A jigsaw puzzle

Multiple Sclerosis is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle

I love puzzles. I was always drawn to things that would challenge me from jigsaw puzzles, to mind benders, to metal and wooden contraptions with things hidden inside. My fastest time completing a Rubik’s Cube was 53 seconds. Nowhere near the world record, but still pretty fast and something I’m proud to say I have accomplished. (I know what some of you are thinking, and no, I didn’t complete it by taking it apart and putting it back together or by switching the stickers around.)

Growing up I would dump a 1,000 piece puzzle on the dining room table in the morning and have it completed by the end of the day. At times, when I really wanted to challenge myself, I would turn all the pieces over and put it together from the backside where there is no picture to follow at all. Today, I’m just thankful I can complete a puzzle of any size.

Right now I have a 300 piece puzzle dumped out on my table. It’s been there for 4 weeks…unfinished! Somehow the beautiful picture of mountains with a sweet little cabin nestled in the trees isn’t as easy to put together as it seemed. My hands have trouble picking up the pieces and my brain has trouble with the rest.

Just when I think I have found the piece I need, I forget where I was going to put it. And when I think I’ve seen a spot where I know a piece is suppose to go, I forget both the piece and the spot. It’s this crazy cycle of “I found it. Wait, what did I find?”

To me, Multiple Sclerosis is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. It is a challenging puzzle that I didn’t ask for, but here it is, and there’s no putting it back in the box either. Pieces are missing, there are holes and spaces that shouldn’t be there, and it even looks like some pieces don’t belong to the puzzle at all.

This is my description of MS through the use of a jigsaw puzzle:

Imagine dumping a puzzle out on a table. You spend the needed time to sort and lay out all the pieces before building the border. Finally the border is put together, enough at least to say it’s there. Some of the end pieces are missing because they weren’t found during the sorting process, but that’s okay. Those pieces will be found as the puzzle continues to be completed. Little sections here and there are finished and the picture begins to take shape, but then a tragic thing happens. Someone comes along and knocks the table over scattering all the pieces across the floor. Oh, the horrors!

Time is spent scrambling to find the missing pieces before the dog or kids come into the room making everything an even bigger mess. Some pieces are found under the chairs, others under the couch, and others soaking in the dog’s water bowl. Pieces are scattered everywhere. You do your best to collect them all in order to begin putting things back together again…hoping to get things back to normal and in one place.

The table is stood back up and the pieces are tossed into a pile on top. This time, they aren’t carefully sorted as before. They are just piled up in the middle of the table. The parts of the puzzle that were previously completed are now a mess. You begin pulling pieces from the pile in hopes of finding the exact one needed to get things back on track. You fumble through the hodgepodge pile randomly grabbing at pieces. As time goes by, you realize that too many pieces are missing making the puzzle impossible to complete, but you want so much to complete it. The picture is too beautiful and you’ve taken too much time working on it to abandon it now.

You go to the closet where stacks of puzzles have been stored and decide to pull out one with similar colors. This new puzzle is dumped out onto the table along with the pieces that were already piled up from the previous puzzle. You begin to finish your puzzle using the added pieces in place of the missing ones. A piece of chocolate gets crammed into the spot where a window was suppose to be and a dolls shoe gets stuck in the hole where a cloud belongs.

You just want the puzzle finished. Then as soon as the last piece is forced, hammered and jammed into place, you exclaim “There, it’s done…sort of.”

That is my life with Multiple Sclerosis. I’m a mixed up puzzle with pieces all out of place, but I’m a beautiful, lovely mess regardless of what anyone else thinks. Standing back and looking at the puzzle of my life, I find a beautiful picture was made by what seemed to be my world falling apart.

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero  


About the Author
About the Author
Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

14 replies
  1. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Still searching for my knocked over pieces! I was diagnosed at 19 & watched my grandfather live with the later & worse stages of MS as a young child! I’ve always had the worse impression of MS & it hit me like a tonne of bricks on a car that’s being pushed by a jet engine! Its been a year & a 1/2 since I was diagnosed & I’m learning to live with it, I’m actually very glad I got diagnosed early even though its always hanging around the back of my mind, I have answers and am being allowed the chance to fill my puzzle with the most amazing & colourful pieces that will fit! 🙂

  2. Rachelle Baillab says:

    Molim vas kontakt s ovom velikodušnom i pošten dama koja mi je omogućilo da se ostvare moji projekti i platiti svoje dugove tako što mi je kredit od 20.000 € .i objaviti ovu poruku kao što je to meni dobro i želim ti korist za one koji su stvarno potrebna, jer vidim mnogi se muče za prevare lažni lenders. Ovdje je njegov e-mail: michonmariejose@gmail.com

  3. Mishu Meowmix says:

    I am still looking for my beautiful picture in the middle of this mess… It has only been 3yrs since my diagnosis just days after securing an official position as a school counselor…. My life calling… Devastating…. Unspeakable… I am still angry…… I still don’t understand…… Why?!?!?!? It has only been 3yrs…. How will ever live with this for the rest of my life??? I am on medical leave since May of last year….. Scared to death of what comes next….. How long will this down phase last? Will I recover enough to get back to my life calling??? Helping children and families in need…. Honoring God and thanking him through my service and dedication in improving their lives so they can find hope and shine!!! This was beautiful… I couldn’t have explained it better than you just did…… Sending prayers to you! Thank you for what you do…. I know how hard it is….

  4. Sharona Causby says:

    Thank You, I REALLY Needed This Today. You Are Awesome – To Be Our WORDS – When We ( I ) Can’t Seem To Get Them Out Right. You Truly Are A Blessing To Me.

  5. Juana Driver says:

    One of my favorite saying! We are all puzzle pieces! Different but needed to finish the bigger picture. Thanks for being one of my puzzle pieces! In the midst of living you bring joy and laughter and understanding!

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