Thursday, December 26, 2002

I survived the holidays.

C'mon, I'm not the only one who feels this way. But this year, the holidays were definitely tinged with bittersweet.

Like when I sat in the congregation at church for the Christmas cantata. The last time the choir performed a cantata, I had been up there, bawling my eyes out...because it had been two days after we found out I had MS. I had a solo that day, and I was falling apart in front of everyone. I did pull it together in time to sing, but that was a difficult hour, as the emotional impact of my diagnosis hit me right between the eyes. That was only 9 months ago. Seems like such a short time - and yet, it seems like a lifetime ago.

We went on our first trip since my diagnosis, heading up to New York City with a few dozen college students. Oh sure, we had gone away for the weekend to celebrate our fifth anniversary in June. But that had just been lounging around in a resort and spa for a few days. This was traveling, complete with the airport pains and desire to sightsee and getting sick because I was hanging around other sick people and learning that my MS was going to change things no matter how much I wished it wouldn't. We didn't have to worry about traveling with my MS medication, since we were gone for less than a week and had carefully scheduled out my shots. But we did have to travel with the disease.

I was OK the first day (Monday), but the pace and lack of sleep caught up with me on Tuesday. We were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I just knew that my body wasn't going to be able to handle a full day. Since we had tickets to the opera that night, and I had been told that particular opera was a long one, I was definitely concerned. And mad. I didn't have much time in NYC, and I didn't want to spend my afternoon lounging in front of a television. We had an early lunch, in hopes that the food and the rest would help rejuvenate me, but it wasn't enough. We ended up back in the hotel for an afternoon rest. Once we got to the opera, we had to head all the way up to the family circle (and those familiar with the Met know what I mean by ALL the way up), and I didn't realize how much that would take out of me. I sat on the aisle, disoriented and nauseous, wondering if I was going to be able to handle staying up there for the 3+ hours of the opera. Well, I was OK after a little while, but I have to confess - what saved me was a short nap during Act I. Yes, I went to the Met...and I slept. There, I said it. And I felt better, too!

I had fun, but it was a tough trip, and I blame my illness for that. Outside, it was very cold, but the buildings were nice and toasty. So I had to bundle up to go outside, but was way too hot once inside. Yeah, just what a heat-sensitive person needs. And when you're feeling worn out and unsteady, the last thing you want to be dealing with is large crowds of people bumping into you.

It was a sad realization that my MS is going to affect our vacation plans in the future. I used to enjoy getting up early, sightseeing until we were tired, taking a short nap, and then heading out for a nice dinner. But now, I have to get used to the fact that the sightseeing period is shorter and shorter, while the nap period is longer and longer. And it's so hard to plan a multi-day calendar of events when you're not sure how much energy you'll have left at the end of Day 1.

On the bright side, our next scheduled vacation is a long weekend at the Greenbrier, so I think I'll be able to enjoy that, MS or no. After all, it will have about the same pace as our anniversary weekend did, and that was a delightful and rejuvenating experience.

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