Monday, March 8, 2010

A Modicum of Happiness

My day starts early. 5am to be exact. Some of you will say "that ain't early (if you have poor grammar)" and others will say "OMG I thought that was still considered the night before."

When we moved in with my elderly mom last summer I knew it would be like this since we moved 20 min. in the WRONG direction from my son's school which was already a 15 min. drive. PLUS, add on top of that the fact that he's now going to middle school and they begin their day even earlier than grade school and you have 2 very squinty-eyed yawning people every morning in this house.

But we have both figured out a way to approach this that I truly believe my MS taught me. The trick is to look for the good.

We each have a travel mug and mine's filled with decaf and his has hot cocoa.

The drive is long, true, but it's also beautiful. We start out walking down the wooden walkway that my boyfriend built last summer. It's like going to one of those nature parks where there is a deck-like path that winds around through the wilderness. The view from this walkway is spectacular and always sets the mood.

We get in and drive the winding road to town surrounded by alternating patches of housing developements, wild Florida woodland, and farmland where the locals grow corn, potatoes and cabbage.

We merge onto the 4 lanes of HWY 17 North and head into the small town of Palatka. (Prounounced like the sound of a tall cow crapping on a flat rock -- Puh LAT kuh).

We crest the Memorial Bridge over the St. Johns River where we never cease to be amazed at the beautiful sunrise surrounding us. Even on the rainy gray days, we still find reason to be in awe for on at least one occasion we were enveloped in a cloud atop the bridge (just fog really, but if my son wants to think it's a bona fide cloud he can).

And we aren't even half way there yet!

We drive along, sometimes singing, sometimes practicing our jokes on each other, always talking in character voices, and never ceasing to make each other laugh. He especially likes my Elmo impersonation and I really get a kick out of his ailing, grumpy old man he invented named Mr. Abernathy who loves oyster crackers, reminisces about the days when a dollar could buy you anything, and is constantly complaining about today's youth.

One time he made me laugh so hard I had to pull over to catch my breath and wipe the tears from my eyes. All the while, *Mr. Abernathy* kept complaining about how I was going to make him late for school, "goll durn it!"

Anyhow, we turn off of 17 and head out State Road 100 W. where it's so rural I have to make certain I have gas before the turn off because it's 15 more miles to the school without a gas station in site.

The road is lined the whole way on either side with stands of pine forest planted by Georgia-Pacific and other sections that have scrub oak, palmettos and other trees native to the area. You feel like your going "over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go.."

There are power lines along one side of this road and the trees have been trimmed away to keep from touching them.

Now I don't know if it's just us, but I swear to you that whoever is trimming the trees learned how to do it working for Disney.

The first unusual tree we come to is the Dinosaur Tree which stands with a thin neck above the rest and hangs out over the road like T-Rex. Next comes the Elephant Tree complete with trunk that snakes first down then up in an S curve.

Last but not least is our favorite of all. The Turtle Tree. His head looms over the road with an open mouth grin sporting one tooth hanging down. In the distance beyond this tree is another sculpted growth that creates a "wing" on our turtle when everything lines up just right.

We know when we come to the Turtle Tree that we are very nearly there. We prepare to slow for the school zone and he starts zipping up his jacket and gathering his binder and other school supplies.

I bring my camera on these trips so I can take pictures if we have time and if I remember. For that reason, I have none to post yet.

It's an amazing ride that is always the same and yet always different. Sure, we could look at it as the ride that takes an hour round trip at a time of day when I'd rather be sleeping, but we both have learned to embrace it and look forward to it as our own personal time together. No computers, no chores, no rules really... just fun.

And only 35 minutes after it began, our morning ride is over and it's time to head back. We say our "I Love You"s and he begs me not to embarrass him (again) by yelling it out the window in my Elmo voice. And then he's gone.

I turn the car and head back the way I came, but the ride home sucks. I've seen everything already, there's nobody to talk to and the sun is in my eyes. Hey, I did entitle this "A MODICUM of Happiness".

The flip side of anything is never that great. Just look at all the 45's we never played the *other* side of.

My MS taught me to at least TRY and make the best of things. During this MS Awareness Month, tell me, what has your MS taught you?


  1. Wow, what a story! I've just been diagnosed with MS and I'm about to join the Fingolimod-study, that's how I stumbled upon your website. I really admire your strength and ability to look after positive in things. I've also noticed that the diagnosis didn't make me depressed, as I thought it would, and I suprise myself and everyone around me by saying "it's ok, I'll make the best of the situation" (that was so not me before the diagnosis).

  2. Daniella, hang in there! It so sucks to get the diagnosis, but I'm here to tell you that life can be normal if you let it. It's just a new kind of normal.

    I've had MS for 11 years now and altho it's IN my life until they find the cure, I don't let it BE my life.

    I hope the Fingo brings you all the happiness it's brought me.


  3. What had Fingolimod taught me? Live today. Stop futurizing on the what ifs!

  4. I just completed my first year of the Fingolimod study. This is the longest I've gone without an exacerbation. What a gift! Unfortunately, I'm still struggling with disabling fatigue. I've tried Amantadine, Provigil, Dextrostat, and a few others but nothing helps. Has anyone found another solution?


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