MS walk logo

As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am a member of an MS aquatics exercise class at Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, Alabama. It’s a wonderful class and support group that I believe has helped keep my MS from progressing during the 15 years since I was diagnosed. 

For the seventh year in a row, the class formed a team known as the Lakeshore Splashers and participated in the Birmingham Walk MS on April 5. Most of our 13 team members have been diagnosed with MS. We worked hard this year to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Alabama/Mississippi chapter.

And less than two weeks after the walk at Homewood Park, the Splashers have already collected close to $5,000 in pledges. That amount includes donations from friends and family members as well as personal contributions from team members. And the money is still coming in!

Congratulations, Splashers, and thank you for helping to make the April 5 Birmingham Walk MS a success!

NOTE: The funds raised through events such as the Birmingham Walk MS allow the Alabama/Mississippi chapter of the National MS Society to continue providing necessary support to people affected by MS.  Newly diagnosed support, lending library, support groups, peer support network, and emergency financial aid are just a few examples of the programs provided by this chapter.  These events also raise funds to continue cutting-edge research to help find a cure for this auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system.

 For more information about the National MS Society, how proceeds from Walk MS are used, or the other ways you can do something about MS now, visit the chapter’s website at








Say goodbye to Baby-head

April 12, 2014

I guess I should have figured that if I overfed my cats for close to 10 years, their health would suffer sooner or later. (See previous post: “Baby-head and brother make ‘lifestyle change,’” Jan. 14, 2013)

It was, in fact, sooner than I expected. At age 10, Jem (Baby-head’s brother) began losing weight and was diagnosed with diabetes. I began giving him insulin twice a day and feeding him special $$$$ food. He’s back in fine form, neither missing a meal nor failing to remind me when the litter box needs routine maintenance.

Baby-head’s (Scout’s) health problem was more of a mystery, at first. My vet thought she had a heart problem, but after an $$$$ echocardiogram did not indicate a problem with her heart, she was diagnosed high blood pressure that was causing kidney failure.

I gave her medication to lower her blood pressure, but her kidneys just couldn’t keep up. Her quality of life sucked, and, after one course of fluids, I decided that simply keeping her alive wasn’t an acceptable option. She seemed okay for about a month or so, but continued to lose weight, became dehydrated and got weaker. She sometimes had difficulty walking or holding up her head.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I called the vet and took her in later that day to have her “put down.” Here I was, 60 years old and a cat owner since age 13, and I had never taken a cat to the vet to be euthanized.

When I got to the vet’s office, her assistant told me that she thought Scout had a stroke, too. The vet and her assistant were compassionate and efficient in performing the procedure. It was very sad — more so than I thought it would be. I petted her until I felt her body begin to grow cold. I cried a little.

I took her body to my friends’ house and buried her in their pet cemetery.

She was without a doubt the sweetest-natured cat I ever owned.

Jem seems to know she is gone, but doesn’t seem to be grieving. I think he’ll be fine as long as he gets to eat her food as well as his. And now that he no longer has a sister to beat up on, he has become almost as sweet-natured as she was.

Goodbye, Scout. Sweet dreams.

The folks at Healthline have just launched a video campaign for MS called “You’ve Got This” where individuals living with MS can record a short video to give hope and inspiration those recently diagnosed with MS.

They have asked me to help spread the word about this campaign by sharing this information with friends and followers. If you are interested, please consider submitting a video.

You can visit the homepage and check out videos from the campaign here:

Healthline will donate $10 for every submitted campaign to the National MS Society, so the more exposure the campaign gets, the more the videos we’ll receive and the more Healthline can donate to MS research, support groups, treatment programs, and more.

I spoke at an MS event in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday, March 1, and told the story of my MS diagnosis almost 16 years ago. I have posted it here  in honor of MS Awareness Week and in the hope that it will help educate others about this chronic autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system:

I had my first MS symptom in 1990. I didn’t know it was an MS symptom; I just knew I didn’t feel right. I would find out years later that it was transverse myelitis, known as the “MS hug.” It was a band of numbness and tightness around my rib cage. I saw a neurologist,  but he was unable to diagnose the problem. He prescribed an antidepressant and said it would subside. It did subside (because that’s what MS does), and I didn’t think anything more about it until I started noticing other problems, such as weakness in my right leg and urinary incontinence. I saw more doctors, but they couldn’t diagnose my problem either. I moved on to a chiropractor and then to a massage therapist, who noticed a problem with my gait but told me it was because my right leg was shorter than my left. (He was wrong.) I was about to give up when my gynecologist referred me to a urologist for my incontinence issues. She suggested several treatments, but the problem continued. I went back to see her again and again with no results.

During one visit, I mentioned I worked at Alabama Power, a large electric utility the serves the lower two-thirds of the state. (I have no idea why I told her that. She may have asked where I worked.) She told me about a problem she was having with her electric service. I gave her a number to call about it, and I figured that if she was going to tell me about her problem, well then, I was going to tell her about the weakness in my leg. Telling her about a second symptom made all the difference. She determined that the problem was probably neurological and said that I might have a demyelinating disease. She referred me to a neurologist (a different one). After an MRI and other tests, he diagnosed it as MS and referred me to an MS specialist. That was in 1998. It took me eight years to get a diagnosis. My story is about persistence and resourcefulness. If I had given up instead of being so stubborn about it, I might have never been diagnosed.

I resolve for 2014 …

January 5, 2014

I did a pretty good job of keeping my New Year’s resolutions for 2013, so I have fine-tuned them and added some new goals for 2014.

10. Eat according to Dr. Terry Wahl’s dietary protocol

9.   Attend Pilates Reformer class once a week

8.   Attend MS aquatics class once twice a week

7.   Work out with personal trainer once a week

6.   Write in my journal daily (the first part is new) and blog once a week

5.   Work crossword puzzles and do Lumosity brain exercises (the second part is new) daily

4.   Play piano daily (new)

3.  Meditate daily (new)

2.  Minimize stress, enjoy life and relax

1. Be thankful.

I would like to correct an error in a previous blog posting.

The error was unearthed by a wise reader, who wrote: “Hi, you had written that Hamlet said, ‘In my heart of hearts (the second “heart” isn’t plural.) Like everyone else, Hamlet only has one heart. Feel free to look this up to be certain that I am correct.”

You are indeed correct, gentle reader. I went online and searched for the phrase and found very few references to Hamlet’s heart of heart (one heart, that is). I think it’s fair to say that most of today’s readers and writers — and I include myself in that group — seem to have bastardized the phase at almost every opportunity. In fact, the only correct reference I found was in William Shakespeare’s original work, “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.”

Thanks, again, dear reader. I am happy to set the record straight.

I’m an introvert at a writer’s conference in LA (lower Alabama). The Alabama Writers Conclave conference, to be exact. So I thought that in order to network more successfully today and tomorrow, I should pretend I am an extrovert. But then I immediately took that thought back mentally — if that’s possible — because it’s just way too scary. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could move toward extroversion on the introvert-extrovert scale.

So I Googled, “What is the word for being halfway between an introvert and an extrovert?”Google said the word is “ambivert.” So that’s what I’m going to be today and tomorrow — an ambivert. Or at least a “playlike” ambivert, as we say in the South. It’s a step in the right direction, anyway.

I like that word: ambivert. It sounds as if I don’t give a damn either way.

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