The humour of MS

I avoid telling people that I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  If I do, it is usually included in a humbling explanation for something spastic I just did.

Really, look it up, spasticity is a condition of MS.  I have always had spastic tendencies, so when I was diagnosed with MS in 2010, it did help explain a great deal.  I do not think it has really changed how I draw, I never could.  Please excuse the quality of my drawings.

Falling down or tripping happens to me more than most people.  My left foot has been numb for years.  Prior to the MS determination, I thought it was just from sitting or sleeping weird.  Visits to the chiropractor were done in attempts to fix it.  They never helped and I decided that they were all frauds.

I started a new position with a company and was invited to a nice dinner with the group at an upscale restaurant.  We were chatting and dinner was served.  As we commenced eating, I picked up my fork and my arm spasmed, hurling my fork across the room.


Another time, a coworker offered to buy me coffee.  We chatted about work to and from the Starbucks.  As we approached the elevator lobby, my foot tripped on the carpet edging and down I went.  Everyone around was so concerned if I was okay.  I jumped up and assured everyone that I was fine.  On the elevator up to the office, my coworker apologized profusely.  My red face dissipated and I told him not to worry, that it happens all the time.


Having MS is draining. I have learned how to work within my energy limitations. My energy is quite good in the mornings, so I hustle to get everything that needs to be done then.

I am good at the illusion of not having MS, until my energy is gone.  About 6:00pm the pain creeps in and my body seizes up.  Fortunately, sleep restores energy and I am good to go the next day.


MS is a silly disease.  My own body attacked my protective nerve coatings (Myelin).  Fortunately, I am on treatments that help prevent further damage.  The medicine is expensive and I finally got pills instead of needles.

Sure I have the existing damage that makes my life a three stooges movie, but it is anticipated that myelin repair medicine may be available by 2019.  Many people who have MS do not have the mobility I have.  Hopefully it will not diminish.  I guess I can draw walkers or scooters if required.  My art technique can probably manage that.

Perhaps I come across as being light-headed, but by finding the humour in MS helps immensely. I could be angry at the world or sad and focus on being a victim.  Those seem like unpleasant options to me.

I am alive!

Spastic, but I AM ALIVE!

Playing with Shiba’s instead of visiting the Eiffel Tower

Recently I had lunch with a friend that I have known for 25 years.  She is getting married this spring at a very nice hotel in Las Vegas and my husband Doug and I are invited.  I am going to attend the wedding, but I will be taking my 11-year-old daughter, Claire, as my guest.  She was delighted that Claire is coming, but expressed concern that I am not bringing Doug.  I explained that since we have dogs, traveling arrangements are different in my family.

“Just put them in a kennel” she exclaimed.

I explained why a kennel isn’t an option. We are not morally opposed to the use of kennels.  It is because the breed of our dogs.  They are Shiba Inu and Shibas are not for everyone. They are known to be disobedient, possessive and are famous for the “Shiba scream”.  Our Shiba’s, Koda and Akira have been in kennels and it was not a decent experience.  Although many hours of training have been done with Koda and Akira, they are not very obedient.  Doug, Claire and I are not distressed by this.  We have chosen to have them in our lives even though it means modifying vacations.

“Well, I would put them down if they are that much trouble and you can’t travel”  She responded. This is not a shock as I have other friends and family that feel the same way.  If you have ever had a dog, you probably don’t consider euthanasia as an option to accommodate your vacation planning.

Why do I tolerate my headstrong canines?  I love them.  It is a mothers love, the kind that can overlook almost anything.  Whatever strife I deal with each day melts when I enter the house and they jump on me with enough force to knock me over.  I smile and recline on the cushioned bench I placed in the entrance. Then Koda completes his  compulsive rituals of moving in circles, then grabbing something and bringing it to me as an offer.  Akira wags her tail and has her ears down in submission while grinning at me until I pet her.

It helps that Koda and Akira came to our family as puppies.  We fell in love with them at first sight.

koda - puppy Akira

Travel limitations did not happen immediately, they evolved through experience.  One of the first lessons occurred when Claire and I drove to Jasper, Alberta one winter with our new puppy Koda.  We were off to Northern B.C to meet up with Doug and arranged to stay over at the exquisite Jasper Park Lodge that allowed pets.  As new owners we were not well-trained in managing a pup.  We walked with Koda to the elevator and I pulled on his leash to control him.  Unfortunately I had clipped the leash to the flimsy licence owner tag  instead to the proper hoop on Koda’s collar.  The leash became detached and Koda ran away, sprinting through the lobby with a grin.  The doormen in long ornate coats scrambled with us as we tried to catch him, it was like a  scene from an absurd kids movie.  Koda ran under the tables startling the elegantly dressed patrons.  After about ten minutes, Koda stopped and a doorman grabbed him.  Claire and I sighed in relief.  What we learned that to always be mindful when securing a leash on a dog collar.

Reception & Meeting Space

That one experience did not cause us to limit international travel.  Koda was in a kennel for a week when our family went to Disneyland.  When Koda was a single pup he was very easy-going.  Claire asked for a black Shiba for her 8th birthday and we contacted a local Shiba breeder and ordered Akira.   Akira was instantly loved and Koda was very happy to have a playmate.  Koda and Akira became inseparable.   After the first day they played like siblings and little Akira did not back down at all to Koda.

Claire and Akira Sept '10 image (3)

The first year of having two dogs, there were no major issues other that chewed shoes and furniture.  The dogs never soiled in the house and played well with our friends dogs.  Our vacations were summer trips with a travel trailer.  They were very enjoyable family vacations with the dogs.

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Travelling within Canada is what we prefer to do for family vactions.  We can take the dogs with us.  Doug and I talk of going to Paris, Hawaii or New York, but flying will be too stressful for the dogs and with the Shiba screams, it would be intolerable.  Those trips will have to wait.  We did go to Vegas a number of times together, when we got a sitter for Claire and the dogs.  The sitters were competent ladies, but they did not have success containing Koda and Akira.  Koda got away a number of times and Akira would go outside and not come in the house when the sitter to leave for work.

Koda1   Pups 2

I did chuckle internally at this.  They are mischeivious Shibas and no one knows them like their mother.  Additionally, I should mention that I would not enjoy a vacation without them, I love those pups. 🙂

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