Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Clampetts at the Marriot (1)

  Instead of a vacation every summer growing up like other families, my family and I went to church camp. We never really had the extra money to go on a vacation. Church camp in and of itself was outstanding and my family and I looked forward to it every single summer. But the summer before my senior year in high school Mom and Dad decided, What the hey! Let's *splurge!* This was only the beginning of the best vacation EVER.
  I don't know whose idea it was for us to take this wild and crazy vacation but, as always with my parents, it was very spur of the moment. Somehow Kris Rogers who was and remains Chase's BFF was roped into this party of sorts. Since then, we've just adopted him as our "brother from another mother."
  For a week, or there abouts, we were headed to Panama City Beach...because hanging out on the "Miracle Strip" with your parents at 17 years old is TOTALLY cool. There were two other families with whom we would be vacationing. Now that I think back, they were responsible for inviting our family and I will forever be grateful to them for these amazing memories.
  At that time my dad worked for Carpets of Dalton as a flooring salesman. As incentive to "bring in the business" (aka cash) the salesmen were awarded "points" in which they could use for items in certain magazines, clothing stores, electronic stores, etc. and of course, vacation accommodations. This particular summer Dad used his points for a night at the Marriot Bay Pointe Resort in Sand Destin, Florida....the upper class part of Northwest Florida. (well...it was upper class to us)
  We packed up the family truckster and hit the road. Now, my mother had a used Volvo station wagon....which just shot my "cool-o-mometer" sky high when you thought of me riding down the Strip in that thing......with my parents. We called it, as perverted as it sounds, "the used vulva." It was white with red leather interior. It also had air conditioning............that didn't work. There we were, 2 adults and 3 semi adults, crammed into that used Volvo......sweating like two rats loving it up in a wool sock on a sunny day. Please keep in mind that Kris was every bit as large as Chase: Both 6'4". Both around 250 pounds....on an empty stomach. Both sweaty football players. And I was stuck between them.....for 6 hours....with no air conditioning. We rolled the windows down on the drive south, but it rained. And the windows had to be rolled up.
  It was a sight watching that mess drive down the road, I'm sure. Our luggage was strapped to the top and covered.............by a camouflage tarp. The gas cap had broken free from the car so it appeared we had a huge hole in the side. The Volvo also had a problem with backfiring very loudly.....Again, with the cool-o-mometer. Again with the sweating.This was going to be GREAT.
  My parents knew little of Sand Destin as this was when it was fairly new and not many people knew about it period. We followed the map closely and when we arrived, well, let's just say we were in for a surprise. Not only was Sand Destin its own little community, but so was the Marriot Bay Pointe.
  By the time we entered the Sunshine State it was living up to its name. There was no rain; not a drop of moisture in sight. The windows were rolled down, the tarp was flapping, the gas cap was still missing, and we were all still sweating. We found the Marriot....and pulled in. Much to our surprise, this place was pretty swanky. And everyone there drove a Mercedes or some other European car that was worth more than four of my momma's Volvos.
  We could not believe our eyes, this place was GORGEOUS! .....And rich....unlike us. The resort looked almost brand new it was so perfectly kept. The grass (all around and on the golf course) was a vibrant green, the kind you only see on television because the weather is never perfect enough anywhere for grass to stay alive and so stuffed with chlorophyll. Any shrubbery was shaped as if someone went over it with a pair of sewing scissors to cut every branch and leaf so precise that they seemed like overgrown green balloons. Tropical flowers indigenous to the warm salty Florida climate added just enough color to complete the beautiful picture.
  We rolled into the resort slowly as to soak everything in.
 "Quick roll up the windows," Mom said quietly.
  We knew not to ask why. We were the ONLY car like this on the whole of the resort....with that camo tarp.
  "Moe, get out and fix the tarp. Put the gas cap on...QUICK!"  Excitement set in. We acted like 5 year old school girls so much we could not believe our eyes. We were laughing hysterically at Mom and Dad putting on airs as we inched closer to the valet at the check in breezeway. The men on the golf course looked up to see the camo covered desecration pulling in, at the "big sweaty people" and....What is that noise? A catalytic converter rattling? 
  The Volvo came to a hault in front of the valet, all decked out in his little "I'll park your car for a fat tip" uniform................................BANG!!!!!! He was almost knocked out of that dorky monkey suit when our used Volvo backfired and blacked smoke billowed from the muffler. Dad rolled down his window. Through the hot salty sweat pouring from his bald head and in his most southern red neck accent asked, "Do ya'll get the luggage or d'we?"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

*Uncensored 2

  MS is ugly.
  Physically: You see me with my makeup all "perfect" as some people will say. Nothing is "out of place on the face!"  ;)  My skin isn't too bad; every now and then I get a little red visitor but it's nothing a battle with Proactive can't fix. A cute outfit from the TJ Maxx tops me off, because I'm uber cheap and I *love* the TJ Maxx. (Yes, I say "the" before names of places...I can't help it. I guess I'm an old lady in that way. Go with it.)
  I love shoes especially high heeled ones. The higher the heel the closer to Jesus...and the thinner the cankles will appear. How do I walk in those? Simple: Wear them to functions in which I will be seated. It's not like I go for a hike in heels. 
  I like for my hair to be the "perfect Brandi blonde shade" that, no, did not come from Jesus however, He's totally responsible for the gift of highlighting that my hairdresser bestows. My natural color is a darker blonde...kinda boring for me and it washes me out. Bleck! BUT, we don't go platinum...um, no. Just, no. 
  I don't think I look too bad without the assistance that Mac and Mary Kay offer, (though you might differ in opinion here) but I LOVE, LOVE , *LOVE* makeup....it makes me HAPPY! To me it really is like painting a canvas. Makeup is an art. ;)
  I'm a little chunky, to say the least; or, I'm curvy....better yet, rubenesque. Jordan refers to me as his pin up girl....I can TOTALLY go for that. (Thanks, babe!) So I'm not exactly fit, but not quite a candidate for the lapband either. (Sorry, Mom.) I'm skirting around it, though. I gripe about my weight and there are some things I could tweak, but overall, I've learned to accept myself. If I lose a few, great. If not, well, I'm not gonna harbor on that one right now....I've got bigger fish to fry AS LONG AS I'M NOT GAINING. That part seems to be pretty easy.
  I've already told you about the "bling things." So now that you've got a pretty clear mental image of who Brandi is physically, let's dig a little deeper and, as Jeremy (our pastor) says, "unpack."
  My testimony is posted, or will be shortly if it isn't by the time you read this, so we've established that I'm a born again Christian. Jesus lives in me and I couldn't be happier about that, thank you. Yeah, the heaven part is pretty dern amazing: I've got fire insurance! But the joy of having Him here, inside of my very heart...the walk with Him...that is what makes it so awesome to be saved by grace through faith. That is what keeps me going and gets me up, onto the floor, every morning, even when I think I can't. That is what gives me the strength to "move it" as the NMSS encourages us MSers to do.
  As I said, MS is ugly...it doesn't come in a pretty package. In fact, it comes in a mangled one full of junk and uncertainties. I'm still in the beginning stages of it: Relapsing/Remitting or RRMS. However, there are many "what ifs" and "Oh, crap, I wasn't prepared for thats" that happen here and there. 
  So aside from the chairs and walker issues, aside from the blindness and lack of writing skills, aside from not remembering what you told me yesterday (we're talking totally blocked out....as far as I know it never happened) and aside from being tired....a LOT, there are other parts to MS you may not know about.
  First, when MS blips on my radar, it can bring some friendly depression with it. My weekly injection Avonex can also cause depression. These two mixed together make for a not so happy trip over the edge and some "bad thoughts" in a person, therefore, I'm constantly being monitored by my doctor and the Avonex people. Every three months I go in and he asks me the same question: "Are you depressed?" Every three months when Avonex calls they also ask that question...only they dig: "Do you *feel* depressed?"
  So, define depressed. If you think I'm shut up in my room crying every day, not eating or talking, not bathing and "thinking unhealthy thoughts" then NO, I'm not "depressed." I'm being honest here, though, some days....I'll have one like that, minus the suicidal thoughts. Some days, I've just got to be alone and work on ME. Or I'm just too emotionally drained to do anything. If I don't call you or write you, it has nothing to do with you, I just can't make myself that day. I'm allowed it every now and then.
  I have had a little problem called pseudobulbar affect. This is where I'd just burst into tears or laughter for no apparent reason. Initially we thought it was just Brandi being overly emotional. Let's face it, I'm a girl. Sometimes I'd just be sitting and I could feel it welling up in my throat....that scream before a cry that's so painful and I didn't even know I was sad. I had no sad thoughts or happy thoughts, I'd just cry or laugh hysterically. It was really weird. As we learned more and more about MS we learned about this strange phenomenon. When my symptoms and blips were spiraling was when this would come about. It never really caused any problems it just felt strange....again, like I was losing control of ME. On top of that, I was emotionally unstable...my PMS mood swings are enough, but good grief, let's NOT add MS mood swings to that. Something else was taking over. 
  As we get a little heavier and intimate with this, I ask that you be patient with me. It's hard enough facing my fears, but to share it....I have NO idea why God wants me to do that part. Why can't I just leave the link at the side? They can read, they're bright people! His reply? They'll understand better coming from a *person* not an article written by someone who, to them, doesn't have a face and doesn't have MS. 
  Please remember that my cognitive function is a little off compared to what it was a long time ago. Along with forgetting things and having a hard time putting "sense" into dollars, I also can't remember a lot of words and my vocabulary has diminished....so I think for Christmas this year I want a thesaurus! Problem is, I'll not be able to think of words to look up....hmmm.....okay, a DICTIONARY!!! I'll just read the whole thing and try to maintain something.
  In the beginning we were told there was no pain with MS. Well, needless to say we later discovered there is. Some doctors believe it can be brought on psychologically so they don't tell their patients about it. "All MS cases are different; just make sure you tell me about every little thing that happens to you physically when you come in," is what Dr. Chander had told me.
  I never had a problem until the day I did yard work last spring. My left arm had been aching for about two weeks; again, Brandi ignores everything and sucks it up thinking it's a pulled muscle. After the yard day, I figured out otherwise. My arm was out of control! It felt like it was on fire and I couldn't even wear a shirt. Then it spread down to my legs. MS can cause or worsen RLS (restless leg syndrome) or as I like to call it, "crazy legs." I was pretty used to this when I had a blip but this was out of control...my legs would pull as tightly as they could all the way up to my chest and they were also on fire. My  body would stiffen and release all while my legs were kicking and jerking at different intervals. I'd think all was calm and then SLAM!  It was uncomfortable to say the very least and incredibly painful.  Now, I can totally handle some pain; I've given birth, I can conquer the world, but this was NUTS. I finally caved and took a hydrocodone. NOTHING. It didn't even phase it. Then I took benadryl, against doc's orders, because I knew that would calm my legs down. (I remembered it from pregnancy.) I finally fell asleep and was "jerk free."
  The next day I called and went in to see my doc. He called it neuropathy and put me on a neurontin which is an anti seizure med. It helped loads but it also helped to load on 14 pounds in a month. I came off of that mess. I'm not in any pain now. Every now and then I'll get RLS so I'll get up and walk around the house for a few minutes. Sometimes my legs ache or my arm will act up, but I can handle it. 
  There's a slight bathroom issue with MS. (Yeah, this is risque, wohoo!) We're talking about bladder dysfunction and peeing now. YAY! When I've gotta go, I've gotta go. There's no waiting. And sometimes, because it's happened in the past, if something's really funny...or maybe I'll sneeze or clear my throat...well, let's just say those nerves are effected by MS, too. And sometimes they're not finished when I think I'm finished. Praise God for liners. Some MSers have it worse than me. They can't control their bladders or their bowels at all. I'm very fortunate to not have any problems in that area. I think I can handle a little drip every now and then. I get up a couple of times a night to head to the porcelain throne. That's part of it, too. I try to hold off on any liquids before I sleep and always go right before I tuck in, but it never fails. This is called nocturia. Sounds like a fairy name! Wonder if she has pixie dust.....
 Avonex is my weekly shot and a GREAT medicine. By far, it's the best on the market and the best for me. However, I have to be careful with it. Not only can it cause depression and I've talked in the past about my "flu day", but it can also cause miscarriages. It's not FDA approved for use during pregnancy OR breastfeeding. So many people ask "Why haven't ya'll had another baby yet?" My husband is a college student and has a two jobs, and yeah, we could probably have another baby, although it would stress him out to NO end more than he already is. But in the state I'm in right now, it's not exactly the right time for me to get pregnant. I'd have to come off of my shots for three months before we could even try and with the blips still in full swing I don't think that would be wise.
  During pregnancy it's almost as if an MSer gets better with the progression of pregnancy. However, after delivery is when things can spiral again. My neurologist also doesn't want me to breastfeed the next one; as soon as it pops out he wants me to literally, while on the delivery table, take an injection. Avonex cancels out breastfeeding, I guess you've gathered.
  I'm having to pray a great deal over the pregnancy and breastfeeding issues. Does God want us to have another baby? We want to, but right now, it just doesn't seem like the road to head down. Like Hannah, I'll wait and when it's my time, I'll know it and I'll be blessed. Even if I never have another baby, look at what I do have already! What a blessing our Lilli Bug is!
  Speaking of pregnancy, (yes, we're headed further south) there are sexual issues with MS. A few people have asked me about this; I think the rest are scared. Think about it: your brain controls every single function of your body. The tiniest hair may fall on your skin and you know it because of the signals sent back and forth between your brain and the place that tiny hair has touched. If it can control your bladder and bowels it's got a handle on anything else in that region as well. Did you really think that the way you work in the bedroom just fell out of the sky? (Aside from the God part.) This is common with any normal person just as with MSers, so the same advice is given when a sexual problem may arise. Thankfully, we haven't had any severe problems in this area. (Whew!) MS fatigue can be a not so sexy roadblock, but we climb over it. Having a blip isn't very hot either, but we work around it that, too. My outlook on this sensitive subject: where there's a will, there's a way. I love my husband very much and we're firm believers in spending that intimate time together. That's a gift from God, folks! Rock it and keep it hot, MS or no MS! As my friend Dr. Rick Marks (Marriage For Life) says, "God was having a GREAT day when he designed sex." There is NO way I'm gonna let MS take over.
  Well, that was by far the most personal paragraph I've ever written and shared with complete strangers....but I know I'm not the only one. And I'm not the only one who worries about these things happening to their body.
  This brings me to my final MS fear....it's been all about how I'm affected, but what about how Jordan and Lilli are affected? Jordan is holding his own, so is Lil. They are my rocks and they know that no matter what comes our way, I'll always be theirs as well. What haunts me the most is Lilli's future. Even though MS is not inherited, the chances of getting it are higher if you have a direct relative with it. Her chance of ending up with it: 1 in 40. No big deal? Mine was 1 in 750....actually, 1 in a million. I beg the Lord to NOT let her end up with this...to save her from it. If I have to suffer 10,000 times over to keep it from her, I will. But just as I trust Him with her food allergies, I have to trust Him with this.
  I saw a woman sitting in her car recently. She was attractive and looked pretty normal to me. An older woman was sitting in the driver's seat next to her, watching her as she watched me walk by. I smiled but she didn't return the smile. She looked as if she was struggling with her mouth. I later found out that this precious soul has MS. The older woman in the car with her was her mother, and she was feeding her because she could no longer do it herself.
  Two weeks ago I watched a woman in a wheelchair give an interview on medical marijuana. Her legs and hands were distorted from her battle with the beast. She wore coke bottle thick glasses.
  I think to myself of how blessed I am that we caught this thing early. Some people wait months, years and even decades due to the many uncertainties surrounding this mysterious disease. It can also live actively in the body and the body will show no signs until it's gone far enough and finally pandora's box pops open. I only waited a couple of weeks for my diagnosis.
  I think of how blessed I am that I'm not cane, walker or wheelchair bound. I can open my mouth and tell my family I love them. I can kiss my husband with lips that move, wrap my arms around him and squeeze him and can feel him in return. I can play and laugh with my daughter. I can walk...sometimes it's with a limp, but by crackies I'll do it in glittery shoes and make it look like it's my swagger. And I can sing....I can sing my little heart out and praise my God. I have SO much to be thankful for. But in the end so do the more "unfortunate" MSers who are suffering even more than me. Perhaps they're more fortunate in a sense....they probably see God even more clearly than I do.
  I keep my God and His words so close to me, but my memory fails me more often than not. There was a verse I kept hearing from God....but I couldn't put it all together. It was too cloudy. All I remembered was "when I'm at my weakest He is his strongest." I didn't know if it was even worded correctly but I knew that's what He was reminding me. Then yesterday I got a message from my friend Haley....what a gal. She's been listening to God. She sent me the very verse I'd been looking for and trying so desperately to remember all through this turbulent week.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
(Thanks, Haley.)

  These two women whom I spoke of above, whom I don't even know, are such an inspiration to me. No, I didn't talk to either one of them, but I know their pain. I know their fears. They fear it could get worse. But they haven't given up. I fear it could get worse. But I haven't given up, and I won't. Over the past two posts I've shared my heart, my mind and the reality of my multiple sclerosis with you...the reality of what could happen to me. I war with MS knowing that through it all, He is being glorified! My faith is being strengthened every day. I knew God was real a year ago, I've never doubted that fact. Now....now is different. I see more of Him and his hand than I ever have.
  I can't lie, I have days where it's too much and keeping my chin above water level is more than I can bear. I feel myself sinking and as the water crashes over me, the air is nowhere to be found. But I find my strength to "just keep swimming" when I lift my eyes to the hills. (Psalm 121: 1-2) It's in your prayers and encouraging words of wisdom. I find it in the scripture you send me. It's in the blessings God is pouring out on my family and me every single day and the constant reminder that he is with me always. (Matthew 28:20) From there I'm able to stand on both feet, walk on the water with Jesus in my sights and breathe in and out again. So why do I worry?  I've got all the help I need backing me up and pushing me forward. I'm human...I'm weak...That's why. But in this frail and weak body is a soul so on fire for God and his will for me. It's stronger than the body and mind. Stronger than the MonSter. It's not about physical strength anymore, but spiritual.

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-2


  Now you see that I'm not as brave as I may seem. The "bravery" you see is Christ, not me. I don't wear a cape or possess any supernatural powers; but I fight this thing with my Father in front of me every single day, bearing HIS supernatural powers, knowing that I may not win against this MonSter on earth, but I will in heaven. One day I'll walk with Him, disease free....No shots. No pain. No worries. No fear.

 

My Christian Testimony

Hey, my friends. I have to share something with all of you that has taken me way too long to do it. I wrote this a couple of years ago and posted it to FB....I'm just now getting it to the blog.

A few weeks ago we had a little seminar type deal @ my church called "Every Believer a Witness." It was all about fulfilling our duty as a Christian: sharing Christ and the gospel with the lost and being brave about it. The speaker challenged us to write down our testimony and share it with at least one person the next day, by reading it to them. Well, being a homemaker, all I had was the cat, therefore failed miserably. I'd been feeling mighty poorly about it...conviction is great. But I prayed for God to set up a divine appointment for me. Then God said, "Why don't you email it."....since it was 1:00 in the morning and I probably didn't wanna go on visitation since I might've gotten shot and met Jesus, in the flesh, quicker than I expected. Not to mention, most of my peeps were asleep.

Anyhow, most of you "know" that I'm a Christian but have never heard my testimony, as I may not have heard all of yours. I still plan to share it in person with my "divine appointment" and many more after that but I want my friends and family to know the details of this very special moment in my life RIGHT NOW. So I not only emailed this to my entire email list, but now I'm posting on Facebook. If I catch you in person, we can always talk further, but my heart literally can't wait for that slim to none chance meeting. If you have any questions, please feel free to email, FB message or call me; I'm always available for prayer and will answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.


(I thought I was saved when I was 6 years old, but I don't remember what I prayed, and not having the understanding of what a real relationship with Jesus was, there wasn't much of a change.)

My life BEFORE I met Jesus:
I walked the walk and talked the talk but I was still missing something: the deep, personal relationship with Jesus. He wasn't my best friend just yet...There was no growth. I was just that "sweet kid that never missed church." I loved Jesus, but didn't really know WHO He was and is. He was more of an "acquaintance," not my friend.

How I came to accept Jesus into my life:
I was at revival at Holly Creek Baptist and during the invitation felt that gentle tug of the Holy Spirit. I leaned over to my friend, Heather and said, "I'm not saved and I want to be." She led me in a sinner's prayer and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I distinctly remember asking him to "befree me" of my sins. A lot of weight and burden was lifted off of my chunky little 12 yr. old shoulders. I now had a special RELATIONSHIP with my Savior, one just for the two of us. He was my new BFF&A!!!! Praise Him!!!

My life since Jesus came in:
I have a burden for sharing Jesus' message through music and He has given me opportunity after opportunity to do so. I couldn't sing about or for him without him, let alone just sing. And what a blessing to be able to share his message through this wonderful gift He has so graciously given to me. I'm humbled and so unworthy, but also very thankful. I've had ups and downs in my Christian walk and I'm certainly not perfect, but He has never left my side. I know who to go to when it seems all hope is lost. I'm secure in his unchanging faithfulness-just like his word says! I have a BFF for eternity. Besides all this, I now have a spot reserved for me in heaven!


*When all else fails, my Jesus is always there!!!*


Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this. I pray God blesses your day and that you have the opportunity to share your testimony with someone also. I love you all!

Jeremiah 29:11

Lord, bless this note and have your way through it.....For your glory, my Precious Father....

Monday, September 6, 2010

*Uncensored 1

 I love holding Jordan's hand. It seems so 6th grade, I know, but it still gives me butterflies when he reaches over and takes my fingers in his. They tingle and I look to see whose digits belong to whom...I never can tell. Even though his are clearly much larger and darker than mine.
  As hard as he works when he farms or busts bags on his "Friday job" they're still so soft. His nails are always clean and trimmed. I try to keep my hands neat and clean as well, not just for me, but for him. When he holds my hand I want it to be warm and inviting, soft and welcoming. He holds mine as if they're precious gifts made of gold, just like he did the very first time he ever held my hand.
  I used to wear acrylic nails but that got kinda old...expensive, really. I'd rather spend my money on makeup, ya know. ;)  Plus, I was always popping one or two off doing laundry. Ah, housewifery is a dangerous business.
  I like big gaudy rings on my fingers; the bigger and flashier the better. But nothing ever takes the place of my wedding set...those are the most special of all of my rings....and the only real ones. I'm not a materialistic person, I just like to play dress up, I guess. Jordan gets tickled at my rings.
  I have my daddy's hands. If you measure them up against one another they look like carbon copies, only mine are feminine and much smaller than his. Yes, I keep mentioning the size of my hands...they're pretty small, and my fingers are chubby. They still look like baby hands with dimples in place of my knuckles. They get the jobs done that I need to accomplish. A homemaker is nothing without her hands.
  Have you ever looked at your own hands? Not just with your eyes, but have you REALLY looked at your hands?  Have you thought about what all they do for you and help you achieve in your every day life? Hands and fingers. I think we take them for granted. I know I did....until recently.
  It's been almost 4 months since I had my last blip. Early April. May. June. July. Total freedom...............Aug.......<blip>......ust.......here we go 'round the mulberry bush! Oops, I stepped in dog poo. Yep. It had been coming on for several days. I could feel it, but I ignored it and chocked it up to symptoms. Then I kept getting sleepier....my brain foggier.....my face numb....my eye blind.....my hearing muffled........my leg more and more weak and tired....my hand weak....numb.......my foot hanging on the bed at night, seeming lifeless............
  Saturday I woke up unable to put all of my weight on my right leg and I couldn't hold myself up with my right arm or hand. Well, here he was. The beast had again regained his strength and reared his ugly head.
   I hobbled down the hall to the bathroom where Jo was in the shower. (I call Jordan "Jo" sometimes for those who don't know.) I tried so hard to be brave.....I really did. I used the bathroom and could barely pull myself up; I had to hold onto the door in front of me and pull my pants up one side at a time. Still, they're just symptoms, Bran. But after a few minutes of denial, I got a good look at myself in the mirror and realized that there was no denying it. Three months or 3 years, Bran: You've got MS. This thing is with you forever.
   My heart was crumbling into a thousand pieces and I was so broken, well, let's just be frank here, I didn't FEEL like praying or praising God. (I'm not perfect, ya know...I don't have all the answers and sometimes I get a little down about turning into an old woman before my time.) I felt alone. I felt like I'd been betrayed. I got angry and then began to cry uncontrollably as I limped back to the bedroom, leaning against the wall so I wouldn't fall. I didn't want to upset Jordan and I needed some time. I was hurt and I wanted to cuss REAL bad. (But I didn't.)
  "I can't do this. I just can't. I'm tired and I can't anymore.....I just can't." I could hardly breathe my heart was aching so badly, my stomach was in knots and I was calling dinosaurs any minute. Then I heard Him......
  "Yeah....you can. I'm here, I haven't left and I don't plan on it. I'm teaching you. I'm strengthening you. Just have some faith in me, Bran. I've got this."
  Every single morning since this demon of a disease entered and took over my body, and I've been aware of what's going on, I've had to remind myself of that. I look fine, I don't look sick. I don't act sick. People think I'm perfectly normal and when they find out what's really going on they say, "Oh, how brave she is! Look at her faith! She is so optimistic!" Yes, I'm optimistic. Yes, my faith is unshaken, that one is for sure. But I'm not brave at all, friends. Truth is I'm more scared than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. This is not exactly easy.....in fact, it's the hardest thing I've ever been through. Worse than when my great grandmother died, although, part of my heart still grieves for her....it's been 4 years.
  Blips don't promise a visit every day of the week, every week of the month or every month of the year. They also don't promise the opposite. They're not wrapped up in a pretty package with a big red bow and tag reading, "Happy BLIP Day! Open when ready!" though they do come unexpectedly they're not a surprise; they're unwanted.When they arrive, they're right the opposite of a neat little package.
  I've explained what blips entail, but over the past few months I was starting to forget, I guess. I remembered what I went through last year, who could ever forget that! Being a little skittish was putting it lightly about how I felt in May. Initially my blips were coming about once a month or just lasting almost the whole month. So when they ceased, I started to gain some confidence. I even thought remission was in sight, though that can take years....again with the unshaken faith. I still believe God can do what He wants. ;)
  As I said earlier, this blip has been coming on for a couple of weeks, but I've been ignoring it. I'm taking my shots faithfully, I thought. It's nothing, just some symptoms. I'm good. I tried to brush it off when I couldn't make a fist one of those days.
  Saturday was my Nanna's 74th birthday. Mom, Lilli and I were taking her to Cracker Barrel. Oh, how that woman loves her CB! I woke up about 9am. Still in a sleepy stupor I swung my feet over the side of our high king size bed. I scooted until my feet hit the cold hardwood floor. But my right foot didn't feel the tingly cool that my left foot felt....and my right hand didn't clutch the bedspread to keep me from falling. I slid until the left side caught all of me, before my whole body ended up on the floor, instead of just my feet. Even then I was in total denial until I hit the bathroom.
  This is what multiple sclerosis is. This is what I do with it. I open my eyes in the mornings and wonder if I'll be able to feel that floor beneath me. Sometimes I feel like I'm miles above it it's so intimidating. And will the hands that have never failed me in the past catch me if I fall? So this is where leaning on the "unseen hand" comes in...this is where my faith kicks into overdrive.
  I worry (though I'm not supposed to) about what is inside my head. These lesions growing on my brain, eating away at who I am, are they going to destroy me altogether? How in the world can this not kill me? Am I going to end up a crumpled mess? I wonder if my hands will always be able to hold Jordan's.....if they'll be able to touch his face and actually feel him. Will I be able to hold my sweet Lilli's hand and fix her hair today, and what about the next baby? Will my arms be strong enough to carry it?
  I'm afraid of wheelchairs. If people are in them they don't bother me, but an empty one? That's another story. I feel like it's just biding it's time until it can take over my life. I get a little sweaty around empty wheelchairs. My heart races and my stomach turns. When I get really nervous about things my hands actually ache...it's weird, but I've always been like that. The walkers and canes are just as bad. I see myself, in flats (ugh!) pushing a walker with little green tennis balls. Fold it up and sit it up against the wall because when I get up I'm gonna have to have that thing or I'm just gonna have to stay put.
  This is what YOU see in MS, the things YOU worry will happen to me: YOU see me with a cane, walker or wheelchair. But there's so much more that I worry about, so many questions that fly around my ever so slowly deteriorating brain. 
  Am I gonna remember the words to the song I've gotta sing? Can I paint you a picture or an ornament? Will I be able to hear music let alone sing it....because without my hearing I can't sing for my God, the One who gave me this talent that I SO love and NEED to just be able to BREATHE in and out. My voice.......will I get to keep it? I tell my husband I love him, and my child and family and friends with my voice....and my God........I sing to my Father with it.......How do you praise God if your body and voice don't function? Oh, I'd find a way. Sometimes I'll hum and touch my throat with my hand just to feel the vibrations in the incredibility of the voice and its box.
  Will Jordan be okay with reading to me when I can't see anymore? I know he would and when I was diagnosed and he knew all that we could possibly go through he said to me, "I promised you 'in sickness and in health' and I meant it."
  So I threw it out there for him: "What if I have to wear a diaper and YOU have to change it?" He didn't miss a beat, "I love you don't I? You'd do it for me. I'd do anything for you." Now, really, who wants an almost 30 year old baby? This is NOT what he signed up for....but he disagrees. "I signed up for all of it, Brandi. Diapers for babies OR you." Again, he always reminds me of our vows and the promises we made to each other that will never be broken.
  There are so many other aspects to MS. I've kept them to myself until now.  I'm gonna give you all of it; it's painful and scary, but the best part is where the Father's blessings are all in it and my hope and prayer is that you'll see HIM covering the face of the MonSter. So if you don't like "raw" don't finish reading anything with a star. There's my fair warning.