Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Royal Pain in the A$$

Okay, I've had it. Had it with celebrity pregnancy speculation ("Jennifer Aniston Walked Past a Baby Store Once Last Month: Is She Expecting??!!"); post-pregnancy shockers ("HOT Mama: How Kim Kardashian Lost 42 Pounds in 10 Minutes!"); and, to me, the worst offender: the baby-bump pictures ("LookyLoo, Potential Celebrity Stalkers! Reese Witherspoon's BABY BUMP!"). I'm sick of the expression baby bump for sure (let's see how many times I can use it in this post, shall we?), and the pictures of the baby bumps just seem a little creepy. Maybe it's just me. Oh, it is? You like baby bumps? Fine.

Anyone else sick of hearing about the royal baby? No? Crap. Come on...not even a little bit? No? You were one of the 345,987,482 people waiting with bated breath to learn his name? Sadly, it wasn't one of the super-clever names celebrities have chosen, such as North West. Or Brooklyn, Harper, Romeo, or Cruz. Not Jesse James or Justice. Neither Ptolemy nor Winter. Not Blanket! Not Banjo! Yeah, you get the point. Turns out it was something appropriately staid and regal: George. Zzzzzzzzzz! How much more exciting if the little chap were named something outrageous, like the celebrity spawn above. Prince would have been amusing. Elvis? (You know, "The King"?) Dumbledore? He's pretty badass, and, you know, a WIZARD, so that's sorta close to royalty, isn't it? Kings and wizards were always running around in the olden days fighting dragons, etc.

Perhaps I really am the lone crankypants who's already annoyed at the hubbub surrounding the newest member of the royal family. What's the big deal, anyway? He'll have royal nannies and governesses, and tutors to teach him his maths, and cricket coaches, and servants to bring him his crisps and ginger beer. ("Oi! Fetch me another bag of crisps, you cow! Pip pip!") That's kind of how I imagine it going, anyway.

Meanwhile, I will Keep Cranky and Carry On raising my kids cats. I can hear you scoffing from here. HEY! I'll have you know raising well-mannered, thoughtful, and smart cats is every bit as challenging as raising kids. Especially royal kids. I'm raising them without the help of nannies and tutors and cricket coaches. When my cats look at me imperiously as if to say, "Oi! Fetch me another can of tuna, you cow! Pip pip!" they aren't rudely addressing some servant, they're talking to ME, their doting mommy. Below are four other ways babies are infinitely easier than cats:

"Oi! Fetch us something to eat! At once!"
1. Bathing a wee baby is fun! Look how he giggles and splashes around. sweet, so adorable. Now he's blinking up at you in wonder. Your heart swells. Just try that with your kitty kids. There's a lot less sweet and adorable and a lot more screeching, scratching, and wrestling furiously. Plus, bucking, thrashing, and more scratching. Yeah, not so easy. 

2. Changing a wee baby's diaper. Okay, maybe not the MOST fun of parenting duties (haha, doodies!), but often there's cooing and more blinking-in-wonder business. Not so when dealing with the cats' "business." There's filthy, gritty litter underfoot, horrific odors, the cat who insists on waiting until the box is clean before trotting in and soiling it immediately.

3. Baby clothes. Is there anything more adorable? Yes! There is! Cat clothes! But will my cats wear the sweet little outfits I buy them? NO! There's squirming and mewling and chasing and hiding... Just once I'd like to see one of my precious little kitties wear the jaunty bonnet, cape, and booties I bought them. Sigh. I guess I'll have to look at pictures of my niece and nephew in their adorable little clothes instead.

4. Oopsie! Did that little baby just spit up? Oh, it's all over his bib and my new shirt and in my hair. That's okay! Look at him blinking in wonder. Nothing gross about baby puke spit up (have you noticed it's always spit up, never puke or vomit?)! But the cats? Different story. First there's a fleeting, bug-eyed look of unease. That's swiftly followed by a lurching onto the nearest carpet or piece of furniture. Then the hunched back. And then the heaving and retching. No time for mommy to grab a towel or toss the kitty onto a tile floor. Nope! There's the hairball, surrounded by barely ingested food. Off marches the cat, leaving you scrubbing and cursing in his wake. Plenty gross about hairballs and cat puke.

Friends, I rest my case. As I've so clearly demonstrated with excellent case studies and scientifically based, empirical, ummm, peer-reviewed evidence, raising cats is a royal pain in the a$$. Raising kids, especially with 'round-the-clock help from the cricket coach and the governess? Piece of cake!

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Top 5 Weirdest MS Symtpoms

I want to talk about weird MS symptoms, even though it makes me -- an avowed hypochondriac -- a little nervous. Whaaaat? Here's why: in my mind, someone is going to look at my list of weird symptoms and say, "WAIT, Ms. CrankyPants! That's not MS you're describing! Those are all symptoms of [insert hideous, fatal disease here]." And it won't matter a whit that whoever makes this proclamation isn't a doctor, hasn't seen my MRIs or other tests, and could be drunk and/or mentally unstable. Nope! I'll immediately begin worrying that this know-it-all is right, as I've secretly nurtured a fear that I've been misdiagnosed this whole time. Yep, since 2005. Irrational? Indeed!

But I am going to do it anyway, because [insert wobbly voice] if there's a chance I can help one, just ONE, person [orchestra swelling] recognize a weird symptom they've been quietly freaking out about, then it'll be worth it. Okay, that's atcually kind of true, as cliche and embarrassing as it sounds. That's because it happened to me. There was a totally scary symptom I was having, and I didn't feel better about it until I read that it is something that can happen when you have MS. When I read that -- quite by accident; I was perusing this blog, in fact -- I literally sat at my desk and cried with relief. I'm not a big crier, so this was a big deal, but that's how much I'd been freaking out.

Onward, ho! Here are my Top 5 Weird MS Symptoms (and, YES, they're MS -- please, if you like me even a little bit, don't tell me they're also symptoms of something else). Oh, and you can't read further until I remind you that I am not a doctor, so obviously any of the things I talk about below are personal experiences and in no way constitute anything resembling actual professional medical advice:

1. One pupil bigger than the other. This earns the top spot on my list because this is the one that was so damn scary. I'd very recently had a bout of optic neuritis, which was affecting my right eye. Later, my neurologist explained the optic neuritis was why I had that !($&ing big pupil. But that talk didn't happen until a couple of months after I first noticed this freaky symptom. Until I knew it was related to MS, I was a mess. I vividly remember being in the mall one day and stopping at every other mirror to check my pupils. Yep, the right one was still bigger! Forget about being alone in a bathroom. There, I could examine my pupils for as long as I wanted, while imagining the horrible reasons for the different sizes. Even though I was in anguish, I was too scared to go to the doctor -- just in case he or she confirmed my worst fears. Irrational? Indeed! So it was by pure chance that I stumbled across a reference to this phenomenon in the blog I linked to above. The relief was overwhelming. Thank you, Julie Stachowiak. You'll never know it, but you took an enormous weight off my shoulders (and made me cry!).

2. Water dripping on me. This one is more annoying than scary. But I had about a week where I could swear water was dripping on me. The first few times, I looked up. Nope, not raining in my living room! The urge to wipe off the invisible "water" was irresistible. No amount of wiping helped. Drip, drip, drip. Then a long pause. Drip. It was so strange. That little gem hasn't returned.

3. Head zaps. Oh, this one sucked. I was out of town for work when the first zap happened. It was an intense, shooting, split-second pain in the back of my head. Naturally, I thought I had a brain tumor or an aneurysm. After conferring with my neurologist by phone, I went to the ER, where I got a CT scan (so if I didn't have a brain tumor then, just give it a few years what with the radiation and all). The scan showed nothing. But the head zaps became my buddy that week. I could count on one to happen every morning as soon as I stood up from bed. Next one: in the shower, right on schedule. The third? After breakfast. And on and on. When I finally got home, my neurologist ordered an MRI. It showed lots of new lesions, and bloodwork indicated very low levels of Vitamin D. A course of steroids and some mega, prescription-level doses of Vitamin D nipped the zaps in the bud. They've come back a couple of times, but only once or twice, and never for a week. Thank God.

4. Muffled hearing. In the midst of the gross heatwave we're experiencing on the East Coast this week, I've noticed this one recently. If go outside in the heat, when I come back indoors my hearing is muffled -- as if I were underwater. It takes about 10 minutes in the air conditioning for my ever-so-keen hearing to return to normal ("Captain Nap?! Are you vomiting in there?").
"It was Squeaky."
5. Skin burning. This has happened only once, but it was fairly unpleasant. Whenever I brushed against something, or someone touched me, my skin felt as if it were on fire. The sensation lasted only seconds, but it was enough for me to leap away in horror when someone seemed to be entering the Radius of Fire.

So there you have it. Of course, I've had the gamut of more "normal" MS symptoms: drop foot, the MS "hug," fatigue, numbness, memory problems, the need to be always near a bathroom, cellulite*...MS really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Stay cool!

Ms. C-P

*Ignore what I said earlier about not being a medical professional. I've changed my mind, and I've determined that MS causes cellulite.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

An Awkward Moment in the Bathroom

That mess on the floor? A rudely discarded paper seat cover! I can't explain the toilet paper roll. No, there aren't any bored cats roaming around the workplace. (Full disclosure: this was taken at my previous job. But still.)
So I just came back from the bathroom at work. While in the bathroom, I had an Awkward Moment (although, really, is there any other kind in a bathroom?). A woman had entered immediately before me. As I strode toward my stall (remember, people, the one closest to the door has the fewest germs!) I passed her. She had stopped to disengage one of those rustly paper seat covers. As she struggled noisily with it, I marched on past and into the stall, sans paper seat cover. I immediately felt self-conscious. What was she thinking? Was she smugly wrestling with the blasted seat cover, privately praising her attentiveness to hygeine while recoiling at my lack of the same?

Oh, yeah? Well I am plenty hygenic, damnit, and I also am very mindful of waste. Not *that* kind: the paper kind. Those flimsy paper things seem to me like a big fat waste of resources, and I think I read somewhere once that they don't really accomplish anything in the way of protecting you from germs. The real gross stuff in bathrooms is lurking on the door handles and the toilet flusher, and I'll have you know I always flush with my foot. So THERE! I was all indignant in my stall, imagining what Ms. Paper-Rustler was thinking about me as she primly sat on her paper-covered toilet seat, making dainty little crinkling noises.

I hurried out of the stall and raced to the sink, trying to avoid that Awkard Moment where the two of us would meet at the sink at the same time. Even were it not for the awkwardness I'd conjured up surrounding the seat cover, there's always a little weirndess at the sink. Do you acknowlege each other? In our case, being on opposite sides of the Great Paper Seat-Cover divide, I thought not. She probably was thinking I was disgusting, and I was thinking I'd like to get myself out of the bathroom before I was forced to meet her withering expression in the mirror.

I noisily washed my hands (see: "I am plenty hygenic, damnit," above) and bolted, recycling the paper towel I'd dried my hands with to open the door (see: "gross stuff lurking on door handles" and "I am very mindful of waste," above).

A quick blog maintenance & responsiveness to others' blogs note: I've been out of commission for a couple of weeks, owing to a tremendous bout of fatigue. Not sure if it's the MS plus the horrific heat, or a terminal illess (or all three), but it's kept me largely inert -- like a dirty, scratchy sack of old potatoes with those white things sprouting out of them. Sometimes just the idea of getting on the computer makes me tired. So, really, it's not you, it's me! Hang in there with me, unless my old-sprouty potato description, plus the fact that I don't use paper toilet seat covers, means you don't want to be my friend anymore.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Cat's Out of the Bag

As many of you know, I started a new job last month. The people I work with are quite nice, and at the end of my first week a couple of them invited me to get a drink after work. I was caught off guard by the invitation. The very nice young man who issued the invitation, seeing me sit there slack-jawed and unable to formulate a sentence in response, obviously sensed my hesitation.

"You can think about it," he said, before walking back to his cube. "But we'd love to have you join us."

"Okay!" I bleated to his back. "Let me think about it!"

I sat there, stymied (and embarrassed by my noncommittal response, which I thought probably came across as weird at best, and quite possibly rude). I was in a pickle. See, owing to the 4,782 different medications I'm on, I am not supposed to drink alcohol. I began envisioning different scenarios playing out with my co-workers.

  1. I decline the invitation. This confirms the impression I made with the "I'll think about it" response and they think I'm rude. I will not be getting another invitation. 
  2. I accept the invitation and order a tall frosty glass of lemonade, while everyone else guzzles beer. I am the prim and proper (and disapproving) NON-DRINKER. That's the last time I'm invited to a happy hour. 
  3. I accept the invitation and order an actual alcoholic drink. I get instantly and disgustingly drunk and cause a massive scene. Medics and the police are called to haul me away. I am invited to every happy hour from that point on, as I provide unbeatable entertainment.  
If you guessed that Number 3 is how it played out in real life, you are absolutely correct. Now I am known as the office Life of the Party and have even been offered money to come to people's homes and drink for the sheer amusement I provide other partygoers. 

Okay, fine. That's not really what happened. I went...and ordered a non-alcoholic beer. I thought I could sneak it past the others, but one of them noticed. And commented. It was innocently done. He actually thought it was a regular beer and made some impressed noise as if to say, "Well done! Here we are drinking light beer and you've gone and ordered this Very Manly Strong Beer!" At least, that's how I interpreted his noise. It may have been that he was clearing his throat. Regardless, I seized the moment.

"Oh, nonono! It's not a real beer!" I shouted, over the din created by fellow revelers and a rather sad man playing guitar and warbling songs into a microphone about two feet away. 




I hoisted the beer into his line of sight and pointed to the label. He looked at me as if I were an idiot, which surely I was by this point. 

"FAKE!!" I bellowed. 

He looked at the label and nodded. 

During a lull in the warbling, I felt compelled to press on. By then, the others were talking about basketball scores. I reinserted my beer into the conversation. 

"About the beer," I began. They looked at me blankly. Why was I still talking about it? In an embarrassed rush I explained that I wasn't drinking fake beer by choice. I had to. Because of medication I was taking. Shit. That last bit hung in the air. Now they'd think I was on some antibiotic for a disgusting infection of some kind. Shit again. 

"It has to do with MS. I have MS. Multiple sclerosis," I said, relieved to be done with the explanation. 

They asked a couple of questions, and then we all moved on. It was that simple. I felt better (once I had finished with the awkward and embarrassing shouting). Sometimes, it's unwise to reveal such things. Time will tell. For now, I am okay with being the non-drinking person in the office who happens to have MS.