Posted in Holiday

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando

So it has taken me over a month to sit down and write this post. It shouldn’t have taken me this long but sadly due to my MS after I returned from Orlando my MS decided to make itself noticed and I have just started feeling able to sit down and write a post. I’m lucky with my MS as I don’t have as many issues as other MS suffers do but when it does show it’s ugly head it takes me a while to get back to being human.

Anyway, I am back from Orlando and had a wonderful time. We came, we saw, we cast spells and had a wonderful time. I went with my nephew Josh and we flew out to Orlando on February 6 and landed in Orlando around 4:30. We live in Oklahoma so we flew out of Tulsa. That is not an easy airport to fly out of for those curious. We flew American which flew us to Dallas then to Orlando. The interesting thing about the flight was that we were told there would be a 51 minute layover in Dallas. Turns out..not true at all. We landed a few minutes early actually. We grabbed our bags and went looking for our gate. The gate of course was in a completely different section of the airport and required us to take the Skylink, which is a speed train that shoots you to the terminal you need to go to (I was reminded of the train from The Hunger Games). We found our gate and our plane was boarding! Where the heck was the layover? I wasn’t terribly sad but gee I wouldn’t have minded 10 minutes. So off to Orlando we was a 2 hr flight and I had time to watch a movie from the many selections American offers. I was actually glad I was able to watch their movie and not use my the battery right?

We touched down in Orlando to a lovely sunny day. After deboarding the plane and realizing we were actually here we started looking for the Universal Travel desk where we had to pick up our Travel Pack that was full of all our tickets for the park. At one point I remember wishing I had wheels on my shoes because we walked forever to get to the Travel Desk. Once we finally located the desk it was empty (thankfully) and we meet a very helpful Universal employee named Cheryl (great name) who gave us so much information about the park I couldn’t wait to get started. We waited for our shuttle that would take us to our hotel and shortly we were off to start our Unviersal adventure.

I had family from Texas that was also visiting Universal at the same time so once we arrived at the hotel and planned on meeting up with them. They were already in the park riding rides so we were going to meet up with them later. Josh and I were ready for a bit of a rest and we wanted to checkout the features of our room. We were staying at Universal’s Aventura Resort; this is an on-site hotel. The hotel was very clean, has a huge selection of bars and restraurants. The rooms come with iPads that control the entire room..from the lights to the air to the tv. It was really cool to play with the lights and use the iPad to control the TV. We didn’t watch much TV but did turn it on a few times to play with it. Not to mention you can use the iPad to get online and surf the web as needed even order food to your room if desired. I was very impressed with the hotel.

It was getting close to dinner time so Josh and I left the hotel and headed to City Walk. We were told we could take the Water Taxi’s to City Walk. We had to talk to a nearby hotel to board the taxi but it was worth it. They became our favorite way to get back and forth from City Walk to our hotel. The hotel supplies a bus about every 15 minutes but we really enjoyed the taxi. The sun was setting the weather was perfect. A person couldn’t ask for a better setting to take a water taxi ride in.

Our park tickets didn’t start until the 7th so we could only get into City Walk which is where we decided to go for dinner. There was so much to chose from we settled on eating at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. It is actually one of our favorite places to eat when we are traveling so we knew the food would be good and who doesn’t love Bubba Gump? My Aunt and cousin found us for dinner and joined us. We had a great waiter, food and an enjoyable time. After dinner we were all ready to head back to the hotel and get ready for our first full day at the park.

Posted in Holiday

South Padre, Island Day 3

Wednesday-Beach Day!

Wednesday was our last day in Padre. The plan for the day was a 10 o’clock reservation with The Original Dolphin Watch boat Tour. We had decided the night before to wake up early and make our way to the beach and watch the sunrise.

Josh woke me up right around 6 am, I woke up Laura. We all pretty much went in whatever clothes we could find. We did not want to waste time and miss the sunrise. We made our way to the beach and found a great spot to sit and watch the sun come up above the ocean. As always with the ocean the tide was out which had changed the look of the beach. What was underwater the evening before was now several feet back and people were doing their morning walks and runs in the soft wet sand. I loved sitting on the embankment watching people walking their dogs, walking in groups talking to each other and just enjoying the beautiful morning as the sun slowing began to rise above the water. It was amazing sitting their watching the sun come up over the water. It was something magical that we don’t see where I’m from.

Left over umbrella and chair from the day before..waiting to be used again

Don’t get me wrong we have our own lovely sunrises in Oklahoma, but seeing the sun rise above the water is completely different. The sand was so soft and felt wonderful between our toes. Laura enjoyed chasing the waves and searching for sea shells. I had a great time writing in the sand and watching the waves erase the writing. As the sun rose higher the water began to rise and reach closer to where we were sitting. We knew then it was time to say good-bye for now and return in the afternoon.

There is a part of you that secretly hopes The Flying Dutchman shoots out of the water. Watching the sun rise up over the water is truly magical and calming. I could have stayed on that beach all day and been completely happy.

We had to sadly leave the beach and get ready for our Dolphin Tour. We made our way back to our condo, showered and found the location of The Original Dolphin Watch. I chose this tour over the others because the price was great and there was an educational piece about 20 minutes into the tour. I liked that and knew Laura would enjoy it plus it was on a big boat and not on a small one. Since this was her first trip to the ocean I felt this would make her feel safe. The Dolphin Watch was located on the west side of the island where other boat tours were. Once we were on the water nets were lowered to drag along the bottom of the ocean so marine life could be picked up and brought on board for the visitors to see. We were able to see a star fish and a blue crab. The catch wasn’t as big as they usually catch but it was enough to impress the children on board and to educate them on the lives of ocean life. Once the sea life was returned to the ocean we headed off to find dolphins. It was a nice and breezy ride the boat had an upper and lower deck. We chose to sit on the lower deck in the shade so we wouldn’t get wind burnt or sun burnt. I notorious for getting sun burnt everywhere I go so we decided to play it safe. The captain took us out where the Rio Grande dumps into the Gulf of Mexico. The water is warmer here and a great feeding place for dolphins and pelicans. We were able to see several dolphins feeding in this area. After several minutes watching them feed and play around the captain directed us back to the dock. It was a wonderful way to finish our morning.

Rio Grande meets Gulf of Mexico

After our boat ride we went looking for lunch. We decided on a restaurant we had read about on Trip Advisor Cap N Roy’s it was a combination of Mexican and seafood. We had a great lunch, plenty of seafood in a great restaurant full of memorabilia of the owner and island residents fishing excursions. When we finished lunch we headed to a souvenir shop and picked up a few things to take back home then headed to our condo to get ready for the beach.

Posted in Health

Multiple Sclerosis

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I have MS known as Multiple Sclerosis. In 1994 I had been given the diagnoses of MS at the age of 25. It all started with having double vision. I was sent to see a Neuro-Ophthalmologist in Oklahoma City who discovered the disease by doing an eye exam. When I first heard the diagnose I was quick to reject what it was. How could I have this disease? I could walk, I could see, I wasn’t having any trouble with motor skills or other issues that people usually have with this disease. My mother was very quick to get me to sign up for classes. She got me signed up with the MS Society newsletter, I threw it away every time it came in the mail. I didn’t want this disease tainting my life. Aside from the first sign that something was going on with me no one would know I had MS unless I said something.

I had to quit my job working at Wal-Mart my neurologist said working there would put too much stress on me, the heat would make my MS worse and I wasn’t to lift over 5 lbs of anything. So I quit, I had no job for several months. A friend found me a job working with her in a Home Health agency as a receptionist. I took off from there. I wasn’t going to let this disease keep me down. I eventually left that job for a bigger job in Tulsa. It was a bigger city and allowed me to move away from my parents and not be reminded of this disease. While living in Tulsa I never had any issues with MS. I didn’t have to go on any meds or other treatment. I had a great neurologist that kept up with my progress.

Situations arose that would bring me back to my hometown nearly ten years later. My partners’ father had died and she wanted to be close to her mother if she needed help.  So we drove back and forth to our jobs in Tulsa. The drive became wearing on me as we were getting up early and getting home late. Everything came to a halt when in 2004 after an OU football game weekend I went to bed Sunday night and woke up Monday morning sitting in my living room surrounded by EMS telling me I’d had a seizure. We learned the seizure was most likely caused by MS; most likely the heat from being out at the football game added to the symptoms. I was taken off work for 6 months. I decided to find a job in my hometown and have been working here since. I’ve had ups and downs with the jobs I’ve had here.

I am the type of worker that when I do a job I will work myself to exhaustion. Nobody can tell me I’m doing too much. I’m sure part of that drive has to do with never going to college and trying to prove I am just as good as someone without a degree. Sadly, working myself as hard as I did came with a price. It was almost a gift to have been let go from my last employer. The job was grueling, my body had gotten older and just couldn’t stand the pace any longer. Since being at home I feel so much better. At my last neurologist appointment my doc was actually pleased I was no longer with my employer and pleased with the path I have chosen to go down. Hearing the news that you have MS is not a death sentence as I first thought it was.  Early on when the internet was new I had jumped into some MS chat rooms and began talking to a few people with this disease. They would tell me about how they had to walk with a cane or had swallowing problems or their eyesight was going out on them. I told myself I wasn’t as bad off as these people and felt terrible I didn’t have a debility I could add to theirs. I felt out-of-place and left the rooms never to return.

I have learned through many ‘told you so’ moments that MS is something that can be managed if you are willing to take care of yourself. Before my seizures, I was taking MS injections but those did not work for me. I still kept have exacerbations and nothing would work for me. My doc kept telling me a pill was in the works it was just taking a while to being offered. I was lucky enough that my neuro is on the board of the MS Society so he knew what was up to date and was always aware of new treatments. In 2007 I was lucky enough to be in a drug study for the medication Gilenya. I was in the trial for two years which helped bring the medication for FDA approval. Then I went into an extensive trial on the dosage of the medication to be given. I have been on  Gilenya nearly 8 years and I am doing great. I have had no exacerbations. I am able to do things at moderate speed (I have to watch myself I tend to overdo a lot). I am happy to have been a guinea pig for this drug if it helps others live a healthier more fulfilling life.

Going through the trial gave me a better sense of where I am with my disease. I am at a better place that I am not afraid to tell people it is something I have. I am also happy to speak to others that have this disease especially those that have been newly diagnosed. They are just as scared and afraid as I was. I want them to know that if you take care of you this is a manageable disease. I know that for ten of the first years of this disease I didn’t want to talk about or deal with what I had. If you don’t listen to your body there comes a point when it will talk to you. That could be a point that it is too late.