Welcome to Mellie's mind...

Where thoughts can be funny, can race at all hours of the day and night and can sometimes not make any sense!

Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Decisions we make FOR our children

 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
 -Proverbs 22:6

Last night my hubby and I were driving home from dinner when we saw a young man walking along the side the of the road in a black trench coat wearing an orange hoodie underneath it.  Without even thinking I said to my hubby, "If any of our kids came home with a trench coat I would make them throw it away right then and there!"  My hubby didn't skip a beat and said "You are absolutely right, there is no way we would allow any of them to wear a trench coat." 

This sparked a conversation and memory up about our oldest son, Michael. 

When Michael was a Sophomore in High School we lived in the Happy Valley area.  Michael had a handful of friends that he hung out with and some were a little more on the "free" side than I would have preferred. 

One day Michael came to us and said he wanted to be a skater, he was going to take skate board lessons from his friend and he was going to change his clothes to "skater" clothes.  My hubby and I just looked at him and both at the same time said "No, that is not going to happen."  Michael of course tried to protest and tell us that he was old enough to make his own choices and he wanted to be a skater and not play footabll anymore.  We just again looked at him and said, "No, you are not going to be a skater and you can stop playing football if you want, but not to be a skater."  That was pretty much the end of that conversation and a week later I took him to get his hair cut.

Not long after that my hubby was in Michael's room.  Michael had a plain grey mouse pad on his desk and on it he had wrote in ink "I hate my life."  Those words struck me, as his mother, like a knife.  The second emotion I felt I shared with my hubby, I was angry.  How could HE say he hates his life?  He was in a nice home, we lived in a good neighborhood, he played football for his High School and he wanted for nothing.  Yet, nothing came with a price.  He was expected to do chores, he was expected to do well in school, he was expected to help with his younger siblings and he was expected to be respectful and appreciative.  Nothing was free in this world and we made sure he understood that although he had things better than some of his friends he was made to work for them.

I will never forget the conversation my hubby had with Michael that night over this mouse pad.  Well, it wasn't really a conversation more of a one sided speech.  My hubby advised our son that he was never to write that crap again.  My hubby advised Michael he didn't know what "I hate my life" even meant because he has never wanted for anything.  He advised our son that not only were these words disrespectful but they were also hurtful especially to his mother who had worked so hard for him and for his brother all those years they were young to provide them what they had now.  My hubby suggested that if Michael would like to find out what "I hate my life" really could mean than he would be more than obliged to show him.  Of course to which our son declined. 

Some may think that this behavior is normal and some may think that as parents we over reacted.  But what my hubby and I have agreed on over the years is that our children will understand and learn to appreciate what they have.  They will understand that there are no free rides in the world and they are not entitled to anything.

So many kids these days seem to grow up thinking the world owes them something.  That their parents owe them a good life and they have to do nothing in return.  I just don't get it.  My hubby and I can be out in public and kids of all ages are demanding their parents get them this or that, whining because they want something from the store.  Throwing tantrums in the middle of restaurants because they want to sit on mommy's head and not the chair (okay that was to the extreme, but I am making a point)  When did the kids of the world become such spoiled little shits?

Now before I get hate mail let me say.. not ALL kids are shits but you have to admit something has shifted in the world of parenting from when we were young.  Parents seem to be less concerned about molding thier kids into respectful contributors to the community and more focused on being their "friend."  Here is a news flash.  Our kids have enough friends, what they need are leaders to lead them and parents to guide and love them.

When I was a child my mother would give me a look that could cut through six people before hitting me and we would all coward down.  Now, my mother was not the mother of the year but what she taught me was that I was to be seen and not heard and that I had to respect anyone older than me.  She also taught me a thing or two about working hard.  Now this came in the form of her not doing much around the house so I had to do it all, but nonetheless it taught me to work hard.

My two older boys do not have to work.  It's not something that my hubby and I want for them.  Our goal is for the boys, and the three kids coming up behind them, to focus on their school work and get their educations.  There is plenty of time for working later in their adult lives.  But we do expect them to help around the house, help with the little kids and do things like run errands for us.  We feel this not only teaches them to be apart of a team it also develops their abilities to take care of themselves.

No one gets a free ride in the Galvan house.  Everyone, even little Elianna, has chores.  It can be a range from cleaning their rooms to doing laundry.  It is based on their age and their learning curve.  It is based on the need of the family and it's done with no questions about it.  It is just part of life in this house that they all have to work and they all have to contribute.  We feel having this kind of environment helps prevent the norm of kids and their thinking the world owes them something.  It also prevents this nonesense of walking around proclaiming "I hate my life."

I wish more new parents would take a look at their views and try and determine if they are helping their child be a proud, confident part of the society or just another little shit running around demanding things of everyone.

I once saw this little girl with her daddy, she must have been 5 years old.  We were all waiting to board a plane.  The little girl was screaming at the top of her lungs hitting her father on the legs.  He looked at one of the people sitting near him and said "Oh, she is so full of life.  She is just so smart she gets bored easily and needs to be stimulated more."   I looked at my hubby and said "What she needs is a nice long plane ride sitting next to someone like ME, I will take care of that right here and now!"  Sadly, she was not near me. Oh I would so have enjoyed showing her father how to control his monster child.

This is Michael when he wanted to be a "skater"

This is Michael today.  You're welcome son!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This too is not my home......

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. -1 Peter 5:10

I live in a big house in West Linn, Oregon.  It has many rooms and thousands of square footage.  Some look at my house and cast judgments on me thinking they know who I am or the type of person I am by the house I live in.  In reality, this house speaks nothing about who I am. It's simply a roof over my head and the heads of my children.  The square footage does not make this a home, the love my family fills it with does.

I have lived in many homes in my 40 years of walking on this Earth.  When I was 8 years old my mother and I sat and counted the number of homes that she had moved us in and out of at that point and I recall it almost tripled my age at that time.  It was rare for her to keep us in a home for very long due to lack of money and incorrect choices she made at the time.  I do not think my mother will ever fully understand the damage she caused my siblings and myself by moving us so much.  Not only did she move us in and out of homes, she moved us in and out of schools too.

When I was 14 years old I found myself, once again, packing up our belongings and preparing for a move.  My mother did not have the money to pay the rent and we were being evicted from the house we were living in.  It was the summer before my Freshman year in High School.  I remember it was a hot summer that year and I was looking forward to getting my tan on prior to my big move into High School. 

This move however, was different.  With this move there was no new home secured and waiting for us to move in.  With this move we had no where to go.  I remember my mother trying to make light of the situation by telling me it would be an adventure.  She suggested to my two older brothers that they find friends they could stay with while she secured a new home for us.  She told me that we would stay in a hotel until she could finalize our location. 

My bothers were able to find some friends to stay with and ended up spending their summer in a tent in the back yard of those friends.  My mother stayed true to what she said, her and I hoped around from hotel to hotel for what seemed like an eternity.  Now when I say hotel I do not mean the Heathman hotel in Downtown Portland.  These hotels were less than desirable locations and generally only rented their rooms out by the hour.  Nights would be filled with constant noise, the police being called, fights breaking out and me laying in fear that someone was going to break into our room and kill us in the middle of the night.

I would beg my mother to please take us to my Aunt and Uncle's home asking them to let us stay in their basement until we found a place.  But for whatever reason, that never happened.  Finally one day towards the beginning of July I found my mother driving us around in the dead of the night with no place to go.  She had ran out of money and could not afford a hotel room.  That night was the first of many nights where I found myself faced with the fact that we would be sleeping in our truck rather than in a room somewhere.

For the rest of the summer my mother and I spent countless evenings going from parking lots to rest stops along the freeway to sleep in.  My mother did her best to try and ease the pain and fear I was having but couldn't hide her own.  For weeks we slept in the cab of our truck.  I would use the rest stop bathroom to clean up or shower in or I would go to a friends house and clean up there.  Most of our day was spent driving around and eating where we could afford to eat while the hours ticked in my mind counting down when the night would return.  Each night would bring more fear, more resentment and more pain then I knew what to do with.  It started me on a path that to this day I would struggle with, fear.

I was lucky that my brothers kept an eye out for me.  If they were going to a friends house for a party they would bring me along.  It gave me a chance to have a roof over my head and a bathroom to use even if it was only for one night.  Some of their friends knew we were homeless so they would have us over for a couple days at a time and we could pretend that this was a normal life for a little while. But reality always came back to me when my mother would show up to pick me up.

It's amazing to look back on this time and really understand fully how it has affected the person I am today.  I don't view this time in my life as a poor me scenario but rather a stepping stone to who I am today.

Most people come out of situation like I just shared with a sense of entitlement, the world owes them something for all they have gone through.  Other people allow it to consume them and take them down a path of self destruction with drugs.  But some, like me, come out the other end of this struggle with a will that grows in them and feeds them.  Am I happy I was homeless? No.  Am I thankful fear took hold of me at that age and still tries to bring me down?  No.  Am I thankful that God saved me and taught me a lesson in love, survival and dedication?  Absolutely!

A few years later I took control of my own destiny and I started my path in life.  I finished High School, and although I did not go to college, I began to take the steps that would lead me to the life I live today.  The time I was homeless was the stepping stones to the life I lived going forward and are still the stepping stones to the life I live today.

Nothing is easy in this world.  Family, careers, relationships, health......none of it's easy.  Nothing, worth having, is handed to you on a silver platter.  Life is hard and you can find yourself at the bottom of a pit thinking it can't possibly get any harder, only to have the floor fall out from beneath you.  But what is amazing is the love of God.

This life we live here on this Earth is not the goal, it's simply a stepping stone to a bigger life we are meant to live.   God gives us free will to make the decisions we want to make.  God gives us Ah-ha moments to understand the lessons we are going through.  God also gives us unconditional love and the opportunity to mirror that grace in our own lives.

Everything God has walked with me through has brought me to this exact moment in my life.  It has prepared me for battles I never thought I would ever have to face nor even thought I would have the courage to attempt.  My trials and tribulations in my life are painful at times but they are here to help me grow into a bigger spiritual being that I am meant to be.  They are preparing me for the life I have yet to live, the life beyond the dirt of this world.  I embrace my past and I embrace my struggles and I thrive to understand what each of them will bring forth to me.

I live in a big house, but my real house is beyond this world and I am meant to live there and live in greatness.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Drug therapy- Day One

What Is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the nerves of the central nervous system (CNS) degenerate. The CNS is made up of the brain and spinal cord. They process information from our environment and control voluntary muscle movements to allow the body to do certain things. This neural system works efficiently, unless there is a disease process affecting the pathways in the spinal cord and brain. Multiple sclerosis is one of the diseases that can affect these pathways and results in the destruction of myelin, a covering or insulation for nerves, that improves the conduction of impulses along the nerves and also is important for maintaining the health of the nerves. The demyelination (also known as plaques) disrupts the transmission of information in the CNS and leads to the symptoms seen in multiple sclerosis.  **Web MD**

Today is the first day of my injectable therapy.   My hubby and I went with the drug choice Copaxone for treatment and prevention of my MS.  Copaxone, also known as Glatiramer acetate,  is a daily injection of a combination of four amino acids (proteins) that affect the immune system. It is a synthetic protein that simulates myelin basic protein, a component of the myelin that insulates nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord.  This drug is known to block myelin-damaging T-cells.  Copaxone is used to prevent relapse of MS episodes and help prevent further damage to my brain.

Along with the daily injections of the Copaxone I will go into my provider's nurse treatment room and be given an IV full of steroids.  The combination of these two drugs will be a routine for me for at least the next 6 months.  After that point in time I should be only on the daily injection of Copaxone.

I am not even close to accepting the fact that I have to take a daily injection at this point, therefore I am no where near being able to give myself the injection either.  My hubby spent some time not only researching the drug but also learning how to administer the drug for me.  This morning was my first injection.  Thankfully my hubby agreed to do the injections for me.

The injection itself was not so bad.  The needle is small in it's size.  My hubby pinched an area on my hip and then injected the needle there. It was after the injection that I started to feel some a burning sensation and it almost felt as if a knot was in my hip.  My hubby carefully explained to me this was normal and the liquid should dissipate shortly.  He was very gentle about the entire situation and I could tell was trying to reassure me.  I was very thankful for him today and made sure to not only thank him but thank God for him.

There have been many times I have spoken to people in my life who tell me that they are on some kind of daily medication or injection.  (Usually diabetes) I always felt a sense of regret for them.  I would think how awful it would be to not only have the inconvenience of taking a daily shot but also the daily reminder that your own body is too sick to care for itself.  I would count myself fortunate to not have that in my life at any capacity and was sure I would fight tooth and nail to change my diet or lifestyle to prevent daily medications.  I would tell myself if it were me I would do this... or I would do that... anything NOT to have to take daily medication or shots.  Yet here I am.

I mentioned in my first blog when I came out with having MS how when I was standing in the Neurologist office I felt the strength leave my body.  This feeling was a big deal for me and honestly took me by surprise.  I have been a fighter all my life.  I have fought since I was a child in many areas of my life that most can not understand.  I fought for my day to day survival, my sanity, my income, my rights, my safety, my family, my marriage and for my heart.  All of these fights have made me who I am, good and bad, and have brought me to this place in my life where I continue to fight.  But at that moment in my doctor's office I really felt the fight just leave me.

Does this mean I am not up for this fight?  No!  Of course I am.  I want to live.  I want to be healthy.  I want to show my family that we can take on anything that is thrown our way AND we can overcome it.  But I am at a point in my fight that I have not been in for a very long time.... "Fake it till you make it"

"Fake it till you make it" use to be a mantra I would tell myself (and my clients) over and over again while getting healthy.  There were many days in my transformation period where I did not want to get up two hours earlier than everyone else to get a workout in.  I did not want to leave my hubby and go to the gym a second time that day.  There would be days I just had to go through the motions to get the work done but wasn't really feeling motivated to do it.  I think we all have areas is our lives like this.  Now, I am in that area of my life again.

Don't get me wrong, I WILL fight MS and give it all I have but currently I am in the "fake it till you make it" stage.  I do not feel like I have the fight left in me, I do not feel like I have the desire to take on anything else and I do not feel powerful and strong.  Coming out with my disease brought a lot of support from all of my friends and family and was the right thing to do.  It also left me feeling overwhelmed and small.  It's almost as if the world is swallowing me up and I am frantically trying to grab hold of something or someone to pull me out. 

It's easy to stand on the outside and tell someone they are going to be fine, or not to worry you will live a normal life. But to be the one on the inside and knowing THIS is not normal for me is a challenge.  My normal life is not a daily injection and IV therapy.  My normal life is not a daily reminder that my body is sick and there is a disease that is currently trying to harm me inside of it.  Normal is not normal anymore.

However.... I hold on to the points my hubby keeps repeating. (I know he keeps saying them because he knows I doubt myself and I am not HEARING them at this moment in time)  He tells me It's okay to feel weak and vulnerable.  It's okay to seek help from modern medicine to help me fight this.  I have made it through the hardest part of the disease when I didn't even know I had it.  I began this battle long before today and I am winning it already, I just have to keep up the fight.  It's okay to feel doubt and be afraid and it's okay to be angry.

I have to give MYSELF permission to feel a certain way at first because it's a part of the process of re-creating who I am and who I need to be.  Allowing myself time to grieve over this disease is a healthy part of the healing process.  Sure, I can say all I want "I got this" but inside I am a small child needing some comfort to allow myself time to accept, fight and then overcome.

Letting go of the need to try and be perfect in the eyes of everyone and allowing myself to seek the support and help of others is the way I will gain my strength and hopefully come out even stronger.  The love of my hubby and kids will be another and my faith in God that He will deliver me will get me through these times. All these avenues will be where my strength comes from and will hopefully come back to me ten fold. 

Today I am weak.........but the day is not over yet!

Intravenous Therapy


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Love Dare-31

A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24

This verse is God’s original blueprint for how marriage is supposed to work. It involves a tearing away and a knitting together.  It reconfigures existing relationships while establishing a brand new one.  Marriage changes everything.

That’s why couples who don’t take this “leaving” and “cleaving” message to heart will reap the consequences down the line, when the problems are much harder to repair without hurting someone.

“Leaving” means that you are breaking a natural tie.  Your parents step into the role of counselors to be respected, but can no longer tell you what to do.  Sometimes the difficulty in doing this comes from the original source.  A parent may not be ready to release you yet from their control and expectations.  Whether through unhealthy dependence or inner struggles over the empty nest, parents don’t always take their share of this responsibility.  In such cases, the grown child has to make “leaving” a courageous choice of his own.  And far too often, this break is not made in the right way.

Are you and your spouse still living with unresolved issues because of a failure to cut the apron strings?  Do either of your parents continue to create problems within your home – perhaps without their even knowing it?  What needs to happen to put a stop to this before it creates too wide of a division in your marriage?

Unity is a marriage quality to be guarded at a great cost.  The purpose of “leaving,” of course, is not to abandon all contact with the past but rather to preserve the unique oneness that marriage is designed to capture.  Only in oneness can you become all that God means for you to be.

If you’re too tightly drawn to your parents, the singular identity of your marriage will not be able to come to flower.  You will always be held back, and a root of division will continue to send up new shoots into your relationship.  It won’t go away unless you do something about it.  For without “leaving,” you cannot do the “cleaving” you need, the joining of your hearts that’s required to experience oneness.

“Cleaving” carries the idea of catching someone by pursuit, clinging to them as your new rock of refuge and safety.  This man is now the spiritual leader of  your new home, tasked with the responsibility of loving  you “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).  This woman is now one in union with you, called to “see to it that she respects her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

As a result of this essential process, you are now free to become everything God meant when He declared you “one flesh.”

  • You are able to achieve oneness in your decision making, even when you begin from differing viewpoints.

  • You are able to achieve oneness in your priorities, even through you’ve come together from backgrounds that could hardly be more different.

  • You are able to achieve oneness in your sexual affections toward each other, even if either of both of you have memories of impurity in your per-marital past.

God’s decision to make you “one flesh” in marriage can make anything possible.

If this is not how things are going in your home right now, you’re unfortunately in the majority.  It’s not out of character for couples of all kinds – even Christian couples – to ignore God’s design for marriage, thinking they know better than He does.  Genesis 2:24 may have sounded nice and noble when it was wrapped around the sharing of vows at the wedding.  But as a fundamental principle to be put into place and practiced as a living fact – this just seems too difficult to do.  But this is what you must make any sacrifice to reclaim.

It’s hard – extremely hard – when the pursuit of oneness is basically one-sided.  Your spouse may not be interested at all in recapturing the unity you had at first.  Even if there is some desire on his or her part, there may still be issues between you that are nowhere close to being resolved.

But if you’ll continue to keep a passion for oneness forefront in your mind and heart, your relationship over time will begin to reflect the inescapable “one flesh” design that is printed on its DNA.  You don’t have to go looking for it.  It’s already there.  But you don’t have to live it, or there’s nothing else to expect than disunity.

Leave.  And cleave.  And dare to walk as one.

Today’s Dare

Is there a “leaving” issue you haven’t been brave enough to conquer yet?  Confess it to your spouse today, and resolve to make it right.  The oneness of your marriage is dependent upon it.  Follow this with a commitment to your spouse and to God to make your marriage the top priority over every other human relationship.

I do not see that there is a "leaving" issue in my marriage that I can think of.  I have been away from the direction, support and care of my mother since long before I married my hubby.  I have always cared for myself, even at a young age, and never had a close relationship with my mother.  I do not know my father so there is not an issue there either.

However, the following passage in the book speaks to me:

But if you’ll continue to keep a passion for oneness forefront in your mind and heart, your relationship over time will begin to reflect the inescapable “one flesh” design that is printed on its DNA.  You don’t have to go looking for it.  It’s already there.  But you don’t have to live it, or there’s nothing else to expect than disunity.

Leave.  And cleave.  And dare to walk as one.

It is and always has been a passion of mine to be "one flesh" with my hubby.  During our marriage there are times when we have and when we have not, it has came on gone over the years.  But the desire to achieve this is still in the forefront of my mind and it still my goal as I awake everyday.  

I feel motivated and blessed to be able to still be sitting here as Michelle Galvan and even more blessed to feel the bond between my hubby and I continue to grow.  We have had our tough times but I feel as if we are in a recovery mode again and THIS time we will be able to sustain the commitment and the bond we have.  It feels good to find myself in a place where I can relax and let go of some of my fears and just love on him with no hesitation.  It feels good to know that the seeds we sow are feeling as if this time they are really going to put us in a place we BOTH want to be.. a place of love, commitment and harmony.  

I have always held onto to my faith in God that HE would see us through and HE would take us down the path we belonged on together, I guess just now I finally understand it was meant to be on God's time and not mine.

I dare to continue to walk as one with my hubby and show him the love I have for him in my heart, one that will never be taken away from him.   I thank God for allowing me an open heart, a loving heart and for showing me how to love my hubby God's way.

May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.  (John 17:21 HCSB)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life can change in an instant.....

Rebirth[ ree-burth, ree-burth ]
1. a new or second birth: the rebirth of the soul.
2. a renewed existence, activity, or growth; renaissance or revival: the rebirth of conservatism.

October 14, 2013, is my rebirth date. I have a renewed existence and a renewed outlook on my life. Although I continue to fight demons in my head and work on putting the past behind me so I can discover a sense of peace, on October 14, 2013, Mellie was born again.

Three Weeks Ago

September 24th started out like most mornings. I was up with the family and getting everyone's food ready for the day. I am not much of a morning person; I don't drink coffee, and I don't have the luxury of taking time to myself to wake up slowly. As soon as my hubby pats me on the leg and leans in to kiss me good morning, my feet are on the ground and I am going full speed. 

However, this morning my mind was focused on my Princess Tini (dog). She had been up several times the night before vomiting. I was anxious to get the kids and hubby off for their days, so I could take her to the vet first thing. When I finally made it to the vet at 9:00am, it was really the first time I said more than a few words to anyone. As I began to speak I found it hard to articulate my words. I was standing in the reception area of the vet struggling to speak. When the words finally did come out, they were slurred and my mouth was full of excessive saliva. Normally I am a fast talker but today when I tried to talk my normal speed, the words both formed at a much slower pace and then they were delivered with a slur. After a few moments the vet asked me if I was alright, he smiled and said, "You sound drunk.” I laughed and assured him I was fine just really tired from the night before.

As I got into my car and was able to stop for a moment I tried to speak out loud to myself, and this time I was extremely focused on the words I wanted to say. Again, though, the words came slow and slurred. I realized at that moment too my tongue felt swollen, it was difficult for me to swallow, and the left side of my lips felt numb. The more I tried the harder I realized it was for me to talk like I normally talk.  I wondered what had occurred to make this happen to me and could feel myself getting anxious about it.  I worried about driving myself home and was wondering was this the start of a stroke or a heart attack, was I going to pass out while trying to drive home?  I tried to keep myself from freaking out and reminded myself that when I was a little girl about 8 or 9 I woke up and 1/2 my face was numb.  Back then my doctor told me I had a cold in my face and it took about two weeks for it to go away.  I chalked it up to another cold in my face and forced myself to put the car in gear. As I drove home, I knew I needed to call my doctor right away.

I called and was able to get a same day appointment. My next call was to my husband at work. I did not want to worry him, or myself so I really tried to speak slow and articulate the words I wanted to say to him so he could not only understand me but assure me that nothing was wrong. My hubby asked me some questions while he listened to my speech. He wanted to know what areas of my body felt numb, if I had any pain—and when I noticed my difficult speaking. He didn't seem to concerned but told me he would come pick me up and take me to the doctor.

I found out later my husband made several calls to Kaiser when he hung with me, attempting to get an immediate appointment. As it turns out, Kaiser had called me repeatedly that day to see me right away but as I did not recognize the number, I did not answer the phone.  (I know, hard to think I don't answer my phone)

Later that day my hubby showed up and off to the doctor we went. By this time my anxiety had increased significantly. It was too difficult for me to speak, so I was unable to do my job. I was anxious about what was going on and as the day moved on, it became harder and harder for me to swallow. My doctor immediately tested my reflexes and motor skills. He was able to rule out a stroke—this was good, he assured me, but what came to follow rocked me to my toes.

Dr. Sahota said to me, "I am going to order an MRI for you and start you on steroid therapy via IV for three days. We are going to treat you as if you have MS and then see what the MRI shows us."

MS? As in multiple sclerosis?

In July 2007, I had heard those same two words being spoken to me after the birth of our youngest son Reuben. After the delivery of Reuben, I had swelling of the brain. I was in bad shape and as part of the treatment to determine the extent of any damage, and emergency MRI was ordered at 1:30 in the morning. While I later recovered fully, the MRI showed there were lesions in my brain. It was impossible to determine how old they were, but they were not active at the time of the MRI.

Lesions on your brain can be caused by MS or from damage from migraines. Because I had no symptoms of MS but had suffered from migraines since I was 12, I was told in 2007 it could be just from those. I was told to keep an eye on myself, and we will see if I developed any MS Symptoms. Honestly I never thought about it again after that day.

Now, here I was hearing it again and I was going to be treated as if I had it? I could not comprehend what he was saying to me. I looked at my hubby as the doctor was speaking to me to see his reaction. He didn't seemed too moved by the subject matter (if you know my husband, he often times will intentionally not show emotion on his face), but I know what I wanted him to do was stand up and shout, "Mellie does not have MS." Instead, he reminded the doctor that I had a MRI in the past to serve as a baseline for comparison purposes. As the doctor excused himself from the room to go look up the MRI, my hubby looked at me and did what he does best—he flashed his smile and told me with his eyes, you are going to be okay. Don't worry.   I ended the appointment with steroid treatment delivered via an IV (to “kill” any active lesions), and an appointment for a MRI three days later, in Salem (my doctor wanted the MRI immediately and Salem had the first opening).
Day of My MRI

With my hubby by my side, I laid in the MRI machine for 45 minutes repeating The Lord’s Prayer over and over again, as my hubby stood by my side holding onto my legs.

It took several more days after the MRI to learn the results. In the interim, I was being referred to a neurologist that specializes in MS. For the next week my hubby was diligent on reading everything there was to know about MS. He read blogs from people who had similar attacks, he read about therapy for people with MS; different types of MS. He constantly was reading and trying to get a grip on what I could have. I, for one, focused on my speech. It was very embarrassing for me to not be able to speak normally. I found myself saying little to no words when I was in public until I could get the use of my speech all the way back. I spent my time talking to God and my time telling myself I was NOT going to have MS. I was too strong for that, I told myself, and have come too far in my life to have any kind of disease.

On September 30, 2013, my regular doctor emailed me the preliminary results to the MRI but advised me that he would defer the diagnosis to the specialist, his email stated:

Here are your MRI results. You can discuss them with Dr Zarelli.

Since your last MRI:

1. New 1.6 cm acute demyelinating plaque in the left middle frontal gyrus.

2. Two new but nonactive plaques in the right superior temporal gyrus and in the right precentral gyrus near the vertex.

3. Remaining white matter disease appears similar.

None of this really meant much to me. I passed the information off to my hubby and told myself in a few days it would be all cleared up, and I would probably have to make some more changes in my life to continue to prevent migraines. This preliminary result sent my hubby into an even deeper mode of research to try and discover what was going on. 

Neurology Specialist

It was a long several days before my follow-up appointment with the neurologist, Dr. Zarelli.
Sunday night, the night before my appointment, my husband sat up in bed, closed our bedroom doors, turned off the TV, and said he wanted to speak to me. He told me after all the research he had been doing for the past week and with the symptoms I was having he thought I might have either clinically isolated syndrome or MS. 

CIS, he explained, is essentially MS with only one episode. For a diagnosis of MS, he said, there needs to be symptoms over time. 

He went on to tell me that no matter what the doctors found out he wanted me to know that he was there for me, he would be there for me, and we would get through this no matter what. He expressed his love for me and expressed how we are so fortunate to be where we are today in our marriage and our life in generally. He didn't want me to worry, he wanted me to know he would be here for me; he would be there for us and for our family. As much as I adored what he was doing and appreciated that he was trying to calm my nerves I looked at him and said "I love you, thank you but I do NOT have MS. I am too strong to have MS." He just sort of looked at me, then he hugged me and kissed me, and we enjoyed the rest of our night together.

Day of Appointment 

As I sat there and my hubby held my hand I just kept saying to myself you do not have MS, you do not have MS you are fineFinally the doctor came in, introduced himself asked if he could have a student sit in with us and the appointment began. 

As Dr. Zarelli logged into his computer, while not even looking at me, he said "Okay, so you are here and you have MS." My body went cold and I muttered the words, "Well, just come out with it, why don't you?" My husband held my hand. 

The doctor went on to say with the lesions showing on my MRI it was clear this was MS. I had lesions in 2007, and a new lesion in 2013—including a currently active lesion which led to my speech impairment. 

The room closed up on me and everyone around me became just this blurred image in my sight. I instantly thought about my 5 kids, their images appeared in my mind lined up from oldest to youngest, and I began to cry uncontrollably. How could I have MS? I am the mother of 5 kids. My thoughts went to my hubby next and in an instant I saw myself sitting back on my bed from the night before looking into his eyes , and it suddenly occurred to me he knew I had MS when he was trying to reassure me.
I can't have MS, I thought. Who would take care of him? I can't have MS…I am the glue that holds this family together. In those split moments I felt strength from my soul leave my body. I stood there feeling as if I were only a shell of the person I was when I first walked into the room.

It was discovered with during some very uncomfortable and emotional moments that Dr. Zarelli had thought I was ALREADY diagnosed with MS and just thought I was there for some questions. He apologized, explained that the previous neurologist failed to communicate that no one had told us yet, and started over again. 

As I composed myself and as my hubby comforted me, Dr. Zarelli explained to me that this was not a death sentence. Not only was this not a death sentence, but he went on to say that I have probably had MS for the past 6-10 years and have done incredibly well despite NO treatment. 

MS has a “golden window” wherein the first 5 years determines how aggressive the disease is. I have a step above benign MS, which means I had a MS attack (called an exacerbation), but have only had one attack in almost a decade—and this was without treatment. 

Dr. Zarelli told us that he can almost 100% guarantee I will do fine with this disease and that research is so advanced in 5 years I may be able to walk into his office, get a shot and be cured of it. He said if this 1999, he would have a different prognosis for me—a dark one—but as a specialist in MS, he could tell me that based on my MRI, the fact I have had it for years and was not getting any treatment, and the way I rebounded from the current attack—my body was strong and the form of the disease I had was mild, and manageable. I could quite possibly never have symptoms again, and the disease tends to go dormant at 50. Basically, I was halfway through it and had no idea I was fighting it all this time.

He went on to tell us that I would start therapy right away to prevent the disease from getting worse and prevent future exasperation from happening. Again he wanted me to know that I was going to be fine. As long as I got the MS therapy and continue to take care of my health through diet and exercise, he saw no reason for concerns or chances of this getting any worse than it was right then. My hubby and I were to go home with information and choose what kind of drug therapy we were going to put me on. 

Car Ride Home 

Once into our vehicle my hubby wrapped his arms around me and began what I like to call "Operation Calm Mellie down." The words my hubby spoke that day to me are so near and dear to my heart that I will keep many of them to myself. There are many things I love about this man, but one of them is the way he loves me and can calm me when fear and doubt have completely taken over, a side many people never get a chance to see of him but one of the sides I really appreciate and adore. He truly becomes the rock I need, no matter what is going on between us. What I will share about that moment is this: He reminded me that the doctor said I have probably had this disease for 6-10 years, and this is my first episode in that time. He reminded me that the doctor felt that drug therapy could very well prevent any future attacks and/or lesions. He told me that with everything he read and what the doctor had said, that when I made my transformation 5 years ago, not only was I fighting to get my life style in order but I was also in the fight of my life against a disease that could have left me disabled, and I had no idea. He told me that because of my dedication to health and fitness, there was no doubt in his mind that I put this disease in its place—kept it from becoming what it could have been. Everything he had read from the National MS Society said that drugs help, but diet and exercise are the deciding factor. 

He reminded me that I was battling this with no medication—no help from modern science, and now it was okay to combine my efforts in the gym and in the kitchen with modern science—help I deserved to get. He told me how strong I was as a person, and how very proud of me he was.

As we pulled away from the doctor's office, I knew I had been forever changed but I also knew that with God, my hubby, and the support of my family I would be fine. This disease was not going to get the best of me. It was not going to define who I am. 


October 14, 2013, will always be a day of rebirth for me.
I am blessed by God to not have my disease be more aggressive, and I was blessed by the love of my hubby who has stood by my side. With God, my husband, the love of my kids and the treatment from modern day medicine, this will be nothing but another learning experience for me. This will be another way to make myself better, help others make themselves better, and be an example to anyone who cares to watch.

I am Michelle Elizabeth Galvan and I have MS... but MS does NOT have me.

*MS is neurological disease wherein your body’s own immune system attacks the myelin sheath (protective layer) over the nerve endings in the brain. The cumulative damage to the sheath interferes with the communication from brain to muscle, which can lead to disabilities. MS has no cure, but there are several different levels of MS and diet and exercise is the number one contributing factor to the overall impact of MS.

This is your brain.....

This is your brain with lesions..... any questions?