Sunday, December 30, 2012

Are you brave enough to accept that you are different?

Richard Branson recently spoke with the Washington Post about overcoming personal obstacles and turning disadvantages into advantages. I hit some of my own obstacles last night, struggling with what my MS future looks like, how dismal it may become. I woke up this morning and read a brief article about turning negatives into positives, written by a gentleman who struggled with dyslexia to later become a billionaire.

"Turn a disadvantage into an advantage"
Sir Richard Branson
photo credit: Stephen Chernin
Here’s a quote from the article featured on Richard Branson’s blog on

“Whatever personal challenge you have to overcome, you must be brave enough to accept that you are different. You must have the courage to trust your instincts and be ready to question what other people don't. If you do that, you can seize opportunities that others would miss. Believe in yourself, and use everything you can - including the obstacles - to propel you along the road to success. Who knows what you might achieve?”

Richard’s words served as a reminder for me that, yes, while I am brave enough to accept that I am different, I still struggle a bit with identifying the opportunities to help me succeed. How do I do this? How will I recognize them when they surface? Perhaps this is something for me to contemplate in 2013.

In the meanwhile, how about you? What obstacle did you overcome this past year and what were you able to achieve because of it? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy New Year everyone!

Best always,

P.S. click here to read Sir Richard's full blog post

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Have you seen Healthline for MS?

My buddy Cathy over at Healthline wrote up this post. When you have a moment, check out their site. It's filled with great information. Hope you're well and remembering to rest and breathe this holiday season! 

From Cathy Chester, Adminstrator/Writer: Healthline for Multiple Sclerosis

'Finding credible information on the web about Multiple Sclerosis can sometimes be challenging.  You need to find a website that is both reputable and informative. Healthline is the site you should read.  Their slogan is “The Internet site doctors prescribe most”, while their mission is to “improve health through information.”  What more could you ask for?  Healthline offers readers, “Objective, trustworthy, and accurate health information, guided by the principles of responsible journalism and publishing.” Their Facebook page is a large caring community of readers learning from Healthline’s articles, while forming relationships with one another through shared experiences.

This premier website has published their “Top 18 Multiple Sclerosis Blogs”.  It should come as no surprise that The Lesion Journals made this prestigious list.  Read what Healthline had to say:

“Christie Germans brings her MS story to the world in her stellar chronicles of life with a chronic illness. The Lesion Journals give voice to her experiences, emotions, and endeavors to live joyfully and actively with MS.”

“Join Christie in her efforts to find the fun in everything, and take solace in the sense of companionship and camaraderie her blog offers. Check out the latest entry in The Lesion Journals, connect with an online MS pal, and get a bit of inspiration for a miraculous MS life of your own!”

Congratulations to Christie and The Lesion Journals for her successful blog which represents Christie’s hard work, dedication, honesty and laughter about living a life with MS.  You are a true inspiration to all of us.  Thank you for all you do.'

Well, shucks. That was nice Cathy. Thank you. This kind of stuff makes me blush so now I am going to change the subject. You are invited to check out Cathy's work over on her blog: Good reading.

Take care everyone,

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The special powers of yellow mustard

I fight nausea all the time. It’s sometimes a precursor for the vertigo that I deal with every so often. It can last a few minutes or a few hours (the nausea, not the vertigo! Having vertigo for several hours would really complicate things and, not to mention, be utterly exhausting).

My sweetie takes very good care of me and recently sent me to work with a bag filled with two things: crackers and yellow mustard. Why? Eating generous amounts of yellow mustard eases nausea. Who knew? Apparently sailors and pregnant women.
Eat mustard to ease nausea

I learned of mustard’s special powers the last time I had a long bout of nausea. It was recommended to me that I spread a ton of the yellow stuff on bread and gobble it up. And gobble it up I did! Within a few moments, the nausea eased.

Now if only I had a small jar of mustard in my cycling jersey when I got hit with nausea the time before that, while out on a ride. Uber annoying! Nausea and riding your bike at ferocious speeds do not mix.

There’s no real evidence to prove that mustard is a true cure for nausea but it seems to work for me.  That’s evidence enough.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Before I die I want to ________

Contemplating the meaning of life
This is the coolest project. It started off as an experiment nearly two years ago in New Orleans by an artist who was contemplating the meaning of life, deciphering what truly matters. And, she wanted to know what mattered to others. So she painted the side of an abandoned building with chalkboard paint, stenciled the words “Before I die I want to _________” and invited the public to pick up a piece of chalk and jot down their personal aspirations. Cool, right?

Now there’s a bunch all over the globe, 50+ walls in over 20 countries. There’s one in sunny San Diego and when I came upon it a couple of weeks ago I felt compelled to write something. What did I write? “Before I die I want to see a cure for MS.” Naturally.

Before I die I want to see a cure for MS
If you came across this wall, what would you write? What matters most to you? I’d love to hear from you and invite you to post on my blog. Simply fill in the blank, “Before I die I want to ____________”.

Take care of yourselves and I hope all is well.

Best always,

P.S. if you would like to read more about this amazing project, check it out here: Before I die I want to

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Right Foot

At long last. You probably thought, what happened to Team Luca? “I haven’t heard from them since the big Bike MS event. It’s like they fell of the face of the earth.” That’ll happen when you head off for a European vacation with a sprained ankle the week after the ride.

We love your orange tutus Team Luca!

Here are the highlights of our debut:

We rose out of bed before 6AM, to beat the crowds, only to find bad weather (read bad for San Diego. It was just a light drizzle). “Uh-oh,” we thought. “This is going to be a wet ride!”

It was chilly too (again, read chilly for San Diego. It dipped to the mid to low 60’s). As we waited for the ride to start, we tried to find ways to warm up, including huddling around the massive BBQ. They must have had a dozen grills going (and how strange that they were cooking meat at 7AM). As I, Christie, Captain of Team Luca, walked over to the BBQ to warm up…

…I hit the deck. And sprained my ankle. Ow! All this moments before the start of the ride! I kid you not. The slippery mossy sidewalks proved to be no match and I was near tears! My dreams of getting my very first medal ever were slowly disappearing. As I hobbled around, ignoring the EMTs recommendation of wrapping my foot, icing it and blah, blah, blah, I slowly began to panic. This after recovering from the pretty stars that sparked all around me. I thought, “What if I took my bike shoe off to wrap ‘My Right Foot’ like those guys say and cannot get my shoe back on due to severe ankle swelling tucked in a bandage blanket? And what? I should ice My Right Foot now? The race is about to start people, like in five minutes!”

My sister, sensing that I was about to lose it, looked right at me, directly in my eyes and began talking me off the ledge. “Swiss*,” she said calmly. “It’s ok. Your mind is stronger than the pain you feel. Use it to lessen the pain in your ankle. You can do it.” Sister Power! I thought, “I battle the pain of MS every single day. I can do this.” “I’m riding today,” I told everyone. “Well, it’s your foot,” replied one snarky EMT attendant. 

And away I went. For 30 miles.

I only fell once.

At some strange part of the route the path ended at a stepped curb and my brain didn’t have time to catch up to tell me to slow down from my high velocity speeds, start breaking and clip out of the peddles to stop. It didn’t hurt that much as it was a soft fall. The bike was not moving. I tipped over like a domino. But still! The humiliation was damaging enough. You see, My (sprained) Right Foot remained clipped in the pedal the whole time so I was strapped to my bike as I lay, sprawled on the ground. Helpless. Team Luca helped me by unstrapping the straps of my bike shoe and sliding out My Right Foot. It hurt. My ego that is. And I call myself a cyclist!

Moving on…

Every so often we’d hear shouts of “we love your orange tutus!” We have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of these next year!

Along the route many folks patted me on the back, giving me encouragement to keep on riding. Not because of the sprained ankle. Because of living with MS! No one could see the golf ball growing on my ankle. We passed several riders who witnessed the BBQ Fall and asked, “You’re still riding?! You are officially a badass.” I’ve never been called this before. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I vote a good thing!

At one point during the ride I wasn’t sure what hurt more. My ankle or my bones rattling as my bike and body slammed along some rough roads under construction. Good grief. Major fail by the route planners.  “And,” I asked myself, “Just how do the pros manage to ride on cobblestones for hours upon hours?!” I learned later that one Team Luca member used the sidewalk for some relief. Why didn’t I think of that?

We finished our last mile in the rain, which was exciting and nerve wracking all at the same time. Exciting because it was cyclists against the elements. Nerve wracking because all I could think of was that big turn at the finish line and a sudden image flashed before me of me sliding into finish like a baseball player would home plate. “Oh the road rash,” I thought. “I’ve never had road rash. Wouldn’t that be something? Sprained ankle + road rash + MS?” I ignored this image of doom and pedaled on, carefully. Visibility was tough for those of us wearing sunglasses and Team Luca powered through it!

Crossing over the finish line was a lot like finishing the Tour de France. Fans screamed, waved at the cyclists and rang cowbells. Well, this is mostly true. Substitute 2,000 miles over 21 days with 30 miles in an hour and a half. And we didn’t hear any bells, especially me since I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids. And, a big shout out to Sandy J who we spotted in the crowd with a huge smile on her face. She waited in the rain to cheer on Team Luca! Yay!

Once finally finished, I felt like I could use those damn paramedics! They didn’t wait around for me (gasp!) but we did manage to find a couple of other EMT’s willing to help us. After I got my cold pack and some weird mummy wrap (they had no Ace bandages in-stock. I don’t even know how this is even possible), I managed to hobble over to the beer garden just as they closed; I stole sips from Nicole’s drink while our friend Julie re-wrapped up my ankle. She’s a professional. Thanks Julie!

Mummy Wrapped Ankle

And then it was RICEW for the rest of the day. Rest (check). Ice (check). Compress (check). Elevate (check). Wine (check).

P.S. I finally did get my medal!

P.P.S. Lastly and certainly not least, I want to give a shout out to the members of Team Luca for their tenacity and patience during our first and definitely not our last MS Bike Ride!
  • Zole: thanks for coming out to sunny SD. You are an amazing sister!
  • Jorge: thanks for joining our Team! You are a great rider and were we glad to have ‘ya.
  • Anna: you are my hero and my force. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

Swiss. Childhood nickname still used today between two sisters. The other sister’s name? Zole. This is a long story for another time…unless you have time now? 

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