‘Life is a a journey I don’t have a map for’

MS symptoms are weird and scary and often come at the worst times

My initial symptom was optic neuritis which is an inflamed optic nerve and caused pain and blurriness

Along the road

I guess I’ve been fortunate that my mobility hasn’t really been affected

I don’t know if sciatic pain is associated with MS but that’s affected my mobility the most

Fatigue has been a constant

It’s not your regular tired after a long day at work

It’s more like a body draining exhaustion

Like you ran a really long marathon

But all you did was shower

And no amount of rest makes you feel less tired

I get a lot of headaches which no one has been able to explain the root of

But they happen often and last for long periods of time

I also have a lot of neck pain which radiates upwards into my skull

I’ve had numbness come and go throughout the years

Sometimes it just happens

One time I was going down the stairs at my old house

And my feet just stopped working

It’s like they weren’t even there

I fell down the stairs

That was a surreal feeling

The heat has long been a problem for me

Like the perfect weather for a relapse

And if you throw some stress into the mix

It becomes the perfect storm

I’ve had some burning mouth symptoms and itchiness that have both come and gone

More recently

I’ve had some pain on one side of my face that I was unsure of

But no real direction was provided to me

And a new one is this weird burning in my upper arm area

It is so severe that I made my partner examine me for any outward injuries

Of course there were none

It doesn’t feel like a sore muscle

It literally feels like I had burned myself with a hot pain and every time something rubs against it

It just exacerbates the burning pain along my arm

MS is often a lonely isolating struggle

Your family doctor doesn’t really know much about it

And the neurologist doesn’t really care about your day to day symptoms

So where do you turn?

It’s really easy to feel lost in the disease

It’s like someone has blinded folded me and dropped me off in the middle of nowhere

I don’t have any travel companions or anyone to help navigate

Now I’m somewhere in the middle of this weird nowhere land with MS

And I would just like a fucking map

That’s all

‘I used to be somebody’- NIN

I’ve been off of work for two years

On long term disability

Every day the probability of returning to my old job felt further away

Yesterday I received an email from my employer

Officially terminating my employment

It hit me hard

You might think it’s no big deal since I’ve been off work for so long

You’d be wrong

I felt like I couldn’t breathe

I reread the email so many times

The words blended together

Floating on the screen

They didn’t make sense anymore

I worked there for 6 years

I’ve been working in this field for over 12 years

Now it’s over

Officially I guess

I’m no longer a youth worker

I don’t know what I am

My name is Angela and I used to be a youth worker

Check out my new Fuck MS artwork

I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013. Since then it’s been a very bumpy ride. I was forced to
leave a career I loved and went through a very difficult time. I was lucky enough to have found art which has given me a peace I’ve never really known before.
The Fuck MS line was established after I began writing a blog under the same name.
These new pieces have a background of either the symptoms that can come with MS or the ignorant things people say to MS warriors. I think the image and words in the forefront are powerful and speak for themselves.
Fellow warriors, we’ve got this! 🖤

Check them and more out at my Etsy Shoppe https://www.etsy.com/shop/damagedgoodsshoppe

‘Freezing slow time, away from the world’ 38 Years Old, The Tragically Hip

I received a call about my application for Canada Pension Plan

(Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provides disability benefits (disability pension and post-retirement disability benefit) to people who have made enough contributions to the CPP and who are disabled and cannot work at any job on a regular basis. )

My insurance forced me to apply

I was accepted

I will receive benefits until I am 65

I should be happy

It means there is no more need to provide ‘evidence’

I get the money I am entitled to

Instead I burst into tears after getting off the phone

You probably don’t understand why

Allow me to explain

Everyone tells me I could go back to work

Maybe part time

Or for another organization

I’m too young to not work

Be realistic now, who the hell would hire me?

I would have to explain my limitations

And I am all too aware of what happened the last time

I’m not naive

I understand I’m a liability

I cost more than I’m worth

So when I heard the news today

I didn’t feel happy or relieved

I felt heartbroken

Because it’s not just my employer who doesn’t find me fit to work

It’s the government too

And now I think they are right

I just celebrated my 38th birthday

I have 27 years ahead of me of what could have been my ‘working’ years

But now when the topic of work comes up or people ask what I do

I answer

Once upon a time

I used to be a youth worker

I was really good

I helped make a difference in young people’s lives

And now

I just exist

The Ugly Side Of Recovery

I’m one year and 3 months post round 2 of Lemtrada (the immunosuppressive treatment I underwent for MS).

This was probably the biggest and scariest thing I’ve done in my life

There was caution and risk involved

But I did it anyway

Because my desire to be healthy outweighed my fear

That doesn’t happen often with me

Countless times, I’ve allowed my fear to be in control

To sit in the drivers seat

To call the shots

For whatever reason

That time

I just didn’t

One of the possible side effects of Lemtrada treatment is:

‘Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), a condition of reduced platelet counts in your blood that can cause severe bleeding that may cause life‑threatening problems. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms: easy bruising; bleeding from a cut that is hard to stop; coughing up blood; heavier menstrual periods than normal; bleeding from your gums or nose that is new or takes longer than usual to stop; small, scattered spots on your skin that are red, pink, or purple’

I think it’s something like 2% of Lemtrada patients can end up with it

Well I recently went away and while on vacation I noticed huge unexplained bruises.

Then came bloody stool

Some red spots

And a whole lot of anxiety and fatigue

Needless to say

My trip was a bit of a bust

Upon return I reached out to my Lemtrada nurse to explain what I was experiencing and she told me to get my bloodwork done

I did

And my platelets were 53

Normal platelet count is between 150-200

I really had to restrain myself from googling the fuck out of this

I sent my nurse a copy of the lab work

And bright and early this morning she called me

Seeing her name on my phone

I knew it wasn’t going to be a friendly call

She urged me to go to emerge at St. Mike’s ASAP

She was amazing at calming my already sensitized nerves down

So I got my people ready and we went

At emerge and after having to explain Lemtrada repeatedly, I had more bloodwork done and a rectal exam (that was fun)

After lots of waiting

Worst case scenarios playing in my head

And my constant companion of anxiety

My results were back

Platelets up to 87!

Not in the clear but an obvious improvement

With cautions about new bruising or headaches

To return to the emerge immediately

A little bit of good old fashioned fear: you could experience bleeding in your brain

Another blood test on the horizon

And an appointment with a hematologist

I’m headed home

Of course I’m scared

Because yet again

There is uncertainty

For example, what caused this all of a sudden?

What if it comes back?

What if I fall or cut myself?

What if I die?

Uncertainty and anxiety are like yin yang

They feed off each other

And it’s so fucking easy to slip into my old patterns

Fear, panic, sadness, wallowing

Then what?

It doesn’t change my potential outcome

But it does make this whole process that much harder

And why on earth would I ever want to make things harder for myself?

I refuse to allow this to make me a victim

Nope

Today I will do something that I don’t often do

Something my sister said to me

I will deal with this with a grace I don’t often possess

With strength and determination that I’ve not often felt

Gratitude that I often neglect

And I’ll just keep going

Because anything less isn’t an option

Not today anyway

‘There Are Moments That Mark Your Life. Moments When You Realize Nothing Will Ever Be The Same. And Time Is Divided Into Two Parts – Before This and After This.’ Nicholas Kazan (Fallen)

I had an a-ha moment today in my support group. We were on the first step which is:
1. We admitted to ourselves that we are powerless over our disease. That our lives had become unmanageable.
I got to go last…which meant I got to listen to 3 MS veterans. All having been diagnosed more than 15 years ago.
One spoke of feeling comfortable in being alone on Xmas day.
Someone else spoke of being okay with their sometimes self-imposed isolation. Another spoke of being aware of their limitations, without being self-deprecating.
I sat back and listened.
One in a wheelchair.
One in a scooter.
One with cognitive symptoms.
And I felt envious.
Of them.
Me,with my mostly mobile body.
Me, with my mostly cognitive functioning brain.
I felt jealous of each of them.
I felt jealous of the comfort and grace each of them had come to possess upon accepting their illness.
I sat there and reflected over the last 6 years since diagnosis.
The ups and so so many downs.
The relapses.
The symptoms.
The steroids.
Treatments.
Injections.
Sleepless nights.
Crying fits.
Raging fits.
Anxiety.
So much fucking anxiety.
All of it, having led me to this moment.
Waiting for my turn to talk in a 12 step support group.
Their eyes looked to me.
My turn.
I looked around the table.
Less than a year ago, they were nothing more than three strangers. People I would have passed on the street, without a second glance.
Now we share this inexplicable bond.
This illness we all have.
Referred to often as the ‘snowflake’ disease, since symptoms vary so much from person to person.
These three people who now know more about my feelings and thoughts than most of the people in my more immediate circle. These strangers not so different from this lifelong outsider, after all.
I told them I thought that I had accepted having MS.
6 years ago. I heard the words coming out of my Doctor’s mouth and thought to myself ‘okay….so now I have MS.’
I thought that was enough.
I thought that meant I had accepted it.
But it wasn’t until that very minute that I realized, I would never be able to accept MS, until I had also accepted the negative impact its had on my life.
That meant accepting the change in my job status.
The permanent damage to my eyes.
The toll all of it has taken on my already fragile mental state.
Taking all of that in…and still being able to say that while I won’t succumb to it, I have come to terms with having MS in my life. That I’m OKAY with it.
I’m not there…
Not even close.
But I found hope in looking around me.
Which for someone as chronically hopeless as myself, is a fucking lifeline.

‘Pride Comes Before The Fall’

I like spooky things like Halloween in Salem

And even though I don’t really consider myself a ‘believer’, I like going to psychics and mediums

While in Salem for Halloween and on a boat cruise, I had a free reading done

I sat down and after shaking hands and making introductions

He motioned to a pin on my jacket of a broken heart stitched together

He said it represented me well

I’d been broken hearted

Not by love in the traditional sense

But by the world

I laughed a little nervously and my curiosity was piqued

It was a short reading and I can’t stop thinking about something he said during it

He told me that I always felt like I didn’t fit in

He said that maybe that was okay though

Because some people aren’t meant to fit in

Some people are meant to make a difference

He said that in my work I was trying to make a difference for people

That I’m a healer and a powerful empath

I can’t stop tracing those words in my mind

I continue to think about it and where that leaves me

Which is apparently on long term disability (after finally being accepted a month ago)

In that time period, I feel like I should be doing something

Only I don’t know what

This isn’t new though

I’ve never been someone who had a clear path or knew what they wanted to do from a young age

I went to several different schools and tried on different hats

The only one that fit reasonably well was the last one I wore

Working with youth

I knew even though

That it wasn’t the perfect fit

The school restrictions, the politics, the employer

But it was so close

And then in the blink of an eye

Like things in my life so often do

It didn’t feel right anymore

My direction was blurred

Just like my vision

I only knew I couldn’t go on like that

And it had nothing to do with the youth

It had everything to do with how others made me feel like I wasn’t doing good enough

My pride was so deeply wounded

That I can feel it

Like rubbing salt on fresh wounds

Just thinking about my job, those kids, that work, those people, that job

And I feel it all over again

Every single burn

All the pain

Pride is funny like that

It’s with you during some of your happiest moments and accomplishments

It can carry you through some of the toughest times

And then bury you just as easily

‘There Is More Evil In The Least Sin Than In The Greatest Affliction.’ T. Brooks

Some days my damaged eyes feel as weary as my burdened soul

Some days it feels like I carry the world on shoulders that are tensed with anxious thinking

Some days the world feels as chaotic and unpredictable as the disease discarding lesions on my brain

Some days I feel so jittery that my nerves feel like they’re fraying and uncovering more than just damaged myelin

Some nights I lay awake not able to sleep even though my days are consumed by an overwhelming fatigue

Some nights it feels like electricity is coursing through my limbs and extremities

Some nights I feel like not waking up in the morning still wouldn’t be enough to get rid of all that’s wrong

Sometimes there are moments when I think that even a lifetime isn’t enough time

Time to shed all the broken and irreparable pieces of me

Time to start over

Time to begin again

Or maybe a lifetime is all it takes

To be gifted a new body and mind

And leave all that affliction behind

In the past

Where it belongs

Buried and covered

In someone else’s grave