30. Half A Stick Of Gum Is All You Need

Half of a stick of gum is all you need.  When I was a kid,  whenever I visited my grandparents, to keep us occupied during church, my grandmother would give my sister and I a piece of gum.  But, only one half of a stick of gum.  Even for a kid, that’s not much.  That’s plenty, she would say. 

I have found that there are a lot of things,  like that half stick of gum, that  I was used to having which, I have realized I can get by without.  I found out,  with ALS,  that it’s amazing how much muscle you can lose,  and still live a somewhat normal life.  I was walking around,  doing everything I always did for years with a great deal of muscle loss.  I got by with much less than I thought I needed.

I had one of the original big bulky bag cell phones,  back in the day.  I had it mainly to use in case there were an emergency,  like if my car quit,  because I drove 40 minutes to and and from work everyday.   So, after I had to quit working due to my health issues, I just never got another phone.  I  went for years without having or using one.  Which means I had also never texted, other than from a computer. And, I lived to tell the story!  I found I could survive without one.  I finally got a new cell phone last year,  after  15+ years without one. 

I could never have imagined sitting in one spot and not moving for an hour or even two hours before ALS.  Sure, we all say, “I wish I could just sit and do nothing!”  What we really mean is we wish we didn’t  have to go to work, or do any of our daily chores, but moving about would still be an option.  What about when moving isn’t an option?  I’ve found it really is possible  to sit and literally not move,  without going totally crazy.  Even a couple of years ago,  I was used to  asking one of my daughters help move my leg or arm after an hour of not moving.  But, when that was no longer an option, I found I could survive moving  less often than I had thought.

I used to always be on the go.  Now,  leaving the house numerous times every day is just a distant memory.  I could never have imagined staying in for days, let alone weeks at a time without leaving the house.  Now that seems totally normal,  and rarely bothers me at all.  It helps that most of those periods of time occur during the winter, when just the thought of the cold Indiana weather is enough to make my body ache,  and all I want to do is stay in and stay warm.   I have experienced cabin fever first hand, but I’ve also learned that you really don’t need to leave the house everyday, every week, or even every month to be content.  

We all find ourselves thinking about the things we think we need.  The latest model  TV,  or newly released IPhone or IPad.  Whatever it is,  it may be something we want,  but usually we can definitely do just fine without it.  I’m glad I learned early on,  that you don’t always need as much of something as you think you do to be happy.  Sometimes half a stick of gum really is plenty.

 

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26. Laugh. Even if you don’t feel like it.

 

Who says TV is bad for you?  I know I heard that somewhere.  Maybe it was just sitting too close to the television set that I was warned about?  Anyway, contrary to popular belief, I think television and movies can be good for you.  In the movie, What About Bob, Bob takes a vacation from his problems.  TV can offer a tiny vacation from your problems. A few minutes to laugh or solve a crime, and forget about that doctors appointment coming up,  or that test you have to take,  or whatever it is that you don’t really want to do.  And, for those of us who aren’t able to physically do much besides reading and surfing the internet, sometimes movies and television are all we have to keep busy.  Well  that,  and writing a blog will keep you pretty busy! 

When I could no longer do things with my kids that required physical movement of any kind,  watching TV was something we could do together. Each week when our favorite programs were on, they would actually come out of their rooms and spend a few minutes with their mother!  Even though they no longer live at home,  we still watch television and movies together.  My oldest daughter and I watch The Middle almost every week.  My youngest daughter and I try to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy most Friday’s when she comes over. 

The same day I received my third confirmation that, yes, I had what doctors considered to be a terminal, incurable, and untreatable disease,  my husband and I went straight to a movie theatre.  Why not, right? We both had the whole day off of work, why waste it being sad and depressed? I had, according to everyone “in the know” (neurologists), at the very least, a couple of years for that.   So, we went to see, There’s Something About Mary.   Definitely the most hilarious movie of 1998. So, when my mind would have normally been devoured by sadness, instead, I smiled and laughed for 119 minutes. Probably the best thing I could have done at the time.  

Now there are probably close to a million channels (okay,  not quite) to choose from,  streaming on Roku, Amazon Fire Stick,  etc..  Although there are way too many shows not worth watching,  there are some really great ones out there too.   You can now watch them anytime.  No more waiting all week,  or even all year to watch the annual showing of holiday programs or movies.   If you are stuck in a bad mood,  or feeling down, a funny movie or sitcom can be just the ticket,  to at least give you a break from the way you are feeling.  The more you can laugh,  the better you will feel.  I  promise.  Laughter  really,  sometimes,  is the best medicine.  So,  try it. The next time you are feeling down,  watch an episode of The Middle,  or find What About Bob on Netflix.   I  guarantee you will feel a little better!