Friday, December 19, 2014

It's still freezing, but Team Leapfrog is Hopping.

                            


     You saw my wishful thinking the other day, but this is reality.  It is still freezing!  The amazing thing is, a lot of Team Leapfrog is ready to go.  When the first day of registration came about I had 12 team members jump on board.

     I'm a true creature of habit, and I absolutely hate change due to my fear of not being able to adjust to the new normal.  You would think by this stage of the game I would know it always works out.

     I had a few team members say they weren't able to ride this year, a couple of them were ones that had pushed me hard last year to keep going when I began to doubt myself. For a few minutes I started thinking it was a lot of work and stress last year, and maybe no one would care if I dropped out too. 

     After I had a chance to process the change I started to see that the gaps would eventually fill themselves in.  My riding buddy Robert who has MS but rode in the BTTB for 12 years had thrown in the towel last year because of the physical challenge he faced, but encouraged me to carry the torch.  This year I convinced him that If I can do it he can't bail.  Now he's back on our team.  Robert is also trying to recruit riders who were on his team before.

     Then I looked on the list and saw a lady by the name of  Arlene signed up.  She was a stranger I met at Dick's sporting goods over the summer.  After telling her my story she said she wanted join my team.  She was serious!  The first day of registration her name was on our team list.  

     Remember, Team Leapfrog was based on the leap of faith that together we could do this; even those of us who are there in spirit.   

     So it's official; this team is going full force again and it's our leap of faith that will carry us:)

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rowing is definitely a workout.




          You might remember last spring I recruited my friend and riding buddy Kristina  to join Team Leapfrog.  She's very involved in the Toledo Rowing club, and as it turned out she wasn't able to ride the day of the Bike To The bay due to her rowing commitment.


     The rowing club is across the river by International Park and we ran into Kristina many times on our rides in the city.  Now that it's winter and rowing season is over, Kristina moved the rowing machines used for practice to a building in Downtown Toledo as a way to utilize these machines through the Winter.

     She invited me to come down and try them out, and I must say, these machines are quite the workout.  Not only do they work every muscle in your body, but it also requires real brain power.  You have to be on your toes to make sure to make the correct movement in the right sequence to operate these these machines properly.

     The day she had me test them out, she only had four of the machines moved into a smaller office area, but her goal is to move all of about 20 machines into this building in a much larger space and conduct rowing classes.  I thought I had tried every workout there was, and now I have yet one more option:)




     Kristina also invited a Yoga instructor by the name of Sandy to follow the rowing session with a small Yoga class, just to stress the importance of stretching your muscles after such an intense workout.

     Incidentally, a while back when I mentioned my leg quit working and miraculously yoga got it working again; well Sandy confirmed that yoga absolutely can help muscles that don't co-operate due to MS.  The oxygen to the brain can  wake the nerves up that aren't firing properly to the muscles.  Glad to know I'm not crazy...

    I'm not sure where I might fit rowing into my workout line-up, but if there is a way, you know I'll find it:)



Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Date for the 2015 Bike To The Bay






     No, this isn't where I am right now, just wishful thinking:) But I'm starting to get psyched up for the next bike to the bay.  They just announced the dates for the 2015 ride and it's only a matter of time before the riding season is here again.

     The Official dates are June 20 and 21.  Registration starts today.  Last year Team Leapfrog was a new team and I had no idea how many riders we could drum up, but I set a goal of 25, and when we reached that goal I changed it to 50.

     Though we didn't quite make that goal of 50, we ended up with 44 on our team (41 who were able to ride).  I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined we could grow that big.

     This year we plan to exceed 50 riders for sure and hopefully pass the 22,000.00 we raised as a team last year. Our new goal is to top 30,000.00 to represent 30 years of my life with MS.

     Anyone interested in joining our team can e-mail me at the e-mail address on this blog.  Please help us wipe out MS!!


Have a great day!!

Christine:)

     

Friday, December 12, 2014

Happy Again







          I know my blog is usually about the crazy, silly, or challenging things that happen in my life, but today I am writing about one of the absolute happiest things that has happened to me, and anyone who is a parent will surely get goose bumps when they hear this...

    With the holidays here, most people would have no reason to be anything but full of the holiday spirit.  However, that wasn't the case with my 25 year old son Matt.

     He was having a very hard time making sense of life, and though he knew he had a lot of family and friends who cared about him, he felt all alone. I know so many people have a hard time finding their purpose in life in their twenties.  His feeling of loneliness made me sad especially with this being the holiday season.  

     I tried to convince him to no avail that if he just hung in there and had faith, things would eventually make sense, and he would find happiness.  Some times all it takes is one person to make you feel like you're the most important person in their world before you finally get it.

     Well, Christmas came early for me when Matt admitted he found happiness again, and even more so when I discovered this song he composed.  As a parent, there is no greater joy than to see your children happy.  Click on happy again and imagine my tears of joy; see if you get why I'm so happy as well:)

                                                              Happy Again!


Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It worked for Venus!!



        So now that the pink frog was painted on my brace I had to wait 24 hours to let it dry.  Luckily I was at work all day and  I had less chances of forgetting I didn't have my brace on and tripping...

     Sure, my bionic leg is helpful in stopping my leg from buckling when I walk, but in a perfect world I wouldn't HAVE TO have it.  but since I do, I hope my pink frog will help me deal with it:)  If nothing else, maybe strangers will say "cute frog!"  rather than "what happened?!", which incidentally, I've found the best answer to cut the conversation short... "I'm just a walking mess!!", or "bar fight...".  Where do you go from there??  

     So it was day two of my frog painting and we went back to the bike co-op.  



     We took the stencil off and the pink frog was nice and securely in place. The next step was to put the helmet stencil on the dry pink paint and tape that off too.  later we would draw in the eyes with a white paint pen.




     It was hard to know how the helmet was turning out until we took the stencil off.  But once we did we discovered the best laid plans don't always go the way they were intended.

     A combination of the paint not adhering enough and the stencil adhering too much, and we ended up with some real abstract art:)



     My buddy Robert was very disappointed because he worked so hard to make those stencils.  My poor froggy was armless.  

     The funny thing was, to someone who is very artistic this is a failure.  To someone creative, this is a masterpiece!!  It worked for Venus De Milo.  His sculpture with one arm missing made him a very famous man, and that piece of art has been admired by millions and millions of people over the years.

     Robert wanted to scrape the paint off immediately and start over, but I told him to leave it just the way it is.  Sure, someday we might try again or try to fix what we have.  But for now I'm just happy to be sporting such a unique piece of art.  Besides, now I have an even more interesting story; forget the bar fight:)

Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Monday, December 8, 2014

A real tattoo would be quicker!




          I told you I was painting a pink frog on my bionic leg, but I was beginning to think a frog tattoo was going to be quicker. 



What do ya think??  Uh... maybe I'll wait for the paint...


 My riding buddy Robert, who is also very artistic, made the stencil and I bought the paint, but it just never seems to work in our schedules to paint it on because it's a two day process.



  With the tattoo parlor we would be in and out:)


     The longer time went on I was tempted to just draw  a frog myself.  After all, I can draw a mean stick figure:)  I know... I need to be patient; anything worth having takes doing it right.  And in the end we'll all be happy:)

     So yesterday our schedules finally matched up and we were actually going to paint that frog.  I told you we would do it at the Bike Co-op because of the fumes.  We also wanted to get it done before the Sunday afternoon crowd came in, but in about an hour this place would be swarming with people working on bikes so we needed to get in and out before the craziness began.




      Below is the stencil that was cut out for the pink frog, but the helmet is green, so there had to be another stencil which would go on the dry pink paint, and it would take about a day to dry.  My bionic leg would have to spend the night at the bike Co-op.

We were using spray paint which could be messy, but painters tape worked well to protect the rest of the carbon fiber.



     By leaving a gap between the stencil and tape, we were hoping to have a pink boarder around the frog; That was my idea, and I hope it works...  Then we sprayed the entire area pink, and the next day we'll take off the tape as well as the first stencil, then we'll put the second stencil on, and paint on the green helmet, and add the eyes.  Yikes!!  I'm beginning to think the tattoo would sure be a heck of a lot easier...



   I'm with out my bionic leg for a couple of days, but it's worth it to finally get my pink frog!!  Check back to see the final result soon:)


Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Okay, so maybe I don't know everything...



     I've had MS for 30 years now and if anyone knows how this crazy disease works, it's me.  I've read up on every tip and trick to help fight the things that attack my body, and at the end of the day I do what I know in my mind to work the best.

     Eating healthy; been there done that... My nerve zapper to make my toe go up, my bionic leg to stop my hyper extension, and then the good ole injections three times a week to stop progression.  I know it all, and any other tip and trick is probably just a pipe dream to give people hope that they can be cured.

     You know my routine of the treadmill  and strength training and then my bike; I do absolutely everything in my power to fight this battle and I know the number one thing I can do is keep my body strong.

     Last spring when I was at the bike to the bay I started a conversation with one of the volunteers who was passing out medals at the finish line.  He also happens to have MS.  Well, you know us MS people, we all swap war stories and tips and tricks.

     Chuck told me he used to have very bad debilitation due to MS and he was unable to walk for months.  He began doing yoga and now he  can walk again.  He developed a "Yoga for MS" DVD, which he was selling for 20 bucks and suggested I try it.

     What he didn't get was I can walk, and always could; my only real disability I have is my footdrop, which I have had for over 12 years.  Nothing was ever going to make that go away, until the day we have a miracle cure for myelin replacement.

     I really didn't need anymore "tricks" to help me.  Sure, I had spacticity in my toes, but that was a residual effect from my foot drop, and that was what my muscle relaxers were for.  Of course, the muscle relaxers don't have a direct route to my toes and sometimes my whole body has to be knocked out before my toes get the message.  Let's not forget the brace for my hyper-extension, but again it's all part of the domino effect of the footdrop, and by now we've got this MS thing completely figured out;) 

     As usual, I politely acted as if I was interested and said I would be back later.  Who was I kidding... I was saving my money and I wasn't coming back.  

     However, I was handed twenty bucks from a concerned and maybe overly optimistic friend and after some persuasion I had no choice but to get the DVD.

     A couple weeks after the bike to the bay, that concerned/overly optimistic friend asked if I started the yoga yet.  I admitted I hadn't but I had a million reasons why not.  I was already doing everything in my power to keep healthy and I just didn't have any more free days to add yoga to the mix.

     After a few more nagging comments I decided to give this yoga thing a try just so I could say I did it.  I knew the strength training was the most important thing I could do for my health but who knows, maybe the yoga would help the spacticity in my toes.




          I was pleasantly surprised that my spacticity was actually getting better and I was convinced that it was worth keeping Yoga in the rotation.  

     Did I think Yoga was beneficial to my MS it's self??  not really.  All it was was breathing and stretching.  If I didn't keep my body from getting week nothing else I did mattered.

     Then the other day I was catching up on a couple of my recorded movies, and by the time the movies were done, after sitting like a slug for so long I had practically grown roots into my sofa.

     When I got up to call it a night something frightening happened.  My right leg (the one with the footdrop) had absolutely no strength in it.  I could feel it buckling beneath me.  I kind of felt like the scarecrow from the Wizard Of OZ.

     At first I convinced myself it was from lack of blood flow from sitting on my foot for so long.  but as I hopped on the strong foot and barely put any weight on my weak one, some time had passed before I realized the strength wasn't coming back.  

     With having MS for 30 years, I had heard many stories of people suddenly losing function in their legs for long periods of time, maybe even forever; but the foot drop was always the extent with me.  I have plenty of strength in my legs, but what if the connection from my brain to my leg was suddenly gone, and that was the last day I would ever walk again??

     I went to bed with the hopes of sleeping it off.  maybe by morning it would be back to normal and I would be right back on my treadmill and strength training, never skipping a beat.

     Well the next morning my leg was like an over cooked piece of spaghetti, and I started thinking that in spite of all my efforts my days of walking could actually be over.

     There was no way my leg was going to hold up my seemingly 300 pound body to do the treadmill, and I had absolutely no strength to do my strength training.  But I had to do something...  It wasn't my day to do yoga but it was my only option. 



     I got on my yoga mat and did my one hour of stretching with therabands and deep breathing.  When I was finished I just laid there for about 15 minutes, wondering how the day, and possibly my life was going to go.

     The crazy thing was, when I stood up I actually felt the strength back in my legs again.  It was something I would never believe if you told me it happened to you.  But when I tried to make sense of all of this I started to realize that while it's true my foot drop is there forever;  building muscle, while beneficial in preventing atrophy, is not addressing the area where this crazy disease starts; and that's in the brain.  Oxygen to the brain can help the nerve signals to the rest of the body and it's the misfiring of the nerves that control every crazy transient symptom of MS.

     My body went completely back to normal; as normal as can be expected.  Yes, I still have footdrop and hyper-extension, but I'm still walking.  This made absolutely no sense, but then, nothing about MS makes sense:/

     So the next time I try to convince my self I have all the answers, I guess I have to remind myself; maybe I don't know everything:)

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

There's a blanket on my bike trail; I sure will miss him




     I was driving past Wildwood park the other day and my car sucked me right back in.  I think it's like a homing pigeon, going back home.   The trees and grass were covered in snow but I really wanted to go back and see my old friend.  My bike was no longer in my car but I sure missed the days of jumping on it and heading to the trail.




     Here's what it looked like.  It was a little sad to see, but this is life with four seasons.   If I did snow shoes or was a skier  I would be in heaven, but for now I'll just sit and wait patiently for my day to come.

     Remember that crowded parking lot??  Those were the days...  They'll be back before you know it:)  And we'll all be riding again.

     Ironically, a couple of days later the snow was gone and I was tempted for a second to take my bike off the trainer and head back out there, but that sounded too much like work and so my bike stayed put indoors.  And the snow kept coming back...

     The good news is, it's only a few weeks now until the days start getting longer and my bike and I will be back on the trails again:)


Have a great day!!

Christine:)




Monday, December 1, 2014

No rules; why not?!?!



       Okay, so Thanksgiving is over; now I can get serious about Christmas.  The week before Thanksgiving my daughter was home from college and she wanted to go shopping for Christmas decorations for her college apartment.  

     I wasn't ready to even think about my regular Christmas tree.  I know I already put my tiny snow globe tree out, but I wasn't ready to tackle the life size tree yet.  Though I was happy to go with Lindsay to help get her in the holiday spirit.

     We went to Michael's crafts and they were swimming in red and green as far as the eye could see.  It was like Christmas...

     About half way through the store I noticed an isle filled with pink and green decorations.  I laughed and told Lindsay I should decorate my tree in pink and green:)  She said "why not?? There are no rules.  You can do what ever you want".  I said "that's true; why not!?!?"  

     I just started filling my shopping cart with everything pink and green imaginable.  I didn't have a plan yet, but that didn't matter;  my life is filled with plans that change anyway.  I knew it would all come together.


       When I got home, the first thing I did was make a pink and green center piece for my table, and until my tree was up I placed my two frog ornaments on the top.

     A few days later Lindsay was in town for Thanksgiving and she offered to help me with my tree.  I couldn't pass up that offer so we went crazy. 

   


     At first I thought this pink star tree topper may have been a bit much, but remember the no rules thing... I was doing it!


          The pink and green ornaments in my mind didn't look as tacky as one might think.  Then the pink and green beaded garland was like the icing on the cake.  It was really starting to come together.



       Pink and green pipe cleaners to make candy canes... why not?!  Remember, no rules.



      Add a few pink snow flakes and if this doesn't show my personality, I don't know what does.

      But something was missing;  What is a Christmas tree with out a tree shirt.  I looked and looked for a plain green skirt, but all I found were red and green ones.  A shinny gold skirt here and there, but come on; now that was just silly...

     Then my BFF Joann said she would love to make me a green and pink skirt.  I was so anxious to see it, and at the same time curious what a green and pink skirt would look like.

      Two days later she brought it over and I was in heaven!   This skirt was perfect!  Sure the pink bling might be a bit over the top in some folks opinion, but seriously... isn't this whole tree a bit over the top as it is!?!?  




          I'm so glad I decided to step outside the box instead of playing by the rules, and I think my new tradition for Christmas will now become pink and green (and frogs!),   because in a life where the best laid plans can change on a dime, I think I'll just make my own rules!!

Have a great day!!

Christine:) 

Friday, November 28, 2014

No more bike trails, but the bike shop still keeps hopping.



     Even though my outdoor riding season is over, the bike Co-op is still hopping.  In the winter months they continue to work on bikes and many people continue to use their bike as their form of transportation year round.



      In the summer I had heard that they teach classes during the winter months on how to build a bike from the ground up.  I've learned so much about the mechanics of my bike, but if I actually learned how to build one, I would be prepared for anything.

     Take a look at all of these bikes.  Most of them were donated needing repairs, and like the island of misfit toys, all they need is a little TLC to make some individual's life easier.



      Many kind hearted  people volunteer their time to get these bikes in working order for those who may be financially strapped, and I'm told that all of these bikes will be placed with in the year.


     The bikes below have already been repaired and are waiting for new homes now.




          When I went to the bike shop they informed me that the classes were postponed for a while, so I guess I'll have to wait. In the mean time the bike shop is a great place for me to work on personalizing my bionic leg.  The paint fumes can be very toxic and outside is no longer an option. Since my brace is carbon fiber, which a lot of bikes are made of, I figured a bike shop would be the perfect place to  spray paint it.

     I have the spray paint ready to go and my riding buddy who also happens to be crafty has already made the stencils. However, there are two stencils, the pink frog and the green helmet, and that makes this a two part process, so timing is key.  But I want it done right and I know we'll get it done sooner or later:)


Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The queen of improvision is at it again...



     So riding my bike inside isn't as easy as simply bringing it in.  First it had to be put on the trainer, and I figured I could use the bike mat and my yoga mat together for extra cushion for my yoga, strength training and riding, by simply moving the bike on and off.

     True, this bike weighs nothing by it's self, however if you strap it on a trainer it feels like it weighs 200 pounds.  There was no way I wanted to keep moving it every other day to fit my workout.  I had to re-configure it.



        Once I separated the two mats I finally felt like I had the perfect system for alternating my workout routine.



     One thing I never considered was that the computer on my bike calculates the speed and mileage on the front tire, which doesn't move.  Do you have any idea how boring and confusing it is to ride a stationary bike not knowing how fast or far you're going??

     So the computer had to be moved to the back tire.



        The computer had to stay on the handle bars but the cable had to be stretched and secured all the way to the back, with no room to spare.



         The next snafu was discovering the bar in the back was thinner than the front and this little black circle on the spoke has to make contact with the sensor on the bar but barely skim it, and that required some more improvising.  

     Luckily I had a spare yoga mat, and after some brain storming I figured I could cut a strip off the end of the purple mat and form a barrier to allow the two to make the exact contact.



        This indoor riding proves to be more complicated than I thought, but it just goes back to that old saying... Where there's a will, there's a way:)


Have a great day!!

Christine:)

Monday, November 24, 2014

First Confession, now Therapy??





     A while back I told you going to my Orthotist is like going to confession. Well my hairdresser is also my therapist.  How's that for getting your moneys worth.  I've been going to the same hair dresser for 18 years and It all started when I had a coupon for a free haircut.

     Almost two decades later and here I am following her when she moved clear across town.  But to be honest, I don't even care how she cuts my hair; I just say "cut it".  Who knows, she may not even cut it but it really doesn't matter.




     The last time I went I did tell her to cut it a little shorter, since the bike riding season is over I no longer needed to pull it back.  I think subconsciously I wanted to see what a "real haircut" was like.  In hindsight maybe a little longer was a better idea because now I find myself still pulling it back, but now I have to do some creative work with clips and spray and the end result is exactly the same.



     maybe someday I'll just get a buzz cut and save myself the aggravation, but for now I guess I'll just keep telling her to just dust the ends.  After all, the real reason I get my hair cut is to see my BFF, who is better than any Therapist I know:)


Have a great day!!

Christine:)




Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving's not even here, but the snow is; lets just skip to Christmas!



     I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of cold weather or snow.  As someone who has become totally obsessed with bike riding and turns into a tin soldier in the cold, this winter weather, with very early snow and freezing temps will make the next few months feel like "forever".

     True, Thanksgiving hasn't even come yet, but this snow makes me want to jump right past it and on to Christmas.  I have never started decorating until after Thanksgiving in years past, but I just have to start inching my way into a winter wonderland. 

     It's way too early for the tree, or at least the typical Christmas tree.  But if we have to have snow then it surely wouldn't hurt for me to get out my snow globe with my tiny little tree; it's not much but it's a start, and I'm already starting to feel like I can get through this long, cold snowy Winter.



        But where there is snow there are snowballs... So the first little decoration to inch it's way to the surface snowballed into other "tiny" little additions to keep it company.

     Since I love frogs, I had to have a Christmas frog to accent the tree.  Slowly but surely this tree is beginning to fit in.


     But why stop at one frog??  They say in decorating, things should be grouped in threes.  This frog needs a friend.




      It's amazing how visual things can sometimes help us get through challenging times.  I'm sure most would say "I don't get it", but for me it's the simplest things that spark warm memories, and if this winter is anything like the last, we're going to need all the warmth we can get:)


     Believe me, if I could have weather that allowed me to ride my bike year round I would be happier than a pig in mud.  But since snow is inevitable right now, my stubborn Scorpio attitude will just have to do what ever it takes to  make life interesting, and I can do it... just watch me;)

Have a great weekend!!

Christine:)


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Too Cold, Too Soon; I'm outta here!!

   



     I swear I don't remember ever having snow on my birthday or bone chilling temps, but this year I did...We were flirting with a record low, 10 degrees, yikes!!   So I decided the best birthday present I could give myself was a trip down south.

     With my birthday being close to the holidays a flight would be almost impossible, and the plane ticket it's self would practically put me into bankruptcy.  But come February, when the rest of Ohio is saying "how much longer until spring??", I can have that belated birthday present to look forward to.




     My cousin Keith and his wife live in Fort Myers Florida, and for quite some time I've been saying I should go down and visit them "someday".  Well, as we all know, "someday" never happens, so I had to make it happen.

     The day before my birthday, It was freezing outside, and as I was at work, warm and cozy indoors, I got on the computer and booked my flight.  Now "someday" was gonna happen.

     I haven't flown in over 5 years and a lot of changes have happened in that time.  This is certainly going to be a true test of my survival skills.  I'll be flying for the first time by myself and I'm nervous, yet excited at the same time.  

     My flight will be direct, the two airports are small and the planes are puddle jumpers, so this should be a great place to start.  I've been leery of the long haul across a huge airport with a million hangers and connecting flights.   With all of my bionic parts and questionable paraphernalia, the security screening could be a real circus act.  But if and when I make it through security at this junior airport I will hopefully be home free (that, or I may be asking Keith to bail me out of some Turkish prison...). 

      As an added birthday present to myself I paid extra to select my seats in advance.  Now I no longer have the fear of being sandwiched between two shady people spilling over into my "middle" seat, in the very back of the plane. I'm going to be in a seat close to the front and comfortably on the isle of a two seat row. That piece of mind was worth every penny spent.

     The only down fall to this February trip is the warning I got from Keith when I told him my tickets were purchased.  He told me that back in January, 2010, when they moved there, a friend drove down with them to help with the move.  The day his friend left to come up north it was 70 degrees as he boarded the plane.  When he arrived in Ohio it was a mere 3 degrees and the TSA practically had to use the jaws of life to pry him out of the plane:)  I'll take my chances!

     I've done several things out side of my comfort zone as I've gotten older, and this trip is just one more challenge to add to the list.  My cousin did tell me we would be very busy while I'm down there.  Now, I'm not sure if that meant he was putting me to work or if we were doing some exciting/scary things during my stay.  I really don't want to know because no advance warning means the less time I have to talk myself out of it.

     Who knows, after I conquer this challenge I might finally be ready to move on to the big girl airports:)

Have a great day!!

Christine:)