Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Hip To Be Ethical

It's hip to be ethical in my world. Sticking to core values that guide me through difficult decisions, I'm able to feel good about actions that I take. This means a lot because otherwise I would be just copying everybody else without thinking about what I was doing or having an awareness of how my behavior might impact someone else. That's not cool.

When faced with an important decision I ask myself:

Will this action do harm to any person or animal?
Am I being truthful with my words?
Is my action taking something that doesn't belong to me?
What role does greed play in this activity?

I won't list them all, but I ask myself a short series of questions before coming to a final decision. Sometimes I feel like these considerations take an enormous amount of time to ponder. Often I want to jump to a conclusion and just get on with it, whatever it may be.

Whoa, slow inner voice says to me. Be cool. What if someone else was about to do this and you were witness or victim (intended or not) how would you feel?

So I slow down again and ponder. Taking a deep breath or two, I chill. Then I find my way to the right action.

This past week has been tumultuous. Finding my way to a good decision required extraordinary pondering, or hipness I should say. I'm all chilled out.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Live Where Accepting Alternatives Is Almost a Requirement for Check Approval

One of the strengths I bring to any discussion on CCSVI and MS is my status as "elder." Not because of my age (52) as much as from the 22 1/2 years since diagnosis. Part of the value of my perspective on new ideas and theories about MS lies in the many years that I've lived with an illness that hasn't gone away.

Every time I said that a symptom was bugging me and wished it would just leave, my oldest sister would say something like: "...that's what we mean by 'chronic' disease." At first I rebelled against that viewpoint thinking that it would be healthier for me to keep thinking that I could easily get rid of symptoms. Healthy denial seems to be the term for that.

I've always wanted to be able to play tennis again. Often I would use that desire to keep an upbeat attitude as I read about new findings on MS. It never was comfortable to think that my last tennis match could be truly the last one I'd ever play. In so many ways that healthy denial helped me keep an open mind when I researched anything new on the therapy and drug horizons.

Integrative treatments assisted my development as much as conventional medicine did. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area where keeping an open mind to alternative wisdom is almost a requirement for check approval, I tried a lot of things. Some actually helped my symptoms: bee stings (part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for many centuries I learned), acupressure (Acupuncture without the needles), and more. I used to call them Alternative, then Complementary, but now call them Integrative Medicine and I still read up on them.

I have switched many of the Integrative Therapies over time eliminating some that ceased to be effective for me (bee stings) while taking on new ones that worked (gentle yoga). As the years rolled by and my symptoms worsened despite my best, forward-thinking efforts I slowly became settled into my life as a person with a chronic illness. The transition came slowly and subtly almost like the fog creeping in from the Bay that eludes notice until it shrouds you in its veils of white.

The fog in my thinking crept quietly into my life without a grand entrance; it whispered that I had few choices that would make any difference. I stayed on FDA approved drugs, saw my doctors regularly (the number of specialists kept increasing to my dismay), and slowly it became easier to just agree with conventional wisdom. I thought it best for my health since nothing got better anyway.

Contentment has a valued place in my life if it actually helps me. Mind you, there's a big difference between contentment and complacency. I've been doing gentle yoga for eleven or twelve years now and it has provided tools to keep me calm in stressful situations. There are many healing aspects to the daily practice of yoga that I plan to keep as a continuing therapy in my life. If only to maintain a calm, steady mind I plan to get down on my matt for as long as I am able to. And if I can't get on my matt I'll practice in bed!

One of my yoga teachers told me about the CCSVI broadcast on a Canadian network that aired in January. Viewing that segment featuring Dr. Zamboni rocked me out of the rut of complacency that I had fallen into. At this time I don't know where the path will lead in my healing journey but I definitely want to keep the tools of contentment and stay away from complacency.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Dash of Hope

Like a spice to be sprinkled over my food, I need some hope right now to make my life more palatable. I've been researching CCSVI (Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency) and contacted a few doctors but haven't received any exciting responses. Unless you consider notification that I'm on a waiting list as "exciting."

Until a few months ago I had no hope. It wasn't as depressing as it sounds---I simply had accepted a fate of slowly going downhill with my symptoms. I had become used to planning my daily activities in segments that lasted no longer than three hours door-to-door. Because my short-term memory was so bad, I carried paper and pencil around everywhere I went (it was how I could be sure something important wouldn't be lost in my unreliable memory bank). All the adaptations I made were completely woven into my life in a way that I thought was permanent.

However, after hearing about some of the improvements gained by patients treated for CCSVI I regained some hope. Life tastes slightly better these days. It may be a fleeting feeling but for right now I'm enjoying a dash of hope.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Starting to Speak Up More

The jigsaw puzzle pieces of my life seem to be falling into place these days so I'm speaking up more. Since everything in my life is temporary it's quite likely that some pieces in the puzzle will go missing in the future. But for now, things are staying where they landed and the puzzle looks nice. More will be revealed.