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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Load Off Your Mind

Admit it. Those of us with MS need help once in a while. Many times pride keeps us from asking. Or we don't want to "put anyone out" or they have their own lives. We need help. Our desire to remain as normal as possible sometimes comes back to bite us in the butt. We can still maintain independence without doing everything ourselves. Asking for help doesn't make you weak.

MS drains our energy quickly. Some days are worse than others and some people have symptoms that never go away. Asking for help is actually generous to both yourself and the people who love you. The people who love you WANT to do something to help you. Most of all, they want to take MS away from you. They want to make the diagnosis NOT be true. They want to fix you and make you healthy again. It's frustrating to not be able to do that for you.

You know in your heart that you need help. Putting your own pride before this need is foolish. I know some of you are thinking that if you ask for help then you will be giving up. That by accepting help, you will cause yourself to be worse because you will stop giving yourself the “push” you need. Those are both valid points. I am not suggesting you give in to help by giving up all of the things you do. I am suggesting you find things that you can accept help on and keep your energy for the things you want to do the most. Asking for help frees up your time & gives you more time to rest & take care of yourself.

I could list a hundred different scenarios of how to benefit from receiving help, but this doesn’t mean you will listen. Start by making a list of all your responsibilities and prioritize them by wants, needs and dislikes. Then make a list of all of the people who want to help you and add on the ones that should help you. Set it aside and look it over later with fresh eyes. When you are ready, decide which of your responsibilities you could use help with or the ones you hate the most. Choose the ones that you’re willing to give up for the “greater good”. Now go over your list of people and decide who would be the person best for the task. Make a new list with the people and the tasks you’ve chosen for them. Look at how far you’ve come with this step. Even if you don’t ask, which you should, you have at least put your priorities in order and can manage your own time better.

Pick your battles. If a clean house is important to you, but you also want to make dinner for your family then you need to prioritize. Ask for help with the cleaning or hire a cleaning lady to come once a month for deep cleaning and in between you'll only need maintenance. If a friend has offered "Can I do anything?" Say "Yes." If you are afraid to ask for something specific then tell the people who have offered that you have made a list of the things that are difficult for you to do. Show them the list and allow them to pick the thing they want to do to help. Maybe they can chauffeur you around to your errands? They drop you off & pick you up at the entrance which will save you time & energy.

The people we love are not mind readers. If you expect them to read your mind or “know” what you want or need, then you are playing a game you'll both lose. Be honest. Be understanding. Be persistent. Communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE!! If you tell people what you want from them, what you need from them or how they are making you feel, the results are typically better than you think. Be brave and just ask them. In the end, you will all benefit. Your energy will increase and they get the satisfaction of doing something to help you. Don't underestimate the power of someone doing a load of your laundry and taking a load off your mind.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Super Brain!!

Hello Everyone, How many of you decide that "today. I can do more!"? How many decide to push further than they should because you WANT to do more? How many have felt the twinges of warning & doubt and ignored them? And the result of all of this ends up being overwhelming fatigue & even resentment towards your body.

I think we all have done this, MS or no MS, but with MS the ramifications can be worse. Most of the time I am all about listening to my body. I tell many others to listen to their bodies because no one knows your body like you do. Our bodies have to be our number one priority. It may sound selfish, but truly it isn't. If our bodies go down, so do many other things effected by our fall.

I came to realize that this past Summer when I was not making myself a priority. I knew my New Year's resolution would be to put myself first, but even deciding that I felt selfish. When I thought more about it, I realized I am actually doing my whole family a favor. If "Mommy" isn't well then dinner doesn't get made, kids don't go to their after school activities, I need more naps, and the house and our family just do not get the attention I want it to get.

So I pace myself & I offer to help when I can, but not to overdue it. In the MS world we all need a Plan A, a Plan B and, just in case Plan A & Plan B fail, a Plan C. If we take control and know what signs to watch for or know which situations are not good for us then we can strive for better health and avoid undue side effects.

On the flip side of this, we don't want to feel like we are being babied or handled with "kid gloves". When people are being "careful" around us or scold or reprimand us for taking on a task then we can become resentful towards them. In reality, most are trying to look out for us because they worry. And that is good on some level because at least they ARE paying attention & that shows they care about us. With so many people wishing that their friends and family would take ANY interest in them and their health, we can find some solace in this.

We are adults and we are capable of doing more in our lives. We also are in tune enough with our bodies to know when we should say yes or no. We aren't super heroes, although being "Super Brain" would be fun. We aren't china dolls either, although some days it feels that way. We have some issues that just need to be handled with care. In the end, we should do what we want and just take the necessary precautions. When someone tells us to sit down or take a break or that we shouldn't do something, just remind them that you know your body and you are paying attention to it. Don't forget to thank them for caring, because even when we don't need them to worry, it's nice to know someone does.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baffling My Mind

Hello Everyone, Today I am a little confused and, frankly, discouraged with how some businesses now view their customers. I believe in America and the small business as well as the corporations who put their customers first. What I don't understand is when a problem arises with a product, why am I being difficult when I expect it to work properly? Why am I the one who should accept what I bought and move on?

I believe I am a positive person. I can find a silver lining almost anywhere. I can be quoted as saying, "One day I fell on the floor in my living room. You may wonder how I found THAT silver lining? I started looking at all the things I had been missing under the couch. Bonus!!" I definitely try to find the best in most situations and I believe you can find good in most people if you are willing to try. There is the joke in my house that I love the grouchy or the grumpy people. When I was a kid, my favorite dwarf was "Grumpy". On Sesame Street, it was "Oscar the Grouch" & on the Smurfs, yep, "Grouchy Smurf". I didn't really realize that I even had a pattern until I was in college. I just knew that under that grouchiness there was a good person, a person worth knowing. Most of the time, I am the one to find it or break thru their "hard" exterior.

I do love a challenge!! Maybe that is the reason? Breaking thru to someone with that wall up isn't easy. Wherever I have worked, I was the one they called to talk to the upset customer. When I used to work in downtown Detroit, in the Eastern Market, you could find all kinds of characters down there. I started on phones taking orders and there were established customers there who other people classified as difficult or jerks (that's much nicer than they would actually say in the Eastern Market. "Market Talk" uses a lot of profanity) ;) I would be warned not to talk to them or that I wouldn't be able to handle them because "You're too nice." Hahaha. People under estimate me often by believing my being positive or kind as also meaning I am weak. That can be fun for me.

I would take these calls and handle these customers and give as good as they gave. I would call their bluffs and call them out and in the end, I broke thru. These same men, the ones no one wanted to talk to would now ask for me when they called. They didn't need to be "jerks" because they respected me enough and knew they could depend on me. Before me they assumed if they acted that way, then no one would walk all over them. They would get what they wanted just by acting mean or tough. Once they knew they couldn't pull that one with me, they also knew I would come thru with them. Some became some of my favorites. I miss that job sometimes. But I digress.

I bring all of this up because I do not handle things first with anger and pressure. I make a call or show up and start with my normal "kill them with kindness" approach. It isn't in a fake way, but most people are more willing to work with someone when they begin with "Hello. How are you today? I am hoping you can help me." then "You & your company screwed me over AND I want payback!!" You get the idea. So when I have a problem with a product that's how I begin, with a smile and a pleasant plea for assistance.

This usually works for me & in this instance it worked for a long time. I developed a rapport with someone & in turn they were willing to help me in any way possible. In many instances, the person you are dealing with can only do so much and become frustrated for you too. There are instances when you can go to the next level, assuming they would like to help you too since you are such a good customer. There are times that proves untrue. That happened. Then you find the person you had that rapport with is gone & who is left? New people.

New people don't really care. New people promise to call back & they don't. New people promise to repair your confidence in them and use duct tape and fake smiles. New people are condescending and when they don't follow thru with their promises, look at you like you expect too much. New people want you to wait silently in the corner, even if they forget you're there when they shut off the lights and head home.

I don't understand this type of person. If I tell someone I will call back in 10 mins, I may or may not follow thru, but if I am late I am apologetic. I don't act as if they are being demanding or unreasonable when they call again or even a third time because I never called. I don't understand being treated by someone as if I am crazy when I was told this will be ready on Friday, and Saturday, Sunday & Monday go by without even a hint of progress. Why am I know suddenly the crazy bitch?

I am a firm believer in giving out good so it will come back to you. I believe in someone's word. I believe we as a country earn the right to make good products and expect the same in return. I believe if one of those products doesn't work properly and cannot be fixed then it should be replaced. I believe in all of this that I, as the consumer, should be allowed to expect quality and not be labeled as a troublemaker when the product put out isn't up to the company's own standards. In the end, I am at the mercy of their will. This scares me because somewhere down the line, I will be expected to accept poor quality and live with it no matter what. I just want to be treated how I would treat someone and given the respect I deserve. In this ever changing world, revolving around people who feel entitled to most everything, I stand here in awe. The world is baffling my mind and today I hope my short term memory lapse kicks in so I can forget it ever happened, Too bad I can't use some of my MS at will to benefit myself, but that would be out of character too. Damn. I think I'll just go have a drink! Maybe that can stop my head from spinning.