Saturday, August 9, 2014


Well, this is certainly nt the blog post I expected to ever be writing.

After all the photos I took, after all the adventures I had. after all the deep love I felt for my new home in Ballard---The Ballard Landmark gave me a 30 day eviction notice. I must be out by Sept.6th.

Diane. how could this happen? My fingers are weak, my computer is hot on my lap (bladder) so I will give you the Cliff Notes answer and ask you to wait for my book, article, or TV reports: The Assisted Living Supervisor (an RN I am told) says I need a 2-person transfer and they don't offer that. For my safety and that of the community (?) I must go.

Now. ever since being given that notice,the carers here (young, one just turned 21) have been continuing to transfer me using one person as usual. Make sense? Not to me either.

Before we moved here I met with the AL (assisted living) supr. three times, each time asking if they do pivot transfers, as that is my most crucial need, to get to toilet.

Resoundingly from all aides around and the boss lady, "Absolutely!" and "We do them all the time."

After I moved in, paid my non-refundable $5,000 "community fee" not one person seemed to know what a pivot transfer WAS, even last week the Manager of place couldn't pronounce the word "pivot," jokingly stumbling past it while I corrected her.

The first person to answer my call for a trip to loo back on day we moved in, May 3rd, 2014. dropped me to my knees (and she was one of three LPNs they keep on duty here), only my spouse's race to shove up my knees kept us from a call to Medics to pick me up off the floor. That led to the young LPN shouting such things as I should have been assesed, I didn't belong there and so on. Her tone and continued berating of me ( as I sat, still needing to use the loo. "I don't feel comfortable transferring you." I became furious, "You ar going to leave me here to  poop in my wheel chair!?") was sp unprofessional and frankly atrocious. If I were her boss I'd have fired her. But another carer finished moving me to loo (also not able to do any pivot transfer, just swinging me like a bag of dirt, and the 8story was that it was all my fault. I was trouble.!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Parrots, MS Healing, Healthy Eating and Making Friends Off Face Book

Here we are in August already! It is a much busier lifestyle  for me at the new joint.
 Photos in no particular order: the first is a, I don't know, poster(?) a Face Book friend made from something I wrote. I really think blogs are a dying breed. They are over-produced or just a diary. Times change fast.
 This is my spouse playing a classical piece on piano at our new place. At the OLD place their piano was warped, out of tune, and parts missing. What a difference. I didn't even know spouse of 35 years could PLAY! She hadn't played in 40 years! Just sat down and off she went--amazing, even though I had done the same thing a few years ago. I guess those piano lessons stick with ya.
 Here is my healed knee. I bought some roller derby chick knee pads, soon to be tried. This has been another set back, but forward is direction we must always set sail.
 Look at this wonderful lunch! Fresh soup, stone ground wheat crackers, cottage cheese and watermelon! When I think of the horrible meals at the former place...just wow.
The most (well, it is hard to choose) wonderful aspect of our new home is the incredible neighborhood--Ballard. We are just a block from, well, EVERYTHING. Out our backdoor is a Farmer's Market each Sunday. I took pic of a parrot there.

Residents have approached me to say that they too have MS. So many interesting new people to meet here. So much better than Face Book, or, I'm sorry, a blog.

My computer is old now and a hassel to use. I'll buy a new one if I can.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Look what I found on side of local grocery store--ART! I just love this neighborgood.
Below is bell tower that was here when we lived a few blocks away back in 1992. Since then it has been restored and get ready--it chimes on the hour! What a lovely sound, and now it is just half a block away.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Wouldn't you know I fell again!? I told my caregiver to step back, so full of myself! In an instant both of us were ecstatic that I was finally transferring my own body again  and then BAM, both knees just gave out, both of us horrified.

It was 3AM and there I was trapped between my heavy power chair and the ceramic thrown. The poor carer pulled with all his might (I had the bruises to show it, in fact the knee scraping was due to his and the summoned medics trying to lift me up! The medics finally lifted my chair away and two of them got me seated back in my chair,) but I was stuck between too heavy devices. He couldn't release his grip on me to call the medics and my wife (nope, don't care for the sound of that) my spouse was sound asleep.

Finally he laid me down and five firemen arrived. Immediately they went for my wrists and having had them give me radial nerve palsy for 6 months before by "wrist lifting" I quickly took over and shouted how to pick me up.

Within 15 minutes it was all over except bruises and two badly scraped knees. How lucky am I to never break a bone? To never hit me head? VERY LUCKY

Both knees good as new now. MS strikes again! Back to the gym, young lady.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


 A Face Book friend recommended a site where I might find an officiant to marry us. The first person who replied was Pastor Dave. He was from the Church of Spiritual Humanism in our area. "I thought we might chat," he said.
I responded sternly in my deepest voice, "Go ahead."

He then told me two stories about himself, his reason for doing such unions, his orphanage work, basically exactly what I needed to hear: this was a man of integrity. An air of integrity is what I wanted surrounding our small apt. wedding ceremony.

Five people is all you need for a wedding: The officiant, a couple wantin' to be hitched, and two witnesses. I made sure to have a spare witness just in case.

My attendees gifts to us would be their time, energy, and effort to make it to our new assisted living home, knowing there would be no food, drinks, music, dancing, and after the "I do" would be a "thanks for coming, now go."

When you are partners who have been denied the legal right to marry for 35 years, both sicker, disabled, no longer the spry young lovers of 22 years old, a quick simple wedding is the greatest gift we could imagine.

I feel very lucky to have lived long enough to experience this day of equality, but must juxtapose that with knowing so many still are denied the freedom.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Thursday, June 12, 2014


"She has such beautiful hands," Dottie, Aunt Violet's friend said as she stroked my 12 year-old fingers. Somehow in my chubby body, my fingers have remained long and thin.

Now why couldn't the rest of me followed suit? Ah, life!

Photo is of a "new" MS rubber (I think) bracelett. Since "MS Awareness month is winding down (and plans for my wedding are gearing UP) ---here is my on line contribution.

In fact, when wearing the first red "HOPE" ones n the early 1990s, they did open some conversations about MS.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


My new neighborhood has beautiful brick sidewalks, but they are a bear to roll on and walker, forget it. Canes are easier, but my MS has moved to a power chair. Begs the question: are w born strong or does fighting, embracing MS make us so?

Perhaps a little of both! Made stronger due to MS? What fighter doesn't get stronger after each fight? Who isn't stronger (physically or mentally) after falling down 9 times and getting up 10?

Get your Made Strong t-shirt at
10% of profits go to Race to Erase MS which funds MS research through Center Without Walls.
(They also sell very cool wristbands!)

Monday, June 9, 2014


I just am collecting so many pix of my new assisted living home neighborhood, must share: all were taken within a block of my new home. You will understand why I LOVE it here!
Out the back doors (with push buttons to allow access to me & my power chair)  is a small, brick, street loaded with small shops and great charm. Every Sunday is a Farmer's Market, always packed with vendors, musicians, and people! 

 Here is my first problem, my toilet seat is not compatible with former toilet. Maintenance and I will figure it out.
 Another musician.
 Another dog.
 Our apt. with "Home Sweet Home" Habitat for Humanity bear greeting visitors.
 I had to decide which cap to wear, my Seattle Storm (our women's pro basketball team) hat said, "CHOOSE ME!" so I did.
In the Starbuck's the woman in pic came up to me, asking how I liked the team, had I been to the last game (I've never been to any pro game here) and she offered me tickets. "Call me anytime you need tickets." She turned out to be one of their coaches!

 There is 'street art' everywhere in Seattle, and MUCH in the block of my new home. Like the trees?

Here  is "Bible and Coffee" on that quaint little street behind my home. Hmmm,  I will check it out.

A homeless Vietnam Vet selling a small newspaper, "Small Change," that helps the poor make some money. Many of their articles written by the down and out who need a break. Today he got some dough for posing for a blog.

I just LOVE living here!

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Sat. Jun 7, 20June14. Feeling frustrated, angry, confused. In less than a month I will be marrying my partner of thirty-five years -- the love of my life. We are counting down to our anniversary date (the day we originally pledged ourselves) to make it official -- now that we can -- in our state. Our first ‘date’ commenced in a hospital where I was under observation for a new heart med. You see, in our early years I threatened her with the diseases and conditions I was already struggling with and those I figured I might contract along the way. I was right: in the years we’ve been together I’ve racked up 12 more diagnoses plus surgeries and hospital stays. But these seem paltry complaints compared to her dx of MS after a decade into our life together (the ovarian cancer was impressive, too). As it is wont to do, the MS progressed from relapsing/remitting to chronic progressive and we were forced into ‘disability retirement’ and a retirement home
 in 2008. After that home was sold, it began discontinuing its services and marketing its apts to young professionals instead of elderly disabled (I understand it has now forced all but 3 of its residents out) we began looking for and found what we thought was the ideal place -- in a neighborhood we fondly remembered from an earlier life there, within walking/rolling distance to shops, markets, groceries, drugstores, parks; a dedicated team of university students assigned to aid with partner’s transfers. Her legs, knees have been brutalized, yes, brutalized, not just from the ravages of MS weakness and spasticity but by various PTs ruining them with accidental collisions, falls, and ill-fitting devices. So, after initial home care horror stories, and five years in the retirement home with help we could never be sure of, we rejoiced when these aids assured us, “Pivot transfers? No problem, we do those all the time.” We did see not only frail and
 elderly folks but also some with visible disabilities. We believed. After we signed the (many) papers and executed that stressful, exhausting endeavor even for the healthiest -- moving, we discovered that these caregivers used a kind of straight-on muscle and heave approach to transfers, not the “standing pivot transfer’ technique we’ve understood is part of every certified nursing assistant’s training. In our first few days here partner was dropped on the edge of her chair at least three times, from where she would have slid (without functioning core and quad muscles) into a fall had I not come barging in, grasping her knees and giving fight to gravity to get her back into her chair (in some of these instances there were two aides both holding on to her arms or shoulders (another no no) while the lower weak and numb part of her body slid ever closer to the floor). Oh…. frustrated, I am, Yoda. You may recall that I am not well, either--with a
 retinue of immune system troubles, injuries, plus osteoporosis, I am not the best choice to play hero with pain signals running wild, balance askew, and general ill health, but I could not stand by and watch yet another promise to keep her safe fail, this time at thousands per mo. (Believe it.) I am angry because once again, they are asking her, my partner, the PATIENT, to train their aids. With each ‘training’ transfer, she becomes weaker, more spastic (“She’s like dead weight” one complained, while trying to dead lift her off her chair. In a standing pivot transfer, one aids the patient to stand, once they are standing they pivot with you and you can use your leg-based momentum to place them in chair.) If they keep dead-lifting her their backs will start to go out on them. Do we ask so much? Well, does she? She works so hard to keep in shape--lifting arm weights, modified crunches, and hoped to use the spanking new gym downstairs to
 continue. But she has MS ya’ll, chronic progressive MS. Utube is full of standing pivot transfer vids, but they want her to ‘train’. I’m seeing it wear her down, and I don’t want it to wear her out. She has already trained more than 8 aids here, who now have the technique down, but at what cost. What about HER therapy? Her ‘training’? I am worthless, can barely take care of myself. Every time they bring a ‘new’ aid up and I’m crossing my fingers (well, sort of) I break down in fear of her falling and breaking something important this time (medics already tried lifting her---LIFTING her---with wrists and gave her radial nerve palsy on her good arm. That was a six month recovery we don’t want again). I am losing it again. She needs a better WC, how to accomplish when we can barely get properly delivered to dining room for a meal? Maybe just a bad day… Right now they’ve left her with no one to transfer her for a 3 hr block. That
 means no water, no food, no movement, god forbid or she may have to use the toilet and back where we started. Pray, if u pray, pray for us. I am so tired.
By-Karenlee Kitto June 7th, 2014

Friday, June 6, 2014

Staying in Shape with Progressing MS

When all was said,checked as noted in previous post, the gym at my new home is what sealed the deal for me.

With more modern equipment than in many big-name franchise exercise clubs, this is, I believe, my last chance to get stronger and healthier in my fight against (and embracing of) multiple sclerosis.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Here are some things to look for in an assisted living home:

Is it certified by the state it is in? If not posted front and center, ask to see it.

Don't EVER let the person ready to sign you aboard intimidate or rush you. In fact, make them wait. THEY should call YOU back. YOU ARE THE CUSTOMER---PERIOD.

Read all their home rules. ASK QUESTIONS.

Look for a manager who ENCOURAGES you to ask questions.

SMELL the place, top floor to bottom. Is it clean? Are there cobwebs?

Look for lights out, unpainted wall scrapes, worn carpet.

Eat a meal or three there. Is the menu clean? Variety of choices? Healthy options?

Watch the dining room staff---are they in clean uniforms? Talk to them.

Find out how long the current manager has been there.

Talk to residents: Do they seem happy? Aware? Fit?

This is your starter list.

Monday, June 2, 2014


I made it! My new assisted living home is spectacular. Of course, you get what you pay for, but as one senior said who was sitting in my new and LARGE bistro, "It is expensive here, but it is worth it."
So, I will beg, borrow, and try to win the lottery to stay here as long as I can.

The previous home was all I could afford at the time. It went through a new manager every year, a new chef ever 3-6 months, the entire staff came and went much too quickly for any stability of service. It became a disaster.

While I became close to some of the residents here, many were, well, disgusting. Not their fault, but they could,on any given day leave a trail of vomit, urine, or solid waste, that would go uncleaned by any staff.

Poor management leads to unhappy staff who take a "whatever" attitude. One maintenance couple left and according to sources, took many of our holiday decorations. The place just became sad. It seemed clear to me that the owner was ready to wipe his hands of the building (which sits on prime real estate) and that was my signal to look elsewhere.

Seattle stole my heart many years ago. My partner of almost 35 years (yes, the world finally changed and we will marry by month's end) and I have lived in many of the diverse neighborhoods here. The one we spent the last 5 years in is not my favorite.

For one thing the place our home was located was so isolated. No where to GO to. You will see in previous posts that I rode my power chair down busy street (in bike lane) because the sidewalks were so rough, and still closest hang out was one Starbuck's. I felt trapped.

Our favorite neighborhood was downtown, but we can't afford that. Next was "Ballard," where we once owned a small condo. When we sold it we said, "One day when we are older, we will return." (The majority of population was over 70 at the time.)

We have returned. We are not as old as we imagined, but I'm guessing the majority here is MUCH younger, because the Yuppies discovered Ballard. A new Google building is just blocks away and expensive condos sprung up like weeds during the 22 years we were gone.

Ballard has changed but the part we loved remains---small town feel, small businesses, LOTS within just a block. WE ARE FREE!!

 more to come...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Assisted Living Home Move with MS

Well, my "New Life" posts come to an end. I will move by end of May to new home and have new stories to tell.

I am so stressed out right now, not knowing what awaits me at new home, arranging the move, doing my taxes---ugh.

I'll get back to my blog when life slows down.

Take care, all my visitors!

Monday, March 31, 2014


My birthday is today. I am 57 years old.

On my birthday I like to reminisce about past birthdays, but I could only remember 3 of them until this morning. My 33rd birthday was wonderful. I was settling into a great job in a city I loved. My apartment was large with a great view. It was located two blocks from the Ballard Locks in Seattle, Washington. My partner hadn't been rushed to a hospital in many months. We loved walking to breakfast at a neighborhood restaurant, then over to the Locks, which connected boats from fresh water lakes to the salty waves of Puget Sound.

There was a marina there, full of sail boats ready to hit the water, and inside a government owned botanical garden park full of tress and flowers from around the world was a salmon "fish ladder" which allowed the salmon to make the return home to mate. It was just a magical, wonderfully relaxing place to sit and breathe fresh air, delicious scents of the most gorgeous flowers, and to people watch.

Life was good, so good, almost perfect for me.

My loving partner of 11 years gifted me with something I'd wanted for a long time: a yellow Schwinn 10-speed bicycle! So many terrific areas to ride in my neighborhood, heck, I could ride to work! It was an exciting time. I was 33 and feeling great.

The first place I rode the bike to was the Locks. It was a clear day, sunny, just perfect, but something was not right with me. Had I forgotten how to ride a bike?! They say you never forget. Maybe the bike was not calibrated seemed to kilter.

Just to be safe, I rode home on the large sidewalk. This was a popular area for bikers, but few would be on the sidewalk. There was another 10-speed coming my way though, but we had PLENTY of room---I rode directly into him.

"Hey!" He shouted, as he struggled to stay on the bike. He did, and glared at me as he passed by.

I stopped, almost falling myself, and was dumbfounded. I actually turned into him!

One month and 15 days later I would be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS.) I never rode the bike again, or any bike again. My balance was off and I couldn't even sense it.

Yes, MS made my 33rd birthday very memorable, once I remembered it. I can see why my brain chose to forget that day.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


My SPMS (secondary progressive MS) was going along pretty fine until the last 12 months.

First I was DX with Bell's Palsy on my 'good side'--my right side. It really stopped my walking accomplishments pronto. I had been on a roll, making it across my living room floor. My standing time was increasing by the week! Then BOOM.

After the Bell's Palsy, I caught a bad cold, then (and who didn't see this coming, what with my T-cells working overtime!?) I had a MS relapse attack---my first in a decade, or longer, I honestly lost track.

My right side started going all numb, my right hand was not interested in functioning at all. It was hard to eat or drink since the nerve connections were so confused by now. Good Golly Miss Molly!

Things have settled down, a 3-day dose of Solumedrol calmed the inflammation down, but all those months I had to have caregivers help me move, stand, until now my muscles are DYING to start back and go all atrophy on me! DRAT!

Each day I am starting over again, back to working what I can. My plan still is a solid one and I see now that it needs to be constantly practiced, I guess for the rest of my life. And why not? It is not a bad way to live---keep using what works and build around weak or compromised body functions.

It all goes back to babies, crawl until you can hold onto something and stand, then start walking, fall, get back up, rinse, repeat. Life.

After 5 years post MS diagnosis (DX), I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer---two surgeries later, started over again after laying in bed for weeks. It is always nice knowing you can work to improve SOMETHING. Whether it is eating healthier, visiting with friends, petting your dog, SOMETHING can be done to improve your body and mind.

But, mixing other illnesses with MS is a real Putin buster. Sometimes starting from scratch is not the worst thing. I have added peanuts to my diet and met new friends on Face Book.


Saturday, March 29, 2014


It is all so ridiculous, really. I was diagnosed with MS in 1990 and I find no better "awareness" of this chronic disease than there was almost 25 years ago.

Oh, there are more books about it, more blogs, more people on social media sites who tell their stories, but enter the average person's life and "Is that Jerry's Kids disease?"

My assisted living home has ONE other person with MS. And what I am about to write is based on what I have read from 1,000 Face Book 'friends,' Twitter MSers, doctors, nurses, physical therapists, cab drivers, grocery clerks, authors with many letters (PHD, BS, etc)  behind their names, and family members---still so many laughable ideas about what MS is.

It makes me so sad for those who do indeed suffer from MS. Yes, suffer, many of us suffer. While I once fought to get "disabled" instead of "handicapped" into our lexicon, so many people with disabilities decided they didn't want the label of being disabled, well, I give up and so has America.
"Handicapped" is the most used word and I don't have a problem with it. Nobody labels me anyway. Only YOU can allow yourself to be boxed or labeled. But, I swear some people don't want to say they have MS.

Worse than that is the many who diagnose themselves with HAVING MS! Why a person would want to do that is beyond me. They have a pain or numb foot, Google it and VOILA--MS! I guess, or some doctor Googles it. 

AWARENESS? What a joke! We are not even aware if we HAVE multiple sclerosis!

I hear this so often it makes me want to throw up: "I have progressive MS." Then they go about telling of their latest walk or trip by plane to Disneyland, oh, and if I DARE inquire when they were diagnosed (DX) they refuse to answer or say 10 years ago. NO NO NO

There are stages of initial DX of MS, the rarest is primary progressive MS. And if you get that DX you will not be on a plane for a fun trip any time soon. In fact, you will likely be dead in a few years. There will be no blog from someone with PPMS. (The exception is if you were misdiagnosed to start.)

What people MEAN to say is they have progressive MS, well, DUH, THAT is the most COMMON form of the disease. Most of us will progress towards disability, some faster than others, but that is the disease you have. AWARENESS? So many people with MS don't even understand the different stages of the disease.

The "Walk for MS" always cracks me up. Yeah, I did one in the first years when I could still walk that far. I walked for AIDS. I LOVED to run and walk. Now I need a power chair. But all these walks sure make people think that walking with MS is totally doable and let's combine the two to raise money! "BOWL FOR MS"

How about some real awareness of how this disease destroys lives? Do you think maybe people might want to give money to help end suffering? The photos from the "Awareness" Walks show happy, smiling, laughing people--PARTY TIME!

The biggest advancement in MS is diagnosing earlier, ergo, healthier people who will experience longer remissions, still walk and run for miles and they will attribute their good health with some diet or exercise or their POSITIVE ATTITUDE!   sigh

Sigh, because that was me in the 1990s. Today I would have been diagnosed at age 10 or 25. At 25 I had all the text book symptoms, but I hated doctors and forged ahead until I got over whatever was bothering me. (I thought I had a brain tumor, but my partner was ill at the time and, well, priorities.) It wasn't until age 33 that I was DX MS.

Anyhoo, good luck finding a healthy person who can tell you what MS is. Good luck finding someone with MS who is aware of the history of their disease from 1975--2014.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Americans with Disabilities Act Adherence or COMMON SENSE

All this stuff loose in front of me during $50 ride to doctor. Only oxygen even had strap. When I mentioned it to driver, he snapped. Big fight ensued with me getting boss of cabulance company on 3-way. Driver didn't shoulder strap me either.

Must my life be daily fights?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

No Booze for Residents with MS?

One of the new assisted living homes I am looking at requires a form for their care employees. It asks basically if I have any dementia, food requirements, and so on. It is the kind of form I have been given where I currently reside (over 5 years now!) but I just toss them away. (You would too if you were me and lived HERE, but that is another story.)

Instead, I took the form to my MS doctor and she looked up at me while completing it, "You should not drink alcohol."

"What?" I noticed a question about whether or not I could drink. Now, I never have had more than one glass of white wine at "Salty's on Alki" during an anniversary dinner over-looking Elliot Bay. This fact turns normal faces into shrines of unbelievability.

"People with MS shouldn't drink." (My brain shouted, THANKS FOR TELLING ME AFTER 24 YEARS)

Laughing, I said, "It's funny because I don't drink and have never smoked pot," she interrupted--
"ME EITHER!" We laughed as I continued, "But Happy Hour is a big deal at these retirement home places." (Can you HEAR me, Doc? I will be ostracized if I am unable to imbibe AND now the carers will see your form answer as, "Watch out, she drinks.")

Now that I have been told I shouldn't drink---I want to drink. Since childhood, that is how I roll.

Must Google a good beverage. Happy Hour is at four.