squeezing lemons

It’s Day #27 of the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.  Today we are invited to write about 5 challenges and 5 victories related to our health focus. I am going to write about both multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) in combination.

squeezing lemonsChallenge 1 (the BIG one):  MS limits movement and CVI requires movement.   MS has restricted my walking for more than 20 minutes and management of CVI requires walking for at least 30 minutes to help the calf muscle return blood to the heart.  My CVI is a result of a large blood clot in my left leg due to May-Thurner Syndrome in 2000.  The valves are incompetent causing a pooling or swelling in my leg.  My left leg is 20% larger than my right.

Challenge 2: fatigue. I tire quickly with physical activity. My stamina is not what it used to be and I rarely awaken from 8 hours of sleep refreshed.

Challenge 3: chronic constipation.  Constipation often accompanies MS. It is estimated that it occurs in 70% of persons diagnosed with MS at some time. This is a big one for me, especially since I have a slow metabolism anyway.

Challenge 4: bladder issues.  The location of the bathroom is a must. When the urge arises, I must get there quickly. Luckily most of my accidents occur at home.

Challenge 5: driving.  The challenge isn’t really about the driving. It is about loading and unloading my walker and parking. It is a pain to take my walker in and out of my trunk. I have a handicapped sticker, which I am grateful for, but there is never enough spaces.

I am glad that this post is going to include victories because just focusing on my challenges leaves me feeling drained.  My life is full of small victories each day.

Victory 1 (the BIG one). My biggest victory was related to my walking. Even though I can walk short distances independently, the purchase of a walker has changed my life.  Since it is important for me to continue walking, it needs to be enjoyable.  When I walk without a device or even with my cane, I have to focus on each step.  When I walk with my walker I am able to enjoy the outdoors, greet friends and neighbors and stop to rest when needed.

Victory 2: fatigue.  I used to take an afternoon nap, however, I have not felt the need of late and I believe it is related to a healthier diet and supplements. I also receive regular acupuncture treatments.

Victory 3: bladder/bowel issues.  I don’t like to take medication. This is one area where I have decided to compromise.  I take medication to support my bladder and supplements to manage my constipation.  I feel more confident going out in public and accidents are rare. Yay!

Victory 4: left leg swelling.  To manage the pain in my left leg due to swelling, I purchased an L-shaped desk so the space under the desk was large enough to accommodate a foot stool the same height as my chair. I am able to work at my computer for longer periods of time with my leg elevated.

Victory 5: food processor.  It was my best Christmas present ever! I love to make soups and stir-fry but would tire easily and experience increased leg pain from standing at the counter for long periods to chop vegetables. Cooking is more enjoyable and I no longer avoid recipes that need lots of preparation.

As this post comes to a close, it occurs to me that perhaps the biggest victory is acceptance of what is present in my life each day, even welcoming it. I am blessed with the awareness of  the love of family and friends … I no longer take any of it for granted.  And that is truly a gift. 



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