MyLife With MS: Daily Physical and Mental Exercises, Part I
It all gets simple at the end
Loss of physical ability brings ease of action.
I sometimes wish that my understanding of MS had evolved sooner. I've been diagnosed since late 2003, the active and visible manifestations of the conditions present since about 2000. I'm writing in mid-2016. At this point I've been fully retired from Medical Practice for over eight years. I cannot walk. I eat only with my left hand if I don't want my dinner on my shirt and lap. I am naturally right-handed but
can no longer freely use it to write anything. My signature was a flowing script of swirls starting left-to right, containing a large T and V and concluding with a right-to-left sweeping conclusion. In the morning, if I am rested and totally unstressed, I may be able to replicate it. In re-mortgaging our house I signed the many pages of the document without problems. I may have problems recapitulating this.The journal I wrote Longhand from 1972 or so until two years ago has really been replaced by this blog. Successfully, I hope.
I have traveled through many stages in my career with MS. I'm past the period of Magical Thinking, where I might believe that a cure would occur, Hey Presto!, waking up able and willing to run, to backpack, to continue my Journal, to play the piano, to repair a complicated laceration or successfully run a code. I realize I can do these things, only now I do them in my mind. Let's look at this and realize that what is occurring is another stage of learning, of maturation. And let's also realize my fortune in life is enormous, is incredible.
Wait a minute. I'm in danger of Running Off and gleefully praising the Wisdom and Justice and Rightness of the Almighty, which is very nice, and great in its own proper place but today I am a sober, considered and realistic Secular Physician. God's in His Heaven, as they say.
What I'd like to talk about today is the way that seeing How Things Are and What my Goals are lets me make life easier and smoother. Eating is a simple example. I cannot trust my right hand. I drop things. An intention tremor begins and worsens. I eventually can't turn off an action I'm trying to do with this hand and catastrophe, or to put it a better way, street comedy, result. I mistakenly pick up a cup of coffee with my right hand and bring it to my lips to sip. No problems until I try to replace the cup on its dish. An intention tremor starts as the elbow is extended past 90*. The tremor quickly worsens, the coffee starts to spill bilaterally. I try to lower the cup and it hits the plate and anything near by, spilling everything and alerting all the neighbors in surrounding tables that an unpleasant situation has arisen. With luck, I grasp my cup-containing right hand with my left, like a mother with her troublesome child, remove the cup and place it safely on the saucer.
The solution is simple. I don't use my right hand unless absolutely necessary. If I need to cut a steak, I pin it to the plate with a fork and use the weak but trustworthy left hand to wield the knife. Anymore, I find myself avoiding situations which require cutting food or needing a fast delivery of food to the mouth. Tablespoons work well in cases where dishes are thick soups or stews. Every larger article is in small, bite sized pieces, if possible. I avoid using knives and use forks, large or smaller, if the course is one of smaller, 'spearable' pieces. At home, I try to eat out of bowls with a spoon.
I've written that my habit of morning coffee without breakfast has allowed an unplanned daily 'partial fast' of 16 hours or more separating major evening and next-day meals. I've painlessly and without any planning, lost a lot of weight. Since my genotype loads me with the Diabetes Type II inevitable in a very large German-type who used to burn 6000 calories per day in the vigorous rite of daily living in Southwest Portland without a car, studying at the University on the Polder land near the river and living at home 800 feet up near Council Crest. I walked, ran or biked everywhere. My odd habits of eating and generous consumption of coffee have now finally brought me back to a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25, which is 'normal'.
Doing the dishes: Life writ small.
I learned how to load a dishwasher when I was eight or so. I've been loading it wherever I've been ever since. I think I've said that I have a little obsessive-compulsion in my makeup; I'm a doctor, after all and this goes along with the whole Americam Doctor gig. Consequently, I've always loaded the machine according to a fairly rigid Plan. My Loadings are complete and I only load Clean Dishes. Some would say I waste a lot of water and time but I have always done it this way.
I was first taught to 'do the dishes' by a wonderful babysitter-cum-family friend who always told me that the dishwasher was meant to sterilize the dishes after they had been completely hand-washed. I learned to pack the dishes in an entirely orderly way after cleaning them and then running the load. Residual Crudlies were never seen.
I've taken on the dishes as one of my morning Chores. I only do one load a day but this involves a thorough cleaning and rinsing of the dishes the night before and their placement in the sink. Occasionally, I will have loaded the dishwasher after dinner for some reason and will run it at night, emptying the load in the morning.
Now, to pin a rose on me, let me note that this regular, repetitive peripatetic set of actions may be seen as a Meditation of Action. Ascending through the Aether, I am...
Part of my Daily Mental Exercises
Some Daytime Gymnastics: Mental and Physical
I wish I could say that a combination of my careful, life-long financial preparation and my bend-over-backwards-loving family have left me with a comfortable, hassle-free existence. Only partly true. My dear wife rises early to teach and the sight of me rumbling away in the Land of Nod disspirits her. Being in Her genotype of the ever-hard-working Irish Washer-Woman class, I had better get my Keister out of bed and be Productive. My many plans for lucre-earning activities have proven too hard in their Rube Goldberg machinations and this Blog and a fairly respectable correspondence remain.
I have shown examples of the mental exercises I regularly do each day. I can easily scoot about from one place to another; the piano is unmovable so keeps its' place in the living room, the library contents may be read anywhere but I prefer to read near the bookshelves because the light is excellent there. I always do Crosswords in pen. So should you.
Sometimes I do Sodoku but at this point find it not challenging. It is good, though, in forcing the mind to Attend to the task at hand. This kind of training pays off in many ways.
Sometimes I play Chess on my iPad, using an inexpensive Ap. I am trying to learn the ins and outs of the Siciian Defense, Bobby Fisher's favorite. I also have a Go Ap on my electronics and this is a game which I've only been playing since about 1985 and which becomes more interesting as time passes.
I used to play the piano fairly well. I liked to play and I like to think I was getting to be quite a pianist. I was learning 'The Goldberg Variations' about the same time MS stepped in and changed everything. I was so busy trying to stay awake, I put off almost all other activities for a while. I can't play the piano very well anymore but I do sit down when I can and play some old favorites for myself. One of the advantages of playing by myself is that I can ignore all tempo and speed. I can ignore everything but the feeling of the notes, the chords played. I've lost much of the rush that I used to feel while playing but maybe some of this is coming back.
My Library is both physically on the shelves and also on my Kindle, an Ap I have established on every piece of electronics I own. I've always loved the feel and the smell of old books. Many of the books in the library are old themselves or I have owned them since the mid-seventies and they're becoming 'middle aged.' The Kindle holds about 300 books but many are in its Storage files. Dad doesn't like the electronic books but this is just his preference. I can adjust the font, the size, even the color involved. Best of all, with the Kindle I can instantly look up any word in the Oxford Dictionary then highlight it, so it's easily found to review. I thought I knew the English language; I'm enjoying finding out how little I actually knew. Every morning I go into the living room and slowly meander along the shelves. I take out a volume, many of which I've never read, and spend a minute or an hour or a day reading them. Such a delight.
Another word, in Passing.
I think this blog is just about over. I changed the title, to include 'I', to indicate that the processes of my life are Fluid and that further comments on the subject of getting used to Secondary Progressive MS are, have to be and will be forthcoming. This will let me publish these thoughts and move maybe to other Topics for a while. Thanks for your patience.
All text and photos are mine and I claim Copyright privilege.
Physical exercise for the Multipli Sclerotic
I managed to rewrite the title and think it's much clearer now. I'm trying to revise the bio but the 'hubtool' hasn't let me revise the writing and add a short biographical synopsis below my photo. I will keep on with the Good Fight; I'd like this blog to be seen in Healdove.