Thursday, December 30, 2010

Between the Holidays

The snowman the kids built on the deck has melted away along with all the snow on the hillsides where the sledding took place. But the photographs and the memories still exist.
The Christmas tree lights are shining brightly, and I will continue to feast my eyes on them until after New Year’s Day. Christmas cards continue to dribble in, and I have more time to enjoy them than I did the earlier more numerous daily offerings.

Tired of left overs, tonight I fried the quail Gerry had put in our freezer some months back. With a can of biscuits along with quail gravy, supper was a success when Gerald got back from Cape where he had been shopping for a new front door.

Earlier he had taken his latest version of a wheelchair footrest pad to Katherine’s house and replaced the pre-Christmas one. I had not realized it was the new pad itself that prevented the footrest from being turned up when needed. (I thought the new leg pad prevented that and was, thus, left off.) The pre-Christmas one was definitely an improvement with air bubbles in the middle so Kate could not feel the metal edges with her feet. She had bragged so on the improvement on Christmas Day about the first one that I thought it was just the behind-her-legs pad that had yet to be improved.

But the material on the one Gerald finished today is made of a smoother material and had some feature to allow the footrest to be turned up as it is supposed to be when needed. Now he is going to make the pad behind her legs of the same smooth material. David and Gerald have both made pads in the past and tried various wrappings; and although they helped at the time, they would eventually wear out and the problem remained.

Multiple sclerosis makes every touch and every movement felt much more intensely and painfully than sensations feel for those of us who still have myelin protecting our nerves. A too hard touch or a heavy hand on a swollen ankle can cause harsh pain. A too gentle touch can cause a tickle that is maddening to the patient—and that can sometimes be helped by rubbing hard on the tickle. Pain is invisible and so is hard for the rest of us to even begin to fathom.

I don’t dare try to fathom it. In order to function, I have to not allow myself to empathize too much with that pain, but leg spasms are not invisible, and there is no ignoring them. Learning to break up a spasm is a challenging task since what works one time does not necessarily work the next time. The stiffness that can come in just a second is almost incredible even though you are witnessing it. Katherine had a Tysabri infusion at the hospital yesterday, so we are hoping she will in better shape by tomorrow. The day after the infusion is usually needed for rest. Katherine is my hero for the way she endures this imprisoning disease as cheerfully as she does.

We are following our kids’ and grandkids’ between-holidays activities with the comments and photos they put on Facebook. Soon the ones who traveled south will be coming back by the farm on their way home to work and their 2011 responsibilities. And later Leslie in northern Illinois will be coming south to return to her Tennessee campus.

Like the rest of the nation, I feel very bad for those who spent their holidays locked into airports without many comforts and missing out on their planned family visits and festivities. I feel concern for those still living and struggling on unplowed streets. I hope the sheer danger and difficulty they have lived through gives them the needed adrenaline and that the challenges give them the grit to recover and face the new year even stronger despite the terrible holiday disappointments.

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