with this ludicrous lodging. The moms came to a consensus to sleep on top of the mattresses on the cement floor. This idea was questionable because the floor had a small stream from all of the rain. No wonder the other mothers were smirking behind her back. Well, at least she brought a blanket and her pajamas. It would be an extremely long weekend.

patrol boxThe scouts moved through the next day as the mothers conversed and contemplated everything that they observed. The boys demonstrated doing dishes and other daily duties on a camping trip. They also displayed the patrol boxes and explained everything that each patrol had in their box and what they could do with its contents.

fdinnerSaturday night for dinner, the boys made foil dinners for the moms. These foil packets had a hamburger patty along with cut veggies and sliced potatoes. Then the foil packs were salted, sealed tightly, and placed on hot coals to cook for 30 to 45 minutes. The moms appreciated coming to the campsite to get a hot meal and not having to clean up afterword. Although they were getting used to their new sleeping quarters, no meal cleanup took the sting out of the dilapidated conditions. The moms were delighted and proud to see their sons in their element. They later enjoyed the activities around the campfire that evening.

The mom’s campout was fun for the moms and the sons alike. The boys got some unforgettable and hilarious stories that we can tell our friends and children for the rest of our lives. My mom was the best because she gave us a list of funny material that would last well into our adulthood.

Clarify and verify by questioning everything.

Odd optical object…

eyeAt an annual eye appointment, I brought up an annoying eye issue. At the place where my two eyelids meet, there was a raised spot on my skin that would periodically prickle. This itchy issue was not a significant concern for me, but I wanted to mention it just the same. The doctor wanted to get a closer look at it because I rarely bring anything up, meaning this might be important.

The first machine to check out my eye was in the room as they use it generally for various reasons. Perpetually probing the pressure of the eye is this mechanism’s primary purpose. The system of parts also allows the doctor to see excessively close to your eye to see deep into your windows of the soul.

While the doctor was looking at my eye in the proper place, he looked at the entire eyeball as well. He figured that while he had me under the microscope, he might as well view my viewer in its entirety. The medical guy noticed a small blemish on the left side of my right eyeball and wanted to get a close-up photo for a more detailed look. However, he still needed a better portrait of my peepers, meaning a new camera was in need.

pressureDown the corridor, and in the next hallway, there was a small room with a machine that looked similar to the previous device. The tech asked me to set my chin on the metal plate while resting my forehead against a white plastic band. While I was in this position, the photographer tech was viewing my eyeball close-up. This chore allowed him to take photos while looking at everything on a computer screen. These images showed extremely close pictures of this minuscule blemish allowing a better look at this optical occlusion. Sadly, this seemingly infinitesimal imperfection was not evident, and a better set of images were still needed.

The third device was a camera that gave elevation images to see just how raised this mini macula was. I explained several times that I could not feel this raised deformity and that it did not seem to impact my vision. They still required a photo showing the altitude of this insignificant disfigurement.

After all of these photos of my slight sight blight, they still had not concluded. My eye doctor took a few minutes to talk with another eye doctor, and they determined that I needed an ultrasound. My medical professional let me know that one day per month, the Veterans Administration has an eye specialist who visits. They would set an appointment for me on that day, and I would receive an ultrasound. This scan would hopefully discover what this bio blotch indeed was.

birdI sat in the waiting room cautiously optimistic of my appointment with this visual virtuoso. I was expecting the specialist to arrive in a chef’s hat and not a lab coat to slather this cream like peanut butter on my eye. Between our conversation and my imagination, I was misinformed enough to let the trepidation settle in. Every other thought vanished from my brain box except for the idea of this thick cake icing smeared over my eyeball. The longer that I waited, my heart began racing like the wings of a hummingbird after a triple shot expresso.

I was taken back to the room for the ultrasound and noticed that there was an old style dental chair waiting to meet my seat. The tech assisted me in getting into this chair and set it back and pulled out a microphone sized wand connected to a long cable. The end that was placed against my eye had a plastic looking dome at the end that held a small amount of the belly jelly. After the two doctors and three techs completed the shop talk about what they saw, I was brought into the conversation.

ultrasoundThe ultrasound showed an unexpected benign cyst that was not of consequence to me once they used the word benign. The medical crew could not give a definitive answer on what the ocular obtrusion was. However my doctors plan to keep an eye on it, pun intended, with as needed future ultrasounds. It is also the case for the itty bitty on my eyeball. So I can rest assured that I am not losing an eye or going blind anytime soon.

No one ever injured their eyesight by looking on the bright side.