Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ghosts and the Meaning of Stuff

In January of 2009 I was still reeling from the MS diagnosis I had received in the fall of 2008.  I was still trying to work at my job as a grocery store cashier, but it was getting harder and harder. 

I had immersed myself in trying to find all the resources I could to help me with this disease I had found myself combating every day. I did the first thing that came to mind.  I joined the National MS Society.  I started a team for the annual walk and did two dog wash fundraisers for the cause.  With the help from my team and some very generous dog owners, we raised over $700.  Might not seem like much to some, but in this economy I was grateful for it.  I was also thankful for the friends who came to support me  and others like me, to walk the freakin' 3 miles during the 2009 MS Walk.

I ended up leaving my job in April, not knowing how to cope anymore.  The pain was getting worse and the stress of meeting everyday with the big wigs on how they could "accommodate" me according to their wishes was taking it's toll on my health.  Stress plays a huge factor when it comes right down to it.  And I had enough of it already without having to drive all the way across town to get more.

It has taken some huge steps for me to finally accept that this disease is not going to go away.  And of course, in my Kimberly-like way, I make fun--of myself, the disease, and the shit it puts me through.  In a joking way, I had started to call my self "cripple".  I personally just think it is a funny word by itself.  Cripple.  Kind of like, "dimple" or "cahoots", just a word.  Sometimes, when I would forget something or trip over nothing at all, I would say, "It's the lesions! " while dramatically placing the back of my hand upon my brow.  Apparently some do not think this is amusing.  Huh, what do they know?

Contemplate the word cripple. It stands on its own without any modifiers.  Disabled automatically calls able to mind as an opposite.  But a cripple is beyond compare.  Why, you'd have to say not crippled or un-crippled to get an opposite.  Can you imagine a world in which we needed some special verbal circumlocution to describe people as being other than crippled?  And there's the other interesting aspect of this word cripple: there is no degree implied.  How crippled is a cripple?  Gloria Steinem, when she turned 50, was told, "Gee, you don't look 50."  The reply attributed to her is, "This is was 50 looks like."  When I use cripple to describe myself and someone responds, "Gee, you don't look crippled," I can paraphrase Ms. Steinem saying, "This is what crippled looks like."

One more thing on this and then I will move on.  I think about the words Gay and Jewish.  Those are also descriptive words for groups of people--and words that stand on their own.  Although both groups are minorities in this nation of, in large part, heterosexual Christians, we don't refer to Gay people as sexually disoriented or to the Jewish people as differently spiritual.  So, what is it about a cripple that requires such careful language?

Oh and just so you are not confused:  I do not define myself as crippled, I am speaking in terms of my disease.  I call myself other words at other times, as do we all.  I can call myself anything I want.  Not bad for a crippled chick, huh?

Alright so that out of the way . . . I decided, with the Hubby's encouragement to go back to school.  Why not?  I'm reasonably intelligent, a woman, crippled, neither parent went to college, and poor as a church mouse.   What more could I need to get student aid?  Apparently nothing.  I started the Summer term in June.  Long story short I did well, but learned a lesson not to take any more on-line classes.  I don't have the discipline for it.  Period. 

Besides, I had to do something.  The last time I was this bored, I went to the Humane Society and adopted a rabbit.  R.I.P. Bijou.  I should have know my dogs would want to play with her.  We then adopted a little dog from my sister.  R.I.P. Boo.

With no car do drive, (hard to pay for the car-olla when you have no job-olla, don't ya know) I had to learn how to take the bus.  Interesting to say the least, but my green-eco-friendly-hippy that hides inside me was secretly jumping for joy (that me doesn't have MS by the way). 

Fall term started and I was starting my Criminal Justice classes not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with this degree, but knowing that it was the right choice. 

During the Fall term, we lost one our long time cat companions, Fitz.  He just got tired, went to sleep and never woke up.  Originally saved from a dumpster in 2001 with his siblings.  He's in the front yard now. R.I.P. Fitz AKA Fat-Cat.

I passed my Fall term with a 3.10, and was looking forward to my winter break.  I was already stressed beyond my limits.  At least I thought so at the time.  But I guess God thought I was made of toughter stuff than that, so he handed me (us) more.

During the month of December we lost our good friend Stacey to heart failure.  One day she was here and then she was not.  I also lost a long time friend by the name of Dan Henson to leukemia.  I will miss and cherish them both.

But here I am, in the middle of my third term at college, still not quite sure what I am doing, but I do know one thing.  I am surviving it.  What is it, you might ask?  It is life.

Life is many things for many people.  The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a person . . . a company . . . a church . . . a home. The remarkable thing is, that we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the brain and spinal cord.  The disease is characterized by recurrent attacks of inflammation and the development of lesions in the white matter of the central nervous system, resulting in neurological dysfunction.   The attacks cause a variety of more or less disabling symptoms over time.  The disability can be progressive.  MS has no known cure.


  1. This is an amazing post. You've got it completely right about attitude.

  2. Anonymous8:20 AM

    Like I said before, YOU are awesome. IO