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Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Perfect Storm

As the East Coast prepares for “Frankenstorm”, I find myself fascinated by one description of the storm that has really caught on. “The total effect will be greater than the sum of all its parts”.  I have heard this phrase before, often to describe good things. Great things. Times of bringing together many people to create positive social change. Times when the power of something seems to multiply on an exponential scale as more energy joins a cause.

But the phrase is capturing my attention in a different way this time.  I tend to explain my world in terms of metaphor and analogy.  I find it helpful.  This “Frankenstorm” is the result of many different severe weather systems colliding in space and time. Extreme temperatures, rain, hail, high pressure, low pressure, hurricane force winds…the forecasters have new descriptors every day.
Now I could use this as an analogy for MS.  Or many other serious illnesses for that matter.  However, what came to mind last night, is moods.  My moods.  I am a person of extreme weather systems.  Even as a young child I was this way. The weather can change quickly in my part of the world.  A sunny outlook shifting to a thunderstorm in what some people may deem the blink of an eye.  Admittedly the wind is often moving very fast, but if someone is paying attention they will see a few clouds start to roll in.  They will see the clouds moving faster and turning slightly darker before the first crack of thunder.
There are certainly others among you with quickly shifting weather systems.  But are there others among you that have “Frankenstorms”?  I do.  Less now than in my 20’s and 30’s, but they do still occur.  Maybe we could refer to things as “The storm of 2003” or “The winter of 2006”?  I always feel badly about Frankenstorms. There is always damage to deal with later; feelings to repair, relationships to rebuild.  I have struggled to understand them. 
I may be aware of hurricane force winds of stress. A low-pressure system of MS fatigue hovering in the East. The icy bits of neurological hail pattering on my brain, activating the Migraine Alert System. The rumbling thunder of low blood sugar. Each of these events are regular occurrences and so they don’t raise my level of concern too terribly high.  Thankfully they don’t usually all occur at once.  But sometimes they do.  Throw in a heat-wave (literally…do not let me overheat, heaven help us) and maybe a deluge of noise, especially the electronic kind…and there you have it!  Frankenstorm!
And truly, the result is much greater than the sum of all the parts.  I find it tremendously helpful to think of it this way.  It isn’t logical math.  It’s mystery.  It’s an unpredictable scientific rarity. Don’t worry kids, this too shall pass, it’s Just Only Judy.
I carry earthquake insurance on my house, but not flood or hurricane insurance.  When I lived in the Midwest we had tornado insurance.  I can’t buy insurance to cover the cost of cleanup after one of my ‘perfect storms’.  What I can do is be loving, kind, generous, receptive and calm, as much as possible during the good weather.  I can bolster the foundations of my relationships so that even if the roof blows off, we can still rebuild. I suppose I can buy some insurance with hugs, cookies and listening. I can make sure to enjoy sunny days with friends and family. I can be willing to play when it’s only raining. I can try to divert some of the weather systems to avoid collision of many, and thus a ‘perfect storm’. Of course, as I said in a previous post, communication is important as well.  Thanks to “Frankenstorm”, I now have a new analogy in my toolbox as I talk my way through a post-storm cleanup.

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