A Sampling of My Summer Madness

Wow, have I had a crazy couple of months! My eventful summer has kept me away from writing for too long, but I’m happy to be back in action on my blog. I’ve missed all of you! Hopefully I can catch you up on what I would have (and should have) been writing about.

Since June, my life has been filled with lots of transition, as well as an amazing adventure for my son — and some MS annoyances that put my life on hold for a little while. But I’ve also had some enlightening moments that have helped me put these ups and downs into perspective.

Jake’s high school graduation, A new chapter begins for both of us.

Everything kicked off with the excitement of my son’s high school graduation. I’m so proud of Jake for working so hard, both in the classroom and on the baseball field, over the past four years. Next month he’ll be headed off to a very well-regarded private Christian University in San Diego, where he’ll continue to play baseball. I’m so happy for him!

But on the not-so-exciting side of things, Jake’s graduation marked the end of child support from his father and other disability payments that had been a big help to me financially. So I’ve been putting some time into looking for flexible jobs that will make up the difference. Money is always a big source of stress for me, as it is for so many people, so this has been heavy on my mind.

So, back to my summer of craziness…two days after Jake’s graduation, Jake and I and my dad headed to the East Coast for lots of baseball and traveling. Jake was invited to play with the U.S. Military All-Stars baseball team on its Red, White and Blue tour. My dad and I went along for the ride (and to take a lot of photos!), making stops in Rhode Island, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Boston and New York.

A lot of the players serve in the military and choose a word or phrase for Continue reading

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10 Things I Learned at MS University

I’ve been thinking about adding some initials after my name, just like physicians and scholars. Tricia Chandler, MS. Looks good, doesn’t it?

While I do have MS, I don’t have an M.S. (Master of Science). In fact I don’t have an official college degree of any kind. I really wish we could earn degrees through real life experiences, not just from a university. Wouldn’t that be great?

Smile

Dean Chandler requires every student enroll in Don’t Worry Be Happy 101.

If that were the case, I think I would already have all the credits I need to be a psychologist, a nurse, a nutritionist, a pharmacist, a teacher, and a pastor, among many other things!

Even though I don’t have any letters after my name to prove it, my real-world education — particularly the part that involves having multiple sclerosis — has not only made me smarter, but it’s also given me some valuable life perspective.

I’d like to share what I consider to be some of the most important things that I’ve learned.

1. Laugh as much as possible! It really is the best medicine out there. And it’s free. Seek out people and activities that will make you laugh. Be goofy.

2. Have faith. Instead of asking why God gave you a disease (or some other condition you didn’t ask for), ask for the strength to help you fight it. Use your spirituality to get you through tough times and be thankful for everything you have. My faith has saved me so many times. Continue reading

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More Than Just a Neurologist

With my neurologist of 17 years.

When you have multiple sclerosis, you need to have a great neurologist. This is not an area where you can compromise.

Whenever I’m speaking with people who are newly diagnosed, one of the first questions I ask is whether they like their neurologist…”Is this a doctor you trust? Someone you can communicate with easily and openly? Someone you like as a person?”

If they answer no to any of those things, I tell them to find a new neurologist. Immediately.

Your neurologist is your partner in fighting MS and someone with whom you must feel comfortable at the most uncomfortable of times.

I was fortunate to meet my neurologist, Dr. Thomas Chippendale of The Neurology Center in San Diego, the week after my primary care physician told me that I had multiple sclerosis.

My first visit to his office included a spinal tap, a.k.a. lumbar puncture. My dad drove me to the appointment with my then-9-month-old son Jake, and they waited for me as I went in Continue reading

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I Really Need to Pee!

Let’s talk bladders. It’s a big topic on my mind right now because in the last few weeks I’ve been feeling the effects of bladder dysfunction — an MS symptom that’s plagued me since my early 30s.

I’ll admit that this isn’t something I love to discuss, but it’s an important issue because so many people with MS deal with it. The National MS Society says at least 80 percent of people with multiple sclerosis have bladder dysfunction. It’s invisible and uncomfortable. And unless you experience it, it’s difficult to comprehend the physical and emotional toll it takes on you.

Before I get into my personal story, here’s a quick explanation of bladder dysfunction — if you don’t mind some nitty gritty details. When people with a normal, healthy bladder feel like they have to pee, they can hold it until they know that they really gotta go. Then they can hurry to the toilet and Continue reading

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A Message That’s Worthy of the Share Button

In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, March 12-18, I’m posting this well-made video that I hope you will share with your sphere of contacts! The message is so true: Almost everyone knows someone with MS, whether they realize it or not. More than 2.1 million people in the U.S. are living with this disease, and there’s a new diagnosis every hour of every day. MS really does impact us all.

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My Radio Interview: A ‘Bedeviling’ Disease

Last weekend I had the chance to share my MS story on the radio. It was a great opportunity to shed light on multiple sclerosis for listeners who aren’t familiar with the disease and the dire need for a cure.

The local San Diego radio show “Community Connection,” which airs on KOGO 95.7 FM/AM 600, invited me and my friend Richard Israel, president of the National MS Society’s Pacific South Coast Chapter, to answer some questions about the “chronic, unpredictable and disabling” disease. If you’d like to listen to what I said, here’s a link: March 2012 KOGO Radio Interview.

The interviewer correctly noted that people with this disease often live for decades with symptoms before they finally get their diagnosis. For me, that was certainly true. My symptoms started 11 years before my doctor told me I had MS.  I was a freshly-minted teenager when I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus and lost the vision in my left eye, part of my ongoing journey of chronic optic neuritis. Continue reading

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An Old Video, a Little Piece of Me

As I prepare for the big Walk MS event in late April, I’ve been spending more time than usual on the MS Society website. The other day I came across this video — talk about a blast from the past!

In 2005, the San Diego chapter of the National MS Society made the video about my journey living with MS. The goal was to raise awareness by attaching a face (mine) to the disease.

Hard to believe that it was seven years ago, but not hard to believe when I see myself on video and hear my son Jake’s little boy voice. He’s now finishing up his senior year in high school, and is very much a man!

In many ways, this is difficult for me to watch. Not just because my speech was slow and Continue reading

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Why I Walk, and Why You Should Too

Multiple sclerosis is different for everyone.

I have the kind of MS that stole the vision in my left eye when I was 13.

Join Team Hope for Walk MS in San Diego

Put your walking shoes on and join Team Hope on April 28.

I have the kind of MS that threatens me with blindness when my “good eye” goes bad, requiring a few days of IV steroids to recover.

I have the kind of MS that required implant surgery so my bladder can empty without having to self catheterize five to six times per day.

I have the kind of MS that prevents me from walking too far without my feet or legs going numb.

I have the kind of MS that makes being a single mom the most difficult yet important and rewarding job in my world.

I have the kind of MS that anyone you know could be diagnosed with tomorrow.

I have the kind of MS that needs to be cured.

That’s why for 17 years I’ve been captaining a team in San Diego for Walk MS, one of the National MS Society’s Continue reading

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My Red Bikini Dream

I have this recurring dream.

I’m in a large public pool with people everywhere, and I’m wearing a bright red bikini. I’m thinking that I look pretty hot as I start getting out of the pool. I slowly walk up the steps to return to my lounge chair, with plans to sunbathe.

But suddenly water starts spewing out of my body through my past injection sites. It starts out with just a few spots on my arms and legs, but soon there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of tiny fountains that have sprouted out of every part of my body.

I try to stop the water by blocking the little holes with my hands, but it doesn’t work — there are too many! Everyone is staring, and I’m completely mortified. I’m tempted to scream “It’s from my shots!” to all the people pointing and laughing at me…as if anyone would understand what that means!

At that point, I usually wake up in a panic and check Continue reading

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A Glass a Day Keeps the MS Away?

Does Trader Joe's limit how many cases you can buy in one visit?

OK, I officially wish I were a drinker!

I’m a very light social drinker — I’ll occasionally order a strawberry margarita while I’m out at a Mexican restaurant, but that’s about the extent of it. People never believe me when I say this, but I’ve never actually been drunk. A little tipsy and giggly, but not wasted drunk.

However, I’m really tempted to buy a nice bottle of red wine (or better yet, a case of Two-Buck Chuck) after reading this article from Wine Spectator.

It says that researchers from neurology and psychology clinics in Belgium have published a study showing that wine’s ability to ease inflammation may help slow the progression of multiple sclerosis in some cases.

According to the article, the research team found that Continue reading

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