swim

You are going to make it

I’m starting to get used to a life of change. Don’t you just hate it when “normal” keeps changing on you? My normal today is drastically different than it was last year at this time. Comparing milestone markers in my life like looking at my progressions from year to year, and sometimes month to month, is the only way I can actually determine just how much my disability is changing.

For me, last year at this time my left leg was fairly functional. This year it’s mostly numb and I have to convince it to move with a lot of concentration and hard work. My right hand now has a tremor that sometimes is hard to work around, although I have created a weighted wristband that helps to control some of the shaking.

My voice is softer, my thinking slower, pain has increased and sleep is difficult. I have a tube coming out of my belly attached to a urine bag since I have lost control of the muscles needed to empty my bladder by myself, I no longer wear an AFO brace on my right ankle since the drop foot has shifted to being stiff rather than floppy, and my breathing is shallower but still going strong. I’d say that’s a lot of change.

But looking back over my life, change has always been happening…even before Multiple Sclerosis came into the picture. Seasons change in our lives and what we considered normal changes right along with it.

No matter how much change has been happening, you have made it this far in life because you hung on even when you wanted to give up. Look back at all you’ve been through then give yourself a giant pat on the back for sticking it out. You have pushed through some truly difficult and impossible times.

I always think of Florence Chadwick when I feel like quitting. In 1952, she attempted the impossible. She stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She was already the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways, so surely she could do this.

The weather was foggy and chilly making it hard to see the boats that were accompanying her. Fifteen hours she swam, stroke by stroke, exhausted and still only able to see a few feet in front of her. She begged to be taken out of the water.

Her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away.

At a news conference the next day she said, “All I could see was the fog…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”

Can you relate to those words? Sometimes we feel like giving up because we don’t have the strength to stay afloat any longer. We can’t see where we are heading and we are tired of the fight.

I want you to know, I am proud of you. You are a champion! You were put into a fight you didn’t ask to be a part of and each day, regardless of the struggle, you come up swinging. Sometimes you get knocked out before you even step out of bed, but you fight anyway. That’s what warriors do.

If today is a difficult day for you, remind yourself of how far you’ve already come. Stop looking at how far you still have to go or the fact that you can’t see the finish line. The important thing is that you are moving forward…even if it is only at a snails pace.

You are conquering today one moment, one step, one stroke at a time.

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.

37 replies
  1. Roland Clarke
    Roland Clarke says:

    I’ve seen my MS change dramatically in three months. In September, I could sleep in a bed and get my feet on my wheelchair footplates. Now, I can’t do those things and my knees are giving me excruciating pain and my legs are bloated. I’m praying that the doctors can pull me back from the edge.

    Your post inspires me to keep going, to keep fighting the MonSter in the fog.

  2. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    plus ce change plus ce le meme chose. I think I have it right. It’s from Rush an it res ‘the more things change the more they stay the same. This does apply to MS as well. I am determined to maintain who I am no matter what happens. I feel strongly that we should never give in and let MS take us away.

  3. Marion Moir Moody says:

    Good to hear from you Penelopewishing you were more stationery in your m.s.
    I think this m.s keeps us on our toes as we have to make changes to keep up with it,I’d rather it not be there but riding with it seems our only choice.
    On the bright side it’s brought us together and have always found your posts inspirational and positive.wishing you a warm and wonderful Christmas Penelope.xxx

  4. Joan Bates Cronk says:

    You have such strength of spirit, and so inspiring to all of us. What you accomplish on a daily basis, puts the rest of us to shame. Praying for better things in 2017 for you. Merry Christmas Penelope!

  5. Kathy Buys says:

    Thank you for your posts & keeping on when I know you struggle. I wish you a 2017 full of happiness & strength & humor. Take care of yourself, it seems to take a lot longer for me to do most things. I miss those I can no longer do as well. Keep on posting!

  6. Amy Dotson says:

    Other than the bladder bag and the AFO because I haven’t had those, it’s like you were writing for me. Thank you and I hope that 2017 we get some of ourselves back or at least it will be easier to accept some of these changes.

  7. Leslie Beaver says:

    Things change for us. But not always to the negative. Because we are constantly gaining experience within our new reality. And are therefore able to accomplish more while actually doing less. Even my neurologist noticed. Couple of years ago, as he was writing notes regarding my visit, he simply looked up. Smiled. And said “whatever you are doing Les, keep it up”. It was a very gratifying thing to hear. Am I “better”? Of course not. But I am better able to deal with my reality.

  8. Jeanne Lindsay says:

    Your body may be changing in ways that are frustrating and painful but your spirit remains. You lift everyone with your posts and ability to find the humor in this terrible disease. May the coming year be better!

  9. Leah
    Leah says:

    Beautifully put. I particularly had a rough day yesterday, I could barely walk and my drop foot made it all the more difficult to do so. My left leg is stiff as a board and my knee won’t bend due to MS spasticity. The reality of my MS worsening really struck me hard. Things I could do last year are impossible to do this year…which is scary and most depressing. I will keep your words in mind to give me the mental strength I need today. Thank you!

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