In other news: On Botox, Thailand, and ALS

In the first post I published here after returning from summer break, I shared a recap of some of the bigger changes that took place while I was away from the blog.

I didn’t tell you everything, though. A couple happenings just didn’t seem to fit in the bits I previously passed along. Those being the following…


I got Botox shots in June! In my legs. Supposedly Botox helps ease spasticity for folks with MS (hand raised), and my neurologist has been suggesting it rather aggressively to help stop my right foot from turning in, which gives me a hobble of sorts. I finally took her up on it — in part because the Botox folks reimburse the cost in some situations, and mine is one of them.

I went in unsure of exactly how such things work, but it was a relatively simple and pain-free procedure. My doctor inserted a super thin needle — think acupuncture size — into a few spots here and there on my right leg and one or two on my left and BAM! it was done. She said she’d administer a relatively low dose the first time so as to not overcorrect my gait the other direction. I’d notice a “subtle change” in the next several weeks, she said, and would only really know it had worked once it wears off (in about three months) and it would be time to administer again.

The change has indeed been subtle. But now and then I do notice I’m walking relatively normal, so it must be working. Time’s up the end of September and I’ll decide then if I’ll do it again.

Who knew wrinkle repair could repair one’s ability to walk? Oh, the wonders of medicine!


I am from a family of seven kids and none of us are world travelers of any degree. Not really even U.S. travelers of any sort. So when my oldest brother declared a year or so ago (back before our mom died, even) that he was going to move to Thailand, we all smirked to ourselves — okay, and behind his back — that, yeah, right. We’ll believe that when we see it.

Well, he did it. He met a Thai gal online and after several months of dating via WhatsApp, he bought a ticket, sold his belongings, and hit the skies for Thailand.

Before leaving, he treated a couple of my sisters and me to a farewell lunch. Now, my brother and I have never been close. We distanced ourselves even further from one another after some pretty heavy-duty headbutting he and I did while caring for my mom in her last few months and upon her death. But bidding him farewell was surprisingly emotional for me. My siblings have become far-flung and our relationships increasingly effed up, to be honest, since my mom’s passing, but to think I seriously may never see him again hit me hard.

Lunch with my older sister, youngest sister, and oldest brother.

My brother and his girlfriend … in Thailand

My brother and his girlfriend … in Thailand

Truth is, I now hope I don’t see him again. At least not in person. Because if I do, that means Thailand didn’t work out for him. From the depths of my heart, I sincerely hope it does.

Another truth? Since he’s been gone, my brother and I have connected more than we ever did in the decades before — via WhatsApp.

Cheers to Thailand … and to my brother finding fulfillment as an expat!


Another farewell took place even more recently when my stepmom passed away August 13. Ann — who married my Dad in 1995, thus being more “Dad’s wife” than mother figure to me — was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in May after several months of baffling symptoms and endless testing. Almost exactly three months later, she was gone.

Though Ann wasn’t “Mom” to me, I loved her dearly — in large part because of the way she stood by my Dad no matter what, cared for him through the tough times before he died. She and I were not close, yet we messaged each other regularly via Facebook (she lives two hours away), she was one of the most loyal and active followers on my Grandma’s Briefs Facebook page (after my #1 fan — my mom — passed), and Jim and I most recently visited her on Memorial Day weekend … in the hospital just after her diagnosis.

Christmas 2013 with my Dad and Ann plus Brianna, me and Jim

Interestingly, it was during my Botox treatment that my neurologist — who specializes in ALS — told me the heartbreaking story of her own mother’s passing from the disease. We both agreed it’s the absolute worst of the worst conditions anyone could ever be diagnosed with. It allows for no hope, only horrendous suffering. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever faced the horrors of ALS, for themselves or a loved one.

Being a “step,” it was via a Facebook post my sister saw and directed me to that I learned Ann had succumbed to the dreaded disease. Which stung. But I understand the overwhelming load that immediately befalls those who lose a parent, and I feel for her three sons (the youngest being about the age of my oldest daughter). I pray for peace and comfort for them and for Ann’s sisters during this sad time. Jim and I will wish Ann peace, as well, in our true final farewell to her at this weekend’s memorial service.


Thank heavens for joyful times! Sunday was one such time, when we celebrated Brianna’s birthday with her family and Andrea’s. (We wished Megan’s family could attend but it’d be a long, long drive from the desert just for a BBQ).

It was our first family gathering at our new place. Based on the smiles on everyone’s face — despite on-call master plumber Patrick being called out first thing … then returning later — the smaller space seems perfectly suited for celebrations and such with my favorite folks going forward.