Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Subscription To My Blog Is Going Away!

If you are currently receiving email messages of my Never Stop… Never Quit… blog, the current subscription program will no longer be supported soon. To continue receiving my blog posts, please go to the site and subscribe under the new provider, follow.it.



Thank you for your support. I look forward to reaching out again soon!

Never Stop… Never Quit…

Kevin

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Reconstructing and Defining Kevin Part 14: Uncharted Territory

 

Part 14: Uncharted Territory

 

This is my 14th and final entry into the journey of reconstructing and defining myself. When I took those first steps into this effort more than a year ago, my objective was ill-defined. Though I cannot swear it to be true, I believe my plan was an almost whimsical approach to documenting the success of my 12-month effort to repair “something broken” in my life. I was searching for resolution; I was looking for closure.

I found neither. Instead, the truth I came to realize was that there will never be a lasting resolution of my priorities. That is not a bad thing. Each individual concern I hold dear will require attention and care for the rest of my life, more on some days than others. That is a good thing.

If I Could Offer One Take Away, This Would Be It

My body’s responses (every intentional, subconscious, and involuntary action) in real time determine its condition when facing every succeeding moment. Only through my capacity to monitor, and ultimately regulate in a positive fashion, those responses in each dimension of existence can I profoundly affect my wellness.

By setting aside the desire for control or direction over external factors, I am choosing to focus on my own responses. When I am up for the task myself, I will seize control and regulate my actions to enhance the values, goals, and many cherished pieces of my life. When assistance is needed, partially or in full, I will employ the people and the tools I have assembled. Growing and caring for these resources must become an integral part of my life. I cannot do this without help.

I encourage my readers to learn more about The Eight Dimensions of Wellness (or the variation you find fitting). Through them, I have developed a mindset that functions as the support I need to exist – to thrive. Every experience is different.

My Experience

What about all your other issues (the start of this all)?

Although it may seem as if the points I discussed earlier in this blog series have fallen to the wayside, please be assured they are integral in every step of my development. I have established a goal of resetting my paradoxical relationship of holding onto memories (of the past) and anxiety over consequences (of the future). I am a work in progress.

I frame my world every day with the help of Dr. Debbie Stoewen’s Eight Dimensions of Wellness.

Physical Dimension

  • Caring for your body to stay healthy now and in the future

Intellectual Dimension

  • Growing intellectually, maintaining curiosity about all there is to learn, valuing lifelong learning, and responding positively to intellectual challenges
  • Expanding knowledge and skills while discovering the potential for sharing your gifts with others

Emotional Dimension

  • Understanding and respecting your feelings, values, and attitudes
  • Appreciating the feelings of others
  • Managing your emotions in a constructive way
  • Feeling positive and enthusiastic about your life

Social Dimension

  • Maintaining healthy relationships, enjoying being with others, developing friendships and intimate relations, caring about others, and letting others care about you
  • Contributing to your community

Spiritual Dimension

  • Finding purpose, value, and meaning in your life with or without organized religion
  • Participating in activities that are consistent with your beliefs and values

Vocational Dimension

  • Preparing for and participating in work that provides personal satisfaction and life enrichment that is consistent with your values, goals, and lifestyle
  • Contributing your unique gifts, skills, and talents to work that is personally meaningful and rewarding

Financial Dimension

  • Managing your resources to live within your means, making informed financial decisions and investments, setting realistic goals, and preparing for short-term and long-term needs or emergencies
  • Being aware that everyone’s financial values, needs, and circumstances are unique

Environmental Dimension

  • Understanding how your social, natural, and built environments affect your health and well-being
  • Being aware of the unstable state of the earth and the effects of your daily habits on the physical environment
  • Demonstrating commitment to a healthy planet

As an individual battling multiple sclerosis, aggravated by countless secondary complications, care and attention start with the efforts I must take. A massive collection of providers, family, friends, and connections to the resources I need to come together every day of my life. Whether I guide their steps or accomplish my tasks according to their direction, we have to work together if I am going to thrive.

My next efforts will spend some time detailing my experiences in each of these eight dimensions of wellness. It is my hope that the words I offer will entertain my readers while providing a glimpse into what it may take for someone, be it themselves or someone close, to survive. Perhaps the example I demonstrate can comfort a person who has that horrifying feeling nobody else could possibly understand.

I promise to continue sharing my life for no other reason but because I want to breathe life into pages far beyond anything I have accomplished to date, telling tales conjured up by my constant noise. No longer will I look to put words down solely to ease my anxieties. My stories will be written because, as my mind floods with the images I create, sometimes I smile. I may laugh, cry, or even nod my head in approval of the tale. On other occasions, the crafted images chill me to the core. I want to elicit a bounty of reactions as I breathe life into stories, narratives, reflections, and rantings.

This is my story about how my ambiguous “everything” twice came crashing down, as if from every possible direction, and the gap of time before my eventual reconciliation with The Eight Dimensions of Wellness.

Every individual’s experience is unique, as are their needs in each dimension of existence.

Find your own peace — I hope my discovery will help.

The End

 

Reference

Stoewen, D. L. (2017, August). Dimensions of wellness: Change your habits, change your life. National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5508938/

 

 

***

The full draft of my story will be shared on this secure drive location: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1E4cNpkFBU4qf3zYDIqZ5Nw72DzhGe88r?usp=sharing

 

These are the thoughts going through my mind as I try to piece it all together…

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop

I will never quit

This is my story

 

https://mssociety.donordrive.com/participant/Eleanor

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight: http://neverstopneverquit.com/books

 

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

Kevin Byrne

Portland, OR

www.neverstopneverquit.com

 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Reconstructing and Defining Kevin Part 13: Now What?

Part 13: Now What?

 

What do you want for your future? How can you shape it?

These two questions are always running through my mind, superseding all prior constant noises. June 9 was the first time I ever had serious thoughts about life 10, 20, or 30 years beyond the present. Before then, they never seemed necessary. I have no memories of the childhood version of Kevin giving much thought to shaping his future (I don’t recall many events from when I was younger, but that’s a different discussion). Stories about people who strove and sacrificed to achieve their “lifelong dream” exactly in their always-envisioned manner are foreign to me.

My recollections do not contain any of those lifelong dreams. There are no visions of me longing to become starting shortstop for the New York Yankees, no fantasies of blasting off into space on the first crewed trip to Mars. Perhaps they were there long ago but I have just forgotten what it was like to be a child with a dream. At least those visions make it into my stories. I digress…

I unintentionally lived with the shortsighted focus to play the cards I had been dealt. “Graduate high school then go off to West Point” was a 16-month plan, the furthest into the future my goals have ever spanned. From that point forward, I made choices off a menu of reasonably expected options my future presented. I rarely strayed beyond the set selection; I never created a purpose. It was a knee-jerk reaction with no meaningful action plan to reinforce the following steps if I did.

“Let’s just get in the air and go. We’ll get a better view of our options once we start to climb.”

CW3 Doug Davis, circa 1995

As one of my old instructor pilots taught me, sometimes it is impossible to plan the next 15 steps if you don’t commit to your first.

My approach to life was in no way a sad course. I imagine it is quite common. The difference between something you decided to do and a lifelong dream is the efforts to reach that mark. I could go on and on about the countless events, achievements, and accomplishments in my life of which I am immensely proud. I genuinely wanted those milestones and yearned to see them fulfilled; I even desired some. For many reasons, however, they were already potential life choices laid out ahead of me. It was a matter of standing at a fork in the road, choosing to go this way instead of that way, and making the necessary efforts with every step I took while I trekked up my new path.

How many times have you imagined your possible life had you gone “that way” yesterday? But I digress yet again…

When I started this journey on October 6, 2019, I was not looking for a life-changing goal. For the duration of the story so far, my focus to fix “broken pieces of my life” was on physical and mental health measurements. I saw how they were intertwined in this concept of wellness: my capacity to monitor, and ultimately regulate in a positive fashion, my responses in each dimension of existence. On June 6, 2021, I discovered that what I have been searching for this entire time was already written in 2,097 pages of stories I will someday share with Eleanor. The answer was not buried in those computer files; it is what they represent. Since before she was born, I have kept a journal. I write to Ellie as if I am talking to the grown woman she will one day become. It is a private collection of thoughts, for my eyes only until the day my journal becomes hers.

I took a break from writing to Eleanor for a while. There are so many reasons why I did not sit down and talk about her dad, our family before she was born, our life together, recent news events, or just simple banter. Yet, regardless of conflicting priorities, the obligation has always remained. A burning press in my heart started our pages again after a 436-day hiatus. Three days later, I found the source of this unmistakable longing. For over 12 years, I was journaling to my daughter in order to breathe life into events that have shaped us both.

How do I want my future to look? I want to breathe life into the crazy collection of ramblings constantly running through my mind.

My journal to Eleanor will continue — a lasting memory of my unfiltered thoughts. I can picture her curled up on a sofa, skimming through nonsense rants and “back in the day” stories while hoping to catch occasional glimpses of her father’s soul. After another length of time, a day may come when she chooses to add pages of her own to perhaps share with her child. Either way, the journal is no longer mine. Every word belongs to Eleanor.

My future needs to go far beyond a diary for my daughter. I want to be a writer. Countless reactions from my readers will measure the achievement of my goal.

I want to breathe life into pages far beyond anything I have accomplished to date, telling tales conjured up by my constant noise. No longer will I look to put words down solely to ease my anxieties. My stories will be written because, as my mind floods with the images I create, sometimes I smile. I may laugh, cry, or even nod my head in approval of the tale. On other occasions, the crafted images chill me to the core. I want to elicit a bounty of reactions as I breathe life into stories, narratives, reflections, and rantings.

To pursue this dream over the next 10, 20, 30 years, and beyond, I must define my life-changing goals. The least of which includes - I need to learn how to write. Hopefully, that will be the fun part! I already mentioned how my goal to begin a graduate school program for a Masters in Creative Writing failed. I asked for feedback on why admissions rejected my application, but the only response was an encouragement to reapply next year. That seems pointless. Roadblock #1! I guess I will have to create another way to meet my objective.

I also need to confront many long-overdue steps to ensure my ongoing wellness in every dimension (creating an environment where I can apply a long-term focus towards my goals while harboring my resources). When I reflect upon the last six months, my initial reaction is I can’t go through that again. However, as I slowly come to grips with the fact that I will go through that again, my mind is grappling with what I have endured and the permanency of the decisions I face today.

The paragraph above summarizes the enormity of my efforts explored throughout this blog series, the entire reason for my work beginning October 6, 2019.

June 21, 2021, at 12:58 PM, was the first time I realized, “Perhaps my answers are this simple.”

Within the confines of my new reality, I will create an environment that expands my capacity to monitor, and ultimately regulate in a positive fashion, my responses in each dimension of existence.

In less than six months, every tenet I discovered seemed to collapse under the strain of dreadful events. Only when I forced myself to look back upon my Dimensions of Wellness did I realize these certainties.

  • I am stronger than I possibly imagined. Whatever is required of me to change, learn, abandon, or adopt to enhance my wellness, I will adapt.
  • My body is more fragile than I ever realized. My disability, no longer simply an annoyance, must be a central figure in any plan for this next stage. I will be in significant pain for the rest of my life. The sooner I accept these realities, the faster I can better manage my healthcare.
  • Without living my life under the fear of expecting the unexpected, I need to remain prepared when it happens again (whatever shape it takes the next time). It will.
  • I can be happy without having all the answers. I can remain content while, at the same time, disappointed and dissatisfied by setbacks.
  • I cannot, nor do I want to, do this alone.

My thanks go out to Eleanor for the part she played in the reset of my view. When my mind turned dark, and I stopped searching to define my wellness, she was there. My little love is the reason these last two blog entries have gone from my world collapsing to plans for the next 10, 20, 30 years, and beyond!

The only way I knew how to show my thanks was through my words.

This story is one of those moments which causes me to smile!

 

***

The developing draft of my story will be shared on this secure drive location: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1E4cNpkFBU4qf3zYDIqZ5Nw72DzhGe88r?usp=sharing

 

These are the thoughts going through my mind as I try to piece it all together…

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop

I will never quit

This is my story

 

https://mssociety.donordrive.com/participant/Eleanor

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight: http://neverstopneverquit.com/books

 

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

Kevin Byrne

Portland, OR

www.neverstopneverquit.com

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Reconstructing and Defining Kevin Part 12: When the(my) World Changed

 

Part 12: When the(my) World Changed

 

I first started sharing my words 11 years ago (April 15, 2010 – Injections). Every post has been a story of who I was, who I am today, how I navigate my constantly evolving environment, or what unique iteration of infinite possibilities will become my future. I originally intended this blog series to be yet another short quip in the ongoing tale of my life with multiple sclerosis. It quickly turned into the most challenging writing of my life. I never addressed the question, “How will you react now that your fears have arrived?”

Five months into writing this post, my answer is the framework upon which I hope to reinforce my wellness as I continued to react, as my fears continue to pour in.

***

Everyone has their story. More than a year into our “new normal,” each of us can tell our own tale of how lives changed. This is mine.

March 13, 2020, was my last day in a time now referred to as “Back before…” and “Remember when…?” The virus was here. In Portland, it was the last day of fitness centers, bars, restaurants, etc. The events following that Friday until [whenever the hell this ends] killed many lives and destroyed, stymied, damaged, and changed many more.

My experience was different. I had already become isolated, even more so than in the past, although I was always wired that way. My immediate adjustments were limited to life in the gym, the pub, or a restaurant. It took less than two months to become comfortable — in that time, I rediscovered lost areas of focus while nurturing new priorities. I thrived in my new environment, improving in ways I once thought unimaginable and finally realizing what mattered in my life.

There was also a fourth focus: Eleanor. I will save her story for a later time, but I had the privilege of watching a curious little kid form the foundation of a budding young lady who will discover so much on her own beautiful journey.

Strong. Healthy. Happy and hopeful, as signs of life began to emerge after nearly a year into the pandemic.

These were descriptions I would apply to any characterization of myself. I decided to begin drafting the story of my journey and discoveries over the last several years, Reconstructing and Defining Kevin. Proud of overcoming without curing, I needed to share the concept of wellness and its effect on my future.

That was everything before January 26, around noon.

***

From this point forward, there are two stories: mine and my brother’s. The details of Tommy’s are not for me to share. They are for his family: his wife, his sons, our mother. I will only review his terrible journey, from the day he first became ill until his death, to talk about how our lives overlapped and his boundless impact on my thoughts, decisions, and fears.

On January 26, I fell. My now-annual “bad fall” was a doozy. While doing nothing foolish, in a safe and calm environment, I fell. Landing hard on my right side sent shooting pains up and down my arm. Everything moved, albeit with a lot of pain. I stayed at home to nurse my ego. The pain and stiffness increased throughout the day and night, leading to a trip to my primary doctor in the morning.

Assessment: nothing broken, suspected soft tissue injury. Ice, rest, ibuprofen – physical therapy referral and reassess in one week. The resulting pain and immobility drew fears of a greater issue. I tried to come to grips with what a torn muscle or tendon would do to my ability to function independently. Fuck!

On January 29, Tom suffered a seizure while sleeping at home.

Assessment: unknown. Testing and observation after admission to the hospital.

We didn’t know much beyond the Fuck Factor with both issues. I was in torment, but countless issues after more than 21 years had dulled my trigger for concern. Suck it up and deal with the pain. I told myself, “This is just a temporary setback. You’ve done it before, so do it again.” For over a month, that is where my mindset remained. Tom was the bigger concern.

I stopped writing, focusing instead on trying to interpret the avalanche of conflicting thoughts running through my mind. The well-formed concepts of wellness began to crumble when I sat down and scratched out this cryptic note on February 6, 2021:

I am in the thick of a unique challenge, faced with the realistic possibility my wellness is nothing more than unjustified boasting of a “solution” I claimed to have found. Is there a way to tell when your sense of calm is true wellness and tranquility rather than in the numbness felt when giving up? Can I be at peace with myself and still fight for that which I may never achieve?

My mind struggled with everything I believed before the 26th. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness now felt like something fitting to my mindset only as things were going well. The distraction of my arm and hopeful concern for my brother fed worry for my mom. This was a lot to bear, even as I downplayed my issues when calling back East to check in. Her sons were suffering. I cannot imagine the anxiety.

We all held our breath, hoping to have our worst fears proven false.

I am unable to translate the meaning of my emotions at that time. I tried inserting possible answers to see if I could rationalize how I made it through each day: mental lethargy, indifference, apathy, disassociation, depression. I did not welcome my physical pain, yet I was reluctant to accept anything more than over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

After more than a month of rehab, I finally agreed to a cortisone injection to ease the pain of my slow recovery. Everything to follow started with the doctor’s comment, “Before the shot, I want to do a sonogram and see what exactly we are looking at.”

Warning: Morbid Medical Jargon (Translation Follows)

Ultrasound

  • Ultrasound shows full-thickness supraspinatus tear with retraction as well as subluxed biceps tendon.
  • Somewhat challenging situation given that his left arm has disability secondary to his MS -because of this, it is important to maintain strength and function in the right arm as much as possible, but rehab postoperatively for rotator cuff repair will be somewhat more challenging as he will need to rest the right arm as well.
  • We discussed this with the patient, and I think the next best step is to get an MRI and discuss his case with the surgeon.

MRI

  • Full-thickness, full width tearing of supraspinatus extending into the anterior fibers of infraspinatus on a background of tendinosis.
  • Tendinosis and partial-thickness bursal sided tearing of the mid to posterior fibers of infraspinatus.
  • Tendinosis and partial-thickness interstitial tearing of the cranial fibers of subscapularis.
  • Tendinosis and partial-thickness longitudinal split tearing of the intra-articular and extra-articular portions of the long head of the bicep’s tendon with medial perching upon the lesser tuberosity as it exits the bicipital groove.
  • Contact orthopedics regarding IF he requires surgery should he postpone the rituximab injection with 100 mg Methylprednisolone? Or can we push up his appointment?

Surgery Consult

  • Treatment options were discussed in detail. Questions were encouraged and answered. The pros and cons of various treatment choices were reviewed. Risks vs. benefits, potential complications, likely post-op course, as well as short and long term outcomes were discussed at a detailed PAR conference.
  • Pros and cons of operative versus nonoperative management were discussed. Issues surrounding possible procedures, including rotator cuff debridement, rotator cuff repair, labral procedures and biceps tendon procedures, were discussed. We also reviewed the use of implants, both absorbable and non-absorbable. We also discussed realistic expectations for ultimate outcome and potential complications. Issues surrounding distal clavicle excision were discussed, as well.
  • Issues surrounding biceps pathology were discussed including debridement versus tenodesis and the possibility of requiring an open incision for tenodesis. Issues surrounding biceps tenodesis versus tenotomy were discussed, in particular the fact that a tenotomy is a smaller procedure that can typically be done arthroscopically but leaves a significant cosmetic deformity with the “Popeye muscle.” Tenodesis may require an open incision and additional implant or anchor. He has done an excellent job with preparing for the social aspects of being able to care for himself through the VA. But there is also a concern about whether he could have an exacerbation of primary or permanent of his multiple sclerosis and could he further lose function. He is already discussed that with his neurologist in detail and apparently is not felt to be predictable.
  • If he ultimately decides to proceed with surgery, then the procedure would be a shoulder right shoulder arthroscopy with indicated procedures anticipating rotator cuff repair biceps tenodesis and Regenten graft augmentation given the deficient tissue. We discussed that possible choice of repeating his MRI in about 2 months to see if there is any significant worsening try to avoid the potential risk of the tear becoming not repairable. We will wait to hear back from him as to how he would like to proceed from here.

Translation of Morbid Medical Jargon

The surgeon and I had a direct, no-bullshit conversation. Based on my totality of issues and injury, he simply stated my surgery/rehab would be “brutal,” yet he touted the expected outcome of his work.

“I only know knives and needles. I don’t know the details of other options. That’s a decision you will have to make on your own.” It was the best medical advice I could have received.

“That’s a decision you will have to make on your own,” was a recurring response to my unique combination of issues, echoed by a second orthopedic surgeon, my sports medicine primary, my neurologist, my physical therapist, my mental therapist, and my priest.

I weighed every option.

Expectations for me flew from good to bad, then back to hopeful. I decided not to have surgery to repair my completely torn rotator cuff tendon. The expectation (hope) was that the partial tears would sufficiently heal. After receiving input from every source, all mentioned before, plus Melissa, I spent time in solace. With my significantly degraded left arm and leg, I would require inpatient rehabilitation for at least eight weeks before starting the rehab to use my right arm. I would be unable to feed myself or perform essential tasks. A 6-to-8-month outlook was the minimum portrait have a functioning arm. It is my only functioning arm.

It is doubtful my body would recover from everything I would lose, in terms of overall function, during that time. Adding the increased potential of additional MS issues arising due to the strain on my body creates a low probability of success. 

How much I will permanently lose remains to be seen. My recovery will be dependent upon rehabilitation and dumb luck. Many of the functions at risk I am not currently able to do regardless. My permanent pain level will vary from none to significant, all to be determined after the other partial tears heal.

Every option is bad. After a lot of deliberation, I decided intense rehabilitation had the highest potential to be the best of the lot. I spent time reviewing with every possible source of input, included my private considerations, and made a choice I will have to live with forever. I am comfortable with my decision.

No surgery.

On March 19, my focus switched to a cortisone injection before flying back East. My doctor recommendation was against a shot at that time. Leaving the next day, I would not be close to my health care if issues arose. Reluctantly, I agreed. He offered pain killers for the flights and duration away, but it was now my turn to decline. I am deathly afraid of opiates, having seen too many morbid outcomes.

My pain was secondary to the purpose of seeing my brother. He was now home to die.

I am grateful I got the chance I did. I saw him while he could still speak. 11 days later, my brother took his last breath. He was 51 years old. Two months and two days after his first indication of an issue that planted its seed 7,141 days prior, on 9/11, when he stepped up to project the city he swore an oath to protect as an NYPD sergeant. Well done, Tommy!

My brother was now at peace.

His family’s burden was just beginning.

My focus needed to return to life.

Neglected pain management and rehabilitation necessitated my return to Portland. Two days later, I flew home. As the dust settled on a surreal ten weeks of utter turmoil, I made my first conscious efforts to reflect upon my place in a world moving at the temple far beyond my capacity even to feign control. 

  • Sunday, return
  • Monday, cortisone treatment before I get to see Eleanor finally! With the biggest kiss and hug, we took a trip for ice cream. E gently stroked my arm as I broke down, telling her Uncle Tommy has passed.
  • Tuesday, intense rehab
  • Wednesday, I sat quietly in my home watching the live stream of my brother’s funeral service. The flag-draped coffin held his cremated remains in a bastardized COVID era event.
  • Thursday, intense rehab
  • Friday, rest a weary arm with a self-described “tweak.”

My text to Melissa on Saturday seems funny now:

First day in a while I actually felt active and productive! The funniest part is we only left the house to walk up the block and check the mail. Ha

Big focus on the house. Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Six loads of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away. Clean sheets on the bed! Baked two protein breads. I have been on the go since 5:30 until 4:00.

Strong PT in the morning; my arm felt great the entire day. I never had that motion where I “tweak” my muscles. I can usually feel it before the tweak, so I backed off or readjusted my position. I was able to do everything I wanted: reaching, lifting, etc. Now, a warm shower then my ice pack!

Mandatory daily tasks from now on include morning warm-up/PT I am watching out for that nasty tweak.

Eleanor was a trooper, a helpful part all day!

In that shower, I looked down and noticed my ruptured bicep. I immediately recognized the “Popeye” bicep; my next trip was to the ER. They confirmed and told me to do “nothing until I follow up with ortho.”

Sunday, after a series of stressful calls to my primary sports medicine, VA Orthopaedics, my VA social worker, I waited to see what my next steps were.

Monday, I met with my primary. He told me exactly what I thought I was going to hear. There was no need or ability to do anything different since the tear would probably have happened soon anyway. Everything was a textbook scenario. Surgery is usually not an option explored in this case. 

Get back to physical therapy. Manage everything else with continued care. Focus on the repair of the shoulder, which has many redundant components to it.

Long story short – put on my big boy pants and suck it up!

Tuesday, I spent most of the day in the VA hospital, receiving my semiannual Rituxan treatment. I occupied myself by noting the highlights of this recent endeavor into the world of “What’s Next?”

For as long as I can remember, there have been two parts of my life. One, I thought I was able to control. The other would probably destroy me someday.

Control. This journey first began on October 6, 2019, with the ambition to control parts of my life with which I had grown uncomfortable.

I nearly cried while listening to a loving voicemail left in an attempt to support me. “I’m glad you’re feeling better and getting back to normal.”

Better? Back to normal?

I once again began to experience the painful emotional response to a heartless question as I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes.

“Now what?”

I cannot think of the last time I just stopped. All my constant noises faded away until I had nothing more to focus on, just the pages yet to be written in my efforts to reconstruct and define myself.

 

***

The developing draft of my story will be shared on this secure drive location: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1E4cNpkFBU4qf3zYDIqZ5Nw72DzhGe88r?usp=sharing

 

These are the thoughts going through my mind as I try to piece it all together…

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop

I will never quit

This is my story

 

https://mssociety.donordrive.com/participant/Eleanor

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight: http://neverstopneverquit.com/books

 

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

Kevin Byrne

Portland, OR

www.neverstopneverquit.com

www.neverstopneverquit.blogspot.com

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.

 


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Reconstructing and Defining Kevin, Part 11: The Answer

Part 11: The Answer

 

My inside voice and I have decided these efforts are an exercise in futility.

I am frustrated by the challenges faced when articulating my experience. The answer is to focus on wellness – cultivating your capacity to monitor and ultimately regulate positive-fashion responses in eight unique dimensions of existence. Is there any need to drag my story on through additional pages? Here is my final presentation at the pulpit.

My life has been a whirlwind of highs and lows, peppered with experiences that served as fodder for my blogs, stories, and books. More will follow this rant, as my tales of fantasy will continue to fill written pages. Writing is the outlet for my expression I have grown to prefer over rage, vices, depression, and isolation.

The challenges I experience in my life or not unique. Many people deal with adversities greater than mine. In this aspect, I have no reason to complain. I have been, and continued to remain, quite fortunate in my lifetime.

I did not want to guide anyone down the path of any “I have healed/cured myself” mindset. Any such implication is far from true.

  • I have multiple sclerosis. I will always have multiple sclerosis. Though I manage the symptoms well right now, my disabilities are significant. They will worsen over time. Every effort I make in support of my fight against this disease is to ensure the next generation will not have to suffer the words, “You Have MS.”
  • Challenges to my wellness will resurface. I don’t know when, but physical, mental, and emotional pressures are inevitable in life. My awareness of their presence will ultimately be my saving grace.
  • My body and my mind will falter. Beyond that one absolute, every point is debatable: outlet, timing, duration, even my response. I can do nothing more but Pray for the Best, Anticipate the Worst, and Be Prepared for Both.

 

[So, does this mean I can stop pretending to be your partner in this exercise and go back to my role as your inside voice?]

Yes, it does.

[Should I give the spoiler alert, or would you like the others?]

I’ll do it.

 

SPOILER ALERT: this story is not over. I drafted this portion on January 15. That was before…

***

The developing draft of my story will be shared on this secure drive location: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1E4cNpkFBU4qf3zYDIqZ5Nw72DzhGe88r?usp=sharing

 

These are the thoughts going through my mind as I try to piece it all together…

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop

I will never quit

This is my story

 

https://mssociety.donordrive.com/participant/Eleanor

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight: http://neverstopneverquit.com/books

 

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

Kevin Byrne

Portland, OR

www.neverstopneverquit.com

www.neverstopneverquit.blogspot.com

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

Reconstructing and Defining Kevin, Part Ten: Finding, Forming, and Understanding

 

Part Ten: Finding, Forming, and Understanding

 

Kevin’s wellness, or how he feels, is a complex conglomeration of perception and reality. Aware or not, he has authority over many of his physical responses. However, there will always be some he does not control. Kevin may not have the tools with the understanding needed to elicit a positive response. There may be no way for him to apply the necessary treatment. If direct action and a positive mindset alone will not advance Kevin’s wellness, external intervention may become necessary. There are countless reasons why he will need support in each dimension of wellness. A straightforward example from each would be:

  • Physical Dimension – his doctors
  • Intellectual Dimension – his teachers
  • Emotional Dimension – his family
  • Social Dimension – his girlfriend
  • Spiritual Dimension – his priest
  • Vocational Dimension – his fellow nonprofit board members
  • Financial Dimension – his financial advisor
  • Environmental Dimension – his friends who better follow environmentally conscious practices

Kevin uses a decision matrix, of sorts, as a guide to help identify when and how he needs assistance. “I like to think of myself as a disciplined and organized person,” he explains. “Life is more comfortable when I can look at it in a mathematical, yes/no, on/off sense. I have always been wired that way. It’s great to look at yourself as a logical and rational individual, organized to the point where decisions are obvious. Unfortunately, my brain often wonders from the expectation to follow the patterns my mind finds acceptable.

“It is absolutely torturous to struggle with emotional and artistic distress in a life where decisions should be objective and absolute. Is this just the way I was brought up? Perhaps it’s a chemical imbalance of sorts? Maybe a combination of those two, plus more?

“Whatever the formula, I see this as a Byrne-family curse. It killed my father and nearly destroyed me. I will set more significant priorities aside to compulsively follow a pattern/routine, sometimes long after the results have ceased to produce any benefit. I will also take a healthy, constructive lifestyle choice and abandoned it in a moment of rage, boredom, or passion (take your pick). I’m a disciplined and organized person right up until I am not.”

The prices he paid for some of those shortcomings were significant.

“When I sat down to write my explanation of a wellness assessment, I had no idea this realization would be my explanation.”

***

The developing draft of my story will be shared on this secure drive location: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1E4cNpkFBU4qf3zYDIqZ5Nw72DzhGe88r?usp=sharing

 

These are the thoughts going through my mind as I try to piece it all together…

This is not about what my life will be like when the fight is over.

I will never stop

I will never quit

This is my story

 

https://mssociety.donordrive.com/participant/Eleanor

100% of the royalties earned from my books go to the National MS Society, to support our fight: http://neverstopneverquit.com/books

 

Never Stop… Never Quit…®

Kevin Byrne

Portland, OR

www.neverstopneverquit.com

www.neverstopneverquit.blogspot.com

Never Stop… Never Quit… Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.