Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This week in MS

Hi!  I'm postponing writing about Captain Lee.  Learned something new and important about him recently.
I don't want to talk about it.

What I would prefer to talk about is MS.  (That's a clue as to how bad it is.  But, I don't want to talk about it.  I can't.  Not yet.)

Oh and I'd like to talk about cognitive difficulties and MS.  (Yay!)

Maybe it's that I'm tired from my big trip into NYC yesterday to see the Colbert Report (Yay for real!).  Maybe it's just all these flubs happening at around the same time, but I'm feeling a bit freaked out today.  On Tuesday, I realized that I had missed my daily shot the day before.  It's been a year for me (nearly), and that was the first day I'd missed.  I found out, also on Tuesday, that I forgot to pay my son's preschool tuition (which is too damn high, but whatever) for February.  I neglected to check the hours for the MoMA yesterday morning, so that I get into the city early specifically to see the Cindy Sherman exhibit there and that goddamned place was closed.

So, it's okay, right?  I just then realize that I didn't bring a coat to the city, but rather wore a big sweater and now I'm hot, so let's go buy a shirt and a coat so that I can take off this goddamned sweater but still not wear a bra.  I have trouble wearing bras lately.  I might be "Fuck you guys!" to everyone, but I still will not wear a tank top with no bra out in public.  Hence, the needed shirt and light jacket combo.

So, all that's been happening.  But then, I got to see Stephen Colbert in person last night and it was rad!  At one point I was six feet from him - for the bit with the skeeball ticket redemption in last night's 1000th episode.  Handsome man!

I also got the day off from my kids, which was nice.  My three year old son has been difficult lately in the terrible two's (or rather, terrible three's) kind of a way.  So, it was nice to take a break from it.  I wish the MoMA had been open, but all in all, excellent trip.

Wow.  I had thought of a few things to talk about re cognitive difficulties, but now I'm thinking about yesterday and am all happy and don't want to whine.  Eh, let's get them down, shall we?  Otherwise, I'll forget soon enough.

Firstly, I completely cannot teach organic chemistry anymore.  Or general chemistry, for that matter.  In addition to having zero short-term memory, I also do this thing where I say the opposite of what I should at critical times.  To my son, as he's learning how to use real toothpaste, I say, "Now swallow it!" when I want to say, "Now don't swallow it!" or "Now spit out the water!"  It's weird.

And I know there's the tendency to say, "Oh...everyone does that!  That's normal!" and that's very nice of you.  It is.  But, I could never teach organic chemistry again.  And that's pretty much my only marketable skill right now.  "It's (R).  No.  Wait.  It's (S).  No.  Wait, there are two stereocenters.  It's (S,R).  No.  Wait.  It's (R,S)."  And in my head, I want to say, "Aw, Jesus, who fucking cares.  R, S, it doesn't matter."

Only it does.  It's a goddamned disaster.  The last semester, fall 2010, was like that and that was a year and a half ago and I was still really up on organic.  My students, though, had a hard go of it.  I felt bad.

I guess my other marketable skill is taking care of children, but unless they want someone who has periods of extreme fatigue as well as a hair-trigger temper, they might look elsewhere.

I guess all this is just now hitting home.  I need to prepare for it, too.  My next goal, after cleaning the outside of all our windows - my claustrophobia/neat-freakiness compelled me to do that - is to clean my desk and prepare for a hand-off of the bill paying and all that to my husband.  Who really really doesn't want to have anything to do with our money because he has his own anxiety issues.  Understandable, for the sole salary earner, but I don't honestly know if I can be trusted.  A few months ago, I sent the wrong check to the occupational therapist.  I sent her payment and my son's tuition in the same envelope.  Oh, and don't get me started on taxes.  I'm responsible for our taxes.  This will hopefully be the last year of that.

So I'm going to be responsible and get my affairs in order, so to speak.  Pray to God I don't throw away some extremely important piece of paper in my cleaning frenzy.  Aww, crap, that's going to happen.  Let's just hope it's not too important.

Two last depressing things:  1.  I'm reminding myself of my dad more and more, only he has dementia that was brought on by years of alcohol and drug abuse and mine is due to nothing I actually did.  Hardly fair.

And 2.  I came across this person's little bio/inspirational essay in More magazine at the dentist the other day.  Yesterday.  That seems like a long time ago.  Weird!  Anyway, here's the ending:
With MS, there are days I’m going to have pain whether I sit in my chair and wallow or keep moving. It’s a choice. And my choice is, I’m not going to live my life on the sidelines.   

Eff you, I don't feel like moving.  Actually, today I do, that's not true.  I just don't want to be made to feel guilty for those days when I don't feel like moving.  I've found that shame is not a motivator for me - in fact it makes me angry and defiant.  How dare you try to tell me how to handle my version of this stupid illness.  Really, how dare you.  (Spoken as if I was Maggie Smith, naturally.)

I know, I know, I'm being a pain in the ass.  I'm being paranoid and stupid.  She's not trying to tell me what to do, but probably telling us what she says to herself to get herself motivated to do all that exercise.  Maybe what she tells herself to just get through the day.  Good for her, I guess.

Oh!  That reminds me - I had a super paranoid, The Game type of incident yesterday on the train to and subway in NYC:  This middle-aged, paunchy guy in a bad sweater and white sneakers was taken aback by me at the Middletown train platform.  I somehow startled him.  Weird, but whatever - I was walking at a good clip.  Weirder, though, is that he went through Penn Station, same as me, to then get to the uptown E train platform of that train station - you know, Penn Station, which is ginormous and chock full of people.  At that point, I was startled.  And then I kept looking over my shoulder until above ground - certain he was following me.  Which he wasn't.  But that wasn't to say that someone else in the Game took his place, since he was fingered.  I had it all worked out.

Oh, brain, what won't you come up with next.  I'm glad I got this rant out.  Feels good.  This week in MS, indeed.

Until later...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Captain Andrew Lee, Part One

Hello!  Today, I write about a certain Captain Andrew Lee who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and whose story I find very compelling.  OK, full disclosure - I have a serious crush on Captain Andrew Lee of Paxtang, Pennsylvania.  I do.  There is no portrait of him, to my knowledge, but doesn't matter.  I've fallen.

This is the best I can do, as far as a portrait.  This is a depiction of what his uniform would've looked like during the Revolutionary War.  His uniform might've been different, as he was a Captain, but this is the general idea.  Oh, only except imagine him as handsome.  Natch.  All my imaginings of Captain Lee have him being extremely dashing.  So...not this guy.  Sorry...that guy.

As to Captain Lee, I mentioned him in a previous post, when I related an amazing story I found about him as a spy for the Americans in 1781.  I thought he was sexy just for that story alone.  If you have some time, read his part of that post, 'cause it's good and I won't rewrite it here.

Mostly I won't rewrite it here because there is really lots more to talk about, regarding his life.  Lots!  And, while I fully realize that in life, he may have been a bastard - he may have been cruel to animals, women, children...I don't want to even think about his probable views on slavery or his opinions about Native Americans- in my mind, he's wonderful.  And I have reasons.  Compelling reasons.  They will become clear when I tell you a little of his biography.  Or really, when I tell you the highlights of his biography, because honestly, the man lived a very, very interesting, complicated life.  Well, until he was about forty-five.  Then he settled down and didn't do too much.  As far as I can tell.

It's startlingly difficult to investigate peoples' lives effectively while weighing the fact that they might have actually been bastards.  I find it hard, anyway.  I become engaged with the subjects and start rooting for them and then I live in fear that some piece of evidence will show them to be who they really were - horrible, horrible people.  And those horrible people doesn't deserve biographies, but to be hated for all eternity.  Look at me, all extreme and stuff.

Ahem.  Let's continue.

Captain Andrew Lee of Paxtang, PA was born in 1739 and died in Nanticoke, PA on June 15, 1821.  (Side note: I hope to visit Nanticoke this spring and I really really hope to find his grave and possibly his house.  It might still be there!  Maybe!  Well, probably not, but maybe!)

Although he was a Pennsylvanian, he was a soldier for the British in the French and Indian War.  He enlisted at sixteen in 1755 with the British forces and went with a General Braddock on an expedition against the French settlements on the Ohio.  This detail is not very important, it's just that he fought in a battle, which the British lost, on July 9th 1755 near Fort Duquesne (which was located in what would become Pittsburgh).  Importantly, Andrew Lee fought alongside a Colonel George Washington.  The George Washington.

Throughout this post I will quote from Captain Lee's brief biography in A History of Lodge No. 61, F. and A.M., Wilkesbarre, PA (beginning in the middle of page 29 of the ebook).  This Mason lodge history is filled with the biographies of its many many members and in some cases, there is a portrait to go with the biography.  Sadly, no portrait of Capt. Lee, only an image of his Masonic apron.

The history of the lodge was written by Oscar Jewell Harvey in 1897.  In my opinion, Mr. Harvey did a very thorough job collecting first-hand accounts for the Captain Lee biography.  It's the kind of biography one would dream of finding.  That I would dream of, in any case.  Oddly enough, Mr. Harvey, who was a well known historian of the Wilkes-Barre region of Pennsylvania, has, it seems, a facebook page.  That's where I found a photograph of him.

  And about this photo, all I have to say is:  "Sweet 'stache, man." "Thanks, bro."  From this clip of Safe Men at around 38 seconds.  I believe you can take a minute to watch this.  You won't regret it.

  Anyway, let's go back to Andrew Lee and Colonel George Washington at the 1755 Battle of Fort Duquesne in the French and Indian War.  I quote the lodge history biography of Lee on this subject, "In that battle all the officers on horseback except Col. George Washington having been killed or wounded, the provincials-who were among the last to leave the field-were rallied by Colonel Washington, and covered the retreat of the regulars."  Andrew Lee would've been one of the provincials (meaning Colonists, at that time) and the British troops would've been the regulars.

Here are two prints which represent this battle.  A kind of before and after, if you will.  First, the before, from this website:
And all I have to say about that print is, "Nice hats."  That's the leader of the British forces, General Braddock, on the horse.  Now, the after, which depicts the death of General Braddock during battle, from this website:
And, about that print, all I have to say is, "Damn."

Captain Lee's association with George Washington would be long lasting and is critical to Captain Lee's life.  Washington sent Capt. Lee on that spy escapade in 1781, for instance.  Captain Lee also named one of his sons Washington.  According to a write-up of Capt. Lee's funeral, given by a fellow Mason Bro. Charles Miner, "The name of Washington was held by him in the highest veneration, and whenever mentioned, awakened an enthusiasm to the latest hour, that made his eyes sparkle with the lustre of youth."  They don't write funeral accounts like they used to, am I right?

Alright.  Whew.  I need to take a break.  So far, I've told you that at sixteen, Andrew Lee went into the battle above and was led out of it by Colonel George Washington.  I've shown you the uniform he might've worn during the Revolutionary War (again, please, imagine a more handsome man there).  I've shown you the Mason apron of Captain Lee.  And finally, I've shown you the awesome moustache of the historian responsible for bringing me all this information.

I've spent some more time on da google and found this print.  OK.  Handsome devil on the left.  Picture something like that, only with the uniform of the first photo up above.  Tricorns are sexier than pointy hats.  *sigh*  It's never perfect, is it?  No.  No it's not.

Next post I'll tackle Captain Andrew Lee's Revolutionary War and his extraordinary post-Revolutionary War.  It is in those stories that I hope to convey to you all why it is I've fallen for Captain Lee.  Those stories will be concise and coherent and there won't be all this set-up.  Somehow, this post just ended up being all over  the place.  I'm going to blame that on my cognitive difficulties due to the MS.  MS card!!!  Holla!  I played it!!!

Until next time...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inappropriate, Part Two

Hello!  Guh, I must move past the last post.  And I noticed that recently, I've had a lot of things that, were I completely honest about my personality and my thoughts with my facebook "friends", that I would post there.  But since I don't and I can't, I'll write it up here.  Also this is just a general way to ramble about things going on.  As John Lee Hooker said about the blues in a song once, "It's in him.  And it's got to come out."  God, I hate John Lee Hooker.  Just want to throw that in.  And football.  An averse reaction to my dad's obsessions.

Anywhoo.  Let's start off with Scumbag Google Chrome internet surfing format...thingie...whatever.  I've noticed that when you spend some time searching a specific product or subject, that all of a sudden, you get  the same banner on all general pages that closely relates and/or is about the exact subject you searched.  They track you so they can specifically advertise to you.

Unrelated, but hilarious - from here and here.

About the-tracking-me-to-advertise-to-me situation, here's the thing - knock it off, fuckers.  And here's why.  Let's take a hypothetical situation.  Say you're searching to find out about a horrible horrible disease that you knew the name of, but because your knowledge of biology/medicine is limited, plus because generally you don't want to know about horrible diseases, esp of children (although I used to / do want to know all about serial killers - bring that shit on).  Err, what?  Oh yea, let's say you're searching about a horrible disease.  Let's say cystic fibrosis.  You don't know what it means, really, you just know it's really bad.  Kind of like multiple sclerosis, oddly.  And let's say you actually do discover how bad that disease is.  That, amongst all the trying to be positive stuff, you find the truth, which is that there is no cure.  That these children may have (emphasis on may) relatively healthy childhoods, but that the average lifespan is 37 years old, because eventually, after years and years of pain and slowly drowning in their own mucus, their lungs give out and they die young.  Younger than they should.

Christ, right?  I'm probably ill-informed and there's probably more to this than I could possibly know, but this is what I got from the few google searches I could handle.  So then what happens every time I get on the internet?  While I'm waiting to find out whether my son has this horrible horrible disease?  And what is still happening a week later (even though my son eventually, after an ambiguous test result, tested negative in the sweat test for cystic fibrosis - thank God)?  Google Chrome has chosen to target me based on my searches.  So I get bombarded with the same few banners.  Banners for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a lovely organization I'm sure, saying things like  "Jena and Eric were both born with cystic fibrosis.  Jena lost her battle at age 13.  Help Eric keep fighting."  Actually that's the only one I specifically remember because it's horrible.  The others are more vague, but still frightening and involve children with oxygen masks.

I think in summary, I'll just write what I wanted to write on facebook (if I didn't hate all my "friends" there and wanted them to know anything at all about me - oh and I should say, there are some notable exceptions to the hating of facebook friends, but by and large, it's true).  "Question, for $200:  What are two very serious, in some cases terminal diseases that you know, just by the name, are horrible, but don't know enough details about to know if you or someone you love actually have them?"  "What are multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis, Alex?"  "That's correct!  We would've also accepted cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy!  Next question in the 'Things Not to Google' category...for $300: Two ___, One ___"

I've got more inappropriate things, but this is already getting too long.  I think I've got the biggest one off my chest.  Oh, jeez, I forgot, one more thing- I was telling the saga of the cystic fibrosis testing that my son's been going through (and really it was only for a week that we were scared) to a friend of mine who's about thirty years older than me and who has had MS for about forty years and she said she went through that with her son too!  And I said, "Oh, how long did you have to worry before you found out he didn't have it?"  "Well...let's see.  About a year, I guess."  I'm kind of an asshole.

Oh, and the very last thing, I will be donating to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation today, in an effort to not feel like an asshole and to help in some small way the people who are actually having to suffer through this.  That Scumbag Google Chrome, man.  Making me a better person after all, maybe.  Dammit.