Lately my days have been more of a struggle to manage than in times past. I find myself waking up later than usual, my pain intensity has increased, my mobility has decreased, I’m having a harder time swallowing, and the tremors in my right hand are not just annoying but making life extra challenging.
One thing’s for sure, I have discovered I’m still good at throwing things with my right hand regardless of the tremor. I actually threw my phone all the way across the room yesterday because my hand just took off all on its own. I wonder how fast it flew. I may have just set a world record in phone tossing.
You’d think I would have learned by now not to hold onto anything of importance in that hand, but somehow I never remember. Thankfully, I’ve not broken anything due to my awesome throwing skills.
Five years have passed since my diagnosis and a lot has changed. I have gone from enjoying a flourishing career, hiking trails through the woods, and traveling around the world to not even being able to stay focused long enough to watch a movie and recall what just happened. I find myself pausing and rewinding scenes (sometimes more than once) just to keep up. Anyone watching a movie with me would be so annoyed.
It’s not easy seeing things progress like that. I don’t notice the changes day to day. I see them more by looking at how I was able to function a year ago and how I’m functioning today. That’s the only way I can really distinguish the difference in my everyday life.
I have found over the years that I need people around me that will let me vent when I need to, but also who won’t hold it against me when I break down and have moments of being overwhelmed. I understand how important it is to look for the good in everything, and I try to do that more than most people, but when I talk about my struggles I want to be free to express my reality without someone shutting me down because I’m not positive enough.
People need to understand that talking about the truth of what’s happening in your life isn’t wrong. It’s not unhealthy to say “I’ve got Multiple Sclerosis and it scares the crap out of me.” It’s okay to be afraid, to cry, to get angry. Don’t ever let someone lay a guilt trip on you because you’re having a bad day or because sometimes you cry yourself to sleep. It’s actually a quite normal thing to do.
What I want to encourage you to do is allow yourself to feel (really feel), give yourself time to grieve when needed, just be careful not to stay in that place for too long. Living with a chronic disease is not easy. That’s a guarantee. But pulling yourself up out of the pit you find yourself sinking in is possible too. That’s a guarantee as well.
Try this, instead of looking back and only seeing the bad changes that have happened over the years, find some good. For me, I see that I’m becoming an expert at keeping my passwords safe, not only from others but from myself too. I’m good at staying away from the cookies on the top shelf in the kitchen, I save gas each month because I’m not going out as much and I have to admit I make a pretty mean peanut butter sandwich.
I have also discovered that my life didn’t end when Multiple Sclerosis became a part of it. Sure, it made thing really, really difficult, but when I allow myself to step back and look at the entirety of my life, I have to admit that there’s still a lot about living I enjoy…regardless of the struggle.
Don’t focus so much on how you are no longer able to do something or how much you have lost and find the good around you. There is a lot more to life than Multiple Sclerosis. There is more to living than the struggle. Focus on the good today. It’s kind of like the glass half full, half empty concept. Choose to chug it down and get a refill, only this time let it overflow. Smile, laugh, giggle, care, love, believe, hold on, and never give up.