Juicing

get-attachment-41CHEERS

I haven’t seen the films, read any of the books or even seen Dr. Oz when he has talked about it and I love Dr. Oz, even if it’s for nothing more than his energy and excitement about things other doctors and talk show hosts shy away from. I didn’t do more than listen when a friend told me about how she had recently learned so much about nutrition and that juicing was taking her a step further in her healthy transformation. It wasn’t until the high school receptionist, after watching months of poor health taking it’s toll on my daughter’s education, starting talking to me about how she had seen the films, Dr. Oz, and read the books and that daily juicing had made a difference in her life. She really feels that incorporating freshly juiced vegetables and fruits into our daily routine will help my daughter feel better and get better. She pointed me in the direction to get started by explaining the different types of juicers, places to find recipes online and tips that she has learned through trial and error and I followed her lead.

collagejuicing2

I bought the juicer that one of the films shows, a few books recommend and the school receptionist has and a lot of fresh produce. It’s not hard but there is definitely a learning curve. I am not only trying to find the right combinations that taste good but also the best way to prep and feed the produce through the juicer. The more expensive juicers do the best with getting the juice, especially with the leafy greens, but there are tricks that help the less expensive juicers do so, I just had to find them. I’m still looking and learning but it’s fun and it’s healthy.

Do a Google search and you will find a ton of articles about juicing helping people with autoimmune diseases and message boards with testimonials about how much better they feel and some even writing that they have been able to stop some of their medications. Can drinking the fresh juice of the right fruits and vegetables stop the progression of Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, or will it help fight the fatigue and ease my daughter’s angry, painful joints? I don’t know. I do know that it will give our bodies nutrition that we don’t get enough of and that is good for everyone, especially for those who don’t feel well most of the time. Like I said, there’s a learning curve and we’re still working on figuring it all out but until we do, we’re drinking what we make and it’s not bad. I will write about juicing again, in few months, and hopefully I will have progress to share.

Music Therapy

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”

Bob Marley

We had a reprieve this week and it was powerful, beautiful, exciting and soothing. Sitting in a seat with not enough leg room, surrounded by people sitting and standing wherever they could to see the stage, isn’t an ideal spot for a body like mine. The auditorium is, what I would consider, still new and it bothers me that it wasn’t built big enough to accommodate its purpose and its purpose is growing, wonderfully growing. Luckily, for all those who did not get an actual seat or a spot with a view, their ears were the ones in for a treat and a good line of vision wasn’t necessary. My experience included much more than what was rehearsed and scheduled for the night and a good line of vision was, however, necessary for me and so I am grateful for the seat with not enough leg room. It was the first choir concert of my daughter’s junior year in high school, the music was amazing and I felt no pain.

There are so many things I love about choir music. I love how it can be complex and layered yet clear and focused at the same time. Different cultures and histories are often represented as well as new technique and styling, while the arrangements can express everything from melancholy and infatuation to just plain silliness. What I love the most, however, is that it truly “takes a village” to be what it is. Even if the arrangement includes a soloist, every part needs the others to be what it is meant to be. Each voice and voice part is equally important in choirs of every size because, without each other, none can reach their full potential. It is this fundamental part of choir that gives my daughter a sense of belonging and being needed when I know it’s been hard for her to feel these things really anywhere else outside of our home. Her body has been controlled by the pain, fatigue and muscle weakness of Rheumatoid Arthritis since March of this year. The last seven months have been amongst the hardest months of my life and I can only imagine how hard they’ve been for her. There are many things she hasn’t been able to do and watching those things either go on without her or simply go away has been almost unbearable at times. Luckily, RA hasn’t taken away music. While piano has been a more successful accomplishment and was even included as part of her physical therapy, she has had only a few triumphant occasions where her hands have been able to play the guitar, but her voice has remained what it has always been….beautiful!

Before this night, a choice presented itself that, to many, wouldn’t seem as significant as it was for us. My daughter had decided years ago that she was going to finish high school early and so she took academically heavy course loads both her freshman and sophomore year and took both summer and online classes at the local community college to earn duel high school and college credit. Unfortunately, her disease has been extremely stubborn to treat and its continuing progression has meant more time at doctor appointments and home in bed. Not wanting to start college simply because she could, she decided to take the year back and graduate with her class. She now has time to gain strength physically as well as time to enjoy her last two years of high school. When having to decided classes, she had always chosen academic electives to get ahead and to appeal to university admission counselors which is why she had chosen an advanced language course, offered only the same class period as one of the two choirs her auditions had awarded her last spring. This was a painful sacrifice. After several weeks watching how hard everything was for her at school and seeing how sad and depressed she had become, I reminded her that she now had another year and the academic elective could now wait until next year. She wanted to be in the choir and we both knew it was something she really needed for herself emotionally but she really struggled making the decision. Dropping an academic class so she could sing with two choirs instead of just one felt academically foolish to her. I talked with her about what it means to take care of our emotional selves and that it was not only okay to make a choice simply because it is what you enjoy, it is sometime imperative to do so for your health….and so she did. From the moment I got off of the phone with her counselor and told her it was official there was a light in her eyes I hadn’t seen in several months and that light only grew bigger until this night, the night I sat in the seat without enough leg room and without any pain. I not only heard the beautiful music, I saw my daughter joyful on stage. There she was, lending her beautiful voice to creating such wonderful music and she was smiling.

It wasn’t until recently that I had heard the term “music therapy”. I knew that music helped with memorization and I had often made up jingles to help remember things for tests when I was in school. I also knew that music could arouse different emotions, either by its connection to a memory, the lyrics or even just its beat. I knew it had influential power but I never thought much about whether or not it had actual healing capabilities. I now know that it does because I have seen it, heard it and felt it. The music did hit me that night and I didn’t feel any pain, which isn’t the expected outcome of someone with Multiple Sclerosis sitting for a while in a seat that doesn’t allow you to stretch. I don’t know whether my daughter had several moments without physical pain or none at all that night on stage, but I do know that her emotional pain had been soothed and it showed, physically. The power music has on my daughter and her Rheumatoid Arthritis can’t be denied or ignored. Music is therapy for her and it is an important tool in her fight that should always be remembered.

Three Little Birds

reggaetwitterActually just one little bird but how can I pass up an opportunity to include Bob Marley?!

I’m talking about Twitter. Years ago, I decided to join in what everyone seemed to be doing and created my account. I tried but it ran away from me. It seemed to be so much moving so quickly and my exhausted brain and fingers just couldn’t keep up, or so I thought. Almost four years later, I’m on Twitter and more than that, I’m using it and seeing its worth rather quickly. Several months ago, I joined again to be a “follower” of my daughter’s band and I was just and only that. I didn’t look around and I definitely didn’t reach out pass a few celebrities that I think are funny. This was all done in about fifteen minutes and that was all I thought it would ever be…until it wasn’t.

I didn’t even remember my user name and had to have my password sent to me when I decided to sign in a few weeks ago. Needing information and hoping for support with my daughter’s new battle with Rheumatoid Arthritis took me back to Twitter which is ironic because it was her band that brought me back to it last year. Now, I am following some really knowledgable and inspirational people and I am learning! While I am still fueled by an anxious need for knowledge, I hope to one day become help to someone on Twitter as others have been for me. I am still learning all the ins and outs and dos and don’ts but I am going to stay this time and continue to grow. Today, I am feeling Bob’s words….”Don’t worry about a thing,’Cause every little thing gonna be all right.” and I am grateful….for Twitter.

Mother Wound

“Let me not be weak and tell others how bleeding I am internally; how day by day it drips, and gathers, and congeals.”

Sylvia Plath seems to be where I find my voice when I’m feeling a certain strain of depression. It’s usually a sadness entwined with the sting of what I perceive to be injustice. I’ve been watching my daughter lose bits of herself to her own body. This has been happening steadily for the past three weeks. I know what this is like. I have lived this. I watched my son live this. Now it’s my other child, my only other child.

The one thing that helped me the most when I was trying to come to terms with my MS diagnosis was the constant reminding that it was happening to me and not my children. I wrapped myself in that psychological bubble wrap and it helped because I knew it could have been so much worse.  A child in distress quickly becomes an involuntary wound carried by mothers and watching my child go through the physical and emotional thievery executed by an autoimmune disease would be an always-throbbing wound that you know would never go away. These mother wounds are always next to your heart so each throb the wound makes inadvertently pushes against your heart with a heaviness that can make it hard to breathe. Just thinking about it made it hard to breathe at times so I wrapped myself up tight in knowing that it was me and not my children. I focused on my lacrosse-playing son and my dancing daughter. I watched and listened as they played their guitars and hearing them sing…..truly healing.

Almost two years ago my son was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Even before the official diagnosis, I knew it was what I had feared and that he was also suffering from an autoimmune disease. My mother wound throbbed and stabbed. It felt so cruel when he wasn’t able to play lacrosse his senior year of high school, especially after playing the three years before. It was heartbreaking watching him struggle to walk throughout his graduation ceremony to receive his diploma. I felt such a darkness when his hands no longer allowed him to play his guitar. I couldn’t see a way for light to reach any part of it because it was all so wrong and so unfair. It still could have been worse and my son was the one to remind me, quite simply in the car, on our way to one of his rheumatology appointments. I was grateful that my youngest was healthy, dancing, singing, playing the guitar and keyboard and doing the social things her age required- mostly shopping with friends. My son quickly found comfort in knowing his sister was okay and I knew that I had to remind myself often, check my pain and allow him to be comforted.

Today is dark and my mother wound is large and throbbing. First it was her hands. She couldn’t hold her pencil to finish writing the assignment in her history class. Her ankles followed quickly and the white braces they required at a choir concert made for a heartbreaking fashion statement on stage with the uniform black dresses and shoes worn by all the girls. The knees and toes have been swollen for days now and she doesn’t have enough function and is in too much pain to make it to school. The first step of trying to manage with pain medication alone is not working and things seem to just be getting worse. I’m here. I’m in that place I had used for comfort because it wasn’t my reality. I will find new bubble wrap and I will wrap extra around the wound next to my heart because I am a mother and both my children need me to help them. First, I need to find a way to breathe when I can’t.