Stuck in a Negative Spell & Attitude


July 16, 2013

Normally I am a very optimistic person.  Throughout my life, I dealt with many major, difficult events that required life adjustments.  Going through a grieving process—denial, anger, depression, bargaining–often accompanies the life adjustments.  Somehow I always managed to plow forward through the process rather quickly, restoring a positive attitude and looking for that silver lining.

People have often remarked what an inspiration I am and how well I do. But lately, not this time.  I have been stuck in one of those negative spells, with a negative attitude.  In April, I developed complications from a UTI, got a virus, and had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic all at the same time.  The perfect storm stirred up my MS to the point that left me completely incapacitated. I was admitted into the hospital.

Fortunately, after weeks of treatment and home care therapy, the infections and sickness went away and the MS calmed down.  Physically, I returned to my previous pre-relapse “normal” state.  But having the weeks of downtime and being incapacitated shook me to the core. My mental and emotional state didn’t rebound so easily. Every day I got out of bed and went through the motions of life, but with no smiles or enthusiasm. I was  existing without any happiness. My emotions were erratic and unpredictable.  Nothing was fun or funny.

I was grieving.

I was sick of being sick of being sick and tired of being tired.  Too many times over too many years of problem solving and adjusting.  My mind shut down; it was hard to think, which is what I always seem to do.  Think.

Everything in my life has to be planned and organized around my bathroom problems, medications, accessibility needs, physical limitations, fatigue, waiting for others to help me with something… And every thing I do takes so long to do.  Sometimes it’s just not worth the effort. Everything is a production.

This coming September, I have a trip planned to Alaska.  While “normal” people are looking forward to the cruise, food and excursions, I am dreading it all.  I worry about embarrassing myself with a bathroom accident.  Or, what will I do if I get a serious UTI, since I am resistant to oral antibiotics?  I have to plan to try and prevent these things from happening.  It is exasperating.

On the other side of the coin, so often I have to cancel my laborious plans because I don’t feel well, am too fatigued, maybe didn’t sleep well, require a laxative…  I have to plan, but other times I can’t plan something because of some physical or accessible limitation. It drives me crazy.  I can’t be spontaneous about anything.

Over the years, one reason I have kept a personal journal was to vent my sadness, stress or frustration.  Here are a couple of entries made during this bad spell:

“I wish I could just have 24 hours of being a normal person with no physical problems. To sleep through the night without waking up because of a cramp, a spasm, a pain, or to have to pee.  To not wake up tired after being in bed for eight hours. To sit down and pee without the hassle of using a catheter. To have a bowel movement without worrying about if I am going to go, or if I am going to get to the commode in time.  To eat whatever I want without bloating, gas… To have a day with no pain, or edema.  To be able to walk.  To have a day when I could everything myself without waiting or depending on someone to help me. To not have to worry about changing or cancelling plans because I am too tired.  To not drop things.  To be able to jump in the car and drive someplace alone. “

“Life is a journey as people often say.  But why is it that some people just seem to cruise through life?  Sometimes I feel like I’ve been travelling on some bumpy, dirt road never knowing when an obstacle will pop up.  It always does.  A flat tire.  A dead end.  A detour.  Overheated.  A breakdown.  Out of gas.  An unmarked fork in the road—which way to go?  Stuck in a rut.”

In the past, I always reached out somewhere, like counseling, to get me through my grieving.  Grieving isn’t a bad thing; it is a coping mechanism.  But grieving too long is not good.  It will crush your mind, body and spirit.  I wasn’t reaching out this time and I was getting crushed.

Two things happened over the past month that broke me out of this spell and helped me heal my spirit. The first thing was that a lost dog appeared in front on our house late one evening, barking incessantly.  This dog was a clone of my beloved companion Bear that died exactly a year earlier, both in looks and personality.  After a month of unsuccessfully locating the owner of this lovable one-year old pup, we adopted “Grizzly”, aka “Little Bear” as we named him.

Second, I came across an article about positivity that I saved from earlier this year.  It was also a catalyst that started me thinking healthy thoughts again.  I’m posting it today on my blog after I post this article so that it may inspire others as it inspired me.

Divine intervention?  I think so.  Faith, hope and love are so powerful.  They pulled me out of the deep, dark hole I fell into and got me over my grieving.  I’m moving forward again with a positive outlook and I’m smiling again on the inside and out. 

Giving Thanks to What Really Matters

“Positive Perspective & Attitude”

November 19, 2012

Recently an MS friend of mine and I were having a chat, and we were talking about how MS has impacted our abilities over the years.   Ah, the value of a peer to share with…

Being an optimist, I said there is a silver lining in everything.  If it wasn’t for me having MS, I would have never met the truly wonderful friends I have today or the beautiful people I met during the major part of my life.  Good friends are priceless, and I am so grateful to have them.

I would never have met them if I didn’t engage myself in the world of being a volunteer.  Volunteers are special people.  They give of themselves and ask for nothing in return.  They are there when you need them, smiling.  That is priceless, and there ARE free things in life.  I would never have survived MS because of their support, and will be ever grateful to them.

Sure, I have my boatload of problems due to the MS.  Just like others who have problems with cancer, special needs children, loss of limbs because of a war… Life is not equal for everyone, and things surly can be a lot worse.  I’ve lived through many major-life crises not related to MS—deaths, job losses, melanoma—but I always came through them.  I give myself time to grieve, vent and complain; then establish my priorities and focus on what really matters.

Sometimes I make a list of what I have to be thankful for, and it is very long.

Things like these keep me optimistic and having a good attitude.  Without a good attitude and a positive perspective, I would have shriveled up long ago; like a flower that would die without sun and water.

So before this Thursday, make that list, and thank everyone that has helped you in some way.  It will make you feel good.

Happy Thanksgiving!




Using Perspective and Positive Thinking

“Overcoming Hardship and Loss”
June 4, 2012

“I had to put my beloved dog down yesterday. I’d rather have him back than the use of my legs.”  That was a tweet I sent out on Friday.

My dog Bear was such a faithful companion for thirteen years.  My son brought him home and gave him to me when he was only five weeks old.  It was love at first sight, and we were inseparable after that initial bond.  He was very sick when I had to make the decision to put him down.  I know I did the right thing, but I feel such sadness and grief right now.

He was my best friend.  He always listened to me, never was mean to me, and stayed by my side no matter what mood I was in.  If I was happy, he was happy. If I was sad, he was sad.  If I left the house without him, he laid by the door until I came home.  Our favorite activity was to take a long walk around the neighborhood every morning and greet the neighbors.

I started to train him to be a therapy dog early, and he was so smart he would put his own toys away.  Bear was so patient and understood my disability. At seventy pounds, he was sturdy and still as I grabbed onto him for balance, or needed help to roll over or stand. I swear if he could push a vacuum cleaner, he would have swept my floors for me.

Dogs are amazing animals.  They are incredibly smart and their senses are keen.  They don’t complain and if treated right, are so devoted; their love is unconditional.  They want to please, and are taught to be useful and obey. They assist police, soldiers, handicapped people, and others in incredible ways.

I am using the power of perspective and positive thinking to help me through my loss:

* Bear was very seriously sick and now he is at peace.  I know in my heart, mind and gut I made the right decision.

*We had thirteen good years together, and gave each other tremendous joy.  I was lucky, but he was lucky too.  He had a lot of love from everyone whether they knew him or not.  He was always fed, walked, brushed, played with and attended to when he was sick or hurt, up until his last breath.

*So many other dogs (or cats, etc.) never have these things.  They are abused, abandoned, or neglected.  Too many loving animals that could have what Bear and I had never get that chance.  In fact, he had a better life than most people on this planet.

*Likewise, even though I have many difficulties with my MS, I also have a better life than most people. My family loves and supports me, I live in a modest but comfortable home, eat well, and have everything that I need except perfect health.  But then again, I tell myself that things could always be a lot worse.  A good friend has a Down’s syndrome daughter; another friend has a severely autistic child.  My brother-in-law lost his 16-yr. child in a bad accident…

*It’s okay to cry or vent out feelings for awhile.  It’s not being weak or emotional; it’s being human.  My husband, son and I are talking about our feelings and memories.

*I am grateful for the sensitivity and kindness others have shown in support of the loss.  What would I do without my family and friends?

Throughout the years I have suffered many hardships and losses–my physical problems from MS; death of a parent, other close relatives and friends; financial and emotional distress from job losses of both my husband and myself—the list is quite long.  I have used my perspective and positive thinking through these difficult situations to help me cope with my grief.  Things happen in life we don’t always understand or think are unfair.  I think experience, age, my MS and attitude have taught me that. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

So I will be sad for now but slowly heal in time to the point where my sadness will dissipate and fond memories will replace it.  I will always feel Bear’s loss, but I accept it and will continue to move forward. Life goes on and Bear would want me to go forward with it.