Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Look! There's a bird!

Since the temps outside were only in the low 70's ('only' is a relative term, believe me), I decided to do a little yard work this morning. Here's the problem with me, whenever I start any project, large or small. I have the attention span of a dust mote. I start the project with all good intentions, something catches my eye (within moments of starting), and I'm off paying attention to that thing -- until something else catches my eye. So what should have been an easy task (sweeping up dead leaves and such from the driveway) instead went something like this:

While I'm sweeping, I realize that the tree along the side of the driveway has DOZENS of shoots coming up all around the trunk; I also notice a dead branch on one of the cedars along the edge of our property to the east.

So I trudge to the back of the house and pick up a pair of clippers, trudge back up to the front of the house, and start clipping. Then I notice some ugly plants (weeds?) further up the driveway, so I carefully climb up the small slope (trying desperately not to fall or harm anything that's growing there) and I pull out the offending weeds.

I do a bunch more pruning, and then I notice that a small bush on the side of the garage is leaning over and about to drop onto the ground, so I trudge back out to the back of the house to get this cool plastic twine stuff we have so I can put a bamboo stake in the bed next to the bush and prop it up.

Only I notice that we have a lot more roses (and the ones I'd cut a few days ago were destined to join the rest of the green waste at some point during the day), so I walk down to the rose bushes to cut a few. Only I notice that the day lily plants have a lot of yellow leaves, so I start pulling them out, and that little sub-task requires two trips up the slope to the green waste container (you see, walking is no longer one of my skills -- it's hard as hell to walk with one leg that doesn't quite work right, and with a questionable sense of balance, so the little walk up the slope to the green waste bin is not easy for me. I come back down and cut one gorgeous, pink rose, notice a bunch more dead leaves on the day lily plants and literally have to force myself to get the hell back into the house where it's cool and I can sit down.

What should have been a ten-minute deal took me something like 45 minutes, and I hadn't even had a cup of coffee!

So I can do stuff, sure, but only for a very short period of time.

A few months ago, my neurologist suggested that I attend a session on managing fatigue (which is the single worst MS symptom for a compulsive, control-freakazoid like me). I knew about the fatigue (oh mama, do I know!), but I never knew why it happened. Here's what I learned:
when you have MS, your central nervous system is damaged so that it doesn't transmit impulses properly. When the body get overheated, or a particular set of muscles and nerves are used repetitively (like, for example, when you try to walk somewhere), the result is -- well --
fatigue; those muscles/nerves will stop working the way you want them to. I once heard someone describe MS fatigue as sinking into quicksand. My analogy is that it's like a heavy, dark curtain coming down over my head and body -- and when that curtain starts to drop, I have to lie down and rest, or I'll fall over.

This happens at unpredictable times (like once, when I was speeding in the fast lane on I-880, somewhere south of Oakland), which kinda prevents me from getting in the car and just going somewhere by myself. I might make it to wherever I want to go, but there's no guarantee that I'll make it back home.

I now can't remember how I started this rant, so I'm gonna end it and read the Oregonian online.


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