Chronic Illness and Mental Health: Ghosts We Fear to Discuss

The moment in which the mind acknowledges ‘This isn’t what I wanted, but it’s what I got’ is the point at which suffering disappears. Sylvia Boorstein, Happiness is an Inside Job

Did you know that today, February 12th, is mental Health Awareness day? It’s a day for talking about what most of society wouldn’t talk about in the past. The stigma is HUGE.

Well, by now most of you know how I feel about stigma!

Depression is one of the “side effects” of a chronic illness, like MS… a struggle with maintaining good mental health. Personally, I call my own struggle as a struggle with the Ghosts of Lifetime Past. Let me explain…

What I have noticed over time for myself is that as my MS has progressed, so has my own awareness and understanding of myself – but in ways I never could have seen coming. For example, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a fact of life for me now…for various reasons and at various levels of complexity. When my symptoms of fatigue and pain pull me down, I tend to feel like a burden to family and friends. (Rationality has nothing to do with it!) I then can tend to feel depressed and even more emotionally exhausted…and I want nothing more than to “escape” from this burdensome-ness by disappearing somewhere, anywhere. I understand now that this comes from past emotional trauma from a very young age in which I was the oldest child of an alcoholic parent who would insist that our entire family would end up living on the streets without a home nor food and in rags if I, as oldest child, did not “shape up, do more to take care of the house, and be more responsible for my siblings“. I was 8 years old when that particular burden began being laid on me regularly. (This typical “burdening of the oldest child” usually came after my parents fought over my father’s alcoholism and my mother was ready to kick him to the curb.) So for me – I can begin a cycle of feeling very depressed when my symptoms flare up and create change or havoc in my life. I feel like I am failing at keeping the family together, happy, fed, successful. These are literally ghosts of my past – being exacerbated by symptoms of illness in my present.

But – Why do I understand it now? Because I talk about it. Because I look into myself. Because I seek self-awareness everyday.

The thing is – everyone has old ghosts. And chronic illness can raise these ghosts in the strangest ways and at the strangest times. It can create new ghosts. The changes brought into our lives by chronic illness can also make us go into hiding as we avoid talking about painful emotions, fears…depression.

If you are feeling depressed – talk about it. Now. Tomorrow. With a friend, relative, professional…with whomever you feel most safe. Just talk about it.



The Button and Identity

“An identity would seem to be arrived at by the way in which the person faces and uses his experience.” ~ James Baldwin

Can a chronic illness like MS affect your identity? You betcha! You see, personal identity (our sense of self) tends not to be an unchanging concrete thing. It tends more to be a dynamic concept that  fluctuates with life experience.

Our sense of self includes anything such as life/professional roles, personal attributes, behaviors, and aspects that we consider most important about ourselves. The aspects that contribute to our self identities can be things like occupation, hobbies, athletic ability, family relationships, marital status, disabilities and health…among many others.

My own identity can be shaken at times by the twists and turns of my health due to multiple sclerosis and seizures. And often, the symbol of that comes in the form of a button…a remote button I wear around my neck so that if I fall or drop due to a seizure, emergency personnel will be called and sent directly to me, even if I am unconscious. I have a love/hate relationship with that button. It is because of the button that I can be alone and maintain my independence. It is because of my health condition that I need the button – so when my health is at a lower ebb, and I have to wear and count on that button – it becomes a symbol of my dependence and a perception of freedoms lost.

In the last few weeks, as a result of the overwhelmingly busy schedule I have been keeping with workload, travel, wedding, moving, packing, unpacking, and so on… I have ended up dealing with a deeper MS exacerbation physically than I have in a while. My muscles are weaker than normal, exacerbating my spinal injury, triggering more weakness, and so on. As a result, in order to ensure my safety, it has been important for me to wear my button “just in case”. This “just in case” part is primarily because we don’t know if a seizure will be triggered or not. I end up feeling “less than” because I need to slow down. I know – it is not logical…but it happens sometimes. (That’s where a good support system helps!)

That’s where identity comes in, because when you can’t do what you are normally accustomed to do, it can affect your sense of self. Sometimes we can feel a sense of guilt for being unable to participate at a certain level. Or we can feel isolated. It is imperative to remember, at that time, that we are not just one thing (i.e. wht we do, or how we do it, or…). We need to ensure that we don’t allow what we can’t do in one moment to impact our sense of identity in any moment. And it can be easier said than done, depending on our own personal sense of self.

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem. ~ Eric Hoffer

Now where did I leave that darned button?



Serenity in the Challenge and the Chaos

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ― Helen Keller

Whew – life can get chaotic sometimes, can’t it? I think of my own life right now – talk about chaos! Sometimes I am exhausted just thinking about it: a new marriage; long-term things coming to a head at work; moving an entire household; taking on a new cause and awareness raising initiative; raising teenagers; and staying on top of my health management. Keeping balance through our chaotic times can be a challenge in itself.

Life can be full of challenges in periods of chaos. And – sometimes challenges can bring us adventure – and sometimes that very adventure brings us serenity and inner peace.

Even with all the “busy-ness”, I have been feeling more “me” than ever before in my life. Part of it is that I married my life partner, BFF, and soul mate. Part of it is that I am “able”, despite my health constraints. But a big part of it has been facing a huge challenge and taking a little slice of “me” back from the constraints of my chronic illness – in this case, by getting back into the water.

Synchronized swimming is back in my life – and, boy oh boy, did I ever miss it and hadn’t even realized it! I am a water baby at the core – always have been. I am never more relaxed mentally, spiritually, and emotionally than when I am in or near water. My personal challenge is to be fully active and even competing in the Masters Synchro world by my 50th birthday. That is not that far off. The biggest challenge was getting back in the water itself – knowing that a seizure in the water is a dangerous thing.

You see, I want to raise awareness for the Stigma against Seizure Disorders as I travel this journey I call my life. (Look for a facebook page down the road. Yup – more to keep me busy and challenged!) Raising awareness means being transparent to a large degree. That is, in and of itself, a challenge. It means disclosing (repeatedly) that I have a seizure disorder – but that I don’t let it stop me from living my life to its fullest potential. It means telling each lifeguard what I need them to watch for and do. It means making sure that my coach knows what my “deal” is – and making sure she is comfortable with it. It means facing the fear every day. It means working every day to keep motivated, no matter what.

But these very challenges are the fuel that fire my inner peace. Knowing I may help just one person by sharing my experiences fuels that fire, and brings me a sense of serenity. Knowing that I have the courage to face a fear and break the social assumptions by getting back into the water, despite all the warnings about the dangers – that brings me a sense of serenity and inner peace. (Being underwater in the cool blue – that alone brings me serenity.) That’s what works for me. That, currently, is my daring adventure!

Finding serenity and inner peace – that is a personal journey, and each individual defines that for themselves. Serenity and peace in the challenge and chaos – I firmly believe it can be found…if you allow yourself to see it and recognise it. What does it look like for you?

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” ~ unknown



Forging New Ground and Setting Goals

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, I am back! Didja miss me?

I took some time off from my busy-ness to rest for the past few weeks over the summer, as the heat was taking a toll on my health by flaring up MS symptoms (even my old one of MS Hugs – not fun). The rest was well worth it – mentally, physically and emotionally – though I can’t really say I was not busy!

The busy-ness seemed to morph somewhat, rather than disappear. Isn’t it amazing how you can take something of you to-do list, and other things magically appear to take the place of the things you removed! Case in point: My upcoming next month or so I will hopefully be moving into a new home that we offered on, getting married, working full-time and balancing life while working on some large projects at the office, and also trying to forge some new ground.

What do I mean “forge some new ground”? Well…Having the time to “rest’ (HAHAHAHAH!) allowed me to look inside and prioritize what I needed to manage most – including wrapping up old issues that I had pushed to the back-burner to “deal with” later. One of those issues was my fear of getting back in the water…fear created by my history of seizures.

You see, sometimes living with chronic illness can feel emotionally like someone is slowly chipping away at you – who you are, what you can do, what freedoms you can still enjoy, and so on. For me, the seizures came with a fear of being in the water…because that is a very risky place to be during a seizure. I had stopped taking baths (don’t worry – I do shower :); I had stopped my competitive swimming (mainly because of the virtigo); I had given in my driver’s liscense which effectively reduced my freedom. And I felt like a vital piece of me had been suffocated by my seizure disorder with all these little pieces going down. Combine that with the stigma against seizures that I experiences in the spring…well, if any of you follow me regularly, you know that that is a trigger for me to “Face the Fear” and make a change.

So – what did I do? I set myself a  big goal and a cause: I will be swimming competitively again by my 50th birthday and raising awareness of stigma against Seizure Disorders.

I have joined the local Masters Synchronized Swimming team. I have roughly  2 years until I turn 50 (fifty) years old – and I plan to be in the water, doing a synchronized swimming routine competitively, and showing people that no matter what, seizures or no – it CAN be done. (And – also to show that being 50 years old or over does not means everthing stops…one can still be at the top of their game. Though maybe the games rules are a bit different?)

Facing my first fear was to get back in the water. And I did! I got back in, and my ol’ body remembered how to do the synchro figures – though I gotta say, my “ballast” feels alot different than when I was 17 years old and competing! I completed my first 90 minute training with no problems (other than recognizing that I haven’t used certain muscles in a LONG time…and I have a lot of work to do! Thank God for yoga – it will be my rock for this in many ways – including core and flexibility!)

How do I feel after my first session in the water? Physically – exhausted! But emotionally and mentally? Fantastic. Determined. Courageous. Powerful. I faced a fear – the fear of getting back in the water – and did it anyway!

Does it cure my MS or my seizures? Heck no! But it does increase my confidence in my own ability to create and live my life in the way I see fit, no matter what my illness throws at me!

“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.”~ Bill Cosby
So – what’s your goal? Is it big? Small? It really doesn’t matter – it just needs to fit YOU! (Size is just a matter of perspective, anyway, ain’t it?)

Illness Stigma: A Funny Thing Happened to me on the Way Home…

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost. ~ Chauncey Depew

You know, it still shocks me when I run into bias or stigma against illness. It shouldn’t – but it does.

Having MS, there is a stigma – a stigma regarding chronic illness and personal capacity. People assume you will quit work immediately, or that you will never  be able to participate in activities, or that life is generally over for you and your family. (Seriously – I have run into that.) But much of that can be mitigated to some extent by personal health management. Admittedly, many people who are hard hit my MS have visible limitations, but a large part of people with MS lead quiet lives managing their symptoms, and doing everything in their power to lead as normal a life as possible. And typically, the first reaction a person shows to hearing you have a chronic illness like MS is compassion and sympathy.

Not so with a seizure disorder.

I was dumbstruck the other day when I was traveling home from a business trip. I was travelling home alone from Calgary, and I did as I had been advised by my neurologist for such cases: I informed the flight boarding staff that I had a seizure disorder, and gave them pertinent information. (Note – I have travelled many times alone on business and done this very thing before.)

Much to my surprise, instead of being met with compassion and gratitude for my disclosure (as this helps them do their jobs proactively), I was met with fear and put on notice that I may be refused boarding. WTF????

I was shocked – then livid. Thoughts ran through my head simultaneously, such as: “ExCUSE me?” “Why did I say anything?!?!” “I have survived childhood & domestic abuse, MS and multiple seizures – and you think your fear is gonna stop me from getting home on this plane??? HAH! ” “How DARE you try to keep me from my family through your ignorance!” “What’s next? Are you going to refuse diabetics boarding privileges – they could have an urgent situation. What about people with high blood pressure? Past heart attack patients?””This person has no clue about seizures – I should take the opportunity to educate her now…seriously!” Of course, all this ran through my head in split seconds – and I did not say any of this out loud.

I didn’t go all “corporate dragon lady” on them (as my sister likes to say), but I definitely stood taller, and my voice got much firmer as I dealt with them. I became seriously resolved, and solid as hell.  In the end, the issue was resolved, and I boarded the plane.

But it got me thinking about the stigma – and one’s ability to deal with it. Seizures, as I have discovered, seem to evoke a fear and stigma quite different than that of MS. MS seems to be “socially acceptable”, for lack of better words. But seizures…well, seizures are scary. Seizures can be messy. Seizures means knowing what to do in an emergency. Seizures mean…well, for someone not educated in what seizures are…seizures mean that the person is often perceived as a walking time-bomb, and you don’t want to be around a bomb!!

I consider myself lucky – lucky to be the person I am, as educated as I am, and as strong as I am. Yes – I have random tonic-clonic seizures. Yes, they are scary, and yes, I lose consciousness which means I need help. But I also have a brain that works. I am very well educated and I have the ability to manage my health to mitigate health issues. And I have the self-esteem and self-confidence that comes from age and experience to stand up to yahoos who express un-informed fears and stigma. I am not afraid to stand up for my rights, and when faced with such bias, I have the ability to make myself be heard.

But what about those people out there that DON’T have that life experience, or that self-confidence, or whose self-esteem is already hard-hit due the their seizure disorder? Those people who have been rejected, turn away, left by friends or family, as a result of life and/or illness? Running into that kind of bias and stigma that I experienced from an airline attendant can be absolutely devastating. Self-esteem can be seriously damaged. This in turn affects how that person copes.

Bias and stigma like that make people hide themselves. And no one should have to hide themselves – seizure disorder, chronic illness, or other.

I believe I now need to look deeper into this cause and see where I can help make a difference…no matter how small.

“One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world, making
the most of one’s best.”
- Harry Emerson Fosdick



Celebrating the Little Things

Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go. ~unknown

Part of coping with a chronic illness, or an on-going stressful situation of any type, is to celebrate your successes often.

I had a mini celebration of my own recently. This past weekend marked the one year anniversary since my last seizure. My last seizure episode was a doozy – back to back full-on tonic-clonic (gran mal) seizures that landed me unaware in the hospital emergency room for over 24 hours. I remember thinking “I am kinda tired – maybe I’ll just lie down for a moment.” That was a Thursday afternoon. My next memory is on the following Friday, “waking up” in the hospital, looking at my darling Mike who was holding my hand, and saying “Hi handsome”…then looking around and thinking “WTF – where am I? And what the heck happened??” So – one year with no grand mals! Ya-Hoo! Can I drive again? Well, no – because my seizure were often spaced by months and we still aren’t 100% sure they can be classified as controlled. The violence of them and the fact that I have no warning is what makes it too dangerous for me to risk getting behind a wheel.

Celebrating our successes is an important tool to help cope with a chronic illness. Whether it is big or small to others is irrelevant. What it means to YOU is what matters most. So celebrate it, whatever it is!! Ya-Hoo!

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. ~ Bernice Johnson Reagon



Giving of yourself – The Best Medicine for what ails you!

I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver. ~Maya Angelou

One of the greatest feelings one can get is the feeling of selfless giving – knowing you have helped even just one person along their own journey. That feeling is priceless.

Giving – you’d think it is all about others…but really…it’s all about yourself.

This past weekend, two of my own giving initiatives came to an end – that of being a health mentor to university students learning about working with patients re: chronic health care, and a pilot about Yoga for Chronic Illness that I ran during February at a fantastic local studio (All Yoga in Dartmouth, NS).

For my health mentor team – I had been working with them since  the school year started, and it is now wrapping up. I must say that I loved working with them, and they are a fantastic group of people. I learned from them as much as they learned from me. I felt a bittersweet pang as we wrapped up, knowing I’ll likely never see any of them again, but knowing also that I may have made an impact of some sort (no matter how small) in how they work with patients in their future careers.

For my Yoga for Chronic Illness pilot – I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to offer such a pilot, at no cost, to people who could benefit from exposure to yoga. Kim Curlett, owner of All Yoga made that possible – by offering space and time in her studio. Because of her open-ness, a number of people were exposed to the benefits of yoga for managing chronic illness. Personally, I feel that I benefited the most, because I got to share my experiences and hard-won knowledge with the people who attended, and know that I was able to help a number of them along their own healing journeys.

That, to me, is priceless. I feel energized and more at peace, knowing I have helped someone somehow along the way. Does it cure my own MS and seizure disorder? Heck no! But it does give me a sense of purpose regarding my MS and seizure disorder. I can share my own experiences and knowledge in order to help others. It gives me a sense of perceived control over how I manage my health and my life. Priceless.

And after all…it’s all about me, eh?!?! ;)

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt



Overwhelmed: Medication Russian Roulette and More!

“Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” -Walter Anderson

Wow – it’s been longer than I thought since my last blog. I had all the best intentions in the world…but I got overwhelmed. I got overwhelmed by work, by my own work ethic (can you say Over-Achieving Super Mom?), by my body’s inability to keep up with the workload, and by medication choices that were put in front of me due to medication side effects.

Work-wise…well, bottom line is that when the poop hits the fan, the work has to get done. All my years of training have created in me a work ethic that ensures I meet deadlines. Period. This means that when something needs to get done, I get it done where I can (even if it is not “my job”). This ethic conflicts with my energy levels in that my body says “Yeah, whatever. The work will still be there tomorrow – I am taking you down now.” As a person with high expectations of herself, that is a hard pill to swallow. For me – that is a signal that I need to do more gentle yoga and mindful meditation to practice better “non-attachment”. I am on a much needed week-off right now as I pushed myself in recent weeks to the extreme limits in order to meet deadlines and makes sure the workshop my colleague and I were facilitating went well.

Medications-wise…AAAAARRRGGGHHHH! That part is just plain frustrating. The side effects of some medications are often worse that the illness they are treating!!!! And the most frustrating part of it is that every individual reacts differently to medications, so you don’t know what side effects will impact you until you are actually on the medication. Currently, in order to lesson the side effects of my seizure drug (Keppra) and tackle MS Pain and sleep problems, I am starting an additional new seizure drug called Vimpat, with the intent to get to lowest doses of both together so that we minimize side effects and maintain the success rate of seizure control. This one is so new, that little is known other than clinical trials. SO…basically, I had to decide if the risk of trying this new drug is worth the potential side effects. Is it worth it?

It is often the choices we have to make that can paralyze us. For example, in going through the seizure med options with the doc, I found that my choices boiled down often to the following:

  • drug a – weight gain, hair loss, psychosis
  • drug b – weight loss, hair loss, documented significant drop in IQ (as much as 20 points in some cases!!!)
  • drug c – weight gain, rash, double vision
  • and so on….

So – my choices are: fat and bald, and potentially out of my mind; skinny and bald and “stupider” (pardon the choice of word); fat, itchy, and trouble seeing…and the list goes on.

It was alot easier for me when I decided to stop the MS meds – the only other option afforded me has a side effect of death due to brain issue, so even the docs agreed to keep me of the MS drugs. For the seizures though it is another story – the meds may save my life, no matter the side effects. My seizures are violent and sudden, and each time I have had one i have been significantly injured in some way, so the docs are not eager to see me off them for my own safety.


This is where the overwhelm can hit hard – sometimes I just want the whole thing to stop. Just stop. I get tired of having to choose. I get tired of having to think of what effects my choices will have on me, on my family, on my work and on my ability to work. I don’t want to have to make decisions between Poop Box A, and Crap Box B. I can find myself exhausted and overwhelmed, not just by the meds themselves, but the choices of what we are willing to give up while on that particular med in order to maximize the positive benefits of that same med. And that can also lead to tears of frustration and even anger at being in the situation to begin with – anger at your body, anger at the disease, anger at the situation in general.

This is when I turn to yoga the most – it helps keep me centred, or re-centre me when I have lost my focus. It helps me see the situation from a more non-attached prespective, and see the moment for what it is. There are many different ways to go about dealing with the emotions, but the most important thing is to never give up.

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” -Charles R. Swindoll



What do Sidney Crosby and I have in Common?

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down”  – Lily Tomlin

Quite the title, eh? Sounds like I have delusions of grandeur! Just call me Sid! (That came about because a colleague teased me about being on a project team with me and having to deal with my days “out of the game”! )

So, what do I have in common with Sidney Crosby? Besides a good ol’ Canadian love of hockey (his love would be much stronger than mine), we both contend with lingering effects of concussion damage. Concussion effects are more serious than previously understood – and thankfully, Sidney Crosby’s situation is shedding more light (and money) on the subject.

In a recent post, I lamented about my vertigo and lingering effects after meeting some turbulence on a trip back from Ottawa just before the holiday season. I recently was sent by my neuro team to a specialist in treating concussion effects. Boy – did I learn a lot of fascinating information about the brain and how it recovers, or doesn’t recover, from concussion damage!!

It turns out that the concussion I had back in March 2007, as a result of a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure, is still causing me grief to this day, and likely for a long time to come. In my own case, I had a severe enough seizure to cause permanent damage to my left ear in the form of hearing loss at high and low levels (for example – I cannot hear crickets out of my left ear).

After my concussion in 2007, I was sent home from emergency and told to “take it easy” over the weekend. That was pretty much the full extent of my medical advice – “Ms. Marshall, take it easy this weekend, and don’t work your night shifts. Go back to work next week”. I suffered from serious vertigo for 6 months or so after that (no driving, walking with a cane, etc)…and finally got sent for more testing when my neuro team, after complaints from me, realized that there may be another cause for my vertigo besides my MS alone. So they then confirmed that I had had a pretty severe concussion, and pretty significant damage as a result. But no one told me what that meant to my life and managing my health.

I am still learning what that meant to my life and managing my health. For example, I now know that traveling by air will be an on-going issue for me, as turbulence will affect me each time…even the cabin pressure changes alone will be enough to cause some issues. I have learned that proper hydration is even more important for someone that has brain damage such as a concussion. I learned that even diet can affect concussion effect  – and that repeated concussions are really NOT a good thing! I learned that I have to plan for MORE rest before, during, and after travel in order to mitigate any effects. And I am sure I will learn even more as my personal journey continues to unroll.

I am so grateful that I have my yoga practice to help me further understand my “complicated yet fascinating” body! LOL!

“Your body has the amazing ability to naturally realign and heal itself, if you’d just give it some basic attention!” – Diane McLaren



Turning Negatives into Positives as a Tool for Managing Chronic Illness

“Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as being able to remake ourselves.” -Gandhi

One thing I adore about cats is that no matter what situation they find themselves in, they usually figure out a way to make it a comfortable one. And they don’t make any apologies for it!

The new year always brings with it shiny new resolutions, new goals, new resolve. The beginning on 2012 has been a bit of a challenge for me, as concussion repercussion vertigo and MS weakness and fatigue have flared up. What it’s meant is that I have been forced into a bit of a downward physical spiral in that the vertigo prevented me from doing my usual cardio (though I managed a couple of aqua fit type classes for movement and falling safety…but the pace is very slow for my fitness level). Yoga has been greatly modified to allow for safety…so when I have been well enough, I have done restorative yoga. But none of the usual “pushes” over the bulk of the holiday.

I admit, I pushed myself to attend a New Year Welcoming 2012 Yoga event, doing 108 Sun Salutations to welcome the year and donate to charity. That was a double pleasure for me, because I also got a chance to lead a segment of the 108 Sun Salutations…a happy surprise! I took breaks as I needed…child’s pose…mmmmm. My darling Mikey got through all 108! WOW! We were both very sweaty and rubbery by the end – but what a great way to get a sweat on! Savasana felt SOOOO good.

This year is one in which I will be challenging my body to make changes. Yoga will continue to be my tool to see me through it all. I will be seeing new specialists regarding concussion damages and how to manage them. One thing that is always a challenge, and makes your body change, is medication changes. For instance, I recently weaned off my anti-depressant, as recommended by my sleep specialist neuro doc…it had the positive effect of improving my sleep, but negatively it may have affected my medication cocktail in such a way as to affect my metabolism…causing weight gain. (Not just the xmas weight gain.) So I will use this as the opportunity to challenge myself to lose the weight…and maybe a few more that crept on over the course of the ups and downs of the recent year. The docs will be changing my seizure meds too – to adapt to the sleep issues. They want me to change to a seizure med that reduces sleep and mood interference, and that is known to help with pain and even with weight gain issues. This could be a good opportunity to learn even more about how my body works and how to manage my health…but it will be another slow road.

“Always concentrate on how far you’ve come, rather than how far you have left to go.” -Unknown