It was “The Voices of Lee” at my church’s outdoor amphitheater right before Christmas. They’re an A Cappella group of college students who attend Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Their voices are impeccable, and they sing at different venues, particularly churches, during the holiday season as part of their grade. They sound like professionals. My husband, Bryan, and I really enjoyed the mini concert. Our pastor at, LifeFamily, has arranged for them to perform every year. He has a special connection since his oldest daughter attended Lee University. I captured the photos below.
Health update 2023: My multiple sclerosis journey
I’ve been hesitating to share this post because it’s been an emotional ride, but here it is. My neurologist called me on Friday, March 31, 2023, to confirm I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and that he was referring me to an MS specialist (neurologist who specializes in MS).
After a solid, almost two months of research on my part, he confirmed what I had suspected. The dots started connecting after 2/6/2023, when he unexpectedly called me (on my son’s birthday) to notify me of the results of the MRI I had on 1/30/2023. I hadn’t thought about MS in about 7 years, let alone contemplated it was the reason for the symptoms I had been experiencing.
In January 2022, I had an unrelated surgery. In about the second week of recovery, I noticed I was stuttering occasionally. It would be the first time in my whole life I’ve ever stuttered. You can read about my hysterectomy recovery blog series on my blog site, such as in the post: How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery.
I thought the stuttering was a reaction from the anesthesia. I’ve undergone several surgeries and have been told that I have trouble waking up from anesthesia. I told my gynecologist the issue, and she referred me to the neurologist.
MS is a complex, chronic autoimmune disease of which there is no cure. I am not a doctor, but this is what I’ve learned. It’s a neurological condition where the body attacks itself, particularly the myelin in the nerves, and the symptoms can be disabling. For many people, it can take years before MS is diagnosed because the symptoms can mirror other conditions.
The diagnostic criteria is specific – there has to be evidence in dissemination of space and of time. Usually, there have to be clinical symptoms, though some people are asymptomatic. An MRI has to show evidence of brain lesions and/or lesions on the spine. In some cases, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) has to indicate evidence of certain proteins linked to MS – oligloconol bands. I had a lumbar puncture on 3/16/2023.
In about 2008 or 2009, I was diagnosed with a condition called optic neuritis, which is one of the first symptoms of MS. I was almost at complete vision loss, accompanied by excruciating pain. At the time, I was treated for three days (outpatient) with an intravenous infusion of steroids at the recommendation of an MS specialist.
He didn’t diagnose me at that time because the optic neuritis was one event in time. I was also sorely deficient in Vitamin D as discovered by my primary care physician, so he indicated my treatment would be high doses of prescribed Vitamin D for 3 months and then continued over the counter Vitamin D.
After visiting with this MS specialist for several years and several MRIs later, he recommended I pursue alternative therapies and lifestyle changes because my symptoms didn’t warrant being on medication that would cause me to be sicker than my symptoms. I did just that, moved on with my life, not thinking about MS, and was diagnosed with breast cancer some months after our last visit (roughly 2015 or 2016).
In the last 9 months or so, I’ve had emerging symptoms that I now realize are MS symptoms. These symptoms come and go: muscle spasms mostly in my feet, back, and rib cages, stiffness in my lower body, cognitive issues related to attention, concentration and memory, stuutering, some numbness and trembling, sensitvity to heat and cold, and blurry vision. These symptoms don’t come all at one time, but sometimes, a few occur simultaneously. The painful muscle spasms have been increasing.
I made up my mind before the 3/31/2023 call that I would accept whatever outcome I faced and deal with it. I want to live to see my grandchildren and grow old with my husband. My new MS doctor assured me that if I could survive cancer, then I could survive living with MS. I’m holding onto this hope.
Some light lessons I will share in the face of a health crisis is this:
- Learn everything you can about the condition. I find it empowering and makes me less fearful.
- Engage a small circle of friends and family, asking them to pray for you. You don’t want to go through it alone.
- Slow your life down and take inventory of what needs to change. Something is going to have to change in your life in order to take care of yourself.
- Amp up your self-compassion because you’re going through a lot. Let go of blame, shame, and the high demands you may place on yourself.
- Let people help you. I learned this through my breast cancer journey. I’m no superhero. I need help.
I hope this encourages someone. I know it made me feel better because I don’t want MS to take over my life, control me, or make me hide. I want to learn to live with it and still have a full life.
I plan to share more of my MS journey in future posts.
Daily Prompt V.4-Favorite Brands
With regard to brands of products I use to take care of my hair and body, I prefer products with the most natural ingredients and with the least amount of chemicals. I also prefer brands that are conscious and respectful of the environment and the location where the product is sourced. I’ve tried many brands over the years, and I can’t say I’m only committed to particular ones. As I’ve honed in on what’s important to me in a product, I do have some preferences.
Generally, I love to support black owned (African American and across the Carribbean/African Diaspora) brands for all of my needs beyond personal grooming because I want to support my people. If I know a brand is black owned, I will likely try it.
For hair products, I prefer black owned brands because, as a black woman, I believe those products are created just for my hair texture and will help my hair thrive. I also want to support the brand.
For face and body care, I prefer any brand that has minimal chemicals and more natural and organic ingredients like essential oils and nutrients. I also prefer responsibly sourced products because many of those beneficial ingredients come from different parts of the world that may be impoverished, not well developed, and/or have limited resources and economic opportunities.
I’m open to trying different products that meet my preferences.
Daily prompt V.3-Direction
My moral compass and God give me direction in life. The older I get, I’m better able to make the best choices for me because I also value my peace. I’m not interested in external validation. I have to live with my decisions, so these decisions need to be best for me and my family.
Daily Prompt V.2-Favorite Quote
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Mata Angelou
Flourish Part Deux
Spring is my favorite time of year! I love seeing all the vibrant green colors of the trees and the pretty wildflower blooms as I drive through the city and walk in my neighborhood. Our weather here in Central Texas has been a roller coaster ride of warm and cool over the past couple of months, but the warm seems to be more consistent.
I’ve blogged in previous posts about my love for plants in Flourish Part I. In the past two years, my obsession with plants has exploded.
While in Washington D.C. a couple of weeks ago, I told my colleagues I have about 80 plants (indoors and outdoors) and they couldn’t believe it. When I returned home from that trip, I counted my plants, and the total is actually 98. WHOAH!!!
I was asked questions like, “How long does it take to water them?” And “what kinds of plants”? They were impressed with the details I’ve learned, such as how in nature some orchids grow on rocks and that they require less than water than people think to survive.
I don’t really think about the time because it’s a hobby and self-care activity for me. I tend to them all the time in one way or another as they have different needs. I don’t water them all on the same schedule either because, again, they have different needs, so I water some more frequently than others. It also depends on the type of pot they’re in. Some points like clay pots dry out faster.
Here are a few outdoor plants I tended to over the weekend.
I love to be rewarded with beautiful blooms and bright green leaves from all my nurturing!
That’s it for now. There will be a Part 3 to this series!
Food Chronicles: Crab legs times two
A couple of weeks ago, I was craving a crab leg boil, so I dethawed the frozen crab legs from my freezer I bought about a month prior. Now, my Haitian mom would not approve of me buying frozen seafood, but it is what it is. I bought some local specialty sausage from the grocery store the day before, like it was a special occasion. It was Easter weekend.
Some dishes I’d rather the experts prepare, but I felt bold and creative this particular weekend. While in the grocery store, I was also going to buy the crab leg boil seasoning, but when I red all the processed ingredients in the packet, I declined and decided to create my own seasoning blend with my spice collection at home.
My delicious crab leg boil: onions, potato, corn on the cobb, local sausage, shrimp, crab legs, and lots of spices.
The broth was so rich with flavorful.
My husband, Bryan and I, were the only two who partook of the deliciousness. Bryan ate some of everything except the crab legs. He said he’s not that big of a crab leg fan. I thought to myself, “more leftovers for me.” However, our daughter, Elise, had other ideas. She asked me to make a seafood alfredo for Sunday’s dinner, which would be Easter dinner. Hmmm??? I hadn’t thought of that. CHA-LUNGE accepted!
This was an impromtu request. On Saturday evening, I checked to ensure I had all the ingredients, and I did. I’ve been removing dairy from my diet for health reasons, so I was disappointed this wouldn’t be a dairy free version. On Sunday, with my hands, I pulled as much crab meat as I could from the crab legs, and I chopped the shrimp into tiny pieces.
I planned to repurpose the corn, sausage, and potatoes from the crab boil for another dish like a soup, but that didn’t happen. Bryan and I added the sausage to some meals for a couple of days. Then, my week got busy, and I forgot to at least freeze the other ingredients. I was disappointed with wasting food. Sigh…
My son, Caleb, enjoyed the pasta so much that he asked me for the recipe, which he rarely does. He’s a great cook himself and works at a fancy restaurant.
In one weekend, I created two delicious meals with a star ingredient – CRAB LEGS. 🦀 I’m happy I satisfied my finicky eaters. I’m inspired to make a dairy free version of the seafood pasta one day. I’ll keep you posted.
Waiting on God
Every morning, before I get out of bed, the first thing I do after turning off my alarm is open my Bible app to read a daily scripture and a passage from a Bible devotional or plan I’m into at that moment. The plan lengths vary and are as short and digestable as 3-5 days, 10-14 days (sweet spot), 30 days to one year. They range from topics such as new to faith, anxiety, marriage, leadership, etc. I’ve completed many plans.
I love the plans because they provide practical ways to live out this Christian life. They set the tone for my day as I refuse to open social media or email until I’m filled with something spiritual because my being close to God is what matters most.
Today, I’m sharing the last day, Day 8, of the devotional “Waiting on God”. It sums up a great lesson. I chose this devotional for encouragement as I wait on God on what he has promised me. I hope it encourages you, too.
Waiting on God • Devotional https://bible.com/reading-plans/20231/day/8?segment=0
Intention for the week V.9
May has always been my favorite month, mostly because of the blooms and spring weather, AND it’s my birthday month. This May, in particular, will be EPIC! My daughter Elise will be graduating from high school twice (more on that in another post), she’s going to prom, my sister is visiting from Chicago, there’s Mother’s day, & my 50th birthday! Whoah! It’s going to be a month of celebrations!
I also plan to blog mostly every day this month in honor of my milestone birthday! This will be a challenge, but I’m here for it, and I hope you are too.
Intention for the week ahead. May I trust God for fulfilling my desires rather than relying on my own efforts. May I forgive and do it quickly. May I take strategic breaks to meditate throughout the day. May I treat myself guilt free. May I find joy in unsuspecting places. May I indulge in a cappuccino one day and a chai latte on another. May I be content in my blessings and smile more often than not.
Intention for the week V.8
On our way back home from church yesterday, our teenage daughter, Elise, said something so profound to her dad as he was making a case for his behavior the other day at a fast food drive-through. She perceived that he was rude. I wasn’t there. Elise said in her snarky way, “Intention doesn’t equate to impact.” Wow. I don’t know where she heard that, but I had to give it her – valid point!
I unpacked that a little in my head. You may intend a certain response or outcome, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will materialize based on actions you control. I suppose there may be instances where you don’t control the outcome, but for simplicity, let’s say you can.
My “intention” with establishing and sharing my intentions for the week in my blog posts is to ensure I stay focused and in a head space that is healthy for me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. By sharing, I intend to help others.
I want to approach life by being intentional about decisions I make that impact my outlook on life. I do go back and review what I’ve posted to keep me focused and provide direction for the next week. I don’t want to be typing words just for the sake of writing a blog post. My life is very full as a wife, working mom, and everything else. It’s easy for me to get swept up in it. These posts help ensure I have impact. With that said…
My intention for this week: May I not shrink in the face of pressure to not speak up or be myself. May I be honest, but kind and patient in my communication with others. May I dig into my endless well of calmness in the midst of any chaos. May I speak encouraging words to myself and my children. May I give myself an imaginary hug when needed. May I be in the moment more often than not and take good photos so my future self will smile at the memories.