The hardest and most difficult question for me to answer isn’t “If you’re rowing your canoe up a telephone pole, and all four wheels fall off, how many pancakes does it take to shingle a doghouse?” Although that seems to be a senseless and impossible question to answer, it’s still nowhere near as difficult of a question to respond to as being asked “Are you feeling better?”
I don’t know if people realize how difficult being asked such a question is for someone living with a chronic progressive illness. Am I feeling better than what? How I was feeling yesterday? Last year? Five minutes ago?
It’s not like I have the flu or a broken arm which mend over a short period of time. Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease. That means it doesn’t go away just because I went to bed early, had a ten minute break at work, took two aspirin this morning, or deny that it exists.
MS is something I will have for the rest of my life. It causes physical limitations, weakness, debilitating fatigue, numbness, paralysis, constant emotional strain, cognitive problems and a whole host of other difficulties.
I am sick with a disease that, to this day, has no known cure and will only get worse as time passes. You see, my immune system is literally on a revenge attack against my own body causing chaos in my Central Nervous System. It is attacking the nerves throughout my brain and spine and eating them like they are hot wings at a tailgate party. It affects every part of who I am.
As of today, this disease is forever a part of my life no matter what you read from Dr. Google, hear from a friend or learn from a brochure at a doctor’s office. My hope is that one day things will change for the better and MS will become a thing of the past. And each day scientist grow closer to finding ways to ease the pain we all face. But today wasn’t that day.
I have moments when both the physical and emotional pain in my life are overwhelming. But I also have times when I can manage everything quite well as I hide my struggle behind a smile. I have been known to cry, scream and even question my own existence especially when I find myself being judged, stared at in public, and losing friendships all because of how MS is affecting me, my emotional makeup and my everyday functionality.
But regardless of everything I am going through…no matter what happens or how down I may feel…I keep fighting. Today I woke up in a war that seems to have no end. Imagine a life lived under continual sniper fire, surrounded by hidden landmines ready to explode with each step you take and hand grenades being thrown at you for no apparent reason.
Sometimes I am weak and can’t even find the strength or ability to think past simply knowing my name. Times when MS wins as it sucker punches me in the gut. But even on my worst days when I feel so utterly useless and weak, I refuse to quit.
I may never “feel better” like so many people want me to, but this battle isn’t over no matter what the day brings and neither is my life. I am simply living it differently than most people. It’s a new day and I have a new chance to make a difference in this world. Each one of us do. Use today to show the world what real strength is and what true warriors look like. You are my hero. You are an MS Warrior!