Sunday, October 28, 2007

Quote for the Sabbath Day

“All of us hope to reach some magical goal
where our job is recognized as well done and
our just rewards will be bestowed upon us.

But especially as Latter-day Saints,
we need to remember that
our goal is eternal progression
and that there is no such end of the journey.

Therefore, if we haven’t enjoyed ourselves
along the way,
we have missed the only joy
there really is.”

- Norma B. Ashton*
as quoted in the book Woman to Woman
. . .
. . .
*Norma B. Ashton is the wife of Marvin J. Ashton and
mother of Steve Ashton, formerly of Hawaii Kai.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


by James L. Ferrell

This is another excellent book that I would highly recommend to anyone. But I'd particularly recommend it if you're struggling with putting up with another person's behavior or with feelings that you're being wronged! This is fiction, but with a point - sort of an allegory, I guess.

by Karen Kingsbury

You'd think she would run out of stories, but she often mentions how a story comes to her, or how 'God put it on (her) heart'. This set of two volumes is centered on the September 11th tragedy and the months and years following. Kingsbury says that most of the story had come to her by the afternoon of the 11th! A great (if somewhat fantastic) story, including the follow-up. It could have happened though it seems it would require a great deal of coincidence. But the lessons learned are not unrealistic and are great reminders of the 'big picture' - God's plan and His love.

by Karen Kingsbury

I read this awhile back, but it's well worth mentioning here. It's another one of Kingsbury's excellent novels. The story is about a woman who as a young girl was forced into prostitution, and how hard it was for her to overcome her negative view of herself. But the story reveals how she finally 'conquers' great challenges and is able to help others. Some of Kingsbury's characters are 'bigger than life', but the principles that are highlighted in her stories are real life and valuable and the stories always excellent.

Monday, July 02, 2007


by Karen Kingsbury with Gary Smalley

is the 5th and final book in the Redemption Series. Like all of the books in this series, it contains several quotes which I particularly liked. Following are a few of them:

o When an adult daughter was on the verge of being overcome by some bad choices she’d made in the past, but decided she needed to change her attitude. “Never mind the mistakes she’d made in the past. God was bigger than all of them . . .”

o The mother had learned from her own mistakes, and resolved to teach her children what she'd learned. She showed them the scripture about fleeing temptation, rather than sticking around to try to bargain with it. “God doesn’t want you to be stronger than temptation. He wants you to be smarter than it.”

o Later, the mother was having a hard time praying that God’s will be done, rather than just begging for what
she wanted. She remembered her father's teachings about God's will: “God’s will is a little like taking a Sunday drive with God behind the wheel. God’s driving. He might turn where you don’t expect a turn or go through a valley that feels too dark. But you don’t have to worry about a thing, because you’re just the passenger. Whatever happens, God will get you home in the end as long as you let him drive.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley

Part of the story line in this novel involves a 3 year-old who falls in a pool and is under water long enough to cause severe brain damage. Her parents, both doctors and both Christians, were already having difficulties and had drifted away from each other and from God. On top of that, Peter, the father, was supposed to have been in charge of his two daughters when the drowning took place. He blamed himself - as did his wife. Eventually, he moved out of the family home and tried to numb his pain by taking opiates (which he had access to as a doctor) in order to function in his medical practice. He becomes addicted and after some time, attempts to end it all by taking an overdose, but survives. His brother-in-law, Ryan, visits him in the rehab center and tries to talk to him.

After listening to Peter, Ryan tells him, “Pain like you’re feeling is part of living. The solution for it will never be found in a bottle of pills.”

Peter, who is really broken at this point, replies, “I don’t know how to do it, Ryan I’ve never hurt like this.”

Ryan then reads to Peter from the 23rd psalm, and says “You’re not supposed to know how. God says he’ll lead the way; he’ll walk beside you through the valley. It doesn’t say he’ll take us on a detour around the valley of the shadow of death. It says he’ll stay beside us while we walk through it.”

Ryan continued: “For you, the valley is this pain you’re feeling. You have to walk through it, to the next place along the road of life. You can’t mask it or run from it. Or even die to escape it, Peter. You have to walk through it, and the only way to do that is with God.”

This little excerpt really struck me - as have many parts of several of Kingsbury’s novels! I almost hesitate to publish this, because my retelling of it doesn’t do it justice. But I’ve loved her books, not just for the interesting stories about people who are really trying to live a Christian life, but for the many ‘illustrations’ of real life types of people who face real life types of problems, but try to solve them by exercising their faith and relying on Christian principles. The illustrations serve as examples and reminders to me, which I seem to sorely need since, though I understand and believe what Christ and the Prophets have taught, I often find it hard to apply. Sometimes I don’t even remember to try - and these novels work as both a reminder and an example to me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Father's Day Scripture

I have long been comforted by this thought, but appropriately enough, just today - on Father's Day - read the scripture in 2 Corinthians, 6:18, wherein Paul quotes the Lord as saying that He "will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord almighty."

Since we don't all grow up in ideal homes (does anybody?), with an ideal father with whom we have a close relationship, I find it comforting to know that we do all have an ideal Father in Heaven who is a perfect 'role model' for us.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

'The Mormons'

What did you think of PBS’s ‘The Mormons’?

I really would like to know the backgrounds of all the people that commented. It was obvious in the cases of the General Authorities and the Church Historian and a few others, like the Black woman who told a bit about her history. Then there were a few that admitted that they’d been excommunicated or were no longer active. There were others that I guessed that was the case for them, also. And that was my biggest concern: that the people who were telling the world about ‘the church’, as though they ‘knew’, were people who obviously (to me*) didn’t really understand, or they wouldn’t have left the church.

I don’t mean that as a ‘put down’ or criticism. Several of them were generally very positive, even expressing sadness in missing their church activity and I sympathized with them. I could even see where they were coming from, according to their own perspectives. I do realize that there are several things that are difficult to understand, and even harder to accept, depending on the circumstances of one’s life. And as one man pointed out, if we’re really true followers of the Savior, their not accepting the church should have no bearing on our accepting them. (And for those of us that would never dream of leaving the church, that very willingness - or lack thereof - to accept those who do, may be our test in life. Our failure to pass it may be far more damning to us than the act of leaving for those that have left! For to not accept anyone, is to judge them without the understanding that only God is in a position to have!) Nevertheless, it just seemed a little sad that those who didn’t seem to understand the church were put in a position to explain it to the world as though they were authorities. I’m guessing that, in a way, it was done on purpose, because if the story had been told only by strong church members, it couldn’t have been considered ‘objective’.

The other thing that seemed a little strange was that they referred several times to the church as though it was a business that had to ‘keep up with the times’ to continue being ‘successful’. It seemed kind of like offering a critique on how God handles things! But then, I realize, not everyone sees it that way, unless they truly believe - as I do - that this is Christ’s church and really not open for criticism in the way that man-made things are (keep in mind, I’m referring to Christ’s organization of his church, not the people who happen to be members!)

On the whole, though, I saw the four hour special as a positive thing. I remember back in the late ‘70s, when we first moved to Hawaii. I heard someone on the radio say something about the church that wasn’t true. I called the mission president, all alarmed and thinking he’d want to do something to correct this grave situation of the world being told an untruth about the church! He laughed and explained that there was no need to worry. He said there are a lot of people brought into the church from hearing such things, that otherwise might not have ever given the church a second thought. It makes them curious enough to investigate whatever ‘shocking’ bit of information they’ve heard, and they end up being baptized.

“The Lord works in mysterious ways, . . .”

* I do understand that understanding the ‘ideals’ of the Gospel and living all of the principles in the reality of one’s circumstances, may be two different things and take more than a lifetime to accomplish. I trust that the Lord understands my limitations and my heart, even if others may not. That’s why it’s important for me to remember that only the Lord has all the facts upon which to judge. He also allows me a lifetime to prepare and improve. If he can be patient with me, I trust he expects me to give others a little space, as well. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Migraine ‘First-Aid’

Suggestions for people faced with migraines:
This is a list of things that I’ve come up with after 40 years of migraines. I keep this on my computer, as I find that when I have a migraine I can’t think clearly enough to remember what works best at each stage. It may or may not work for you, but might be worth trying. (Be sure to consult with your doctor or a pharmacist to ascertain how long you need to wait after each medication before adding another.)

Tension headache > Migraine:
1-2 Excedrin Tension OR >

Serious Migraine:
1 Ex Tension + 1 Ex Migraine OR >
2 Excedrin Migraine for more severe headache

Combination Sinus/Migraine, ADD AS NEEDED:
warm damp cloth over nose/eyes
6,000 mg garlic caps
1-2 probiotic caps
Fluticasone nose spray

*cucumber / yogurt drink
Perrier water, room temperature, over a glass full of ice

Severe Migraine, ADD:
½ Butalbital

AS A LAST RESORT > Maxalt (this melts under your tongue, so can be tolerated even when you're too sick to swallow pills) - follow directions carefully, as this is a strong medication.

I’ve also found the following to be foods that I can usually tolerate when I have a migraine, or at least when I’m starting to come down off of it enough to be able to eat:

o Cream of Wheat, with a little plain live culture yogurt and/or milk (NO sugar!)
o Vegetable broth (no salt)
o Sour dough toast (no butter)
o Buttermilk

If I’m not too sick to do it, it also helps me to walk a little after I take the meds. It seems that this gets my circulation going enough to get the meds into my system and working. I believe it also helps to flush them out when they’re no longer needed which helps to avoid a ‘hangover’ from all the meds.

I try not to take medication unless I feel like I really have to, but as most migraine sufferers know, if you wait too long the migraine progresses to a point where you get too nauseated to take anything. So, it’s a delicate balance and a risk either way, due to the side-effects (over time) of medication.

After about 30 years, it seemed that my migraines started to leave me with a sinus-type of headache after the severe migraine pain left, which wasn’t helped by pain meds. About 5 years after that, most all of my migraines seemed to start as combination migraine/sinus headache. I had the feeling that it was kind of like an allergic reaction to all the migraine meds.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion (from both reading and trying candidiasis remedies) that the sinus headache, if not the entire migraine, is related to candidiasis. I won’t go into a discussion of candida here, but you can look it up on the internet (I may post a simple explanation later.) Hint: If you’ve ever had antibiotics, steroids, or oral birth control pills, and crave sweets and/or simple carbs, you’re a likely candidate.

Please feel free to comment, sharing what works for YOU. I think we’re all open to ideas!

*Cucumber/Yogurt drink: Liquefy in blender ½ c. chopped, peeled cucumber; 1/3 cup plain live culture yogurt, 1/3 cup milk; 12 fresh mint leaves; squeeze of fresh lime juice. Pour over a glass full of ice cubes.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Another Good Book

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

I loved this book. I’d both read and watched the video’s of two of his other popular books, Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Both are very good but in my opinion, this one surpasses them by far. To sum it up simply, I guess I’d call it a book about life, parents, marriage, and forgiveness of self and others. I particularly enjoyed it because it was written from a man’s point of view. But I could probably make a long list of all the other things I especially liked about it, too.

There were several statements in the book that I found quotable, but my favorite was the following. The main character is telling about his parents’ divorce and the effect it had on him. He had mentioned how his mother was so loving and always supported him in spite of his behavior, but how nevertheless, he ‘followed’ after his father who didn’t treat him very good. He said, “You see, here’s my theory: Kids chase the love that eludes them, and for me, that was my father’s love. He kept it tucked away, like papers in a briefcase. And I kept trying to get in there.”

I particularly noted this because I’d observed it in my own life, regarding my own father from whom I never felt love or acceptance.* Since I was never at all close to him and often found things he did, irritating, I often wondered why I would end up doing a lot of those same things, myself - when I got older. I finally came up with the conclusion expressed in the quote. Just to clarify with an example: My father used to talk incessantly, which irritated everyone to no end! Hm-m-m – do we know anyone else that does that? :)

Bottom line is, I thought it was really a great book, from a lot of perspectives. I felt there were a lot of profound statements in it about real life. But at the same time - and this is the really interesting part that I won't explain, because I don't want to spoil it for you - it had a lot of 'not-real-life' in it too - which created some intrigue. And there is also a bit of a surprise at the end. It was a relatively short book - which seems to be Albom's style - and certainly makes it worth the investment of the little bit of time it takes to read it!

* Note the words 'I' and 'felt' - I admit that I don't know that that's how he felt or what he meant to convey!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Experience

Though I didn't plan it this way, I thought it was kind of appropriate that I just happened to have finished reading the four Gospels, or to be more accurate, the four Testimonies of, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I read the last two chapters of John this morning - the chapters that speak of the empty tomb, the resurrection, and Christ's appearances to many of his disciples. It was so cool. And it was made additionally so, to me, because of another book I've recently read which added immensely to my understanding and appreciation of the New Testament.

About a week ago I finished reading the three volumes of the Kingdom and the Crown series, by Gerald Lund. (I generally read at least one chapter from the scriptures every day, but am often reading another book at the same time.) Lund's novel centers around a fictitious family, but is staged against the historical background of Christ's ministry on earth. Lund doesn't change any of the known facts; only fills in the 'blanks' with real life possibilities in terms of the story and accurate information regarding the geography and culture at the time of Christ. He does all of this in the form of a most intriguing novel which is really enjoyable to read and at the same time, a tremendous help in understanding better the teachings and life of Christ.

The value of any good book is what you learn from it and/or how it makes you feel. To me, the biggest 'pay-off' when reading the scriptures is being able to feel the spirit as I read, which helps me to keep other things in perspective. Learning and understanding follow that. I once heard someone say they prefer to do their daily scripture reading early in the morning because it sets the mood for their day. I've found that to be true, so I try to fit it in as early as I can, often while eating a meal.

I had similar experiences when reading The Kingdom and the Crown. Many times I was reading through my tears because I felt the spirit so strongly. The book greatly increased my understanding of the scriptures and therefore increases my enjoyment of reading the scriptures. In addition, the novel is really enjoyable and intriguing reading. I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about the Savior's life, regardless of religious orientation - or even if only interested from a historical perspective.

I'm anxious now to continue on with my reading of the New Testament.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mitral Valve Prolapse & Transverse Myelitis: Part IV - Where I am Now

So this is where I’ve been: struggling to rebuild my strength enough that I can walk, so that I can rebuild my endurance enough that I can return to being a contributing member of society. People on the TM Internet Club often joke about the often-heard comment ‘but you look normal!’ It’s frustrating, because as you improve, people think if you can stand up and look okay, then your problems are solved. They can’t see the nerve damage (much of which I haven’t even bothered to describe – but trust me – there’s a lot of nerves below T6 – T8 which control a lot of bodily functions that a normal person takes for granted!) It’s very frustrating to have people judge you by what they see, and assume you should be able to do more than you can – especially when they only see you on the days when you feel good enough to get cleaned up and go out! Which is why I wrote this blog in the first place: I’m tired of being misunderstood! (No . . . not because I wanted sympathy!)

And where am I now? I guess that depends on how I’m feeling on the day that I try to answer that question. If I look at where I’ve been, I’d have to say, I’m doing great! If I look at where I need to be, in order to go back to work, I’ve got a ways to go. 'On a good' day, I can get up, get cleaned up, do what I need to do, and then say, ‘Okay, what shall I do now?” I’m alive! I almost feel like a regular person! Sure, I will still limp and have to move more slowly so I don’t lose my balance. But I can function. I just have to remind myself to rest now and then during the day, or it won’t stay ‘good’. So it’s not totally ‘normal’, but still ‘good’! I could probably function in a part-time job on a day like that – if only I could be sure of having enough good days in each week to hold down a job.

On a bad day, my only choices are breathing, resting, and eating, in that order. I’m just kind of ‘spaced’, can’t think straight, and am totally dysfunctional. On those days I try to tell myself that my body is actually healing while I’m resting. (I hate to think of it as just wasting time!) I plan carefully when walking from one room to another, because each trip requires a major expenditure of energy, and I’m very limited on those days. In the last week, for example, there were five days in a row which basically fit into this category. I had the energy to shower and get dressed on only three of those days.

The rest of the days fall somewhere in between: I can force myself to do at least one chore (like wash the dishes); sometimes once I get going, I feel better and can do quite a bit more. And the ‘okay days’ are more often getting to be better. Still, on an ‘okay day’, it would be a little scary if I had to get up and go to work, but I think I could force myself to do it. On a ‘bad day’ it would be impossible! The real problem would be when the ‘okay days’ started turning bad from forcing myself too much! So there’s a lot of frustration. Fortunately, I’d already learned from MVP how physical things can affect my mental outlook – and vice versa – and am usually able to overcome the temptation to get depressed over it.

The good news is that the ‘good’, and ‘okay’ days seem to be improving. The bad news is that the progress isn’t consistent, so it’s not like I can say, ‘Okay, I feel pretty good this week; by next week I should be able to go back to work.’ It’s been more like ‘two steps forward – one step backwards’. That can be pretty discouraging until I look back and see how much better I am than I used to be. So I must be making progress. And I also have at least some feeling in a lot more places, than I used to. Sometimes it means more pain, but as my shiatsu therapist keeps reminding me, ‘pain is good’! I think you have to have been totally numb for a period of time, to really appreciate that, but in my case, yes, I do appreciate it! Feeling anything, even pain, means that the nerves aren’t dead – only damaged. That means there’s hope for at least partial healing. And the ‘pain’ I deal with is nothing compared to what a lot of TM people have.

So I really shouldn’t be complaining. Actually, it’s been a blessing! Well, maybe not one I would have asked for, but nevertheless, I know I’ve learned a lot that I needed to learn, that I might not have learned any other way. All the other things that I've been given an opportunity to learn, with this condition, could be a whole post by itself, so I won't go into it here. But I do want to express my gratitude for a Father in Heaven that allows us to suffer in order to grow and learn. And express my faith that the ‘end will be better than the beginning’ – maybe not necessarily in my condition, but for sure, in my understanding and in a lot of other things that are really more important. Thank You, Father.

Friday, March 16, 2007



That there are ‘good choices’ and ‘bad choices’ in life
Is no secret.
A slightly more subtle fact, is that often times
The ‘bad’ in the bad choices
Lies not merely in the nature of that thing,
But in the fact that it prevents one from enjoying the rewards
Of a better choice.

Is this not why the Lord has called sin, “sin”,
And referred to it as ‘damning’?
He wants for us the best,
And when we make bad choices,
We are cutting ourselves off from enjoying the rewards
Of a better choice . . .
Thereby ‘damming’ ourselves,
Just as surely as a dam stops the continued flow of water.

The dictionary may spell it differently,
But for all practical purposes
It really amounts to the same thing,
Doesn’t it?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mitral Valve Prolapse and Transverse Myelitis: Part III

What is TM and How Does it Affect the Nervous System?

Transverse Myelitis (TM) is a condition caused by inflammation of the myelin (the insulation covering the nerves) in the spinal cord. Wherever the lesion is located on the spine, all of the nerves below that point may be affected (either permanently or temporarily, which is why healing with TM can be either full, partial, or non-existent). I’m fortunate in that my lesion is at T6 –T8. For many people, it’s higher and their arms and even lungs are affected. They can become quadriplegics and can’t even breathe without a respirator. TM has been compared to multiple sclerosis (MS), except that MS lesions can be in the brain, whereas TM is only on the spinal cord. TM is generally thought to be a one-time occurrence, while MS involves multiple lesions. The ‘transverse’ part refers to ‘across the spinal cord’. I’m also lucky here. Only one side was totally paralyzed; the other side had (has) only minimal numbness. I’ve been said to have a ‘light case’.

That said, what’s my problem? I seemed to be healing pretty well, and then after about 9 months, it started to slow down, and even regress. I became concerned and pushed myself even harder to exercise, which only made it worse. I started to notice that some of my biggest problems were similar to the ANS dysfunction of MVP, but only now they were exaggerated! (That was enough to panic me!) I read more about the little that’s known about TM – another condition that doctors don’t know much about but in this case, not because it’s not serious but because few doctors have seen very many cases. It’s considered ‘not rare, but unusual’. I was really lucky that the ER neurologist recognized it and began the proper treatment – 5,000 mg of methyl-prednisone over 5 days – which needed to be started within 12 hours of onset to prevent permanent damage.

Well, guess what? One of the side effects of TM is – you guessed it – ANS dysfunction! Just what I needed: a double whammy! As a matter of fact, this is how Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Dr. Douglas Kerr, one of the chief researchers of TM, defines the condition: “Acute transverse myelitis . . . is a focal inflammatory disorder of the spinal cord resulting in motor, sensory and autonomic dysfunction.” And fatigue, along with a myriad of other things, is listed among the common symptoms of TM.

Only now, the ‘walking for exercise’ thing couldn't be applied because I couldn't walk – and when I finally could, it was too slow to be considered ‘exercise’. Any kind of walking created so much tension that it soon built up and turned to migraine (remember how with ANS dysfunction, built up tension is more likely to get ‘stuck’ there). Migraines are such a pain (pardon the pun) not only because of the pain and nausea, but because of the days of my life that get lost before I can fully recover from each serious migraine. I need exercise to improve but too much, builds up more tension which . . . (are you starting to get the picture here?) In addition, I needed to walk to help re-build my bone density, which had been royally zapped by the 5000 mg of steroids used to arrest the inflammation!

Watch for Part IV, the Conclusion, to read about what I've done and where I am now.

(That's if you still want to go on, after all this reading! That's why it's in 4 parts - not because I'm trying to leave you in 'suspense', but the whole story's kinda long. If you've followed it thus far, I'm impressed. If no one has, it doesn't matter. I've put it on paper for my own satisfaction. And if anyone asks, I don't have to try to explain it - again. That way, if they're just asking to be polite, I won't have to bore them. If they really want to know, they can read it. :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007


What is MVP and How Does it Affect the Nervous System?

Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) is a condition wherein the mitral valve of the heart is prolapsed (slightly deformed so that when the valve closes, it doesn’t completely seal off the chamber – blood can seep back into the previous chamber.) It’s seldom serious – at least, not in terms of life or death. I think the statistics say only about 1 in 1,000 need surgery – maybe even less than that. The rest of us just have to put up with irritating and quirky symptoms, which are many. They’re different in different people, and not always present at any given time in any one person, thus making it difficult to diagnose. And the fact that it’s not really serious prevents many physicians from paying much attention to it – another reason that it often goes undiagnosed. Lyn Frederickson, MSN, cardiac nurse, and director of the first Mitral Valve Prolapse Center in the world, sums it up well when she describes MVP as “not life threatening, but life-style threatening.”

Most of the symptoms are actually caused by dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The last time I checked, the theory was that the ANS was forming at the same time as the mitral valve, so both were affected. The basic function of the ANS is to keep a balance: bring you down after a high (like meeting an emergency; fleeing from danger); bring you up to where you can function after a low (like relaxing; sleeping). The symptoms range from fatigue, chest pain, and shortness of breath, to migraine, anxiety, and panic attacks – there’s about 30 symptoms, some opposite from the others! That may not seem to make sense – unless you remember that the job of the ANS is to keep a balance. Therefore, if it’s not functioning properly, the extremes will rule! This, of course, makes it even harder to diagnose – it’s not a simple set of symptoms peculiar to only this condition. Many people are never diagnosed. It’s estimated that MVP affects from 10% to 20% of the population. More women than men are diagnosed, but that’s likely only because they’re the ones that are going to notice more frequent symptoms because they’re the ones whose hormones regularly take them up and down, thus requiring a system that keeps them on an even keel. MVP is hereditary, but like many conditions, some people may be more sensitive than others, to actually having difficulties with it.

As already stated in Part I, there's no cure; just learning how best to deal with it. If you even think you might have MVP, it's worth checking it out. Basically, the things you need to do to live with the symptoms are the same things as you would do to live a more healthy life-style. In spite of all their complaints, they say that people with MVP are often the healthiest people around, because their systems just can't tolerate abuse without over-reacting, thus forcing them to live a more healthy lifestyle. That's opposed to other members of the population who can ignore general health principles and seem to flourish - that is until it all catches up with them and it's too late to change - their health has been permanently compromised. So, as irritating as the quirky symptoms may be, there's actually an upside to this 'affliction'. It's just hard to remember that sometimes!

NEXT: Part III, What is TM and How Does it Affect the Nervous System? This is the element that created the Double Whammy!

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I feel like I’ve gone through most of my life with my hands tied. When I finally learned to untie my hands so that I could function more normally, someone managed to shackle my feet!

I was 50 years old before I was diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP). Before that, everyone told me that there was nothing wrong with me. Somehow, my body told me differently. I was either stuck in ‘high gear’ and couldn’t come down until I finally crashed (that usually meant migraines) or I would get stuck in ‘low gear’ and could barely move; I felt lethargic, and had a hard time getting out of it. When I would finally get a good day, I’d try to make up for lost time, and end up doing too much, causing me to ‘crash’ again. And by the time I was a young mother, the good days came only once in 8 or 10 days – maybe. I think that’s when I really perfected the habit of pushing myself and refusing to listen to my body. At the same time, there were people trying to tell me that there was nothing wrong with me, basically implying – if not openly saying – that I was either ‘lazy or crazy’. It was harder to refuse to listen to them.

That’s when things started getting more serious, because all that criticism only created really fertile ground for depression! I was fortunate enough, though, through the years, to run across various things that helped: general Gospel principals (without them, I would have been suicidal), and specific Priesthood blessings (which led me to discover and utilize things like positive attitude, exercise, and nutrition). I began to develop the belief that I have now, that many things (like depression) that are considered mental, often also have a physical side. Then when I was finally diagnosed with MVP, I not only found out that there were many others who suffered the same symptoms that I had, but had also suffered similar criticism and ridicule before finally finding a doctor able to diagnose their condition.

My new knowledge didn’t change my condition – there’s no cure for it. But it helped me to finally realize that my body hadn’t been lying to me, and that I should have been listening to it instead of to the people who didn’t know! Reading all the MVP literature I could find (it was pretty sparse then) also helped me to see more clearly that, though there are no ‘cures’, there are ways to handle the fatigue and stress and constantly fluctuating ‘ups and downs’ as well as other symptoms. One of the biggest helps to controlling my energy level as well as my migraines, was exercise. (For me, that meant walking, since I don’t consider myself coordinated enough to do much else :) Limiting sugar and eating more complex carbohydrates (like whole grains and vegetables) was another thing that helped. It wasn’t easy, but if I watched the sugar, ate plenty of vegetables, walked several times a week, and drank plenty of water, I could live almost like normal. (Of course, it’s not ‘normal’ to live like that – it still made me different from everybody else – but at least now I was feeling good while I was being different! :)

And then, Transverse Myelitis (TM) hit me! I was paralyzed from the rib cage down on my right side, and had no feeling in the skin on my left side. How was I to walk? If exercise was what helped me to function normally with MVP, what would happen now?

And what exactly are MVP and TM and how do they affect the nervous system?

(to be continued)