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Archive for November 2008

Lonely weekend

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The reason I didn’t go with to the funeral, as you may have guessed, is a certain Bluebeary doggie.

The city where the funeral took place is a six hour drive from us, so necessitates sleeping over at least one night. We didn’t know what to do with Bluebeary, who has been the light of our lives in the month and a half that we have had her. We couldn’t leave her at friends/ family because they all have big dogs. With the exception of Michael’s parents, who left their own dogs in the care of their maid. But I’m scared Bluebeary would play too rough with the Pekingese doggies with their bulging eyes. The one puppy, who is a month older than Blue, is very aggressive towards her and though she is submissive towards him, I can totally see her snapping those sharp, sharp teeth of hers in his face and gaffing one of his eyes. I don’t want that on my conscience.

The other thing is just plain bad timing. We could have left her in our home alone. Our neighbour would have checked in on her once or twice a day. Unfortunately, the security gate that Bluebeary regards as her own personal doggie-door is fast becoming too small for her to squeeze through. She only just makes it through, with huge effort. Any day now, she is going to get stuck going through and it could just as easily have been this weekend. We didn’t want to take that chance, and Michael asked me if I would please stay home with her over the weekend.

I reckoned it was bad enough that Michael had to bury his granddad this weekend, without still having to stress about what was happening to his beloved dog. So I agreed.

My heart is sore that I couldn’t be there, though.

The dog is missing Michael terribly. She is going ’round the house, peeping into every room in case he might be there. When it is time for him to come home from work, she sits at the front door, waiting. And of course the feeling is mutual, so I sent him a photo of her today. I call it Beary the Sphinx:


I got it back like this: (It had undergone a wee bit of editing on Michael’s Nokia N95).


Now that’s creative, lol.

Later, I got this one…


Michael has quite obviously missed his calling in life. He needs to be one of those people that make cute animal posters that people hang on their walls, lol.

I am missing him, but I have to admit that there is a part of me that is enjoying my girly weekend. Just me and Beary. (By the way, she is such a great little companion.) (And takes her job of protecting me very seriously. Even against a gurgling bath plug hole, which she gave a good barking to).

I have no-one’s schedule to adhere to bar my own, and it is quite nice. But only for a weekend. I like being married. Correction: I like being married to Michael. My life would be very boring without him 😉 Although, he is going to get his butt whipped at table-tennis when he gets back!

This morning I went gymming, which was very nice. I met up with my dad at the pool. Not that I can keep up with him. He is as fit as a fiddle and is hard at work training for next year’s Midmar Mile.

I have been loafing off gym for too long, what with going to hospital etc. I wasn’t that inclined to go back, either. But then earlier in the week, my back started getting really sore again. Definitely the same sacro-illiac trouble as before as my hips were hurting like hell and pain was being referred in every direction, even to my foot. So starting on Wednesday, I have been to the gym on three consecutive days and it is amazing how my back has recovered. Also amazing how fast swimming becomes addictive again.

Afterwards, I went to Musiq Land and bought the UNISA Grade 7 music examination album. I want to play the April session in 2009 so will have to start working at it. I am very excited about doing this and seeing how far I can take it.

When I was messing around with the cellphone photo’s that I posted here, I came across some that we took two weeks ago. Turns out that Face Warp works on dogs, too. Logically, as they also have a face. Check these for a laugh…


Beary the Gobbler 😉


Smiling fool


Shi Tzu?


Does it show that I’m alone at home? lol

Written by Maggie

November 28, 2008 at 10:00 pm

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Sad week.

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This has been a very sad week for the family. Michael’s grandfather, who has been really sick these past months, fell and broke his hip on Monday. The shock was too much and two days ago he passed away. He was nearly 88 years old and a really cool old guy.

We got the phone call to let us know of his passing at 11:30 on Tuesday night. Michael was already sleeping, but because he was close to his granddad, I woke him up to tell him. Michael is never at his best when he is woken up out of a deep sleep. So I held his hand, and broke the news as gently as I could. He looked at me with pain-filled eyes and then went right back to sleep without saying a word. In the morning, he had no recollection of me having told him, and he had to hear the news again from his dad.

Michael loved his granddad a lot. He told me often that there were bigs parts of his personality directly attributable to Oupa Ben. Particularly his love of sport. Granddad was a huge sports fan and always knew the exact score and statistics of any major sports event on the globe. His later years were spent on his lazy boy recliner watching sport on satellite dish. He and Michael used to have great sporty chats.

I was extremely fond of Granddad, too. From the first time Michael took me to meet him, shortly before we got married. He was more than just my husband’s grandfather – I adopted him as my true grandfather immediately and I think he adopted me as his granddaughter. He was always so, so nice to me.

This was a feisty old gentleman. He could tell the most fascinating stories of his days working at the South African railways, his time during the war and his days as a champion bowls player. Really an interesting man. Of course, he was known to embellish his stories a tad so that you didn’t quite know what was true 🙂 He could sure spin a good yarn.

When Michael and I got married, he caught my garter, which was apparently something that he made quite a habit of doing, as he had a collection of them going.


My side of the family had only ever seen him at our wedding, but he made such an impression on everyone that they always ask after him. A real character, I had heard more than one person say of him.

Michael and his granddad had a very special bond. See the easy affection captured in this photograph at our wedding.


It is so sad to see a good man like this go. He will be sorely missed and very fondly remembered, always.

Rest in peace, Granddad Ben, and godspeed.


Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the funeral tomorrow (long story). At least Michael was able to go, which is the most important thing and I will definitely be there in spirit.

Written by Maggie

November 27, 2008 at 10:08 pm

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All things cute…

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I remember reading ages ago how good it is for one’s mental health to have ‘cute’ things in one’s life.

Things that make your toes curl, your heart soften and cause you to say, “Ag, shame!”

I can’t recall the details of the study in question, but I remember being impressed at the impact that cuteness can have.

We all need some cute in our lives.

I am well catered for in that area. In fact, one could say that my cup runneth over with cuteness.

Case in point, cuteness personified, Madame Bluebeary. She loves yogurt a lot. And whenever M & I have yogurt, then I’ll dish up a little for her, too. (As per the vet’s instruction). The cute part? When she’s finished eating, she has ‘yogurt lips’. Take a look:


Then there is my alarmingly cute husband. Please note, although he is exceptionally cute-looking, the majority of his cuteness stems from within. This is just one of the cutest people on earth. I love his quaint ways, his goofball sense of humour (same as mine) and his cute outlook on life. I married for cute, what can I say?


Today, I came across something that appealed to my quest for cuteness. Now, I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I am a huge Crocs fan. Spare me your opinion of how fugly they are – I ♥ my Crocs. Which is why I have four pairs. And today I bought my fifth. Check it out…


Off the radar, ain’t it?

Written by Maggie

November 25, 2008 at 3:36 pm

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So thankful

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I am feeling so much better.

Not just from the side-effects of the meds, but in general. I literally haven’t felt this good in about five years. And it is so wonderful.

Back in the old days (circa 2004) when I still had the full 5 gram course of steroids to treat a relapse, it used to take me ages to normal out afterwards. Like a month.

With my current self-medicating habits of 1 – 2 grams when needed, I get the same benefit, and a whole lot less side-effects. The neuro has come to accept that I do better on a smaller dose and he goes along with what I want to take, even though he always says I should ideally do the five day course. But so we learn, hey.

The heat was absolutely sweltering today, and I was actually able to carry on my life as normal. Two years ago, the heat would have had me laid out half comatose in bed!

My granny is visiting at my parents house this week. I haven’t seen her since July, so was very happy to spend some time with her. Such a classy lady, deep into her eighties, but beautifully dressed and her hair cut so nicely. I complimented her on it, and her reply was that it looks so flat and that she will be having it ‘perminated’ tomorrow. Perminated! Priceless.

I drove to my parents house in our Jetta and was so grateful that I could do it. I love driving. Always did, and I hated it when I couldn’t and was reliant on other people to take me where I wanted/ needed to go. I don’t think Michael was that keen on it, either, lol. I comandeered many of his lunch-breaks to ferry me around all over the place. (Read: to buy groceries, which counted as a personal shopping spree for me, obviously, *snark*).

On the way back, especially, I marvelled at the glorious feeling of being behind the wheel. The road I took is a somewhat rural back road, and with the sun just setting everything looked so beautiful. The grass looked so shiny and the trees so lush. The traffic was very light and I was able to just detach and enjoy the experience. When I first started driving again, I was too nervous to enjoy it at all. Now I’m finally comfortable enough to have fun.

Michael marvels at the consumption that I get. Compared to him, that is. I don’t know the exact stats,  but he is impressed.  This is because I drive like a girl, I tell him. I don’t tear up to stop streets and slam on brakes, and then tear off again, lurching through the gears. Amazing how light you go on petrol when you don’t do that, lol.

Written by Maggie

November 24, 2008 at 11:13 pm

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Feeling better.

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Thanks for all the well wishes yesterday. I am feeling quite a lot better today. Still a bit on the t.i.r.e.d. side but not too bad. I’m over the worst. Made it through another round without T.K.O. The bell has rung and I am still standing. Suddenly, I’m looking forward to Christmas.

Here are some pics of Bluebeary and I vegging out on the couch today, just to prove that I’m out of the woods. Although, a photo of me whipping Michael’s butt at table-tennis would’ve probably been more convincing. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those. A pity, because I did  beat him. He had a major handicap of fifteen points (out of a possible 21) but then I had quite a freakin’ handicap myself, having just had a sh*tload of cortisone.

The stakes were really high. So high that I am not at liberty to discuss them. Wahahaha!



She’s so cute and cuddly when she’s sleepy.


Isn’t she growing into just the most gorgeous doggie?

Written by Maggie

November 22, 2008 at 10:16 pm

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I crossed the line from feeling ‘grotty’ to feeling downright ‘ghastly’.

My kidneys hurt, my stomach hurts and I feel vaguely pukey. No appetite, and that for me is a real warning sign 😉 The best I could get down was some stomach-settling dry toast and some yogurt.

My face has gone all puffy and flushed. Geesh, how did I forget about these delightful side-effects? I guess an MS relapse kinda overshadows the memories of medicine side-effects.

Went to the shops with hubby earlier. Very. Bad. Idea. I took a bit of a turn there, could actually feel my eyes going into a glassy stare. People were giving me a wide berth, I swear. I felt like such a druggie. Couldn’t make eye-contact with people and every sound was highly amplified. I actually felt the vibrations of a shopping trolley that someone pushed past me.

Managed to get home and passed out on the bed.

Feel like I am on such a trip.

Think will go have another little lie down.

Maybe a little puke, first. Bleh.

Written by Maggie

November 21, 2008 at 3:50 pm

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Hospital trip

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I got back home on Wednesday morning, feeling quite good, if a bit spaced out from lack of sleep and the meds. It was so nice to get back to my own (51 layer density foam mattress) bed, after sleeping on what passes for a mattress at the hospital. I actually had to ask a night nurse for an extra pillow in the middle of the night just to put between my knees so I could sleep, my back was hurting so.

Apart from that, I actually had a very pleasant stay in the hospital. The food was good, the ‘service’ (aka nursing) was good and everyone was very helpful and friendly. I also had a real character in the bed next to mine. You never know what you’re going to get as far as wardmates go, so it’s always a relief if you get someone nice, that you can talk to. Us two insomniacs chatted until well after midnight. We were trying to get the nurses to round up a midnight feast for us, to  no avail, lol.

This lady is a rose enthusiast. I overheard her and her husband talking about their 80+ rose bushes that they have, and afterwards I struck up a conversation with her about it and gleaned some valuable rose-growing tips. Her hubby brought her a huge vase of roses from their garden, and I got to see all the different types. Very interesting. I want to go and  buy another rose tree this month. After the discussion with my wardmate, I think I’ll plump for the Abracadabra rose. What is special about this one, is that each rose, when the bud opens, is a different colour – hence the abracadabra. Surprise!

Felt tired on Wed night and didn’t want to cook. Made the huge mistake of going to SPAR and buying a chicken pie for myself. Michael had a hero roll and spring roll. That bloody pie stayed with me till the next  morning. It was so indigestable, or perhaps it was because I’m on a course of antibiotics and my digestion isn’t what it should be. (I burnt my arm on our electric frying pan and it looked like it was going bad, so the doc gave me some antibiotics for it).

Yesterday I woke up feeling all right, if tired still. We took Bluebeary to the vet for her innoculations. It was so funny – the vet squirted a bit of deworming syrup onto her tongue and she refused to put her tongue back in her mouth for about ten seconds, just had that beautiful blue tongue of hers hanging out to maximum capacity. Even the vet had a good laugh and he is generally a bit dour. Then, on the way out, we bought her a small rawhide bone to chew on. But as we left, she tried to help herself to one of the HUGE bones on display. We nearly never noticed that our chow was trying to shoplift 😉

My mom-in-law made her legendary chicken stew yesterday and invited us for lunch. I was so glad, because by that time I was definitely not feeling well. The food was delish!

Yesterday afternoon I started crashing from being off the meds. My body ached and I felt so tired. It is not the worst I have had it,  not by a long shot. I have crashed in the past that I felt like a bus had hit me. (Although someone who actually has been hit by a bus would probably argue that point with me). This time I just feel like I’ve been mildly beaten up!

I still feel grotty today. In and out of bed, reading bits of a book till I get too tired and have a little rest. I forgot what a shock it is to a body to be pumped full of high dose cortisone like that. I’m not too crazy about this spaced-out feeling. With any luck it won’t be followed by a bout of mild depression such as I’ve had in the past. Hate that. I’ve been lucky the last fews times though. Just a day or two of feeling unmotivated and a bit bluesy.

My puppy is being so gentle and loving towards me. I’m sure they can sense when one is not feeling that well.

And now I can hopefully look forward to a festive season without any pesky MS symptoms. Now that will be joyful indeed!!

Written by Maggie

November 21, 2008 at 11:13 am

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Hi-ho, hi ho…

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…off I go. Wheee!

I decided to close the door to that part of my mind that wants to worry about everything. It ain’t gonna help, except to stress me up.

The doc phoned this morning and said there is indeed a bed available at the hospital for me today. So that is what I will be doing today, tonight and tomorrow morning. Not my favourite thing in the world to do, but at least I have the option.

Written by Maggie

November 18, 2008 at 12:37 pm

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3 months, and a secret fear.

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Tomorrow marks three months since I last used IV cortisone. This is not quite the cause for celebration that you might expect, because I am having another relapse. All too familiar feeling.

It’s been coming on for about three weeks already, maybe more. What I drew out of the lucky packet this time is: optic neuritis (my old nemesis), numb feet and loss of co-ordination in hands.

None of the symptoms are particularly aggressive, but are nontheless insiduous, especially the ON. I am experiencing a disconcerting loss of vision, accompanied by stabbing pains behind my eyeballs. That is what I woke up to this morning.

Phoned my GP (the one that said if I was single he’d take me out on a date, even though I have MS, hehe) and asked him to arrange for me to go to hospital. He said that he’d try but that he didn’t think there’d be room at the inn. Apparently the hospital is chock and block. I swear, the heat is as bad as the cold for making people ill.

So I may go tomorrow, if a bed becomes available. I’m not in a tearing hurry, so a couple more days won’t make a difference. Not a pleasant thing to do. I’d prefer to get it over with. As usual, there are a lot of things to worry about regarding the whole sorry thing, but I’ve learnt through bitter experience not to prolong it too much. At least this way I should be okay over Christmas and my birthday. That would be a welcome change.

My secret fear? Well, I get the impression that I am not having relapse per se. Not the way most people with MS have them, on average once a year. I think the cortisone suppresses my immune to give me a three month break, but that as soon as my immune system builds up again, the relapse automatically picks up where it left off.

What concerns me about this, is the worry that I may have switched to secondary progressive MS instead of Relapsing-Remitting (which definitely counts as from bad to worse).

I know I have experienced wondrous improvement, but that has been steady since 2006 when I started taking cortisone IV’s every month, or every second month.

I don’t know for how long a person can safely do this before picking up some very nasty adverse effects.

I know I am being a pain-in-the-ass worry-wart. What can I do to change it if it is so, and why waste my time worrying about it in the interim?

I am waiting with baited breath to go onto the open-label phase of the trials, and the 1.25mg dosage. I am so hoping that it will either extend the time between relapses, or better yet, bannish them totally.

Of course, that brings with it its own set of worries. It is risky being on immuno-suppressant drugs long-term. For how many years will I feasibly be able to stay on this drug? At least two people have already succumbed to the dreaded PML. That is a bit of a sword’s edge to live on.

Maybe I should just go to sleep and forget about all these things that I have absolutely sweet-diddly control over.

As it says in the Bible, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?”

Written by Maggie

November 17, 2008 at 10:03 pm

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A trip to the neuro’s (quick Fingolimod update).

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On the 4th of Novemeber, M & I hotfooted it off to Jo’burg for the second last of my scheduled trials visits. I can’t believe that my two years are almost up. Early February will mark my last visit and will include the whole ritz of tests, including the MRI scan, the PLF, eye exam, dermatologist appoinment, EDSS, EKG. Sjoe! I am not looking forward to that.

After that, I will start on the open label part of the trials. I am hugely excited about that, because then I will finally know exactly what I am on. And because I am still having relapses, it will be logical for the doc to put me on the 1.25mg dosage. I remain convinced that I am currently on the 0.5mg dose so am eagerly anitcipating how I will fare on the  higher dosage. I’m hoping that it will banish relapses altogether from my life.

This last trip was a pleasant surprise. I expected just to give some blood and have my vitals checked but ended up having my EDSS checked. The tests felt so much easier than they were at first. And it reflected in the score.

For the first time since starting on the trials, I am a 3.0 on the scale. Initially, I was a 5.5. The increments on this scale require rather a vast improvement to budge. I never expected it to have dropped, because I haven’t noticed such a difference. The improvements are still there, but aren’t as glaringly obvious as in the beginning stages.

I asked the neuro what it was that had made the difference since the previous time when I had been a 3.5. He answered that it was the improvement in my balance. Such happy news for me.

What a difference to when I went for my first appointment there. Michael had to park the car so close to the door for me, because I tired so easily. My balance was abysmal, and I remember staggering into the consulting rooms, trying to look as though I could walk 200 meters unassisted, as that was the prerequisite for going on the trials. I had to walk so carefully to avoid falling, and hold so firmly onto the railings of the stairs.

Nowadays, when I go there, I can actually walk up the stairs to the entrance without using the railings. I can walk confidently down the passageway to the doctor’s rooms and once there, can hop on either leg like a pro and do the toe-heel thing 😉

I can’t put into words how fantastic this makes me feel.

There is nothing on earth, materially speaking, that can make me as happy as what the vast improvement in my health has made me.

It is the fundamental thing in all of us. I know it is a phrase that has been overused, but without our health we really don’t have much. It is a pity that we have to be sick in order to learn to appreciate it.

Written by Maggie

November 16, 2008 at 11:51 pm

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