At one point during my career I traveled between the USA and France on a monthly basis working to merge a newly acquired company with our company in the USA. It was an exciting time for me. I loved traveling, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.
Before flying out of the country each month, I would prepare for my trip by making sure my bills were paid, giving my house keys to a neighbor so they could periodically check on things while I was gone, packing a bag (many times over packing because I didn’t want to forget something), and switching my phone plan to cover international calls. I would also make sure food wasn’t left out on the counters and the trash was taken out because nothing is worse than coming home to fruit flies, stinky smells and work needing to be done.
There were a few times when a last minute trip was required. I have to say those always threw me for a loop. Without fail I would always forget something. Let’s just say I knew my way to the local store where I could pick up some of the items I may have forgotten. Some things weren’t so easy to find and I would end up either doing without or rigging up a solution. Even when I was ill prepared, I still enjoyed my trip. I just knew that if I had been prepared, even just a little, things would have been easier.
It’s the same when it comes to living with Multiple Sclerosis. I could choose to go through my life winging it every day unprepared for the surprises that pop up, or I could plan ahead by making sure my life is made as comfortable as possible and that I’m as prepared as I can be for the unexpected surprise that come along. Not everything can be planned for ahead of time, but many can.
Planning ahead doesn’t mean I’m giving in to MS or that I’m giving up. It doesn’t mean I’m negative, focusing on the wrong things or making everything worse because I’m thinking ahead about things that may never happen. It means I’ve allowed myself to accept my new “normal” in life and am aware that tomorrow life may change…good or bad, it may change, and if it should change in a direction I don’t like, at least I’m as ready as I can be for the transition.
If you plan ahead by choosing to live in a home without stairs in order to make things easier on you if your MS progresses, or you choose to put money away into a savings account to cover the costs of future adaptive equipment that insurance won’t cover, what you are doing is relieving the stress that those things can cause in your life when not planned for.
Planning ahead takes the stress out of an already stressful disease. Sometimes the hardest things to deal with are the concerns of how you are going to function in life if your disability progresses. Since no one knows what tomorrow will bring, choose to live today enjoying every moment possible but don’t ignore the fact that you are living with an unpredictable disease that can be prepared for in advance.
If your tomorrow proves to be nothing more than a few bumps along the way, planning didn’t hurt you in any way. Just save those things for the day you retire and keep smiling. But if you turn a corner and are slammed upside the head with unexpected medical bills or mobility challenges that make life difficult, those plans suddenly become priceless.
Don’t be afraid to plan for the what if’s in life, just don’t unpack and camp out there. Make room for tomorrow, but live today!