what’s it like to have an mri when you’re claustrophobic?

My new piece at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Connection blog tackles the topic of what it’s like for a someone (that would be me) to have an MRI when you’re claustrophobic, particularly when your head has to be enclosed by this lovely little thing called a “face cage.”

An excerpt of the piece:

“… [A] technician beckons me into the large room where the behemoth machine resides.

This is when the fun starts. And when I say ‘fun,’ I mean the opposite of fun. I really mean ‘terror.’ I mean a trapped-inside-something-and-can’t-get-out terror. It’s at this point when, after placing my head between two hard pieces of plastic, the technician clicks a hard plastic cage over my face and into those twin pillars. There is a relatively narrow rectangular opening above my face, but there’s no avoiding the fact that I am confined. The face cage is about two inches away from the tip of my nose. Its mere presence makes me feel like I can’t breathe. Like I’m being punished. Locked up.

Did I mention that I’m claustrophobic?”

Read the full post here.

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essay: parenting in the age of school shootings

telegram_logoSomeone threatened to shoot up my son’s high school recently. Administrators alerted parents to the threat and assured us that there would be a strong police presence on the school campus.

When you are told that someone — likely an individual trying to get attention and spark a high-profile reaction — has threatened your child’s school, on a specific day, how are parents, in the age of Parkland and Newtown, supposed to react? What is a reasonable response? I wrote a piece about navigating this new terrain, “Parenting in the Age of School Shootings.”

An excerpt:

“… all I had were questions. Will there be an increased police presence at the high school because the shooting was threatened to occur tomorrow? Or will police be there just because there was a threat made? Is the high school graduation ceremony a few days from now at risk?

Facebook quickly became the virtual meeting spot for worried parents who wondered if it was safe to send kids to school the following day, for parents who said we shouldn’t live in fear, for parents who were hungry for more information, for parents who sought solace from one another because this is now the world in which we are raising our children.”

Read the whole piece at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette here.

essay: adventures with a dairy allergy

dairyIt was a serendipitous coincidence that my latest column for The Mighty website, “Got Milk? Adventures with a Dairy Allergy” was published as many were celebrating National Cheese Day an event in which I, sadly, did not partake.

The piece involves Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law’s house, a jar of gravy, and a couple of doses of Benadryl. It starts this way:

My legs seemed to dissolve beneath me. My eyelids grew heavy as I plunged into sleep like I was falling off a cliff. Actually, it’s more accurate to describe what happened this way: I passed out in my sister-in-law’s guest bedroom, as if I’d been drugged. Blame it on the dry milk.

Read the whole essay here.

Image credit: The Mighty website via Getty Image/Baibaz.

essay: ms keeps some patients under summertime house arrest

the-mighty-300x300The website The Mighty has published a piece of mine about the brutal impact of summertime heat and humidity on multiple sclerosis patients.

“I am locked in a personal war with heat and humidity,” I wrote in the piece, my first at The Mighty where I am now a contributing writer. “To me, they are more than mere summertime annoyances, inconveniences that cause one’s hair to frizz, make-up to melt off one’s face in a colorful oil slick, and perspiration to soak one’s clothing with unsightly blotches. To me, heat and humidity are my jailers.”

Read the whole essay here.

Image credit: The Mighty website.

essay: how I’m preparing to watch ‘this is us’ on super bowl sunday


In honor of Super Bowl Sunday weekend, here’s a special original piece by yours truly. 

*Spoilers ahead from the latest episode of This is Us.*

In the final moments of the last episode of the ten-hanky drama This Is Us, viewers learn that Jack Pearson, the father of three teenagers, will likely die in a house fire after the finicky Crock-Pot he and his wife Rebecca received from a neighbor, fatally malfunctions. The tight shot on the family’s battery-less smoke alarm, combined with an earlier scene of a wailing Rebecca in front of the Pearsons’ burned-out house, have foreshadowed this ugly turn of events for weeks.

But the first indication that Super Bowl Sunday would be the night of the house fire was when the oh-my-God-something-bad’s-gonna-happen music — those spare piano notes, the aching voice and lyrics — started playing at the end of the most recent episode. You just knew what would happen next. You could just feel it.

Continue reading “essay: how I’m preparing to watch ‘this is us’ on super bowl sunday”

essay: what are the consequences of misogyny?

I went political with my latest column, this time for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Entitled, “What are the consequences of misogyny,” my piece was written in the wake of the president’s tweets which personally attacked the physical appearance of a female cable journalist. This is hardly the first time the president has stooped to this level.

Overall, the column is a plea for honorable people across the political spectrum to hold the president accountable for his misogynistic behavior, and it also expresses a likely unfulfilled hope that there be actual consequences for treating half of the nation’s population like objects with which to play or ridicule.

… I see treatment of women as an issue that transcends party. It is about basic decency. People who respect women and don’t simply offer hollow lip-service to women’s equality, should condemn all sexually harassing and exploitative commentary and actions. If you are a harasser and/or a demeanor of women, you are a problem. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent or if you work for the man. Full. Stop.

Read the full piece here.