Let Me Tell You How I Really Feel

I Hate; MS,
MS,
& MS.
There is no predator in my life like the disease I suffer from, MS. I was in collage and I thought that I slept funny because my leg was numb. Two days later I went to the Brigham and Women’s hospital and they wanted me to get a slew of tests. I barely remember what they said about what it could be. I missed the part about there being a bigger problem or the possibility of a disease. I heard that it will probably get better on its own, I left, and it did.
It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my daughter that I found myself back at the Brigham this time with my hands numb and snarled up. This time I was told that I had pregnancy induced carpal tunnel. I couldn’t feel things like the temperature of the water or my brand new baby’s face. I was told that it would get better after the baby, I left, and it did.
Fast forward two years and I found myself in the hospital again numb from the neck down. This time the Dr. muttered something in my direction.

“Mrs. Ward we are sending you for a MRI because we think that this might be MS.”

Now it wasn’t just my entire body that was numb but my mind wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I don’t even think that I knew what Multiple Sclerosis was never mind what it did. I did what any terrified person would do, I looked it up online. I have to say that today; nearly everything I read about MS that day has come to fruition.
I spent three months in the hospital entirely paralyzed from the neck down until one day I could wiggle my toes. Rehab. I have seen every specialist from orthopedics to gastroenterology. I have VNA in my life now helping me toilet because that’s not humiliating to admit. I have lost so much weight that my closet has every size from 00 to 8. I now have a nutritionist to boot.
My MS Dr. just recently told me that my MS is progressive and that my disability will simply progress. I’m dragging a leg. I have an appointment with a home in Boston that not unlike a nursing home is specifically for MS. I can’t wait to be completely paralyzed in the home. I hate MS

Oh Dad I Have Something To Tell You

LEFT TO SWIM WITH THE FISHES

I was spending the afternoon with my Dad. I treasure my Dad. He’s my hero. I aspire have half his patience, a third of his drive, and an ounce of his perseverance. It was a cool crisp autumn day in October. The leaves were changing right before our eyes. Bright hews of the most magnificent oranges, reds and yellows. Apple pickers heaven I can almost taste the honey crisps. My father and I were riding in the car traveling down Route 2 across Massachusetts to our destination Deerfield Academy where my daughter Sophie had an interview for admission. I grew up in this neck of the woods. The scenery is familiar and comforts me.
“I have always loved ‘reading the water’” he said as we pass through Athol. “Wondering what fish might live in the water I drive past on my way to somewhere.”
This makes me smile. My dad has fished my whole life. I’ve been dragged out on many a fishing trip with my dad. From Moosehead Lake Maine to The smelly puddle at the end of my grandmothers road where we caught the crayfish for bait for his fishing trip the next day.
“When I was real little my mother and nana would lead me down Brown’s brook to fish for wild brook trout. I was mesmerized by any body of water and what might be swimming there.” Says Dad as if talking to God.
I love him. I love his gentle heart. I couldn’t taint it. I still can’t. It makes me sick to my stomach that I am a liar by omission but a liar nonetheless. I stop myself from tearing up and look out the window, not really paying attention to what my dad is saying. I tune back in around Millers River in Winchendon and stay tuned in all the way to Millers falls where the river dumps into the Connecticut River.
“I fished in Phillips brook and Laws brook and learned all the best spots where the trout hid. I really got into entomology and learned what insects the fish fed on, and what minnows they ate.” Dad practically sang as he spoke about fishing.
How could I tell him that I got myself into trouble I couldn’t get out of? In my twenties I traveled to Mexico with friends and drank oh did I drink and I’m not talking about the water. I loved the feeling of the heat in my stomach as the shots went down. Tipsy.
My Dad went on, “Later in my twenties I began tying flies to closely resemble the natural insects and every where I drove the car I would stop along the way and fish.”
My dads tying flies and here I am tying one on. And then it happened… or at least I knew it was coming. I was so drunk at a foam party at Carlos and Charlie’s that I knew I needed to get back to the hotel. I stumble outside the club without telling a soul. I can see a line of people and decide to be safe. Ironic. I took a cab back rather then walk alone past all the drunken collage guys waiting to get in. I pass out in the cab only to be woken up feeling a strong grip on my arms dragging me into a building. I see out of the corner to my eyes men gathering and my stomach sank. My booze high slipped away as they threw me down the stairs onto a broken up marble floor. I can remember the marble slabs being cool against my face as I lift my self up to see a dimly lit room and a rusty spring cot with a stained mattress awaiting me. Not sure if it was terror or a hangover but my head was pounding with every breath I took.
I knew I was pretty. I knew I was dressed to the nines in hopes to pick up a nice looking guy. I knew I was in trouble. Now I wished that I looked ugly. Now I wished I wasn’t wearing a skimpy, partially see-through dress with higher heels then I have any business in. Now I wished.
I prayed to god for the first time in an attempt to make amends for all the horrible things I had ever done to anyone, everyone. God didn’t come to save me. God didn’t send help. Instead I was crushed by the dirtiest no teeth having scum for days, over and over, so many times I lost count. Sometimes they cut me. Sometimes they were so rough that I thought they would burst through me. All the time I knew it was my end. Every time I fought back I would be cut, so I stopped fighting. How do you tell your Dad something like this? You don’t. You don’t even mention that you know what its like to be terrified. That the fear I used to feel and run to hide behind my dad is now part of my reality I hide from my dad, so as not to hurt my dad.
I remember in bits and pieces over the years. The smell of rust gets me. The squeak of a spring stopped me in my tracks one day, not knowing why, till I knew why, now I can’t forget.
A stranger arrived to find his wife’s scarf that she left in a taxi that was being fixed where they had me chained to that squeaky cot in the basement. He called out for help and I called back. Next thing I know I’m in a police escort being told I’m an American whore who deserved it. I was being left at the airport alone in a stranger’s shirt with his wife’s scarf covering my bruised face. I wake up back in the states shell shocked. I don’t call my Dad. I don’t call my mom. I stop talking all together.
It took lot of therapy for me to be able to speak, never about the ‘incident’ until I could. Workings through all the self hate and shame, and now I am able to tell you what happened… but not my Dad. I’ll let him go on about fishing unencumbered by the details of my life.
The State Dept. got involved and these men were found and prosecuted for their crimes. I got to go to a rally in Mexico City to hammer a railroad tie into a huge cross in front of the famous window that Evita (and Madonna) sang ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’. Mine holds a note that says “not one more” next to the nice Mexican woman my age that says “no uno mas.” Funny how despite where we are from, and despite what we have been through women come together to heal. I know they are all free again, the men. I’m free too though. I am better for it today. Stronger. Maybe I can tell him, maybe the details are too much. I don’t know…
Beside me he is still going on about fishing like a never-ending river. “I especially loved the area of Farley Flats where the road ran right next to the river and I could see the big boulders that might have big fish behind them.”
If I remember correctly, which is hard because my mind never stays focused for too long, are the ever-elusive Wall Eyes sought after by may Dad for some reason. Farther west on Route 2 was the King Phillip Bridge over the Connecticut River where you could look upriver and see King Phillip Rock
“I had to see if there were fish behind that rock and there were.” He seems to be amusing himself.
A little farther west in Turner’s Falls the big river goes over a large dam.
“I would park the car and walk down a stony path to fish below the dam where smallmouth bass and shad could be caught.” He says, as his voice got higher with excitement.
The section of RT. 2, which parallels the Deerfield River, is called the Mohawk Trail.
“This it is the toughest drive because every mile has rapids and pools and lots of trout. Driving in my own lane is tough,” He laughs.
I’m glad I know that my dad finds staying on the road tough amidst the babbling waters along Route 2. I wonder if he would find me tough?
God I love my Dad and don’t want anything to change that. You may think that it won’t but I promise that it will, it does, change my relationships with people. I bet it changed my relationship with you.

But Really Though

“But Really Though”
If you think about it, it being your life, every women has had moments of “but really though”. “But really though” is a interjection used when one is unsure that his audience believes what he just said, usually followed by an abbreviated retelling of said disbelieved topic. They are the “huh’s”, “what the fuck’s”, and “are you kidding me” moments that keep us on our already strained toes.

My feet are so damaged by my life, or was it that I used to wear Doc Martins barefoot in my early teens, that there is no pedicure that can ease their twisted snarled strain. There is no pretty shellac to beautify my toes. I carry with me in every step I take, a backbreaking load of baggage so heavy I don’t know how to start unloading it. My childhood best friend and I have been saying for years that we were going to write a book and call it But Really Though. I’m not sure what took so long, probably my unceasing insecurity because if you can’t tell already, I don’t think I can write for shit. Here goes anyway.

I’m just a small town kid who has been beat up, pushed down, smacked around, which ever way you look at it I’m not knew to this rodeo called life. As a child life was smaller and I remember running though the Nadeau’s cow field to my friend Nikki’s house and playing with our stickers or whatever else was in store. On day my brother told me there were surfs in that field and I believed him. I struggled to get over the electric fence carefully avoiding the cow dung wildly calling for Smurfette. And then life hit. My parents divorced.
I moved away from what was familiar like so many kids have to. My world upended and I remember feeling this angst in my gut always wondering if I was ok, without a magic mirror to look in and no psychic up my sleeve. I won’t have one of those till much later on. My Dad remarried and Sue was nothing like my Mom. She was simple and cared about him deeply but I despised the intrusion and pitted myself against her and wound up loosing in the end. But that’s a story for later on first there’s Scotland to tell you about.
When I was thirteen my mother was working for Digital Equipment Corporation with Nikki’s Dad in Westminster and worked her way up to a pretty prestiges position of European Personal Manager and thus off to Europe me, my nerdy Brother and overly important Mother flew first class landing in Edinburgh Scotland as a base for her to work from, and us to attend school. Forgetting all about the angst I felt in my chest over my parents divorce and fathers subsequent remarriage I was at a threshold of a new life and boy was I excited.
At the bus stop on the corner, the day I arrived, were these girls my age and they were smoking. Smoking Regal King Size cigarettes. I hate smoking. God, its different here I thought to myself. I wondered what else they got up to, and did I learn. They called my Miss America at first because I compared everything to America. I would advise against this when moving out of the country. The girls from the bus stop that I now called my friends sat me down in my living room and told me all about myself. I had never had anyone do this and I didn’t appreciate their honesty but I sucked it up, swallowed hard and wiped away the tears only to have them show me the love I was always seeking. Despite my over inflated ego and better then you attitude they loved me and I changed that day. I grew up and looked at things through another’s perspective and this skill alone will come to save my life.
I was invited by Carrie, Nichola, Celine, and Morag to go dancing at Buster Browns. Buster Browns is an underage nightclub in the cannon-gate, the creepiest part of this ethereal city. There is a bridge the North bridge that goes over the over the cannon-gate . It resembles a mythical poster of the gateway to heaven. The club is under that bridge, under the shadow of the castle. The streets are all cobble stones warped with ages of use clickety and always damp grabbing your heels as you slip. We waited in line while everyone was smoking and chatting away about the rose that OJ had Celine bring to me earlier in the week. She walked out of the schoolyard and rang my bell with a rose. I didn’t know what to think. I had never been approached by a boy’s request to meet. He asked to meet me and I said yes.
It was in the next breath that OJ was sitting on my couch on the third floor of our rented brownstone located on Comely Bank in the wee village of Stockbridge. He leaned over and kissed me. I liked it. I had a record player at that time. On it was looped on one song, Parents Just Don’t Understand by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. I’ll never forget that day. Although Celine lives in the South of France now, we are still in touch. Her memory of that day is as vivid as mine.
The suited man at the door checked our bags for any booze, which luckily, we had already downed like swallowing a vile sip of nasty cough syrup. We paid our 5 pounds sterling, got our hand stamp and in we went. Everywhere you looked there were burn marks. On every table, floor space, ever the bar area was covered in burns. That’s what you get with 13-year-old smokers I guess. I HATE SMOKING. The music was pumping and the place filled with high heels and brillo cream in no time.
I had on my favorite outfit picked especially for this night. I had on a furry bright purple short-sleeved sweater with my belly hanging out. I was very proud of my belly, still am. With it I wore 12-inch flares and Doc Martins no socks,hence the mangled feet. I begin to wiggle on the dance floor when a mist of this smell fills the air. My guess is they pump the place full of this chemically altered floral scent to cover the fifty million burning cigarettes. I see him. God did I think he looked smart.
Then it’s a blur. A fight broke out. I lost my friends. I couldn’t see him anymore. I felt it in the pit of stomach that something was wrong. From the odd smelling mist appeared OJ and he didn’t look happy. Was he fighting too? And then he pulled open my furry bright purple short sleeved sweater and poured and entire ashtray down the front of me. It was the burning ember from a half crushed cigarette that left me with a scar on my left breast. His way of breaking up with me…. Butt Really Though.