Author Archive

Gone On Vacation… And Bringing MS With Me

Written by on August 4th, 2015 – 2 Comments

AndreaI’m writing this on a plane, on my way home from visiting family. A lot of my relatives live on the east coast and it was a yearly trip when I was younger. This was the first time I’d been out for about 5 years and it was a great chance to see relatives and re-live childhood memories!

I’ve travelled a lot in the past 10 years or so, including teaching overseas, and travelling from there. I’m determined to not let MS stop me from experiencing the world. I’ve travelled even when I was out of remission at times, but for some reason it was a more difficult trip to pack for and plan this time.

Things have changed a bit, so when I packed to leave I had a suitcase almost full entirely of medical needs, including a large amount of food as MS related digestive issues are becoming very problematic, but can be managed by eating carefully. I also had quite a few “just in case” items like my cane. Complicating things further was that I drove with my parents one way and flew home, so that left me trying to plan and pack and re-pack for different requirements.

But the real point is that it was possible, although requiring a lot of planning, lists, re-packing and thinking through things I made it, I was there to see family, I waded in the ocean (even though the cold water hurt), I had some seafood and most of all was able to participate in a family vacation, and I lived to tell the tale!

I hope whatever you are doing this summer you are enjoying it! Happy Trails to all those travelling!

It’s so Hot…Well, no not Really!

Written by on July 28th, 2015 – No Comments

So I know that I have been posting a lot about “my fitness journey” lately.  Well this stays true to that theme!

I did in fact run in a 5km “fun run”.  My goal was to try and run 4 out of the 5 kilometers.  I ended up doing intervals, 4 minutes jogging and 1 minute walking, and they ended up routing us wrong so I ended up jogging 7 or 7 and a half kilometers. I’ll call it a success!

I’m still running and following a program.  I get frustrated sometimes because I’ve been running for about 2 weeks now and still am not able to jog 5km, but I have to keep reminding myself that this is progress, and besides it’s pretty awesome that I can run at all!

I’ve certainly run into some stumbling blocks (no pun intended!) After a few minutes of running, my legs go numb and it feels like running on knives each time I step down, but I can keep going, so I do!  As it’s getting warmer the heat is causing more of an issue.

I’ve been thinking of trying the cooling clothing for a while, and after reading the article in the MS Canada newsletter I decided to give it a try.  I was unsure of what would suit my needs best, but settled on a belt as I thought it would move best while exercising.  I have found it allows me to exercise for longer, and I tend to go further with feeling in my legs.  Anything to keep me running for longer!  I really enjoy it!

Pounding the Pavement…Again

Written by on June 16th, 2015 – No Comments

andreaBy the time you read this I will have completed my first 5Km run in years.  Actually the picture I included was from my last 5Km and that was in 2011.  I trained briefly about a year later but of course had to stop due to relapses.

So my relationship with running has been on again off again since my teenage years, of course relating to relapses.  As a young teenager I did quite a bit of long distance running and then was told I would have to stop due to a relapse.  Of course I don’t listen very well, so I waited until I recovered from the relapse, and started running again.  I’ve done this more times then I can count and each time it gets a bit harder.

This time I decided to run in a fun run, in support of our local Children’s Hospital.  I have a friend with preemies in the hospital so this seems like a great way to support her and get back to something I really love! (more…)

Getting back to exercise

Written by on November 11th, 2014 – 2 Comments

So I always make an effort to exercise, but I find that I’m much more motivated to exercise and likely to stick with it if I sign up for a fitness class.  Since my last major relapse I did a class for people with a variety of medical conditions (read, they were all 40+ years my senior!) but I’m getting stronger, so this fall I signed up for group fitness at my local community center.  Basically it’s a variety of different classes and times each day that you can choose from. The classes are for adults, but largely the population that goes to them are seniors.  For the most part, it’s pretty good.  The instructors are great.  There are several different ones and I’ve told many of them about my MS and just explained that my goal is to increase strength, raise heart rate and generally get a work out, but provided I’m not hurting myself.  I might not be able to do everything as they suggest but I’m okay with that. (more…)

That constant employment question

Written by on October 14th, 2014 – 2 Comments

workSo I haven’t been blogging in awhile and I must apologize for that. I think partially because I have been slightly putting MS on the back burner. That’s not to say that I’m ignoring it, or not taking care of myself, it’s just that I’ve worked hard to be where I am, and now although I have daily symptoms I’m the best I’ve been for awhile and so am just putting less emphasis on the MS thing and more just trying to live my life. I hope that makes sense!

Well one of my perhaps biggest struggles I have living with MS is with juggling it and employment. As many of you may know I am trained as a teacher, but after 5 years teaching I was let go due to “low numbers”. So once again I was on the job hunt. I was offered a few interviews for fly-in reserve schools up in Northern Ontario, but I figured there was too much risk involved in that if I can’t easily see a doctor or get medication if I need it. I considered supplying but it makes me nervous to not have steady income or benefits for an indefinite period of time.


Ooops I forgot … again!

Written by on October 29th, 2013 – 6 Comments

So last week I was asked to stay late at work, no problem, I said.  4:50 rolled around and only then did I remember that I was supposed to meet a friend for dinner at 5pm. .. ugggh!  This is the 2nd time in a month that I’ve done this! 

One symptom of MS that never seems to leave me is the cognitive problems, difficulties with attention/ distractions and particularly memory concerns.  At times it is embarrassing, especially when I can’t remember a name of someone I’ve met several times, or forget a dinner date!  At other times it’s really frustrating and difficult. 

I know that many others also experience the same thing.  Over the years I’ve learned to make lists, use a calendar and try mnemonic devices.  The best strategy I’ve found is to use a smart phone.  I finally caved and bought a smart phone this summer.  I got it strictly for other reasons and never thought it would help manage my life and be such a great memory tool, but it is.  I love that it has everything I need, notes, calendar, and multiple alarms for reminders in one small package.  It definitely is nice not carrying an agenda around everywhere.  Now the trick is to check the calendar before making additional commitments so I don’t double book myself!

If any of you have any other creative memory tricks maybe you could leave a comment here!  I know I could use them, and I’m sure others could too!

Happy new (school) year!

Written by on September 17th, 2013 – 4 Comments


Happy New Year!

Well, I’m a teacher, and so summer always marks the end of a year, with a new one beginning just after Labour Day in September. It really makes no sense to me why the year starts in January.  It seems so arbitrary.  I often confuse people (mainly doctors) by referring to years as school years!

For me this past one was quite the (school) year!  Due to a very severe series of relapses that would not really remit, I had to cut my teaching year short.  I teach internationally and so also had to come home to Canada in February.  At the time I came home I had no job and no prospects but also I was sick enough that some time off and time to recuperate was warranted.   I’ve rested since February and certainly done my fair share of pondering the potentials for the future.

Teaching places large demands on my time and energy.  It certainly isn’t a 9-3 job with a couple months of free time in the summer!  Because my relapses have been escalating the last few years and my disability can at times be very severe I was finding teaching very demanding physically and too tiring.  I thought for quite a while that maybe last year had been my last year teaching.  For a long time I didn’t really believe I could continue.  In the end I got exactly that far.  If you ask the next question “What would you do besides teach?” I always get stuck!  I didn’t know, and I still don’t know.  There really isn’t anything else I’d want to do, and I’m certainly not ready to throw in the towel and go on disability.  MS won’t win for me that easily!

The conclusion that there is nothing else I’d want to be doing is what had ultimately led me to the decision to give teaching another try.


Explaining M.S.

Written by on May 21st, 2013 – 1 Comment

At times I find it difficult to explain what MS is, its impact on my life, symptoms… Friends are always asking about how MS affects me, and are confused when I say things like “I’m having troubles seeing” as they reply “clearly you can see something, you aren’t blind”, other times its difficult to explain MS at all.  But perhaps the most difficult thing to explain, and for other people to understand is the constancy of MS; its impact on daily life, and how I have to be aware of it on a day to day basis.

I’ve developed a few metaphors that I sometimes use to explain MS to other people.  I think of life as a juggling act, with work, family, and friends all being separate balls. But I have MS so a couple extra balls are thrown in there.  The diagnosis of course is a ball, and any symptoms I’m currently experiencing I also have to juggle.  The idea is of course to keep them all up in the air at all times but at times there gets to be too many balls and they all come tumbling down. 

I sometimes think of relapses and remissions as a balancing act.  If rest, and exercise and every other factor are equal or less then the MS disease then I’m in remission, but if something either explainable or unexplainable gets out of balance then I’m out of remission.

But perhaps the best metaphor I have to explain life with MS is one that just dawned on me recently.  It is that of a labyrinth game.  You know the maze game that you twist two little handles and direct a marble through a series of twists and turns trying to avoid running straight into walls, or falling down holes.